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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Relationship Challenge: Day 16

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So glad Friday is almost here. It feels like it’s been a really long week. I’m still feeling pretty chill, but that’s normal for the few days after the IUI, because at this point it’s not like I would have any inkling what’s happening in my body anyways. Today and yesterday I’ve had a bit of discomfort in my abdomen (mittelshmerz?) that I’ve had previously around ovulation time, so I’m hoping my ovaries are doing their thing. I found out today that Best Friend is having another boy. And now I feel bad for even saying that it would be hard for me if she was having a girl, because her baby has nothing to do with me. But I mean, she’s having a baby, so she’s happy regardless.

J and I have been in a really good place lately. We’re getting along really well, and feeling rather affectionate as well. Not that we are normally all scrappy and pissy with each other, but things just feel good right now. I think we’re both ready for a new chapter, and we’re so close that we’re just enjoying the last moments before we thrust ourselves into the “new”. Sorry, I don’t have a lot to say today, so here is Relationship Challenge: Day 16

Respond to the Spirit of a Gift

Gifts often strike odd chords with us. As Andy Warhol observed, “You can never predict what little things in the way somebody walks or talks or acts will set off particular emotional reactions in other people.”

Someone give you a big plant, and you worry about killing it. Somebody gives you a cookbook, and you feel guilty about the fact that you haven’t been cooking much. 

On this subject, I was struck by something from Story of  a Soul, the memoir of my spiritual master, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. One day in 1897, when she was in her early twenties, and weakened by the tuberculosis that would soon kill her, Thérèse was sitting in her wheelchair in the garden of her convent, and trying unsuccessfully to write:

“When I begin to take up my pen, behold a Sister who passes by, a pitchfork on her shoulder. She believes she will distract me with a little idle chatter: hay, ducks, hens, visits of the doctor. . . . Another hay worker throws flowers on my lap, perhaps believing these will inspire me with poetic thoughts. I am not looking for them at the moment and would prefer to see the flowers remain swaying on their stems. . . .I don’t know if I have been able to write ten lines without being disturbed. . . however, for the love of God and my Sisters (so charitable toward me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so. ”

Saint Thérèse emphasizes the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they’re offered, instead of responding to the gift itself. She doesn’t want to be distracted with chitchat; she wants to write. She doesn’t want a bouquet in her lap; she wants to see wildflowers growing in the fields. But she takes “care to appear happy and especially to be so.”

I try to remember this every time I get a gift that sets off some kind of internal bad reaction, to make sure that I respond with the enthusiasm that thoughtful gifts should provoke. 

(Of course, reacting to the spirit of a well-intentioned gift is not the same as reacting to a passive-aggressive gift. An electronic calories tracker is probably a gift that should only be given upon request.)

Resolve to “Respond to the spirit of a gift.” It’s a resolution that’s obviously right, but it’s often difficult to do. 

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p>When I first read this one, I thought how can I relate to this, it’s a bit of an odd one. But I got to thinking about all of the well meaning things people can say to an infertile that may be offensive/annoying/ignorant but they are well meaning. I don’t necessarily think it is “our” job to make people feel comfortable, or that what they say/do in regards to infertility is right, but isn’t it better to gently redirect someone that flip out at them and make them think we are a crazy infertile, or that we are being too sensitive/rude/difficult. I don’t discuss my infertility with anyone in real life,  so it’s a little harder for me to put into practice, but people ask me all the time when I am having kids, if I am having kids, and good-naturedly rib me about it, I should try and understand that they think that is something socially acceptable to ask. Tough to do, but might spare me some annoyed feelings in the future.