I have had some requests for updates lately. Initially I found myself skirting the issue, not wanting to bring up what feels like a constant barrage of shit that has come our collective way since my last posts (whenever they were). Instead, I think I will let it out here. Waffle on for a bit in the hope that I get that nice, cathartic release. I guess I have been putting off posting until now because part of me hoped that I would be able to jump online and announce “I am pregnant!” which sadly, hasn’t happened. But because you know what happens, don’t stop reading. There is a lot going on…
We had our last negative in February of this year. Just under 10 months ago. About the time it takes to conceive and birth a baby (irony sucks sometimes). Since then, its been a bit of a rollercoaster- cliches and all.
We had a group counselling session post negative results. We cried and spoke about everything and nothing, but I came out of it feeling a little better. A little. KiT/CaT had some decisions to make about where to go to from there. Whether this was it, or whether they would look into getting an egg donor (I know I am regressing here and you already know some of this but just go with me, okay). KiT also had a lot of soul searching to do as it was the remainder of her genetic material that had just failed inside me- something I was still feeling incredibly guilty about and something that she needed to come to terms with (if you can ever come to terms with it, of course).
Fast forward a bit and KiT/CaT got a serious offer for eggs. Two offers actually! From two incredibly wonderful, amazing, thoughtful and special women. I wont go into too much detail (I want to respect their privacy), but KiT/CaT made the decision to proceed with one of the ladies and so the process began. July and August were filled with appointments. Egg donation counselling, scans and tests for the ED who I will call Chia. Chia and her husband had to make an appearance in Melbourne a few times (they live regional) which certainly put pressure on them and their young family. In addition, Matt and I needed additional counselling, which I started by saying “NOTHING HAS CHANGED!”. We went over a lot of the same shit and then a report was made. Don’t try to convince me that it was a worthwhile exercise cause I just feel it was a waste of time.
Now here is where it gets fun. Because we had a donor, we needed to reapply to the Patient Review Panel (PRP) for approval for the surrogacy to resume with donor material. We submitted our paperwork prior to the 21st September in the hope of getting an October hearing. Unfortunately, we didn’t realise that police checks and child protection checks needed to be resubmitted as well so they pulled the application until all that could get done. I also needed some updated legal advice- plug for Gaffney Law– Sarah is AMAZING. With everything resubmitted, we waited patiently for the November hearing confirmation but were told that due to an influx of applications, we were pushed back until December. Ugh.
Now, I am going to segue for a bit here. During all that time, Chia was allowed to commence treatment for EPU (egg pick up) after receiving clinic approval. The PRP approval was because I needed permission to carry as a surrogate with donor material- there was nothing to say that the EPU needed to be held up for the PRP. So off they went. CaT had his swimmers checked back in August sometime and they were given the all clear to be frozen. What that meant was that when EPU occurred, the embryos could be made with that frozen sperm which had already passed quarantine and we could transfer as soon as PRP approval came through. Great! Exciting! I was all ready to go, I worked out my pill and how to best time it to coincide with the then expected November PRP approval. I was going to have a November/December transfer!!!
In Mid October, Chia underwent the EPU. From 8 mature follicles, 5 mature eggs were collected. The plan was to fertilise, grow to day 5 and then freeze. Hopefully we would get 2 frosties with a great chance of one turning into a bubba.
The following day after collection, KiT called me with news that I never expected in 1000 years. NONE of the eggs had fertilised. NONE. I felt numb, I was completely speechless and my heart broke again for KiT/CaT. Eventually that numbness turned into anger. I was so fucking pissed at the world for doing this to KiT/CaT. Doing this to us. Doing this to Chia. I wanted to know why and I wanted answers. Here is what I found out:
- It is just something that happens that can’t be explained
Yeah, cause like that fucking helped.
I spoke with our new FS (who is wonderful, by the way) and she told me what she told KiT/CaT. If Chia wanted to do another collection, she would make a few changes:
- Possible change to drug regimen
- Extra scans
- At least 1 scan with FS in Melbourne (not regional as the results can be harder to interpret)
- Fresh sperm sample from CaT (which meant that the entire embryo would need to be quarantined for 3 months after pickup)
And of course, all of the above was assuming that Chia wanted to do another pick up. I think we all made the assumption that the pick up would occur, we would get embryos frozen, get duffed and that would be it. Instead, Chia was confronted with the fact that if she were to go again, she would need to repeat the process. More daily injections, drugs, all the side effects- tiredness, emotions, short temper etc- travelling to Melbourne for scans and the EPU itself. After doing it all and having nothing come from it, making the decision whether or not to go again would be incredibly difficult. I could only imagine the thoughts; What if I go again and get no eggs fertilised again? What if I say no and smash KiT/CaT’s dream of becoming a family into a million pieces? Did I want her to go again? Absolutely! But I needed to store away my selfishness and support Chia in her decision, no matter which way she decided to go.
In the meantime, my head was spinning at a million miles an hour. Calculations- another EPU, quarantine, transfer times, possible unsuccessful transfers, pregnancy etc etc etc. The best case scenario would result in a child being born in late 2018. Now lets put that into perspective. In July of 2015 we indicated to KiT/CaT that we would like to talk more about surrogacy with them. In November of 2015 (almost to the day), we made an official offer. That was 2 years ago. 2 years ago! If someone had have told us that 2 years later, there would still be no baby, we wouldn’t have believed them. We thought at that time that our relationship was so strong that it HAD to work. Little did we know, hey?
So I had some decisions to make. Some tough decisions. Surrogacy wasn’t a forever thing for me. And it certainly has implications on my marriage and my kids and I knew that KiT/CaT would be my last IP’s. Although if I am completely honest, I was thinking that we would have a child and then would jump straight into a sibling project if that was what they so desired. But to be here, 2 years down the track with not even a sign of one child, I am gutted. And tired. Emotionally tired. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that my feelings are the only things to take into consideration here. I cant speak for KiT and CaT but I know that what I am feeling is absolutely NOTHING like what they are feeling and I am so aware of that too. But I had to think about me- my wants and needs and goals, those of my family and also about KiT/CaT. I had to be selfish.
So I called an emergency meeting. I needed to get it all out and off my chest. I had spoken to Matt, cried, thought so much that my head felt like it had exploded and came to a decision.
I am sure that when KiT/CaT walked into our house that day, they expected the worst. I told them both what we had been thinking; we spoke about our relationship and what it meant to us and our wonderful communication that had bought us to the present without argument or issue. I spoke about our collective dreams, of KiT being my birth partner, of initially contemplating a sibling project and what my original expectations were in comparison to now. Obviously very different. I also said that if they wanted another surrogate, I would accept that, because all I wanted to see was them become parents. And then I told them one of the hardest things that I have ever had to tell anyone- that I was setting a deadline. It meant that if this deadline passed without us having a positive pregnancy test, that I would have to pull out. We would have to pull out. That was it. It was so fucking hard to tell them that. I didn’t want to place pressure on anyone but in the same vein, where does it stop? If I wanted to make some changes in my life post uni (which finishes mid 2018), I couldn’t keep trying to get pregnant forever. Of course, KiT/CaT were supportive of this- that is the kind of people they are. They were so incredibly grateful for all we had done for them up to now and for the scarifies we would continue to make in the future. They were understanding of the deadline and the reasons behind it. They also commented that they needed to do some soul searching- particularly if Chia decided not to go ahead with another EPU. Whilst we didn’t come out of the meeting with absolute clarity about what was to come, we all knew what each other were thinking and considering.
The deadline we offered was reasonable. Not too far away but not too close. Enough time to hopefully secure another donor if Chia pulled out (it would cut it close though) and enough time for multiple transfers if Chia donated again (although we hope we would only need one- the universe owes us something, doesn’t it??). And working forward, enough time that I could deal with being pregnant and not let that turn into resentment because the process had taken longer than anticipated.
We have all taken some time since then. Pulled back from things a bit. But we have all continued to communicate what we are thinking and feeling which is great. Our relationship is still so strong and we have an awesome time when we see one another. Of course, we would have wanted to be feeling this way being pregnant or with a child in KiT/CaT’s arms but I am confident that we will get there.
Back to today.
Chia has decided to go for one more EPU which is wonderful and fills us all with both nervous optimism and hope. Once this has occurred, embryos will need to serve a 3 month quarantine period before being released for transfer. Wont that feel like forever?! In that time, we will receive PRP approval. Whilst nothing firm has been set for EPU date wise, it is highly unlikely that I will birth before 2019. A hard thing to get my head around but something I just have to accept.
In the meantime, we plod on. We plan for Christmas and Christmas parties, we shop, we study, we train, we work, we parent, we laugh and love. We feel grateful for what we have, whilst feeling hopeful for what is to come. While it still feels like shit is being flung our way at times, we deal with it- some days better than others.
I will leave you with a happy image from a recent family holiday we took. I decided it was a great idea to get married. Again. This time with the kids. It was such a special and wonderful day and the kids loved it. It bought us back to the present and reminded us of how truly lucky and loved we are.
I probably wont post again for a while. Things are their usual crazy busy and I have a lot to focus on outside of surrogacy. So for now, have an amazing Christmas and New Year. I hope for everyone, wherever they are in their lives or surrogacy, that their dreams come true, that they are happy, that they are loved. xo
And just a quick P.S. Happy Birthday to my little surrogate mate, Ethan who celebrates his 3rd birthday this week! He is my shining light, a reminder of all we as surrogates and IP’s sacrifice and go through to birth and have a child. I adore watching him grow and learn and this weekend we have a fantastic celebration planned. Nay loves you xo