Brandi (USA): Embrace, Accept, Redefine
They say all little girls dream of their wedding day; I didn’t. But I did dream about being a wife and a mom. I knew without hesitation that I wanted to get married and have two kids, a girl and a boy. We’d live in a traditional house with a dog and a cat, and my little family would be super happy.
In 2000, the first part of my dream came true. My hubby and I were married in December and moved into an adorable 1930s home with our puppy. Three years and two puppies later (our Valentine didn’t like cats), we were ready to grow our family with a two-legged kiddo, so we started trying to conceive.
But two years passed and we still weren’t pregnant, despite using a fertility monitor for months. My ob-gyn ran several tests but couldn’t find anything wrong. So, she advised us to see a fertility specialist, and we promptly made an appointment.
After filling out pages and pages of paperwork, we arrived at our first appointment eager to find out what we could do to have the baby that we so desperately wanted. Unfortunately, rather than recommending that we started treatments immediately, the doctor said that I needed surgery because he believed I had endometriosis. A laparoscopic surgery confirmed that I did indeed have endometriosis, which had wrapped around one of my ovaries and my appendix. There was actually so much scar tissue on my appendix, that the doctor removed it for fear that it would burst.
After recovering from surgery, we were once again ready to start treatments, only to be advised that I take six months of Lupron in order to kill any microscopic endometriosis cells that might be left. Although there is no cure, the doctor said this would help keep the endometriosis from growing back as quickly. So, I went into medical menopause (hot flashes, headaches, and all) and waited eight more months to begin treatment…
Finally, we could actually start fertility treatments! But rounds one, two, and three failed. So, we took a break and started considering adoption. We checked into domestic, international, and even embryo adoption. but nothing felt right. So, we tried fertility treatments again. And rounds four, five, six, and seven failed.
Ten years, seven failed fertility treatments, several adoption meetings, and countless tears later, I still wanted a baby. So, I went back to adoption, believing we should adopt through child services.
But my hubby told me that he didn’t want to try anymore. No more treatments. No more meetings. He did not want to spend ten more years trying. He wanted to accept our life as it was—childless—and just move on. And I was utterly crushed.
How could we give up now?! We had to keep trying! What if one more treatment, one more meeting led us to our child?
But he was done. And I had a choice to make. Would I rather have my husband and no baby or a baby and no husband…
As I considered that, I realised that my dream was never to just have a baby. My dream was to have a family, to be a wife and a mom. Without my hubby, I couldn’t attain that dream.
So, at the beginning of 2014, I decided to embrace my infertility and begin accepting my childless life. But I couldn’t give up on my dream of being a mom. Now, that may sound impossible. If I was accepting childlessness, then I had to accept that I’d never be a mom, right? Well, I couldn’t accept that. So, I had to redefine what momhood means to me.
That meant, I fully and whole-heartedly embraced my role as dog mom. We had a new fur baby, Madalynne, which is what we had wanted to name our baby girl. Since we would never have a two-legged kiddo, we decided to name our four-legged kid with our favorite name! As an over-zealous dog mom, I post too many pictures of Maddie, celebrate her birthday, and buy her presents. In fact, I have so completely embraced my dog mom role that a family member told me that my relationship with Maddie is “unhealthy.” Although her comment made me stumble for a moment, I decided that her opinion about my life doesn’t really matter, especially since my hubby encourages my dog mom role and takes his dog dad role pretty seriously, too!
One year into fully embracing our dog parent roles, my hubby and I met a foreign exchange student and her host mom at a cooking class. After class, we looked at each other and said, “I think we could do that...” So, we filled out the paperwork and two months later, we had a two-legged kid in our home…
I truly do not believe that we would have hosted Bruna if we’d had a baby of our own. And that would have been a travesty because the six months we spent with Bruna were the absolute BEST time of our life! Being her host mom pushed me to continue to redefine momhood for myself. She allowed us to be parents and have some of the “firsts” that we had only dreamed of. And along the way, we became family. Like my relationship with Maddie, not everyone understands my feelings towards Bruna. In fact, another family member told me that I was crazy to call Bruna family. But again, her opinion doesn’t matter. I know what I feel in my heart…
I am now in year five of embracing my infertility, accepting my childless life, and redefining what momhood means to me. I still have the occasional wobble, I still wonder sometimes… But mostly, I focus on the bright sides of my childless life and fiercely embrace my roles as wife, dog mom, and host mom. My dreams have come true. I just had to redefine them…
Brandi Lytle, founder of Not So Mommy…, is a wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, infertile woman who is embracing her childless (but not childfree) life and redefining what momhood means to her.