Sunday, October 23, 2016

Here We Are... 1st FET to Our Surrogate

This is happening TOMORROW.

Man, it's taken since May when L came forward to want to do this for us, for her to go through all the screenings, the mock cycle, legal and get prepped for this moment. And it's a big one.

Such a big one that I need to remember to breathe. And go to yoga. And run. And not eat too much chocolate. :)

And I know this once may not work but I'm hopeful and anxious all at once.

It's resurfacing a lot of the old failure and loss feelings and yet I'm hopeful because it's something new we are trying.

I need all the sticky vibes, crossed fingers and toes, prayers and calmness I can muster.

But most of all, I'm grateful we are here.

Friends have reached out, family has reached out, my IM (Intended Mom) fb group is being supportive and so are my church people. I feel so loved and supported that I know it'll be ok.

Mon, Nov 7 will be the pregnancy test. Just breathe till then...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Progress with Our Potential Surrogate, L

We've been moving forward with the 3rd option that came our way, purely organically.

The 2nd one (from church) backed out... unfortunately, she still really wanted to do it but she's separating from her husband and thought he might cause problems. And I was a little concerned after I learned that she got pregnant on her 3rd IVF. I'm not sure she would have passed the medical record review.

In the meantime, one of my brother's best friends in May came forward wanting to do this. It seemed unlikely and more a result of a statement made over a couple of beers and a nice sentiment. He texted me that night and said L wants to be your surrogate to which I said 'are you serious?' and then he said 'call me' and I did. He handed me the phone and it was her.

We really didn't know what to say to each other. It was very awkward for such an emotional topic but she said she was serious and I said great and that I'd forward her our agency's info and let's talk the following week to make sure she truly did want to do it.

And things just progressed from there.

The biggest hurdle so far was having her pass the medical records screening with our doctor. I felt like once we got that ok, I figured everything else would likely go well. On June 22, she had that appt and our doctor gave her the thumbs up and I literally got down on my knees sobbing for joy and thanking God that this really felt like a miracle. That I really felt like this could actually finally happen for us. I was so overcome with emotion.

She's since had the psych eval and we've spent a couple of meals with her, her husband and child and while it's still slightly awkward because we really don't know each other that well AND they are doing this huge thing for us, but it's also very easy so it feels all good.

August 10 is the next big day for us. Medical tests for her and our joint counseling session.

If that goes well, she'll go into a mock cycle to make sure her hormones are responding appropriately and then into contracts.

We are so hoping for a transfer sometime this fall.

Fingers and toes crossed. And lots more prayers. :)

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Surro-coaster :)

I can't believe I haven't done an update in so long! Partly I was having trouble with my password and partly there was a lot going on.

High-Level Summary: We have 6 - SIX!!! - genetically tested normal embryos in the freezer. We are still waiting to be matched with a surrogate. We had one through an agency that we didn't move forward with after meeting them which was disappointing and emotional. The agency is still looking and we've had TWO people come forward to say they want to do this for us. AMAZING!!! So, our agency is putting them through the process. Likelihood of a transfer happening with anyone is still 3-6 months away. Surrogacy is a whole other ballgame!

The Embryos Update
We had signed up for 2 egg retrievals last fall and got a special deal on them because our doctor really wanted us to go into surrogacy with 4 genetically normal embryos and in my past 4 cycles where we did genetic testing I came out with 2, 1, 2, 2.

Well, low and behold, I got 3 on the first one and 3 again on the second one!!!! We were over the moon thrilled.

I half wondered if my body felt the burden lifted that it somehow knew these babies were not going back into me. Who knows. But we were ecstatic. I cried happy tears when we got those results!

The Agency
We signed up with an agency in December and went with a smaller one to get the more personal touch. We liked how it was run by a former IM (Intended Mom) who had her babies through surrogacy, and her surrogate coordinator is a former surrogate, so we liked how they would be able to understand both sides and have those perspectives.

Match #1
We got matched in February with someone way far out of state, met her and her husband over Skype in March and had them flown out to our clinic in April for testing and joint counseling.

It was nerve-wrecking. How do you prepare to meet people who could have one of the most important and intimate impacts on your life? It all went really well. She was extremely lovely. We enjoyed meeting them.

And to make a long story short, the agency recommended the husband go through more psych screening and the psychologist recommended we not move forward with them. We were heartbroken to not be able to move forward with her. I had really started a connection with her, she's warm and sweet and already, in just a few weeks, I knew I'd miss her a lot. She sent me a big emotional email after the agency told her and we had a couple of nice exchanges.

It's also a time setback. We had planned on a July transfer with them and I had already started thinking about a baby in April 2017 but we're a ways away from that now. And we're out a few thousand dollars for all that testing and their travel and stuff. But this is a long game and we recognize that.

We were also grateful that the agency recommended further screening because this was too important for us to potentially have issues later. It was hard to get that news, though, because it was hard to know whether those results, and particularly because it was him and not her, would really have an impact. But ultimately, we had to go with the psychologist's and agency's recommendation. And while that was hard, we know that hedging our bets to remove any potential challenges is best at this time in the process.

Potential #2
Another amazing thing happened during all of that - someone from our church came forward - to our pastor first - to say she was interested in being our surrogate! How amazing is that?

Since we were already in process with Match #1, I told her that while that is amazing, we owe it to this couple to see where this was going and when it looked like it wasn't going to happen, she and I had lunch, had a great conversation around all of this. I mean, I know her and trust her, but didn't know her that well.

She's going through the process with our agency and I don't want to get my hopes up because there may be a couple of hurdles but I'm staying relatively hopeful. The fact that she even came forward to want to go through this is amazing.

Potential #3
Yes, there's a 3rd one! A best friend of my brother's who told us last week she wants to do this for us!!! Amazing. I just can't believe that there are people out there who really feel compelled to do this. It's so incredibly humbling. And yet, I'd hope I'd feel the same, that if I enjoyed my pregnancies and could do this for someone else, I would. But geez, it's A LOT!! And I don't think most people enjoyed their pregnancies!

So this person is going through screening as well too. And this one is earlier in the process so we'll see...

But amazing possibilities including our agency is still looking in case these two don't work out.

Emotional Update
Emotionally, I'm doing well. It's been great to not be on the IVF journey anymore and doing this endless cycle to my body and emotions. And B and I are in the best place we've been ever. We got through some tough stuff last year and are so much better for it now. It will be 10 years for us this fall!

Other Update
Travel: I did take a solo trip over Christmas and New Year's to Tulum, Mexico, which was gorgeous and then went again in April with B when we had the opportunity with friends. Great, great time and great for the soul. I also got to visit my cousin with her 4 kids in Feb in FL which was wonderful. And a nice girls weekend away in PA to a spa with some hiking with my best friend and her sister.

Exercise: This was also Operation Get My Body Back mode. I trained in Jan & Feb for the DC Ro.ck 'n Ro.ll Ha.lf Mara.thon in March which was awesome (my 4th half marathon!) and did Jill.ian Mich.aels' 30 Day Sh.red and am now doing 30 Days Rip.ped. So great. Went down a size and feel great!

So good things, but a lot of patience involved! My friend who has gone through this said to me when all this stuff was going on, "oh, that's just the surro-coaster"! :)

It's just different when you are having to involve others that you need to trust in this process. And while our agency said that was extremely unusual, we're just chalking it up to things not going smoothly for us with all of this. I've become pre-programmed to know that this won't be easy.

We'll get there, though, somehow. I'm hopeful for that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

6 Months Later - A New Plan: Gestational Carrier!

Wow, it's been about 6 months since I've written. A lot went on in those six months. A lot of sadness and a lot of changes.

We had a rough spring and summer. Lots of counseling. Lots of grieving. Trying to be positive about moving onto adoption.

We finally got to trying to move forward with adoption by mid summer or so. It wasn't B's first choice but he was giving me the room to really say what I could and couldn't do.

I've been wanting adoption for the last 5 years or so. In fact, I remember him saying at one point that he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to adopt and I worried I had made a mistake in my marriage.

But once the path was clear for me/us to move forward with adoption, I had a hard time getting excited about it. I was still seriously bummed about no genetic connection even though I had kept saying this whole time that it didn't matter to me as much. I was recognizing that it did. That I hadn't done all of this for B but for me too. In fact, I don't know how someone can go through as many rounds as we did and not feel strongly for that biological connection.

We met with an adoption lawyer, who turned out also does gestational carrier law. We told her we were possibly wrestling with adoption vs GC, and after hearing how long adoption might take, how much it might cost and how dicey the medical histories could be, I started to feel more compelled toward a GC.

I also think enough time had gone by from our major disappointment, and the thought of cycling again didn't seem so daunting.

I also met with a friend of mine from a support group who had just had her baby via GC and got to hear more about it from she and her husband that it convinced me that I think I could do it.

Did I mention that we had done A LOT of counseling this spring and summer? It was super rough. I guess one of my hesitancies with GC was that the doctors still don't really know why it hasn't worked with us, and there is not a huge guarantee that GC would work, so a lot of work, energy, money to potentially have it still not work... and I had been super anti donor egg. It made me feel like I was replaceable. But what counseling showed me was that this was manifesting from not feeling special enough with my parents, feeling like they like the idea of me but the particulars that make me, me, could be swappable. They barely ask me about things that excite me, things that I'm interested in, and it was interesting for me to see that it was bleeding into how I was feeling about donor egg, like I didn't matter enough.

Once I was able to get over that, I thought I could get on board if our embryos don't work with a donor egg. I know it seems extreme to use donor egg with a GC, but there are a few things that convinced me - knowing the medical condition of this person's genes is attractive, still being able to have a baby that is half B's genes is appealing to me - and to him. And I thought if I can adopt a child that is neither one of our genes, then I could do half. There just seemed to be more of a guarantee of a positive outcome.

Don't get me wrong. If our embryos don't work, I am likely to be very sad, but I think I'll be able to get past it.

And as much as I said all along that I don't necessarily care to experience pregnancy, the thought that I won't is bumming me out a little. Just the thought of B holding my belly and us being able to feel the baby, all that stuff, it's out of our control. But we would be so forever grateful if someone could help us bring our child/children into this world.

I did an egg retrieval about 3 weeks ago and we are waiting for our PGD testing. We were supposed to know a week ago and it's driving me a bit crazy on how much patience we need to exert here.

I feel like I was able to kick 40 in the butt though - this was our BEST cycle ever. We ended up with 7 embryos to test! 4 on Day 5 and 3 on Day 6. I'd never even heard of any needing to make it to Day 6. So, we're hoping for 2-3 from this cycle, and we're gearing up to do another retrieval before Thanksgiving.

We are also talking to two surrogate agencies that our lawyer recommended, so that's moving forward as well.

Oh, and I got to do a lot of fun travel this summer. It was almost like I booked all this stuff as soon as I knew our IVF cycle hadn't worked. I needed my summer packed with fun stuff. I went to Iceland with my best friend for 4 days which was really cool, more just having 4 days together and all that quality, uninterrupted (by her kids!) time together. B and I went to the beach with his friends for a week in SC and then we also did a week in Scotland which was great and traveled around and also saw my good friend and her husband who live there now.

Here's to refreshing the soul, working through some junk and moving onto a new course of action!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Struggling & Grieving

It's been a bit hard lately. I've been trying to stay upbeat and appreciate all the blessings in my life but it's also hard not to feel sad and grieve that we will likely never see our imagined biological children. That we'll never have that link.

We know it's not the end of the world and all of that so we don't want to make it a bigger deal than it is. And we are so incredibly fortunate with just about every other aspect of our lives. We have it really good. Especially our relationship.

But there's just been this underlying sadness between us.

We know we need to give it time. It's hard when we've just been on a 'next step' kick for years, and now there is no next step.

We wish we felt more strongly about adoption so we can just get on it, but we just don't right now.

None of our options seem appealing: gestational carrier, adoption or no kids.

So, we're doing the best we can. Talking about it with each other. Trying to have fun when we can. And crying to each other when we need to.

I feel like I've been giving work 80% effort and I don't like that. I've had a hard time focusing on bigger projects. It's been hard to have the energy to start new things. I want to give it more. It's a delicate balance between giving yourself the space to grieve and how it can affect things like work, energy levels, relationships, and also knowing when you've got to step it up.

I also cope with travel and have a few fun trips planned that I'm completely excited about:

  • Going to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in southern UT at the end of April with two friends. So excited! Been wanting to see Arches in particular for so long!
  • Most likely Iceland in July with my best friend! That's got me super excited!
  • And probably Scotland with B in Sept.
  • (Also trying to see if we can do something big over Christmas/New Year's like Goa, India or Argentina)
So all of that has me distracted in a really good way!

And we have other non-adventurous trips coming up too:
  • Seeing B's family in NC Memorial weekend. Can't wait to see my cutie 3 1/2 year old niece and 1 1/2 year old nephew!
  • Beach trip 3 hours away to Rehoboth Beach, DE for a long weekend at the end of July
  • Beach trip to SC with B's college friends in August
  • I want to try to get up to NYC at some point too
  • And we'd love to take our nephews to the Crayola place in PA this summer
So potentially too much going on. :)

Oh, and baseball season starts on Monday! We're actually going to the Nationals' exhibition game today against the Yankees and excited to get back to our ballpark this season.

Lots going on, lots to look forward to...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Our Choices

We had our phone consult this week so got a little insight which was helpful.

Basically, our doctor thinks that we produce good, viable embryos and he thinks the problem is more in the 'environment'. Ha! Nice bedside manner way of putting it. I did appreciate that, rather than him saying my body. Because of this, he says a gestational carrier would be our next step.

Our other doctor had been telling us that donor egg was the solution. We're going to go to him for another opinion as well as potentially some others.

The issue our current doctor says is that we can't be certain it isn't the environment. There is nothing that points to that--other than 8 early pregnancy losses.

Yes, even though we had an extremely low hcg this time, he says it still counts as implanting and still counts as a loss. So we've had 8 total.

The question is -- is there enough of a guarantee for us to do gestational carrier? (Not like there is with any of this... but what are our odds? He put it at somewhere between 66-80%). What if we do a cycle and only get one viable embryo?

I could be up for another egg retrieval, much as I wanted to be done with this, but I just don't know if this is worth it.

So, our options are:

  • Gestational carrier
  • Adopt
  • Live childfree
And I'm totally confused (and so is B) on what we want to do.

I feel some hopefulness in carrying out our dream with gestational carrier, but the cost makes me kinda sick and I think I want to be done with medical stuff (and for the record, I'd be fine with gestational carrier - I never cared about the carrying part so much as the outcome).

I know I wanted to adopt 5 years ago and that option makes me hopeful too; I just don't know if I need to grieve our imagined genetic children first. I know people say you just attach but it's hard to think about right now.

Living childfree is probably what is tugging at me most right now. It's hard to believe that I could feel that way since for a good 5 years there I kept thinking that I was a mom without a child. But this whole process has worn me down. I don't know that I have the energy for middle of the night feedings much less doing homework.

I turn 40 in a week. That seems weird. That age is so tied up with fertility. But if I take that out of the equation and don't focus on how 'old' 40 seemed when I was 20, I'm pretty happy right now.

I think I just need a break, a long one. Problem is, if we are going to do gestational carrier, I'd want to get these embryos made soon.

But for now, I'm going to focus on me, me & B and do happy things. Like travel. I'm trying to plan a fun summer vacation to either Scotland or Greece and maybe some fun weekend trips in between. I went to FL and to Philly the last 2 weekends and that felt great. I'm also having a fun birthday dinner with close friends next weekend which I'm looking forward to. I'm creating a photo collage of my travels and I'll have fun questions for our dinner conversation.

Oh yeah, and I need to leave right now (at 6:30am!) to run a 1/2 marathon!!!

(Pretty proud of myself for training up until a transfer and after the failed pregnancy. Go me!!).

Friday, March 6, 2015

Game Over

I kinda can't believe it. This is now officially the end of this road for us.

Our 11th and last transfer did not work.

And we're bumming out. This was our throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-it cycle. We did everything possible and still nothing worked.

Kinda makes it slightly worse to know that both embryos were girls...

We're just sad. We're grieving. We're mopey. We're tired and have no energy. And we have no idea what's next.

There isn't much that would convince us to continue on. Our options at this point would be to use a donor egg in a gestational carrier, go the adoption route or decide to live childfree. None of these feel right at the moment. If I had to pick one, adoption makes me feel most hopeful. But we need time.

I guess I was technically pregnant, a bio-chemical pregnancy they called it. My hcg was 6.5. We knew it was too low for it to be a viable pregnancy. The second beta was 5.8 and we were to stop all meds at that point, then my beta went up to 16, so I needed to keep going to get checked. Next was 5.something and then finally 0, so for about a week and a half, I didn't have a repreive on this.

I'm rebelling a bit with travel. When my home pregnancy tests were showing pretty much negative, I booked a flight to visit my cousin in Sara.sota and just went last weekend. It was great to be warm, to be traveling alone and reading my kindle and to spend time with her kids who all call me Aunt. I feel especially close to the 10 year old, who rode her bike with me while I ran 6 miles and who kicked the soccer ball around with me and who leaned in on me at church. I just love her!

And this weekend I'm going to Philly to that cousin again who is coming into town to visit her sister there. I'm also really eager to book our August vacation and thinking either Scot.land or Gree.ce.

And I have a half marathon next weekend which I had been training for prior to the transfer and then after we got the negative tests.

Oh, and I turn 40 in 2 weeks. That's a weird one. Not sure how to feel about that. Honestly, I don't feel great about it. But I'm going to celebrate by having my closest friends come over for an intimate dinner. Six women I've known for at least 20 years. And we're going to talk about my favorite topics--travel and books. And we'll hopefully play a bit of App.les to App.les!

Lots to look forward to and B & I are stronger than ever which makes this blow much easier to take than it could've otherwise been. We'll get through it. We don't know how but we will.

And in the meantime we're giving ourselves the space to grieve our imagined biological children.