Shannon and Gregory
I always knew I wanted to be a Mom. My Mom was 28 when she had me, and I’d always planned on having kids in my early twenties when I was still full of energy, but as it would seem, life had other plans.
A first marriage and divorce by 21, followed by surprising health issues and grief… suddenly I blinked and found myself 30, newly single, and not yet a parent.
I knew at that point a relationship felt like more like settling than being a single Mom, so I decided to rally my support system and take matters into my own hands. I was already a patient of a fertility clinic because of PCOS and endometriosis, so I started pursuing tests and looking for direction and answers that would get me closer to single motherhood by choice. I had more appointments than I can remember, some of them more painful than I care to admit, but ultimately decided it would make me stronger and I knew that I’d need strength to take on motherhood as a single woman. I chose an anonymous sperm donor from a US bank and proceeded to follow the steps to ovulation and IUI.
My first IUI was in November of 2020, and I remember being devastated when it didn’t work. Despite knowing the low odds, I’d pictured the things I’d do with my baby the following year, as any hopeful mother does. I tried to keep up hope and followed the same protocol for the next month. When I called the clinic, I was informed they were closed for their once-a-year lab cleaning and only had availability for the patients who had called with their Day 1s, and with the busy holiday season and stress that comes with infertility, I forgot to call the clinic with my “Day 1”. This ended any chance of me getting pregnant in 2020, but somehow, I felt okay this time…. After all, a new year was just around the corner and maybe it would bring new hope. I hope?
Two days after what would have been my second IUI, I went out on a date and met the love of my life. We were married 8 months later in August of 2021 and decided to donate the remaining unit of sperm we’d purchased to a couple who couldn’t conceive on their own. It felt good to know that we had a hand in giving a miracle to a couple when I felt like I’d just experienced my own in some ways, and it made the continued waiting a little more bearable. Speaking of miracles - that couple is now expecting on our first anniversary!
We continued trying to conceive on our own for the duration of the year and because of my known fertility issues requested tests for both my husband and I that determined we’d need to pursue IVF with ICSI for the best chance of conceiving. We couldn’t have prepared ourselves for the highs and lows, emotions, delays, and setbacks, but in May 2022 we finally transferred a frozen embryo retrieved the previous December and are expecting our first child together in early 2023.
We hear it said all the time, “You’re not behind in life. There’s no timetable you have to follow.” I’d dare say those quoting this haven’t experienced infertility, because in the thick of the pursuit, and the countless unknowns, even the most intended patient will experience delays that feel like lifetimes of waiting. That’s how I felt at least. And when you’re in the thick of it there’s nothing more agonizing.
But the odd reality is, despite the highs and lows, if you get to the point where you feel peace and hope again, that quote somehow becomes true, and all the waiting and unknowns suddenly seem worth it.
I’d give anything to give that peace and hope to all the intended parents still in a season of waiting, or a season of grief. Sometimes though, the silver lining in it all is just knowing you’re part of this community and that you’re never really on your own in the journey (despite at times feeling very, very alone).
Photo: Forever After Photography
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