Apr 20 - Bout Damn Time

I know, you probably think I lost the ability to type or that I gave up on this crazy adventure but, thankfully for you and the fabulous gay couple* I hope to carry for, neither of those things has happened.

*This is my dream couple. They probably need more adorable kids, right?
Image found on Pinterest - if you know a source, lemme know.
Anyway, I FINALLY have a dang appointment with my hematologist. 

You know how people joke that being a meteorologist is the perfect job because you can be wrong most of the time and not get fired. Well, that's not true. The MORE perfect job is being an admin for a doctor's office (or anything in the medical field, really) because you get to not submit records, not fill out forms, or not call people back and your customers get to JUST DEAL WITH IT. Not that I'm frustrated or anything...

My appointment is next Wednesday and it will involve some basic labs and then a consult with the doctor. Fingers crossed this is just a formality and then I can get back on the baby train!

March 29 - Bump in the Road

And not the good, belly kind of bump.

I just got word from my agency that, after nurse's review, I am not a good candidate. Obviously, I was very disappointed and I asked my case worker if she was allowed to tell me why, hoping it was something I could improve on – BMI, diet, exercise – and try again.

I was told I was rejected because of my Von Willebrand's disease. I have the mildest form of the mildest type and I've never had issues with nosebleeds, heavy periods, or other common symptoms. The diagnosis popped up on an unrelated blood screen when I was six and it has had no real affect on my life. My hematologist once told me if I were to lose a limb I might bleed out in 90 seconds instead of the usual 2 minutes, but otherwise I'd never know I have it. Not a cheery picture, but it's pretty good way of putting it into perspective. And seriously, I've lived a completely normal life except for these 2 things: A) I'm not allowed to donate blood (apparently blood banks find value in blood that's able to clot) and B) I got to go to this free summer camp for kids with chronic illnesses.

However, all is not lost because I'm not taking no for an answer, yet.

Here is my (hopefully polite and reasonable) response:

I respect your nurse's expertise, but I disagree with her assessment. I was approved by a hematologist prior to both of my births and was deemed not at risk. It was an option to have been given a preventative dose of clotting agent prior to delivery, but it was found to be unnecessary. Anecdotally, my original hematologist, who made my initial diagnosis, remarked that I could have lived my entire life with no symptoms of my condition, but it just happened to show up on a random blood screen.

Would it be possible to discuss this further with the nurse? If possible, have my OB and/or hematologist provide additional information on this topic?

Is there anything more terrifying that hitting "send" after you've just stood up for yourself? No, there's not.

While I was writing the first half of this post, I got a response from my case worker! She is having my records reassessed by the medical director and, to be on the safe side, she wants me to get a clearance letter from my hematologist. So now I'm working on getting a referral appointment so I can get my letter and get this show* on the road!

*There is no show. I'm not going to show you anything.

March 23 - Waiting

So, it's been pretty quiet these past 2 weeks. I had a quick phone call on Tuesday clarifying the OB practice for both pregnancies, then I got an email yesterday saying that my medical records have been transferred to the agency's nurse for review -- I guess this means they have everything they need now? Still no word on if or when my in-home interview will take place, but I'm assuming the fact that they're reviewing my medical records is a good sign.

I'm trying not to feel anxious, but this lull is a bit of a bummer after the flurry of activity in the first week.

March 8 - Phone Interview

I had my phone interview today! It took about 30 minutes, but there was nothing too surprising. We mostly talked about my general medical history, my pregnancy and delivery history, family history, etc.

We talked a little bit about the social and emotional side - Am I willing to travel for the pre-natal visits (IPs might be in a different state)? What is my personal support system like? How do I feel about IPs that are non-white, non-married, non-straight? The agency rep was very professional, but she did let out an "awww" when I told her I was open to all parents but that my preference was for two gay men, since they have the most hurdles in building a family.

The only thing that gave me pause was the travel question. Ideally I would match with IPs in my state, but there aren't currently any IPs here. That means I can match with someone further away, but that's not ideal because I will need to travel to the IPs fertility clinic multiple times for medical screening, pre-pregnancy monitoring, implantation, and initial ultrasounds. Or I can wait to see if someone more local comes along, but I don't think I want to hang out in medical limbo - careful of my alcohol intake, diet, medications, etc - for very long. Plus, I'm super impatient. Once I decide to do something, I want it done yesterday. The third option is to look for local IPs through my network friends and family and then have them sign up with my agency. I've already been approached in private by friends asking on behalf of others, so this might be a viable option.

The agency rep I talked to took down my responses and will now pass them along to the agency vice president. If she likes what she sees, we will move on to the home visit. That will most likely be via video conference, but could be in person if there's an agency rep close enough to me.

The staff didn't give me a score or any indication of how I did, but I feel like I come off as normal and healthy compared to the questions I was asked. Fingers crossed!

March 6 - Answers to "Paperwork!"

After some prodding from a few readers, I've decided to share my answers to the questions that I posted here.

Q: What is your insurance effective date and monthly premium?
A: Not telling.

Q: Explain how you came to the decision to become a surrogate. Be descriptive.
A: I have always told my friends that I was willing to be a surrogate, if needed, and I found myself disappointed when the need never arose. Recently, a good friend of mine donated a kidney to our old high school principal, and that brought back all my feelings of wanting to help and provide life to a family. I feel called to surrogacy, the same way others might feel called to military service or the clergy. 

(Obviously, this is pretty similar to what I shared in my first post.)

Q: Tell us your philosophy on life. 
A: I truly believe that everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, deserves an equal chance at happiness. 
(It took me at least 20 minutes to figure out what my philosophy is. The answer is surprisingly positive, for someone so snarky.)

Q: Describe your personality.
A: I guard my trust, but once someone has earned my trust I am fiercely loyal to my friends and family. 
I find joy in helping people. If you are familiar with "love languages," I show affection through acts of service. 
I fundamentally believe that people are good.
I have determination and commitment. Once I decide to do something I go out and do it. Last summer I finished a sprint triathlon (even though I was terrified!), I had my first child with no pain meds, and I studied for and completed my Architectural Registration Exams after I had been laid off.
On the surface, my humor is sarcastic, dry, and, some might even say, witty.
I graduated from design school, so I like to be creative both at work and at home. I love collecting and displaying art, making things for our home, and running a small design side business.
Oh, and my husband says to mention my sweet tooth! Whenever I'm cranky, he knows to give me a snack. Ha!

Q: What might you say to reassure Intended Parents that you will not change your mind about helping them to have a baby once you've started the process?
A: As I mentioned above, I am nothing if not determined and committed. I don't shy away from a challenge just because it might be hard. I have wanted to do this for almost a decade and I am thrilled to have the chance to do it now. Being a parent myself, I know what it's like to want a baby and I want to help someone start their own family.

Q: Will you allow the intended parents to be in the delivery room when their baby is born?
A: Yes

Q: How do you feel about carrying twins?
A: I am intimidated (both my pregnancies were singles) but if my doctor says I'm healthy enough to carry twins I would be willing to do so.

Q: In the event of a multiple pregnancy (triplets or higher) there is an increased risk to you and the babies. Would you consider reducing the number of babies you will carry based on the intended parent's decision or physician recommendation? 
A: Yes (Yeah, shit got real already)

March 6

Author's note: My plan is to document this process as it happens and while there will be some momentous posts, it will mostly be check-in posts without as much meat to them. That makes it hard to have a pithy name for each post, so I'm switching to naming posts by date.

Not much to report today. I've begun the hopefully-not-too-difficult process of getting my pregnancy and delivery records in the hands of the surrogacy agency. They need access to records from my OB and my delivery hospital, for both Luke and Josie's births.

I have my phone interview with the agency scheduled for this Wednesday. I'm not exactly sure if it's to talk about my medical history or more a personality assessment, but I'm getting nervous butterflies either way.

Last week my first email from the agency included the phrase "We have several Intended Parents waiting to be matched with their surrogate to help them reach their goal of parenthood." I can't explain why, but this gave me the feeling that once (if?) I get approved, I could be matched with my IPs pretty quickly. I had just assumed the online dating part would take a while, but maybe not?

March 2 - Lady Doctors

In a coincidence that I'm choosing to believe is a good omen, I happened to have my annual pap/pelvic appointment yesterday. Everything checked out under the hood and my OB gave me medical approval to serve as a surrogate! It's only 1 form of many, and I'm sure I'll be back for blood work and more tests, but baby steps! Pun fully intended.

February 28 - Paperwork!

I didn't expect to have an update so quickly, but, yay! I submitted the initial application this morning, which got approved and I just finished filling out forms about my general contact info, my personal information, health and reproductive history, and a letter to the Intended Parents. Whew!

I am hyped up on excitement and adrenaline, but also tired - writing thoughtful responses to that many questions is draining! Hard questions included:

  • What is your insurance effective date and monthly premium? (had to look that up)
  • Explain how you came to the decision to become a surrogate. Be descriptive.
  • Tell us your philosophy on life. (It took me at least 20 minutes to figure out what my philosophy is. The answer is surprisingly positive, for someone so snarky.)
  • Describe your personality.
  • What might you say to reassure Intended Parents that you will not change your mind about helping them to have a baby once you've started the process?
  • Will you allow the intended parents to be in the delivery room when their baby is born?
  • How do you feel about carrying twins?
  • In the event of a multiple pregnancy (triplets or higher) there is an increased risk to you and the babies. Would you consider reducing the number of babies you will carry based on the intended parent's decision or physician recommendation? (Yeah, shit got real already)
There's still lots more forms and insurance information I have to hand over, but that's enough for tonight. My fingers are tired of typing.

Womb For Rent

This blog has been quiet for a while (my bad) but I'm reviving it to tell the next chapter in my story.

No, I'm not having another baby. Not exactly, anyway. I want to be a gestational surrogate, and am taking steps to become one. Crazy, right? Let me back up and tell you how I got here.

When I graduated from college I told several of my closest friends that if they ever had difficulty carrying a child I would be their surrogate, no questions asked. Years came and went with lots of babies. Many would have been relieved but I found myself disappointed. So imagine that disappointment simmering at the back of my mind for the past nine years.

Jump to last spring. I was listening to an episode of Strangers about Elizabeth and Mary, a young woman eager to donate a kidney and the woman she donated to. [Sidebar: if you're not listening to Strangers, you should be. It's amazing.] In short, Elizabeth feels that if you are able to donate a kidney you should do so. It's just like paying taxes or serving jury duty. While I have no strong desire to be a living organ donor, Elizabeth's passion and determination struck a nerve and brought to the surface all of my thoughts about surrogacy. I had easy pregnancies and I enjoyed being pregnant, for the most part. We're done adding to our own family, but it felt like a waste to let this "skill" go unused.

I broached the topic with my husband and he wasn't on board. His objections were reasonable and thoughtful, but I couldn't let it go. We had a second discussion and after I was unable to convince him I walked away full of emotion; but it was disappointment rather than anger. I literally could not stop thinking about it. I tried one more time, laying everything on the table.

I have never been a religious or spiritual person but I feel called to surrogacy the same way someone might feel called to the military or the clergy. I can't really explain it but I just know it's something I have to do.

I said my peace, asked him to truly think about, and then went to sleep. After about 2 weeks of thinking (and "have you thought about it" pestering from me) he said we could proceed with caution, keeping the safety and sanity of our family at the forefront. We decided that we needed to make it through Christmas but we could start the process in the new year.

I have spent the last six months slowly telling people about my crazy goal. Saying the words out loud, to a few friends and family, helped it feel real and allowed me to process all of the questions I would be faced with.

What if you're carrying twins or triplets? How do you get connected to the parents? Will you have another c-section? How much do you get paid?

That is a lot to think about but I will work with an agency to guide me through the process. The agency will take care of medical testing, legal protection on both sides, and screening prospective parents. I think it's possible to do surrogacy without an agency, but that creates risk for both the surrogate and the parents, so that's not smart for a first-time surrogate like myself.

Lastly, I am pleased to share that I just submitted my application to become a surrogate! There will be many tests, both physical and psychological, before I am ready to meet prospective parents but it feels great to take the first step.

As you can see from the post title, I am VERY EXCITED about all of the puns. Also this:
image credit: Friends

Funny Friday - May 6

Much like me when I was a kid, Luke spends as much time sorting his toys as he does playing with them.
Luke: Josie, don't mess up my food rainbow.
Me: Toys are meant to be played with, so let her play.
Luke: She can play, she just can't mix up my piles.
Me: Of course she's going to mix them up - she's a baby.
Josie: Hey! I'm not a baby, I'm a big girl!
Me: Fine, she's a toddler and toddlers mix things up.
Luke: Actually, she's a juvenile.
Me: Anybody else want to correct me?

Josie was showing her plush stingray to our friend Amanda
Amanda: Is that a boy or a girl?
Josie: No. It's a stingray.

I may or may not have gotten an apple watch. Treat yoself, am I right?
Josie: What's that?
Me: It's my new watch. You went with me to buy it last night, remember?
Josie: Yeah! Where's your black watch?
Me: I took it off so I can wear this one.
Josie: pause I watch a tv show on it?

Luke: Put that on your Facebook page and lick it.
a) I don't know what this means, b) he said this in the meter of "put that in your pipe and smoke it," and c) I have no idea where he heard that phrase