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Surrogacy, the new prostitution?

Negativity exists in every form of work. Uniformed and overly (and overtly) opinionated people are everywhere. The subject matters they dwell upon range from politics to plumbing. Surrogacy is, by far, without exception to this rule. I recently read a blog calling surrogates “prostitutes;” those who work in IVF “pimps” and the intended parents “Johns.” I am not referencing or linking to this person’s blog because I don’t want to lend it any credibility. While I do understand some people’s aversion to the idea of surrogacy–due to religious or emotional ideas–I absolutely cannot condone those who judge without research or understanding. Especially when it is by someone who isn’t affected personally by another’s choice. This is my broad statement of belief, not just when it comes to someone’s fertility or lack thereof. I am a firm believer in live and let live.

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Surrogacy fulfills a need, a yearning that is denied to a person by unlucky circumstance. It is born out of a desire so strong, I would put it akin the fulfillment of their life. I don’t believe it’s even really a want at this stage. It’s a need. A need for the love of their own child.

Some opt for adoption, which is just as long and as tedious a process as surrogacy. Surrogacy is a very, very personal choice, alongside a woman’s right to choose. It is an expensive one as well. I am not sugar coating it here: if you cannot afford it then it is not an option you can utilize. However, it is not a profit deal either. The doctors, nurses, lawyers, and agencies involved are not doing it for the money. They are just people who felt the need to help other people in their profession. There are swindlers out there, as in any profession, which is why it is important to do your research. The reason it costs so much is that there are separate steps with many specialized professionals. No one person is making a large lump sum.

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The women who opt to become surrogates aren’t in it for just the money.  Who, in their right mind, would want to go through at least a year of medication (needles mostly), dealing with lawyers, and then giving birth (!!!)  just for money?  The money involved helps support us as we go through this process, but we aren’t buying Lamborghini’s or paying cash for a mansion. We do it because we care. We are mothers, too. We’ve been blessed with easy pregnancies and healthy bodies and are able to give back to those who need us.
Also, there are moral laws in place that are strictly adhered to by these professionals. They aren’t making babies in the lab or selling babies to families. They are merely doing outside of the womb what would naturally occur (if it could) in the womb. It’s just putting all the pieces together with hopes for the best outcome. Trust me, if any of these people could have a baby the old-fashioned way, they would. It’s not about wanting to keep your nice body while someone else does the work or about picking out some sort of “super baby” with selected genes.  It’s about having a healthy child to call your own. That’s it. There are no ulterior motives involved. At least, not from reputable sources.

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I just felt the air around here needed some cleaning. I recently spent the weekend with a group of surrogates and the number one topic we spoke about was the things people say to them. The positive is what makes the experience worthwhile. We need the support of others just as anyone in a highly involved position would. However when strangers come up to and say “How could you sell your baby?” or “You must be numb not to feel connected to the child growing inside you?” or even “What you’re doing is wrong!” it hurts. These are not fictions; these are actual statements collected (and shared) by many surrogates. We try not to let it in, we try to rationalize and forget, but it still twists the knife and hurts every time.

When you are doing something you truly believe in and are told it’s wrong, your first instinct is to fight, to justify and to make them understand. I’m just trying to share the other side of the story. I can’t make those who don’t want to listen hear. But I can put this out into the world in hopes that it may make a change somehow, somewhere for someone. I want people to ask me questions. I want them to become more knowledgeable and informed, then I want them to go and make their own personal decisions.

And remember dear readers that old saying your mother probably taught you: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (at least to people you don’t know 😉 )

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!

The best gift ever…what Surrogate Mothers give their Intended Parents

It is one of the longest, roughest and most winding roads that lead someone to consider having a surrogate carry their child. As long as it takes to get there, the journey has just begun when you arrive. A woman who chooses to become a surrogate begins the process with a giving heart.

 

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When an Intended Parent (IP) is matched with a surrogate a bond forms. It’s different for everyone but the basics are the same. Yearning meets donation, where wanting and giving come together to travel the same path for as long as the journey takes.

A surrogate who is healthy, fertile and willing to carry a baby in her womb for nine months means HOPE; she is a gift unlike any other. Step by step this gift increases in value until ultimately; the greatest gift of all has been achieved: Life, a child to complete a family.

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What most outsiders don’t realize is that women who choose to become surrogates don’t do it for the money, or the recognition. We are in it for the rush! That wonderfully, amazing rush; just knowing we have the power and ability to help someone else. We can give what others need. It’s a powerful feeling to be able to provide something that comes so easily to us. We are givers in the truest sense of the word. The fulfillment we receive is from seeing the look on the faces of the new parents when they hear their baby’s first heartbeat, when they see the first ultrasound and when they finally get to meet their precious child for the first time. Those moments are priceless and being a part of those moments makes us shine. No monetary compensation could equal the pure joy that fills your heart to share something so life changing with someone else.

Whether you are longing to be a parent and aching for a child or you are a woman looking for something more to give in life, ask yourself this: Are you ready to change a total stranger’s life and make a difference in the world?

This journey may have roadblocks and bumps along the way, but it is an adventure, that’s for sure and if you are the kind of person who can be selfless and can open your heart up to the possibilities, it may just be the most rewarding experience of your life!

At http://www.SurrogateAlternatives.com you’ll find your answers. Also, any comments left will be answered by some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of IVF and surrogacy. So please, ask away. As I have said before; there are never too many questions when it comes to pregnancy…

I Want Candy…information on Gestational Diabetes

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From Halloween until Super bowl, the holidays of sweet and savory junk food are upon us and it can be a tough time to just say no! If you’ve ever been pregnant during this tempting time of the year, you will know just how tough avoiding the temptation can be. Even if you haven’t, just know it’s tougher when you believe you are “eating for two”. This is not true by the way – you do need to eat and burn more calories when you are pregnant, but not enough for a whole other person. This is why Gestational Diabetes is such an easy trap to eat your way into.  Most people know about Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease) and Type 2 Diabetes (a metabolic disorder); but not many people know what gestational diabetes really is; how you get it, how it’s treated, if it’s permanent or what affect it will have on the baby?

Firstly let’s start with a definition (from Web Dictionary):

Gestational diabetes (or gestational diabetes mellitus, GDM) is a condition in which women without previously diagnosed diabetes exhibit high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes (GD) will usually go away after you deliver the baby, however, statistically, many of the women who get it, will develop Type 2 later in life (boo).  Secondly, it is not entirely clear as to how it develops in the first place. It only appears in about 5% of American pregnancies.  

Unfortunately, Gestational Diabetes is on the rise. While it is linked to your weight, poor diet and lack of exercise, genetics and ethnicity play a crucial part in it as well. Gestational diabetes makes its appearance in the 3rd trimester and is usually treatable by a controlled diet and, sometimes, insulin.

Those pesky pregnancy hormones are to blame and even though we make three times the amount of insulin when we are pregnant, it is sometimes not enough:  the placenta (the organ that connects the baby via the umbilical cord to the uterus) is trying to prevent the mother from getting low blood sugar. In between the 24 to 28 week mark your doctor will have you do a glucose screening test. Within 5 minutes, you will be asked to drink an orange flavored sticky-flat-super-sweet-soda-pop-like substance (though I’ve heard rumors that it also comes in cola and lime flavors too). You would wait an hour and then do a blood test.  Be sure to bring a book, magazine, phone or tablet because you’re not allowed to leave during this time. Your results should be available in a few days and if your sugar levels are high you’ll have to go back and take the three hour test.

Luckily, only about one-third of woman who have to do the second test actually have GD. If it turns out that you are one of the unfortunate groups, you’ll probably have you keep track of your sugar levels with a glucose monitor and keep your results in a chart formatted journal. No candy, sweets or sodas for a while. You may also have to take insulin, however, this usually only happens during the time of delivery because some of the medications you may receive could increase your sugar levels. Also, just because you got GD during one pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it for the next, especially if you keep up your healthier routine.

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GD doesn’t normally affect the baby; however, in some cases it can cause the following problems: Macrosomia (aka “big baby”) meaning any baby over 8lbs 13oz, which can make childbirth difficult, most likely leading to a caesarian delivery. GD can also lead to the possibility of the child developing Type 2 Diabetes later on in life. Another effect is that the baby could become Hypoglycemic (too much insulin resulting in low blood sugar) after birth. Your doctor will test for this. While jaundice is also a common condition, the likeliness of a newborn suffering from it is higher when the mother suffers from GD.

Good luck during this tempting time of year and try to avoid the temptation if you can. The weather is cooler, the treats are abundant and all we want to do is cuddle up and eat…and eat… and eat. Just remember that “eating for two” comes with the “responsibility for two” as well. More important than that second helping, is the heath of those first (and possibly second) heartbeats inside of you. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself this winter; knowledge is always power and maybe just reading this blog post will help keep you a little healthier, now that you know what to expect.

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A Womb with a View…the importance of prenatal ultrasounds

The doctor pulls up my shirt and tucks a paper towel down my pants. The next thing I hear is that ketchup bottle sound and feel the freezing cold slime of the gel rolling around on my tummy. But it’s worth it! It’s exciting! One, or two, or (gulp) three?! Could it be a Girl or boy? Full sets of fingers and toes? The prenatal ultrasound is one of the most exciting things about my pregnancy.

Ultrasounds can be uncomfortable, especially if they make you drink a lot of water beforehand (makes that picture crystal clear) and then push the transducer (that rolly thing) right onto your bladder. Or worse, you have a trans-vaginal scan and feel spread open like a Thanksgiving turkey by what looks like one of those “massagers” your girlfriend bought for a bachelorette party. But the payoffs far outweigh the discomforts.

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Hearing the heartbeat and seeing something moving inside me, finally makes it real. It’s so important, too. Usually the first ultrasound is done around 20 weeks and not only do you get to “sneak a peek” at what’s to come (kind of like tearing a piece of wrapping paper off the corner of your Christmas present while it’s still under the tree), but a doctor can tell so much more. What looks like a gray smudge to the untrained eyes, could be something important and treatable to them. Where and what is the placenta up to? How far along exactly? Is everything on track and developing and measuring correctly? Is there enough or too much fluid in the womb? Do they need to run more tests or is everything perfect? To the people in the know, these things jump right out. So while I am busy doting on that little alien critter floating in a black lagoon in my belly, they are measuring and cataloging not only the new bundle of joy but also its home, your womb preparing for what’s to come.

With 3D and 4D ultrasounds now available, you can capture baby’s first picture in HD!  A word to the wise: these ultrasounds are done just for fun. Don’t look for information on the baby or your health from these unless it’s directly from the doctor. The technicians are trained on how to use the equipment but not diagnose anything. Also, tell them if you don’t want to know the sex of the baby first! Things have a way of slipping out in all the excitement…

So I’ll wipe off that cold lubricant, pull my shirt down and enjoy the fact that even though this baby is still a mystery, my doctor and I have gotten a view of what’s to come and I’ve gotten the first picture for my scrapbook.

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