So here I am. Agency owner, mom to 3 – the two youngest via the same surrogate, and now Intended Mother again.
My husband and I knew we wanted to have one more child. We knew that when we had our egg donor do an extra cycle (straight to freeze) after our surrogate was confirmed pregnant with our daughter. We just didn’t know that this much time would go by between the last child and now. My youngest is nearly 4, his sisters are 5 and 11. We started what we figure will be our last surrogacy journey about 2 years ago. Wait, you say… that doesn’t make sense. 2 years ago.. and you don’t have a child yet?!
See, the thing is there are no guarantees in surrogacy – even when you’re the agency owner. Even when, to others on the outside, you have the ‘pick of all the surrogates’, you’ve got frozen embryos created from the same experienced egg donor who helped you with your son and daughter, even when you’re using an excellent clinic and an even better RE. Just no guarantees. I sometimes think these things happen to me so that I can use myself as an example to our other IPs. But that lost its charm after the first few problems with this surrogacy.
I’ll start back at the beginning. We chose an experienced surrogate. I adored her, we had a wonderful relationship. We breezed through the testing, contracts, and started our cycle. That’s when things went sour. Her labs were coming up odd. She ended up needing her gall bladder removed. Okay, no problem, we’ll wait out the couple of months to recuperate. A good thing is worth the wait. But unfortunately the months turned into more months, and then there were further lab indications that just didn’t sit right with our RE. Begrudgingly and sadly, we ended the surrogacy -never having gotten to transfer, but with nearly 8 months having passed us by. (and of course the expenses of all the testing, contracts, monthly fees, etc.).
Okay well I know better than to wallow in misery, at least that’s what I tell my other IPs who have a bit of bad luck or a bump in the road. So we picked ourselves up, chose another surrogate and started over again. We did the medical evaluation, contracts and even had our cycle schedule done. Ready to go! And then she had a gallbladder attack – and ultimately had to have her gallbladder removed! (what am I, the bad luck gallbladder lady??!!). So we stood by again, all smiles and support, while our surrogate had her gallbladder removed and recuperated.
Thankfully this time all looked good to start cycling. We went into the first transfer, extremely optimistic and dead set that we only wanted one baby. Therefore we knew that we would absolutely only transfer 2 embryos at most. Which in my mind, meant we had lots and lots of chances, since our wonderful egg donor had the best cycle of her life when we did the ‘straight-to-freeze’ cycle nearly 4 years ago. Well, unfortunately it took 9 of those embryos to get 2 good ones. Arggh…. Still the transfer went well and we were all taken aback when the beta was negative! How could it be! My wonderful surrogate had gotten pregnant the very first time with her last surrogacy, using the exact same RE! We thought it was a WIN-WIN for sure.
Oh well, we jumped quickly into the 2nd FET. No reason to delay. This time we put back 3 embryos .. and I secretly worried I was tempting fate. The home pregnancy tests were negative and our hearts were broken. However, on beta day we got the call from the nurse that there was a low beta. What??!! A glimmer of hope. The next beta went up significantly. We started believing that maybe this was a ‘miracle’ baby. I know from dealing with this all of the time, that most of these slow starters don’t pan out. But, I could hope, right?
The problem with slow rising betas is the whole process is drawn out for weeks. And it’s even more painful than a negative beta, because it’s really a rollercoaster ride (without any of the fun.) Ultimately the beta went down and then came the 2 week process of waiting for my surrogate’s period to come. Okay, 2 down, but maybe #3 would be the charm. I started looking for ‘signs’ – as so many infertile women do. A song on the radio meant the next cycle would work… if we started the cycle on such and such date, that would make it ‘lucky’…. I want to kick myself sometimes for the things that go through my head.
We all tried to be positive for cycle #3 – but somehow we just weren’t feeling it. The transfer didn’t go as well as we would have liked, they had to replace the catheter and switch over the embryos, it just felt wrong. And there more poor little embryos went… more gone into this vast blackness. More ‘possibilities’ that just as easily became ‘impossibilities.’ None of us were surprised when the beta was negative.
So now what? Nearly two years later, here I am -getting ready for our fourth and last FET. It’s funny, I thought for sure that we’d be worrying about what to do with all of our leftover embryos. Whether we should donate them, or even on a deeper level – to whom we should donate. Now there will be no embryos left to donate. I don’t even know that the 3 little frozen ones left will make it past thaw. And if they do, whether or not there is a baby in there. I won’t say that I’m feeling hopeless – I know I am already way blessed with the amazing children I have – but I will say that infertility never completely goes away. It sits there waiting, lurking…much like the crocodiles we just saw in a wildlife park on our past family vacation. After watching the crocodiles, with their eyes half-closed and their bodies frozen in the same position for endless hours, days, weeks, months…. I have newfound respect and fear for them. Much like how I feel about infertility. It never goes away, it waits there, biding its time and yet always ready to pounce and snatch a dream away from us.