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.