Hurry Up and Wait

Once we wrapped up legal, we were given the go ahead for transfer on April 3rd. Woo hoo! L ordered my big box of meds and we were off to the races. For our last surrogacy, L order meds as I needed them. This go around she ordered everything upfront, so I had a huge stash of meds that I needed to organize. Thanks to some suggestions from other surrogates, I used a clear over the door shoe holder to keep everything organized and visible, with all the sharp needles up top. I also tore the labels from the med boxes and stuck them in front of everything so that I could see the labels through the plastic pockets. And of course, the med schedule/dosages/medicine pamphlets printed off and stuck in a pocket too!

Surrogacy Meds Organzier

I started administering the Lupron shots in my stomach in early March and then started my first round of estrogen via a patch on my abdomen. We started getting ready to purchase plane tickets for Denver, and then IT happened. You know, the C word… (not THAT C word!) CORONAVIRUS! Once COVID-19 started running amuck in America, our transfer was canceled. I got a call from L earlier this week that CCRM was recommending that all transfers be canceled due to the risk of us contracting the illness as well as the uncertainty of what happens in early pregnancy if I become infected with the virus. So, we did all that “hurry up” earlier in the first part of the year only to be told that we’ll have to wait. But, as I told L, a baby will be born when the time is right. It may not be on our timing, but the time will be just right when it happens.

The vast majority of fertility clinics in America are all recommending the same thing: no transfers. So, that means all the couples who have struggled with infertility for years and were on the brink of finally transferring, either to a surrogate or to themselves through IVF, are having their dreams crushed right now. Even more, there are international intended parents who finally conceived (yay!) and are approaching their surrogate’s due date in America. Most, if not all, of those international parents are going to miss the birth of their baby and possibly even longer depending on travel bans. I couldn’t imagine how hard that must be all around.

While we’re all bummed to be postponing Journey #2 for a few months, we’re all very lucky to be alive and healthy. For that, we are thankful. The baby will come when the time is right, and for now we’ll just be sure to wash our hands. A lot.

So, for now, this journey is to be continued…

Putting it on Paper

After getting medically cleared, the next step for us was to complete the legal process. Since we had hopes of moving things along quickly, much of the legal stuff had already been discussed between L and I. We just needed to put it all on paper. We debated a little here and there about how to move forward, and ultimately agreed to just move forward with pretty much the same contract from last time. We did have some minor changes, for the better, but overall it was simply a copy and paste for us. We were done in less than a week of me getting my first contract draft. Now, if you are reading this blog as a potential/future surrogate… this is NOT normal. If you want to read a bit more about a normal contract process, then you can read my post regarding our contract in journey #1 here.

The few things that we changed in our contract were based on the fact that we knew each other this go-around and everyone was comfortable with a little more leniency. For example, my travel restrictions were reduced and I can travel later into the pregnancy as long as everything is going well. Our privacy/social media portion was amended to allow for less restrictions and more sharing. And, a big one, I can now evacuate without legal repercussion! I know that sounds silly, but I was 9 months pregnant with baby Eddie when Hurricane Irma passed through Florida in 2017. I was in a little bit of a legal pickle… my contract said I couldn’t leave the state of Florida and that if I did and gave birth then I was legally responsible for all medical bills. Additionally, if the baby was born in another state where my legal documents weren’t valid then we would have had a legal custody issue on our hands as well. For the record, L & R are reasonable people and I’m sure they wouldn’t have stuck me with the bills and they were in favor of me evacuation during Irma… but you never want to be put in that kind of situation. So, a word of advice to any surrogates in the Southeast – have a hurricane evacuation plan put into your contract. You don’t want to be worrying about legal details all while a category 5 hurricane is coming…YOWZA!

Since Easton and Everli are older now and they remember L&R and Eddie, I decided to include them in the contract process. I wrote up a few sentences for their part of the agreement and they got to sign along with us. (You can see their agreements below.) Once we were all signed, then we could be scheduled for transfer!

Everli Agreement

Easton

The Great Communicables Kit Debacle of 2020

We had received an email from our fertility clinic: Great news, Jeff doesn’t have to come out to Denver. Since you all have already done this before he can just do one of our mail off kits to submit his communicables (i.e. blood and urine samples).

My thoughts? Awesome! That simplifies things because I won’t have to arrange my medical clearance trip around Jeff’s work schedule and I won’t need to coordinate an overnight babysitter! And a plus for my IPs – no need to pay for an extra plane ticket.

We had to complete a few documents and sign some consent forms, then CCRM sent the communicables kit directly to our house. All Jeff had to do was “just” complete it. The kit arrived while I was out of town for work and Jeff called somewhat panicked… “Babe, the kit came today. Oh my god. You’re gonna have to look at all the crap when you get home and read the directions. There is so much stuff and I just don’t know what to do! You need to figure it out.” My initial thought was that Jeff was being a dramatic baby.

Fast forward to me getting home the next night. Holy moly, Jeff was not being dramatic! When someone says “kit”, I think of something small in size and typically pretty insignificant. KIT is not the appropriate word to describe the communicables BOX. There were multiple steps on color coded sheets, 6 blood vials (some for collecting, some for storing), urine collection cups and a couple storage vials with chemicals, multiple boxes, a cooler, many freezer packs, and a biohazard freezer block to house frozen tubes.

To start it all off the first thing you find is an envelope with multiple pages of color coded instructions with the first page that says “IMMEDIATE INSTRUCTIONS” and then they dive into something along these lines… Remove box B from Box A. Do not remove Box C from Box B. Do NOT write on Box A.  Find Item A and immediately freeze in back of freezer upon opening. Freeze ice packs. Keep envelope with instructions for lab use. DO NOT forget HIV/AID consent form… my blood pressure started rising and anxiety started to kick in… and I had only just opened the box! Aaaaahhhh! This was obviously not “just a kit”. I had already started to low key panic when I read in all caps “LABCORP AND QUEST DIAGNOSTIC WILL NOT COMPLETE THIS KIT.”

At that point I decided to call it a night. I barely opened the box and already regretted the decision not to take Jeff to Denver with me. I immediately texted L and told her “This box is overwhelming and I don’t know how we’re going to get the blood drawn because our only two labs in town won’t do the kit.” Tallahassee isn’t a large town and our medical scene isn’t exactly hoppin’. If Labcorp and Quest weren’t options then our only option was to drive several hours to a larger city. Ugh.

IMG_7745

The next day I was stressing out about how I was going to get this kit done, and then it hit me. FACEBOOK! With all of my medical friends, someone on my facebook account would have to be able to direct me to somewhere in town who might be willing to help me out. I had all the tubes and such, I just needed to have the blood drawn and centrifuged. I could handle the rest… then enters the Nice Nurse! We’re going to just call her the Nice Nurse so that we don’t get her in trouble. 😊 So, the Nice Nurse who works for one of our hospitals messaged me and said “Hey! I can draw the blood for you and I’ll have someone in the lab spin it for us.” It was like the angels sang! We had a light at the end of the kit tunnel.

So a couple days later, while I was out of town again, Jeff gathered all of our supplies and instructions and met up with the Nice Nurse at the ER and she drew the vials of blood for him and they both took them to the lab floor to be centrifuged. The clinic’s preferred method would have been to have the blood frozen at the lab after being spun, but there were also instructions on how to freeze the blood at home. So afterwards, Jeff followed the directions for a home freeze.

When I got home that night the next step was a urine collection. Since there wasn’t a lab technician to do it for us, your’s truly had the honor of pipetting Jeff’s fresh urine into the various collection tubes and shaking them with the stabilizing compounds to preserve the samples. Meanwhile, Jeff along with L & R were all having a great time over group text laughing at the situation.

IMG_7739

The next morning was shipping day! I made sure all of the vials were packed exactly as my list of instructions told me… Frozen blood vials inside the frozen vial container placed with a certain side up, with urine vials in their designated places, with ice packs placed in their specific spots, with envelopes and forms taped in their precise location, and then inside Box C inside Box B, then inside Box A… with no writing on Box A. All I had to do then was drop it off at the FedEx substation for overnight delivery.

PHEW! We did it, it was a pain getting to this point but we made it happen!… or so we thought.

The kit was pre-paid and labeled by the fertility clinic for overnight delivery. So, in theory, I dropped it off at FedEx on a Wednesday morning so that the little frozen tubes of blood that were so lovingly taken by the Nice Nurse and the accompanying urine samples would arrive on Thursday afternoon. When I called CCRM on Friday morning to confirm that the package arrived safely, I was informed that the package had never arrived! The lab tech then tried to track the package through FedEx and was unsuccessful. The package had never been scanned, and thus had to still be in Tallahassee!! She suggested that I go to the sub station to pick it up and return the samples to the freezer to retry shipping on Monday since the clinic wouldn’t be open over the weekend for delivery.

So, I call up my local FedEx location and they search their building. No package anywhere! Our kit was officially lost with no tracking. The only thing we could do was wait… and wait… and wait… eventually the kit was delivered to CCRM on Tuesday! Almost a full week after I dropped it off for overnight delivery!!!

We were sure that the samples weren’t going to be any good, but the lab tech told us that there was a small chance that they might be ok if they defrosted slowly while in the cooler over the week the box was in route. When Jeff found this out he said “There’s no way we can ask the Nice Nurse to do this again! It took her a good chunk of her own time and asking favors from others in the lab. We’re going to need to figure out another option.” Ugh… we didn’t have other options. :-/

Well, we finally got good news after this whole debacle. Thanks to my obsessive need to follow rules to the T, the kit was packaged well enough and the samples were frozen cold enough that everything was still OK when they arrived! Hallelujah!!! Jeff finally had his medical clearance and we could move on to our contract.

We’re Baaaaack – Starting the Journey to Roo #2!

My husband and I have been eyeing 2020 for a few years now. It would be the year of freedom. Our second child would be out of daycare and entering kindergarten. No more daycare payments and we’d be done paying off our truck. Our kids were finally going to be old enough to go on trips (and it be enjoyable for us). A long cruise and a trip to Disney were on the top of our list.

I started working out at an awesome gym last year with some great personal trainers that push me and motivate me daily. I had big fitness goals in mind for 2020. We had also officially decided that we wouldn’t seek out another surrogacy. I was in the best shape that I’ve been in since I got married and wasn’t interested in another pregnancy. However, we did previously tell L & R that if they ever wanted baby #2 that we would be on board, no questions asked. L & R appreciated the offer and said they would make a decision by the end of the year in 2018. Since we hadn’t heard anything regarding the subject, we had assumed they would be sticking with just Baby Eddie.

Vacations and muscle gains were on my mind for 2020, and then plans changed…

One evening in late September, just before Eddie’s 2nd birthday, while chatting with L on the phone she mentioned that she and R were hoping to give Eddie a brother or sister. They hadn’t looked into it too much yet because she wanted to know if Jeff and I would be on board first. Our answer would determine how they moved forward. To be honest my first thought was “Uuuhh. Whaaaat?!?” Mostly because I thought they had decided a year prior not to go for baby #2, and second because being pregnant was the last thing I thought we’d be doing in 2020. But once the initial shock wore off, my response was a resounding “Of course! We’ve always told you we would do it again for your family. No questions asked!” Don’t get me wrong – while this wasn’t what we expected to happen this year, Jeff and I were 100% excited and thrilled to be going on journey #2 with L & R. We couldn’t possibly think of a more deserving couple and we were happy that they felt comfortable enough to approach us with this opportunity again! The hope was that since we were already very familiar with each other that we could move quickly through the medical work-up and contract process during the last few months of 2019.

We were thinking of a transfer in January, just like Eddie, and then plans changed…

It took a good bit to get the process kicked off due to some technical issues. After a while of waiting, we quickly realized that a January transfer was not going to happen. I still went ahead and started gathering all my medical records in advance to try to shorten the wait once the ball did start rolling. It was my experience last time that TMH’s medical record department was a disaster, so I wanted to get a head start. I also pulled my insurance booklet to be reviewed. And then we just had to wait for the go ahead.

I was able to get squeezed in for my medical workup at CCRM on January 8th. It was a bit of a whirlwind. I flew in the afternoon prior to my appointment, met with the various people on the medical team the morning of the 8th, and then hopped back on a flight home that afternoon. I was in Denver less than 24 hours! The medical work-up was exactly like before. No caffeine for 72 hours, an ultrasound to measure lining and blood flow, a hysteroscopy to visually inspect the inside of my uterus, lots of bloodwork, a psych test, and then a meeting with the psychologist. That hardest part? 72 hours with no coffee, of course!

IMG_7617

We’re baaack!

IMG_7625

CCRM’s Tree of Life – Eddie has a leaf!

If you followed my previous journey then you might remember me saying that during that hysteroscopy “a bunch of people came around the curtain like they were climbing out of a clown car” because they were training a new doctor. Well, that same “new” doctor did my hysteroscopy and when she walked in she exclaimed “I remember you!” Considering the number of new people she meets on a daily basis, I’m not sure if it is a good or bad thing to be that memorable… especially since most of the time that she previously met me I was naked. Ha ha! Either way, she was a pleasure to work with on such an awkward task.

The psychologist was great too! The psychologist Jeff and I met with last time didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies. But this one was like talking to an old friend! She and I had a great conversation about how society views surrogacy/surrogates and my own personal hang-ups with accepting compensation. It turns out that once-upon-a-time she was the psychologist for our agency, ConceiveAbilities. No wonder I liked her so much!

I was tentatively approved based on my physical exam and psychological evaluation, with the caveat that we had to wait on my bloodwork to come back with appropriate numbers. Everything came back great, with the exception of my vitamin D being 1 point too low. (Same thing as last time.) So I had to go on over the counter Vitamin D supplements and we’ll retest closer to transfer. I was officially medically cleared!

IMG_7630

Cleared and awarded my surro-bible!

Have you noticed how I haven’t mentioned Jeff during any of this work-up talk? Since this is journey #2 with the same family, Jeff wasn’t required to go to CCRM with me this time. He just needed to submit a communicables sample via a pre-paid package.

The mail off kit should have been quick and easy, and then plans changed…

That will need a post of its own… what a debacle. 🙂

 

Happy Birthday Dear Eddie!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO EDDIE! Well, actually, his birthday was a few days ago on October 11th. I was planning to post on that day, but Tallahassee and the rest of the Florida panhandle was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael at that point. We were without power for 2 ½ days, but that was the extend of the “damage” for us. Many others just west of us weren’t as fortunate. ☹

I can’t believe it has been a year since that exciting day! And, believe it or not, I am asked regularly about how Baby Eddie is doing and if I keep in touch with his family. Even the cashier at the grocery store still asks me about him. So, I thought that now would be a great time for an update!

As for Eddie, he is doing wonderful! I have been told he is a super fast crawler and is saying “dada” pretty regularly. I saw this first hand on a FaceTime call the other day, and I can confirm that both are true. 🙂 It has also been reported that he is well above average for height and weight, so he’s a growing boy! And, if you knew L, you would know how funny this is considering her super petite size. Eddie will be bigger than her in no time! It always makes me smile when I see tiny little her holding big ol’ him. 🙂

As for staying in touch, YES! I still exchange frequent texts and occasional calls with L&R, and when time permits we’ll have an occasional FaceTime chat, but that is difficult with an active baby on their end and two loud kids on my end.

Jeff and I were fortunate enough to visit all of them in Chicago back in April. I really wanted to see Eddie again while he was still a baby, so we went when he turned 6 months. It also happened to align with L’s 40th birthday so we were able to celebrate with her that weekend. In hindsight, I should have posted an update then!

L and I were texting the other day and she mentioned how awesome the last year has been for them and how they couldn’t imagine a life without Eddie now. Hearing about their new adventures and how happy they have been always reaffirms that I made the right choice in seeking a surrogacy. I still have zero regrets and feel blessed to have them in my life as an extension of my family. I always say, I wasn’t responsible for making the baby, but I was responsible for making the family. And for that, I will always be proud!

And now, it’s time for a few pictures of the adorable little Eddie. Two are from our 6 month visit to Chicago and two are recent.

Jeff and Stacy with Eddie

Jeff and I with Eddie in Chicago

All of us in Chicago

All of us during our visit to Chicago in April

Eddie with Pumpkins

Eddie at the Pumpkin Patch

Eddie - 1 year old!

The cutest 1 year old surro-babe!

 

 

Our Modern Family

After Baby Eddie’s delivery, I was given a room to recover in on the Family Care floor and L&R along with Eddie were given a room directly next door. I pumped colostrum and either gave it to the nurse when she came to check on me or walked it over to L & R myself. The hospital stay was a bit of a balancing act for me. I tried to balance being involved while still giving L&R space. I visited a bit here and there, but also tried to give them the alone time they needed to bond with Eddie. I also had a lot of work to do, so much of my free time was spent either attempting to sleep or working on my laptop. (I was dumb enough to set a big project deadline for that week since I had assumed the baby would have arrived long before he did!)

 

I have to give TMH’s family care unit kudos on knowing what was going on in regard to the surrogacy. I didn’t have a single nurse, specialist, or doctor come in to ask me about the baby. I had heard stories in my surrogacy support groups of people having to constantly redirect the hospital staff. Everyone in the unit was well informed, so the only person I ever saw was my nurse who would come in regularly to push on my belly and take vitals. Everyone else already knew that the baby and parents were next door. Recovering is much easier when you don’t actually have a baby in your room or staff continuously coming in!

After the kids got out of school Jeff brought them both up to the hospital to see me, L&R, and Eddie. They were SO excited to be in a hospital. Neither of them had ever visited one before. That, of course, made them even more rambunctious than usual. They wanted to touch every button, every light switch, every cabinet… holy moly. I explained to them that “Baby Roo” had been born and that there was no longer a baby in my belly. (To which Everli replied… yes there is! Look right there! As she patted my deflated postpartum belly. Lol)

So, the time had arrived! We went next door for them to meet the baby. I was expecting excitement or awe… nope. Everli marched right over to the bed, honked Eddie’s nose (squeezed it), and simply said “Hi!”. Easton took a quick glance and then moved on to causing chaos around the room. We did eventually get their attention long enough to hold Eddie for a very brief moment. Everli was definitely more interested than Easton, and she kept coming back to peek or rub his head. They came back again the next day, but Jeff and I decided to only allow one kid in the room at a time so that the chaos was kept to a minimum. (Jeff took one in to the room to visit while I walked the halls with the other.) And that was pretty much that. They haven’t asked too much about the baby since. They’ve been more interested in having their Mommy back to themselves, and they’ve taken full advantage of pulling the “but you don’t have a baby in your tummy anymore” card.

(Images are clickable if you want to enlarge.)

 

About 36 hours after delivery I was released to recover at home. Saying good bye was harder than I thought. I was doing just fine, until I saw L start crying. Then I lost it and my postpartum hormones wouldn’t let me regain my composure. It was at that time that I realized that I had never cried in front of my children before, because after a while of me crying Easton said “Mommy, would you stop crying already with your big red cry baby eyes?! Geez.” lol  My tears weren’t from an attachment to the baby, like some might think. I was just sad to be saying goodbye to all of them as a whole, and to see my journey ending. It was a bittersweet moment. In order for me to see something that I really wanted (L&R to be parents), I had to say goodbye to something I really enjoyed (my surrogacy). You can’t have your cake and eat it too! So, while my journey ended in that moment, their adventure was just beginning. Thankfully, we plan to stay in touch so I will still be able to watch their journey as parents unfold.

(Images are clickable if you want to enlarge.)

 

As we left the hospital there wasn’t a dry eye at the nursing station as they watched us all cry, and hug, and say our goodbyes. And, before we took the walk to the elevators we took a quick photo of all of us together. R aptly called the photo “Our Modern Family”, and I don’t think there could be any better caption for it. We’re all family now, bound together by the love and admiration for a little guy who has no idea the impact he’s made on the world already. ❤

Modern Family

Our Modern Family

I’ve had a month now to reflect on everything and to really process how I feel about the last year. People often tell me how “great” or “awesome” I am for doing this. And, I often disagree. It’s the journey that is awesome, not necessarily me. People often tell me that Eddie wouldn’t be here without me, and I disagree with that too. L&R are responsible for that sweet baby. He was made by them long before I ever came into the picture. I just gave him a place to grow for a while.

What I do think, and what I’m most proud of, is that I made two wonderful people very happy. Do you see those two smiles in the picture below? I did that! I changed their lives. Do you see that family below? That was all me. I was able to give them that family. For once in this journey, I feel ok not taking the humble approach. I can give myself a pat on the back and say “good job”. I may not have made the baby, but I was a big part of making that family. And for that, I am proud.

IMG_2995

And, with this update, the journey ends… This stork has landed. And thus, I think it’s only appropriate that I end the blog with the same image that I started it all with:

surrogate_super_powers

The Stork has landed!

After setting flight in the spring of 2016, following an amazing path filled with lots of love and support, on Wednesday, October 11th at 2:35 AM this stork finally landed. A beautiful baby boy, Edward John, was welcomed into the world and two very special people became “Mom” and “Dad”. L&R welcomed their much anticipated little Eddie with lots of tears, smiles, and more words of appreciation than I deserve.

Now, if that announcement is all you were waiting for, then you can skip the next part and scroll to the bottom of the page to see pictures of Baby Eddie! If you want to know the details of the delivery then you can continue reading on…

The Build-Up

We were all patiently waiting for Roo to arrive, and then we started to wait a little less patiently. lol. During my 40 week appointment, I decided to have my membranes stripped in hopes of helping things along. That didn’t work and we made it through the weekend with Roo still on the inside. After a discussion with Dr. White we had decided we would induce on Monday. (My cousin came and got the children the previous Friday and took them to her house for several days so that we wouldn’t have to worry about childcare during that time.) The hospital was set to call me between 4-7 AM on Monday, October 9th to come in to start the process. Well… that call never came. When I called to check, the nurse informed me that we were second on the induction list and that the hospital was too full to accept inductions at that time. We were on ‘standby’. Monday passed and we were back on the list for a call between 4-7 AM on Tuesday. Tuesday morning came… and the call never came through again! TMH was too full again and we were still #2 on the induction list. We were in the same spot as the day before. By late that afternoon we were just shy of 5 days past the due date so Dr. White requested to see me just to do a precautionary check on the baby. Everything was fine, but she did say that if we hadn’t had the baby by that Friday then she would want us to be induced as a “medically necessary induction” rather than our current status of “voluntary induction”. I, along with L&R, left that appointment with the thought that we’d be in touch the next day.

Go-Time

This is your last warning – if you don’t want to read some icky details then you need to skip ahead to the pictures – After our appointment with Dr. White I came home to two very excited children! (After waiting 5 days for delivery my cousin finally decided it was time for the kids to return home. Ha ha.) Since it was early evening I went straight in and made dinner. We ate and I started doing dishes while Jeff did his usual bath and bedtime routine with the kids. Suddenly I started to feel like I was getting a really bad upset stomach. I had heard of diarrhea being a symptom of oncoming labor with other women, but I had never experienced that with either of my children, so I figured I was just in for a quick bathroom visit and that was it. Boy was I wrong! I had terrible diarrhea and mild contractions started before I could even get off the toilet. Accompanying all of that was a lot of blood, which isn’t necessarily normal, so I became a little concerned. I told Jeff what was going on, and I told him to tell L&R but to also tell them not to get too excited because the contractions could also stop at any time. I wanted to wait a little to see if the contractions continued or got stronger. I also needed to find someone to watch the kids! Well, the contractions stayed around and were getting stronger quickly. The blood was getting worse too… so I told Jeff that we needed to go to the hospital either way. Even if the contractions stopped, the amount of blood was concerning and we needed to be seen. While waiting on the babysitter to arrive I could tell Jeff was getting anxious. I missed my window for an epidural with Everli’s super quick delivery and he was very, very concerned that I would miss that window again. He had made it known early on in this journey that watching me writhe in pain was not on his to-do list again and that he really, really wanted to make sure we got to the hospital in time this go-around. Well, much to his relief the babysitter arrived quickly and we were at the hospital by 9:00 PM.

Once we arrived we were checked into Triage and assessed. I let them know about the large amounts of blood being lost, but it was brushed off. Soon after, L&R arrived. L joined me in the triage area and R chose to sit it out in the waiting room temporarily. I think Jeff liked this arrangement because he was able to bounce back and forth and thus not have to just sit helplessly and watch me in pain.

We all knew that going into labor this particular night meant that we would miss out on Dr. White delivering. This was her one night off and she had already told us during our appointment earlier in the day that she wouldn’t be available. Bummer! So, it was at this point that we met Myra. Myra is one of the midwives for the OB/GYN practice. I knew immediately that this was a small bit of an issue as in my surrogacy contract I had agreed to be seen only by doctors. Dr. White had told me previously that all I needed to do was tell the midwife that I needed to be seen by a doctor and that the doctor on call would be notified. Well, I did this, and Myra simply said “No. I will be delivering. The doctors don’t deliver vaginal deliveries. I do.” To be honest, I was a bit taken aback. I didn’t think that a patient could be refused access to a medical doctor. I had no personal issue with a midwife, but my contract specified that a doctor would deliver. I explained this to Myra and she again said that the doctor on call doesn’t deliver vaginal babies. So, at this point all I could do was look at L for guidance. Since we didn’t seem to have much of an option, she agreed to move on. And, I should just go ahead and say now… Myra was WONDERFUL and in the end I am glad she was able to be with us during delivery. (To be honest, I’ve had a previous bad experience with the doctor who was on call and I would have much rather delivered the baby myself in the parking lot before letting her in the delivery room.)

A Little Scare

Soon after meeting Myra we were moved into the delivery room. We met our wonderful RN who would be looking after us and I once again reiterated my concern about the abnormal amount of blood that I was continuing to lose. It again didn’t really rouse any concern. We were left to labor for a little bit while she worked on getting the anesthesiologist for my epidural. At this point I was standing and breathing through contractions and could feel the continuous rolling of blood down my legs. In my mind I was somewhat freaking out. I knew that this amount of blood was not normal and I was concerned that something could be wrong with the baby or even worse I could be moments away from hemorrhaging… (and with two little ones at home ain’t nobody got time for dying!) So, with that on my mind I sent Jeff to find the nurse again and tell her I wanted someone to look at this bleeding! Sure enough she came in to check me out and quickly said, “Oh. Wow. That’s not normal.” I wanted to scream “Ya think?! I’ve been telling you people this for a while now!”, but I again tried to remain calm which is no easy task at this point. So, the midwife came in and she was concerned as well. She made a call to the on-call doctor who was also concerned and wanted an ultrasound of the baby/placenta/uterus as well as my water to be broken and electronic fetal monitors “screwed” onto the baby’s scalp. While waiting on the sonogram technician to arrive the anesthesiologist arrived to give me the epidural. (Jeff could finally breathe a sigh of relief. And to be honest, me too!)

The sonogram tech did her thing and we were all left to wait on the results. Not too much later the results came back and everything was fine! Phew! Roo was ok and I wasn’t about to die. The best they could all surmise was that I was dilating and effacing so quickly that all of the blood vessels in my cervix were rupturing and causing the constant blood flow.

Delivery

After the sonogram results same back with the positive news and my epidural had started working, we had the pleasure of meeting L’s Mom and Dad. They weren’t supposed to be in town during the delivery, but due to being 5 days past the due date and Hurricane Nate coming through the Florida Panhandle and ruining their beach vacation, they had arrived in Tally a few days prior. It was a brief hello, because soon after Myra had arrived to break my water. Thankfully things had progressed so quickly that leads weren’t needed for Roo’s head anymore. The head was already there and it was going to be time to push soon!

One issue with Dr. White not delivering was the fact that Dr. White had offered to let L deliver the baby but with a different person doing the delivery we didn’t know if she would allow L to still go through with that plan. Thankfully, Myra was onboard. Myra left for a few minutes and then she arrived with our RN. They had come up with a plan of action. They gave L a hospital gown to wear backwards and had her remove her clothes from the waist up. She would be able to step in once the head was out and then deliver the rest of the baby. The baby would then have to be put on me (not part of our original plan) so that R could cut the cord. After the cord was cut then they would transfer the baby to L’s chest so that she could do the one hour of skin-to-skin “kangaroo care”.

Then it was time to push… after just a few minutes and 6 pushes baby Eddie was born! L was able to move in and deliver just like we planned and R cut the cord without a problem. (They are both queasy people and had previously voiced their concern that they wouldn’t be able to do it.) L also had the ability to yell “it’s a boy!” while delivering and the elated cheers coming over my shoulder from R were great. They were both SO excited. The only disappointing part in all of this was that I couldn’t see their faces! That was the #1 thing that I wanted throughout this journey was to see their expressions during delivery, but it’s hard to keep your eyes open when pushing with all your might. (We had arranged for a photographer to be with us to capture their reactions but she wasn’t able to make it.)

Edward John, aka Baby Eddie, weighed in at 8 lbs 7 ounces and 20 inches long. He was perfect in every way!

After delivery TMH requires that you stay in the labor and delivery unit for 2 hours before being moved up to the family care unit. Jeff came and sat in the bed with me and we had the pleasure of watching the new parents and grandparents hustle and bustle around the room with the excitement of the new addition. It was great for Jeff and I to just sit back as a couple and “watch what we did”.

After 2 hours we were transferred to the family care unit. Before leaving the labor and delivery floor, L & R were able to press the lullaby button. TMH has a button that every family presses after their baby is born. This button plays a lullaby tune across the entire hospital so that every person on every floor can know that a sweet new baby has entered the world. I hadn’t shed a tear up until this point, but watching them push the button got the tears flowing for me. Pushing the button made it “official”… My job was done. Roo was here.

Pictures from Eddie’s “birthday party”! – You can click to make them larger.

Overcooked

Today, we’re officially overcooked! Roo was due Friday, October 6th and while we waited with much anticipation, Roo never came. Of course, due dates are always just an estimate for delivery, so we aren’t really “overcooked” per se. We’re just sitting around and trying to be as patient as possible. 🙂 With this being my 3rd pregnancy, I certainly thought I would go into labor at least a little tiny bit early! At this rate we’re on track for this to be my longest pregnancy yet! I went into labor with Easton the day after his due date… so Roo has less than 24 hours to kick things in action or he/she will take the record.

During my 37 week appointment we had our first cervical check and I was 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced. Skip ahead and at 39 weeks I was 2.5 cm dilated and about 60-70% effaced. At my 40 weeks appointment this week I measured 3 cm and still the same effacement. So, as Dr. White told L & R early on, all of this means nothing! Some women can start to dilate and efface early and still walk around pregnant for weeks… and that kind of woman is me! (The same thing happened with both of my previous pregnancies.)

L & R arrived in Tallahassee last week and have been camping out while waiting for Roo to decide that he/she is ready to enter the crazy world that we live in. I feel terrible for them because they’ve been cramped up in their hotel room staring at each other and waiting for over a week now. And Tallahassee definitely isn’t the most exciting place to visit. We don’t have all that much to do locally! On a positive note, our family has had the opportunity to get to spend a good deal of time with them and really get to know the awesome people that we’re doing this for. We’ve liked them from the get-go, but it has been fun to get to know them better.

We’ve had multiple meals together, we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese, Jeff took R to the gun range for R’s first time shooting, L and I had wonderful manicures and pedicures, the kids treated L & R to frozen yogurt at their favorite local shop, the guys went out for beers and sports one night, we were all invited for a delicious spaghetti dinner made by my boss’ wife, L & R babysat while Jeff and I went to a yummy dinner together (thankfully L & R survived), and last night I spent several hours just chatting with L & R. And, while we’ve all enjoyed every second, at the end of the day we’re still left looking at each other wondering when this kid will decide it’s time!

So, if you ever catch yourself looking at your watch and thinking “I wonder if Roo is making an appearance?”… we’re probably sitting around asking the same exact question. 🤣

Next time you see a post from me, then that means the stars have aligned and Roo has finally committed to a birthday. ❤

36 weeks   38 Weeks

Common Surro Questions

Journey and Outcomes

Throughout this journey I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a lot of people about the surrogacy process. The more people I spoke to the more I got “Oh, Wow. I’ve heard of surrogacy but I’ve never actually met anyone who has done it. Can I ask you some questions?!” So, I’ve decided to answer some of the most common questions on the blog.

Hands down, the number one comment/question would be: Oh, I would never be able to do that. I don’t think I could give away the baby! Do you think you’ll  be able to give it up… won’t that be hard to just give the baby away?

This is an innocent question in and of itself, but it always makes me laugh inside. The abbreviated answer is simply, NO! Absolutely not. I will proudly hand Baby Roo back to his/her parents with a sense of pride and accomplishment! This scenario is often put in the wrong perspective. I am not GIVING UP or GIVING AWAY a baby. You can’t give up something that never belonged to you. I am simply giving L&R their baby BACK. I’ve never babysat a child and thought, “I like this one. I think I’m keeping it.” and I’ve never borrowed a friend’s car and enjoyed the smooth ride so much that I decided I was never returning it. The same applies to a surro-pregnancy. Roo was created using L&R’s egg and sperm. I knew going into this that he/she wasn’t mine, so there isn’t a desire to “keep” the baby.

Another thing to consider is that surrogates are typically required to have at least one child of their own… which mean we’re all raising one or more children already. Our hands and lives are full enough with our own biological children!

Also, surrogates go into this process wanting to give another couple (or person) the opportunity to experience biological parenthood. Having a desire to keep a baby would totally contradict this purpose.

Next usually comes: Do you feel a sense of connection to the baby?

I felt a great sense of guilt with this question in the beginning, because the answer is NO. I felt like maybe I was a bad person for not having the same maternal instinct that I had with my own children. So many people expected me to feel this great sense of connectivity to Roo, but that just wasn’t there. I have since learned that the way I feel is a pretty common feeling! (Phew. I’m not a cold hearted person after all!) Baby Roo is very much loved by myself, Jeff and the kids. Roo’s bump is kissed and hugged by my kids every day when I drop them off at school, and Jeff talks to my belly and gives it a rub often. I take every health and safety precaution that I did when pregnant with my own kids to ensure a safe and healthy baby. But as far as feeling those motherly “Mama Bear” feelings, they just aren’t there. I would probably say the best comparison would be “Aunt” feelings. I love my nieces and nephews and would do anything in my power to keep them happy and safe, but I don’t have the same fierce maternal connection with them as I do with my own kids. My hope is that as the years pass we can keep that Aunt-ish relationship going, because as I said, Roo is still very much loved… just differently.

Those who are a bit confused typically ask: Will the baby look like you?

This is often an irritating question, because even after I explain it, a lot of people still don’t fully “get it”. NO. The baby won’t look like me. It’s absolutely impossible for the baby to have any of my genetics, because we aren’t genetically linked in any way. Since the IP’s used their own egg and sperm, the baby has nothing to do with me. This will likely be confusing to some after the birth, since the IPs are Caucasians with dark hair and one has brown eyes… so Roo may look “similar” to me simply out of coincidence. However, I assure you that gestational surrogacy lends NO genetic attributes to the baby. (Traditional surrogacy, however, is a different story… which is where I think people get confused.)

And then: Are you going to nurse the baby?

No. I won’t be nursing the baby and I don’t know of any surrogates who do directly nurse. However, plenty of surrogates do pump their milk and then the parents bottle feed that to the baby. I have an extensive lineage of breast cancer in my family, so since breast feeding/pumping reduces breast cancer risks, I do plan on pumping following delivery. Roo will get as much colostrum and milk as possible while they are here, but once they return to Chicago they plan to switch to formula. At that point I will be donating my pumped milk to the local NICU unit to help the wee ones who are fighting to survive. A QUICK EDIT: After posting this I was contacted by a women who has completed a surrogacy. She mentioned that she DID nurse her surro-baby in the hospital. So, some surrogates do nurse! Just because I haven’t heard of it happening, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 🙂 Surro-nursing may occur more than I thought!

Sometimes those who are bold will ask: Do you get compensated?

The answer is yes. When I originally learned about surrogacy, I offered to do a “free” surrogacy for a coworker who was unable to conceive with her husband. By the time I offered, she was already making plans to start working towards retirement. The timing just didn’t work out. So, when I decided to use an agency (ConceiveAbilities), I then learned that you are compensated. Every surrogate’s compensation is different depending on the details of her contract. Something to note is that depending on the wording in the contracts, surrogacy compensation can be taxed as income. My agency files the compensation with the IRS so I will be taxed at the end of the year. Some other agencies don’t.

People who know I have children often want to know: What do your kids think?

Easton and Everli have just accepted the pregnancy at face value. Since they are both young (2 and 4) they don’t fully understand how babies or families are traditionally made. From their perspective, everyone has babies this way. There haven’t been many questions from them. They have met L&R and love both of them! The kids and I have had plenty of conversations about the fact that Roo isn’t ours and that he/she belongs to L&R.

That being said, I recently realized that they have made sacrifices in their own little ways. We had the following conversation this past weekend:

Me to the kids – “Hey! I never told you guys… Baby Roo’s mommy and daddy are coming to visit us next week. They’re coming to take Baby Roo back home with them!”

Easton turns to Everli and says – “Everli! Did you hear that?! We get to sit on Mommy’s lap again soon!! Yaaay.”

They then cheered, hugged, and danced around. I’ve always looked at things from an adult perspective. From a kid’s perspective they aren’t concerned with Roo leaving, they’re more interested in the little things like being able to sit in my lap again.

Will you still get to see them after they leave?

Yes! Part of the matching process with ConceiveAbilites was matching personal preferences, such as future interactions. We all entered the surrogacy with the understanding that we would all love to continue a relationship after Roo is born. Since they are far away, it will likely be mostly pictures and texts with an occasional visit over the years, but I will still get to see Roo grow up and L&R grow as parents. That being said, our contract also explicitly says that either party can cut ties and stop communication without any repercussions if any of us feel it is necessary.

And finally: Would you do it again?

I had zero, and I mean ZERO, people ask me this until about a month ago. Which makes me laugh because at this point I am at the very end of the pregnancy, 35 pounds over my starting weight, and waddling through the extreme heat of a Florida summer… Do you think any pregnant person would answer yes to that question at this point?! LOL

On a serious note, despite my hatred for late pregnancy ailments, the answer is yes. I would absolutely do this again! Watching the excitement of L&R as this journey has unfolded and knowing that they are about to become parents after all of their struggles, and that it has been made possible through this surrogacy, is a feeling that surpasses anything I’ve ever experienced thus far in my life. I always joke that they have no idea how crazy their life is about to get once they enter parenthood, but it really has been amazing to help them get there.

Imagine that feeling on Christmas morning when you have all of the gifts wrapped and placed under the tree. You’ve picked out the perfect items and you know that you have everything they’ve asked for. You may not have a single gift under the tree for yourself, but that doesn’t matter because you’re just excited to see the excitement on your children’s faces when the unwrapping begins. That is exactly like a surrogacy! Next week is “Christmas morning” for us, and while there are no presents under the tree for me, I know that I have the exact gift that L&R have been hoping for! I absolutely can’t wait to see the looks on their faces once everything is “unwrapped”. ❤

Wow! That’s MY baby in there!

We’re about 34 weeks now. I just got back from my work’s big convention and school has started for our little ones. Things are starting to slow down again and I can finally write another blog post!

The Birth Plan

A few weeks ago L & R, Jeff & I, and our Match Manager Wenny had a conference call to set our formal birth plan. Jeff met me at my office and brought lunch, so we were able to enjoy lunch together while chatting with the others. 😊

Thankfully, L & R and Jeff & I had already talked about a lot of the different scenarios during our hospital tour. Even though I knew most of their preferences, I tried to stay quiet on most questions to give them both the opportunity to restate their decisions just in case they had changed their minds. In the end, nothing changed from what we had talked about months ago.

Some birth plan questions that are unique to surrogacy are:

  • Is the surrogate comfortable with the IPs being in the room? If they’re in the room, is there anything that the surrogate wouldn’t feel comfortable with them seeing or being around for?
  • Is there anything the IPs aren’t comfortable seeing or being around for?
  • Who cuts the cord? Typically, it would be the Dad, but with surrogacy the Mom is available too.
  • What happens if the surrogate goes into labor early and the IPs aren’t in town?
  • If the IPs aren’t in town for delivery, where does the baby go after delivery?
  • If a C-section is needed, who goes in with the surrogate?
  • Do the surrogate’s children get to see the baby?
  • What are the plans for formula or breast milk?
  • Are the necessary portions of the contract and pre-birth order on file with the hospital? (And bring originals just in case!)

Of course, there are many more standard delivery questions that are covered, but those are just a few that pertain to a surrogacy situation.

Two other questions that came up that have twists related to surrogacy were:

  • Who calls who and who gets the first call?

With my other pregnancies, I would just need to let my husband know what’s going on. But in this situation, would I call Jeff first or do I call the IPs first? If we can’t get ahold of the IPs, is there someone else to call as a backup? Who calls our ConceiveAbilities match manager to let her know it’s “go time”? We all decided that I would call Jeff first and then he would be in charge of all further notifications going forward and we figured out the order of who to call (and some backups).

  • What type of labor environment and support do I prefer, and what do I want or not want my IPs to do?

Typically, it would just be me and Jeff in the delivery room and he is well aware of my preferences. This was one topic that had really been on my mind for most of the pregnancy. I was really worried that I would hurt somebody’s feelings during delivery. I am not a touchy-feely kind of person, especially if I’m stressed or in a bad mood. Some people might feel comforted by a person stroking their hair or rubbing their arm. Some people might be encouraged by a person helping to count during breaths or saying encouraging phrases like “You’re doing great!”. For me… that would be the most obnoxious situation ever. So, for several delivery related questions my response was:

  • How can your IPs help? – “Don’t touch me or talk to me.”
  • Do you have a preference for the environment in the delivery room? – “Don’t touch me or talk to me.”
  • Is there anything that your IPs should avoid? – “Don’t touch me or talk to me.”
  • Is there anything your IPs can do to help support you? – “Don’t touch me or talk to me.”

Afterwards, I realized that there was probably a nicer way for me to phrase my preferences, but in the end I think everyone is clear on the fact that during contractions I just want to be left alone. LOL. It has nothing to do with them, it’s just the way I am! When I’m not having contractions, we can party it up… but when a contraction hits… don’t touch me or talk to me!

Travel Restrictions

At the beginning of the month I had to take a trip over to Amelia Island for my work’s annual convention. That was one long and busy week! Thankfully everyone tried to make it as physically easy as possible for me, but at the end of each night I still hurt in places that I didn’t realize could hurt from all the walking and standing. Roo and I hit the 32 week mark while we were there and once I returned home, my travel restrictions began.

(On a side note – L & R, being the thoughtful people that they are, had a surprise gift certificate for a pregnancy massage waiting for me once I got home from my trip. It was much needed and very much appreciated!)

IMG_2280

Roo and I in Amelia Island at Convention

Travel restrictions are common in surrogacy and the specific details vary case by case. The exact restrictions are usually negotiated and written into the contract at the beginning of the journey during the legal process. (Some states aren’t surrogate friendly and others don’t allow surrogacy at all. You could be fined or even put in jail! I’m not kidding… I believe you could get up to 5 years in the state of Michigan.) So, the lawyers usually include restrictions for flying and crossing state lines, and then closer to delivery they limit your travel to stay within a certain mileage of your hospital. It is best that you deliver at your specific hospital that is aware of your situation and with your doctor who knows about the surrogacy arrangements. There are already many legal issues that have to be covered, so there is no need to risk complicating things by traveling and ending up at a hospital that doesn’t know the details or have your contract/pre-birth order.

Since I knew my convention would be closer to the end of the pregnancy I requested that my travel arrangements for work be explicitly written into the contract so that I could attend. So, now that I’m back home I’m supposed to stay within a 75 mile radius of my hospital. (My IPs have told me I could travel outside of that if needed for family issues or an emergency, but hopefully that won’t be needed!)

Roo’s Check-Up

Last week, we had the pleasure of checking up on little Roo with a growth ultrasound. On the bright side, Roo’s Mommy was able to come down to visit and on the not so bright side, I have no Roo pictures to share!

L came into town the evening before the ultrasound and she came over for some pizza and hung out with us and our crazy kids. As usual, she was a great sport with them. Although, I’m sure she was silently overwhelmed with 2 hyper children who wanted 100% of her attention 100% of the time! 😊 Afterwards, she and I sat on the couch and chatted for several hours. Thankfully, Roo is most active in the evenings so she was able to catch a couple hours of movement. Seeing her expressions as she felt her baby move was priceless! She kept saying, “Wow! That’s MY baby in there. It’s so hard to believe!” Moments like that make me really, really happy to be on this journey. This is a once in a lifetime experience that really changes someone’s life. ❤

IMG_2360

L feeling Roo move!

The next day, during the growth ultrasound, Roo was head down in my pelvis with his/her face facing my back and both arms and legs were tucked under the body. So that meant no adorable profile images or cute shots of baby hands or feet. We saw a bunch of nadda! I guess stubborn Roo wants everything to be a surprise at delivery. However, they were able to get the growth reading they needed. Roo is estimated to be around 4 lbs and 13 oz right now, which is right around the 50% percentile. That’s pretty much a perfect weigh-in. We can’t ask for much more than that!

Afterwards we went up for the normal OB check up with Dr. White and everything was fine, as usual. I go back one more time at 35 weeks and then our next appointment will be when we start weekly appointment. It’s crazy that we’ve made it to this point already. It feels like we were preparing for transfer just yesterday!