Emily Adams graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English and an emphasis in Creative Writing. She’s an award-winning poet, author, and a developmental editor for the semi-professional science fiction magazine, BYU’s “Leading Edge”. Her book, For Those With Empty Arms, was just released this month. We thank her for the time she’s taken to tell us about herself and For Those With Empty Arms, which provides a voice of compassion and comfort for those experiencing infertility.
Tell us about yourself: your family, where you grew up.
I grew up in a small orcharding town called Wenatchee, WA. My three siblings and I, two younger sisters and younger brother, are all very close. Growing up in such a small town, we grew to become each other's best friends. It is that closeness with my siblings that helped me want so desperately to have a large family. I know just how good it can be to have your closest friends and confidants be your own family.
What are some of the most common myths surrounding infertility?
There are so many myths about infertility! I'll narrow my answer down to just a few that need to be addressed. One myth seems to be that women are the ones most affected by an infertility diagnosis. They are the ones who hurt the most, who grieve the most, and who feel the most shame. In our own struggle, my husband Trent and I oscillated back and forth between which of us was most in need of comfort. There were times when people would go out of their way to comfort me, but they never thought to ask Trent how he was coping. I often wished that others would intuitively reach out to comfort Trent too.
Another myth is that infertility can be cured by just relaxing. Though stress can contribute to infertility, it is much more likely that there is an actual medical reason that needs to be addressed. Many well-meaning and wonderful people have suggested to me that I should relax and let it happen when it happens. Though I understood that their motive was to give useful advice, I appreciated it more when my friends were simply people I could relax around. It was only after my husband and I did a round of in vitro that we were able to conceive our twins. The support from our friends did help us relax during that stressful time, making it more bearable, but it was the medical treatment that got us pregnant.
What advice has helped you and your husband through your struggles the most?
Early in our infertility treatment, one of our doctors advised Trent and I to make sure we retained our sense of romance. We didn't yet realize just how difficult it can be to keep romance alive during times of treatment. Because the doctor forewarned us, we were able to keep perspective and make our love story a priority even when we had to time intimacy to exact dates, even when we had to refrain from intimacy, and even when treatment options began to be less and less romantic. I feel like that doctor helped us to keep our marriage healthy.
How do you hope your book will help other couples?
To answer this question, I feel like I need to tell a bit of a story. In January of last year, on the same day our car was stolen, our doctor told us we needed one more procedure before we could try in vitro. If that procedure failed, so would in vitro. The procedure would cost us ten thousand dollars. We went home (in a borrowed car) and wondered if it all could be real? Had we really just been told that we would need to come up with another ten thousand dollars? Had we really lost our only car? Would we even be able to do in vitro, or were we done? I remember wondering if and how things would ever be alright again.
I remember that feeling and I remember realizing that I needed to be okay before I ever had a child. Because I might never get pregnant and I needed to be a functioning person. Eventually, I was able to get pregnant. BUT I was okay before that happened. I finished writing my book, For Those With Empty Arms, before the successful procedure and I decided not to go back and add an essay describing the resolution. My book is not about the resolution of a problem. My book is about enduring before a resolution becomes inevitable, whether it be good or bad. I want couples to know there is a way to be okay before getting pregnant. There can be happiness even when life is not perfect.
Thank you, Emily, for sharing your beautiful story with us. We're so excited for the release of your book this month!