In 2-4 weeks time, I will see my RE, likely for the last time. This appointment will be to see how I've recovered physically from the D and C (which is fine so far) and also to explore my 'options', whatever that means. I would be lying if I said I didn't explore my 'options' in my head multiple times a day. Ladies and gentleman (if there are ever any of you), I am at a crossroads.
Hopefully my crossroads turns out better than the Britney Spears' movie of the same name. I do realize that I need to allow myself time to grieve before jumping into anything life altering, but in case you hadn't noticed, that is precisely one of the ways in which I grieve. I move forward, or at least try to mimic the motion of doing so. Hope is healing. And when it comes to problem solving, I begin by thinking it through, and then I discuss it, but the real work begins when I write about it. This is always when my decisions and ideas become most clear for me, so here I am and here are the decisions I have before me:
Disclaimer: I am by no means well-versed on any of the below (except IVF) and am merely in the beginning stages of questioning and considering, so if I present some blatant misinformation, I apologize in advance. I am open to correction. My research into each is still young and the below are only my impressions as to how each would fit into MY life, not anyone else's.
G can be an only child, as I was. The pros: all of our efforts, attention, and money can be devoted solely to him to assure he is given every opportunity available. Only children with regard to birth order are often very similar to the eldest: high achieving and generally very responsible (not necessarily, though!). He will not have any difficult sibling relationships to deal with as Mr. S had and in some cases, still has. There will not be any drama at family holidays or when we do pass away (at least none dealing with siblings). Being an only child made for a swift and seamless dealing of affairs once my parents were gone. And I never lacked for attention as a child. And let's face it, being the parent of an only child is just easier and at this point, cheaper. That money my Mom saved for us to have a second kid? Well, that can go to the education of the grandson she already has and I know she wouldn't mind that a bit. Cons: This paints a picture of my life in recent years. As an only child, I was the sole provider for my parents as they aged, became ill and ultimately passed away. Although a sibling is not a guarantee of an equal partner in shouldering this burden (I have seen many examples of this), having someone to share in the emotional aspect of loss would have been some comfort to me. I also found being an only child very lonely and did not like being the center of my parent's universe. I longed for them to focus on something or someone else as I'm pretty independent. And having the dog referred to as my 'sister' lost it's charm after awhile, especially as I longed (begged) for a sibling. I hated sitting at a table of three and always thought my house was too quiet, but that's my personality. However, I think that's G's personality as well. He is a people lover and if you can believe it, has been asking for a baby (not necessarily a sibling, but a baby) for many months now. Finally, I think emotionally, physically, and otherwise, we have SO much more room for another, so much more to give and I have a deep desire to give it. I could eventually learn to live with this option, but at this point, it seems as if something (someone) would be missing. In fact, it seems tragic.
Pros: Adopting an embryo is not much more expensive than an FET. As I understand it, the legal 'stuff' (yes, that's the technical term-'stuff') is taken care of in advance so by the time you reach the RE's office on transfer day, that embryo is yours. There is no waiting after the baby is born, wondering if you might get your heartbroken when the bio parents decide not to go forward. The heartbreak piece of this family building would be minimized for this process and for me, that's a huge bonus. I would get to experience pregnancy and childbirth (for better or for worse) again.
Cons: This is a relatively new type of adoption, so explanation to family or friends would be more difficult to navigate. Plus, what is the relationship with the child and their biological parents? My guess is that many bio parents of an embryo would not wish to have an active role in their child's life and that is not the type of arrangement I want. I want my child to know where they come from and have more than once-in-a-decade contact. And how do I explain to acquaintances that the kid I just gave birth to doesn't look anything like me? The general public doesn't know how to handle this information and considering so many of them already sound like morons about adoption, something that's been around FOREVER, can you imagine what they'd do if they heard about embryo adoption? They'd look at us like we were aliens. My kid doesn't need to deal with that. Finally, the odds of delivering a healthy baby with embryo adoption are no better than plain old IVF-about 34%. That means that it's likely I'd have to go through it ALL again, maybe multiple times, maybe including loss- something I'm not thrilled about. In that case, why wouldn't I just do another fresh cycle? And quite frankly, I love my RE, but I wouldn't mind if we saw each other less. FAR less.
Pros: The odds of the delivery of a healthy baby are excellent (far, far better than with my own eggs) and the child would be a biological child of my husband's and biological half-sibling to my son, which would simplify things I think. Given the selection of a donor with my same ethnic background (which is plain old white girl-easy to find), there would be no explanation to outsiders because they wouldn't need to know, so my kid and family wouldn't have to put up with too much moronic crap from the outside. I would also get to carry and give birth to this child and there once again would not be any waiting afterwards as all legal 'stuff' would be taken care of before the child is born.
Cons: The biggest con is that I know most, if not all, donor egg profiles are closed--slammed shut, in fact (save for medical information). This is not at all what I wish. Again, I want my child to know where they come from. The second biggest con is cost. I mean, holy crap!! We're talking a minimum of 30K. Seriously, who has that kind of money laying around to just throw down on the table for something with better odds, but at the end of the day is still yet another gamble? Not I. And there's no tax credit for this one (just a write-off). We would have to wait several years before this would become financially feasible for us and at that point, that money could go towards my son's college fund.
Open Domestic Adoption
(I've ruled out international and foster for personal reasons)
Pros: The biggest and brightest pro is that this is a guarantee. No gamble here-one day you are going home with a baby. You will be a parent again and your child will have a sibling. Period. After years of gambling, this is HUGE for us. We're done with the 'IF'. We want 'When'. This is a child who will already be in the world and because domestic adoption has moved to almost all open arrangements, the kid would get a chance to have their birth parents in their lives. Of course the extent of this would yet to be seen, but the possibility is wonderful. We would get a chance to meet birth mom beforehand (and/or parents) and eventually have more 'family' (that's how I envision it at least...can you tell I'm an only child with no family who desperately wants more?) The more people my kids are surrounded and supported by, the better. Our child would come with a built-in 'extra' or 'extras' (because having extended family on top of that would be icing on the cake). I know this is perhaps an idyllic version and I've not yet delved into the reality (because, who knows whether everyone would actually stick around until you're in the thick of it), but this would be my hope. I personally have very little ties to biology. As a former nanny, I know that being related is not a necessity to devote your heart to a child (or anyone) and as someone with 7 half siblings (you read that right), most of whom are not in my life (by design), this is further proof. And finally, there's an adoption tax credit. I don't know exactly what that would look like at the end of the day until we talk to our accountant, but boy howdy it sounds good. We will be attending an adoption information session in a week and I might not sound so ignorant after that!
Con: Again, cost. Although tempered by the tax credit, this avenue has turned out to be far more expensive than I anticipated. I had gone into it thinking somewhere in the ballpark of 11-15K, but it's more like 20K-30K in these parts. That's a HUGE chunk of change that would hurt...a lot (similar to egg donor). And there is still the possibility of heartbreak. I can imagine that placing your child up for adoption is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of your life and it is quite possible that minds could be changed and as a result, we would be subject to more heartbreak. I'm terrified of losing another child and with adoption, that is always a possibility (actually with all options that's a possibility). And there is the issue of raising a biological child and adopted child together. In my naivete, I would think it would be wonderful and just our version of normal, but I've not yet explored what that really looks and feels like for the kids. As with everything in life, it's never that simple. The only thing that gives me pause is that life is already tricky enough and adoption adds extra intricacies to navigate. As a parent, I want my child to have as easy of a road as possible and I can imagine there's grief and questions (and so much more) attached. My heart already aches thinking about my child (and the birthmother) processing all of that and I've not yet even embarked on the process. This is not to say that it's not worth it, it's just harder to go into something with the guarantee that there will be hearts that need healing along the way, one of which is your child's. (I could literally write pages on this and I've not even begun my research. I probably will) I feel like we could do a bang-up job of it (and our extended family would, too), but it's still more complicated.
Pros: As I mentioned, I am not that tied into biology, except that it just makes things simpler. It's already enough of a challenge to figure out where you fit in, especially in this current world. If we were successful with IVF again, I would get to experience pregnancy and childbirth (which I did enjoy) and not that this makes a huge difference, but I would love to get a second chance at breastfeeding. If successful, guiding this little one through life would just be...easier.
Cons: The experience of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding is literally a blink of an eye in teh life of a child and I've already experienced. The true meat is in the parenting. I can say that confidently because I'm there now. And $15,000+ and many hormones later, there is no guarantee. I've had one live baby out of four embryos. While this is better than what I expected and we were SO lucky, that's still a 25% chance...at 30 years old. I'm 34 now. My FSH is considerably worse, so I can only imagine what our chances would be now. After the expense and toil of an IVF, it's very, very possible that we might be right back to square one, as we are now, save for the huge dent in our bank account and the bruises that are still residing on my ass from the shots...and let's not forget what more hormones in my body might be doing longterm. (seriously, this has become more of a concern for me lately) There is always the possibility of loss again. A third miscarriage? Part of me feels like that's what I would be signing up for. Once was far more than enough. Twice, unreal. Three times? Have an extra bed in the psych ward? You might wanna clear some room for me. (This is said in 'sorta' jest)
At the end of the day, I know we will make the right decision because our heart will be in it. We will have turned over every fine detail beforehand so that we know we are standing by our family first and foremost when we do move forward. The beginning of this quest has just arrived, though. Perhaps I might sound like I am leaning in one direction more than the others, but from my standpoint, I am still open to all of them almost equally. It's time to figure this out because we would like to do it sooner than later. So, commence rolling up my sleeves and doing my homework. We're off again...to the great big IF.