When the Train Changes Tracks Again…

Today was one of those days where I know I need to write a post but I’m overwhelmed to the point I am worried my fingers won’t represent the sheer emotions that we are experiencing at this moment. Here goes nothing…..

Today Trenae and I both took off from work to have a “day off” for doctors appointments. I put it in quotes because it felt more stressful and strenuous then any day of work I have experienced to date. We have been really looking forward to our first appointment with our fertility doctor. After all we thought we stepped foot off this ride a long time ago until we recently received the very generous gift of an embryo from a loving couple that shall remain anonymous. But back we went with the hope and joy that this is the one thing we had been waiting on for what feels likes an eternity.

The appointment went really well…… or so we thought. Our doctor went over our charts and said everything looks great, this would be a great option for us and the probability is about 50% (doesn’t sound high I know but when your probability is zero for so long 50 is huge). Trenae went on to explaining to our doctor that she had a surgery in August and thought it was just like the ones she had before to minimize the pain from her endometriosis. She said the word “ablation” and suddenly the conversation tone changed like when a bad thunderstorm is coming in and you feel the winds shift. Our doctor said he needed to know more about the surgery and if it were the kind he was thinking that we wouldn’t be candidates for a donor embryo because it would have taken away Trenae’s ability to carry a baby at all. We continued on the conversation saying it wasn’t that kind of surgery because we had communicated to her OBGYN our strong desire to be parents if by the stroke of luck a miracle happened. Our doctor felt confident in what we were saying because we were confident it wasn’t that kind of surgery. We left there elated thinking this might be it for us that our ride is finally coming to a stop and we are walking off it rather than falling like its felt for the last two years now. Until our next appointment….

We went to our next appointment with a pelvic pain specialist because since the surgery in August Trenae has had unbearable pain, and I mean what I say there. I have watched my wife cry as she goes to the bathroom, sneezes, and even just stands for a period of time. We went back to her OBGYN after post op and told her all these things and she said I just don’t know, maybe take some Tylenol and use a heating pad. We were in her office for all of two minutes until she dismissed us doing nothing. That’s when it hit me in the parking lot I wasn’t going to stand for this and that something needed to be done. I walked back in with my wife and told the receptionist they weren’t billing our insurance until we had answers and my wife felt relief. Finally she sent us to the amazing doctor we saw today and said we just need to get you pregnant (you’ll see the irony in this statement later). We meet with Dr. M and he reviews Trenae’s file and goes over everything with her to make sure he has the full story. He says to us I see here that you had an “endometrial ablation.” I think there’s that word again, you know the one that if you had this surgery you can’t carry a baby. Trenae looks at me in sheer panic and says to the doctor I thought I had the same surgery I did before just to remove the endometriosis because I told my OBGYN that I wanted to get pregnant. He says no I hate to be the bearer of bad news and it pains me to tell you this but yes you had an ablation and no you can’t carry a baby… see the irony in her statement? I see the sadness engulf my wife like a dark dense cloud. She says I wouldn’t have done the surgery if I had known that, how could this be, I told her over and over we wanted to get pregnant. I sat there holding my wife’s hand feeling the grip get tighter and tighter. Dr. M kept apologizing and said lets see if I can help with the pain at least and you can speak to the fertility doc about the other issue. He exams her and does a couple different test to see what her pain triggers are and tells her to get dressed and for us to meet him back in his office. Now before the exam he told us he thinks it might be nerve damage but won’t know until the exam and when we go back to his office he says I think it may be what is called Adenomyosis. For those of you that don’t know what that is its basically when the endometriosis goes into the uterine wall and into the muscle tissue causing pain and lots of other issues. The crazy thing is before he said that I told Trenae on the way up that that’s what I believe she has through the research I had done. He immediately sent her to the building next door to have an MRI so we can figure out what next steps are. He says if it is in fact Adenomyosis the only option is a hysterectomy. At this point we are both feeling like we’ve been trampled to death. We started out our morning thinking our prayers have been answered and we will be able to have the baby we have yearned for to find out that her OBGYN took that from us and now she has to have a possible hysterectomy.

It is very hard to not feel like you are drowning in this situation. I tried so desperately to stay positive and think that some higher power whoever that may be is telling us we are supposed to adopt and even though we try and derail the path of the train we are being taken back to the original path, but lets be honest it doesn’t make it hurt any less. This news has wrecked both of our worlds, and there’s nothing we can do about it. So now what? we wait for the results of the MRI and go back to saving the crazy amount of money it will take us to adopt. We will have our baby eventually its just painful to feel like the medical system has now failed us. I was okay when it was me it had failed and my doctor ruined my chance of being able to conceive but now another doctor has ruined my wife’s ability to carry because she didn’t take the time to listen to us over and over again saying we want to be parents. It saddens me deeply that this ride has changed tracks yet again but the silver lining in all of this is we may finally have answers for my wife and she can be restored to normal health again. I’m sorry if my post seems to jump around and not make a whole lot of sense. I am finding it very hard to put this all into words but this is my best attempt. Until next time

 

Steffan

Advertisements

A Tale of Two Fears…Well Maybe a Few More…

It’s 12:30 AM and I’ve been up for about an hour now, tossing and turning. You see, officially today, since the clock has passed midnight, Steffan and I have our multitude of doctors appointments to figure out 1. my medical conditions as my pain has only gotten worse since an oblation surgery I had in August to which my surgeon has no reasoning for, and 2. our plan with possibly moving forward with the implantation of a gifted embryo if I’m healthy enough to carry it.

Since school started this year, I’ve been dealing with pain every day. I’m doing my best to manage it, but even two “post-op” surgical appointments and a trip to the ER haven’t given me any relief. I’ve stopped eating dinner, because I can’t keep it down, and I got to the point yesterday where I text my husband in the middle of the day (10:30 AM) because I didn’t even go to lunch because I sat down from the pain and couldn’t get up again; I was afraid I was going to have to leave school. At 11, I put my happy face back on for my kids, but inside, I was dying.

Currently I’m sitting in my living room, heating pad on, surrounded by my two “large and in charge” furry protectors…both of whom are sound asleep and snoring. Jerks. The mini-furry protector is sound asleep upstairs…probably asleep on my side of the bed…again, jerk.

All I can say is, God love my husband. While I was at school yesterday, about to fall down, he was feverishly doing research on the specialist I am to see tomorrow, the possibilities of my disease and what it may actually be instead. For years, I’ve been treated for endometriosis, a disease that typically affects the ovaries, causes pain and often infertility…all things I’ve gone through since before college (call my mom, she can tell you). I’ve had surgery for this three times since college and yet, no relief. I go through stages where I’m ready to just throw in the towel and give up. After my first surgery (right after college), I was engaged to a very different man, who told me “I just wasn’t a good breeder”. Needless to say that didn’t work out. And thank God, otherwise I would have never met the man who continuously fights for me day in and day out. Steffan is the one who has done the research on not endometriosis, but something called adenomyosis. It’s similar to endo, but much more difficult to find unless you are specialized in looking for it; it isn’t even listed on Women’sHealth.gov — go figure. But don’t worry, anorexia and acne are…because that’s what we suffer from. Right ladies? He looked at the symptoms and he looked at me and the two matched more fittingly.

I guess what I’m trying to say in my tired, yet insomniatic state, is that I’m so happy to have someone in my corner who will fight for me when I’m afraid and ready to give up. It’s hard to fight when your tired and in pain. It’s also hard to fight when everyone you’ve asked for help, can’t give you any answers. On one hand, I’m hoping tomorrow I get an answer because then I’ll finally be able to get the right treatment. On the other hand, I’m scared I’ll be let down again by yet another doctor who still doesn’t know what’s wrong or where this pain is coming from. I know they call it “practicing” medicine, but could I stop being the pin cushion for a little while? It’s sucks when you can’t sneeze, cough, twist, or do other daily activities, like, I don’t know, teach your students, without wanting to double over in pain. I’m 32 and I just want to be healthy.

And to put this blog to bed…hopefully metaphorically and literally, there’s the embryo in the mix. That appointment is tomorrow too, as if one doctor a day isn’t enough…the what if game is spinning through my head at a whirlwind pace. What if he says I can’t carry because of these conditions? What if I’ve missed my window to carry a child? I go back and forth with these questions; tell myself I’m okay if that’s the case, then fall apart because I can’t do what comes so easily to others.

Forgive me if this is a sappy post. I’m really nervous. We have to be in Annapolis in seven hours and I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep a wink tonight. Guess it’s Netflix for me tonight…and time to turn the heating pad up to full blast. G’night y’all. Wish us luck.

~Trenae

 

When God Closes a Door…

It’s been a little while since our last post…probably because the shock of some news that came to us around the middle of September.

Where to begin? College might be a good place to start. Brief, yet important. I went to college at a small university and have kept in touch with very few people from those days. Skip to this month and my husband and I get a Facebook email from an old college acquaintance and his wife that just about knocked the wind out of both of us (in a good way).

You see, on a Monday, I had a second post-surgical  appointment with my GYN about the pain I am still feeling over a month later. She barely touched the area where she operated; she basically looked at my belly button, the area of my main incision, and said she had no clear-cut reasons why “I’m still feeling this way” and said, “If only we could get you pregnant, a lot of this would go away.” She sent my husband away and told me to use a heating pad and OTC pain meds like Advil. I walked out of the office with Steffan in a state of shock and in tears. My bulldog of a husband does not take kindly when his wife is in tears and since he already works in the medical field he marched back in and said he wanted to talk with the doctor again, because he was confused about how she was getting our copay and insurance pay when she spent less than five minutes with us, didn’t touch me, and changed the plan from a CT scan, meds and a trip to a specialist to a heating pad and Advil…needless to say, by our second time out of the office, the original plan was in place albeit I was still so frustrated I told my husband I just about done. I couldn’t take much more.

On Tuesday morning I woke up to the email of all emails from “the angels” . In it, the wife told the story of how they had been through similar situations to ours, and how they have been reading our blog and basically re-living their own roller coaster ride through our stories. At the end of her story, she told us that after their own long journey, they came away with two children of their own who have made their lives full of joy and happiness as a family. To end the email, she and her husband informed us that after their rounds of IVF, they have one frozen embryo left. One. And after an honest, heartfelt conversation between them as husband and wife, and reading this blog, they have offered donate their last embryo to us.

Needless to say, until now, Steffan and I have been left utterly speechless. What a generous gift. What a generous couple. When we asked ‘why’, they simply said, they are better parents because of their deep desire for children, just like ours, and they wanted to pay it forward to us because they have been so blessed.

For days we were stunned. We didn’t know what to say, even to each other. Steff and I had resigned ourselves to the adoption path and we were okay with that, but the timing of the doctor’s appointment and their email seemed all too coincidental. My husband and I aren’t the most actively religious people, but there was just something too undeniable there to ignore.

We talked on on the phone with our generous couple and we explained our medical situation in detail, including our excitement and nerves. They were given until just about the end of October to make a decision about what to do with their embryo; they could pay for another year of storage, donate it to a couple or science, or “trash” it. They chose to donate it to us. This option wasn’t even on my radar, nor my husbands, but how do you ignore such a thing. In my mind, all I could think was: there’s only one embryo (maybe it’s meant for us)…they do kind of resemble us…and we would finally have the family we’ve been yearning for since the week after we got married.

Of course, for every positive, there is an area of hesitation. Would I even be able to carry this beautiful gift? What happens if I lost it? How would we feel psychologically? Would they feel like they wasted this gift on us if I miscarried? Is my job too stressful for me to go through this?

I remember bringing some of these things up to them on the phone and C said, “Trenae, this is our gift to you. If you lose the baby, you tried…we tried. We’re giving this to you. We are better for having kids and we feel you and Steffan would feel just as blessed. Whatever the outcome, we want you to have this opportunity.

We had only just removed ourselves from this fertility roller coaster about a year or so ago because of the uncertainty and ups and downs with every visit. It was like having your stomach in your throat one minute and then in your butt the next! Now we’re getting our next tickets and getting back in line.

At this point, we’re moving forward. We have an appointment with our fertility specialists next week to see if this is a viable option. I mean, we literally have one shot. Is it time? Are we ready to be Mommy and Daddy? I guess we’ll see…because remember, when God closes a door, sometimes He opens a window.

~Trenae

 

We are Getting Twins??

I have always been a very intuitive person. Almost like it’s a sixth sense. When I was younger I would have dreams and see things and a lot of times they would happen. I know I know I sound crazy but you can ask my wife about just how many times it has happened.

For as long as I can remember I have had a reoccurring dream that I would someday be a father of twins. Strange I know most people hear about women dreaming about their wedding day or the day of the proposal but never a man dreaming of being a dad. Especially not dreaming about twins as young as sophomore year in college. When Trenae and I met the dreams occurred a lot more frequently. I knew for sure it was my intuition acting up again telling me that someday we will have twins. I always told her about this and what they looked like. A boy and a girl; The boy had my skin color and his mothers eyes and took the trait of both of us with dark chestnut brown hair. The girl ringlet curls with the same dark chestnut brown hair and piercing green eyes that looked so much like mine. Most people don’t dream in color but for some reason I always have. I always remember what my dreams are about and how vivid the colors are. This dream always made my heart warm because it told me there was still hope that we would have our family some day.

It wasn’t until we started going through all the fertility stuff that it dawned on me just how likely this “dream” may become a reality. One that scared me but excited me at the same time. Before we found out IVF wasn’t in the cards for us Trenae and I talked about how many embryos we would implant if given the opportunity. We both agreed two was a good number because it increased our likelihood of one of them taking and also gave us a 50/50 chance at twins. I could picture how ours lives would end up with these two precious little gifts. They would both play soccer before they ever truly understood what they were doing. Running around the field looking like a herd of cows chasing after the ball while I chased after them telling them where to go and Trenae cheered them on from the side lines. I saw them learning how to swim before they could walk, you know the good old fashion way that I learned; throwing them in while you wait to catch them. I had our whole lives planned out and it seemed so close I could almost touch it until my fingers graze the dream and it disappears into the sky. Once we found out IVF wasn’t going to happen for us the dreams slowly stopped happening. They faded until I didn’t have dreams about kids at all anymore for a couple of months.

One of the ways I cope with my new found reality of infertility is talking to people about it. For some reason this is therapeutic for me to tell my story. It gives me a sense of support that sometimes I feel I do not have. Being that I work in doctors offices on a regular basis the ones that I am close with will ask me the question; “When are you having kids?” I chose to open up to some of them and tell our “situation” and almost always they are very supportive and some ask lots of questions. The questions don’t bother me so much as when I hear well you’re just overthinking it or guess it’s not meant to be. This rarely happens though. One particular time I opened up to one of my favorite Nurse practitioners at lunch. She asked me how married life was treating me and if we had found a new house yet to which I replied married life is amazing and yes we have found one they accepted our offer. She already knew the reason we were buying a larger home, and not just because we would need the space if we welcomed a little one or two into our lives. She knew that we were buying a new house because once we started the home study process we would be stuck in our house that we had already outgrown. We would lose all the blood, sweat, tears, and not to mention money that we had invested for nothing. She then asked me about where we are in the adoption process and told me that she’s always keeping her ears open if she comes across someone in a situation where they are looking to put their child up for a adoption. I thanked her for always checking on me and didn’t think anything else of it.

Weeks later this same Nurse Practitioner says to me I need to talk to you. She said it in such a manner that I thought something had happened to a patient on the medication I sell or I offended her in some way. She pulled me into the lunch room and said I have something to tell you… I have a patient that is pregnant with twins. My first thought was well that’s great for her why are you telling me this. Until I remember our previous conversation just weeks before. She says The young girl has already said she cant take care of the two little girls when she has them. I am trying to hold it together at this point and not get my hopes up. She then asks me if we have moved into the new house yet and I told her it doesn’t happen for a couple more weeks. I tell her how perfect it would be for the stars to align like this and how we have a room already designated for a future nursery and there’s a beautiful playhouse in the backyard. She then asks me what I have been waiting to hear for a long time, “would you be willing to adopt them?” Without a doubt I said yes but I would need to check with my wife first. Keep in mind this is already an extremely stressful time. We are buying a new house (of which the process was made extremely difficult by the sellers), selling our current home and settling all within hours of one another. I knew bringing the girls into the picture would create more stress but it was a good stress. The kind of stress we had yearned for, for quite some time. I run home and tell Trenae the news and of course she is on board. I tell her not to get her hopes up even though both of ours were at this point. We finally felt like everything was coming together. She secretly was pinning things on pinterestg for the nursery we would be creating as soon as we moved in. I was thinking about names for our little girls. We were both so touched that this nurse practitioner thought of us to be their parents.

The weeks up to settlement on our new house flew by but not without a lot of bumps in the road. When buying a house you always expect something to pop up because that’s just how it goes, but we couldn’t have planned or prepared ourselves for the bump we were about to experience. I go into the office where the nurse practitioner works and she pulls me aside again. I am thinking I’m getting an update on the twins, and I was just the not one I wanted. She tells me I have some news, “the girl has decided to give the twins to her cousin. I tried to talk her out of it as the cousin already has nine children and she’s pregnant with the tenth. she’s unemployed and she can’t even take care of herself, but the girl wanted to keep the twins in the family. I am so sorry Steffan.”

I walked away trying to hold it together. I knew there was a chance of this but I truly thought this was going to be it for us. It was finally going to work out. We were two days away from settlement and this was the good news that we had waited for. Again I was wrong. I remember feeling complete sadness and dread to make the phone call and tell my wife. I knew she had been so excited about having two little girls. She was devastated, we both were. It all happened so quickly. I was hoping I would wake up from this nightmare but I didn’t. The twins were gone, our dream was gone. We were now an infertile couple living in a house with empty rooms and a playhouse with no one to play in it……

Steffan

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Anxiety Goes A Long Way

Guilt and failure. These are both two emotions that I struggle with on a daily basis. They often lead to major cases of anxiety, which are often self-induced. If I were to tell you today, I currently take 10 pills to manage my anxiety from my fear of failure and sometimes my guilt of living. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to harm myself or anything (and some of them double as migraine medication), but I go through periods of time where my anxiety gets so high from just living my daily life; things like spending $5 on a coffee, planning a vacation, or buying a new home, that I can hardly breathe. That I get chest pains. That I get nauseated. It’s awful.

For a while, I tried to hide these emotions and it was amazing how quickly they boiled over into my work, my marriage and my family. I didn’t know how to be myself anymore, or even remember who she was. I tried talk therapy and got nowhere, so needless to say…and say without shame, I’m totally medicated and I’m okay with that.

Since the time Steffan and I told our family and close friends about our inability to have our own children, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. The support we get and the guilt we feel is never-ending. We struggle all of the time with this delicate balancing act of how to save the mega bucks it takes for adoption, and still trying to have the semblance of a life that is one that looks like we’re actually living.

If we spent anything extra we both felt guilty. We lived in a modest ranch house that we had been in for almost five years, and were busting out of the seams, and knew we needed more room. As we started to do our research into the plethora of adoption outlets, we learned a lot about the cost; one thing we learned was that any money invested into home studies, etc. is lost if you move at any point during the process. So hypothetically, if we invested $10,000 and then decided it would behoove us to live in a bigger, “family” home, we could stand to lose all of that money and have to start over from square one. That led to a major life call, one that I was excited and nervous about at the same time…buying a bigger house.

Despite the fact that we knew it was the smart decision in the long run: get the family house and then the family, we were nervous about how that order of events would go over with people. In all actuality, we were nervous about how it would go over with us, I mean, we REALLY wanted the family, so how could we justify spending the money on the house before the child? I guess it shouldn’t matter; it’s our money, but it all goes back to what I said at the beginning: guilt and failure.

For a while, we thought every spare dime we had, needed to go to an adoption fund. We are at the point in our lives (early 30s) where if we want something, we can go out and buy it. We don’t Christmas presents or birthday presents anymore. We asked our families to just donate money to an adoption fund that we set up separately from our regular checking or savings. It pained us to think that our family or friends, thought the money they gave us was spent on something else. It wasn’t. I feel like the world is silently judging my choices and it eats away at me. I know it’s all in my head. I know we have the support of our friends and family, but each day we get older, and the thing we want most gets a little further out of reach.

Support is key in this type of event. There have been situations where unknowingly, or not meaningfully, people have insinuated we’re selfish for taking a trip or buying something expensive. What people don’t realize is we work with a financial planner constantly to see what our best options are to make sure we save money and live life.

I guess what it all comes down to is this: please be understanding that every couple who wants to adopt, does so with the passion of a thousand burning suns in their hearts, but we all get to a point where, if that’s all we focused on, we would fall apart in the most gut-wrenching sense of the word. We do all we can to keep our sanity while we endure failed fertility treatments, pregnant friends and family, and the ungodly cost of saving.

And there is always something new around the corner to keep you on your toes. For Steffan and I, the house we bought came smack dab with a beautiful swing set, complete with two slides, a climbing wall, sand box, and two swings. It stares at me while I do the dishes or play with my dogs. We’ve talked about selling it and getting rid of the constant reminder that who knows how far out of reach this dream of ours is, but then again, maybe having it will be a motivating factor to work harder than ever to get what we want.

~Trenae

Alone on an island

It has been days since my last post. Truth is I have been struggling both emotionally and mentally. We started this blog to bring awareness to everyone about what it’s like to go through infertility so people know how to handle it better. What I didn’t realize is all the emotions it would bring back up talking about our journey. For those of you that didn’t know this we have been on this journey for what is going on four years now. The passages that we have written about thus far happened years ago. So you can imagine after a few years have passed and blocking out some details its hard to revisit things you so desperately wanted to forget or for them to go away but they never truly do. This entry in the blog is different this entry is about now….

I have mentioned before about crying in my car when thinking about not being to have our own biological child but I never expected these feelings to come back up. I thought I had gotten through this part of the grieving process why is it coming back now? It may because I feel alone. Alone in the sense that not many men talk about infertility and when you bring it up they are uncomfortable and change the subject. I think most couples who have gone through infertility would be able to relate to this whether they have support systems or not. There is a sense of isolation with infertility. Like don’t ask don’t tell. That awkward moment when you get asked the question so when are you having little ones? or you know what they say about a new house that means a baby is on the way. If only people knew what that meant to a couple that would want nothing more than the stork to knock on that new door and drop the baby off (That is how it happens right?). There are times when we truly don’t want to talk about it anymore but there are also times when you want people to ask how you’re holding up and for someone to be there when you fall into a pile of mush. When you want someone there to tell you its going to be okay. And since I’m on the subject just from one infertile guy to the world please don’t ever say to a couple that is going through this everything happens for a reason. Probably one of the worst things known to man to say. That is telling them there’s a reason your being punished for not being able to be a parent naturally. I’m not by any means saying you have to walk on egg shells around couples going through this but just think before you speak. You wouldn’t walk up to a patient with cancer and say “Hey man there’s a reason you have cancer would you?” It’s not different; infertility is a sickness, a disease, one they haven’t found a cure for. Did you know that one in eight couples is effected by this? One in eight. Just take a second and think about that. I can guess you know more than eight couples right? So I am begging you world show some compassion before you ask the baby questions as you never know what a couple is going through. I have a friend that won’t tell anyone they are struggling with infertility so she just says we don’t want kids, and that’s fine because its easier for her but imagine the pain that is caused by a simple question. I get it we are human and we make mistakes its going to happen at some point in each of our lives but when you love someone and care for them just realize they are struggling and be there.

There’s no set timeline for grieving infertility like I said I thought I was over this I thought I was stronger but I am not! I am reminded of little things each and every day that I am infertile. It can be in a line at the grocery store when I see a baby in the cart in front of me and can’t help but make faces or wave and play peek a boo. Or When I look out my window and I see the dad down the street riding bikes with his two girls. It can happen at any moment and its never planned. I lost it this week and not just once twice. My timing was incredibly poor because it was my wife’s first week back to school and that in and of itself is emotionally draining, but then you come home to a husband that is in pieces all over the house and its your job to put him back together. It’s exhausting I am sure. She took a vow “In sickness and in health” and she stands by it. She my safety net when I fall behind closed doors. I don’t know what I would do without the support system I have developed over this last month. I have a few co workers that have been calling me this week and I know its because they are aware I’m having a hard time and they will never know what that means to me. Or my closest friend E listening to me vent about any and everything, But the outreach that got me more than anything this week was a friend I haven’t talked to in a while that sends me a message that they are going through the exact same situation. Literally the exact same. She shared such a raw thing with me just to tell me I’m not “Alone on an Island” that they are here for us because they have walked miles in our shoes. She knows what it feels like when the soles wear out but you’re still miles from your destination. She doesn’t know how perfect her timing was for me to get that message or the impact it had on me but I felt for the first time in a long time I had someone who truly understood and it helped me get through the day and pull myself together again. So I hope you’re reading this mystery friend you see the impact you had for reaching out and I hope everyone can take something away from this post to have compassion, be there when someone is hurting, and choose your words wisely. Until next time…..

 

Steffan

 

I would just be the oven…

It’s such an out-of-body experience to be told after two years that everything you and your husband have done in order to have your own baby, get you back to square one. As Steffan said, our doctor said we still had plenty of options, but as I heard them rattle off of his tongue, my mind began to race. I barely remember being in the room, except for him drawing a doodle of where they would implant a fertilized embryo if we decided to go along with IVF. It looked like a form of ancient hieroglyphics. We smiled and nodded as politely as we could could and then stepped out of his office and followed him into the equivalent of the principal’s office…FINANCE! Oh yes, don’t forget friends, if you can’t lie down and make a baby yourself (or stand up — whatever your preference may be?), you better start forkin’ out the cash…co-pays, lab slip pays for blood draws, and not to mention whatever shenanigans this finance office was going to come up with.

Out came what I like to lovingly call the “folder of doom” and looked at the papers, projections, and numbers.The price for medication for one round of IVF was about $1500. The entire cost came to about $30,000. After that, any that we didn’t use could be put in cryopreservation  (eggs, embryos and sperm) if it didn’t take and that would cost $7,000 and then an additional $700 a year, every year, until we used them. Before we left, the finance lady made sure to remind us that none of this would be covered by insurance as I would be carrying an embryo fertilized with sperm from a donor who was not my husband. A stranger. Family or not. He would never be Steffan; never have his laugh, his eyes or the one side where his eyelashes curl up like a curling wand has been taken to them. This child would never have those eyes that go from brown, to green, to hazel depending on the sun or his mood. And this child certainly wouldn’t have his ridiculous, sometimes vulgar sense of humor.

We left her office and said we would be in touch and that we would think about all of the options she presented. We got in the car and we were silent. It was morning, and again, I had taken another day off from teaching my actual kids to focus on having one of my own, now seeming ever more out of reach. Before we got out of the parking garage, I broke down crying…I was doing that a lot those days. All I could say was, “It won’t be yours. It won’t be yours.” Damn the insurance companies, I don’t really care about the cost, but I couldn’t believe after all that we had been through: surgeries, blood draws, the ups and downs of telling our families that we thought this could be the time we get good news! I lost it. I cried all of the way to the diner we typically go to after our appointments. I pulled it together long enough to order breakfast, which I just pushed around the plate.

On the way home, Steffan tried to reassure me that he didn’t care if it wasn’t his sperm, he would love the child as if it was his own biologically, but I couldn’t help thinking like I was just the oven to carry a child that would never really be mine…never be ours. I made the decision at that point that it was either going to be a child from both of us, or neither of us; one of us was not going to have a greater genetic link to the child than the other. In my eyes that just wasn’t fair to him.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the generosity of my brother and sister-in-law for their awesome gift if we wanted it. I was on board with it for a while. But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the knowledge that what would be growing inside me would only have a connection to me and not technically to Steffan. I didn’t want that for my family.

Each day my anxiety began to grow, like I was somehow a letdown. I’ve always tried to be a strong woman, my parents instilled that in me. I lead in the classroom, and I lead in life. And for once, I couldn’t lead. A woman’s body is designed to have a child, and I just made the ultimate decision that mine would never do what it was intended to. I started to feel this failure complex I had never experienced before and didn’t know how to handle. I came home every day after work crying. I would blame it on a bad day, tough kids, you name it; in all actuality it was me coming to terms with my own reality. I still am. There is an ebb and flow to a situation like this. I have my good days and my bad days.

There are times where I daydream about what Steffan and my biological child(ren) would have looked like, what they would have been like. Would she have my blue eyes and his skin? Would he have my laugh and his athleticism (let’s hope so, because if I’m running, you better follow!) I get mad at those times. I feel cheated at those times. I cry at those times.

Other times, I imagine the possibilities of who is out there, waiting to be our son or daughter. Maybe this is why Steffan and I were meant to meet. Was it kismet? Was there something in the beyond pushing us toward each other, knowing we were supposed to be together because we would only be able to handle this tough of a situation together? Perhaps. I’ll never know. I’m not supposed to.

What I do know, is that we’re ready. Someone once told me, as she laughed, that she couldn’t wait until we had our child, because she wanted me to see that it wouldn’t fix all of my problems. That it wouldn’t be a “cure all”. I know that. But for both of us (and I’m speaking for Steffan here), there is an emptiness that is waiting to be filled with the love we can give a child.

Who knows, maybe that kiddo is already out there…