Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Anger Stage

I talked to the psychologist yesterday, and even though I still think she could have been more professional, even though I still think the tone of our meetings was not constructive, it seems like maybe we may have dodged a bullet when this arrangement fell apart.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived at the angry stage of my surrogacy failure.

The psychologist told me some new things about the surrogate, let's call her M, that are troubling. That one of the first things out of M's mouth during their individual meeting was that no agency would accept her because "this is my body and pregnancy, and no one is going to tell me what to do." Suffice it to say, this is not how she presented herself to me. M also told the psychologist that no one would mentor her in her business, because they "don't want to mentor the competition" (I guess the millions of mentors out there are always from different industries from their mentees in her imaginary world). And apparently her choice to home school was not because she deems herself a more suitable teacher for her children, but due to conflict with her school system. All of this, the psychologist said, was conveyed with a certain belligerence. A sense that she is perched on a moral high ground, not only on the termination point, but in life in general.

It explains why the psychologist entered into our group meeting with an assertiveness toward the surrogate that I found in the moment, without this recently acquired knowledge, to be unprofessional. I still think she could have controlled herself a bit and tried to create a meeting of the minds, or construct a new understanding for M on the necessary mindset for a surrogate -- and maybe M could have stretched herself to make it work. But it makes sense why she approached it the way she did. She said she's screened hundreds of surrogates and no one had ever presented herself to her the way M did. Yikes.

What doesn't make sense is why M would try to be a surrogate in the first place. It offends me that, by making this all about her, she is flouting the real pain and angst that couples who arrive at surrogacy are experiencing. We need someone who can put her own agenda aside and make a healthy baby by listening to the parents and the doctors, and then, in turn, get paid for her efforts. It's not like we were going to suggest an experimental treatment on her, or ask her to give birth in a treehouse. She needed to let go of control and trust us too.

The conversation with the psychologist was healing in a way, because after I got the email from M, my first instinct was self-flagellation. Surely, I thought, there must be something wrong with me, because no one -- no one -- has this kind of luck repeatedly. I must be attracting bad luck and bad people, or otherwise f-ing things up with my PTSD-laced behavior and communication. It turns out that it really was just the bad luck of choosing someone who presented herself as a great candidate to me, but let her borderline personality hang out with the psychologist (Which, by the way? Isn't very smart. Did she not get that this person represented our interests and could block the whole thing?).

I still had to pay the psychologist yesterday. Her bill was $699. I couldn't even write the check -- I had to have my husband do it. Do you know what I could have done with $699? This is in addition to the approximately $8k we already invested in this surrogate.

[I had a whole rant here with additional specific and angry points about what went down with M. It made me feel crappy and petty to have it out there. Tearing her down, even if my points are legitimate, is not going to make anything better. So I'm deleting them, but I have to say it made me feel better to write them out.]

But there's still this: gallows humor. While writing the check to the psychologist, my husband offered that he could draw stick figures in the memo line. Perhaps stick figures in compromising positions. He didn't do it, but I love him for suggesting it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Foiled Again.

Have you ever wondered if you're cursed? If you kicked dogs in a past life? If someone is trying to tell you to stop, just stop, for the love of grace, stop?

We got so far this time. So far. She came out with her husband in June. Things looked just ducky with her medically. We liked them both personally. Then the psychologist came in for that screening and fucked everything up.

The main issue was around the possibility of termination. This is such a deeply personal, not to mention politically charged issue, and I cannot handle the possibility of this post turning into a commentary on that, because I deeply respect the nuances of this issue. But here's what I will say. If you're thinking about surrogacy, make sure you know exactly where your potential surrogate stands on this issue. Moreover -- and here's what we didn't know -- make sure that, even if you feel with 100% certainty that you would never, ever terminate, no matter what, even if someone's life depended on it, make sure your surrogate is willing to give you the final word on it in your contract. Even if you agree in theory going in, the final word should optimally be yours, because you can't predict how you might feel in the moment, if a doctor tells you your child might suffer. And also, you need to know that even if she says in her contract that it is completely up to you, that she would terminate at your request for any reason, to choose surrogacy is to revoke the certainty that you can make that decision about your baby. Because even if she gives you the power to decide in your contract, in fact there is no court in this great land that can make someone terminate a pregnancy. In the one devastating case out there in the news, the surrogate said she was open to terminate, but then changed her mind when the fetus was diagnosed with a severe syndrome. And it just gets sadder from there.

I wish I had known all of this. Even though the surrogate and I were on the same page up to 99% of the matter, it turned out there was a gray area where my husband and I were a bit more liberal. Where we wanted the reassurance that ultimately, that would be our own decision to make.

I would have known this if I had used an agency. And I would have used an agency if money were no object. But it is an object.

Basically the psychologist handled this issue very, very badly, and I think that was a greater obstacle than anything else. The beginning of the end. Her unprofessional and glib approach created an air of defensiveness and distrust among the four of us that we never recovered from. And as an aside, I now need somehow handle her $700 invoice when she may have ruined my chances of having another baby.

That wasn't the only thing that happened. The surrogate got nervous after that conversation, but we always felt better when we talked about it openly. Then our financial picture changed a bit. My husband had been doing extra work to fund this operation and that got shut down unexpectedly early. So we were on hold for about a week sorting through that obstacle. And then the surrogate complained that she didn't want to use a lawyer for her contract review that my lawyer recommended, and it felt like maybe she was going to push back on everything. And our communication started to break down. And then last night, she dropped the bomb on me via email at 10 p.m. She is out. I think she is not used to this kind of complication when it comes to making a baby, and it terrified her.

And now I need to figure out how to live in a world where I have embryos that never see the light of day. Because I think I'm finally, finally seeing that this is never going to happen.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The possibility of yes

It always arrives, anew. It unfolds like petals. After March 2014 I thought it might be gone for good. But it's here again.

It's the glimpse at the night stars and the feeling that maybe there's a thread from this world to infinity, to fate, to something bigger. To magic. To a preordained happy ending. It's the sense that maybe everything you thought, you feared, could be wrong. It lets you daydream, even if it's just a little toe dip in it. Dickinson called it "the thing with feathers." Hope.

It helps that we're doing this in summer, when life is all around again, all joy and forward motion and yes.

Our surrogate (hopefully) and her husband arrive this weekend, and the process of getting to our last try begins for real. I thought I would be more anxious than I am.

I went to spinning class tonight (because, damn, it feels good to take care of myself again), and while I was short of breath and pushing and feeling the rush, Florence Welch sang to me that it's always darkest before the dawn.

Could it be?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Day in the Life of My Brain

E! News: Next, Kim Kardashian opens up to E! about her long struggle to conceive baby #2. 

Really? Her long struggle? She doesn't know about a long struggle. If she'd needed surrogacy, she could have paid for it from her change jar.

I am a bad person. If I were evolved and decent, I would be happy for her. I would welcome her into the infertility and loss clan with open arms.

But why couldn't my struggle end happily? Why am I cursed? Will the curse continue with this next round? Or is it like starting fresh when you use someone else's uterus?

Maybe we're crazy for doing this. What if we spend all of this money to get to transfer and it doesn't work? Then we'll be stressed about money and still without a second baby. Will I regret doing it?

Maybe we should forget it.

Maybe we should adopt.

Adoption is hard.

I want to adopt my own embryos.

I can't just leave them there. It's not fair to H. We are stewards of his biological brothers. This is a lifetime bond and he deserves a shot at it. It's not even our decision to make. They exist, and we need to give them a chance.

Most people don't have to spend $50,000 to have a baby. Why me? It is so unfair.

I'm a prisoner. There is no escape but to move forward. I don't even dare to hope that this might end happily.

Where's the chocolate?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Taking Care of Me

When you're after a baby and circumstances make that difficult, it's pretty common to let yourself go a bit.

I finally woke up to the reality I'm sure everyone else could see: the weight I was holding on to was much more than pregnancy weight. It was the weight of thousands of tears, of seeking small comfort in sugar, carbs and wine. It suddenly dawned on me that I was holding myself back with this pattern of instant gratification. And I stopped doing it, cold turkey.

I don't think I've had a bite of refined carb in two weeks. I'm still allowing myself wine in moderation on weekends and the occasional special event during the week. And I feel fantastic. I'm noticeably thinner and have more energy, and my skin breakouts (another topic for another day) have cleared considerably.

Before H, sticking with a PCOS-friendly (low carb/sugar) diet was a way for me to feel in control and stay healthy as I tried to conceive. I slipped after he was born, then started conceiving naturally -- so I guess it registered that maybe it was unnecessary. Then came the miscarriages and the medicating with food. But it's a new day. My body is mine again, and I need to take care of it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Yesterday, we took H to the library for story time. My husband (who works from home) wanted to go too, because they were doing a special tour of the conveyor belt book return system and, well, he's a guy and likes such things.

On our way downstairs for the tour, there was a gaggle of moms talking about how wild the boys in the class were, and how one of them should know because she has three of them. You can imagine where the conversation went. She should have another! She'd get her girl! Oh she hadn't decided on a fourth yet.

Decided. A fourth child. A question of will, not of chance. Not of daring and struggling or pain and suffering.

R and I met eyes. I explained later that I encounter some form of that conversation at least once daily. He shrugged his shoulders as he does. What can we do? That's how it is for most people.

I'm tired, guys. I'm just tired of it all. Tired of waiting, and wondering. Tired of still wanting something that's so hard. Tired of this horrible position I'm in, of having the first half of what I want in the freezer, and a horribly unclear and difficult path ahead for the second half -- yet no alternative. What can I do? Let them go? It's impossible. I have to do it. And I'm terrified.

Mostly, what scares me at this moment is that the clinic will say yes to the truly lovely potential surrogate we've found, whose records they are reviewing. And we will go down this path with her and spend all the money and then something will happen -- she won't get pregnant, or she will and we'll bring her into our reproductive den of doom. And then we'll have less money and still no baby.

That line of thought leads me to adoption. From there, I'm with the embryos, and knowing for sure that if we adopt it will bring us joy but also horrible pain over letting those embryos go. And possibly regret, and possibly some low-lying resentment toward the adopted child. Which obviously cannot be allowed to happen. Around and around we go.

And then I wish we didn't have the embryos. And then, horrible guilt over that thought. Then anger over being in this terrible predicament with no one to bail us out. With nothing to do but keep going and take the risk.

When I look at H and feel a sense of loss over the early childhood/pre-school years I can see evaporating before my eyes, I don't know if I should feel hopeful that we might do it again, or if I should cling more closely to this time, because it's the only experience of it we'll have. The answer is probably both, but the way I experience it is pure and painful limbo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Modern Medicine

About a year ago (I am still too traumatized to look at dates or otherwise dive too deeply into the day), I was rushed to the hospital where they had to do a second D&C to remove the remaining pieces of my poor, broken baby.

My broken heart is another matter. Those pieces are still coming back together.

I want to mark this unfortunate anniversary with a comment on our health care system with regard to OB/GYN care. Miscarriage -- and other unfortunate complications of pregnancies -- is incredibly common, yet there remains a huge disconnect in the way providers address women who present with it. Warning signs are dismissed. News delivered insensitively, even harshly. Hurtful offhanded comments made. The entire (hugely relevant) emotional experience of miscarriage remains largely -- notwithstanding the rare, evolved obstetrician -- ignored.

I have been handed ER discharge forms referencing "fetal parts." Been told it's probably nothing. Given advice about it being meant to be, and told to "just try again." Last year, I called the doctor with a huge warning sign the day before I hemorrhaged at home and bought myself an ambulance ride, and was told to "monitor it" and call on Monday for an ultrasound. I still think about how nice it would have been to avoid one of the most significant traumas of my life by being brought in, calmly told there was remaining tissue and brought to the OR without drama.

And then, perhaps the most significant indignity of all, the one I shake my head at every time it pops in. After the second D&C, they brought my loopy, exhausted, shattered self upstairs to the maternity floor to recover. They put an ice pack in a newborn diaper for me to use. I heard cries through the walls. I had to see that fucking hospital channel that tells you how to take care of the baby you just had, if you were lucky enough to bring it out alive.

Get it together, doctors.

To every girl who has been there, may your own moments have made you a little tougher, a little wiser, a little kinder, a little better. "In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer." -Albert Camus.

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