Thursday, December 15, 2011


It's been brought to my attention that it's been quite some time since I've posted an update so here you go :)

Fat Kid I spent two weeks at the end of October with my in-laws in Seattle. It was a much-needed trip but I got super sick in the last week. Initially, they suspected my gallbladder and I underwent a battery of tests. Ultrasounds, HIDA scan, blood tests and stool samples all came back normal or negative for what they were testing for. At this point I was losing two pounds a day and scared to death.

In the middle of November, we moved out of our old house and into a house on post. Three days after signing the lease, pre-deployment block leave started and the three of us headed back to Seattle. The week flew by quickly and was ended with an appointment to my gastroenterologist. After finding a tender mass in my abdomen, I was scheduled for a CT scan. The mass remains undiagnosed and the scan picked up on a few kidney stones.

As it stands right now, my surrogacy contract is complete and ready to be signed but at the direction of my gastroenterologist, I am not to proceed with anything until I have a definitive diagnosis. I am on two medications that are both pregnancy/breastfeeding safe but I have an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy scheduled on the 12th of January and I'm hoping the biopsies can shed some light on my situation.

In other news, N is getting settled in Afghanistan. Fat Kid and I spent the first week making sure our friends were getting along okay and getting out of the house. I'm still debating between living with my in-laws for the next year and staying with a friend on post. Our household goods are half in storage and half at my parents' house.

I'll get things figured out more after my next procedure. Until then, enjoy our latest family picture (and the one on our Christmas cards)!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

There's a lot that's been happening so forgive my absence.

In the surrogate world, things have been progressing. Our contract has been drafted, we've gone over the initial walk through on both ends and we're just waiting for the revisions to be finished so we can approve it and sign. We're cutting this cycle kind of close, but if all else fails, there's always next cycle. All of the minute details appear to have been worked through and I think we're set to go. On my to do list still: life insurance policy, finish my living will...and I hope that's it.

I remember saying that I wasn't going to make this about my personal life, but it's inevitably going to intertwine so I'll just recant my prior statement and continue on. Things are utter chaos around here. In addition to Fat Kid getting more molars and eye teeth, N alternates between working and having long weekends so we've been trying to make the best of that. To top it all off, it seems that everything changes daily and requires starting our plans over from square one. Talk about frustrating!

More recently, our neighbor lady has become intolerable. I have a high tolerance level for a lot of things, but after 18 months, my patience is just about up. The highlight of most of it involves passive aggressive notes left taped to my front door and the climax of it all came in the form of a note last night from her 13 year old granddaughter. It was addressed to N and stated that his "girlfriend or wife is rude" and she "don't like your wife so she better stay away from [name omitted]." I love empty threats from young adults, don't you?
Long story short, N's command has advised us to move out ASAP. We submitted our 30 day notice earlier this week with a move out date of 15 NOV, but now we're reworking our plans to be out sooner.

The last few weeks have been a blur of options and I've attempted to make heads or tails of all of them. In addition to figuring out where Fat Kid and I are going to live during deployment, there's the logistical part of moving our things out (when to move them, where to move them, how to move them). Winter is quickly approaching and in addition to vacating our current home, we needed to find a place to live as a family until D-Day (first day of deployment) came.

Originally, I planned to take Fat Kid to Kansas at the end of this month to move our furniture that's currently there into storage. From there, we'd come home and pack our house to have all of that moved into storage before our final walk through with the landlord on the 15th of November. We'd then have to stay with friends from the 15th to the 18th, when block leave started. Block leave is from the 18th of November to 2nd of December and we had planned to spend it in Seattle with N's family. After block leave, we'd stay with friends until D-Day.

The plan now? God only knows :) We'll just play it by ear and see how things work out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Excitement Continues!

Tuesday should have been an extremely exciting day. Instead, my poor IFs were stressed over a snag in the plans with our California lawyer. As it turns out, she's not nearly as experienced as she made herself out to be and wasn't able to get the PBO like we'd asked. Better to find out now than later, I suppose. The good news is that there's already a new lawyer in place and the contract is being drawn up as we speak. The absolute latest it will be signed is 15 OCT. Awesome!

We spoke more about logistics, including the move to California. The original plan was to move around 34 weeks, but the lawyer is concerned about the possibility of unstoppable pre-term labor and all of the hard work and planning going out the window in the event of a pre-term birth in Missouri. With the new lawyer, however, came a new area of comfortable jurisdiction. Much of my afternoon yesterday was spent researching hospitals and the new area Fat Kid and I will be living. I will admit that I had a terribly productive evening after Fat Kid went to sleep (as accomplishing much of anything is impossible while he's awake) and not only do we have a new hospital chosen, but I've bookmarked a number of possible living arrangements.

N comes home today. We've got quite a bit to discuss once he's home with the new information that's been brought up. One of the biggest decisions now is whether or not to continue with the plans to move on post. All of the original reasons are there, but because there's a minimum 1 year lease, we would be moving in with friends instead of into our own home. It's frustrating to say the least, but it definitely gives me a lot to think about until N gets here.

I've got lots of errands to run before his bus is due back so I'll keep you all updated as things progress :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random Thought for the Day

I had a dream last night that I gave birth to the surrobaby. It was a baby girl named Katie and N was a sneaky pete and wanted to keep her because he's always wanted a girl. I still remember the look of disappointment (not to be outdone by my look of sheer joy) when we were told Fat Kid was a boy. A bit of foreshadowing maybe?

Also, Don't Ask, Don't Tell was repealed today. Super excited about that! Fat Kid and I will be celebrating with cupcakes later :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Successful Day

More progress on the surrogacy front! :)

Friday I met with an amazing woman for my psych eval. Tracy Birkinbine is a licensed professional counselor at Counseling with TLC, LLC in Des Peres, MO. She is certified to do evaluations not just for surrogacy (both IPs and surrogates), but also for egg/sperm donation, IVF and just infertility-related counseling in general. [/end plug]
Anyway, the first thing I have to say about Tracy is WOW! What an awesome businesslady. Not only was she extremely professional, but she was also understanding of my situation as the mom of a toddler and was more than willing to help me when it came to bridging the distance between my home and her office. Second, she made the evaluation feel more like casual chatter than anything clinical...which is always appreciated. We met at a bustling Panera bread. It had enough business people in it that we didn't feel awkward, but wasn't quiet enough that sharing things, like how I thought our sex life would be affected by the surrogacy, would be awkward if overheard. Definitely a successful meeting and I hope to keep in contact with her.

One of my biggest worries about the meeting with Tracy was leaving Fat Kid. I was slowly getting him acclimated to a babysitter setting over the summer, but he only lasted a few hours max before naptime hit or he'd want boobies and the meltdown would ensue :( When his sitter went back to work at the end of the summer, he stopped going once a week and was once again a 24/7 mama's boy.
In the last few weeks, I've had a number of random appointments that were a little more complicated with a toddler running rampant so I asked the wife of another soldier in N's company to watch Fat Kid for me. The first day, I was a nervous wreck. I left him for 5 hours and I knew it was probably going to be a disaster for her. Sure enough, she couldn't figure out how to get him to take a nap so she called another mom for reinforcements. Thankfully things got better after that and as I called on my way home to check on him, she told me that he'd happily climbed into her lap, closed his eyes and just passed out. Awesome! It's such a relief having a sitter that he loves and that can get him to nap.

In family, non-surrogacy related news, we're on the housing list to move onto post. N is in the field for the rest of the next week and Fat Kid and I are enjoying the quiet at home and the company of amazing friends who are our families :) Our lives have been harried and disorganized, less than desirable at times and chaotic, but right now, they're perfect and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Progress

Alas, life continues. In the two and a half weeks since my last update, there's been lots of chaos but minimal progress. The lawyer in California requires a psych eval prior to even drafting the contract. Finding someone locally to do said evaluation was another thing entirely. The closest for me is over two and a half hours away and with a toddler and a busy husband, traveling that far only to be there for two hours and then traveling back isn't an easy feat. The psychologist who will be doing my eval is fabulous. She was the only person willing to work with me and my schedule and even offered to meet me at our home. With that said, Friday I'll be dropping Fat Kid off with the sitter bright and early and driving 2 hours to ensure that I'm stable enough to endure the challenges that come with carrying and delivering a baby but going home alone.

I'm also finishing my will/living will. Such a humbling experience.
Otherwise we're just waiting on the psych eval and we can move forward from there.

In other news, we're likely to be moving on post for deployment. I'm still waiting on N to get me his orders from 18 months ago so we can get on the housing list, but I think it'll be better for Fat Kid and I in the long run. I'm toying with the idea of going back to school to finish my bachelor's degree as well. Lots of new and exciting changes coming! Stay posted.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

OMFG excited!

Honestly, I could not have asked for a better day or a more amazing couple. I am so excited right now, it just seems surreal. Yesterday was a fun, yet incredibly productive day. Along with reviewing medical records and sharing baby photos of both Fat Kid and myself, we have a game plan to work from, woot! I still need a psych eval and I'll be mailing a copy of my medical records to them this coming week. I need to work on my living will as well, but we're hoping to have a contract ready to sign by 12 SEP. Once the contract is signed, we're set to move forward. They'll be coming to visit every month until a pregnancy sticks and we discussed maybe going to see their home before N deploys.

I honestly don't think I could've been matched with a better couple. They understand the military lifestyle which is more than I could ask of anyone, but even more than that, they're such an incredible couple. I can't even begin to describe how amazing they are, but the love between them just radiates and you can see how much they desire a child. Watching them interact with Fat Kid, I almost wanted to cry because they were just SO attentive. He took to them incredibly well and C and W are his favorite people now. Only when he got tired did he come snuggle with his mama. Not only that, but N loves them and that's saying something because N is one of those people who doesn't have a high tolerance for new people, especially those he doesn't like. He and C were happily watching YouTube videos while W and I worked out the details.

I have to say that I am actually really sad they had to leave last night. Time just flew past us and before I realized what time it was, midnight was upon us. I felt horrible because their flight out this morning was incredibly early, but I'm so thankful for the time we were able to spend together. They've thanked me multiple times for making this dream come true for them, but what they don't understand is that they're doing the same for me. It's a partnership for both of us and to have such a truly astounding couple in our lives, I feel so incredibly blessed.

My latest cycle started last week. I'm not sure what to expect of this month with the pill screwing with me, but we won't have a contract signed in time to catch this month. I'm hoping it doesn't screw things up too much because I have a chance at another June baby and I'm definitely partial to June babies :P No, but in all reality, being majorly pregnant in California in the heat of summer...not my favorite idea, but I'll do whatever for them.

Bottom line: They're amazing. Our meeting was fabulous. Our game plan is set and there are only a few things left before the fun can begin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


So...I can't sleep. Haven't really been able to sleep because the anticipation is killing me! Fat Kid and I wrapped up our time in Arizona with a trip to the aquarium (which he loved!) and after a long day of flying, we were both exhausted. He passed out in the car (after running like a banshee through the airport, haha) and by the time I unloaded and helped N find some last-minute things for his Class A inspection, it was well past midnight. And of course, on the night Fat Kid sleeps more than a few hours stretch, I can't sleep. Awesome. As much as I loved AZ, let me just say that I am so glad to be back home. It feels...weird coming home after being gone for so long, but I missed N like crazy and Fat Kid missed his toys, lol

Now for the exciting stuff! I met my IPs :D This deserves like 20 more exclamation marks, but that's overkill so I'll leave it at one. After having Fat Kid run out of the airport bathroom while I was still peeing (fabulous, right?), I met C right by baggage claim. We chatted for a bit while wrangling Fat Kid until the luggage came out. C got in before us (at 845 pm), we landed at 910 pm and W wasn't supposed to land until 10 pm...but he has crazy awesome timing and managed to get in shortly after I got our checked bag around 945. Definitely good considering N had a lot to do and I could just hear the complaints, haha.

And now that brings us to me, sitting on the couch while Fat Kid sleeps peacefully in the bedroom. I alternate between attempting to clean up trivial things and typing this because I know the big things a) don't matter and b) aren't going to get clean anyway. (Whoa, how did my sliding door get so dirty?!?) Thankfully, this has taken up a good chunk of time and I only have another hour and a half or so to wait, but jeez, I'm so excited to see them again! They are such incredible people and...seriously, they're just amazing. Expect another update soon. I'm going to hop in the shower and put the mound of dishes N left me in the dishwasher. Let the day begin!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Adventures Abound!

Things have been kind of quiet on the blog-front. My apologies for that, but I promise it's not without reason. Fat Kid and I had a fabulous two weeks in Kansas. It was nice to see my dad since he's usually away on business when my family comes to visit. It was even more fun to spend time with my younger sister before she goes off to college. Fat Kid LOVES my parents house because they have cats and he's a cat kind of kid ;) It didn't take him long to get into the toys and to start squealing at the cats again. If only N weren't allergic...

Fat Kid caught a tummy bug the first week we were there. Nasty week of icky poops all day long and one horrible night of projectile vomiting and the poor boy spent the next week mass nursing to boost his immune system and replenish the fluids he lost. Rough few days for us, but thankfully no one else caught it.

Saturday started our "big" adventure. Mom, Fat Kid and I embarked at 4 am from Kansas City with the intent of driving until we reached my uncle's house in Mountainair, NM. With a few stops along the way to stretch our legs (and to let Fat Kid run, squealing through the stores, haha), we made it safely to New Mexico before dark. I cannot even begin to express how gorgeous the scenery was! It was incredibly isolated and the nearest hospital was over an hour away, but the views, the huge plots of land and the sheer beauty of the place still astounds me. We were able to see old ruins from a settlement in the 1300s (pics to come soon!). Such an incredible experience and my uncle is a fantastic cook. We saw the renovations he and his wife were doing to their property, played with ALL of their animals (6 dogs, 2 cats and 2 horses) and stuffed ourselves silly. The motel they had for us was renovated by my uncle and while it was a small place, it was so luxurious! I dare say it was probably the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. Fat Kid slept soundly and Mom commented on how sweet it was to hear him singing to himself in his sleep.

Sunday we drove the remaining 8-9 hours to Scottsdale, AZ and checked into our timeshare. We got unloaded, showered and went straight to sleep. Our days have been filled with crazy 105+ degree days, but plenty of pool time and AC. The resort has a ton of scheduled activities (including a pool party/dinner yesterday with games for kids and adults alike) and tonight we (Mom and I) are going to a wine tasting, yummy!

We also picked my sister up from the airport this morning and got her moved into her apartment. I would be lying if I didn't say I was a little jealous of her. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my life. My husband and son are my entire world, but seeing all the college students, the cheap-quality furniture and accessories and feeling the energy of all the possibilities in the air just made me flashback to the old days.

Speaking of family, sadly N is stuck back at home. He's currently going through WLC (Warrior Leadership Course), a grueling month-long, 6 day-a-week training program for soldiers to become NCOs. He says it sucks majorly, but he's excelling and making us proud. We're all looking forward to a family vacation soon (our first one as a family of three!). It's kind of sad that Fat Kid has been all of these places, but never with both of us :(

On the surrogate front, the mini pill has somewhat thrown my body for a loop. I have an appointment set when I get home to make sure things are still good. I keep in contact regularly with my IPs and we're all so incredibly excited to meet! 10 days from now and we'll be meeting. Such an exhilarating thought. I'm in love with all of the possibilities and I can't wait to iron things out more. For once, it feels real and I am on cloud nine!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Major news on the homefront. I've been keeping it kinda hush-hush because I wanted to see how it plays out before I opened my mouth. Don't wanna jinx it, you know? I'm feeling pretty confident at this point so I think it's okay to say something.

Obviously this is in regards to my same-sex couple, woohoo! A word from Tricare: since we both have the same insurance coverage, everything is COVERED 100%. Oh mylanta! This is some of the most exciting news I've ever gotten in a long, long time. I feel like a kid that got their own candy store for Christmas, haha. After doing my own research and having my IPs talk with four different people (one from each of the regions), they got an email confirming everything. We have it and we have it in writing. Such a huge relief! Insurance has always been the road block that derailed every other potential match so to have this work out just takes a huge load off my back.

The second amazing thing I have to share is that we have a date set to meet! They have a confirmed flight, hotel and rental car. Fat Kid and I will be in Kansas (moving my sister to Arizona) and we'll have to cut our time a little short, but it's SO worth it! I'm so excited to meet them face-to-face, introduce them to my little guy and just be able to spend time getting to know them. Only a few more weeks!

Right now we're waiting on a lawyer here in Missouri to get back into town and to call us back so we can iron out some of those details and figure out our next steps. I'm super excited and I can't wait to get things squared away so we can move forward. I'm SO glad things have finally fallen into place and I'm not ever-waiting in the pool of surrogates to be chosen. Yay for something finally going right! I'll keep things updated as they progress. YAY!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Oh my gosh, so I've been trying to contain my excitement, but I can't hold it in any longer! I have found the PERFECT IPs. Freaking amazing couple, also military which solves the insurance dilemma. We've discussed compensation, picked out a hospital for the baby to be born at, got lawyers lined up and are setting a date to meet. Honestly, I didn't want to get too excited, especially since it seems the insurance was proving to be more of an insurmountable obstacle than anything and since I had gotten so far with other IPs only to have something like that halt our progress, but it seems nothing can stop us now!

We still have some minor things to work through. The contracts need to be drafted, double checking on a few things with the insurance and then figuring out when to start. They want to start ASAP and to be honest, I'm so excited that I do too, but I don't want our travel plans to impede. We also have to meet in person first and scheduling that may be interesting.

It truly feels like this is the right couple. They've been in constant contact, working with me on everything and things just fit. Strangely, all of the prior IPs seem to have dropped off the face of the earth. I don't know if that's fate's way of saying, "HEY! This is right!" or what, but that's how I'm taking it.

Next step: off the BC and tracking cycles while we work things through. Yay!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Patience Never Was My Virtue

Nothing new on the insurance front. Go figure.

There's a lot of talk in one of the groups I'm a member of (non-surrogacy related) about siblings and many of the girls are pregnant again. I feel bad saying this, but recently I was given the opportunity to watch a 6 week old baby while his parents went to the store. Simple task, not too long and an easy baby. Holding him, I started thinking of how small Fat Kid used to be, but I didn't get those stabbing pains in my ovaries that I expected. I enjoyed my time with him, but it just solidified the fact that I'm content just having one child.

On the surro front, I recently contacted a new couple and I have to say, based on the little bit that I know now, they're my favorites. Out of the three prior IPs I was speaking with, only one still remains. The last one (waiting on the RE coordinator) had a friend step up and offer to be their surro. They will be undergoing testing next month and I'm their backup. The second (legal issues) makes me uncomfortable. It seems to be one obstacle after another with her (sperm release, insurance coverage, etc) and things are just too complicated for my comfort. The first (finding an egg donor) is still in the running, but communication with them is usually slow. Anyway, this new couple is super promising and I'm anxious to see how things progress. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Waiting Game

And so we play the waiting game *sigh* I think I've been less anxious during the 2WW! There's not much going on right now because I'm waiting on everything it seems. I mailed my letter to insurance last Thursday so I'm waiting to hear back from them (hopefully this week if I'm lucky). From there I'll make an appointment to meet with JAG and that will likely take forever because anything with the military takes ages.

On the IP front, not much has changed. I have one looking for an egg donor and discussing with the attorney; one working to sort out the legal issues with chosen sperm as well as her own insurance coverage for the baby/babies; and the final one whose RE coordinator is calling all of her potentials to help narrow it down from three potential surrogates to one.

I had originally planned to leave my family life out of this blog. My intention was to make this strictly about surrogacy and the process, thoughts, emotions, etc involved, but so much of a surrogate is dependent on her family that I can see it is impossible to leave them out of this, especially in slow times like this :D

With that said, Fat Kid's most recent well-baby appointment revealed a heart murmur. Nothing too huge, but it has the potential to be something more serious as it's common on both sides of the family. We've got a referral to a pediatric cardiologist and are awaiting that appointment in the coming weeks. He's otherwise enjoying the hot days outside in his splasher pool and being the crazy little guy that he is.
N's schedule is ever-changing as his platoon moves from white to red cycle. They've been sending him to more schools and between those and doing road patrols, his time home is limited. It's not ideal, but understood.
As for me, my days are mostly spent working with Fat Kid. His vocabulary (both spoken and signed words) is increasing at an exponential rate. It makes me incredibly proud to see him learning so much, especially at such a young age. He's mimicking everything I do so it's not uncommon to find him "spinning" different objects on his fingers (dvds are a favorite). He also loves to brush everyone's hair, including poor daddy who has no hair :) When he lets me, I've been devoting more time to school and trying to get through it as quickly as possible. My goal is to finish and take my certification exams before N deploys so we'll see how that works. I'm also looking into starting another home-based direct sales business to complement my Scentsy business. Part of me thinks it would be more successful than Scentsy, but there's still the part of convincing N, haha. We'll see how it all works out. For now, it's just the waiting game...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There's been a lot of press about military surrogates, especially in the last few years. It seems we, as military dependents, are hot commodities because TriCare doesn't completely exclude surrogacy from its coverage. The only problem with that is that military surrogates are becoming more and more popular and TriCare is getting more and more stingy. A military surrogate group I'm a member of has more horror stories when using TriCare than successes.

The situation happens like this: TriCare refuses claims, sends a certified letter to the surrogate requesting her contract and then flat-out refuses to pay for anything. A few women are actually being asked to provide contracts for surrogacies that they completed years ago that TriCare had initially paid for.

Before you get your panties in a twist, yes, I understand that TriCare isn't technically an insurance company, but rather a government organization paid for by taxpayers and it's a privilege, blah blah blah. Here's what I don't get, aren't the IPs that pay taxes deserving of a child? Shouldn't they be allowed to have a baby without having to jump through ridiculous hoops? Honestly, (and here's the part where you start to hate me), I think that TriCare is better serving surrogate contracts than it is covering half its beneficiaries. There's a military stereotype that's fairly accurate for most families and it really bothers me. Men join as early as possible, marry before they leave for Basic and babies are popped out as fast as they can. It's not uncommon to find a woman under 25 with at least 3-4 children and 95% of them are on some sort of state assistance. It's also said that every family with at least one child ranked E5 and below qualifies for WIC and there is definitely an overabundance of military families on WIC. Why not teach self-sufficiency and money management instead? Forgive me, military baby factories, if I'd like my son to have the best I can give him WITHOUT state assistance. Forgive me if you won't find me standing in line for my WIC checks or food stamps.

Alas, I get sidetracked. My first call to TriWest, I was assured that they would cover everything during the surrogate pregnancy as though it were my own pregnancy with the exception of how it would be billed. Andrea (the rep) said nothing about the clauses or anything of the sort and simply explained the coverage in-network and the point-of-service cost-sharing out-of-network.

A little more prodding...Willy, today, reiterated the clauses and transferred me to the claims department where Carolyn told me she couldn't guarantee any payments because the third party liability division (coupled with JAG) handled all of the surrogate contracts and claims. Of course, they didn't have a phone number so I'm drafting a lovely letter in an attempt to gather some information from them.

My favorite option is a home birth with a midwife. Much cheaper and something I've always wanted. It's all out-of-pocket though and not an option with a multiple birth so the situation gets a bit more tricky, but it's definitely an option for now.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Is Surrogacy Right For Me? Part Two

Before becoming a surrogate, you have to fit a somewhat specific criteria. Most agencies won't work with you if you don't meet the specifications, but some IPs will work with you if some of the minor ones aren't met if you go independently. The short list includes:

*Having given birth prior and within the previous 5 years-This one's non-negotiable regardless of whether you're with an agency or independent. The reasons include having proven fertility and lesser risks during pregnancy/delivery, knowing the emotional aspect ahead of time and the risks that come with surrogacy.

*Age-Most prefer you to be at least 21 but no more than 39. With traditional surrogacy (using your eggs, not the IM or donors), the age limits are a bit more strict.

*BMI-A BMI between 18 and 24 is ideal. There isn't much wiggle room here.

*Prior pregnancies should have no complications or preterm delivery (before 36 weeks unless with multiples)-Most REs will request medical records that include your most recent pap smear, STD panel and then all of your prenatal and delivery records.

*Smoke, drug and alcohol free-You cannot be a smoker (must have been smoke-free for at least 6 months) or be exposed to a significant amount of secondhand smoke either at home or work. No drugs at all (even prescription) and no alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

*Custody/Background Check-You MUST have custody of your children and be able to pass a background check. If anything in your living situation is questionable, you will most likely be passed up. You must have a stable home situation.

*Finances-No government assistance of any kind. Some independent IPs are willing to overlook things like WIC, but it's not a guarantee. You're better off not having it.

*Testing-Both you and your partner will have to submit recent (within 12 months) STD panels as well as undergo psych evaluation. The surrogate will likely have an MMPI test as well.

Keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive. Surrogates that have insurance plans that don't have a surrogacy exclusion will almost always be preferred and surrogates in certain states are chosen over others.

So what's your first step? Research. Find out as much as you can about the process, the things to think about, the average compensation and then start thinking everything through. Once you research everything, start gathering your medical records. Do as much leg work as possible beforehand. Educate yourself so that your potential IPs know you're serious and committed to the process. Then buckle up and enjoy the ride! :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Is Surrogacy Right For Me?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is why I want to be a surrogate. Most people assume I'm choosing to carry for a family member or close friend and after finding out that I'm willing to carry for complete strangers, they immediately assume my motive is solely financial. While compensation is part of the surrogate "package," it is by no means my motivator and most definitely not my sole reason for embarking on this journey. There's a lot that goes into the decision to become a surrogate. There's much more to it than just "getting pregnant and having a baby."

The first thing to consider is whether or not your body can handle another pregnancy, especially a multiple pregnancy. One of the prerequisites of being a surrogate is having a child. You have to have both carried and delivered a healthy child and had that child remain in your custody. Having gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, any real dangerous or risky developments during previous pregnancies can make it difficult for an RE to work with you. Prior miscarriages may or may not work against you. Usually having a healthy pregnancy/birth after a miscarriage essentially negates the miscarriage.
Additionally, your body has to be able to handle the hormones you'll need to inject yourself with. If you don't react well to hormonal birth control or are unable to deal well with your hormones (i.e. crazy PMS and whatnot), you're probably not the best candidate.

Second, you need to evaluate your home situation. You need a strong, stable support system in place long before you start cycling. If you don't have a supportive spouse or significant other, surrogacy is not for you. If you're regularly stressed or unable to handle your own responsibilities, keep walking. If you're married, your husband will have to sign the contract as well so he needs to be on board. It's better if he's supportive and willing to help you with everything. Surrogacy is a very emotional process. Long before the actual pregnancy, there's a lot of potential disappointment and heartbreak and without my family, I'm not sure I'd be able to continue. Surrogates also need very flexible schedules with the ability to travel frequently and to attend many appointments.

The last thing you need to do is some soul-searching. Carrying any pregnancy is an emotional process. You have to be willing to do things the way your IPs want you to, not the way you want to and you have to understand that at the end of the pregnancy, after all of the time you've spent carrying and after laboring, you walk away with empty arms. Not only that, but you have to think about the hard stuff. How many embryos are you okay with transferring? What are your opinions on selective reductions? What about invasive testing procedures? Are you willing to lose your reproductive ability? How about sacrificing your own life to give another couple a child? There's a lot that goes into your contract. You have to think about what would happen if you were in a coma and put on life support. How long would you agree to carry before pulling the plug? Most people think about IVF and the risks that come with that, but they don't think about all of the what ifs that go along with pregnancy, invasive procedures and pregnancy/birth-related surgeries.

There's a lot of hard thinking that comes with your decision to be a surrogate. Do you go with an agency or go independent? What's reasonable for compensation? What do I want to find in IPs? What are things that I'm not willing to compromise on (reductions, invasive procedures, etc)? The process of finding IPs can take a good amount of time and that's only the start. Getting to the point of "getting" pregnant could take years. Ultimately, it's a very rewarding experience, but not for everyone.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Slow Goings

Fat Kid is officially a year old. Such a bittersweet day as I celebrate the milestones he's hit the last year, but also realizing that my little boy is growing up way too fast. I feel very cliche when I tell people to cherish every second you have with your child because it goes by in the blink of an eye, but it really is true.

Anyway, I'm "getting to know" a few potential IPs right now since I have the time to waste. It seems that IPs are just as flaky as surros in this world as I've had a few just stop talking randomly. Their loss, not mine. I have two solid IPs that I'm holding out for. Both are willing to work with my time frame so we'll just see how it goes from here.

My medical records are all in and ready to go! I'm going to be making copies of them so that I always have the original, but I'm excited to have one more thing taken care of. I also started my bcps yesterday as I've started another cycle so I won't be worrying potential IPs about me getting pregnant in the meantime.

Ah, Fat Kid woke up from his nap. To be continued...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Progress! and a little speed bump

I'm slowly getting over the disappointment from the bombshell the previous IPs dropped on me. I can understand it somewhat, but the way it was handled was...without tact and thoughtless in my opinion. I'm sure they see it differently but I still harbor a bit of resentment for them. I feel horrible saying that because they're genuinely good people. I hope they find a donor to move forward with.

As for myself, I've been moving forward as well. I had an appointment on Friday to get some of the required blood work done for future REs and signing the releases for my records. I have a wonderful relationship with the PA (physician's assistant) at my PCM's (primary care manager-my insurance company's name for your primary doctor) office and she told me she'd get everything done ASAP so I'd have it before she moves. I'm sad she's leaving the practice and even more sad that she's moving so far away (Utah), but I'm glad I got in to see her before she left.

Anyway, she called on Monday to tell me that the menagerie of tests I'd written down had come back and all were perfect so she was giving me the go-ahead for my surrogacy (woot!). She also called in a prescription for birth control pills so I can be on them ahead of time for cycle predictability (and manipulation) and to prevent pregnancy...which brings me to the speed bump. Not sure how it came up, but N and I were talking last night as we lay in bed and he mentioned wanting a second child after he comes back from Afghanistan. He knows the risks associated with surrogacy and doesn't think much of them. This is a weird situation for me because we talked about this 5 or 6 months ago and I was the one wanting a second child and he didn't. I'm not interested in raising another child. I loved being pregnant and I'm anxious to pursue the surrogate route, but I don't want more children of my own. I hope he'll come to understand why, but for me, I've got all I need with our son.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Downfall

I guess I wasn't prepared for this sort of thing, but I'm glad it happened now instead of later.
My IPs backed out on me. They got nervous and decided to find someone else. In a way, I kind of feel like I've been broken up with. I want to cry, but I have a toddler to care for so that's not really an option. My husband wants to know if it's something that he did, but it's on me. I guess this is a lesson learned on my part. Just as IPs are cautiously hopeful, I should also be slightly guarded when dealing with IPs.

I'm not getting discouraged. I'll be putting my time and effort into getting the last of my ducks in a row so that the next set of IPs I meet and feel comfortable with will be ready to go and we can move forward without issue or waiting.

Back to square one :(

Finding a Match

The bond between a surro and their IPs is something entirely unique to the surrogate community. No traditional relationship can be compared. Until you've experienced the heartbreak and pain of infertility and until you know how it feels to be willing to ensure that you would die to give them a child, you don't really understand. There's a level of comfort that comes with the right match that you can't fake and you can't put into words. While the IPs remain cautiously optimistic, the surro does everything she can to reassure them.

Being a surrogate for someone requires a lot of commitment. It is very much like a full-time job. Embryo transfers don't always take and it could take months or even years before you are pregnant with their child. Getting to know the IPs at first is very much like the first few dates with someone new. Both parties are excited and anxious to continue speaking, but at the same time you're guarded because you don't want to invest too much emotionally in case it doesn't work out.

For me, meeting my perfect IPs was much easier than I anticipated. I expected months, even years of talking to IPs before finally meeting the right ones. In reality, my IM found me and conversation flowed between us so easily that I was convinced it was too good to be true. Not only were the IPs amazingly understanding of my husband's crazy schedule and the toddler I have who occasionally decides to "help" me type or refuses to allow me five minutes to end a conversation before tending to him, but they have everything I could ask for in a pair of IPs. They both have stable jobs, she works from home, they desire involvement with the pregnancy, they're loving, caring and honestly, they have that connection with me that tells me this is the right family. They were sent to me for a reason and I am meant for them.

Stereotypical First Post

First and foremost, welcome. This should prove to be an interesting journey for all of us. I meant to start this blog a week or so ago, but alas, life with a toddler proves more interesting than anything.

My surrogacy journey begins about two years ago. I made the conscious decision in early spring of 2009 to become a surrogate or egg donor. I looked into agencies and started filling out applications. Being under 21 and not having had a child of my own, I wasn't taken seriously and I got discouraged. Egg donation wasn't really an option for me and I started realizing that the further I got into the application process. I'm tall and height-weight proportional but I'm not Ivy League educated, breast cancer runs on my mom's side of the family and high cholesterol on my dad's. It just seemed that egg donation was more of a popularity contest and I didn't have the genes to make me popular. Surrogacy seemed like my best bet and gestational surrogacy (commonly called gestational carrier since your eggs are not used) was my plan. 

Fast forward to January 2011. My son is six months old and I begin thinking about surrogacy again. At the time he was 100% breastfed so I knew no RE would even speak with me until he was weaned. With his GERD, weaning wasn't an option and I'd always said I would breastfeed as long as he wanted. I started talking things over with my husband more and more, seeing if surrogacy would be a good option for our family, making sure we were content with just our son.

Skip forward another six months. With my son's first birthday almost here, I've started trying to find a match. Armed with as much information as I could find about gestational surrogacy, the things to look for in IPs (intended parents-the person/people whose child you'll be carrying), the IVF process, different fees and legal stances, etc, I began one of the most life-changing journeys I will ever experience.

This blog is my account of the experience. My thoughts, fears, the day-to-day emotions that you have being a surrogate. From start to finish, long before the pregnancy to long after, this is what it's like to be a mother and to give the gift of life to another family.