Surrogacy, interrupted

Several weeks ago, Mike and I traveled to LA for our medical screenings. I was anxious, sure that there would be something wrong and the whole thing would be called off. We stayed with Dads 2.0 in their gorgeous Glendale house and braved the storm of the century to get to the fertility clinic, where we both gave blood and urine samples. I underwent the always pleasant saline ultrasound (there’s really nothing like it) and met with the doctor. Then we dashed back to the car and drove cautiously back to the house as LA flooded around us. Once safely ensconced back home, the four of us cozied up to watch a movie and enjoy each other’s company. Ron fed us the best lasagna I’ve ever had, and I got to enjoy a lazy morning the next day with Maya and Ben and the Daddies (original flavor). Slightly invasive procedure aside, it was an awesome weekend.

About a week later, my test results came back, and everything was hunky dory, with the exception of a slight vitamin D deficiency. I began taking a D supplement, got official medical clearance, and we were off to the races! Lawyers were hired, contracts drawn up, and an egg donor secured.

Then I got bloody diarrhea. I know, gross. It lasted two days, and I was going to ignore it, write it off as a weird, isolated incident. But my very persistent friend Jamie convinced me that bloody diarrhea is not, in fact, normal and that I should at least email my doctor for advice. To absolutely no one’s surprise, my doctor insisted that I come in as soon as possible. I went in the same day, and while I won’t detail the entire appointment, I am happy to report that a rectal exam is far more pleasant than a Pap smear. No joke.

Fast forward a week or so. I was laying on a gurney, staring at the ceiling, waiting for my colonoscopy. A colonoscopy! I had spent the previous two days doing the bowel flush prep, grumbling the whole time about how unnecessary it all was. I was convinced that the bleeding was nothing alarming, and this all seemed like a whole lotta pain and suffering for nothing.

Well, kids, turns out the bleeding was something quite alarming. I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, metastasized to the peritoneum (lining of the intestines) and the liver. My life was turned upside down in the blink of an eye, and a huge part of that was the loss of this surrogacy. I very quickly had to come to terms with the fact that I would not only lose this surrogacy, but would never be pregnant again. There are plenty of things to mourn with this diagnosis, and this is a biggie.

I spoke to both sets of dads within a couple days of the diagnosis. All of them were, unsurprisingly, extraordinarily supportive and wonderful. Telling Ron and Adi that I could not move forward with them was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, but I received nothing but love and concern from them.

I am unspeakably grateful that Gil and Tomer and Ron and Adi have allowed me to remain involved in their lives; we have become true family. While I will not be carrying any more surrogate pregnancies, my surrogacy journey is not over. As long as Maya, Ben, and Ron and Adi’s future child remain a part of my and my family’s life, my journey will continue with them.

Thanks for coming with me on this crazy ride. I will be recording some thoughts and experiences about this new adventure on my new blog My Colon Cancer: Semicolon, Not Full Stop at notfullstop.wordpress.com. It’s brand new, still got some kinks, so thank you for your patience. I will also be posting gratuitously and unapologetically  on Facebook and Instagram, partly because I’m a middle child and need the attention, but mostly because colon cancer deserves some air time. It is incredibly treatable when caught early, but devastating once metastasized. Screenings are not free unless you are over 50, and most people under that age have to beg their doctors for a colonoscopy. The symptoms are easily overlooked and ignored, especially in young people who tend not to have any symptoms until the disease is quite progressed. So I will be shouting from the virtual rooftops, as loud as my hashtags allow: Learn the symptoms and don’t explain away pain! Talk to your doctor! Listen to your guts!

xoxo,

Jenessa

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5 thoughts on “Surrogacy, interrupted

  1. Erin Worthy says:

    I am so sorry. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help. I am currently working in the cancer space.

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  2. Carol Howard says:

    You know I’m having a hard time writing this without breaking down again, but I do want to say that you’re my hero. I want all the children in your life to know that I learned how to be a better mother from you, Jenessa. When my girls were little and you were in their lives, I witnessed your patience and good humor with them. I was not nearly so patient or good humored as you were, and you were a college student at the time! I don’t know how it is that you are just so GOOD. And the way you’re writing about this *%$#* cancer, I look forward to the next update. Love to you and your family, Carol.

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  3. Oh my! I wish you a speedy recovery and I shall pray that is exactly what happens. You have many friends and family and CHILDREN who love and adore you! Keep your head up, let the doctors take the lead, and above all, only think GOOD THOUGHTS! It will be hard, I know. Both of my brothers are now battling cancer too. Please keep us informed. Hugs, Cheryl & Hal Bordy!

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  4. elisa schweizer says:

    I am so sorry to learn this. Please let me know if there is anything at all we can do to help. We are happy to have play dates even at last minute if needed. Sending positive healing thoughts to you and your family.
    Elisa (Ella’s mother)

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