Linda and Drew talk about their efforts to expand their family (spoiler alert: it wasn’t easy) and other stuff they didn’t expect about expecting.
It’s still kind of blurry, how we got from there to here. It felt like a time warp, every month like Groundhog Day, but you keep going through the motions—the doctor appointments, the medications, the tests, the blood work, the pep talks—hoping for the best. And then, bam!
We know we’re not alone in having experienced fertility challenges. Our hope is that by sharing just a sliver of our journey, someone out there is reminded that they’re not alone in it either.
Where do we even begin? It’s only natural for us to look at this like the biggest renovation we’ve ever taken on, since that’s our line of work. And didn’t we know that renovations don’t just miraculously happen? Still, blindly and optimistically, we went on about our lives as if this one would.
Are We Finally Taking This Project On?
You know when you live in a space for so long that you just get used to the way things are? Like a stain on the sofa that you strategically place a pillow over, or that burned-out light bulb you mean to replace one weekend. Well, we were the inhabitants adjusting to things rather than fixing them. We were also like that bulb: burned out. We just didn’t know it because we didn’t give ourselves a moment to notice, to admit it.
What’s that saying about shoemakers having bad haircuts? Or barbers with holes in their shoes? Don’t ask us about common phrases; we’re sure to mess them up. But that was us—we were so caught up in the machine that helped other families build their forever homes (over 500!) that we didn’t tend to our own as much as we said we wanted to.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re nothing but grateful for what we’ve been able to build with our hard work and the support of so many—including our own lovely home. But we’re talking about our home home. Not the building, but the place that’s referenced endlessly on decorative pieces of wood and hung up in front entryways. Home is where the heart is.
And the truth sank in for us: We weren’t looking after our home, ourselves, our hearts. We hadn’t decided to wait this long. We’d just never taken the steps to make it come true. We thought it would magically happen, and it didn’t. So finally, after years of “talking” about wanting kids and answering interview questions in the same rehearsed way, over and over, it was time we did something about it.
“We were so caught up in the machine that helped other families build their forever homes (over 500!) that we didn’t tend to our own.”
First, You Lay the Foundation
Fast-forward: After two years of half-assed effort and pure unawareness from both of us, we realized we had some homework to do. We needed to tune into our bodies, big time. Even though we were both all about health, wellness, and all that jazz, we never really listened to what our bodies were telling us. Not getting pregnant right away was a wake-up call for both of us.
L: It felt like there were cracks in our foundation. I think this was more of my mentality than Drew’s.
D: I didn’t think anything was wrong; I thought our timing was off.
L: I was just so anxious and sad that maybe it was too late for us. And then I’d feel dumb for waiting so long, for not having given a thought to whether I wanted kids. (Spoiler alert: I do.) I’d think, I should have worked harder to plan for this, and feel silly that I ignored the possibility that it might not be easy. And then I’d feel optimistic again. Then the next month it would be the same cycle of emotions.
D: It was hard to see Linda go through that because I just immediately want to fix things. But we didn’t know what the problem was. I did know that my demanding schedule exacerbated all of these issues and put the whole situation in a pressure cooker. I needed to refocus my priorities and time.
L: That’s why when the lockdown started, back in 2020, we felt so grateful to be able to stay home. It’s what I’d been wanting for so long. I was tired of only being home for a few days at a time, using the house to dump our bags, sleep, and pack for the next trip. I know we’ve said we can make “home” anywhere, but the constant resettling in wore on me.
D: We thought, Oooh great! We’re going to do a lot of “baking cookies,” if you know what I mean—ha ha!
L: That was before we realized how serious it all was. How the heck were we supposed to be “in the mood” when it was such a scary time and so many people were suffering? It was mentally tough and we were often guilt-ridden that we were OK. It was also an exercise in balancing self-care so that we could help others. Anyway, the sexiest our isolation got was board games and puzzles in our underwear.
D: Don’t forget, with a side of instant mac and cheese. Extra saucy! I really discovered my inner chef.
We started with what we knew or thought we knew: Tracking ovulation. Eating better. Trying to de-stress. But that part is like an evil riddle. We knew we had somewhat of a demolition job on our hands.
Punch List: Must-haves/Must Go
So what was on our must-have list of things to do to get our ducks (eggs, tadpoles, and minds) in a row?
- • Regular therapy
- • Acupuncture
- • Check-ins with our doctor
- • Meditating and exercising
- • Getting enough sleep
- • A battery of tests for both of us
Everything looked fine as far as we could tell, except for Linda’s thyroid condition, something she’d been living with but we hadn’t factored in because she felt “fine.”
So, adding to the list:
- • Regular blood work to check thyroid levels
• Eating for thyroid health
• Saying “yes” to everything and everyone at all times
Lining up the Dream Team
As much as we tried to, we could not DIY this one! Like any big project, you have to put together the right team. Aside from the healthcare pros we’ve been so fortunate to work with, we also count our blessings that our family and friends have been a support throughout this whole adventure. A vital part of that was/is talking to those who have gone through similar challenges. Going through it taught us to be even more compassionate about others’ experiences. It’s can be difficult to bring up the topic of fertility. It can be hard to ask someone how they’re really doing, even when you really care. So we’re extremely appreciative of the many ways people helped us cope:
- • Genuine interest and check-ins
- • Homemade healthy soups, hand-delivered
- • Listening and just being with us
- • Recommended books and podcasts
- • Sharing in our disappointment and sadness each time the rounds of IUI didn’t work
- • Overnight oats when Linda was constipated!
- • Giving us privacy and space to just be when we weren’t ready to share updates
- • And perhaps most viscerally noteworthy, the fun and laughs that got us through times when we didn’t want the only thing we thought and talked about to be trying to get pregnant
Our Contingency Fund
This part is really scary to think about. Early on, we had the conversation about, well, if we don’t ever get pregnant—then what? We agreed that we’d be more than happy to adopt. Where a renovation contingency plan would be a reserve of money, the currency here was space and time to feel whatever it was we needed to feel. Not just if things go south, but also at any time of uncertainty, of which there are many. If there’s one thing we’re learning, true to the most common advice from parents we’ve talked to, it’s plan to have your plans shat on.
“Where a renovation contingency plan would be a reserve of money, the currency here was space and time to feel whatever it was we needed to feel.”
It was a sunny morning when we missed a call from Dr. Baek, our reproductive endocrinologist.
L: I swear, the moment I’m on the toilet, I always get calls! I told Drew that I’d be calling Dr. B. back in a few minutes. So we met up in the attic, the brightest and most Zen spot at home where we like to chill out, dialed her up, and waited—hopeful, but also trying to play it cool. And we finally heard the few words we had been waiting to hear. It was definitely not a beeline to get there, as few things in life are—with the possible exception of making a beeline to the pantry when a midnight craving calls.
D: I remember seeing Linda feeling anxious and her feeling my sticky palms. I was nervous, too. Dr. Baek got straight to the point, announcing, “CONGRATS! YOU’RE PREGNANT! YOUR BLOOD WORK LOOKS GREAT!”
L: I looked over at you with my jaw open. It’s kind of funny. Anticipating hearing those words, I expected to jump with joy. However, in that moment I remember feeling more of a sense of relief.
D: Yeah, we were both oddly calm. Which confused us in the moment, but in retrospect we realize that we had been building up to this moment; we had been in it every minute of every day. We saw the progress, felt the setbacks, assembled the right support network of specialists, family, and friends, and did all that we could leading up to reveal day.
L: We’ve never pulled off a reveal day without the help of a team! I remember hugging each other on the sofa in the attic and feeling a combination of peace, happiness, a drop of doubt, and bliss…all the things.
Where do we go from here? We don’t know what we don’t know, right? So we’ve been reading what we can; compiling recommendations for car seats, ethically made baby products, and postpartum tips; meeting with our doula; and taking birth-prep classes, acupuncture, therapy—continuing all the healthy practices that got us here. But the one thing we do know (or at least are prepared for) is to throw everything we think we know out the window once the baby comes. Because if this little one is anything like either of us, our plans will change by the minute. And we’re OK with that.
Until then, we’ll grab as much sleep as we can.
By Drew & Linda | Photographs by Jai Lennard