I know from the outside infertility looks like a drama of loss and disappointment. Yes, loss and disappointment are part of the plot. I have never seen a love story where love did not meet loss. Never has love been a stranger to disappointment. Some of the greatest love stories of all time involve long periods of separation. Odysseus spent ten years trying to return to Penelope. Anne Elliot, of Jane Austen's Persuasion, spent seven years waiting to reunite with the man she'd been persuaded to refuse. My husband Trent and I have been trying to bring children into our home for four years.
Our family love story began during our engagement. He had taken me on a long hike. Under the towering pine trees of a Washington forest, I agreed to marry Trent. Though we had often talked about children, up until that point we hadn't discussed how many children either of us wanted. It took no more than a minute for us to decide on six. We weren’t yet married, but already we knew we wanted a large family. In between the times we discussed wedding preparations, we would talk about the stories we wanted to tell our kids. We thought of the places we would take them. Our children might not have been physically with us, but I felt their presence none-the-less. I sometimes wonder if they watched us on the hike where Trent asked me to marry him.
After one year of marriage, we started trying for the first of the six children. The day we decided it was time to begin expanding our family, I thought I sensed approval from an invisible source, a filial love from infants yet to be. Both my husband and I felt an excitement to meet these children we already loved. The first year of trying was full of unfulfilled hope and dawning discouragement. The second was fraught with diagnostic tests, heartbreaking revelations and dwindling money. The third felt like a roller-coaster of opportunities and missed chances. This fourth has, so far, brought only grief. If we hadn’t already felt love for our absent children, we wouldn’t still be trying.