About Me: An Update

Over a year ago, I became a mother.

Simply, beautifully, unimaginably, suddenly, and simultaneously, my husband and I had the greatest good fortune and privilege of becoming parents to 3 beautiful children, through adoption and surrogacy.

Now a year and half later, it’s hard to believe 7 years of infertility actually happened and we managed to survive, individually and together, as so much of it no longer feels real. Those who know us intimately and have been by our side, as well as those who have experienced infertility first hand, know how hard Infertiles have to work to have children. I don’t have to explain that actual work went into having our ordinary family with our ordinary lives through extraordinary circumstances. We feel tremendous gratitude for where we are and for all that is finally behind us, knowing there are far greater hardships people face and overcome.As with any story, one hopes to always recognize lessons learned and appreciate all that was needed to attain our goal, such as inner strength, marital resilience, kindness of people, and randomness of events. What I know to be true and want to always remember is how our current simple life with its senseless preceding story was only possible because we recognized that we were stuck.

We were in our 7th year with a long series of odd, bizarre, heartbreaking events behind us, no closer to having children than when we started. We knew it was time to consider a close to this chapter in our lives, even if it meant a life without children. There comes a point where you have to prepare yourselves to let go.  In our case, we still needed to give adoption and surrogacy our all before considering the alternative life of one without children in our home—we could see the end but still had one final stretch

Up until this point, we lived entirely in the “Land of If”, as is the case with most Infertiles who spend less time looking back, wondering what could have been; and instead, live day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year, planning ahead with complete uncertainty, blindly making educated guesses to pick one of many paths. We finally realized rather painfully, that even with most strategic, well-laid plans, anticipating every possible combination of steps and results, based on a lot of conjecture and “what if” scenarios, there would always remain any number of outcomes beyond imagination. We would no longer conjure endless scenarios with endless outcomes in order to determine each course of action. It was the end of wishful thinking, end of decisions made with endless “what if” scenarios, trying to anticipate endless outcomes.  From that point forward, decisions were to be determined by only what we knew, what was in front of us.

Armed with this new approach, we prepared for the end of our infertility journey, no matter the outcome. It had been a long road and we had put up a great effort to keep going. But it was clearly time for us to determine a new path with new goals. With or without kids, our life of endlessly “trying” had to come to an end. With a resolution that things needed to change and address what wasn’t working, we felt renewed and lighter. We determined our last few steps and would go on to do what we had been afraid of, what so many had discouraged us from, but we knew to be right for us–adoption and surrogacy.

We ignored all the external and internal pressures that made us question adoption and surrogacy.  It was time to part ways with caution and planning. It was time to trust what we knew of ourselves and what was right for us.  For the sake of ensuring sanity, avoiding life-long regrets, and working toward a conclusion to this particular story, there was no more room to second guess the final few moves available to us.

We went all in, in this final move, applying for adoption and surrogacy at the same time, without feeling the need to choose. We didn’t want to do one and then move on to the other, only to lose more time.  Had we managed to choose one first, it felt impossible to find our way out of more setbacks with dwindling strength to move onto the next thing.  After all, with our track record, what were the chances of both working simultaneously!?

Going with instinct based on only the facts in front of us, dealing with only what is known, before making decisions created far less grief than making decisions based on wishful thinking. The latter hurts the most because you’re not relying on your instincts.  You’re angry with yourself for not trusting your instincts.  It’s easier to face the consequences when you feel you made the best decision possible based on the facts available to you, based on what you knew at that time to be best for you.

In the time I envisioned a humble blog and chose the name, aptly reflecting the shift in our thinking, we were getting ready to apply for adoption and our second round of surrogacy with a new agency. By the time we submitted our applications for both, I had simple web design. And before I could keep going with a regular routine of posts, we were matched with a child and a surrogate.  Once the adoption process and surrogacy were underway, I made a couple of page and post entries, but my heart and mind was too overwhelmed, and I just wanted to experience and just be with the new found joys.

I finally picked up the blog a couple of months ago, when it felt right, when some of the shock had worn off of our new world with three children.  There’s no desire to turn this into a parenting blog as many infertility blogs will turn into once their experience has reached some end.  There are plenty of those and amazing ones at that.  I find myself with the wish to pick up where I left off as well as explore the larger landscape of reproductive medicine, policies, trends, culture.

As part of our journey, with treatments, surrogacy, adoption, there’s so much we’ve learned and so much information gathered that wasn’t accessible for us. I even wonder if some of the information is now outdated and what new developments are now available. We also have so much context related to culture and faith, and struggled with the lack of dialogue in these areas with regards to infertility.  At the very least, the next time people Google any aspect of our own searches, there may be just a little more information for them.

Another reason to continue with this endeavor is my belief that Infertiles remain part of the dialogue on fertility and infertility, even after concluding their journey, with or without a child.  Our voices, perspectives, and advocacy are needed to challenge the limitations that currently exist in culture, medicine, policy, and interpretations of faith.

The Infertile perspective is even more critical now. With all the developments and movement to curtail women’s reproductive abilities through legislation, the changing landscape is going to gravely affect those coping with infertility through limited reproductive options, greater stigma, negative portrayals, legal consequences, and decreased cultural and faith-based support.

In fact, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the daily headlines that I see having direct adverse consequences for a growing minority of individuals that cannot have children as easily as “copulation”! An incredibly silent and invisible community. Did I mention that it’s growing and not just among those who are having children later in life. Numbers are increasing across all age groups.

There isn’t a rush of individuals adopting from Pakistan.  The annual numbers from the US are quite small.  However, there is a need for changing attitudes and beliefs around adoption among Pakistanis and Muslims generally everywhere. With the Islamic mandate to care for orphans, the community and cultures leave much to be desired around those without one or both biological parents.

The faith issue is particularly new and interesting to me.  I thought I would be writing from a perspective of growing up Muslim and being a Muslim; but it seems that there is much to be said even as a woman of any faith, living in a country, founded on the principles of separating church and state, veering dangerously into laws dictated by faith. It seems now the perspective is simply of a woman who is gripped with fear to see the country she loves taken over by religion, any religion, rendering large segments of our population powerless over their own bodies and lives.  Islam or Christianity. There are enough countries to show how ruling with a religious fist is futile and arbitrary. There’s enough history to show the damage of one interpretation of any one faith, when enforced on entire countries and hemispheres.  There is enough reason to be one more questioning voice, asking to be left alone with her body and her relationship with God.

Clearly, there’s much to write about and so much to share.

I now use the word “if” very differently, such as, “IF we had done things any other way, we would not have been matched with our eldest son through our adoption or the amazing surrogate who was to carry our twins”.  That’s an “if” I find comforting and reassuring, since it reminds me that it’s okay to make decisions based on my instincts.

Those instincts are what I now rely on to parent.  With all the self doubt parents experience, it helps to rely on your instincts with confidence.

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