I’m no expert in genetics, but one thing I know for sure; genetic testing has changed the course of my life.

My husband Ryan and I met on a college cross-cultural trip to England. Less than a year later, we were dating and three years later, we were married. He pursued me with all his might, and I gave in – I thank God for my weakness every day. His gentle heart, sensitivity, goofiness, and ability to run faster than anyone I know won me over. Ryan is the textbook definition of a well-rounded man, and I like to think I’m his perfect counterpart.  Where he lacks patience, I can wait forever. Where I lack tolerance, he accepts without hesitation.
He proposed where we went on our first official date – Hershey Park. It was amongst the loud thunder of a roller coaster and screaming kids that he got down on one knee and asked me to be his – forever. The ring was upside down and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Of course, I said “yes!” Our wedding day was the most perfect, sunny day ever. Naturally, we got married inside. I’d never risk rain, I’m a big planner (read, “control freak”),  and it was really a perfect day. I remember several weeks later, a friend said, “Erin, I don’t know anyone who looked as happy as you on their wedding day. You looked truly happy.” I’ve been known to wear my emotions on my sleeve and this time it paid off – to have my family and friends see the joy I felt was a true blessing.
And so that’s when the love story of “us” got started. We knew that we were quite the pair right from the start, but it wasn’t until we started trying to have kids that our destiny began to unfold before our eyes.  Simply “getting pregnant” wasn’t working.  I intuitively felt like something was wrong, and after 6 months of Clomid {to initiate ovulation}, 1 month additional hormones, 1 failed IUI, and 2 failed IVF cycles, I knew something was wrong. We actually attempted 3 IVF cycles, but one was switched to an IUI because of the lack of viable eggs. I was on the highest dosage of medication and still….only 2 eggs. Our fertility specialist suggested I get tested for Fragile X syndrome, which could cause premature ovarian failure – this might provide an answer to our problem. It just made sense to get tested for Fragile X, as well as, 100+ genetic diseases in a Counsyl test.
We felt assured that it would be a $100 test to give us some comfort in knowing nothing was wrong and we could continue with hope and trust that my supplements would boost my eggs and get us the healthy embryos we needed to transfer! I remember the call we got from our nurse like it was yesterday. She said “we just got your Counsyl results and it’s….interesting” (insert crickets and my rapid heartbeat here). After what felt like forever she asked me if I had a piece of paper and would like to “write some things down.”
When you don’t say “Hereditary Thymine-Uraciluria” every day it’s kind of hard to get out in one breath – it took her several + a spelling. After I hung up the phone, I knew that the direction of our lives had changed. I knew my plans were certainly not my own and nothing was going to continue as planned. Ryan and I both were on the same page here and thought aloud: “seriously?” Was there really one more thing?
Our parents had the same reaction to the news. We were all kind of in disbelief. None of us knew anything about Hereditary Thymine Uraciluria – nothing. All we knew was that our child would be at 25% risk for a genetic disease that could cause serious mental and physical disabilities.
I always knew Ryan and I were a special pair, but the risk for both of us to be carriers was 1/10,000. If that’s not special, I’m not sure what is. So we did what we’ve been doing throughout our entire journey; researched our options, talked with genetic counselors, and prayed that God’s perfect plan would continue to reveal itself to us. And it has. The Counsyl test was what one might call “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” With no transfer-worthy embryos, old acting ovaries, and a really random genetic disease mutation, we felt God was trying to tell us something – “stop trying to do it yourselves!”
I felt immediate relief in knowing what we were going to do, and then I was hit by what it really meant. We both feel that God was directing us to stop, but WOW was it hard to accept. Making the decision to adopt is one thing, but accepting it is something completely different. The desire for us to have children has never wavered throughout our journey. I don’t have words to express the joy and excitement I feel for what’s ahead for us. I know, with certainty, that God continues to work in our lives and the baby He blesses us with will be a gift.
Our families couldn’t be more excited. We wasted no time initiating the adoption process and we’re officially waiting to hear from the agency. This means that any day now, we could get a call saying “you’re parents!” I imagine that will be another life changing moment. Although this process has felt impossible at times, I thank God for bringing us through it…although that might sound crazy! I’ve discovered strength that I didn’t know I had and have felt peace that only arrives after the hardest of storms.

I’d encourage anyone going through the throngs of infertility to remain hopeful, stay informed on all that’s happening and don’t be afraid to steer away from the plans you create for yourself. We’ve decided that no matter how long we have to wait for our “forever baby” we’re starting our “happily ever after” right now. The desire of our hearts will be fulfilled, and I cannot begin to imagine how special and unique that will be for us.

Erin and her husband Ryan live minutes from “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” Hershey, Pennsylvania. Erin loves to stay active, spend time with her dog Phinley, and update her personal blog.  Erin currently works as an elementary school computer teacher and is looking forward to her dream job as “mom.”

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