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.

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.