Friday, November 4, 2011

Crawling out from beneath it

The past few days I've been at a conference. The same conference I was attending last year when I started to think I was losing our sixth pregnancy, which unfortunately turned out to be right.

It is hard and sad to be here again (although geographically in a different location). Hard to be reliving some of the aspects of that looming loss, and hard to swallow that we are no closer to having a family, and hard too to acknowledge that I've lost major faith that any avenue could or would work for us.

One of the things that is most difficult about our latest disappointment with the failed egg donor situation is that it just completely derails us about what steps to take next. And I am terrified that because it took me nearly a year to get on board with going with E. the egg donor that it may be hard to emotionally regroup and also hard to take the practical steps necessary to move on to whatever is next.

Because I'll tell you, I do not want to be in a hotel room a year from now still no closer to having a child. I've had that thought for years now, that the next year will be different, that we will find a way out of this, but I have to, WE have to, find our way out of this.

And so emotions be damned. I'm moving forward. Tentatively, but forward, trying to figure out what could be next. I can grieve as I move.

I've been in continued contact with the potential gestational carrier, who is just a lovely, lovely woman. The major frustration there is our clinic. They want the carrier to have three periods post breastfeeding (which she is doing until February) before they will do a one day work up, and THEN they said it will be another four months until we could try a cycle. Of course assuming she passes the frigging screening process, which I'm growing concerned no one does. And even bigger, assuming she still is open to doing this as it moves from a romantic notion to an actual possibility. Oh, and of course, clearing all those hurdles, she might not successfully get pregnant with our embryos. Ugh!!! So this is a wonderful option, but there are still many ways it might not work. And it also feels way way too far off in the distance to hang my hat on.

I talked to my sister, who offered a couple years ago to give us some of her eggs, and God bless her she is still offering this. So we'll probably start having her screened with some preliminary bloodwork to see if she might pass the stringent Denver standards. See if her chromosomes line up, check her FSH, get an antral follicle count. She is remarkably blase about all this. Remarkably no big deal, which is lovely. As we do all that, we can keep talking together - all three of us - about what this would look like and whether it's a beautiful idea of how to make a family or the most convoluted mess-your-kid-up-before-they-are-even-born idea we could pursue. And again, I doubt she'll pass the screening, because, hey, maybe no one passes the Denver screening. Or maybe I'm just jaded.

We're talking to the agency we used about whether they have someone else we should consider for a donor, someone who has donated before or at least had all the screening, who meets our other criteria. They don't think they do. One zinger they shared is that our clinic is the only one they have worked with that does karyotypes on the donor. Really?! Is that such a rare thing? So everyone else is flying blind on this? (would love to hear your experiences on this. seems a bit crazy to forego this karyotype screen). It is financially very steep to go to another agency at this point. And honestly, I'm just feeling soured on the whole agency thing in general now. Feels so risky financially and timewise. Sigh. Denver has their own donor pool, but it is tiny. Only 57 women or something. And they only show pictures from ages 2-7. So we will look at it, but I don't expect to find what I'm looking for (remember previously I looked across the entire United States and found a measly two donors I felt comfortable with). Sigh.

The Denver clinic is having a meeting about our case today, to give us advice on how to proceed. Schoolie, the head of genetics (who is also an embryologist), and the genetics counselor. I will share more news on this when I have it. It is a nice gesture - and probably won't, but maybe just maybe could lead to some clarity on which of the many roads to take.

And that's it. One thing is very clear to me, for today at least: I am just not going to sit beneath the weight of my grief for another year. I am NOT. I am crawling out from beneath it, even though I don't know what direction to crawl in. Hopefully we'll find ourselves at a destination sooner rather than later.


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  1. Keep fighting Mo!Your still plugging forward after such a major setback, and my experience was that was the only way to get there, just keep on chipping off pieces until eventually it happens. It will. You will be parents.

  2. I am so sorry it's all so hard. I will continue to send positive thoughts your way and hope you come to a decision you're comfortable with. Sounds like you are actively considering all your options, which is a great way to get out from under your grief. Hugs, lady.

  3. Aww, I'm sending you a virtual hug from a stranger. I am sorry that you are still grieving so hard, and that you are feeling the time slipping by with no resolution in sight.

    One thought, though, and not that I don't think that you haven't thought of this yourself: but, why are you at that clinic? I understand why you were there when you were doing IVF, but is it the best choice for you now that you are looking at 3rd party? It seems like they are looking out for you, but maybe a fresh start someone else, somewhere more convenient, would change the whole perspective.

  4. Ah, Mo. I'm so sorry you're in this sucks-beyond-words situation. But glad that you're moving forward...however that might end up.

    The thing about karyotyping (or not) during screening never occurred to me. Of course, my main criteria for a donor was that she had had successful cycles. So although she still had to pass muster with my doctor (who reviewed all the cycles and gave her new medical work up) the big tests were already done. I do wonder, like Lara, if it might make it easier on you NOT to cycle in Denver if you're going the agency route. How does your local clinic handle DE?

    And whether you end up going anonymous DE, using your sister, or a gestational carrier.... you won't be messing up your kid. What a wanted--and damn lucky-- child s/he will be.

    Thinking of you.

  5. I'm hearing a lot of fight in you which I'm really happy about. And a plan is always a good thing (at least it always was for me).

  6. ps I also think your kid/s will be blessed beyond belief!

  7. Your post broke my heart. Your wait for the gestational carrier to pass the hurdles is awful. It's so hard to be somewhere that reminds you of miscarriage--take care!

  8. The three periods post BF thing is such BS. Cornell let me BF right up until I cycled for my last IVF. I seriously stopped one week into lupron and it hurt NOTHING.

    I am glad you are determined to come up with a new plan and this quite major setback didn't keep you down and out for long.

  9. You are a wonderful role model for strength and perseverance. Thank you for continuing to share your story!

  10. I know our stories have been different, but I do remember that feeling very distinctly: that I would figure out the grief along the way but I HAD to be moving towards something concrete, something as guaranteed as I could make it. We filled out paperwork while we were still processing our sixth failed IVF but I don't regret moving forward because as we all know, time keeps passing no matter what we're doing.

    Hang in there. I know it's tough. I wish it would get easier and you could just catch a break!

  11. I'm glad you are so determined to move forward. We both ended up taking taking such a long break because what had been inflicted on us DID take serious time to heal from. There is no point rushing back into the fray while you are still bleeding from the last skirmish. You needed that time off, and now is the time to get the ball rolling again. Something will work out, just because enough things have been set in momentum.

    Also just FYI, doing a karyotype on a sperm donor is I think part of the standard testing, so its surprising that they do not do the same for egg donors!

  12. hmmm, as far as i saw in our shopping, karotypes are not standard for sperm donors (just screening for specific disorders). fyi.

    i'm a terrible lurker -- read frequently and rarely comment -- and you don't know me from adam, but for the record, i don't think using your sister's eggs would be weird. at all.

    and i certainly hope you are A LOT closer to a baby next year -- in fact, i hope you're so close to a baby that there's no way you can even go to that conference next year.

  13. You know, I have had the experience of waiting for the next step on the fertility journey until I felt somehow ready, and in the end I usually just felt like we were months or a year further away from where I wanted to be. At some point, I started using Yogi Berra's line as my motto: When you come to a fork in the road, take it. So that's what we did- and it took every ounce of resolve I had to override my tendency to ruminate, research, and second guess.

    In the end (that is, where we are now), we wound up on a path that we had questions about right up until the second we took it. And once we took it, most of those doubts felt a lot less important. Glad to hear you're moving forward- I strongly suspect that any way your baby comes to you, he or she will be loved like no other, and it will have been a beautiful way to go.

    PS- I imagine that I know which conference you're at, and there's someone there who I wish I could send you straight to for a proxy hug from me.

  14. so confusing and so much to consider. I am hoping you find your path soon, it is good to have options- More than anything I am hoping that you find yourself well on your way to motherhood next year when you are in that hotel room. sending you much love.

  15. I am SO GLAD you're moving forward. And, yes, I thought about telling you that my clinic didn't do karyotyping, but then figured that you didn't need to hear that! We DID love the ease of working with a donor who'd already been cleared by our clinic, though. It made things simple, and we knew going in that she'd ALREADY passed her screening before we ever heard of her.

    I'd like to second Gwinne's comment--any child as wanted and as beloved as your kid is going to be, isn't going to be messed up by the knowledge that his/her parents wanted him/her as much as you & Will do. If anything, I think it'll give that child a sense of peace & grounding that 'accidental' children can never have. Your children are going to be wonderful, loved, lovely children, however they come to be born.

    We're back in Brooklyn on the day after tomorrow--can I interest you in some take-out, to be eaten on the floor in a dank basement? (Srsly, we're only there for the night & H will need to sleep, but if there's a way, I'd love to see you.) Thinking of you, and glad to hear you sounding like you've got your fight back. A plan is the best thing in the world for you right now, I think, and it sounds like you have a few percolating. Can't wait to hear what your next step is.

  16. Hi Mo and Will

    Yep, me again, lurker doc from Canada.

    Glad to hear you're dusting yourself off, and moving forward. What a wonderful sister you have...

    In working up our donor and GC, hubs and I said the same thing you did....we felt like giving up, and our hearts were not really in it, but our GC was wildly enthusiastic, so we had her worked up more out of desire to show our appreciation for her offer, than anything. We were pretty sure the donor would have some problem, and our GC would be found unsuitable anyway, so what was the harm in doing at least the workup? Well...everyone passed with flying colors (no, our clinic did not do karyotyping...we flew blind on that...)

    When I reflect on the workup process, it was the equivalent, I suppose, of that thing everyone know...once you stop trying, you'll get pregnant. We really had in our hearts given up, and the workups were a way to prove to her that we tried but..."so sorry you're not suitable...thanks so much for the offer..." thus justifying packing the whole thing in...

    We were just bone weary, and done...

    We also languished on the international adoption list....5 years of waiting, and counting. We would never have imagined we'd still be childless...but even more, that we'd be expecting a child via GC, before our adoption came through.

    If by some horrible cruel twist of fate, things go sideways now, we have no doubt in our minds that we are done. We have literally done EVERYTHING WE COULD.

    We have one embryo left, and a GC who won't be doing this again...

    I guess my point is that you've gotta really really really feel done, and I'm not sure thats possible until you've exhausted the opportunities before you. Your sister's offer, your GC, combined with your emotional, physical, and financial ability and desire to keep going, means you probably have to at least explore the possibilities...

    And so I wish you luck. 'Cause at the end of the day, all the statistics, literature and evidence based medicine doesn't hold a candle to a bit of good old fashioned luck.

    I'd say you are long overdue. Don't be at the airport when your ship comes in.

  17. As ever, holding you in my thoughts and hoping you find the path that will bring you the family you dream of.

  18. So sorry you are having to deal with so many, many roadblocks and hurdles and setbacks. Glad you are wanting to move forward, though...and exploring lots of different avenues...
    You're in my prayers...

  19. Wow - so much happening for you and so many choices to make. I'm really sorry that you received the news about the donor you liked. I guess the main thing is (and you know this already) that you still have options. They aren't great or easy options, but they are there nonetheless for when you are ready for them.

    Thinking of you as always x

  20. Mo, you know I am not one to say "It will all be fine when you get the baby." But I do want to say, I think al lot more about the babies and our relationship than I do about the donor. Our donor, the one that brought us our lovely, wonderful, beautiful, lively and irreplaceable children, was our fourth pick. I had fallen VERY hard for our third donor, who had gained 60lbs since her last donation, so our clinic said she was a no go, and we chose our donor because she was willing to be known, blond and ready to go because the cycle she was prepped for got cancelled. Yep, not our first choice at all. I was uneasy about proceeding, but we did, and we have our wonderful children, and we are on the other side at that is worth a lot. A lot. I can grieve for all the stuff I need to, that is about me, but these boys are here to be loved, and they make it impossible to not love them. So please, know that I REALLY get it, and that I'm choosing to share this piece because it's the one that I had the hardest time believing when I was in your position. Oh, and my clinic does karyotype donors.

  21. Yeah, I remember that feeling! Actually, a friend said to me: I had this exact conversation with you a year ago, Claudia, I don't want to be having it again in a year's time. It felt harsh at the time but it kicked me in the backside and in the end I was grateful. It's a sucky, sucky feeling though, huh?

  22. I'm pregnant after donor egg treatment. There was no karotype, no photo! I didn't choose the donor- the clinic identified her and then we agreed after getting basic info. Treatment was in Spain and I'm from the UK. As far as I know they did basic test and took a family history from the donor. I'm ok with all of the above.

  23. You don't know me from Adam, but I went around the block with all of this for three years and basically became a full-time infertility researcher during this time. I have enjoyed your blog and wish to help.

    After reading everything my gut feeling is that your embryos are fine and something about the implantation or your immune system isn't going right. You can do a ton of things to correct that but sometimes it still happens (there is a woman in a very similar situation at the I've got bad plumbing blog). If I were you, and this is only my opinion, I would strongly consider the GS option. I think your current clinic is being ridiculous about your intended GS and maybe it's time for a new clinic? Many clinics can run a good IVF protocol and have good labs.

    Anyway, not to add more confusion to the matter but my suspicion is that your can still have your own bio child if you choose, but it will probably require a GS. Just more two cents from the peanut gallery--good luck!

  24. After everything, it's just inconceivable that you are at this place. If there is one thing I have learned from reading your blog is that you and Will love each other and you are tough. Whatever route you go that takes you to your child will have far less impact later than it does now. People who use donors or surrogates are incredibly grateful to those people who help them. With that being said, it simply becomes part of your story of becoming a family. I think this happens for everybody who has to use alternative means because the resulting child is the point. The child is who you love wholeheartedly to your very core.

    @the beautiful idea v convoluted mess. I can speak from my experience of using my best friend's eggs that it is the most beautiful thing. Sincerely. Two key aspects of our relationship made it this way: 1) She had no desire to parent my child which made me feel completely secure, and 2) we trusted each other to handle anything that might come up over the years. I have a blog in the works about this, but I recently took my delightful boy to meet her, her kids, her mom, etc. I can't tell you what an amazing connection we have. I don't think you can ever have too many people caring about your child.

    When I was spinning about trying to decide which direction to go in, I went for what would be most likely to give me a child. Trust yourself. You'll make the right decision.

    And btw, no karyotyping.

  25. No karyotyping on our end either! The only thing I had to go off of was 4 pictures and a rather sketchy personal bio. I jumped into this...literally. I really am starting to wonder if I should slow down however I fear if I slow down...I will stall out. There will always be something. I figured that out on my end after 6 miscarriages and 6 failed IVF's and one spontaneous pregnancy while on Lupron preparing for DE! Infertility has been beyond my comprehension. I know nothing about this donor except her pictures are cute and she sort of resembles my daughter. I guess that is enough for me. Maybe? I cannot imagine loving this child any less. Even if there is something screwy in the egg.
    Hugs and prayers,

  26. I;m happy to hear the coming out from under this" part but just hate that you had another setback. Unfortunately, I've got no experience or advice to share except take the time you need to come to a decision that is right for you. And if giving up isn't right right now, then don't -- we will still all be here rooting you on whichever path you choose!


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