Last week I met up with my mom and two of my Aunts to celebrate a birthday (my Aunt’s, not mine). We just had a casual coffee date, my Aunts were excited to see my belly as one of them I haven’t seen since Mother’s Day and the other, longer than that. There was the inevitable chit chat about my pregnancy, ect. but it was all pretty innocent and harmless.
We moved on from me, to what was going on in everyone else’s lives and my Auntie D announced that she had some exciting news; a pregnancy of course! Her son (my cousin) and his wife just had twins last year so I was fairly certain they weren’t pregnant (again). Her other daughter, who has been married for about a year and a half (and coincidentally is a labor and delivery nurse), doesn’t seem to be in a rush for kids, but she was our best guess as she was the last to get married. My Aunt’s oldest son, T, has one child that was born via surrogate as his wife, E, has an “incompetent cervix” (Doctors verbage, not mine) and cannot carry to term so we all thought that was it for them, just the one. Apparently not the case, as they are having another via surrogate!
I am so excited for them, to have had embryos left from their first cycle that gave them their daughter and to have found another surrogate! I spoke with my cousin’s wife a bit about my IVF experience, since she had at least done the retrieval half of it, and understood how the whole process worked. It was nice being able to talk to someone without having to dumb it down, and having her really understand. I didn’t ask her if they had any embryos left from the cycle that gave them their daughter, as I didn’t think it was my place and she didn’t offer up the info (looking back, when I told her about my pregnancy her surro would have been in the early days of their pregnancy). Their daughter is almost 5 so I didn’t think they were going to try for more, especially not knowing if they would have to cycle all over again. Plus, to find a surrogate, for a second time, I thought that might be difficult as well.
E’s first surrogate (her best friend) already had her own 3 children before carrying E & T’s daughter, so has now had 4 pregnancies and births, so I was pretty sure she was done with carrying babies (no matter who they belonged to in the end). I should also state, that in Canada it is completely illegal to pay for a surrogate (beyond reasonable medical bills for the retrieval, meds, ect.) so you have to find someone who is willing to do it out of the goodness of their heart. Apparently E has some mighty kind and loving friends, since someone else has now stepped up for her and her husband, again. Their surrogate is around 20 weeks along, and they have been waiting until they are much farther along to share the news. They haven’t even told their daughter yet, as they wanted to know the gender first so they could tell their daughter if she was having a brother or a sister. She has been asking about a sibling for a long time, so it is really sweet that her wish will come true (which she may take back after being an only child for 5 years!).
It is really fantastic for them, and of any pregnancy announcement that has surprised and delighted me the most (of people in my “real life”), this is the one. Before moving to surrogacy they got pregnant 3 times on their own and lost all 4 (one set of twins) babies, in the second trimester. Their first daughter was born at 23 weeks and survived on the outside for around a week. None of their other children that E carried were born alive. It was an awful and heart wrenching time for them, especially since they could get pregnant so easily. With the last pregnancy, with their only boy, she was on bedrest early on, and had a cervical cerclage performed to try and keep the baby in as long as possible. To no avail, they lost their little boy as well. When E’s best friend became their surrogate, and birthed their daughter our whole family was so grateful and thankful for such an amazing gift. And now they are receiving that gift again, from someone else!
With the discussion going on, despite the fact that I have gone through IVF and somewhat explained it to my mom and my other Aunt, it was still a bit hard for them to wrap their heads around IVF, surrogacy, ect. Talk got more broad and somewhat centred around infertility. I mentioned that a family friend had said “after her honeymoon she was going to get pregnant” to which I scoffed and said it’s not always that simple. We have another family friend who is in the process of adoption, and disappointed in how long it is taking. I’ve spoken to her on a one on one basis and know how she struggled trying to get pregnant but they never sought any treatment. They just recently found out that as far as any testing shows there is nothing “wrong” with either of them. My Aunt mused that this family friend is a bit of a high strung person, and maybe she is doing harm to her body and cycles by being stressed out (she didn’t say she just needs to relax, but that was the effect of her words).
Of course I felt the need to come to her defense and adamantly insist, that’s not how it works. Especially if there is a medical reason, (and even if it’s unexplained, who knows what the underlying cause is), it can’t be cured by relaxing. They still went on about how stress can effect your body, and your cycle so I had to just let it go so my head didn’t explode trying to argue the point. And it is a hard point to argue, especially when you see women become pregnant naturally after having to use IVF for a first pregnancy, or getting pregnant while a surrogate is carrying a baby for them. But these are anomolies. I wish the real world would stop seeing these situations and using them to placate the infertile world en masse. It’s infuriating.
So although some of the people in my family have been fully immersed in the world of infertility, treatments and the like, doesn’t mean they understand. It was disheartening, especially from people that I have been open with about my own struggles. We never gave anyone a reason for our infertility (as it’s most certainly not their business) but I can’t help but wonder if they think I could have just relaxed a bit more…