9.29.2009

Dishes and Surrogacy.

Just like my past pregnancies, dishes + me = no bueno. Just rinsing the dishes and putting them in the dishwasher? Oh, help me. I am a gagging fool. I am sure the sounds that come from my kitchen are interesting, to say the least. Doing the dishes has once again become a task that requires more than physical energy, but now mental energy! I sometimes begin repeating to myself, "Think of something else.. sunshine, the kids, their school, cute babies.." It doesn't always work.

I've been asked a time or two, why choose to be pregnant and carry a child for someone else when you deal with morning sickness and other pregnancy related issues? My question is, why not? I may detest the idea of doing dishes, and I may try and convince my husband that he should do them, but ultimately, this is a relatively small issue compared to the pain that infertile couples face.

I like to remind people that when you have a dream, a goal, something you want to obtain - is it always an easy road in getting to it? No. Surrogacy is my dream. Getting to the goal - having a baby for a couple - is not easy. It's not just the pregnancy with the morning sickness and such, it's before that as well - the contract, attorneys, ironing out the littlest of details that you must agree upon and more. When a surrogacy is done properly, it can take a lot of time and energy from the surrogate, her husband and the IPs. If everyone is on board though, they realize that the work will be worth it.

My goal, my dream, my desire - is to help others have what my husband and I had so easily (and what we absolutely do not take for granted). Achieving a pregnancy, going through that pregnancy, having the baby - witnessing that, helping others have this beautiful little being - it is so fulfilling to me, more than words could possibly explain. I tell people all of the time, the IPs are not blessed to have me help them, I am blessed to be allowed to help them. When they involve me in this delicate and intimate process, it takes a lot of trust on their part and mine as well.

So, while gagging and sometimes losing my lunch in the kitchen sink isn't the highlight of my day. I take it. I am thrilled to be here, to be pregnant, to be carrying this little being for these people who are so deserving and wonderful.

I am blessed.

9.28.2009

411. Awesome.

Well, I got up this morning, took the kids into school and made my way over the lab to get my blood drawn. I was still asleep. I sat there in the waiting room, trying to remember what number blood draw this was. I was wanting to eat, wanting to go home and sleep and not wanting to be there. But I was also wanting the result, so alas, I had to be there.

You see, Sunday night, I had some awful cramping. And while I vaguely remember cramping with my prior pregnancies, it's always a bit more worrisome when it is not your own child, for some reason. I lay in bed last night, curled into the fetal position and whining to my husband. He stood there in the doorway of the bedroom, asking me what was wrong. I explained it was my uterus. He said he knew that. Oh. He asked if it was normal cramps due to growth or..? I didn't know. I really dislike early pregnancy. There's no prodding the baby to make him or her move and kick you back. There's no waiting to feel that sensation of him or her rolling around to remind you they are okay.

So, I went this morning for my blood draw. A bit worried, but for the most part, knowing the pea was okay. The draw was put in stat, so I knew I'd be irritating the nurses in one hour from blood suckage. Sure enough, 55 minutes later - I found myself dialing my phone. And five minutes later, I hung up - the draw was still pending. Darn it.

I called back half an hour later, the result was in! BUT the MA (medical assistant) was not allowed to give it to me. Damn it! You see, I lack patience when dealing with stuff like this or have I mentioned this fact already? So, this no longer called for a simple "darn it" I was now upgrading this to a "damn it." She took my name and number to have a nurse call me back.

And I won't admit to what I did an hour later as I sat there staring at my phone, even taking it with me to the bathroom as I went pee for the millionth time this morning. But I will say that my friend, C, who is a fellow surrogate - she had her first surro baby two weeks after I had T (my surro son). Her surro son was born on April 11th, or 4/11. So she jokingly said she guessed 411 and she'd pee her pants if it were 411. And 20 minutes later, the nurse confirmed C's guess - 411. I was in shock that C had guessed, so I asked the nurse to repeat herself and then sort of mumbled "thank you" as I hung up (on her, I am sure).

C & I had a good laugh (and minute or two of shock) at her awesome guess. ;) And then I flew over to betabase and found out, we had a 47.35 hour doubling rate/time - which was awesome.

Meanwhile, I've had very little nausea (thank goodness). My appetite is still lacking, but I will take that. The baby sucks whatever it needs from me, so in the end, I will be the one lacking bone density when I am 60 years old. It's okay. The bloat has started though. For being all of four weeks pregnant, I look further along. Not that I was this stick thin girl to start out with (oh, the days of pre-mommy hood.. I miss you at times..). But my uterus, what is supposed to be the size of a grape approximately, is sure pushing things up and out already. :/ Or maybe it's just that my abs are giving up already.. I'm going with the latter.

I go back for another blood sucking adventure on Wednesday morning. I know I won't go in for an ultrasound until 6 weeks, but I keep this up because as much as I complain, I'm a numbers geek - and it thrills me to hear that this number is going up.. and to know the pea is thriving.

9.26.2009

15 dpo!

Well, today's beta number is 219. This gives us a 39.75 hour doubling rate, which is still well within normal range. :)

Meanwhile, I've realized the antibiotics I was given a week ago are not kicking the infection in my sinuses or my lungs. So, I am hoping a call to the dr tonight or tomorrow will result in them prescribing a new abx for me to pickup Monday. *fingers crossed*

I am otherwise feeling pretty good. Just a touch of nausea here and there, and the appetite is continuously lacking. If these are the symptoms I have for the next 2-3 months, I could deal with that. I'm hoping to avoid actual sickness this time around just as I did with my surro son.

I am off to rest. I slept in this morning thanks to my husband, but my energy is still lacking. So much for cleaning house today. Haha.

9.25.2009

Numbers numbers numbers.

I went in for my second beta yesterday. After a lot of phone calls and some frustration, the nurse told me it was 98. Awesome! We wanted at least 55ish, so this was great.

The nurse called again today and said it was actually 90, but we'll take 90 - since it's still well above the minimum that we had wanted. They then said I have to go in every 48 hours until my betas reach 2,000+?! I know this is normal for some women, but I've never had to do this before. I don't mind. It just means going into the lab again on Saturday afternoon, Monday and I am sure Wednesday. I wonder when I'll hit 2,000? And then they'll schedule me in for an ultrasound, which I won't bother going until 6+ weeks as that is when a heartbeat can be seen usually.

I'm having a lot of breast tenderness. A lot. And I think they are growing. I do not need growth this early on, but I will take it, of course. I've had some uterine cramping off and on, again a very normal thing to have. I was due for AF yesterday though, so the cramping had me on edge a bit. I am definitely a bit more tired than usual. I am sure my cold is factoring into this a bit, but I think the pregnancy is as well. My appetite is pretty much gone. I get hungry, nothing sounds good, then something does sound good, so I make it and then bam, it looks gross, so I don't eat it. Typical of me! I'm trying to eat small snacks here and there, and I am having no issue keeping up on the water intake, since I'm soooo thirsty.

A & J both know now. (A is over in Iraq, hence the delay in him finding out) I am so glad he knows now as well. It's exciting as my IM is already very involved, wanting to know how things work, etc. I am just not used to IPs being this involved and curious but I am loving it. I don't need best friends in IPs but I do like to have some sort of relationship. Having a business type of relationship just isn't for me personally. And they trust that I know how to do this, that I am taking care of myself and the baby and so on. It's vital for IPs to have that trust in their surrogate, otherwise it can cause issues!

My kids do not know I am pregnant, yet. I will probably tell them when I begin showing somewhat (which will be when I am far enough along that our chance of miscarriage is very small). When I had my surro son, they were not in school, yet. So I didn't have to field as many, "Oh, you're pregnant!" and similar and then having to explain how it's not ours. I am sure this time around, my kids will be telling anyone that listens that the baby is not ours, it's not their sibling, and so on. They remember going through this last time. They don't know any different really, for all they know - all mom's have babies for other people! And the boys don't remember when I was pregnant with their sister, since the boys were 21 months when I delivered her.

So, this should be interesting once again. I don't mind questions from acquaintances and strangers. Some people, I don't bother explaining this to, since I won't see them again. Like when a cashier asks when I am due, I just say when I am due, I don't go into how the baby isn't mine. The cashier isn't that interested and we don't have time to stand there and gab, you know? But people I will see again, they obviously do find out. I don't want anyone seeing me come home from the hospital, obviously having delivered but no baby in my arms. How weird would that be?!

Well, I am going to rest a bit and then begin cleaning house. I think we'll spend most of the weekend cleaning. With all of us being sick for the past 1.5ish weeks, the house isn't looking so hot and it's making me a bit crazy.

9.22.2009

More Confirmation!

So, as I've said, I'm a pee stick addict. Here's yet another one, only it's a digital and I taped it specifically to show my IPs. A bit blurry and don't mind my voice, I have strep! But yay, digitals are great - no looking at a silly line, just a beautiful "PREGNANT" :)



And now I am off to get my blood drawn to find out how much hCG hormone (pregnancy hormone) is in my blood. I should get the result sometime tomorrow.

Editing to add: I had the beta done this evening and it was 31! The median numbers for 11 dpo is 24-36, so we're perfect! I will have another blood draw on Thursday, and the number should double to indicate a healthy pregnancy. *fingers crossed*

9.21.2009

Thankful.

Yesterday, Sunday, September 20th a good friend of mine was pushing me to take a pregnancy test. You see, I felt for the first cycle we hadn't had that good of timing, since ovulation caught me off guard (very early - rare!). And yesterday, I was only 9 days past ovulation, not even due for AF (aunt flo) for another 3-4 days.

But I gave in because, well, peeing on sticks is like a drug for me apparently. So I did my business, sat back down on the couch and looked at it a few minutes later. And there was the faintest positive ever. So faint that any normal human being would say it was negative and call me crazy. But I was determined! I put that puppy on the scanner, scanned it in and then Photoshopped it. Yes, I Photoshopped my pee stick. I'm not ashamed!

And even a Photoshopped pee stick, well this one, was still difficult to see the positive. But deep down, I knew it was happening. I denied it though, sure that I was seeing things, telling myself that this was our first cycle - we only have a 20% chance each cycle!

Later on yesterday evening, I peed again and this time, the naked eye (no Photoshop needed) could see the very faint line. I was in shock. I still am. I of course peed again this morning and bam, much darker. Oh my goodness.. this is happening!

Then began the debate - how do I tell my IPs? I knew I couldn't wait for long. After a lot of thought, I came up with something simple.



Their little baby boy or girl is due June 4th, 2010. Congratulations again to my wonderful IPs. I'm so excited for you! :D

9.18.2009

FAQ - Part One

I've been asked quite a few questions about surrogacy over the past few years. Like I tell anyone who has questions, ask! Ask me whatever you like, I will do my best to answer them or refer you on to someone that will know. I'd much rather people ask and know the truth vs. assuming or going based off of what the media puts out there.

So, with that.. some questions I've been asked.

How can you giveaway your own child?
My TS babies are not my own. Now people stop and look at me as if I am insane when I say this but listen! From before the moment of conception, it is in my head and heart that any baby conceived with the sperm of the IF or SD (sperm donor) is for this surrogacy. This baby is created for the parents whom are trusting me to carry their child and do my best to help them have what they otherwise could not. So while the egg is mine, being as I am a TS, the child is not. Biologically I am the mother, but otherwise? No. I will not raise this child, I will not diaper them, feed them, teach them many things in life, read them books before bed, etc. I am not their parent. I carry them for many months before their birth, but after that? My job, if you want to call it that, is done.

When my surro son was born, I sat there in the hospital bed, holding him and trying to see him as my own child. And while I cared a great deal for him, my love for him was a love I would have for a good friend's child or a nephew or niece. It was not the love I felt for my own three children. And  I enjoyed holding him, and breastfeeding him and just loving on him. But when his parents arrived? It was like I was done babysitting, I handed him off to the parents that had waited for over ten years for this little soul.

I didn't know surrogates breastfed their surrogate babies. Doesn't this make you want to keep them?
Yes, some surrogates breastfeed their surrogate babies at birth, and no, this does not make most if not all of us want to keep the babies. ;) Many surrogates do not BF at birth, either because they do not want to do it and/or because the IPs don't want them to do it. But many surrogates do want to do this and many IPs understand the benefits to not only the baby but the woman who has just given birth. As long as both parties are on the same page if the surro BFs, then it's a great thing to be able to do, even temporarily.

I breastfed my surro son at birth with the permission of his parents. It didn't strengthen the bond I felt for him anymore than I already had from carrying him for many months. It was a gift to him and also one for myself and my healing postpartum body. I pumped and donated milk for weeks after his birth. Some surrogates pump and send the milk to their surro babies, others pump and donate it locally, etc. My FIPs chose not to have me send milk, so I instead pumped and donated to a few families who were in need for various reasons. It was a gift that I could give them, but one I wouldn't have been able to provide had it not been for my surro son! I feel blessed to have done that, to have BFd him at birth and then donated the milk. It's something I hope to do this journey as well. :)

How do you get the sperm inside of you? Do you do it by yourself or do the doctors put it in?
It can be done either way. What I am using are ICI vials or intracervical insem vials - meaning they are not washed of the semen. So they can ONLY be used for home inseminations (no turkey baster, but yes, a syringe).

There are IUI vials that are washed of the semen and those are what doctors use to inseminate women in their office.

Where do you keep the sperm prior to using it?
This journey my IPs opted to use a SD (sperm donor). I receive sperm from a bank in Washington, and it comes in a tank with liquid nitrogen to keep it frozen until it's to be used. When I am ready to use a vial of sperm, I remove it from the tank, warm it appropriately and inseminate myself.

Does it hurt when you inject the sperm?
No, it does not hurt. I use a needle-less syringe, insert it into my vagina and slowly press the plunger down, coating my cervix with the sperm. It's a simple process and if done correctly, it should not hurt.

Has the sperm been tested for diseases?
Yes! All sperm banks in the US must test the sperm due to many FDA regulations. They have quite the process of having to test the donors! And upon receiving the tank with the vials of sperm inside, I receive another paper which assures me this donor is negative of every STD, it tells me if they are pos or neg for CMV, etc.

Well, I have the flu (yes, the real flu!). So I will come back soon to post more FAQs! If you have any questions, please email me or post a comment. :)

ali.

9.17.2009

In the beginning.

I am a 26 year old stay at home mom to three and wife in Portland, Oregon. I have twin boys born in 2002 and a daughter born in 2004.

The subjects of egg donation and surrogacy have weighed on my heart for as long as I can remember. Only when I had my twins did I realize how deep the desire was to help others. I, like many others, sought comfort in others online that were going through what I was, who could offer support and advice with where I was in life. Naturally I sought ideas and help in how to conceive (there is more to it than just going to bed with your partner!). Through these message boards I was on, I gained a lot of knowledge but some amazing friendships as well.

During my time on these boards, I was posting with many who conceived easily and moved on to the pregnancy forums and eventually to forums that pertained to the ages of their children. But many women did not move on to these forums, they were held back at the TTC forums as they for whatever reason were not conceiving as easily as some. It was heartbreaking in a sense to move on to the pregnancy forum, when you were leaving behind many that had been trying for much longer than you and your husband.

In my years on these forums, I not only came across women who went through years of infertility, but miscarriages and stillbirths. A woman I "knew" online, who had went through quite a bit to become pregnant, gave birth to her stillborn daughter 41 weeks into pregnancy - just two weeks after I had had my healthy full term daughter. It was hard for me to sit there, nursing my daughter and thinking how this other couple who had tried for a child for longer than my husband and I had been married, were now faced with burying their child who had died in utero. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. It made no sense to me.

In 2006, I went to my husband and though he had known of my previous desires to either donate my eggs or be a surrogate, I was now approaching him to seek out his okay in my becoming a surrogate. While some may wonder why I would seek out his okay, you must understand that when you are married, a surrogate mother needs her spouses approval for a number of reasons - because the spouse is involved - he or she needs to be tested for STDs, he or she needs to sign the contract as well and he or she will most likely need to provide some emotional support to the surrogate along the way.

My husband was immensely supportive of my desires. So with that, I went about reading as much as I could find about surrogacy. Within a few weeks, I was placing ads on surrogacy classifieds and applying with a few agencies. An agency I applied with, ended up finding me my first match. I was lucky in how quickly this happened and that the match was a good one.

Through out the remainder of 2006 and then 2007, I worked with this couple. It was a long road of dealing with attorneys, the contract, and just getting everything in order. It's not an easy process, but it's doable! In April 2007, I became pregnant. Within two days of finding out I was pregnant, I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, the following day I woke up to bleeding and realized I had had a chemical pregnancy. It was heartbreaking for my couple but also for me. While this was their child, it's that we had gotten so close to what we all wanted just to have it ripped away. I was shocked at the grief I had felt, but it made me more determined than ever to help these people have another child.

In July 2007, we became pregnant again. I was hesitant at first to believe it, but week after the first positive test and realizing things may be okay this time - I began letting myself believe it. The pregnancy was great. I was tired during first trimester, uncomfortable from 25ish weeks on but the pregnancy was great overall. At 38 weeks I went into labor and delivered a beautiful baby boy in March of 2008.

The minute the IF walked into the hospital room, he swooped over quickly to my bed to scoop up his baby boy. He carried his son around for a few hours, telling me his arms hurt from the weight of his son, but he didn't mind. During those moments, I thought, "This is why I did this!" But when the IM came into the room (she flew in the following day), it was THAT moment that made me realize why I did this. I still remember her coming into the room and it literally seemed as though she were floating. She came to my bedside, thanking me profusely and I had to steer her over to the bassinet which held her son. She stared at him in awe and with some gentle prodding from myself, she picked him up and just stared into his little face.. unable to look up, as she had fallen in love with another man. :)

I am now embarking on my second journey and am more excited than ever before. I matched with a wonderful couple in July of this year. We are currently in our first cycle trying, and I am on pins and needles waiting to find out if we are pregnant or not! The 2ww is really not easy on myself, someone that lacks patience. Haha.

I want this blog to be here to help me in documenting my journey for myself and my IPs. Also, to share another surrogacy story with others who are interested. And also to answer questions. As I tell family and friends, ask me questions - about anything, please! I would rather give honest answer than let media or similar give inaccurate information about surrogacy.

Here we go.. :D

Say what? Acronyms in the surrogacy world.

2WW = 2-Week Wait
AF = Aunt Flo -Your menstrual period
AI =Artificial Insemination
AZH = Assisted Hatching
BD = Baby Dancing
BBT = Basal Body Temperature
BCP = Birth Control Pills
CD = Cycle day - The first day of your period is cycle day 1
CM = Cervical Mucus
CNM = Certified Nurse Midwife
CP = Cervical Position
CVS = Chorionic Villae Sampling
D&C = Dilation & Curettage
D&E = Dilation & Evacuation
DE = Donor Egg
DH = Dear Husband or Dam* Husband
DPO = Days Post Ovulation
DPR = Days Post-Retrieval
DP3DT = Days Post 3-Day Transfer
DP3DT = Days Post 5-Day Transfer
DPT = Days Post Transfer
E2 = Estradiol
ED = Egg donor/donation
EDD = Estimated Due Date
FET = Frozen Embryo Transfer
FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone
GC = Gesational Carrier
GD = Gestational Diabetes
GIFT = Gamete Intra-fallopian Transfer
GS = Gestational Surrogate
GTT = Glucose Tolerance Test
hCG, HCG = Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
HPT = Home Pregnancy Test
HSC = Hysteroscopy
HSG = Hysterosalpingogram
ICI = Intra-cervical Insemination
ICSI = Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
IF = Intended Father
IM = Intended Mother
IP = Intended Parent/Parents
IVF = In Vitro Fertilization
IUI = Intrauterine Insemination
LH = Luteinizing Hormone
LMP = Last Menstrual Period (start date)
LP = Luteal Phase
M/C = Miscarriage
O = Ovulation
OB = Obstetrician
OB/GYN = Obstetrician/Gynecologist
OPK = Ovulation Predictor Kit
OPT = Ovulation Predictor Test
OTC = Over The Counter
PCOS = Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOD = Polycystic Ovarian Disease
PG = Pregnant
PIO = Progesterone in Oil
RE = Reproductive Endocrinologist
ER = Egg Retrieval
SA = Sperm/Semen Analysis
SM = Surrogate Mother
TS = Traditional Surrogate
TTC = Trying To Conceive

Special thanks to the girls on SMO for providing this list.