Family, Surrogacy

Life Goes On…..

When your entire life gets consumed by surrogacy and statistics and the rules you need to follow, not to mention all of the hormones and fertility drugs, you tend to forget about everything else. Guy was born 03/05/2014 and I’m still struggling to figure out how to find “me” again. My entire life has been consumed by surrogacy since early 2000 when I made the decision that I needed to help someone else have a baby, that I sort of forgot where I left “me” in the process.

I followed every rule and read all the statistics. I asked every possible question that I could think of to the agency as well as multiple doctors. I knew that this process was something that would not only be rewarding, but also something I could do to provide someone that really needed a child, a child of their own. I originally thought about egg donation and signed up to be a donor until I got the contract where there was the anonymity clause and I would have no idea where the eggs went. I know the world is a HUGE place, but at the same time it’s far too small for me to always be wondering if my child would be dating someone genetically related some day. That was not something I was willing to gamble with.

Fast forward a few years after I had researched being a gestational carrier and I was signing my first set of contracts. Who knew that it would be seven long, very difficult and confusing years before I would feel a baby move and be able to relax just a tiny bit. Who knew that my first would be the end for me. Surrogacy provides so many unknowns that it really doesn’t matter what a doctor indicates is the success rate or how many embryos are implanted. It’s going to work when it’s meant to work and everything happens for a reason regardless of what we all think.

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Family, Surrogacy

Completing Something…..

Everyday I wake up and think “today is the day I will be able to write my final post.” In reality though, I can’t make that final entry. I worked so hard to get to handing a baby over to indented parents. I researched endlessly on what would happen as far as the legal involvement. I researched the best place for the intended parents to stay while visiting the snowy tundra of Fargo. I planned out a party for the guys so they could feel the love and support I had from friends and family through all the YEARS of failure. I’ve used up every minute allowed in my mind to focus solely on getting through this process successfully that I forgot to figure out how I was supposed to feel after the end was really The End.

I never really thought that one child would be The End though. I always thought I would bless Ronen and Gadi with a second child and then I would have enough time to help one more family. I had until the age of 42 based on Dr. Doyle’s assessment of my uterus. He told me it was beautiful and made for carrying babies. Is there really any doubt on the perfection of the babies from my uterus? I mean really; look at the perfection I have in Jayde and look at the perfection in Guy! How anyone could create perfection twice really baffles me but I will just accept it that it is….no questions asked.

The End approached without me being able to protest, question, whine, complain, ask nicely or demand a second opinion. In fact The End came even before Guy was born. The second week of January when I was put on full bed rest, The End laid in bed with me. Me not knowing I had something creeping into my body preventing another beginning. The End was prominently there when I was unable to move my legs to get out of bed. The End was screaming at me when I needed someone’s help to get off the toilet because the weight of my body was too much for me to balance on crutches for the seven steps back to my bed. The End was hanging out with me during every ultrasound to ensure Guy was perfectly safe. The End was there as I was crying in pain in the car knowing I needed to be transferred back to a wheelchair so I could get back inside and back into bed. The End had a way of laying on my pillow at night to catch my tears because I felt like I was failing.

I felt like a failure because I was only able to give someone ONE child in the course of nearly seven years. The End was even there before the beginning had begun. Somewhere deep inside The End had determined that I would sit through all the surrogate socials as the only person that was unable to get pregnant or stay pregnant. The End had decided that Guy would be the only one before any of us were able to determine when the beginning would actually be a beginning. It’s so scary time after time seeing negative results on a pregnancy test. It begins to wear a person down when all they see is “Try Again!”

In all of my researching, in all of my searching for answers for years before I even signed up to be a surrogate. Added to all of the years I spent trying to find an answer after I signed up to be a surrogate, Jayde turned 12, then in a blink of an eye she was 15, as she’s nearing 17, nearly an adult; all she knows is me trying to have a baby for someone else. All she’s able to remember are shots and pills and doctor visits and IVF and technical terms that normally don’t visit everyday conversations. She knows that plans were put on hold just in case I needed to be implanted. That celebrations turned into disappointment and that many times her needs weren’t my priority because I needed someone to take care of me. These are the times that I wish I could provide a bonus to her. Whether it be a day of something exciting to a day of nothing that ends up being memorable. I’ve apologized to her for always needing to get to The End and that being my primary focus but she has never once asked for me to do anything different from what’s been done.

As The End took hold in my body, it started to eat away at the bone in my hips. I’m sure that it was hungry for something and me trying to have a successful pregnancy wasn’t feeding the ravaging beast. As it gnawed and chewed and tore and scraped, it took my hip bones with it. Who knew that AVN was even a possibility during pregnancy when I was of normal weight, not a smoker and never used steroids. Who knew that something could be The End when it was never heard of in my case?

Guy was born healthy and happy on March 5. I was in terrible pain because of my hips but the emotional pain was more than I could handle. As we drove to the hospital on the day that was supposed to only bring happiness, I was hurting because I knew it would be the last day I would ever feel the movement of a baby, it was the last day that I would ever have a pregnant belly. It was the last day that I would wear hideous maternity jeans.

 

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The End Of The Road…

I’ve been asked over and over again how delivery was. I’ve been asked when I want to be a surrogate for another family. There are so many things I’m not quite ready to answer but for those of you that have followed this story for many MANY years I can tell you that Guy is absolutely perfect. That my delivery was slightly different than I remember labor to be but in the end a baby was born. He was born at 6:19 pm on March 5, 2014. He looked perfect just as Jayde did nearly 17 years ago.

I’ve not yet posted my final post because I’ve got a number of things to deal with on my own before I open them up for the entire world. For those of you that I don’t speak to regularly or that have seen endless images of Guy on my Facebook page here is a picture of him from today. Today he laughs and so do I…..
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Family, Surrogacy

10 More Days…..

I’ve been in bed on total bed rest for the past six weeks. The first few days it was sort of exciting. I could lay in bed and have everyone bring me anything I wanted. After about three days, it got REALLY old. I can feel my brain shrinking every day. I lay in bed and day time television is terrible! I will admit to watching reality TV because I don’t need to think. It’s just so unbelievably stupid that I’m able to stop thinking for a while and I don’t obsess over the minutes, hours, days and weeks that I’ve been laying in bed.

My hips are getting progressively worse as the days go on. I’ve nearly eliminated all additional movements in hopes that it will extend the time I have left with these hips. I’ve been noticing when I shift in bed lately that I can feel popping and additional pain in areas that I wasn’t feeling the pain before. I’ve started to wonder if the popping is my hips adjusting or if it is from additional breaks. Ten days from today, I will be scheduled to deliver and right after delivery there will be additional X-Rays to see how much damage has been done from the MRI a few weeks ago.

I’ve been waiting to begin the count down to delivery and the doctor scheduled me at 37 weeks for a c-section as well as natural birth. Since we don’t know what will happen in the next ten days, we can’t determine whether I will have a c-section or we will try for natural delivery. We do know one thing for sure though, the instant I’m admitted I will have the epidural. Not necessarily for labor pains but so that I have reduced pain (or hopefully no pain) in my hips. It will help to make the time spent in bed a little more comfortable.

We keep going back and forth on what is the best option for how this little guy should be born. Initially the guys wanted me to have a c-section because they were so worried about additional damage to my hips. I was hoping for a c-section just because I’m not able to move my legs without having someone else move them for me so I didn’t think I would ever be able to move to a position where I could deliver naturally. After much discussion with my doctor, she had me leaning towards natural delivery. She reminded me that she would need to cut through my abdomen muscles completely and since the only way I can get in and out of bed is by using my abdomen muscles, it would prolong the time between delivery and my first hip surgery.

Right now, if I have a natural delivery, the first hip surgery will be 2-4 weeks after March 5 (D Day) with the second hip surgery two weeks after full recovery. It’s hard for me not having a definite date for either surgery. I asked the surgeon about a time frame for what their definition of full recovery was. I was told that some people can have a full recovery a few weeks after surgery and others take months to fully heal. I just want everything to be done so that I can have my “normal” back. It’s hard to think about how much longer I could be immobile or even partially mobile. The pain is unimaginable at times but that’s not what bothers me the most. It’s the inability to do everything on my own. I don’t want to continue depending on everyone to do every little thing for me.

Ronen and Gadi will be here in six short days. I’m overly excited to be in the same room as them again. I’ve not seen them since the first week of November and it’s honestly seemed like years rather than just a few short months. Fargo will be dull and boring for them for the first few days but after Wednesday, March 5, their lives will forever be changed. I am so honored that I get to be part of this process with them. Their decision to use me as their surrogate and my decision to go through this really lengthy process with them has changed my life forever. They have helped to make me into a better person and to complete something I have wanted to do for so long.

Had I known it was going to take seven years to give a baby to someone else would have made me look at the entire process differently. I always thought I would be able to do this more than once, that I could make multiple intended parents dreams come true. I’ve come to accept the fact that this is the only child I will have for someone else. I know that based on the issues I’ve had with this pregnancy that I cannot go through this process again. It’s hard for me because I always thought I would be able to do this multiple times but I also know my health is very important and I need to protect myself for Jayde’s sake.

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Would I Change Anything…..

I’ve been asked many times in the past few months if I’m regretting my choice to be a surrogate. I’ve been told by many that they think I regret my decisions. The answer is really easy for me. I’m not regretting any of the decisions to be a surrogate and I wouldn’t have changed the outcome. I don’t sit around and feel sorry for myself on what has been happening. I’m just grateful that I’m able to help intended parents wanting a child and that all of the issues I’m experiencing are able to be fixed.

I do wish that it wouldn’t have taken seven years to get to the end result but I also understand that things don’t always happen in the time frame that I choose. There is a reason that things have taken as long as they have and there is a reason that I contracted AVN (Avascular Necrosis) during pregnancy. I can’t dwell on the reasons why, I can only accept the fact that they ARE.

I’ve made the decision that I will not be able to help any other intended parents wishing to have a child though. I think my body is telling me that this little Guy is the only surrogate baby I will be able to have. I had originally wanted to help multiple intended parents obtain their dream of having a family so this was not an easy choice to make. I know that I can help people without carrying the child for them though. I can be part of a support system they need and I can answer any of the questions that are confusing throughout the surrogacy process. I’ve worked with multiple doctors and understand the protocol that is needed to get pregnant as a surrogate. This will be my main goal moving forward.

Family, Surrogacy

Third Trimester and AVN…..

At the beginning of the third trimester I started having a stiffness in both hips. I brought up the concern to my doctor and she thought it was based on the baby’s position being so low and my hips had started to spread a little. She said the hormone relaxin is released right before birth which allows the ligaments to stretch just enough to give birth. There are instances where this hormone is released early in pregnancy causing a discomfort in hips and pelvis.

I started physical therapy right away to help hold things together as long as possible (strengthen the ligaments and muscles to relieve the pain). After weeks of physical therapy the issue became progressively worse rather than getting any better. The physical therapist suggested that I see an orthopedic surgeon in hopes that cortisone injections would ease the pain and allow for better movement. I had the injections on a Monday afternoon and by Wednesday I could no longer walk (or rather limp as I had been doing for the past few weeks) and started using crutches. I was placed on bed rest at this point (a little over two weeks ago).

I had an appointment with my doctor that Friday and after researching my symptoms and consulting many other doctors she believed I had AVN (Avascular Necrosis). The only way to determine whether or not this was what the issue was, I needed to have an MRI. She had taken the liberty of scheduling the MRI Saturday morning at 7am. I was a bit confused so I asked why on Saturday and why not wait until a weekday. She believed it was crucial that I had the MRI still on Friday but couldn’t get anyone to perform the test and also read the reports until the following morning.

I was also provided pain medication at this point. I struggled with taking the medication because of the potential side effects and the fact I wasn’t convinced it was 100% safe for the baby. I took one pill on Saturday and was able to sleep for more than 20 minutes. I was able to lay in bed without wincing when I would breathe. I understand why she wanted me to have it but I felt I was being selfish in taking care of my pain and not being concerned about the baby at all.

Monday morning I was called by the orthopedic surgeon and was told to come to their office immediately. Upon getting there he let me know that it was definitely AVN and that I needed fluid removed from my hips right away and needed cortisone injected directly into the hip socket. The previous cortisone injections I had were into the bursa area as a sort of  padding to the front portion of the bone. The fluid needed to be removed from my hip socket first because they were both so swollen that they wouldn’t be able to inject anything else to the area.

After the injections were complete, I could feel the cortisone being expelled from the joint as I would try to move my leg in any direction. It’s definitely a bizarre feeling to feel anything moving in or out of the hip socket. I was told after a few days the pain would subside and I should have more range of movement.

By Wednesday, I was no longer able to move either leg unless I picked it up with my hands first. This makes it REALLY interesting getting in or out of bed, in or out of the shower, on or off the toilet. You get the picture…..

I saw my doctor again yesterday for a progress report on the baby and any additional information on what can be done next. The progression of my AVN was explained in stages (similar to that of Cancer stages). Stage one – the beginning stages where the bone begins to die and you are uncomfortable enough to get the issue checked. Stage four – your hips are no longer able to remain in the hip socket and there are many breaks/fractures. I am currently advanced stage two. I have some fractures but the hip socket is still able to hold the ball of the hip in place.

We are delivering the baby early because of this. The doctor doesn’t want him to be too large that I damage my hips further during delivery but yet we need him to be full term. I will be delivering at 37 weeks (March 5). After delivery I will need to have both of my hips completely replaced.

We discussed many different options of surgery ranging from a bone graft to a complete replacement and in my case, the best option is to have both hips totally replaced. The hips will last anywhere from 10-25 years depending on how I care for them.

I was reminded again at my appointment on Friday that I need to be taking the pain medication. That it is safer for the baby for me to take a medication than it is for him to be in distress based on my level of pain. Reluctantly I am taking it in hopes that the limited times I am taking the medication will be low enough that he won’t be born with any of the prescription in his system.

I am very impressed with women that can be on bed rest for long periods of time. I’ve been in bed just over two weeks and I’m going crazy. I can’t imagine months of this.

On the bright side, the baby is totally healthy and seems to be happy in the position he is currently in. His heart rate is always perfect when it’s checked. His movement is crazy, he never stops moving. He is not in distress and his growth rate is perfect from week to week.baby_28Weeks  Here is what their little guy looked like at 28 weeks. I’ve thought all along that this was Gadi’s baby based on how picky he’s been but after seeing this particular image, I’m thinking he may be Ronen’s. Something about the roundness of the head/face that has me leaning towards Ronen. I guess we will know in a few short weeks.

I can’t wait to meet him…..

Family, Surrogacy

Boy Oh Boy…..

In October I traveled to Israel to spend ten days with Ronen and Gadi. This trip was monumental because I let them in on a secret a few of us already knew. I let them know that after all this time of unsuccessful implants and complications that they were having a boy! We had even discussed the option of gender selection on the embryos because they really wanted a little boy. I continually told them that because they wanted a boy so badly that most likely they would have a girl. Guess I was wrong.

It's a boy!We had a cake cutting party so all of their friends and family could find out the gender at the same time. Needless to say everyone was overly excited.

The time spent in Israel reminded me how we are all such a perfect match. It wasn’t one of those visits where I felt like a guest, it was time spent reminding me that I was as much a part of their family as they are of mine. There wasn’t the formality of “this is Christina our Surrogate” it was “this is Christina my pregnant wife”. Gadi referred to me as his pregnant wife on more than one occasion. I thought it was so much better than “this is our oven”. The three of us all fit so well together and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I’ve had a close bond with Ronen since the very beginning. We talk nearly every day and when we don’t talk, I feel like there is something missing. I don’t know that this is an unhealthy relationship though. It’s just what it’s supposed to be. The time spent in Israel allowed me to bond with Gadi much more. I now know that he is just as wonderful as Ronen views him. Gadi and I are so much alike and I never would have known this had we not spent the time together. Everything happens for a reason and in the order it’s supposed to.

Ronen, Gadi and myself

There is no way I can explain the beauty of Israel in a few sentences or paragraphs. It is much more beautiful than I could ever explain. I completely understand why they choose to live where they do. It was increasingly more difficult to come back to the frozen tundra of North Dakota with every passing day. How could I leave breakfast on the beach and 80 degree weather to come back to the reality of a long winter and far too much snow? We had even discussed me remaining in Israel until the birth of the baby and having Jayde come on one of the next flights. Reality just sucks some times and I came back to the snow and cold.

The pregnancy remains the same. Morning sickness constantly and this little guy must be practicing his soccer skills. He is breach and hasn’t moved from his comfortable position yet. Hopefully he will flip around on his own soon.