Infertility, Our Infertility story, Surrogacy

Picking up the pieces

May 4, 2012

Here we are again.  Trying to pick up the pieces of our broken dreams and move on.

I have a weird dichotomy of feelings right now.  Part of me feels dejected, weary, downtrodden and beaten down.  This part screams out at the world, “Seriously? Seriously?! How can this be happening again? You’ve got to me kidding me.”  And, I am tired.  Tired of feeling at all.  Tired of being let down, time and time again. Tired of being betrayed by my uncontrolled sadness at inopportune times.  I feel like a ticking time bomb and don’t know when I’ll go off.  At work. At the salon. At church. At the grocery store.  Anywhere.  It’s embarrassing.  On the plus side, nobody can accuse me of not allowing myself to feel what’s happening.  I feel it alright.  I feel too much. I’ve always been emotional, but…

The other half feels a strange half-hope. Not hope that this will actually happen — that a child will call me mommy. I truly can’t visualize that. I don’t know if I believe it. But rather, I have some strange cloudy, unknown hope because everyone else has hope for us.  I have hope because I know that God loves us.  I have hope that even though I feel so disheartened, I know I still won’t give up, as much as I’d like to sometimes. I have hope in Erick and for him.  I don’t want to let him down.

Throughout the last year or so, I have turned to my faith to get me through.  This after I had shunned God and was openly angry at him.  I have directed my anger at everyone and everything through the past several years and I’m sorry for that.  The hormonal tornado inside of me didn’t help. It’s not natural to take all of those drugs and it’s not natural to miscarry four times in the span of 18 months.  It’s rough on your body physically and chemically.

I don’t have anywhere to direct my anger now, but I don’t feel as angry any more…just sad.

I don’t blame God any more.  Even though I don’t agree or understand.  I know that he weeps with me.

These two verse continues to speak to me:

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

For me, they acknowledge my pain, they acknowledge a constant struggle and they offer hope.

People say that you come to God in a time of need.  When things are going great, you don’t need him.  I don’t know…maybe that’s what happened. I guess infertility brought me back to God and closer to God.

They say that tough times are a time of growth. Would I like to become a better person?  Of course I would.  But, this way?  No.  No.

I think, “Am I a particularly bad person if I need this much time to learn and grow?” and “To grow, do I really have to go through such devastating losses?” Even though I have been an unwilling participant in this life struggle, I have learned things along the way.

I have learned greater compassion for others.  In situations that I have no firsthand knowledge of.

I have learned that I am not in control.  I can’t plan my life.

I have learned that I am strong.  Stronger than I knew.

I have learned that worrying gets me nowhere.  I know this, yet I still can’t practice it.  But, at least I know it.

I have learned to be thankful for what I do have.  I really struggle with guilt for feeling so sad about our situation.  Sometimes, I think I should just suck it up.  I have a great husband and family (parents, grandparents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, etc.) and that should be enough.  I think about those with no families at all…

And, the most important.  I have learned that I can’t do this on my own.  I need God to get me through it.

So, I have a question for you.  How has your faith (if any) played a role in your journey?

Our get-away

Thankfully, we got away for a few days after we found out that the gestational carrier was backing out.  We went on a fabulous trip to Las Vegas, courtesy of Erick’s employer for 10 years of service.  (I’ll post on that soon.)  We really enjoyed ourselves and I realized one morning that I had not even thought about it at all the previous day and I just couldn’t believe it.  One whole day of freedom from my mental prison.  It really was perfect timing and after several days of intense sadness, it was great to be somewhere different, do something different and leave everything behind me for a while.

Unfortunately, it all caught up with me on our last day in Vegas.  It was the day we were flying out and we were just planning to get room service, eat, pack and then go.  While we were doing these things, we were watching the Today Show on TV.  Guiliana and Bill Rancic were on.  They shared their big news that they were pregnant via a gestational carrier.  I just knew what they were going to say before they said it.

And, I lost it.  I mean lost it.  The sadness just came flooding out.  Don’t get me wrong…I am happy for them.  They have been through tough times, infertility and breast cancer, and they deserve some good news.

However, it was just really bad timing for me.  It was like a targeted attack right to my weak spot. It wasn’t a regular pregnancy that we long since gave up.  It wasn’t a medically aided pregnancy that we gave up.  It wasn’t even an IVF pregnancy that we gave up.  It was a pregnant gestational carrier.  Our last hope.  Our path to parenthood. On the heels of our loss, this news just crushed me.

It also served to illustrate perfectly the concept of financial infertility.  Lots of us suffer infertility. Lots of us will have success with treatment.  But, lots of us can’t afford treatment.  It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.  Something this important, this God-given basic life force desire…to build a family…shouldn’t be about money.  So, it makes me upset.  Not at Guiliana and Bill, but just the situation in general.

I feel like these stories in the media, even though this is a positive one, don’t really paint a true picture.  It seems too easy, too tidy.  That’s just not reality for most of us.  We don’t have loads of cash that plows the way for us. Loads of cash that makes things happen.  To know there’s treatment available, and to not have access to it–that’s heartbreaking.

Erick and I are very thankful that we’ve had the financial means to do everything we have.  We know others aren’t as lucky.  Even though it’s been a hardship and way longer to do things because we had to save slowly, we’re lucky that we could do what we have. But now, finances are playing a big role again with what we can afford to do and it’s hard to cope with.  We lost a lot of money with our surrogate.  We had to pay for blood tests, exams, personality tests, gas money, counseling and attorney fees —that money is GONE!  And, we have NOTHING to show for it.

So, not only have we gained nothing, but we have been set back.

We can only afford surrogacy with lots of things falling into place.  They did with this previous situation.  We felt so blessed, we couldn’t believe it was happening and we finally felt real hope again.  I finally visualized that baby.  Something I could never do before.  And, something that I have lost the capability to do again now.  We really thought it would work.  We had high hopes.  We really were excited.  Maybe more excited than we’ve been this whole time. Even more than our first IVF when we had more hope.

Well, you know what happens when you’re high in the clouds?  You fall really hard.  I did.  I fell really hard.  And, it was so unexpected.  I didn’t just fall. I was knocked out of the sky.

I cried the whole way from Charlotte to Roanoke on the plane. I don’t know what came over me. It was just a torrential downpour of emotions and tears. Just one of those moments. Luckily, the noise from the propellers drowned me out and the cabin lights were off, so nobody could see me.

Not fired up

We got home from Vegas and it was time to turn right around and drive to DC for Advocacy Day.  But, I couldn’t conjure any fire in my belly.  I was just too emotionally weak.  Usually, these types of things are a good outlet for my overflowing passion, but I just wasn’t feeling fired up.  I felt like I needed emotional crutches, but I went up there and I got through it.  It was a great experience for Erick and I to share and I’m so glad we did it.

It was great to meet everyone there, but most of them have “resolved.”  Meaning they have resolved their infertility.  Meaning they have a child or children now.

So, in my downtrodden state, I’m not gonna lie…it was hard.  It’s difficult to be the last one standing, especially among infertility friends. You, the general you, are not alone in this. But, me, and a scant few others, kinda feel lonely in our little ever-dwindling corner watching silently year after year as everyone we know around us, even those that struggled with infertility have children.

And, I apologize to all of those that I met at the reception who had to witness my waterworks.  As I said, feeling a little raw right now.

What’s next?

So, what’s next?  I just don’t know.  Will we try for surrogacy again?  I don’t know.  That’s out of my control.  We can’t just snap our fingers and do it.  And, how could I go through that again?  Will we pursue adoption again? I don’t know. I just have no idea.  And, we have to save money.

I guess God has more plans for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
– Jeremiah 29:11

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  • “God tends to step in when we realize we can’t take another step without Him. God specializes in impossible situations.” I read those words in my devotional (Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle). It’s written by the Motl family. They too are still suffering from infertility. Their book is only available in digital format. It’s great!

    My faith has been the only thing that has kept me going throughout this process. We’ve only been trying almost 2 years now, but it’s been heartbreaking each and every month/cycle. God has strengthened my faith and marriage through this process.

    I’m sorry that your journey has been so long and filled with heartache. I cannot imagine what all you’ve had to endure thus far. Thank you for being so open and honest, sharing your journey with others along the way.

  • Hey Whitney,
    I’m so sorry for all of the pain that you continue to endure. It’s not fair, nor will it ever be fair that this journey is filled with so much heartache, pain and financial stress. You have had your un-fair share of heartache and I want to reach out and hug you for that.This process is just gut-wrenching and horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    With regards to Advocacy Day, I remember the first year I went (back in 2009) I was still in the thick of treatments dealing with failure after failure and everyone around me had their miracle babies.
    I wondered why they even came? KWIM?
    They were there because they obviously believed in the cause (having lived it) but I felt slightly affronted because I was having to confront a reality that didn’t exisist to me at that time. It was hard. I know.

    But what I’ve learned is that the pain you described above didn’t go away for me with the birth of my daughter. I’m still as raw emotionally as I was in 2009 — it’s just a different type of pain. And I in no way consider my infertility resolved because I have a daughter. I will always be infertile.

    I just wanted to put that out there because I found Advocacy Day difficult too, but for many different reasons. I think Infertility can leave many with demons that can’t be disguised and that’s why you see so many people there that have children post-treatment. Because for many, the pain that has been experienced during the infertility journey never lessens, it just manifests in a different way.

  • t

    Hi Whitney!
    I am not familiar with your entire story…I have been a fair-weather visitor to your blog, but I really have enjoyed it. I too struggle with infertility. When we were in the “valley” I would often read other peoples blogs who were struggling with infertility b/c I felt so alone in the pain. My story has a happy ending and I know yours will too! God is so very faithful. I would NEVER sign up for the journey we took, but through it all I know I have been blessed. I can thank God for the suffering and recognize that my marriage is stronger today, as is my faith b/c of infertility.
    I want to tell you my story to encourage you, but Icould write a book! Really! I will give you the “Nut-shell” version: My husband and I dealt with infertility for 9 and a half years. I did numerous rounds of “God-aweful” hormones, followed by 6 IUI’s. Then I had a tubal pregnancy…such grief! Shortly after we were referred on to the Infertility clinic where we would “hang-out” for three years. We did 4 IVF cycles (one of which my best friend was doing her IVF cycle at the same time….and she became pregnant! Such a bitter-sweet experience)…I actually concieved on the third cycle then miscarried…more grief.
    My husband and I began to pray about adoption. In January we went to a couple seminars and felt a bit discouraged…was it ever going to happen? We decided we would try IVF one more time in April. God had other plans! Mid Febuary we received a call from someone who was familiar with our story…she knew of a couple who was looking to give up their baby to adoption. (We quickly found out the baby was due in March…what???!!!!).
    Although I am leaving big huge chunks of God’s Grace out of this story, the bottom line is: within 3 and a half weeks we held our baby girl in our arms!!!! It truly was a miracle! Like I said, there are so many amazing twists and turns to our story, but most importantly it all the LORD! He gets all the glory:)
    We named our daughter Macie (means Gift of God in french) Grace. Finally, after being so very familiar with grief and suffering we are in a whirlwind of JOY!
    God is good. Rest in knowing that He knows the desires of your heart! His timing is PERFECT! (Psalm 46:10- Be still and know that I am God).
    I hope this offers you a bit of encouragement. Keep on persevering in faith! YOU will hold your baby in your arms someday…in God’s perfect timing!
    Hope this “short version” of our very long excrutiating journey makes some sense! I do know how you are feeling…know you are not alone!

    Praying for you!

  • Meg

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been following your journey and I’m so sorry it’s come with so many challenges. I’ve leaned on God’s strength throughout my journey and put the verse Deuteronomy 31:8 on a post-it note by my bed. It’s still there and reminds me nit to be afraid and that we are held- even if the moment is of feeling anger and sadness. Wishing you and Erick a better week and sending prayers from California.

  • Karen

    I think you’ll keep doing just what you have been doing…putting one foot in front of the other and moving on. I’ve mostly quit reading any infertility support boards when I became the last in my group still standing with no baby. Oh, God, does it hurt. After two miscarriages and time running out, I’ve just been so tired physically and emotionally. I still cry quite regularly over anything baby-related….just yesterday while watching that movie, “One Day.”. I’ve never turned against God throughout this….I know He knows how much it hurts me. Mostly, whether you call it God’s will or fate, I’m starting to accept, as well as one can accept such things, that despite my best efforts I may not be meant to be a mother. Time, for me, has become a major factor. You, however, I think have much more time – and while it may not seem like it, from my perspective, that is a real blessing. I absolutely believe you and Erick will one day have your own child. You have proven that you are not a quitter. I do wish more women were willing to surrogate and the fees weren’t so prohibitive…if people knew the pain we lived with, how could they not be more sympathetic?

  • Lindy

    I’m so sorry for all you’re going through, and it breaks my heart. I completely identify with your feelings and the way you’ve come full circle in your faith. Since losing my daughter and the four other miscarriages, I’ve struggled through the same anger with God, resentment, jealousy, bitterness… I could go on, but I know you get it. It’s horrible, having those ugly feelings, knowing they’re a product of your situation and not the real ‘you’, and yet having such trouble getting past them anyway. I feel like all the “personal growth” and “strength” people in our situation have to develop is such a shallow reward compared to what we’re currently missing out on. It has taken me a lot of working through anger and sadness to get to this place, but I can honestly say that now I DO believe that our victories are coming. God could open the door any day now. God WILL open the door. He promised it. Another verse that I think is very applicable to this situation is Psalm 27:13-14 “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Waiting sucks, but He will show His goodness. Be strong. Take heart. <3

  • jess

    There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of you, my friend. As does Pete. It sucks to feel like the last one standing, with the worst infertility war story. That’s not the prize you want. I have felt that way. Countless times.

    I HATE that finances have to play such a role for you. And that you took a hit because of that whole surrogacy thing, that hurts even more. Even more than that falling apart, is the time it’s set you back. Sigh. It’s just not fair. I wish there was an easy answer, and my heart hurts for you. You deserve so much better than this. I remember thinking as you do- God, how much more learning about patience do you want me to do? I get it! I get it!

    I hope you will figure out the answers soon to what makes sense for you. I can say, adoption won’t stop being an option for you and it has been a magically healing experience. However, I understand if you want to try some other methods too.

    Thinking of you, and wishing you some peace right now. you are entitled to all of these feelings and more. The road is so long and so tough and so tiring. And keeping your head up through it is just so hard.

  • Maribeth

    I’m sorry Whitney. I’m sorry you are continuing to fight this battle. You are brave though and you help a lot of other people in the meantime. I don’t know you but I enjoy your blog and it has helped me too. When I saw that announcement by Giuliana and Bill I was happy for them (becuase they’re infertile and will have a baby) but yet I was a little bitter and thought to myself (and maybe even said it out loud) of course they can get pregnant (esp with a GC) because they can do whatever they want since they have MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. They have access to any treatment/option there is. Not all of us have that option. THere’s something not fair about that. I know life isn’t fair but still. It shouldn’t be that way when it comes to wanting to build a family. Ugh! Anyway…

    I am with you on feeling like the last one standing and it’s oh so hard. There are few infertile people I know who haven’t had things “resolve” for them. Heck, some of my infertile friends are on baby #2 or even 3! As happy as I am for them, it’s hard to think that I’ve been struggling with this that long with nothing to show for it (well, nothing besides being financially broke with many emotional scars). Just know that you’re not alone because I know how lonely it can get.

    My faith has kept me going when I didn’t think it was possible. When I miscarried last month at 12 weeks after 7 IVFs and 5 years of TTC, let’s just say I was a little angry with God. But that soon changed into a comfort that I didn’t know was possible. I still question God’s plan with this all but I know that He has one for me even if I don’t know it yet.My faith ultimately gives me hope. We are now starting the adoption process and believe God has led us here and will bless us greatly.

    Keep the faith Whitney. God has blessings in store for you and Erik. I know he does. Praying for you.

  • Kimberly

    My heart just aches for you. I’ve followed your story for the last 9 months or so and I hadn’t checked your blog in over a month and I cried when I read your updates. You are so so strong and this is so unfair. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you figure out how you will move forward from here.

  • Benika

    Dear Whitney,
    I came across your blog because I did my first IVF last month and came down with OHSS. So I was trolling through the internet trying to figure out what the hell is going on with me and yours was the most comprehensive and understandable info out there. Thank you for that; it helped me alot. This is actually my first time replying to anything online but your story moved me and I am very, very sorry to hear how long you have struggled. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on how to move forward once you have healed from your last devastating experience. My husband and I somehow ended up in Uruguay and we have been trying for over 2 years to have a baby. I went through a couple of AI’s in Barcelona last year but it didn’t work and then we came here to Uruguay and I was fortunate to meet a few really lovely mothers who suffered with infertility. All of them eventually were successful, one in particular had to go through IVF and other procedures for 10 years in order to have her son!!! I can’t imagine what those 10 years must have felt like for her and her husband. But the story I want to share with you is of another mother here, who came here from France because she was put in touch with an obstetrician at the British Hospital in Montevideo, Uruguay, who would help them with the adoption process. The couple were both over 40 and had tried four or five failed IFV attempts in France so they decided to let their dreams of a pregnancy go and adopt. This doctor is really something special – caring, loving, and with an inner strength that was so abundant that she convinced the couple to give it one more try with her. She was adamant and insistent that she could help them conceive on their own and if they still wanted to adopt later, then they could. Once the embryos were ready to transfer, she involved them in the whole process and showed them the embryos that she was going to implant…she even had my friend choose which ones she wanted to have implanted. She chose to have 3 embryos implanted and all were successful! I wanted to tell you their story because I truly believe in two things with infertility; 1. Letting go of all the anxiety, desire and sole focus of getting pregnant. I am sure you must have heard by now countless stories of people giving up completely and then falling pregnant. But letting go isn’t easy. I know very well because I am a driven and stubborn person so for me it’s almost impossible. 2. The field of infertility treatments is definitely not an exact science and there are unfortunately so many different and numerous elements that have to be right. I think that it is important to find a doctor you really feel comfortable with, someone who understands, who has empathy, strength and certainty in their craft to carry you through this to a success. Some doctors have the magic touch and others don’t. If you want, I can put you in touch with this doctor or indeed the one I used in Buenos Aires who is also an incredible and very special woman who not only made my first IVF attempt a success (I tested positive earlier this week)but took my friend who I mentioned above ( the one that tried for 10 years to conceive by the arm) at a movie theater and pulled her off to the side with a promise of a pregnancy by the end of the year. And she got it.
    I’m praying that you get through this dark period and find something helpful in my reply.

  • Marcie

    Whitney, I just found your blog today when I voted for the Hope Award for Best Blog. Reading this post breaks my heart. For you. For me. For all of us going through this. A friend of mine texted me today saying not to let the enemy win by entering into my last “treated” two week wait. I never wrote her back because I was feeling so many of the things you discuss here. It is so hard because the greater hope we have, the more optimistic we are, the harder it hurts when it fails. As a christian, I know the words everyone say are true, but it simply isn’t that easy. I don’t want to be hopeless, but I also don’t want to be hurt more. And I have questioned if this makes me a bad person, more deserving of more trying times. It’s a vicious cycle. But you have a great way with words. And sharing your story is brave, and no doubt, is helping others. Sending you tons of virtual hugs, positive vibes & prayers. Thank you for sharing your heart with others.