Category Archives: Miscarriage

The Pregnancy – Part 4: Rose Tinted Glasses

In the past, when I pictured my eventual family through rather naive rose tinted glasses, I always had visions of me with my LH and 2 children. I also never wanted to be considered an ‘old’ mother (i.e. over 40!) and saw myself having children in my mid 30′s. The reality however is somewhat different. Throughout my life I’ve always been accustomed to strive for what I want and do what it takes to get there. I got this trait from my Dad who was such an instrumental part of who I am today, as he taught me most of the valuable lessons I still apply in my life. As a result I was mostly always ahead of my game.

With rose tinted glasses cast aside, by the time I was 20 years old I was working hard to pay the bills, put food on my table, petrol in my car and finance my night school classes. I was also partying up a storm every opportunity I could get – after all this is what being in your 20′s is all about. By the time I was 31 years old, I was a successful career woman with big responsibilities, a large home of her own in a leafy suburb, travelling all over the world on business trips with a blasé attitude towards personal relationships, bordering on being commitment phobic. Serious relationships cramped my life-style and my independence, so I treated all my romantic relationships frivolously, which often meant making the wrong choices. Looking back, my biggest fear was being ‘stuck’ in a disgruntled and unhappy marriage. I’m glad I waited until I met LH and didn’t rush such a big decision that would change the course of my life. Had I done so, I would have perhaps had my 2 kids, but not the right partner in life to raise them in a happy and secure environment. Although I have had my struggle with infertility because of my age, lost my precious baby mid term, will never know what it’s like to experience carrying a baby to full term and made immense sacrifices, I have no regrets at all that . I have a fabulous LH, a solid marriage and completely accept the path that I have travelled. Is it what I originally had planned for myself? Not exactly. Is it where I want to be right now? Without a doubt in my mind.

Question I’m now asking myself is, in light of what we’ve been through to get to this point, do I still want 2 children? We have one precious baby on it’s way, which I’m extremely excited about, but it’s been a incredibly long and emotionally tough journey to get to this point. Do I have the inner emotional strength to go down this road again? Would it be fair on LH? Our situation after all is unique and such a decision would again involve a team of people, a whole load of financing, zero guarantees and an emotional roller-coaster ride unlike any other. I’ve always believed that to have a sibling in a loving and supportive home is an amazing experience. As a parent it must be equally rewarding and heart warming. On the flip side, it can also go horribly wrong. Unhealthy sibling rivalry can create all sorts of jealousy issues, insecurities, antagonistic competition, animosity and undesirable tension within a family unit. In saying that however I truly believe that the dynamics leading up to unhealthy sibling rivalry is often fuelled by the parents at a time when each child in the family is competing to define who they are as individuals and either of the parents favour one child over another. I could be completely wrong in my theory, however if I look at just our circle of friends, there are those that have awesome sibling relationships and others that are completely antagonistic toward one another mostly citing parental favouritism. LH on the other hand grew up as an only child and sees the merits in being an only child, although for his entire junior and senior scholastic career he was in a boarding school surrounded by fellow boarders. Although not siblings he was surrounded by his peers all of the time, but boarding school is certainly not an option I would choose for our child. Siblings on the other hand can and often do share a special bond, unlike that of friendship. Perhaps again I’m looking at the world through rose tinted glasses. Either way, this is a decision that we need to make quickly because of the orchestration required between all of the parties involved, which means it won’t happen over night. There are two avenues I’m looking at if this is the way we decide to go …

Sigh … it would be a much easier decision if all we had to do was partake in some bedroom gymnastics! … Sigh … unfortunately not an option for us, but it was a nice fleeting thought :-)

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IVF VII Part 1 – The art of my war & finding peace in 2012

Firstly happy new year! I hope that 2012 brings you much joy, good health and prosperity. My wish for myself is that I stay reasonably sane through the continuation of our journey to parenthood … Although they do say that sometimes you have to lose your mind before coming to your senses! I’m clearly still in the part where I’m losing my mind.

It been almost 5 years since I underwent a massive myomechtomy to remove 13 fibroids. This was the very first step in our quest for a family. Post op, somewhere in my very battered and bruised abdomen were nervously excited butterflies flitting about. Then before I knew it 2 years had passed with about 50 ovulation kits and umpteen negative pregnancy tests. So once the dust had settled after our wedding, honeymoon and the subsequent festive season we made a tactical decision that would monumentally change my life. I was 38 years old without a twinkle of any tiny toes in sight. Drastic measures were called for. In May 2010 I consciously hung up my title as Sales & Marketing Director for a global IT company, bid a nervous-as-all-hell farewell to my 18 year career that I had worked so hard for and bowed out of the IT industry to focus solely on starting a family. My hectic work travel schedule to dodgy locations like Mozambique and India, plus pressures associated with the IT industry were all working against us, whilst my biological alarm clock was screeching loudly. One month later I fell pregnant. Our plan was working! Devastatingly just short of 5 months my weakened uterus burst, instantly killing our daughter Stella who I loved and got to know so well through my biweekly scans. Suddenly I was sans baby, sans uterus … sans career … sans any sense of identity … just the internalised grief of a mother for her dead child.

Since then I’ve had an ongoing internal struggle with myself regarding my self worth. Its been a lot harder than I thought, in that there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t feel crappy for at least part of the day. I think of my life back then and my life now – they are completely different and I’m seriously STILL battling to adjust. Had my uterus not popped like a cheap balloon that fateful day my life would still be different, but I would be a mother taking care of her beloved and much wanted child which is what I so desperately wanted. I would be fulfilled. Whilst at a family wedding in December someone asked me my most dreaded question of all time “What work do you do?”. A simple question that used to be so easy to answer in the past, is one I now stumble or mumble through, feeling ashamed, insignificant and somewhat stupid. I feel like I’m a shadow of the person I used to be. My response and subsequent conversation went something like this:
“Umm … [pause , whilst thinking what do I do?]. I used to be a Director for a multi national company, but I quit so my husband and I could start a family.” Could I sound any more lame?
“Oh, so how many children do you have?” [F*&%! ... second most hated question]. “Umm … none.” [awkward silence].

When I relayed the conversation to LH later that evening, his response was so unexpected and heartfelt. He said that through all our challenges and loss, what I’m doing now is more significant and admirable than what I did during my career in IT. Whilst I may not be negotiating and closing multi million Dollar deals anymore in the corporate world, I’m saving lives through the foster work that I do for a local animal rescue organisation and the welfare campaigns I have planned through my fledgling company that will be opening shortly. This, he said, has far more meaning than what I was doing because I’m making a real difference in the lives of those little neglected waifs who come into our home and are subsequently adopted as happy, healthy little bundles by delighted families.

Everything and everyone has a purpose and, from the time I lost our beloved baby Stella up until now, I’ve been struggling to find mine. The irony of it all is that without really knowing it I already had found it as LH pointed out, but I was just too blind to see it. As I am finding out there is no greater purpose than service to others. A quote from a movie we recently watched said “Emotions are natural, like the passing weather.” Whilst I’m feeling like I’ve been caught up in hurricane season, I need to start seeing through the clouds and the storm to realise that I am significant and have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I guess its a process and one that I’m sure will take time, but as with all things I’ll eventually get there.

As we start our 7th round of IVF, I need to work on my inner self. What I am rapidly coming to realise is that life is a mystery that nobody can solve, so I should stop trying to analyse the past or see into the future and simply learn to be present in the here and now. Appreciate what I have, stand firm on my decisions and be proud of who I am and what I do. Thank you LH for showing me this wisdom, you truly inspire me. You are my partner in life and my soulmate.

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IVF VI Part 3 – Embracing the bitter-sweet

Wow … what a week thus far.

Monday:
Kicked off Monday with our wedding anniversary, donor egg / embryo update and my eggs being harvested all on the same day. My total egg count was 5, which for me is not bad going at all, so I wasn’t displeased and it was a good start to the week. As I am completely drugged up and quite frankly brain dead useless for 2 days when egg retrieval is done, we haven’t had a chance to celebrate our anniversary as yet.

The update on our donor’s eggs / embryos however wasn’t very good at all, but is apparently not totally unexpected. Of the 9 embryos, 7 tested abnormal, 1 tested 100% normal, which they froze and they couldn’t get a complete reading on the last one. The incomplete reading was the result of the single cell on which the tests are done being damaged in the process. How this happens is that PGD tests 5 chromosomes – namely 13, 18, 21, the X and Y chromosomes. The test is done in two stages (13 and 21 first, followed by next three) with a special dye being applied in each stage and the cell being ‘washed’ in between the stages. The lab managed to complete the first test of 13 and 21, but the cell was damaged during the ‘washing’ phase resulting in no result for 18, X and Y. In this instance there’s a 50/50 chance that the embryo could be normal, but we simply don’t know and now its impossible to find out. The decision lay with us as to whether we wanted to freeze the second embryo or destroy it. Our decision was to freeze – separately – so that we didn’t have to make a rushed / pressurised decision. Ultimately of the 9 embryos, only 1 is guaranteed 100% … and these are eggs from a 22 year old youngster. Just goes to show that we’re all remarkably infertile??!! … and it only gets worse as we age. In a twisted and strange kind of way I was disappointed on the one hand, but also happy to learn that I’m not a complete anomaly – the news was bitter-sweet.

Tuesday:
Of my eggs 4 out of the 5 fertilised. Of the four, 3 fertilized normally and 1 fertilized abnormally. So essentially there were 3 in the running. Whilst I was getting news on my embryos, I also received the news that a close friend of mine received her much awaited adopted daughter, a sister to her biological daughter, who I am looking forward to meeting on Thursday.

Wednesday (today):
Bit of a surprise! We are back to 4 embryos (the one that didn’t fertilize normally is still developing – normally?!), which is something we’ve never had before? Of the 4 embryos:
- 3 are a 2 cell with a score of 4 out of 5
- 1 is a 2 cell with a score of 3 out of 5
I’m being cautiously optimistic with this news and whilst I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, I’m trying to remain positive and hopeful that we are at least able to get 1 viable embryo. There are some differences from the previous times, which may or may not work in our favour:
- all of the eggs, except 1, came from my right ovary this time, whereas normally there’s been nothing forthcoming from the right ovary
- previously eggs that had fertilised “abnormally” had simply not developed at all, yet now we have one that is continuing on in the race

All I know is that I need to maintain a positive state of mind, which has admittedly been very challenging for me in the last month with all the emotions of Stella’s anniversary/birthday (I’m still not sure what to call it), finding an egg donor, getting my head around the idea of an egg donor, all whilst bombarded with daily hormone injections that make me completely and utterly f***ed up loopy. I can honestly sympathise with those folk who suffer from bipolar, as I’m sure what I’ve been feeling is not far off that … I can SO relate! Oh well, nothing a pair of super-sized big girl panties and a glass of wine, which I can now enjoy that I’m between cycles, won’t sort out …

On that note, I’m off to pour myself that glass of wine, feed furkids and start thinking about what to slap together for supper so that my husband doesn’t feel completely neglected and unloved. Until tomorrow ….

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IVF VI Part 2 – Gathering Inspiration & Fighting Demons

There are two quotes that I came across last week. The one is from Louise Smith “You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.” The other quote is by Christie Williams that says, “If you allow people to make more withdrawls than deposits in your life, you will be left out of balance and in the negative! Know when to close the account.” Whilst I’m familiar with these quotes, they’ve never really resonated with me, that is until now … well really they jumped out at me and gave me a good old smack.

After months of hormones being pumped into my body, I’ve become a somewhat emotional rollercoaster that’s careering out of control. For someone who’s used to being in control of every facet of her life and has systematically lost control of every aspect of her life over the last year and a half, I’m not in a very comfortable place. Yet in my very weary, uncomfortable and somewhat hormonally induced bipolar state I suddenly now realise that in order for me to survive this process and not lose complete faith in myself, humanity and the order of things I need to desperately embrace these quotes and apply them to my life, for my own well being and quite frankly … for my sanity. The one good thing that has come out of this, is that I’ve been able to sort out the wood from the chaff in terms of friends and family with some sad and painful surprises along the way .. however I cannot allow myself to dwell / wallow in self pity and be dragged down in the process. On the flipside however there have been some remarkable women and even some old school chums who’ve surprisingly come back into my life after many years of absence, to walk this road beside me and become my proponents … my firm anchors … the ones who instinctively know when I need propping back up.

As I suspected our egg donor is super fertile and rendered no less than 12 eggs on Wednesday. On receiving the news, I know that I should have been happy … in fact overjoyed … ecstatic … but instead I felt resentful and more inadequate and useless than ever. Of the 12 eggs, 1 was ‘immature’ and 2 didn’t fertilize … HA! So she’s not that fertile *wicked, green victory dance* … or probably not enough swimmers for so many eggs – LOL! So we’re left with 9 that are developing well much to LH’s delight … The score thus far: LH-9 / Barrenness-0.

So my scan on Friday didn’t look as promising as I’d hoped … but then again with my history, no surprises there. The Doc was out of town, so his colleague did the scan … which I think brings the total to about 1,999 strangers that have inspected and / or grovelled around in my cookie jar in the past almost 5 years … well that’s what it feels like anyway. So it seems as if my 6 follicles have potentially dwindled down to 3, with the right ovary still breaking records by leading for a change … but I guess I will really only find out on Monday when the eggs are retrieved what my yield will be. The harsh reality is that yes … I am over the hill and my dream of having a biological child – Stella’s brother or sister – seemingly far away … actually more like a fading light on the horizon. There are times when I feel I should have stuck to my guns and gone ahead with adopting a baby as I had originally intended years ago … instead I caved, in order to please others and am now the one soley paying the ultimate emotional and physical price. Often I lie awake, unable to sleep, sometimes sobbing quietly into my pillow and other times grinding me teeth in anger and frustration, whilst everyone else snores soundly around me, both near and far, without a care in the world … All I want to do is scream in their ear so loudly that perhaps they too will feel, for just those few seconds, an inkling of the anguish I feel every day. LH often asks me when I’m visibly withdrawn what’s wrong … Where do I start? Mourning the loss of my daughter who no one acknowledges and for whom I gladly sacrificed everything (also not noticed) – desperately wishing her back. Mourning the loss of my womanhood, my career, my independence, my identity, my IVF babies. Having zero sense of achievement, no purpose, no sense of self worth and LH who is noticeably unable to openly communicate with me any more for fear of my reaction.

So let’s see what tomorrow brings … and in the meantime, I’ve got to find the strength to let go of yesterday’s junk and with it the people who make more withdrawals than deposits in my life … without any sense of guilt.

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Not losing faith … or at least trying not to …

With the news of the death of Steve Jobs filtering through the world in the last couple of weeks, I’m left inspired by his words during his Stanford Commencement Address in 2005 “Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick … but don’t lose faith”. I guess you could say that life has been continuously hitting me in the head with a brick for month after month during our quest for a family, but I’m still hanging onto any and all fragile thread of hope, whilst determined not to lose faith.

This last Friday 14th October however tested the fragility of my hope. It was my daughter’s first birthday, I was alone and my wheels fell off quite spectacularly and didn’t quite come back on until well into the middle of last week. By the time LH came home from work in the evening, I literally hated him, hated myself and the rest of the world combined. He and everybody else had fled to the safety of their offices, business meetings, lunch socials, dinner dates and social lives in general. To them this day was like any other, one in which they carried on as normal or my other theory is perhaps they were escaping as far away from me as possible. After all, who wants to kick off their weekend dealing with a bereft, crazy eyed, wailing friend or relative – I can hardly blame them – that would put a damper on anyone’s weekend and so best avoided at all costs! Whatever their motives or reasoning I was left to grieve my daughter’s death and the loss of my womanhood on my own. My day started out a little wobbly, putting on a brave face for LH and then everyone I came into contact with whilst running errands, however by the evening my emotions were ragged, raw and in complete tatters as I sat with scans and photographs as the only reminder of my daughter I love dearly, but never got to know. LH came home to a demon in disguise that yelled, howled, screamed, cried and hurled verbal abuse. It wasn’t self-pity … I generally don’t do self-pity as I find it quite pathetic and self-absorbing … it was something much deeper and nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It was self-loathing. Within 12 hours, I had literally sunk to the depths of despair and it was days, with support from LH, before I was able to climb back out of it. He honestly deserves a medal for all the abuse he took during those days!

In another blog that I write for my new business, I refer to another quote by Steve Jobs. In face of adversity he said, “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” LH and I started this journey knowing full well that there were risks involved based on my decrepit plumbing and that we may very well fail, however that fear of failure hasn’t stopped us and we have chosen to soldier on despite our failures, time and time again … and continue to do so.

This is the toughest journey I have ever travelled and at times it feels as if my reserves of inner strength are being completely depleted, leaving behind all but an empty vessel that was once filled with carefree laughter, joy and hope. With month after month of hope followed closely by disappointment – it’s hard. With day after day of insensitive and plain stupid comments from people who know my circumstances – it’s hurts. Just on Saturday night, someone who I’ve known for almost 10 years and who knows I lost my uterus when I lost my daughter, jokingly asked “Are you SURE you’re not pregnant?” At first I thought I hadn’t heard him correctly, but he repeated it for double impact. The fact that he’s a friend (albeit not a close one) and that it was his 50th birthday, didn’t make his chirp any more or any less funny or hurtful. It was plain thoughtless on his part. Ironically during the surrogacy support group meeting just that very afternoon someone had mentioned that she had been on the receiving end of similar thoughtless comments from colleagues at work. What’s up with that? Do these people go up to a blind person and ask them if they saw the sunset the previous evening?? It’s no freaking wonder I occasionally lose the plot completely!!

So whilst my sanity may still be in question, I have at least regained my hope, restored my pride, have tossed all fear of failure and embarrassment aside … but am determined as all hell (which is probably straight where I’m headed after all this), not to lose faith in our journey.

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A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, little did I know what was in store for me. It started like any other day, with excitement, angst and the glow of anticipation of my becoming a mother. Just three weeks prior, we felt it was time to share the news with everyone that I was pregnant – we were well past the ‘safety net’ period. Just the previous week, I had been shopping for maternity clothing to accomodate my growing belly which would no longer fit comfortably into my jeans. My mom who had accompanied me had bought her unborn grandchild a bear. The warmth and joy that I felt with our growing baby in my body was an emotion I couldn’t even begin to express. The long, complicated and painful myomechtomy, the 2 years of ovulation sticks and negative readings on pregnancy tests had all finally come to this wonderful and magical point.

By mid morning, I started feeling a bit of discomfort and cramping which wasn’t unusual for my pregnancy thus far, but decided to lie down for a bit which seemed to ease things off and I again felt fine. Whilst pottering around quietly, I felt the moment our unborn daughter was cruely and so suddenly taken away from us. The ripping, intense pain was unmistakable, although I didn’t want to believe what was happening. The events thereafter are sketchy in my mind, partly due to pain, shock, drifting in and out of consciousness and at some point struggling to breath due to pressure build up from internal hemorrhage and a collapsed lung. My phone call to LH was the last relatively clear thing I can remember and although barely able to speak, was able to communicate that something had gone terribly wrong.

As the sun set on this day a year ago I was being prepped for emergency life saving surgery to stop the hemorrhaging … and a cesar to deliver our gorgeous daughter whose precious little heart had stopped beating when my uterus had ruptured, tearing the placenta at the same time.

A year ago today was the last time I felt Stella’s butterfly kicks.
A year ago today was the last time I would ever feel the glow and special joy of being pregnant.
A year ago today I lost a piece of me forever.
A year ago today I was left with an emotional hole in my heart that will never be filled.
A year ago today I began a battle to stay alive with the help of the ICU sisters … for LH.

A year ago tomorrow we met our daughter and began the process of healing.

Instead of hearing the giggles and cries of our daughter first thing this morning, I heard the pop of a pill pack as LH handed me a Femara pill – a low level stimulation drug to help the Doc keep track of my cycle during our month’s break from IVF. Ultimately who knows where this journey will lead, how long it will take or what the outcome will be. What I do know is that with the huge determination, immense love, consistent drive and focus that we both have, the outcome can only be positive and we will always hold Stella in our hearts.

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IVF IV Part 0.4… In response to the comment from “me”

In answer to the comment to my previous blog post which read:
“You know, adoption is cheaper and a lot less selfish as it helps a homeless child. Why can’t people that claim to be sooo desperate for a child see that?”

Forgive me if I’m not very well equipped to handle your flippant remarks, but I will do my best. I will start by saying please think before you speak and consider that we are going through a very tough time. Perhaps your opinion may be a luxury and actually not worth much at all, because your children are biological and were easy to conceive. Your tone indicates to me that you have not personally experienced losing a pregnancy, a child or lost the ability to conceive, as anyone that has been through such experience could not possibly be so brash and inconsiderate. Until you have personally known what it is like to lose your uterus, almost lose your life, be left in ICU holding your tiny dead baby in your arms following an emergency Caesar, trying to commit to memory every detail of her face … her hands … her feet … you could not possibly know or relate to the subject. I’m guessing you probably tell your friends who’ve experienced a miscarriage, “well you can always have other babies”. Well, it’s not other babies they want! It’s the one that they have lost!

You speak of adoption as if it’s like popping down to your local shelter and simply selecting one from a myriad of cribs and saving a little soul in the process. If you took the time to research the topic of adoption before callously commenting, you would understand this is not the case at all. For your benefit and for others who have the misfortune to come across your sadly uninformed wrath, let me briefly educate you by firstly addressing your comment in the hopes of introducing some compassion into your communication style:

1. “You know” … having been down this avenue and researched the topic, yes I do know – only too well. What differentiates me from you however, is that I also understand.
2. “… adoption is cheaper …” – Whilst this isn’t about ecomonics, adoption isn’t necessarily cheaper and has its own merits and pitfalls. There is an extensive screening process that normally involves orientation meetings, interviews with social workers, full medicals, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits, police clearance and references. Once the screening process is complete, which can take anything from 6 months to a year to complete, applicants are placed on a waiting list for a child. The official placement of the child with the adoptive parents is a legal process, carried out through the Children’s Court. All of this, not surprisingly, costs money.
3. “ … a lot less selfish …” – Adoption and IVF both carry financial, medical, and family dynamic risks. Neither could therefore be considered a more selfish or selfless act than the other. Don’t get me wrong, adoption is an awesome and fantastic choice for couples and their extended families who reach that decision together. Then again, so is having a child that is genetically linked to you.
4. “ … as it helps a homeless child …” – I have to ask how many homeless children you have helped in the last 3 months or in your lifetime … and I don’t mean sticking your hand out of your car window at a traffic light with a few coins. Or better yet, how many homeless children you have adopted? I would guess that it’s probably none. I won’t bore you with the details of how many homeless, abandoned and abused children we have helped over the years and continue to help through a haven for abused and abandoned children that we are closely linked to.
5. “Why can’t people that claim to be sooo desperate for a child see that?” – Adoption is a beautiful path to parenthood for those who chose that route. Adoption however is not an easy fix and not a cure for the pain and hurt that comes with infertility and the loss of a child. Adoption is also not an easy fix for the children who have been put into the system through no choice of their own. Adoption has its own share of heartbreaks and hurdles, with some couples waiting years to receive a placement. Adoption is a journey that in itself requires preparation, not just for the adoptive parents, but for the extended family as well. In short, adoption is a lot harder, expensive and time oppressive than it seems.

Additional factors to take into consideration when adopting are:
- There is a cooling off period of 60 days in adoption in South Africa, during which the birth mother may change her mind and reclaim the baby.
- It takes a long time, anything from 2 to 5 or more years for a placement to happen.
- The deficit of genetic markers and possibility of not being able to ‘relate’ or connect.
- Adopted children often experience issues relating to abandonment, loss, rejection, trust, intimacy, guilt and shame, mastery and control, and identity.
- The role of genetics in potential disorders and future issues of the adopted child. We know and understand what our genetic make up and history is, however that of an adopted child remains a mystery.

Ultimately it’s all about personal choice and respecting that choice. For now LH and I are yearning for a baby that is biologically and genetically ours. We have discussed and are in agreement that we will consider the option of using donor eggs, should we get to that point. Whilst these are choices that we have made, adoption will always be an option, but one that we will need to carefully consider, taking our personal circumstances and family dynamics into consideration.

So in the meantime … shhhhhh … reserve your harsh and uninformed comments. Just a hug will be fine thanks.

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