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Emily Estes' Infertility and Adoption Journey

 ☀️ CLICK HERE to buy the Slice of Sun's beautiful products like pajamas and socks! A portion of every sale will go to women experiencing infertility. Wear to your own appointments or while cozy at home to remind you that you have this community of women linking arms with you and that you're not alone. You are incredible, sister. They make the perfect gifts, too!

CLICK HERE to join our safe, private Facebook group to meet other incredible women who are walking your path. ☀️

Read Emily's story here:

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Our journey with infertility began in the summer of 2012. Like many hopeful mothers, my husband and I took the exciting step of deciding we were ready to start a family. We had been married for a few years and just moved to our home state of Florida for my husband’s schooling. I never once considered that we wouldn't automatically get pregnant. We were young, healthy and so anxious to be parents, it seemed like pregnancy was just the next step. But as the months dragged on and nothing happened, I sought the advice of my doctor. Thankfully, he immediately recognized that I showed signs of PCOS and did a full work up. I started doing acupuncture to help regulate my cycles and after a few more months, he referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist. I remember walking into her office and feeling so confident. I was taking all the right steps to have a baby and I was still young and healthy. Even my doctor was confident. She looked me in the eyes at the end of the appointment and said “Ok, let's make you a baby!”

But our journey wasn’t that simple. More tests showed dual-factor infertility which led us to try IUI. Three failed IUI’s later and that same doctor told me it was time to consider IVF. I was heartbroken and officially scared. I wasn’t sure I was ready for IVF and took a step back to consider the best option. This was such a dark time for me. I wish I was one of those people who faced challenges with confidence, but the reality is that I was overwhelmed and felt lost. My husband and I had discussed adoption before and as we talked more about it, our hearts turned in that direction. We were fortunate to know several families who had experienced adoption and so we turned to them to learn more about the process.

The more we learned, the more confident we felt that this was our next step. I learned during this time that I did best when I had all of the information I could find. So, I immersed myself in research and talked to everyone I could about how the adoption process worked and what we needed to do. We decided to stop pursuing fertility treatments and turn all of our efforts to adoption. Once we made the decision, all of my fears subsided. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, and there were no guarantees, but I felt peace that we were on the right path.

After several months of background checks, home visits and lots of paperwork, we were home study approved! We then experienced an entirely different kind of waiting game. When we were going through fertility treatments, it seemed like there was always an ovulation test to take or cycle to wait for. But with adoption, it was just a lot of quiet waiting. I struggled to feel that same peace I felt when we made the choice to adopt, but just continued to have faith that we were on the right path. And then one day, an expectant mother contacted us. She was due in just a few weeks and we began talking and getting to know each other. Everything felt so right and, for the first time since our last IUI failed, I allowed myself to hope. 12 days after her due date, the expectant mother called and told us it was time. We booked a flight for the next day and as we were sitting on the plane waiting to take off, we received a picture of our daughter. Our flight wasn't long, but I looked at that picture the whole time, dreaming of that little girl and what our futures held. The next few days were not easy. It was a very sacred experience, one that I honor and feel very blessed for. In those days we created a beautiful blended family and our lives were changed forever. On February 29th 2016 (yes it was a leap year!), we signed the consent papers and our daughter, Alexis Victoria Estes officially joined our family. 

Becoming a mother has been my greatest joy! I spent so many days and nights crying and pleading for the chance to be a mom over those years of infertility and I soaked in every sleepless night and baby giggle. The older our daughter got, the more I felt those holes in my heart heal and I dedicated myself to building a relationship with my daughter and her birth families. We feel so blessed to have an open adoption with both of her birth parents and have them be a part of her life. Alexis is a beam of sunshine and there is no doubt that she was meant to be in our family. As she grew, we knew we wanted her to have siblings and we wanted to have more children. I secretly hoped each month that I would be one of those miracle stories: the women who struggle to conceive and then adopt a child and magically get pregnant. But the more time that went by, it became clear that wouldn’t be me. 

In 2018, we dove back into the world of infertility. This time we saw a new doctor and he suggested we move right to IVF. I felt so confident I wasn’t that jaded and scared girl who left the fertility specialist all those years before and approached our treatments with all the positivity and excitement I could muster. We decided to be fairly open about pursuing IVF, asking our family and close friends for their prayers and support. While this put some pressure on the process, I am so grateful I had a team of people supporting us along the way. A few weeks later we picked up the box of medicine, laid out our at-home pharmacy and felt confident that this was the way to grow our family.

Our retrieval was successful and when all was said and done, we ended up with 3 embryos. It was less than we hoped for, but we knew we only needed one to take! We transferred 2 embryos during our first fresh transfer and then waited. I had a horrible reaction to the progesterone and so it was an uncomfortable wait, but we were optimistic nonetheless. 2 days before my doctor's appointment, I decided to take an at home pregnancy test. I couldn’t believe it when it was negative. I took several more over the next two days but slowly realized that my transfer had failed. Sure enough, the nurse called me to confirm the news we didn’t want to hear. Since I had needed time to heal from my reaction, my doctor suggested waiting a few months before we did the frozen transfer of our last embryo. During that time, I felt my hope slip away. Instead of turning to others to help, I just buried away my fears and concerns and focused on being a mom.

Three months later, we transferred our last embryo. This time the transfer and days after were much easier on me physically and I just hoped our last embryo could give us a miracle baby. I told myself I wouldn't do an at home test this time, but of course I caved. Once again, the test read negative. It was a difficult few days leading up to my doctors appointment and blood work. I woke up that morning and got my daughter ready for school, but felt like I was on the verge of breaking down. When the nurse called me back to do my blood work, she excitedly asked if I took a test at home. It was at that moment that my walls broke down. I am so grateful for that kind nurse who talked me through my breakdown and allowed me to feel the pain of the moment. The rest of the day was a blur but the inevitable call came, and I just felt empty. We had felt so confident in moving forward with IVF, I didn't understand how we could come away empty handed. I felt betrayed by my body and at a loss of where to go next. 

It was in those months after our failed cycle that I started to contemplate how to be a person who survived infertility. I realized that for many years, my infertility had dictated so many of my choices and feelings. I no longer wanted it to define who I was, but I didn't know how to do that. I listened to podcasts, prayed, read books, but nothing was giving me the answers I was looking for. So many suggestions seemed to focus on being positive and accepting my path, which I wanted to do, but I also wanted to honor the fight and failure of my experiences. One night, I was reading a book and the word “persist" stuck out to me. I looked up the definition (because I am an English major at heart) and found this: “to continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.” For the first time, I felt there was a word that summed up how I could move forward. I could continue through failure to try to grow my family: I could PERSIST. And so persist I did. 

We didn't have the financial means to immediately pursue another round of IVF or even adoption, so we focused on making memories as a family. We built relationships with friends and family and I focused on trying to overcome my mental blocks that fertility had created. We even decided to try IVF again, but we were thwarted by a global pandemic. It was during the global lockdown that I think I truly came to peace with the idea that I may never carry a child. I have been working on my thoughts about my body and my infertility. I am working on accepting the path that Heavenly Father has presented me with, and I am choosing to PERSIST. 

In June of 2020, we moved from Miami, Florida to Birmingham, Alabama. We found a social worker and are in the process of completing our home study for our next adoption. I don’t know what our future will hold. We could be met with success, or we could be met with more failure. But I have confidence in my ability to survive whatever is placed in front of me and find peace and joy on the other side. 

If you are in the throws of your infertility journey, don’t lose hope. This journey will be sad. You will likely be disappointed. And you may even come out the other side a little bit broken and empty handed. But know that you can persist and find strength in your ability to continue moving forward, fighting for what you want.

Instagram: @emilymaeestes / @estes.family.adopts

Facebook: Emily Mae Estes

 ☀️ CLICK HERE to buy the Slice of Sun's beautiful products like pajamas and socks! A portion of every sale will go to women experiencing infertility. Wear to your own appointments or while cozy at home to remind you that you have this community of women linking arms with you and that you're not alone. You are incredible, sister. They make the perfect gifts, too!

CLICK HERE to join our safe, private Facebook group to meet other incredible women who are walking your path. ☀️

To read Katie Boyd's Infertility Journey, click HERE.

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