Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell, 2008!

I still find it hard to believe that today is the last day of 2008. It still feels like it should be only October. We have pretty boring plans: takeout, videos, and champagne LOL. We used to spend it with friends, but the last few years we've spent by ourselves, and that's nice too. Our sinus infections morphed into slight colds (sore throat for Husband and cough for me), so we're not feeling 100%. I don't get sick often, but if I do, it always seems to be over some sort of vacation unfortunately. The last time I took two classes during fall semester (2 years ago), I was sick over Christmas. Having had a pretty busy year, at least I can discern a pattern.

Our Christmas was pretty good. Christmas Eve with my mother and stepfather went much more smoothly than I anticipated. We talked about baby stuff a little, but I was gratified that she told me she is still anxious too and will wait for our signal before she gets truly excited. She also told us that she plans to give us money towards our nursery furniture! That's a very nice gesture and much appreciated. Alas, after a few glasses of poinsettia punch, she also reiterated that she hoped I would get pg at some point. Again I had to remind her that the state of my tubes rendered that impossible unless we underwent IVF or did an FET with our frozen embryos. Christmas day we went to my cousin's, and it was very nice seeing cousin L with her little pooch of a belly and cousin-in-law C with her 7-month belly. My aunts greeted me as the other mother-to-be, which I thought was sweet. And true! My aunts hope to be able to get all four babies together next Christmas. What a cute picture that would make! My cousin-in-law's shower is in mid-January, and I plan to attend.

Our final Christmas event was last Saturday with Husband's family. It went like it usually did: bad food, too much alcohol and irritating relatives LOL. Unfortunately, little progress has been made with the hardwoods since we've been a bit under the weather. Oh well. It will keep.

Which brings us back to today, New Year's Eve. 2008 was an ok year. It was really busy, and I don't feel like I've had a chance to rest properly until this week. It was also very stressful. However, 2008 ends on a much different note than any of the past few years have. Last year I said that I wanted to be on the last stage of this journey: either we would be successful with surrogacy or getting ready to move on to adoption and knock on wood, I'm happy I've been able to keep that resolution. It's the little steps like that, being able to glimpse a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, that have kept me sane during this process. I feel like we have emerged from some of the darkness of the past few years. We're 18 weeks today and hopefully things will continue in 2009 as smoothly as they have so far.

May 2009 be good to us all. Have fun, be safe and I'll see you next year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Almost 17 Weeks and Happy Holidays

It has been a busy several days! My last day of work for 2008 was last Friday, and I was busy right up until I cut off my computer. Everyone seemed to have one last "little" (usually not-so-little) change they wanted made. I may dislike my job at times and wish I didn't allow it to cause me so much stress, but I do admit that I have a pretty nice situation working for a local university. We get several days off for the holidays and then a few years ago, they started closing the university for the other days. You have to use vacation for those extra days, but it's ok to me because I would have taken those days off anyway. I took a couple extra days off and won't return to work until 1/5/09! Happily, Christmas shopping is done and gifts are wrapped. I make goodie bags for family every year and will start that baking tomorrow.

In the meantime, Husband is working on installing hardwoods in what will become the guest room. The hardwoods symbolize our first major purchase for the baby. We had truly hideous carpet in our bedroom and the other two bedrooms, and we would either need to replace the carpet or do something different, and we decided to put in hardwoods. The current guest room will become the nursery, and the empty room (the one being worked on currently) will become the guest room. Perhaps not surprisingly, the first room is taking a LOT longer than anticipated. I made a deal with Husband that if he insisted on starting this project during the holidays, I would not help him (much) because he had been insisting for months that I needed to relax. Well, installing hardwoods is not my idea of relaxation! So I've done everything to prepare for Christmas, and he's been dealing with the prep in the first room. And on top of that, we think we might have sinuses infections.

We had our second OB appointment today, and it went well. It was supposed to be a fairly routine visit, but the doctor couldn't find the baby's HB consistently with the doppler, so we had another u/s! Reassuringly, the little heart was beating nicely, and we were able to get a classic profile picture of the baby. It really looks like a baby now. It wasn't moving as much as it had been during other u/s, but it did kick its legs and I think I see toes in our picture. Unfortunately, the u/s machine wasn't good enough to detect gender, so that will wait until our Jan. 19 appointment. And F is showing! It's so cute! We'll be 17 weeks on Wednesday, and it was a nice Christmas surprise to have another u/s. We had the quad screen bloodwork drawn, and I found out that unless something really worries them, we likely won't find out the results until our next appointment. I made sure that they used my age (31) for their calculations (because F is older and would technically be considered AMA at 36).

Husband and I have 4 sets of parents between us, so Christmas has already begun. We had dinner with my father and stepmother on Saturday and then Wednesday we travel to my hometown (near Winston-Salem) to spend Christmas Eve with my mother and stepfather. We'll go to my cousin's house on Christmas for brunch and then head back to our house later that day. And then on Dec. 27 we'll have Christmas with the in-laws. It makes for an exhausting week. I'm curious about how Christmas with my family is going to go. It's my mother's side of the family that has the two pg cousins (one of whom is hosting Christmas brunch) and the cousin who just gave birth last month. I am really, really ready to be excited and talk baby stuff non-stop but then another part of me still feels anxiety when I do. I think I'm just going to have to go with what feels right. Intriguingly, all of my cousins have had or are having boys. We are the only "unknown" gender right now. I'm trying to decide if those odds favor us to have a girl or if we will make the 4th boy. F still swears all her dreams are girls. Honestly, we don't care as long as it is healthy.

I hope all of you have wonderful holidays. I hope in some way this Christmas is different, better than what you experienced last year. I bought a tiny stocking for the baby while we were at Biltmore, and I felt panicky after I bought it, but it's up and hanging over my stocking, and I just need to embrace our situation. Last year I felt a tiny bit of hope that maybe Christmas 2008 would be different, and it is. This year, I feel even more (cautious) hope that Christmas 2009 will be even more different. May it be a good holiday for us all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Congrats to N!

I am so happy to be able to post that fellow IM N's surrogate gave birth to her twins on Monday. N and I met on another fertility board over a year ago and cycled together and experienced cycle failure together. Like me, she's an endo sufferer. I let my subscription lapse, and we fell out of touch. A few months later, a mutual friend emailed me and told me that N had decided to pursue surrogacy as well and gave me her email address. We started emailing, and it was such a great day last spring when I emailed her and found out that she was having twins via surrogacy. Her success helped me believe that surrogacy could work for us as well and that maybe it would be the answer to our prayers.

So, N, congratulations on the birth of your babies!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Greetings on this quiet (at least in my world) Wednesday! We are 15 weeks today! Sometimes I can't believe how quickly the last few weeks have passed, but I know I still have quite a bit of time to go. Yesterday, F told me that she is pretty sure she is feeling the baby move. She has felt it three times and says it feels like something is moving under her skin. This is her fifth pregnancy, so she's the expert! We were very excited to hear that he is moving.

I started back on the anti-anxiety medication on Friday and after a rough few days of being jittery and not sleeping, I think it's back in my system. I already feel calmer and more detached from some of my stressors, so I'm hoping my last few working weeks of 2008 can proceed smoothly and calmly and that I'll be able to relax over the holidays.

I went to a cookie exchange on Saturday, and it was mostly fun. I've known most of the women since 2001 when we met online planning our weddings. We soon met in person since we all live locally and have gotten together a few times a year at least since. Not surprisingly, I've pulled away from the group a little bit in the last 2 years because most of them have had babies, and it's just been too difficult. However, the cookie exchange is a tradition I try to participate in. they know about the surrogacy and eventually, the conversation moved to me and the latest news. I was a little bothered by some of their comments unfortunately. I mentioned that this baby was F's fifth pregnancy in reference to leaving some decision up to her, and one of the women commented, "So she's a pro" and then stopped, laughed and said, "She really IS a pro!" One of the women asked if F worked, and I told her that she was a SAHM and that her youngest had just started school this year. She commented, "Wow, how nice! I would love to get paid to sit and 'bake' a baby as my job!"

You can imagine my dismay. The whole conversation ruined some of my enjoyment of the day. For one thing, I bristle at the implication that surrogacy is a job and that we are F's employers. Sometimes I struggle to put into words the relationship we have with her because we are not family or friends (we didn't know her previously) and yes, we are paying her to carry our child. But it's not at all employer-employee. We' All the talk of it being a job and her being a professional seemed to cheapen our situation and relationship. I feel very protective of our surrogacy and path to parenthood.

I also feel bad because I didn't say anything to correct them when they made the comments. I've corrected people one-on-one in the past about surrogacy not being F's job, but I don't know why I didn't then. I consider this group of women to be fairly enlightened, so maybe it shocked me that they held some of the same misconceptions as others do about what surrogacy is. Also, I didn't feel completely in control of myself and responses due to the anti-anxiety medication, so I feared that my response would be less controlled than I liked. These women mean well. They are genuinely glad for us and would be upset if they knew I was hurt by their comments, so maybe that's why I didn't say anything. I guess in some ways I should be glad this situation occurred with people I like and in a fairly benign environment. It's good preparation for the comments we might receive once we announce our news at work and to the general public. Better start working on our answers...

Husband and I are headed to Asheville for the weekend on Friday for our annual trip to Biltmore House. We go almost every year for the Candlelight Christmas event and get sloshed at the winery. We've gone with friends and family in the past but really enjoy it just the two of us. I'm considering it a last hurrah for a while since we likely (hopefully!) won't be able to go next year. It's a special trip for us because we spent our honeymoon in Asheville, so it feels like an anniversary celebration every December we go.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Second Tri and NY Times Article

First of all, I hate my job. There, I've said it. I don't really hate my job as much as I hate the politics and people issues I have to deal with on a daily basis. But that's ok. I'm dealing with it and when I get my happy pills on Friday, I'll be able to deal with it even better. And I'll be able to deal with it even more in 11 days when I am on vacation for the rest of the year. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened; it's just been one of those weeks.

Anyhoo...we are 14 weeks today. I think that technically we are in the second trimester now? I know some calculators put us in the second trimester last week, but I know that we are definitely there by 14 weeks. Yay! F texted me today and told me she was going to send me a picture of her belly tonight b/c it's starting to pooch out. I can't wait to see it! She also had a pregnancy dream and told me that we had a girl who looked just like me with red peach fuzz and that her pregnancy gender dreams are never wrong. We'll know in January! I'm still referring to it as "he" to give it a gender and I'm politically incorrect having grown up in a time when "he" was the default gender neutral pronoun.

My school semester is creeping to its end as well. I'm done with one class and 90% done with the other. Our final project is a group project, and I'm waiting for a group member to submit his stuff. Then I will format it and send it off. Happily, this will be done by Friday at the latest though I had hoped to be able to finish up everything last night or today. After that, I will officially have 75% of my grad program completed. Everyone keeps asking if I will finish next year, and I smile and say "maybe" since I plan to withdraw for a year after the spring 2009 semester (withdrawing for a year stops the clock; otherwise I would lose a semester and they want you to finish within 5 years).

And now to the NY Times Magazine article about surrogacy: Her Body, My Baby by Alex Kuczynski. Several of my fellow surrogacy bloggers have blogged (fabulously I might add) about last week's NY Times article on surrogacy (N, Tabi, Kymberli), and I would like to add my two cents as well. I didn't read the comments in response to the article because I knew they would infuriate me, and in some ways, the article was bad enough. I applaud Ms. Kuczynski for putting it all out there. Her honesty was great and provided a thorough view of surrogacy from the IPs' perspective that you don't often encounter such as the crushing cycling failures and worries about feeling like a mother and even some jealousy about not being the pregnant one. I appreciated that since I think that sometimes what you read are the extreme stories of the Intended Mother (IM) resenting and envying her surrogate to the detriment of the relationship or the IM and surrogate being best friends with absolutely, positively no bad feelings or doubt. So kudos to you for that, Ms. Kuczynski.

However, ultimately I don't think that Ms. Kuczynski did the surrogacy community any favors. Her tone and comments at times were elitist (though honest). I cringed when I read that one of her reasons for picking her surrogate was because her application was word processed instead of handwritten, indicating a modicum of education and computer literacy. Ugh! Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I like to think that she was trying to dispell the notion that only poor, uneducated women become surrogates, but she ended up providing support for those surrogacy critics who believe surrogacy exploits women. It also didn't help that she made surrogacy appear to be something only the extremely wealthy could afford by flaunting her family's income, again providing support for exploitation claims.

I do not mean to insinuate the surrogacy is not expensive because it is and unfortunately the cost prevents a lot of couples from being able to pursue it. Often what gets lost is WHY surrogacy is (usually) compensated: another woman and her entire family are disrupting their lives for you for pretty much an entire year. And pregnancy is a 24/7 state. It's very easy to read some of the compensation figures and gasp, thinking negative things about both parties involved. But when you shift your thinking and start to realize all that is involved, I'm amazed compensation figures aren't higher. That I wish surrogacy was free? That would be nice :-) But I also wish that I didn't have to pay thousands for an IVF cycle and medication. Or $1000 to have my cyst aspirated last summer. Or $2000 for a laparoscopy. It would also have been nice to be able to have sex and bam, positive HPT. But it is what it is.

I guess what I am trying to say is that all the surrogacy articles seem to be about rich IPs and/or less well-off surrogates. It would be great to have an article about the majority of IPs who have struggled and sacrificed and received help from family and held yard sales and bake sales and gotten second jobs to be able to attempt surrogacy, to be able to attempt to make their dream come true. These are the same people who would likely have to scrimp and save and sacrifice in order to come up with the costs for an adoption as well, yet that is somehow more acceptable. The IPs who wait years before being able to cycle because they have to save the money first. Are there rich IPs? Of course there are. But based on what I read, the majority of IPs are not. I hoped that the article's emphasis on the writer's feelings throughout the process would help the perception of surrogacy, but I have realized that is doubtful because as a surrogacy insider, I respond to her feelings but to the general public, that part of the journey is lost behind her elitist, nasty comments and the money issue.