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Walking in their shoes; A Mother and a Surrogates journey

Imagine if you will, being a woman. A woman who has worked hard and has found a partner. A woman who now wants a child, a complete family. Now imagine trying to conceive this child and nothing happens; going to the doctor and being told you can’t conceive. Then, taking all your hard earned money and trying every other possible alternative to create a baby–hormones, egg retrieval, IVF–again and again with no results. Or even worse getting pregnant (!!!!!) and then miscarrying. Do you think you have an idea of what that could feel like? Now imagine the physical, economical and emotional toll this will take on you.

I can only imagine and sympathize with these women. Unfortunately, I know too many. I’ve had long personal discussions with a few and it breaks my heart. These talks are one of the main reasons surrogate mothers exist today. So, after all this pain and toil, some of these women look towards surrogacy. The reason they choose an agency is for protection. This most precious treasure they have been so long in seeking becomes closer to their grasp and they want to do everything in their power to obtain it.

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When a man and woman intend to become parents and look through the files of fully screened surrogates (and, sometimes, egg donors) they are looking for a means to an end, an end to the emptiness they have been feeling, an end to their toils and tribulations. They choose carefully and hope that the surrogate will help them complete their maternal desires.

Once everyone has spoken and agreed to this journey, the contracts are signed; and the medications for the surrogate begin. The egg retrieval is done and at this stage the Intended Mother (IM) becomes even more anxious. It’s happening all over again, but with renewed and different hope! If, and when, the surrogate is confirmed pregnant with a heartbeat ultrasound then the IM is inundated with emotions: “It happened, we’re pregnant! Oh God, we could loose it (again)?!?!” Her maternal instinct takes over and yet she feels out of control because it’s not her body. She may become increasingly concerned with the surrogate’s diet, what medications she is taking, if she is following the doctors orders, and just about every waking aspect of her life—anything from the surrogate getting her hair dyed and nails done to if she is exercising enough or too much. All of this may cause the surrogate to undergo additional stress, which is the exact opposite of what is wanted.

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It can become very tense very quickly. There is an emotional switch that can, and does very often occur, with an IM and her surrogate. The IM needs to know that the surrogate is doing everything possible to achieve a healthy pregnancy. She wouldn’t be a surrogate if she weren’t. The surrogate then needs to know that these emotions are not personally aimed at her, it’s just the IM’s fears and apprehensions manifesting due to her own perceived “helplessness” in these matters.

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As the pregnancy continues and they enter the second trimester healthily, things tend to lighten up. The emotional roller coaster on both sides seems to even out a bit. The IM starts to feel more secure that the baby is doing well and begins to trust he or she is eventually going to arrive. The surrogate earns the IM’s trust and the women may even become quite close during this part of journey. They may share intimate details with each other, promising to stay friends and keep in touch once the baby is born. This calm may go on until delivery. And, if they are among the lucky ones, it stays that way. The happy healthy baby is born (!!!) and the no longer IM, but now mother, is over the moon, delighted and grateful. She lets the surrogate hold the child after the delivery. They remain in contact via pictures and emails and life is good. 🙂

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However, that is a best-case scenario. Once that baby is born, the “Momma Bear Switch” can turn to the extreme level. The IM becomes so frightened, so scared that someone will try to take her child, she suddenly sees the surrogate as a threat. No matter how irrational or unfounded this feeling may be it is real to her and can be completely over-powering. The IM cannot believe that something she has wanted so dearly, and that is so extremely precious to her, would not be coveted by the woman who carried it for her for nine months. This feeling is understandable for the IM, but completely unfounded for the surrogate. The IM will not let the surrogate see the child, let alone hold it. All contact is severed and the surrogate may never hear from the family again. It’s the harsh truth, but it happens. It is completely within the Intended Parents’ (IP’s) rights to do so. The surrogate may just never know the child she helped bring into this world.

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For the surrogate, this can be devastating, especially, because it can happen without any warning. Things seem fine until they are in the labor and delivery room.  Suddenly, she has had the baby, but there is no baby. The IP’s will not speak to her. She feels alone and abandoned. There is a reason that in a surrogacy contract it states that the surrogate will, if desired, be allowed one hour alone with the baby in the hospital. This is for closure sake. The surrogate had this baby inside her body; she wants to see what she helped to create. A surrogate doesn’t want to keep the child. She entered into the agreement knowing and trusting this. When a surrogate delivers a baby, there is a physical need to know about the child. Much like an artist or a craftsperson that has created something, the surrogate wants to see her work and know that it was successful.  It is a completely different connection than with her own children, but it is still valuable to the ending of a journey. It makes it all feel complete.

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Sometimes in these situations the IP’s may come around and send an email with pictures. Some have a change of heart later, once that fear has subsided and they are comfortably settled at home with the child. The IP’s may start sending updates to the surrogate in the years to come. But sometimes they don’t and that’s OK too. As long as the surrogate is aware of this possibility as she enters the agreement. The surrogate can be comfortable in the knowledge that what she did was an amazing act of love and is valued even if unspoken. What the surrogate needs for this to work is to know that this separation has nothing to do with her. What she did was a beautiful and fulfilling act. Even if she is not involved in the rest, she has helped to create a loving family. The families are grateful, too, in their own way. Some IP’s have been through such a long and harsh road they are unwilling to take any chances once they’ve obtained that wonderful gift of life. It has made them complete and they don’t want any more obstacles. A clean break was felt best. It all just needs to be communicated.

Understanding on both sides helps. The agency will help provide this from beginning to end, but it really does come down to the individuals involved. Prior knowledge is key. For the Intended Mother, she should remember she’s chosen (albeit reluctantly) to have another woman carry her baby.  Conversely, surrogates should be understanding of the IM’s experiences and tribulations. Knowing and being prepared for any possible outcome is best; that means it may hurt, but it can hurt less.

All Mommy wanted was a back rub… (the benefits of prenatal massage)

I did it! I finally decided I was worth being taken care of and allowed myself what I had previously considered a luxury: a prenatal massage. You’d think after three pregnancies, I would have done it ages ago; however, I am a very stubborn and “tough” girl who doesn’t believe in “wasting” money on things purely for me. Boy was I wrong. It was wonderful and it will not be the last time I go. This looks like it’ll become a regular thing for me now that I know better. I felt so much more relaxed afterwards. And I slept! I actually slept through the whole night! This never, ever happens to me, especially during pregnancy.

So, you may be asking: What is a prenatal massage and how is it different from a regular massage? A prenatal massage is a specialized technique that is designed for a woman usually in her second trimester up to part way through her third. It’s meant to improve circulation, give you some energy, and take some of the strain away from your over worked muscles and joints. It uses a lighter pressure and you lay on your sides as opposed to your back and tummy. Lying on your back is never a good idea when you’re pregnant. The weight of your baby and uterus blocks circulation to the placenta. This can cause complications that no amount of massage can help. It is a little more difficult for the masseuse to rub you down at this angle but far safer.

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It also has the same great benefits as any message does. Loads of studies have shown that they relax and loosen tight muscles, reduce cortisol (that nasty stress hormone), increase blood flow (+++ for us preggers ;-), keeps the lymphatic system going strong, and flushes toxins out of the body. Just be sure to drink plenty of water afterwards as massage releases toxins that have built up in your muscles to float freely through your body, which can make you sick if you are not properly hydrated afterward.

What all this means is, that with regular prenatal massages you should become generally more relaxed. They help relieve insomnia, get rid of joint pain, and relieve swelling and headaches, even sinus congestion. Also not forgetting to mention all those neck, back, hip, leg and sciatica pain you’ve been having.

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Here are just a few warnings to keep you safe and happy. The first trimester is a little too risky for a massage.  With everything changing, it’s just not a good time (especially for surrogates or anyone getting assistance with conception). Also, research your masseuse first, don’t just go anywhere. People who specialize in this type of massage need to be specifically trained in prenatal massage. The right hands work miracles, the wrong ones could put you in the hospital. New studies are showing that the amount of trust you have in someone is equal to the amount of relaxation you will allow yourself to feel. If you’re not 100% with the person you won’t be able to reap all the benefits. Another thing: stay away from those ankles! They don’t know exactly why yet, but when you rub those bad boys, it can start labor. Unless you are past your due date, keep away. Just skip down to those well deserving (probably slightly larger) feet of yours.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to go book my next appointment…

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Super Foods and Villainous Eats… The battle between Good and Evil Pregnancy Food dos and don’ts

No Drinking, No Smoking! (obviously) No raw fish, no unpasteurized dairy.  Well I can see that…No undercooked meats or “freshly squeezed” juices from restaurants or farmers markets!? No raw cookie dough 😦 limited tuna?! Watch out for deli meats! Ceviche and smoked fish. No, no, no. Apparently, there are lots of bad bacteria out there. And no please dear god… cut back on caffeine!!!!! Nooooooo!
   
There are so many “no’s” when you are pregnant, so many “watch out” and “be careful of” moments, that it’s hard to remember them; then you have  to restrain yourself for at least 9 months (more if you are breast feeding).  It can be intense.  My mantra of “it’s for the baby, it’s for the baby” helps but I still want to cry when I’m out with friends and they want to go for sushi and drinks.

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The nice thing is when you take care of yourself during pregnancy, you feel better. And not just physically, there is an emotional pay off to that, too.  Also, there are so many “super foods” to combine and discover that it can actually be kind of fun to play around and branch out from your normal diet. I’ve gotten to experiment with combos I never thought of before and now they are some of my favorite meals.

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Here’s a list of some amazing foods for woman and their developing babies:

Leafy and super green veggies:

Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, etc–All really are great sources of foliate, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.  Also, they have stuff you’ve probably never heard of like lutein, zeaxanthin and carotenoids. You can stir-fry it, roast it, make salads, and sneak it into smoothies. Just eat it!

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Brightly colored fruits and berries:

Blueberries, mangos, kiwis, strawberries, plums, bananas, etc–all packed with good carbohydrates, an alphabet full of vitamins, potassium, foliate, fiber and phytonutrients. Eat them on their own or with yogurt, cereal or pancakes or make smoothies or fruit salads.

Nuts, beans and seeds:

Garbonzo (chickpeas), lentils, black beans, soybeans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc–These are full of protein, iron, fiber, foliate, zinc and calcium. These little wonders are good brain food and great for snacks, salads, soups, chili, pasta or hummus.

Dairy (pasteurized), eggs, salmon and lean beef:

Protein, Vitamins A, D, B6 and 12, niacin, zinc, iron, choline, omega-3’s to name a few and all help with baby’s development. Cheeses, yogurts, omelets, grilled or in a sandwich.

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These are just off the top of my head. All you need to do is Google “pregnancy super foods” and you’ll get list after list along with some amazing recipes too. And if you’re like me, you’ll go “pin” them all on Pintrest so you can decide later what to have for dinner. 🙂

The main thing is to just not stress. Take care of yourself and the baby will benefit from it, too. If you slip up, it’s ok; just try to get out of bad habits and routines. So much less will weigh on you when you just make a conscious effort to be healthier in what you eat. You’ll have more energy and clear peace of mind that you are doing what you cannot just for you, but for that dependent little life inside as well.

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What’s a placenta?… She did what with it?!

The placenta is an organ that grows inside a pregnant woman’s uterus to provide nutrients and oxygen to the developing baby. It also enables antibodies to pass from mother to child and removes waste from the baby’s blood. It’s attached to the wall of the uterus and is connected to the baby via the umbilical cord. Basically, it’s what keeps the little one going.

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The word Placenta comes from the Latin word for cake.  It really does look like a big purple pancake, full of all those good nutrients for the baby. It measures about 9 inches wide and 1 inch thick in the middle, weighing roughly 1 hefty pound at delivery. Delivering the placenta is called the third stage of labor and, unless there are complications, is probably the easiest part of it all. Most women forget after pushing out the kid that there’s just one more part to do before you get to lay back and rest.

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Although this super organ can cause issues during pregnancy, as well. The most common is Placenta Previa; when the placenta is low in the uterus and partial or totally covers the cervix (the outlet for the uterus), it can cause severe bleeding and a C-section may be required. Placental Abruption is when the placenta peels away from the uterine wall (partially or fully) and can cause bleeding, a lack of oxygen and nutrients to the baby, and early delivery may be needed. Placenta Accreta is almost the opposite. It’s when the placenta attaches too deeply into the uterus and fails to detach during labor. It can cause bleeding and severe blood loss after delivery and the mother may have to go through surgery afterwards to remove it and possibly her uterus along with it.

I think most readers are really curious about this next part: What is done with the placenta after birth?! Well, we here in the West tend to just incinerate it via the hospital. However, there have been growing beliefs and new findings that we have been wasting something important. Here are just some of the ways our placenta is now being used:

The first is to leave it alone! They aren’t cutting the cord at all. It’s called a Lotus Birth and basically you carry the baby and placenta around until the cord naturally falls off. (Between 1-2 weeks) Those who do this believe that it’s a much more natural and healthy way to slowly introduce their child to the “outside” world. There isn’t any scientific proof as of yet that this is helpful to the babies however there isn’t anything to say nay either….

The second is to encapsulate the placenta and have the mother take it as a supplement after birth. This is a rising trend that started in ancient Chinese medicine. The basis for this thought is that in the wild many mammals eat the placenta after the birth of their young and it seemed to give them rejuvenating properties. More and more woman are doing this as a much more appealing alternative to cooking or eating their own “murder-less meat”. Studies are showing that ingesting your own placenta may actually help rebalance your hormones, possible combating Postpartum Depression by making mothers less fatigued and overwhelmed and in a much cheerier disposition.

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Another take-home placenta idea is to bury it. This is probably one of the oldest human customs around the planet. Although it has no health properties this is more of a spiritual belief. I have a Wiccan friend who did this after the birth of her first born son. She planted it at the base of a 9 month old sapling (placentas actually do make wonderful fertilizer) and now the tree grows along with her son. Even if you hold no religious beliefs along these lines, I think it’s still a lovely gesture.

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The placenta really is an amazing thing and we are still learning about its benefits to both child and mother. The last time I delivered I donated mine to research. Maybe this time I’ll keep it. And who knows, maybe within the year I’ll be blogging about my own personal experience taking placenta supplements.

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Twins

This is one of the only words in the English language that elicits a positive and negative response simultaneously in the human brain. The levels very, depending on the person’s point of view. To someone who is using a surrogate to start their own family, it could be the equivalent of winning the lottery. Killing two birds with one stone, if you will. Some of the best news they’ve had in years! To someone finding out for the first time they are carrying twins, it can also send up a red flag of a potentially high risk pregnancy.  With twins come Complications such as: bed rest, premature delivery, fetal demise and others. A new father may become doe-eyed at first, then as the realizations of double the responsibility sink in, his eyes may then keep widening with nervous apprehension. To feel so excited and so scared all at once is a roller coaster of exhilaration.

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I recently discovered these feelings myself. When I filled out my surrogacy application I, like most others, put down that I would be willing to carry twins. It is clearly stated that the probability of this happening through IVF increases due to several facts. People tend to use more than one embryo in a single transfer to increase the likelihood of one sticking and turning into a positive pregnancy. When you are going through so much it’s best to hedge your bets as much as possible. Also, you’re on fertility medication and have been accepted as a surrogate because of your beautiful uterus. All of this makes for a pretty cozy environment that persuades embryos to stay put. It’s by no means a guarantee however, it just increases the odds. In the past 10 days, my IPs found out that they are going to become parents to not one, but two baby boys, sometime here in the next 7ish months. They are ecstatic; it’s what they dreamed of! I’m so happy for them. This is exactly the payoff moment of why I do what I do. I’m also nervous as hell. I openly admit it. I’ve heard a range of twin stories from “easiest pregnancy I ever had!” to “Oh my god, I was on bed-rest the whole time and I was so sick!”

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I can’t speak for other surrogates, but I do get the strong feeling that though most of us are generally excited about the concept of carrying twins, when the reality hits it’s a whole new ball game. My head races with all the complications that “could” happen and I start to freak out. My main panic attract came about by worrying the babies won’t be getting enough nourishment and they will come too early. That’s when I took to the old faithful social media and reached out to friends who were twins or have had twins. I discovered I wasn’t alone and that yes, my fears are justified, but there is absolutely no reason to freak out any more then with the other three pregnancies I’ve had.

You see, our bodies are amazing things that can adapt to almost anything we throw at them. Well, we fortunate few who pregnancy comes easy to, can anyways and Doctors are very used to twin pregnancies and know what to expect and what to look out for from beginning to end. Now I really do believe I’m getting the easiest end of this deal. The parents are the ones who’ll have to deal with the midnight double feedings and diaper double-dutch. Which of course, they are more than happy to do :). I’ve been down similar roads before. This will be a new adventure for me. My IP put it best. “You’ve been pregnant before, we haven’t. This will be great because it’ll be new to both of us. Something we can experience as a first together.” They are on board and ready to dive in and that gives me the confidence to take the plunge too.

Funny enough while putting my thoughts together for this blog I got a call from the lovely Ms. Ann at SAI wanting to share something she had heard on the news this morning: A mother in Ireland may have just beaten the world record for time apart delivering twins. Her first was born after her water broke at only 23 weeks and was born June 1st of last year weighing just 1lb 3oz. Bizarrely enough her contractions stopped after the first and the other’s fluid remained. Her second twin was able to stay in her womb until August 27th and weighted 5lbs 7oz at birth. A full 87 days later! Both twin girls are perfectly healthy now and doing very well.

Stories like this just go to show that yes, we can worry and fret about unpredictable things in our future, but they also can turn out miraculously. I’m excited. I know the home these boys are going to is going to be so full of love that, in my bones, I can tell anything will be surmountable.

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Twins, wow, what a word!

Needles, Syringes and Bloodwork, Oh My!

Three medications most of the population has not heard of or understand the reason for: Progesterone, Delestrogen, Lupron. No, I’m not conjuring up the dark forces; these different medications have to do with hormones to become pregnant in the “New” fashioned way. If you’ve underwent In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) before, then they are as common a household name to you as Tylenol is to most people. Their common bond, along with  multiple blood tests, is that they all require poking yourself with needles for probably a good solid month (or two…or three…depending on how it all goes).

First medication is usually Lupron. This is administered by a relatively small needle and easily injected in the tummy. Many fertility doctors use this drug to get your cycle lined up or synchronized with a third party, such as a surrogate mother or egg donor. Then you’re on to the big boys! Progesterone is an oil-based shot given in the upper-outer quarter of your buttocks each night. Delestrogen is also oil-based that is even thicker that’s administered twice a week in the same areas. Your poor heiny ends up lumpy, battered and bruised. Not to mention you inner elbows (is there a word for that part of your body?) start to look like you’ve been shooting heroin from all of the blood drawing required. However, it’s a small price that’s happily paid by those hoping to conceive.

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My husband has had the honor of “sticking it to me” on a nightly basis for a while now ;). It’s so much easier with help. Twisting yourself into some weird high-level yoga pose to get that gigantic needle into position and then watching yourself jab it into you own butt, is absolutely no fun at all. Also, I think it gives him a weird, sadistic pleasure getting to poke his wife with needles. All joking aside, I do believe that it is bonding in a way; it makes him feel more involved in the process and sympathetic to my situation.

I’ll tell you something though, you become a poking-prep expert pretty quickly: “I need to twist off the gray needle, twist the pink one onto the syringe, pull back to the two mark, insert needle into the bottle of medication, push up, then pull back, make sure there’s no bubbles, pull back again so liquid is out of the needle, remove the pink needle (or OUCH!), discard it in the Sharps container, twist on the gray needle, cap it then get the alcohol wipe and Band-Aid.” Veterans are laughing right now because it’s true. And that’s just for one of the syringes!

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After he’s done with the injection(s) he usually takes a tennis ball and rolls it around the area with moderate pressure so that I don’t get knots too badly. You may never look at a tennis ball the same way again. I know I don’t 

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After you have done the embryo transfer (a different kind of poking and prodding), and you are lucky enough to get a positive pregnancy blood test (this requires at least 3 more blood draws), you’ll probably remain on Progesterone and Delestrogen for most of the first trimester of your pregnancy. This is to “trick” your body into believing the embryo is yours and to not reject it. It’s similar in a way to what they do to an organ transplant patient. Once you are cleared and taken off all medication by your fertility doctor, those injections become a thing of the past and it becomes your basic old-fashioned pregnancy until birth.

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From His Perspective…..

We husbands can add a few details perhaps left unsaid by the surrogates.  Thankfully, all I have to say is positive and should be fun.

My wife might tell you that we learned about surrogacy through a friend who had been a surrogate twice in the past.  She might also then say, since her pregnancies were so smooth and easy, that providing the gift of children by acting as a vessel felt like an enriching experience.  She would be completely right to say that.  What she might not mention is, that after toying with the idea off and on for a couple of years–at one point she considered offering to carry her cousin’s child, but their adoption went through–she really didn’t start seriously thinking about it until around 10pm on December 20, 2011.

Now, it’s not that I’m good with dates or anything…okay, I am…but I have a secret I’ll divulge: Google. I had to look up the Season 1 Premiere of HBO’s Hung. The missus and I gave it our obligatory chance (it’s HBO so it must be good) and during one the main character’s epiphany moments of what his special talent might be, my wife turned to me and said she was thinking she might want to seriously look into being a surrogate.  Being well aware of her special talents, I took the high road and knew what she meant: she didn’t have a problem being pregnant; it would be equivalent to her getting a part-time job (but without leaving home); and she would make another couple extremely happy.

It didn’t take very long for me to consider it.  If she wanted to go through the whole experience, I would support her.  I was amazed at her ability to cope with her body changes with such grace the first two times around.  Thankfully, my wife handles discomfort and pain well.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been so comfortable with the idea.  It’s not that she internalizes it; she’s just good at gritting, bearing it, and taking frequent naps.  If she felt she could do it, so could I.

What I didn’t say up front was that I was really looking forward to her pregnant body as she fills out quite nicely.  I didn’t have any hang ups in relation to her carrying another person’s child.  It’s her body, not mine; and she could make whatever decision she wanted in regards to it.  Granted, I would have to live with those decisions.  This was a part that served well.  She bounced back smoothly from the past two pregnancies and had limited signs to show for it.  

What I didn’t realize until we were well into the process was how much fun it would be to mess with friends and family.  Telling them Mary’s pregnant and then watching the sideways glance since they all knew I had a vasectomy 5 years ago.  We’d let them hang on that for a little while, let the room get a little uncomfortable and then delve in for the laugh.  But what turned out to be the most fun and satisfying part of the whole experience was seeing the happiness on the Intended Parent’s (IP’s) faces.  They were just so delighted, which in turn, made me delighted. I remember the inexplicable happiness of holding both my girls when they were first born.  It was similar to watching a really good, heart-touching movie.  I got all the warm and fuzzies and then got to go home and have a good night’s sleep.

We’re working on our next surrogacy now since the first one went so well.  This time, like last, we’re partnered with a same sex couple that is more local that the last. This experience, so far, has been much more enriching.  I remember the excitement of witnessing the beginning of the process, the joy of knowing my child was growing, the adventure of seeing nature mature right in front of me…and most of all, the anticipation of seeing my child for the first time. These guys are going through all the same experiences I went through before.  I get to live vicariously through them and relive the whole experience, but this time, do it with the idea of giving such a priceless gift, as well.

My Story Thus Far…

I had a friend who had been a surrogate twice already. She got me thinking on it. I had had such easy pregnancies and was looking for a way to use my own special “talents” to help someone else.  I asked her out for a cup of coffee and picked her brain. She told me she thought I’d make a great surrogate. I’m happily married with two children and no plans for more. I’ve always been perfectly healthy, and my husband had a vasectomy after our second child. “No more kids than hands” was our motto. We love them both dearly and they are such perfect little clones of each of us, that we felt complete as a family. To be able to give that to someone else was such a mind-blowingly easy choice to make. My husband, kids, friends and family were all on board as well. Knowing all that; I submitted my application to Surrogate Alternatives (SAI) and began the process.

I met my first couple back in December of 2008. They were a lovely German couple who had been trying in many different ways to conceive for almost a decade. My heart just reached out to them. We instantly hit it off and began our journey together. Unfortunately, after many attempts, roadblocks and heartache they decided to stop trying. It was just too much for them and I completely understood. They told me it was nobody’s fault, just a lot of bad luck and that if they ever wanted to try again they’d choose me in a heartbeat. It was tough for me, but in retrospect I’m so glad it went this way because I now knew what could happen and was able to be mentally prepared for it. We are still good friends to this day.

SAI then placed me with another couple in September of 2011. They were a wonderful gay couple from Australia who had already had twins via surrogacy and wanted a younger sibling to complete their family. This time around it was easy-breezy! They had frozen embryos from their last time. We only used one and on the first attempt that little embryo stuck! Both they and I were amazed and overjoyed. My pregnancy was so easy too. Everything ran like clockwork with absolutely no hiccups. These guys were so supportive every step of the way. We exchanged emails, phone calls and communicated through Skype. I would give the guys updates and ultrasound pictures and we would chat about our lives. They even made it out for a couple of doctor visits and our families got to go to Disneyland together! My kids loved the fact that we were helping them have a baby and bragged to everyone they could about it.

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On September 23rd 2012 (which also happens to be the Founder of SAI’s birthday) their beautiful, perfectly healthy, little baby girl was born. I was just about a week early so they made it out the day after I delivered and were greeted with the newest member of their family. I was surprised at just how helpful and accommodating the hospital here was towards the whole surrogate situation. They made everyone feel so comfortable and the process ran smoothly. After the family got all the required paperwork done they went home with their little one and we still exchange emails and they send me super cute pictures of her.

I had such a warm feeling regarding every aspect of my journey that after I healed from my delivery I spoke with my husband and we decided we’d like to help another couple. All of the shots, doctor’s appointments, etc. is so worth it for the payoff of seeing a parent hold their child for the first time. Everyone who longs for a child of their own and to become a parent should have the opportunity; and I want nothing more than to be able to make that dream come true. I’ve been blessed with strong fertility and I have no desire for any more children of my own, so why shouldn’t someone else who is in need benefit from my help? It’s as simple as that.

As of this week, my contracts are signed with another gay couple and I’ve started injections. The embryo transfer should take place in Mid-March. This couple is local! It’s also their first rodeo and they are so elated to be starting a family! I can’t wait because this will be a totally different experience for all of us involved. Wish us luck and positive, sticky thoughts 🙂

 

Do you have what it takes?

This is a call for help to all women who enjoy being pregnant and who would love to help others. Have you ever considered becoming a surrogate mother? It just may be something that could change your life! You could help build a family from the ground up and be emotionally and financially rewarded in the process.

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A surrogate mother is a special woman who helps others who physically cannot carry a child themselves. She, through IVF (In-vitro Fertilization), carries another’s person’s child in her womb and relinquishes that child to the Intended Parents when the child is born. A surrogate mother is a selfless angel helping others in their quest to become parents.

Surrogate Alternatives, Inc. (SAI) has the best “surro-sister” mentoring program in the world. These women have all been surrogates themselves and work alongside new surrogate mothers every step of the way. There are monthly support group meetings, family events and weekend retreats twice a year for all of their surrogate mothers to attend. The staff are always available to answer any and all questions you have and even attend doctor visits with you if you so desire. They hold hands and guide lives. Every woman has a different experience. Some carry twins, some help IP’s from around the world, some want a little involvement others want a lot. The additional support that SAI provides enriches every one of these journeys.

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SAI needs you! If you meet the following criteria for their program, call them today!

1) You have to have given birth to at least one of your own and are raising that child
2) You cannot be not on welfare, AFDC or housing assistance.
3) You are between the ages of 21-40 (if you are older than 38, you have to have delivered in the past two years).
4) You cannot have had any serious medical conditions during your pregnancy or delivery.
5) You must be able to provide medical and delivery records, if requested.
6) You must have a vehicle and a valid driver’s license to be able to attend your doctor appointments.
7) You must be willing to be tested for STD’s and undergo a drug screening.
8) You must have a stable residence with no plans of moving out of your state from the time you submit your application to delivery.
9) You must agree to a background check and a psychological screening.

The total fees you receive are between $35,000-$50,000. Repeat surrogate fees are higher. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate for pain and suffering and reimbursement. If you are solely relying on this as income, this is not the “job” for you.

Becoming a surrogate mother is not for everyone. Those who choose to become surrogates are uniquely special women. Some of these ladies find the experience so richly rewarding that they choose to continue on and help more than one couple.

If you think YOU could be someone’s angel and give them ultimate gift: the gift of sacrifice, compassion and love; you may just have what it takes to be a surrogate mother. The rewards go above and beyond any monetary gain and it is an experience you will never forget.

If you feel you are that kind of person, apply with SAI today and see where this path takes you.

SAI’s office number is (619) 397-0757

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Where’s The Baby?…casual encounters of a surrogate.

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My neighbor comes out and takes her kids to school at the same time I do almost every morning (they go to a different school otherwise we’d totally car pool). We’re not close, but we’re civil: “Hi,” “Good Morning,” “Going to be cold isn’t it?” that kind of thing.  She saw how I was pregnant throughout the year but we never really talked about it. She smiled at the bump and asked if it was a girl or a boy? I just said “girl” and smiled back.  We’re in that morning rush and I wasn’t going to pull her aside to tell her I’m a surrogate, explain the whole deal to her, and make our kids late to school and most likely freak her out in the process. It just wasn’t convenient.

Well, after I had delivered and was up on my feet again taking the girls to school, she sees me. Clearly not pregnant anymore and… no baby anywhere… no car seat… no nothing. I said “Good morning”, smiled and pulled away. I could tell she was thoroughly confused. Her eyes were processing. Should she be apologetic, sympathetic? Had something terrible happened? But I was happy, not grieving? What had I done with the child! The next few times we saw each other, I could tell she was clearly baffled but she never brought it up and since then she doesn’t really speak to me at all. I can tell I unsettle her but I don’t feel like I need to explain my life to an almost stranger. I’m friendly and open so maybe someday she’ll ask. Especially now that I’m going to do it again 🙂

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I’ve had many similar situations with the people I see on a daily basis. The ones you’re not close to but are friendly enough to say hello to. The crossing guard at my daughter’s school, my bank teller, the lady who always seems to get in the elevator at the same time I do, the dad picking up his son in my daughter’s class, every one of these people has made casual remarks about me being pregnant. I’ll vaguely answer “It’s a girl,” “due in September,” or “I don’t know the name yet.”  And if I have the time or I feel comfortable enough around them I’ll tell them what’s what and that: “it’s not mine”, or “I’m a surrogate.” I never, ever know how they’ll react. I had the check-out lady at Target come around the register, give me a big hug, a kiss on the cheek, and with tears in her eyes tell me what a wonderful thing I was doing; since her daughter couldn’t conceive and she knew how I was changing someone’s life. That was totally unexpected and made me cry (also I was hormonal from being pregnant at the time). I had a man look at me in disgust and snidely remark to his wife that he could never allow her to “sell a baby”. My husband had to pull me away at that point (again, hormonal and would most likely have ripped him a new one).

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There was that one time I was out with my 5 year old and a woman made a comment to her about getting a little brother or sister and my daughter looked up at her and quipped “It’s not even ours.”  I’ve never seen a woman walk away so quickly without trying to look like it. Awkward! But I have to admit I laughed after she left.

My kids have been great with this. They absolutely loved everything about me being a surrogate for another couple. They don’t want any more sibling competition and are happy that Mommy is helping others to become parents too. They get it. I think it clicked more easily for them than it did with my friends. I have found that my 8 year old had been telling her teacher and all her school friends about me before I had a chance to myself. Her teacher then bragged to other teachers about what I was doing so that when I went in to tell her, everyone knew already and it was no big deal.

People will always amaze you. For better or worse. I have found it’s usually for the better. And what’s more amazing is that surrogacy is becoming “The New Normal.” People tend to just be curious these days instead of ignorant or closed minded. There is a part of me who wants to get a pamphlet printed out entitled: So the Woman you’re Speaking to is a Surrogate: 10 most FAQ’s. That way I can just be like “here you go… talk to me if you have any questions, my number is on the back.” Because that has happened! I’ve had not one but two friends of friends who have heard what I have done, asked for my phone number and have picked my brain about the whole thing. It’s amazing. When I signed up to become a surrogate I didn’t even think about these situations occurring in my life; but I’m sure glad they have. It’s a whole new world out there.

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