Feb 13, 2011

Outsourcing Pregnancy?

So...a while back I went to see a high-risk obstetrician to consult on the possibility of pregnancy. It has been almost four years since I miscarried and my mid-thirties turned into my late-thirties.

Quick health review:
- 3 antidepressants (since major depression following miscarriage)
- factor V leiden
- hypothyroidism
- AMA (advanced maternal age)

The specialist told me that my psychiatrist had done me no favours in suggesting that we wait a year past the time when my depression stabilized, as AMA is the factor most likely to impact our ability to conceive.

DH was not thrilled about the prospect of another depressive episode, nor was he keen on the daily injections of Heparin. He proposed that we consider another option. One with no worries about my medications, no worries about blood clotting, no worries about delivery - hire a surrogate.

A surrogate? Really? Could we actually outsource pregnancy? The thought seemed more foreign that I could wrap my head around. I ran it past my mother (thinking she would be horrified) and she loved the idea.

I found a surrogate website and began reading about the ins and outs of this world and learning their vocabulary. I found out that I would be known as an IP - intended parent. The surrogate would be either for GS - gestational surrogacy, or TS - traditional style surrogacy. With a GS, the embryo has no genetic relationship to the surrogate, with traditional the egg of the surrogate is used, and is therefore her genetic child.

The laws in Canada about surrogacy are complex. Apparently it cannot be done for profit and must be altruistic. There are loopholes that allow IPs to compensate their surrogates for their expenses. To help manage the complexity, there are agencies that provide IPs with lawyers, contracts & potential surrogates....and I thought pregnancy would be challenging.

I still wasn't completely sold, but we decided to meet with the fertility clinic to discuss our options anyway.

The physician we met with was a breath of fresh air; she was blunt, direct and provided information without sugar-coating our situation.

I must look a little younger than I actually am**, because when she asked my age, her face fell in an instant. She went from an expression of hopefulness to one of "yeah, right" in a millisecond. Apparently late 30s is NOT the time to try conceiving.

Now I am fairly up to date on all of the statistics about age and risk, but I guess it hadn't truly been processed until this appointment. Apparently we have only have a one in five chance of having a healthy embryo in any cycle and a 50% chance of miscarriage using my eggs.

If we decided to use a donor egg (not allowed in Canada), the odds would be much, much higher. The doctor recommended finding a donor in her early twenties for optimum results. And even though I wasn't sure this was what I wanted, the odds being so stacked against us brought me to tears.

But the bad news wasn't over yet! Because of my history of depression and my blood clotting disorder, I am a BAD CANDIDATE for the fertility drugs used to produce more eggs in a cycle. Yup. I could clot and die or just sink into a depressive episode from which I may never make my way back to normal.

The doctor left to get some forms for blood tests and I burst into tears. My husband -being an overall-great-guy and a pragmatist- told me that this was exactly what he expected.

DH then took out his laptop computer and went to you tube to play me "Furry, Happy Monsters" by REM on Sesame Street. I assure you it is impossible to be sad with Michael Stipe singing to a group of monsters.

It appears then that having a baby of our own is out of the question; but if I am completely truthful with myself, I don't think I ever was ready to outsource pregnancy.

**this is due to botox, not my overall radiant health


  1. I have some expertise on this topic unfortunately, I started blogging as one of the first generation of infertility bloggers.

    First, the rubric I used was 'what would I regret not doing'. That's what led me to IVF because I knew when I was 60, I would be angry with myself if I didn't do what I could to have a family.

    Stirrup Queens is an infertility blog clearing house, you will find people there with experience you can learn from. http://www.stirrup-queens.com/

    IVF Connections was _the_ IVF forum back in the day. I think it's still pretty active. Great place to ask questions and explore options. http://www.ivfconnections.com/forums/forum.php

    Resolve.org is US based but their website is full of info.

    Also, it's super important to figure out which are the best clinics and to go to them. A second opinion never hurt either.

    I thought Canada was pioneering IVM which uses immature eggs for IVF and doesn't carry the drug load of IVF proper??? That might be an option for you.

    Hope that helps!


  2. Oh Penelope! I'm so sorry you got such bad news!! I'm no doctor, but if I could suggest something... forget those crappy doctors!!! Yes, chances of having a successful pregnancy in late 30s is less than if you had done it earlier, but it's not impossible! I say, give it a try! And if God wants you guys to have a baby, then you'll conceive!

    I know a teacher who didn't start trying to have children until she was your age, and now she has a boy and a girl - no help with any drugs. And then I know another teacher friend who didn't start having children till she was early 40s. They are now awaiting their second child!

    All things are possible with God! You and DH should get busy ;-)


  3. *hug*

    I'm sorry. So sorry.

    Miracles do happen, but I also understand not wanting to pin your hopes on a miracle. And I know a clotting disorder makes everything more complicated. :-(

    I don't know where in your late 30s you are, but I was 37 when I got pregnant, and my daughter's now a kindergartner. What I find encouraging is that I am far from the oldest mom among the classroom parents, and I hope that encourages you, too.

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