Friday, September 21, 2007

Choosing My Replacement

Tonight I finally sat down to complete our Donor profile for the Doctors in Zlin, Czech Republic. I've been putting this off and hadn't really stopped to examine my reason for doing so. As I sat here, tonight, however, outlining the characteristics I require of my donor I understand. I'm choosing my replacement.

I've fully accepted that Donor Egg is the route we should pursue as it is the only route that allows my husband to fulfill his deep need for a genetic link and it satisfies my desires to be pregnant and bond with my child for 9 months before actual birth. But - I am trying to find another me somewhere in the Czech Republic and that realization just drives the stake further into the coffin that holds my hope of genetic children.

Blood type match is of ultimate importance to me as I'm not decided that I will ever disclose this to our children. There are may debates and arguments on both sides - more on the side of full disclosure it seems but I'm not ready to embrace that yet. And - in all fairness - I don't think I have to be at the moment.

The second item on my list is no family history of mental illness. I chose to put this above education. One of my greatest secret fears is that we will have gone through all of this pain to find an entire lifetime of struggle with mental illness. I'm not sure why this scares me so but it does. It's the one thing that keeps me awake at night when I think of this entire process.

Education, of course, was next. A college graduate or current student is our requirement. Further - I would prefer her major course of study be in the arts as that was and is my focus. My husband is a scientist and it's very important to me that our children represent the balance that our partnering would bring to our own children. So - I actually specified on my profile that our donor could not have a degree in or be majoring in engineering or other sciences. I wonder if I am the only person that's ever had that request. I imagine the doctor reading that and thinking what a weirdo I must be. I think that also bothers my husband a little bit but to choose someone otherwise would be adding something that's foreign to me to the equation. Further - back to the mental illness fear - they say that scientists and engineers have a much higher risk of having autistic children.

Finally I requested a donor that is artistic - enjoys reading, painting and/or music - the later of which is of utmost importance to me. Again - my understudy should be as close to the original cast as possible, no?

All of this made me a little sad. I've grieved and resolved this loss as best I know how but it's just another layer of reality. My prayer is that nurture really does play more of a part than nature. And - that as I carry a baby form foreign DNA that I can bond and love it so that when it is finally born I won't even care.

Of course - this is all based on a lot of assumptions - I suppose the first step is actually pressing the send button and finalizing this first step.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Foolish Games

One would think that after 5 years and month after month of negative results and the diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve and only one tube left that happens to be blocked - I would no longer be prone to kidding myself those few days before my period each month - but I am, in fact, still a sucker.

I'm a day late and nauseous and there's a little person in the back of my mind that starts turning "it could be a miracle!" cartwheels. Tomorrow she'll fall flat on her ass and realize how silly she looked - a girl her age should never do cartwheels. She's relentless too. No matter what I do to ignore her - she's right there demanding attention - spinning and twirling and causing my mind to toss around thoughts I wish I simply would never have again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Speed of Light

That's how fast I feel we are moving right now. It's pretty interesting how I've actually developed some pretty strong characteristics from all of this. I can't think of anything else that is quite the emotional and time roller coaster. One day we're balling the next day we're hopeful because we've found new option. One month seems to drag by and we feel life is just at a stand still and the next we wish we could slow it down. Flexibility, Agility, and Resolve are some of the great things I've learned from all of this.

I am feeling very rushed right now though. While I do want to move with DE as quickly as possible when I hear we may do this as soon as December I lose my breath. I can't imagine that we are really doing this. Don't get me wrong - I want to do this - I'm just shocked we're moving so fast. I have to get all of my medical records and complete our donor profile and, of course, write another check (though this one is much easier to write since it's a manageable amount) with in the week. On top of that - work is crazier than it's ever been. I'm working 14 hour days trying to roll-out new projects and it's the end of the quarter and I have to go to India for a month in November - which brings it's own set of concerns....Ahhhhh!!!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Danger of Hope

Hope is an essential emotion. Hope has saved lives and gotten people through unimaginable circumstances. Many holocaust victims credit this single emotion with allowing them to survive impossible conditions - the hope of the life they once knew or the hope of seeing their family again. Hope is the fuel that drives the most successful of people - the hope of financial freedom or the hope of creating a legacy. Hope is the hand that pulls children out of the inner cities and into the great colleges of our country - the hope of a better life.

For me - Hope has been the salt in the infertility wound. With every cycle comes the hope that this is it. That this is the cycle that will get me pregnant. Of course - with every negative test result - the loss of that hope is the source of the deepest pain. I wish someone had told me when I started IVF that I should check hope at my doctor's door.

As we begin to make plans for our donor egg cycle fear is the predominant emotion. Not the hope that was always there before. I fear the potential of more wasted money. I fear the fact that I may not get pregnant. I fear the doctor's will not be completely be honest with me about my donor. I fear if this doesn't work my husband will not be able to love me anymore. But - most of all I fear the unexpected visit of hope. I've tried to hide from it. I've tried to lock my heart so tight that it can't get in but it is creeping in and that makes me feel panicked.

Panicked because I don't know how much disappointment I can handle. Because I think at some point I will be so lost that there's nothing left of the woman my husband fell in love with. Panicked because I don't know who I will be if I am not a mother. And panicked because I'm afraid the God I thought was always there has forgotten about me - just like Celie in The Color Purple - "Dear God, I've always tried to be good. ...Please let me know what is happening to me."

But there it is. Hope. Starring me in the face and filling my heart. Maybe this really will be it this time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

If at First You Don't Succeed.....

We have made a decision! I'm so excited to just move out the holding pattern we've been in. I just feel like I need to constantly be moving forward. Forward motions helps me feel as if I am progressing - even if I have to double back a few times...

We've decided to go with Donor Egg. We've also decided to work with a clinic in the Czech Republic. I simply can't imagine spending another $25,000 on a chance again. At least in the Czech Republic the cost is roughly half of what it would be, here, in the states and we'll get a fantastic vacation at the same time.

I'm just waiting to find out my dates.

So very happy to be moving again!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Why Do You Want Children, Anyway?

A good friend of mine once asked me this question as we were beginning our first round of IVF. Many people ask questions like this out of pure stupidity - innocent as it may be. Her question, however, was smart and little did she know that it has shaped my emotions around my choices as they have become fewer and fewer.

When she asked me this question I was shocked - and a little embarrassed - that I didn't have a great answer for her. "Because I'm a woman" or "I just do - I feel like I want to be a mother" is all I could come up with off the cuff. As I thought about this question, however, I realized the absolute importance of the reasoning.

The fact that I'm a woman and wired for children or have this innate desire simply isn't a suitable justification for the stress I am putting my body through trying to get pregnant. This amount of effort deserves an honest and realistic probe into the emotions that propel us into the long and painful process of infertility treatments.

I've pondered this question for quite some time but I didn't get really honest with myself until my current condition forced me. Now that I have few, if any, eggs left this question takes on an entire new meaning. Just how much does the genetic link play into my desire for children?

Through all of this soul-searching, what I have found is it really doesn't play a role, at all. I am surprised that I can separate being a mother from being genetically linked to my child. While, there is definitely grief at the loss of being able to have genetic children, my desire to mother - to parent - reaches far deeper than that. The two really are totally separate issues for me.

So - why do I want children? I want children because I want to parent. I want to experience the good the bad and the ugly. I want to raise children to be healthy, wise adults that become productive members of society. And I do mean raise. I understand all of the hard work, exhaustion, frustration and even pain that goes into raising children - and I'm crazy enough to want all of it. For me the answer is the same as it would be for another when asked why they practice in their particular profession. (my disclaimer on this analogy is a person who actually enjoys what they do for work...)

What I can not, yet, explain is why I want everything that is inherent in parenting. Biology is certainly the first reason that comes to mind but I'm not completely satisfied with that. I also think that God places these desires on our heart and thereby He may have "called" me to be a parent.

I've learned that my motive for wanting children is my desire to parent - not my desire to leave a legacy through my genetics, or have the love from a child that I may not have received from another source. I also don't have the illusion that my children will grow up and save the world - I've heard that often - "I want children because I want to make the world a better place". I've seen enough children and met enough people to realize that we're not all making the world a better place - in fact - most of us are just existing - to endow a child with this burden seems to be the ultimate display of ego - but I digress.

I would encourage anyone struggling with infertility to answer these questions for yourself. What I learned has been a relief and has removed a layer of stress. While I have a great career and for a time thought if I didn’t have children I would be ok and simply focus on my work - I know, now, that my work is not to be in the board room but in my own home. And I've learned that I should not fear my ability to love a child that isn't genetically related because in the end - that fact is not my driving force.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My Infertility Journey

As I look back on the hell that is infertility I often feel as if I am watching the life of someone else - a stranger - this certainly can't be the picture of my life, can it? My life was not supposed to look anything like this. This is so far from the plan - how did Blythe Adams end up here?

I was born and raised to be a mother. I grew up in the rural south and from early on I learned that women had two expectations and two electives in life. The expectations: Wife and Motherhood. The electives: Teaching or Nursing.

The electives never appealed to me and I always felt slightly deficient because of this. It confounds me, now, how a child in modern times simply could not know all that existed in the world outside of the rural south. The expectations, however, were all I focused on. I wanted the white knight to come and sweep me away from the country-side into his city of lights and noises and everything foreign to me. Motherhood was the pinnacle. I began preparing myself for this role as a teenager. After all - this was the most important call I would answer in life - I should be ready to be great.

The white knight showed up and did sweep me off to his city of lights and everything foreign and we eventually married at age 26. Just a few months after we were married is when the nightmare began. We learned of my infertility by accident. I was having an abdominal catscan performed and the technician moved me down too far. Thank goodness he did. What he saw was a pelvis full of cysts.

Several surgeries, lots of drugs, hundreds of dollars in ovulation tests and 4 years later I finally gave into the notion that IVF was my only option. We found the doctor and then got notice that my employer was going to be covering infertility treatments in 2 months. We were so excited and so sure this was a sign from God that we were doing the right thing.

We changed doctors and immediately began our first IVF cycle in January. My husband and I were almost giddy at this process. We were going to get pregnant! Finally! We started the drugs - 6 shots a day - and did everything perfectly but I simply wasn't progressing. With every ultrasound we prayed for more follicles but all I was growing were more cysts. We cancelled the cycle.

We immediately had the cysts drained and started a new cycle. This time things were looking better. My FSH levels and Estrogen were cooperating - though slowly. Finally - we had follicles! Not many but enough to move forward with retrieval.

The day of retrieval was nerve wracking. I cried the entire time they prepped me. I was so scarred they would retrieve nothing from my few follicles. After the procedure I got the great news! 6 eggs! That was truly amazing given the limited number of follicles and the small endometrioma that was in the way. On Day 3 we transferred. Two perfect Grade A embryos. This was it. I got in the car holding fast to the picture of my two perfect little embryos.

In my mind I was there. Of course, I knew I wasn't yet pregnant but God was pulling through. I talked to them and prayed every minute - "Please let them attach". The next two weeks was absolute torture. I was so nauseous from the progesterone - everyone kept telling me I was pregnant and I kept saying - "Let's not get ahead of ourselves - it's just the progesterone".

The day before my pregnancy test I went shopping. As I walked back to my car I noticed I parked in a spot with a sign. Panicked I had parked in a handicapped spot by accident I ran to the sign to find it was marked for Expectant Mothers. This could be nothing other than a sign from God!

Pregnancy Test

This day changed me. I can honestly look back at my journey, so far, and point to this day as the day that I lost a part of myself.

Sunday morning we drove across town for the pregnancy test. My doctor said he would call with the results. My husband and I held hands and prayed. This is what we had been waiting for. We didn't expect to get the results for awhile so we stopped at an Electronics super-store. He went to the restroom and I waited for him among the blenders and food processors. My phone rang. I answered - it was my doctor. "I'm so sorry - I really thought I would have good news for you. The test was negative." My phone lost reception and cut-off. Everything stopped. Time stood still. My life fell apart and my world shattered in the blender Aisle of Electronics hell while my husband sat on a toilet.

I don't really remember getting to the car but I remember sobbing. Sobbing like I never had before - in the parking lot. My poor husband looked as if someone had knocked the wind out of him. I remember one of first coherent thoughts being "How could this happen to my husband? He wanted this so badly and he had so much faith - how could God disappoint him like this?"

The rest of that day and much of that week is just a blur. I cried until there were no more tears and then I just sobbed with dry eyes. I got angry and screamed at God. I cried for my husband and the pain I knew he was in. Then - I couldn't talk to God anymore and the deep anger set in.

I eventually came back to half-life and started preparing for the next round. I cut out every ounce of caffeine - took more vitamins than I ever had and spent my mortgage in acupuncture treatment each month leading up to the new cycle. We tried a new protocol this time that is ideal for low responders. This time - 0 follicles. Nothing. Not a poor response - no response. Another cycle cancelled. My endometriosis had it's way. Diminished Ovarian Reserve. My doctor said our only real option was Donor Egg. We could start immediately. Just write the check for $25,000 and we can go ahead and move forward.

And here we are - deciding what to do next. Adoption? Donor Egg? Donor embryo? None of these are the options I want. I want a baby that is made from my husband and me. A baby that reflects the best of who each of us is. A baby that has my genes - possibly my love for the written word or my musical ability. But that will not happen for me. And now we face the biggest dilemma I could imagine at 32.

Will my life ever be what I dreamed? What do we do now? I'm not sure what the future looks like. What I know is it's not what I imagined. And I grieve the life that I will not have. The baby that I will not have. The dream that can never be - and the me that I lost along the way.