When you’ve been through the emotional roller coaster of infertility, which experience could be singled out as the “worst” feeling?
For me, after four years of needles, medications, transfers, surgeries, pregnancies and losses, and near-death experiences, now that we are pursuing having a baby by surrogacy, the worst part for me is that I am acknowledging that I will never carry my own child.
Yet I wait with great expectation for this to happen. I want so much for this to work that I will wait and wait some more for a surrogate match.
Waiting, of course, is not uncommon with infertility. Infertility is similar in some ways to what I imagine it’s like being in the military, starting with the idea that there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Sometimes it also really feels like you’re in a war. A war that you may never win. A war inside of your soul with daily battles fueled by internal questions like:
Will I ever be a mother?
Am I being punished?
Why is this happening to me?
Then there is all of the self-loathing that is like being riddled with stray bullets, which come in the form of thoughts like:
This is all my fault.
I am not worthy.
No one will ever love a barren woman with no children.
I miss the babies I’ve lost.
This time, however, I am not waiting for a blood test result, or wracking my brain during a two-week wait. I am not waiting to find out if my FSH is too high, if my AMH is too low, or if they are going to remove my uterus while I lay in a hospital bed with a balloon in it keeping me alive. I am no longer waiting to find out if we made any normal embryos or if I am pregnant. I am not waiting to see if I will survive the AVM (arteriovenous malformation) procedure that nearly killed me or if the lab could create the $10,000 PGD test for a chromosomal abnormality that my husband carries.
This time I am waiting for my match… my surrogate match. A match with a woman somewhere out there that will—we hope—carry my child.
It has been two and a half months since we gave the agency $42,000. That’s right—
$42,000—as a deposit to try to help us have a baby. It may not seem like a long time in the infertility waiting game but when you lay down that much money and you’re waiting for something so incredibly important, every day seems interminable.
For me, after four years of needles, medications, transfers, surgeries, pregnancies and losses, now that we are pursuing having a baby by surrogacy, the worst part for me is that I am acknowledging that I will never carry my own child.I never thought that I would have to take a loan out on my house for a child. I used to read stories about people who lost their homes to build a family and now I could be one of them. The surrogacy process is long and arduous, with many twists and turns and we do not even have a match yet.
After six rounds of IVF, two near-death episodes (one was from an AVM that burst in my uterus), and many pregnancies and losses (losing twin boys at 23 weeks), this wait is the worst.
There are new questions to make me feel “less than,” as if my spirit was not already shredded into a million pieces.
Is my (surrogate) match out there?
Will she like us?
Will it work?
How has it come to this?
Once we decided to move away from my physically having a baby, I thought I would feel better, but I do not. On one hand, I am relieved that I do not have to endure another needle, medication, blood draw, transfer, cycle, surgery, procedure, or another pregnancy that may end in a loss or my own death. On the other hand, I am devastated and broken because I will never carry my own child.
This loss is the heaviest of all.
What’s often not understood about a significant physical loss is that you have the weight of all of the additional loss that comes with it. When I lost my fallopian tube, I also lost the idea of having a baby the natural way. When I lost the first pregnancy, I lost the idea that assisted fertility was definitely going to work. When I lost the boys at 23 weeks, I almost lost my will for this journey and many friends who could not bear to even look at me, let alone talk to me.
Now we have given up the physical and psychological ideal of having a traditional, biological child of our own one day.
But we still forge ahead. We try to stay focused on the positive aspects of our new endeavor, our new goal.
While we have let go of many relationships with children, loved ones, or friends that could not withstand the hard road we walk, we have also gained very special relationships. We have developed amazing friends that have stood by us every step of the way. I consider our families and true friends brave to walk through this war with us. My doctor continues to walk with us and has patched my soul on more than one occasion. While none of these relationships can take away the deepest heartbreak that we have endured, they do help to put back the pieces of our hearts, one fragment at a time.
The day that our phone rings with my match for a surrogate, will I truly gain back my hope? Will my heart start to heal? I am ready to meet her—this person worth the wait, the one who can help us have our baby.
Ruthie Lydon is a high school guidance counselor in Boston. She is a wife, mother to angel babies, AVM and infertility survivor, advocate, and the creator of the #hopeaddictcampaign (@hopeaddict6 on Instagram) to raise awareness for infertility and pregnancy loss. Her mission is not only to become a mother, but to help others who may be suffering in silence through support, awareness, and advocacy. Check out her video for her #hopeaddictcampaign at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyeSt3fyuYg
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