Last year I did a series of posts called, “The Infertility Series” where I shared stories of struggles, hardships and miracles. They opened my eyes to the situations that woman face everyday when it comes to pregnancy. When reading them again I always think, “What other stories are out there? What hasn’t been heard that I could share?” Today I give you just the story. This is the story of the Chidester family.
This is the tale of a beautiful, yet incomplete family, who still have more to give. Two children who hunger for another brother or sister, and talk of it often, a mother who holds enough love and energy in her heart for twenty more children, and hungers to do so. A story about a father who has done everything he could possibly ever do to help sustain and financially support a large family. The desires of their hearts are pure. They are real. They are heartbreaking. This family experiences joy every single day, and yet their sadness is still viable. They are indeed blessed to have each other, and two children. The feelings, even passion of this family is united in being sure, even positive there are more children waiting to join their family.
It has been said, “You are lucky to have two children. Some people don’t have any at all.” I hear, “Just love the two you have, and what is meant to happen will happen.” And the “have faith” comment, although lovingly said, still makes me feel like my faith is not as worthy of stronger people who have had faith, and succeeded, “because of their faith”.
”That’s what makes me realize how extremely hard it is to understand, or feel compassion for my situation, my passion and intense hunger to have another child. If some of those who love me most struggle to understand, then certainly most people will struggle with the concept of my predicament.
My story is a different story. It is a different form of infertility, a different struggle, but no less real. It is no less heartfelt, no less frustrating, and frightening.
My mother used to joke that all you had to do to become pregnant is to wash both of your underwear in the load of wash without adding Lysol to the water. She never struggled. Never really even tried to have her four children. She took for granted that getting pregnant, and starting a family just happened. But she knows that is not my story.
She recently spoke to me at length, and asked me to help her truly understand my feelings. Sitting there, she really listened. She really soaked it in. I really believe she could feel my thoughts and my heart. She must have felt it, because she asked to help me write the following story about our family, our desires, and struggles.
My name is Mindee Chidester. I live in Loma Linda California with my husband, who is in his sixth and final year of his surgical residency program. I have the best husband, friends, family, and in-laws a girl can have. We have been absolutely blessed with two children, one boy (7), one girl (5) who are truly miracles in my life. I love them beyond words! Now, I say this because I fully recognize that my life is blessed. Very blessed, in fact.
I am the oldest of four children. Having always had a nurturing personality. I took my little brother and sisters under my wings, and I mothered them completely. My mom and dad own their own businesses, and as I aged, I was given more and more responsibility for my siblings at home. I loved making up games, organizing modeling shows, and setting up singing competitions for us to perform in. I was called upon to babysit family, friends, and neighbor children frequently, and can proudly say I was pretty much the favorite babysitter in all the land! Ha! At least I hope so.
In high school, I met and dated my husband, Jeremy (whom we all call Jerry). We dated on and off, you know…high school, and ultimately ended up being high school sweethearts from Bingham High School in South Jordan, Utah. I excelled in socializing while Jerry excelled academically.
After high school graduation, Jerry served a two-year mission in Thailand for our church, while I put myself through cosmetology school. We dated again after he got home, and we’ve been inseparable since. We were married in the Salt Lake City Temple in January 2004. I worked at my parent’s business and was also doing hair while Jerry attended the University of Utah and received his Bachelors Degree. He applied for medical school, and was accepted to the University of Utah School of Medicine, which was a blessing because we were able to stay near family for four extra years while he completed Medical school.
We weren’t rushing to have children at first because we knew how hard it would be to support a child while I worked 6 days a week, and he did schooling, but the time came that we were ready to make it work. Three months passed, then four, five, and six. Finally, an entire year passed with no success in becoming pregnant. The realization and slight panic began to sink in that this may not be an easy process for us. I started by going to get my hormone levels checked. I was told everything was fine, but, for good measure, I was given a small dose of compounded bio-identical progesterone on certain days of my cycle that would help me sustain a pregnancy if I were to become pregnant.
In the meantime, I continued to work my two jobs, and Jerry graduated and received his honors bachelor’s degree in biology, and began his medical school journey. We had so many fun times and experiences during those years. Laughed, we cried, but mostly we just stuck together and loved each other. We got a puppy, Bentley. He became our pride and joy, our baby.
Eventually, Jerry went to be tested to see if he had any medical issues preventing a pregnancy. No problems, no issues. The relief that came over him was so surprising to me. As is often the case, both partners become worried, and feel anxiety in hopes they are not the “reason” a couple cannot have children. It is heartbreaking really. I knew Jerry cared, a lot, but I had no idea he was feeling so nervous that he was “responsible” for our struggles.
It is interesting to add that I then became more worried that it had to be my “fault”. I went to an infertility specialist. He ran all of his tests, took blood, checked hormones, and did ultrasounds with contrast dyes to check everything. They found everything to be “normal”. It was both a relief and confusion to me. What was wrong then? What was wrong with ME? Not the kindest thing to ask oneself, is it? But it seems that a lot of us in this predicament do that to ourselves!
The well-meaning advice began: “Your headboard must face East”, they said. “Count days”…”take temperatures”…”don’t stand up for 45 minutes”…”howl at the moon”…not really, but you get the picture! It became more and more difficult to not actually try each and every weird suggestion of “what worked for them”. We were told to try not to try, and to let it all go. That was the hardest, at least for me.
I tried not to care. I would try to fake myself out. It felt like I was on a never-ending emotional roller coaster ride. The ups…the downs…but mostly I felt the ups…you know, that moment you feel the roller coaster is working really hard to pull you up that first hill, while you anxiously wait for that fun and thrilling moment that you have reached the top, and are now going to feel the excitement and tickle in your stomach as the wind rushes through your hair, and the ride delights you.
But instead, you just turn a quick, jolting corner, and you feel like you are going to go off the rails just before you go up another hill, over and over again…for years… while pretending to be okay. Pretending not to care. All while being truly and sincerely happy as your friends start their family, but confusing yourself as you grieve silently in the car all the way home from work so your husband or friends don’t see you cry.
We were told our next step would be IUI (intrauterine insemination). For some reason, I had a hard time scheduling the appointment. I was determined we could do this on our own, with no medical intervention because we were told we have no problems. I mean, people do it all the time, often while not even meaning to. Finally, after an amazing conversation with my mom, Jerry and I decided it was time. We went in for our IUI. I started once again on a compounded bio-identical progesterone cream, to help sustain a possible pregnancy. We waited those long 14 days after the procedure with both hope and trepidation in knowing the results.
It was on the thirteenth day of waiting that my younger sister tearfully told me she was pregnant, with her second child. She was so happy, but so heartbroken for me at the same time. It affects people that way. They don’t want to hurt you. They often feel guilty for their own joy in conceiving, while they ache for your heartache. My heart was so happy for her, and so scared for myself.
On the fourteenth day, I woke early to take my pregnancy test. My heart was jumping out of my chest, and I stilled myself to prepare for the heartache that I had experienced so many times before. I had such hope, but didn’t dare hope too much because the letdown was just too painful. Not daring to look. I sat there waiting for the longest two minutes of my life. You know, that last click on the top of the roller coaster? I looked; a quick glance, then a second, longer look, followed by an all out stare. Was it positive? Wait! Was it positive? I had never seen a positive before! My stomach tickled. Wind rushed through my hair. I looked again!
My husband was asleep, and I didn’t wake him. Instead I took my begging dog out for a short walk. I soaked it in. When I returned, Jerry woke and calmly rolled over to ask if I had taken the test. I smiled SO big, and burst in to tears. Come to find out, when I took my dog out, Jerry thought I didn’t wake him because the news was bad. He snuck in to the bathroom to check the test, so he could prepare himself to comfort me. Upon seeing the positive test, he soaked up his own joy, and then rushed back to bed to wait for me to tell him. It was amazing. It worked our first try! We were thrilled!
You know what was hard? It was hard to tell my friends, who struggled with the same issues I had, that I was pregnant. But, like I had been excited for so many of my friends who announced their pregnancy, they were delighted for me. But, I knew they grieved alone in their car after work so their husband wouldn’t see them cry.
My son, Tayden Jeremy was born healthy, and happy exactly three days after my younger sister’s son was born. Our boys are extremely close to this day. I cannot describe the gratitude and love I have for those boys. I’m thankful for my son: an amazing boy, who is kind, intelligent, and playful. I love him, and I love having a son.
After this pregnancy, we knew we would always need medical assistance in getting pregnant. As part of Jerry’s medical school schedule, he was leaving soon to do a month long audition rotation in Boston at Harvard. Within a couple of days of him leaving, I felt something was off with my body. I felt dramatic and silly as I took my barely one year old to the store to buy a pregnancy test. The cashier would surely think I was crazy. I rushed home to take the test. The test was positive! What?!? Was this even real? We were shocked.
Jerry finished that month away, and then cancelled all of his other months of audition rotations so he could be with his growing family. He was ecstatic. We both were! We welcomed our daughter, Mylee into our family. What a joy! Jerry graduated Medical School, when Mylee was three weeks old, then two weeks after that, we moved away from friends and family to begin our next adventure; a six-year residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in California. He finishes this summer, 2017. Our son will turn eight right after, and our daughter will be six. We have had an amazing experience here. Going to Disneyland, play soccer, go on adventures with friends, and are very involved in our church and community. We enjoy a fabulous home life, marriage, and family!
Over the past several years we have started our original story over again. We simply KNOW our family is not complete, even though we are happy and blessed. Again, we did all the tests. Again, nothing. This time they added medicine to up the chances of ovulation, doses of Clomid, or Letrozole, with HCG shots (kindly given by my husband because I just couldn’t do it), IUI over and over, no success. The familiar roller coaster of emotions returned. Why did we feel so strongly that our family wasn’t complete? Were we ungrateful for the two miracles we already were given? Certainly not, but we knew it’s not complete.
Each month passed along with a different set of emotions: Sometimes tears, sometimes anger, often worry, always heartache, and more than not, a combination of them all. After a while we needed a break. I needed a break. Jerry needed a break. So, we went back to “trying not to try”, and even then fought our own emotional struggles.
Jerry and I have talked extensively for years about adoption. Even back in high school we mentioned how we would both love to adopt children. We know that we have received our answer. Even now that our two children are thriving, and both are in school, and we have no more diapers to change, no late night feedings to give, no naps to take, or any of the many things a baby brings; our family is not complete yet. We adore Tayden and Mylee, and they adore each other, yet even they wonder when that special day may come, that they get another sibling. We can only imagine sharing that day with them.
Through much prayer, faith, and heartfelt discussion, we have come to the realization, and made the decision that our family will finish being built in a different way. A way that is as much of a miracle as a “natural” childbirth is. Our hearts and home are wide open as we wait for a brave and selfless birthmother, whom, although she loves her unborn child, is not in the position at this time of her life to raise a child to maturity.
We have always admired the courage and love it must take for a mother of a child to make the selfless decision to do what she sincerely believes is in the best interest of her child. Someone who gives her child the chance to live in a home with a family that has prayed mightily for that child, but cannot create that child by themselves. Only through her selfless love and sacrifice can they raise that child. We would be blessed and delighted to add a third, even a fourth child to our family. Our hearts are open and ready to love, cherish, teach, and care for the remaining children in our family. We anxiously await that day.