My journey to infertility is different than most of the women and men in my life, which has made it difficult to relate to other’s stories, but not to the feelings associated to it. My secondary infertility started the day that I gave birth to my first child, a daughter. After a relatively boring pregnancy within a few months of getting married, my husband and I were excited to welcome our daughter on January 5, 2016, during a scheduled c-section due to her being frank breech that presented late in my pregnancy.
The morning was uneventful until the moments after my daughter was delivered when I experienced shortness of breath and went into cardiac arrest. I soon went into Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) and started to build out, requiring 37 units of blood products. My medical team soon realized that I was suffering from an Amniotic Fluid Embolism and tried their best to control the bleeding, but ultimately I had to have an emergency hysterectomy on the same day I gave birth. During the first few days of my recovery, due to a stroke and memory issues, I repeatedly asked various family members if I would be able to have more children, and each time, my family had to remind me that my uterus was no longer a part of me.
Soon after my delivery, we had a friend offer to be a surrogate. Because it was so soon after our event, we thought she was just offering out of impulse, but when she offered again a few months later, my husband and I began to explore the gestational carrier process and look into a local RE to see if it was even a possibility. After our initial consultation and a record review from our potential GC, we decided to move forward with the psychological consultations, which we all passed with flying colors. Unfortunately, it was around this time that my husband’s company, who provided our insurance, was changing our coverage and would no longer be covering fertility treatments. We were able to quickly get everything in order to start the process of my egg retrieval while we had coverage, nearly 11 months after I almost died during childbirth.
Having conceived our daughter relatively quickly and with no assistance aside from ovulation tests, jumping into the world of IVF was emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Aside from not healing emotional from my near-death experience, I wasn’t emotional prepared for everything that would go into IVF. Before this, everything had come easily for me…so when my body didn’t initially respond to the low doses of medication I was being prescribed, and when it was looking like I was only producing a few viable eggs, there was the threat of cancelling my retrieval and I began to feel like a failure. My RE increased my medication and, luckily, we started to see more growth and decided to continue with the cycle.
The morning of my retrieval, I was very anxious. I hadn’t had any procedures since my AFE and began crying when my husband was not allowed to go back with me. The anesthesiologist and nurse helped calm my nerves and when I woke up, I learned they had retrieved 8 mature eggs and 6 fertilized. After 6 days, we had 2 remaining embryos that were sent off for testing. Sadly, we received news two days before Christmas that both of them were mosaic. It felt like a punch to the gut and I felt like my body was failing me again. We decided to enjoy the Holidays with our family and then regroup after the New Year to see next steps.
We decided to move forward with an appeal to my husband’s company to continue having coverage, and after about 8 months, finally got approval for another retrieval. We started the process in October of 2017. I felt more prepared this time, emotionally and physically, for all the shots and what the hormones would do to my body. I had also had more time to process my birth trauma and felt emotionally stronger. This time around, we were able to retrieve 12 embryos, and once again, 2 made it to day 6 for testing. Praying that at least one of these would be normal, we sent them off and waited for word. We would soon get the phone call we were hoping for; both our embryos were genetically healthy! We were so excited to tell our GC and find out her timeline. My husband sent off a text message to tell her the exciting news and we waited for her response. And then came the heart break. Due to the large gap in time between our two retrievals, our GC had a change of heart and was no longer in a position to be our carrier. It’s hard to describe the feelings associated with this. We understand that situations can change but that doesn’t make our heartbreak any less. Feeling hopeless, we decided to share our story with social media, in the hopes that we would find someone else that could help us complete our family. Initially, we had a lot of people message or text us, and each time we had contact, we tried hard not to get excited, and with good reason. For all the lovely women who reached out to us, two weren’t able to be medically cleared, one stopped responding after she was supposed to talk to her husband, one committed to another couple that she had previously spoken with, and one had never carried a child before. Feeling hopeless (again) and drained, we decided to take the summer off and just enjoy being present in the moment.
In the winter, we were able to connect with our current potential carrier. She seems like a good match and we are hoping to move forward with her in fall 2019. Initially, we had hoped to start with her this past January, however, her insurance does not cover surrogacy and we were unable to obtain additional insurance through open enrollment. We are hoping to have all prior approval from our RE made prior to this year’s open market to obtain insurance coverage for surrogacy and then officially begin our surrogacy journey with her. We are being cautiously optimistic. We know how quickly things can change, and to be honest, my heart can’t handle much more disappointment. It is beyond frustrating that so much of our journey is dictated by insurance, which I am sure so many others can relate to.
Surrogacy isn’t for the faint of heart. To all the other women (and men) who are hoping to expand their families through surrogacy, or who have already, I want you to know that I am here with you and am hoping and praying for you and that you are not alone.
You can follow Diana's journey on Instagram at @TheMakingofMoreMasullis