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A Mother's Lessons

By Danielle Cote Serar

Intricasies of Infertility

This last month holds an interesting mix of some of my greatest elations and equally some of my most difficult emotions. Earlier in July, I celebrated what would have been my mommaís 77th birthday. That day is also the same day two years ago we had our IVF egg retrieval capturing only a disheartening 8 mature eggs - though admittedly better than none. And at the end of that week, I found out I had three little growing embryos. Three chances at life to grow within me. I was overjoyed given the odds we had. Three baby boys as it turns out.

For a variety of reasons, we sent them to be genetically tested prior to transfer. One came back healthy for transfer. This amazing little embryo that could become my sweet beautiful baby boy, the one Iíd dreamed about since I was a child. He is one of the greatest miracles in my life. The other most amazing miracle would be my daughter, who despite being told we would most likely never conceive on our own, was a spontaneous pregnancy.

Being a mother has always been my dream. When my husband and I started our journey to family, it never occurred to either of us we would encounter infertilityÖhe had 2 kids already. But we started our infertility journey. At one point after many failed attempts to even attempt to have a baby, we were told our chances of spontaneously conceiving were slim to none without Godís intervention. So with a huge sadness in my heart, we started the IVF process.

During that time, I also served as my motherís caregiver, helping her move through her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis and ultimate passing. Due to our family history, I was given the chance to test for the BRCA genes. I refused. I didnít want to know because Iím my mind, it would be a death sentence.

By Godís hand, our San Diego Male Infertility doctor referred us to his former intern whoíd shifted to Female Infertility (IVF) in San Jose. She had gone through a similar walk with her mom and asked ďwhat if we can stop it with you?Ē Until she asked, Iíd not been willing to vocalize how heavy that possibility had been laying on me, terrifying me. So we started the testing process.

Nine months later when everything was done, all results coming back positively, and I received the call that we were now ready to start our 1st round of IVF, I had to tell them we would not be proceeding. That same day I tested positive for being pregnant. See I needed all of that waiting and in-between ďstuffĒ to happen. I needed to be there for my mother. I needed to have Dr. Bastuba refer us to Dr. Waks. I needed my IVF doctor to give me a possibility that gave me the strength to get genetically tested so I could have the confidence and security and comfort to know I would not be condemning my baby with these genes. I needed to walk Godís path in Godís time with Godís confirmation of his power in the spontaneous conception of our daughter that we had been told would not happen without Godís intervention. Godís timing. Godís path. Not mine.

But nobody prepared me for my Infertility Irony No. 6 - you will mourn the babies that never were. I knew if I miscarried or if my transfer failed, I would definitely mourn those losses. But I was completely unprepared and blindsided by how much I was affected by the loss of our two embryos - my other two baby boys.

They both had deleterious genes so if they had been implanted, they would have resulted in a miscarriage. I know logically I would have never held them, never known them beyond maybe carrying them for a short period in my womb. But someone forgot to tell my heart. Itís the most confusing conundrum and battle that my brain and heart have, especially this time each year. I mourn them. I wonder who they would have been, even though logically I know they never would have been. And I think about both of them far more than I ever thought I would.

What I keep finding out about infertility, even now as we are done having babies, is that it never stops messing with you. Itís constantly messing with you.

Our two youngsters

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