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.

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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.

 

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.

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Off To IARC….

My Saturday afternoon is planned.  IARC is having their “Surrogate Social”.  This time it is at Steve Snyder’s house.  It should be a good time.  We have the chance to get together with other Surrogates to discuss our stories or to ask other Surrogates questions.  I ended up missing last years party but made it to the very first get together two years ago.  It is very odd to see other people that are on the same quest as I am (well maybe not quite the same, but similar).

So I will drive seven hours on Saturday to enjoy three hours of laughs……Oh and of course Chipotle or OutBack!

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When Asked Why……

I get asked why I want to be a surrogate from time to time or what made me decide to even consider this option.  I didn’t have the options I “wanted” when Jayde was born and at times things were difficult.  I worked two jobs for a while just to ensure that she had everything others her age did.  I’ve always told her that she should not need to go without just because her father doesn’t want to contribute to her upbringing.  I knew when Jayde was younger that I would never bring another child into the same situation, partially because it wouldn’t be fair to that child and partially because it wouldn’t be fair to Jayde because my situation now would allow for more time to be spent with a child.  Even knowing I didn’t think it would be right for me to have children of my own, I knew it was something easy for me to do and it was something I could do for others…..

Jayde and I in 2001

Anyway, when Jayde and I were on the beach one day in the summer of 2001 I began making a list of 100 things I needed to accomplish throughout my life.  Some were silly and some were very well thought.  I’ve got items listed such as getting a stamp in my passport book (done) to doing something completely selfless (being a surrogate, in progress) to stomping in puddles with Jayde during a rain storm (done many times).  I’ve done almost every item on my list and I am happy with my progress.  In ten years I was able to complete nearly everything I had set out for myself.

I started researching egg donation in 2001 with RMA NJ and things just never fell into place.  The day I was to go to have my final screening Jayde got sick with pneumonia and I wasn’t able to make the appointment.  I was a bit disappointed, but I believe that everything happens for a reason so I didn’t let it get to me too much.  Things just never really fell back into place until I had moved back to North Dakota after that missed appointment.  I had followed up with RMA NJ after moving back to North Dakota and they were unable to work with me because I had lived 1500 miles away from their office.  I started to research the process again in 2006 and came across IARC.  After discussing my options with IARC, I knew that surrogacy was a better option for me than egg donation.

I believe that this world we live in is such a small world.  I have Jayde to consider and although she is almost 13, I need to worry about the chances of me donating eggs and by some small chance Jayde coming in contact with someone genetically tied to her without her knowing about.  Egg donation is completely anonymous so there would be no way of me knowing if there were a child genetically tied to me that Jayde could potentially date.  So, my dream of giving the perfection that I had in Jayde to others had now become the option of being a surrogate.

Jayde and I in 2001I spoke with IARC and surrogacy allows as much or as little contact after the child is born as the Intended Parents and the Gestational Carrier would like to have.  I am the person that likes to stay in contact with people as much as possible, so this was turning out to be a much better option for me.  I made the decision at the beginning of 2008 to work with Zohra and Khelifa.  Their profile was the first profile I had read and after speaking with them on the telephone, I just knew that I was meant to work with them.  They have been trying for almost 20 years to have a child on their own and this is something I can do for them quite easily.  Sure it is uncomfortable to give myself Lupron Injections and take other fertility medications, but the happiness I will bring to them in the end will outweigh the uncomfortable feeling I will have for a brief moment in time.

I’ve thought about how uncomfortable it is going to be to give birth yet again.  I had Jayde with no drugs and was able to deal with that just fine.  I have prepared myself for years now that I will not be able to bring home a child (thank God!).  I love children, really I do, most often times….I just love other people’s children.  I have no patience for children.  Jayde is an anomaly, she does not now nor has ever resembled the “normal” child.  When I am having a bad day, she plays off my crabbiness like she is on Who’s Line Is It Anyway and I laugh until I can hardly stand up.  Don’t get me wrong, we have our moments, but all in all, she isn’t the “normal child” and I wouldn’t trade what we have for anything.

It may be uncomfortable to hand over a child after giving birth; however, the joy it will bring will bring MUCH MORE comfort to me than any amount of drugs a Dr. could provide.  If I had the option to have a child for every person that was unable to do so on their own, I would.  I just don’t think one person is capable of having that many children.

In addition to the things I want in life, my dad taught me it is always best to give….that I should just do the right thing in life and all things will work out in the end.

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Happy Dad’s Day…..A Bit Early

I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with my dad as I’d like to, I really wish that every day could be celebrated as “Dad’s Day!”  So this is a bit off the whole surrogate topic but maybe next year Khelifa will have the joy of being able to celebrate Dad’s day.  My dad is such an amazing genuine person and I don’t know that he has an understanding of this concept.

My dad married my mom on September 2 1972 and with that came my two “sisters” Sandy and Sherry.  My dad didn’t think twice about becoming their dad.  He has always been there for all four of “his” children regardless of who their biological father was.  I wish more people would take the time to listen to a thing or two from my dad; people could learn a ton from him.

My dad taught me that everyone deserves a chance.  When you give them a chance and they take advantage of you, you shouldn’t automatically turn your back on them because they could have been having a bad day or they too could have been taken advantage of so I should consider giving them another chance.  If they continue to take advantage of me, well then I should stop helping out so much.  I think there are far too many people now days that won’t give anyone a chance based upon a first glance or a first thought.

My dad is the person that I can fully rely on no matter what the circumstance is.  I know that if Jayde is sick and I can’t get away from work, that I can call and no matter what he has going on for the day, he will drop EVERYTHING and take care of Jayde.  I know that if I am stranded on the side of the road, that no matter where in the state I am at, I can call and he will be there to help.   He is the father figure I would like more than anything Jayde to have.  He has set a precedent in my mind that I would like Jayde to view as a father.  Unfortunately Jayde will not be able to have that with her dad, but she will always have my dad and I am willing to share.

My dad has always been a great story teller, he will sit and talk with me for hours on end about “when I was younger” and tell me stories about when he was younger or when I was younger.  I remember years and years ago when he’d get home from working at Fargo Tire, he would have (what I thought then to be the best smell EVER) the dirty old tire smell and I’d run to him and be hugging on him and all I’d want to do is sit on his lap so that we could read the news paper together and eat popcorn out of the old green Tupperware bowl together.  Dad had a wonderful old popcorn pan that never got washed (because the popcorn wouldn’t taste the same if the pan was washed) and from what I can remember we would eat popcorn almost every night.  The best part was sitting in his lap and reading the paper while eating the popcorn though.  It’s been far too long since we’ve had one of those days.  I don’t think he’d like me sitting in his lap any more, but maybe we’d go eat a good steak and talk about when Jayde was younger instead of when I was younger.

My dad is one of those people that will give his very last dollar to someone else if he feels that they could use it more than he could.  He is such a giving person and I am glad that so many of his attributes have transferred to me; I just wish I could transfer some of my optimism over on to him.  He is bit of a “glass is half empty” kind of guy.  Which works perfect, I am overly positive on most things….so when dad and I are together, our glass is just perfect!

Thanks for being so perfect for me Dad, I couldn’t be half the person I am today without the wonderful person that you are.  I know you don’t get the appreciation that you deserve!

I hope that by this next time Khelifa will get to celebrate Father’s day and someday he too will get a thank you post from his child.

On a side note….I have thousands of printed photos and thousands of digital images, none of which contain my dad.  I have thousands of negatives which my parents have the thousands of prints (that match the negatives) all which contain the images of my dad.  So for now, no one will know what my dad looks like.  Perhaps a different day, I will add an image.

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It’s Been Far To Long….

I know it’s been months since I’ve updated but there hasn’t been much news to update on.  I’ve been patiently waiting for news (ok well maybe not so patiently some days but I sure try).  Zohra and Khelifa have been talking with Dr. Sher from the Sher Institute in Las Vegas and I believe that we will be working with him moving forward.  There have been some issues with their combined age and some fertility specialists working with us and we have now found a medical center that has said “sure we will work with people that want more than anything just to have a baby to love and to hold”.

There have been more and more movies out publicizing “alternate” forms of conceiving which is making surrogacy more and more popular and more and more difficult.  I am glad that it is becoming more widely known as an option but I feel that more and more people are doing it for the wrong reasons.  It should NOT ever be done for the money!  It is just too bad that there are people out there that are looking at being a surrogate for a quick buck.  Oh well I digress.  I will update as I know more.

Have a happy Memorial Day.