The following is the very first post of the new series, Women Who Inspire: The Story of You. Tammy Funston will be speaking to her struggles with infertility, the many obstacles that were overcome and how she was finally able to attain the ultimate goal – to have the family she always wished for. Her story is truly an inspiration to all women. Thank you for reading!
I always knew I wanted to have children. Some people embark on their journey to become a professional, spending years attaining that goal. Well, my dream was always to have a family.
10 years later our goal was achieved.
When I was growing up, we spent our summers at the cottage. I met my husband there when I was 15 years old, and for me it was love at first sight. From then on we dated on and off, had summer flings, and then he moved away for college. A few years later we ran into each other and it was as if no time had passed at all. We were engaged less than a year later.
We had our perfect wedding, went on our perfect honeymoon, hoping for the perfect honeymoon baby.
…Which didn’t happen.
Days passed. Months passed. Still nothing.
Fast-forward to a year later and we were still trying.
After over a year of actively trying to conceive, we were referred to a Fertility Clinic. From the initial testing, we found out that we both had issues that were affecting our ability to get pregnant.
A (required) psychologist had said, “The stars were definitely not aligned for the two of you”. This was heartbreaking for us to hear at the time.
Looking back, I now know that he couldn’t have been more wrong.
Our Journey Through Fertility Treatment
Because of my husband’s low sperm count, we started our infertility treatment journey with artificial insemination. We completed six rounds with many combinations of medication, not to mention the countless ultrasounds, lab work and travel involved. No matter how much we prayed, none of the inseminations worked.
We became very frustrated, anxious and depressed; our emotional roller coaster was in full steam. The Doctor then performed a Laparoscopy procedure to determine if the underlying reason to my infertility was due to endometriosis. During the procedure it was determined that my both fallopian tubes were in fact blocked.
Since the artificial inseminations were unsuccessful and there was no way for the sperm to reach an egg in my uterus, we decided to embark on the next step: In-vitro fertilization (IVF). The medication that I was on helped me produce a lot of eggs, but almost every single embryo that we created failed to reach blastocyst.
Two embryos were transferred into my uterus, but unfortunately it did not result in a pregnancy. We learned that the quality of my eggs was less than poor and the lining of my uterus was too thin even with medication to sustain a pregnancy.
Pregnancy was no longer an option for me.
Did we throw in the towel?
Our dream was to have children, and we were going to do everything in our power to achieve it.
IVF with Donor Sperm and Surrogate #1: My Sister
Our family was very aware and supportive of our infertility problems. After discussing what stage we were at with my sister, she graciously offered to complete a round of IVF and carry the embryos as a surrogate. We chose to use donor sperm for our own personal reasons; we felt it would be better for my sister to carry a child for us with her eggs and a donor sperm, rather than her carry a child with her eggs and my husbands sperm.
We proceeded to browse hundreds of profiles seeking our ‘perfect’ sperm donor match. So with our ‘perfect’ donor sperm and my sister’s eggs, we attempted a round of IVF, which unfortunately ended in what the Doctor described as a “non-viable pregnancy”.
Embryos From Across Canada and Surrogate #2: My Mom
At this point we were sure all our options had been exhausted. It was by chance that my husband’s brother and his wife had also experienced infertility issues. After successful rounds of IVF, they had 3 beautiful and healthy children. They had 2 precious embryos left and offered them to us. They were such a remarkable gift.
They live in British Columbia, so once we figured out how to get the embryos across Canada we then needed to find a surrogate. Of course my then 56-year-old mother, who had been watching all of our struggles unfold, was anxiously waiting for this rare opportunity.
She asked us if this was something she could do, to become a surrogate at 56 years old.
The Doctors gave her the clean bill of health and the go ahead. If I haven’t already said what an amazing family we have, we undoubtedly do! However, much to our dismay, this pregnancy was also unsuccessful.
I was told by a friend at the beginning of our journey to know at what time to call it quits. I didn’t know what that looked like. I couldn’t imagine calling it quits on the one thing my husband and I so desired – a child – to have a family.
We are not quitters.
The Beginning Of Our New Life: Adoption
In the back of our minds we had always pondered the thought of adoption. During our long journey through fertility treatment, we had heard so many stories that made us hesitant to go this route:
“It could take years to get a child!”
“If you think you will get a child under the age of 5 you are dreaming!”
“ All the children that end up in care have major issues.”
I am here to tell you that all of those MYTHS are not true.
A Beautiful Baby Girl to Call Our Own
We completed the required approval process. I will admit that it was very intrusive, but of course necessary for the sake of both the children in foster care and families looking to adopt.
Once we were approved it was only three brief months before we received the call for a six-month-old baby girl.
A healthy baby girl.
We were over the moon with excitement!
From the first moment that we got to hold her it was true love. We had an instant bond, and she fit into our family perfectly!
A Sibling, To Make Our Lives Complete
Once the adoption was finalized 14 months later (which is very short for adoption standards), we updated our profile and began the adoption process all over again. We were hoping for the same luck with our daughter, but this time it was taking longer.
We were beginning to reach the point of asking ourselves, “is this the point when we should call it quits? We have a beautiful daughter already….” After a very difficult discussion, my husband and I decided it might be time to close this chapter of our lives.
However, fate had a different plan for us. One week later we got the call from the adoption agency for another beautiful six-month-old baby girl who was just as healthy and happy as our daughter.
It was love at first sight again – it felt like we all were meant to be together.
Find The Courage To Reach Your Destiny
Now, as we wait for our second daughter’s adoption to become finalized, we are in a place where we have strived to be for the last 10 years.
But we have our family now, and that is all that matters.
Although the struggles and pains were very real, we wouldn’t change a single moment, for our difficult path ultimately led us to our two amazing, beautiful, healthy and happy little girls.
Our journey hasn’t been easy — emotionally or financially — but it worked out in the end. When I was going through all of this, I had really wished that I had someone to relate to and to know that we were not alone, so I wanted to share my story with all of you.
I truly believe that if you have a great partner, open communication, the courage to keep getting up after every moment you feel like you have been knocked down and a network of amazing family and friends like we did… “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” (Walt Disney).
– Tammy Funston, Mother of two
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Thank you everyone for the ongoing support — especially with this project. It is very close to my heart.