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Entry Ten, August 30, 1997

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"Second Choice" Absolutely Doesn't Mean "Second Best."

Were you wondering why we were pursuing pregnancy through donor eggs, when we had been able to get pregnant twice before? I'd like to continue my story where I left it after the death of Nicholas. We were grieving the loss of this beautiful child. Yet we still wanted to raise living children. Since we had two pregnancies with the help of medical science, we felt confident that we could get pregnant again. And maybe the third time would result in a baby to bring home from the hospital!

Well, we went back to the fertility specialist, and got back on the fertility merry-go-round. Cycle after cycle went by, without success. Not only were we not getting pregnant, but my ability to respond to the fertility drugs seemed to diminish by the minute! How could it be that I could become unable to conceive, when I had been pregnant before? What was the reason behind this poor response to the medication? I asked the doctors these questions time and time again. I can tell you the answer in three letters: Age. A woman's fertility declines sharply after the age of thirty-five. A normally fertile woman becomes less fertile. A woman who is infertile may lose it all. I was thirty-eight years old when I gave birth to Nicholas. In terms of fertility I "timed out." It feels a little ironic that when we started trying for a family in my early thirties I felt like I had all the time in the world.

We tried Pergonal cycles, then Pergonal with Intrauterine Insemination, then GIFT cycles, then a failed IVF. In February of 1996, our fertility specialist told me that the chances of getting pregnant using my ovaries were slim to none. I was in the category of being 40 or over, being a poor responder to fertility drugs, and having very poor quality eggs. (We determined that in the GIFT and IVF attempts).

I grieved. I would never have a living child related to my deceased parents or my brilliant and talented siblings. My deceased son Nicholas would be my only genetic child. That thought alone brought me great emotional pain. I would never raise a child genetically related to me. I literally cried for two straight days.

We went to grief counseling, offered by our fertility clinic. And I worked very hard on sorting out my emotions and my thoughts. What do I really want? Why do I want to raise a child? Just how important is passing on my genes to my child? Just how important is it to be genetically related to my child? I realized that I want to raise children because I love children. I realized that genetic connection carries some significance to me, but not a high level of significance. The bottom line for me was that I wanted children.

It is amazing how simple and quick it is to write those statements. Arriving there felt pretty complex. It took some hard work to grieve my "first choice" of having a genetic child. It took some hard thinking to realize that its importance was small to me. It took a while to see clearly that "second choice" absolutely does not mean "second best". "Second choice" just means it was not what I wanted at the very beginning!

And so, I emotionally came to a place of peacefulness over not raising a genetic child. And, I began to see how wonderful it would be to be an Egg Donor Recipient.

I realized that although I can accept not being a genetic parent, being pregnant with a child is extremely important to me. I want to be able to provide the best gestational environment possible. I want my child to be wanted from the moment of conception. I don't want my child to struggle with adoptive abandonment issues, as some adoptees do. After tragically losing my son, I want to be able to give birth to a child that I also take home and raise. After being pregnant with my son, I am aware of the amazing bond that occurs during pregnancy. I have very intense feelings about this.

How does my husband feel about all of this? It is interesting. He also loves children. He wants to raise children. But his first choice would be to move right on to adoption. He does not have strong feelings about needing to be genetically related to his child. But, he knows how much I want this and is very supportive of this process.

So, with time, counseling, and hard work, the thought of being pregnant with a child I am not genetically related to became a wonderful, joyful option. I know from my life experience that my "first choices" aren't always the best ones; that sometimes the "second choice" is the happiest, best option. I bet you have experienced that as well.

And my egg donor is the most incredible young woman! I don't want to say too much, because her anonymity is something I need to protect. I do not know who she is, and I don't want to be too specific about what I do know. Let me say this: Her history suggests that she is a young lady of exceptional talent and intelligence, with amazing drive and energy. She also seems to be a very compassionate woman, which is why she was motivated to be a donor. When the egg donor coordinator told me about her, my first thought was "Wow!!" If I have to choose the genetic material for my child, I certainly could do no better! Whether this procedure works or not, I feel gratitude for this young woman for helping me have this chance at pregnancy. And not only that, I feel appreciation for all the egg donors that are out there, for the chances that they are giving women like me.

Which brings me to my final point, and up to the very present moment. What if this procedure doesn't work? My chances certainly are not as rosy as they looked a few weeks ago! What will we do?

A second try is something we have not decided on. It is a possibility. And, as mentioned, we will move on to the adoption process. Yes, my first choice is to be a birth mother! But my heart is really after children to raise. The second or third choice are merely choices I didn't consider at first. And when I let go of my earlier choices, then I can know that the later choices may well be the best choices of all. So, we are waiting and hoping that this egg donor option works! And we trust that sooner or later, one way or the other, we will have children of our own.

Feel free to write me!
Kay Grames

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