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Archive for December, 2009

Embryo Adoption

We have decided to pursue embryo adoption/donation for baby #2. I have created an account at a web-site called Miracles Waiting, and we will wait for someone to (hopefully) select us as the parents of their embryos.

While we hadn’t planned on getting pregnant immediately, we decided to go ahead and start waiting for our future embryos. It will likely take a few months after we are selected to work out all of the details anyway, and by that time we’d probably be ready.

After being chosen, I understand the next step would be an ultrasound of my womb and some blood tests. If all is clear, we will then be able to do the FET (frozen embryo transfer).

I still grieve deeply for Madelyn, and I wish we weren’t discussing baby #2 yet. However, I do look forward to giving her a sibling. The thought of baby #2 is a bright ray of sunshine in the cloudiness of my life.

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So Long, 2009

I should be overjoyed to see this year end. In so many ways this year has been horrible, and I am looking forward to better things in 2010. However, this year also brought me Madelyn, and for that I am thankful.

It will always exist in my mind as year of life-changing events. In January, I discovered I was expecting a baby, and I was due in early October. I was also expecting the completion of my Master’s degree in December. Because of these two things, I believed 2009 would be a wonderful year, full of happiness and excitement.

In May I finished my capstone (it’s a project equivalent to a Master’s thesis for those of you who do not know), and one of my most difficult semesters yet, which was a big relief. Another exciting event was scheduled to happen in May: the ultrasound in which I would find out our baby’s gender. I had planned to make a mad dash for Babies ‘R Us as soon as my ultrasound was finished. However, we didn’t find out the gender. In fact, by the time the day was over, I didn’t care about finding out gender anymore. I just wanted my baby to survive. We were told there was a chance things could be fine, but there was a bigger chance things would end in devastation. This is when 2009 started going downhill. I can see it clearly in my head – it happened the moment the ultrasound tech said she needed to get a doctor because things weren’t normal. The rest of that day happened in a blur.

In late June I made the decision to become hospitalized, and I was admitted on July 3. I was scared, but I knew it was the best way to give my baby a chance. I loved that little life inside of me more than my own life, so my life went on a hiatus. I did not enjoy being hospitalized, but I learned to be grateful for it as it allowed me a chance not many women get: 8 solid weeks to spend with my baby without distractions. I felt every kick and listened to her heart beating over and over – a sound I can still hear playing in my head.

On August 28, 2009, my world changed more than I could imagine. I held my baby girl in my arms, both before and after she slipped away from us. I had been through a long, hard, and induced labor, and I had survived childbirth. I remember laying there as the doctors worked on her, trying their best to save her. I was silently praying so hard for her life that I didn’t even think to ask about her gender. Eventually one of the OB nurses asked me the gender because she was completing the birth certificate, and I realized I didn’t know. She asked a NICU nurse, and we found out we were parents of a baby girl. After not much longer, the NICU doctor told us there was nothing more they could do, and they were going to allow us to hold her and spend time with her for whatever amount of time she had left. They placed her in my arms, and her eyes fluttered open, then fluttered shut. She was too weak to keep them open. For a long time we heard her make little noises, almost like a sneezing sound. And then all was quiet and she was gone. The death certificate says she lived an hour and a half, but I’m honestly not sure of the exact moment she left us. I only know 2009 brought me a gift, and then snatched it from me before I even realized what was happening.

I have much healing to do in the new year. There are many milestones left for me to face, such as the anniversary of my positive pregnancy test in January, the anniversary of that awful ultrasound in May, and Madelyn’s birthday. In addition to my continued healing, I have every hope that I will become mother to a second child. I look forward to seeing those 2 lines on a pregnancy test again, regardless of how the baby is conceived. I hate that we can’t do this the traditional way but, really, it doesn’t matter. I have much mothering I want to give, and no matter how Madelyn’s sibling(s) comes to us, he/she will be loved and he/she will be our child.

I find the new decade very symbolic, as I am entering an entirely new phase of my life, on multiple levels. The current decade has been about school for me. In this new decade, I will no longer be a student, but I will have a career. In the first decade of the new century, I turned 18 and entered adulthood. I enter this new decade as a mother, and I have every hope that my motherhood will extend to living children. This past decade offered so many firsts for me: I got married, we moved into our first apartment, we bought our first house, I had my first baby, I obtained my degrees. The next decade will be a continuation of all of these things. The foundation has been laid, and I hope to evolve further into the person I was meant to become.

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I had my RE phone consultation today. I learned a few things, but most of the discussion was repeat information.

First, and perhaps most disappointingly, CGH is not an option. As a refresher, CGH is a procedure done in conjunction with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in which they screen a woman’s eggs before an embryo is created. I learned today CGH is used only to test for chromosomal issues, and there isn’t enough information in an egg to detect a genetic syndrome such as SLOS.

So, I am left with three options. The first is IVF with PGD, which would cost about $13,000 plus medications. This involves the removal of a cell from an embryo. The cell would then be screened, and if the embryo was affected, it would not be used. The problem is the question of what to do with any affected embryos. The only options would be to carry those embryos, defeating the purpose of the procedure, to let them die naturally, or to have them destroyed and submitted for research. I simply could not make any of those decisions, which leads me to believe this is not the right option for us.

The next option is to use a sperm donor or an egg donor. Use of a sperm donor is less expensive as the donation process is much easier. However, I wouldn’t want whichever of us that was NOT the biological contributor to feel “left out” or to feel that the other has a greater bond with the child because of genetic ties. The RE recommended this option be also used in conjunction with IVF, and the cost would be about $9,000 plus medications.

The third option we discussed is embryo donation. He informed me the FDA has made embryo adoption much more difficult in recent years, so it is harder to find embryos of good quality than it once was. He said if we do choose this route, we need to be very cautious in selecting the embryos. Factors such as method of freezing, as well as age of the embryo affect the success rate. He said he has had many patients who, after being on a wait list, finally obtained their embryos, only to discover they were not viable. Between the cost of the frozen embryo transfer ($3,000) and the cost of obtaining the embryos, this procedure would likely cost around $6,000. It is much less expensive, but also much less likely to succeed.

I’m not sure where this leave us. I thought by this time today we’d know the right path to take. However, I don’t feel any more clarity in the matter and, as Nathan isn’t home tonight, we’ve barely had a chance to discuss it.

I just don’t know why it has to be so difficult, or why we can’t try the same way most people in the world do. I keep telling myself it is what it is, and it’s beyond my control. However, I don’t have to like it.

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We survived

The holidays are over, and we survived them. I had my sad moments, but overall they weren’t as bad as I had imagined they could be. The start of colder weather and the holiday season were worse for me than the holidays themselves. Perhaps it is because I expected to be sad on the holidays. I have come to see the unanticipated grief that seems to come from nowhere at all as the hardest to handle. In addition, I didn’t get much time alone with my thoughts. I am sure if I would have taken more time to think, it would have been much worse.

Madelyn was remembered many times over the holiday season, and that warmed my heart. My mom bought a picture frame with her name on it and a photo ornament for her. Nathan’s grandma made a donation in her honor to an international adoption agency called New Beginnings. Finally, Nathan’s mom gave us cash for her, and asked that we put it towards our savings fund for our next baby-making endeavor, which will be expensive since we will no longer be trying the “old-fashioned” way. It will be the first bit of money to go in our savings fund for that purpose. I am very excited to put it into our savings account so I can say our fund has officially begun.

Nathan and I lit a candle for her and each wrote our letters to her. He put me to shame with a four-page letter, whereas mine was brief. However, I write so much on this blog, sometimes it is difficult to think of anything new to add.

On Tuesday I have a phone consultation with an RE. I will hopefully discover what the best route is for us to take, and 2009 will begin with us taking care of some things that need to be done, saving like crazy, doing whatever procedure we decide, and hopefully the year will end with me being 3-4 months pregnant. This year has taught me things don’t always go as planned, but I really hope this time they do.

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We decided we would write letters to Madelyn every Christmas. Here is mine:

Dear Madelyn,

It is my first Christmas with you, and my first Christmas without you. I never imagined it would be this way. I found out about you not even a month after last Christmas, and I remember thinking no Christmas would ever be the same. I was right. No Christmas will ever be the same, because you are gone from this world and I am still here. One day little voices of laughter will echo from these walls. But your voice will be missing. The silence of your absence haunts me day and night.

If you were here, you would be so young, you wouldn’t see today as being different from any other day. You wouldn’t remember your very first Christmas. But I would. I would have loved dressing you up in red, with a matching bow around your head. I would have taken great pleasure in wrapping your presents; even knowing you couldn’t open them. As the newest baby, you would have been the center of attention at all the family events. Everyone would have wanted a turn to hold you, though I would have wanted you all to myself.

I still don’t understand it. I guess I never will. All I know is that I love you. You are and always will be my baby girl.

Until we meet again,

Mommy

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Do They See?

When people look at me, what do they see? They tell me I’m strong, but do they see my fragile heart?

Do they see the brief moments of unguarded sorrow that cross my face? Those moments before I force the pain back into its cage from which it so often tries to escape?

Do they see when my body momentarily tightens in defense against my own emotions?

Do they see me quietly flee to a place where I can regain control?

Do they sense when I yearn to escape? To turn from them and run to a place where I can be alone in my vulnerability?

Do they see my façade for the mask that it so often is? Sometimes I really do feel fine. Other times I don’t. Do they see the difference?

Do they sense the pain that lingers, even in my happiest of moments? Do they realize how easily the most joyful of laughter can morph into a torrent of tears?

If they see, they do not acknowledge it, and honestly, I prefer it that way. But still I wonder: what do they see?

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I am overwhelmed by the number of people who have volunteered to be a part of the new project. To all of you who have left a comment or email expressing your interest in contributing to the cause, I cannot say thank you enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We will be sending out a group email to all of you soon – probably after the holidays.

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On another matter, I would like to express my thanks to Amanda of Written in the Stars. She creates these photos in honor of her sweet Ireland who left this world too soon. Stop by and visit her new site if you get a chance! As you can see, she does a beautiful job.

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