Broken Me Open | An Impossible Journey to Motherhood
Shared by Corrin Wendell
One cold November evening two years ago, I found myself in the darkest and loneliest place I had ever been. Five months earlier, I had suffered my fifth miscarriage and just one-month before, we had finished our seventh round of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) without success – yet again. For nearly ten years, we have been struggling with our diagnoses of unexplained infertility and recurrent miscarriage. Through the years, we have seen four expert doctors in two different states, and it has been concluded that we both are perfectly healthy and have fallen into the 1% of those who have experienced five or more consecutive miscarriages with no explanation. After three natural pregnancies and two through IUI, all ending before 12 weeks, I became wrapped in a tailspin of hopelessness. Life was not supposed to happen this way. This was not what I had planned for myself and my husband. We had lived our lives exactly how we dreamed possible; we were married at 25, bought a house, got a dog, thrived in our careers and now was the time to welcome a baby. In fact, the first time we actually “tried” to conceive, we were pregnant within three months (the “normal” amount of time). Like most, we assumed that when we wanted to start a family, that it would just happen – easily. After the incredible elation and joy of each of the five positive pregnancy tests, we were devastated with the reality that I could not hold onto a pregnancy, and five angel babies later, I could not bring myself to ask my husband to endure anymore fertility treatments. We were emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially depleted and our hope for a baby of our own was fleeting from our fingertips.
It is an overwhelmingly broken, empty, devastating, embarrassing, shameful, isolating, heartbreaking, painful, bitter and guilty feeling when your body, for no apparent reason, fails you, and you become so incredibly grief stricken and hollow that you cannot even convince yourself to attend a friend’s baby shower, visit a baby store, look at babies or pregnant women as you walk down the street, much less hear story after story of surprise pregnancies or those (lucky ones) who could plan for the exact month of conceiving so that they could have a summer baby. After hearing these stories and thinking of my babies in heaven, I would find myself sobbing in the car on my way home from work, in the pantry at home, or in the shower in the morning, and never letting anyone see exactly the insurmountable pain and suffering I was experiencing: not even to my own husband. I kept a façade of positivity, warm friendly smiles, and hopeful dreams. In the early years, each month that I did not see a “pregnant” symbol looking back at me sent me down a desperate road of sorrow and guilt. I was consumed in a cloud of unexplained infertility and felt as though I was trying to make my way through the dark and found myself on a conveyor belt of endless doctor’s appointments, poked and prodded, taking and timing medications, and simply a hopeless faceless number trying to beat the odds. Most days, I was in a fog of relentlessly trying to comprehend exactly what may be the cause of such inexplicable madness. Then questions would flood my mind: What did I do to deserve this? Why am I broken? Why can I not give my husband a baby? Except for close family, we were never even able to have the big announcement for any of the pregnancies, we were silent in our joy and in our grief.
That evening, in that moment of tremendous emptiness, taken to my knees, we were redirected by His hands and my life changed forever. Sitting in the dark, I sent a message my high school friend Mandy, someone I was very close to at the time, but had lost touch with 16 years ago, a message to congratulate her on her pregnancy with her twins and a pending adoption and to ask whether she had worked with an adoption agency.
To this day, I am not sure what made me send the message.
I simply felt compelled to reach out to her and I found myself writing and rewriting my words, hesitant not to pry into her life, but something gave me an extra little push and after sending that message, my life would never be the same. Within moments we became reconnected, we poured our hearts out to each other and shared of our common struggles with infertility, becoming pregnant, losing pregnancies, our heavenly babies, our grief, and our love for adoption. Mandy then asked if it would be okay with me to put our names out there in her community for a baby to adopt and gently reminded me that adopting was not for the faint of heart. Although fear of uncertainty crept in, my love was greater than my fear and stepping out on faith was my only choice. As we have always had a heart for adoption from the very beginning, I said yes right away. What she wrote back to me stopped my heart from beating:
“So…I do know a family.”
The next six months were a whirlwind of planning, hoping, praying, and dreaming of adopting this little angel baby. We were introduced to the birth family, made connections with private adoption attorneys, and were sent on a journey of incredible highs, from having heard from the birth mother herself that, “these are the people that are going to adopt my baby,” to being shown the 20-week ultrasound announcing that it would be a BOY, invited to doctor’s appointments, a 31-week 3D ultrasound where we heard the heartbeat and even invited to be in the delivery room when the time came. Each week gave us a new purpose, optimism and hope that we would be bringing home our very own little one and finally becoming parents. Even though we were never able to quite share our news with everyone, we quietly planned for his arrival and felt glory in the preparation, from designing the nursery, to organizing newborn diapers and that first onesie – oh the excitement! I was finally able to let myself fall completely in love with the prospect of having a baby on the way. I would find myself standing in the doorway of his nursery just staring at what would become his forever home.
Our son was born two weeks early on a warm May afternoon. The moment I held my son in my arms for the first time, my life was complete. A gentle wave of peacefulness wrapped around our little family and we were covered in His grace and shown such mercy. My husband and I cried the happiest tears of our life and were overwhelmed with the presence of being hand delivered the most amazing heavenly gift and of the incredibly brave, beautiful soul who so selflessly gave us this precious life. Our very own miracle and he was everything. And when the judge finalized the adoption four days later, he asked us if we would make all efforts to care for our son the rest of our days – we could barely speak through our tears, because loving this baby would be the greatest joy, greatest privilege, greatest honor, and the greatest accomplishment we would ever know.
The first song I ever sang to my son in the hospital, just hours old, was one I had heard around Christmastime that year. “The Angel”, by Jennifer Nettles, was a song I couldn’t get through without sobbing:
“Who is this angel, sent here to change me,
Sent here to take me where I've never been?
Long I have wandered, weary and waiting,
For something to shake me and life to begin.
Holy water from my own veins,
come and save me where I lay.
All this longing for beauty unnamed.
It has broken me open to welcome the hope that you bring.”
Each day I am awestruck by the path and placement of all the right things happening at the right time – I personally call it Divine, because I cannot explain it in any other way. Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to and it is outside of our control; each and every one of us are on our own beautiful perfect timeline. In the eight years we patiently waited for this child, I remember continuing to pray that if it wasn't meant to be, that God would take the pain, desire and longing from my heart so I didn't have to suffer any longer. He replaced the hollow, wounded places in my heart with everlasting love and I am forever thankful for our prayers being answered, for His timing and perfect plan that was more glorious than we ever imagined, and for being given the strength, endurance, and more courage than I have ever known to weather this journey, for it has truly shaped who we are today. Our hearts explode in gratitude that by the grace of God we have been immeasurable blessed with this miracle. The very first breath he took gave us new life, washed away the incredible pain we had endured, and we were able to exhale in happiness and wept tears of joy. Adoption was always written on our hearts, but it came to us in the most unexpected way – adoption is love. A love we have never known and we look at each other and ask “what did we do to deserve this?”
To have reached out to a childhood friend with a common question and six months later becoming a new mother is what baby dreams are made of. Mandy and I were brought back together for a purpose and what she did for my family is a debt I will never be able to repay – a true gift. To this day, she tells me that she thinks of the blessing that came from the connection of adoption and how she knows with all her heart that this baby was supposed to be our son and that her heart is whole. Sometimes people are placed in your path to change you and redirect your journey. She is our angel, our guide, and a miracle worker and we honor her as part of this journey. Our openness in sharing with one another gave us hope, peace and compassion about our own struggles and we are now forever connected in our joys.
I have an incredibly overwhelming thankfulness that I keep with me each day that I see my son’s face. I may never carry a full-term pregnancy, and that is still very real for me, but I know that there is good that comes out of the darkest of times. The journey to get to here will always be worth it, he will always be worth every ounce of pain and suffering and we would do it a hundred million times over. He is so much more than we deserve and we are ever so lucky to be called his parents.
To all of the Mother’s, Mother’s-to-be, and Mother’s-in-waiting who have longed for, hoped for, and prayed for a little one, I stand with you, I am here for you, I support you and most importantly, I have not forgotten you.
I am eternally grateful to feel whole again as a wife and to be the Mother of my son, who was hand-crafted in heaven for our family, and came to me in the most impossible way, opened my heart further than I thought was possible, and healed my brokenness.