Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflecting on 2015

2015 sure was an interesting year. 

The year started out with us being disappointed that our 2 embryo transfers with 2 different surrogates did not work in India.  We were getting ready to ship our 4 remaining embryos over and try again.

Then, like it seems to always do, things changed.

A family member offered to be our gestational carrier in January. 

I admit that I did not get very excited about this at first....we've been burned a couple of times before. 

But then things started to fall into place.  Her paperwork got sent in to the clinic.  The clinic approved her medically.  The psychological screening came back OK.  We all met to discuss contract terms.  We all worked with a lawyer to execute a contact.  We had our consent signing.  Our GC started her medications.  Our GC's lining looked good.  One embryo made it to day 5.  One embryo was transferred.  We had a positive first beta.  We had a positive second beta.  There was a heartbeat at 5 weeks.   The Harmony test came back negative.  The nuchal scan came back negative.  We made it out of the first trimester.  The quad screen came back negative.  We made it out of the second trimester.

By yearend our little guy was doing well - measuring right on track and so far seems normal and healthy.

Who would have thought?  Especially not us.

What a difference a year makes! 

Monday, December 21, 2015

I'm Back!

Last week I received an email letting me know about the upcoming meeting of the Infertility Support Group that I had regularly attended.  Included in the notice was that the leader of the group was stepping down as of the first of the year and that they were looking for volunteers to to lead the group in order to keep it going.

I was dismayed surprised to see this.  The group had been so helpful for me and for so many other people.  What would happen if no one stepped up to lead and the group went on hiatus?

I admit that I had thought about coming back to help with the group since it had been so helpful to me, but the timing right now was not great.  There was no way that I could commit to leading with Baby S coming right around the corner.

I decided to respond that I would be interested in helping out, but only in a co-leading capacity, and that I would need to take a couple of months off around the birth.  Best I could do.

Luckily there were a couple of other women in a similar boat - those who wanted to help keep the group going, but just couldn't do it all themselves.  They were happy with co-leading and could cover the couple of months that I would not be able to attend.

Our contact information just went up on the website, so it's official....

....I'M BAAAAACK!!!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Very Special Hospital Tour

Sometimes being pregnant via a gestational carrier has its perks.  One of these perks is that we got our own personal hospital tour.

When I met with a lactation consultant a while back she mentioned that adoptive and intended parents can get their own room at the hospital when the baby is born so that the baby can room in with them.  I was ecstatic to hear this since the days and really hours after birth can be crucial in beginning to establish a breastfeeding.  Being able to stay at the hospital and have our baby room in with us would give us time for bonding right away.

I called the hospital to find out what we needed to do to "reserve" our room.  The care coordinater that I spoke with was so happy that I had called.  She explained that they would start a file for us with all of our paperwork and that we were encouraged to come in for a special tour for just us and our GC to go over any questions.

That is pretty cool.  Our own special tour!

We are very lucky that in Minneapolis there is a third party reproduction agency that has worked with several surrogates/gestational carriers.  And, that the agency encourages births at our hospital.  So, our hospital is well versed in surrogate/gestational carrier births.  Since there are less than 1,000 surrogate/gestational carrier births across the entire US each year, we are very lucky that our hospital hosts around 10 of those each year.

Our care coordinator was awesome.  She answered all of our and our GC's questions and was very reassuring that all of our needs would be met during and after the birth process.  She went through our file and made sure that all of our paperwork to date was in order and even contacted our lawyer for us to ensure that everything would be ready for the time of our birth.

So, there is a perk to living where we live :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Tale of Two Teris

Today we are at 28 weeks gestation. If all continues to go well, we will meet our son in about 12 weeks. Our journey to parenthood has been long and often rocky. We have experienced miscarriages, IVF, and gestational surrogacy. Since I am unable to carry a child to term, our little bun is actually in someone else's oven. Our gestational carrier is someone who is very close and who we love very much. We are very blessed to have someone so special in our lives who is sacrificing much to give us such a special gift.

Today I broke my infertility silence on Facebook.

Although I have been very open with my infertility struggles online, I have done so anonymously, under my alter-ego "Nothing is Certain Except Death and Taxes".  (Which is a bastardized Ben Franklin quote for those of you who didn't already know.

I have basically been living a double life - "Infertility Teri" is active both online and at her local support group.  She bares her soul surrounding her struggles with infertility and shares her story in the hopes that it will inspire and help others who are struggling. "Regular Teri" works in corporate taxes, is a perfectionist, loves to cook and do crafts, supports the opera and local theater, and is a bit of a sci-fi nerd.  She likes to keep things all running smoothly and rarely bares her soul to anyone.

The two Teris sometimes meet and a few people know both, but it is not very many people.

Both Teris are sensitive, secretly fear rejection, and generally just want to be liked and get along with most people.  (As are most people).

"Infertility Teri" exists in the sphere of the world of the infertile.  In this place everyone there has struggled with miscarriages, third party reproduction, fertility treatments, month after month of negative pregnancy tests and disappointment (for some all of the above).  Everyone is understanding and supportive since they "get it" because they have "been there".

"Regular Teri" exists in the sphere of the "real world".  In this place few have struggled with infertility if anything at all and they are not going to share even if they have.  This is the world of the 7 in 8 couples who get pregnant easily and many times accidentally, and these pregnancies end with a healthy baby instead of heartbreak.  Many people are not understanding and supportive since they do not "get it" because they have not "been there".

I know that I am generalizing and that there are a lot of really good people out there.  It is just that they tend to be sprinkled with, if not outnumbered by, a lot of jerks.

Since "Teri" has struggled and has sometimes been hurt by the careless (but usually not intentional) remarks of others, she tries to protect herself by not sharing herself unless she trusts the individual with whom she is sharing.  For her there is a lot more trust in the world of the infertile.

But, in order to there to be trust, there needs to be sharing.  Sometimes we need to take a leap of faith and share.  It can be scary, but often when we do we find that there are more caring people than jerks out there in the real world.

The Facebook post was my leap of faith.

At 20 weeks I had announced (through the mail and on Facebook) that we were expecting.  I just had not filled in all of the details as to how we were expecting.

Announcing the pregnancy itself was a pretty big deal as that meant that I believed that the pregnancy was going to produce a healthy baby instead of ending in heartbreak.  This is a hard concept for those who have suffered a prior pregnancy loss to believe.  We tend to believe that the pregnancy will end too soon, just as our other one had.  Until we are holding a healthy baby in our arms we just don't believe that it exists.  A "prove it" pregnancy.

At 20 weeks I still wasn't completely convinced that the pregnancy would indeed produce a healthy child, but I also realized that it was "time" to announce.  20 weeks is halfway there and most people have announced by this point.

Although I was "ready" to announce the pregnancy itself, I was not ready to share all of the details.  I was scared to tell the world the truth - that I was not the one carrying this pregnancy.  How would they react?  Would I receive support or damnation?  I did not know.  I also struggle with the fact that I cannot carry a pregnancy.  Too often with infertility comes self doubt and even shame.

Our fantastic counselor helped me to realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of - that this pregnancy was a beautiful thing and really something of a miracle.  This was our last chance - our last embryo that the doctors did not have high hopes for.  Somehow it has made it and is here today because someone loved us enough to endure legal contracts, dozens of intramuscular hormone shots, morning sickness, back pain, and near constant heartburn (just to name a few things).  This IS a beautiful thing that should be celebrated.  If people don't understand this, they are probably people that we shouldn't have in our lives anyway.

The response to my post was overwhelmingly positive.  People were genuinely happy for us and commented that this was a happy and inspiring ending to our story.

Maybe it is OK for the two Teris to meet after all.....