By Lyneda Lincoln
How did I get here?! I have NO idea how I got here!
As a little girl dreaming about the life I aspired to have – a high powered career, a doting husband, two beautiful children – it never crossed my mind that I might not be able to have one of those things. From a young age I was told that if I wanted something, I just had to work hard enough, and it could be mine; something about the world being my oyster – you know the saying. So, that’s what I did. I worked hard. I was dedicated. I crushed high school. I sailed through college. I landed an amazing job with a Fortune 100 company right out of college at the ripe age of 22. And finally, that sexy guy that I had kept on my arm for the past four years - my best friend turned love of my life - finally asked me to marry him! I was getting everything I ever wanted. But, why shouldn’t I? I followed the recipe of life that had been handed to me – I worked hard and maintained focus. For that, I deserved everything I ever wanted. Crack that oyster open y’all! I want my pearl!!
My husband and I had decided before we got married that we wanted to spend the first two years of our marriage just enjoying each other and settling into adult life. After that, we’d start the next part of our journey together and have that first child we had been fantasizing about. It was the perfect plan. But, this was the first time I would find that life doesn’t always quite go as planned. A year after we got married, I was unwillingly saddled with this burdensome feeling that I wanted to be a mother sooner. As exciting as the prospect of being a mother was, I was a bit annoyed that my mind and my heart didn’t get the memo that I needed another year of blissful married life before I started thinking about children. I tried to push the feeling aside, but pregnant bellies popped up everywhere and babies had these cute, googly eyes that caused my heart to palpitate uncontrollably. The baby aisles suddenly had this alarming power to pull me towards them and then it happened… the mirror whispered to me to look down at my hand cupping my belly and picture that oyster pearl finally cradled within my grasp in the form of tiny hands and toes. I told my husband about how I was feeling. He was kind hesitant because he didn’t want the pressure of trying yet. But, he was willing to let me stop my birth control pills and with an, “if it happens it happens” attitude, he began toying with the idea of a surprise pregnancy that would whisk him into fatherhood. So, Christmas 2013 was an exciting time because we had it in our minds that within the next few months we would make the exciting announcement that Baby Lincoln was on the way!
Oh… but its 6 months later and we haven’t even seen a shadow of a line on any of those little pesky tests that we had stocked up on. What was going on?? Well, duh! I wasn’t following the recipe. I was expecting it to just happen without any hard work. No worries – challenge accepted!!! I began rigorous research – I found articles, books, Facebook support groups. I downloaded more apps for tracking my cycles to compare against the My Calendar app I had already been using. I started my Rainbow Lite Prenatal Vitamins. I purchased Wondfo OPKs. I booked a pre-conception check-up appointment for myself and my husband. By this time my husband also felt we should be more pro-active and start actively trying to conceive so we just knew that the pre-conception check-up would give us the ammo we needed to make this baby. Much to my surprise, because we were only 24 years old at the time and too young to be worried about fertility issues, the pre-conception visit consisted of a standard physical and a metaphorical pat on the head with a, “have fun!” on the way out the door.
Christmas 2014 had now come and gone. Still no baby. How could this be?? I clearly wasn’t working hard enough… I wasn’t praying hard enough. Time to add in monitoring my Basal Body Temperature and get down on those knees a bit more so my Heavenly Father could hear me better. But despite my hard work, my heart was still in shambles as with each month Aunt Flo showed up like clockwork. By early 2015 I was tired of waiting around. Friends and family had been telling me to stop stressing and just let it happen. Our doctors had told us it just takes time and that we are young so there was nothing to worry about. Yet, each month, someone else was making a pregnancy announcement or posting photos of their new baby and here I was with an empty womb. My oyster shell was closing… and fast. I was in despair. The emotional toll began to affect me physically as well in many ways. My husband didn’t know how to console me. Aside from dealing with what I presumed to be an undiagnosed fertility issue, I was also trying to cope with grief and loss of several family members. By June 2015 I had a more positive outlook on life and decided to go in for fertility testing. Once again, we were told that we were too young to be worried about fertility issue, but I was persistent.
After fertility testing with our local doctor, we were diagnosed with severe Male Factor Infertility and were hesitantly advised that we had a 1% chance of ever being able to conceive naturally. So, a referral was made to a local fertility clinic and urologist who would help us going forward. After a few months, my husband was prescribed Clomid to start his treatment, but before we could get the prescription filled, we found out that we were miraculously pregnant!! At 8 weeks, my OB had trouble believing we were pregnant and asked that she be able to check via ultrasound before my dad and my husband came back into the room to prevent any harsh surprises. But, sure enough our little pearl was there - strong and healthy.
I went on to have a perfect pregnancy filled with awe and a blissful unmedicated home water birth where we met our precious baby girl. However, I never lost sight of the fact that we were one of the few lucky ones. Most go on to do years of treatment and endure IVF before they ever get to meet their long-awaited miracle(s).
Being a spiritual person, I believe that everything happens for a reason and at the perfect time. But, I also can’t help but feel as though we may have had our miracle that much sooner had our medical professionals not been so blinded by our age. Infertility doesn’t just happen to those in their mid-30’s and 40’s. We were a stable, otherwise healthy married African American couple in our mid-20s who had an explainable fertility issue that could have been addressed early on during our pre-conception checkup and could have saved us a lot of heartache, time, and money.
Although our infertility journey was admittedly long and painful (longer than some, shorter than others), it did make me more appreciative of the privilege it is to be a mother. My husband and I spend every day extremely thankful for our daughter and we cherish every small moment with her. But, what I didn’t anticipate was that the feelings of infertility don’t just go away after you “beat it”. You look around at the other women who are still standing in the mirror cupping an empty womb. Their pain continues. You watch women complain about how easy it is for them to get pregnant with children they don’t want. You get angry. In my case, you change your life plans and decide that you don’t need two children – one is good enough – because you don’t want to experience the pain and longing all over again. So, then what DOES come after infertility?
In our case, I realized that our burden could be used as someone else’s blessing. I wasn’t ready to give up the fight against infertility just yet. From this, I made the decision that I was going to become a surrogate to help other couples complete their forever family. My husband was completely supportive, and we went through the laborious process of screening, testing, matching, fertility medications, and embryo transfer. It gave me the chance to understand all we could have gone through, so I could appreciate my blessing that much more. It also gave me the chance to meet a beautiful couple in their mid-40s who is now eagerly awaiting their fraternal boy/girl twins from our first successful FET in December 2017 after years of their own infertility struggle which included failed transfers, pregnancy loss, and financial sacrifice. This journey has presented its own set of challenges but is equally rewarding and fulfilling for me knowing that I did my part to help eliminate the fertility struggles of another couple.
I honestly can’t say how I go here – how I became this 28-year-old mama discussing and spreading awareness about infertility. But, I am so honored to be a part of this movement and to have been given a platform to tell my story. I hope as you’ve read through some of these stories this week, you gain a better understanding of the struggles about infertility and how it can affect just about anyone around you. I hope you choose to speak out and do your part to bring more awareness to this topic so that people don’t have to continue suffering alone… It really can happen to anyone.
Lyneda is a 28-year-old aspiring entrepreneur and mama of one. Several years ago, in the midst of her pain, she took to Instagram as a way to express her frustrations of eagerly awaiting a child and to find other women who might be experiencing the same thing. Since then, she has continued the unfiltered documentation her life on her Instagram profile @WeAreTheLincolns in the hope to spread awareness about infertility, motherhood, and surrogacy. In between Instagram blog posts, Lyneda enjoys reading, working her new endeavor as a home-based travel agent, and spending time with her family.