Over the past six years or so, Christine Kahan and her husband Aaron have traveled a windy bumpy road in their effort to become parents. They’ve both had invasive surgeries, a failed attempt to ‘Foster to Adopt’ two little girls, 4 (failed) rounds of IVF and most recently, their effort to have a baby through embryo donation was unsuccessful.
Rather than bury their faces in the sand, this couple is being vocal about their experience in the hopes that it will shine a light on what so many experience during the painful road of infertility.
The opening to their memoir, Navigating the Road of Infertility, reads:
Excited, determined, hopeful, disappointed, frustrated, sad, shocked, and numb – this is the cycle of emotions a couple goes through every month without conception. Every doctor appointment, procedure and let down. Every couple who is forced off the highway of Planned Pregnancy and shoved onto the lonely exit ramp of Infertility Road sadly knows this emotional roller-coaster ride all too well.
During RESOLVE’s National Infertility Awareness Week in 2017, the Kahans were featured on Headline News to raise awareness for the disease of infertility.
We sat down with Christine, who told us that she and her husband were rejected for international adoption, and are currently going through domestic adoption. They hope this path finally leads them to parenthood.
What inspired you to start blogging and writing about your infertility experience?
When we were 3 years into our infertility experience, it had already felt like we had experienced so much. This included each of us having surgeries (me a myomectomy for my abnormally large uterine fibroids and Aaron had removal of variococele, varicose veins in the testicles), a failed attempt to foster to adopt two girls and a failed fresh round of IVF. I wanted to share our journey because I wanted the world to know what we went through and lost through fostering to adopt. I continued to blog because our story became my outlet and it gave a voice to the issue of infertility that is often overlooked or minimized.
What’s a big misconception, in your experience, about infertility?
The biggest misconception is that people think it’s easy to “just adopt” and will make judgmental comments such as “why spend all that money on IVF when there are so many kids in foster care?” Of course they don’t mean to be judgmental, but this surface understanding of the system and process to adopt is why I continue to document our journey. Foster care is not built for adoption and these days if you go that route, in our experience, it can often take 3 years for parental rights to be terminated for adoption to even be considered.
You’ve said that infertility feels like gambling. In what way?
When you gamble you are rolling the dice literally, pulling a slot or placing all of your chips on one color hoping that you are going to come out a winner. It’s the same with infertility and the route you choose to try to conceive. It’s very expensive and most people do not have the funds to go through cycle after cycle to get pregnant. Literally, sometimes all they have is one chance. Our infertility struggle led us to a last chance at conception through embryo adoption. In this case it was one chance at carrying a child for $8,000 (out of pocket). We took this gamble and lost. I feel like a gambler who placed her chips on the wrong color and walked out flat broke.
I continued to blog because our story became my outlet and it gave a voice to the issue of infertility that is often overlooked or minimized.How do you respond to people who think infertility is just a woman’s issue?
Our story was featured on HLN last year for National Infertility Awareness Week. Some woman viewer made an ignorant comment stating that she had to turn it off because she didn’t want to hear about “women’s genitals.”
I feel sad for the ignorance some people have towards this issue. Infertility affects about 1 in 6 couples, so it’s a shame when people don’t want to know more about it as it is probably an issue affecting someone they love.
That’s also why I co-authored the book with my husband. He’s been in this every step of the way with me and has experienced tremendous loss with me. It’s important to shed light on the male perspective through each part of the infertility journey as their voice often gets discounted.
How do you stay motivated to ‘keep going’ with so many setbacks and twists and turns?
I’ve always had the motto in life that situations may knock me down but not out. This has led people to think I’m really strong which I am…but I do break. I’m only able to keep going because I allow myself to go through the roller coaster of emotions that come with each setback. I also have an amazing partner who is able to support me when I’m breaking. I’m not going to lie to you, some days it’s exhausting. Some days it’s heartbreaking and I backslide into a puddle of tears and depression. I’ve lost every child I ever tried to have: the two girls who called me mom through foster care and my 2 miscarriages. But, I know that there has to be a purpose for my pain and my faith allows me to keep believing that some day, somehow, I will be a mom.
So on my worst days, I get up, put on a fabulous outfit, show up, smile through my pain and throw myself into my amazing job as an assistant principal.
Anything else you want to share with our readers, given your experience?
We can be really hard on ourselves and our bodies during the struggle with infertility.
Make sure through your infertility journey that you do something kind for yourself.
Listen to stories, share your own, and get feedback from the community.