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…..

Advertisements
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.

 

Family, Surrogacy

First Trimester……

I remember when I was pregnant with Jayde and how things weren’t any different from when I wasn’t pregnant. Well 16 years and a totally different pregnancy bring a totally different set of issues! There are days when I still find it hard to believe that this FINALLY worked. I have said since the beginning that things happen when they are meant to and that it will work when it was meant to work.

When I saw the first ultrasound and saw the heart beating, I was just dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it had finally worked. I asked the ultrasound tech if they were really sure what we were seeing was a strong steady heart beat. I still can’t believe that I asked that question. I knew the answer but it was still so hard to believe it had worked.

I’ve heard stories of other people being so sick and I couldn’t really relate because my pregnancy with Jayde was super easy. This pregnancy; however, is totally different. I figured that I was pregnant when I couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours at a time but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. When it was confirmed that the pregnancy was real I was still extra cautious because I wanted to ensure I did everything to protect this baby for Ronen and Gadi.

A month went by and I was still needing multiple naps each day and I was going to bed right after dinner each night. Then to top it off EVERYTHING was making me sick. Smells, movement, eating, the thought of eating or moving. EVERYTHING! Since I didn’t have any sickness with Jayde, I feel that I was just being over-dramatic and whiny. I was able to find foods that I could eat safely (pasta and vegetables) and was able to find the foods to avoid (everything but pasta and vegetables) and was working on getting through the first trimester.

Fast forward two months and here I am, still pregnant! Did you read that? Still pregnant. This baby knows the time is right and that Ronen and Gadi need this baby. I still have the same issues with continuous nausea and still have the issues with all of the same foods I had previously. I’m still taking daily naps but manage to only need one nap per day. Maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s because I’ve not been successfully pregnant in over 16 years that make this pregnancy so different. The only thing that is the same is that you really can’t tell that I’m pregnant yet. I’m currently one pound under my pre implant weight and I am still able to wear the jeans I was wearing prior to getting implanted.

We have done all the necessary testing and found out that this baby is perfectly healthy. Excessively active, but perfectly healthy. The Nuchal Translucency test indicated that the chances of Down’s Syndrome are 1 in over 10,000 and the same chances for Trisomy.  I’ve also found out the gender but I can’t indicate on here because Ronen and Gadi don’t know yet.

I will be traveling to Israel to visit them at the end of October for ten days and I will let them in on the little secret then. It’s harder not using gender specific indicators when I’m the only one that knows the gender than I thought it was going to be. When I am there, they will have a cake cutting party so that everyone finds out the gender at the same time.

Next week will mark week 16. It’s still crazy to think I’m nearly half way there. I really can’t wait until Ronen and Gadi have this baby to take home with them. I think they will make such amazing parents and this baby will never have a lack of love in his/her life.

Surrogacy

Happy Implant Day…..

I traveled to CT on July 3 to be on call to have the implant either the 4, 5 or 6. Since the doctor will use a three, four or five day implant and it was a fresh transfer, I needed to be there longer than on a frozen transfer. The flight was flawless and thankfully I flew into Newark rather than LaGuardia again. If I never need to go to LaGuardia again, it will be too soon!

I got a rental car to drive from Newark to Trumball CT and everything went better than expected. I got to the hotel and sent an email to another woman who was staying at the same hotel, getting implanted on the same time schedule also working with IARC. This was her first implant and really didn’t know everything that was expected and the time frames involved. I have to admit, I though the cycle that Dr. Doyle uses, is quite long and uses more medications than other doctors I’ve worked with, but I have no complaints.

The woman and I discussed how we both thought the process would be much shorter than it was, but that everything happens when it’s meant to be. I originally thought I would get pregnant on one of my first transfers and here I am seven years later still not carrying a pregnancy to term. I need to remind myself over and over again that everything happens when it’s meant to and to just be patient. It’s so hard to do sometimes but I do believe it will happen when it’s right.

I ended up getting implanted with two perfect embryos on July 5. I was so used to other doctors being insanely tardy, that I was shocked when Dr. Doyle was exactly 1 minute late. He told me in our first meeting that he runs a really tight schedule and he feels bad whenever he is late.If my first implant is any indication of his timeliness, I’m definitely on board!

I had Ronen and Gadi on Skype the entire process. A nurse was holding my phone the entire 20 minutes I was in the room. She was laughing that her arms were getting tired but she never let the phone drop. It was so important that Ronen and Gadi be able to see everything that was going on since they couldn’t physically be there. All in all, it was the most relaxing implant procedure I’ve ever had.

After getting implanted, I went back to the hotel and I was able to nap. This generally doesn’t happen, I generally lay there and my mind is racing and I can’t sleep. Hopefully sleep was the thing I really needed and that the implant works. Two whole weeks of waiting to verify whether or not the implant actually worked. Two weeks seems like an eternity while you are waiting for blood work. I think I will end up using a home test prior to the two-week wait on the blood work. I’m far too impatient to just wait patiently!

Surrogacy

Another Year Goes By…..

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working to give someone else a baby for over seven years now. A little over a year ago, Ronen and Gadi made the difficult decision to work with a different surrogate in hopes it would produce a baby. Days, weeks and months go by with all of the same results. No pregnancy! Is there something wrong with the new surrogate they had chosen? How can it be that I couldn’t get pregnant and carry to term for them and after three attempts the other woman couldn’t either?

We found our answer a little too late. They had 17 viable embryos at the beginning of the process. They were successfully frozen to be used at a later date. The thing we were unaware of was the mutation of the embryos. One would think that a doctor would be able to determine these things before years of trying to do IVF and years of synthetic hormones. I guess the FDA regulations don’t require additional testing for a mutation in such a tiny eight celled item.

As the last year has passed, I was searching for a new set of intended parents but never found anyone that was even close to what I had found in Ronen and Gadi. I just always thought we were meant to be and couldn’t believe I was no longer working with them.

After the other woman’s final implant, Ronen and Gadi faced the difficult decision of what to do next. Surrogacy India? Remain with the same doctor and get a different egg donor? Stay with the same surrogate and hope that based on her young age she will be able to carry a pregnancy to term? Look for a new surrogate? What would be the best option for the two of them.

The answer is easy really. I was the best answer. I propositioned Ronen. I sent him an email outlining all of my good qualities as well as all of the reasons they should use a different surrogate. I think my selling point was the relationship we had formed and the fact that I was excessively reliable and I wanted the baby for them nearly as much as they wanted the baby. They knew I wasn’t going to stop until they had a baby or until a doctor told me I was no longer a viable candidate.

In June, we signed the new contracts and I visited CT Fertility to meet with Dr. Doyle. He needed to map my uterus to ensure there was no damage from my ectopic pregnancy and to ensure I was the perfect candidate for Ronen and Gadi. He concluded that my uterus was made for carrying babies and that we could proceed.

We signed necessary contracts to indicate I was protected and to indicate no matter what the outcome, I would hand over the baby/babies in the end. Signing that second contract with Ronen and Gadi was one of the most important documents I’ve ever signed. I had a good feeling and knew it was by far the right thing to do.

Dr. Doyle has a very lengthy process with it comes to being a surrogate. My medicated cycle is longer than the egg donor’s medicated cycle. It’s crazy to be on fertility medications nearly a month prior to getting implanted. His success rates are awfully high so who am I to complain. I will continue with the shot in my stomach and the shot in my butt until I can no longer stab a needle in myself. This is the easy part.

Implant date was scheduled. I will spend a week in CT on call until the embryos are perfectly formed and ready for their new home. I am more than ready for this next journey.

Family, Surrogacy

For Life’s Greatest IF’s

I was having yet another of those sleepless nights weeks ago when the MetLife commercial came on. You know the one, with Snoopy indicating you should have insurance for “Life’s greatest IF’s.” Since it was 3am, I was able to put all thoughts of databases and why the files I receive are so messed up and why people can’t understand the concept of removing commas, to the statement “for all the IF’s in life” and I immediately thought of Ronen and Gadi. Continue reading “For Life’s Greatest IF’s”

Family, Surrogacy, Uncategorized

The Reason For Silence…..

More often than not I’ve found that silence is my best form of therapy. I’ve come across this yet again. I’ve been silent partly because I didn’t know what to write and partly because I needed to keep it inside for just a bit longer. Ronen and Gadi needed to make the decision to use a different surrogate based on the multiple failures in our program. The doctor has indicated it had nothing to do with me as well as Ronen and Gadi indicating it would take them years to find another match as incredible as ours. Instead of letting the hurt out, I just kept it close to my heart where I still owned it. I had control over my emotions when everything was locked up inside and I didn’t need to talk about it.

Last week, I needed to be re-screened to be a surrogate and part of the process is a psych evaluation. Everything went quite well (at least I think they did) and the doctor asked me the same questions as previous evaluations. It wasn’t until she indicated I should be mourning the loss of my fallopian tube because I had lost a part of me that I became more aware of the piece that was really missing from me. I did nothing short of beg the surgeon to take both fallopian tubes when she asked me if I had any questions prior to surgery. I tried to convince her that there was no way I was going to wake up one morning and be like “Whoops! I forgot to have another child” considering Jayde is now closer to 15 than 14. I’ve known since she was born that one isn’t the loneliest number but the perfect number of offspring for me. That I would commit the rest of my child-bearing years to providing it to anyone else wishing to have one, or two, or three or whatever number is their perfect number. I knew I wouldn’t be mourning the loss of a stupid tube that caused another failed attempt for Ronen and Gadi, that I was cursing it under my breath because of what transpired. If she would have only taken both tubes, I would never run into this issue again; granted the chances are really slim, but still a possibility.

While sitting in the office for the psych evaluation the ache started to set in and I knew what was missing from me, it wasn’t a fallopian tube, it was Ronen and Gadi. I remain in constant contact with them but it’s not the same. Instead of nearly daily emails, they’ve dropped off to just about once a week. Instead of laughing on Skype with them, I’m left wondering if they will find a match that fills their needs, that produces a viable pregnancy when it was the one thing I wanted to do more than any other. I also wonder if they will be happy with their new match or if they too will be thinking of the things that I’m thinking of. I know it takes a remarkable person to be a surrogate so there is not a chance that they will end up with someone who isn’t up to the standards that I believe a surrogate should have. In stating surrogates are remarkable women, I don’t feel that I fall into the “remarkable” category. I feel that I am just normal doing the right thing. The right thing for me and without a doubt, the right thing for the intended parents. Doing the right thing doesn’t seem remarkable to me.