Egged on: Navigating the world of secondary infertility and egg donation

Join us on this journey into our hearts, a petri dish and (hopefully) my uterus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I would have been due this week

If things worked out last August, I would have been due May 5, May 6 or May 7. Most likely.
And so it seemed like a fitting day to sort through the mountain of papers, donor profiles, protocols, drug company receipts and legal documents that I left stacked up when my cycle was canceled last August.
I'm still not sure abandoning the donor egg process was the right move. But I do know that continuing on would have been the wrong move -- unless it resulted in a baby. The risks were too great. The cost was so much. And the certainty was nonexistent.
I couldn't take another disappointment at that time.
Since last August, I have taken on a new job. Op.inion edi.tor.
Since last August, have become even less stable workplaces.
Since last August, I came within about 24 hours of being unemployed. Instead of letting me leave, my employer granted my wish to go part-time.
Since last August, I took a chunk of the money returned from the failed donor cycle and traded by family-style SUV for a sporty black convertible with an iPod dock.
Lots of changes. But in reality, nothing has changed.
When my husband asks me if I'm happy, I have the same reply, "I'm still disappointed about the whole baby thing."
And I assume that could be my reply well into the future.
Not that I want to go through life with regrets or disappointments or focusing on failures. That's not my style.
But it's impossible to just wake up and decide to feel differently. There are those who will tell you it's easy. There are those who tell you time heals all wounds. They're either liars or fools. I'm not sure which. Maybe both.
What is within our power -- or my power, at least -- is to proceed with the things that do lead to happiness, keep the important things at the top of the priority list, ignore the stuff that doesn't matter.
And, when the sun is shining, put the top down and go for a ride.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I wanted a baby. I got a promotion.

At the beginning of August, I was picturing my life the first week of October. I optimistically imagined that I'd be walking around work with this secret pregnancy, throwing up every morning like I did with my daughter, somewhat oblivious to the state of my industry because I'd be much more focused on the incredible new life happening within me.

By mid-August, the picture changed. After our donor fell through, I asked to go part-time to put more focus on the child we already have. She has always grown up having to be stuffed into the time around our work schedules. That's not that unusual, of course. But with a husband who works nights and weekends, and my job that requires almost 24-hour attention, it's frustrating for both of us.

I imagined this life where I'd focus on work while I was at work and on her while I was home. Maybe I'd actually be able to get the laundry into the dresser drawers. Maybe I'd be able to help her with homework. Maybe I'd be able to fix dinner at night.

Well, that plan didn't work either.

At any other time of my career, I'm sure I'd be overwhelmed with joy over what transpired for me professionally. My request to go part-time turned into an offer to be the Edi.torial Ed.itor.

That's a big deal.

Many ne.wspap.ers use edi.torial pag.e jobs as a way to reward the best employees. It was a nice promotion with a raise. A huge honor. It means they trust me, they value my opin.ion. It's a big deal.

But there's still so much frustration for me. No matter how hard I try to change my life -- to take control of things that I think are somewhat within my control -- I just can't get a grasp.

I go to what seems like extreme lengths to have a baby and can't even get to retrieval stage.
I try to pull back on work and instead get more challenging, time-consuming assignments.

My new boss is a fantastic guy. He knows that this job change started with a request to go part-time because I'm not going to put my daughter in after-school care. But he's also got very high standards. He expects a lot of people. He's smart. He will challenge me. And this is a job that I've never done before. It's not going to be easy -- especially at first.

I have always told my reporters that the easy stories are never the good stories. Great should be hard.

I guess that could also mean that a worthwhile life is hard -- full of hard choices, challenging days, difficult decisions.

But I was really hoping for things to just slow down a bit. I could use a little downtime.

It's been a terrible, terrible year.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's hard to be a Tigger

I know all of you have seen this.

But, just in case there's even one person who finds their way here who hasn't seen it, here it is.

It will change your life.

I'm feeling much more Eeyore than Tigger these days.

The election doesn't help. Elections just remind me how selfish and ignorant most people really are. That becomes particularly obvious when you're taking calls at a daily ne.wspa.per in a conservative community.

But I'm trying.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It may be over for me, but I'm still pulling for my cyclesistas

For about a year, the bottom drawer of my refrigerator has been filled with fertility meds. These are all from my canceled IVF cycle. Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of drugs. The Repronex expired. So did a few other things. But there was plenty of Follistim with another year before expiration. I hated looking at it every day.

I heard about someone who was single, recently broke up with her partner, embarking on a donor cycle without insurance coverage. I didn't know her. I still don't. But I thought I could maybe ease up some of her burden.

We emailed a few times. I boxed it all up with cold packs to keep it the right temperature and shipped it off to Seattle or Portland or someplace like that (I can't even remember.)

She used the Follistim. It probably saved her thousands of dollars. Her donor produced a bounty of eggs. She's getting her pregnancy test this week.

This is where that lack of jealous gene helps.

I really hope it worked. I really, really hope to be part of something good happening to a peer whose journey through infertility ends with a happy story. Knowing that I helped make it even a little bit easier for her would make me feel like all of my emotions, frustrations and sadness were somewhat worthwhile.

Good luck Judy. Let's all send positive thoughts her way.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The check's in the mail

I couldn't do it.
So I made my husband do it.
I guess it's a lot like that earlier post about our wedding vows and the letter that we expected to write to our donor.
This time, though, I had him make the call to our donor agency.
It was just too hard to make the ultimate call to end our journey. But I knew I couldn't go forward unless I had some confidence that it really would move forward.
Too many disappointments with too similar of circumstances in too short of time.
So he told them we just couldn't move forward. And we wanted our money back.
People ask me how I feel about it .. do I feel good about the decision.
Not even a little. Not even for a second.
I feel angry and frustrated and confused and disappointed.
At one time or another, I've heard just about every one of my girlfriends tell me they were "done" having children. They felt their family was complete. They didn't want to go through childbirth. They didn't want to go through the baby stage. They didn't want to overextend themselves financially. Their career was too taxing.
I'm never ever ever going to feel done.
There will always be questions.
There will always be regret.
There will always be anger and frustration and confusion and disappointment.
Always. Forever. Without question.

That's something I've never really faced before.
I felt more peace when I made my toughest career decision -- leaving for what I thought would be forever. I was in a bind financially. I was working at a place surrounded by uninspired and unmotivated people with no interest in helping me grow. It was time for a drastic change, so I quit.
Then the phone rang with an opportunity to make double the money and write a book. I thought it was the end of my ne.wspa.per career.
By all accounts, it should have been. You can't go to PR and then come back again.
I did that for 15 months and then made the easiest -- and best -- decision of my professional life:
Cut my salary in more than half and get back to where I belong .. in a
If you look at the hours I work and the pay I get, I think my hourly pay is still lower than what I made in 1991-1992. And I've never regretted it for a second.
Here's the difference between that choice in 1991 and this choice in 2008: In 1991, My decision was based on changing something that needed changing. I had to get out of a bad situation.
Today, my decision maintains the status quo. It is based on fear of more disappointment.
I'm not sure that's a great way to live a life. It's not the way I do things. But I just can't bear the thought of going through this again. It's too hard. Too emotional. Too costly with a relatively low rate of success.
My head won over my heart.
But my heart will pay the price.
Maybe some surprising opportunity will present itself. Maybe my phone will ring because someone knows someone who has embryos leftover from IVF. They've been frozen for years and the couple wants to donate them. Maybe we'll win the lottery and pursue adoption. Maybe I'll wake up one day and decide that one kid is the perfect number, even if she'll never have a sibling to share the excitement of Christmas morning.
Or maybe I'll just move on. Reinvest in my career. Take more free time for myself. Maybe travel to Europe with my daughter when she's a teenager because, well, we won't have anything holding us back.
And while all these things could be good -- even great, there will always be that part of me that wonders about that second baby that was never born.
And maybe, at some point, I'll feel like that's OK.
That just doesn't seem likely.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Even if times are bad, life is good. More talk about being grateful.

It's been a week since I've posted. I know there are a lot of people out there who check-in everyday. Thank you for your loyalty, your interest and -- most importantly -- your support.

Today I'm going to get back to my grateful list. There was a time in my life that I would start out every single day writing down three things that make me grateful for my life. Boy, I'd love to see that notebook now.

That was late 1991 to early 1992 ... not long after my father died. His death took me completely by surprise. There were kids I knew whose parents died when they were really young. But, of my friends in my 20s, I think I was the first to lose a parent. It sounds stupid, but it never occurred to me that one of my parents would die. And it never occurred to me that the death of a parent would be so devastating. His death has defined every day of the rest of my life.

I suppose I also never thought I'd struggle with infertility. I never thought it would hurt the way it has. And I know I never thought a struggle with infertility would define every single day of the rest of my life.

But that's not what I'm trying to write about today.

Today, I'm going to brainstorm. I'm taking 15 minutes and writing down all the things that make me grateful for my life.


My beautiful, spirited, funny daughter.
My loving, funny and brilliant husband.
Even if jou.rnalism is dying, I have had 20 great years living my dream by working at a daily ne.wspaper.
Even if some ne.wspapers are dying, ours is still making money.
That means I might have another 20 years living my dream working at a ne.wspaper.
I have had the opportunity to travel a little bit.
I will have more opportunities to travel in the future.
I've seen the Grand Canyon twice .. and I know I'll see it again.
Been to DisneyWorld 10 times ... and probably will go 10 more times in my lifetime.
My 1992 blue Honda Civic, wherever it may be now.
All the places that Civic took me -- details omitted to protect the innocent ;)
Good friends.
Honest friends.
Family I would choose if they weren't already chosen for me.
The opportunity to live in a house ... even if I dream of someday living in an apartment steps away from the beach in Chicago again.
My high school, which took me as a sophomore despite my rocky start as a freshman.
My college, which taught me to love subjects I hated and introduced me to my mentor.
My college and grad school, which introduced me to lifelong friends.
Did I mention my husband, who always makes me laugh?
My oldest friend, who just got engaged.

Time's up.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

'Maybe we should try having one the regular way'

That's what my husbnd said to me a week or so ago.
Honestly, it sounded like a crazy, far-fetched idea. I guess I'm just resigned to the idea that my eggs are stale.
Going with a donor also erased almost all the risks that come with old eggs -- birth defects like Down syndrome in particular. I liked that idea. It was something to put in the "pro" column for ending the IVF efforts and moving toward egg donation.
Watching that creepy Sarah Palin lie her way through that speech last night, I was reminded of the risks of getting pregnant at 42. I don't know the extent of her child's challenges. But seeing the four children she had in her 30s, contrasted with the son she had in her 40s, it's clear that that risk of Down's really is higher for older mothers.
Seeing her beautiful little baby, though, also made me wish we hadn't wasted the last year on egg donation. If someone offered me the chance to adopt a baby with Downs today, I wouldn't hesitate. My husband probably is unsure what he'd say, but I know him well enough to know he'd be right there with me.
So why did we stop trying with IVF after one cycle? I mean, we could have tried it two more times and still had a cycle on our insurance for the egg donation.
Maybe it was the sorry statistic ... that even the best stats put our chances of conception at 15 percent with a live birth rate of maybe 12 percent.
Maybe now we should try it the regular way. What the heck, right? My college roommate had one failed IVF cycle and then got pregnant by accident. She's got a lovely baby boy now.
I stayed on the pill after my cycle was canceled because it makes everything lighter and more predictable, if you know what I mean. But as long as I'm on it, there's absolutely no hope at all.
Maybe it's time to toss out that package.