Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We're Here!

We are off the plane, and we just checked in to the hotel! We are going to change into something warmer before we start exploring. We stepped out of the airport and my teeth instantly started chattering! I had to dig my jacket out of the suitcase. Ah, Florida girl problems. :)

I think we are going to hop on a train down to Manhattan and check out the city! So far, we already feel like tourists. We were ooh-ing and aah-ing at the hills, the beautiful spring colors on the trees, and the rocks. Yep, the rocks! They are huge and everywhere! I may or may not have flipped out when I saw a patch of tulips (my favorite flower!) growing wild. I've only seen them in the grocery stores in Florida!

Okay, gotta go. No time to waste! Here's are some pics of our view from the airplane window this morning...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Small Town Girl

I've spent most of today trying to prepare for our medical screening trip on Tuesday! We took a quick trip over to my sister's house to borrow some luggage for the traveling we will be doing during this surrogacy. Last summer, we took our first big family trip (a 6 hour drive) to South Carolina, and this was our luggage...

Clearly I can't use reusable grocery bags this time, and I certainly can't walk through a New York airport wearing my NASCAR Sprint Cup backpack...I might as well write "SMALL TOWN GIRL" on my forehead with a Sharpie. We borrowed a suitcase from my sister, and now I am trying to figure out what to wear on the plane and while we're in CT. It will be in the mid-80's when we leave Florida on Tuesday, and apparently about 25 degrees cooler in CT when we land. I'm going to have to dig out my socks from the far back corner of my dresser drawer, because I don't think my usual flip flops will suffice!

While Skyping with the guys this morning, they really encouraged us to try and see a little bit of New York while we are up there (so sweet of them!). They made it sound so easy..."just take the train!" I have never been on a city bus, subway, train, in a train station, or even in a taxi. So while all of this is really exciting for us, it's slightly terrifying and overwhelming too! Plus, how on earth am I supposed to decide what we want to see in New York, when we only have a few hours?! I guess we're just going to do our best to see what we can, have fun, and try not to get lost!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Medical Screening

Things are moving quickly again!

Yesterday afternoon, the IVF clinic in Connecticut contacted me to schedule my medical screening appointment for May 1st--next week! We fly out on Tuesday morning and will come home Wednesday afternoon. This is the appointment where they take blood and urine samples (from both Austin and myself) for routine tests. A full physical examination is done (thank goodness I already got rid of my IUD) and the doctor performs a hysterosonogram. This procedure involves the doctor filling my beautiful and perfect uterus with saline and then doing a transvaginal ultrasound to take pictures of said uterus. I have only had one transvaginal ultrasound before, way back in 2003 when I was pregnant with Emily. I don't remember it being too uncomfortable, but I do remember giggling at the sight of the ultrasound wand.

Let's just put it all out there now...it looks like a penis.

I have discovered, in my obsessive blog reading intense research, that I am not alone in this observation. In fact, fellow surrogates before me have affectionately nicknamed this ultrasound instrument "The Weenie Wand."

Click that link. You have to. You know you want to. Dooo iiit!!!

It has become so common that even a Google Image search for "weenie wand" will provide you with pictures of the ultrasound wand...well, mostly.

And speaking of Google Image, I did a search for "Weschester Airport" since I am not a frequent flyer and have never been further north (on the east coast) than Virginia. I am nervous about flying and have not flown since before 9/11. Wouldn't you know one of the first things I see is this wretched picture...

I immediately yelled "WTF?!?!" (not abbreviated), and of course clicked on the picture. Which took me to a news article about a practice emergency drill conducted at Westchester. Little sigh of relief, but OH MY GOD.

Google Image for weenie wands--yes.

Google Image for airports--NO!!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Introducing my IP's!

WHAT?!?! I was reading my last few posts, and realized I never updated you guys on the biggest news ever...we are officially matched!!! In my defense, I did do an excited all-caps shout-it-from-the-rooftops Facebook status last week. :)

So yes...the very first profile we received turned out to be a perfect match! They love us, we love them, and we are all in a little bit of disbelief how well this has worked out. Kudos to our social worker at Circle and her incredible matching skills. They really know what they are doing over there!

We now have a journey coordinator, who will guide us through the rest of this surrogacy experience. I spoke with her on Friday morning while she was on lockdown in her Boston home (scary!!), and she explained that the next step for me will be traveling to the IVF clinic in Connecticut for my medical screening appointment. This is a quick trip, just overnight, and Austin will also be going to have lab work done as well. The only thing that has me nervous about this appointment is the flying. I have been on a plane 3 times in my life (well, I guess 6 if you count the return flight) and the last time was about 12 years ago. The scariest thing at that time was the flying--now of course, there's a lot more things to worry about! Yikes. I'm trying not to think about it all, but it's hard not to with the Boston tragedies this week. Anyway, our information has also been provided to the agency's legal team, who will spend the next 4 weeks or so drafting up our carrier agreement. We can't begin any IVF medications or anything like that until the contract is finalized.

We Skyped with the guys again this morning and have been emailing back and forth all week. I double-checked with them again to make sure they were okay with me revealing just a tiny bit of information about them on my blog. I wish I could share more with you, because some of you have expressed that you are dying for details, but I can't share much before we have completed our carrier agreement. So here's just a little taste to get you by until then...


Don't laugh! I can't share a picture yet, so this is all you get for now.
I assure you they are way more adorable when they aren't in clip art form.

And yes, they already have a son. :)

They live in Sweden!

Thank you for your amazing education, Florida public school system...
This straight-A student had to Google it just to know for sure where Sweden was on the map.

S was born and raised in Italy, while J is originally from Sweden. They are in their 30's and are both smart, successful, funny, and friendly. Hooray for awesome daddies!

We are hoping to have a standing Skype date on Sunday mornings, sometimes the 6 hour time difference makes things a little tricky. Last week I was Skyping with J, and my 4 year old Madi was sitting with me. It was late afternoon here, which means it was dark in Sweden. J was trying to explain to Madi that it was already nighttime where he was. She was baffled by this, so he took the iPad out on the balcony, and held it so she could see the black sky and the moon. She said, "Ohhhhh, I like your moon!" How funny is that?! I tried to explain that it's the same moon we have, but even as an adult, it's hard for me to wrap my head around that concept. :)

The kids tend to monopolize the screen when we do the family Skype calls, so us grown-ups don't get much talking in. But it's so fun for my entire family to be able to interact with their family, even though we are 4,600 miles away from each other! That's pretty amazing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How Pinteresting!

As if one Pinterest account isn't addicting enough, now I have one dedicated solely to surrogacy! You can find "Their Pea In My Pod" on Pinterest by clicking here, or by clicking the Pinterest icon above the picture of this super hot chick --------->

There's a board for adorable babies...

One with great information for surrogates (or those considering surrogacy)...

Another with fun ideas for revealing baby's gender...

A board showing my support for equality...

Celebrities who have used surrogates...

(I seriously love these men)

Funny stuff...

And of course--plenty of Hey Girl surrogacy memes...

(BFP = Big Fat Positive. Meaning the surrogate
POASed -- peed on a stick -- and got a BFP!)

The only follower I currently have is myself...so please, help a girl out! Also, I want to say congratulations to my fellow surro blogger Alvina and her IP's on their BFP yesterday! And, congratulations to my real-life friend Michelle for giving birth to her second surro babe! Her IP's now have two beautiful little girls...those daddies are in for it now! Great job, ladies!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Certifiably Not Crazy

I haven't had a chance yet to blog about the MMPI test I had to take last Friday! This was the last step in the application process, so I was excited to get it done! Unlike the other steps, I wasn't nervous about this one. You might remember from a previous post that I was actually looking forward to it. I've heard the questions can be interesting, so I was very curious to see for myself!

I did start to get a little worried when I tried to log in to the online meeting software to "meet" with the psychologist, and the site wouldn't let me log in to the meeting. After making a few phone calls to Circle, I talked to the psychologist and found out she was running late and hadn't yet logged in, making it so that I was unable to log in as well. Whew! Glad it wasn't me. :)

The MMPI stands for the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the version I took was actually called the MMPI-2RF, which is the new and improved version. It also has less questions than the original...so instead of 567 true/false questions, there are "only" 338 questions. This sounded very intimidating, but really didn't take long at all. The test checks 10 areas:

  1. Concern with bodily symptoms
  2. Depressive symptoms
  3. Awareness of problems and vulnerabilities
  4. Conflict, struggle, anger, respect for society's rules
  5. Stereotypical masculine or feminine interests/behaviors
  6. Level of trust, suspiciousness, sensitivity
  7. Worry, anxiety, tension, doubts, obsessiveness
  8. Odd thinking and social alientation
  9. Level of excitability
  10. People orientation
Dr. H watched me on the webcam the entire time, but she covered up her camera so it wouldn't get distracting seeing her out of the corner of my eye staring at me. So after a quick explanation by the psychologist about the test, it was time for me to get started!

Question #1:
"I like mechanics magazines."

Um, false.

Question #2:
"I think I would like the work of a librarian."

True! I'm a bookworm!

Question #3:
"Evil spirits possess me at times."

What?! Do I get points off for laughing?!
(My answer was false, by the way.)

The questions continued like this, with several that seemed pointless (not really, but you know what I mean) and then BAM! A crazy one was thrown in there! Here are some of the other questions I found quite interesting...

"My soul sometimes leaves my body."

"My hands and feet are almost always the temperature they are supposed to be."

"I used to like drop-the-hankerchief."  (Again, what?!?!)

"I see things or animals or people around me that others do not see."

Once I finished the test, Dr. H said she would be in touch if there were any responses she needed me to elaborate on, but otherwise, she didn't see anything so far that was of any concern. So that's it! Application process--done!

And because I know, after my previous post, many of you are wondering what happened when I got to the question about the "unusual sexual behaviors." Fortunately, the question was not written as subjectively as I'd heard it might be. It actually said:

"I have never been in trouble because of my sexual behaviors."

True! Hooray!

(Well...unless you count the time my stepmom walked in on us as teenagers...)  ;)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Ooo! Ooo! Pick Me!

Pick me! Pick me!

(You can't see me right now, but I am raising my hand as far in the air as I can, waving it around, and bouncing up and down in my seat.)

As you can probably tell, my Skype call with the guys today went great! Besides some Skype technical difficulties in the beginning, everything went smoothly. They were so friendly and so easy to talk to, I think it seemed awkward for maybe the first nanosecond of the call. I'm so glad Austin was able to be here too, and it worked out that we were able to chat while my big girl was at school and my little girl was napping. The four of us talked for an hour and a half!

From what I can tell, their relationship seems a lot like mine and Austin's. They were lovingly playful and teasing of each other, and seemed to have a solid friendship as the base of their relationship. We all four seemed to get along great, and they are definitely the kind of people we could see ourselves being friends with. We seemed to all be on the same page, and very flexible and laid back in our visions of the surrogacy.

My favorite part was when one of the guys asked a personal question about our sex life while being pregnant. We didn't blush at all, but the other guy looked so embarrassed. :) I was happy to answer any questions they had, so I'm glad he felt comfortable asking!

Towards the end of our call, one of the guys "introduced" me to his brother and his future sister-in-law by taking the computer into another room. I loved it. :)

Apparently, I'm going to have an overuse of smiley faces in this post. :)

I let the social worker know right away (like the second I got off of Skype) that we definitely felt like they were a "match" for us! I hope they feel the same way! I shared with them my blog website, so they could check things out and make sure they felt comfortable with me blogging about our journey together. So in case they're reading this...hi guys! :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Big Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning, I will be completing the last part of my application process, the MMPI test! That should last about an hour and a half, and then just two hours later, Austin and I will be Skyping with the IP's!! They are 6 hours ahead of us, so I'm glad we were able to find a time so quickly that worked with everyone's schedule!

I asked the social worker if the guys have an egg donor yet, and she said she believes they just chose one this week. So that's a big deal for them! That means in a span of a few days, they may have found their egg donor and surrogate! I'm so excited for them!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's Here!!!

I officially have, in my hands, right now....


So far, the general consensus is....


Thirteen pages, and I love all of it. I'm dying to share details, but can't yet, because we aren't officially matched. Right now, the IP's are going over my profile too. We both have about three days to look it all over and decide if we'd like to take the next step, which would be a Skype meeting. If we are both still ready to proceed after the Skype meeting, then we are considered officially matched!

I'm trying not to get too excited because just because I like them, doesn't mean they'll like me. But if they don't, that's okay...that means the perfect IP's are still out there!

Oh, and this Friday will be the last part of the application process for me...the MMPI test! I'm more curious than nervous about that one...I've researched and chatted with other surrogates who have taken this test, and some of the questions have really piqued my interest. Obviously, I plan on being completely truthful, but what about the questions that may be a little subjective?

Like "I engage in unusual sexual behaviors."

Are my only options "True" or "False?"

Or can I choose Option C...."Ummmmm.....unusual compared to.....can you give some examples???"

This should be fun. ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Totally Committed

I have been officially accepted as a surrogate with the agency!

Well, sort of.

That's what the letter of commitment I received stated in the beginning paragraph, but later added "Pending the results of the psychology testing."

Ah yes, that's probably important. They should definitely check to make sure I'm not discussing my surrogacy plans with any imaginary friends.

So after a very busy week, I have a lot to catch you up on! About 2 weeks ago, I posted a blog entry to let you know my medical records had been approved, and I was moving on to the screening process (as opposed to pre-screening). My surro friend, Jeni, who also happens to do the surrogate pre-screening process for the agency (a career I am very interested in, btw), commented on that post to give me the heads up that this part of the process would move very quickly. She was right! Two days later, I had my OB clearance appointment, and that same afternoon, I received two emails regarding the surrogacy process. One was informing me that I had been pre-authorized for maternity insurance. The other was from the agency's social worker, who was ready to schedule a two hour phone interview with me, and a one hour phone call with Austin.

I scheduled my call for Wednesday, April 3rd, and Austin's for Friday, April 5th. Both of my daughters are in school on Wednesday mornings, and I knew that would be the only way I could focus all of my attention on this interview. You know if my kids were home during this phone call, they would completely ignore me all morning playing contently by themselves until I answer the phone. Then some kind of child radar goes off, and they are instantly starving/fighting/whining/hot/cold/thirsty/bored/breaking things. All at once.

I was super nervous about this interview, and woke up early that morning because I was so nervous. Turns out, there was nothing to be nervous about. The social worker was so easy to talk to. The "interview" was her asking me questions about my life, and me telling her my stories. Questions like, "Tell me about your pregnancies and deliveries with your daughters." I haven't met a mom yet who doesn't like to share those stories! Or "Tell me how you met your husband and what your relationship is like." And "What are the reasons you decided to pursue surrogacy?" I'm the sort of story teller who likes to start at the beginning and tell the WHOLE story with all the details and quotes and what people were wearing (my best friend is nodding her head right now--you might be too, because of these blog posts). I think the social worker quickly realized she got more than she bargained for, because after a few of my responses, she politely said, "Well, I want to be mindful of the time, so...."

Our two hour conversation ended up being nearly three hours. Oops.

She talked to Austin on Friday, and apparently he wasn't nervous at all. Which, if you know my husband, means she had a hard time shutting him up too. :) They talked for about 90 minutes. I was baking and decorating all day for my youngest daughter's birthday, so I made Austin sit in the kitchen so I could listen to his end of the conversation. I found myself a couple of times quietly chiming in while he was talking, which I really didn't want to do! It was just so hard! But I stopped myself, just let him talk, and enjoyed listening to his perspective on a lot of the same questions. Some of the answers were so different from mine, it was hard not to laugh.

Like this one...

Social Worker: "It sounds like you guys have been a couple since you were very young. Tell me how you met your husband."

Me: "I was a junior in high school. My best friend was a girl named Lisa, and she'd known Austin since 2nd grade. They lived in this little country town named Geneva, his mom even picked him up from school on their horse. He was driving home from the feed store with the bed of his truck full of hay. Lisa and I were talking with some friends, and here comes Austin, driving fast around the corner on the dirt road. He stopped to say hi to Lisa, and she introduced us. I remember being embarrassed to smile at him because I had just gotten my braces off that morning........" Etc. etc. etc.

Now Austin's turn...

Social Worker: "It sounds like you guys have been a couple since you were very young. Tell me how you met your wife."

Austin: "Through a mutual friend."

I'm still laughing at that one. ;)

Just a couple of hours after Austin's interview was complete, we received the commitment letter from the agency! The letter had several statements I needed to initial, confirming that I understand many of my responsibilities being a surrogate (giving yourself injections, traveling for procedures, etc.). I signed it and sent it back this morning. Some time this week, the social worker will set me up with the agency's psychologist for the MMPI test, and concurrently, she'll send me a profile of the first set of IP's!

The social worker mentioned a particular set of IP's several times that she seems to already have in mind for us. She didn't give me many details, and I'm not sure whether I can or should share the details here just yet, in case we aren't matched. So for now, I'll just reveal that it is an international same sex male couple! I'm excited to see what new information we get this week!