Monday, November 25, 2013

Who Are You?

Wife. Mom. Gestational Surrogate.

That's how I've defined myself since February. Passionate about all three titles. But now, over the last several weeks, I have been questioning whether I get to call myself a surrogate. I feel like I'm stuck between two worlds, like a ghost.

No one except another surrogate truly understands just how much of yourself is invested in the process. And I did what most of the girls consider to be the hardest part. Multiple times. The research, the paperwork, the medical records, the questions from those who accept your journey, the harsh words and judgement from those who don't, the new friends I made, the old friends I lost, the psych testing, the social worker screenings, the travel, the medical screenings, the matching, the contracts, the relationship building, the appointments, the ultrasounds, the medications, the supplements, the injections, the side effects, the pressure, the hurry up and wait, and the disappointment when things don't go as planned.

All part of being a surrogate. So I am a surrogate.

But I never met my IF's in person. I never saw a picture of the perfect little cells. I never had an embryo transfer. I never had bed rest after the transfer. I never had the agonizing two week wait. I never bought the entire shelf of home pregnancy tests at the Dollar Store. I never waited for beta results. I never waited for beta results to double. I never got pregnant. I never saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound. I never got to see the look on my IF's faces when they watched their baby being born. I never got to pump breast milk for my surro-babe. I never said a tearful goodbye to the family I helped create.

All part of being a surrogate. So I am not a surrogate.

It doesn't look like I'll ever get to cross over to the surrogate world, but I certainly can't just go about my business in the non-surrogate world. I don't know for sure what I am. But one thing I know for certain: my life has forever been changed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

When Do I Stop?

I finally heard from my agency on Wednesday that Dr. Doyle reviewed my records from this mock cycle, and will no longer approve me to be a surrogate. The email from the agency was very short, to the point, and to be honest, pretty impersonal. I was surprised after all the friendly emails this whole time. Nothing like, "We know you tried, Becca" or "We were really pulling for you." Just quickly letting me know I wasn't approved and the agency was now releasing me as well.

I can't say I was surprised, but it's hard not to hold out hope. Which brings me to the dilemma I face now: When do I stop? You're not supposed to give up on a dream, right? It's not supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be something you fight for. But what if I am fighting, and my body just isn't cut out for IVF? That's not giving up...that's physically not being able to do it. Which is probably why it bothers me when people say "No one would blame you if you decided to stop now." The decision to stop isn't being made by it? I'm not saying I can't handle the heartache, the injections, the hormones, the time, the emotions. I'm saying doctor after doctor is telling me I just can't do it, and agencies are letting me some point it just seems like I'm just doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. The very definition of insanity.

But that's what makes this so hard. I'm not doing the same thing. The medication protocols have been different, and there are still countless others that I haven't tried. But I'll never be able to try them all. I'm at a point where I've started to really accept that this may not happen for me. I will continue to pursue my dream of working with potential surrogates at an agency, but actually carrying a surro-babe...I may not ever get to do that. Then this tiny voice inside my head says, "But all it takes is one doctor to have the magic cocktail for you. Just one."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm Still Here...

I'm sure you can imagine, since it took me two days to blog, that my appointment did not go well on Monday. I needed some time to process what happened, the end of another disappointing road, and whether I wanted to start down a new one. Or if I would even be allowed.

That being said, I do want to thank all of my family, friends, surro-sisters, and blog readers who reached out to me in the last couple of days. From the number of emails, Facebook messages, and website hits, I know many of you were anxiously looking for an update. It still amazes me how many views my blog gets (almost 16,000 since March!), and it feels great to be able to interact with all of you. It was one of my reasons for starting this blog in the first place: To put my journey out there and inspire or help others exploring the world of surrogacy. Thank you all for being the knot in the end of my rope.

Alright. Cue the symphony music, cut my mic, kick me off the stage. I know what you really want to read are the details!

So back to my appointment on Monday. My lining was 6.76mm, when the clinic was looking for something closer to an 8. While I felt bummed because I knew it wasn't good enough, I have to say that I was a little impressed with it too. My lining increased as much in 5 days as it had the ENTIRE cycle. I felt like that had to mean something. The thing is, I don't know what did it. The added Estrace pills? The acupuncture? The additional supplements? The crazy amount of orgasms to increase blood flow? (Seriously, that's all I managed to get done those last few's a hard job, but I'll take one--or several--for the team!) I had a glimmer of hope that maybe they'd extend my cycle again by another week, but I was doubtful.

First, I had a long talk with my dear Jeni, where I was feeling a little done and over all the stress and pressure on myself (mostly by me). Then I talked to my hubby, where I was feeling like I owed my family my full attention again (again, this is coming from my own head). Finally, I talked to my big sister, where I turned into a sad, sappy mess (she's been my "therapist" for a couple of decades now, so she's totally used to it, lol). And after all of that, I decided to email the IVF clinic and put my offer on the table: Give me another week. I will continue the estrogen pills in addition to the injections, I will schedule two more acupuncture sessions (I know, right?!), and I will get another ultrasound done to check my lining. And I will cover all the costs.

Unfortunately, the answer was no.

While I was at my daughter's dance class, I got a call from Dr. Leondires at RMA in Connecticut. This was the first time I'd talked to him directly, so I knew it wasn't favorable news. He was amazingly sweet though. He believes that given the different medicated cycles I've tried without success, I just don't build a lining suitable for IVF. That's not to say that I can't get pregnant on my own or even that an IVF transfer wouldn't be successful. But when you're dealing with Intended Parents, tens of thousands of dollars, and their embryos, they need to have the lining measure what they believe to be optimal for implantation. The sweet part is when he said, "Listen, this is absolutely not your fault. What you are trying to do for these guys is an amazing thing. But I think it's time now to move on from surrogacy and find another way to give back to the world." He said he would be calling B&J to let them know, and he's sure I would be talking to them too. "Actually," I said, "I've never had any direct contact with them. I think we were all sort of waiting to see what happened with this mock cycle." I'm thankful for that now, although once you know names and faces and family details, it doesn't really make another match-break easy. Easier than if we spend months building a relationship, I guess. But still painful. I was a complete mess in the bathroom stall at the dance studio. I hope that B&J have read my blog, so they know I have literally done every single thing possible to try and help make this cycle a success.

My agency is still sticking with me though. They immediately requested my medical records from RMA, and they are encouraging me to send them to Dr. Doyle to see if he would still work with me. He agreed to previously, but given the results from this mock cycle, I don't know if he'd feel the same way. However, I'm going to try. Not a day goes by that I don't think about being a surrogate, so I owe it to myself to keep trying for as long as I can--or as long as the doctors will let me. I don't ever want anyone to think I gave up, because no matter how hard all of this is, it will all be worth it if I can find a doctor who has the right protocol for me. So many of my surrogate friends have great things to say about Dr. Doyle, and I was very happy with the communication I'd had with his office staff, as well as Dr. Doyle himself. Since when do you find a doctor who emails you back within an hour?!

So I'm still here. Still hanging on. Anybody know if that cute kitten hanging from the tree branch on the poster ever manages to get himself back up?!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Is There Anything a Surrogate Won't Try?!

Apparently not!

Remember when I said I had a laundry list of home remedies that's everything short of voodoo? Well, I spoke to soon!

Okay, so it wasn't ACTUALLY voodoo. It was acupuncture. But yeah, since I was the "doll," I'm going to say it's close enough.

I've been reading about acupuncture for infertility, and specifically for thin lining, for several weeks now. But I didn't try it for a few reasons.

1. It's expensive. $90 for the first visit, $70 for subsequent ones.
2. They use needles.
3. I hate needles.
4. Needles.

Once I got the news on Wednesday that this next ultrasound would be the "end of the road" if my lining isn't thick enough, I decided I needed to try it. At this point, I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I called a few local places who were all booked up and couldn't get me in before my ultrasound tomorrow. And I still kept thinking about the cost...ouch. Then I found a few places that offer "community acupuncture" which means you aren't in a private room, and so the session only costs $30. One of them was having their community session that night, Thursday, so I made my appointment. I was happy to try it, hopeful that one session would help, and a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be able to do more than one session before the ultrasound.

I'm not feeling so disappointed anymore! One session will have to be enough!

First, he put 9 needles in my lower abdomen. These felt okay, and didn't hurt or bother me. I actually started to forget they were there. It was a little weird to see him stick a needle in my stomach and then feel a tingle in my toes. Crazy!

Next, he put two needles in each ankle, on the inside. Those sucked. Big time. It felt like I was hitting a funny bone in my ankle over and over again, which made it impossible to relax while I laid there for an hour. I kept telling myself "If it works, it's worth it. Just get through this one time."

Which became a little harder to keep in mind when he put a needle in the BOTTOM OF EACH FOOT. Right in the arch. Yikes.

So there I am, a human "pokey-pine" (my daughter's quote--I love it!), and the acupuncturist says, "Okay sweetie, you're all set. Just relax for about an hour, find your beach, and I'll be back to check on you."

Wha???? Find my beach?!

Let me tell you about my beach. My beach is the white sand and turquoise waters of Key West, with my husband (and/or Justin Timberlake) next to me handing me pina coladas in a half-coconut with a little paper umbrella. I cannot find my beach in a dark room filled with incense, while needles stick out of my skin and the woman next to me is snoring.

So I did not find my beach. I tried to think about why I was there, again conquering my fear of needles. I was there for fluffy lining. I was there for the smiling faces in the IP profile. I was there for the little embyro who needs a snuggly place to nestle in for 40 weeks.

The hour went by fairly quickly, but since Snoring Lady was there first, the acupuncturist had to take her needles out first. Imagine my surprise when he turns the table lamp on, and Snoring Lady has needles STICKING OUT OF HER NOSE AND FOREHEAD. I tried not to stare, but it was difficult. Especially when she stood up and I got a nice shot of Snoring Lady with no pants on. Somehow we are working on my uterus and I managed to stay covered?! No judgement, Snoring Lady. If Justin Timberlake was on my beach, I would not be wearing pants either.

Finally, it was my turn. And once again, the ankle needles bothered me the most. It's a hard sensation to describe, but I didn't like it. My ankles felt sore, like I'd hit a nerve. Especially the right one. It's now been three days and I can still feel it. Like a sprain. I don't know if that's supposed to happen or not, but if it helps any with my lining, it will all be worth it.

Tomorrow morning is my ultrasound. Send all your fluffy vibes my way, and also send out some positive vibes for Snoring Lady, for whatever ailment required needles in her nose!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Well, that appointment didn't go well.

I knew the results right away, but I was waiting to let you all know until after I heard from the IF's clinic.

Every party has a pooper, and that's me today. Thank goodness there was plenty of Halloween candy to munch on, plus my sister-in-law dragged me to McDonald's, then force fed me an ice cream sundae with hot fudge. And caramel. And extra. Of both.

So I'm just going to lay it all out here, because I don't really know what to think at this point. I'm feeling so many things--discouraged, frustrated, sad, apologetic--that I'm not up for blogging with witty comments or funny jokes. No fluff today. (Ha! You got one out of me.)

My lining only measured a 5.35mm. The tech said only a 5, but I saw the measurement on the screen, and I'm keeping the extra 0.35mm. I worked VERY HARD for that. Even if it's not nearly enough. All hope was not completely lost though, as I did have what appeared to be the triple stripe pattern. Which means that although it wasn't a thick lining, it was a healthy one. Some RE's feel the triple stripe is more important than the actual thickness, but let's face it. A  5  5.35 is still not enough.

The nurse from the clinic in Connecticut called me a couple of hours ago. She said they spoke to the guys, and they were willing to cover the cost of an additional estrogen medication as well as one more ultrasound. This makes me love them even more, which makes this even harder if it doesn't work. So I'm supposed to continue with the Delestrogen injections, and also start Smurfing one Estrace pill every evening. I will have one more lining check on Monday, and the nurse said, "If you're not closer to like an 8, that will be the end of the road unfortunately."

They were going to have the prescription shipped to me from the fertility pharmacy in New England, so that the IF's could pay for it. But that seemed like a ridiculous expense for them to pay for overnight shipping on a prescription that's on the $4 generic list at Target. Plus, I wouldn't get it until Friday. So I just asked the nurse to call it in to my local CVS, so I can go pick it up and start it tonight. I don't mind paying for's a small price and if I can save them any little out of pocket costs with everything they're doing for me, I'd like to try.

So that's where I am. Feeling hopeful and crushed at the same time. I've done everything I possibly can and then some, but there seems to be very little comfort in that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Delestrogen Injection Video!

Tonight was my last Delestrogen injection before my final lining check tomorrow, so I decided I'd record it for my blog readers. A 9 minute video with nervous chatter and butt crack--how lucky are you?!

Think fluffy thoughts for me tomorrow!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Roller Coaster of Emotions

This post was originally written on July 12th. I was in the middle of my first (and only) medicated cycle with J&S, and I was excited about our upcoming embryo transfer. As you know, that transfer was canceled, and soon after, my IF's became my "former IF's" and I was no longer with Circle Surrogacy. I was saving this post to share after our successful embryo transfer, possibly while I was on bed rest. Then my surrogacy journey went haywire and it got lost in the shuffle. Even with everything that changed since this post was written, I think it's important to share it. It still holds true, maybe now more than ever.

I've mentioned before that the idea of injections terrified me in the beginning of this journey. So much so that after submitting my pre-screening application to Circle, and then hearing from them less than 24 hours later that I was accepted to continue to the screening process, I froze. I didn't reply to the email, and I didn't send any of the paperwork Jeni was requesting.

After a day or two, I went to bed thinking non-stop about the injections, which then led into thinking about anything and everything that could possibly go wrong during the surrogacy. From losing all my limbs due to a flesh-eating infection, to the plane crashing with my husband and I on board. I was up half the night, unable to turn off my brain. In the blogs I was reading, the surrogates all seemed so excited and sure of their decisions. They were so ready to fulfill a life long dream, and I felt terrified. I finally decided if I was so scared and worried, maybe I should not become a surrogate. Once I made that decision, I felt so much relief right away, and was finally able to fall asleep for the rest of the night.

The next morning I woke up, remembered my long night and my decision, and immediately started feeling sad. It continued all morning. I just didn't understand how I could now feel so sad if I was making the right decision. I started out this journey feeling excited, then nervous, then scared, then worried, then relief, then sadness. And confusion, definitely confusion after riding that roller coaster! I just didn't know what to do. It took about a week before I finally reached out to Jeni about some of my fears, and she wrote back an awesome, encouraging (but not pushy) email. I had a great conversation with my husband, who seemed so confident and sure of everything. I wanted to move forward in this process. Being a surrogate is something I'd thought of many times, and it was finally the right time.

I'll be honest though and say that the nerves continued. Every time I got an email or a phone call letting me know we were at the next step in the screening process, my stomach would do a huge flip-flop and I'd feel like throwing up. But still ready to keep going.

At some point, it all changed.

I was rushing to the Fed Ex office, in the pouring rain, to make sure my signed final contract was mailed out to Circle just hours after I received it. I was so anxious to get it there, and as I drove away, I said to myself, "I'm so excited!" And then it hit me. I wasn't nervous anymore. The nerves and fear had gone away, and I didn't even notice when that had happened. If I had to guess, I'd say the turning point was the first Skype session with J&S. We fell in love with them, and I wanted so badly to give them the family they deserve. From that point on, things couldn't move fast enough!

It was important to me to write about this roller coaster of emotions, because obviously I was already forgetting how different I felt in the beginning compared to just two months later! But more importantly, I wanted any future surrogates to see that it doesn't have to start out unicorns and rainbows. It's okay to be nervous and it's okay to be scared. What we're doing is kind of a big deal! But it's also okay to push through some of those nerves and to reach out for support. You'll likely find that someone else has felt the same way!