A new article has just come out about the effects of infertility in STEM fields – “Infertility and the Leaky Pipeline”. While the piece focuses on women in STEM the topics are broadly applicable. The authors have including links to lots of published papers on infertility and have created an amazing list of resources for people who are struggling to conceive, including how to get tax breaks, places that you can apply to for financial help and lists of grants and scholarships. It’s worth a read!
Just when I think I’m over something, BAM!, I get hit with an emotional bombshell.
At least this time it’s good!
Scrolling through Twitter I came across an interesting article about microRNA’s and how they can change the genetic information of a donor egg while in utero. Specifically,
Molecules known as MicroRNAs that are secreted in the mother’s womb can change the genetic information of the child, the researchers say….Practically speaking, this means the mother’s DNA influences the way the baby develops. Her genetic material essentially helps to “decide” which of her baby’s genes get turned on and off. Even more, it means the baby will acquire some DNA from the mother, even if the egg comes from another woman.
I know all about epigenetics and I have held tight to the idea that my boys were profoundly changed by the environment in which they grew. But the idea that they might actually have some of my DNA hit me like a ton of bricks. The difference is subtle but profound, at least for me. Suddenly I feel like I can take a little credit when people comment on my son’s hair, which is the same color as mine, or when they stop us and say that he’s my spittin’ image. No matter how comfortable I become with the fact that my boys didn’t come from my eggs some things have always hurt, just a little. Sometimes more than a little.
Whether or not they have my genetics doesn’t truly matter – it doesn’t change my love for them or their love for me or the fact that they are my sons – but the process that I had to go through to conceive them was extraordinarily difficult for me. Sometimes it’s good for me to stop and realize that I’m still healing and recovering from that process.
So, wherever you are in your process take a moment and honor your struggle. Give yourself a moment of grace and rest. It’s a long road but it’s worth the trip. And the trip is full of surprises!
I started this blog because I needed somewhere to put all of the big (HUGE) feelings that I had about infertility and the IVF process. It was the equivalent of an online diary that let me vent and rage and ponder in the safety of anonymity. As I moved through the process of treatment and eventual conception and delivery it became a place for me to share my thoughts and experiences with the hope that it might be helpful for others; I felt so broken and alone during my IVF cycles I wanted to reach out and provide some sort of comfort and hope to people who felt like I did. But my feelings and experiences are a very small subset of what people deal with and feel when they’re in similar circumstances. So, if any of you out there would like to be a guest blogger and share your thoughts and experiences let me know. I’d like to use this space as a platform to give others a voice. Writing about my journey was very therapeutic for me – maybe it would be for you too. And maybe it could be a light in the darkness for someone else.
Sitting with my boys on my lap this morning I had a revelation – these people, these tiny human beings, only exist because I persisted. There were so many days I wanted to give up. There were so many times that I doubted my choices and questioned my path. There were so many hard choices that I made. If I had done things differently – if my courage had faltered, if my family hadn’t supported me, if my doctor had given up on me – these two amazing people wouldn’t exist.
Friends, it’s worth it. It’s so hard but it’s so worth it.
Recently, another mother of donor conceived twins commented on one of my posts, and her story was so moving to me that I wanted to share it with you (with her permission). In particular, it was a relief for me to hear from a mother who has both a bio child and donor conceived children, as that’s a perspective I’ll never have. I thought you all might like to hear another perspective from a mom who’s been there.
Thank you Kelly, for sharing your incredible story with us.
I have a biological son who is now 19; I had him when I was 22 with my first husband. I developed secondary infertility, possibly due to endometriosis or due to the severe thyroid problems I developed with my first son, or some combination thereof. The end result is that I was never able to get pregnant again.
My first husband and I eventually split, and my current husband and I eventually got married. We got engaged knowing that I had infertility issues and we stopped using any protection during the year of our engagement so that we could go into medical treatment right after our wedding (but always hoping for that happy OOPS! – clearly that never materialized). We started off with 3 months of Clomid – nothing. Then 3 rounds of Clomid assisted IUI’s – nothing. Then 4 rounds of OE IVF – nothing.
When we first started, I had initially said that I wouldn’t consider using donor eggs, that if we got through our OE IVF, we would call it good and move on. Except… I couldn’t. I knew I wasn’t ready to give up, and my husband, bless his heart, got right on board with it (the gut wrenching grief-from-the bottom-of my soul crying when we got the last negative call from the clinic may have made it an easy decision for him). We looked at both donor embryos (our clinic has an amazing embryo program with a money back guarantee if you don’t get pregnant in 3 attempts and has an 80% success rate) and donor eggs. However, my hubby really wanted that genetic connection, especially since I would still be carrying them. So, we moved forward with the DE.
I chose a donor purely on her physical attributes. I wanted someone with dark hair and eyes like me, and I wanted her to be tall, because I am really tall. I didn’t care about anything else, I just wanted to babies to at least be able to pass as mine. My husband’s sole request was that she be a proven donor.
Our fresh round failed, and at that point, I became convinced the issue was my uterus and not the eggs. I fell into a pretty heavy despair. My RE did a endometrial scratch, we did our transfer, and then I went back to work and promptly let it all go because I knew, without a doubt, that it would not work. Imagine my surprise when I got pregnant on that frozen round with our twin boys. I knew the very next day that something was different, but I refused to get my hopes up. I took a digital pregnancy test 8 days after the transfer and it immediately came up positive. It was so fast I didn’t even have time to pull my pants up. I literally set the test on the counter, stood up, and there it was – “PREGNANT”. At 11dp5dt my beta was 997, and my 2nd beta was over 2000. We knew we were having twins from that first test.
Having had a bio child and now 2 donor children, I am in a position to say that I don’t love my bio-son any more than I do my Twinks. They all came from me, and were all desperately wanted and loved.
As for looks…we got one who is my husband’s mini-me, from his looks to his temperament. And my husband and the donor both have dark hair, hubby has hazel-brown eyes, donor had brown eyes… and we got one baby who is blond and blue-eyed! We weren’t expecting that at all, lol. Everyone assumes he is a throwback to my dad’s side of the family as they are Danish and German and all fair and blue-eyed – people comment on it ALL THE TIME. To the point that I have given up reminding people that it can’t be possible, I just smile and nod my head and say thank you. However, I do like to think that my DNA turned those genes on and had some determination in their strong expression in him.
We registered on the donor sibling registry, and are in contact with the parent of one of our boy’s genetic half-sibling. It is only a couple of times a year, but it has been interesting. We are hoping to meet one day.
I don’t know how I feel about meeting the donor someday… conflicted, I suppose. I am so thankful for what she did… but I also have this fear of my boys wanting to get to know their donor. But, we decided before I even got pregnant that we would be honest with them from the get-go, and have books that we read to them (they are 17 months old) even now, and talk about it pretty openly in our house, with our family and friends. We have been very blessed that everyone in our lives was immediately open to and receptive of this idea, even people I thought were going to struggle with the idea. My family treats the boys just like they treated my older son.
It was a heart wrenching and long 3 year journey, but so worth it.
I love sharing my story with over DE moms so thank you for letting me do that.
We got full custody of my step-daughter 3 years ago this month. She went from spending 4-6 days a months with us to full-time 24/7/365. She came to visit for Thanksgiving and just never left. The timing was hard – we found out we got custody of her the same week I found out that I was pregnant with the twins and 5 months before I defended my PhD.
I was overwhelmed and hormonal. I was miserable. I felt like a terrible person. I knew taking custody of her was the right thing to do, of course. She was in terrible danger with her mom. But I was finally, FINALLY pregnant and I wanted my little family – the family I had imagined in my head. That family picture didn’t include an emotionally damaged, spoiled, full-time step-kid. I know, it makes me sound awful. It was awful – I was awful. (I obviously never let her know that I felt like that.) I spent days locked in my closet crying. It’s a big deal to go from not having a kid to always having a kid. And I love my husband but he’s not a hands on father – all of the parenting and child care fell to me. I was overwhelmed. And the guilt was overwhelming. Here was this 8-year-old kid who had just been through hell and then been taken away from her mom and she was fine. I was 37 and was losing my shit. What kind of parent was I? Did this mean I was a crappy mother and that’s why I was infertile?
Fast forward to today. I just got a text from her – “Hey mama W, can we watch a scary movie tonight after daddy and the boys go to bed? I’ll make popcorn! I love you”. Last night we spent an hour on the couch together and she learned to french braid using my hair and YouTube. She’s my go to now for good road trip music. We make dinner together almost every night, and when she had an assignment at school about what makes her happy one of the things she said was “cooking dinner with W”. I help her with her math homework and we have long involved discussions about which house we would be sorted into if we went to Hogwarts. I miss her when she goes to see her mom. I can’t imagine life with out her. And I don’t want to.
I bring this up because after getting her text I googled “good relationship with step-mom”. All I got was how-to articles and articles about why step-mothers and daughters have such terrible relationships. Every google search I could think of turned up only negative results. “Why step-daughters and step-monsters can never get along”; “How to make the best of your step relationship.” – all bad news. But you know what? It’s not bad. We have a great relationship now. I love her. She’s my kid. She’s an integral part of my family. It was hard work to get here – there was a lot of intentional parenting, lots of fits and starts and good and bad choices, and we both worked really hard at it. And it was worth it.
I took her to her middle school orientation a few months ago. She introduced me to her science teach and said “This is my parent, W,” and he said “Don’t you mean your mom?” and she said “No. A mom loves you and gives birth to you but a parent is the person who takes care of you.” And there you have it.
**I need to amend this post based on a thoughtful comment from a fellow infertile step-mom. Not every step-family is harmonious, even after a lot of work and effort and love, and there can be lots of different reasons for that. Some things can be fixed and some things can’t. Do the best you can, love as hard as you can and realize that you can only do so much. As step-parents the deck is stacked against us and sometimes there’s no recovering from that. All you can do is your best. Much love to you, fellow step-parents.
My twins are 2 now – 27 months old to be exact. Since they were conceived I’ve been thinking/debating/rehearsing what to tell them about their genetic origins. I’ve read some literature and talked to some people and done a whole lot of thinking. I know that it’s better to tell them sooner rather than later so that they grow up with this knowledge rather than springing it on them when they’re older because that can erode their sense of self and stability. But how young is too young? And what do you say? In this, as with most things it seems, I’ve gone with my gut and just taken the plunge.
It happened accidentally a few months back. They had just switched from cribs to toddler beds and that wasn’t working out AT ALL. So we moved them to mattresses on the floor which they really loved. At bed time I would come and lay down between their mattresses and hold their hands and sing them songs. One night I was singing “Sunshine” and holding their tiny, plump little hands in mine and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the donor (this happens pretty regularly). But this particular night I was feeling particularly loved and secure and so I just started talking to them about it. I started telling them the story. I told them how mommy and daddy wanted a baby so badly but the doctor told mommy all her eggs were broken so she couldn’t have a baby. And mommy was so sad she cried and cried. And how a nice lady let mommy use some of her eggs to make a baby, because the nice lady had extra eggs and it’s nice to share. And mommy was able to have not just one baby but TWO babies! And mommy and daddy were so, so happy to finally have their little babies. And those little babies are you!
I’ve told them some version of this story once or twice or week now since then. Sometimes they’ll ask for the story – “Mommy lady story, k?” and they’ll break in at different parts. Whenever I talk about how sad I was R pats my face and says “OH NO! No sad mama! Lady share.” and they both clap when I tell them that we were so happy to have TWO babies. At the end Z always says “Yay! More story.” To them it’s just another story. But to me, it’s acceptance. It’s gone a long way towards allowing me to accept my decision to use donor eggs and to feel secure in my role as their mother. And I feel like they will grow up with this being a part of who they are. To them their conception story is a soft, warm, safe part of bedtime, and I hope that those feelings of love and security will endure. I hope that the part that sticks with them is that we desperately wanted them, that people in the world are good and are willing to help and to share, and that having them made us happy and complete.
I know that the story is going to have to change as they get older. I know that they’re going to have questions and that it will all get exponentially more complicated. But I feel confident that we have laid a good foundation of openness and trust. And that makes me “so, so happy”.
I have a question for you, dear friends. Is infertility more common than it used to be, are we more open to discussing it, am I just at the age where this is something many of my “tribe” are dealing with, or all of the above?
When I had problems getting pregnant I was the first person I had ever met who had been to a reproductive endocrinologist. A friend put me in touch with someone she knew who had recently done IVF and so I used her doctor. And when I was going through procedure after procedure and failure after failure I was the only one. I was alone. (Except for the vast internet – thank you again, internet). I was scared and ashamed. I felt isolated and alone.
Now every time I turn around I find someone who is struggling to get pregnant. And they’re not always just talking to me about it because they know of my situation. And especially now that I have the twins, no one outside of my circle has reason to suspect I had issues with fertility. Seriously, I’m going to list out some of the people in my life that are dealing with infertility, because the number of people I know IRL that are dealing with these issues is shocking to me. And this isn’t an exhaustive list!
- My best friend from grad school was diagnosed with PCOS 2 years ago. Successfully got pregnant after a regulated medicated cycle. (Age 33)
- My sister was diagnosed with DOR but just had her second “miracle” baby. (Age 34)
- My office mate from grad school’s wife had a recurrent hormone producing cyst on her ovary. Did 2 rounds of IVF and is currently pregnant with twins. (Age 36)
- Another friend from grad school was diagnosed with PCOS. Had 2 losses, and now has a 1 year old son as the result of Clomid. (Age 38)
- Found out yesterday that my college roommate has unexplained infertility. She successfully got pregnant after 2 rounds of Clomid. She wants another but her husband doesn’t want to go through the process again. (Age 39)
- My cross fit trainers wife has DOR. They did 3 rounds of IVF and were unsuccessful. They are now the parents of 2 little girls that they adopted. (Age 26)
- The lady that sat next to me on the plane last week had 5 rounds of IVF, 3 miscarriages, 1 living child.
- My boss and his wife were never able to conceive despite fertility treatments (see my post about that)
- Coworkers sister has been through multiple unspecified unsuccessful infertility treatments (more here)
- Two different acquaintances are currently undergoing infertility screening as they have each been trying for more than a year to get pregnant without success. (Age 32 and 33)
- My mom’s best friends middle daughter called me a few weeks ago because she’s starting her 3rd round of IVF and is (of course) terrified that it won’t work and they are considering donor eggs as a possible next step. (Age 28)
- A friend from high school has 2 kids, both conceived using IVF. She has unexplained infertility. (Age 34 at time of first IVF treatment)
It seems like every time I turn around there is someone else who is dealing with infertility. Is it just me? Am I more in tuned with it now? Or is it my age? We all know fertility decreases when you get older but age 35 isn’t a cliff you fall off of into infertility. Or maybe, just maybe, is the stigma associated with infertility lifting a little?
What do you think?
My best friend got divorced this past Monday and I was her witness. I spent the night at her house so that I could distract and support her and so that we could arrive at court together. Another friend of hers joined us on Sunday night – a woman from her neighborhood who was set to undergo a double mastectomy on Tues. We were a jolly bunch!
During the course of the night this friend expressed something interesting. She told us that when she was with other woman who were breast cancer survivors or with women in the process of treating breast cancer she felt dismissed – her cancer wasn’t “bad” enough, she hasn’t had chemo or radiation, she hasn’t had a recurrence. She spoke of feeling terribly alone in her process because people without cancer didn’t understand, but people with cancer – presumably the folks who would know what she was feeling and experiencing and help her along the way – were not very supportive.
I can’t speak to the experience of having breast cancer or being a cancer survivor, but the description resonated with me because of its similarity to the infertility “hierarchy of suffering”. Here is a breakdown of many of the possible iterations of fertility issues –
- You had trouble getting pregnant but got pregnant eventually.
- You had a child (or children) but then experienced secondary infertility.
- You had trouble getting pregnant but got pregnant with limited medical intervention (IUI, Clomid, etc.).
- You got pregnant using IVF and it worked the first time.
- You got pregnant using IVF after 2-3 tries.
- You got pregnant and lost the baby but got pregnant again and had a successful pregnancy.
- You got pregnant using IVF but it required many rounds of treatment.
- You experienced recurrent pregnancy loss followed by a successful pregnancy.
- You got pregnant using donor eggs.
- You have never successfully gotten or stayed pregnant.
If you’ve been around the infertility world for any length of time you could put these into an order, a hierarchy of suffering. And that order would be based on many things, including your own experience. I can shamefacedly admit that I’m guilty of being (inwardly) dismissive of some of these experiences, as if they have less importance or value than my personal experience. I think it’s natural to feel that people who have endured “less” than you can’t possibly understand the pain and anguish you’ve felt. How can a women who has never experienced the loss of pregnancy understand recurrent pregnancy loss? If IVF worked for you the first time how can you possibly understand what it’s like to endure round after round of unsuccessful treatment? While I think that these are natural reactions I also believe that we need to fight against this instinct. All of these scenarios are difficult. Women in all of these situations need and deserve our support. There should be no hierarchy to suffering – everyone has their own process, and everyone handles these challenges differently. My friend with DOR did 3 rounds of IVF without a successful pregnancy and happily moved on to adoption without regret and without giving it another thought. I did 3 rounds of IVF with 1 loss, successfully got pregnant using donor eggs and I am still suffering from grief, loss and shame.
As someone who has run the gamut of infertility and had to resort to something outside of the common experience even in this community (donor eggs) I fall high on the “suffering scale”. I am guilty of feeling that people who have had early success can’t possibly understand my process. I want to change that. I don’t want anyone facing infertility (or pregnancy loss) to feel like they don’t have allies in the community or to feel like they’re outsiders simply because they haven’t suffered enough. That’s ridiculous. So please, if you’re feeling isolated, if you’re feeling alone, if you’re scared and uncertain – get in touch with me. Leave a comment. I will stand by you and hold your hand. We should all be in this together.
I’ve got your back.
“Oh my god!” I said. “What if this procreation thing works?” We never thought to ask: What if it doesn’t?
If you’re considering using donor eggs, please read this essay. It’s an excellent look into the process and helped me to have some perspective when I was struggling with the idea of donor assisted conception. Also, please feel free to send me private comments or emails if you’re not comfortable sharing in the Comments. I’m happy to share my journey and I hope that I can be some help to others.
Mother’s Day. Gah.
The 13th worst day of the year. The other 12 days that were worse? The day my period started each month. The day that marked another failure. Another cycle gone. Another month of trying and wishing and hoping. In vain. Every single month.
Now that I have my boys Mother’s Day is bittersweet. My heart aches with joy at my blessings. My heart aches with pain at the knowledge that there are so many others out there that are still trying and wishing and hoping. So many others dreading this day. Dreading the 12 other worst days.
So for all of you out there still trying – I’m thinking of you. For all of you out there that have lost your babies – I’m thinking of you. For all of you out there that have lost your mamas – I’m thinking of you too. This can be a trying and painful day for so many reasons. Be strong. Be good to each other. I’m thinking of you.
I’m in Austin on a work trip with my boss and a coworker. Both men, both older than me. We’re having dinner at a casual outdoor place and they’re as laid back as these characters ever get. They’re both lovely people – very nice. Both consummate professionals, these two. There’s very little personal talk. It’s all business or politics or history – very safe.
So we decide to have a second round of drinks (the workshop we’re running is going very smoothly) and the conversation turns to productivity. My coworker mentions how his productivity has declined due to the never-ending piles of laundry that the kids generate. I agree. We talk about how we spend our time and somehow (for the life of me I can’t remember how) I mention that I sometimes blog. They politely ask what I blog about. There’s the uncomfortable pregnant pause and, two drinks in, I say “Fuck it” in my head and blurt out – “I blog about infertility”.
There’s a long pause. My coworker says something like “From your own personal experience or in general?” and I take a long sip of my drink and tell him that it’s from personal experience. That my babies are the result of extensive fertility treatments, and that it was very difficult for me and that I found a lot of comfort from my online community.
There’s another long pause. Then he looks at me and says “My sister can’t have children. She suffered quietly for years and I never knew. It’s one of the greatest regrets of my life that I didn’t know she was hurting. I wish I could have done something to help her, I wish she could have confided in me.” And then my boss clears his throat and we both look over at him and he has tears in his eyes and he says “That’s why I don’t have children. We tried for years and years. We did infertility treatments and nothing worked. Eventually you accept it and move on, as much as you can, but it was really hard for us.”
It’s hard for me to put in to words what I’m feeling right now. There we were, three random people sitting a table, all of us deeply touched by infertility. I’m struck by how willing people are to talk about their personal stories when given the opportunity. I’m struck by how open and vulnerable people are willing to be when presented with an authentic opportunity for honest discussion. I’m struck by the sheer number of people who have been touched by infertility. I’m especially struck by the fact that I underestimated these two particular people. I had arrogantly assumed that infertility was my own personal pain and they would have no understanding or concept of what that was like. Shame on me! It just goes to show that everyone is fighting their own personal battles and dealing with their own inner demons. We can see people every day and never know what’s under the surface.
Infertility is so pervasive and yet still so hidden. It’s so intensely personal and that makes it hard to talk about. But we NEED to talk about it. We need to take the shame and failure and the secrecy out of infertility. We need to open up about the struggles and heartache, because there are so many of us out there suffering silently and alone. So I am going to start talking about it. I’m going to put it out there. I may not be able to do much, but I can do something.
Whew – that’s better! It was definitely time for an update. Still the same old me but with a new and fancier wrapper. Hope you like it!
I rarely think about the boys being the result of gamete donation. I mean, it’s always in the back of my mind, kind of like the never-ending piles of laundry are always on my mind, but not in any real way. And I’ve even started talking with people outside of my immediate friend group about their unique conception history. Progress! After all, they say when you can tell your story without tears you have healed.
And then out of left field – BAM!!!
My sister is pregnant again, naturally and unexpected. I’m thrilled for her, in the way you can only be thrilled for your sister. And I am unbelievably jealous of her, in the way you can only be jealous of your sister. She has the same diagnosis as me and she’s the same age I was when I started infertility treatments. And she’s pregnant. AGAIN.
I would never wish what I went through on anyone, especially my baby sister. But COME ON LIFE! Really? *sigh*
And then, she randomly sends me a picture of her at 16 months next to a picture of her 16 month old (naturally conceived) bio baby so that I can compare how much they look alike. I burst in to tears right there waiting for the bus at the park and ride. Couldn’t even try to hide it. Just sudden, huge, overwhelming sobs. (And I couldn’t go hide in my car and take a later bus. I had to stand there, sobbing, waiting for the last bus of the morning. I’m sure everyone at the bus stop thinks I’m completely nuts). Because I can’t do that. I can’t compare myself with my boys. There’s no point.
It’s such a natural human instinct to look for ourselves in our children. To search for the continuity of our genes through time. Maybe it’s hubris or vanity. But to me, the one who can’t ever see myself reflected in my child’s eyes, it seems like looking for yourself in the face of god. To see yourself in this tiny perfect being – to be privy to the melding of you and your mate – it seems like a miracle. And it’s those little things that are hard.
The big things are easy. I love my little guys. All day long, every day, strong and true. Unconditionally. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I am proud of my boys and happy and grateful to be their mama. But every time a stranger in the grocery store says “Oh how sweet, this one looks just like you! And this one must look like his daddy”, I think, “The joke’s on you lady! He doesn’t actually look like me at all” and then I have to smile and walk away quickly before the sense of loss brings tears to my eyes.
I think these feelings will start to fade too, eventually. And maybe one day that spot in my heart won’t be so sore. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some things can only be carried, but as my strength grows the burden feels less heavy. And in the meantime I will bask in the miracles that are my children, and thank the powers that be that I was strong enough and brave enough to do what was needed to bring them into this world.
Hello all! Sorry it’s been so long. Life keeps happening at warp speed. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s happening with us before I start going on about my little dudes.
We moved across the country. Like, just picked up and moved. My husband got fired the first week of July and we moved before Aug. My post-doc was ending and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after that and I have been itching to get closer to family. My mama could not BE more thrilled. After we moved I played stay-at-home-mom for 4 months. I’m not very good at that, as it turns out. Hats off to all you SAHM’s because it’s hard as hard can be. I was simultaneously overwhelmed and bored to death. I made A LOT of apple pies.
Sooooo…I got a job! It happened to come along at just the right time. It’s with a non-profit that I’ve worked with for years and years and, while it’s not research, it’s in my field, I’m very good at it, it’s important work, it pays reasonably well and it has amazing benefits! Of course, I have an hour and half commute each way but you can’t have it all right? Now, on to my boys…
They are spectacular. First of all, they’re huge. They’re 99% and 97% for height and weight – they both wear 2T at 18 months and are about the size of the average 3 year old. Z started walking at 9 months and lazy Ro was content to sit on his fat bottom and watch the action until 10.5 months. Now, at almost 19 months they’re climbing, running, wrestling, and laughing. They both use sign language and they both are talking, mostly about poop. Z has always been fastidious about his diaper, so now when he soils it he comes to me, holds up his shirt and says “Poop, mama. Poop.” And if I don’t immediately spring to my feet he’ll go and get a diaper, lay it in my lap and then lean in close and look in my eyes and say “MAMA. POOP.” R is constantly chatting about ducks and dinosaurs and singing Old MacDonald (“e, i, e, i , mooooooo”). They have fights over who gets to sit in my lap – they both push each other and say “No! MY MAMA!”. My heart melts. Ro has a megawatt smile and knows how to use it, and Z is a sweet and gentle soul.
I have days where I cry that they’re not “mine”, but truthfully they couldn’t be more mine. I have days where the pain and process it took to get to where we are overwhelms me with both fear and gratitude-we were so close to giving up. I have days where I wish with all of my heart that I never have to tell them how they were conceived. But I have more days, many many many more days where I’m proud of their origins. I’m proud of the struggle. I’m proud that one day they will have definitive concrete proof of how much we wanted them and how much they were loved, before they were even conceived. I FOUGHT for them. And I’m proud of who they are. I wouldn’t trade them for bio babies EVER. THEY are my babies. And I am their mama.
I love Ro with all of my heart, but Z is mine. He was Baby B, snuggled up under my ribcage, right beside my heart. His hair is exactly the color of mine. His personality is me to a T. Last week, when my mom and aunt were visiting I heard them laughing downstairs while I was folding clothes. Turns out Z had taken the ribbon on my moms blouse and was using it to tickle his ear, which was what I used to do, in exactly that same way. I know about epigenetics, and I believe all of that stuff (mostly) but it is a balm to me to see him be like me in so many ways. I can’t look at them and try and find my nose, or my fingernails, or my toes, but I still see myself in them, and in Z in particular.
Don’t get me wrong, I love R. He’s a troublemaker, and a performer and a silly silly monkey! R loves everyone. He’ll go to everyone with a smile and hug. Everyone adores him. He has a modeling contract and has been relatively successful (less so now that I can’t take him to auditions obviously). People stop us in public to comment on what a beautiful child he is. Z is quiet. He hangs back until he’s sure of what’s going on. And then, when he’s comfortable, he’s a beam of sunshine. He took apart the coffee table when he was 11 months old. He has taken apart the baby gate once or twice and now when he starts to do I tell him “No Z-bone”, and he’ll get a big grin and then pretend to do it. I’ll start to stand up and he’ll laugh and say “No, Z-bone. Mama say no”. But he’ll stop, and then he’ll get a book and come crawl in my lap. He has his baby doll that he loves (below), and his kitty that he sleeps with. Ro has a blankie that goes everywhere with him, and he’s obsessed with shoes or “sues” and must put on all pairs within in sight. Which means his shoes, my shoes and then daddy’s shoes. All at once.
So I have the engineer and the actor, the thinker and the lover. My little boys. I have it all.
I have no idea who to credit this to as it came from the vast internet unknown. But -THIS.
There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.
I will be better not because of genetics, or money or that I have read more books,…
but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.
I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed.
I have endured and planned over and over again.
Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.
I will notice everything about my child.
I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.
I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.
I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.
Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.
I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.
I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body, I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.
I have prevailed.
I have succeeded.
I have won.
So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.
And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immerse power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.
I have learned to appreciate life.
Yes I will be a wonderful mother.
4:45 PM Had my blood drawn at 8:00 AM. The nurses told me the doctor wouldn’t be calling until the afternoon. Now it’s 4:45 and I STILL haven’t heard a peep. I broke down and called them a few minutes ago and the receptionist said they had just started their daily results meeting and he would be calling soon. I am losing my mind. I understand now how the police get people to talk by leaving them in a room for a few hours with their thoughts. Leave me alone with my thoughts and vague feeling of anxiety and I’m suddenly a raving lunatic. I have been absolutely confident throughout this whole cycle, except for the last 2 hours. And in these last 2 hours every fear, doubt, and previous terrible IF experience has come creeping back in. Are all of those gazillion BFP’s only positive because tests have gotten so good that they detect even small (read here: chemical pregnancy) amounts of hCG? Are all of my symptoms psychosomatic? And I know that no matter what this beta is (because it will be some number greater than 5, I know that for certain) there will be another beta on Thursday and this whole traumatic experience will repeat itself. I am literally staring at the phone and willing it to ring.
5:12 PM Willing the phone to ring didn’t work. It’s fine, right? It’s gonna be fine. Right?
5:20 PM My mom just called to check and see what the news was (like I wouldn’t have already called her if I knew). I just about jumped out of my skin. WTF is taking them so long? I have to go home and start cooking dinner, but I’m afraid to get in the elevator because there’s no reception there, or in the stairwell. I’m trapped in my office!!
Beta #1 – 586!!!!! Wha….?!
Our donors egg retrieval is coming up (either Tues or Wed, depending on how her follicles look today) so it was time to put her gift basket together. I wanted it to be elegant, put together, thoughtful, sweet…. Nope, that’s just not how I roll! In the end though, I think it reflects me in all of my silly, crazy but well-intentioned glory. Frankly, I put in the things that I wanted after my egg retrieval, and then some other stuff just ’cause. In the end, this is what went in…
- The basket, obviously, with a silly flower wrapped around the handle (she has a small child, so I thought the silly stuff would be appreciated).
- Thanksgiving/fall themed kitchen towels as a liner, because tis the season.
- Super fluffy warm soft socks.
- A pumpkin scented candle.
- Relaxation tea.
- A jar filled with beauty stuff – nail polish, lotion, shower gel, eye mask, silly frog loofa, etc.
- A stuffed animal for her little boy.
- The Willow Tree “Thank You” angel.
- Chocolate! And chocolate chip cookies, Gatorade and Applesauce.
- And finally, a card that one of my closest friends painted for the donor. I’ve spent the last few nights mulling over what to say in it, and finally wrote it this morning.
Here’s what I said, more or less…
Words can never truly express how grateful we are for what you have done. We know what a commitment it is to go through the grueling process of injections and monitoring, and we understand all that you’ve had to endure to help us start our family. For several long years we have gone through one failed IVF cycle after another, desperately trying to have a baby. When we learned last Christmas that my ovaries had failed to the point where we could no longer use my eggs, my little sister offered to donate her eggs to us. Tragically, during the donor testing, ARMS discovered that she also has Diminished Ovarian Reserve and may never have children of her own. It seemed that our dream of holding our baby in our arms was slipping away. And then came you! You have given us the chance to become the parents that we know in our hearts we are meant to be. You are our angel of hope and grace, and although we can never repay your kindness and generosity, please know that we acknowledge how truly wonderful and special you are. Regardless of the outcome of this cycle, we cannot thank you enough for your selflessness. If we are lucky enough to have children as a result of your gift I know we will think of you often with love, wonder and appreciation. You will always have a special place in our hearts. Gratefully, the hopefully mom and dad to be
On the back – *Here are a few little things to help you relax after the retrieval. There is also an angel for you. Whenever you look at her, remember that you are our angel and that you are appreciated!
I’ve added some pictures of the basket and card. Let me know what you think, especially if you think we should add anything. We have a few days to make changes!
Things are moving right along!
I’ve stopped birth control and started the Lupron injections. No major swelling or pain with injection, so it seems that the Lupron I had before (that caused IVF cycle #2 to be cancelled) was compounded incorrectly. I started on the Estrace on Monday and thankfully the Lupron headaches have eased up a bit. My donor starts her injections on Sat.
I think of her all the time, and not in the way I thought I’d think of her. I think of her like a comrade, or secret pen pal. Every time I give myself the injection I think of her, in her bathroom or kitchen, giving herself the injection too. I hope it’s not too bad for her. I hope she’s not regretting her decision now that she’s getting to the hard part. I hope she thinks of me. I hope she’s excited. I hope she knows how excited I am and how much this means to me and my husband and our families.
In an uncharacteristically optimistic moment my husband and I decided to rent a house with 4 bedrooms instead of 3, so that we can have a nursery if this works. We have to be out of our house by Dec 31 (the landlord is trying to sell) and we don’t want to buy since we’ll likely have to move for my job once I finish the Ph.D. So, we were looking at both 3 and 4 bedroom homes and just decided to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best and get 4 instead of 3. It seems like tempting fate, but I’m so tired of being cautious! I’m so tired of hedging my bets and expecting the worst and guarding my heart and waiting for the other shoe to drop! I’m excited! I just want to be hopeful and excited.
My donor took her final tests last week and we should find out the results next week. Her psychological exams are the in the middle of Oct. I start birth control pills (oh, the sad irony, every time) with my next period, in 2 weeks.
I decided to post this singularly uninteresting update to highlight the fact that much of infertility (and treatment) is waiting. And waiting is HARD. Oh so very hard. Waiting for the next appointment. Waiting for your period. Waiting for the blood results. Waiting to stim. Waiting to trigger. Waiting for your follies to grow. Waiting to POAS. Everything – EVERYTHING – seems to happen in 2 week increments. 2 weeks + 2 weeks + 2 weeks, eventually = years of your life. Waiting. It’s not a wonder we drive ourselves nuts.
In other news…One of the ladies I follow (http://theunexpectedtrip.wordpress.com/) is in the early stages of a DE pregnancy after recurrent pregnancy losses. The heart rate of her little bambino came back a touch low and she is worrying herself sick (as we all would). I’m not religious at all but I do believe that positive energy and positive thoughts can’t possibly hurt, so if you get a minute, send a little love/prayer/happiness/peace/goodness in her direction. She’s waiting (of course) for her next ultrasound to make sure everything is ok. And it’s driving her nuts!
Many many thanks to “the unexpected trip” for nominating my for a Liebster Award. It’s always nice to feel appreciated, especially by someone I admire! Her journey is truly inspirational – check it out at http://theunexpectedtrip.wordpress.com/
Anywho, I stole this part from her to help explain what a Liebster award is…
“The interwebs tells me that the Liebster Award is given to up-and-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Liebster is German and means: “sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, valued, welcome.” The award is given not by a committee but by fellow bloggers and is a way to spread the word about great blogs out there, and a way to get to know new (or new-ish) bloggers as people. I did a little digging and found what I think are the original rules of the Liebster. Here they are:”
Here are 11 things about me that you don’t know.
- I have classic arachnophobia (spider, ticks and mites). It’s so bad that I was once taken to the hospital because I walked by a bunch of hatching baby spiders and they got on my legs. I broke out in hives and had such a massive panic attack my friends thought I had been bitten and was going into anaphylactic shock. Now I have Xanax on hand, just in case.
- I have lived in a tent for more than 2 years of my life. Most of that time I was doing field work in either Bolivia, Argentina or the Himalayas.
- I was married once before.
- I am the tallest women in my family by more than 5 inches.
- I am allergic to peppermint and latex, but I have no reaction to mosquito bites or poison ivy.
- I did theatre in high school, and was offered full theatre scholarships to every college I applied to.
- I love my dog more than anything in the entire world, but consider myself to be a cat person.
- When I was a little girl I told my mom I died in a car crash.
- I have no idea how to blow dry my hair, and I only own a blow-dryer because we needed to thaw out pipes when I lived in Ohio.
- I am an excellent cook, and have a cooking blog.
- I have had the same recurring nightmare since I was about 5 years old. I’m standing on the beach and there’s a storm coming. The waves are getting bigger and I turn to run away but there is a huge sand cliff. I try to climb the cliff but it falls down, pushing me closer to the water.
Here are my questions from TUT
1. Name 3 – 5 of your favorite books. – World War Z, Lord of the Rings, Dhalgren, The Night Circus, The White Queen
2. What kind of music really moves you at soul-level? Tori Amos, Glen Phillips, Greg Brown
3. Link to a piece of art you like. – http://www.spiritart.org/Present/WillowArlenea/Ascension.jpg
4. Describe an outfit (clothing, shoes), head to foot, that embodies who you are. – black fitted tank top, cargo shorts and hiking boots
5. If you were on an airplane that was about to crash into the ground, what do you think your last thoughts would be? – about my family, hoping they know how much I love them.
6. Describe something imaginative and perhaps unusual you used to do as a child. – I would tame the wild forest cats on our farm. Also, my cousin and I would draw pictures of the grocery store and have “art shows” where we made our mother buy them.
7. Describe your absolute perfect job (what the office looks like, what you do, what your hours are, etc). – It would be some traditional teaching and advising of students, some research and some outreach and media relations. My office would have floor to ceiling bookcases on 2 walls and a large picture frame window with a window seat on the far wall. Lots of light, comfie chairs, lots of plants.
8. What are some of your very favorite movies? – House of 1000 Corpses, The Princess Bride, Zombieland, James Bond, Paranormal Activity
9. What is one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done? – Trekking in the Himalayas
10. Country, city, or suburb? – country
11. What is your idea of a perfect day? – Hard to say. Some days it would be reading a book in bed with the rain falling outside, other days it would be hiking in the Andes, some days it would be relaxing on the beach.
Here are my nominees (in no particular order)
- HER bun. MY oven.
- The Empress and the Fool
- No Good Eggs
- My Preconceived life
- Idiotic Infertility
- Rain before rainbow
- It Only Takes One
And the questions for them to answer if they’d like to participate –
- Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
- What is your happiest memory?
- What are you most afraid of?
- What thing could you not live without?
- If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 1 book, 1 movie and 1 kind of food what would they be?
- If you were a tree what tree would you be and why?
- If your house was burning down (and you were alone) what would you carry out with you?
- Where do you want to settle down?
- What is your favorite smell?
- What is your favorite joke?
- Mayo or mustard?
We found someone. A donor. She’s from The World Egg Bank. They allow open donations if both parties are willing (and if you pay additional fees of course). We contacted our clinic, contacted TWEB, got the contracts. TWEB called the donor and she’s willing and able to start testing immediately. Sold our second car to get the deposits. Today we signed the contract, wrote the check to TWEB for 50% of the fees and drove it to their doorstep. Now our clinic will get in touch with the donor and start the testing. Annnnnnndddddddd, here’s where it can all go wrong.
See, the donors aren’t prescreened which is pretty typical, I think, when you use an agency. There’s just too many people to screen, not all of them will be chosen etc. So our clinic is going to do all of the testing (which they insist on whether it’s been done in the past or not) – physical, genetic, psychological…. and our donor nurse has told us in the past that only about 1 in 8 people pass. Some fail the STD testing, many flake out, most fail the ovarian reserve assessment. She said no one really fails the psych testing because if they’ve managed to stick it out through all of the other stuff they’re pretty committed and solid mentally and emotionally. They kind of screen themselves. So now all I can think is “Oh my god. I’ve finally found someone who fits our (apparently very narrow) criteria and there’s only a 12% chance she’ll pass the testing to become a donor?” S keeps telling me to stay positive – the nurse at TWEB said she remembers her and she is isn’t flaky, that she’s very straightforward and funny and nice. She’s only 20 so the odds of her meeting the ovarian reserve testing criteria are excellent. But still, so many things could go wrong. And like I’ve said before, if infertility has taught me anything it’s that I’m not the special one, the one who beats the odds, the one who breezes through. So, for the next few weeks I’ll be holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop….
After a truly long and agonizing struggle I think I’m ok with moving forward with donor eggs. One thing that seems to be critically important to me is that I am 100% comfortable with the donor. And I have 2 deal breakers –
- She has to at least resemble me. Even if my children don’t have my genetic makeup I want them to physically blend in with our family. This part is problematic, because as I’ve mentioned before I have very red hair and there aren’t very many red-headed (or strawberry blonde or auburn) donors. She also can’t be too tall – my husband is 6’7″ so we want to minimize the possibility of any enormously tall female children (this is mainly my husbands request). In a perfect world she would have light eyes (green, blue, grey) because I think that’s very attractive and if I can choose, hey, why not? And yes, I know that having a donor with red hair doesn’t mean we’ll have a red-haired child. What it does mean is that similar characteristic to mine (including skin tone, coloring, hair, whatever) will be passed on to the child.
- It has to be an open donation. I absolutely understand why people (both donors and recipients) would want to be anonymous. It’s extremely appealing. But I believe that donor conceived children have a right to know their genetic heritage, both for medical and personal reasons. I feel it’s vital for humans to have a sense of who they are. Also, my husband and I are going to a great deal of trouble to ensure that our children are genetically related to at least one of us, how could we dream of taking away their right to know the people they are genetically related to? Plus, if I were a donor I would want to know that my eggs went to good people. I would be concerned for the health and happiness of any children that might have come from my donation. I would never want a donor to regret their decision to donate the eggs that allowed us to have a family. Ideally, I would like us to keep each other informed of milestones and/or health issues, with the understanding that any children I might have would have the option to contact them in the future if they ever were curious.
So, our pool of possible donors is small. My frustration with infertility and all of the testing and uncertainty is high. And our bank account (after 3 IVF cycles and all that goes along with that) is very low. Frozen eggs seem like the way to go – cheaper, easier, less uncertainty. That gives us 2 main FE options –
- Donor Egg Bank USA – this is the group my RE works with. They have absolutely no one that fits our criteria. I am uncertain as to whether or not they allow open donations.
- The World Egg Bank – in order to see the donors you have to be a patient of an “affiliate” and do a bunch of testing. The nearest affiliate is more than 600 miles away, and I don’t want to do more testing. I have been poked and prodded enough for 3 lifetimes. There is also a fee to see their donor database, and they do not allow open donations. So, no deal.
I guess that means frozen eggs are out unless by some miracle a reddish haired, medium height, green-eyed donor who explicitly wants an open donation pops up on Donor Egg Bank. It could happen, right? Based on my track record with infertility…my magic 8 ball says “Not likely”.
This has led me to look at fresh donation. MUCH more pricey, few or no guarantees, much more complicated. Our clinic only has 8-10 donors, none are even close to our criteria. The other local clinic doesn’t allow open donations. BUT, I’ve found a donor through a nation-wide agency that I really like. She has auburn-ish hair, blue eyes, 5’7″. She donated once before (7 years ago-no report on the outcome of the donation but she is recommended by her agency) and she has 2 kids of her own. She’s married (he’s very supportive), we have the same interests, I love her reasons for wanting to donate, she’s open to future contact. She’s currently available and interested in donating to us.
BUT, she lives 300 miles away (there are no donors in our area that meet our criteria). She’s 29. The donor fee and agency fee combined are well north of $10,000. Then there’s travel ($4000), meds ($~6000), monitoring ($3000), legal/psych/health insurance/etc ($1500) and then the actual IVF part ($14,000). In the end we’re looking at ~$40,000. With no guarantee that it’ll work. Where a million things coud go wrong. Will she pass all the tests? Will she take her meds properly? How many eggs will she produce? How many of those eggs will fertilize? And even if we get the expensive “guarantee” it only refunds the cost of the IVF itself, not the $25,000+ of donor fees, travel, meds, etc. That’s a lot of money to gamble with. Not to mention the emotional costs.
I am truly at an impasse. Do we wait for a frozen egg donor who may never show up? How long do we wait? Also, most frozen donations aren’t open, which is a deal breaker. Do we go with this fresh donor and just hope for the best? Anyone have any suggestions? Someone? Anyone?
Hi everyone – sorry I’ve been gone for so long. First I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughts, comments and well wishes. There are times in the last few months when I’ve been in a pretty dark place and your support has been invaluable to me. So, thank you.
Things have been pretty rough ’round these parts. A few days after we found out that my sister has DOR and can’t donate my whole family came out to visit. It was already planned – my mom wanted to be out here while my sister and I got our tests finished. And it was terrible and awkward. We didn’t discuss it. Not even once. Such a huuuuuuuge elephant in the room!! It was awful.
After they left I just tried to put the whole thing from my mind. It was just too big, too much to deal with. Once again, I felt totally overwhelmed, completed defeated and entirely alone. *sigh*
A few weeks ago when my husband was out of town I spent an entire day watching documentaries on adoption. Not gonna lie, they painted a pretty dismal picture of adult children with serious attachment issues, separation anxiety and abandonment issues, even when they were adopted as babies and raised by warm and loving adoptive parents. Clearly, not all (or even most) of adopted people feel that way but it was eye opening. That same night I started looking at egg donor registries, just to see what was out there. I saw a girl who had a teenage photo that looked just like me – I sent it to my mom and she said “I don’t remember you dressing up as a cowgirl for Halloween”. It’s pretty good if even your own mom can’t tell! But, to use that girl would be upwards of $35K (not including travel) which is way outside of our budget considering that our savings are already drained from all this other infertility BS.
So, now I’m looking at frozen eggs. However, the more reading that I do about egg donation the more “on the fence” I become. Most frozen egg donors are anonymous, and I don’t want that. I don’t want them all up in my business, but (if I were to go this route) I believe donor conceived children have a right to know their genetic heritage. After all, S and I would have gone to a hell of a lot of trouble to ensure that our child was genetically related to us (well, one of us), how could we take away our child’s right to know the people they are genetically related to?
Plus, if I were the donor (HA) I would want to know that the eggs I donated went to good people. I don’t know that I would want to be heavily involved with them or the children, but I’d like to know.
There’s a girl in the egg donor registry that I like. A lot. She looks like me – red hair, green eyes, similar build. Her nose is bigger, her lips are fuller, her eyes are slanted. I think she’s lovely – a prettier, more petite version of me. But she’s 22. Which is great, reproductively. But who’s to say that at 27, or 30 or 35 or when she wants to have her own children that she won’t regret her decision to donate? That she won’t wonder about her “other” possible children and be concerned for their health and happiness? I would be, if I were her. So for her, the potential future genetic mother of my potential future donor children and for those children themselves I’d want at least to have the option for limited future contact. But I don’t think that’s possible with frozen eggs.
On top of this, I have all the usual fears about using donor gametes. Will I be able to bond with a child that’s not genetically mine? Will I always be looking for the donors traits? Will I be able to handle it? Will the child love me? Will I always feel second rate, second best, like I’m not really their mother? Will my family/friends/society be able to accept the child? Will the child think we were selfish for focusing on our desire for a child rather than what that decision would mean for the child who has to live with our choices? Would the child feel “incomplete”? Have I thought through this decision enough? Will the child want to find/have a relationship with their donor?
I know a lot of you have been here and have grappled with these same issues. Any thoughts or advice you have would be awesome. We have a meeting with our RE tomorrow to discuss donor eggs (including whether or not this particular donor would be open to limited contact) so hopefully he’ll be able to help clarify some things as well.
Man, remember when things were straightforward and easy? Nah, me neither.
I’ve been MIA for quite a while – sorry. I just needed a break from all of the IVF/infertility stuff. However, a lot has happened!
S and I went back to our local RE and had a hilarious conversation about what we wanted to do next. We told her about CCRM (she was appalled that they made us redo all of the tests she’d already done – bills are still coming in and we’re over $6000 now just from the ODWU) and that I wasn’t comfortable there and didn’t want to cycle with them. I launched into the back story of when my sister offered to donate her eggs and the conversation went something like this –
Me: “So, I was in the car with my sister and was telling her about CCRM.”
Me: “And I told her my AMH has dropped.”
Me: “And she said-“
Dr: “What did she say?!?”
Me”-that she would like to donate her eggs to us.”
Dr.: “YES!!!!! I’ve been waiting for you to say that since you walked in!!!”
So, she was thrilled, to say the least. Then we told her we wanted to try one more cycle with my eggs, if it looked like it could be viable (ie, if my AMH is >0.1 and my baseline ultrasound shows 4+ follicles). She readily agreed. We met with the donor egg nurse (who might just be the nicest person alive) and left feeling pretty good about things. What a change, walking out of that office feeling hopeful, or at least not in tears.
My sister has been in touch with DE nurse (she also loved her) and we are moving forward on that front. She is going to see an RE in her area to make sure she fits the criteria and that her reproductive bits are all in working order (Please universe, let her be ok – Not for my sake but for hers. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy and it would break my heart for my sister to have suffer it). We’ve booked flights for her and her fiancé to fly out here on their spring break (they live across the country) so that we can all go to the psychologist and so that my sister can get the final parts of her testing done.
I started my period yesterday (for the first time in years I was happy to see it arrive) and I go in day after tomorrow to get the verdict (in the form of an ultrasound with the blood work verdict being a day or 2 behind). Will we be able to move forward with one final IVF cycle using my eggs?
To be honest, either way is going to be tough. If it looks hopeless that’ll be the last nail in the coffin of me ever having my own biological children, and despite feeling prepared for that finality I know I’m not. It would be a huge, bitter pill to swallow. But, the thought of another failed IVF cycle, or worse – another miscarriage – is beyond daunting. And…. I feel like there might be some relief in just letting go – letting go of the expectations, the possibilities, the “what ifs”, the constant researching, the painful, unrealistic hope. I imagine it could be very freeing to just accept that I will never have biological children, mourn that, and move on to other possibilities. I feel that I have reached a point where the waiting and the not knowing and the limbo is so hard that I’d rather just have a verdict. And honestly, 4 months ago I could not have imagined feeling that.
You know what I think the difference is (besides time)? Choice. I feel I have a choice again, that I am in control of my life again. That is an offshoot of the incredible gift my sister offered me – she gave me an option I was comfortable with, and put the ball back in my court. I am no longer at the end of my rope, out of options, out of control. Not saying either of these options will work (OE or DE), but if they don’t I can imagine that there are more options. And I know that I could be open to them. One way or another, it will happen for me. I will make it work.
One of the brave ladies whose blogs I follow had some bad news today. Only 1/3 of the eggs they retrieved during this cycle were mature. She is understandably crushed and feels that she has reached the end of the road. Despite thousands of dollars of drugs and treatments, months of healthy living, and the highest level of medical intervention available she feels like pregnancy isn’t going to happen for her. I feel her pain. My feet are also on that road, and it is a sad, lonely, painful path to walk.
We spend so much time scouring blogs, boards and articles looking for hope – trying to find that one success story, trying to convince ourselves (and often succeeding) that we are the lucky ones, that it will happen for us. People answer your questions and are very supportive – “Keep trying!”, “Don’t give up!”, they say. That support is invaluable, but it’s also misleading.
A few months ago I posted a question on an infertility board and got lots of warm, friendly, supportive, positive replies. I felt good, better, even hopeful. And then a woman sent me a personal message. She told me that she had the same diagnoses as me and was a bit younger. She had basically the same response to meds. And she was going to use donor eggs. She urged me to open myself up to other options, because, as she said “it was very, very unlikely that I’d ever carry a pregnancy to term with my own eggs.” I was angry, hurt and confused. She’d burst my bubble. Where was the support? All those words that I wanted to hear? I didn’t want to hear that it wouldn’t work, I didn’t want to acknowledge that as a possibility.
Months have gone by since she wrote to me. Since then my AMH has dropped. I had a miscarriage and another unsuccessful Clomid cycle to add to my list of failures. My odds, which were never good, are in the toilet. So I wrote her back. I asked her questions. And I now trust her as someone who will tell me the truth. Not in a mean, hurtful or dismissive way (like my RE) but like someone who has been there. Like someone who walked this horrible road before me and understands the pain, frustration, and utter powerlessness that you feel. She found a way out of this terrible place. She recently gave birth to twins – a boy and girl – as a result of her DE cycle. She beat infertility. Not in the straightforward way we all wish for, but in a subterfuge – an undercover coup. She found the courage to accept a work-around, and she has 2 beautiful children and couldn’t care less where they came from. 2 souls now exist that didn’t before. Her arms and heart are full. She won.
Let me be very clear here – donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption – these options are not for everyone. It is an extremely personal choice. The point is that there is a choice. One of the most awful things about infertility is that your choice, the control of your own destiny, the control over your own body is taken away and no amount faith, karma, begging, wishing or believing can change that. But there are options. There are choices.
So, when my blog friend wrote how defeated she was feeling my first instinct was to comfort, reassure and sooth her. But I erased that response and tried to be honest, hoping that eventually she would find some comfort in that honesty and that it would help to make the road she’s on a little less frightening. I wanted her to know that even if her very worst fears come true (which is very possible) life won’t come crashing down. There is hope, but it may look entirely different than you thought it would.