Making Sense of It All

Now that we were pregnant, I felt myself relax a little. I was able to breathe, and take the much-needed break.

So much of being pregnant didn’t seem like a reality. I found myself wondering was it real? Or was it all a dream?……There was nothing for me to do, and it felt like the process was over.
Our surrogate mother obviously wasn’t around us all the time, and when I was not with her, I easily forgot what was going on, the reality of it… I wanted to follow her around like a lost puppy…

Strangely, my mind played tricks on me………….What part of all this made sense?… Not much when I thought about it……..Pregnancy thru surrogacy wasn’t something that I had ever experienced or personally known anybody to experience before. We were feeling our way through a completely unknown experience.

I continued to try to connect with my baby/babies. And continued to struggle…..I finally decided to stop judging myself for how I thought I was supposed to think, feel, or connect to this experience, and that maybe it was okay that I was feeling so awkward. I gave it the possibility that it wouldn’t make or break my relationship with my baby/babies. That they would understand and know that I loved them anyway 🙂

I was barely able to get off all the hormone medications three weeks after the egg retrieval, and I could feel that they would take a while to get out of my body completely. My heart still wasn’t doing well, and the crazys still had their time with me, but it didn’t feel as intense.

I focused on reviving myself and strengthening my heart… I felt better about the whole thing…….At least for moments at a time…

Options/Statistics/Percentages

From the beginning of the invitro-surrogate process, the doctors told about all the percentages and statistics of what anyone’s chances would be.

They gave us a 60% chance that our surrogate mother would get pregnant. If she did get pregnant, the chance of how the pregnancy went and if the baby/babies survived were the same as for any pregnancy. 60% seemed pretty high to me, but I also understood that it was up to God and it would take His miracle to allow it to happen.

They explained that we could either implant one or two embryos. They stressed that no more than two could be implanted, because of Alice’s healthy, fertile age and the risk of multiple babies. Both could attached or one or both of the two could split, and we could have three or four babies, but the chances were very small for more than twins. They explained that we had the option of reduction if more attached and survived than we wanted. I couldn’t believe that this was a normal routine, like a fart in the wind to some people. To Gordon and I, and lucky Dan and Alice as well, this was considered abortion. We all felt that which ever embryos survived and attached, were God’s gifts to us, and we would not be a part in trying to control their fate.

They gave us a 30% chance of twins if two were implanted. I again thought those were good odds. We had decided early on, that Gordon and I very badly wanted twins and Alice was willing to carry them and do whatever it took to keep them safe and healthy. We were all very excited about the chance of twins. Going through all this hard work and effort, and then getting two out of it!!! That would be such an exciting surprise!

Our Little Embryos/Should They Have a Name?

Now that my eggs and Gordon’s sperm had been mixed together, our little stuff, became embryos. The embryos stayed in the IVF lab for a few more days to see which ones would be the healthiest and strongest. It sounds silly, but it felt like we had left our babies with total strangers, not knowing what was exactly going on with them. It was weird, I didn’t know how to feel or what to think about it…???

The embryo transfer happens 3-5 days after the retrieval, depending on how well they are doing and how fast fertilization occurs.

Two days later, I got a call from the lab where our little embryos were. The tech had been keeping in touch with the infertility doctors. They decided that the embryo transfer needed to happen the next day, because the embryos were becoming more fragile every day. They would pick the best two out of the five to implant.

What did that mean? Were they going to survive?
I tried very hard not to let my mind control me again.

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.

Here We Go, Ready Or Not…

“We only need ONE to survive, babe” were the sweet words of my husband. I repeated those few words through my head like a skipped CD. I continued to focus on God, faith, peace, and love. If these were the eggs that might create my baby/babies, I wanted them to know how much I loved and appreciated them…..I wanted it to be a beautiful environment for their (the embryos) inception.

The decision had been made. What a relief and yet so final….

The same day of the last ultrasound, I took a Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) injection at 9:00 that night. HCG induces/triggers ovulation.
The hCG trigger has several functions:

*Induce final maturation of the eggs
*Cause the resumption of meiosis
*Loosen the egg’s attachment from the follicle wall
*Allows for the timing of the egg retrieval

The goal is to perform the egg retrieval as close as possible to 36 hours after the hCG trigger is given. This meant for me that the egg retrieval would be two days later, 9:00 in the morning. Timing is everything, and so important.

Here we go, ready or not!!!

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………

Last Cycle/Last Chance:(

So as I mentioned before, the doctors said this would be our last cycle, our last chance! They may have let us keep trying, but made it clear that in their opinion, the results would be very similar. They weren’t sure that the added medication would make much of a difference, but we were ALL willing to try just about anything. I felt like I was under alot of pressure.

The doctors all got together and agreed on one professional opinion. They encouraged us to continue with the egg retrieval and transfer, regardless of if I could produce enough eggs. (Enough meaning 8-12 mature eggs.) They had hopes that the new, added medication would help a little, and figured this would be our best shot.

We obviously wanted to see what the results were before we sealed the deal, but we had mostly made up our minds that this was IT!!! Gordon and I once again, put our complete trust and faith in God.

The decision felt so scary, like we had come to the end of our rope, like the clock would stopped ticking………….And yet, at the same time, I felt a sigh of relief…Like it was almost over…We could get on with our lives…….

Floods of thoughts and emotions swept over me….I wasn’t sure which thought or feeling was the strongest or which ones I should feel guilty about. It changed every second, as I was completely overwhelmed, and yet at times, peaceful about where we were at.

High Hopes/IS IT A Possibility?

So now I had seven eggs (follicles) that were big enough to use, but the doctors needed to check and see if they were all mature.

Estradiol (estrogen) is the primary sex hormone of childbearing women. It is formed from developing ovarian follicles. Labs were done right away to check my estrogen levels. Each mature egg has 200-600, but should have at least 200.

The results took a few hours to get in, so home we went to wait it out……….I tried not to think about it. It was driving me crazy!

The nurse called me a few hours later…….My estrogen levels were only 1180, which meant that five eggs might be mature. Also, if some of the eggs were carrying more than 200 each in them, then some of the five may or may not be mature…??????????

I couldn’t believe we were going through this again. So Fucking stressful!!!!

This was a familiar and extremely uncomfortable place……….

Starting Our Medications/Birth Control

The infertility center first put both Alice & I on birth control pills, so they could control and synchronize our cycles. We had to be synched very closely, because once they retrieved the eggs from me, they only had three days to put them into Alice. Her uterus had to be very ready to accept my fragile little eggs.

I was so excited to start. It felt like we had made a huge step in the process. We were now actually beginning the process to make a baby!!!

As soon as I started on the birth control, I started feeling completely insane. I tried to hold it together, and pretend that I calmly had everything under control…..Inside, I was going out of my mind. I couldn’t figure out why I was trying to have a baby while I was so unstable… And strangely enough, I wasn’t sure why I felt so unstable. Like the crazys snuck up on me….I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know whether I could pull off everything that had to be done in order to succeed in surrogacy, in having another baby. I often wondered why I was continuing the process, and at what point I would give up…..

Trusting/Surrendering

It was very hard for me to relax and know that God would handle everything, but I continually fought my crazys about it. I decided at the beginning, that if things didn’t go smooth, God wasn’t in control. There were several time that I struggled with discerning whether we were supposed to stop because things were getting so complicated, or if I just needed to remember that God would handle it. I just had to be willing to give it to Him. Over and over again.

With still lots of work on my part and a tremendous amount of help from God, throughout the next month, most of the problems seemed to work themselves out.

Dr. Draper’s letter to the courts: Once Dr. Draper finally got all of Alice’s records, he was able to spent sometime and write up the letter we needed to continue our process. Bless his heart, he gave the courts exactly what they wanted, knowing that it was in God’s hands. He was willing to take Alice as a patient if she got pregnant, and monitor the entire pregnancy.

Danny’s health insurance: Our attorney was able to do the correct research, and because Alice wasn’t actually receiving assistance (it was directly for lil’ Danny), she could still be a surrogate mother without cancelling Medicaid for her daughter, Danny. Yay!

Egg Retrieval: We were still very concerned about how the egg retrieval would go and whether my heart would be able to handle it. I decided that if by some miracle all the other blocks could resolve themselves, then God was still with us on this and my heart would be fine with the egg retrieval. It was one of the last steps in the process, so we had some time to come up with the extra money for it.

Six-week eval and court appearance: As steps started to unfold, we got closer and closer to the court date. I was still upset about all of us having to appear in court. We all had to take work off, and I felt like it was such a burden on Dan & Alice. I kept praying about it and asking God to continue opening up the way for things to go smoothly. He was doing such an amazing job!
Well, about a month into the legal process, my attorney called me up and said, “I’m about to give you the best news you’ve heard all year. I have never heard of this judge doing this, and I’m personally still in shock. She is waving the court appearance AND the six-week, child protective service, in-house evaluation!!!” I couldn’t believe what a relief I felt. Thank you God!! AGAIN

Can we start?: Because the six-week eval was waved and everything else finally started to fall into place, I immediately called up the nurse that we were working with at the infertility center to see if we were too late to start the medication process. She was alarmed because she didn’t think we could pull it off in time, and she let me know that we had only a few days left before it would have been too late. There were still a few things we had to do, but she was comfortable starting us, assuming they could be handled shortly.

Finances: As for the finances, we were very much trusting, that God would show us a way for it to be possible.