September 7, 2001 they eloped and got married. He was in the military and they were in love.
He was stationed in San Diego, CA. They knew going into their marriage that Melinda had PCOS and so there was likely going to be a challenge building their family. They decided to enjoy a year of their marriage before jumping right into fertility treatments. Even though they decided to start with the treatments immediately, they still went through two years and a miscarriage while on the military base.
Melinda told me, "The miscarriage was bittersweet. On the one hand, you see that you can get pregnant, but there's the fear that you'll have a miscarriage every time after that."
They both recounted seeing the heartbeat and how sweet that was, but the hope that they carried was dashed with the loss. In 2004, Patrick was out of the military and they moved to Grand Rapids. Within four months of moving to GR they went to a fertility clinic to restart treatments.
The doctor looked at their chart and informed them that since they had been doing injections every month for two years and it hadn't been successful in producing a living child, they would be looking at the same results, most likely. They decided to try IVF at this time.
During this round of IVF they successfully fertilized enough embryos and they had two successful pregnancies, Isaac and Malia, and one miscarriage. They had always dreamed of big family but the heartache of loss and the thought of going through IVF again was too much. So they decided they were happy with their two children.
However, they thought they would talk to a doctor one more time and just see if they thought hormone injections would work again. At these appointments they do blood work as one of the first steps and they discovered that Melinda was pregnant. Laina, their 3rd child was conceived naturally. They also naturally conceived their 4th child, Cora.
When I asked Melinda what was the hardest part of this journey, she responded and told me, "The gut wrenching pain of disappointment every month." She also told me that she reached a point where she was evaluating if she even wanted to try anymore. The need to protect yourself and your emotions is strong and can certainly overtake you. It can be easy to box ourselves in and harden up to the life happening around us when we're in the thick of it.
Another difficult part of going through this journey were the things that people said during the journey. Well meaning people but when they don't know or don't understand, it has a way of hurting. For Patrick and Melinda, it was things like, "do you not like kids?" Well, the answer was that they did love children, but having their own wasn't an easy thing to do.
I think for all of us, perhaps we could be more sensitive to each other since we don't know the details of everyone's story. I've found myself more sensitive and I don't ask questions that caused me pain or I do my best to preface those questions if I feel they're potentially sensitive. I know that we all have difficult things in the journey of being human that someone else doesn't understand. And I wonder if we slowed down a bit and took the time to see and hear our friends, family, neighbor, perhaps we could love them a little better. Maybe it would allow us to know them a little better, too. And then maybe we would be more sensitive to the possible things causing pain in our lives. I think this is part of a healthy community.
Patrick said that the most difficult thing for him as the husband and protector was watching his wife be in pain. This is so true for every husband I've spoken to about this topic. This speaks volumes to me! Husband's are the protectors of their wives and they love them so well.
After chatting with Patrick and Melinda, we all came to the conclusion that you should really open up about your battle with at least one person. Keeping this top secret forces you to shoulder the pain on your own, but as Melinda says, "Let people support you." As they say, "It takes a village..." Don't do it on your own.
Patrick and Melinda are enjoying this time seeing their children grow up now. Seeing their personalities come out and seeing the world through the eyes of their kids. It makes the battle worth fighting.