Darci and Nickolas in the snow

I am never very good at telling my story or talking about myself. I am much more comfortable asking the questions and getting to know people, but I also understand how important it is to know a little about the person on the other end of the phone or in that email. I have been working in this industry since 2003. Professionally, I started in the field of third party reproduction as part of an internationally renowned in-house program with egg donors and gestational surrogates. I was fortunate enough to be educated and trained from a medical standpoint as to the acceptance criteria for donors and surrogates.

At a certain point, my experience at the clinic became not only professional, but personal. At that point in time, I did not have any children and we weren’t sure that we wanted any. Like many of the clients I work with things changed for me, and I became increasingly aware having children and adding to my family, of then only furry creatures, was something we wanted to attempt.

When starting on the “family making” journey, I was 38 years old so we gave ourselves six months before we would start doing the route I was very familiar with having now worked in the industry for five years. I experienced the same realization many have had in their lives – I needed some help to have a baby. We started down the path of screening and preparing for our first IVF cycle and it was a crazy reality to be on this side of the counter. I was getting my calendar, receiving that huge box of medications and NEEDLES, scheduling out my life to the minute – not only for my medication but the appointments at the clinic. Every day going through cycle was a bit like getting the results of a test I wasn’t able to study for. It didn’t matter how well I administered the shots or if I was early to the appointment, all of the control was out of my hands. And I quickly learned how important control was for me.

We had our first retrieval and I had a nice number of eggs, they fertilized pretty well for an older broad, and I was scheduled for transfer. We transferred three (again, remember I’m 38) and waited on pins and needles. Seeing that first lab report showing I was pregnant was amazing! I felt like I had won the lottery, it was my birthday and Christmas all wrapped up in one. The numbers doubled well and actually it looked like we might be having more than one…and then we did our first ultrasound and it was confirmed there was more than one, but they were not going to make it.

All at once my world crashed and I became a very detached and mechanical person. More appointments were scheduled, and my heart broke. It was a very odd phenomenon that while at the same time there was grieving going on, I was obsessed with when I could cycle again. And again, my body betrayed me…I needed to have my periods return and they went on a vacation somewhere – probably Tahiti or Bali.

In the interim while we waited for my body to be ready to carry again, we did some additional testing. Turns out I am not the “healthy” person I always thought I was. I have immunological issues and here is where the laundry list of my ailments started:

Immunology issues
Elevated Natural Killer Cells
Progesterone Issues

I do know I have to be thankful that my list is what it is. There are folks out there who are facing much more than I did and there was an answer to each of mine.

As we headed into our next cycle, I was understandably cautious and for all of you Seinfeld fans, I decided to pull a “George” and do everything opposite. I drove a different way to the clinic, I wore different clothes, I did not POAS, we did not celebrate our positive. We just held our breath until we made it to that first ultrasound and prayed like crazy we would hear a heartbeat. Now, many people do not hear a heartbeat on that first ultrasound, but we were hoping to just have a sign. Finally the day came, and as we headed out to the appointment I ran to the bathroom real quick and there was blood. Now for years, that was a welcome sign, but as you are going through fertility treatments, that is the worst. I wanted to throw up right there. I quickly grabbed my stomach, said a little prayer (oh let’s be honest, I was pulling out the stops in the prayer) and whispered to that little embryo growing to just hang on, that we were looking so forward to being parents, that we already loved whoever was in there.

My husband and I waited anxiously for the ultrasound to see who or how many were in there…and we waited…and we waited – our doctor was delayed. Finally Dr. Fisch, my angel, appeared to ask if I wanted to have him do the ultrasound – YES! A deep breath later and a slide down to the bottom of the table (those who have done IVF are very familiar with what I am talking about ), and there it was, the heartbeat! We had a heartbeat!!

I have experienced just a sliver of what some of my clients have. My body did not do what it was supposed to do when it was supposed to do it. I am not a good pregnant woman. Surrogates amaze me as my body was not a happy pregnant lady. For the first five months, I was on prednisone and then had daily shots of Lovenox until the day before my c-section. After the c-section, my son was amazingly healthy, but again, my body did not do what it was supposed to. My incision did not heal properly and for the next three months I had an open wound, a machine pulling out any excess fluid, and twice daily nurse visits. But Nickolas was healthy and happy.

I believe my experience helps me be a better guide to those clients who are just starting; I understand that longing that exists in your heart; I can empathize with the heartache of loss; and I know what an amazing gift success can be and how important it is to celebrate it. I count myself lucky to be able to work in the industry I do; to be fortunate enough to work with my clients, those who become friends and family; to be touched by the donors and surrogates who are giving of their lives and bodies, and for all of the hope our industry can provide to those amazing people in the world who want to become parents or add to their families. Thank you, all of you!