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    Posted April 9, 2015 by
    Anchorage, Alaska
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Infertility stories

    Our Infertility, Multiple Baby loss, Surrogacy, and Adoption Story

    My husband Dereck and I had wanted to have a family long before we were ever married. After we got married I started to feel like I just wasn’t quite ready yet. Let me explain. We had moved to Alaska in 2007, married in 2008. We were living in a 4-plex (I would’ve preferred to have a house before we had kids), I was just starting to make a lot of really good friends, had a new job, and was super excited about exploring the great state of Alaska. We had decided to just see how it goes and if we got pregnant, great, if not, maybe in a few months. Well after multiple months went by with nothing happening, I started getting concerned. I guess I just assumed it would have probably happened right away whether we were seriously trying or not. I spoke with my Ob Dr. about it, but she didn’t seem too concerned. She explained that in a given month you only have a 25% chance of getting pregnant anyway. She also blamed me being too skinny and that I exercised too much, which really upset me. Especially when you have athlete friends get knocked up the first month trying. She also said that I could start tracking my cycle and using ovulation kits, so that’s what I tried to. I haven’t exactly had a consistent period for a good 6-8 years, so trying to track my cycle wasn’t exactly easy. Then there is the fact that my husband goes away for work anywhere from 2-3 weeks at time. That makes trying to plan everything out for getting pregnant even trickier. Ob Dr still didn’t seem too concerned saying I was young and had many years ahead of me to be pregnant. For the next year and a half I kept trying to use ovulation tests but the majority of the time it seemed like I was never getting clear readings and not once ever saying I was ovulating. Between that and my husband being gone so much for work, we decided to go in and see my Ob Dr again. Our Dr decided to order some tests on my husband and I just to see if there was a problem with one of us that was making it harder to conceive. The tests came back saying that my husband’s sperm wasn’t the issue, meaning it was me keeping us from getting pregnant. I kind of figured that with my weird periods and the ovulation tests not working out like they should be. I just wish we would’ve done these tests sooner. My Ob Dr finally decided to put me on birth control one month and then had me stop for the next month hoping to force a period. We did this on and off for a few months with still no luck. By the summer of 2010 my Dr suggested we maybe give Clomid a try with an IUI to up our chances. First time doing that was unsuccessful. We did another one 2 months later, this time resulting in a pregnancy.
    We were super excited about finally being pregnant but I had a bad feeling in my gut. When the time came, I got the tests done for Downs and other birth defects. It was confirmed a few weeks later that our baby had Spina Bifida. Our Ob Dr suggested an abortion, but we weren’t doing that, so she sent us to see a Perinatologist. The Perinatologist told us that our sons defect was pretty bad but that they had heard of a research study, called the MOMS study that was down in San Francisco at UCSF. The hospital had been doing fetal surgery on babies to fix their myelomeningocele and apparently having good outcomes. We decided this is what we needed to do and contacted UCSF. When we called they said the research study had just ended because of the good outcomes but they told us we could come on down and be one of the first to get the surgery done outside of the research study. We packed our bags and within a few days were in San Francisco, and expecting to live there for at least the next 3 months. The day of the surgery came. I still remember my son, Liam we called him, was kicking like crazy. I remember telling him that he needed to settle down because we were going to be having surgery, but that I love him. I woke up over 3 hours later in recovery and learned that the surgery went well but when they were closing me up our son’s heart stopped. I guess they tried for over a half hour to get his little heart to stay beating but it wouldn’t. We were devastated. All I wanted to do was help my baby have a better chance at life and now the one thing I did to try and help him ended his life. I wanted to die to.
    For the next 6 months we cried and screamed for our son. I just wanted my baby and if I couldn’t have him then I wanted to be pregnant again as soon as I could. Had the surgery been a success and my son lived we would’ve had to wait at least 2 years to conceive again for fear of a uterine rupture, but the Drs said that since I never made it to full term that I should be fine getting pregnant by 6 months out. When that time came I was in my Ob Drs office right away saying we needed to get on Clomid and get an IUI so that I could get pregnant again as soon as possible. I wasn’t waiting around this time to try and monitor my cycle, or lack thereof, and try to conceive on our own. That first try did not result in a pregnancy and left us back in devastation. The next month my Dr wanted us to try again without Clomid, although we didn’t want to, but ultrasound confirmed that we didn’t even come close to getting big enough follicles to have mature eggs in them. By the 3rd month we ended up doing Clomid again but decided not to do the IUI, but just do the HCG injection to time when I ovulated. This time it was a success. The pregnancy was perfect other than that I was scared to death that my uterus would rupture. None of my Drs seemed too concerned of rupture and by the end of the pregnancy I was finally to a happy place excited beyond all belief that very shortly I would get to meet my daughter. Then it all ended. Six days before my scheduled c-section my uterus ruptured. My daughter, who we named Evelynn, died a day and half later from severe brain damage from lack of oxygen after my placenta detached during the rupture. I just wanted to die again. How could this have happened to us, twice? Everywhere I looked people, friends, and family were getting pregnant and having no issues and bringing home there perfect healthy babies. I just hated life. To top it all off, both my Ob Dr, the Ob Dr who did my emergency c-section and my Perinatologist didn’t recommend that I ever get pregnant again.
    It was crazy how quickly it happened but while we were still in the hospital after my c-section, a woman we had never met had already offered to carry a baby for us. We couldn’t believe it. We told her we needed to go home and bury our daughter but would talk to her soon. It was a little bit of light that had us looking forward to at least something to come back to. Both of our babies are buried back in ND in my husband’s family burial plot. While we were back there, just a few days before the burial, I got an email from a woman named Jessica who had read my daughters obituary, did some research on our family, found my blog, and reached out to us. She said that she had always wanted to be a surrogate and when she read our story she just knew that we were the family that she wanted to help. When we got back to Alaska after the burial we did meet up with that other woman but when we learned how the state laws worked in regards to surrogacy, ND had much more favorable laws than Alaska. We tried to get as much done as possible to learn everything we could about IVF and surrogacy and even met with a Reproductive clinic in MN. Due to a sperm quarantine that the clinic makes you have done when you use a gestational carrier we were going to have to wait at least 6 months before we could start the IVF process. So, for the next how many months we grieved our daughter hard and held out hope for at least this to work so we could have at least one biological child. When the time came to get ready for the injections and do IVF, our reproductive endocrinologist seemed less than concerned when I brought up that we had trouble conceiving because I don’t ovulate without fertility meds. I assumed that he knew what he was doing and that these meds were a lot stronger than Clomid. I did however have to get on meds to lower my prolactin because mine was super high, which actually was brought up to me with that first testing we did back with my Ob Dr as well. A few days before the egg retrieval the RE informed us that we only had a couple follicles and that we can move forward with the egg retrieval, but it was recommended to just cancel the cycle for fear that we would be out a lot of money if no eggs ended up being mature. We decided to just go for it; after all, our carrier was all ready to go and we were just straight up tired of waiting. We ended up with only 2 eggs being mature, and after doing ICSI only one of our eggs fertilized. It did however rate a perfect grade A embryo that we transferred 2 days later. We were really hoping for at least 2 embryos so that we could have twins or maybe have some to freeze to use with a carrier again in a year or two. This process isn’t exactly cheap; although we were grateful we at least had the one embryo. When we spoke to our RE about why I only ended up with the one embryo he acted like he didn’t understand either. He kept saying that I am young and healthy and have been pregnant twice, that it didn’t make sense and maybe it was just a bad cycle. I feel like he just didn’t listen when we were trying to tell him about my ovulation issues. I felt like ever since we first tried getting pregnant we just keep getting treated like all my period and ovulation issues weren’t a concern. We just let that thought go when our carrier got a confirmed pregnancy test a couple weeks later. The entire pregnancy was so stressful just waiting for the ball to drop again. We just kept thinking what was going to happen next. How were we going to lose this baby? On September 26, 2013 our perfect healthy baby boy was born. We will forever love our carrier for helping us to bring home a biological baby. His name is Max and we love him so much.
    Right around the time of Max’s first birthday we discussed the next baby and how that was going to happen. We spoke to our Ob and even the Perinatologist back at UCSF, both said they still don’t recommend another pregnancy, especially now that they knew we had a living baby. We decided to make an appt with a new Ob Dr as well as see the Perinatologst that we first worked with back when we were pregnant with Liam. The new Ob Dr actually had been at the hospital when I came in with my uterus rupture. He remembered my case when he reviewed my records. He spoke with his staff and they all agreed that if the Perinatologist was willing to work with me and my risky situation then they would take me on as a patient as well. The only catch was that they were not going to give me the Clomid to help me achieve pregnancy. So, that kind of put a damper on things. When we met with the Perinatologist she said that she would work with us as well if I chose to get pregnant but still didn’t think it was a good idea for us to even try. We completely understand that it would be super risky to get pregnant again. I could die, the baby could die, or if I rupture again the baby could end up being very premature. We were already told the c-section would probably be by 32 weeks. It all just sucked, getting told you shouldn’t get pregnant again just adds a whole other level to the grief, and we had already had enough grieving. We went back to our RE in MN and talked to him about doing IVF again with another gestational carrier. First thing that he brings up is that we needed to do some hormone testing on me since he just didn’t seem to understand why we only had the one embryo. I was so annoyed that now he wanted to do testing, what about looking into that stuff last time when I mentioned that my body is all screwed up? Well, the testing came back showing just as I feared, showing that I apparently have diminished ovarian reserve. Just to be sure I got tested again a month later. Same result. Our RE said he thinks it would be a waste of our money to attempt to do another egg retrieval again on me and that if we wanted to do move forward we should use an egg donor. I am not against using an egg donor, but having to use an egg donor and get a surrogate just seemed like too much, not to mention a lot of money. After everything that life has put upon us the past how many years we were lucky to be in a place to even be able to consider getting another carrier.
    My husband and I had talked about adoption before, but it was always so hard for me to be 100% on board with after seeing how beautiful my babies were/are. I just wanted to see all 3 of them grow up. I am glad I get the chance with Max though. Shortly after all the bad news set in and I worked on letting go of the fact we will not be pregnant again or have another biological child, we signed up with an adoption agency. Signing up with them actually gave us, especially me, a huge amount of relief. The great thing with adoption is that for the first time we don’t have to be stressed out about my lack of eggs, no concerns about my uterus rupturing, and even no waiting for a positive pregnancy test since the birth mom will already be pregnant. After only being with our agency for a short time we submitted our profile for the first time. We couldn’t believe it when she picked us. How did we get picked on the first profile submit and after only being with our agency a few months? I was jumping up and down. It is still a long road though, as she is only 23 weeks and so much can happen as we have learned through our own experiences, but we are excited at the chance of bringing this baby girl home. We are even more excited at the chance at finally saying We. Are. Done! That after 8 years of trying to grow our family we will finally have 2 living children, like we always wanted, and can finally move out of the trying to have a baby stage and into the our family is complete stage.

    Long road, yes. Hard road, yes. Definitely not the way I expected our family building years to play out. Infertility, multiple baby loss, surrogacy, and now adoption, that’s a mouthful, and we’re tired but making it through. If I can offer any advice to anyone, it is just to keep fighting the fight. If you want it, somehow someway you will get it. Also, enlist help from friends and family. It was so hard at times, still is, since very few seem to even have the slightest clue what we had and still are going through but without their help we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.
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