I wanted to write this post awhile ago, but work was crazy busy leading up to the holidays, and then I was busy with Christmas preparations and celebrations, and then my parents visited for a week. Also, I was too emotionally drained and stunned to write for awhile. Warning, there are a lot of thoughts going through my head to catch up on, so this is going to be a long one.
After getting my diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR), I broke down sobbing at least once a day for several days, maybe even a week. Several words popped into my head to describe how I was feeling: devastated, grief-stricken, demoralized, marginalized, hopeless, crushed, guilty, barren. I felt a lot of guilt because if J had married someone else, he could likely have children with no hassle or financial strain. His parents would have another biological grandchild. I feel horrible that we are in this situation because of me. I feel like I am potentially robbing J of the chance to be a biological father. J, however, was nothing but supportive. He told me not to be “silly” and that he would marry me all over again even if he knew this was the future. He said I didn’t sign up for diabetes either, but to me it’s not the same. He can manage his diabetes and continue to live a full life. It causes some changes to my life, but not overly so. My DOR is life changing for both of us and there may not be a way around it.
The part I am most upset about is the thought of never getting to experience pregnancy (e.g., seeing my belly grow, shopping for maternity clothes, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing him or her on the ultrasound, wondering what the sex would be, feeling the baby move and kick, talking to my belly and knowing there really is a baby in there), labor and delivery (I know it would be painful, but I don’t want to be robbed of the experience), and, most importantly, the feeling of holding my baby for the first time that people try to describe but can’t because it needs to be experienced. That instant feeling of the most intense love possible.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that being pregnant and delivering our baby is more important to me than my genetic connection to the baby. So I started thinking about and looking into donor eggs. Apparently women with DOR have great success with donor eggs because the issue isn’t about our capability to carry a child. Even though there are many benefits to living in Canada, easy access to egg donation is not one of them. Since 1994, it has been illegal to buy eggs. Therefore, it looks like most people seeking donor eggs buy eggs from the US (or even travel to the US to do their IVF) or another country. That would definitely rack the price up even more and there are probably a ton of hoops to jump through. There is, of course, the option of having someone donate eggs to you directly, but I could never ask someone I know for that. First off, that person would have to take injectable hormones, which is not fun for both the needle and side effect factors (and I have friends who keep their bodies very pure, so I am sure they’d be out of the question). Second, the donor would be giving up one of her eggs which means that a) if all went well, she’d have a genetic child out there (not just out there, but raised by a friend – this might be easier for some and harder for others) that she would not raise and b) what if the donor decided to have more kids but then she was short on eggs at that point. So while I would gladly accept an egg donation, I could never ask anyone for it.
As time went on, I started feeling less despair and more hope. I once again was in a place where I could start looking forward to the future and a game plan. At that point, adoption felt more viable again. Yes, I want to experience pregnancy, but really it’s being a mother and seeing J as a father that matter most. And I know we would love a child who comes to us by adoption and we would make sure any child of ours knows how loved they are. I know it would be different, for us and the child, but I know our love would be as strong for a biological or adopted child. J and I had a really good talk over dinner one night about adoption. He’s totally on board with it and is open to exploring both domestic and international options. I asked him what his family would think if we had a child of another race (although my major concern would be the effect of transracial adoption on our child(ren)). His family are good people, but they aren’t the most educated or politically correct (a bit hick/redneck in their speech, even though there’s no malice behind it). J’s instant response was that he didn’t care. Basically, he let me know that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, we’re having a child one way or another and we will love and accept our child no matter what color he or she is. At the same time, he said he was sure his family would love and accept our child, as they were none too thrilled about his brother’s girlfriend getting pregnant and now they are so completely in love with our niece (and they aren’t too happy about the second baby due in March, but I know they’ll love him just the same).
To backtrack a bit, a day or two after we heard the news, I was looking through my internet history, trying to find a site I had been on and accidentally closed. I noticed that a few of my blog entries, including old ones, had been opened the day before. I asked J about it and he told me that he wasn’t trying to snoop, but he had read some of my blog (including my post about the diagnosis). J never showed interest in reading my blog before and I wasn’t exactly hiding it from him, so instead of feeling like he was snooping, I felt touched that he had read some of it. I asked what he thought and he told me that he cried. He hadn’t shown me the depths of his emotions in regards to the diagnosis and our struggle, but knowing that he wanted to know more about what I was thinking and feeling and that he let himself release his emotions while reading my blog meant a lot to me.
The more I talk about an emotional situation, the more it helps me process through it. I appreciate questions from friends (e.g., just checking in on how I’m doing, asking about my RE appointments, asking questions about the IVF process, asking about what exactly DOR means, etc.). The more I talk about it the more I can take a practical, proactive approach to it rather than letting all my fears and grief absolutely consume me. For the most part, my friends have been super supportive. One friend called me after I told her the news and I could feel the love and compassion in her voice. I know that my heart was broken for her due to something that occurred in her life and I know that she loves me enough to feel the same for me in this situation. Another friend replied to the email I sent her and, again, I could feel the love and empathy coming through. The words of my friends made me choke up because it meant so much to have friends who care about me enough to feel a bit of my pain on my behalf and to want to be able to heal it, even though they can’t. At the same time, I have felt a bit let down by some friends. One friend never even wrote me back and another seems at a loss for what to say (I sense awkwardness in her messages to me). Another friend tries to be supportive, but as she’s pregnant (and rightfully wrapped up in that), it’s hard for me to feel truly supported by her (e.g., I’ll say something about how I’m feeling and she’ll follow it up with how she felt the baby kick).
In talking to my mom about DOR, she said she thinks it probably runs in her family. She wanted 4 kids, but only had me (pregnant at 32, gave birth at 33). My maternal grandmother had a stillborn daughter and then my mother. My maternal grandmother’s mother only had 2 children back in the day of no birth control and large families. I always thought I had to have all my kids by 32/33 because of my mom, but I never thought I’d be faced with this reality at 29.
Some other random bits and pieces: my acupuncturist “dropped” me. She said that she couldn’t really do anything for me right now and that it would be good for me to take a break. She said she could help with the side effects of the injectables and before and after egg transfer. I felt like it was one more nail in my coffin, like I must be so bad that she no longer sees the point in trying to help. I still like her and I will go back during IVF because the research really supports that it helps with IVF, but in that moment I felt abandoned. The night of our diagnosis or maybe the one after, J and I had sex – really loud sex. It wasn’t about trying to conceive, it was just about needing my husband. I needed to reaffirm life and to be physically close to him. In the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about how I need to get my life back in other ways too. I have become more materialistic and so self-absorbed. Everything came back to TTC and I was trying to fill the void I felt with material things. I want to start scrapbooking, thinking about other things, asking my friends more about themselves (and so on) again.
Each day gets a bit easier and at this point I’m counting down to my RE appointment on Jan. 15 and getting things in motion. But I still have my moments. I found it hard when a coworker (who saw me bawling right after I got my diagnosis) talked about me having kids like it was a given (it just reminded me that I may not be able to do what so many take for granted as a given). I found myself getting weepy after some drinks on Christmas night (worst Christmas present was my period, which started on Christmas day!). I ended up bawling after the New Year’s countdown. I am happy to see 2012 go and I hope that 2013 is our year, but the idea that all of 2012 passed with so much hope and disappointment and that I’m starting 2013 as an uphill battle was just too much in that moment. I am sure there will be many more moments where I break down and think of how unfair this is, but right now I am trying to hope and look forward.