More drugs to ‘fix’ things

We’re going to change my antidepressant.  I knew it weeks ago (in fact, I probably mentioned it in some long, wordy blog post) but what I was on was just not working.  Well, now the overpriced psychiatrist finally agrees with me.  So we’ll try a new pill.

I should be delivering a beautiful baby girl in 3 weeks and a new pill is supposed to make it better that I won’t ever get to hold her?  It’ll make it better that she was scraped out of me on Mother’s Day at 16 weeks gestation instead of me laboring with her and hearing that first cry.  Some pill is going to make me not hate my body and hate myself every day for the rest of my life?  Doubtful.

The psychiatrist asked about my daily schedule and how I function.  I don’t.  All I do is take care of Sweetie.  That’s all I have the strength for and many days I barely have that.  We were supposed to go to all these fun classes together this fall- half the time we don’t go because I just can’t face other people and every class but one we signed up for has a pregnant woman or a woman that brings her little infant and her toddler.  Some days we get in the car and drive to a park and we turn around and go home if I see other people there-  other mothers with multiple children, other mothers who are pregnant.  I just can’t do it.  It’s just another way that I’m ruining her life- not only does my body kill her siblings, my f*cked up mental state is taking her away from playdates, classes and library storyhours.

Sweetie is too beautiful and sweet and lovable.  She’s all I live for and I don’t think that’s good for her anymore.   Every moment I look at her I know that having me as a mother is going to mess her up.  I’m just too far gone.  I look at potentially having a surrogate carry another baby for us and I don’t even know why I think I deserve that, why I should have more children when I know what I’m like inside now?  Broken.  Shattered.  Beyond fixing.

How to be a parent after loss

After miscarriages #1, #2, and #3, my biggest fear was that I would never get to be a mother.  I wanted nothing more and the thought that I would not get to someday be a mother just paralyzed me.

Then I had my Sweetie and being a mom just felt natural.  It just felt SO right.  I didn’t have many of the fears that I heard other first time moms talking about.  This is not to say I thought I was better or doing everything perfect, but I really just felt at ease.  I knew I was doing the very best I could and I didn’t sweat the small stuff.  I really worked hard to enjoy every moment (I know, the cliche that most moms can’t stand).  I loved this Mom role so much that I couldn’t fathom not doing this again.

And then I had two more early miscarriages before my Sweetie was even 15 months old.  And my 3rd loss when she was 19 months old.  I look back at pictures from so many memories with her that should just be happy and I instantly remember:  “Oh, that was the trip we took right after I miscarried #4, I couldn’t take Sweetie swimming because I was still bleeding.”  “That was the Thanksgiving we celebrated right before miscarriage #5.”  “That was our happy family vacation when I was 6 weeks pregnant with Abby”  Now I feel like her entire life has been so marked by my losses of her potential siblings that I’m just doing her a huge injustice.

I am less of a mother since losing my Abby.  I regret that more than anything else (and that’s saying a lot).  Where I used to have (pretty close to) endless patience and be playful and fun and sing songs, now I’m on edge and constantly fighting back tears.  I can’t sing so many songs to her now because I just start crying (try singing ‘You are my Sunshine’ when you’re depressed/grieving without crying).  I don’t want to look at pictures with her because I play the ‘before miscarriage/after miscarriage’ thing in my mind and it drives me crazy.   I use so much energy during the day trying to act ‘normal’ or like my old self with Sweetie.  And there are so many moments when I just want to scream–  not at her (and I don’t) but because she doesn’t understand and I just want to explode.  But I shudder to think what will happen as she gets older and does understand.  I can’t handle my guilt now, how will I handle it as it grows exponentially?

Sweetie is so into ‘baby dolls’ now like many other toddlers her age-  she brings them over to me and says ‘Mommy feed baby’ or ‘Mommy read to baby’ and I just want to throw the baby doll across the room.  I want MY baby, her little sister.  Not some lifeless plastic doll that reminds me yet again of what I’ve lost.  I’ve tried to hide the baby dolls, and then she cries and wails and asks relentlessly for them.  Believe me, that’s far worse.  I hear myself in her and it breaks what little is left of my heart.

Parenting is hard.  Parenting after losing 6 of your babies is harder.

 

 

 

It makes me sick

My husband, Sweetie and I went out for brunch and some shopping today. I guess Sunday morning jaunts like this are another advantage of not having Sunday morning church.

I didn’t love my brunch entree, but it was nice to not have to cook for Sweetie (who has become increasingly picky, picky, picky about the food I put in front of her!).  I also didn’t love that this whole outing turned out to be a minefield day for me.

Pregnant moms with 3-4 kids in the restaurant, pregnant cashier, mom with 2(ish) month old twins. Everywhere I looked they were jumping out at me and my stomach just rolls.  I feel like I can’t look anywhere so I just focus on the floor and realize that I don’t even look people in the eye anymore.

Then there’s walking in the department store.

Past the maternity section… My stomach sinks and tightens more.  Not that I fit those anyway when I was pregnant.  But I’m still picturing what my 30 week bump should look like right now.  I tell myself to stop it and try to walk faster and will my husband to keep up.

Past the newborn clothing that I should be needing next month… The lump in my throat grows and I try to swallow it down but fail.  I try to convince myself that I was having another girl and I wouldn’t have ‘needed’ to buy any of those precious, teeny-tiny outfits since I already have them from Sweetie.  It doesn’t work well.  Walk faster.

Finally on into the toddler section to buy some fall outfits for Sweetie. I’m pawing through the shelves looking at some mix and match shirts and leggings. My husband lets Sweetie out of the stroller (why in the heck, I don’t know!) and she runs up and pulls two shirts off the bottom shelf and says ‘want this-a one’ and ‘kitty’. I see that the one shirt did have a cat on it and then I look at the other shirt and lose it.

Tears and a giant sob.

It said ‘World’s Best Big Sister’.

And then the contents of my stomach jump out and I throw up right there on the floor.

I bolted. Tears streaming down my face and wiping my mouth as I ran to the car. I left my poor husband with a half full cart of clothes and a mess to report to the sales clerk.

I never throw up. I have a cast iron stomach. Seven pregnancies and I never once threw up no matter how much nausea I had.

Yet today I lost my brunch today when it smacked me in the face how much this cruel world has taken from us. What was taken from my Sweetie, who should be a big sister in less than 2 months.  She could have been a big sister three times over by now, but nope.

It literally makes me sick.

Surrogacy Battles: Part 3 (the cost)

Surrogacy feels like it’s gotten popular in the last decade or so.  Several times a year, it seems there are announcements about celebrity x or y who has used a surrogate to carry their child(ren).  I don’t envy them because I know they are in a similar sucky position of not being able to carry themselves, but I do envy that the financial hit for them is probably nothing like it is to the average couple.

Surrogacy is not cheap.  We are digging into money that had many other purposes to even begin to fathom paying for a surrogacy journey.  We are putting off things like remodeling, updating cars, eating out, taking vacations, etc.  to be able to afford surrogacy.  This is a massive new stress that I never had contemplated, needing to pay all these extra people who will help with various angles along the process.

A brief estimate on costs if you are not familiar with the surrogacy process (and keep in mind, this is just from my reading and limited experience at the moment):

IVF cycle with PGS (we already paid this when we intended to transfer to me, but I still count it in the total as it is what created our embryos)- $18k

Agency (not required, you can do a journey independently but it’s nice to have the protection and matching service that an agency provides.  There is such a wide variety in cost and every agency seems to include different things in the process)- $10-25k

Lawyers (for us and our surrogate)- $3-8k, plus $3-5k for filing the pre-birth order to establish us as parents

Medical bills for surrogate (who knows?! So many group insurance policies do not cover surrogacy anymore and many others will not give you individual coverage that includes maternity at the moment.  Then there is the massive fear that we get done with this process and the insurance company takes back all their payments leaving us with massive medical debt)- $2k-15k+

Compensation for surrogate (this one is the easiest fee to pay out, IMHO.  I’m so thankful that anyone would do this for us that I do not begrudge them compensation for doing this for a person they barely know)- $20-30k plus $3-5k more for twins

Expenses for surrogate ( When someone is carrying your baby, they should not ever have any out of pocket expenses, so we cover things like prenatals, mileage, childcare for appointments, etc)- $3k+

Fees for surrogate (these include some of the less desirable things to pay for- fees for various procedures, fees for a D&C, fees for starting meds, fees for each embryo transfer, fees for having a c-section)- varies widely

Travel expenses (Either having our surrogate travel to our clinic and/or us traveling to be at appointments with our surrogate)- We’ll try to use reward points, etc to save a bit here whenever possible

So at the very minimum, this will probably cost us $80,000 at the upper level it could go up to $125,000+.  Whew, that’s such a scary number.

I was raised to be very thrifty, but there are unfortunately not many things you can do to make surrogacy much cheaper.  Most Reproductive Endocrinologists and lawyers don’t have coupons to print or double coupon days ;)! It makes we wary sometimes to try to use cheaper providers because if it’s not done right the first time, it often ends up costing more to fix.  I also don’t want to try to save money by taking away reasonable compensation from whomever carries our child.   There are some things that we will do to try to make this less of a financial hit- like I said above about using rewards points for travel and negotiating inclusive costs with lawyers, etc.

It’s still daunting.  I’m trying not to let this be (yet another) thing that I’m bitter about.  Not only do most other women get pregnant easily AND not miscarry AND THEN they don’t have to spend six figures to have a child.  I just can’t think about that today.  I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara and think about that tomorrow.

Not spending the money (ie, just stopping our journey and living with the one child we have) is just not an option yet.  There’s nothing my husband and I want more- any child is worth far more money than we could sink into this process.  The flipside of this is that this is money that would have been put away for my children’s college or other expenses while growing up that they will not have anymore.  It also makes my decision to stay at home with Sweetie that much harder, because trying to do this on my husband’s income (and our savings) is just scary.  So I may have to go back to work sooner rather than later and Sweetie will no longer have me stay home with her because of needing to pay for surrogacy to grow our family.  Just not fair, but at least it’s within our grasp to be able to try this.   I am vowing to not let the money side of this make me more bitter.  It’s just money.

Surrogacy Battles- Part 1 (the ‘choice’)

We have several frozen embryos left from my second IVF attempt.  When I was pregnant with Abby, I looked at that pile of embryos and actually worried that we had too many.  We didn’t lightly decide to do IVF and I don’t believe in destroying any embryos that are viable/created (personally… I know others feel differently and that’s ok, too).  So I was actually worried about needing to transfer all those embryos for future pregnancies- would I really have to do that many more frozen transfers and possible pregnancies?  (Silly me, look what happens when I worry about things like that)  Then I lost Abby and my uterus’s ability to carry a pregnancy and now I look at that tiny batch of embryos and worry if they will be enough.  Will I have even one child more from that set of embryos?

I think almost every  infertile woman who has a blog has some sort of blog post about adoption.  I would wager every single one of us has heard the ‘why don’t you just adopt?’ question from a friend or family member.  As if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.  The reality most of us find is that adoption is a very, very difficult path that is full of rules, hoops, and few guarantees.  I looked into adoption for us after our first few miscarriages.  I was shut out immediately by several agencies- we hadn’t been married long enough, we weren’t religious enough, age was a factor, etc.  I was told by others that they had huge waiting lists and were not accepting any new couples at the time.

Biology is not what’s most important to me (in fact, with my family history of cancer and depression and endless other health issues, I wonder sometimes if an egg donor wouldn’t have been a better choice for future children than using my genetic material… but I digress).  Biology does matter to my husband, and I respect his opinion.  So honestly, adoption is just not the best decision for our family.  And we turn to surrogacy.  We have the biology (our embryos) and we have the ‘guarantee’ that no one is allowed to change their mind and parent our child.

I do feel that our embryos that we created should have a chance, I can’t just decide to destroy our little frozen embabies.  It was going to be a chance in my uterus, but now that this is not an option I’m certain that they will have better odds in a gestational carrier’s uterus.  And face it, I feel like I deserve the odds being just a little bit in my favor now, right?

I don’t expect surrogacy to be an easy road.  I don’t know how it will feel having another woman carry my baby.  I have to give up a  ton of control (even more than you give up when you are dealing with infertility and RPL).  I don’t get to feel my baby moving inside me, which was my favorite part of pregnancy.  I don’t get to give birth, which was my second favorite part of pregnancy.  But when I worry about missing those things, I know that what’s important is having the baby and raising the baby.   For me, pregnancy is just a means to accomplish that, nothing more and nothing less.  Maybe I would feel differently if I had never carried a baby to term, I guess it’s just not something I feel I have to do anymore.  I know I don’t watch Sweetie run around like a crazy toddler and immediately think back to being pregnant with her.  I’m not any less of a mother because I didn’t do the pregnancy piece.  So while there will be a small hole of time missed by not carrying my future baby, it’s a sacrifice that makes sense.

I will still get to participate in appointments and ultrasounds (as much as travel allows).  I want to try to induce lactation (and given that I nursed Sweetie for over a year and my milk came in after my 16w loss, it’s highly likely I can do this) so I can hopefully breastfeed my future child.  It won’t be the ‘same’, but honestly, I’m so burnt out on the ‘same’ that this isn’t the worst thing.

I will get some piece of mind and hopefully a little healing.  It feels so relieving to think that the success or failure of a pregnancy will no longer have anything to do with my body.  That alone is worth going through the process of surrogacy.  I think.  (I guess I’ll evaluate when/if we come out on the other end, right?)

What’s the worst that can happen?

So my husband and I are not on the best of terms right now, but we’re trying.  Trying to communicate, trying to pretend that we aren’t as bad off as we probably are.  Anyway, we started having another discussion about this (potential) upcoming FET.

His opinions in a nutshell:

Why not go for it? MMB:  Let me list a few (hundred) reasons.  Or, maybe not even a few hundred- let’s just list 6 failed pregnancies out of 7.  When you have shitty odds, you don’t exactly expect lightening to strike you again (in a good way).  He knows what a toll this has taken on my body, on my mental state, on our relationship, on my ability to be a good mother for our daughter, I really just don’t get how he can even ask this.  

It seems stupid to sit around and wait for a surrogate candidate to be identified when you ‘know’ you can get pregnant. MMB: Um, sure, I can get pregnant, but how does that equate to a take-home-baby when it comes down to my uterus?  And what if I don’t get pregnant this time?  Lots of women have failed transfers.  I’ve had two ‘successful’ transfers take, what if this is my 1 in 3 that doesn’t work?  There’s a new way for me to have a failed outcome that I’d rather not experience.

At least it will give you something to do in the meantime (while waiting for a surrogate). MMB: Hmm, as if I don’t have anything else to do like take care of our toddler and try to make it through each day without imploding or exploding or getting arrested for assaulting some poor random pregnant woman who triggers me. 

We should definitely transfer 2 embryos because that increases our odds and we’ll save a few thousand dollars on not doing another FET if this one doesn’t work.  MMB: Yes, because we don’t really want twins it makes sense to transfer two.  And my body does such a bang-up job with carrying ONE baby, I should tempt it again with attempting to carry TWO?  We transferred two embryos last time (our first transfer and miscarriage #5 was a Single Embryo Transfer) and I was pregnant with two sacs but only one kept growing.

At least you’ll be trying again.  I would think that would be healing for you.  MMB: Who knows?  Right now it just seems to be giving me more anxiety.  But seriously, I think I’m past the point of thinking there’s anything really healing in all of this. 

Whats the worst that can happen?  MMB:  Are you kidding me?  I guess he thinks that the worst has already happened to us so somehow it won’t happen again?  If that’s the case, I hope against hope that we’ve been through the worst and it’s not going to happen again.  But I can no longer even pretend that I believe that this is true.  I tried to think that  after we had lost 5 babies and I was in the second trimester with Abby, that the worst was over and we were in the clear.  Then we lost our Abby and she was scraped out of me on Mother’s Day.  I don’t want that rug pulled out from under me (yet again).  Maybe I’m just far too jaded by my experience (and I’ve heard other people’s horrible stories of loss) that I can graphically imagine other horrible outcomes.  I mean, Mother’s Day has effectively been ruined for me, but I’m sure there’s some other holiday that can also be ruined.  I could make it to 23 weeks this time and then lose the baby just before viability.  I could be on bedrest for weeks and not able to care for Sweetie, and then still lose the baby(ies).  I could carry the baby(ies) to term and then still lose them.  Hell- I could get pregnant with a healthy pregnancy and then somehow my Sweetie gets sick or worse (oh my goodness, I feel like I shouldn’t even type that even though every day I have major anxiety that something bad will happen to her).  Or maybe I’ll have another loss and this time it really will drive me over the edge and I’ll either be dead or committed to a mental hospital.  Yes, I really shouldn’t play the ‘what’s the worst that can happen game’.  Can you blame me?  Why does my husband insist on playing?

Ok, I’m sorry, I have to stop and say that I’m really not saying all these things to my husband in the way I stated above.  Even when we’re arguing, we both try to be respectful and non-snarky.  I just REALLY have to come vent here on my blog because I don’t have any other safe place to vent.  My husband is a wonderful man and he’s doing the best he can. That said, he does see things in a very black and white manner and he doesn’t have (any) of the need to analyze things the way I do.  So it leaves me feeling very unheard on most discussions especially when he thinks it’s a ‘no-brainer’.

I guess maybe I just need him to say that it’s scary as hell to try this again, instead of just trying to wrap this into a neat little ‘of course we should try again’ package.

 

The little girl I lost

I was also on vacation when I finally heard from my OB that the last genetic testing came back perfectly normal on the little girl I lost.   That was my last straw of hope for some explanation as to why her perfect little heart stopped beating.  Some explanation that doesn’t come down to my body failing me and my babies yet again.  Some explanation that doesn’t come back to the universe or God just piling more shit on my plate for some ultimate ‘reason’ that I’ll never understand.

I named her, and I wanted to share that with you.

Abigail Mary

My sweet little girl I lost on Mother’s Day.  My Sweetie’s little sister she’ll never get to meet.  My husband’s second daughter and second chance at having a Daddy’s girl (because Sweetie is pretty 70/30 Mommy’s girl).

We have never named any of our babies that we’ve lost before.  We never really agreed on girl’s names to begin with (not even Sweetie’s name, I had to badger him for months about that and in the end I think he just gave in because I had just labored for 30+ hours and pushed her out!)  My husband still didn’t want to name this 6th lost baby, so I will just carry her name in my heart alone.

I’m  feeling a bit guilty about not naming my others now, but losing my 6th baby girl is just so much later and harder than any other of my losses.  I had to honor my baby that I saw so many times on the ultrasound (weekly u/s when you have RPL), heard her little heartbeat so many times, carried her for 16 weeks.

My little Abby.  I love her and miss her every moment of every day.