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April 01, 2016

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Don't Count Your Eggs

Betsey-- We are all sending you and baby boy so much love and strength. Fours hours is a long ways away but hopefully the days and weeks will pass quickly and he'll be home in your arms soon. Pamela, what you wrote is so true and spot on. I hope one of the embryos work (I swear, so many people I know put in the last ugly slow to develop poor quality embryo and got a perfectly healthy baby), but if that isn't where you "journey" ends than perhaps it means your baby is still out there (in a dark cold cave ;) waiting for you. And you will find him/her. I wish you all the best.

A-- thank you so much for your comment. It is beautiful written and I'm so sorry for your loss and your struggles on your "journey" to parenthood, but I love the insights and life lessons you are gathering along the way. Family is who you love. That's it. Thank you for sharing some of your story and I wish you so much luck.

Grace-- good point. leave your baggage at the door, right?! Maryann, two weeks!! I want to say that went by quickly but I'm sure you feel otherwise and are eager to meet your baby! Good luck!! Keep us posted.

Jojo, you're the best. As always.

Betsey

Maya, Thank you for the title of this post! My troubles at the moment are not infertility, but that our 32 week old baby from embryo donation is in the NICU 4 hours from home. Still, I knew I might find comfort here. He is doing quite well. I really want to take the opportunity to chime in on the genetics thing. I can now say that it is all true, what Maya and so many who have taken this path have said. It doesn't matter. There is no way in the world we could be more in love than we are at this moment, with our tiny little guy. From the second we heard that first wonderful cry. If you decide to go for it, Try not to let it torture you. Please send good thoughts of steady growth for us and my best to all on different parts of this journey!

Pamela O

That's the thing about any great journey, including marriage, having a child (genetic children can go all kinds of ways, too -- there are no guarantees, ever), and life itself. You don't know ahead of time how it's all going to turn out. You have to feel your way through it, trying to have faith that you can make good decisions at each juncture along the way, doing your best as each moment comes up.

We have three less-than-stellar-quality-looking embryos left to try, and then that'll be the end of the road for genetic offspring for us, most likely. It is a lot to wrap your head around when a lifetime of assumptions and expectations suddenly evaporate.

And it's not like it'll be easy to find a half-Turkish, half-Oklahoman embryo sitting in a freezer somewhere. We may even have to forget about ethnic or geographic links.

But humans are a lot more than genetics, ethnicity, or geographic origin -- and viscerally learning that is an incredible lesson in what it means to be human. And it's a plain miracle that people have figured out how to preserve "baby seeds" that would otherwise have had no chance to become full-blown humans.

I've thought about what to tell a child who came from that miracle, and I'm still thinking on it if that becomes our story. (I imagine an early story about rescuing the child from a dark, cold cave -- but maybe that'll be too scary? Anyway, you can be I'll read lots of books on the subject if it comes up...)

I can't tell you how much your frankness and emotional honesty has meant as we've gone through our Island adventure. And I hope to join you in motherhood soon, one way or another.

-A

So, dear Maya, I want to thank you for this blog. I say dear because, though we haven't met, you are so forthright and honest with your story that it must endear you to many. As a private person but one who has similarly struggled, it floors me how open you have been and how many people have been soothed and offered solace by your openness. So when I say it... I REALLY mean thank you. And I'd like to offer my story after reading nearly your entire blog over the last few months. (Though I'll admit to some minor skimming!) My story may add a couple of things that I haven't encountered in other people's comments.

My partner in crime and I have been through (give or take) four years of infertility. We were together a looong time before we knew about it, being careful folks who took all the necessary precautions, although like many we now know they were laughably unnecessary. See, we knew women in my family "get knocked up easily" (such irony to those words now) even in their early forties and though it's not that late for us, we were waiting for the right time. Perhaps due in part of a more "traditional" culture in the Southeast (don't get me started), for years everyone looked at me and given how crazy fertile the women in my family are, they said "you're so healthy! just keep trying!" By the time we figured out that definitely wasn't going to work, and we had been through one dramatically unsuccessful IVF cycle, we decided to see a well-known fertility specialist in New York. That specialist quickly pointed out what no one would in our region would (despite our going to the most highly ranked clinic in our well-equipped state) - that we had *male* infertility. Of course, this was after several years of trying, taking ovulation meds, etc. And so, after two more unsuccessful IVF cycles in New York (though better than the first), we realized that my eggs had also aged out of the process (or at least, they had with hormonal impact of the IVF process).

The thing that I haven't told you so far is that I am in many ways adopted (by one parent). Not officially, but raised from a young age by a stepmother who was most definitely a mom to me. We are not biologically related but as close as people can be - meaning bonded in love and admiration, and also people who drive one another crazy sometimes, as moms and daughters do. It's a long story how this came to be... but it's something that my close friends still often comment on. That our relationship helped them to see that biology isn't necessary at all. I've known that, but in the single mindedness necessary to go through ART, may have lost touch with some aspects of it.

And then two things happened. Last summer, after our second unsuccessful IVF cycle, I happened upon your blog. (I think it was linked from an New York Times article?) I started reading it... but being my crazy self, wanted to read it chronologically. Then my husband and I had some major life changes - new jobs, a move, etc, and I got side-tracked. Within weeks after our move, something awful happened. My beloved stepmom became very ill... and after six wrenching weeks, we had to let her go. She was a remarkable human being, who has left her imprint on me in ways I don't think I'll ever stop discovering. She touched many lives and I'm incredibly thankful to have been one of them. It's now been five months since she passed away. We had already decided to try IVF one last time and after a while we went ahead with it, with the same result. Months went by. Wintertime. And with spring, I'm beginning to find my equilibrium and I know (though sometimes need reminding) that she'll always be with me.

And then a few weeks ago, I re-found your blog and finished reading it. And here it is, what I always knew, embodied in your (plural) amazing, brave journey and beautiful relationship with Momo. Your openness and willingness to share your pain and joy. And a reminder to me what I already knew and am so fortunate to have lived... that love and family are not bound by genetics. Family is created by love. It's that simple and that profound.

I can't tell you exactly where we are now... but we are beginning to explore embryo donation. Perhaps I'll come back here and let you know where we end up. But for now, again, thank you. And for your company on the way.

Grace

I admit I feel this way too, it's just genetics, it's not really much honestly. Hopefully by not treating it like baggage they won't think of it as baggage!

Maryann

Beautiful post as always! Unconditional love and devotion are the most important aspects of being parent. I believe our donated embryo baby to be born in about 2 weeks was ment to be ours. Through years of struggles and miscarriage I believe God was guiding us to find her and love her so much. I pray and admire so much those generous and amazing strangers who donated the embryo to us. Truly amazing gift of love and life.

Jojo

Love love love this. All of it. Lucky little Momo. And Mom and Dad too!

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