20 August 2013

My new journey: gestational surrogacy

Recently, I told my family and friends about a new journey I've undertaken: Gestational Surrogacy. In a nutshell, I'm going to carry a baby (or babies?) for someone else. I won't get into a long spiel about why I'm doing it; if you want, you can follow my journey at my surrogacy blog, The Womb Fairy.

Today, I want to address a question that I've been getting a lot. In various forms and wordings, people ask me "But what about PPD? Why put yourself through that again?".

In large part, I think this is due to a misunderstanding of what, exactly, my experience with PPD has been. After my first daughter was born, I was hospitalized twice and had to take medication after being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression. I believe there was also undiagnosed Postpartum OCD since I had the classic symptom of intrusive thoughts, but for this post, that is neither here nor there. Regardless of what the diagnosis was, it was an absolutely horrible experience that nobody should ever have to live through; I wouldn't even wish it on my worst enemy.

However, when I was 8 months postpartum (December 2009), I was (belatedly) diagnosed with hypothyroidism (I say "belatedly" because I came to find out that the numbers had been there earlier, my previous doctor just didn't say or do anything about it). The hypothyroidism was caused by the pregnancy and was what was causing my PPD. As soon as my new doctor diagnosed this, she started me on 25 mcg of levothyroxine. Drugs.com explains levothyroxine as "a replacement for a hormone normally produced by your thyroid gland to regulate the body's energy and metabolism. Levothyroxine is gven when the thyroid does not produce enough of this hormone on it's own". Levothyroxine is classified as an FDA pregnancy category A drug, meaning that it is not expected to harm an unborn baby. 25mcg was the lowest dose that I could be started at. Upon checking my levels at a follow-up apointment, my thyroid levels were improved but still not within normal limits so the doctor up'ed my prescription to 50mcg. Follow-up labs showed that 50mcg was my magic dose. To date, including during my 2 subsequent pregnancies, my thyroid levels have been monitored (at least once per trimester during pregnancy and once a year outside of that) and have never gone outside of normal limits, my medication dosage has never had to be adjusted, and I've never again had trouble with PPMD.

I did take Zoloft at the end of pregnancy and throughout the first few months postpartum with the last two babies, as a prophylactic measure, but have been able to come off of that easily and quickly, and - again - have not had a repeat of 2009.

So, why would I put myself through this when I know there's a risk of a repeat of PPMD? There are several reasons.
1. Anyone who is pregnant, for themselves or for someone else, risks PPMD.
2. From a risk-benefit assessment standpoint, I don't see the risk as being high. It is very clear that 2009 was a direct result of my thyroid being off, and history has shown that subsequent pregnancies have not been an issue. The doctors are fine with it and so am I. And *if* I were to end up with PPMD again, I would feel in the long run that it was worth it, to give someone the precious gift of a baby. But again, I simply don't think there's that much of a risk
3. If I live my life according to "But what if...", I've let PPMD win. I refuse, absolutely REFUSE, to let fear rule my life. I certainly refuse to let PPMD have such a say in what choices I make. PPMD doesn't get to decide what I do, where I go, who I associate with, or how I live my life. PPMD doesn't get to hold me back. I let PPMD do that in 2009 and I won't allow it to do so now when I haven't even had PPMD in years. I don't care to allow PPMD that much of a foothold in my life.

A big part of the reason why I have this blog, why I'm involved in the PPMD awareness/education community, is because I hate PPMD and I don't want PPMD to win. If I let fear of PPMD dictate my choices and hold me back, I've handed it a trophy. I won't do that. PPMD is a bastard that I want to see defeated and eradicated and a big step in that direction, for me, is in making my own choices instead of letting PPMD make those choices for me. I will not let fear run my life. I've taken my life back and I plan on keeping it that way.
*DISCLAIMER* I am in no way judging those who feel that a different choice is better for them. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them, that is not for me to decide for anyone but myself. There are other people who feel different for themselves and I totally support that. This blog post and the opinions contained in it are strictly my own thoughts and feelings, my own choices, for myself, and should not be assumed to be what I think anyone else should do. This blog should also not be taken as critical of anyone who has asked me why I would be a surrogate, it is only an explanation of how I'm thinking on this issue.