Try, Try Again

Heather Smith couldn’t ignore her calling to be a mom, which took several tries and an amazing amount of strength and determination.

By Amy Gordy Photography by Lily Darragh

Heather Smith
 

Heather Smith always wanted to be a mom; her journey was just a little more difficult than most. “I have always felt this maternal tug, which is odd because I’ve never really been around kids or babies. Calvin was only the third baby I’ve ever held, and the first diaper I’ve changed,” she said.

Her wife, Sarah Ort, didn’t have the same maternal tug and, Smith said, was not as interested initially in having children. “In 2008, I started to get that itch, but Sarah had just started law school and said ‘Let’s table it for four years.’”

The tugging feeling didn’t go away, and Smith started to worry about her age and the obstacles they’d have to overcome to get pregnant. “In our situation, it isn’t like you can just try every night. I started doing research and looking into what it was going to cost,” Smith said.

The process ended up being more much technical that she initially expected. “I thought we’d just pick a donor from the sperm bank, but that was not the case. The process of choosing a donor is much more technical. It’s a little like shopping for shoes though,” she joked.

Smith would carry the baby, so the couple wanted to find a donor that had similar physical characteristics of Ort. “You pay for a monthly membership, then you pay more if you want to see pictures of the donors or get more information,” she explained.

They also weighed their options when choosing between intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). “IUI costs around $3,000 a try, and it takes about six of those to equal the cost of IVF, so we decided to roll the dice with IUI,” Smith said.

The couple picked their first donor, but the IUI didn’t take. “I’m a very positive person, and each time we tried it I was thinking, ‘This is it!’ I was heartbroken each time it failed. Apparently it’s very hard to become pregnant. After every failed attempt I ate an entire pack of Oreos,” she said.

The couple endured nine IUI failures, and came to a point of reexamining their journey to parenthood. “It was a hard conversation to have with Sarah about when we would call it quits. We thought about adoption, but I worried I would always have that internal tug if I didn’t have the baby. I just wasn’t sure it would fill what I was looking for,” she said.

The two agreed to give it one last shot and roll the dice with an IVF attempt. Smith had to undergo a rigorous schedule of daily shots at the clinic for weeks in preparation for the procedure. “Going through IVF was very stressful. They kept saying to relax, but I couldn’t. I was just trying so hard. I knew it was our last shot,” she said.

Calvin

Smith began trying to become pregnant at age 35, and after her 10th and last attempt at age 37 she got the exciting news that she was pregnant. “I was in disbelief when I got the news. I waited for the lab tests to confirm it, then I went home and took a pregnancy test,” she said.

The couple hadn’t told family members they were trying to get pregnant, so when they revealed the news that a baby was on the way, Smith said everyone was thrilled. “Our family was so supportive and excited for us. I think everyone in the community was surprised that I would be pregnant. Sarah is more feminine, and everyone thought she would be the one to take that road,” Smith said.

Smith had a baby boy, Calvin, who is now 6 months old, and a permanent fixture at her retail shop, Domestic Domestic. She’s not ready to send him off to daycare just yet, so the quiet, happy guy accompanies her to work each morning before the two head home for naptime.

“It’s nothing like what I expected,” Smith said. “My priorities since having Calvin have drastically changed. My advice to any new mom is to pay attention—its goes by so fast. I’m fortunate that I have this job and a strong staff to allow me to be present and mindful with him.”