Sunday, November 30, 2014

What could go wrong?

   For the most part, when couples get married, they are filled with hope and excitement for their future. There is so much joy and love surrounding them, that even though they know life will not be perfect, it is hard to imagine what could possibly go wrong.  Ryan and I were no different. We already knew we would be facing the challenge of becoming parents through gestational surrogacy, which was going to be a monumental task in and of itself. But, being naive and hopeful for our future, we couldn’t imagine what else we would have to face, especially only 2½ years in.
    I know that everyone reading this update is expecting good news, waiting to hear that we are pregnant,  that all of our hard work has paid off, and our dream is coming true. Unfortunately, there will be no pregnancy announcement today. In fact, it is with the heaviest of hearts that I write this post.
   We were successful enough at our fundraiser that immediately after we were able to begin our egg retrieval protocol. This included hormone injections, early morning visits to the clinic for blood work and ultrasounds, bloating, random outburst of tears, and ice-cream. Ryan became my nurse and ‘stabbed’ me every night for 11 nights with the injections, some nights there were 2. As you may or may not know, I am a huge wimp, which is why Ryan gave me the needles instead of me doing it myself, but he said I handled it like a champ! It was a huge bonding experience for us, as around night 8 or so, Ryan said something about how ‘you don’t truly love someone until you have to stab them with a needle’. We definitely became closer than ever before during this whole process. It was surreal laying on the couch night after night while my husband poked me with needles. There is truly no romance involved in making a baby this way.
    Then came the retrieval. It was quick and relatively painless , thanks to the drugs they gave me.  The Dr.  sent us home and went on to fertilize the eggs with Ryan’s sperm that afternoon. They had gotten 9 eggs from me, which was a great number. I had to call throughout the week to check on our embryos to find out how they were doing. On day one, 7 of the 9 had fertilized and looked great. I called Ryan while he was at work to tell him, and when he answered the phone he quickly said ‘how are my babies!?’ This hit me hard because it was real, we actually had potential babies growing at the clinic. When I got off the phone I cried and cried. I couldn’t believe how far we had come and that by the end of that week, we would have frozen embryos ready for transfer!
    I had to call again on day 3 to see how they were growing, and we were down to 6. I became a little nervous, but everyone reassured me that all we needed was one! The week went on, and Ryan and I decided it was time to celebrate where we were, and all that we had been through. We went on a very fancy date, which isn’t typical for us, and reveled in the magic that is science and technology, at our love, at the gift of surrogacy we were being given, and the generosity of our friends, family and even strangers who helped us get to that point. We had poured our hearts and souls into this, had been working at it for years, and it was all finally happening. It was a date I will never forget.
    Day 5 of fertilization is when any and all healthy embryos are ready to freeze. That day landed on the weekend, so we weren’t going to be calling until Monday to find out how many of the 6 embryos had survived to be frozen. I was anxious and excited. I missed a call in the morning from the clinic while I was at work, which was strange because I was supposed to be calling them. I didn’t think much of it and immediately called them on my lunch break. I was not prepared for what they were about to tell me.
    'Gina are you alone right now? Are you able to talk?’ Of course, I thought! Now tell me how many babies I have got! ‘Gina, we don’t have good news for you today. When we looked at your embryos on day 3, you had 6 that looked great. When we looked at them again on day 5, there had been no change since day 3. We let them grow until day 6, but still none of them had changed. So we don’t have any frozen embryos for you.....’. The nurse kept talking, saying things about how this must not be easy to hear and how I should call back in a few days with any questions once I have digested the information. All I could muster up was an ‘ok’. And that was the end of that. We had nothing, no embryos to transfer, no hope to take a pregnancy test, nothing. And after everything we had done, and been through.
    Calling Ryan to tell him was the hardest phone call I have ever had to make. We both went straight home from work to be together. We cried, we were angry, confused and heartbroken. How could this happen? We weren’t there for infertility issues. Everything had been going so perfectly. What went wrong!?   
    About a week later I worked up the courage to call the clinic, I didn’t know what questions to ask, but needed to know what they had to say. They didn’t have any answers, in fact said they were shocked and devastated too. The nurse recommended we meet with the Dr., because he might be able to shed a little light on to what happened. We made an appointment for a Sunday, a few weeks later.
The Sunday came and we went down to the clinic, feeling as devastated as ever. It had sunk in a little by then, but it hadn’t become any easier to accept. Because it was Sunday, there were only a few appointments, transfers for other couples.  Our appointment was last, so we sat there for what felt like forever. Finally it was our turn. The Dr.  was great. He was soft-spoken and really understood the magnitude of the conversation we were having. He told us that everything up until day 3 was perfect, nothing could have been any better. There is no explanation for what happened.
   He highly recommended that we try this again. He said that the first try could have just been ‘one of those things’, and since everything had been so good up until that point, that a second try could definitely work out. He went on to say that if we do try this again, and the same thing happens, then that will lead him to believe we actually are dealing with an infertility problem, on top of everything else, called ‘unexplained infertility’ which affects between 10%-20% of infertile couples. If this is the case, then at that point he would not recommend us moving further in this direction because it would be too difficult to figure out if it were due to my eggs, Ryan’s sperm, or both. If this were to happen again, he recommends we look towards adoption as our final option.
    We left the clinic not feeling any better, but not feeling worse. We really had no answers, and won’t unless and until we try this again.
    This whole experience has been completely overwhelming. Trying to become parents is an emotional journey for anyone. Even when you don’t have infertility problems, or health problems, it is still very exciting yet terrifying. Adding all of these other problems on top is indescribable. Unless you have been through it, there is no way for me to explain it so that anyone could truly understand.
   Ryan and I are so lucky we have each other. He has been my rock, and I think I have been his. Before, it all seemed like ‘my’ problem, and that as supportive as he was, Ryan was more along for the ride, accepting whatever happened to ME. Now, it is different. He has felt the loss too. We both are experiencing grief, the loss of a dream, the loss of something we worked incredibly hard for, and the loss of life, in our eyes. When Ryan referred to our embryos as his babies, in that moment, we felt we were parents to unborn children. Ryan also referred to it as having 6 miscarriages at once. We know it is not exactly the same, but the loss is. It is devastating, and heartbreaking.
   Ryan has been able to accept that this is our new reality much quicker than I, and for that I am grateful. Not only is going through this yourself unbearable, but watching someone you love go through it too is just awful. He has done a great job at making me laugh, and reminding me that we will be OK. We know this isn’t the end of the road and we will continue to try to become parents.  But, the door is definitely closing on us. 
    Ryan and I chose not to tell very many people about what happened right away in order to be able to deal with it. It hasn’t been very long, but we are now ready to let everyone know. This definitely isn’t an easy post to write, nor will it be easy to have everyone know what happened. But Ryan and I both agree that we have been open and honest up until this point. Just because we don't have happy, or good news, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be open and honest about this part too. It is, in fact, now a part of our story.
    We don’t know exactly where we are going to go from here. Like I said earlier, we will continue to try to become parents, but when, or how is still unanswered. We will have to pay for another egg retrieval, with gestational carrier care as well as another round of hormones which is going to end up totaling more than another $10,000. We might begin to look into adoption, which is a whole new, emotional road to go down. Whatever we end up doing, we will not be having any more fundraisers.   
   We cannot thank everyone enough for the love and support throughout this entire journey. We are sorry that we don’t have better news to give everyone, but are grateful that we had the opportunity to try.
    I am also uncertain of the future of this blog. It has been such an incredible experience sharing this journey with everyone. At this point in time though, Ryan and I are just trying to make sense of our life, where we are and where we are going. We both need a little space from the social media world. We are going to focus on our future, our family and closest friends. We need to regroup.
    Again, we are incredibly sorry  that we are not able to share exciting news with everyone. We are grateful for the support and love we have received. With Christmas around the corner, we hope that the season brings love and joy to each and every one of you, and that perhaps, your dreams will come true. 
    Thank you again, to everyone.

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