By Matt Krawczyk
It was around 2pm when I listened to the message on my cell phone. After taking a few minutes to gather my thoughts, I messaged my wife Vanessa to tell her that I was leaving the office early, and then I quietly packed up my things and headed home. It wasn’t until I made it to my car, when I was certain no one was watching, that I gave in and started to cry. The results of my tests were in: the sample they’d collected contained no sperm.
We’d spent all of 2009 trying to get pregnant, but it wasn’t until the following spring that my wife suggested that I bring up our inability to conceive with my doctor. The year that followed was, at times, unbelievably difficult. The seemingly endless battery of tests, both routine and invasive, were nothing compared to the mental and emotional burden of wondering whether we would ever have children, and that it would be my fault if we couldn’t. Vanessa was always understanding, always supportive. We would not let this break us.
Surgery would ultimately reveal what we’d thought all along, that I wouldn’t be able to father children, but Vanessa was healthy, and so we tried for six months with donor sperm and Intrauterine Insemination appointments. We came close, so very close, but once again we were left heartbroken. We needed time.
Conversations about adoption started around Christmas of 2012. At the time I was nervous, hesitant. Infertility comes with a terrible sense of loss, one I’ve found very hard to adequately convey, and the wounds it left in me still felt raw years after my last meeting with a urologist. It was in one of our first meetings with a potential adoption agency that my attitude changed.
“Every family that has a home study accepted,” we were told, “is eventually matched with a baby.”
For the first time in four years we felt a sense of relief, and for the first time in four years we felt like we were in control of our own destiny. Our home study was accepted that fall, two days before our wedding anniversary. We would have a family; we would finally be the mommy and daddy that we’d fought so hard to be.
We were told that the average is between one to two years before an adoptive family is matched with birth parents, and on the advice of our agency in Massachusetts, we also reached out to an out-of-state agency to help improve our chances of a match.
It was right before the New Year in 2015, and coming on the heels of yet another prospective match that did not go our way, when we received an email. A young couple had seen our profile on the website of the out-of-state agency and wanted to know if they could ask us some questions. A little less than two weeks later, and after exchanging some emails, Vanessa and I learned that they had selected us.
Time seemed to pass more slowly. We were calm at first, but as the due date approached we became more anxious, like a child counting down the minutes until Christmas morning. Six weeks of brutal winter storms, coupled with the knowledge that we were going to need to drop everything and drive half way across the country on a moment’s notice, made for some nervous days.
The weather had finally calmed by the time we got in the car on March 10, 2015, but we were more nervous, more anxious, more excited than in the six years that came before, because the start of our drive to Indiana meant the end of our journey towards starting a family.
It was just before midnight when my cell phone started to buzz. We had only just crossed over into New York, having driven the last hundred miles on an unfamiliar, dark road, through a thick fog. It was like every other aspect of our journey: the two of us together, bolstered by each other, not quite sure how to get where we were going but confident that we would find our way.
“Matt and Vanessa,” the text read, “hospital just called to let us know your daughter was born.”
Two days later we sat on a bench in a hospital room reserved just for us, and we waited. For 20 minutes we sat, 20 minutes that felt longer than the whole of our journey up to that point, until we heard the sound of wheels in hallway, and the door creaked open. The nurse, smiling ear-to-ear, poked her head in the room and asked if we were ready. After six years of waiting, only those 20 minutes remained, and at the end of those last few moments time stopped completely. We cried together as we held our daughter, away from the rest of the world in our own private heaven, free of the pain we’d endured to reach this one shining moment, free to be parents at last.
Matt Krawczyk lives in Peabody, MA with his wife Vanessa, their daughter Emily, and two energetic beagles. Matt, a software engineer for a new organization in Boston, self-identifies as a nerd, complete with all the hobbies and interests that go with it.