Monday, December 10, 2012

Life on the Rollercoaster

Maybe that's what I need to change my blog name to. I keep hoping eventually the rollercoaster will stop and let me off though. One of these days...

Well, our first ultrasound was November 1. We have about a 4 hour drive to Irving and Ivy has a little over a 3 hour drive. On our way there, she and I were talking. We both said we'd be absolutely shocked if we saw two little ones, considering her beta numbers. When we got to the clinic, they took us straight back. Dr. E and our nurse, T, were equally excited as us, I think. Ivy laid on the table and T began. It seemed like an eternity before we saw anything but I'm sure it was only a few seconds. Then, into view was one perfect gestational sac and a yolk sac within it, exactly what you want to see at 5 weeks 4 days! Ivy looked at me and said "One baby, Heather!" Dr. E immediately said "I think you're speaking too soon. We still have half your uterus to check out!" Just then, T shifted the ultrasound wand slightly and into view...a second sac!!! Dr. E said "See! I told you!" Ivy's reaction was hilarious. I'm sure mine was just as funny. I jumped out of my chair and got as close to the screen as I could. I could not believe my eyes. With a better look, Dr. E explained that the second sac was not as well defined and was slightly smaller. He said there was no way to know whether it was a twin in the process of catching up, a twin in the process of vanishing, or a dreaded SCH (sub chorionic hematoma= a blood pocket very common in IVF pregnancies). Looking at the embryos, one was smaller than the other. Looking at the betas, from one to two did not double. From two to three it more than doubled. A twin in the process of catching up makes the most sense. After the initial shock, we all believed we had two babies. We scheduled a follow up ultrasound to check heartbeats for Dec. 14, 7 weeks 4 days.

Ivy has had the normal 1st trimester exhaustion and a little more than normal nausea and vomiting. Dr. E called her out something to help her keep her food where it belongs and things were getting better. Then came Friday. I'll save everyone the details but it involved a LOT of blood with absolutely no warning. She pulled herself together and called the nurse. After a million questions, the nurse said it sounded like a textbook SCH. Even knowing these things are common does not help. Ivy's had some bleeding off and on since but nothing like that initial bleed. Thank God! In light of that, our second ultrasound has been moved up to tomorrow, the 11th. We are expecting that the second sac we saw on the 30th was actually the bleed and are all praying for a healthy baby and heartbeat tomorrow.

I have a peace I really can't explain...the peace that surpasses understanding. In August when we found out we were not pregnant, Brandon wrote an email to his family telling them the news. In it he said, "We don't understand why we felt so strongly that we were to go down this road only to have it fail." My heart was in a million pieces and those words summed it up. Four months later, I feel like God has revealed one of the answers to me. Ivy and I have known each other for four years online: surrogacy support boards, facebook, email. We matched for this journey at the end of May. I've felt I've known her for the last four years but the way our relationship has grown in the last four months is remarkable. She is one of my closest friends and we talk and text about all kinds of things. Of course, I wish we would have gotten pregnant in August, but in light of everything, I'm so thankful for the extra time to get to know Ivy better. It really is a sweet, sweet relationship that I cherish. Coming to terms with losing the ability to carry your own child is not easy and entrusting someone else to do it is not something everyone can do. The friendship that goes so far beyond this life that I have with Dawn and now, Ivy, is such gift though. I am thankful.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beta Catch Up

I have been a horrible blogger. I've been on an emotional rollercoaster, have one really sick kiddo, and there was Thanksgiving in there too. Those are my excuses anyway :)

So, to catch up, our first beta at 9dp5dt was 59. Pregnant! Then, there was the beta 48 hours later at 11dp5dt, 107. Betas should double every 48 hours although the acceptable window is 48-72 hours. We made that but it was still enough to give us all pause. I'm not going to lie, when the nurse called and told me the number, I burst into tears. I was terrified we were losing the baby or it was a chemical pregnancy. We started out a little low and then to have it not double...well, it was scary. We decided to do one more beta another 48 hours later to see what was happening, and drumroll please...we needed 214...we got...290!!! So, our doubling time between beta 1 and beta 2 was about 55 hours. Doubling time between beta 2 and beta 3 was only 33 hours! And, if you cut out that middle beta and look at an overall doubling time between beta 1 and beta 3, we're down to just under 42 hours! We all breathed a major sigh of relief with that one!

So, Ivy's hpts continue to get darker and we have our first ultrasound this Friday at 5 weeks 4 days. We are all so excited to see who is in there! Whoohoo!

Friday, November 16, 2012


what one day and a ton of prayer can do...
If you can see that second line, congratulations, your eyes are good! This was taken this morning, 5.75dp5dt and it means one thing...


Ivy's been getting faint positives now since 3.5dp5dt but they were too light to even photograph, much less make us comfortable. With this one, we all agreed it's time to call it. Of course, we are still very anxious for beta on Monday, but this is definite reassurance that we've got someone snuggling in! Thank you to all of you who prayed for us. God is so good! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, the perils of the 2ww...

I've struggled with what to write or if I should write at all. I promised transparency though, for myself and anyone who is following along. Know that we cherish every kind word, every prayer, thought, text message, email, etc. It's just hard to figure out how to respond when we don't have an answer. We were hoping, praying, wishing for a clear positive much earlier than was probably realistic (but it does happen) and we passed that on to everyone in our lives. My mistake, completely. The truth is that, despite all my optimism, IVF is a terribly complicated process and the 2ww is pure torture. It is in no way guaranteed, even when the doctor gives you a 70% chance. There is also high incidence of what is called a "chemical pregnancy" in IVF. I had never even heard of a chemical until I entered the world of surrogacy. In August, we experienced it and it is one of the cruelest jokes that can be played. Pregnancy tests will show positive and then become negative again or they just don't darken, indicating no rise or a very slow rise in hcg (hcg should rise very quickly in early pregnancy). This is an indicator that something tried to happen and then didn't develop for whatever reason and it is heartbreaking. You see those first faint lines and allow yourself to get excited only to have them fade away. Terrible.

With that said, Ivy has been seeing those familiar, super faint lines for a day or so now. This is exactly what we were praying to avoid. We know we are still very early but it is nearly impossible not to let past experience taint expectations. So, please, please, please, friend, family member, random person finding my blog on the internet, pray that those lines darken up quickly and this is a viable pregnancy. Thank you all and we'll update when we have news. At the latest, beta blood test is Monday.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Transfer and Embryo Update

I have a lot of ground to cover in this post and it might be all over the place, but here goes :)

Transfer was Saturday morning. Everything went beautifully. Brandon needed to be home with the kids. They had been without us for 5 days and Aubrey had a dress fitting, so my mom rode with me to Dallas. It was nice to have her meet Ivy and her Brandon and see the transfer process. She was a nervous wreck though!

The embryologist came in first and told us we had two beautiful blasts to transfer, one 4BB and one 4CB. (You can see more about the grading here: Blasts grading system) She also let me know that we had one additional blast ready to be frozen immediately! I was amazed but not as amazed as I was about to be...we also had 5 additional embryos still growing, just not quite blasts yet! From day 3 to day 5, when they expect you to lose 2/3 of your embryos, we only lost 1 embryo!!! I absolutely could not believe it. They will only freeze blasts though so they were going to watch them for one more day and then freeze what made it. More on that in a minute. The embryologist then talked with us about the chances of an embryo splitting, resulting in triplets, due to the "advanced staging" of the embryos. She made sure we were all on board and we waited for our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist aka fertility doc). We were surprised when we were told it would be Dr. Le doing the transfer. He is the head doc at our clinic and we were not scheduled with him. When he came in, he told us he came in on his day off for our transfer because he didn't feel right letting someone else do it. That was pretty amazing. He had a very similar discussion with us and told us our chance at live birth was 70%, twins 40%, and a splitter resulting in triplets 3%. We decided we were okay with those odds and went ahead with the transfer.

Ivy was a rockstar. Dr. Le went on and on about how easy she was and we all laughed the entire time. In no time, our two little blasts, had a new home.

            An actual picture of our little guys, lovingly referred to as "Boudreaux" and "Thibodeaux" for now ;)

We then headed across the street to the hotel where Ivy would serve out her 24 hours of bedrest. I had snuck into her room before the transfer and left this there:
I got with her Brandon last week and had him send me a list of all her favorite snack foods. I filled up this giant basket with chips, candies, drinks, 34 (literally!) pregnancy tests, and an LSU hoodie because obviously she needs an LSU hoodie. Her face when she walked in the room and saw it was priceless. It was great. We had lunch there in the room with them and then headed back to Houston.

Ivy and I had originally thought it best not to test until Wednesday night but I'm dying over here! I think I've got her convinced to try Wednesday morning now. It is absolutely taking forever to get here though!!!

Now, more on our totsicles aka frozen embryos. I got the call this morning that only one of our five slow pokes made it. So, we officially have two little ones on ice! The one they froze Saturday is a 4CB (same as the little one on the left above) and the one frozen Sunday is a 6CC!!! That guy was a day slow but an overachiever! I am overwhelmed. We've never had this happen before and it's hard to put into words. Before I lost my ability to carry children, I never thought about the size of our family and how many children we would ultimately have. Now, it's all I think about. Here we were praying God would grant us one more and He went so far above and beyond that we now have 4 maybe babies out there! Also, knowing we have two frozen, of course we will wait until the baby or babies Ivy is carrying are a couple years old to let those have a shot at the world outside, but I want so badly to know them now! I honestly can't describe it. My heart overflows!

Friday, November 9, 2012


I've been getting lots of questions and although I always send an answer back to the person who asked, I felt it may be a good idea to answer them here too. If one (or five) people are willing to message me these, then I figure they must be on lots of people's minds.

  • How did you and Ivy meet?
I am a member of a small, private, email based, support group for surrogacy in Texas/Oklahoma. I joined this group in November 2008 when Dawn and I were just beginning our journey to bring Abram into the world. Ivy joined late December 2008 when she was just entering the world of surrogacy herself. At some point, we became facebook friends too. By the time we officially "matched" in May/June 2012, we felt like we had known each other forever even though we had never met. We finally met in August 2012 at our first transfer. What we had known from email/facebook/text/phone was instantly true in person...the two of us are meant to be lifelong friends. We had more fun than should be allowed. Lots of people even say we look alike. I love this lady!

                                                                            Me and Ivy

  • It's your egg and Bradon's sperm right? Ivy is the carrier?
Yes, yes, yes. Trust me, with what my body has been feeling for weeks now, if they didn't take eggs from me we are gonna have a giant problem ;) In all seriousness, just like Abram (and his non-surrogate carried brother and sister before him), the baby or babies coming from this will be 100% biologically Brandon and mine's. Ivy has been wonderful enough, just like Dawn, to open her uterus to us...hahahaha! Seriously though, she has been on hormones for weeks now preparing her body to not only accept a pregnancy but one that is not her genetic material. It's a big deal. Once pregnancy is achieved, she will continue hormones to maintain the pregnancy through the first trimester. Then, she will love and care for our little one(s) until they are ready to make their big entrance to the world. Then, she'll be bombarded with pictures and thank yous until it makes her sick, just ask Dawn ;)

  • What is a beta?
Awwwww, if you are asking this, you have obviously never been through the crazy world of infertility. This one is fun! Two weeks from egg retrieval (this time is commonly called the "two week wait"), Ivy will have a blood test to confirm pregnancy. You can think of egg retrieval as ovulation in the natural pregnancy realms. 14 days past ovulation is a typical marking point for pregnancy. We will know by then whether Ivy is pregnant or not because home pregnancy tests (hpts) will have told us, but we won't know how pregnant. That's where beta numbers come in. They are a quantitative marker for the amount of hcg in her bloodstream. Truthfully, they tell you you are pregnant or not, but in the world of surrogacy we obsess over and night. A small number can mean a chemical pregnancy-a pregnancy that attempted to start but never developed. A large number can mean multiples. Since we will transfer two and won't have an ultrasound until 7 weeks pregnant, obsessing over the number helps pass the time ;) They will repeat them every 48 hours for a week or so. They need to double every 48 hours to indicate a healthy pregnancy. This is the most important thing!

  • If you guys still have lots of embryos left on Saturday, what will happen to them?
First, we will transfer the two absolute best into Ivy's waiting uterus. We have three options with any remaining embryos 1) dispose of them, 2) freeze them and anonymously donate them to another couple, 3) freeze them to use for ourselves later. The only suitable option for us is to freeze them for ourselves. Brandon calls this the we're-gonna-need-more-surrogates option ;) We know that if we have embryos to freeze Saturday, God will provide a way to give them a chance at life. Our previous cycles, I absolutely made myself crazy playing the number game...if we have left over embryos, what happens? will we have a willing surrogate? what if we don't want more children and we have extra embryos? And, amazingly, we never had any embryos left. This time, I have felt such peace about it. That if God preserves any embryos for us, not only will He provide a carrier for them, He will also put the desire and longing in our hearts to have those children come to life. Truthfully, I kinda chalked this up to our track record of never having any and deciding not to worry unnecessarily. Now, with 9 little ones growing, I know that this is true peace that God has placed in my heart and I am so thankful.

If there is anything I haven't answered or you just have a question, please write me. I am more than willing to share and, in most cases, I bet you aren't the only one wondering.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On Cloud Nine...

Today is day 3 in IVF world. We were told the embryologist would call and update us on our little embryos today and I was so nervous. We have never had any embryos make it past today, with the exception of Abram, obviously, and we transferred him on day 3. So, when the phone rang my stomach did turns. You cannot imagine my surprise when the voice on the other end told me we, on day 3, still have NINE embryos!!! Seven that look fantastic and two that are on the slow end for growth but seem to still have a chance. All I could do was laugh hysterically...seriously. Then, in a complete lapse of judgement, I texted Ivy and said "Are you sitting down?" After she texted me back that she was, I delivered the news. Poor thing thought for sure I was going to tell her that we had none left to transfer and was freaking out. She was ecstatic when she got the real news and I totally deserve whatever she throws at me when it comes to beta numbers :)

With that said, the greatest amount of loss for embryos is the time between day 3 and day 5. Statistically, only 1/3 of embryos survive this time because there are some crucial things happening those days. It is amazing, that after 3 cycles, we finally made it this far. Day 5 embryos really allow the doctors to determine which are the healthy ones. I am just so thankful! So, transfer is at 10:30am on Saturday. I cannot wait to see Ivy and her Brandon and get the transfer morning report. We're all praying for two blastocysts (the medical term for 5 day embryos that look super duper good) to transfer.

Also, if you want to check out Ivy's blog, here it is...Baby Bakin Part Deux Today's post is particularly hilarious!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Retrieval went well yesterday. The doctor told us on Saturday to expect 7-10 eggs. Imagine my surprise when I woke up in recovery and was told 16!!! Just to recap: my first retrieval (Abram's), I had 8 eggs. 6 were mature, 4 fertilized. We transferred 2 on day 3 (got pregnant with him) and the other 2 arrested before freezing on day 5. My second retrieval (last August), I had 9 eggs retrieved and only 2 of those fertilized normally. We transferred those 2 on day 3 and that resulted in a negative. So, we were all very anxious to get the call today from the embryologist with the fertilization report. We were hoping to have at least 4, so we could do a 5 day transfer (pushing to 5 days before transfer gives the doctors a much better idea of which embryos are viable). When the phone rang, I held my breath. In August, I never expected to hear that we only had 2 embryos and did not want that feeling again. This time...we had 14 of 16 mature eggs and 9 fertilized!!! So, at 24 hours post-fertilization, 9 embryos are growing! This is great news! We will make it to day 5 for transfer for the first time ever. The next update will be on day 3, Thursday. Odds are, several will arrest before then but we're starting out much better than we ever have. This does great things for our chances of viable pregnancy. Whew.

As for me, I'm doing much better this round. The doctors decided to treat me for the complications I had last time before they occurred this time. That has made all the difference in the world. I'm still dealing with some nausea and cramping but not nearly what I experienced in August. I am just one overwhelmed and thankful girl today!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!

Saturday morning's appointment revealed several follicles at the magical 19-20mm mark and several just behind. My estrogen level was at 1847, so we are good to go! I triggered last night and retrieval is scheduled for 9am.

There are so many emotions going through my head. We are super anxious to get home to our children. We miss them terribly. I am so excited to hear how many eggs we get and how that translates to embryo numbers (we'll have that information Tuesday morning). I'm also looking ahead to transfer, which will be Thursday if we have less than 4 embryos and Saturday if we have more than four (either way we are only transferring two ;). Then on to pregnancy tests and, God willing, ultrasounds. It is an incredibly exciting time and one we have been waiting for for months now. At the same time, I am terrified. My retrieval in August went very wrong and I was sick for days. I'm praying that nothing like that happens this time. That cycle also left us with lots of questions, no healthy embryos, and tons of tears and heartache. Although I know I would survive it again, I don't want all. So, that's where I am tonight, roughly 13 hours before I'll arrive for my procedure...a huge bundle of nerves.

Friday, November 2, 2012

To Dallas We Go!

My first monitoring appointment at our clinic in Dallas was yesterday. We got up before the sun and headed out at 5:45am to be here for 10:15 with the intention to stay here until I retrieve. I had an estrogen check on Monday in Houston and was at 232. Yesterday, it had risen to just over 1,200. A very nice rise given the problems I had with my levels in August. Ultrasound showed 13 follicles averaging 14mm. They expect follicles to grow about 2mm a day while on stimulation meds and they trigger a patient between 18-20mm. He went ahead and doubled my lupron and added another injection to my medications to help prevent me from ovulating (I have a history of that). In August, I had a huge jump at about the same point in my cycle I am now. Dr. E. blamed it on faulty measuring between clinics (I had been seen in Houston, Las Vegas, and Dallas in less than 5 days). This time, we all thought it was best if I stayed put in Dallas with a consistent set of eyes on me. Well, sure enough, I went back this morning and in 22 hours, my follicles went from 14mm to 3 at 19-20mm and 4 more right behind in the 17-18mm range. Dr. E. was shocked. So, with that new information, the plan is to see me again tomorrow morning and assuming everything looks like it should, I will trigger tomorrow afternoon and retrieval will be 36 hours later- Monday morning. Praying, praying, praying for a much less eventful retrieval, easier recovery, and two healthy embryos to transfer 5 days later.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's time to GO!!!

Got the call from the clinic yesterday that all was well with my ultrasound and estrogen level. The doctors decided, after reviewing everything, to have me start microdose lupron this morning and then stimulation medications on Saturday morning. I had 27 resting follicles on Tuesday. Follicles are what they use to anticipate egg development. Not every follicle will house an egg and not every egg even retrieved will fertilize, but they are a good indicator of how many eggs you can expect. With such a great number of follicles already, they think I will stimulate faster than normal for this drug protocol (I've never done this particular protocol but I've stimmed faster than normal my two previous cycles too). I will have blood drawn on Monday to again check my estrogen level (developing eggs produce estrogen). If that number is on the high end, I will have an ultrasound on Tuesday to check follicle size. When the majority of folllicles reach 18-20mm, I will take a trigger injection to tell the eggs to finish maturing and release. Retrieval is 36 hours after that trigger injection. Most women require 7-10 days of stimulation drugs to be ready. That would put us sometime between Friday, November 2, and Monday, November 5, for trigger. I expect retrieval to be Monday the 5th but you really never know with IVF. We are at the mercy of my body and its reaction. Our clinic is in Irving and although I have been able to do most of my monitoring here, as time gets closer, I will need to be there. They want me there starting Thursday the 1st and I will stay until the day after my procedure, whenever that may be.

This is, by far, the most injections I've had in a cycle. 79 total. 60 of those 79 falling in a 10 day period. Add to that that one of those is Lovenox (high estrogen levels are a risk factor for clotting and I have a history of pulmonary embolism), and I will be one walking bruise. It will all be SO worth it though!

Here's what 55 injections look like. 

One down. 78 to go. If only they all used this little needle :)

Ivy has her monitoring appointment on November 1 to make sure everything is nice and welcoming for our embryos. Then 5 days after retrieval, we will transfer the best two developing embryos to her. Ah, what a process!

Monday, October 22, 2012


In case not everyone has figured it out, we were delayed. Two weeks ago, I went in for my baseline ultrasound before starting injections and, TMI alert, I was in the process of ovulating through the birth control pills they had me on. Not good. Our RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) had me do a trigger injection that night to reset my ovaries. I then had blood work done last Wednesday to verify that worked. It did, so tomorrow I go in for another baseline ultrasound. If all looks well, I will start meds on Friday with a tentative retrieval November 6, 7, or 8 (the timing of these things is always a mystery). I am a nervous wreck. I just want all to go according to plan for ONCE! Because of this delay, poor Ivy has been on meds for nearly a month. She's such a trooper and has not complained at all. She's one of the good ones I tell you.

The closer we get, the more anxious I get. I know I haven't gone into a lot of detail about our cycle in August, but trust me, it was a nightmare. My body revolted in just about every way possible and I was sick as a dog. So sick that after 13 years of marriage, I puked in my husband's car (multiple times). He still loves me though ;) I'm not looking forward to the physical torture cycling and retrieval are, but it will be so worth it when we see that little flicker on the ultrasound for the first time! I'm going to hold on to that image and pray my body takes it easy on me this go 'round. So, if you have a minute, please pray for us tomorrow morning that another step is complete and we get the green light. I promise to update as soon as I can too.

Oh, one bright spot, the same day we found out about our medical delay, our PBO was granted by the judge. No more legal hurdles! Now, we just need an embryo or two to go with that piece of paper!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A rundown of the process...

I've had lots of questions about the process surrogacy takes and where we are at in it. I've never really explained it and decided that may be best. If you are like me and the type of person who just likes to know stuff, this should help. This is not necessarily a step by step for every surrogacy in every state. Each state has its own laws regarding surrogacy, so different processes apply. Also, some things are clinic mandated rather than state mandated, so those vary greatly too. For us, this is how our surrogacies have general gone. Also, there are lots of surrogacy agencies out there that can be very helpful. We have gone independent with both our journeys. It's really a personal preference.

  • Generally, the first step is medical clearance for the surrogate. This may be done before or after the contract is in place. Both times, for us, our surrogates have come to us already cleared. This mostly means that an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist, the doctor who does the IVF procedure) has determined that medically they are a good candidate for surrogacy and an OB (obstetrician) has determined that they are safe to carry a pregnancy. Also, as part of this, most clinics require a psychological clearance for the surrogate and her husband.
  • Contracts. A surrogacy attorney writes up a surrogacy contract for both the surrogate and IPs (Intended Parents, that's us) to sign. This covers things you would probably never think of in a million years...or until you've been through a surrogacy. It protects both parties establishing a written agreement of the duties both sides have. From our financial responsibilities to Ivy agreeing not to do drugs to what happens to the child if Brandon and I both pass away while Ivy's pregnant, it's all in there.
  • Psychological clearance for the IPs. This was not required of us with our first surrogacy, but this time it was. Basically, we met with a psychologist and she determined that we are mentally stable enough to have another woman carry our child. 
  • Legal. In Texas, surrogacy laws are very straightforward. There are criteria that must be met by the surrogate (have given birth before, be healthy, etc.) and IPs (be a married couple, have a need established by a doctor for a surrogate, etc.). Once the contract is signed by all parties, it must sit for 14 days before you can go forward with the medical stuff. Texas is a PBO (pre-birth order) state. This means that our petition is filed with the court and once a judge reviews our case and contract, we are issued a document that establishes our parentage of the child. In Abram's case, we were required to have a home study, but this is totally up to the judge. Our PBO was in hand before he even existed. In fact, before I even started medications for our IVF cycle. This document allows us to make medical decisions on the baby's behalf, as its parents. It also allows us to be the baby's parents from the moment it takes its first breath, including both our names going directly on his/her birth certificate.
  • IVF. The surrogate begins medications to suppress her ovulation and prepare her uterus to receive an embryo. I begin mediation to encourage my ovaries to produce multiple eggs, rather than the one that is normal in a month. Medication protocols vary widely in IVF. This time, Ivy started her injections yesterday, Sept 30. I begin mine on Oct 12. She has one a day. I have five. I will begin going in for ultrasounds and blood work every other day from Oct. 19. When I'm ready, I will take a trigger injection that tells my ovaries to wrap up maturing the eggs. 36 hours later, I go in for surgery. I'm put under and the eggs are harvested. That day, the eggs are fertilized with Brandon's sperm. Depending on how many we have growing and how they are doing, Ivy will go in 3 or 5 days later for two embryos to be transferred to her ready and waiting uterus. The first blood pregnancy test will be 2 weeks from retrieval day. She will likely begin testing at home a week or so from transfer though. During this time, she will stay on a variety of hormonal medications to encourage her body to accept our embryo as it would a natural pregnancy.

That's the process in a nutshell. It can be really complicated and there are tons of little steps I did not include.  So, where we is done and we are waiting on the judge to issue our PBO. We've all been medically and psychologically cleared for another round. Retrieval is tentatively scheduled for the 24th or 25th of October, although I'm seriously praying it will be the 23rd, so Brandon can be with me (He'll be out of town the 24-26). Transfer is tentatively scheduled for the 29th or 30th. We appreciate all the prayers being sent up on our behalf. I'm feeling like October may be our month :) If there is anything I didn't make quite clear or any other questions, feel free to ask. I'm glad to answer.    

Monday, September 10, 2012

Food for thought...

Today on facebook, I "liked" the page for the blog over at A Belly For Me, A Baby For You. They were recently featured on CNN. The basic story is that they are filming a documentary of a surrogate pregnancy. The surrogate happens to be the sister of the intended father. The twins she is carrying are biologically those of her brother and sister-in-law. They've had a lot of controversial, and uncalled for, comments.

This afternoon she asked:  Let's reverse the question, would you be able to let another woman carry your baby/babies via surrogacy? Do you already have someone in mind? What do you think the hardest part about it would be?

Being that I have and am again let another woman carry my baby, this question peaked my interest and reading the comments really got me thinking. It's something friends and family have asked me in a round about way. It's usually something like "How are you doing? Is it strange having someone else pregnant with your baby?" The short answer to this is, yes, it is strange. As a woman, it is not a natural thing to have another woman pregnant with your child. The comments on this particular question were mostly positive. There were a few that said they could not do it or the answer I can't stand...if you can't have children, then you aren't meant to *gag*. But most said they would if they were in a position to do it financially and had a need.

The recurring answer to the hardest part was a lack of control and giving up feeling your child grow inside of you. Of course, giving up all that is involved in pregnancy is hard. I have been blessed to have experienced pregnancy and birth twice with Aubrey and Blaine. Although I was not the glowy, happy pregnant woman and was pretty much miserable 6 months out of 9, I would still love to be able to experience it again. It's the way it's supposed to be. I can't explain what it's like to wait for another woman to find out she's pregnant and tell you that you will be a mother. I can't explain what it's like to listen to her talk about your baby in a way only she knows him or have others come up and congratulate her on her pregnancy while you're together and want with every fiber of your being to shout out that it's your baby. It is just hard. And even thought it's hard, you are so grateful for every detail she's willing to share and every moment you are expecting, even if no one can see the physical signs. As an intended mother, you have to be able to tell those feelings of hurt, grief, and, yes, even resentment where to go. They don't belong in a surrogacy journey. You have to be able to focus on the miracle it is that another woman can and would do be willing to experience those things for you and share those things with you. Sure, there are times those feelings have and I'm sure will again get away from me and I retreat to my room to cry. I think that's natural. You don't all of a sudden stop hurting for what you've lost because someone is kind enough to give it to you another way.

There were also lots of "only if my sister did it" or "yes, my best friend would". That is a beautiful sentiment and amazing when it works. My first thoughts of surrogacy (way back in 2005) included a family member doing it for us. The truth is that when the rubber meets the road, not everyone is cut out to do this and that is perfectly okay. I don't want anyone who is not comfortable with it to do it for me! I like to think I would do it for any one of my family members that needed, if I were able. Truth is, that's something I will never know for sure. It's much easier having been the recipient of such an extraordinary gift to think I could give it if the roles were reversed.

As for the control aspect, that is what makes it of paramount importance to chose someone you trust with...well, your child's life. No one will be happy in a surrogacy relationship where a pregnancy is being micromanaged. It just doesn't work. I needed someone who I felt would treat my baby the way I would. I have been blessed with two of those women. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The longing for more...

Brandon and I have always wanted a large family. When we were dating, he used to joke that we'd keep having children until we had two girls, whenever that may be, because he didn't think he could handle three girls :) In 2004, with the news that my uterus needed to be chunked in the biohazard bin, that dream all but died. It's hard to describe knowing that something is impossible yet wanting it more than you can handle. We looked into different ways to expand our family but none felt right. Then in 2006, I found gestational surrogacy and the idea that we could still have biological children with the help of someone exceptional. There were lots of roadblocks in the way of that dream but we spent the next three years pursuing it and November 29, 2009, Abram was born after a nearly flawless journey from IVF cycle to birth. (If you want more on that check out my posts from March 2009-December 2009. I recently did and was moved emotionally back to that incredible place.)

With Abram, we made the decision to be open books about surrogacy and our struggle to become parents for a third time. I chronicled the whole thing here and for our facebook friends and family. There really was nothing hidden and I felt great about that. I wanted to be an avenue for information to anyone curious about surrogacy and a champion for "normal" couples everywhere that needed reproductive help. Our surrogate, Dawn, got pregnant the first try. We had no embryos left from that IVF cycle and felt that was our answer to whether we'd ever pursue a fourth child. But again, the thought of one more time was never far from our minds.

After getting the all clear on my health at the beginning of the year, we began to entertain the idea of another journey. Dawn is happily retired and the thought of not only having to do IVF again, but also finding another surrogate to help us was daunting. Could we be so fortunate again? Over the past few years, I have developed many relationships with surrogates and intended parents from across the nation. I quietly spread the word within the surrogacy community that we were contemplating a second journey. In May, I found out my friend, Ivy, was also looking to match. We've known each other for a while and I instantly felt this could work. After some wonderful chats, we officially matched. We were all very excited but something about this time felt very different to me. For reasons I don't even know myself, we decided to keep it private. With surrogacy, I don't get that moment of finding out I'm pregnant and sharing that with my husband. We share it with another couple and although it is still special and intimate in its own way, it's different. I felt like I wanted it to be between us and no one else. So, that's what we did.

We began to cycle at the beginning of July. I had egg retrieval the beginning of August and we transferred our only two surviving embryos three days later. The next two weeks waiting for the blood test were pure torture. I was sick as a dog from retrieval and home pregnancy tests can be the devil. I can't even put in to words the emotional ups and downs we all went through those weeks. One thing I can say, I am forever grateful to Ivy for putting herself in a position of heartbreak for Brandon and me. It's amazing to me that anyone would willingly sign up for such pain for someone else. I mean, you sign up knowing bad things may happen, but really you sign up to get pregnant and deliver a baby, trying all on its own, you don't really expect to have your heart ripped out and trampled on or a crazy up and down ride through fire.

All that to say, it didn't work. I thought I had been through it all. I thought I knew what it was like to receive that news, but I didn't and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried more than I have cried in memory. In that time of gut wrenching heartache, I realized that I didn't feel like I could really vent those feelings because we had chosen to keep the experience private, for the most part. I'm one of those crazy people who want my experiences to have meaning. I want to feel like the things I go through have a purpose. Being quiet about this made it feel like that couldn't happen, like not sharing it was acting like it didn't happen at all. It did happen and I need to honor that.

So, here I am, coming out, so to speak. We long for more children, something a lot of people don't understand. We can't make that happen by ourselves and there is NO shame in that. We don't have to accept the hand that infertility dealt us. We're grieving what could have been in the form of two embryos that, for whatever reason, were not meant to become little humans we'd hold in our arms. And, ready or not, I'm taking you all along for the rest of this ride. We plan to try again in October. This time, we expect Ivy's in for a long, pregnant nine months carrying our precious cargo and we'll all be grateful for every minute!        

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Here we go again...

I'm baaaaaaaaaaccck... Let's see, what has happened since I last blogged? Well, our kids are growing like weeds. They are now 12, 11, and nearly 3! Unbelievable. We sold that dream home we built and bought into a new dream we didn't even know we had, giving up Brandon's 1.5 hour commute for an 8 minute one. We bought a big, old gem and although it has had all the issues you'd expect for a forty year old home plus some, I love it. The time we gained as a family was more than worth it. What else? Oh yeah! I'm 100% healthy! For the first time in probably 10 years, all my labs are normal! My body has learned how to function without a tumor in its chest and it is wonderful! Praise God!

Now, on to bigger and better things!