Words by Jade Nilson
Negative. It’s such a definitive word. The word to describe the home pregnancy test I just took. The word I just sent for the fourth time in a text message to the woman I am trying to have a baby for. Negative. Not possibly; maybe; might. Negative.
Although I’m supposed to wait until the clinic call after I do the blood test several days later, the result has been the same after the last three embryo transfer attempts. Negative. Even though it’s not my fault, I do feel a strong sense of failure every time I see only one single line come up on the little plastic stick.
I first communicated with Jennifer through an online surrogacy site in June 2014. Health problems resulted in Jennifer having a hysterectomy, but she got to keep her ovaries. She and her partner froze seven embryos with the hope that they could find someone to grow a new life for them. She wanted a baby but she didn’t have a uterus. I had a uterus but didn’t want a baby. It sounds simple, almost too good to be true. At this stage it is I guess, because our dreams haven’t yet materialized.
I’ve finished growing my family of two girls, aged 5 and 7, to my husband of almost 10 years, but Jennifer isn’t done yet. She has a 13 year old daughter, Scarlett, from a previous relationship and an amazing new partner (of almost 5 years), who treats Scarlett as if she’s his own. They live in Victoria, we live in Queensland. We’re almost worlds apart, but throughout this process we’ve become so close.
It is illegal for a surrogate to receive financial gain for her services in Australia, but I could never do this for payment. What I have taken from this whole experience cannot be equated in monetary terms. The generosity of Jennifer and her family have utterly blown me away. Before we commenced any formal proceedings, she flew my family down to meet hers because she wanted to ensure that, before we began a relationship of such significance, there was a strong bond between us. Jennifer and I had already formed a solid connection, via regular text, phone and video chat communication, so meeting up in person was almost like a formality. We were, are, like sisters. But right from the very start, Jennifer and her partner have been careful, almost hypervigilant, to respect the needs of of my whole family in this extraordinary adventure.
We’ve attempted three embryo transfers in Victoria and one in Queensland. This involves a drug protocol for me, scans and a flight to the specialist IVF clinic where the quick and painless procedure is performed. If it sounds uncomplicated, it’s because in many ways, it is. What’s difficult is the scheduling, arranging childcare, the time off work – navigating the nitty gritty of day-to-day life amongst such big ‘stuff’ is quite tricky. But that’s not the biggest challenge for me. The hardest part is telling Jennifer and her partner when the result, time and again, is unsuccessful. I’m not pregnant with their baby.
Note for the future: Jennifer and her partner just underwent a fifth round of IVF and three embryos have been frozen. We’ve scheduled another transfer attempt in mid January 2017. Fingers crossed!
Jade lives in Queensland with her husband and two daughters. She is a part-time primary school teacher, part-time university tutor and occasional bookkeeper. She loves exercising before the sun comes up and reading in bed once the sun has set.