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Our Journey To Parenthood

by Jillian Delsignore

Eric and I always knew we wanted children, always wanted a family.  We talked about it from the time we first started dating in 2016.  Going back even years earlier, I had girlfriends encouraging me to freeze my eggs but I never went through with it.  It was a combination of fear (can’t handle needles!), uncertainty of the future, my travel schedule (always an excuse!), you name it, I used it as a reason not to do it.  When Eric and I met, some of those excuses and fears were alleviated as I could suddenly see the future.  The picture of our family became clear.

We had our first joint meeting with Dr Rapisarda at FCI in the summer of 2017.  We thought we were there to discuss freezing eggs but he said that given we were there embarking on this together, it was best that we freeze embryos.  And so began our journey to Elliott James.

We did our first IVF cycle in November 2017.  The shots, the ultrasounds, the blood tests… it was almost surreal to experience that first time.  Your world suddenly revolves around daily injections, follicles and hormone levels.   I remember our first trigger night like it was yesterday.  We always seemed to trigger on Saturday nights! We got one embryo. One embryo from eight eggs.  It became clear we needed to continue with more cycles given the odds of success.  Those cycles followed in January and November 2018 resulting in two more embryos, both from the last cycle.

We were never able to do a fresh transfer because of my lining. It never wanted to cooperate even when I was being pumped with hormones.  We tried our first frozen transfer in April 2019.  The process was supposed to take 30 days – mine, it took 3 months and even then my lining was barely viable for a transfer.  We were still hopeful but the pregnancy didn’t take. We tried another transfer cycle right away but we had to cancel it because my body just wasn’t responding.  It was becoming clear that me carrying our child was not going to be part of our journey.

It was time to make a decision… try again or explore other options.  We just couldn’t risk one of our remaining two embryos.  Surrogacy was it but where do we even begin. Where do you find a person who is willing to give her body, give herself to help someone else bring a child in to the world? Then there’s the emotion of the whole process.  I wouldn’t be pregnant, wouldn’t be able to experience that, feel our baby kick, know what I would eat, how I would care for myself – that lack of control was really hard to accept but it was our path.

We found an amazing organization, ConceiveAbilities, to help us through the entire process – finding a gestational carrier, getting us a lawyer, acting as our complete coordinator of what is a very complicated process.  We were open to finding a GC anywhere in the country in an effort to be matched quickly.  Not only did they find us a match in six weeks, they found us someone in Chicago.  We met Steffanie for the first time on video in early January 2020.  We instantly knew she was going to be our perfect match.

Its really hard to explain the relationship that develops between intended parents and a GC.  Its intense, emotional, loving, all the feels.  This part of our journey was particularly unique because at this point COVID was upon us which meant protocols at doctors appointments had completely changed.  We couldn’t attend the transfer but drove her to and from and just waited in the parking lot. Our OB appointments became a routine of driving to the doctors office, hanging together in the waiting room and then heading back out to the car when she was called back so we could FaceTime during the appointment.  We made it work and we loved getting to spend the time together even if it was in waiting rooms and parking lots.

We are forever grateful for the hospital in allowing both Eric and me to be there all throughout labor and delivery in addition to Steffanie’s husband.  I was able to cut the cord and we could immediately hold Elliott which was something we feared wouldn’t be possible because of COVID.  The hospital even went so far as to providing us a room on the postpartum floor.  It was amazing to see how invested in our story everyone became over the course of those 14 hours.  Doctors and nurses whose shifts had ended an hour before Elliott’s birth came back in the room so that they could be a part of this joyous moment.  Hugs, tears, the quiet moment when a doctor said to me “you’ve waited a long time for him haven’t you”.  Yes, we had waited a long time and it was worth the wait. Those moments and days in the hospital are ones we will truly never forget.

One constant in our journey are my friends at Pulling Down The Moon. They have been with us from the very beginning.  Acupuncture and massage played a big role in not only my physical health but mental health as well.  I instantly calmed the minute I walked in the door – every single time.  It is the most inviting environment and despite my fear of needles, the acupuncture was something I came to love.  We even had to do some of our shots there!  Never a dull moment when you are beholden to the clock and miscalculate how long you’ll be at acupuncture!  The connections that I made with everyone there became some of the most important to me in this journey as I could see myself in them.  They had their own stories and worked there to help women just like me, just like them, get their families.  I found that the support doesn’t end when it was not me who would be pregnant.  They offered to help Steffanie, to let her use my package, to help the odds of us getting pregnant.  I even found myself going back throughout the pregnancy for that mental break and self care I know I would get from my Pulling Down The Moon friends.  They were also invested in my story and it meant the world.

The journey to parenthood looks different for everyone.  When you’re in the midst of it all and feel like its not meant to be, its easy to lose hope and let the emotions take over.  I’ve been there many times.  Remember you’re not alone.  There are resources and support systems that exist to help you along your journey.  You don’t have to do this alone.  We are a stronger family thanks to this journey and are so blessed to have our sweet Elliott James.