Ten years. Seven pregnancies. Six miscarriages. Three IVFs. Two boys (finally!). One surrogate. A few stats behind the wayward path Jennifer, our Editorial Director, took to parenthood. To mark Infertility Awareness Week—and acknowledge the millions of women impacted—we asked Jennifer to share her story.
When you start treatment, you wonder: How much can I take? Then you handle way more than you thought possible, because the prize is irresistible. My RE (reproductive endocrinologist) joked that I was her “standard deviation,” because every weird thing happened to me: ectopic pregnancy, uterine scarring, placental abruption. It was like my body wanted to sample all the ways you could have trouble getting, and staying, pregnant.
Henry, my first, was born in 2010 after Clomid, IUIs, IVF, a miscarriage, successful IVF and a complicated pregnancy with 13 weeks’ bedrest. After Henry, I had four consecutive natural losses, so we turned back to IVF. Success—until an ultrasonographer announced no heartbeat at 18 weeks. Memories of that day are full of impossible heartbreak, with Henry in the room to see his brother. If that wasn’t enough, I needed two surgeries to resolve the pregnancy, after hemorrhaging about six weeks after the first.
I’d run out of Kleenex, Xanax and goodbyes, so we explored gestational surrogacy with our remaining embryos. Two candidates were disqualified medically, and I’d reluctantly started to tap the brakes on the sibling voyage when I received a life-changing email from a friend.
Through a series of serendipitous events, we found the planet’s best surrogate, transferred an embryo and held our breath until she texted blue lines. Charlie is now 20 months and worth every moment of blind faith his existence demanded.
Since I’m sort of a veteran, people ask: What advice would you give someone going through this? My RE once said, “The fate of this cycle/pregnancy is already sealed.” Meaning: You’re off the hook—you’ve done all you can. I found that forfeiting of control oddly liberating and it proved invaluable later, when I could let go and trust our surrogate wholly.
And I think that’s made me a better mom. I also say every step, even treatment failure, is one step closer to your baby. And there are so many ways to get there. Surrogacy is not a place I thought we’d end up, but it has been the greatest gift.
If you have friends “in the trenches” (we all have at least one), don’t feel like you always have to have the right words. In fact, sometimes the less you say, the better. We don’t expect you to solve it. But we’ll always remember your being there. Care packages help (fun socks, cozy #dsgoods, celebrity magazines). And a little comfort food, like the lobster mac & cheese my BFF served after my last loss, can’t hurt either.