Saturday, December 29, 2018

FET #2 for #2 Child

The FET was a go on Dec 19 and all went well! And on Dec 27, a home test revealed it's positive!

I had her retake the test on Dec 28 since it was a faint line the first day and it's darker but I'd like to see it get darker still. I've had plenty of these faint lines not work out for us in the past so I'm still a bit weary. That said, her first FET for us was dark lines and high hcg levels and she miscarried at 5 weeks...


So what's next? Jan 2 is her hcg bloodwork and then Jan 14 will be the heartbeat ultrasound which I'm sure I will be super nervous for.

I've been taking am.bien to go to sleep and will probably need to continue to until Jan 14.

I also have a new psychiatrist appt on Jan 8 so want to hear what I should do there. I've been taking 2.5 mg of Ce.lexa and want to make sure it's enough. I've been thinking about increasing it because I really haven't felt like making plans with people and feel like I'm always tired. I know it's a busy time in my life with a toddler but don't want to function constantly as drained. :)

Overall, for the FET, N and I had a great day together. Very relaxing to have time to catch up and have quality time together which I really appreciated. When else would you get to spend that kind of time with one of your favorite people in the middle of the busiest season of the year? :)

I'm grateful for now... and anxious for a couple of weeks from now.

Hope 2019 will be a good one!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Attempt #2 for #2 Approaching

I'm starting to feel pretty anxious... our second embryo transfer with our surrogate is on Dec 19 (that's if everything checks out tomorrow at her last appt). I've not been sleeping well and in fact, I'm writing this at 4:30am after having been awake since 2:45am.

It's so complicated, this surro-coaster.

On the one hand, I want to be calm, I want to say, it's ok if this one doesn't work out, we'll just find another surrogate and we (luckily) will have 3 embryos left and surely it's got to work among one of these 4 embryos... it's ok, we'll take the long game on this one. I'm sure it'll work out, we just don't know how or when.

And I do feel all of that.

But I also feel: what if this one doesn't work out? What will that mean? How will we cope? How will I even cope with the two week wait? How am I even coping with this next week ahead?

I'd say I'm coping medium. On the surface it's all good. I feel like I'm calm. I'm super distracted by holiday events and with work being super busy (can it actually be a little less busy please) and with enjoying my adorable son and my amazing husband. And I'm in therapy. And I'm making time for exercise. And I'm probably coping with ice cream and chips...

But I am waking up A LOT in the middle of the night and having a HUGELY hard time falling back asleep. I'm VERY anxious.

We had a date night this past weekend and talked about what it will mean if this doesn't work.

  • It WILL be a huge bummer and we'll need to acknowledge that. 
  • This is my cousin, the closest person I have to a sister, and we both want to experience this so badly. 
  • We've put a year into making this happen, from her telling us last Aug/Sept that she was in, to getting her insurance in Nov, getting psych evals done in Feb, testing done in April, mock cycle in May, legal in July, attempt #1 in Sept (resulting in a miscarriage); we've done A LOT for this
  • B said we'd need to acknowledge that it will be hard, that we'll need to mark it and make space in our lives to deal with it, maybe even set something specific to grieve it.
  • It'll mean our kids won't be two years apart, which isn't the end of the world of course, but I really wanted them close in age.
  • It means we'll have to start all over again finding someone and spending 6 months getting them through the process with all those anxiety build up phases
  • It'll mean likely working with a new agency
  • It will mean re-writing a "dear surrogate" letter (please, please, please pick us)
  • It'll mean mustering energy to be hopeful again after having been jaded
Please, please, please let this one work.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Feeling Jaded

As though 9 years of trying to conceive wouldn't get you out of feeling jaded...

But I had. My little miracle, D, is here through surrogacy. It happened on our first embryo transfer and he's 15 months now and amazing. I got my first unprompted hug from him on Sunday and unprompted kiss from him on Monday. What could be better!

And here we were going for baby #2.

And I had worked so hard in these last months as the anxiety started to grow again with putting up a wall between what happened to me and what happened with us with surrogacy.

Big wall.

And it worked. I felt hopeful. I even felt naive!

When N sent us the pic of her positive pregnancy test, I thought, wow, this really does work! We're going to be parents again! I got lost in the innocence of how "normal" people experience a pregnancy. With utter joy and no/little thoughts of the what if's.

It felt so good too. To just feel pure joy. Without all the baggage.

But a week later the baggage was back... with N bleeding at 5 weeks and then the doctor's telling her there was still hope and then no heartbeat at 6 weeks.

So, I'm feeling jaded. I'm having a hard time gearing up for cycle #2 to be a hopeful one. And I'm already a little ahead of myself thinking that if it doesn't work, do I have it in me to find another surrogate and go through all of this again? (And not just this part "it" but the whole vetting process "it" that takes 6ish months and so, so many steps).

B and I have had many conversations about this last cycle. I've gone back to therapy about this last cycle.

My innocence has been stripped and that's just the way it is. Yes, I'll be more jaded going into this next cycle. And I'll have to detach from it a bit. And that's ok. It's about self-protection. I wish it didn't have to be this way.

Onwards with my shield of armor... and lots of love inside for a new little one.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The Highs and Lows of Sibling Journey #2

Oh man... so:
  • Transfer date was Sept 4
  • By 9dpt I was getting anxious and thinking I'd ask her to take a home test. My therapist and I talked about it and decided that there was no point in making me more anxious than I needed to be for the next 5 days
  • On Sept 13 in the morning I asked her to take a test, and sent me this:

  • I cried and cried happy tears. I couldn't believe it. What luck! This really works. We're going to have a sibling and it was as easy as that. Wow.
  • She sent this after to both B and I:

  • On Sept 17, her hcg was 853. Great number!
  • On Sept 18, it was 2133. Awesome!!
So we are so happy thinking this is easy, we got this, making plans for around a May 23 birth, etc, etc.

  • On Sept 25, she texted me at 5:45am asking "are you awake?" Not good, I thought... (and yes, I was awake). She called me saying there's been a lot of bleeding that morning. Luckily, I had gotten her into an OB for the 6 week appt so we were able to get her in that day for an ultrasound. The doctor said if she were to miscarry it would likely happen in the next 24-48 hours. So we set out to wait.
  • A few days later, by the weekend, no bleeding, so we were feeling hopeful though cautious.
  • On Oct 2, I went to FL for the 6 week ultrasound appt which they wanted us to keep.
    • I had planned my 25th high school reunion that weekend before, then had an all day meeting and dinner that Monday and the early flight on Tues so I didn't have a lot of time to process any of this which was probably for the best.
    • When I landed in FL, I got all kinds of hearts and sweet texts from friends and I just about lost it there. Had to go sit down after we deplaned and just cried. (I was kinda surprised no one came up to me to ask if I was ok but I was also ok enough to not need that).
    • N and I decided we'd go spend the afternoon on the beach while we anxiously waited for the 3:45pm appt time. It was as relaxing as it could be. Hardly anybody at the beach. We got food from Wh.ole Fo.ods and just enjoyed being outside and catching up, went for a walk down the beach and then felt badly that we'd be showing up to an appt all sandy.
    • We went into the office feeling all hopeful with the nurse who had seen N last time. N had to go pee in a cup and I sat in the ultrasound room and looked up at the monitor with her name on it and then started crying again. The not knowing is so, so hard. These anticipated feelings that you don't know what to do with.
    • The nurse started her ultrasound, was very quiet and I just knew. She started measurements without saying anything and I knew that she should've been saying "there's the heartbeat!" But no. Just quiet measurements until she said "I'm just taking measurements for the doctor to talk to you". Ugh. Not good. But I didn't know what I was looking for either. The quietness was the worst. Why couldn't she have said "there's no heartbeat" to not keep us guessing.
    • Then she brought us into another room to wait for him. It felt like that took forever and I could only think, what if N had been here by herself? How awful to wait that long.
    • He came in and said something like no heartbeat, can't be 100% sure, but 99% sure. We'll do two hcg level checks to be sure. There is a sac but it's just debris and blood. That should all come out naturally. Then he kept talking. Too much.
    • We then left and called/texted people in the parking lot. That was a bummer. We were so bummed out, disappointed and sad.
    • We were trying to figure out what to do next. We had decided earlier that we'd go for ice cream after the appt that way we could either celebrate or drown our sorrows. We didn't feel like it but thought it would be better than going home.
    • I have to say, walking into the ice cream place and saying "what the biggest size you've got" was so fun. The guy said the biggest container fit 3 scoops and I said "that's not enough" so we bargained for 5 kiddie scoops instead. Being unencumbered by how many flavors you can get it so amazing! It's very empowering especially after having no control over this other situation.
    • We sat outside and had our ice creams and really only got halfway but it was so fun to have all these flavors in our cups. 

    • Her husband was going to cook for us so we went and got fun foods like wine and cheese and filet mignons. I had been eating chocolate chip cookies and tob.lerone all day so we still had that.
    • We got home and got in the hot tub and pool which was fun (hey, this is FL!) and then had a super delicious breakfast. And slept well.
    • The next day, I went with her to get her bloodwork and then went to the airport.
  • Oct 3, I came home and my son and his nanny-share friend were just waking up and it was the best to spend time with them. So cute and just what I needed, plus a nap. That evening, D came over to cuddle with me in the living room, laying himself in my lap and it was just so, so perfect and again, just what I needed.
  • We checked in with each other that week
  • Fri, Oct 5, my doctor called after he had reviewed everything and said that even with a PGD tested embryo, there's still a 10-15% chance that it doesn't work. Blah. Seriously? Why us? After everything we've been through?? Why do we generally have to fit into these low chances of things happening??? 
    • (And after I had posted on my surrogacy group that we were originally pregnant and told my friend IRL, she responded with muted enthusiasm and I know that she felt I hadn't "earned" my surrogacy badge because both times it happened right away for us whereas for her, she struggled a lot, which I sort of understood but still felt crummy about... well, when we lost the pregnancy, and I posted, she had a similar message along with everyone else's and didn't reach out personally which hurt which made me feel like she almost was glad that I had to "earn" this... yucky feelings and I'm trying to work that out)
    • Anyway, my doctor was encouraged for us to try again with N, we just have to let nature take its course and have us figure out when that might be, probably 2-3 months from now.
    • And I felt badly because I know N had really wanted to have her summer with her kids and now she won't really get to (or at least they won't be able to go anywhere outside of FL which she had wanted to do), and she and her new husband had planned a honeymoon in Sept which I wish they hadn't because now I'm feeling badly that it may not be before July or August that she could potentially give birth and I know she's maybe wishing that we could wait a few months to try but I really don't want to; we already waited a few months because they got married in June so I'd rather not keep waiting since if it doesn't work with her, we'll have to find someone new and all of that takes a lot of time... and this is the sucky part about all of this - you can't plan anything because you may have to try again.
Overall, I know these flukes happen but I just thought I could have different feelings about surrogacy and now I think I'm having/going to have a hard time feeling hopeful about the next transfer. I'm trying to stay hopeful knowing that these things happen. But this also still feels so raw right now. I couldn't even talk to friends about it yet. Nothing anyone says to me other than "this sucks" is helping. It all feels like platitudes to me right now.

Ahhhhh... this sucks. And I will be hopeful again but right now, this sucks.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sibling Journey - My Cousin is Our Surrogate!

How have I not posted in a year?!?

Oh yes, I've been busy with our baby! Our miracle baby was born last July with my brother's close childhood friend carrying for us. And every single day, we still can't get over that he's in our lives.

He loves watching the laundry machine in action:

And... I've always wanted more kids, in fact I've always wanted 3, but definitely more than 1, so we started meeting with our doctor again last spring, before D was even born to start the surrogacy process for baby #2 (because it can take 6+ months to get someone through the process plus the gestation period, so I didn't want to wait).

Our doctor advised us not to get started until 6 months after the baby was born so that we could acclimate. He said that will be one of the most stressful times of our lives. (Which deserves its own post but in brief: the first 6 months I didn't enjoy as much as I thought I would, I found the newborn stage tedious and felt suuuuuper guilty for not enjoying it more when we had wanted this so badly. I even wanted to go back to work after 6 weeks. I did reach a turning point when he turned 6 months and could do more and now I absolutely love spending time with him.)

I appreciated our doctor's advice but I also knew I wanted to get on this.

So, in August of last year, when one of my cousins was getting married and had a girls weekend away 2 weeks before her wedding, I went partly because I'm super close to her sister who was going to be there and encouraged me to come.  N and I are one year apart, grew up in the same town, went to the same high school, she even did a semester at my college to spend time with me! We've traveled together and have been there for each other, even as opposite as our lives got - she started having kids when she was 23, had 4 of them, went through a bad divorce, meanwhile I got married in my early 30s and proceeded to not be able to start my family.

So at this girls weekend, someone asked me if we were going to do this again and have another baby, to which I said, we are actually going to contact our surrogacy agency soon to help us find someone. N chimed in and said "you know I'd do that for you, right?" which caught me off guard. She then said, "remember, I wanted to do it the first time around for you". And then it all came back to me... "yes, I said, and remember because there are Zika scares in FL [where she lives], we couldn't do it". To which she said, "well, there isn't anymore".

I proceeded to say "really, you'd really want to do this for us"... she'd been in a new relationship for 4 years, was planning a wedding the following year, I wasn't sure how he'd feel about it. But she was steadfast and said "yes". I told her to make sure he'd be ok and talked through a lot of the annoying process stuff about surrogacy and she was ok about it all.

Two weeks later at my cousin's wedding, she said she talked with her partner and they are on board!

They wanted to time it so that an embryo transfer would happen after their June 2018 wedding so we mapped it all out that she/they'd do all the prep work ahead of time, so the brief timeline was:

  • Nov 2017 - got N screened with the agency
  • Dec 2017 - got N health insurance on the exchange
  • Feb 2018 - N and her partner did the psychological evaluation
  • April 2018 - N and her partner did the medical screening at our clinic in MD
  • May 2018 - N did the mock cycle
  • June-July 2018 - legal clearance
  • August 2018 - N prepped for the embryo transfer which was supposed to be August 31 but got pushed to Sept 4
That makes it all seem easy enough, but there were a lot of hiccups and logistical annoyances which led to my recurrence of depression and anxiety. I ended up back on meds because even though we'd had success with the first surrogacy, it was resurrecting all the pain from my failed attempts and I couldn't rationalize my way out of it. So that part was a bummer and it took me awhile to recognize it because it was happening when my baby was still a newborn and we were into the stressful holiday season...

By Feb when my husband and I were talking about our upcoming summer and I wasn't looking forward to it, I knew I should get back in with my therapist and psychiatrist and likely get back on meds. Which I did. Which was helpful. 

[Side note, I strongly belief no one should have to suffer like that if they don't need to be and there is nothing wrong with taking meds, in fact, I highly recommend them, not as a crutch but so many are reluctant to get on them, like I was, and it can truly make a difference on being more focused and neutralizing how one feels].

Anyway, some of the logistical issues along the way were:
  • Our Agency - they weren't convinced that N fit the 'surrogate profile' because she really didn't. She wasn't doing this as a 'job', she was doing this because I'm her cousin. So we kept pushing and saying we really want her. I took over communications directly with my cousin which was fine but just added more work for me to stay on top of all the logistics. We reduced the agency's role to communicating with my husband on major milestones.
  • The FL Clinic for Monitoring - 
    • The doctor - N lives in a smaller city in FL and the main fertility clinic just wasn't on top of it. The doctor there several times gave incorrect results from ultrasounds (mis-measured her lining several times which would've resulted in us not being able to move forward with her; thank goodness my doctor in MD/DC caught it and asked for images to be sent because we didn't trust this doctor's diagnosis - I still want to report this doctor, how awful to think that he may be disqualifying people for no reason!). 
    • Being organized - The clinic just also wasn't on top of being organized. Once they forgot to send the bloodwork out which made me slightly panic for an extra day unnecessarily. And the worst was that they forgot to send scans on the last appt and closed at noon so my nurse couldn't even follow-up which resulted in us having to move the transfer date when our travel arrangements had already been set.
But ultimately, she came up here and had the transfer on Sept 4. 

From transfer day including the sign at the clinic and shirts I had made for us:

That was a nice day for us to spend together and it's been so nice to have this close emotional journey with her. In fact, that day she said "you know, people say a lot 'I'd do anything for you' but I really mean it."

Here we are as kids, awwwwww:

During the 2 week wait, I was starting to go crazy the last week of it and on Day 9 post transfer I asked her to take a home test and was just bracing myself for bad news...

Well, it was 2 strong lines!

I ugly cried that morning. Just couldn't believe it. Still can't.

How on earth are we this lucky two times in a row??

[Another side note: I had a hard time processing this with IMs - Intended Moms especially friends of mine who had a lot of trouble with surrogacy. This experience makes me feel like I got it too easy, like getting pregnant on your first IUI, like I didn't earn my badge of honor... but all that said, I'm ok with it, more than ok with this part having been easy for us. It's just too bad that there is this thing out there that seems to be that unless you've suffered as much as I have, it's hard for me to truly be happy for you without feeling some sort of resentment or something...]

Anyway, her bloodwork came back on Mon, Sept 17 at 853! Super strong and her numbers more than doubled to 2133 two days later! She's a rock star.

I'm going to FL on Oct 2 for the first heartbeat ultrasound and couldn't be happier!

Our little D will have a sibling. :)

PS - And I really do feel positively going into this. I know there's the normal worries that can happen to any pregnancy but I also know that I don't have to carry the baggage of what happened to me into this pregnancy. I can put a wall between what happened to me vs what's happened to us with surrogacy.

It's funny, on her bloodwork day, I told N "If you're still pregnant today, you should go ahead and make the doubling appt on Wed" and she said "you mean there's a chance I'm not pregnant anymore?"

I loved her innocence with it. I mean, yes, there's a chance (hadn't it happened to me over and over and over...), but I wasn't worried about it, I said. :)

Here we go! Miracle #2!