It was late afternoon on a November day when I pulled into the vast shopping center parking lot. I put my car into park and began to sob. A few Kleenexes later, I pulled myself together and got out of my car.
“Just don’t lose it when you ask the question,” I told myself as I made my way toward Barnes and Noble.
The two sets of wooden doors seemed heavier than normal as I pushed them open. I inhaled the familiar smell of book paper and ground coffee, then made a quick left and walked straight up to the information desk. With her short black hair and round wire-rimmed glasses halfway down her nose, the clerk could have easily been a character straight out of a Harry Potter book.
Strangely enough, the Harry Potter section was just to the left of us toward the back of the store. I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry when she spoke to me in an English accent.
“May I help you?”
I’ve never been one to speak in whispers—in fact, my husband claims it’s not possible for me—but I still tried to speak softly.
“Where is your section on infertility and miscarriages?”
She looked over her glasses at me. “I’m sorry, WOT?”
I could feel the big lump in my throat as I swallowed. I was actually miscarrying, bleeding and cramping as I stood there in the store. I had just come from my OB/GYN’s office. I needed information on how to cope with what I was going through. I felt so sad and incredibly alone. I felt like a failure to my husband. I also was compelled to learn about the biological aspects of what was happening to me.
“Infertility and miscarriages? Where is that section?”
“That is the oddest request! I have worked here ten years and I’ve never had anyone ask for those sorts of books before. We don’t have anything on those subjects. I am sorry.”
It was hard for me to believe that in the seemingly infinite rows of books there wouldn’t be one book about miscarriage and infertility. All around me were study guides, cookbooks, countless books on dieting, and even racy titles for couples bored in the bedroom. There were books targeted at women who were pregnant and women who had lost children. How could there not be any books on miscarriage and infertility?
Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked back out into the parking lot. I wanted to punch the clerk. She couldn’t have been any more cold. I wanted to scream. Something was definitely wrong with me, and I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I knew right then and there that someday, I would write my story to make this information available for women like me.
In the months and years that followed, it was a combination of my faith, personal development, and advocating for myself that helped me survive emotionally and eventually become a mother for the second and third time. It was frequently a long and lonely path, but God sent me angels who guided me in my climb.
There were times when I was angry at God. But even at my lowest point, when things were definitely not going my way, I never turned my back on God or my faith. Despite what the doctors told me, I also never completely lost hope. There were always glimmers of hope, and I chose to embrace them when they appeared.
On my journey through infertility I learned how common it is. I also learned that most women suffer in silence. The day I walked out of Barnes and Noble, I knew I would write this book. I didn’t know if I would ever have children again, but I knew I would write this book to comfort, support, and offer guidance to the approximately 50 million couples worldwide who suffer from some form of infertility.
I have written my infertility memoir with heart-wrenching honesty, with the goal of restoring hope to any woman suffering from infertility. There is hope for every woman, every couple, and my wish is that they find it by reading my book.honesty, with the goal of restoring hope to any woman suffering from infertility. There is hope for every woman, every couple, and my wish is that they find it by reading my book.
The Golden Sun
It was the beginning of October and I was about to turn thirty. The golden sun was in my eyes as we headed west in the pasture. My weight bounced around the farm truck as my boyfriend, Dirk, made a hard-left turn, trying to avoid the cattle that were all around us. I looked up and noticed that a big, beautiful blue tent had been set up in the middle of the pasture. Just beyond it, to the west, the Oklahoma sunset melted into a rich layer of pink, blue, and purple. The gilded horizon went on for miles because the farmland was so flat.
“Now remember, there’s cattle all around us,” Dirk said, which was his gentlemanly way of reminding me not to step in a cow pie as I got out of the truck. His practical words were contrasted by what looked to be a romantic birthday surprise.
Surrounding the tent was a hotwire fence set up to keep out the stubborn Herefords. As I reached to pull the wire down so I could swing my leg over it, Dirk screamed.
“No, honey—! Don’t touch it! I’ll get it for you.”
Getting electrocuted on my thirtieth birthday was not on my bucket list, so I immediately stopped. Clearly, I was a city girl. He came around to unhook the fence and chuckled. Once I was inside the tent, I looked around. I recognized an old black and blue Persian rug from Dirk’s living room. On top of the rug sat a pair of well-worn captain’s chairs from his dining room that he had bought at an estate sale. There were countless red roses in vases, making it look super romantic.
Over the course of our four-year relationship I had asked Dirk many times to write me a love letter. Maybe this will be the day I will finally get one! I thought to myself. It would be the perfect birthday gift. But instead of a letter, he had written me a beautiful poem titled “To the North Together.”
Holy Cow (no pun intended), this is happening, was all I could think as he finished reading the poem, bent down on one knee, and took my hand.
I knew from the first time I laid eyes on Dirk that he was husband material. I was at a local pub having dinner with my girlfriends. Even though I was dating someone else, I couldn’t help but notice him standing in the opposite corner from me. He was wearing a black V-neck sweater and was so handsome and refined, with strikingly beautiful blue eyes and thick, distinguished black eyebrows.
“He’s totally single and quite the catch,” said my roommate Linda, sipping on her beer.
As she wandered over toward him to make an introduction I realized she wasn’t talking about Dirk. She was actually talking about his friend, who was standing right next to Dirk.
“No,” I mouthed to her, “not him.” I pointed over at Dirk. “Him!”
A look of confusion washed across Linda’s face as she pointed to him and walked back over to me shaking her head. “Dirk? He’s totally not your type and is in a serious relationship.”
Later that night when Linda and I were walking to our car, I noticed Dirk getting into his car with his girlfriend.
“Someday, that will be me in the passenger seat . . .” I said to myself.
A few months later we crossed paths again, and he introduced himself, simply saying “I’m Dirk.” He spoke in a distinct sing-song cadence. I saw immediately why Linda thought we would have nothing in common. I was an independent, spontaneous, and fun-loving girl. Everything about him was measured and disciplined. He was sophisticated and smart, yet down to earth.
Still, we both felt a connection. Our first date consisted of dinner and a few cocktails. Afterward, we went back to his house and talked late into the night. We told each other about our families and our dreams. He was an attorney who also had an MBA and was successful working in the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania. He had returned home to Oklahoma and decided to start his own business. I was a playful, social entrepreneur and lead singer of a band. As the night went on we discovered that we were both Methodists, which seemed to intrigue him. He knew I was a singer in a band who liked to have fun, but my faith was an unexpected quality.
While Dirk had grown up in a small-town Methodist church right out of the movie Steel Magnolias, going to church had dropped off the radar for me when I was in high school. Coincidentally, just months before meeting Dirk I had joined a Methodist church. It also just so happened that this church had the longest aisle in the state. Like many other young women, I envisioned myself in a beautiful wedding dress with a dramatic bridal train, moving up the aisle toward the altar someday.
It was four in the morning before Dirk and I finally stopped talking that first night. He was different from the other guys I had dated. I was at a place in my life where a man who could be my rock and who also loved a good dirty joke was very attractive to me.
From the very beginning we brought out the best in one another. Dirk would sometimes frustrate me—raising the bar and pushing me to climb higher. But he truly made me want to be a better person who overcame obstacles and achieved goals. I, in turn, helped Dirk, who was very focused, to become a more affectionate boyfriend and learn to slow down to stop and smell the roses. We were the perfect balance. Back to the proposal. As we sat in the tent in the middle of the cow pasture, Dirk began explaining the symbolism of all that surrounded us. Everything in the tent meant something. The ugly rug that he loved (and I hated) represented compromise. The vintage chairs symbolized us growing old together, side by side. The Waterford crystal vase was part of his Irish heritage, and the red roses stood for love.
Dirk’s thumb nervously rubbing the top of my hand focused me back in. He was still on bended knee.
“Will you grow old with me and have my five children?”
I looked into his eyes. My answer was obviously yes! I squealed. Once I had responded, he pulled out my engagement ring. In the last year, I had continually dropped hints about my ring size, the kind of setting I liked, the diamond cut . . . but Dirk never seemed interested in the conversation and would always change the topic. As he slipped the ring on my finger, I sat there in awe. I could feel it was the wrong size and noticed that it didn’t have any kind of stone at all.
In true Dirk fashion, this totally could have been picked up at an estate sale.
“Do you like your ring?”
“Yes!” I paused and looked at him. “Honey, I am so excited to become your wife that I would say yes to a piece of tin foil wrapped around my finger.”
The truth was I did love my ring. Even though it wasn’t what I had ever imagined it would be, the fact that Dirk had picked it out with me in mind made me love it. We popped a bottle of champagne and toasted one another.
“You’re sure you like your ring?” Dirk asked me again.
Then, from his pocket he pulled out a crushed velvet ring box. “Well, that’s too bad, because this is your real ring.” He opened up the box and there it was—my ring—exactly as I had described it to him all of those months. I gushed as he slipped it on my finger and smiled, knowing he had been listening to me all along. Dirk’s parents, Forrest and Loretta, drove up in a farm truck and joined us for a toast.
As I sipped on my champagne and watched the sunset from my captain’s chair in the pasture, I admired my ring and excitedly thought about my future with Dirk and our five children. My mind went into overdrive wondering if my petite frame could handle five pregnancies. Maybe Dirk and I would settle on three. It was time to get busy—I had a wedding to plan!
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