**This surrogate mother story was provided by a wonderful Surrogate named Krystal Taylor-Cahill
When I was young, I used to have the fear that I would never be able to have children. It was an irrational fear because I had no reason to believe I could not become pregnant. Later, when I became sexually active, I didn’t want to test out my theory. In fact, within three weeks of losing my virginity, I had gone to the doctor, had my first pap and went on birth control. I refused to be a “teen mom.”
Then while in college, after only a few months off of birth control and a month or two of not using contraceptives, I found myself with child and gave birth to a beautiful blue-eyed baby boy. I should add, we weren’t exactly “trying”. But in my opinion, no birth control is trying to get pregnant.
Fast forward 5 years. We were looking for something to fill the void in our lives by starting over in a new place with two small children (my son and step daughter). So I found myself without health insurance, moving across the country and out of birth control. This time it took seven months without the pill and three with no other form of birth control and we found ourselves pregnant with a baby girl! We now have three beautiful children in our home. As an adult, I have spent more time in my life trying not to get pregnant than I have, ever even thinking, about getting pregnant.
Trying to become a surrogate over the last year has been a real experience for me. During my first surrogacy journey, I realized becoming pregnant was a gift I have always taken for granted. It opened my eyes and now I see, for some, this is a journey full of heartache, sorrow, grief and loss. All things I never had to deal with in my own life. I want very much to help a couple turn into a family. Despite all the trials and tribulations, there is real joy that being a parent brings to your life. I believe that having my son saved my life. It gave me something to work for and now everything I do in my life is geared toward my family and raising my children.
During my first cycle, I was so confident; the odds are on our side, right? We had a good egg donor, good embryos… Only one embryo my first transfer because my couple was intent on having a son. Time to just sit back and wait…
I knew I was pregnant. I could feel the fullness in my belly. The injections had already caused swollen, sore breasts and cramps as my uterus expanded. I was good and didn’t cheat-I waited for the HCG test. When they tested me, the results came in at 21 (Huh?). “You are pregnant,” they told me, “but that’s extremely low [home pregnancy tests won’t read a number under 25. However, a number over 5 is considered pregnant]. Today is Thursday. Come back Monday to retest and hope it’s gone up.”
My IPs didn’t know what to think. I was still hopeful. Someone told me the embryo could have just implanted late. I stayed positive, did a lot of research and found out that, in theory, HCG numbers should double on a daily basis. So, if I was 21 on Thursday and things are progressing normally, Saturday a home pregnancy test will be pink, right?
I cheated and ended up running to my bed crying: The test was negative. I was devastated. I felt sorrow and loss and grief and so, so sad for my IPs. They wanted this so badly. I cried and cried. I called my surro sister and cried some more. What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? I didn’t tell my IPs yet, I couldn’t do it. It was difficult to talk to them after I knew because I am not a good liar and you can hear it in my voice—the reassurance is gone. We ended up the 40-50% of embryo transfers that do not work. I can tell you friends, it sucks when IVF doesn’t work.
Sadly, our second attempt ended with almost identical results. And the aftermath of round two was worse. The first thing I did was blame myself. I cried and was devastated again. This time I would’ve rather had a negative from the first test, just drags out the inevitable. At that point, my IPs were unable to try again as they could not afford another cycle or stand any further heartache, I’m sure.
I have been reassured that the problem is not me. I know statistics. No matter how many times you do something, the odds remain the same. There is no guarantee. You can play and play the roulette table but the odds will still be the same: You may never hit red. Sometimes IVF doesn’t work.
This entire IVF story has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the gifts that I have been given so much more. I will be starting with my second couple and hoping that the odds will be in our favor. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but it is a reality we have to accept as surrogates. We are starting our own journey with these families and as much as we feel the joy, we have to prepare for the loss.
I am truly grateful for the experience I have had and so thankful for the support of my surro sisters. Having these ladies understand the hope, the joy, the pain and the sorrow, makes it so much easier. SAI is such an amazing place and hopefully my surrogacy story is just beginning.
Krystal Taylor Cahill