Sunday, April 30, 2017

3rd Trimester!

We're into the 3rd trimester and it still floors me! Seeing this picture of L with our baby growing in there is still unreal to me and so miraculous! How are we finally able to be so lucky? How is this amazing woman doing this to make our dreams come true? I am still in awe.

Everything is going well and we've been enjoying putting some of the baby's room together... still a work in progress and will hopefully post some photos next time when it's a little more ready.

It's all so exciting.

I am starting to get what is probably the normal freak outs - all the way from what are all the little things that I still need that I don't have? to how am I going to be a good parent?!?

July 12 is still the due date and we are still excited about a surprise gender in the delivery room!

Next up is planning a hospital visit.

Overall, feeling beyond blessed. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

24 Weeks!

I still cannot believe we have a baby in the oven. It really feels miraculous!

Here's our little one at 20 weeks:

Everying has been going so well and we're on track for a July 12 due data, gender a surprise.

In fact, the only hiccup has been that with surrogacy, you have to get a pre-birth order (PBO) in at around 24 weeks, viability. A PBO is a legal document that states that we are the parents of the baby and that when that baby is born we have rights to make medical decisions. They want that in place in case of pre-term delivery.

Well, we were told last week by our lawyer that Maryland requires you to put the name of the child in this document, which was not a big deal - we've had our names chosen since we got engaged 10 years ago! They are family names and very special to us.

So I put both girl and boy name in this document but the lawyer came back and said it had to be one name which meant we had to find out the gender.

I was so upset. In fact, it surprised me how upset I got. I cried a lot when I got home Thurs night and couldn't stop crying till 11pm or so. I thought maybe I was PMS'ing which was adding to all of this.

But when I really thought about it - this was the ONE thing I've had control over, wanting to be surprised in the delivery room. I've always wanted that, long before we had fertility issues, long before I was even married or thinking of having children. 

So not only have I always wanted this but this was also the one thing I've had control over and it was about to get taken away from me.

And the past 9 years of infertility struggles was wrapped up in this whole thing. That I haven't been able to have children the way I want and one more thing was getting controlled for me.

Luckily my best friend kept pushing me that night to talk to the lawyer about coming up with a creative way around this, like maybe she could find out the gender and put a post-it note on that part of the document that we had to sign...

I wasn't hopeful but I did call the lawyer the next morning and she was more than happy to get creative with us. She hadn't realized how important this was to us and said she's never done it other than this way but sure, she could help.

She was even willing to get the legal document done for us, have it sent to her house and then bring it herself to the hospital on the day of the birth! I said I really appreciate that but that was a bit too much above and beyond. 

She then said she could send the document to me as along as I had self-restraint on not opening it AND if I remembered to bring it to the hospital at birth.

I said, first of all, I've had access to the gender this whole time in our genetic testing report and never have opened that link. And secondly, I'm very organized and have been waiting for this baby for 9 years and will have that document packed in my bag ready for that day.

So the lawyer is going to get the gender from the OB's office, leave that section blank on our documents, hand-write the name in after we've signed the documents, then send it to me in a sealed envelope.


I'm so happy and relieved that there was a way around this for us.

And we've also been having fun getting a bunch of second hand stuff from our friends and from craigslist. We have a glider, a bassinet in our house already. I'm getting the crib, stroller and car seat from a friend today. Only big thing left is the dresser. 

And my best friend is keeping a "baby registry" for us on a google sheet that lists the things we might need and who is donating it to us. 

I guess the plus side of having a baby at 42 is that all your friends are looking to get rid of their things!

I'm so excited. Come on July 12!

Monday, January 2, 2017

It's a Very Happy New Year!

We have a #baby coming in 2017!

Here's my public post from yesterday. It was scary to post this. It still feels like the other shoe will drop at any moment... and I am teary-eyed sharing this but it's out there in the world now and I still can't believe it.
Happy New Year! What are we most excited for in 2017? Through the gift of surrogacy and our friend L’s amazing heart, we are expecting a new Nats fan! We are still having a hard time finding the right way to describe what feels like a miracle to us. L is helping us to realize a dream come true, by carrying our child and increasing our family by one long-awaited member. We are so humbled and grateful, and cannot wait to meet our baby. And we're going to be surprised by the gender. ETA: July 12.
May your new year feel just as miraculous & abundant with love!


So, that's the short version. What happened in the last couple of months is this:

Mon, Oct 24 - L and I went to the transfer together and it was really the first time she and I had spend time together just the two of us. I took her to lunch and our car rides were long enough (20-30 mins each) that we had decent time to chat which was good. 

It was nice being in the transfer room with her and really knowing everything that was going on. It also felt weird to be on that side of things and just be an observer. I guess I was more than that, a supporter. 

The clinic gave us both a picture of the embryo and it was fun to see her say 'hey buddy' to it. She has a son so I think she's used to talking that way but it was nice that she personalized it and said that she'd never seen an embryo before. 

I sent the photo around of me, L and the embryo that we took and my mother in law said the same thing - she'd never seen an embryo before. This was pretty striking to me because B and I have seen soooo many of these photos by now that we are so jaded and never got attached to any of them. 

I had told L that I didn't want to see any home pregnancy tests because I didn't want to get my hopes up or whatever. I'll have to go back and look at the exact date but about a week later she texts me early in the morning and says 'are you sure you don't want to see tests?' and I just replied with 'send it over!'

I knew she wouldn't be saying that if there wasn't reason to. And I cried and cried when I saw that positive test with a nice strong second line (my second lines whenever I did have them were always faint). And I cried even more at what she wrote: 

A week later at 14 days after transfer her HCG was around 1200 and 2 days later was in the 3000s. So good!

6 Weeks
At 6 weeks, I was so nervous for the heartbeat appt and they were 45 mins late seeing us. But oh wow, I really couldn't hear anything else after I saw that heartbeat and just kept hearing them say "everything looks good", "this is exactly what we want to see", "everything is measuring right"...

Wow, oh, wow! I took a video of the heartbeat and just couldn't stop crying. We'd NEVER gotten to this point. 10 times pregnant and this never happened for us. Can you imagine? And this is 10 years into our marriage and finally. Just finally. 

They told us July 12 would be the due date.

Here it is at 6 weeks, just a white spec in the middle of the embryonic black sac attached to it and the large black oval is the uterus:

I also just had to write on their "hopeful" wall. That's what I've had in my home over the last 4 years. Their is called "believe it's possible":

Thanksgiving was that week and we got to celebrate with everyone and especially B's family who we don't get to see often. They made a big deal about it giving us meaningful cards, a beautiful baby print necklace and a frame that says Our Joy. Along with lots of gender neutral baby clothing from our niece and nephew (who are now 5 and 3). I couldn't stop crying.

Part of that is that I wasn't ready for all this celebrating. I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. I was still super nervous. But it was also because I wasn't used to this celebrating being for ME. For US. It was truly special. 

And they got to meet L which was so, so nice, and gave her meaningful cards and a gift which meant a lot to her too.

8 Weeks
Two weeks later we're in for the 8 week appt and still nervous, still hoping that heartbeat is there, and there it is! And this time we got to see it with our actual doctor so it was pretty emotional!

Here it is at 8 weeks, starting to look like a baby!

And at that appt, we 'graduated' from our clinic! Momentous! I even got a text from a friend who has been through this to say happy fertility clinic graduation day! Means so much!!

10 Weeks
Then the 10 week appt with L's OB was interesting. I was kinda nervous. And felt like I was going to feel weird there, an outsider maybe, but the doctor said this was the 3rd surrogate situation to come in that day!! Pretty cool! And the best part was actually HEARING the heartbeat. Oh, it was such a great sound. I got so teary-eyed. 

I had the NIPT bloodwork test rushed to make sure there wasn't anything wrong with our baby and really wanted the results before Christmas to enjoy the holidays and put my mind at ease. 

Here it is at 10 weeks with little oven mitts for hands!

And the Thursday before Christmas (2 days before), I got the results early and everything looked good. I had the ugliest cry you can imagine. Got down on the floor because I couldn't stop crying at this milestone. We're here. We've done it. We're almost at 12 weeks and everything looks GOOD. 

You can't even imagine. I got down on my knees and thanked God. 

How incredible. On Wed, we'll be at 13 weeks. 

We're having a baby!! :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Here We Are... 1st FET to Our Surrogate

This is happening TOMORROW.

Man, it's taken since May when L came forward to want to do this for us, for her to go through all the screenings, the mock cycle, legal and get prepped for this moment. And it's a big one.

Such a big one that I need to remember to breathe. And go to yoga. And run. And not eat too much chocolate. :)

And I know this once may not work but I'm hopeful and anxious all at once.

It's resurfacing a lot of the old failure and loss feelings and yet I'm hopeful because it's something new we are trying.

I need all the sticky vibes, crossed fingers and toes, prayers and calmness I can muster.

But most of all, I'm grateful we are here.

Friends have reached out, family has reached out, my IM (Intended Mom) fb group is being supportive and so are my church people. I feel so loved and supported that I know it'll be ok.

Mon, Nov 7 will be the pregnancy test. Just breathe till then...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Progress with Our Potential Surrogate, L

We've been moving forward with the 3rd option that came our way, purely organically.

The 2nd one (from church) backed out... unfortunately, she still really wanted to do it but she's separating from her husband and thought he might cause problems. And I was a little concerned after I learned that she got pregnant on her 3rd IVF. I'm not sure she would have passed the medical record review.

In the meantime, one of my brother's best friends in May came forward wanting to do this. It seemed unlikely and more a result of a statement made over a couple of beers and a nice sentiment. He texted me that night and said L wants to be your surrogate to which I said 'are you serious?' and then he said 'call me' and I did. He handed me the phone and it was her.

We really didn't know what to say to each other. It was very awkward for such an emotional topic but she said she was serious and I said great and that I'd forward her our agency's info and let's talk the following week to make sure she truly did want to do it.

And things just progressed from there.

The biggest hurdle so far was having her pass the medical records screening with our doctor. I felt like once we got that ok, I figured everything else would likely go well. On June 22, she had that appt and our doctor gave her the thumbs up and I literally got down on my knees sobbing for joy and thanking God that this really felt like a miracle. That I really felt like this could actually finally happen for us. I was so overcome with emotion.

She's since had the psych eval and we've spent a couple of meals with her, her husband and child and while it's still slightly awkward because we really don't know each other that well AND they are doing this huge thing for us, but it's also very easy so it feels all good.

August 10 is the next big day for us. Medical tests for her and our joint counseling session.

If that goes well, she'll go into a mock cycle to make sure her hormones are responding appropriately and then into contracts.

We are so hoping for a transfer sometime this fall.

Fingers and toes crossed. And lots more prayers. :)

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Surro-coaster :)

I can't believe I haven't done an update in so long! Partly I was having trouble with my password and partly there was a lot going on.

High-Level Summary: We have 6 - SIX!!! - genetically tested normal embryos in the freezer. We are still waiting to be matched with a surrogate. We had one through an agency that we didn't move forward with after meeting them which was disappointing and emotional. The agency is still looking and we've had TWO people come forward to say they want to do this for us. AMAZING!!! So, our agency is putting them through the process. Likelihood of a transfer happening with anyone is still 3-6 months away. Surrogacy is a whole other ballgame!

The Embryos Update
We had signed up for 2 egg retrievals last fall and got a special deal on them because our doctor really wanted us to go into surrogacy with 4 genetically normal embryos and in my past 4 cycles where we did genetic testing I came out with 2, 1, 2, 2.

Well, low and behold, I got 3 on the first one and 3 again on the second one!!!! We were over the moon thrilled.

I half wondered if my body felt the burden lifted that it somehow knew these babies were not going back into me. Who knows. But we were ecstatic. I cried happy tears when we got those results!

The Agency
We signed up with an agency in December and went with a smaller one to get the more personal touch. We liked how it was run by a former IM (Intended Mom) who had her babies through surrogacy, and her surrogate coordinator is a former surrogate, so we liked how they would be able to understand both sides and have those perspectives.

Match #1
We got matched in February with someone way far out of state, met her and her husband over Skype in March and had them flown out to our clinic in April for testing and joint counseling.

It was nerve-wrecking. How do you prepare to meet people who could have one of the most important and intimate impacts on your life? It all went really well. She was extremely lovely. We enjoyed meeting them.

And to make a long story short, the agency recommended the husband go through more psych screening and the psychologist recommended we not move forward with them. We were heartbroken to not be able to move forward with her. I had really started a connection with her, she's warm and sweet and already, in just a few weeks, I knew I'd miss her a lot. She sent me a big emotional email after the agency told her and we had a couple of nice exchanges.

It's also a time setback. We had planned on a July transfer with them and I had already started thinking about a baby in April 2017 but we're a ways away from that now. And we're out a few thousand dollars for all that testing and their travel and stuff. But this is a long game and we recognize that.

We were also grateful that the agency recommended further screening because this was too important for us to potentially have issues later. It was hard to get that news, though, because it was hard to know whether those results, and particularly because it was him and not her, would really have an impact. But ultimately, we had to go with the psychologist's and agency's recommendation. And while that was hard, we know that hedging our bets to remove any potential challenges is best at this time in the process.

Potential #2
Another amazing thing happened during all of that - someone from our church came forward - to our pastor first - to say she was interested in being our surrogate! How amazing is that?

Since we were already in process with Match #1, I told her that while that is amazing, we owe it to this couple to see where this was going and when it looked like it wasn't going to happen, she and I had lunch, had a great conversation around all of this. I mean, I know her and trust her, but didn't know her that well.

She's going through the process with our agency and I don't want to get my hopes up because there may be a couple of hurdles but I'm staying relatively hopeful. The fact that she even came forward to want to go through this is amazing.

Potential #3
Yes, there's a 3rd one! A best friend of my brother's who told us last week she wants to do this for us!!! Amazing. I just can't believe that there are people out there who really feel compelled to do this. It's so incredibly humbling. And yet, I'd hope I'd feel the same, that if I enjoyed my pregnancies and could do this for someone else, I would. But geez, it's A LOT!! And I don't think most people enjoyed their pregnancies!

So this person is going through screening as well too. And this one is earlier in the process so we'll see...

But amazing possibilities including our agency is still looking in case these two don't work out.

Emotional Update
Emotionally, I'm doing well. It's been great to not be on the IVF journey anymore and doing this endless cycle to my body and emotions. And B and I are in the best place we've been ever. We got through some tough stuff last year and are so much better for it now. It will be 10 years for us this fall!

Other Update
Travel: I did take a solo trip over Christmas and New Year's to Tulum, Mexico, which was gorgeous and then went again in April with B when we had the opportunity with friends. Great, great time and great for the soul. I also got to visit my cousin with her 4 kids in Feb in FL which was wonderful. And a nice girls weekend away in PA to a spa with some hiking with my best friend and her sister.

Exercise: This was also Operation Get My Body Back mode. I trained in Jan & Feb for the DC 'n Ro.ll Ha.lf Mara.thon in March which was awesome (my 4th half marathon!) and did Jill.ian Mich.aels' 30 Day and am now doing 30 Days Rip.ped. So great. Went down a size and feel great!

So good things, but a lot of patience involved! My friend who has gone through this said to me when all this stuff was going on, "oh, that's just the surro-coaster"! :)

It's just different when you are having to involve others that you need to trust in this process. And while our agency said that was extremely unusual, we're just chalking it up to things not going smoothly for us with all of this. I've become pre-programmed to know that this won't be easy.

We'll get there, though, somehow. I'm hopeful for that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

6 Months Later - A New Plan: Gestational Carrier!

Wow, it's been about 6 months since I've written. A lot went on in those six months. A lot of sadness and a lot of changes.

We had a rough spring and summer. Lots of counseling. Lots of grieving. Trying to be positive about moving onto adoption.

We finally got to trying to move forward with adoption by mid summer or so. It wasn't B's first choice but he was giving me the room to really say what I could and couldn't do.

I've been wanting adoption for the last 5 years or so. In fact, I remember him saying at one point that he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to adopt and I worried I had made a mistake in my marriage.

But once the path was clear for me/us to move forward with adoption, I had a hard time getting excited about it. I was still seriously bummed about no genetic connection even though I had kept saying this whole time that it didn't matter to me as much. I was recognizing that it did. That I hadn't done all of this for B but for me too. In fact, I don't know how someone can go through as many rounds as we did and not feel strongly for that biological connection.

We met with an adoption lawyer, who turned out also does gestational carrier law. We told her we were possibly wrestling with adoption vs GC, and after hearing how long adoption might take, how much it might cost and how dicey the medical histories could be, I started to feel more compelled toward a GC.

I also think enough time had gone by from our major disappointment, and the thought of cycling again didn't seem so daunting.

I also met with a friend of mine from a support group who had just had her baby via GC and got to hear more about it from she and her husband that it convinced me that I think I could do it.

Did I mention that we had done A LOT of counseling this spring and summer? It was super rough. I guess one of my hesitancies with GC was that the doctors still don't really know why it hasn't worked with us, and there is not a huge guarantee that GC would work, so a lot of work, energy, money to potentially have it still not work... and I had been super anti donor egg. It made me feel like I was replaceable. But what counseling showed me was that this was manifesting from not feeling special enough with my parents, feeling like they like the idea of me but the particulars that make me, me, could be swappable. They barely ask me about things that excite me, things that I'm interested in, and it was interesting for me to see that it was bleeding into how I was feeling about donor egg, like I didn't matter enough.

Once I was able to get over that, I thought I could get on board if our embryos don't work with a donor egg. I know it seems extreme to use donor egg with a GC, but there are a few things that convinced me - knowing the medical condition of this person's genes is attractive, still being able to have a baby that is half B's genes is appealing to me - and to him. And I thought if I can adopt a child that is neither one of our genes, then I could do half. There just seemed to be more of a guarantee of a positive outcome.

Don't get me wrong. If our embryos don't work, I am likely to be very sad, but I think I'll be able to get past it.

And as much as I said all along that I don't necessarily care to experience pregnancy, the thought that I won't is bumming me out a little. Just the thought of B holding my belly and us being able to feel the baby, all that stuff, it's out of our control. But we would be so forever grateful if someone could help us bring our child/children into this world.

I did an egg retrieval about 3 weeks ago and we are waiting for our PGD testing. We were supposed to know a week ago and it's driving me a bit crazy on how much patience we need to exert here.

I feel like I was able to kick 40 in the butt though - this was our BEST cycle ever. We ended up with 7 embryos to test! 4 on Day 5 and 3 on Day 6. I'd never even heard of any needing to make it to Day 6. So, we're hoping for 2-3 from this cycle, and we're gearing up to do another retrieval before Thanksgiving.

We are also talking to two surrogate agencies that our lawyer recommended, so that's moving forward as well.

Oh, and I got to do a lot of fun travel this summer. It was almost like I booked all this stuff as soon as I knew our IVF cycle hadn't worked. I needed my summer packed with fun stuff. I went to Iceland with my best friend for 4 days which was really cool, more just having 4 days together and all that quality, uninterrupted (by her kids!) time together. B and I went to the beach with his friends for a week in SC and then we also did a week in Scotland which was great and traveled around and also saw my good friend and her husband who live there now.

Here's to refreshing the soul, working through some junk and moving onto a new course of action!