Adam and I met in 2007 and quickly fell in love. Having both spent too many years in the dating pool and never really finding anyone close to being "the one," I think we were both starting to accept the idea that maybe marriage and a family wasn't in the cards for either of us. Then we met and our lives were instantly changed for the better. Within 8 months we were engaged and planning for our future.
I have had a medical history that is--checkered, to say the least. Having experienced several maladies (including pneumonia, both lungs collapsing, a blood clot) in addition to just a general run-down feeling for most of my adult life, I just seemed to have had a weird run of re-occurring bad luck. I would go through months of relative health, and then a major mishap would come out of nowhere, but they all seemed to have no connection. It was after my second blood clot that the doctors were able to piece together a pattern. I was finally diagnosed with blood disorder called Cardiolipin Antibody Syndrome (also known as Antiphospholipid Syndrome).
Long story short--I am prone to blood clots because my blood is very thick. My hematologist shared all the possible problems that could occur, but assured me that if I took the blood thinner (Coumadin) appropriately; I could live a normal, productive life. In the future, there would be an issue with carrying a pregnancy to term, which upset me, but at the time, I was young and single, and had no prospects of marriage in the near future.
Fast forward to my early 30s when Adam and I met. Having both spent too many years in the dating pool and never really finding anyone close to being "the one," I think we were both starting to accept the idea that maybe marriage and a family wasn't in the cards for either of us. Then we met and, as cheesy as it sounds, it really was love at first sight. We fell in love quickly and knew we wanted to share our lives with each other and have a family. Within 8 months we were engaged and planning for our future. From the beginning of our relationship, I was honest about my blood disorder and shared what I was told years before about carrying a baby. "I love you-- that's why I am marrying you" was his response.
After we bought our house in November 2009, we decided we wanted to build a family. In January, we visited my hematologist to change my blood thinner. Coumadin can cause birth defects so I was prescribed Lovenox-- an injection I take twice a day in my stomach. We began to try and then became pregnant in March. We were ecstatic! With the way we had met and fell in love and got married and found our dream house all in quick succession, we felt like this was going to be the next sweet bit of fortune for us. Unfortunately, five weeks in the pregnancy, we miscarried. It was devastating for both of us. I never realized how much I could love a person I never met.
As heartbroken as we were, we didn't attribute the miscarriage to my blood disorder. We knew friends and family members who had had experienced the same thing ...we just figured we had a terrible thing happen, but that our prospects were still bright. After all, we got pregnant only two months into trying. We'd have better luck the next time.
We took some time to take care of each other, and figure out what to do next. There were many consultations with the hematologist, the perinatologist, and a high-risk obstetrician. Everyone was optimistic, but clear about potential problems. There could be issues with the baby's development, or issues with my health, or both. No one is sure about the specifics, but something happens with the placenta during pregnancy.
Some researchers think small clots form in the placenta and cuts off nutrition to the baby. Other doctors think the problem could be a hormone that is released due to the blood disorder and causes the baby's failure to survive. Either way, there are some women who have perfectly healthy pregnancies (and babies) while others do not. I wanted to be part of the first group.
By the summer of 2011, I was pregnant and everything was going well, until week six. I began to feel terrible and then a pain developed in my chest. I assumed it was acid reflux and made all the necessary calls to the appropriate doctors. Within a week, I was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized. After a great deal of testing-- including a heart catheterization, I was diagnosed with Myocarditis, but the baby was doing great! I was hospitalized again for Vasculitis later that month, and taken to the emergency room when I had memory loss, but the baby was thriving!
In October, I came home from a long day of teaching and was exhausted. While sitting on the couch, I felt something that did not seem right. I went to the bathroom and found blood. Adam walked in the door and we went right to hospital. I was 15 weeks into the pregnancy and very nervous as everything with the baby was going well. My last ultrasound showed a healthy heartbeat and adequate growth.
A nurse took me for an ultrasound once we arrived and I knew there was a problem. She didn't talk at all and would not make eye contact (usually when everything is fine, everyone is chatty). I was brought back to the area where Adam waited.
My doctor came in and told us our baby had no heartbeat and had died. Adam and I held each other and cried for what seemed like hours. The recommendation was to do a D & E, but due to the blood thinners, I had to go home and wait twelve hours then return for the procedure in the morning. It was the longest night of our lives. We didn't sleep-- we just cried. When we returned the next day, the staff was prepared for us and we were taken immediately. Those next few months were extremely difficult.
Obviously, no miscarriage is a good miscarriage. They are all terrible tragedies, and nobody should have to experience that loss at any stage of a pregnancy. But having gone through one before, believe me the loss feels so much more intense the further along the pregnancy has gone. Having had a few ultrasounds and being told how healthy the baby looked, and actually starting to come up with possible names...the baby was no longer an abstract concept, it was a already our son or daughter. Then, you get the horrible news that your baby is no more.
We were obviously in a bad way over the next year. We were sad, but still in the back of our minds we thought eventually we'd have a successful pregnancy. We knew that my blood disorder had its risks and greater chances of heartbreak, but had read enough online stories of women with my same condition eventually having success that we figured we just had to endure and eventually we'd have our baby. We'd just have a tougher road, but we'd do it in the end. Then, after the sadness of the miscarriages started to dull a bit, we had a new uneasy feeling to deal with...anxiety. You see, even though we had our share of misfortune with the miscarriages, we had been able to get pregnant fairly easily. Now, after having a D&E, we started to worry. We weren't getting pregnant.
I know a year doesn't seem that long by some standards, but when you're hoping each and every month, and it doesn't happen, your opportunity seems to dwindle. Then, finally, a year later, we did get pregnant again. All of the previous pain seemed to fade away. We knew the risks, but felt like this one would turn out okay.
Alas, it wasn't to be. This time we miscarried at eight weeks. Another D&E, which only serves to delay your ability to mourn while dealing with both the emotional and physical trauma of having your baby removed because you're too far along to have it pass naturally.
Adam and I talked for a long time; we went to multiple consultations with doctors who specialized in Antiphospholipid Syndrome and pregnancy. We wanted to try one more time to have a baby of our own. I stopped eating gluten, which we had read online might affect my clotting disorder. I exercised regularly, and drank 100 ounces of water a day. No matter what happened, I was going to do anything in my power to become part of the success group of mothers who gave birth to healthy babies.
In January 2013, we got pregnant. I was seeing the hematologist every three week, the high risk OB every week, and the perinatologist once a month. Things were progressing nicely. Our baby's heartbeat at the last ultrasound was 164! We got to four months and things were going so well that we shared the exciting news with our family at Easter. We were at 18 weeks and everything was right with the world. This one was going to be different and we could feel it.
Two weeks later on Sunday April 21st, I woke up in the early hours of the morning to use the bathroom and realized I was bleeding. After calling the OB, we were instructed to go right to the hospital's Labor and Delivery floor and our doctor would meet us. As soon as we got there, the nurses put monitors on my belly, and the resident did an ultrasound. Our baby's heartbeat was 72. We were told there was nothing that could be done. Again, we were devastated. By the time our doctor arrived, she did another ultrasound, and our baby had passed.
We have now had four miscarriages. Two were early enough (5 and 8 weeks, respectively) that we could not have any testing done. We had chromosomal testing done for both the 15-week and 18-week pregnancies. That testing showed that there were no abnormalities that our babies were genetically healthy with no disorders, but both were undersized according to their age. The problem is in the placenta, the fetus cannot be supported and survive in my body.
This is the scenario that my specialists had worried about with my condition. Not only am I unable to carry a baby to term, but also every time I get pregnant, I am putting my own life at risk. After numerous discussions with our team of doctors, we realized that we could continue to get pregnant, but the end result would never be what we wanted. We would never be part of the group of parents who leave the hospital with a healthy baby. There was nothing I could do physically to change this fact. It was difficult to come to this conclusion, but it was our reality.
So, knowing that we could conceive healthy babies but could not carry them, Adam and I went and spoke with our doctor about surrogacy. So you know what you are donating to, we have provided a quick breakdown. We figured out that our medical insurance doesn't cover anything having to do with IVF at all"”the medications for me, the actual doctor, the procedure, the fertilization and freezing of the eggs. The medications alone are about $5000 and the actual procedure is typically $11,000, and this is just to get us started (and all out of pocket). In addition, we need to hire an attorney (typically a few thousand dollars) who will then find the gestational carrier. The gestational carrier runs between $20,000 and $40,000. After the right person is found who will carry our baby, there are additional fees that we have to consider. Some of the other things we will be expected to pay for is clothing, loss wages, possible medical insurance (sometimes insurance companies will not allow the person to use their own plan), cleaning services if the carrier is placed on bed rest, travel expenses, and more.
We know this is our choice and not everyone will agree with it, but that's okay because everyone has his or her own journey. This is ours. In order to begin building our family, we are asking for your help. I wish we knew 40,000 people who would give us a dollar! It is a great deal of money and we are saving, but with the bills we have, it almost seems insurmountable right now. We have applied for a grant, but unfortunately, were not chosen to receive it. There are lots of couples out there in the same boat.
We began an incredible journey when we met in 2007, and are so blessed. We have loving family members and friends. We have a wonderful relationship, laugh a lot, work hard, and enjoy each day we are given. If we are successful and raise more funds than we need, we will happily donate the extra monies to someone else trying to have a baby. We would really like to start building our family!
Jamiee and Adam
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