When you first meet Angelina Stirton you are immediately drawn to her vivacious, energetic spirit and her smile almost literally lights up the room. While she embodies optimism, positivity, confidence and enthusiasm, Angelina and her husband Rob, are faced a challenging and arduous journey. Angelina, a Licensed Practical Nurse, may not be a “mother” yet however, she knows her and her husband will be parents one day.
Rob and Angelina have experienced infertility and infant loss like so many families unfortunately face. Through In Vitro Fertilization, Angelina experienced endless blood work, injections and countless appointments. All felt worth it if they could just have their own baby. That was not the result and they had four miscarriages in three years losing a total of five babies. During the last miscarriage Angelina was diagnosed with anxiety and postpartum depression. As Angelina comments, “Who would’ve thought a 33 year old lady with no children would have postpartum?” It is not often society engages in discussions about postpartum depression and typically it’s not associate it with those who may not have that baby to hold in their arms.
When they lost their last baby Angelina not only lost a child but she suffered a major hemorrhage, jeopardizing her life for the second time. She survived a subclavian blood clot, which can often be fatal, and they were told that she was no longer able to carry a child without “catastrophic consequences”. The thought of risking Angelina’s life to have this dream realized was not an option for this couple. Instead of letting the fantasy fade, Rob and Angelina have just evolved their dream.
“In my heart of hearts I feel that at least one of our children is in this world,” said Angelina. “I have told close family and friends this. I feel there is a child that was not made of my bones or shares the same blood but I feel connected to adoption and to this mystery child. In my dreams it’s a beautiful tanned boy with a gorgeous smile. He is about 2.5 years old. Sometimes I see a second boy and the two are skating together and someone asks me if I know them, I say “those are my boys.” I always wake up feeling content and that this is the path for us.”
As much as the couple has accepted that surrogacy or adoption will be their pathway to becoming parents, the process is not easy. “We went to our first adoption meeting with a social worker and it wasn’t the best experience,” Angelina shared. “It makes me very sad to have someone ask you how much alcohol, drug and substance abuse you are okay with the birth mother doing during pregnancy. Or, how much physical, emotional and sexual abuse are you okay with a birth mother or child experiencing?” The meeting was the definition of disconcerting for the couple, “Not because we don’t want to be parents to these children but we were saddened by how much a woman can abuse her body while carrying what would be an ultimate gift for us. Many children are born with challenges before even taking their first breath. No one wants to see a child being dealt this hand.”
Following the last loss, Angelina describes her feelings as a “hormone storm”. She explained it to be the “darkest of the dark, saddest of the sad and lowest of the lows.” There was a time she feared she would never see the light again and felt as though her husband may never get her back. As if the fluctuating and overwhelming hormones and insomnia weren’t enough, the couple was inundated with unsolicited advice, mean spirited comments and gossip. Through the dark times Rob and Angelina had the insight and strength to take time off trying and tackling these unchartered waters to “heal and reconnect”. Angelina has gone to counselling, adapted her diet, gone for massages and other health therapies to regain strength. They also sought professional support and Angelina ultimately decided to start sharing their story to help others and quell any misconceptions that surrounded their journey. At the end of everyday Angelina shared that they will, “continue to love each other and search for our rainbow- just sometimes the cloud seems dark and heavy.”
If you would like to follow the Stirton’s as they continue on their path to becoming parents you can check out Angelina’s blog: The Stork With a Broken Wing@thestorkwithabrokenwing on Facebook. The My Why Team would like to thank Rob and Angelina for participating in “The Mother Series”. This personal story and complete campaign are funded by Project Sunrise, a mental health initiative by the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation.