Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thank You for Being a Friend

Suzanne gave me such a lovely introduction; I’m afraid I may not live up to the hype! I know she said I was going to tell my story, but this is more just a little snippet of my story. And considering it took me 6 months to actually sit down and string some words together, it may very well be the only part I ever get around to telling! (Yes, the spirit of blogging is obviously lost on me.) Like many of you, we hit a few bumps on the road to our family. I’m so fortunate to have had Suzanne by my side through all of it. At the time I was struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss, without any first-hand experience of her own yet, somehow she always knew what to do or say. I hope I have been at least half as comforting to her as she was to me! Because in so many ways, large and small, it’s the people around us who help pull us through. I’m Jill, and this is the story—albeit rambling—of one of my “bumps:” 

Romantic comedies aren’t usually my thing, and I’ve always been neutral on Sandra Bullock. But every time “The Proposal” is playing, I will, without question, watch it. And feel all warm and fuzzy in the process (owing only a wee bit to Ryan Reynolds being fiiiiine and Betty White my favorite Golden Girl). The rest of that fuzziness comes from a dearly-held memory, a moment of normalcy that withstood the collapse of everything else.

The night before, my husband and I had lit out of Virginia for the 8 hour drive home through pitch black, not able to go fast enough to forget the empty car seat in the back. I had explained to the hotel troll that the baby we had with us the day before—the baby I had been cooing to when she snapped, “No pets!” without looking up—wasn’t going to be our baby anymore, so we didn’t need to stay any longer. She was oh-so-sorry, but our rate was going to increase since our stay had shortened, and we had also missed the checkout cut-off, so we owed for that night. The baby was, for the moment, still with us. She watched from her (our?) car seat as we frantically packed up our things, the things intended for her; as we yelled at our parents on the phone because we didn’t know what else to do. We held her, fed her and soothed her while we choked on tears, remembering the night before when we had done the same things in awe, with giddiness. We dressed her in one of the outfits her mother had sent with her, and packed up some of the baby things we had bought, to send back with her, because they were hers, after all, and they couldn’t be anyone else’s after this. Her mother had called the social worker that morning, well within the state’s revocation period, saying she didn’t want to talk to us or see us because she was “embarrassed.” But she wanted us to bring her daughter to the social worker’s office the following morning …as though we were just babysitting for an extra night, I suppose. The call came when we were in the car, heading home from a follow-up pediatrician visit. My husband pulled into a gas station, got out of the car and sobbed like I have never or since seen. When I caught my own breath, sitting in the back seat next to the baby girl we had named, I called the social worker back and said, “If this is going to happen, it needs to happen NOW.”

When we finally got home, we shut the door to the nursery and then fell into bed for who knows how long. I remember waking up to the hazy silhouettes of my husband’s mom and dad, the blinding summer sun creeping through the doorway around them. They were bringing home our dog (dear sweet Ruby, who comforted us in many moments like this) …and probably also wanted to make sure we were still breathing. There wasn't a lot of talk, just more tears. They had lost a wished-for grandchild, too. They had seen their son and daughter-in-law fight through the brokenness of infertility to a new place of hope. For this. I sent out a mass email to update friends and family, praying there weren’t more baby gifts in the mail, wondering what to do with the ones we’d already received. My husband was planning to just show up at work on Monday, rather than lift a phone and piece together words to explain the unexplainable now, in the immediate aftermath. I pondered what I was going to do with the sudden emptiness of my days. I had left my job. For this. I couldn’t really bring myself to talk to anyone just yet. Our parents, of course. And then it fell to them to burden the rest of our family with the news. I do remember calling Suzanne as we sped through the mountains. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I’m sure there was cursing and crying, and all kinds of awful, ugly things that only best friends can hear, generously forget and still love you. Things like lashing out at this child’s mother, speaking truths and untruths that were, either way, not fair to say. In a cruel quirk of fate, when we were finally too hungry and exhausted to keep up our mad race away, the only place we could find to stop was the very same 24-hour restaurant chain where not-our-baby’s mother worked. That was 6 years ago and the last time we ever ate there.

In the midst of all this, my husband and I made plans to go out with Suz and T the night after we returned. They were hurting, too; they had recently experienced a big loss of their own. I think we all just needed somewhere to be. I don’t remember what we did before the movie. Probably dinner? Probably pizza or Mexican? Probably talk about anything but these raw and gaping holes? We knew for sure that it had to be a funny movie, so from the available options, “The Proposal” it was. For whatever reason: the comfort of friends, the mental quiet in that dark theater, the pretense of a typical evening out, (<cough cough> Betty White <ahem>); I got to feel normal for those 2 hours. Not just normal. Happy! I laughed. I saw a glimpse of where we would be when we got past this (and we would get past it). I got to be with people who would help us get past it. I remember riding that wave of happiness as we walked out to our cars and hugged good night, stretching it out as far as possible until the quiet and sadness would undoubtedly creep back in and run their course. Obviously I’ve had many happy moments since that time. Deliriously happy moments even. Though I no longer need it so desperately, that movie still brings me back to that renewed feeling of possibility, to that light in the dark. So is it really a good movie? Under the circumstances, I’m not sure my opinion can be trusted. But I do know it was really really good for me.

No, adoption plans do not always come to fruition, and I know this can be one of the most daunting parts for potential adoptive parents. But, really, when you think about the gravity of the commitment, is it so surprising? It is often said that an expectant mother must make the decision to place all over again once the baby is there, crying and stretching under the warming lamp. This makes a lot of sense to me; while we had three potential adoption situations fall through at various stages, none hurt quite like this first one, where a very real baby had already nestled against us and left an impression in our arms.

In adoption, there is no way to guarantee (nor ethically could there be) that the child for whom you are preparing your heart will actually come home with you. So you must fiercely guard your heart as well. When our oldest daughter was born, we held our breath for four days afterwards. While we kissed her bald little head and watched her twitch in her sleep, we pretended we weren’t already irreversibly in love with her. On the day her birthparents signed their consents for the adoption, her birthfather called me afterward, the pain in his voice tangible, to congratulate us. As I gently set the phone down, I wept for their grief and for our heart’s desire fulfilled. When I turned around, my husband was kneeling, little box in hand, the diamonds twinkling on a mother and child pendant that I, just then, in that bittersweet moment, finally, FINALLY had reason to wear. At long last, we exhaled, and spoke our daughter’s name out loud for the first time.

I waffle a little with saying things end up the way they were meant to be, because in the case of adoption that would imply that my joy was meant to be at the expense of another’s loss. But I will just say that I certainly can’t imagine loving any other children as much as I love my daughters, nor can I contemplate a world where we are not together. The pain of our infertility struggle and first adoption experience has since been happily buried way down deep by what has grown in its wake. One thing that I can unequivocally say was “meant to be” is having Suzanne in my life! It is amazing how much we can endure and heal, with a little help. So Suz, thank you for being a friend. Many years from now, after our kids are grown and our husbands are gone (What?! Oh relax, they’re just golfing.), I will be the Dorothy to your Blanche. J


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Inspiration

We're a few days from Thanksgiving and what better way to celebrate thanks on my blog than by having my first guest post. But before that is published...I want to introduce her.

Many of you don't know her, but she knows you. For the past several years that I've been blogging, she's been reading. And not just reading my story (even though she hears it firsthand) but she's also been reading yours. She knows almost all of you, your stories and your struggles. 

She's not a commenter for the most part, not even on my blog except those rare posts that really resonate with her and pull her out of lurk mode. Amanda has been privy to a few of those comments due to their common path which warms my heart on a whole other level for another day.

Many of the women I've met had very little thought about infertility before it so crassly landed in their life. For me, infertility did not come along 4 years ago when I experienced our first loss and struggled to become pregnant again. It came along almost 9 years ago when my best friend experienced multiple losses and failed infertility treatments. 

I cried for her and for her husband for the pain that they were going through. The anguish of years of loss, hormones, treatments and failures that come with infertility. 

I want you all to know that while I've received so many loving comments and support from all of my fellow bloggers and infertility fighters that have praised me over the past few years for being strong...and brave...and many other compliments you've blessed upon me. There is a reason that I've been strong...and brave...

And her name is Jill. 

I learned from someone long before infertility reached my body how to be strong when life shoves you down. When the most unfair possibilities and scenarios come to fruition. When the world around you keeps on going (and procreating) leaving you behind. But you continue to get up each and every day and live your life the only way you can. Sometimes through laughter; and sometimes through tears. 

I've had the kind of love and support in my corner from day 1 of my infertility struggles. Because she knew...all too well. I've had a resource to turn to, from the very beginning. I've had someone to laugh with and to cry with. Someone that truly got it better than anyone else in my life ever could. 

I truly believe that we will all get through this hell that they call infertility. It just may not be when we hoped or how we expected. But I have no doubt that my happy ever after is coming.

We always talk about how it's 1 in 8 that will struggle with infertility. But how often do we talk about the 10% of that statistic that will never "recover" from infertility. That cannot be treated with IVF or medication. That have to move on to adoption or surrogacy or even to live a child-free life. 

What are the odds that my very best friend in the world and I are BOTH part of that 10%? We've known we were kindred spirits from the first moment we met almost 10 years ago. I never thought this would be something we'd both have to experience. 

I longed for a child almost 9 years ago. One that was not to be my own. But for one of the most special people in my life. My best friend. 

And thankfully, almost 5 years ago, that child arrived. It's hard to imagine loving my own more than I love her precious little C. This child lights up my life and melts my heart. So I can only imagine how full her heart is...

But that's Jill's story...and I'm so happy that she's going to tell it. 

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Great News...Clouded with Doubt

I have really good news. News that I've been waiting on since last May when we decided to move forward with a gestational carrier and I was so lucky to have Kelly come in to our life.

We have a transfer date. And it's this year.

December 16th

That would put her beta on December 26th. If she tested early (which she already said she would) we would know by Christmas. I couldn't ask for anything that would mean more or make me happier than to find out that she's pregnant with our baby.

I want so badly to be jumping for joy right now.

She started BCPS on Sunday and starts Lupron next Wednesday. Our FET cycle has begun.

But...there is always a but...

She is having her repeat antibody screen drawn today. With these results, which we most likely won't have for another week...this whole cycle (actually it will go way beyond this cycle) will come crashing down.

My heart is terrified right now. I mean, this is EVERYTHING on the line with this one simple blood test.

So think of her today as she goes in for this test. Send prayers and good thoughts that this is just a tiny fluke and all continues to move along beautifully as it has thus far. Think of me as I try and keep my sanity for this next week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Another Hiccup

One can only hope that this is all it is. Not sure my heart can handle it being anything other than another small bump in the road.

On Friday, at the very end of the day (typical of CCRM) I received an email with the final results of Kelly's blood work. I had thought this was all in, but apparently not. Or apparently they were waiting until I was really excited to throw us a curve ball. Either way, the email came in at 5:30 pm on a Friday and I had to wait until Monday to get any answers. Which in my opinion, is kind of cruel and unusual punishment.

Her antibody screen came back "inconclusive". Meaning, there were possible small amounts of antibody detected, but couldn't be identified. A few people have asked me what IS an antibody screening. Here's what the nurse said:

Antibody screening is a test to detect atypical antibodies in the blood that may have been formed as a result of a transfusion or pregnancy.  Patients who are attempting pregnancy have their blood typed and screened to diagnose and prevent hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), a type of anemia also known as erythroblastosis fetalis.  If antibodies are present, she cannot move forward as a GC due to the risk of complications with the baby.  There is no treatment.

So yes, my brain is spinning and my heart is on high alert. They want her to retest next week, which is exactly 4 weeks from her last test. The good news is, they are still allowing her to start birth control pills in preparation for transfer regardless. Dr. G thinks that "most likely" it was a reaction to some protein in her blood and will come back negative on the next evaluation.

She was last screened for this during her most recent (two) pregnancies. Both were negative.

Let us all hope this next test is negative as well.

This I know. I will fight for her. I don't know if this is something that all clinics are so black and white on when it comes to accepting a GC. It's not a test I remember ever having in all of my fertility screening. So why her? I get the risks, but is this not something that can be controlled? Watched? Is this something that CCRM is way more critical of vs. other clinics? I know that on somethings they can be.

If I have to move my embryos. I would do it. I hope it never comes to that. I hope that this is just me frantically worrying about the "worst case".

If any of you can shed more light, comfort or even concern on any of this...I am all ears. Please...give me something that can get me through the next week. (For anyone looking at it from the D (Rh) type aspect...she is Rh positive.)

Suz (with bottle of wine in hand)