I'd had a bit of a breakdown a couple of months ago that led to me posting in said FB group about my anger and frustration. Also this:
I wish I could let go of this need to have a biological child of my own but it's literally been YEARS and I can't get past it. And even when I think that *maybe* I could get to a place of peace with going the donor embryo route I am convinced that it, too, would end in failure and that would gut me.
Kindred commented on the post that night to let me know that she and her husband had decided to pursue embryo adoption after their yearlong break. I knew they'd started down that road previously but had run into some setbacks, and hearing this news made me so incredibly happy. Kindred and I started messaging back and forth about how she came to this decision and how soon she'd be starting this new leg of her journey.
In the Transtheoretical Model of Change, behavior that leads to change must pass through several stages: precontemplation (no intent to change, sometimes not even aware that change is necessary); contemplation (aware a problem exists, thinking about overcoming it, no commitment to action); preparation (intending to take action); action (what it sounds like); and maintenance (also what it sounds like).
I was still stuck in the contemplation phase. (Kindred, on the other hand, had moved into preparation/action.)
Fast forward five weeks. Kindred adds me to another secret Facebook group, this one centered on embryo adoption. At first I was taken aback. I mean, I wasn't there yet. I still hadn't answered a very kind email from a woman I hadn't met, referred to me by my in-person support group, who was using donor embryos and offered to meet up for dinner to discuss. (Which reminds me: I need to answer that email, STAT, with a big fat apology included.)
At first, I didn't check into the group that often. When I did, I didn't like or comment on anything. I just lurked. But then Kindred posted something, so I liked it. And then some ladies shared their good news (like first-ever positive pregnancy tests, something which still eludes me) and I liked that, too. And then one day there was a post about something only tangentially related to fertility that I felt compelled to comment on.
I was becoming part of the community without even realizing it.
And then one night, after coming home from Glam Colleague's workplace baby shower, I kind of lost my shit.
The minute Mr. Hope walked through the door I started crying...and didn't stop for hours. It was the kind of crying where water just pours out of your eyes and snot drips from your nose and you are practically convulsing from all of the sobbing. Ugly crying, painful crying, crying that leaves you feeling hungover the next day.
Two days later, I crafted an introductory post to the Facebook group. Almost immediately, responses started rolling in. Instead of making me feel like a noob, these women welcomed me with open arms.
This is when everything changed.
Not because the women were so warm and welcoming (although I'm infinitely grateful for that) but because in responding to their comments, I started to get clear on what I was thinking/feeling about going the donor embryo route. Or, more accurately, what I was fearing.
That the kid wouldn't see me as her real mom.
That she would never stop wanting her biological parents.
That she'd regret not being one of the lucky ones "placed" (so to speak) with her bio family.
In realizing this - that the majority of my fears were based on a hypothetical child hypothetically rejecting me, and that I'd likely manifest a similar anxiety and insecurity with a biological child (not loving me, or wishing she'd been given a different mother)-
Well, let's just say I had kind of a moment.
The next day, Mr. Hope and I sat down to have a looooong talk about next steps. We were supposed to be starting our next pre-cycle (an estrogen priming cycle), but I hadn't done the things needed to do to get us there. I told him about my epiphany and that I felt like I was finally ready to head down this path I'd been avoiding.
He said, "I just want to raise a baby with you. I don't care how we get one."
This has pretty much been his attitude all along, but remember: Mr. Hope already has a biological child of his own. I don't. So I am not only mourning the loss of a tiny human that is half Agony, half Hope, I'm also having to come to terms that I am at the end of my particular evolutionary line.
This, I think, has been one of the hardest parts for me to accept.
One of the women in the secret Facebook group left me this comment:
There is a grieving process in adoption. Adoption is ONLY formed through loss. With EA, loss of birthing a bio child and loss of the embryo from being raised in their bio family. Loss of the dream of how our family would be formed. Often loss of numerous other children along the journey to build our family. It's a tough road, but I truly believe that going down this road not only makes us stronger, but also makes the depth of our relationships stronger. Life is just more precious in general when we've had to fight to bring life into the world the way we have.
I cried when I read that.
I cried, too, when Mr. Hope and I decided on our plan.
We'd always said we'd try three IVFs before calling it. We had one left to go. Mr. Hope said, "I think we should still try one more time. That way, we have no regrets. We'll know we gave it everything we had."
(It helps that our out-of-pocket expenses are extremely limited when it comes to IVF; our largest expense is the $500 fee for the anesthesiologist, and we get that refunded by the insurance company after the fact. If we had to shell out $12k of our own money for every attempt, I'd probably have reached a different conclusion.)
As we head into this third and final IVF attempt, we're going to simultaneously start the process for donor embryos. I think I know in my heart of hearts that this is how Mr. Hope and I will get our baby. But I want to be able to go into the process with a clear head - and without a bunch of niggling question marks hanging over the decision.
Back to Kindred Spirit: She is in her down reg period, just four weeks shy of her first fetal embryo transfer (FET), which falls on my Precious Pup's birthday ("It's a sign!" she said. "It's going to be a great day!") Kindred is positively glowing, all giggles and dimpled smiles. She showed me pictures of her embryos' already-born siblings. They look like they could be hers.
As for me: Making the decision to talk to our RE about donor embryos feels like an elephant just got off my chest. It feels like relief. Like I could stop fighting the inevitable. Like I was surrendering, but in the best possible way.
I can't wait to see what happens next.