I Always Dreamt of Being a Mom—But I Never Thought It’d Cost Me My Marriage

A mom shares her candid journey of having children via IVF with her wife only to be served unexpected divorce papers.

They say motherhood changes you indefinitely. To some that might be scary, but to me, that change couldn’t come soon enough. 

The thing is, I’ve always wanted to be a mom. I remember acting out being a mom to every stuffed animal or baby doll I ever owned. I always imagined myself married to a man, with kids walking beside us, hand in hand. To my surprise, as I got older, a man was not who I wanted to marry. 

Realizing I liked women, I was afraid I would never find “The One.” The one you see in all the movies. The one you see your friends finding. Would there ever be the one for me?

Being from a very small town, I was not aware of any gay people my age living in the same town as me. Because of this, I ventured online. I bravely put up my photo on my profile, terrified someone I knew might see me. However, it ended up being the right decision because the first girl who messaged me ended up being the one I continued to message. The one who had me hooked. One thing led to another and I realized she was the right person for me after we met for a park date.

At the time, I worked at a diner-style restaurant and when I got off work, I handed her a milkshake. Just like that: all the butterflies were fluttering in my stomach the moment I saw her.

Things moved rather quickly, and we were married in less than a year. However, even though I wanted to be a mom ASAP,  she did not. We went to couples therapy and talked about our goals as a couple. She had other goals she wanted to achieve first before having a baby. It was hard for me to hear that having a baby wasn’t her number one, but I knew this was a big step for her. When we first met, she said she didn’t want any children. Since she knew how badly I wanted kids, I knew waiting for her to be ready was the right step for us. 

The Beginning of Our TTC Journey

When the time finally came, a few years later, our journey to motherhood began. I thought we had mastered our reproduction plan. We would do reciprocal IVF, using my eggs and a donor sperm. After embryos were created, we would transfer two to my wife and have twins. Reciprocal IVF is using one woman’s eggs to help create the baby (with a donor sperm) and the other woman would carry the baby.

Neither of us would feel left out because we would both be part of the process: one of us would be genetically related to our kids, and the other would give birth. Both of us would have an instant connection to our kids.

Our plan was great… but as they say, the universe often laughs at how we believe our lives will go, and instead, throws curve balls.  

A failed first round of IVF left us heartbroken. I had worried since my teenage years that having children would be a challenge for me after being diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). This fear had become a reality when I was told I had poor egg quality. We ventured down the road to embryo adoption but pulled out at the last minute. Things didn’t feel right. 

The day we were scheduled for a double embryo transfer, we were silent the entire car ride over. We walked into the fertility clinic with no smiles on our faces. When we were waiting in our patient room for the doctor, our nurse came in and I started crying on her shoulder. I looked over and my wife was crying too. We decided to try IVF for a second try because this wasn’t the right path for us.

With a new plan in place for this second round of IVF, I prayed things would be successful. I went through my second egg retrieval after my medication had been changed. 

When it came time for my eggs to fertilize with the donor sperm, it worked! When it came time for a transfer, we had embryos to transfer! While the first round had led to two eggs fertilizing that didn’t continue to grow, this time, we had 11 fertilized and ready to be frozen or transferred! Finally, my prayers were answered! 

Two embryos were transferred. Everything seemed to be working out better than we imagined, but then one morning, not long after our transfer, we had a scare and worried the baby (or babies) were no longer there. My wife called me into the bathroom one morning, terrified at what she saw. I walked in and immediately thought a miscarriage had happened because of the large amount of blood all over the floor. 

We immediately called our fertility clinic, and they said to come in after work. That drive to the clinic after work was quiet and long. We both feared we were losing our dream. An ultrasound later revealed that it appeared one baby had left, leaving a subchorionic hematoma (huge blood clot), in place next to the remaining baby. Because of this, we were told the blood clot would absorb the baby, causing this pregnancy to end soon. The doctors insisted on close monitoring and waited for our dream to pass. 

But to our surprise, the baby defied all odds and got bigger. So much bigger that the blood clot looked small in comparison. 

By the time the third trimester rolled around, we were no longer walking on eggshells. 

The Birth of Our Daughter

The day our daughter was born was a little comical, as my wife was told not to eat or drink past a certain time the night before, and she did. Because of the big glass of orange juice she had, the scheduled c-section was moved from the morning to the evening. She was terrified of being hungry the day of delivery and now her fear became a reality, as we waited all day at home for the new c-section time. 

But when she was born, the time change of her birth didn’t matter anymore. She was here and I was over the moon in love with her. 

I remember my moment being alone with my daughter, while they finished stitching my wife. I remember just thinking: I had waited so long for this moment—and here she was. My identity immediately shifted from Christina to ‘Mom,’ forever changing me, my body, my life. My only worry was not being the best mom I could be for her. I now had someone who relied on me to take care of her— and I always wanted to give her everything I could and provide her with the best life possible. 

Two years later, my wife and I welcomed another baby—a daughter from a single embryo transfer. Again, we did reciprocal IVF using the frozen embryos created from the last pregnancy. Again, my wife carried. And yet again, we had a scare at the beginning. This time it was due to abnormal BETA numbers, which can sometimes indicate an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. But, like her big sister before her, she defeated the odds and was born perfectly healthy. Our family was growing and life was amazing. 

My wife and I announced our plans for baby number three—but life had other plans. 

The pandemic hit and it brought a lot of change for a lot of people, including me. I noticed things weren’t the same between my wife and I, and we started marriage counseling.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work to repair our marriage, and after the second session, I was served divorce papers and now faced something I didn’t foresee coming.

Sometimes the woman you thought was “The One” wasn’t your one. She fell in love with someone else, and I needed to face this hard reality.

Motherhood changed for me—and really, it became complicated. It’s hard to explain grieving your child’s other parent that you still see but no longer wants to be with you. It’s hard to hear your kids call someone else a parent name because your ex is in a new relationship, and has now entered your kids’ lives. It’s hard to explain what all this change felt like and motherhood took on a different experience for me. 

Now my kids were calling three women a ‘mother’ name in their lives, while I was still trying to heal and grow as a single mom. I went from being with my children every day of their lives to not seeing them on certain days of the week. 

It tore me apart.

Healing Through a Divorce

I spent so much time crying. I spent so much time just trying to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning when they weren’t there. I didn’t see my purpose without them. I didn’t see my life getting better…but slowly it did. Time helped, and the once-sad puppy I viewed myself as, begging for love from someone who didn’t want it, faded. I looked at myself and focused on who I was as a person. 

My friends convinced me to start dating again about five months later. Five months that felt like five years to me and my friends, after everything I had gone through. I had accepted that my wife and I  would not be getting back together. I knew I had to accept this reality before I could begin dating again. I went out with zero expectations into the dating world I hadn’t been in for 10 years.

I also focused back on my dream of having a big family. My life was busy again and the days I spent grieving were no more. I was dating and planning for a baby on my own.

That dream of having a big family was complicated now, as my embryos that were created with my first two children were tied up in court. They were labeled as ‘property of the marriage’ and the ‘property’ had to be dealt with via lawyers. 

I tried at-home insemination by using donor sperm that was shipped right to my door. I worried that the court process would take too long. I did successfully get pregnant, but it ended quickly in an early miscarriage. I knew I needed fertility help so I went back to IVF, but sadly, I experienced another failed round. 

I felt like everything in me was draining: my emotions, my money, my mental health. “Why, why, why I asked myself, was this all happening to me?” I told myself I would give IVF one more try. During all this, my embryos were at one point awarded to me, but then they were tied up in an appeal. However, during my next round of IVF—the fourth round in my life—a miracle happened. A settlement agreement was made—and the appeal dropped. My embryos were returned to me and I transferred two. 

This resulted in a pregnancy with twins.

Fate Walks In

And as fate would have it, while I was trying so hard to grow my family, I met someone. I didn’t expect I would ever be given a second chance at love, but I was. She accepted me for me and took all the craziness of my life and supported it all. All the at-home inseminations, the rounds of IVF, the endless court experiences, she was there. My shoulder to cry on, the one who told me to do what felt right.  

My twin pregnancy was a magical experience. Since I didn’t carry my first two children, this was my first time experiencing pregnancy. The day I heard their two heartbeats was a day I was feeling so grateful. I thought back to all those nights I prayed in the nursery I had set up with no baby in sight. I thought back to the times I spent crying over court and listening to my kids ask me numerous times when they would have another sister or brother. But my time had finally come. I told myself maybe all those things had to happen for this moment to happen. 

There were other joyous moments from my pregnancy I’ll never forget: seeing my two girls’ faces when I told them they would be big sisters. Feeling those tiny kicks inside me, and watching my stomach grow bigger and bigger.

Sadly, I didn’t get to see my twins born, as my pregnancy ended abruptly in a life flight and early delivery. I was 33 weeks pregnant when my body began to swell and kept swelling. I lost feeling in my legs—and that is when I knew something was wrong. 

It turned out that my sodium and electrolyte levels were not where they should be. I was life flighted from one hospital to another one, because they had better NICU care. My body was continuing to swell so they knew they had to deliver my twins early. My body was very unstable, which is why I wasn’t awake for the c-section. I wasn’t able to see my twins for two days, as I couldn’t fit in a wheelchair. 

Once I was able to, my girlfriend wheeled me to the NICU to see them for the first time. Their little tiny bodies inside their pods, hooked up to so many cords terrified me, but seeing them alive and okay was reassuring. All that mattered was we were all safe. My twins continued to grow and thrive, and I recovered as well. In about two weeks we were all home from the hospital.

I don’t know why things in my life happened the way they did—or why my path to motherhood had to be so different than the one I imagined for myself. It is a huge part of who I am and it’s the most important part to me. Everything I do, I do with my children in mind. My entire motherhood journey has taught me to never give up and to always strive to be the best mom I can be. 

Not only for their happiness—but for my own, too. All five of us deserve it.


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