Our first go around, my husband Dave and I struggled to get pregnant. We tried for two years before starting fertility treatments and we experienced the tears, the fear, the guilt, and the uncertainty that so many couples endure. When I was in deep, I wish I could have heard Heather’s wise words. Wherever you are in your parenting journey – whether you’re just thinking about starting a family, currently trying to conceive, pregnant or have kids at home, Heather’s story will resonate with you.
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After four challenging and heartbreaking years trying to conceive, Heather decided that she had had enough – enough invasive procedures, enough unsolicited advice from friends, and enough heartbreak. She and her husband decided to adopt. Initially they thought they’d adopt through a private agency, but they changed course and ended up adopting a very young baby with Down syndrome. 3 kids later, Heather’s parenting journey has been full of challenges, acceptance, learning and love. Heather advocates to shift the narrative about adoption and down syndrome through her books, podcast and social media presence.
Can you share your parenting journey with us?
I have three children and their ages now are twelve, nine, and seven and all three of my kids came to me through adoption. My parenthood journey started with infertility and trying to get pregnant for about four years. My husband and I did everything short of IVF and when we got to that point it was a crossroads for us to either adopt or do IVF and we chose the path towards adoption.
That was almost fourteen years ago now and so much has changed in the adoption world in the last fourteen years and so much has changed in me and my thoughts and views and understanding of adoption. I am such a different person in that space. But I am grateful that path let me in the ways that it did.
We went through a private agency because we really wanted to adopt a healthy infant. Usually a birth mother will choose to relinquish her rights and she will choose a family to adopt her child. It’s a long long story, but we ended up adopting a little girl who has Down syndrome. She came home with a congenital heart defect and a lung condition called pulmonary hypertension that we were told was severe enough that it would maybe never go away. When we learned about her we didn’t want a child with Down syndrome and we didn’t want a child who was medically fragile at the time with so many health issues- it felt pretty terrifying. But we’re people of faith and so we were prayerful about it. We didn’t want to say yes, but we knew we couldn’t say no and we sat in that tension for- it felt like an eternity. We just kept taking one step in front of another and it led us to saying yes to this little girl. Her name is Macyn and she came home at four months old. That desire I had for years and years to be a mom was fulfilled.
Tell us a bit about your fertility journey.
I mean for anyone who’s in it or has been in it, it’s brutal. It’s incredibly isolating and so lonely. Even when you hear about people who have gone through it, that’s not your story. I remember in the midst of it- so many people shared their infertility stories with me but none of those stories put a baby in my womb. And I think what that journey taught me is that there is a time for having to just sit in it. It’s okay to not be okay. And in that journey most women are not okay because it’s so hard. So for moms who are in it- you’re going to get to another side. It’s okay not to be okay, and I know you don’t want to hear it because you’re in it, but there is another side and you will get there. The journey is different for everybody but you’ll get to the other side and you will be a mom and there will be a time.
What advice would you give to your pre-mom self?
There’s that saying- in my twenties, I knew everything, in my thirties- I know nothing. I would tell my pre-mom self just just be a learner. You have so much learning to do. Just be a learner. Sit in those spaces as a learner and be more curious than you are wanting to prove a point. Just stop judging other moms. Prior to having kids I thought I knew everything about being a mom. Right? It’s ridiculous. Then I had kids. Now I need to apologize to every mother I judged in Target.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.