A New Pregnancy, and an Old Adage

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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…

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Pieces of Me

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This past Wednesday, on my 28th birthday, we had our nuchal translucency scan. I don’t know the results yet, as the ultrasound findings and blood work get sent back to my doctor and she will advise me accordingly, if there is any cause for concern. I am a little worried because the ultrasound tech kept pursing her lips and scrunching her face when she was taking measurements. It could just be that my bladder wasn’t quite full enough (she told me so when we started, so she had to push quite hard on my abdomen), or the fact that the baby was very squirmy and she was having a hard time getting the correct angle (apparently it needs to be very precise). It should really be a prerequisite that ultrasound techs must have suitable poker face for their job.

Obviously I’m hoping that the main takeaway from that scan is that there are no visible anomalies, or abnormalities, but it was also very exciting to see the baby again. The heart rate was around 160 still, and the tech seemed to think everything looked good (on a vague level). It looked like an actual baby this time, instead of a little shrimp, and it was waving its arms and kicking its legs. We could see the mouth opening and closing. It was pretty amazing, and I am still having a hard time getting my brain to understand that it is my baby, in my uterus. Still just, surreal.

Since we had confirmation that there still is, in fact, a growing living baby inside of me, we decided to go ahead with telling our families this past weekend. I had plans for dinner with my mom, aunt and grandma on Saturday (for my birthday) so I gave my mom a bit of a story that J was dropping me off at her place because his vehicle was in the shop (otherwise it would have been weird that he was there). He brought me to my mom’s and came into her place with me, so I told my mom he just came in to say hi. I had printed out a copy of one of the ultrasound pictures and had pinned it to my shirt under my coat.

We came in the front door behind my mom and she went down the hall while we were taking our boots off. She was over by the kitchen with her back to me, when I took my coat off and said “Mom” so she would turn around. She turned to face me, and it took a few beats for her to notice what was on my shirt. When she saw it her eyes got huge, and she hugged me and kept alternating between “Oh my god” and “I’m so happy for your guys”. She is so excited, as I am an only child, and her only possibility for grandchildren. My aunt and grandma arrived shortly thereafter, but were picking us up to go for dinner. My mom text my aunt to tell them to come in, and my aunt text back “Why?” clearly annoyed. My mom told her that I wasn’t ready yet, so in they came, and I was standing in the kitchen partially hidden. When I came around the corner, my aunt noticed the ultrasound pinned to my shirt and started shrieking! It was hilarious and adorable. This particular aunt is like a second mom to me, and I am the daughter she never had (she has two boys) so it was very special that she was there. And my grandma is just, my grandma. You know, grandmas are such special people, and with mine having early stages of Alzheimer’s/dementia I am glad she could be there.

There were lots of questions, and we gave them a pretty thorough rundown of what we had been through and that we eventually turned to IVF, how the transfer kept getting delayed and cancelled and when we finally did it, and when we found out we were pregnant. They were all very excited, and there were only a few obnoxious questions. My mom asked how much it cost, and when I gave her a figure she replied “well that’s not bad, at least it wasn’t thousands and thousands of dollars.” Um, yes, yes it was, as I just told you. Someone also made mention that we could have another one with the remaining embryos, it was sort of like a “when are you going to have another” before the first one even gets here. I got a little snippy with that question and went on a bit of a rant that people feel it’s their business to ask about other people’s reproductive business. My mom told me I am just a private person, and very sensitive about these things. Clearly she still doesn’t get the inappropriateness of these types of questions, and she probably never will. One reason it is hard to want to try to educate the masses.

The next day, we had lunch with my husband’s family, his parents, brothers, his brother’s wife and our nieces. Again, I had the ultrasound photo pinned to my shirt and because J’s parents are never on time I sat in the restaurant in my winter coat for an awkward 15 minutes before they arrived. Once everyone was finally seated and settled, I went to hang my coat on the rack beside our table. From where the coat rack was, and where J’s mom was sitting, I had my back to her as I took off my coat so I told J to get her attention when I turned around. I stood at the end of the table facing my mother in law while she looked at me, and then at J while I stood there just waiting. She didn’t notice the picture for what felt like an eternity and finally when she saw it, the look of shock registered on her face. Hugs and congratulations were given all around, my sister-in-law hugged me fiercely and told me how relieved and happy she was for us.

After also giving J’s family a slight rundown of how we got to this point, one of the first questions out of my MIL’s mouth was “How much did it cost?”. I was talking with someone else when she asked it, and I sort of just shrugged my shoulders and let J deal with it and he just told her we didn’t really know the exact figure (total lie). She has since asked him if we need any help paying for it, and he told her no. As much as the money would be nice, and we could pay it off of our line of credit, for this I don’t want their money. I have a feeling they may buy us more baby things to try to “make up for it”. I know they have the money and would like to help us but it just gives me icky feelings. They’ve offered to buy us a crib and dresser set, as they did for J’s brother when him and his wife were pregnant. My MIL seems to think we are going to go pick it out immediately but I am still (shockingly) in no rush to buy anything.

Before we told everyone, I was feeling really nervous, which I thought was weird because we knew everyone would be ecstatic. After we told, I was happy and excited but, not like I thought I would be. As I always seem to relate life back to Sex and the City, it reminds me of when Miranda had an ultrasound when she found out her baby was a boy and had a non reaction to the news while everyone else showed great excitement in knowing the gender (as will I). That’s how I felt, as though I should have been outwardly exuding this immense excitement, but I was just sort of meh. Not that I’m not thrilled, but I’m just more of a quiet reserved person, in all types of situtations.

I felt like it was the right time to tell everyone, yet I sort of didn’t want to. It would have been nice to have the NT results back first, to know the gender first, to reach viability first, to have a healthy baby first. Is that unreasonable? I still have this horrible way of dealing with this pregnancy, I just keep expecting the worst, that there will be something terribly wrong, that one day we will go for an appointment and the heart won’t be beating anymore. It’s the reason I don’t want to buy anything too early, or get ahead of myself in any way but we’re going to have to prepare eventually. And for the longest time I’ve been looking forward to this stage, planning for baby. I still am, but it is tinged with this fear that I’ll get ahead of myself, and jinx everything. There’s that unreasonable, superstitious side of me coming out again.

This whole process we have closed ourselves off from involving other people, so it felt almost wrong letting them into our bubble. I wish I could keep this pregnancy just for us, because things get messy when other people get involved. I have complicated feelings on the issue, and how a baby in our lives is going to change the dynamic with our families and it makes me nervous. It may make me sound selfish, but as much as I know this pregnancy makes our families so happy, it feels like by letting them in I am giving a piece of it away.

For now I am trying to take it all in stride, everyone is overjoyed for us, so far things are looking good. We will know the gender hopefully today, eventually we will pick a crib and a stroller, decorate the nursery and continue to prepare our lives for baby, I will try just to enjoy the ride that so many are still struggling for.