Words by Chelsea Neubauer | @neubauerchels|
Hi my name is Chelsea. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
As I was growing up and throughout my adult years people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” There was no big career job that ever came to mind. There was only one specific role. I want to be a mother. I am going to stay home and raise my children and that was the dream that has stuck with me since I can remember. That goal never changed. The urge to be a mother only grew stronger as I grew older. Infertility? That word was foreign. Miscarriage? That’s almost impossible. You think the moment you starting trying for a baby, you are going to get pregnant and when you do see those two lines on a test, you assume you will meet your baby in 9 months. Wow, was I naive.
Fast forward to our first pregnancy. Sitting in the doctor’s office alone back in August of 2021(thanks to Covid), I heard the words of every woman’s worst nightmare: there is no more heartbeat. I will never forget the five days that followed this appointment leading up to my D&C. I would lie awake at night fearing surgery and recovery, only to wake up in the morning to see my bump and realize I had a baby inside of me that was no longer living. I knew that I would never be the same. Doctors warn you of the side effects when you are miscarrying, but never warn you of your body after a miscarriage or procedure. The lingering side effects of pregnancy and healing for months after the D&C was horrible. I am still traumatized by it. However, I have learned, where there is grief, there can also be gratitude. This would be the one and only time I got to experience a natural pregnancy, even though it was short lived. No meds. No nothing. Just excitement. I was able to see the joy of a positive pregnancy test, feel my body change and surprise our friends and family with the best news. These are memories I will never forget. Memories that a natural pregnancy gave me that some may never experience.
As time passed after our loss, so did countless appointments, procedures and lonely waits at the fertility clinic until one day I received my new reality: I would never be able to conceive on my own again. My tubes were completely blocked because of endometriosis and IVF was the only remaining option for having a baby. But then came the next plot twist. Due to my autoimmune disease, the chance of miscarrying through IVF was too high to pursue. The medication I require to keep my levels at bay, is too strong for a developing fetus and yet if we lower the dose or stop taking the medication, I would have a 90% chance of my levels spiking again; causing miscarriage and risks to my health. At that time, we had to make a big decision with the hands we were dealt. Surrogacy; which for us was the safest + highest chance to bring a baby into the world and make us parents.
We began our independent surrogacy journey back in December of 2020.
My husband and I are never people to ask for help, we are usually the helpers. However, we knew in order to have a family, we needed to ask. We posted all over social media asking in help to find a gestational carrier(aka a surrogate except the embryo is fully our genetics). Thanks to everyone who shared our story, we were able to find an amazing woman who would carry for us. Looking back, I can’t believe 8 months has already passed. We were so busy with lawyers, FDA Testing, medical clearance, psych evaluations, that I truly never thought there was an end in sight. Now, here we are..Our gestational carrier had a transfer on Thursday, July 15th and now we wait. I am nervous and scared but also so hopeful that this is just part of our plan that is going to work out.
There have been SO many tears on this road. Although I have only done half of the IVF process so far (retrieving my eggs and creating embryos), I have learned SO much. IVF is exhausting. It is draining on your body, your marriage, your friendships and life. It changes you forever. It’s like sitting on the sidelines at a huge basketball game wishing and dreaming you could play, but instead only the best players get to. You have too much work to do yet for an opportunity in the game. Infertility causes a lot of anger and emotions that we don’t want to feel. Its constantly dreaming and hoping for something that comes so easily and naturally for most women, to happen to us. But we have to accept it won’t.
I can say, I have not given up on my body completely quite yet.
Maybe it’s the stubbornness in me because we have 6 embryos waiting for us, but I do believe there is strength, energy + faith left in me to attempt a transfer at some point myself to beat the odds. But for now, we are focusing on our surrogate, the upcoming transfer + staying as grateful as possible that we have this amazing woman willing to do this for our family. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but sometimes it takes a village to have one, and that’s okay too. I have so many people to thank in my life the last year, but I can’t say enough thanks to the amazing women that I was brought to through this journey. The infertility community is the worst group to be a part of, but the absolute best members. They have gotten me through some of the worst days of my life. So, I end with this…I hope anyone reading this who is in the midst of their fertility struggle; whether its IVF, miscarriage, surrogacy, adoption, embryo adoption or secondary infertility, know you are not alone. There is space for you in this community.