How important is biology?

25 Jun

Coming back after our Maui vacation it was really hard to face all this again and even to come back to blogging.  For a week I felt like I was a different person and was able to take a real break from the grief and stress.   It all started right up again when I returned.  Just like before, when my mind wanders it goes straight to the grief/stress/feelings of hopelessness.  After my one week break, at least I know there is another side of me in here that can be happy and relaxed and isn’t defined by the events of the last 4 years.  Because of this I came back feeling restored with batteries recharged and much better prepared to face the ongoing and seemingly long road ahead.

So here I am looking ahead and considering our options.  Before we left our IVF doc recommended we move on to surrogacy or egg donor suggesting those as more likely to work after my 6 losses.  Shock set in, tears were shed and the fantasy of the miracle of bearing my own biological child one day died.  Since then I picked myself up and started shopping for donors and surrogates and have now entered the world of the donor agencies, screening profiles and taking stock of how much all of this stuff costs and how much just goes to the agency itself and lawyers.

On Friday (two days ago) I had a follow up with my original RE, the one I had my previous 3 natural pregnancies (via monitored cycles and Femara).  She and I have been working together now for over two years.  After seeing her so much over the years (and her seeing so much of me, ALL of me, from ultrasounds, 3 D&C’s and 1 laporoscopy, + other visits) I have a deep trust for her and I think she knows me and my body better than anyone (even me).  In our discussion she took another perspective and felt like surrogacy was maybe a bit farther than we needed to go.  She suggested looking at 5-day chromosomal testing with an IVF cycle.  The thought is maybe with 5-day testing we could actually get more embryos than we did with the 3-day testing we did for our first cycle.  According to the research, some that look abnormal on day 3, may look normal on day 5 and vice versa.  Of course, this raises the question of why didn’t we just do 5-day testing the first time!  Our IVF Dr. seemed to think the pros of doing a fresh cycle outweighed the cons of the 5-day test that requires freezing.  So here is the plan, we are moving ahead with another cycle with 5-day testing.  PRAYING for lots of embryos.  If we get 4 we will put 2 in me and leave the others for a surrogate.  The beauty of frozen (if we have any that survive) is that we don’t have to decide everything right now.  However, if we only get 2, I might not want to risk them being implanted in me. Or maybe we will find out the embryos are all abnormal and won’t waste time on a surrogate.

Meanwhile we met with a surrogacy/egg donor agency on Saturday.  It oddly gave me a lot of optimism about our options if we want to go that route.  We started talking even about egg donors.  That process is so much less expensive and more manageable compared with surrogacy.  Also there are way more donors.  Both my IVF doc and my RE seem to think that maybe I can’t carry MY embros, but there is a chance that maybe it would work with a donor.  the reasoning is that we tested positive for something called DQ-alpha.  My husband and I have a high match (we aren’t genetically different enough).  Because of this (the theory goes) my body doesn’t recognize the embryo as a baby (which triggers a pregnancy response) and instead thinks it is a strange part of me and kills it off.  If that is the case either egg donor or surrogacy would solve it.   Surrogacy is a safer bet, but a way huger deal.  It all comes down to what is more important, the genetic relationship or the pregnancy/birth experience.  So that is the choice swirling in my brain right now.  I have little information to go on to make the decision and very few role models of people who were successful with either one after recurrent loss.  In fact for recurrent loss I am only familiar with two outcomes- miraculous inexplicable success that just randomly happened OR adoption.  Do you know of any other outcomes?  Also I don’t know of any cases of egg donor or surrogacy successes.  They are rare enough, but particularly rare after recurrent loss.

Meanwhile I am praying that I will get inexplicably lucky and have success without having to make this choice.  Don’t we all pray for this?  I don’t know anyone else who was debating between these two.  Normally you have one issue or the other and the choice is that or adoption.  Mr. Star is still squarely against adoption leaving me to choose one hard thing or another.  Tomorrow night is our wedding anniversary (8 years!) and we are spending it appropriately at the Stanford Seminar- “Options for Building Families” which explores all these third party alternatives.  It is perfect for us because we are basically exploring them all.  I am going to make a leap and guess that all the panelists are happy with their decisions and love their children.  I’ve never heard anyone say I wish I hadn‘t adopted or used an egg donor, etc.  I think when the baby arrives and the bonding starts your brain responds and you really are genuinely thrilled with the outcome.  Hopefully a healthy does of amnesia comes in as well helping you forget the pain you experienced getting to that point.   In a way I feel like whatever works in the end is what was meant to be and I will be genuinely happy with whoever the child is that results.  In the meantime I struggle with having to make difficult choices of what path to take, hoping for the one that after such a long journey leads us to the shortest and least painful path.

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11 Responses to “How important is biology?”

  1. Jay June 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Not relevant to the post at hand, but have you ever looked at your vitamin D levels? Its not the magic bullet or anything, but deficiency crops up in a huge # of ‘infertile’ women- a yale study found that 93 % of women stuck with an infertility label were deficient, and its something that is strongly liked to both autoimmunity and immune dysfunction during pregnancy, and it also may have roles in governing both egg quality (it can regulate estrogen and progesterone levels), has shown to be involved in implantation, etc.

    More info on my blog. Best of luck with everything!

    • starfishkittydreams August 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      Thank you Jay! I’ve been upping my Vitamin D because of your advice. Thank you for the tip!

  2. traathy June 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    I haven’t met (in real life or blogger land) anyone who has experienced RPL and then gone on to surrogacy or egg donation. We actually had both options available to us but decided against both in the end. Oddly, now that I think back, we dismissed them quite easily. My best friend offered to be a surrogate for us and we were told egg donation would be the best bet if we didn’t go that route. I thought egg donation was a huge risk because we still could never get an answer if it was my DNA or my husbands DNA that was crappy. I wasn’t willing to go through another loss just to chance it.

    I think eventually we were just fed up with it all and decided we both had shit DNA and my body had been through enough. I also had a lot of fear that my best friend would be chancing a miscarriage (based on our shitty history) and ultimately couldn’t put her through that after so many losses our selves.

    We just wanted to be parents and didn’t want to go through anymore loss/heartache to get there. Adoption for us was a lot of detachment from the loss that we were used to. We accepted that it was just a matter of time before it happened and that if we experienced loss through adoption (somebody chaining their minds) it would be an experience that was so different from what we’d been through that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt as much. At least, that’s what we convinced ourselves.

    I hope tomorrow night gives you both some more answers and possible opportunities to explore. More so, I hope that you both get inexplicably lucky and wind up pregnant and have success without having to make any choices 🙂

  3. Kate June 25, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    That IS a tough decision! I wish I could say I knew of someone who made it and had success with either alternative, but I don’t. Just wanted to de-lurk for a moment and say that I hope you are able to find peace with the decision that you make. Maybe pose your question to the community via Mel’s Lost and Found? You may get some answers that way, and if not, at least some support. Take care of yourself. Adjusting to life again after a great vacation is always difficult!

  4. EB June 26, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    Hi. I didn’t have recurrent loss – I never even managed to get far enough for that with my own eggs. We eventually went the donor egg route and it worked for us. I have perfect, healthy, b/g 9 mth old twins. I don’t have amnesia about the lack of genetic connection, and it is still hard for me to accept that, BUT the perfect health of the babies hugely offsets my personal/selfish sorrow for the genetic loss. The older they get the easier it is to accept the donor connection. Whatever ends up working for you will aready not be the version you would have chosen if you could. But if it brings you a healthy baby that’s all that really matters in the long run.

    Good luck!!!

  5. mrs. brightside June 29, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Oh, I’ve been thinking about you so much this week. I wish I could deliver that magic answer to you. That’s what has been the hardest thing the past few years, the not knowing which terribly difficult Plan B would actually bring success, even if I could bring my heart around to heading down that path. This past year I found myself obsessed with seeing family resemblances in others, gradually mourning that connection I would ever have with my child, trying to sort out its importance to me. We were pretty far down the path of donor egg when we stumbled on our random illogical current luck (nothing different, though I did add vitamin D). I was close to bringing my heart around, but it wasn’t quite there yet – I needed one more try, I needed to fully mourn the loss of a genetic connection first. We’ve had the frustration of never having a diagnosis of anything being “wrong” – but poor egg quality was of course the prime suspect given my diminished ovarian reserve. So donor egg seemed like the next thing to try, but I was not totally hopeful, with that nagging worry of “what if it’s me and I’ll never be able to carry ANY pregnancy.” I still think DE could be in our future if we try again.

    I do know someone IRL who had 6 losses and then success with donor eggs. Her history mirrored mine almost exactly, but she was also a few years older, in her 40s by her DE pregnancy, so again egg quality was prime suspect. I have a few DE bloggies on my blog roll on my page you can check out who have had losses – I can send you an email with links if you’d like.

    Okay, this comment is way too long, but one other quick note. When we did IVF at bigwig clinic, their standard was to do 5 day testing and freeze everything. They believe in both the better confidence in the results, as well as giving your body a break between retrieval and transfer. When we had so few embryos, they gave us the option of day 2 polar body testing to freeze day 3 instead, but we opted to go all in. (But busted.)

    I hope that your lucky break is right around the corner, and that you find peace with whatever path you choose.

  6. Kristin (kekis) July 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Nobody can tell you what is best for you. We can all share our stories, you can see many sides of everything, and then have to sort it all out for yourselves. After RPL & an AMH too low to produce any eggs in IVF, my RE recommended DE. I simply didn’t trust my body enough to pursue that road, thus leading us to the end of our road to a biological child. Well, and my hysterectomy since then has taken pg out of my equation. 😉 I still know that I’m meant to be a mom — and I will be. Biology is the least factor that makes a FAMILY to me but it’s taken me a long time to get to that point.

    Sounds like you are asking a lot of necessary questions, not only of your doctors but of your heart. Whenever you leave one “stage” of the IF process, it’s difficult. It is normal and okay to need time to grieve every test/procedure/process that doesn’t work. Nothing about this sucky journey is easy and it’s really hard to find peace. I just hope in the end you find that peace when your baby is not only in your heart and mind but in your arms. Hope I join you there too!

  7. Misfit Mrs. August 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    I’ve been thinking of you tons lately. I was in this exact spot last year when lightning struck. I also wish I had answers, but we were determined to give it one last genetic shot before moving on. It’s an unfair crapshoot.

    I believe there has to be a break here for you soon. A good long lucky one. Way over due.

    • starfishkittydreams August 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Thank you for your note. You are so thoughtful! We are giving biology another shot for now and crossing fingers. If it doesn’t work I think egg donor is our next step.

      – Wendy

      Sent from my mobile device

      • traathy August 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

        I’ve kept popping back here just to make sure you were okay…glad to see your reply to Misfit Mrs. 🙂

  8. Erin September 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    Just found your blog and have been reading archives. Please post more! After my own 3 years journey in infertility with 3 miscarriages I still need to read others stories to help me process my own feeling and to heal.

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