Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What the Doctor Said...

Last week or the week before (I've lost track) while at the doctor's office, my doctor informed me that she and my other doctors have all gotten together via phone and chatted about my case.  I initially perked up at this... how very impressive that they would actually communicate with each other.  Apparently I've made them all very aware of how much I want to have children (haha, really?!), and through their joint conversation they have come to the conclusion and agreement that I will not/should not be able to give birth to a child of my own.

I'm heartbroken.  In fact, I'm not sure I could be more so, except, God forbid, if I lost David.  The hardest part is that its not that I can't get pregnant, in theory I can, its that they just don't think its safe for me or for the potential baby.  Not only would I be at great risk, but there is a high likelihood of birth defects and other problems due to the Ulcerative Colitis I have and due to the drugs I take for it.

I've been, and to some point I still am in denial.  In fact it took me a couple of days to even tell David.  My Functional Medicine doctor says, "Well maybe in four or five years or so it would be okay to try... if you've been in complete remission for a while and are off all the medications, of course."  You see, those medications I'm on all clearly say to stop taking them if I'm pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant"... and more specifically, "can cause birth defects."  Oy!

First, thats a HUGE "maybe," and second even if I am able to carry a child, am I going to end up dumping all sorts of chemicals and birth defects into it from my ill-performing body?  I not sure I could handle a truly unhealthy child on top of my own issues.  What's more, the doctors have even encouraged me to "look into other options," and even my Naturopath isn't giving me much hope at this point, although, she's happy to tell me and David that "37 is a great age to have kids... if you can get off the medications." Which, PS, my Gastroenterologist told me I would be on for life.  I want to scream at all the catch-22s with these people!

Okay... So what does "other options" mean?  Adoption or gestational surrogacy... I've reluctantly started looking into both.

I have a beautiful nephew and niece that are both adopted and I've never looked at them in any way other than that they are my family just like all the others.  I also know many people that are either adopted or have adopted children and its always been a beautiful experience.  The thing is, the process can be difficult and overwhelming, and there are a lot of unknowns.  Considering what I'm dealing with in my own health, frankly, the unknowns makes me somewhat nervous.  But then again, there are many many many babies out there who need loving homes, and I'm certain we could happily be one of those homes/families.

That said, gestational surrogacy is in many ways a safer bet (or maybe "safer bet" is the wrong way to phrase it... more defined option might be a better way to put it).  It's our baby, its just being "cooked in someone else's oven" so to speak.  But there are two things, its very expensive ($60,000+) and how does one maneuver in a relationship with a surrogate?  I mean, is it my blood coursing through our baby's veins, or is it hers?  Is the mother-baby bond the same?  Does the surrogate have to stay in the baby's life after the baby's born, I mean, she's not technically family, so is it awkward?

And then there are all the feelings and questions that go through your head... Inadequacies, worries, etc. What is the surrogate/intended parents relationship supposed to be like?  Do I really want to be "buddies" with the person gestating my baby?  And weirdly, I'm already feeling jealous of a woman (who at this point doesn't even exist) because I won't get to feel the baby growing inside me as she will... kicking and rolling and such.  And then there is the silliest thought of all, but I'll admit, its still there, swimming around in my head: Will my husband still love me the same even though another lady is carrying our baby and "doing the work" for me?  Am I still worth the effort?

I think I've seen too many TV shows and movies, because when I think of having a baby, I think about the hours of labor that you and your spouse go through together... the pushing and the encouragement and the team work, and in the end the sweet bundle of joy all that toil produced.  The tears and the bonding and the accomplishment that goes with it is what I've always thought made the family unit stronger... and oddly, something I've always wanted to experience. Am I wrong in thinking this way?

And then there are still the "what ifs".  What if they're all wrong?  What if they find a cure for UC?  What if I get better like I did before... will I be okay for a pregnancy then?  What if..."

In my research, I've looked to my sister, who's strong faith has always guided her in the right direction.  Katie adopted two beautiful children and then found out that she was pregnant with her third child days after getting her second one home.  Its worked out beautifully, and they have a lovely and loving family.

I also look to people like, as cliche as it sounds, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  At least from the outside, their family is a real tribute to loving adoptive families of all shapes and sizes, and they are such an inspiration.

In my gestational surrogate research, I stumbled across this article in the New York Times about the writer and her husband's journey into surrogacy.  It seemed like such a beautiful, yet slightly emotionally overwhelming experience: , but isn't having children an emotionally overwhelming experience in general?

I love my husband... we have a beautiful life together and I feel so incredibly lucky to have him, but frankly, I'm also feeling disoriented at the moment.  The one thing I've always wanted to do more than anything is have my own babies... I've always felt, in many ways, being especially good with kids is what defined me.  I guess now I have to figure out how to wrap my brain around this idea of family in a new light.

Obviously, we're just barely scratching the surface of our journey on this path.  Please keep us in your thoughts.

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