Grieving as a surrogate

This post has been, by far, the hardest to write. I thought the delivery posts were hard because it was always difficult to capture the amount of joy and happiness that is experienced, but writing about loss is far more challenging.

It has been just over 2 months since we found out we lost the pregnancy and I am still sad. We had a great transfer, SEVERAL positive pregnancy tests with darkening lines, and then 2 positive and increasing betas. We were all excited and celebrating a pregnancy when we got the results from the 3rd beta and my levels had decreased. I stayed on meds for a few more days and had to go in for several more betas that continued to show decreasing numbers. They call this a biochemical pregnancy which is when the embryo tries to implant but, for whatever unknown reason, it doesn’t continue to grow and this all occurs before it is developed enough to be seen on an ultrasound. I made it to about 5 weeks of pregnancy.

That week was beyond traumatic for us. Monday, September 24, we received news that our 3rd beta had decreased and it was no longer a viable pregnancy, after numerous hiccups and complications we finally managed to close on our new house on Wednesday September 26 at the very last possible moment, Friday September 28 my husband’s grandmother passed away, and that weekend I miscarried after stopping all of my meds.

Having had two miscarriages of my own, I thought I was mentally prepared for the grief that was to come, but I was not. At only 5 weeks of pregnancy, I didn’t experience much physical pain, it was a little more intense than normal menstrual cramps, but it was definitely the emotional side that was hard to manage. Losing a child for someone else is indescribable. I cried for days straight. I was thankful for closing on our house and moving to give me a slight distraction, but it was still difficult and then losing my husband’s grandmother added a whole other level of sadness. We felt like we couldn’t catch our breath. It was just one thing after another and we felt like we didn’t even get to enjoy moving into our dream house because we were so overcome by grief. Two weeks later we attended the funeral for my husband’s grandmother on the day of our 10th wedding anniversary.

After the funeral we really took some time to just process all of the sadness and try to get our heads back on straight. We started unpacking and tried to move forward. Honestly, the hardest and most unexpected part was the guilt. I work with sadness every day, I’m on the peer support team at work, I know what proper and healthy coping mechanisms are…and I couldn’t handle it myself. The guilt was overwhelming. I kept telling myself that I had taken my IPs only chance for a girl. It was my fault that they weren’t going to have another baby. It must have been something I did because I didn’t have any complications with my previous two journeys. I beat myself up for days and weeks. I talked about it a lot, like you are supposed to do, but it was still so difficult for me to accept that some things are beyond our control.

I knew it wasn’t really my fault. I knew there was a chance of things not working, especially because my IPs only had one embryo. I knew several other surrogates who had unsuccessful transfers, some had several unsuccessful transfers. I knew the entire thing was really out of my control, but I still felt guilty.

My IPs, my case manager, and my husband were incredibly supportive, not to mention the AMAZING family I have at work and the other surrogates that I get to call surrosisters. My IPs grieved on their own, but made sure to check on me daily. My IM sent me pictures of her boys and my IF playing together saying “We’re not sad, so you should’t be sad.” And little by little, I climbed out of my hole and caught my breath again. The old saying “when it rains, it pours” rang so true through this experience. We are so lucky to have had such amazing IPs for this journey and I think we will stay friends for a long time, despite the loss. It was a very unexpected and unfortunate end to our 3rd journey.

I struggled to write this post, but I think it’s important to realize that things don’t always go as planned. Things happen for unknown reasons, and no matter how amazing science gets, some things will always, ultimately, be out of our control. We just try our best to give these little embryos the best fighting chance we can. And when things don’t go as expected, it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to be sad and feel pain over a loss, even if that loss is for someone else. Empathy is what makes so many of us such great surrogates.

So what now? We have decided to be re-matched and are waiting patiently in hopes that we will get to have a 4th journey. We are in no hurry and are actually really enjoying having some time for us and not having to focus on surrogacy or pregnancy for a little while. It has been nearly 4 years since I started my first journey and we really haven’t stopped focusing on that since the beginning. It has been nice to just have some time for us. We are looking forward to our first Christmas in our new home and will wait to see what news we get after the holidays.