Category Archives: Miscarriage

Happy World Adoption Day!

So I thought on this special day, I would resurrect my blog and write our adoption story whilst keeping the intricate details of that story private as those details belong to my son and are his details to share later in life should he choose to do so.

Our adoption story is one of the happiest stories of my life, but it didn’t start out that way.

At the beginning of 2007, as a single person in my mid 30’s I decided to venture down the adoption route through Child Welfare. I was in the documentation process when I met the man who was to be my future husband. His request to me, despite my medical issues of fibroids, was that we try the conventional way first. In 2008 I underwent a myomectomy (removal of uterine fibroids) in order to facilitate falling pregnant. 2 months after the procedure, we ceremoniously ditched all contraceptives in the house. In 2009 we got married. After a timeframe of 2 years with no pregnancy, we consulted a fertility clinic and I quit my job that required extensive international travel. In 2010, just 2 months after I walked away from my executive life, I fell pregnant. We were elated! Sadly the rest did not go as planned. Five months into my first pregnancy, my uterus ruptured. This was as a result of bad scarring on my uterus from the surgery to remove the aggressively growing fibroids. Devastatingly we lost our unborn daughter and I lost my uterus that fateful day. My husband almost also lost me. After a period of recovery and grieving, my husband and I discussed our options, which was when we met Wilna our social worker. I was ready to go back to the adoption route, but he wasn’t. So a year of back to back IVF’s followed in an attempt to get viable embryos, after which I threw in the towel and elected for donor eggs. In 2012 our surrogate mother fell pregnant. Again we were elated. However life yet again had different plans for us. At the 13 week scan with our surrogate mother, it became evident that our unborn son had severe medical abnormalities and was rapidly fading. We were told it was only a matter of days before he would pass away and our surrogate mom would miscarry. It all seemed so unbelievable and unfair. We lost our son a few days later.

At this point, after all the heartbreak, my husband was ready to discuss the adoption process and we once again picked up the phone to Wilna our social worker. We set up our screening and completed all of the necessary paperwork. Then our wait began. Those 9 months seemed to creep along ever so slowly to the point where I started discussing the involvement of other social workers with Wilna. A few days later we got the call from Wilna. It was 17th September 2013. The best call of my life. To this day I remember where I was and how I felt during the call. A meeting took place on 19th September. The best and most nerve wracking meeting of my life. A meeting that almost didn’t happen due to crazy weather conditions at the time and severe flooding in the area. That meeting changed our lives in the best way possible. Our beautiful son was born on 20th September and we brought him home on 25th September. Our journey to a family wasn’t easy and was filled with terrible losses, however it was a journey that we needed to take and that led us to our son. He is the most incredibly loving little boy, who is the light of our lives and brings us so much joy.

We’re hoping to add to our family again very soon, once again through the miracle of adoption.

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What An AMAZING Year It Has Been!

The year has flown by since the day we brought our beautiful son home. It’s been a year of elation, nerves, speed-learning (if there is such a thing!), exhaustion and most of all heaps and heaps of love.

We celebrated Alec’s 1st birthday last month and threw an “Alec The Aviator” party with his little friends from his various activities (swimming, workshop and mommy’s group). It was a day filled with a mix of emotions, especially when we sang Happy Birthday. I couldn’t believe this day had come, that we were actually celebrating our child’s first birthday. At the same time remembering our baby girl Stella who we met briefly, but who’s birthday we will never be able to celebrate. Remembering our little surrogate baby boy who also left us all too soon. Remembering how incredibly awesome our surrogate mom was to put herself forward as our surrogate and how amazingly strong and brave she was when we received the unbelievably bad news at the 13 week scan. Through all that we’d been through to create our family, here we were 6 years later since the start of our journey, celebrating our son Alec’s 1st birthday and surrounded by a group of amazing new friends and family.

Looking at the photos from Alec’s party, I really hope that the friends he has now will remain so through his life. Some of them are also adopted, which I’m hoping will ease his way into understanding, when the time is right, that families are made up / brought together in different ways. I want him to understand that although he may not have been born from Mommy’s tummy, he was born from Mommy and Daddy’s hearts and will always be a part of us.

So here we are a month into our second year with our gorgeous little boy and looking forward to more adventures together as a family!

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First Time Parenting … Who Would Have Guessed?

If someone … anyone … had said in July last year … “This time next year you will be a changed woman … you will be witnessing your 9 month old son’s first words and start thinking about his first Birthday” … I would have said something along the lines of … “No way! Are you on drugs or something?? Have you read my blog?”

Well … I now know for a fact that dreams do come true. If you put your mind to it, you can actually make your dreams come true. The pieces might not fall into place quite the way you think they should or as planned, but somehow the universe has a way of saying … “OK, we’ve dished you up a whole heap of crappy heartache and enough tears to sink a battleship in the last 5 years, so now lets bring you some sunshine.”

And sunshine is what LH and I got. Our bundle of pure joy who turned our lives upside down overnight. Who showed me what it’s like to love someone with such intensity that my heart stops at just the thought of him not being in our lives. A little being who has totally consumed my thoughts – day and night. A beautiful baby boy, who is all too soon rapidly becoming a toddler with a twinkle in his eye.

Time to start putting the wheels in motion for number 2 … no easy task for us, but one I’m ready than ever to take on.

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First Time Parenting … Mother’s Day Eve

It feels kind of surreal knowing that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. For the first time since we lost our daughter Stella and I lost my uterus 4 years ago (after a very long struggle to conceive), I’m not dreading the day. This time last year … who would have known that within the year I would at long last become a mother. A mother to the most wonderful little boy. I’ll be celebrating tomorrow being mother to my gorgeous and most precious son Alec.

My message to all women who may be reading this and who’s desire for a family has not yet been fulfilled … Don’t give up on your hopes, your dreams, your yearning for a family of your own. I know that tomorrow is probably going to be a bit of a crappy one for you. Just know that things may not be working out the way you had initially planned, but with determination, inner strength and an open mind to stepping out of norm, you can make your dreams come true. I know this having walked a long and very painful journey … but I refused to give up. As I listen to the sound of my son’s breathing from his cot, I now know that anything is possible.

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Where To … Part 9: Appreciation and Sharp Reminders

I’m married to the most remarkable man I know. You’re probably thinking “Duh … that’s why you married him!” … and yes whilst that’s true, at the time we got married, I can honestly say that I had absolutely no idea just how remarkable he was and would turn out to be. Lets not kid ourselves our relationship has been put to the test many times in the 3.5 years we’ve been married, with our journey to hopefully having a family of our own. On this note, I’d like to congratulate LH for making it to the summit of Kilimanjaro last month! Proud of you Babe!

As part of my voluntary work in animal welfare, a little 7 day old kitten (Johnny Bravo) entered our home last week Thu – rescued as an orphan from Khaylitsha (a poverty stricken township near Cape Town International airport). The last time I bottle fed and cared for an orphan this young was in November 2010 with our ‘twins’ who remained with us as “failed fosters” and are turning 3 in October. It was during those dark and desperate weeks and months following the loss of our beautiful daughter Stella that the ‘twins’ came into my life and literally saved me by giving me purpose – that of saving their lives.

Having Johnny Bravo in the house, is a reminder of how we would dearly love to have a family of our own, of how prepared we have been to take this next step in our lives for some time now and the anguish we feel of not being able to do so. LH generally tends to steer clear of the fosters that come and go, because he gets too emotionally invested and has difficulty letting go when they leave for their adoptive homes at 9 weeks of age or older. As the caretaker of our fosters, I’ve learnt to cope emotionally with saying goodbye, with the knowledge that we are able to help the next lot coming through our door. Recently I’ve been asked a number of times how many we’ve fostered up until now … I’ve yet to count, but I think it’s quite a number. So it was unusual to be able to photograph LH tenderly holding little Johnny Bravo whilst I was sorting out a hot water bottle for the little guy over the weekend. Little did I know the emotions that this photo would evoke within me … If LH, as a 6ft2inch man, can be so tender and loving with a tiny kitten that’s barely bigger than a mouse in his hands, just imagine how amazing he would be with a baby of our own. Knowing that I can never give LH the son or daughter he so desires really tears at my soul and is nothing short of excruciating. Being at the mercy of strangers in the hopes that one day we may have a baby is simply soul destroying, but we continue to live in hope.

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Where To … Part 8: Adventures & Outcomes

We started with 20 eggs, 13 fertilized, 6 embryos developed, of which 1 embryo stopped growing, 1 embryo was of too poor quality to freeze, which has left us with 4 embryos to send off on their ski holiday in the freezer.

One has to wonder how the human race keeps multiplying with these kinds of statistics. Be that as it may, we’re happy that we have 4 embryos who will have to wait patiently until we find a suitable surrogate mother – whenever that may be.

The criteria to be a surrogate in South Africa is:
1. have to have had children before
2. uncomplicated pregnancies and live births to healthy babies
3. preferably have completed own family
4. have altruistic intentions and not be looking for financial gain

In return, they get:
1. the honour of being an incubator for 9 months.
2. a whole new (albeit maternity) wardrobe.
3. pampered by the commissioning parents (and poked a few times by the doctors) for 9 months.
4. the privilege of giving the ultimate gift one could ever give to anyone – the gift of a baby … the gift of a family.
5. the possibility of a gift once the contract term is complete, although this would vary depending upon the commissioning parents

So basically I’m still looking for my special angel who loves having a pregnant belly and looks forward to being able to dress in maternity clothing – which lets be honest, most maternity clothing is frumpy as all hell! Just because a woman is pregnant, full of hormones and therefore sometimes can’t remember her own name (I speak from experience from my brief 5 month pregnancy with Stella), doesn’t mean that her sense of style and fashion has to be forfeited! But that’s a topic for another day …

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Stella who we lost suddenly 5 months into my pregnancy in 2010. What she would have looked like today … her personality … her giggle … her smile … the twinkle in her eyes. The image of her face and tiny hands and feet are still imprinted on my mind and will be forever. Her photographs, hand prints and foot prints stowed away safely. I sometimes wonder whether we shouldn’t have named our son, who we never got to meet. Perhaps we’re in denial. Perhaps because in some ways I was still dealing with the emotions of watching my son on a screen in someone else’s tummy, when tragedy struck at 13 weeks. Perhaps it was the guilt I felt because our surrogate mother had to go through a traumatic experience on my behalf. I’m really not sure. So much to work through and so much to think about even though it was a year ago … almost to the day.

Be safe on your adventure LH. Wish I was there with you.

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Where To … Part 3: We Love It When A Plan Starts Coming Together!

Firstly a belated Happy New Year to everyone following the blog!! I hope that all your dreams for 2013 come true.

Wow! So much has happened since my last entry. LH and I went on a much needed 2 week holiday to the Maldives. The trip was a surprise ‘gift’ from LH for our 3rd anniversary and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We were both emotionally drained and needing ‘time out’ for just the two of us and what a better place to have ‘time out’! In true LH style, when we boarded the plane to Dubai, I had no idea where we were headed! Our days were spent diving the crystal clear warm waters with a myriad of different schools of colourful fish, odd looking ocean creatures and coral, cycling around the island, lazing around our private pool, sipping on cocktails, massages at the spa and dining on delectable Asian cuisine.

Feeling energised on our return, I threw myself into finishing off our adoption profile. Reviewing what I’d done thus far with ‘fresh’ eyes, I scrapped it and started again! I was surprised by the range of emotions I felt whilst putting it together.
* Frustration – what to include / exclude;
* Hope – our baby could arrive any moment once our profile is submitted;
* Anger – why is it so easy for others to become parents and yet we have to ‘promote’ ourselves to a complete stranger;
* Empathy and sadness – if selected by a birth mother, we gain a family of our own, whilst she loses a child;
* Self doubt – will the prospective birth mothers like and connect with our profile … choose us as the couple to raise their child?
I was pleased with the final result of our profile and looked forward to receiving the printed copy in the post at the end of December. On the 4th January we delivered our profile to the social workers, along with all the other original copies of documentation and were registered on the central national database of prospective adoptive parents. The ‘wait’ has officially begun …

Since that fateful day 14th October 2010 when we lost our daughter 5 months into my pregnancy, then again 29th August 2012 when we lost our son 13 weeks into our surrogate mother’s pregnancy and the graveyard of little embryos in between, I’ve not cared much for Christmas and New Year. It’s a really difficult time for me, especially this past festive season where everything seemed to be hanging in the air – so much uncertainty. Waiting for our adoption profile to arrive, worrying about our trusty doc who was gravely ill, wondering whether we’d ever be able to find another surrogate mother, wondering whether the fading hope I hang onto every day is just a foolish dream. It was therefore such a lovely surprise when I received a phone call from our trusty doc just last week with news that he is well, back at work and has a potential surrogate mother for us!

With hope restored, perhaps 2013 will be our year after all! With conservative excitement and some trepidation, we’re pressing forward and making the necessary arrangements / appointments with psychologists, attorneys etc … And so our surrogacy journey begins anew …

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Where To … Part 2: The Way Forward

My mind has been in a million places since I last wrote in the blog. At one point I was just about ready to give up, feeling exasperated, frustrated and totally hopeless. The brain however should not be underestimated (even mine!) as it is a wonderful organ, which finds a way to heal and seeks clarity, restoring our hope and our dreams. So although the frustration of our helplessness seems insurmountably great, our loss unbelievably painful, we are not defeated and remain determined to succeed in our journey to parenthood.

In the past weeks we’ve started walking the avenue of adoption, have had our adoption screening and are patiently waiting for the feedback whilst preparing our adoption profile. Simultaneously we’ve decided not to give up hope on the surrogacy front and are actively looking for a surrogate, exploring options available to us both locally and internationally. One thing I have come to terms with is that I will never have a biological child of my own – a full sibling to Stella, but it’s a reality I’ve now made peace with (finally), so we’ll be going straight to donor egg. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I had 3 options for a surrogate mother, but sadly all fell through:
1. Surro Mom 1 – considered too risky taking our history into account as she’s had 4 caesars, which compromises her uterus
2. Surro Mom 2 – the commissioning parents became parents through adoption, but then decided to also do IVF starting January 2013.
3. Surro Mom 3 – has medical complication and we felt was doing it for the wrong reasons as her decision was purely financially motivated despite the changes to the SA law.

As we’ve come to learn the hard way, this journey is one that we cannot map out step by step. There are so many unknowns, so many hurdles and unexpected obstacles. I’ve adopted a saying “What will be … will be” … whilst it doesn’t wipe away the tears, the anguish, the loss, the pain of what has happened in the past, it makes the inability to control what happens in the future more bearable. All I can do in the meantime is try to set the wheels in motion as best I can.

For now I’m focussing on two tasks – that of finding a surrogate mother and putting our adoption profile together. We’re hoping that someone out there may find it in their hearts to give us the greatest gift we could wish for.

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Where To: I’m a Good Enough Person … Aren’t I?

With the forces of nature seemingly determined to stand in my way, blocking my path and intent on sweeping a cruel hand of devastation to destroy any progress towards my wish for a family, I’m finding it pretty darn hard not to start second guessing myself. Perhaps I’m not meant to be a mother? Maybe I don’t deserve to have a family? What am I doing that is so wrong?

Whenever these thoughts have clouded my judgement, I’ve desperately tried to push them away by screaming at the world:
I AM worthy!
I DO deserve a family!
I WILL make a great mother!
WTF??

Yesterday I read with disbelief a news article about a mother (is she a mother?) who is on trial for murdering her 5 children. She stabbed 4 of them with a steak knife and drowned her youngest in a basin who was just 2 years old. She blamed it on her abusive relationship with the children’s father and financial problems. WTF????? What kind of a pathetic excuse is that?? Here I am – solid marriage with LH – financially secure – would never lay a vicious hand on a child of mine and yet … I can’t even have ONE???? What’s up with that?????????

As you’ve probably guessed the last week has been a cycle of:
- Complete disbelief / numbness
How can this happen to us – yet again?? Have I run out of tears?
- Irrational blood boiling anger / fury
The effing doctors that didn’t figure out there was a problem before embryo transfer, the effing egg donor who didn’t know she had a bad gene, LH & just EFFING EVERYONE!
- Guilt
Our SM had to go through the trauma of miscarriage. Our egg donor now going to find out she has a major genetic issue.
- Helplessness
Nothing in this process has been in my control … and it still remains out of my control … I can’t change anything
- Devastating sadness and gut wrenching tears
I’ve lost two babies. Our precious Stella who was 100% healthy but was encased in my patched up uterus that ruptured and now our son, who although encased in the perfect uterus of our SM, had severe congenital heart failure due to a partially formed heart amongst other problems, making survival an impossibility.

What does the future hold for us? I really don’t know. For now LH and I want to take a bit of a break, pull ourselves together, build up our emotional strength, before we think about how best to move forward. In all honesty I’d be really happy with a vacation from reality right now, but unless someone has some kind of gizmo to port us into another happier dimension where things are constantly in our control and just always work out, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon. So for now, I’ll put on a brave face and muddle through everything until it all starts getting a bit clearer.

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The Pregnancy – Part 5: Shattered Dreams & Fading Hope

I write this entry with an extremely heavy heart, which is why it’s taken me 4 days to pluck up the courage to write it. After 5 years of trying for a family and almost 2 years into our surrogacy journey, it all came to an abrupt end on Wednesday when we went for our 13 week scan at the Foetal Assessment Centre. Our hopes and dreams were completely shattered. We were so incredibly excited to receive a positive pregnancy result for a singleton, even though we had hoped for twins. With sadness we mourned the loss of our one embryo but we still had a baby! All 3 scans leading up to the 13 week scan showed a healthy, growing baby. The only thing we were mentally preparing ourselves for, from an emotional point of view, was finding out if our singleton was the embryo from my egg (female) or the embryo from our donor egg (male).

The results we received at our 13 week scan completely shocked and confused us – I thought I was living a nightmare. The scan showed our baby boy, whose heart was partially formed and failing along with other abnormalities that hadn’t been picked up during PGD nor during previous scans. The prognosis was that our baby was dying before our very eyes (he was barely moving and his heart rate incredibly slow for his stage of development). It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened. The only decision we had to make was whether to terminate or whether to wait for him to die and the miscarriage which would follow. Together with our Surrogate Mother (SM) we decided to terminate, for the sake of our son who was clearly in distress, for our SM so that she didn’t have to endure the wait and for our sanity, knowing that it was a matter of time – hours, days … maybe a week at most all during which our son was battling along, waiting to die. I cannot explain how I’m feeling right now. After being given some tablets to take on Wednesday evening and into Thursday, our SM went in for a D&C on Friday and our baby is no more. An autopsy was conducted and the results will be made available to the egg donor as she needs to know that she is the carrier of a congenital abnormality.

LH and I are completely wiped out emotionally and don’t think we have the emotional strength to go through another attempt with a surrogate. Our SM indicated to us a while ago that she was only going to do this one time and now that time has come to an end. Finding a suitable surrogate is not easy and nor is finding a suitably matched egg donor, let alone the emotional toll of going through the whole process again will take on us. Perhaps in a few month’s time we may view it differently, but for now we’re not pursuing that option, unless it miraculously lands in our laps. The way things have worked out for us thus far, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing any miracles any time soon. For the moment we would rather focus on the possibility of adopting a baby. Having tried and just about exhausted all other avenues to the point where I’m feeling emotionally destroyed, LH has finally come full circle, to a discussion I had with him almost 5 years ago.

Who knows where this journey will take us. RIP my tiny little son. Your struggle is over, but you will always live in my heart.

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