I don’t even know how to explain what I’ve been feeling the past 24 hours. I feel like my emotions have taken me on a rickety old roller coaster ride. The kind that should be shut down and demolished because it’s broken and has thrown someone off. I feel like that someone.
Rewind a few months. December. We had just learned that our first, last, and only round of IVF had failed. We met with our doctor, Dr. C, after the new year to follow-up about what may have gone wrong and what to do next.
Dr. C is amazing. He’s funny and kind and endearing and always makes you feel comfortable even though you’re often in very uncomfortable situations. He sat down across the table and looked at me. Looked into me is probably more like it. He asked me, “Would you go through this again?”. That was a loaded question. There was a lot of money, and doctor visits, and hours in the car, and blood draws, and shots, and hospital stays, and pain, and procedures, and heartbreak, so much heartbreak, behind that question. But I answered “Yes”. Of course I would go through it all again if it meant finally having our child.
He then told us something I never expected to hear. “I wouldn’t put you through this again”. Apparently our numbers were way worse than we had thought. 28 eggs to 11 fertilized was bad and going from 11 embryos to 1 was terrible. I asked if this is just something that happens or if there was a reason. He told us with numbers like that and how most of my eggs looked after retrieval that it’s my eggs that are the problem. He asked if my mother smoked while she was pregnant with me. I thought that was an odd question. I told him that I’m adopted, but I remembered reading in my adoption paperwork that my birthmom smoked during her first two trimesters. He said mothers smoking during pregnancy has been suspected to be linked to poor egg quality in their baby girls. This whole process had been doomed from the start but there was no way of knowing that until we went through it.
I slowly started to feel my dream slipping away. He proceeded to tell us that he feels our next best option would be an egg donor. There is no reason to believe that I can’t get pregnant, it’s just that my eggs will never get us there. So it would be someone else’s egg and Joe’s sperm but I would carry the child. Joe’s biological child but not mine.
The more I think about that, the more I think I would feel like ‘the other woman’. Which I know isn’t true, but somewhere deep down I worry that it would bother me knowing that our child is part their father but not part me…that I would feel left out. Infertility stirs up so many thoughts and emotions that you never knew existed inside of you and often times they don’t make a bit of sense. I think in order for me to ever be 100% ok with an egg donor, I will need to go through the entire grieving process. Grieving for the children that have my eyes and Joe’s curly hair, equal parts of both of us, that will never exist. It can be a hard thing to change your mindset from something you just always assumed would be.
I’ve had people suggest surrogacy. This isn’t an option because it’s my eggs that are the problem, not my uterus. I wouldn’t have an embryo for you to carry.
I’ve had women offer to donate their eggs. This is so incredibly selfless, and I’m so grateful to those that have offered, but I don’t think I could do that. For me personally, it brings up those same feelings of being the ‘other woman’. That the child would be my husband’s and my friend’s love child or something weird like that. The thoughts are irrational and ridiculous…I know this, but that doesn’t stop them from creeping into the corners of my mind.
So what’s next for us? We haven’t come to a final decision but some sort of adoption will be our next step most likely- embryo adoption or infant adoption. Couples that go through IVF successfully have the option to donate any embryos they won’t carry themselves instead of having them destroyed. Couples that are in our situation can then adopt those embryos to be carried by the adoptive mother or a surrogate. There is roughly a 2 year waiting list for embryo adoption through our clinic, not to mention the large price tag. Infant adoption through an agency also carries a hefty price tag of just under $20,000 and a multiple year waiting list. Both of these options come with mounds of paper work, background checks, and home studies so someone can decide if we would be good parents…don’t even get me started on how I feel about all of that malarkey.
I had been handling all of these new decisions pretty well for the past couple months…until last night. I was scrolling through Facebook and I came across a friend’s pregnancy announcement. Pregnancy announcements always sting a little but I’ve learned to weather them pretty well. It’s taken me a long time to even be able to click ‘like’ on those posts, but I ‘liked’ this announcement and kept scrolling. Another friend’s pregnancy announcement. Wow, two in one night, that hasn’t happened in a long time. The sting turned into more of a burn but I moved on. There it was, a third announcement. I felt like life was playing a cruel joke on me and the burn became a searing pain that was slowly but surely ripping open all of the wounds that I’d been so carefully stitching up the past few months. I made a post on Instagram with the hashtag of #InfertilitySucks and I fought back tears. And then my phone beeped. A Facebook message. It was from a friend who has been struggling with infertility as well. She wanted to share with me a Facebook post she has been working on before it went live. The post talked about how they had been doctoring and struggling with infertility and how it’s a very real and scary thing for so many couples. And then, right there at the end, there it was. Their pregnancy announcement. Number 4 of the evening.
I am so happy for them. I know all too well the pain, and the money, and the fight that has gone into bringing that little one into the world. Many times people avoid telling those struggling with infertility the exciting news that they’re expecting because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. You start to feel like you’re being shut out of people’s lives because of this thing you have no control over. It’s one more club you’re not allowed in. Which is why I’m so thankful she felt comfortable enough to tell me. I wish nothing but happiness for her, she deserves it more than most.
The conversation ended and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The last stitch broke and my heart completely ripped apart. I cried uncontrollably as the emotions washed over me for the first time in months. All that ran through my mind was “WHY?!?” over and over and over. I texted to see if my mom was still awake and she gave me a call. My parents walked this same road 30 years ago, with Dr. C actually, so I knew she would know exactly how I was feeling. I was on the phone with her for 45 minutes as she listened to me cry the same tears she cried many years ago. She spoke wise words that only a mother can, I calmed down, and we said goodnight.
Today is rough. I had to drag myself out of bed. I want to curl up in a ball on the couch but that can’t happen. So I’ll take today to be sad and then tomorrow start re-stitching those old wounds. I know those won’t be the last tears I cry over our situation, but I hope that the time between them grows larger and the wounds grow smaller. We don’t know what our future holds, but He does. In a world of so many uncertainties, that is the one thing I know for sure.
Your prayers are still coveted and your friendships still needed. Thank you for walking this journey alongside us as we still try to #BringHomeBirdie.