Short answer: Yes, we’ve considered it. No we won’t be pursuing it.
If you’re reading this, then obviously, I need to give more than the short answer. Okay, so let’s star with some background… There are a lot of things stacked against me that make it less than likely that I will carry a baby to term, and that’s presuming I could get pregnant again…
As you probably already know, I have PCOS. In order to conceive Lily and Anika, David and I turned to the help of a fertility specialist. Doctor H was amazing. We both really loved her and her clinic. We didn’t, however, love me on the fertility drugs. It was hard on my body, hard on my sanity, hard on our relationship. David and I both knew, when we were trying for Anika, that we couldn’t ask each other to go through the process again. It was a lot of early mornings, a lot of blood tests, the drugs (as I just mentioned), and the timing made things less fun. It really put a strain on us, and the only way we were able to get through it was knowing it was temporary and seeing the promise of a healthy baby as the light at the end of the tunnel. After experiencing two late term losses that light at the end of the tunnel was actually an oncoming train of grief and pain and loss.
So, once I got pregnant that wasn’t the end of the challenges. My body doesn’t produce or metabolize progesterone properly. It doesn’t produce enough, and it metabolizes it too quickly. Progesterone is what I call the “sticky hormone” it helps the placenta et al adhere to the uterine wall and helps to maintain the pregnancy. I had to be on progesterone suppliments with both pregnancies to keep our girls in as long as I did.
Just because the girls were sticky didn’t guarantee their safety. I have an incompetent cervix, this means that my cervix (the barrier between the uterus and the vagina which is supposed to stay closed and keep out infection with the help of the mucous plug) begins to open under the weight of a growing baby and placenta and amniotic fluid. We didn’t find out until it was too late with Lily, but with Anika we did a preventative cerclage at 12 weeks, and I was on modified bed rest from 7 to 17 weeks and then on full bed rest from 17 weeks (when we saw the first signs of my cervix failing again) until I delivered at 20 weeks.
With both girls I ended up with an infection in my uterus. With Lily it was secondary and likely caused by me losing the mucous plug and then being partially dilated for almost a week. With Anika it was primary and probably what started the contractions which caused the cerclage to tear my cervix. The infection likely found it’s way into my uterus because of the cerclage… The only thing stopping me from losing her sooner. That infection was very very bad. So bad that I could have died.
With a torn and incompetent cervix, a history of infection, problems with progesterone and PCOS I think it is safe to say that my body is not made to bear children. So we won’t be trying that again. We can’t put me physically or both of us emotionally through that rollercoaster again knowing that it will most likely end in another late term loss, and another urn to pick out, and another memorial tattoo of too tiny footprints that we will never see grow.
Well then why don’t we try surrogacy?
Short answer: There are no guarantees and we can’t live through another loss.
There are a lot of factors involved in surrogacy. There’s the legal side of it, lawyers are needed to start the process, and work out the surrogacy agreement. After the baby is born they will have to undergo genetic testing to make sure that they are genetically related to the right person/people, and this will have to be proven to the court. Then there’s a bunch of paperwork that has to be signed in order for the intended parents to become the legal guardians of the child instead of the surrogate mother.
The medical side of it comes in how this new human is created either through IVF using eggs harvested from the intended mother and sperm from the intended father, or IUI if the surrogate’s eggs are going to be used. There are risks for both the intended mother and the surrogate mother if IVF is used, and it is more expensive and more invasive than IUI, the success rate is at best 43% per attempt. If IUI is used instead the risks are lower as it is less invasive, and the intended mother is not involved, it is also less expensive, but the success rate is also lower at potentially less than 20% per attempt. IUI is also in more of a legal grey area as the baby is genetically linked to the surrogate and not the intended mother.
Then there’s the money side of it… for the IVF type it could be as little as $32600 (that’s just over a thousand less than the starting price of a 2016 Mazda MX-5) if you get lucky and with the first round of IVF covered in Ontario in some cases, or it could be upwards of $76500. For the IUI type it could be as low as $22600 (for about hundred bucks more you could get a 2017 Mazda CX-3) of course it could end up being more than $76500 too.
But these factors alone aren’t what stopping us. The big thing is that David and his ex lost a baby at 14 weeks and David and I have already lost two. There are absolutely no guarantees that surrogacy would work for us and we would absolutely hate to bring another person into the depth of our loss.
Okay, then, Adoption?
The majority of children that are up for adoption are 6 years old or older, David spoke with some people about adoption before we began seeing Doctor H the first time around. He was told that although there are no age limits for adoptive parents, babies will go to younger parents. If a baby comes up and there’s a couple who are in their 30s and a couple in their 20s who would fit, the couple in their 20s will get the baby.
There is again a whole legal process to go through, letters to write, home visits, court stuff… is a long process. And although public adoptions are cheap compared to private/agency/international adoptions, there’s still a price there. And again there are no guarantees.
It’s really the no guarantees again that gets us. We don’t know the child’s history, or what horrors they may have suffered, we could jump through hoops for years and not end up with a child at all or end up with a child with scars we are ill equipped to handle. It takes a special type of person or couple to be adoptive parents and at this point we simply don’t feel called to that life or the challenges and heartbreak it could offer.
So What Now?
We have tempted fate as much as we can bear. David and I love each other so much and we really wanted to share that love with children… But that is not where our story has brought us. We are going to accept that we have our angel daughters, and although the rest of the world may not see us as parents, we know in our broken and aching hearts that we are. We will grow in our love for one another and for our family. We will live the best life we can in memory of Lily and Anika. And we will be the best aunt and uncle we can be to our nieces and nephews.