Heart Echocardiogram/Cardiac Appointment

I had my heart appointment scheduled for January 27th, two days after the embryo transfer. They did an hour and a half long echocardiogram, a pacemaker evaluation, and then I saw the cardiologist. He let me know that there wasn’t much change from the echo done in June, before the invitro-surrogate process started, but that I still needed to plan for another open-heart surgery very soon. I was excited that the stenosis hadn’t gotten worse from seven months ago, but I was still dreading another surgery ūüė¶

As far as how crappy I was feeling, that had to do with my blood pressure being so low, along with the electrical part of my heart. I was having several heart irregularities and cardiac arrhythmias that my pacemaker was not recording , so my cardiologist put me on a 24/7 continuous heart monitor. I had to wear it for a whole flippin’ month! It was kinda embarrassing and very inconvenient.

My cardiologist felt like my heart was complexed enough and recommended that I find an electrocardiologist. He referred me to a highly recommended physician, that he actually worked with, so the two of them could discuss my case easily.

The Egg Retrieval

The day had come! My little eggs (follicles) would be taken out of me.

The egg retrieval is typically done right in the office as a very simple procedure. A needle is passed through the top of the vagina under ultrasound guidance to get to the ovary and follicles. The fluid in the follicles is aspirated (drawn-up) through the needle and the eggs detach from the follicle wall and are sucked out of the ovary. The fluid with the eggs is passed to the IVF lab where the eggs are identified, rinsed in culture media, and placed in small culture drops in plastic dishes. The dishes with the eggs are then kept in specialized IVF incubators under carefully controlled environmental conditions. Sperm is mixed with the eggs about 4 hours after the egg aspiration, and then it begins to fertilize.

Because of the concern with how my heart would do during the procedure and the risk of bleeding, I had it performed at the hospital in the operating room. Once again, there was cardiologist, cardiac anesthesiologist, several nurses, and my fertility doctor who was the one performing the retrieval. I was completely put out so they could monitor my heart and be able to control the pace-maker/defibrillator (ICD).
My biggest concern was the survival of my precious little eggs.

And once again, Gordon could not be there with me…….But of course, he was waiting for my return.

Previously Gordon had given sperm that they could freeze so they would have back-up, it was required. Obviously fresh is better, so off he went.. While I was in the OR, Gordon went over to the infertility center to give them fresh, healthy sperm.

I was sent home the same day to recover. Ouch!!! And so sick from the anesthesia and pain pills.

Be Strong, My Amazing Heart!

My heart had been affected much more than I realized. All the extreme and rapid fluctuations of hormones going through my body with each cycle we tried, was more than my heart could handle…I was having alot more symptoms, and feeling worse everyday. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to be around to raise this baby/babies that we were trying so hard to get, or my daughter.

I was supposed to be scheduled for my third open-heart surgery this same month. As you can imagine, timing was horrible!

Now that this was the last cycle we would try, I just wanted to finish the process before I went to see my cardiologist. He had to give the okay at the beginning of the process, that my heart could handle the medications and the egg retrieval, and I didn’t want him to change his mind base on how I was doing now. I was afraid that if I went to see him before we were finished, that the whole thing would be stopped. I couldn’t risk that, we were too close………

And MORE Weaving Between Stipulations….

Alice and I were also supposed to start our medications according to her cycle, but we didn’t know if everything would clear in time. I was very anxious to begin the actual process. I felt like I was in a never-ending battle, and wondered if we would ever start the invitro-surrogacy process.

The egg retrieval process, if we could even get that far, is typically a simple procedure that can be done right in the office. Because of my heart, I would have to be in the hospital operating room completely put out with several staff members (cardiac anesthesiologist, surgeon, nurses, and someone to control my pacemaker). The bill that came with that was outrageous, about $5,000!!! My insurance wouldn’t cover a penny of it because it was infertility related, and we had to have the money up front.

Financially, we were starting to question whether we could really pull it off. At the beginning, we had plan what resources we could pull the money from, but all the additional fees that we weren’t expecting, were adding up very fast. The legal fees alone were $5,000. Everytime we had to do lab work and screenings, they would add about $500 per person, and we all had to do them about every two weeks at first. The psychological consult was $1,000. The medication to just get started was about $3,000.

All this never even guaranteed a baby or a pregnancy, and it was only a ONE shot deal. We had one chance to get it right. It became such a gigantic project. It felt like a business deal, and I felt like I was losing. Most of the time I forgot what it was that I was even working towards, that the goal had anything to do with having a baby. I was very caught up in the regimen. It felt so mechanical…..It felt so wrong:(

Weaving Between Stipulations

For about a month, it felt like we were being pulled in way too many directions at the same time. We would take one step with the infertility center, then have to take one step in the legal process, and then back to a lab or test or screening. Back and forth, back and forth, and dead-lines and time sensitive things all over the place. I needed to be more than one person, and I felt like everything was weighing on me to line everything up perfectly.

There were several places in the process that problems would arise and damn near stop the whole thing. Just to mention a few:

The courts needed a letter from our OB/GYN, stating that in his professional opinion, Alice could carry a baby without posing health problems to her or the baby. He didn’t know her or her previous pregnancy, and didn’t have any of her records. He only knew that she delivered her twins at 29 weeks. He was hesitant.
Trying to get Dr. Draper all of her records from her previous pregnancy and delivery, was more than a challenge. The office would say that they sent all the records, a week would go by, and I would stress and wonder why Dr. Draper hadn’t written the letter, cuz he knew we needed it by a certain date. When I called his office, they would say they didn’t receive anything, or they only received part. We did this back and forth about five times until the dead-line came and went. I wanted to drive wherever the hell her records were, and knock some sense into the people down there. I was furious! I’m not sure when or even how all the records finally made it down to Dr. Draper’s office, but thank God they did!

Another legality, was that the surrogate mother could not be receiving any assistance from the state or government. Alice’s smallest preemie was on Medicaid because of how small she was at birth. The paperwork that had to be researched and reviewed just for that was unbelievable. I didn’t know which way it was going to go. She was very close to having to cancel Medicaid (health insurance for her daughter). I didn’t want to make Alice change anything so permanent for the sake of my dreams. I was ready to stop the process completely….

Once our attorney was assigned a judge for us, he warned us that that judge was very particular and would require all four of us to appear in court. Also she would require child protective services to do a six-week, in-house monitoring of us with our families. It would have put us out another month, several hundred dollars, and invasion of privacy beyond belief. That’s what they do to couples who are planning to adopt a child, and some judges require it with surrogacy as well. I couldn’t believe that they could do that to us! We just want our OWN baby!!! GOOD HELL!!!

Vaginal Birth or C-Section

Because of two previous open-heart surgeries and my unique heart (hehe, I’m staying positive), my doctors discouraged me from getting pregnant. I told them I had been waiting for a baby for a long time. I asked them if they would support me through a pregnancy. I now have amazing doctors, after several years of ASSHOLES and multiple surgeries. Both my OB/GYN & Cardiologist agreed to be my support and monitor me when I got pregnant.

After my water broke, my Cardiologist told me that he was actually glad that I was on bedrest, because he wasn’t sure my heart would be able to handle being pregnant with much of any activity. Throughout the pregnancy, I have had echocardiograms to monitor how my heart is handling the pregnancy and extra blood flow. Throughout a pregnancy, a women’s body produces about 3x the regular amount of blood. This is why, by the end, you feel like a fiery furnace. My heart is definitely taking a toll, but because of bedrest, it is managing pretty well.

Because of the important, specific details of what needed to happen when I went into labor, every doctor that took over for my OB or that was on call, would come into my room and discuss each and every detail with me. They wanted to know what was going on, and wanted me to know that I had great doctors that knew what to do. It was very comforting and all of them treated me like I was very special. However, I was very clear that I wanted MY OB, Dr. Draper, there for the delivery if possible, and he said he would be there if he could make it.

Dr. Draper knew that I wanted a natural, vaginal birth. He said I would not be able to have it natural, because my heart wouldn’t handle me pushing at all. I would have to have a very heavy epidural, so my uterus would be able to push the baby out.

He said that if I wasn’t able to have a vaginal birth, I would have to be put completely out for a C-section so they could monitor my heart with a Transesophageal Echocardiogram (an echo camera down my throat), and be able to override my pacemaker and defibrillator. He said Gordon wouldn’t be able to be in the room.

I knew that if I had to be put out, then I would miss the first several hours of my baby’s life. I wouldn’t know what was going on, or if the baby even made it…… I tried not to think about it, and just prayed that everything would go good. I was so focused on having a vaginal birth, so that both me and Gordon could be present for the baby.