Return from India


I haven’t posted anything in my blog for almost 8 months. I just couldn’t. There were too many arrangements to be made, too many efforts that failed; there has been too much emotion and heartache to work through on a personal level, so the idea of writing about it and then sharing it felt like a burden on top of a burden.

And as I’ve written before, even Atlas shrugged.

At one point, maybe it was after the frozen embryos didn’t thaw well while I was in India or when the first, second, and third surrogate didn’t get pregnant in India, my husband told me he didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t want us to have to live our disappointment out loud anymore.

While I have taken on a vocal stance about our struggles with fertility, not just so others don’t feel so alone but also so that I don’t feel so alone, and while this blog has created a community that has brought us incredible support, and even offers from one woman to be our surrogate and another to donate her own eggs, I needed to take a reprieve from sharing here.

Further, while writing can sometimes be cathartic, other times it is too painful.

And finally, I need to publish this story as a book eventually, so have to divide what I do write between being on here and being in another form and forum.

But for now, I would like to return to that week of when I returned from India…..

Ironically, my father was dying exactly where I had been hospitalized with my incompetent cervix in 2009.  He was in the same hospital where I had given birth, exactly.  He was in the same hospital where there had been that NICU, dimly lit from the peripheral vision of my right, as I was led (first time on a gurney and second and final time in a wheel chair) to the NICU Room, that had brighter lights than at a Pink Floyd show, where I held my infant son for the first and only time – 4 years earlier.

The same fucking hospital. And on the anniversaries of my son’s birth and death.

Sure, I was now in the cancer ward instead of maternity wing. (Interesting that the words that seemed natural for me to use were ‘ward’ – which has a sense of doom to it – and ‘wing’ – which denotes a light and airy feeling.)

I had been wheeled in and out of that exact same hospital from a different entrance than the one where I was now walking in and out of every day, including the day I got back from traveling from India; that Thanksgiving, when I took a cab home after over 30 hours of travel time, grabbed a 5 minute shower, and then raced to the hospital.

The same hospital. Directly across the street from my OBGYN who had brought my baby into the world, who every time I drove to for my annual Pap Smear for the 3 years since Finley’s death I swore I would change doctors, as the entire surroundings of where I would park or where that deli was or where the door was to where I was wheeled in and 2 weeks later out were landmines of traumatic memories.

I was in the same hospital where I was carted out from the maternity ward on a rainy Monday, empty handed, save for some sympathy orchids that some best friends had sent me and some miscellaneous stuff that Craig had brought to the hospital to make what turned into my 2-week stay comfortable (comfortable being a loose term, obviously), and the precious keepsake book that had Finley’s picture, foot prints, and some literature about what bereaved parents like us should do.

Those days – the 3rd and 4th of December, were sacred days, meant for me to feel the emotional tumult that inevitably poured out every year.  But this year I went to the hospital both days, what I know now was a true privilege, making sure the doctors never left the room before we had every answer they could give us; making sure my dad’s lips were not too crinkly from dehydration; playing him music; reciting him poems he’d written; holding his hands; praying.

The Friday after I got back from India my mom and sister and I were there, all 3 of us, together.  As the two of them left, my dad motioned for me to stay, even though there were nurses in the room, waiting to check his pulses and change his pillows.  This was unlike him; before this time, he would always interrupt any one of us in his family to learn what the staff needed to do; he seemed to respect their time, but something had shifted for him: perhaps he realized he had so little time left, and that it was indeed his to do with what he wanted.

“Do you have a name for your baby?” he asked me.  His blue eyes that I’d inherited as bright as they’d ever been.  “Yes,” I answered without a moment’s notice, “and one of them will start with an H.”  (In the Jewish religion, babies are not named after the deceased, but usually the first letter of someone’s name is used as a tribute, so to speak. Finley, in fact, was named for my grandfather Felix. My dad’s name was Herbert.)

He smiled, as it was the exact answer he’d wanted.  I told him our daughter’s name.  And then I told him our son’s name.  Those blue eyes and welled up and he smiled at me, with a gaze so strong I can visualize it now.  He nodded. “That’s beautiful.”

I couldn’t bear to tell him that we weren’t pregnant yet.  And further, that we hadn’t even been able to do the embryo transfer because our 2 embryos had thawed badly.

Two days later, that Sunday, now December 1st, he was having a rough day. They had wheeled him out of the hospital at the crack of dawn to go to Westwood UCLA, and then not been able to perform the procedure that they had planned to do, thus leaving the severe pain in his throat without any chance of relief.

He could no longer swallow and wasn’t allowed any fluids. He asked me that day to help him die.  He looked at me with the intensity you’d find in some old detective movie, where people plot and plan in closed quarters; wearing hats; smoking cigarettes.  “We’re smart. We can do this.  We’ve got to get me out of here.”  He remarked that in Oregon they have physician assisted dying.  “But we’re not in Oregon,” I remarked sadly – feeling defeated that I couldn’t help him; crushed that the conversation had turned so drastic; so inevitable.

There were some pictures of my nieces, his granddaughters, next to his phone, that my sister had brought.  “Do you want me to get some tape and put up these pictures?” I asked.  “NO.  NO, I don’t want to see their pictures. I don’t want to hear about India. I don’t want to hear about your baby.”  Then he stopped himself from this rant and turned to me, with tears in his eyes, “but I want you to know that baby is so important to me.  That baby is so important.  Your baby is going to be so important to everyone.”

FUCK.  Even as I type this I think of the look on his face, and how totally fucking awful it was to realize how much my dad already loved my future babies, his grandchildren, who he would never hold.

“Well you’re going to meet Finley when you go, you know.” I said.  “I don’t believe in that,” he responded.  “It doesn’t matter, Dad, because I know it to be true.”

We left it at that.

And then I returned December 2nd, and he was still lucid and he made funny jokes. That is the day they put him into hospice, the medical world’s way of throwing up their hands and saying there is nothing more to be done, but to make this man as “comfortable” as possible, as he dies.

So I was there that day. And the next, and the following.  To make sure that he was comfortable. To bring treats or a thank you to the staff.  To negotiate with the fucking idiotic hospice administrative lady who treated my father as if he was a file number in a fucking warehouse.

My eldest sister and I would trade shifts, often overlapping, always making sure we repeated every thing we’d heard to each other – perhaps thinking that in doing so we would solve this problem of our father dying – then to my mom, with one of us trying to keep our other sister in the loop.

All this without time to recover from jetlag, to honor Finley’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, and all of this with the devastating knowledge that I had no embryos left.

My father died, Friday, December 6th, 2013 – 4 years and 2 days after my own son had died, in the very same hospital.

I like to imagine that Finley’s soul returned to those same corridors, and led my father to peace.

And while it is now late July of the following year, and I have undergone 8 months of fertility related plotting, planning and failures, to get to the next step in our mission (which is imminent and gives me great hope), it seems like a good time to go back in time, so to speak, and pick up on December 3rd, 2009, the day that everything changed.

To be continued…



I’ve been monitoring my period every single month since the middle of 2008 – save for my shortened pregnancy with the tragic outcome, which was so complicated and riddled with issues that I feared it coming pretty regularly – which makes it coming early this month and me having no next steps that rely on my body make me feel very powerless.

I mean, I’ve always been powerless over trying to get pregnant; that much I’ve learned by now:  Reading spiritual meditations daily didn’t effect the outcome.  Taking my extraordinarily strong and expensive medications perfectly and always arriving at my doctor’s office on time didn’t do it. My constant dialogue, prayers, pleading with G-d hasn’t brought our next child here.  Becoming as educated on my body’s reproductive system as a fertility specialist or the herbs or the acupuncture or the healing sessions or the special combination of vitamins with the fancy and special pre natal vitamins and the rituals and the food cleanses or the multiple uterine scrapings or the hysteroscopy, or the entire combination of the above, has not introduced us physically to our next child or children.

And yet I know our daughter and / or son is coming.

And my daily schedule that monitors which day of my cycle it is no longer dictates my next appointment, but it still brings us one day closer to becoming parents again.

Sometimes I think people must think I’m crazy to be as confident and determined as I am to keep going.  I know so many people that gave up along the way, or switched gears, and after 13 IVFs, roughly 13 embryo transfers, innumerable IUIs, and trying naturally multiple times at the right time every month since 2008 – again, save for my pregnancy, I have stopped pretending that my body can carry a pregnancy.

For the roughly 11-days that I wait in between an embryo transfer and a pregnancy test, I can barely breathe.  I am scared that putting a spoon in the dishwasher or picking up my puppy Maybelline’s toys or leaning over to put on shoes will result in miscarrying the pretend pregnancy, the pregnancy that will fulfill mine and my husband’s dreams and what I perceive as our purpose; of being parents to Finley’s brother or sister (or both).

So after the last failure, which was confirmed on September 30th, and subsequent to the last conversation with my doctor, October 3rd, and after my last blog post, I went into producing mode – and we now have a solution as to how our baby or babies will get to us.  I know it will work; will it be the first transfer into a SURROGATE late this month?  Will it be a 2nd or 3rd embryo transfer next year?  No matter: I have released the burden, the huge, painful, disappointing, and serious burden of carrying a pregnancy – from myself.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t actually have a choice as to whether I’d carry a pregnancy.  I haven’t gotten pregnant since my miscarriage (the chemical pregnancy) in late 2010.  But what I realize is that the waiting period of those 11 days that I hope and pray without pause that this time it works is an indication of how stressful the pregnancy, had it happened, would have been: I already know that I would file for disability around week 10 and get a handicap placard so I didn’t have to walk far, that I would get a Cervical cerclage and have the best high risk specialist in town sew that incompetent cervix of mine up around week 12, after we’d confirmed that the baby or babies were genetically healthy, that I would not be able to do my job – my highly stressful mentally, emotionally, and often even physically exerting job that sometimes includes travel or chasing people down at any given location – and that my pregnancy would be high risk, therefore putting me on some form of bed rest early on.

I already know how hard it is for me not to put the wash into the dryer during that 11-day waiting period, because I am compulsive and always like stuff done the way I want when I want.

So it has come as a huge relief to ACCEPT that I can not get pregnant again, that my body is not to be the vessel that brings our baby into the world, AND that there is a less expensive (though still more tens of thousands of dollars) option that really embraces some perfect qualities – even more so than an American surrogate.

(I’ll update you with that information soon.)

And with all that written, the truth is, I am mourning the fact that I will not be pregnant again. That I will not develop a relationship with my next child the way I did with Finley – since I knew him so well as he grew from a being the size of a bean to a very small baby, who loved John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels”; craved bagels and cream cheese; typically rested low, at the bottom of my uterus; was a tremendous kicker (as evidenced by the movie taken at my first amniocentesis); whose spirit was so incredibly strong that our relationship has grown significantly, even though he is dead.

I am mourning the fact that I will never breast feed; that I will never be pregnant, surrounded by loving friends and family at a baby shower where our baby is celebrated.  (Separately, praying that my friends plan a baby shower for after we bring our baby back, G-d willing, in 2014!).

I am left feeling barren. Which I am.  And it is a feeling that disconnects me from G-d.  I trust the universe, and feel nature propelling me forward, but I won’t read any of the morning meditations I used to read; I won’t praise G-d – not because I don’t believe in him anymore, because I still do actually pray to him – but because he’s a total jerk for having my husband and me tackle another significant hurdle before giving us the blessing we know is coming.

On my daily calendar on my phone, I used to have every single day of my cycle.  It would state:  Day — (– day cycle)

And every day after I would complete taking all of my pills – the 6 Pre Natal pills which had to be refrigerated and taken 2 at a time, at meals – plus the CoQ10, the 2 DHEA, the Folic Acid, the Calcium, the Baby Aspirin – that I had arranged in a bag that I would dig into every morning and evening – before I would change the number of the ‘day’ and move this ‘appointment’ on my calendar onto the next day.

This appointment, so to speak, would remind me if I should be starting my ovulation tests, or if I should prepare for my period, if it was time to start thinking of taking a pregnancy test, when to schedule my next doctor’s appointment, etc.

Now I have it listed just so I know when my period is coming, since I I can’t bear to remove this entirely from my schedule – though I have removed it as a daily appointment, since I can’t bear to think about what this has meant to me since we began trying and I began monitoring my cycle, in the middle of 2008.

I have an extra $100 bottle of Pre Natal pills in our cupboard. I will keep them there – you know, in case….

That time of year is upon me, where I begin the countdown to the day I was hospitalized, before everything changed, before I went into labor December 3rd, 2009.  The air, the color of the leaves, the long sleeves I wear, and my heart tell me this; I don’t even need a calendar.

And my father is sick, very, very sick, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to help him through this time, because it is a privilege to help someone.

But it is an emotional teeter totter I am on: On one side I know that I owe Finley, you, and myself the part of the story that happened on and after December 3rd, 2009 – how I reacted, what it was like, who held me up and who let me down.  I must prepare for December 3rd and 4th, and decide how I will honor him this year, the year that marks the 4th anniversary of his birth and subsequent death.

Close to that highly emotional side, I am my father’s medical advocate, the one person he relies on to be the voice and his mind during his many doctor’s appointments – which is time consuming and very exhausting.  But I am the only one who is capable of that, and so I must continue.

And on the other side, I have cause for real celebration: my husband and I have a solution to the fact that I can not get pregnant, and we are very fortunate that we can afford this solution – of me traveling to another country (!) to hire a surrogate whose generosity of her time and body will help the trajectory of our lives, and whose compensation will help the trajectory of hers.

I cannot remember being this emotionally conflicted, ever, and yet I am calm, because I know that there is nothing more to do than what I can do, which is put one foot in front of the other, and stay the course.

I can’t wait to tell you where our embryos already are and where I am going to meet my surrogate… over Thanksgiving!  Clue: it is a spiritual mecca and was on my bucket list!  Next post – coming soon.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read, for your prayers, and for your continued support!