No one ever tells you about the underbelly. Life may be pretty as a picture on the outside but beneath those pixels and many shimmering filters there’s too often a story neglected. We spend our lives forging through a distinct sequence of events during which time the expected is supposed to happen and the unexpected just simply isn’t. Go to school. Get a job. Meet your spouse. Buy a house. Have kids.
Well, the mathematics didn’t quite equate for us.
I often think of our life in simile to the sound of a record player scratching against the same ridge of a familiar album over and over, playing the same shrill note, softly at first and then louder and more aggressively as the needle tries to move, but over and over all the same. Because life stands still when you’re told you can’t actually have what you want, what you’ve planned on your entire life, what you expected and dreamed and fantasized about. Nope. It’s a different route for you.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am all for the path less traveled. I met my husband at a bar in Hong Kong for goodness sake. I lived in Italy at 16. I traveled Cambodia on a locals-only bus manned by a gentleman wearing an AK47. I spent almost two years teaching English in communist China. And after that, I flew to England to study literature. My husband is Welsh. I am by very definition, an adventurer. I like a challenge.
But this, this is so very different.
For some reason, there are no preparatory experiences, not a fragment of invented armor, not even an inner instinct that prepares you for infertility. No matter how you dice it. It just plain sucks.
I’ve always wanted children. I’ve planned on it without hesitation. My mother even brought me up saying, “all I ever wanted in this life was children.” I’m in agreement. What else is there to really want? I mean really.
It’s been 2.5 years since my doctor passed me the pamphlet on IVF due to the diagnosis of my amenorrhoea and inability to ovulate. It was heartbreaking. Mostly the way in which this casually folded up piece of paper, what it represented, was somehow supposed to replace me in my most human function. But this was only the tip of the… shall we say needle?
Since then, I have also been damed the not so proud carrier of polycystic ovaries, endometriosis and adenomyosis. Yet each time a new symptom was discovered, a new diagnosis made, it didn’t deter us. Stronger than these diseases. Not going to define us. Warrior. I have the TTC community to thank for so much of this willpower.
So amidst further diagnoses, our first IVF cycle that left us with “no real viable embryos,” a second “surprising” cycle, failed fresh transfer, 2 failed frozen transfers, medical bill upon medical bill, we carried on, because, as I said, I can take a challenge. I will beat it. And then I’ll be laughing. Well, swearing first and then laughing. Well actually, crying then swearing, then laughing… but who’s keeping track? I ate every organic Brazil nut, went to acupuncture, blended up that pineapple core into my vegan probiotic anti inflammatory smoothies, sweat my body weight in hot yoga, stabbed myself with needles more times and in more places than I could count, stopped drinking beautiful California reds (the horror), cut coffee out of my diet (the greater horror), sponge bathed, switched to all natural beauty products – this was going to work!
After the last failure of our very last embryos to implant however, we were told that this was most probably (sounded like almost definitely) not going to work. As my doctor so clinically put it “you fall outside the norms of IVF protocol.” It was time to talk about surrogacy.
So that’s where we’re at and realistically, that’s who I am. I am a bundle of these experiences and there’s no point in masking that very definitive truth. Does it define me? No. Though on certain days of complete and utter grief it certainly feels like it does. But my infertility journey, my disease, and now surrogacy – it’s a part of me. Sure, it’s mixed in with preexisting batter: my devoted & adoring husband, this beautiful caribbean island we live on, our fur baby Luna, my hipper than hip brother, my completely selfless and all too honest parents, in-laws you would kill for (you would), a wholehearted love of travel, food glorious food, running, great modern literature, a career in the creative, and friends who hold my heartstrings so dearly I sometimes wonder what it really means to be a sister.
This is a story about surrogacy from the perspective of the intended mother. All the way from IVF take 3 through to what I hope will be our happy ending. And as it turns out, it’s “about” so much more than me.