Screening & Meds

Back in January both the egg donor and I completed our screening assessments.  I did a full physical, hysterosonogram (saline is pumped into the uterus and an ultrasound is done to check that everything is normal), blood work, urine sample, and met with a social worker.  The medical part was about as fun as it sounds.  Even H got in on the action and had some blood work done.

The meeting with the social worker went well.  We chatted for 2 hours about our home life, our relationship with C&J, and many other things.  She gave us some things to think about, including how we’ll talk to our daughter’s teachers and other acquaintances.  The last thing we want is for someone to see me pregnant and asking her about her baby brother or sister, leaving her completely confused. The social worker has 2 children and both were carried by a surrogate, so she had a lot of great insight to offer.  I left the meeting feeling even more confident in our decision.

I left the clinic with a big bag of meds and received my protocol instructions a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t really given clear information about what each of the meds does, so I have been trying to do a lot of my own research.  If you can imagine, the internet has conflicting information, so this is the gist of what I have learned through my own research and information given by other surrogates:

  1. Lupron Depot – This was an injection I gave myself (yep, myself!) once. It basically stops my cycle so I have a “clean slate” for the transfer cycle.
  2. Estrace – These are pills I will take twice per day.  Estrace is what will help “fluff up” my lining, since I won’t be ovulating on my own.
  3. Doxycycline – This is an antibiotic usually used to treat UTIs, bacterial and sexually transmitted infections.  In my case, I’ll take it for a week prior to transfer to make sure I’m not starting out with any infections that haven’t previously been identified.
  4. Progesterone – I’ll be taking progesterone in both suppository and injection form.  This is the hormone that will help my body prepare for and stay pregnant.  Since I have taken meds to suppress my own cycle, there is nothing telling it that it could or should be pregnant.  Progesterone will do just that, and if all goes well I will continue with daily injections throughout the first trimester.  At that point, a placenta should be formed and will produce the hormones needed all on its own.

10561744_784654455850_6080437335246631020_n

So that is a basic rundown of the meds that I will be taking.  A week prior to transfer I will be doing an ultrasound to check the thickness of my lining and to make sure the Estrace is doing its job.  A couple of days after that the egg donor will have her retrieval, and 5 days later is transfer day!

A few days after I received my protocol a package came in the mail for me.  C&J put together a “Surro Survival Kit” full of all sorts of goodies to help with the transfer and the first few weeks of pregnancy.  It was so sweet and I can’t wait to wear the lucky transfer t-shirt!

12573952_786852545860_3013711900326866931_n

I’m very excited to get the transfer done and get this show on the road, but right now the thing I am most excited for is to finally meet C&J face-to-face.  We all fly in the day before transfer and I am really looking forward to spending some time with them.  We FaceTimed with them the other night and chatting with them again solidified that we made the right decision!

Advertisements

A Surrogate Family: The partner’s perspective

Today’s blog post was written by my wonderful husband whose support through this process means the world to me.  Take it away, H….

 

Imagine this: your wife tells you that she wants to have someone else’s baby.

Not something most husbands would be happy about or support; but in my case, I am so proud of what my wife is doing and am happy to begin this journey with her.

My wife is going to be a surrogate.

This was not something we had ever talked about, until recently, nor had planned on when we got married close to 7 years ago… mind you, most of what’s happened to us in the last half-decade really wasn’t “planned”.

If you’ve been following this blog up until this point, you should be aware about our past – my wife and I met at the end of our undergraduate careers (I had just graduated a year prior and she was about to graduate), had a short, long distance courtship and then got engaged and moved in together. We then planned our nuptials for two years and had thought that we’d live as a young, single (no kids) married couple for a while before starting our family. We even started looking at jobs and homes out west, which was somewhere we thought we’d live for a while during our wild and crazy years. Boy did that change fast – half a year before finishing my post-grad degree we find out we were expecting (unexpectedly) our first bundle of joy. Yes, our first daughter was a ‘surprise’, but one of the best surprises we’ve ever had.

Fast forward a few more years and we’re now in a city close to my wife’s home town, bought our first small starter home, and are both working at places we never really thought we’d be. Maybe it would be a good time to ‘expand’ our family we thought… enter surprise number 2…. and 3.

Twins!! Who would have ever thought?!? At the respective ages of 29 and 32, my wife and I were now parents to three beautiful children; two daughters and a son, and we couldn’t be happier.

So three kids and only one planned pregnancy later and our family is complete. It seemed so quick, so easy, it never occurred to me that there would be people our age out there who might have been trying just as long, if not longer, and not been able to hold their own precious bundles of joy.

Apparently, my wife had given thought to this before. We had even talked about it years ago (so she tells me). How can we be so blessed when there are loving, deserving parents out there who have been struck by the disappointment and tragedy of being denied a family of their own.

After some time considering this my wife confided in me that being a surrogate was something she felt she wanted – she needed – to do. Maybe it’s the case that we have callings during our lives; if so, this was it for her. I could sense the dedication and passion in her voice immediately when we began talking about being a surrogate family. I could tell that it was not a matter of if we were going to do it, but rather when. My wife has always supported my endeavours and escapades, as wild as they might be, and so I knew that this was something that I needed to support for her. Not that she had a hard time convincing me. I could not imagine being a young guy, prime of his life, good job, fantastic wife, but being told that I, or my partner, could not do the one thing that we as humans are meant to do – have children.

Despite what you might believe from classic stereotypes, some of us guys, yours truly included, actually dreamt about being fathers when we grew up. When I was younger I would think about what it was going to be like to have kids and raise a family.

To think now that I might not have been able to hold my youngest daughter, listen to my son’s laugh, watch my oldest dance, and kiss them goodnight every day, makes me shudder.

It’s with that in mind that I decided – we decided –to try to help a young couple, like ourselves, complete their family.

I will admit that so far it has not been easy. There were a lot of late night talks – ‘what ifs’ and ‘what abouts’. My first and foremost concern is my wife’s health – I don’t want her life or safety put in jeopardy, and I’ve made this clear from the start. She’s accepted that there’s going to be pain and discomfort (sometimes I wonder if she forgot about the whole ‘delivery’ part), but it’s the end result that matters to her. I’ve tried to be the ‘sober second thought’, bringing up issues or concerns and make sure that we’re making the right decision. I still struggle sometimes. Why would we do this?? Why create such an upheaval for ourselves, our lives, our children’s lives? Why risk health, both mental and physical?… it’s not an easy question to answer.

So why am I (we) doing it? To support my wife. For the intended father who has always wanted to teach his son to throw a ball or dance at his daughter’s wedding. To demonstrate to myself that I can do something selfless. To have a positive impact on someone’s life. And because I hope, that if I ever needed it, someone would do something like this for me.

I have my worries, my uncertainties. I know there will be difficult times (nowhere near as difficult as the parents we’re trying to help mind you), and times where we question what we’re doing. But I am glad for this opportunity to make someone else’s life whole. I am glad to be going on this journey with my wife and believe that it will make us stronger and bring us closer together.

To my wife, I am so happy and proud of you. I love you.

To my children, you are each special and loved. You have changed your mother’s and my life in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

To C&J, you are constantly in our thoughts and we cannot wait to help you start your journey of parenthood.

To the life we are going to help welcome into this world, I don’t know who you will be, but you will be a miracle and you will be loved.

2015: The year I surprised myself

Last New Years was a bit of a rough one.  I was so done with 2014 and couldn’t wait to start a new year.  The twins (and I) weren’t sleeping, I basically hated my husband, and post partum depression had reared its ugly head. 2015 did not start on a good note, but I am amazed at how the year completely turned around for us.

In the beginning of 2015 the twins were just 6 months old.  They were in the midst of a major sleep regression and one or both were up every hour of the night to eat.  I was still exclusively breast feeding, so it was basically all up to me to feed them.  I was exhausted.  Beyond exhausted, actually.  I would hear them start to cry in the middle of the night and would start weeping right along with them. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique.  It was excruciating.

My H and I were going through a rough patch.  Neither of us were sleeping and we were not connecting anymore.  Mommy and daddy were the only adults left in our home.  There was no husband and wife.

I hit my breaking point in February. After yet another sleepless night I was trying to get both crying babies down for a nap. As I looked at them, a thought went through my head that scared me more than anything has ever scared me.

“I wish you had never been born.”

While it was an awful thought that I felt a tremendous amount of guilt about, I was eventually okay that it happened.  That morning was a catalyst for a lot of positive changes I was about to make over the next few months.  It wasn’t an hour later that I had an appointment scheduled with a mental health worker and a psychologist.  Working in the counseling field has given me enough self-awareness to know that I couldn’t do this on my own anymore.  I needed help.  My family needed me to need help.

So, I started counseling.  My H and I started counseling.  I was finally diagnosed with post partum depression and started taking meds. Anyone who thinks that psychiatric medications are a cop-out can go fuck themselves, because I truly believe that part is what helped the most.  I started eating better, running, and exercising.  I forced myself to look at all the good things I had in my life, put away the past, and start moving forward.  I fell in love again. I started (yes, almost 8 months in) to bond with my babies. It didn’t happen overnight but I taught myself to be happy again.

Spring is the season that represents new life and new beginnings and that was definitely true of spring 2015.  I turned 30, an age that now excited me more than it scared me.  My sister got engaged and my nephew was born.  My H and I went on a vacation together, just the two of us.  I got healthy, both physically and emotionally.

Summer came, and we celebrated the twins’ first birthdays.  We survived one year.  I breast-fed for one whole year.  I love summer, so I was not surprised when my mood got better as the days grew longer. I went back to work and, with all the positive changes, felt like my life had purpose and meaning again. We were one big happy family. Which then brings me back to the point where surrogacy was an option for me again.  It was something new that excited me.  And we all know where that went!

tumblr_mgy0lwyn6H1s37yeso1_1280

2014 asked a lot of questions, but in 2015 I found many of the answers.  That, or I let go of the questions and focused my energy on what was really important.  I’m thankful for my close friends and family who continued to love me when I was unlovable. For my H who was there for me when I was pushing him away, and for not giving up on us.  My perspective on many things has changed in the past few months and I owe a lot of it to the intended parents and fellow surrogates I have “met” or read about through this process. I have made new, life-long friends this year.  Some that I am sure will be as close as family by the time 2016 is done. I have surprised myself this year.

I am not big on making resolutions, so instead I will leave you with this…

Neil Gaiman

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

December is always a crazy month for me, so I am really not surprised that I left the blog unattended for the past 3 weeks.  But, I do have a few updates before we dive into the hecticness (that’s not a word) we call Christmas.

At the end of November I got up the nerve to tell my parents.  My mom was coming over for coffee, and heeding the advice of my sister, I decided that I needed to tell her sooner than later before finding out elsewhere.  I was nervous, but in the end I was blown away with her reaction. I was expecting concern, but instead I was on the receiving end of love and support.  She asked some questions about C&J and how the process works, and has offered to accompany me to any appointments that my H can’t make it to.  The most surprising part of our conversation was when she opened up about a friend’s struggle with infertility.  My mom had offered to carry a baby for them back when my sister and I were young. Nearly 10 year later her friend went on to have two healthy children, but I found that tidbit of information very interesting and encouraging.  She got it.  She felt the same things I did when finding out a friend was dealing with infertility and offered the exact same thing.  Not only did I feel supported, but I felt understood.  And since the topic of surrogacy is still pretty taboo, feeling understood like that is rare.

My dad’s reaction later that evening was about what I expected.  He asked some (funny) questions and said that he supported me, and that was that!  My daughter was hopped up on sugar and was quite distracting, so we didn’t get too much of a chance to talk in-depth.  I am sure he’ll have a lot more questions as things progress.

In early December C&J went for their screening and met with their lawyer.  J got his part of the process taken care of and otherwise it sounds like things went well.  Our lawyers are now working on the contract that we’ll all sign before the transfer.

My screening appointment is scheduled and our flights and hotels are all booked. Both myself and the egg donor will do our screening at the beginning of January, then once that all comes back clear (cross your fingers!) we’ll figure out the plan for the transfer.  C said that the doctors were guessing at late March/early April, but we are hoping that things happen a bit sooner.  Time will tell!

Anyways, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  2016 is looking to be a very exciting year for both our family and C&J’s!

 

A little reflection and reminder

With American Thanksgiving this past weekend, I noticed a lot of my American friends reflecting on what they’re thankful for this year.  Many people posted about their partners, children, other family members, and their health. When other people reflect, I tend to do the same. That, along with some of the conversations I’ve had with C lately, have made me realize some things I need to do better at over the next year, especially if I end up pregnant.

  1. When my body starts changing again, remind myself of the amazing reason why it’s changing. I have the ability to grow people. When I start to think about the extra weight I will be left with, instead think about the people who desperately wish they could gain that weight to sustain life growing inside.
  2. When I want to complain about the medications I have to take for IVF, remind myself that there are women who have gone several cycles on these meds, often without success. Also, think about the daily medications that C now has to take to stay healthy.
  3. When I have morning sickness, remind myself that it pales in comparison to the sickness felt during chemo.
  4. When I am hormonal and want to yell or cry at the drop of a hat, remind myself of the hormonal imbalance C has been forced to endure now for the rest of her life. Cancer, chemo, and radiation put her into menopause at age 28. I can handle some pregnancy hormones.
  5. When I really want that glass of wine (and if you know me well, you’ll know how much I love wine), remind myself that while going through cancer and chemotherapy, C couldn’t drink. Even if she could, it probably would have tasted awful. This is a much easier reason to give up alcohol for a short time.
  6. When I am left with extra marks on my skin, remind myself of the radiation tattoos and scars C has on her body. Stretch marks aren’t pretty, but they are a reminder of something good. Something beautiful.

Yes, I know that there’s no such thing as the pain Olympics and everyone has the right to complain about things when they need to. It’s all about perspective. And if I gain anything from this journey, I hope it’s to stop taking all the amazing things I have been blessed with for granted, and to look at things from a different perspective. I am so lucky and so very thankful.

Step 1: Screening

My screening in Toronto has been scheduled for the beginning of January, less than 2 months away. My H will be coming with me, which will be a nice mini one-night getaway after the holidays. The egg donor’s screening will be around the same time, at which point she’ll begin cycling for egg retrieval.

My first appointment will be with a social worker. Along with reviewing my application and other paperwork, she’ll do an interview with me and provide any necessary counseling, then meet with my H as well. The next appointment will be with the fertility doctor. My genetic medical history and fertility history will be reviewed. I’ll also have a physical exam which will include an ultrasound and blood work. From there, the doctor will determine my IVF plan and hopefully schedule my uterine lining check and embryo transfer.

Unfortunately C&J will be in Toronto for their appointments in December, which means we won’t get to meet them when we’re there. Hopefully our transfer will be scheduled for February and we’ll finally be able to meet.

The other big update is that more people in our personal lives are finding out about the surrogacy. I was out visiting my sister this past weekend, and while the topic of surrogacy came up, I didn’t get the opportunity to talk to her about my own plans face-to-face. The day after I got home she asked, and I knew I couldn’t lie. I told her about all the thinking, talking, and research that had gone into making this decision. I told her about C&J; their story, and the amazing connection we had formed. She was disappointed that I felt I couldn’t tell her earlier, but in the end she said she’s supportive. She reflected on how much her son has changed her life, and like me, couldn’t imagine life without him. She said that she couldn’t imagine being told that she would never have children, and that she was proud. And in that moment, I felt pretty damn proud, too.

In a roundabout way, my mother in law also put the pieces together and clued into our little (HUGE) secret tonight. While it’s a shock to her, obviously, after hearing that it wasn’t a decision made lightly, and hearing C&J’s story, she had nothing negative to say. I think once it really sinks in we’ll have her full support. She said that they’ll even take our brood while we’re out in Toronto in January.

So, the next step will be telling my parents, which should be interesting. I still have no idea how they’re going to react. My sister suggested sooner rather than later, and I think I agree. Either way, our decision has been made, the wheels are in motion, and hopefully I’ll be carrying C&J’s little one within the next few months. 💜

A Real Update! It’s a match!

Finally!  After having this decision weigh heavily on me for a few weeks now, I am finally thrilled to announce that we have officially matched with C&J, the couple we met through the surrogacy service.  I FaceTimed with C last night to give her the great news, and we’re both so excited to finally get the process going.

So, the coordinator has sent our information to the fertility clinic in Toronto and to both of our lawyers so we can get the contract and medical screening processes going.  We’ll each have our own lawyers to make sure we’re both being represented fairly.  C’s egg donor will start cycling for egg retrieval in the new year, and obviously all of that will need to be scheduled before I go for the transfer.

I’m really crossing my fingers that my medical screening can be scheduled the first week of December because C&J will also be in Toronto at the clinic for J’s sperm retrieval. It would be a great time to meet in person.

Anyways, this is short and sweet (and unedited) because I am crazy busy and have kids to pick up, but I wanted to give that brief update.  It’s all happening!

Did I make a mistake?

I’m feeling very unsettled this morning and need to get some things off my chest.

At the beginning of this process H and I decided we would sign up for the support service in case things with the local couple didn’t go ahead.  In doing so we met another great couple, C&J, who we have developed a connection with through email.

Yesterday we got news that J’s mom passed away unexpectedly last week.  Their families were close, so I imagine this has been a terrible week for C&J.  I feel awful for them.  They went through a lot last year with C and her medical issues (that have now led to them requiring a surrogate), and now this.  I did not expect to be so affected by their news, but my heart broke for them, and I have been thinking of them since I heard.

My worry is that we’re now going to hear back from the local couple and they’re going to want to go ahead. I’m going to have to be the bearer of more bad news and let down C&J.  They know that we’re talking to another couple, but I still feel sick about it.  I’ve made a real connection with them and really want to help them.

I really don’t want to let down C&J, so hopefully we figure things out with the local couple soon.

The “dating” process

I have never used an online dating site, but I suspect what we’re going through right now is a lot like it.  The service we have decided to use has a website where you can log in to view intended parent and surrogate profiles, then decide if you want to start communicating with them and eventually match with them.  You have to decide who you want to talk to based on a few pictures and a snippet of information, then send the initial awkward email, rejection emails, and kind of “court” people until you decide whether or not you want to take it to the next step.  It has been a very interesting process!

I have been emailing back and forth with C from the surrogacy support service that I talked about last post, and things are going great.  We have really connected, and she has stated in her emails that she would like us to match.  She knows that we are still talking with the local couple, but if they decide against surrogacy, they would be honoured to have me help them grow their family.  When I read that on Tuesday night I got teary.

C&J are close to matching with an egg donor (C is unable to produce eggs), and J has an appointment in December to start his part of the process.  Things are moving along for them, and it’s all very exciting.

We’re still talking to the local couple, but I don’t know if that is going to pan out. If they decide against surrogacy and as long as it’s soon and C&J haven’t found someone else, I’m really hoping to match with them.  We’ll see where things go!

Holy emails, batman

What a week!

Last week I let you all know that we had decided to move forward with surrogacy, and that I decided to sign up with a support service that helps connect intended parents and surrogates.  I signed up and had my phone consultation later the next day, and things went great.  I was accepted into the program and my profile was set up for intended parents to look at.  I was told to expect 1 or 2 emails within the first few days, so I was a little overwhelmed when I opened up my inbox the next day to find 6!  As of Sunday I had received 10 emails from intended parents who were interested in my profile.  It was a bit overwhelming, but incredibly humbling.  Reading their stories reaffirmed why I want to do this.

There were two couples that emailed us whose profiles stood out for me.  One couple was international and one from Canada.  My H and I had decided that we would prefer to work with someone as close to home as possible, so I have started emailing with the Canadian couple, C & J.  We have only exchanged a few emails so far, but so far she sounds lovely.  We’re just getting to know one another right now, and neither of us has made a “move” towards making a commitment and matching yet.  I’m actually not even sure if she’s talking with any other surrogates right now, which is fine, because we are also discussing a potential surrogacy arrangement with a local couple.  From what I have heard from other surrogates using the same service is it’s pretty common to get to know a few intended parents or surrogates before deciding on a match, so I shouldn’t be worried about leading anyone on.  This makes sense, I guess.  It’s a pretty big commitment for both sides.

Now that things are moving along, some other questions have come up, like how this is going to affect my work.  I’m more than likely going to need to travel for medical and psych testing, then if all goes well for a transfer.  My supervisor is pretty understanding and my job is fairly flexible, but I do wonder when the appropriate time to tell work is going to be.

Anyways, that’s about as much of an update I can give you right now.  Hopefully we’ll hear back from the local couple soon and conversations with C continue to go well!