Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter To My Peeps!

I was looking for a funny picture with marshmallow Peeps, but kept coming across graphic ones (who knew?!). Although I did find this one particularly funny. ;)

I picked this one to post instead, because it's so adorable, looks gorgeous, and right now I'm drowning in rainbow party planning stuff for my youngest daughter--so anything rainbow catches my eye!

Whether you spend your Easter at church or engorging on chocolate bunnies (mine's missing his ears already), I hope everyone has a great Sunday!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cleared for Take Off

Starting off this post with two warnings.

Warning #1
This is a really long post.

Warning #2
This blog is about surrogacy, IVF, pregnancy, and childbirth. You will likely get TMI on many occasions. So all my husband's friends who think they want to read my blog, feel free...but you will encounter words like vagina, cervix, discharge, and placenta. Just sayin'.

Yesterday was my appointment for my well woman exam, and of course, to get my OB to sign the clearance letter stating that it's safe for me to pursue another pregnancy. I was excited to go to this visit, because I haven't seen this particular OB since my 6 week check up after giving birth to my youngest daughter...and she'll be 4 next week! Because I don't have health insurance, I've been going to the health department for my annual exams. Which is another reason I was excited to go to this health department this time! Woo hop!! (That's for you, Jeni!)

The office was in a new location since the last time I was there, but it was still the same awesome OB and his nurse. I filled out all the new patient paper work, but decided to hold on to my OB clearance letter until I could talk directly to the nurse or doctor. I spent my time in the waiting room (there was a lot of waiting--one of the only things I don't like about this office) texting two friends who are Circle surrogates, trying to figure out what questions I should ask the OB. We decided it would be a good idea to make sure the doctor knew that I would likely be carrying a baby for a same sex couple. I didn't want to get half way through my prenatal care, have my IP's come to an appointment, and find out the hard way that the OB is completely against surrogacy for gay men. I really didn't think this would be an issue, but again, I just didn't want to take any chances.

Nurse C (I'm not identifying names just yet) finally called me back, got my weight (after I insisted on removing my purse, sunglasses and iPhone) and blood pressure, and then brought me into an exam room. I explained to her that I wasn't just there for my exam, but also for a gestational surrogacy clearance. She lit up and said "Oh, what an amazing gift for someone! A surrogate...if you love being pregnant, then why not!" So obviously they will be fine with having a surrogate as a patient! I also mentioned to her that I wanted to go ahead and have my IUD removed, and she said, "Oh sure, no problem. He'll just find the little string and pop that thing right out." Huh. (That is NOT what happened).

She instructed me to put on the paper gown and the doctor would be in shortly. I smile politely, but I am laughing inside, because I have NEVER been in any OB/Gyn's office where they come in quickly. Here's what usually happens instead:

I get completely undressed, hiding my underwear in my folded clothes (like it really matters if Dr. B sees my underwear, given what he's about to do).

I sit on the bed, in a paper gown, freezing my ass off and realizing that women, too, experience shrinkage. (Do you know what happens to barely A-cup boobs when the AC is set on "Arctic?!" It's not flattering.)

I eyeball the magazines on the other side of the room, because inevitably, I always forget to grab one.

I sit there thinking, "This is soooo boring. You know you'll be sitting here a while. Get up and get a magazine."

Then I immediately think, "No! What if he walks in right when you're scurrying naked across the room trying to get a celebrity tabloid?!"

This time, I waited until I heard the doctor go into another patient room, then finally gathered up enough courage to jump up and grab my phone and a magazine (which I quickly tossed aside after all that, because I was too nervous to read). Dr. B comes in about 20 minutes later (I am frozen solid), and pretends like he remembers me from the last time I was there. It was nice of him. :) He started the exam, did the Pap, and everything was going normally.

Then it was time to remove the IUD.

I would just like to start out by saying I know there are PLENTY of women who are perfectly happy with their IUD's. It was no biggie getting it placed, and they've been happy with this contraceptive. I am NOT one of those women. I have one nice thing to say about it...I do get pregnant easily, and I did not get pregnant for the four years I've had the IUD, so clearly it did its job well. However, I experienced incredible pain when it was placed 4 years ago. Let me just point out that I have given birth to two children vaginally, one with a mild form of hydrocephalus, so her head was a decent size. I was a super champ at pushing those babies out, and I almost (keyword) went without an epidural both times. I was 8-9 cm and nearly ready to push by the time I asked for the epidural. So, I can handle some pain. But the placement of the IUD had me whimpering, crying, and inadvertently scooting up the bed to try and escape. That doctor at the time told me that it was THE hardest time he's ever had placing an IUD. Just as I expected, removing it was no different. Again, I was whimpering, tearing up, and digging my nails into my palms. It was excruciating. I could tell Dr. B was really struggling to remove it (the string even broke), but he finally succeeded. He quickly helped me sit up, apologizing the whole time for "putting me through that," and then said, "In my 24 years as a doctor, that was THE hardest time I've ever had removing an IUD."

Yep, sounds about right.

Apparently, I have a stenotic (narrow) cervix, which means I feel more than just a "slight cramping." Needless to say, I've now decided I will NOT be getting an IUD again when I'm done with this surrogacy. Ridiculously irregular/eternal periods and having to go through that pain every time it needs removed or replaced? No thank you, I'm back on the good old fashioned pill o' hormones now. And it's chewable, which impressed me. :)

Anyway, so the IUD is gone (good riddance), and now I get to talk to Dr. B about the surrogacy clearance letter. He reviews, completes, and signs the form, and I tell him that I have just two questions for him:

1. "Have you ever had a surrogate as a patient, and are you okay with having one?"
Dr. B says that he has not seen a surrogate for her prenatal care, but he did deliver twins for a surrogate when she went in labor while he was the on-call doctor. He sees no issue with having a surrogate as his patient.

2. "I feel a little weird asking this one, but I just need to make sure. Are you okay with the intended parents likely being a same sex couple?"
Dr. B smiles his sweet smile and says, "'s fine." He continues smiling at me for several seconds, while I try to fill the silence by explaining that I don't know yet who I will be matched with, but my preference is to help two men become daddies, and I just wanted to make sure he knew that up front so there are no surprises. He smiles at me a little more, tips his head slightly to the side, puts his hand on his chest, and says, "I myself am a same sex couple."


Seriously, I had to restrain myself from jumping up and hugging him, but I know I had a huge goofy grin on my face. I felt like this was a way better response than I could have ever hoped for. How amazing is Dr. B, for sharing that with me when he didn't have to?! And how awesome is it that I know my IP's don't have to worry about being treated differently because of who they fell in love with?!

This amazing piece of information almost made me forget all about my traumatic IUD experience.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Next Step!

Yesterday, Jeni from Circle Surrogacy (my agency) emailed me to let me know that she had just received "a TON" of medical records via fax! She said once the IVF doctor reviews these records (from my pregnancies/deliveries) and approves me for surrogacy, then I am officially done with the "pre-screening" process. Well......

Today my records were approved by the IVF doctor!

This was me, upon hearing this news....

Seriously, this show never gets old!

Also, I felt like I was going to puke. Gotta love nerves. ;)

Getting through pre-screening means I am now all set for social worker screening! The social worker will help to determine if my husband and I are emotionally and mentally prepared to embark on a surrogacy journey. We will have a phone interview with a social worker from Circle that will last approximately 2 hours. It will be a chance for the agency to learn more about my motivations for being a surrogate, my relationships with friends and family, and my interests and personality. The social worker will also talk to my hubby to make sure he is supportive and on board with the surrogacy (the agency requires their surrogates to have the full support of their spouse or partner).

The questions asked on the initial questionnaire were answered in a little more detail during the application process, but in our conversation with the social worker, these questions will be addressed again, more in depth than before. These are questions relating to what I'm looking for in a surrogacy journey, which types of Intended Parents (IP's) I'm comfortable working with, and the really tough topics like pregnancy termination and selective reduction. Discussing these topics will help the agency find IP's whose preferences/views are the same as mine, so that we can be a perfect match for this journey together!

Not sure how quickly all of this will take place, but I've heard surrogacy is a "Hurry Up and Wait" sort of deal. :) Something that IS happening soon though is getting clearance from my OB! I have an appointment this Friday to discuss my surrogacy plans with him, have him sign my OB Clearance letter, and have my IUD removed so I can have a snuggly place for a surro-babe in the next few months!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On the Right Side of History

In a little house in a little town, four people are wearing RED today to let everyone know that they support love...

There's not much red being worn in their neighborhood today, but they don't care what the other people in this town think. They know they are on the right side of history.

They know that marriage is about love, family, and commitment.

They know that rights are not supposed to be voted on...that's why they're called rights.

They know that freedom in the United States of America means freedom for EVERYONE.

They are allies in the fight for equality.

I'm ending this post with one of my favorite quotes from President Obama...

And also this picture, because it made me laugh.

Yes, I know they are actually ducks.
Still made me laugh.  :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Seeing Red

Just saw a post from the Human Rights Campaign in my Facebook news feed. Tomorrow is the day to wear RED to show your support for marriage equality! I wore my only red shirt today, but I will wash it tonight and wear it again tomorrow. In fact, I would gladly wear it every day if it meant equal rights for all Americans. Everyone in America, the world for that matter, should have the right to marry the person they love and have committed their lives to.

I changed my profile picture to the logo below to let everyone know where I stand (although I'm sure they already heard me all the other times I've said it). :) Who's with me?! Show the world we are seeing red tomorrow, and stand up for marriage equality!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Two days ago, I finally shared the blog I'd been working on making pretty for two weeks now (damn you HTML and your nonsense codes).  The idea of gestational surrogacy was one that my husband and I discussed privately many times before sharing the information with an extremely small group of family and friends. So putting it all out there on Facebook this week was a big step. I was prepared for phone calls, texts, and comments of all types...shock, confusion, well wishes, and sadly, even a few negative, judgmental comments. (I may have had an arsenal of words ready for that particular group...) ;)

What I wasn't prepared for is the outpouring of support, compliments and praise. When the Facebook notifications started popping up, I was expecting a few comments like this: "Wha?!?!?!" I did NOT expect the ones like this: "I am so proud of you!! What an amazing and selfless act of kindness." Those are the words that appeared over and over.... PROUD.... AMAZING.... SELFLESS.... and so now my word back to you is OVERWHELMED! I don't even know what to say. Thank you all for your support and kind words. It's hard to wrap my head around the compliments, because I'm not focused on what I'm doing. I'm focused on what someone else will get out this!

Fact:  There are loving couples in this world who need help to have a baby.
Fact:  My body happens to handle pregnancy and childbirth pretty well.
Fact:  I am a mother who wants my children to grow up in a world where the rights of everyone are protected, and freedom is denied to no one.
Fact:  I will do whatever I can to speak up or lend a helping hand (or uterus) to the people who are facing inequality.

So here's where I am right now in this application process. I have made it through the loooong pre-screening questionnaire on the agency's website (more about that in another post) and was accepted less than 24 hours later. My medical records from my previous pregnancies have been requested, and apparently are taking a little longer than usual become some of them are in storage (I guess that's to be expected when you request information from 10 years ago!). Once my medical records have all been received and reviewed by an IVF doctor, I will officially move on to the next phase of the process, which will include a psychological assessment and an interview with a social worker, for both myself and my husband. I'm excited for things to start moving along again!

Oh, and P.S. If I just totally jinxed myself by stating that my body handles pregnancy and childbirth well, I take it back!! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Only the Beginning

I've been sitting here wondering where to start this first after typing and deleting several times, I've decided to start at the beginning. The VERY beginning. The very first time thoughts of being a surrogate began stirring around in my head. It didn't catch me by surprise, as crazy as it sounds. It was more like, "Why the heck have I never thought of this before?!"

It was way back in 2003. I was 22 years old, had been married for less than a year, and pregnant with my first baby girl. I was finishing up my bachelor's degree in elementary education, and that particular semester was exhausting. I spent half the day teaching kindergarten, then I'd come home, lay down and rest for 20 minutes, and then head off to a 3 hour class at the university. Fridays were easy though...once I was done teaching, I was free for the rest of the day. Usually, that meant I would sit on the couch with my feet up, write lesson plans or do homework, doze in and out of sleep (did I mention teaching, going to school, and growing a baby all at once is exhausting?!), and watch marathons of "A Baby Story" on TLC. I was practically completely addicted to that show. I was a first time preggo, and I couldn't get enough of other women's stories. Some of the episodes made me more excited to have a baby, and some scared the crap out of me. But one stuck with me the most, even now, a decade later.

It was an episode about a woman carrying a baby for her brother and his husband. She was a traditional surrogate (different from a gestational surrogate). This was the second baby girl she was carrying for them. I remember thinking it was AWESOME of TLC to show two gay fathers on A Baby Story. Ten years ago, there was no "Modern Family" or "The New Normal" yet. For a TV show  to feature a man in a normal, loving relationship with another man, the two of them excited to be fathers was a pretty amazing thing. By using the surrogate's eggs and her brother-in-law's sperm, the baby was actually genetically related to BOTH fathers. How cool is that?! I was so moved by their story, and I couldn't help thinking about a family member of mine that is gay. I remember saying to myself, "I could do that for him, if he wanted a family. I could TOTALLY do that!" I was really excited about the idea and would think about it often over the next few years.

Since that day, I've had two daughters: one in 2004 and one in 2009. I have considered being a gestational surrogate for several different friends and family members, if they reached a point in their lives where they needed to make the decision to use a surrogate. But as of now, that hasn't been the case, and I am 99% sure we are done having children. So now the idea of surrogacy for someone other than a family member keeps popping in my head. My children have made me who I am. They are my reason for being, and once I became a mother, I knew my purpose in life. I knew why I was here. How amazing would it be to give someone else a chance to experience life with a child of their own? To be able to help them create their own family!

So here we's only the beginning but I can already picture the end: seeing two intended parents become ACTUAL parents when their brand new baby is placed in their arms. Now, if I can just keep that image in my head when I have to give myself those dreaded progesterone injections....