Colleen’s Story

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My husband Bob and I met in high school and we have now been married for almost thirty years. While we were dating, working many part-time jobs, and pursuing our college degrees, I would always say that I wanted to have five or six kids, “a houseful of kids!”

Things were right on track. We married after college and I was pregnant with our first baby at age 22 and our second when I was 25. Another dream of mine had been to go to law school so when I was 27 years old I started preparing for the LSAT and filling out law school applications. In the fall of 1991, I started a four-year evening program to earn my law degree. At that time my children were ages five and two years old and I was operating a family daycare in our house so that I could balance time with my children, earn my law degree and make some money.

By the time I finished law school I was 32 and began my search for a legal position. I was pursuing this goal and was putting on hold my dream of having that house full of children. My story is about secondary infertility and the reality of the biological clock, which I never took seriously. It seemed to me that a lot of women were delaying even having their first child into their late thirties and even early forties. I just assumed that because I had become pregnant so easily the first two times I would never have fertility problems. I had never even heard about secondary infertility. I would learn that secondary infertility is when a couple is unable to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term following the birth of one or two children without any assisted reproductive techniques.

At age thirty-seven I was pregnant and was incredibly happy, but when this pregnancy ended at eight weeks in a miscarriage I was devastated. After telling my doctor that I had been trying to have a baby for two years without success I received a diagnosis of infertility and my husband and I sought treatment from an infertility clinic in the Boston area. My husband and I completed three IUI treatments without success along with having a bunch of other tests.

At age forty we became pregnant on our own, but again I suffered a miscarriage at ten weeks. I became pregnant again at age forty-one and again suffered a miscarriage. We decided to change clinics and sought treatment from Boston IVF. We were elated to find that we were pregnant after our first IVF cycle however again this pregnancy ended in miscarriage. We were on an emotional roller coaster ride. Our family and friends who had initially expressed understanding and compassion seemed to be at a loss as to why I was doing this to myself. This journey can be isolating at times and why one of the main goals of the Journey to Parenthood is to provide education and to support people including their families and friends who are going through all of this.

Although it was becoming difficult to finance, we decided to try IVF one more time when I was 43. Our daughter was in her third year at Tufts University and our son a senior in high school was applying to colleges. Although when you live in Massachusetts fertility treatments are mandated to be covered by insurance, this is not the full story. In fact, if the company where your insurance flows from is self-insured then the coverage is exempt from the mandate. What this means is that the company can determine if infertility procedures or medications will be covered at all, including the amounts and types of procedures that it may cover. So although we live in Massachusetts we had very little insurance coverage for our infertility treatments and medications.

After this final IVF procedure, I became pregnant with twins, a boy, and a girl. Everything looked great, after genetic testing but at almost 20 weeks I gave birth to Robert and Mary. It was too soon for them and they only lived for less than a half hour. After all the infertility stuff had been conquered it seemed that I also had a weak cervix.

Looking back I wasn’t ok after that. I was defeated, angry and felt sadness in my core that is hard to describe. At the same time, I knew that I had so much to be grateful for. Our faith and the love and support of family and friends carried us through our devastating loss. At age 44, I had a beautiful life, a husband, daughter, son and a career in law. I don’t know when it actually happened but it became so clear that I wanted to adopt through foster care. I guess it was right in front of me because I work in the area of children and family law. My husband who has been on this journey to parenthood right beside me didn’t need much coaxing to become a foster father with the hope of adopting “one child“. We signed up: participated in an eight-week class, completed an extensive home study, and criminal background checks. We were approved!

Well just over a year after losing our twins we experienced a miracle. The social worker called us on December 6, 2007, to ask if we could care for twin boys who needed a home. We ultimately adopted our boys in August 2009. Then in July 2010 in the midst of planning our daughter’s wedding we received a call that a two-year-old little girl needed a home and we adopted our youngest daughter in March 2011.

My husband and I are the parents of a thirty-two-year-old daughter, a son in law, a twenty-nine-year-old son, and three kindergarteners (twin boys and a little girl). We call them our triplets. At age 50 my dream has come true because I am the mother of five children, a son in law and… I have a house full of kids! My passion for Journey to Parenthood comes from a true understanding of the emotional and financial roller coaster ride that a diagnosis of infertility begins. Like the song says “Don’t stop believing” and please donate to help.