Family, Random Act of Kindness, Surrogacy

I Should Really Explain….

You know how you get in to that slump where you don’t want to write, answer emails. The slump where you no longer answer the phone; because you just don’t want to talk to whoever is on the other side of that call, because you would be required to answer so many questions that you are at the point of pure, utter exhaustion because you’ve had to answer them over and over and it never seems to sink in, so they continue asking.

Guy’s third birthday is approaching sooner than later, I’ve yet to finish his second birthday letter. I’ve yet to contact IARC with all those wonderful things I want to suggest to help with gestational carriers. I think I was their most determined to have a baby GC. I was so determined that even when there was the suggestions put out there that I may not be the one, I disregarded all of them because in my heart, I knew I was the one meant to have a baby for R&G.

I’m still in that slump where I just don’t know what to do or what to say. I’m trying to get the understanding out there that none of my issues pertain to Guy. He, R&G were there to help me fulfill something I also wanted to do. What is more selfless than having a baby for someone?

I also keep reminding anyone who asks, that even knowing this specific outcome, all of my medical issues after his birth, all of the complications since then; that I would undoubtedly follow the same path!

I may have saved a little more here and there, I may have cut back on all of those dinners out, I may have done a number of things different on my end just to be prepared. With all of that, I still would have gone through the entire process. I still would give up my body, my health, my inability to do a lot of things now that used to be second nature so that Guy was born. So that R&R continued the process with me! They are my chosen family and forever will be. We began this process as strangers, became friends then became the sort of family you just can’t live without. The type of family that you are excessively happy when they send a message or you see their name pop up on your phone. They are my forever family!

I don’t get to spend nearly as much time as I’d like with them, but will be seeing them again in December. They will be coming back because Guy will be a big brother. We will have a month or more where we get to spend together. A month to where I can learn enough Hebrew to understand what Guy is trying to tell me, what he is trying to ask for, what he is seriously upset about because I can’t understand what he’s really saying.

I’m going to be back again. I’m going to write and try to figure this all out. I want to be useful to other GC’s that are going through the process, have finished the process, or who were never able to complete the process because of the heartbreak over and over again.

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Family, Surrogacy

What I needed to hear today…..

A wonderful friend shared this with me today. It was seriously exactly what I needed to hear and it really hit home!

“Let whatever you do today be enough!! Let go of the judgement you have about what you should be or could be doing, and today, allow yourself to simply be.

Comparing yourself and your journey may be habitual, but it gets you nowhere. It makes you feel worse and it keeps you STUCK. So stop fixating on where everyone else is, and start giving yourself permission to be exactly where you are.

Quiet the voice telling you to do more and be more, and trust that in this moment, who you are, where you are at, and what you are doing is ENOUGH.

You will get to where you NEED to be in YOUR OWN TIME. Until then, breathe! Breathe and be patient with yourself and you process. You are doing the best you can to cope and survive amid all of your struggles and pain, and that’s all you can ask of yourself.

It’s enough. You are enough.”

Family, Surrogacy

Starting Over……

Just a little over a year ago I was able to complete the long, complicated journey as a surrogate. I gave birth to Guy on March, 5, 2014. I really felt that it was the beginning of what was to come, rather than the end of my journey.

I struggled with surrogacy for a number of years. No matter what we tried, we ended up with negative responses. Chemical pregnancy, miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, negative pregnancy tests. It really felt that there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel. What R&G didn’t really know was that the more I am told I can’t do something or the more negative responses I receive, the more it pushes me to complete the task. To end up with a positive result. After seven years, I heard the heart beat more than one time!

It’s terrifying to be pregnant and be totally on edge thinking something is going to go wrong. I was totally stressed out with wondering if I took estrogen a few minutes early or if it was late. I worried with every progesterone injection that it wasn’t exactly the proper amount or I didn’t rub the injection site long enough to disperse the progesterone oil.

Getting passed that first trimester lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and allowed me to breathe a little. I was able to stop the injections and pills and just focus on keeping my body healthy for that little guy growing inside. If anyone is wondering, a pregnancy as a surrogate is definitely NOT the same as your own pregnancy. There are so many other components involved with surrogacy than a natural birth that it becomes a job rather than just being pregnant.

The second trimester was supposed to be the super easy part of the pregnancy. The entire second trimester was spent with all day sickness. It got to the point that the dog wouldn’t even remain in the bathroom with me while I was vomiting everything I had eaten or anything I had drunk because of how violent the projectile vomit was. My previous pregnancy was so easy; I never had any morning sickness or any real issues. I was losing weight as Guy was gaining. I was taking naps as he felt the need to try out for soccer or kickboxing or hip-hop dancing. It was insane that at the size he was, I could totally see my stomach moving because of the strength he had. I was still napping daily! Yep, daily. When I wasn’t napping I was working and when I wasn’t doing either of those I was on the bathroom floor. My life was totally consumed with these few items.

I finally made it to the third trimester and it was much like the first and second. I was continually taking Zofran so that I could keep a little bit of anything down. There were still so many days that the Zofran wasn’t nearly enough and I was still spending time laying on the bathroom floor so that I didn’t need a bucket next to the bed. The dog would lay with me on the floor until I got up to vomit, then she would run and hide under the bed and cry! At the beginning of January, I knew that some things weren’t quite right. The pain I was having in my hips and legs was something totally unexplainable. I saw a number of different doctors, had PT for a few weeks and had an MRI completed. The physical therapy really wasn’t the right decision. I was being stretched, massaged, had ultra sound on my hips, back and legs. The stretching the therapist was doing was making things so much worse. So much so that I went from being able to sort of walk a little on my own as long as it was really slow and I convinced my legs to just let me go a few more feet before resting yet again, to not being able to move my legs to walk. I was unable to bear weight without collapsing. I was unable to get my legs from the side of the bed, to being in bed. I was unable to move my legs under the weight of the sheet on the bed. I’m not really sure what a king size flat sheet weighs, but I’m not thinking it’s more than a pound or two. That sheet may as well have been a cement sheet based on my ability to move with it covering me. The MRI was able to determine what the real issue was and I was told on January 18th that I needed to omit any additional movements in hopes that I could save my hips. They were broken and had multiple fissures. They were moving in and out of the socket as I was “trying” to walk. The diagnosis from multiple doctors was AVN in both hips. Who knew this was even possible?

A few months of lying in bed and endless hours of terrible television brought the day that Guy was born. He really wasn’t in a hurry to be born early; he took his time after I was induced. We were all hoping for a speedy delivery since Jayde was born in 25 minutes. I showed up at the hospital on Saturday, August 9, 1997 at 11:00 am, and Jayde was born at 11:25 am. My water hadn’t broken and I didn’t feel that I was in active labor, but Jayde knew that it was time to come out! My due date with her was July 27, so she was definitely cramped in the small space she was hanging out in. The delivery was so fast that there wasn’t time for an IV, there wasn’t time for me to do anything other than getting my pants off. Back to Guy though…..we had numerous monitors hooked up to ensure he wasn’t in any distress based on my condition. There was an internal monitor stuck to his scalp after my water was manually broken. I also had multiple external monitors for him. I was required to have an epidural since the doctor was going to be required to move my legs and we didn’t think that the pain I would be in would necessarily be safe for him.

The epidural took just under three hours to be properly inserted. Seven different people “tried” to get it hooked up. I was poked and prodded 26 different times. The final attempt ended up working, but it felt like it feels when you hit your funny bone. My spine, neck and both arms were tingling the entire time the epidural was “working”. I was told that someone would be able to get the epidural inserted in the first or second try, and not to worry even after I had voiced numerous concerns from previous spinal taps that didn’t necessarily work so well. I shouldn’t complain though, it was a small price to pay to have a happy, healthy little Guy.Perfect little GuyPerfect little Guy

I was visited by friends and family shortly after Guy was born. People that I never expected to bond with him were ogling over how perfect he was. It’s crazy what happens when someone holds a baby.

I was visited by the hip surgeon just as he had explained he would the day following delivery. The x-rays that were done the day he was born were inconclusive so he needed to move me in a totally different position to be able to get the best possible images. Those x-rays were far worse than anything experienced during the pregnancy or quite possibly my entire life! I had always heard that the bones in your pelvis or in your hips sort of hold you all together, to say I totally came apart during those x-rays was a total understatement. I was asking the radiologist to chop my legs off. I had asked, rather demanded that they stop because I was vomiting from the pain and was covered completely in sweat. I generally don’t raise my voice or use choice language but the position the tech insisted I needed to be in totally pushed me over the edge. This position was to hold one leg about six inches off the table so that the side angle would show both hip joints (think a really low leg lift from lying on your back). I think about it now and it seems crazy that this small difference from one leg to the other caused so many issues. There was even someone standing next to me holding the weight of my leg because I was unable.

The only good part was that I was allowed to take a bath in a tub that was long enough for me and was jetted. It had been so long since I was able to take a bath since I was unable to lift my legs over the side of my tub at home. The tub at the hospital was about half the height and my baby belly was near gone. Phil still needed to lift me over the side and to lower me in the tub because I couldn’t hold my own weight yet. About five minutes into what I thought was the best feeling bath in my entire life, I was told the hip surgeon was in my room needing to talk to me. I thought that odd because it was close to 10 pm. Apparently the x-rays showed far more damage than the surgeon thought possible. The reason I knew this was he insisted on talking to me immediately. Even though I had just gotten in the bath, I knew it was important to discuss the issues with the surgeon personally. He joined me in the bathing room at the hospital to have the conversation with me that surgery was scheduled for 5 am the following morning. I figured there were a ton of people who were in the room for the delivery and it wasn’t like he was just standing there staring at me. He had his back turned to me, which I thought was an acceptable compromise.

I’m sort of happy that he didn’t provide me a long time to think about whether or not the following day was the perfect day for surgery, because I would have probably postponed due to being terrified of what my life was going to be like after that particular day.

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.

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.

 

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.