Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whoo Boy! The Contract

Well, it is finally done.  The contract has been signed and completed.  What I thought was going to be a fairly simple check off the list of things to do before embryo transfer ended up being a long drawn out process.  It took us several months to hammer out all of the details of the contract.  That is because it was 54 pages long!  That is right.  54 pages of long boring cover your ass legal crap.  It had to be read though so all parties got down to business.  The contract brought up a couple of good points that I hadn't thought about.  What happens with the child in case the intended parents die?  What happens if something happens to me?  What happens if the child develops a life threatening complication and won't survive the womb?  Most of it was grim and morbid and left me wondering what the hell I'm getting myself into. A lot of what ifs that I hope we never have to worry about.  We did decide that I would not carry any more than two embryos.  We felt this was the best thing for my health and the health of the baby(ies).  So no worry folks!  I won't become the next octosurromom.  The contract was passed back and forth between both parties and our lawyers until everyone was happy.  Now that the contract is signed, I'm getting a little nervous.  Things are progressing and soon I will get my medications to start injections.  I got an email from one of my intended fathers saying "OMG!  It is really happening!  We're going to have a baby!"  This right here is making it all worth it.  I'm nervous but it is such a wonderful feeling to be able to make someone's dream come true.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

50 Things To Do During the Last Month of Pregnancy

For a lot of moms, the last month of pregnancy seems to drag on endlessly.  We're tired, our back hurts, we can't breathe, we have to get up  954.2 times to go pee.  It's hard to concentrate on anything that isn't baby and our impending labor.  We've compiled a list to help time pass a little more quickly during that last month.

  1. Get a massage - Nothing eases those aching back muscles like a good rub down by a professional
  2. Go to the chiropractor - This is perfect for those with a lot of lower back pain, hip pain, or pelvic pain.  Be sure to find a chiropractor that is trained to work with pregnant women.
  3. Spend alone time with your partner - After the baby arrives, alone time will be hard to come by.
  4. Spend alone time with your older children - After the baby is born, your older children will look so big and grown up.  Enjoy the time when they are still your "baby".  
  5. Go swimming - Great exercise and great to take the weight off of your back.  
  6. Get a manicure/pedicure - Its hard to stress when you are getting pampered.
  7. Go to the movies - Take a pillow to make the chairs more comfortable
  8. Read your favorite book
  9. Organize the baby room - Put on some upbeat music, open the blinds and let your nesting instincts take over
  10. Shop - Do I need to say more?
  11. Make a belly cast 
  12. Paint your belly - Invite your friends over and let them get creative on your belly canvas!  Please be sure to use non toxic paints.
  13. Belly henna - Real henna (not the chemical filled black stuff) makes great belly art.  See a professional or if you are really brave, have your friends do it.  
  14. Girls Night Out (or In) - Virgin daiquiris, chocolate covered strawberries, and gossip with good friends  
  15. Go out for ice cream - Probably don't have to twist your arm too hard on this one do we?
  16. Take a breastfeeding/cloth diapering/babywearing class 
  17. Learn to sew, crochet, or knit 
  18. Host a game night 
  19. Join Pinterest - Just like that, 4 days have gone by
  20. Write a letter to your baby - Write a letter about yourself to your baby before they are born.  Write a letter each year on his/her birthday describing your life.  Keep the letters for them when they grow up.
  21. Take lots of pregnancy pictures
  22. Join a moms group
  23. Go for a walk - Sometimes a little sunshine is all we need
  24. Go on a picnic
  25. Go geocaching -
  26. Play video games
  27. Start a scrapbook
  28. Have a blessingway -
  29. Acupuncture - Another great way to relieve stress and pain
  30. Prepare meals to freeze - Cook meals that can be stored and easily reheated.  This will make grabbing a bite to eat between feedings and diaper changes much easier.
  31. Volunteer - Find a local charity or organization and give back
  32. Watch birth videos - You can never be too prepared.  Watch videos of natural childbirth and find ways to help you relax during birth.
  33. Dance - Dance away your stress!
  34. Meditate
  35. Do prenatal yoga - Great for working out and preparing for birth
  36. Attend a festival
  37. Go fishing
  38. Go camping
  39. Visit a museum
  40. Write up a birth plan
  41. Play mini golf
  42. Visit a bookstore with a cafe
  43. Make a list of places that you want to take your child to when they grow up - Tape it to the inside of your cabinet and mark off places once visited.
  44. Eat at a local diner
  45. Make your own natural cleaning products
  46. Host a poker night
  47. Start a journal
  48. Get your hair done
  49. Try reflexology
  50. Relax! 
What would you add to the list?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Update June 2012

Hello everyone!   I wanted to post an update.  We have known for a while now that we were going to have to move.  My husband has been working on getting his degree in education for the last three years.  We live in a smaller community so teaching positions are hard to come by.  He graduated in May (yay!).   After a discussion about our situation with our IFs, we all agreed that it was best to put the surrogacy on hold until we had settled down.  We did not want the stress of the move to potentially harm the baby(ies).  We've been in limbo for a while but my husband accepted a teaching position a few counties away.  We are in the midst of moving and hope to be settled by July 1st.  With that date in mind, we are moving forward with the surrogacy and we are shooting for a late July/early August transfer.  I've had this holding pattern mindset for so long that it still seems surreal that things are actually moving forward.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.  I should be posting soon when I start the medications so keep an eye out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Psych Eval Take 2

After the initial psych eval, some things happened that I can't get into details yet.  I will have to wait until everything plays out for the protection of my IFs, but we decided it was best to get a second opinion.  This time, we chose a psychologist who specializes in gay surrogacy.  What an AMAZING difference.  We reviewed and discussed my previous experience.  This psychologist was so warm and friendly and just so awesome.  I felt so welcome in her office and didn't feel like my entire life was under fire.  It turned into a 4 hour session with almost 2 hours talking with just myself, half an hour talking with myself and my husband and then the remaining time talking to all four of us.  She reassured me that my parenting and lifestyle choices had nothing to do with the surrogacy and she didn't agree with the original psych's eval.  At the end, she "strongly recommended me without hesitation" as a carrier.  We all came away feeling very happy and relieved!

We did discuss a lot of issues that I hadn't even taken into consideration.  It actually makes me angry that its even an issue but in the end I have to acknowledge it as reality.  The psych gave us quite a few scenarios that we are likely to encounter especially given that I live in a smaller community.  She told me that I needed to make sure that everyone that I deal with (lawyer, doctors, hospital staff) are aware that I am a carrier for a gay male couple.  I need to make sure that they don't have an issue with this because past couples have run into problems.  Some examples were, the IFs weren't allowed to come to the ultrasound appointments, IFs being denied entry to the delivery room during the birth, judges refusing to issue birth certificates.  I guess I expected to run into some closed minded people but I thought it would be more on a personal level than interfering with the ability for the IFs to become parents.  Its sad that they being such the good couple that they are, have to jump through so many hoops to have a child solely because of their orientation.  She also brought up the issue of how I would deal with my children.  She said that my children may be confronted by other children who say bad things and we have to be ready to deal with that.  I think in our case, since we homeschool it won't be such a big deal since my kids are always around me, but damn its something I never thought about!  We have talked to our kids about why mommy is having a baby that we aren't keeping but it was a good reminder that I need to KEEP talking to them and give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.  This was a very good session and a real eye opener on just how emotional this journey can get.

So the next step is to finalize our contract and then we will start talking about dates to start the transfer process!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Psychological Evaluation

When we met with the reproductive specialist, we were told that we all had to pass a psychological evaluation before we could continue with the process.  The IFs had to go through it and my husband and I had to go through it and then we had to meet together as a group.  I was pretty sure that I wouldn't have any issues with this.  My husband and IFs were 100% sure that everything would be fine too so we went in thinking it would be a fun formality.  When my husband and I met with the psychologist, things started going downhill.  Everything seemed to be going fine until the doctor asked me when I was going to vaccinate my teen for HPV.  I told her that I wasn't.  She looked shocked.  She went on to tell me that I would have to get the flu shot or else I would be risking someone else's baby.  I told her that was something that I would have to discuss with my IFs.  She started asking about my lifestyle.  We don't vaccinate, we aren't religious, I have a tattoo, I used to have piercings, I homeschool, I love homebirths and I drink raw milk.  At this point, the conversation just wasn't going well.  Instead of asking me about how I felt about surrogacy or how we would deal with certain situations, it became an attack on our lifestyle.  Now, I should mention that we've already talked about most of these things with the IFs and they have been 100% supportive of us the entire time.  Part of the reason they loved us is because we were willing to research things to make the best choices for our family.  We've also discussed the possibility of homebirths or a birth center as long as everything is normal.  When the psychologist brought us in together, she made the statement that she thought that my lifestyle choices were too rebellious.  She said that I was TOO brutally honest.  I was shocked.  I thought that was the whole point to this meeting?  She then started telling us that we needed to get our children vaccinated, get myself vaccinated, stop drinking raw milk and start touring hospitals because THAT was how things needed to go.  She even went so far as to try to make an appointment with the local hospital so that we could go tour it.  Fortunately, the same traits that she didn't like, were the very reasons that my IFs chose me.  They told her that there were things that *we* needed to discuss and that this wasn't the time for it.  They also told her that they were still going to use me as their surrogate.  She finally resigned and gave us all the green light and passed us.  Even though I'm extremely happy over that, I left the building feeling very shaken up and disheartened.  I was completely exhausted and drained from that experience.  My IFs and husband gave me huge hugs in support which made it better but that is something I definitely don't want to have to go through again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Meet Up

If you've been following on Facebook, you know that I have found my perfect match.  I'm so pleased to announce that I will be a gestational surrogate for a wonderful gay couple that lives in the same state that I do.  I have agreed to keep their identities a secret.  From here out they will be referred to as D&E.  

D&E placed an online ad on one of the surrogate forums.  I responded to their ad and got an email back with a questionnaire.  I filled it out and really I didn't have a lot of expectations.  I had been talking to a lot of potential parents and was beginning to lose hope.  A few days passed and I got an email from D saying that he really wanted to talk to me.  We exchanged some emails and then chatted on the phone.  We had a phone interview together and the conversation was really easy.  After a few more emails, we all decided that we wanted to move forward.  Since I haven't had any medical evaluations done yet, D&E decided that this would be a good place to start. 

An appointment with their reproduction specialist was made and I packed up the family and drove up to meet them.  We met up with D&E at a park the day before.  It went better than I had expected.  I didn't feel any awkwardness around them and everyone got along so well.  I didn't have a moments hesitation that they were the right fit for us.  It turned into a three hour conversation with a crash course in geocaching.  They were absolutely fantastic.

Our consultation was the following day.  We met up with the fertility physician and he went over the process and addressed issues that we hadn't even considered yet.  This doctor is very blunt, funny and doesn't sugar coat things.  I absolutely adored him.  I was so impressed with the whole office because every single person that we talked to was friendly and helpful. One of the nurses explained the medications that I would have to take before the embryo transfer and all of the shots that I will have to give myself. My husband and I have some bloodwork done.  We didn't realize how involved he would be in this process but it does make sense.  They want to test him for STDs and drugs too since we are sexually active.  Anything that he does has the potential of affecting the baby, so he took it like a champ, peed in a cup and didn't complain TOO much about the needles.  I had my bloodwork drawn and an ultrasound done to make sure that everything is in working order and that I'm not pregnant.  As I'm laying on my back, legs up and in an oh so vulnerable position, the doctor reports that I have a cast iron uterus and beautiful ovaries.  Um, thanks?  We all had a good laugh over that.  After I put my pants back on.    

The weekend went very well and I left feeling that this was a fantastic decision.  So what happens next?  We will all have to go through an intensive psychological evaluation.  All four of us will be interviewed separately, then as couples and then together.  This is a 6 hour process.  We have scheduled that eval two weeks from now.  After we are stamped not crazy, we can finalize our contract.  After the contract is in place, we can begin drugs and do the transfer.  We are hoping to have all of this done by April.  I am so excited that this journey has begun!

Surrogacy Journey

***This was originally posted on Facebook but I wanted to repost it here.***

Several months ago my husband and I tossed around the idea of me becoming a surrogate.  I didn't think I was serious about it so I put it on the back burner but it was never out of my mind.  I was really worried about becoming emotionally attached and how I would handle giving a child up.  I read stories from other surrogates, talked with some one on one and finally realized that I was just trying to talk myself into it.  I realized that I really did want to do it.  My husband and I talked through every issue that we could think of.  Ultimately, we both felt that this was the right path for me and he supports me 100%.  

What I've learned since beginning this journey is that surrogacy is not regulated at all. The process is not black and white.  There are no clear cut procedures.  Surrogacy is very much like dating.  You meet people to get a feel for them, build a relationship and define the rules as you go.  There is joy and love but there is also a lot of heartbreak.

There are two types of surrogates.  Traditional and gestational.  Traditional surrogates provide the egg and carry the baby. The child is genetically related to the surrogate.  Gestational surrogates only provide the womb.  The embryo(s) are implanted into the surrogate and are not genetically related to the surrogate.  I chose to be a gestational surrogate.  I think I would have a harder time emotionally if I were a traditional surrogate.  Its a very personal choice for the surrogate and one that she must be 100% comfortable with.  

The next issue is to go through an agency or to seek a match on your own.  I thought that going through an agency would provide some measure of protection.  It seems that an agency's primary job is to match intended parents and surrogates.  While I'm sure there are some really great agencies out there that provide more support to their clients, I haven't found one that gets raving reviews.  At best, they receive mixed reviews.  After the IPs (intended parents) and surrogates are matched, it is up to them to draw up contracts and work out the details.  I chose to do it on my own.  There are a lot of forums that provide the same services although it is more work on the IPs and surrogates.  I like to have some control over it so this works out better for me.  There are SO many scams out there though.  Wow.  I had no idea that there were so many people that prey on IPs and surrogates.  If you do choose to go down this path, PLEASE be careful who you choose as your match and do some careful background checks.  Take your time and don't rush into anything!  

Currently, I'm still in the process of finding a match.  I have interviewed several couples and have a few more interviews coming up.  Finding the right match can be difficult.  Not only do you have to be compatible, but everything has to fall into place too.  Fees, medical coverage, distance, timing.  I'm still waiting to find my perfect match.  I have met some wonderful couples already but there have been details that just didn't work out.  I'm confident that there is someone out there that is right for me though.  

If you are interested in surrogacy, have been a surrogate, or are a surrogate's partner, we do have a closed discussion group.  If you'd like an invite, please just let me know.