Friday, May 2, 2014
Complete Loss of Control
It's hard to explain how difficult the last nine months have been for me. I've tried not to delve too deeply into the recesses of my mind to pull out the ugly thoughts I've had. I'm not sure if I'm avoiding the truth for my readers' benefit or my own. Maybe I don't want to think about my true feelings because they're just too hard to deal with right now. But I can't hold back anymore.
The loss of control is eating me alive.
Control? Yeah, I lost that about three years ago when my body, which I'd always cared for, started to give out on me. For about six months the only control I had was whether I'd sleep on the couch or in my bed after a long day of chemotherapy. I also had control over which wig I wanted to wear to my own wedding. Other than that, the doctors made all the decisions and I just followed their lead like a sick puppy.
Once we beat the cancer into submission I thought I'd be able to take charge of my life again. Jimmi and I decided to find a gestational carrier and transfer our embryos into her functioning uterus so we could have a baby of our own. I had no idea that something so exciting could make me feel so useless; so completely out of control.
We found Lyndsay last May and our journey progressed quickly. I brushed aside my tinges of jealousy that I was no longer able to grow a human life inside my body and needed to find a "complete" woman to do that for me. The feelings of inadequecy grew daily as the news of her positive pregnancy test was revealed. I should be the one telling Jimmi I'm carrying his baby, I thought to myself. It wasn't supposed to be like this! But I knew we were lucky that we found Lyndsay and that we even had this option so I tried to force the feelings out.
Lyndsay's doctor kept us informed of every detail of her pregnancy, making us feel like we were actually a part of it. He Skyped all of the appointments we couldn't fly to Minnesota to attend and he responded very quickly to any e-mails I sent. It was really the best situation we could've hoped for.
But, as things progressed, my mind took a left turn to Crazy Town. The thought of someone else feeling my baby's first kicks pulled at my heartstrings and when I spoke to Jimmi about it his indifference worried me. I quickly realized that, since he's never been through a pregnancy with anyone, he couldn't possibly understand how much he was missing. I figured that might be a good thing. Maybe then he wouldn't be angry at me for not being capable of performing a "real" woman's job. Maybe he wouldn't resent me for forcing him to miss the nights of cuddling my swollen belly as gentle kicks responded to his soft words. But then I realized it was much worse.
Jimmi felt completely disconnected from our baby.
Maybe I was wrong, I thought when we were about 18 weeks along. So I asked him, "Do you know how many weeks pregnant we are?" He shrugged nonchalantly and responded, "I dunno. Thirteen?" The disappointment painted my face as I shot back, "We're eighteen weeks." There wasn't a hint of remorse when he asked, "What? Is it such a big deal that I didn't know?" I couldn't believe he asked me that. "Yes, it's a big deal! It's our baby!" He shrugged again and said, "I don't know why you're getting so upset about this." Anger took over and I questioned, "If I were pregnant would you know how many weeks?" He answered without hesitation, "Probably. But that's different." I was shaking, "How is it different? She's still our baby!" He shrugged for the third time before I answered for him, "You don't feel any connection to this baby, do you?" His face was almost cold as he said, "Not really. But I'm sure I will later."
That conversation has stuck with me for months. Because I had cancer, I can't have babies. Because I can't have babies, we found someone who can. Because someone else is having our baby, Jimmi feels no attachment to her. Because Jimmi feels no attachment to her, I feel guilty for not being able to have babies. But that's out of my control. Nothing I can do about it.
Don't get me wrong, here. I have no doubt that Jimmi will be an amazing dad once he lays eyes on his little girl for the first time but, until then, he's on the outside, looking in. The situation isn't real. He's a thousand miles away from all of it so it's not really happening. He'll just snap into fatherhood once the baby is born. Or maybe he'll have to leave for his tour before she decides to make her appearance and he'll have to wait until she's three weeks old before he even meets her. That should make bonding easier. Did you catch my sarcasm there?
Ah, the tour. Another thing that's out of my control. Of all the days in all the months of the year, his band was scheduled to leave for a tour on our due date, May 18th. An understanding manager offered to cancel the first few shows but Jimmi absolutely needs to leave on May 21st to catch up to the band for a gig on May 22nd.
Lyndsay's doctor, who was deployed two weeks ago, had mentioned the possibility of inducing labor at 39 weeks because of our extenuating circumstances. At that time I e-mailed the new doctor to ask her about that option and she told me the entire OB team would have to make that decision the week we hoped to induce, but it wasn't a normal practice to induce for scheduling. The helplessness and desperation grew as I spoke to the original doctor in Kuwait, who seemed to have changed his original tune about the matter as well. Back and forth we went without any decision being made. Thoughts of Jimmi missing the birth of his daughter caused panic attack after panic attack as I realized the first minutes of bonding with his baby were quickly slipping away and there was nothing I could do to change anything. If he's feeling a disconnect now, missing the birth would only widen the gap.
I called the director of the surrogacy agency who informed me that her carriers are induced 90% of the time to make sure the parents can be present at the birth. She seemed surprised by the policies at Lyndsay's hospital but neither of us could change them. In the meantime I spoke to Lyndsay about her feelings on induction and she told me she'd prefer to go into labor naturally. Yes, I absolutely agreed with her. But if the doctors decided that induction would be safe for everyone, I want to do whatever it takes to make sure Jimmi isn't MIA when his baby enters the world.
I've been losing my mind over this entire situation for weeks now. Lyndsay and I finally came to an agreement that was acceptable to everyone and, during our appointment last week, the doctor admitted that, if she recommends it, the rest of the OB team would probably be on board with inducing just a few days early. I started breathing a little bit easier.
We had our almost 38 week checkup scheduled for 2:00 PM that day. I waited anxiously by the computer with my Skype screen ready to go. An email from Lyndsay at 1:50 announced the last-minute cancellation with a new appointment scheduled for Friday, this morning. "Is it with Dr. H?" I asked. "No. They put me in with a midwife." That seemed odd, I thought. We've only seen doctors up until this point but I knew they were squeezing her in this week and the midwife was probably the only one available.
The appointment was quick and Aria is a healthy, full-term little pumpkin. "Do you have any questions?" asked the midwife over the phone after allowing me to listen to my baby's heartbeat. I wanted to ask about induction again but I didn't feel like repeating the entire story for the zillionth time. Besides, we still have another week before they'll need to evaluate Lyndsay for our timeframe and this woman wouldn't be the one making the decision anyway. "Nope. I don't think so."
A few minutes later Lyndsay texted me to tell me our next appointment was scheduled for the 9th at 8:15 AM. "With Dr. H?" I asked, referring to the doctor who had taken over for our deployed one. "No. A different one." I had to calm myself before my head exploded. Another doctor? Yes, I understand it's difficult to fit all the weekly, end-of-pregnancy appointments into one doctor's schedule. I get that it's not Lyndsay or Dr. H's fault. But now I need to contact this new doctor to explain the situation to him so he can be prepared to evaluate Lyndsay for induction next week. Ever hear the expression "Too many cooks in the kitchen?" Is Dr. H still in charge? Is the new doctor my go-to-man? Who can I speak to about my baby?
I decided to send an e-mail to Dr. H:
Dear Dr. H,
I wanted to send you an e-mail to touch base about our baby and what's been going on here over the last few weeks. Now that we're down to the wire it seems things are starting to fall apart and I'm getting even more nervous than I've been to begin with. Imagine how difficult it is to trust another person, who started out as a complete stranger, to carry your baby for you because you can't do it yourself. Imagine that person is 1000 miles away and your husband isn't able to experience the joy and excitement of a pregnancy. Imagine everything is going as smoothly as possible until the last month when you start being bumped from one doctor to the next and you have no idea who to turn to with questions or concerns about your own baby because, technically, Lyndsay is the patient so, even as the baby's mother, I don't feel that I matter in the equation. Dr. C had been Skyping our appointments, which made things slightly easier. There was a miscommunication when you met Lyndsay last week so we were forced to use speakerphone. I understood that. I had emailed you earlier this week to make sure you could bring a computer the the appointment on Weds but I never heard back. The appointment ended up being canceled anyway and I had to listen over the phone again today with a midwife who was, again, a stranger. It's just not the same feeling of connection.
My stress level is now through the roof.
Lyndsay has her 39 week check on Friday, May 9th, with Dr. A. I don't know him and neither does she. I can't e-mail him to bring a computer. He doesn't know our situation, aside from what he'll read in a file. He has no idea that I really need someone to evaluate Lyndsay that day for possible induction the following week. Through our surrogacy agency, Lyndsay and I now have an agreement about induction, so the ball is in the doctors' courts. My husband and I are flying out on the 12th. Our due date is the 18th. As I mentioned to you, Jimmi will be going on tour for 3 weeks and missing his daughter's birth would be devastating for all of us. If we're approved for induction, I would hope it could happen between the 13th and the 15th, to give him time to bond before he goes. I would really like Dr. A to consider our dilemma next Friday so we might be able to have some sort of a plan in place. I understand it's not the clinic's policy to induce based on scheduling, but I'm only asking for 3-5 days early in an extenuating circumstance.
Lyndsay, Jimmi and I are all on the same page about induction, as long as it doesn't seem like it'll harm her or the baby but, since she's not the one dealing with the feeling of just wanting to be the mom already, she won't blatantly ask for it like I will. But, without actually being there, it's hard to make my points to each different doctor over the phone. I'm asking for your help in this matter. Actually, I'm begging. Please help me feel like I'm a part of what's going on with my baby. Will you speak to Dr. A about evaluating her for induction at her appointment next week? I hate that I keep badgering you with this, but I have nowhere else to turn.
As soon as the e-mail shot off into cyberspace another one popped up in my inbox from Lyndsay:
"My appointment on Friday is now with a colleague of the lady I saw today and she will see me until the end. I asked the doctor today if she could finish out with us and she is only there Monday for 4 hours then gone the whole next week. So she talked to this other doctor and she said she would take us and finish out with us! So that would be very nice."
While the thought of another doctor change made me crazy, I agreed it would be nice to know we would now have the same one for whatever is left of the pregnancy. But I was confused by the wording of her email. "Is she a midwife or a doctor?" I asked. "She's a midwife." And then the palpitations began. I don't know much about midwives but, from my understanding, they are all about the woman's body doing its job on its own, without help from outside forces. In simple terms…Induction won't be an option unless it's medically necessary. I asked Lyndsay if that was the case and she told me the midwives follow the same policy as the doctors at the clinic. Being that I've never actually seen one, I'll have to take her word for it.
I am now left with no other options. There's no one left to speak to. I have no idea who is in charge. There's no way to make sure Jimmi will be present for Aria's birth. I can't tell my boys how long I'll be away from them. I have no answers to give the hotel or car rental or airline about my checkout or return dates.
This control freak has officially lost all control.