Okay folks so I’ve been on a bit of a quiet spell since everything went to shit a month ago. I really needed time to just cogitate on everything outside of blogland, and with exception of a few select people, my husband and I haven’t discussed the future with, well, anyone.
The week the 6th DEIVF fail happened and Ethiopia suspended adoptions, I took every single pregnancy book to Goodwill. I packed up all the baby goods collected over the last two years, jammed them in a box and threw them all down in the basement. I drank whiskey with my husband, I emotional ate, I cried a lot and my temper was all over the fucking map. Along with that, I was also dealing with the fact that, with my back injury that, 6 months later, is only about 25% improved since it occurred 6 months ago, and means I cannot get out any angst through exercise…and that was really fucked up. No long bike rides, no long walks (walking for 30 straight minutes on a zero-incline road is a good day for me), no dancing, no gym, none of those things that work up a sweat and build up endorphins. I’ve spent the last month allowing my body to get back to pre-IVF hormone levels, while dealing with the 50 additional pounds that my body has packed onto it from the emotional and physical effects of 6 failed DEIVFs, a miscarriage, and a debilitating back injury.
And when my period arrived again, it confirmed that when the hormones of my monthly cycle get jacked up, it is sure to increase my back pain tenfold. Just like my flare-ups and minimal healing throughout this first half of 2017 because of 2 ERAs and the 6th DEIVF, my period means that I have to minimize my PT exercises and just…do very little, as the pain is like a stab in the lower back that never goes away and echoes down my right leg. Fucking shit, right?
Along with that, my RE called to ask us if we want to do another cycle with the two sub-par embryos that are still in their freezer, saying we shouldn’t just get rid of them and that we should “give them a chance” – as if they were children we were abandoning in a dumpster. My husband was pissed and I was just dumbfounded that the clinic would dare to pressure us after SIX failed donor egg IVFs…while offering – as usual – no analysis into why it didn’t work. I didn’t have it in me to bite anyone’s head off, which is probably good, and we just told him that we’re not thinking about anything this summer, as I need to get my back healed. And our “freezer rental” is good through late 2017 so, really, there is no rush.
I don’t want to do it anymore. Dan doesn’t want to do it anymore. But we’ll leave them in there because I don’t want to think about it. I need a healthy back, and that’s literally all I care about at this point in time. I need to take care of my body, and not jam any more hormones that will sidetrack my recovery. Period. And after everything we’ve gone through there, from not being offered PGS/PGD to having to ASK for a scratch, for ERA, for thyroid testing, nor any evaluation of why the miscarriage may have occurred, I think if I ever changed my mind and wanted to do it again, it’d be with a different donor at a clinic outside of Portland. I don’t trust anyone in this town, not after what I’ve seen, the apathy of other clinics (not just Dr Evil last year, but another one that a friend had recommended not once but twice not responding to my inquiries in 2016 and 2017).
But it doesn’t mean I’m magically healed.
Pregnant bellies can still go suck it.
I watch more IVF and DEIVF bloggers announce their pregnancies and click “unfollow”. I don’t have anything in common with them. Anyone who’s had so many multiple fails knows that if you’re honest with yourself, you root for them and then when it happens you rarely if ever want to hear about it – especially if your own chances are shot to shit. I used to follow blogs of successful IVF folks because it gave me hope that it might finally work for me, but honestly I can’t do that anymore. You see when you end the journey, you no longer see them as inspiration for your own, but rather a constant reminder that not everybody succeeds in the game of IVF. You can no longer read those blogs of those rookies just starting out in treatment, with their hope and vitamins and acupuncture. Even the ones whose struggles were on the donor egg side, the ones who made it have crossed the fence from being able to empathize with you to now merely sympathizing. Because when you cross over, even if you are incredibly battle weary, you still have a baby in your belly and I do not. My odds are a million to one, and I know that every time I put more hormones in my body I risk the rest of my body never fully healing from this injury… Not to mention my heart that still splits open into a thousand tears several times a week (and that’s a good week).
In version 1.0, we were actually worried we get pregnant before we were ready, as we’ve known enough people who were 40 who got pregnant no problem. In version 2.0 and 3.0, which occurred simultaneously, we went through two rounds of IUI and 6 rounds (9 embryos), and lost our only pregnancy at 9 weeks while simultaneously waiting for a referral for a little girl in Ethiopia that never came because the program was suspended.
My heart never told me that I would be okay simply not having children after all of this, however. A lot of people say you’ll simply know, and learn to accept. Well either my heart skipped this or it’s just not time to stop, and a couple of weeks ago we had a call with a domestic adoption agency who not only has an office in Oregon, but is not religious-based and does “semi-open” adoptions rather than full co-parenting style adoption with visitation agreements like the last Agency.
The director we’re working with firmly believes that 100% open adoptions often lead to a lot of angst on both sides, and that semi-open adoptions give the parents a chance to meet each other while not being changed to any type of contractual visitation, something that can be hard for one or both sides depending on what’s going on and depending on what the child wants. I’ve always wanted to meet the birth mother, and be able to tell my son or daughter about her, and keep the birth/first mother updated as to how our child is doing over the years. I just never want to be in a situation where there is any attempt at co-parenting, which, while many agencies will swear up and down is not what open adoption is, the many examples we witnessed definitely showed us that’s not always the case. I don’t want to have either side pressured to define the relationship before the baby has even been born. That can, and should, evolve more naturally.
There’s a fine line in adoptive parenting because you do need to respect how your child came into this world, and what he or she might be up against as they deal with loss. The more I read the stories of adoptees, the more I’ve learned how diverse their perspectives are as well. Some have no interest in meeting or having a relationship with the person who brought them into this world, some do and then have found great disappointment in that relationship, and yet others indeed do end up having a relationship with them. All things we cannot predict as prospective new parents…
It is a huge thing to prepare your heart and soul for when you go to adopt, because while it is parenting, it is apples and oranges compared to having a baby that came from your own combined genetics. This is why the oversimplified nature of the statement “just adopt” is so difficult for many of us to hear, because you are not going to the store and picking out a baby that is exclusively yours.
Having gone through donor egg IVF, I had to simply block the fact that there was a third party involved, but it was much easier because it was anonymous, and because the donor is literally doing this for you (not to mention for $5,000). Adoption begins with loss, both for the first mother and for the child who grew in her womb. There will be questions you’ll want to be able to answer and so many things you’ll want to protect them but will have to walk through together.
I could go on but ultimately want to say that we have made the decision to go forward with domestic adoption. It will cost around $35,000 total, which is not money we have after spending over $60,000 on IVF and international adoption expenses that we will never get back. Approximately one-third of this expense has been charged to our credit card thus far, and so the pressure is really high on me to make a whole lot of money this year in my business to afford it without getting ourselves into financial trouble.
It’s nauseating to put it mildly, and my bag lady syndrome has been turned up to a very high volume.
But on a positive note, the average wait time is 6 to 12 months for a baby as they work in many states around the country. They focus on transracial adoption, which is what we were interested in from the beginning, and like I said earlier, they don’t jibber jabber about “God” or “saving” children with that condescending missionary vibe that so many adoption agencies are known for.
So (unlike it is for most folks kicking off the domestic adoption process) because we’ve been through the international adoption hurdles for the last two years, we had a current home study that we were able to get our International Adoption Agency to edit to reflect domestic adoption… which they so kindly did for free. That was great, saved a ton of time AND a few thousand dollars. We created our adoption profile book, which after going through so many unsuccessful rounds of IVF was an emotional clusterfuck (after the fertility gods have shit on you so many times, it’s hard on the heart to have to write up a letter about how we deserve to be parents), and that cost a whopping $500 to print (thanks to a friend who pointed us to the Mixbook website, as that was actually the cheapest version we found… beyond going to Kinko’s and photocopying a bunch of snapshots or doing something ridiculously amateur in Microsoft Word, heh). And after doing the normal paperwork, we got everything to them and the social workers around the country are now reviewing our details and sharing our books with prospective matches. The agency says sometimes it happens immediately and sometimes it takes a full year, they just don’t know as of course you’re waiting to be picked by someone based on your book.
So to take advantage of my out-of-whack mental state, I went into maniacal “get this shit done as quickly as possible so we don’t have to think about so we don’t have to think about it” mode. And it’s all done. Literally before we left on vacation, the agency had everything and has distributed everything to the social workers around the country that they work with. We will get monthly updates starting in late June so we can better know how many birth mothers who are a mutual have viewed our profile books, etc. We could be picked immediately or it could take a year, one never knows in these situations.
I am extraordinarily cautiously optimistic… and of course quite realistic. Maybe we’ll never be chosen. Maybe the agency will go out of business. Maybe maybe maybe. Or? Maybe there will be a child in our house by Christmas. Maybe we’ll get the phone call this summer. Maybe we’ll finally be parents, and have our wish come true.
I am letting myself think about motherhood once again. But I’m focusing on ALL of my life now. Something about being completely hormone-free perhaps. Or maybe it’s going to PT and realizing if I don’t have a healthy back, I will lose an even greater part of myself than I would without a working reproductive system.
Wheels are turning. I’m moving forward, come hell or high water. My turn to be Wonder Woman, dammit. I fucking hope so.