What a Difference an IVF Makes II or They Don’t Make a Greeting Card for This

It must be the utter clarity and focus that a synthetic hormone-fueled pregnancy brings, or maybe it’s just all the free time that being a mother to two kids under ten years of age (both of whom are on summer break) brings, but my sister’s synopsis of IVF was spot on. I must admit, I’ve been having a hard time getting blog posts started and staying on track. I’m not sure if in attempting to tackle an admittedly HUGE topic all at once I’m psyching myself out, but it has been a challenge to synthesize this process into cogent sentences for this blog. Being the little sister and all has it’s perks however, and I am taking full advantage by riding the coattails of A’s post and posting my take on things.

Hands free pregnancy
Most people have a clear memory of the night/day/morning that they conceived their child, and if they don’t, then they definitely remember the hangover from the next day. Sometimes I feel as though I got the shaft. Sure, there was the month of hormone injections and a swollen belly that I liked to rub, imagining all 30+ eggs safely ensconced in there. I told my family that it was the closest I’d come to actual pregnancy so I was going to enjoy the hell out of it, Lupron-tinged mood swings notwithstanding. But I was in an anaesthetized slumber when the eggs were taken (and while my husband fulfilled his role in the process, alone), and had to work the day the implantation took place. I was bitterly disappointed about missing it, as was A and the amazing Dr. N. (she’ll get at least one post), especially when A told me that she got to actually see the embryo. Dr. N. gave her a photo of it (a nebulous cluster of bubbles) to give to me, which I carefully packed in my bag to show my husband the next time we were to see one another. A life lived long distance has definite drawbacks. And since this pregnancy is not occurring within me physically, it follows that many of the milestones that I always assumed I’d be present for are happening in my absence.

This s**t is expensive
When my sister first offered to surrogate, I offered everything I had (and a great deal I didn’t) as possible compensation. If she’d do this for us, I would take her shopping in NYC for a new wardrobe, buy the family tickets to the Addams Family on Broadway, take my nieces off her hands every summer, pay for their college educations. Never mind that between my less than stellar salary and the fact that JP and I just got married and are streamlining down to a single income in a few months, said money is a pipe dream. In fact, if I sit down and crunch numbers, I really have no idea how we’re going to get married, have a baby the most financially impractical way possible, and start a new business all in a single calendar year. Getting A knocked up wasn’t exactly cost effective and no part of it was covered by insurance, due to an infuriating loophole that doesn’t classify cancer patients under the standard definition of “infertile.” So even though I wanted to give A the world in exchange for giving us our firstborn, we couldn’t afford much. Which, upon sustained reflection is about right, because, really, what amount could I give that would make this a fair and balanced equation in my head?

Leave Me Alone
As A mentioned, no one bats an eyelash when two people decide to have a baby. In the absence of a womb however, our parental intentions became public domain. And everyone was so serious about it, with the psychologist trying to dredge up some long-buried slight within our family dynamic that could potentially blow the whole deal. (In the therapist’s office, we tried to hold it all together, really we did, but as soon as A sat next to JP on the sofa, I think a smart-ass comment about wife swapping flew out of my mouth and it was ON after that). Our family and friends are also curious about the entire process and I can’t say that I blame them; not only does our baby come out of a test tube, but this entire process contains elements of a bad sci-fi film. I don’t begrudge people’s curiosity and interest, since 99% of the time it comes from a vested interest in myself, JP and A, and in our happiness. What we miss out on is the sacred aspect of a couple’s privacy that is generally afforded to them in the initial months of pregnancy. What we get in return is an absolutely worthwhile trade-off, but the degree to which others are involved by necessity, often falls beyond my comfort zone. To say nothing of my husband, who is far more private than I.

Watch and Wait
It is a plight acknowledged by dad’s everywhere: once the 6 week sonogram has confirmed that a baby does in fact exist, the role of the dad is reduced to a strictly supporting role. Given that my top shelf genetic material has been combined with the best of JP’s, I now occupy a similar position. My work is done (for now) and all that is left for me to do is keep tabs on A’s life without being too intrusive and pissing her off. Legally speaking, vessels trump genetic material (we will have to make provisions to adopt our child after A gives birth). A similar line of logic naturally follows for navigating this pregnancy, and I have felt conflicted by my own emotions given that the focus should be on my sister. A has been unfailingly generous in allowing for my own adjustments to the emotional spectrum of this experience, however. This spirit of generosity arises from our parents and the community in which we were raised. I am filled with pride when I think about the incredibly supportive and selfless community of people who are waiting to welcome one more in 9 months minus 6 weeks. And although the baby will be mine and Jeremy’s, it will have had the benefit of 9 months with my sister eating what she eats, listening to her voice, the music of my nieces, and being surrounded by the people I love most, all the way across the country. I will struggle over these next months, living so far from A and our baby but am content in the knowledge that he or she is in the very, very best of hands.

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