Monday, December 19, 2011

One foot in front of the other

Wow, it's been a rough time lately. Thanks for your thoughts and comments on our situation. We've really appreciated it. It still completely sucks to find out that we can't use my sister as an egg donor and further that her fertility status is worrisome. It sucks even more that this comes on the heels of finding out our perfect egg donor turned out to have a rare genetic abnormality (but only after we'd sunk a huge amount of emotional capital and an even huger amount of money into her and her agency). The holidays are approaching and with them, the growing sense of loss that we are celebrating yet another child-centered holiday, surrounded by our families' children and without children of our own. And my 40th birthday is just around the corner...creeping up like an enormous, dreaded milestone to mark five years of trying for a baby, six pregnancy losses, and no end in sight. And, not to whine, but geez being on Depot Lupron for two months makes dealing with all of these things inexorably harder.

Add to those difficulties the fact that the stars are aligning (or misaligning?) workwise so that I have been dealing with an unprecedented amount of psychological crises the past week clinically, including coping with a serious suicide attempt last weekend, having to provide a large-scale crisis intervention for a group of people following a gruesome murder, and needing to help one of my trainees who is struggling to deal effectively and competently with a patient in increasing distress. All in a week's work, I guess, but boy it's been a tough time.

Will and I spent the weekend trying to climb back out of the emotional hole we have recently found ourselves in. And for me, I knew I had to do something to de-stress massively. We brainstormed what would feel most immersive, what would call us to be present, what would allow us to just be mindful for a time and let all these problems sit to the side for a bit. And we came up with two ideas. One was going ice skating Saturday - which turned out to be very fun. The second was to go indoor rock climbing on Sunday, which was super tough and scary (I'm deathly afraid of heights), but ultimately liberating and enthralling. Several times at the beginning, I thought I would give up, that it was too frightening, that I wasn't strong enough, or agile enough, to find the next handhold or foothold, to keep moving forward. But I stuck it out and reached the top of the walls several times. I even learned to not panic when letting go and allowing the rope to hold my weight as I was lowered down to the ground. I think there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'll leave it to you.

Mo halfway up the wall
It was great to have a break from all the stresses and losses facing us this weekend. But we didn't want to wait too long to begin to process and problem-solve this situation we find ourselves in infertility-wise. Right now things feel hopeless, but I know the situation is only truly is hopeless if we give up.

So, we have devised a multi-pronged attack on what we have officially dubbed the "End Mo and Will's Childlessness Campaign."
  • Rather than continue to scour dozens of agencies ourselves for the donor we are seeking, we signed up with a service that searches agencies for you. We spoke to the owner late last week, sent a bunch of pics of me and described what we are looking for. They go out there and do the footwork and try to find a number of donor candidates who are currently available who would be a good match. We've found one who we are highly interested in, and a few runners one who seems a "perfect" match yet in terms of the mix of qualities we hope to find (of course, we know no one would be a "perfect" match...but still...). We are hoping to get a few of them started with basic blood testing in the hopes that at least one of them will demonstrate the ability to actually pass the Denver screening process. We are only taking another donor to Denver who we are fairly certain will pass the screen.
  • We continue to search the Denver database...still not so hopeful about this and no good matches there for us at this time.
  • We have a call in to a NYC clinic to begin the process of getting on their donor recipient list. Not super optimistic about it, but figure it would maybe allow us a way out of this if all else fails.
  • We have a phone appt with Dr. Schl. on Thursday. This was originally to discuss using my sis as a donor but now may center on how and what to tell her about the news we found out about her fertility. We also want to discuss the pros/cons of transferring my own embryos back to me (since I've been doing Depot Lupron prepping for a transfer) and whether there is any point to me trying to do one last IVF cycle to make more normal embryos, which would make it feel safer to risk transferring some of our embryos into my body... we may or may not attempt this...but if not...we need to come to closure with it.
  • Our potential gestational carrier, should we find out I can't carry even a donor egg pregnancy, is getting her medical records together to send to Denver for review (G_d bless her for this), so hopefully we can start to get a sense if she would be eligible.
So we're working on things on a few fronts. It feels good not to sit still, but feels terrible if I let myself stop and just experience the emotions of it all. I'm back to feeling somewhat uncomfortable with using an egg donor at all and deeply sad that it looks like my family line may die out with my generation if it turns out neither my sis or I are able to reproduce.

One foot in front of the other. Hopefully we can find a way out the other side. I am so, so ready to be in a different place with this.

So ready.


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  1. So glad that you were able to enjoy some time ice skating, and way to go with the rock-climbing. I do think that there's a metaphor in the overcoming the fear and moving forward anyway. I hope that your consult goes well and I'll be interested to hear what Dr. S. has to say on Thursday.

  2. You awesome rock-climbing lady, you!

    VERY glad you're moving forward, because it DOES mean you're moving through this and this--ALL of 'this'--has sucked beyond measure. Time to be out of this place!

    I think a concierge service sounds like a great idea, I really do. Hoping that they come up with a few donors who will not only be perfect for you, but who will also be perfect donors.

    And please do remember that your family line won't really be dying out with you. You will be passing on the very best parts of you, of your whole family, to your child, however that child comes into your life. All the things that make you who you are, will also make you the mother that you will be, and THAT is what you will pass along to your baby. It's not an insignificant thing, you know! Your sense of humor, your courage, your love of learning and service and your immense wellspring of compassion--these are things you will give your child, no matter what her/his DNA looks like. No one (not even you!) will be able to mistake your child for anyone else's.

    Thinking of you, and looking forward to hearing about the donors that this service finds for you!

  3. Amazing about the rock climbing - sounds meaningful and I do see parallels to life.

    Hearing you describe what you're doing, it definitely sounds like you're moving forward, and that one path will get to a point to hit the "Go" button in not too long.

    Sending lots of positive thoughts!

  4. Look at you on that wall! Awesome!

    What Susan said. Ditto.

    But ... this stood out for me in your post: "I'm back to feeling uncomfortable with using an egg donor at all"

    I totally understand having several irons in the fire to bring home your child, but I wonder if you'll really be able to embrace using an non-related egg donor until you've used your own embryos. I know my situation was VASTLY different, but my goal with my eggs changed during treatments until all I wanted was to get to retrieval successfully, and have something transferred. Once I did that I was able to fully embrace donor conception with an open heart. I could be wrong, but maybe you need to use your embryos, and hopefully bring home a baby from them, or if not, then find a way to close that door in your heart so you can open another.

    As for another IVF cycle, I worry about more hormones in your system in terms of your general health for the future, and I also worry about stims exacerbating your endo, and jeopardizing your ability to get and stay pregnant.

    Big, big hug, my friend!

  5. Dora - I appreciate your concerns about me not being ready to use a donor but I don't think this is it. It's more my process. I seem to need to "fall for" a particular donor, a particular person who I can imagine will provide the genes for our child. When it's in the abstract, like it is now, it just seems scary and foreign...when it was the donor we'd found and liked so much, it seemed like a wonderful option. That's what i'm thinking at least...we shall see how the emotions progress as this all moves hopefully forward again.


  6. Glad you got out and did some fun stuff this weekend.
    And I think it is great you are taking a multi-pronged approach. Hoping a path becomes clear for you in the coming weeks...

  7. Look at you rock climb! Wow!

    I'm not sure you'll ever find the "perfect" donor or that it's really about that. Your goal is to have a take-home baby. Even if you could use your own DNA, your baby will be her own unique person, with traits that will be like you and different. She will be herself and that's what matters.

  8. Good luck with everything Mo.

    I sincerely hope your and Will's luck turns around in 2012! I love the idea of finding immersive activities that force you to be present. What a great idea.

    Hugs and strength for the holidays.

  9. Yes, there's definitely a metaphor in that rock wall.

    As another DE mama, I second what Sprogblogger said. And I would have dittoed Dora until I read your own comment!

    I also had a lot of trouble at the selection level...and ended up being very grateful to have a coordinator to set up a "match" for me. Made the move to DE much easier for me.

    I can say now, a month in to parenting this guy, that I very rarely think about his genetics. (Only really in the doctor's office) And the result, perhaps, of the craziness of my pregnancy was that it proved to me that I loved *this* baby whatever he turned out to be. I won't kid you: I still have many moments that I wonder what would have happened if I'd done just one more cycle with my own eggs. It will be a long time coming that I'm grieving my own reproductive failures... but I do not in any way regret my decision going forward when I did. What I needed was the fastest/surest way to a take home baby. And I got it; I made the decision to do DE in December (if my January IUI didn't work) and had a retrieval by early March.

    But what I hear you coming back to again and again is the importance of the genetic connection and the concern of what happens if you transfer your embryos to *you* and they don't make it. I'm not sure what that means in terms of considering DE...if you conceive a DE child and carry to term, will you regret not transferring your own embryos? Just thinking about all the possibilities here...

    I so wish this was easier, with an obvious path and a guaranteed happy ending.

  10. I am so ready for you too! What a week you had, life-wise and work-wise. whew. I'm happy to hear you had some fun this weekend and have the multi-pronged plan moving forward. something's gotta give somewhere, right??

  11. Gwinne - we aren't really worried about regretting bringing a child into our life. In the case that DE worked, Hallelujah! We are then lucky enough to have a DE baby (or two) and then would attempt to have a genetic child (or two) afterward. We are certain we would love them all fiercely, although if we ended up with two sets of twins, things would be very cozy in our 2-bedroom apartment!

  12. I feel the same way about rockclimbing. THat's why I took it up as a pretty serious hobby after the demise of a 10 year relationship -- it requires conquering fears (mine are also of heights), trust, and very intense focus, so there is no time for daydreaming or musing on ART options.

    I;m glad you had a good weekend, and I hope that one of these options reveals itself to be the "right" one.

  13. Hoping things start to look up for you soon! I certainly wish there was an easier path on this for sure!

  14. Thinking of you... I just hope that there will finally be a "yes" in all of this for you. You've had way more than your share of NO lately! I'm not sure I would have been brave enough for the rock climbing- but DH and I do have a gift certificate to do it- you may have given me the inspiration to actually do it!

  15. I'm so ready for you too, Mo. This is just unbelievably cruel, and never ending, so it seems.

    I can empathize with you greatly, nearing 40 myself in a couple of years, we've decided that our clock definitely has a finish time. That's a hard decision, but at some point, we all have to be in control of our situation and move forward.

    Wishing, hoping, dreaming that things line up for you in the 'baby department'. I don't know how, but they will somehow. They just have to....right? Whatever that looks like, you will be back in charge at some point.

    Still with you here, and always.

  16. The move to the wall (and the skates) sounds brilliant. Glad you had fun and skated ;) past/around/into a metaphor!

    Other than that, just knowing how long your journey has already been it sounds great that you've got the whatever-it-takes to be pursuing multiple paths at once. As ever, I hope one (or more!) of them turns out to be the path that will bring you the family you are seeking.

  17. Glad to read your response. Makes total sense. Third party reproduction (and infertility in general) is complicated in just about every way. And everyone processes it differently. In that case, the concierge seems like a great idea. When I was trying with my eggs, and before my friend agreed to be my sperm donor, I used a search website that searched through several top banks in a single search. Not quite the same as this donor egg concierge, but it did make it seem less overwhelming. Come to think of it, I kind of freaked out about the idea of using an anonymous sperm donor, was intensely relieved when my friend agreed to help, yet when that failed (actually, before it failed, but the writing was clear), for the some reason I was able to fully embrace the donor embryo offer.

    Emotions are ... well, they just are. You are doing right by honoring your emotions and pursuing ways to bring home this baby that work for you emotionally. And, damn, add depot lupron to the mix, and what sounds like incredible and upsetting work stress, yikes! It's amazing you can refrain from telling people where they can shove their holiday cheer. :-/

  18. First of all, I have to tell you how touched I was that you took the time and emotioal exposure to congratulate me on my new little one. It was not something that I ever expected, but honestly meant so much because of the space that you're currently in. Although I haven't walked in your shoes, I tried them on and it was nearly unbearable for a bit.

    Secondly, you and Will both continue to amaze me. I'm not sure that I would have the same emotional fortitude being faced with everything that you have. I couldn't respect either of you more. If I hadn't had multiple losses myself, I'd donate eggs to you in a heartbeat. Lord knows I wouldn't pass Denver's screenings. Holy cow.

    Somewhere in all of this there is a child for you. Although the path has yet to be determined ...there are few things that I've felt more certain about.

    Merry Christmas.

  19. You have had a bloody tough road but are coping in an amazingly constructive way. It is a difficult decision to get to committing to donor eggs and a donor, we all get to it in our own way and you will get there in your own time too. You can always use your embryos afterwards, you have options which is good. It may not be of any help whatsoever but after JBB was born, my main emotion was being perplexed at what I waited for so long for.

  20. Good for you and Will for doing somethings to re-focus your attention elsewhere for a few hours and give yourself a break from all the IF stuff.

    Did you go skating in Central Park? I wanted to do that during our last trip to NYC in March 2010, but we weren't able to squeeze it in. I've always wanted to try indoor rock climbing, but I haven't done it yet. I'm impressed you were able to overcome your fears and make it to the top several times!

    It's good that you're moving forward on various fronts. Working on multiple options always makes me feel better. I hope your appointment on Thursday helps give you a sense of what direction you want to try first.

  21. Mo...HOLY COW!! You rock woman! Team Mo and Will is cooking with gas!! There just isn't an imaginable way that one way or another that Plan C thru Z will NOT bring you a baby...or maybe in your case Plan Q thru Z...sorry only meant to make you smile...hugs if you feel offended. And for all the commenters that maybe you need to just chill as you might not be ready to accept DE...pfftt...I am living proof that you will love your DE baby AS YOUR OWN once you meet him/her. I was NOT 100% ready to accept DE either upon our transfer and actually during the pg underwent alot of emotional work to prepare. So please don't stress too much about it. No its not as though you can just forget but trust me...these feelings of genetic loss and genetic "awkwardness" that DE brings gets ALOT easier...I suspect the same given that your DE baby had to be carried using a surro (no doubt more emotionally complicated). So you go girl...don't give up. And brilliant on finding an agency that finds the DE match for you. WAAAY less exhausting! Hey what ever makes it easier. Happy Holidays to you and Will. I just know it from the bottom of my heart you are going to get out of this. Sorry for all the sunshine up your behind but I really really feel this way given your extensive plans on the go.

  22. OH...and yeah...just your basic karyotype test and AMH test should do the trick as a pre-screen for CCRM's rigourous screening process (ODWU) is my thoughts.

  23. the rock climbing isn't really a metaphor at this point- it *is* the way it is- just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and if you've got the gumption, keep planning.

    i love that you found a service to find egg donors- brilliant. good for you, seriously- that is a drain and time-suck that you can hand over to someone else... hopefully they will find your perfect match asap.

    also great that you have the possible gc getting her papers in order.

    all good things, even though it sucks right now, you are doing great. here's a couple winston churchill quotes for you this morning....
    never, never, never give up.
    if your going through hell, keep going.

    thinking of you each day! and good luck with your dr.sch consult- hopefully something will click! you know i'd really like to see you use your embryos now, and if not now, i think it is a *fabulous* idea to cycle again and get your 'around age 40' eggs out while you can.

    you can do this mo & will!

  24. I always feel better with a plan.
    Always. I feel at my worst when I am at a loss of what to do next, how to move forward or really, any direction whatsoever.

    Your week sounds horrid, and I am so sorry for the intense stresses inherent in your job sometimes.
    You were totally brilliant choosing mindfulness this weekend! *of course, you are totally brilliant period, so this makes sense*

    Just wanting to send love
    and totally getting wanting to be in love with your donor. I get it. I really do.

    hugs to you and will,

  25. Just thinking of you and Will, glad you have each other and are able to do some fun non-IF related things I know how all consuming IF can be. I hope you find a donor that you love again, find peace with this decision, and have the family you so richly deserve in 2012!

  26. I'm so glad you found the concierge! I did the same thing and finally found the donor I fell for... So so much easier emotionally.
    My DH and I decided to just skip out on the holidays and go to NYC! Ice skating is at the top of my list, and now I'm thinking we should find a wall... So cool.
    Re making decisions - it is so great that you are creating options and I just know that your convo with schools will really help. Just stay open and let the decision come.... I keep tryin g to tell myself to do that! But it does help... Its so easy to spin out...
    I wish you guys all the best. My gut is to try a couple embies now that you're ready and get going on the donor as a backup. I cannot wait to hear what you decide... And even more to hear the ultimate good news...
    Have you gotten a Pomegranate girls bracelet? I'll be wearing mine as I walk the city streets... And sending you all good thoughts...

  27. Missed your post about your sister's AMH and was so sorry to go back and read that. I'm so impressed that you're attacking this on so many fronts and relate to feeling overwhelmed emotionally when you sit back and think about it.

    Nice job on the rock climbing. I've done it indoors, too, and it's so rewarding to make holds that you hadn't expected to make.

  28. Ice skating. Climbing wall. Brilliant!

    I so dearly hope that you and Will quickly find a way out of this morass that you feel great about. And I hope your sister has a surprisingly easy path, however she decides to build her family.

  29. I totally get the whole multiple irons in the fire, as well as OE pursuit/consideration during DE pursuit and not feeling sold out on one or the other.

    You have been through the wringer. Keep those options open ;-) I honestly admire and appreciate Will, that he hasn't *strongly encouraged* you to slow down or stop TTC in general. I know my DH had little tolerance for my multi pronged approach suggestions. And he was ready to fish or cut bait. But I was no where near that!

    I love that you have options, and that if one door were to open wider ... you'd have more confidence in walking through. I think you are doing the things you can, while allowing for the room you need to see what things out of your control line up. And rock climbing and ice skating in the meantime :-)

    And I'm so sorry for the intense week for you - God bless you, I can't imagine having that much work (and life!) responsibility.

    I'm still rooting for you,


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