Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just good news, finally

We were very grateful Stanford could get us in the following Friday. We made the trek out there and met Chris and Keith. I often feel like we need name tags, bouncing around to so many providers. "I'm a surrogate, these are the Babies' daddies, Chris and Keith, and this is my husband, Tony."

After a short wait, we got in for our ultrasound. We were all thrilled to see Baby A and B continuing to look wonderful, growing on track with strong, healthy heartbeats. I may have been holding my breath a bit until we saw Baby B's heart beating. It was a beautiful thing. The tech confirmed that Baby C stopped growing sometime before 8 weeks. Then the doctor came in and gave us the first bit of solidly good news we'd had in a while. While our situation is certainly unique, based on the timing of the loss of Baby C, and the way Baby B was looking and growing, she could see no reason why we shouldn't expect to continue on with a normal, healthy twin pregnancy. Yay! She'd had a patient with a similar situation before who delivered healthy twins, so she knows what she's talking about, and not apparently making things up like the perinatologist. :-D It was an overwhelmingly positive visit and we jumped at the chance to return for a follow-up and our NT ultrasound 3.5 weeks from then.

While the term "vanishing twin" isn't uncommon, I believe our situation is so unique because most commonly that occurs with fraternal twins, and we lost an identical. And from what I have gathered, it is unusual to lose just one identical. Early losses are most often the result of one of two things: genetic abnormalities or trauma, and either of those issues would have equally affected both identical twins, so the loss of Baby C is a tragic mystery, and the survival of Baby B a bit of a miracle.

Anyway, I'll jump ahead at this point, because things soon get blissfully boring, the way healthy pregnancies can get. Last week we returned to Stanford at 13 weeks 1 day for our NT ultrasound. I'll admit, the dire pronouncement of my nurse still weighed heavy on my mind, and I was so anxious to see two healthy babies, officially out of the first trimester and out of the woods in my mind. And see them, we did. Two lovely, squirmy little babies, all their parts measuring great, with strong, healthy heartbeats, seemingly waving to us from up there on the screen. It was such a wonderful relief. I feel like I can more or less relax from here on in. And as the first trimester draws to a close, we are now Facebook official. :-D Pregnant with twins, due early May!

And then there were two

After a ridiculous amount of back and forth with the ultrasound place, my RE, the perinatologist and my OB (literally took me the better part of an afternoon), I was able to secure a follow-up appointment with the perinatologist to get some more information about what we were facing. Our appointment was about a week after our first ultrasound.

Chris and Keith met us there, and we started with another ultrasound. This was performed by a far more competent tech. So, as sad as it was to hear, we trusted her when she said that Baby C had no heartbeat. :-( It appeared that Baby C had stopped growing shortly after our last ultrasound (was measuring around 7.5 weeks). That sad news was tempered with healthy reports on Baby A and B, both measuring on track with strong, healthy heartbeats.

And then came the sucker punch. The doctor met with us shortly afterwards, and, with little preamble, informed us that since Baby B shared a placenta with Baby C, the loss of Baby C could have consequences for Baby B. He said there was a 15% chance of Baby B having neurological issues, ranging from learning disabilities to blindness or cerebral palsy. =-O That's quite a range. And there would be no way to know if any of this occurred until birth. So, again, the option of reduction was broached. At this point, to me, it seemed a little ridiculous. Reduce because a baby might be blind, but might just having a learning disability, but most likely is totally fine, but there's no way to tell? :-\ On the brightside, this discussion came with a referral to Stanford, to get an expert opinion. And that referral was very welcome. It seemed clear that our situation was mostly uncharted territory for this doctor, and we were all anxious to see somebody who could hopefully give us more information. Our Stanford appointment was eventually scheduled for the following week.

The double-edged sword that was our visit to the perinatologist cast a pall that made for a rather depressed weekend. Come Monday morning, I decided I needed to turn my attitude around, as much for the twins I was carrying as for myself when I got knocked down again. My nurse from my RE's office had gotten the report from the perinatologist, and thought it would be helpful, I guess, to let me know that it is common for these types of twins not to survive. When I wrote back to clarify, she confirmed that she meant exactly what I thought she did: that we should fully expect to lose Baby B as well, and that that had always happened in her experience. Every time. But she added it was worth getting an expert opinion. :-\ Here we thought we were facing cerebral palsy, at the worst, and now my nurse was practically guaranteeing another demise.

I'll admit, I still harbor a fair bit of animosity towards her for those emails. I can acknowledge the idea that she thought it was good to prepare me for the worst, but I feel like, as a surrogate especially, we know that the first trimester is a tenuous time. Seemingly healthy babies are lost all the time during that initial 3 months. All her pronouncement did was add an incredible amount of stress during an already stressful time. If her information had been somewhat helpful, if there was something I could do to lessen the chance of Baby B's seemingly inevitable demise, I would have welcomed her input. But there was nothing I could do but worry at that point.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Now what?

The next few days were a crazy mix of emotions. I felt like I was in a Lifetime movie or something. Besides the general shock of TRIPLETS, I didn't know what the plan was, and therefore I didn't really know what to prepare for. You know, back at our match meeting, when we were discussing this thing that was never going to happen, all I remembered saying about *if* the impossible (in my mind) happened, I would be okay with whatever decision Chris and Keith made. But I couldn't remember if they had made a decision clear at that time or not. Because, ya know, it didn't matter, since it was never going to happen. :-\

The decision I'm referring to is whether or not to selectively reduce, an option made clear to us by all the professionals we were interacting with (RE, counselor, OB, perinatologist). Because, while modern medicine has certainly made carrying and birthing triplets a lot more viable, it's not nearly as easy as it may seem these days, with higher order multiples all over our media. A triplet pregnancy is a significantly riskier pregnancy, for the woman and even more so for the babies. Triplets are almost always born before 36 weeks, and sometimes significantly earlier, increasing the likelihood of a whole host of problems, ranging from NICU time and possible future learning issues to severe disabilities. And we knew that the identicals shared a placenta, which also opened them up to even further problems. On my end, my risk for gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and other issues was way up, and bed rest was pretty much a guarantee. A surro I know lost her uterus after a triplet pregnancy, so I was aware this would be no walk in the park.

Regardless, I knew that I would prefer not reducing, but I did my best not to put too much emphasis on that thought, because I knew it wasn't my decision to make. I had agreed that it would be up to the guys, and I knew that, like all parents, that if that was what they chose, they wouldn't do so lightly and would need my full support.

I gave Chris and Keith as long as I could to process and sort out their feelings, as much as possible at that point. I tried to make it a full week, but I think I made it 4 or 5 days before asking them if they had decided whether or not to reduce. The answer was a resounding no to reduction, and we were officially Team Triplets!

I went to the library and checked out all they had on triplet pregnancies. I knew it was going to be a tough road, but I have an incredible amount of support, both practically and emotionally, and while I was undeniably nervous about the obstacles that faced us, I was admittedly a little excited to be facing such a unique challenge. Bring it on, Babies!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

There are how many in there?!

It seemed like an extra long wait until our first ultrasound at 7.5 weeks. We were so excited to see how many babies we were baking in there. High beta numbers suggest twins, but there's certainly not a direct correlation. Chris and Keith assured me they would be thrilled with one healthy baby, and twins would just be icing. And I was definitely feeling worse than I had in previous pregnancies (throwing up at Target is not as glamorous as it sounds), and I honestly kind of wanted to have something to show for it (and not just feel like a whiner). I found a place halfway between us, and Chris and Keith met Tony and I there.

The tech called me back alone first, and I promised not to look at the screen until everyone was allowed in. This ended up meaning I stared at the ceiling for about an hour. It was the longest ultrasound I have ever had. Finally she calls all the guys back. And because of the placement of the screen, I could hardly see anything, so I settled for glances while watching everyone's faces and listening to the tech's narration.

I watched the joy as she showed them their baby. Yay! And watched the joy multiply as she showed them their other baby. Double yay! And then the joy transformed into a bit of shock as she introduced Baby #3. Wait, what?! Let me remind you we transferred two embryos. Two. So three babies meant that not only did both embryos implant successfully, but one overachieving split into identical twins.

The tech briefly showed us all three heartbeats. At that point we were all definitely in shock, and I barely got a glimpse of the babies. Chris wanted to take a picture of the screen, but the tech told us that wasn't allowed, and implied she'd print us some pictures. And then she didn't. Because apparently her machine didn't have a printer. Which would have been good information to have back when she implied she'd print some for us. :-\

After the tech wrapped up the ultrasound, we all met back in front of the office, and, considering the surprise we'd just had, we had very little to say. I don't know if you recall me mentioning this possibility in my post about our match meeting, but the odds of triplets happening were too low for me to even consider it a possible likelihood. We're talking something like 0.1% chance. I had even been annoyed our counselor had spent so much time on the subject. And then, there we were. Speechless, practically. The general consensus seemed to be we all needed to process this unbelievable news, and we headed back to our respective homes (although I'll admit I was a little nervous whether Keith would be able to drive at that point). At least I had a real good excuse for puking at Target.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And we're back!

Like many parents, Chris and Keith preferred to keep things on the down low for the first trimester, but now the end of the first trimester brings an end to our radio silence.

The past few months have been quite the roller coaster, and I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts, give you all the full experience. ;-)

So, last you heard from me was right after transfer, when we transferred two great looking embryos. Chris and Keith said they were down with me testing at home, and I was all ready with about half a dozen tests. They said they didn't want to know until Tony could see the line (surros have super eyes, I assure you).

I started testing 3 days after transfer, just for practice, with no expectation it would be positive so early. And, of course, it wasn't. Except...a couple of hours later I noticed the faintest line. I decided not to get excited because Dollar Store tests are infamous for "evaporation" lines if you read them outside the recommended time. Still, it was enough to convince me to test again in the morning (3.5 days), instead of waiting until I was 4 days proper (it's an obsession, I know). My super surro eyes saw faint lines at 3.5 and 4 days, and Tony thought maybe he could see it on the 4 day test. I knew that Wednesday morning would be the test I could share with Chris and Keith, the official positive they would be able to see.

But good thing they wake up before me, because I woke up to a message from them Wednesday morning saying they decided they didn't want to hear the results of any home tests and wanted to wait until the official blood test on Friday. But I was welcome to test. Since I'd already started, I figured no use stopping now. But if I hadn't started testing yet, I wouldn't have, because the next two and a half days keeping the positive news from them was torture. I didn't want to tell them about my sudden pregnancy symptom (heartburn, I only get it when pregnant, although never so early), and was so careful with what I said.

But I made it to, and through, Friday. I got my blood drawn in the morning, and it took almost until the end of business to get our results back. I got to call the guys with the fantastic news of a beta of 178 at 7dp5dt (7 days past a 5 day transfer), a very strong number. They were, of course, overjoyed. And both Chris and I took to Google, which said that our beta strongly indicated twins. :-o But we wouldn't know how many we were growing for another three weeks, at our first ultrasound.

But first, a second and a third beta, 1074 at 11dp5dt and 2603 at 13dp5dt. Definitely pregnant, that's for sure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Off to elsewhere for a while. Come along!

I feel like I want to write more, less often, about my surrogacy journey, but I don't want to post it here. If you're interested in following my posts elsewhere, comment here or message me, and I'll make sure you're included.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Yesterday we transferred two "beautiful embryos" into a "perfect placement" in my uterus (doctor's words. In the picture you can see three little air bubbles that accompanied the embryos), and I am considering myself "PUPO" (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise :-D). We'll have the official word in about a week or so.

The transfer went fantastically. Daddies got pictures of their beautiful embryos I'll have to ask for copies of, so I can share. I was so excited both embryos made it through the thaw looking great.

The only awkward moment was when the hunky embryologist comes in (with the embryos in his catheter), and pretty much introduces himself to my vagina, which is totally on display, hands off the embryos and walks out. Good thing I'm not modest. :-P

We all had a yummy sushi lunch (don't worry, I only had California Rolls), then nap and rest, and then Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I couldn't pass it up with one so close. It was so nice for us to spend time with Chris and Keith. It was so much fun to just hang out with them and get to know them as people a little more. The more I get to know them the more I like them, and I'm so happy we're all in this together. This was really Tony's first time hanging out with them since our match meeting, and he couldn't stop talking about how fond of them he was. I was only bummed we didn't have more time together. We'll have to arrange something soon. I love that they're so close! :-D

Tony and I are getting our relax on for the rest of the day with a Doctor Who marathon, popcorn and some leftover cheesecake. Can't wait to share some good news around here. :-D

Monday, August 18, 2014

Almost There!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, we leave tomorrow! And the day after tomorrow, I'm getting knocked up, folks. :-D So excited!

Just about finished packing, and here are a few things that were on my shopping list:
-Hair dye (Had to dye my hair a color that I can grow out without it being too obvious)
-Pineapple (There's a theory eating pineapple the night before transfer can be helpful)
-Life Cereal (Silly tradition from last transfer, ya know, to help create life or whatever)
-Lucky transfer socks (Since my feet will be on display in the stirrups)
-Wine (For Tony, Chris and Keith at our after transfer pajama party)
-Kindle and laptop (To help keep us busy during 48 hours of bed rest)

Sunday I started progesterone injections. Wanna see?
First progesterone shot The shots are going well. They hurt very little during the actual injection, and are just sore the next day, despite the heating pad and massage we do afterwards. I had a weird, but not unheard of experience the other day when, directly after a practically painless shot, my throat hurt all of a sudden and I got a strange taste in my mouth. Fortunately I'd heard of this happening to other girls before, so while it was freaky, it wasn't terribly worrying.

Had a minor freakout yesterday when I almost singlehandedly ruined transfer. We're working with HRC Fertility, so I had looked up my doctor and read that he works out of the West L.A. office, so I assumed that's where the transfer would occur, and I'm basing all my planning and hotel and everything off of that address. It wasn't until I told the guys what hotel we were staying at did it come up that we're transferring at the Encino office. So very glad that came up before we showed up at the wrong office on Friday. Today I did see on my instruction sheet where it said ENC, but I had thought that was doctor speak I just wasn't reading correctly. :-P

40 hours and counting! :-D

All Systems Go!

Wrote this Saturday and didn't get a chance to post it, so pretend it's still Saturday. :-D

Yesterday was my final monitoring appointment, and it is official, everything looks good, our embryo transfer is officially next Friday, August 22! My lining is a nice 9.3mm, with the triple stripe (triple stripe, or, in medical speak, trilinear pattern is when the walls of the uterus ate so thick they touch in the middle, and it looks like three stripes), which seems to be super important. You know you're a surro when you see the triple stripe before the tech mentions it. :-) I didn't ask about my estrogen numbers, but my nurse says they look good as well, so yay! At Monday's appointment, my lining was measuring 6.8mm, so that's a nice increase and my uterus should be extra fluffy in another week.

Tomorrow night we start the progesterone, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, it's a shot, and, in addition to the soreness the next day, it's just a bit of a pain in the butt to get it all ready and everything. Funnily enough, it's starting progesterone that is an impetus for me buying a new microwave. Ours broke several months ago, and we haven't really missed it, but I have a heating pad that you have to microwave, and, whether it helps or not, I always put heat on my injection site (and massage) afterwards. And it's cheaper to buy a (secondhand) microwave than an electric heating pad. :-)

And then, Thursday, we leave home for transfer! Eeeeee! Tony and I will drive down, because the travel time (driving to the airport, checking in, flying, blah, blah) either way is almost the same. And this way we'll have our car with us. Since we're talking just under 5 hours drive time, it's a much better idea for us to arrive the night before in order to be on time on Friday. And then, I believe our transfer is around noon on Friday, and then I'm on strict bed rest for the next 48 hours (feet up, only getting up to pee, pretty much). Pajama party in our room! :-D And then Tony and I will head home Sunday. And then we have to wait until August 29 for the beta test, which is a blood test which tests for hcg. Pretty much anything over 0 indicates some level of pregnancy, but I think we'll be looking for a number higher than 30.

Now, the hardest part. Making it through the next several days until transfer, and then until beta, without my head exploding. Eeeeeee!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Watch out, I'm taking hormones!

With my last journey, I took both my estrogen and progesterone via injection, and the only side effect I recall was the inevitable soreness that comes from shoving a bunch of hormones suspended in oil into your muscle everyday for three months. I even avoided the weight gain a lot of women experience while on meds (don't hate me too much; I more than make up for it once I get pregnant).

This time around I'm having a bit of a different experience. It seems like the estrogen is making me just a tiny bit crazy-pants. :-D I was aware that I was feeling a bit more stressed out than usual, but I just blamed it on jetlag and our broken down van and trying to get Kismet back into the swing of school. And then I almost lost it over a pair of stained jeans. I'm usually a pretty even keel type person, but we're talking almost full-fledged tearful breakdown over dirty laundry. It wasn't until the next morning when I thought, "Gosh, that was a *bit* of an overreaction." And then I thought, "Hey, hormones!" I was so excited that I wasn't really a raging bitch. Or at least I've got a good excuse for feeling like one. :-) I'm definitely still feeling a lot grumpier and shorter than usual, but it's a lot easier to keep myself in check now that I'm more self-aware, and I like to think my body's getting used to the influx of estrogen. Hopefully I'll be able to deal with the 50% increase in dosage today. :-D

I'm currently sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my monitoring appointment. That includes a transvaginal ultrasound to check if my uterine lining is responding to the meds and a blood test to check on my estrogen levels now that I've been on it for almost a week. It should be a quick appointment once they call me back (I was anticipating traffic that didn't occur and got here a half hour early), and hopefully we'll get the results this afternoon. And then, when everything looks peachy keen, I believe we get the go-ahead to officially make travel plans for transfer. Woot woot!

Super enjoying our burgeoning relationship with Chris and Keith. I love how involved they want to be with everything that goes on on my side, and how involved they want me to be on their side. It really feels like a team effort.

Despite the fact that I am, of course, not actually pregnant yet, because of the weird way pregnancy is tracked (counting from the first day of the last period, and not from fertilization), I am sort of kind of 1 week 1 day pregnant today, based on our transfer date. :-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Meds Arrival Day!

Today, arriving just in time for IF Keith's birthday, is our first, real, tangible proof this is really happening. Meds are here! Never in my life would I have imagined I'd be practically giddy over a box of needles, hormones, vitamins and antibiotics. But they're here, and I start them tomorrow! Yay!

This protocol is a little different than last time. We're doing a frozen embryo transfer like we did before, so I don't have to do Lupron. Tomorrow I start the estrogen to start plumping up my uterine lining. Last time it was one shot every three days. This time it's 2-3 pills everyday. So that part is a little easier. Slightly unfortunately (it's not a terribly big deal), we'll still have to do progesterone shots everyday, but that doesn't start until about 5 days before transfer. And I'll also start the antibiotics (prophylactic) at that time. And maybe some steroids? I gotta check out my box again. As a matter of fact, I'm going to go organize it all right now. Alas, no valium this time. ;-)

It's hard to believe, but as long as my body cooperates, and there's no reason for me to believe it won't, we will be transferring in 18 days! That's right, transfer is on August 22! I may be a little excited and might have bought a pregnancy test already. :-D It's real now. Meds start tomorrow, countdown mode to transfer, let's make Chris and Keith a baby!

How a 2.5 hour delay almost turned into a week (or more) setback

Posting this unedited, as is (written on July 31), so I can get to work on my next post. See if you can find the super important piece of information amid all my whining:

While I won't post this until we've confirmed our transfer date, I'm currently writing having just boarded our plane back to the U.S.

We woke up this morning at 6:00 in order to be at the airport in time for our 11:00 flight. The travel time between our accommodations and the airport was only about 30 minutes. But a variety of circumstances (mostly out of our hands, I'm proud to say) meant we didn't get to our gate until 12:00. So I guess it's a mixed blessing that our flight was delayed. Two and a half hours. Which is a general bummer, but nothing we can't deal with, being pretty good at rolling with the punches. But that causes further issues, because our connection in Miami is two hours. So the likelihood of us making that is pretty darn slim at this point.

So, double bummer. Especially because they're saying they can't get us on another flight to San Francisco today, and we'll have to stay the night in Miami. As much as we'd like to be home, we're not terribly averse to a little addendum to our adventure. BUT I have an appointment for an ultrasound tomorrow morning. And based on the results of this ultrasound, I'm supposed to be starting meds in anticipation of an August 22. If I miss this appointment, it's likely they won't schedule another one until the following Friday, at the earliest, as I was told they like to do transfers on Fridays, and that works out best for our schedule.

Needless to say, I'm motivated to make this appointment. I politely expressed that desire to the airline agent, and they found one seat on a flight from Miami to San Francisco tonight. But that means leaving Tony and the kids in Miami while I go on by myself. I'm almost certainly going to take the flight if it comes down to it, but I'm not keen on the idea of leaving my family on the other side of the country for a night.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Almost totally ready to go

Last Thursday was my sonohysterogram. This is a procedure wherein a doctor uses a catheter to insert saline into my uterus, and then, via transvaginal ultrasound, they check out my uterus in all it's splendor.

Usually this procedure takes place in the RE's office. Our RE is down in L.A., which is a 5 hour drive, so they were kind enough to let me get the procedure done locally. After a little bit of effort, I found a place just 20 minutes away that could do it. When I checked in, they didn't have the billing information on file. This is something that was supposed to be taken care of ahead of time by my agency, so both the receptionist and I called around to our various contacts to see what was going on. The receptionist had clearly never dealt with a situation like this, and seemed to keep lowering her voice whenever she'd mention "surrogacy" on the phone. It's okay, dude. I'm not ashamed and it's not a secret. I finally got ahold of my finance lady, and it turns out she had taken care of out previously, the imaging place just hadn't made proper note of it. So, yay.

Now, if you're squeamish about, ya know, vaginas, feel free to skip over the rest of this paragraph. :-) So, I'm all set up in the stirrups, ready to go, and the doctor comes in, and she applies some lube or something. And at first it's nice and cool. And then it starts to burn. First a little, then a lot. And I have this running commentary in my head: "Ooooo, cold. Oh, that's uncomfortable. Oh, oh, burning, it's burning. That is not good. Is it supposed to feel like that? Am I being a wuss? Does it feel like this for everyone? This is definitely burning. Should I say something? Am I allergic? Is this worth complaining about? I mean, if it always feels like this, I don't want to be whiny, but what if they're ruining my lady parts?! Does it look as red as it feels?! If so, can't they tell something's not right?" But by the time I had decided to say something, the burning had subsided, and I'm glad to report nothing was ruined.

With the exception of the above and literally a few seconds of mild cramps, the procedure isn't bothersome. The most annoying part was that the performing doctor was not my RE, so I had to wait until Tuesday for my RE to get the images and review and approve them. There's always that irrational fear that something will be wrong, at every step. But I'm pleased to say my uterus has a stamp of approval.

Tuesday I also spoke with my nurse at the RE's office, and we went over my medical history (yet again), and she told me about their med protocol. Since we'll be doing a frozen transfer (as opposed to fresh, where I would have to sync my cycle with an egg donor, and then the eggs would be fertilized and grown out 3-5 days, then transferred. With a frozen transfer, they do everything but transfer, all without me, and then freeze the embryos. When I'm ready to go, they'll thaw 'em and transfer them into my nice cozy uterus.), I already get to avoid the Lupron shot, which seems to be almost exclusively used with fresh transfers, and my new RE does estrogen pills instead of shots, so the only I'll have to be shooting up will be progesterone. But I assure you, that will be plenty. That one is a literal pain in the ass. :-D We talked about getting started on cycling once we get back (Did I mention we're going to Europe? Like, literally right now. I'm in a plane, on airplane mode, composing this. Six hours down, about 13 more to go. And we'll be gone the rest of the month! Woot woot! But, anyway, back to surrogacy. :-D ), and yesterday, before we left, I was able to schedule my baseline ultrasound for the day after we return. They said it has to happen in the morning, so I have it scheduled for 10:30. The office is about an hour away from my house. And this happens the morning after I return from an international flight, probably not getting home until 1:00am. I assured the receptionist. I'd be there. Miserable, but present. :-)

We were also met with a minor unexpected hurdle on Monday. Every surro agreement that I've ever heard of involves a life insurance policy for the surro, ya know, in case of shit. I have never heard of surros having to complete a special physical to be eligible, but that turned out to be the case this time (surprise!). The lawyers received our notarized contract, and gave the insurance underwriter the go-ahead, and she emailed me Monday mentioning the physical and that somebody would be calling me in a few days to schedule that, and I'll want to get it done ASAP. I emailed her back immediately explaining that, if they want it done anytime soon, it would have to be Wednesday. And bless her, she made it happen. Wednesday morning a nurse came to my house to review my medical history (again, in-depth; no I don't remember what month it was when I was diagnosed with mild allergy induced asthma when I was 12. How's April sound? April is a good month.), weigh me, take my blood pressure, make me pee in a cup and draw my blood. It's a good thing I don't eat breakfast first thing, because somebody failed to mention I was supposed to be fasting. So good thing that worked out. And the insurance lady continued to be on the ball, and Wednesday afternoon sent me a travel form, which I filled out and returned, lickety-split.

So that's that. I believe I got all my surro business, at least, 95% wrapped up (insurance lady made it sound like she might need me to sign some things or something) before we left the country. I tell ya, I think it's damn near a record. Chris and Keith were mad on the ball with the legal side, and I was chomping at the bit to get medical all done; between the three of us, we rocked the pre-baby-making business. We should be all ready to start on the fun stuff once I'm back stateside.

Speaking of the future daddies, last Wednesday the kids and I got to had to the City to have dinner at their house. The kids and I had a great time, and Kismet was just about ready to move in: "I'm just going to go lay down in the guest room for a while." I'm really looking forward to our families continuing to cultivate our relationships throughout this journey.

Friday, June 20, 2014

And then...?

Yesterday the guys got their copy of the contract notarized, and I'm eagerly awaiting our copy so we can make that shit legit! :-D It took an extra day or so to get the finalized version because I got a little finicky and requested 2 changes to an already super awesome contract which apparently confused our lawyers a bit and caused a bit of miscommunication on the legal side, but we got it all straightened out. I think it might be a bit annoying to everyone else involved that the guys and I have such excellent communication, because the outside parties can't blame any hang-ups or setbacks on each of us to the other. ;)

Yesterday I also scheduled my sonohysterogram (or hysterosonogram, according to one office I called; it's a procedure where they put saline in the uterus and do an ultrasound to make sure everything looks pristine in there). I was surprised when I called up Tuesday to schedule it and the nurse at the RE's office (in LA) said we could try and find a local place to do it. I thought for sure I'd have to go down to the RE's office for this part, which almost certainly would have been an out and back in one day journey, which is a little tiring, so I was more than happy to entertain the option of doing it locally. Except the place they referred me to yesterday doesn't do that procedure. So I called several different places, some of which did not perform the procedure and some which did, but couldn't schedule me soon enough. One that I called, just about 25 minutes away, told me that they could only do it if I was on certain days of my menstrual cycle, while the nurse at my RE's office said that I could have it done at any time because I'm on the pill (I'm lucky I'm a repeat surro and I knew that this procedure usually has to happen at a certain time; several weeks ago I asked my counselor how that would work and she reached out to the RE's office and they told me to start the pill so our timing would be more open since we're in a little bit of a hurry at the moment). So I told the RE's office about this place, and they talked to them, and then the nurse told me to call the place up and schedule my appointment, telling them that today is the first day of my cycle. I guess they know what they're doing. So we're all scheduled to shove some salt water up into my uterus on Thursday and take some pictures.

And that, my friends, is the last box we need to check before I get to start poking myself and then get knocked up. And we're looking to do that in August. Because of this whole awesome Europe trip we have planned for pretty much the whole month of July. :-D But after we return stateside, it's baby-making time!

It's interesting how different agencies have different schedules for getting all this pre-game stuff done. I was a little thrown this time by the way our agency does the medical portion. Not that it's bad, just different, and I kept needing clarification on when we were wrapping medical screenings up. One advantage is that, previously, I had to go down to LA for psych and med screenings, and it looks like we'll only be heading down there for transfer this time 'round.
Agency #1-Paperwork, match meeting, psych and full medical screening, (hypothetically, I never got farther than passing the screenings), contract, meds and then transfer.
Agency #2-Paperwork, psych and full medical screening, match meeting, lawyer retainer paperwork, contract, meds, transfer
Agency #3(our agency)-Paperwork (including lawyer retainer), initial medical screening (by my doctor), psych screening, blood work, match meeting, contract, final medical (sonohysterogram), meds, transfer

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Getting it down on paper

Today was a lovely day out at Roaring Camp Railroad with not only my IFs, but also almost all of my family (a few important people were missed!). K and C were subjected to a handful of crazy kids and jumped right in and hit the ground running. :-) It was really a pleasure to get everyone together so soon. I'm getting the feeling that, as long as they're open to it, which they seem to be, C and K won't just be expanding their family by 1 (or 2), but we'll be creating a whole new extended family. :-)

As far as the surrogacy goes, we're currently in the contract phase, and that's in their court at the moment, and after they're done with it, it will be bounced to me, and once I approve, then it's made official, and *then* we all sign it. And that's the short version, if I'm A-okay with all the details the first time round. Boring, yes, but so very important in spelling out to the world that, in no uncertain terms, C and K's baby is in no way mine. And it will use many, many words to say that. I think my last contract was something like 20 pages. Many will state that (if this is in fact the case) the surro has agreed, in the case of physical issues, to terminate at the request of the IPs. *Although,* as my lawyer was quick to point out to me last time, this part is more of a good faith gesture on the part of the surro, as no one can legally compel a woman to participate in an abortion if she doesn't want to. And it will also touch on other things that we're agreeing to as we agree to carry their child for 41ish weeks. And this is where they get a little interesting. I believe most include the basics, like no tattoos, piercings (and none for Tony, either), smoking or drinking while pregnant, duh, but they can also vary based on the desires of the IPs or the lawyer who draws up the contract. My last contract said I couldn't dye my hair (unless I used organic dyes expressly approved by my OB), and mine didn't, but I've heard contracts including no caffeine, no deli meat and other stuff like that. I can't remember the exact details, but I've read some that made me =-O

And like I mentioned before, some of this is the desires of the IPs, and sometimes it's the lawyers. I think first-time IPs especially sometimes (just like first-time surros) see the contract and think this is what they're supposed to do and go with it. Lucky for everyone involved, this can be a negotiation process if there's something in there that doesn't work for someone. I had to go over my whole contract privately with my lawyer, to confirm that I understood and agreed to every line, and there was nothing I wanted to change. Had there been, the lawyer would have made a note of it, gone back to my IPs with my proposed change(s), and we'd go back and forth until we had a version that looked good to everyone.

The only thing I should have changed, and I didn't realize how much of an issue it would be until way later, was that, after 24 weeks I was not allowed to travel more than 50 miles from my designated hospital (or leave the state) without my IPs being okay with it. And I understand the reasoning behind this: they want to make sure you're close to an approved hospital, and leaving the state can be dangerous if you go into labor because surrogacy is illegal in some states, but for a traveler like me, it was very stifling, especially considering that covered the entire summer break. We spend a lot of time in the Bay Area, which is, like, 65 miles away. It didn't mean we stopped going, but did go a little less, and I just had to bother my IPs about silly things like going to a graduation party or visiting my in-laws. They were very accommodating, but I hated bothering them for things like that. I got cabin fever midsummer and got the okay to head down to San Luis Obispo for a long weekend once. It was just not a restriction that worked for us (like Prop 8 was repealed during this time, and we wanted to jet off to San Francisco to celebrate, and I had to be sure to clear it with my IFs first) because our regular lives occur outside of a 50 mile radius. And that was my bad. I should have thought it through, and have asked to amend it in the first place. For us, I think 100 miles is a lot more reasonable, especially considering there are good or better hospitals most everywhere we frequent, and my labors last longer than 2 hours. But, ya know, I was just so excited to get that first contract, and I couldn't see anywhere where I was promising *my* firstborn, so I didn't want to make a stink. Fortunately practice makes perfect. :-D

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A not so brief introduction

Well clearly C is over the whole privacy thing, which I kind of really love (since I do things like this, certain kinds of privacy are not a concern of mine) and posted a link to my blog on his Facebook page so I imagine I'm having a few new readers from his page. So, friends, family, well wishers of C and K, welcome! Everybody else, thanks for sticking around.

You may be wondering why C and K are so willing to trust me with their baby for 9 months. First of all, we're both working with an agency that had put me through my paces before C and K ever even heard of me. I had to power through a complete psychological and physical screening (physical with my own doctor, one with their doctor is yet to come) after having met the general requirements of an agency surro. So far it's been generally established that I'm moderately sane, at least comparatively, free of most major diseases and kind of rock this pregnancy business.

I also am, as they say in the biz, a proven surrogate. In September 2013, I popped out a lovely, healthy baby girl for a great Daddy and Papa on the East Coast. After 41 relatively easy, uneventful weeks, I was proud and joyful to deliver her into the arms of her fathers, and I hear from them on occasion and get pictures of her lovely face.

But beyond that, the titles and the numbers, what did C and K know about me before they decided I was the one they wanted to carry their child? I also had to create a bit of a cover letter for myself. I wanted to be thorough without being completely overwhelming (I may not have been entirely successful). I wanted potential IPs to know who I was, what they were getting into, as it were, before things got personal. I know there are plenty of aspects of myself that I missed, and I may have glossed over a few of my faults (maybe one. Or two.), but I wanted future parents to really buy into me as a person, because we're going to be partners on this journey for almost a year, and hopefully friends for life. So I tried to fit me on a page, and this is what they got:

Dear Future Parents,

Hello, my name is Tiffany, and I'd like to have your baby. ;-) This is the beginning of my second surrogate journey, and I'm so excited to be finding another set of awesome IPs who are looking forward to building a relationship with my family and myself as we all work together to get you your baby.

I've been lucky enough to have 3 uncomplicated pregnancies, and am totally content with our family as it is. Since we're done with my uterus, it would be a shame for it to go to waste. ;-) I feel very honored to have the opportunity to help others grow their families. It's such an amazingly rewarding experience.

Some of the boring, but important, stuff about me: I'm 32, and have given birth to 3 children at this point. My daughter, Kismet, is 5, my son, Teagun, is 3, and my surro baby was born on September 23 of last year. All births were vaginal. My son's birth was completely natural, which is the way I prefer it. Birth is one of the many areas of my life in which I'm kind of a hippie. :-) All three children were born at almost exactly 41 weeks, and all of my pregnancies were free of major complications.

And now the hopefully less boring part, my mini (but wordy) bio: I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mom to 2 crazy awesome little kids.  Our daughter, Kismet, is 5, and is the poster child for precociousness.  She's the life of any party and makes friends as easy as the rest of us breathe. She enjoys reading, exploring and experiments. Our son, Teagun, is 3, and is a loving, sensitive boy, and a study in unpredictability.  He's as likely to start a random dance party as throw a tantrum. He likes puzzles, books, trains and stuffed animals.  They keep me very busy with school, trips to the library, gymnastic lessons and just general climbing all over.

My husband, Tony, works as a critical care transport nurse, and we're lucky to have him home 4 days every week (he works 12 hour days the other 3 days).  He is my best friend and soul mate (gag, I know ;) ), and I know everyday how lucky we are to have found each other. He's incredibly supportive of my surrogacy journeys, after having been a little nervous at first, and even attended OB appointments with me when he was able. We've been together for 9 years, and we look forward to holding hands when we're old and wrinkly.

We currently live in Manteca, a small city just about smack dab in the middle of California.  My family lives here as well, and we're lucky enough that they are all incredibly supportive, and willing to lend a hand anytime we may need it.  Tony's mom comes out to spend the night once a week and get in her grandchildren time, and that's usually the point where Tony and I run out for a few minutes of grown up time. We also have a lot of friends and family in the San Jose area, so we try to make it out there at least once a month.

I was born and raised in Manteca, but was lucky enough to live in the Bay Area for 8 years, 6 of which were spent in San Francisco.  While I was in San Francisco, I attended San Francisco State University, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with minors in Human Sexuality and Special Education.  I never quite figured out what I wanted to do with my degree, and have spent the years between then and now working with autistic children, as a nanny, as a tutor, an exchange student representative, a substitute teacher, and finally as a stay-at-home-mom.
If I had to describe myself, I'd first like to point out that I find honesty, in myself and others, to be incredibly important.  I despise lying, even about little things.  I find it a matter of respect, something I also feel is vital.  I try to treat everyone with respect, including children.  I'm also an overwhelmingly happy, kind, easy-going, open person who appreciates the fun, little things in life (and was incredibly lucky to find someone to spend my life with who also enjoys pretty sunsets and silly jokes).  We consider ourselves a little bit hippie in the attachment parenting, semi-green kind of way. On the flip side, I battle laziness everyday and am only lately getting better at managing my time.  I do not excel at housekeeping. I also am finally really growing out of my shyness.  On good days.  :-)

I really enjoy baking (I fantasize about turning my hobby into a career someday), and look forward to someday having time to play videogames again.  I used to especially enjoy Final Fantasy games and World of Warcraft.  I also love reading, mostly fantasy and sci-fi.  I'm a proud geek, and some of my major geek outs include Buffy (and most things Joss Whedon does), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Harry Potter.  I suppose going to the gym is one of my hobbies. In order to balance out the baking, I have to make the gym a habit, and my current goals are to someday soon achieve the splits and a pull-up. I'd be happy with just one.  Oh, and bargains.  Bargain shopping is definitely a hobby of mine.  :-)  I also love traveling, and am so excited to be going to Europe for the first time this summer.

I understand that the above is both a lot to take in, and probably nowhere near all of the information you're interested in, but I figure it's a start. If we don't sound like the right fit for you, I wish you the best of luck in finding your perfect surrogate, and if it all sounds good to you, I can't wait to meet you! :-D

Have a great day!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Don't Wake Me...

Friday was our match meeting, and it's official! The perfect IFs are now my IFs! Woot woot! C and K, as they will henceforth be known, because I'm too lazy to write their whole names, and also to afford them a little privacy, unless they choose to out themselves here as well. :)

The match meeting went swimmingly. They had all the "right" answers (I use quotes because they were the right answers for us; for others they might not have been. Everybody is looking for a different experience.). Tony kept giving me little looks every time they said pretty much exactly what I was hoping to hear. And I thoroughly enjoyed the look they shared when I had their right answer as well. For example, I was (weirdly, I know) happy that they want me to breastfeed while we're in the hospital. Not that this would have been a deal breaker, but I did make the stipulation that if they do want me to try and pump, I have to breastfeed first, because trying to pump colostrum was an effort in futility for me. Any of the precious liquid I was able to get was usually lost in the pump parts. And they were very excited to hear that I'll allow them in the room during delivery. Of course! This is their baby! As long as they promise not to pass out, we'll be all good. :-D

The lowest part of the meeting was when the counselor was talking about the remote possibility of the (embryo) transfer resulting in triplets (almost 1 in 800, the interwebs tells me). I totally understand that we need to be aware of all the possibilities, and be on the same page as to what we would do in that situation, but after we'd already decided we were on the same page, I felt like the counselor kept harping on the subject, spelling out some of the more gory possible details. I felt like she was totally stressing C out especially. I was worried she was going to talk him out of surrogacy entirely. I swear, 5 more minutes of her discussing the details of exactly how a termination would work, if that was what we chose, and C was going to throw up his hands and be like, "I'm out, dudes."

With my last surrogacy, I didn't share anything at all on my Facebook until we had a positive pregnancy test, in fear that I would somehow fail to be a surrogate. And I shared a little throughout, because my IPs on my first journey prized their privacy (as is their right), and I tried to respect that. But now that I know that my uterus and I have got what it takes, I've already mentioned having matched on my Facebook page. And C and K have outed themselves, on both of our Facebook walls, so I'm very happy to be seeing the excitement of their friends and family and get a little better glimpse into their journey to become parents.

So if you're here from my Facebook, welcome Friends! :-) I did a fantastic job of detailing the beginning of my last journey, and really fell of towards the middle, if you're interested in what came before. My intentions are good this time around, but we'll see. :-D

Friday, May 23, 2014

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Wednesday night I had a phone call with my potential new Intended Fathers, and any fears I may have had were quickly assuaged. They seem like they are going to be a fantastic match for me and my family, and I can't wait until next Friday, when we have our Match Meeting, at which point we will hopefully make this match official. At this point, as long as they're as fond of me as I am of them, and nothing game breaking comes up during the meeting (for example, if they've got their heart set on quadruplets, we'll have to agree to go our separate ways), I can't see any reason why I won't be having these guys' baby next year around this time. :-D

They have made the mistake of giving me their contact information and letting me know they would like to have a close relationship. I'm doing my best to play it cool at this point and let the relationship grow organically. I know on Friday we'll be discussing all the ins and outs and particulars of the surrogacy, so I'm trying to save those conversations until then.

In the meantime, I'll spend the next week with my fingers crossed, alternately planning the super fantastic surrogacy journey we'll have together, and worrying about what I might say next Friday to make them question my awesomeness. But I'll keep all that craziness in my tiny little corner of the internet and a tiny little corner of my brain. And I won't be sharing my blog on my Facebook until they've committed to me. ;-)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Date Jitters

I've been meaning to post for a while now, but I wanted to finish the draft of a post that's stuck on my tablet (which is kind of broken), but I'll get back to that later.

Slowly, but steadily, things have been progressing in my surro world. As per usual, it's one step forward, wait for awhile, maybe take a step or two or five backwards, rinse, lather, repeat, but hopefully today marks a milestone we won't be working backwards from.

Later this evening I have a first contact phone call with my potential dream IPs. Not that I want to over sell them or get my hopes up, but on paper, at least, they are pretty close to exactly what I super want for this journey. First of all, they live in San Francisco, so they're practically local, and they want to be super involved in the pregnancy, including attending appointments whenever possible, which I think would be awesome. They're first timers, which I was hoping for this journey. I had a lot of fun with my last IPs and their son, and it was so nice that they understood bed times and freak outs, but, as most people know, a lot of the magic and wonder is lost with a second pregnancy, and I'd like to experience the excitement of a first baby again. And fortunately, since all the other stuff is what I was hoping for, it sounds like I also have stuff in common with these guys, like a love of baking and budget travel. :-D And one of them grew up just 15 minutes away from here!

But, of course, because that's what I do, I'm now all nervous. I know they are religious, which isn't a problem with me at all, but I'm worried they might prefer a surro with strong religious convictions, which I am currently lacking. Also, what if they're republican?! Hehe. I mean, there's nothing (inherently ;-) ) wrong with being republican, but if they, like, worship Dubya or believe climate change is a liberal plot, it might stand in the way of us forming a warm and fuzzy relationship.

If they sincerely read my profile and liked me, we'll be all good, because I totally let my geeky, hippie flag fly. But I'm just a little worried (just because that's how I roll) that they saw my location and glossed over the rest of my ramblings. :-D

While our official match meeting isn't until a week from Friday, I think that, in less than 12 hours, I'll have a pretty good idea whether I've found my dream couple. Wish me luck!