Brandon and I have always wanted a large family. When we were dating, he used to joke that we'd keep having children until we had two girls, whenever that may be, because he didn't think he could handle three girls :) In 2004, with the news that my uterus needed to be chunked in the biohazard bin, that dream all but died. It's hard to describe knowing that something is impossible yet wanting it more than you can handle. We looked into different ways to expand our family but none felt right. Then in 2006, I found gestational surrogacy and the idea that we could still have biological children with the help of someone exceptional. There were lots of roadblocks in the way of that dream but we spent the next three years pursuing it and November 29, 2009, Abram was born after a nearly flawless journey from IVF cycle to birth. (If you want more on that check out my posts from March 2009-December 2009. I recently did and was moved emotionally back to that incredible place.)
With Abram, we made the decision to be open books about surrogacy and our struggle to become parents for a third time. I chronicled the whole thing here and for our facebook friends and family. There really was nothing hidden and I felt great about that. I wanted to be an avenue for information to anyone curious about surrogacy and a champion for "normal" couples everywhere that needed reproductive help. Our surrogate, Dawn, got pregnant the first try. We had no embryos left from that IVF cycle and felt that was our answer to whether we'd ever pursue a fourth child. But again, the thought of one more time was never far from our minds.
After getting the all clear on my health at the beginning of the year, we began to entertain the idea of another journey. Dawn is happily retired and the thought of not only having to do IVF again, but also finding another surrogate to help us was daunting. Could we be so fortunate again? Over the past few years, I have developed many relationships with surrogates and intended parents from across the nation. I quietly spread the word within the surrogacy community that we were contemplating a second journey. In May, I found out my friend, Ivy, was also looking to match. We've known each other for a while and I instantly felt this could work. After some wonderful chats, we officially matched. We were all very excited but something about this time felt very different to me. For reasons I don't even know myself, we decided to keep it private. With surrogacy, I don't get that moment of finding out I'm pregnant and sharing that with my husband. We share it with another couple and although it is still special and intimate in its own way, it's different. I felt like I wanted it to be between us and no one else. So, that's what we did.
We began to cycle at the beginning of July. I had egg retrieval the beginning of August and we transferred our only two surviving embryos three days later. The next two weeks waiting for the blood test were pure torture. I was sick as a dog from retrieval and home pregnancy tests can be the devil. I can't even put in to words the emotional ups and downs we all went through those weeks. One thing I can say, I am forever grateful to Ivy for putting herself in a position of heartbreak for Brandon and me. It's amazing to me that anyone would willingly sign up for such pain for someone else. I mean, you sign up knowing bad things may happen, but really you sign up to get pregnant and deliver a baby, trying all on its own, you don't really expect to have your heart ripped out and trampled on or a crazy up and down ride through fire.
All that to say, it didn't work. I thought I had been through it all. I thought I knew what it was like to receive that news, but I didn't and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried more than I have cried in memory. In that time of gut wrenching heartache, I realized that I didn't feel like I could really vent those feelings because we had chosen to keep the experience private, for the most part. I'm one of those crazy people who want my experiences to have meaning. I want to feel like the things I go through have a purpose. Being quiet about this made it feel like that couldn't happen, like not sharing it was acting like it didn't happen at all. It did happen and I need to honor that.
So, here I am, coming out, so to speak. We long for more children, something a lot of people don't understand. We can't make that happen by ourselves and there is NO shame in that. We don't have to accept the hand that infertility dealt us. We're grieving what could have been in the form of two embryos that, for whatever reason, were not meant to become little humans we'd hold in our arms. And, ready or not, I'm taking you all along for the rest of this ride. We plan to try again in October. This time, we expect Ivy's in for a long, pregnant nine months carrying our precious cargo and we'll all be grateful for every minute!