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I need a pig here!

March 12, 2010

So a British couple finally had twins after doing IVF for 25 years.  Having been on the same road myself, I want to reach out to them and ask if they had any regrets.  Ask them a few questions —

Do you feel, after working so hard to get there, that you are not entitled to complain even a teensie little bit when you’ve had no sleep for 8 weeks after delivery? Or you just so over the moon with happiness that the lack of sleep merely makes you giddy?  Can you laugh without peeing your pants or is your body so friggin worn out from being pregnant at 50 (I imagine) that it simply can’t recover?  Does a Diaper Genie hold Depends, too?

We’ve been TTC for nearly 8 years now.  We started when I was 38.  Because my mother died when she was 36, I had no idea that I’d be peri-menopausal by 40.  It wasn’t until I opened up about our struggle and mentioned it to my older sister (by 16 months) who told me that she was in menopause already.  My maternal aunts confirmed that they all went into menopause around 42-45 as well.

I suppose it should have been obvious to me – or at least to the doctors – when they noticed I had not had a natural period for about 2 years.   But no, they kept trying “for us.”

This was back in the days when they wouldn’t do an IVF cycle if fewer than 10 follicles emerged.  They reduced about 12 of my IVF cycles down to IUI (intrauterine insemination) because they “liked to see 10 follicles or more” due to the fact that only about 50% of what you retrieve fertilize and then only 50% of those make it to blastocyst stage for transfer.  Our last 2 clinics told us they’d have done the IVF from day 1 with me regardless of how many follicles come down the pike.  It only takes one as they say – now.

Looking back on those days, I want to crawl into bed and cry for a few hours, then not get up again for a very long time.  To think, I produced up to 4 follicles on quite a few of those cycles.  After years of changing my diet, exercise habits, giving up promotions to reduce my stress level, quitting a job that entailed international travel due to the restrictions for taking medicines that needed to be kept at just the right temperature on the plane with me, acupuncture, herbal teas that tasted like a freshly-paved road, we still had a chance with one of those many 4 follicle cycles over those 3 years.  A chance of having a child that combined our unique DNA together.  OUR baby.  A very small chance…but still…ours.

Then, suddenly, I got pregnant during a “down cycle.”  Unfortunately, I was on vacation when it happened and I had brought the meds for my next cycle with me.  Per instructions, I started the high doses of estrogen just as I hit 7 weeks and it was, apparently, waaaay too much.  That was my first miscarriage.  And my last pregnancy with my own eggs.

It took nearly a year for me to listen to the doctors when they said we should move on to donor eggs.  I just couldn’t give up the chance to have my own child.  It’s a struggle I can’t even begin to put into words here or it will mess me up again for the entire weekend.  And I do so want to see Alice tonight and enjoy The Red Queen, who I hear steals the show.

Besides, I also love a warm pig belly for my aching feet.

[And, fyi, when Smumzie starts talking in third person with an appallingly bad British accent, you should picture the Red Queen from now on for that truly is who Smumzie is deep inside her black little heart.]

Anyway, this past Monday, we transferred 2 fresh 4BB embryos from our new egg donor into our new surrogate.  We have only 1 4BB embie frozen from this cycle (from a 22 yo donor – we expected many more to be honest) and 2 3CC embies from our last donor (who was 30 and produced double the number of follicles this 22 yo did).  Our experience has been that only about 20% of the frozen embies survive the thaw, so we have no real hope that any of these that do survive it will live to transfer or result in a live birth. Which makes this fresh cycle most probably our last cycle ever.

Then it’s decision time again.  Do we keep trying or move on?  Skiddle will graduate from high school in 3 years.  I’ll be 50 then.  BH will be mid-fifties.  Did you know that some countries now put an age limit on adoptions?  Some places limit you if you’re more than 20 years older than the birth mother.  Others say 50 is the cut off.

I can see why.  Today I’m 46 but my birthday is in about a month.  I simply cannot fathom having the energy and patience that a toddler will need when I’m 52 or 53.  It feels wrong to me.  A personal observation only – not a criticism of anyone else’s situation.

And I’m kind of looking forward to retiring.  Moving from the expensive and fast-paced Manhattan suburbs out to someplace like Portland, OR where recycling is de rigueur and a high percentage of the population bicycles to work.  We could run our real estate business from anywhere; I could continue to write short stories and YA novels – maybe throw in a screen play or two.  Life could be good.

I’m just not sure it would be good enough.

I’m on the verge of tears, constantly fearing the ringing phone, worrying that our surro, who I’ll call “Sara” in remembrance of a great blogger (now retired) – Get Up Grrl, will call and say she’s spotting or has started her period suddenly.  And knowing that even after the 2WW, those first 2 blood tests don’t mean a thing.  It’s the third one that’s a bitch.  The one that always seems to bite us in the ass.  The one that stops going up…

After all this time, all the effort, all the money, all the hopes, plans, dreams  – it’s all come down to this.  And that third test (if we even get a positive on the first one).  It seems so surreal to be there.  At the end.  One way or another.

And it’s crushing me inside.

  1. Don’t let your age or your husband’s age, or Skiddle’s age stop you, from having a child, however that child comes into your family. Foreign adoptions are the only ones that are capping age limits, not domestic. My husband is almost 51, I am 35, we have 4 daughters between us, and then Mea. Our older girls are 26, 25, 24, and Mack is 17 1/2, and Mea is 3 1/2. All the girls completely dote on her, and love her to death. My husband swears that Mea is keeping him young. Don’t get discouraged. I’m keeping you in my thoughts, that this cycle, is the one for you!

  2. Thank you, Kelly. We nearly adopted 3 years ago but then “complications” arose – which I should probably write about. This blog is a cleansing process for me. I think in many ways, I’m using it to prep myself for the end of all the IVF stuff. And the continuation of being there for Skiddle. And BH truly is young at heart and youthful…if not for the fact that his “salt n pepper” hair started in his 20’s people would think he was in his early 40’s.

    We may give adoption a try if this last one doesn’t work – and I’ll be once again combing the net for the adoption blogs. I get more info from personal experiences than I do from the organizations…

  3. Alexicographer permalink

    I don’t feel I can advise you as heaven knows I have a hard enough time figuring out what’s right for me. I will say that the one child I’ve been graced with (through IVF) was born when I was a young 😉 38, but DH was 54. I don’t know that DH feels DS is keeping him young (and a common line when out and about with DS and congratulated on his “grandchild” is “He’s no grandkid! I was 25 when he was born, but he’s worn me out!”), but we cope. DH actually is retired, and that helps. And if the system doesn’t change, when DH turns 62 we’ll all qualify for Social Security — him as a retiree, me as the spouse of a retiree with a dependent child, and DS as that dependent child. Based on DH’s predicted benefits it would only take … quick back-of-the-envelope calculation … 6 years for those benefits to cover what it cost us to conceive DS …

    • Ouch! I feel your pain on that one. Isn’t it strange? I never thought I’d be watching my friends’ kids graduate from high school before I even got the chance to have one of my own. BH doesn’t worry so much about people commenting on his “grandkid” – I think because his hair went gray at such a young age he’s used to people kind of wondering how old he really is. Me on the other hand? I’m freaking out. The first person to ask if my kid is my grandchild gets a smack.

      • Alexicographer permalink

        LOL. Yes, I’m pretty sure DH has wanted to deliver some smacks. Here’s one tip: stay out of Walmarts. He gets this a lot from greeters there (yes, we do shop there). But then, many are themselves grandparents and, too, many of the parents-of-young-children who shop there are much younger than we are.

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