Search results for

Shop my Favorites

June 24, 2014
Infertility, Surrogacy

How to find a surrogate on your own

June 22, 2014

Several people have asked me recently how to find a surrogate on your own without using an agency, so I thought I’d share my ideas since we did surrogacy independent of an agency.  An agency was not an option for us because it was way too expensive.  While I do think you have to put some effort into finding a surrogate on your own, I will be the first to admit that what you really need is a healthy dose of good luck.

For more information about the whole surrogacy process, see my post Guide to gestational surrogacy in Virginia.

Ideas for finding a surrogate

  1. Tell everyone you know!  Share this with friends and family on a one-on-one basis as you see people. Share your story and your interest in pursuing surrogacy and ask if they know of anyone.  This will also serve to ask them indirectly as well. If people don’t know you are infertile, if they don’t know your story, if they don’t know you are specifically looking for a surrogate; how on earth would they offer to help or connect you with the right person?  The more information, the better. People really do want to help.  They will emotionally connect with your story and will want to help you if only to share your story.  IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE, THIS WOULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT!  If you can’t do this, which is fine, you really might have to consider using an agency instead.  Most intended parents I know end up using a family member, a friend or a friend of a friend.  They got the word out and someone volunteered.  This is where the luck parts comes in.  We aren’t all that lucky.  If not, keep reading.
  2. Make sure your clinic knows of your interest in this as well.  Hopefully, you’ve already talked to them about it.  Ask them if they know of anyone interested.
  3. Call around to area churches and speak to the pastors and tell them you are interested in pursuing this and see if they know of anyone.
  4. Post about it on social media. This requires you to be open about it, but if you want to find a surrogate on your own, you will have to break out of your comfort zone.
  5. Set up a Google alert for surrogacy and check out articles in major newspapers, magazines or websites published online regarding surrogacy. If it allows comments, say that you are looking for a surrogate and share your URL or email. A friend did this for me and I was contacted by seven women right after she did that.  They were all over the country and who knows how serious they were, but it opened a lot of doors. We didn’t pursue any of these people, because we were already pursuing things with Nicole.
  6. Consider creating a website — use wordpress.com, which is free and easy. Use this to market yourselves to potential surrogates. We created a website to market ourselves for potential surrogates and adoption matches.
  7. Create a Facebook page and asked friends/family to share — we had 300 likes in 3 days. (A bunch of strangers liked our page, which was perfect because it expanded our reach.)
  8. Make a pitch to your local media — TV, magazines and newspapers.  Share your infertility story and tell them you need their help to find the perfect person.
  9. Join my Surrogacy Meet-up group on Facebook that I created to help intended parents and gestational carriers find one another.  No promises, just trying to help.  Also, search for other Facebook groups on surrogacy.
  10. Surrogacy Forums – there are several and I checked them out, but never felt right about using them.  Seemed so spammy or just people looking to make money.  Not only could we not afford a high rate, but we didn’t want someone who was only doing it for the money.  I just never could get into these websites.

It’s a hard process, because you can’t do anything to move the process forward at times.  It took us a year and a half to find a surrogate and get started.  In the end, we got really lucky with our surrogate. But, that first year and a half was fraught with many hits and misses.  We thought it would never happen!

A few of our misses:

  • We had a family member who volunteered, but since she hadn’t had a live birth (which is a legal requirement in Virginia), she was not eligible.
  • We had a very close friend who was interested and we talked about it, but ultimately it never went anywhere because her husband wasn’t on board.
  • We had an acquaintance volunteer, but her health insurance was so bad that it was literally worse than having no insurance.  She had a $10,000 deductible, which would have required us to pay all of the pre-natal and birth costs.
  • We had someone volunteer that we didn’t trust because they admitted some marijuana use.
  • We had people contact us online, but they weren’t really serious.  They were just beginning to consider it.  Or, they wanted $20,000, which was way more than we could pay.
  • We had a woman call our clinic to express interest and they put us in touch.  It seemed to be a match made in heaven, but after going through many of the steps with her (counseling, medical), she backed out right before we were to start the cycle because her husband changed his mind.  Yes, even after he went through counseling and they were cleared.  (View my post on the aftermath of that.)

But, we finally hit the jackpot!  One random day, I received a Facebook message from a girl that had read my “Guide to Gestational Surrogacy in Virginia” on my website.  She was interested in being a carrier and really connected with our story.  She offered to carry for us.  When she first saw the post, it mentioned that we were already matched at that time.  Later, she came back to my website, clicked around and discovered that our match fell through and then she contacted me. Whoa! What if I had never written that article?!?!?! What if she hadn’t come back to it?  Here’s the post I wrote about how my surrogate and I found one another.

Screening Surrogates

Just because you find someone willing, doesn’t mean it will work or that it’s a good match.  I recommend asking all of the tough questions right off the bat.  For me, there was that flutter every time someone new showed some interest, but I also knew many of the pitfalls from the past, so I wanted to get right to the point.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I got through these things.

  1. Read up on your state’s laws.  In Virginia, a woman must have had a live birth to be able to be a gestational carrier.  I think this law stinks.  Sure, it would be great if your potential GC was proven, but what about my cousin who was young, healthy, unmarried and willing?  Not fair.  But, better to know the laws up front, before getting your hopes up.  I would suggest going ahead and finding a good experienced surrogacy attorney as soon as possible.  They can help you understand your state’s laws so you’ll be better prepared.
  2. Ask about the things that would be deal-breakers for you. For me that was…
    1. Money –  We couldn’t pay the average rate of $20,000.  More like half that.
    2. Drugs & Alcohol  – We needed to know that the surrogate didn’t use drugs at all and that both would be strictly avoided during pregnancy.
    3. Willing to try more than once.  We needed to know that if she didn’t get pregnant on the first try, that she would be willing to try at least one more time.  Once you have paid the lawyer and done the counseling, a lot of money has already been spent on this one person and situation.  It isn’t that much more costly to do a second cycle once that stuff is out of the way.
    4. Does her family support this? Is she married?  Make sure her husband it on board.  NOW. Don’t wait to find out later.  Talk to him yourself, too. This proved to be the roadblock in two cases for us.
    5. Lifestyle – What’s her family like? What’s her daily routine? What are her eating habits?
  3. Insurance – You want to see what her insurance situation is.  This could have been a deal-breaker for us, too, depending on the finances.  You want to make sure that her policy doesn’t exclude surrogacy.  You want to make sure her insurance will pay for a pregnancy.  (See my Guide to Gestational Surrogacy post for more info.)  In both of the cases with serious surrogates, my attorney reviewed the GC’s insurance, but I wanted to do my own research first or least have an idea of what to expect.
  4. Search for them on social media and see what you can find out.
  5. Consider a background check.
  6. Later, you will likely be required to have them screened by a psychologist and go through counseling.

I would love to hear your stories.  Please comment below.

Resources + Connect

Ellis & Cole

Tutus and seersucker

June 11, 2014

Cole and Ellis are almost 8 months old now.  It’s shocking how fast these months go and how much they change.  I still look at them and can’t believe they are here.  They were just a dream for so long that it doesn’t feel real.

We had gorgeous photos taken by Owens-Lugar again for their 6 month birthday.  I wanted them to be classic and timeless, so we went with bright and light with a pink tutu for Ellis and a seersucker bowtie for Cole.  I found it all on etsy, of course.

image 215  image 264 image 050 image 079 image 114 image 168

image 212

image 259

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy

154 Advocates. 27 States.

May 11, 2014

Another Advocacy Day has come and gone. And, it was the biggest one yet!  It was a lot of work these last several months to co-chair the event, but it was so worth it. I couldn’t have asked for a better team than RESOLVE, a better co-chair than Jen and a better mentor than Risa.  And, thanks to all of them for giving me the opportunity.

154 Advocates from 27 states attending 160 meetings on the hill.  2300 + letters from all 50 states.

I’m so proud of our team and of every single person who came. I met some really great people.  I regret not being able to spend more time with some and not able to meet others at all. It really was a whirlwind.

My remarks 

IMG_9322

“Today, infertility comes out of the closet. Today, you get to actually do something about your infertility. You will put a face to this disease and educate congress about this healthcare crisis we are all facing. Today we stop being victims of our disease, and start being advocates for our community.

Our work today can’t be an isolated moment in time. It’s going to require some endurance on our part. My step-mother-in-law told me that she didn’t think we’d be having to fight for something like this today, like she was doing back in the 60s/70s. Well, here we are today and it does fall to us to fight for this — let’s make sure it doesn’t fall to the children that we all want so badly.

I want to share a favorite quote by Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

A silent disease will yield silent results, so it’s going to take ALL of us to speak up! I invite you to find your voice today. You will turn your personal struggle into something more. I’m proud that you are not only here today, but that you guys are also leaders in a grassroots movement of mobilizing your peers to speak up and take action as well. WE ARE BUILDING A MOVEMENT!

For those of you that are feeling overwhelmed with all of the information and think you can’t do this or are nervous…are you kidding? No, what’s hard is what you’re going through, what we’ve all been through…all of those tests, injections, trying to burrow out of your homestudy paperwork, trying to get through beta day, waiting on a adoption match, suffering miscarriages, AND, paying for it all out of pocket…that’s hard. We’ve already done the hard work.

You have real grievances and you have a right to be heard by those representing you in Congress. You are making an impact and bringing this disease to life with your presence here today and your story.

You have an important story to tell, a mostly untold one. So, go do it with your heads held high.”

Showing up is half the battle

RESOLVE decided to make us an appointment with Puerto Rico’s Representative in Congress.  Hey, cool…why not? We were supposed to meet with his aide. We arrived and introduced ourselves with a flurry of Spanish being spoken around us.  This isn’t your typical Congressional office.

IMG_9443

I went in thinking we will ask him to help on the island somehow, we’ll ask him to use his influence with other voting members of Congress, especially the latinos, for our bills.  However, he can do more than we thought.  He can vote in committee, sponsor and co-sponsor; he just can’t vote on the House floor.

The receptionist took us winding through the halls of Rayburn and into Longworth where they had a Judiciary hearing happening.  She set us up in the Judiciary Library to wait for the staffer we were meeting with.

IMG_9459

We’re hanging out admiring the room we are in and then the door opens and it’s Rep. Pedro Pierluisi himself.  He says,

Am I the one you’re looking for?  Is it ok if you meet with me instead?

Uh, yea!

We told him what we were there to talk about and he stopped us and told us he had a heart for this issue. We went over the three bills and he said he supported all of it and would co-sponsor all three.  I hope I had my poker face on, but Erick and I looked at each other and with our eyes said, “Holy crap! Did he just say what I thought he said?”

He wrote on the RESOLVE flyer — “Please add me as a co-sponsor on these three bills.” and signed it.   Then, he interrupted his staffer in the hearing to come out and take a picture of us all three together.  And, he gave him the RESOLVE flyer and instructed him to sign him up to co-sponsor.

IMG_9466-001

IMG_9468

Un-freaking believable.  We left there shocked.  I would love to take credit and say that I gave him an impassioned speech or convinced him with data, but the reality is that WE SHOWED UP and got lucky.  He already cared about the issue.  This is important, but not always enough for some elected officials.

Here’s the key take-away — if we had not come to DC to meet with him, he wouldn’t have co-sponsored these bills. Showing up.  That’s what we did.  I’ll take it.  That’s why we need MORE people to show up!

Sometimes you get lucky, like we did, or sometimes you have to keep coming back and keep talking about it.  Ahem…all of my reps in Virginia.

Our Virginia meetings

IMG_9422

IMG_9436

So, my Virginia meetings couldn’t be any more different from our Puerto Rico meeting.  I’ve been meeting with these offices for three or four years.  This time, Senator Warner’s chief of staff sat in on our meeting  because he saw it on the agenda and he cares about these issues.  So, that was a nice surprise and we had a frank conversation about everything.  Senator Warner is vehemently opposed to tax credits right now and wants to see what will happen with the broader tax reform.  Does he care about infertility? I don’t know, but even if he did, he’s not going to support a tax credit right now.  Ok, fair enough.  Disappointing, but not unexpected.

It’s my job to stay on task and not get disappointed and give up.  It’s my job to keep following up and keep the conversation open and determine if there is there anything else he can do to help.  It’s my job to be a resource to him on these issues.

Moving forward

I’m so proud of EVERYONE — those still fighting infertility, those that have resolved, the lobbyists, the doctors, the fertility professionals — that we all came together as a community.  We did good work this week.  We don’t have final numbers or official results quite yet, but we heard of lots of verbal promises to co-sponsor these bills.  We have four Senators and Reps that are supporting all three now.  We made an impact and we’ll keep at it for as long as it takes.

Photos

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery gallery_type="thumbnails_masonry" theme_id="1" gallery_id="4" sort_by="order" order_by="asc" masonry_hor_ver="vertical" image_column_number="5" images_per_page="30" image_enable_page="0" thumb_width="375" thumb_height="90" popup_fullscreen="1" popup_autoplay="0" popup_width="800" popup_height="500" popup_effect="fade" popup_interval="5" popup_enable_filmstrip="0" popup_filmstrip_height="70" popup_enable_ctrl_btn="0" popup_enable_fullscreen="1" popup_enable_comment="1" popup_enable_facebook="1" popup_enable_twitter="1" popup_enable_google="1" watermark_type="none" watermark_link="http://web-dorado.com"]

View all of my Advocacy Day photos.

Resources 

Connect

Ellis & Cole

Easter

April 24, 2014

We had a really good Easter this year as we have much to be thankful for: Ellis and Cole of course and my hip surgery recovery.  Easter is a time that I always think of life and death because of the resurrection and I’m still so amazed by the gift of life with our children.

We had a great day at church and with family.  I’m going to share a few photos.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery gallery_type="thumbnails_masonry" theme_id="1" gallery_id="2" sort_by="order" order_by="asc" masonry_hor_ver="vertical" image_column_number="5" images_per_page="30" image_enable_page="1" thumb_width="375" thumb_height="90" popup_fullscreen="1" popup_autoplay="0" popup_width="800" popup_height="500" popup_effect="fade" popup_interval="5" popup_enable_filmstrip="0" popup_filmstrip_height="70" popup_enable_ctrl_btn="0" popup_enable_fullscreen="0" popup_enable_comment="1" popup_enable_facebook="0" popup_enable_twitter="0" popup_enable_google="0" watermark_type="none" watermark_link="http://web-dorado.com"]

Infertility, Miscarriage

Resolve to know more about recurrent pregnancy loss

April 21, 2014

Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) isn’t really a popular topic and not something I thought I would experience after having trouble getting pregnant.  Who knew that getting pregnant was only a small step in the right direction?

Recurrent pregnancy loss is a distinct disease from infertility and is defined by two or more failed pregnancies. Some people experience both infertility and loss, like me, and others experience one or the other.

For me, recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility are one and the same.  They are what kept me from bringing a baby home from the hospital for seven long years.   I am infertile and while IVF helped me conceive, I miscarried every time. Recurrent loss is the ultimate problem for me.

Most miscarriages are due to an abnormal embryo — an unlucky accident, with no underlying medical issue, unless your specific issue is age-related or egg quality related.  But, if you have miscarried three times, it is quite unlikely that this is due to three abnormal pregnancies, but rather one specific abnormality or underlying condition.

According to ASRM, although approximately 25% of all recognized pregnancies result in miscarriage, less than 5% of women will experience two consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% experience three or more.

I, of course, am that 1%.

I miscarried five times.  We eventually moved on to gestational surrogacy.

In 50-75% of women with repeated miscarriages, doctors can find no cause for the losses. There may be clues, but no concrete answer.  This was the case with me, as we had treated my clotting disorder and I still miscarried. Because our embryos were thought to be high quality, we could only assume that the problem was with my uterine environment and involved a highly complex reproductive immunological issue.

Testing

Sometimes, doctors or insurance companies will recommend testing after three losses, but I couldn’t disagree more.  I highly recommend advocating for yourself to have the necessary testing done after two losses.  Why risk another loss at this point if you could possibly avoid it?

For more information about possible reasons for RPL and available testing, check out the extensive post I wrote on recurrent miscarriage testing .

Dealing with Loss

Dealing with both infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss seemed cruel and unfair to me.  While infertility was emotionally exhausting, dealing with loss after loss, along with infertility, was truly devastating.  My worst triggers always are related to my losses.  Don’t underestimate the emotional toll that recurrent loss will take on you.  Take time to grieve and do it in your own time.  Seek out support from others that have been through the same thing.  A couple of good websites are Still Standing MagazineFaces of Loss and Carly Marie Project Heal.

Learn More

I have written this post for RESOLVE’s “Resolve to know more” theme in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 20 -27, 2014). If you know someone experiencing infertility or loss, consider taking it upon yourself to learn even more about the disease.  You can go to RESOLVE’s Infertility 101 to find out more.

Resources + Connect

Photo by Carly Marie Project Heal

PAO Surgery Milestones & Observations

April 9, 2014

For my recovery, I wanted to record how I felt, some observations in general and when I was able to start doing new things. I’m hoping this will help me for my second surgery and maybe help some of you be aware of what can happen and a timetable for recovery.  Of course, we’re all very different and this varies for everyone. I was 36 at the time of my surgery.

Post Surgery in hospital

  • I was in a lot less pain than I expected. Pain was well controlled with an epidural and a Dilaudid PCA pump.  I woke up from surgery in some pain, but they quickly took care of it.
  • I slept a lot – like all day.  I could hardly stay awake.
  • I was SO, SO stiff.  I described at as having steel poured into me and I couldn’t bend.
  • The internal clunking in my hip was very disconcerting.
  • I was very itchy all over and they constantly were giving me Benadryl and other drugs to help.
  • I felt nauseated the first day, but it was controlled with meds, too.  But, I told them ahead of time to load me up on anti-nausea meds.  By the second day, I was able to eat.
  • On Day 2, I sat up and stood for the first time and thought I would pass out.
  • On Day 3, I walked.  I walked all the way down the hall and back.  It was hard and totally exhausted me.
  • On Day 4, I was unable to walk any more? I couldn’t advance my leg.  I could only use my foot to inch it long or someone had to pick my foot up and move it for me.
  • Had some muscle spasms in glutes.  They gave me muscle relaxers.

First two weeks at home +

  • Very stiff
  • Numbness and nerve damage on op leg: inside of thigh and bottom of thigh ok, middle of thigh and top of knee are super sensitive to the touch, outer thigh is numb (from day one post-op to current day…no change); Also top of big toe on op leg is numb
  • Hard to lay down flat.  It would hurt at first until muscles stretched out a little.
  • Hard to sit straight.  It hurt and I was so swollen that I would tilt to the non-op side.
  • Crazy numbness in foot and calves at night.  This drove me crazy and would hurt and feel so uncomfortable.  I would sleep in the bed for like two hours and then go to the living room recliner for another venue and to help my legs and feet feel better.
  • Can’t sleep hardly at all.  Sleep for only two hours at time.  So, so uncomfortable.  Can only sleep on my back and I’m not a back sleeper.  Calves and feet hurt from weird numbness.  Leg feels “restless” and I just want to rip it off.  Strange, I know…it’s hard to describe.  Pain in hip from muscles not being stretched out enough.
  • Can’t sleep with the sheet and duvet.  It presses on my feet and hurts. I had to strip the bedding and just use blankets.
  • I could not have possibly imagined how constipated I would be.  Ugh.  Thanks, anesthesia and narcotics.
  • I felt really hunched in my pelvis area.  My butt would stick out and it was like I couldn’t stand up all the way straight. Plus, I felt tight when standing straight.
  • I used the wheelchair to get around since I still can’t walk at all. (For about the first two weeks.)
  • My hands would hurt so bad, from using the wheelchair and the walker.  My shoulders, too.
  • Would get cold and get a shiver and it would like roll around in my hip and thigh for much longer than a typical shiver.  Very strange.  (This was for about the first 6 weeks.)
  • My chest would feel funny sometimes.  Like heavy especially when standing or taking a deep breath.  This lasted for about the first 5 weeks.

Two weeks post-op

  • I was finally able to advance my left foot/leg forward.  Previously, I could only use my foot to inch it long or someone had to pick my foot up and move it for me. Started using the walker to walk around more.

Three weeks post-op

  • While laying flat, I was able to slide my op leg so that my knee was up and bent.
  • Was finally able to get into bed by myself.
  • Still taking pain meds every three hours, but only one pill instead of two.
  • Don’t feel hunched any more and look straight when standing in profile on op side.

Four weeks post-op

  • Was able to stop the coumadin and stop wearing the compression stockings.
  • Had my first post-op with my surgeon and they were pleased with progress. I have good bone growth on all of the breaks. My surgeon’s office is three hours away and I dreaded the car ride.  It wasn’t too bad.  I took lots of pillows. I went to five public restrooms on my own and even out to lunch after the appointment.
  • Taking pain meds every four hours, and went up to 6 hours sometimes.
  • Feel like I can bear more weight now.
  • Went up and down steps for first time with crutches.
  • Able to finally march in place now.  Previously I couldn’t lift my op leg at all.
  • Slept 3 hours one night and then up, another 1 hour, up and another 2 hours.

5 weeks post-op

  • My other non-op hip started hurting.  Yes, it’s dysplastic too, but the other one always hurt more.  Clearly it’s hurting from all of the compensation.  It got better after a few days.
  • Totally ditched the wheelchair and use the walker only inside the house unless I need to carry a baby from point A to point B.  Using crutches outside of house.
  • Finally able to lay on my non-op side.  It feels great those first few minutes just to know that I can be in another position, but it isn’t very comfortable and I can only lay like that for about 30 minutes.  Also, this is laying on my other bad hip that hasn’t been fixed and it wasn’t even comfy to lay on prior to surgery.
  • Taking 3-4 pain pills per day now.  (every 6-8 hours)
  • Sitting is getting easier.  Can sit for longer periods of time. Don’t feel tilted so much. Still hurts, but getting better.

6 weeks post-op

  • Feeling very depressed and going stir-crazy.  I had only left the house 3 times up until now – once to my post-op, once to the ER and once to my grandmother’s.  (NOTE: I have twin infants at home, so that had the majority to do with me not leaving the house.)
  • Taking 2-3 pain pills per day. (Every 8-12 hours)

7 weeks post-op

  • Only taking one pain pill per day now.  First thing in the morning when I get up around 4:30 – 5:30.  I feel awful in the mornings and both legs are achy and restless.  It helps me settle down and get comfortable.
  • Sitting became worse again this week. It really bothered me to be going backwards in recovery.  It got better after several days.
  • Took two major outings this week.  One to the grocery store — I used the electric cart!  And, one to my husband’s company Christmas dinner at a fancy restaurant.  We didn’t stay the whole time, because I was becoming uncomfortable, even though the chair was really soft and nice.
  • Still can’t wear my jeans — I’m still swollen (or my body has permanently changed?) and it’s too rough up against scar area.  I can button them, but they feel awful and tight.  Will I wear sweatpants for the rest of my life?
  • Sleep is still TERRIBLE.  This is making me crazy.  It might even be worse now!  Sometimes I only sleep for one hour at a time. I’m so unbelievably uncomfortable that it’s painful.  I can lay on my stomach, but it doesn’t feel good.  Nothing feels good pretty much.

8 weeks post-op

  • Ditched pain meds completely.  At least for now. Fingers crossed.
  • Feeling more mobile — able to do things that I previously could better.  Like getting in and out of a car is much easier.  In and out of bed.  Steps.  Showering.  Etc.
  • Able to help out more with household chores — like emptying dishwasher
  • Able to feed the babies without pain or weakness

 9 weeks post-op

  • Sitting is finally getting better.  I can sit in normal chairs and not be so uncomfortable. I can sit for longer periods of time.
  • I can get in and out of the car much better.
  • I can FINALLY sleep better.  I was able to figure out a way to sleep on my non-op side more comfortably.  Previously it hurt the muscles on my op side and my bad hip on non-op side that needs operated on.  I sleep half on stomach and half on my side with a pillow between my legs.  I’m not sleeping back to normal and not all the way through the night, but a million times better than before.

10 weeks post-op

  • Just feeling more mobile in general
  • Walking more without crutch or walker for short stretches around the house, with a major limp.
  • Only using one crutch outside the house.
  • No change to nerve damage and numb areas
  • Feeling muscles kick back in in my glutes

12 weeks post-op (3 months)

  • Lots more activity. Navigating around the house without walking aid — limping though.  Cooking, carrying babies…resuming normal life.

14 weeks post-op

  • First straight leg raise.  Not very far or pretty, but I did it.  This was a huge victory!
  • Returned to work – would have been at 12 weeks, but had an issue with permission from doctor to return because they cancelled an appointment.
  • Bone growth looks great.  My surgeon is happy with xray and exam.

4 months post-op

  • Feeling stronger and more normal, but still walking with limp
  • Able to get on the floor to sit and play with kids more regularly and get up better
  • Flexion is not what I’d like it to be but surgeon and PT think it’s great.
  • My knee and quad turns in when I bring my knees to my chest (or close to)
Ellis & Cole

Photo Update

April 8, 2014

Ellis and Cole are nearly 6 months now!  I am thoroughly enjoying my role as a mom and embracing it. I thought I’d share a few photos…

 

Infertility

Reflecting

March 11, 2014

On this day one year ago, our surrogate told us that she had taken a positive pregnancy test.

We were so elated and hopeful. Thinking back to how we were feeling is incredibly emotional. I have been shocked at how emotional I am today.

I think I am finally realizing this is all over.  Life has been crazy and wonderful and a total blur as well.  I am just now processing it all.

It’s over.

I don’t have to constantly wonder if I will ever be a parent. I don’t have to do any more hormone injections. I don’t have to debate whether or not to keep trying. I don’t have to drive 6 hours round-trip to the reproductive endocrinologist for every visit.  I don’t have to suffer another miscarriage (God willing). I don’t have to wonder if I will burst into tears for an untimely pregnancy announcement.  There’s so much that was a part of my life that I don’t have to do any more.

Sure, I will still remember it all and certain things will sting every now and again.  But, not like they used to.

It’s actually over.  I feel like I can stop holding my breath and finally exhale and let it all go.  All of the pent up frustration, sadness, anger.  It can all go.

It’s crazy to think about all that we went through and we had no idea if it would ever work out.  But, we did it anyway, even when things seemed bleak.  We are one of the lucky ones.  We made it through.  Through our own persistence, through being lucky to afford treatment, through the ultimate kindness of a young woman and by the grace of God.

Infertility sucks so bad and now my heart hurts for everyone out there that is struggling.

Infertility, Infertility Advocacy, Surrogacy

The Attack on Surrogacy

February 13, 2014

I’m tired of reading about how surrogacy is unethical and not in the best interest of women.  I think these are lame cop-out reasons that detractors give and that some of the real reasons behind their attacks are the ridiculous personhood madness and to prevent gay couples from having children.  Regardless of why, as someone who is infertile and who needed gestational surrogacy to have children, I resent this. I resent that people are trying to take away this crucial family-building option.

I resent opponents and lawmakers using personhood to sneakily take on abortion and as a result take away my ability to treat my disease using IVF.  To take an anti-family issue and use it against my pro-family issue.  I take this personally as the personhood fight was brought to Virginia and I testified before the Senate committee against personhood.

I also resent opponents trying to ban surrogacy as a way to prevent gay couples (especially men) from having children.  I won’t comment on this issue as it’s a separate topic, but again I take offense that the ability to treat my disease would be banned as a result.  My issue is that I feel like the innocent bystander who would be a casualty of this war.  What about the infertile women and men in heterosexual marriages?

The reasons that the opponents give against surrogacy are flimsy.

Recently, a bill was introduced in Kansas that would have made surrogacy illegal.  Fortunately, it was later withdrawn by its sponsor, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook.  “Surrogacy undermines the dignity of women, children and human reproduction,” said Jennifer Lahl, president of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture.

Proponents of the bill in Kansas said that it exploits women, that only poor women become surrogates.  I heartily disagree.  Women in this country can decide for themselves if they want to become a surrogate. Why take away their freedom to decide? What? Women are too stupid to decide for themselves?

Most clinics will not even move forward with surrogacy without a legal contract in place and without the surrogate and intended parents going through counseling. In Virginia, it’s even illegal to pay a surrogate; you can only reimburse her for expenses.

Supporters of the bill, such as Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, argued that surrogate contracts make children into a commodity. “You don’t see a lot of women who are not poor signing up to be surrogate mothers,” he said. “It seems on its face to be very exploitative.”

My surrogate carried our babies because she wanted to help an infertile couple.  It was not about money for her. She is not poor and this was not a job for her, but rather an act of love. In my opinion, one of the greatest gifts of love that you could give or receive.

I don’t deny that there are some women out there to make money.  While that situation wasn’t right for me, it works for some.  It’s a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more adults that does not exploit the surrogate.  One becomes a parent and one is paid for their trouble.  Some want to call this “renting a womb” or being a “baby breeder,” but I take offense to their attempting to turn a beautiful thing into something ugly.  I am thankful that there are people out there willing to help others who can’t conceive because a disease prevents them from doing so, for money or otherwise.

The Christian Post recently published an article as part two of a series on surrogacy, entitled “Renting a Womb (Part 2).” I was incensed after reading the first sentence in the article.

Although not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the act of surrogacy in order to produce a baby should be considered unethical, says Scott B. Rae, professor of Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Biola University.

So, if it’s not mentioned in the Bible, what gives this Scott Rae such divine insight? Is he God? I am a Christian and I do not feel that surrogacy is unethical, religiously speaking or otherwise.  In fact, couldn’t we consider Jesus to have been birthed from a gestational surrogate? Yes, I think so.

He goes on to talk about the typical stuff – a marriage is considered to be a man and a woman, blah blah. Again, I say…what about me in my heterosexual marriage?  Is surrogacy unethical for me, too, even though I am in a heterosexual monogamous relationship? Even though I can’t carry a pregnancy to term? Sorry, pal, your reasoning doesn’t stand up here.

Rae goes on to say:

Gestational surrogacy is a little more complicated about “who is the mother here” because you can split biology like you never have before, meaning you can have one woman who is the genetic contributor and a different woman who carries the child to term. The question is then who is the mother? A good case could be made for both. My own preference, and I would not go to the stake for this, I think a better case could be made for the woman who gestates and gives birth to the child being the mother. She’s the one that has the real sense of bonding, connection, relationship with the child prior to the child’s birth. I particularly like this term, the surrogate has a much greater, what they call a “sweat equity” in the child that she is caring.

So, is he saying that I couldn’t possibly love my two children because they weren’t in my belly? I can assure him he is dead wrong.  I love my two babies with all my heart and carrying them has no bearing on this. By this thinking, then he’s also taking aim at adoptive parents.  He is saying they couldn’t love their children because the adoptive mothers didn’t give birth to them.  This is so wrong.  Not to mention that the bible encourages adoption as a wonderful act of love.

And sweat equity? Are you freaking kidding me jerk-face?  Yes, my surrogate had a lot of sweat equity. I don’t deny that — she was sick, uncomfortable, had back-aches, high blood pressure, headaches and had to go through child labor. But, I have some equity in this, too! Eight long years building up to this. Treatments, injections, surgeries, losses and heartache beyond compare.  Yes, my husband I and I have sweat equity in this endeavor as well. My surrogate’s sweat equity wasn’t to the children she was carrying, but rather in making my husband and I parents.  That was her goal and her labor of love.

These two babies are not the product of a lack of ethics. They are not the product of exploiting women.  They are not the result of baby breeding.  They are the product of a tremendous act of love and many prayers.

For those hiding behind surrogacy to attack other issues, shame on you.  For those outright attacking surrogacy, shame on you, too.

Resources + Connect