Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 25, 2009

September 25, 2009

The embryo transfer is scheduled for 3 weeks from yesterday. Each day it gets closer I feel myself getting more and more anxious. I try not to think about it, realizing that the outcome will be the same either way. Easier said than done…

I’ve really been wondering more and more about how we got here. I mean, I know what steps brought us here but we are so far from where I ever thought we would be. I am about to entrust another woman with our embryos and all I can do is hope and pray that she is in an ok position to give them the care that they will need to make it, while also taking good care of herself and her own family. Talk about a lack of control.

No one ever asks how I’m feeling about all of this infertility stuff anymore—maybe they don’t know if they should bring it up? I don’t know… Basically, I feel like I’m climbing to the top of a huge roller coaster and as we are getting to its peak, I’m wondering if I should have gotten onto this ride or if maybe it is just too big and too scary for me to handle. I’m wondering if my cart will fall off of its tracks again and, if so, how I will find the strength to get back up again. The feelings are all so raw again now. I find myself getting angry, frustrated, sad—so sad. I’m pleading with God, I’m jealous of all of the people I know that conceive the first night that they “try”. I then feel so guilty for feeling jealous—then I’m mad again. I finally resign to “This is my life…these are the cards we were dealt.” Then I’m begging God again for just one more child to care for. This “cycle” continues like a loop over and over again.

If I allow myself to consider that this might work then many other emotions come to the surface. How will I handle it being so “out of the loop”? How will it be to feel my baby’s kicks from outside of Jamie’s belly? How will we tell everyone about this? What will they think? How painful will some of their comments be? I know people will say things like how awesome it is that I can drink coffee or alcohol and not worry about the “baby weight” of pregnancy. Will they get that I wish more than anything I could feel my own baby kick and grow? Don’t they know that no drink or pound is worth that loss? These are just some of the things I think about these days…

Then there is the guilt—the guilt that I feel all of the time because of all that Jamie is going through and will go through for us. I wonder constantly if it was a gift that was really ok to accept. She constantly begs me to not feel guilty and she says she feels so grateful for this opportunity to help us. I guess that explains the kind of friend she is… Do I deserve her? Do I deserve this gift? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.

Then I go back to pleading with God—begging him for this to work so that this part of our very long journey may come to an end with an outcome we all so very much deserve.

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17th, 2009

Why we decided to use a “gestational carrier”:
This was NOT an easy decision, obviously. As much as I wanted to carry my own baby—to feel my own baby grow and kick—I also desperately wanted that baby. We had no idea why I couldn’t conceive, especially when we had tried IVF with two “perfect” embryos. We only had 6 embryos left, and Jamie's very sweet offer gave us the best possible odds. Using a surrogate would also alleviate the overwhelming feeling of guilt I would experience if my trying again didn’t work, and I wouldn’t need to worry about more damage to my own physical health after nearly dying the last time...or miscarriage, or post traumatic stress...all possibilities, even probabilities, if I were to risk another pregnancy and delivery. We also knew, loved and completely trusted Jamie and her husband, and we knew that they truly wanted to help us complete our family.
We had discussed the option of using a surrogate after years of trying to conceive the first time, and the subject came up again exactly one year ago when I was told I would need surgery to remove my defective tube if I ever wanted any hope of conceiving again. We were VERY tempted to take “the Jamies” up on their offer at that time, and we almost did, but ultimately we decided to give my body one last shot at this.
It wasn’t until about 2-3 months after our failed IVF attempt that we all decided using a surrogate was the very best option. We then had to wait until 10/5/09 because the embryos had to be frozen for six months, per FDA regulations, before they could be transferred into someone else’s body. This is because the FDA requires that the biological parents get all kinds of lab work done to make sure that they are not carriers of any disease. The gestational carrier is considered the “organ recipient.”
Back to my story...
Here are many of the steps we had to take to get to where we are today:
-Fred and I had to have all of our medical records transferred to our infertility office for their complete review.
-Jamie had to do the same.
-Jamie had to get a full physical and psychological examination done.
-We all had to go through counseling at the infertility office to be sure we knew what we were “getting into.”
-Fred and I had to each be individually interviewed and to answer many very personal questions.
-We had to get all of the legal work done and notarized.
-Jamie had to have a “mock embryo transfer” done to be sure that everything would go smoothly on the big day.
-Fred and I had to go to the office to discuss the plan/process, sign tons of waivers and determine which embryos we thaw (and in which order). We also had to decide how many embryos we wanted to transfer to Jamie. (We left this decision up to Jamie and Jamie.)
-The embryos were frozen with 3 in one container, 2 in one container and 1 in one container. We have asked that 2-3 be transferred. We will first defrost the container of 3. If only one makes it through the defrost, we will defrost the container with one. If that one doesn’t make it, we will then defrost the last container with two in it. Statistically two-thirds of the embryos will make it so we should be able to do IVF two times, but you never know. The success rate, even with 3 frozen embryos, is only 50% and there is a 5% chance of multiples.
-Jamie began her Lupron injections exactly one week ago. She finds that they make her very hormonal/moody and she is retaining water. She does one shot between 6-8pm nightly and she has asked that I call her at 8 pm each night just to make sure that she hasn’t forgotten. So far, she is doing awesome!!!
-Jamie and I had an appointment 2 days ago to go over the entire plan with the nurse. This was the first time that Jamie learned every single step in person, and we were able to get everything scheduled. We each now have our calendar and we are counting down the days… As of now the embryo transfer will take place on Friday, October 16th.
-We also got a large life insurance policy for Jamie. A horrible thought, we know, but given my delivery history—we just felt it was necessary if they were going to do this for us.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our Journey to you...

We know it won’t be easy... We know there will be many ups and downs... We are going into it without any idea of its outcome, but we are prepared for whatever it might be. We are doing this for you, OUR baby. We are doing this as partners, with love and with faith that nothing but goodness will prevail. We love you child--even though you are not yet conceived. You were wanted, prayed upon, and loved far prior to your conception. You are the gift from God that we are longing for. And this, well this is our journey to you...

September 16, 2009

A journal is a hard thing to start because, really, where do you begin? Especially when there is so much to say... So much to summarize... So much more to the "story".

I can't possibly summarize all that has happened--all that has transpired--all that has brought us to now. I can say that it has been one long, bumpy, sometimes very hard road. I can also say that I am so much better for it. My marriage is so much stronger because of it. My friendships are so much deeper thanks to it. My appreciation for my beautiful, just turned three year old daughter is so much greater because of it.

That being said, I would be lying if I told you that there were never times I thought I was going to crumble, times that I felt broken, times that I felt defeated-angry and jealous. That is all part of this road too. Infertility is a journey unto itself. Mostly this is because we learn at a young age that if we try hard enough, we can accomplish our goals. If we work hard, if we want it badly enough--well, anything is possible. That is absolutely not the case when it comes to an infertile couple's desire to have a baby...

Our struggle began when we tried for over two years prior to finally conceiving our 3 year old, Grace, on Halloween of 2005 via many injectables and IUI (intrauterine insemination). We were lucky enough to have this work on our second try, however I took Clomid for 6 months prior, did IUI without all of the shots, and tried to conceive prior to that for 1 long year while charting my temperature daily. Actually, the truth be told, my very loving husband charted my temps every morning for one full year while I rested in bed. Bless his heart. Needless to say, it was a long two years!

My pregnancy itself could be a novel, as could my delivery--so we won't go there now. Let's just say that nothing went "right" (or even close to right).

Our daughter, on the other hand, well--she's perfect! She was also absolutely worth every single second of it. I remind myself of that now, especially during the hard times. Baby #2 is out there and I know that when we meet him or her, we will know why we went through all of this. Everything will have been worth it and it will all finally make sense.

Despite almost dying during/as a result of my delivery, we decided to "try" again when Grace turned one. I was terrified of pregnancy and far more scared of delivery. Yet, I always knew I wanted a large family and we really wanted Grace to have a biological sibling.

After one full year of trying, we sought out the help of an infertility doctor again. I sometime wonder why we waited so long, given our history. Then I remember how nervous I was to "play God" and "force" pregnancy upon myself again. I only say that because I sometimes thought that I almost died because I wasn't supposed to get pregnant. That must have been why I never conceived naturally, despite every single test confirming that my husband and I are "perfect" (unexplained infertility). Anyway, I was scared to tempt fate again.

In August of 2008 we began seeing our infertility doctor. We soon learned that I was down to only one fallopian tube thanks to my daughter’s botched delivery. One of my tubes was fluid filled and it was removed in early October of '08.

Besides being scared to death of abdominal surgery again due to my horrible post-traumatic stress from Grace's delivery, everything went perfect with that surgery. The bad tube was removed and I was given photos of my otherwise "perfect" uterus. I was told that we would certainly conceive naturally now.

November, December, and January came and went and still no pregnancy... IUI made little sense to us now because with only one tube, we would now only access half of my eggs. (I was also on Clomid during this time from Oct-Jan to encourage additional egg growth because I only had one tube.)

All that being said, we decided to take what we thought was the ultimate risk/ultimate step and scheduled in-vitro for April. We tried to conceive on our own that February and March as well with no success, so the shots began.

I took more shots than I care to remember and I grew 13 eggs that month. The eggs were all harvested and we ended up with 8 embryos. Two of our grade A (perfect) fresh embryos were transferred and we were told by the doctor to prepare for twins. After all we were "perfect" (being undiagnosed), we were young (31) and the embryos were grade A--the best they could be.

I took my bed rest very seriously and never missed a shot. We waited... Two weeks later I received the devastating news that we were not pregnant. It's funny, we were nervous about how we would care for twins, knowing all that a newborn entails. That is where our thoughts went. Never in a million years did we think this absolute BEST "cure" would fail us. We were shocked.

I felt like the wind had physically been knocked out of me. I've never cried so hard, well other than the day my Father passed away. At my low I really didn't know how I would ever get back up. There were times when I felt I couldn't go on. The pain was just too much to bear... These embryos were my babies and I felt like my body failed them. My hormones were now crashing. No one seemed to get the pain I was going through. After all, they had never been there. Lucky for them.

I wanted so badly to be ok with having only one child. After all, plenty of people do. We have one child more than many and we should be nothing but grateful. I get that. The thing is--there is a child missing from our family. It is not complete. I know this. Once you know something, I mean once you really know something in your heart, as much as you want to modify it or alter it--you can't. I would forever feel as though our dinner table was one person short.

Believe me, if I could make myself "get over it", I would. It is not fun always feeling like you are missing a piece, always looking at others babies grow up and wishing you had a baby of your own.

I absolutely recognize that someone reading this might think, "But you do have a baby of your own and she is growing up--enjoy her!" To that, I would say "I do!". She is the VERY best thing that ever happened to me, to us. She has brought me more joy than I ever knew possible. You see, that is a huge part of it. I know, first hand, what I would be missing. What we would be missing as a family if we threw in the towel. What if we had "quit" prior to having her. After all, it got hard--very hard. I can't imagine...

So, it is not that I am not more grateful than words can express for her. And it is not that I am greedy. It is just that I feel as though our family is not complete. Grace is missing her sibling. Fred and I are missing our other child.

That brings us to now, September 16th, 2009. We have 6 frozen embryos left and we want more than anything for one of them to become our baby.

We want the best possible odds. We also want the least possible risk for my health, given my health history. After months and months of discussion, prayer, analysis, and many nights of "sleeping on it", we have decided to accept the amazing offer that was given to us five yeas ago and offered pretty much daily since by a dear friend--the gift of her womb.