Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sneaking Up..Prayer Requests

So here I sit, in Washington State.

We did it, we made the move. And while I could post many a thing about the move, our family and our adjustment, I just want to post a snippet about my feelings related to the surrogacy.

Perhaps the most primary is that living on the west coast means that this decision is likely to be more easy than it would have been in Ohio.

I do wonder though, if my best friend, Mary will continue this journey with me. She had made the choice to pursue Surrogacy as well, but now with us on separate ends of the country, I wonder if her choice will persevere or not. I know one thing for certain, I am as steadfast now as I have ever been about this calling and  my decisions.

Along those lines, special thanks to those who continue to support me (to those who keep their doubts quiet) and to those who publicly and personally sent me notes saying they felt my move to Washington was God inspired to find my intended family. Your support means the world to Chris and I. Thank you for standing firm by our side.

So where are we? We are two weeks from Emrys' first birthday. This matters because that is the date that she will start to wean, and that I will contact the agency to start my FORMAL enrollment. This means that if all is Gods will and goes well, I will begin the matching process in about 4-6 weeks. FROM NOW. can you even believe that??? Kind of scary. Really excited. Once this decision was made -- nearly two years ago-- we knew this day would come. Eventually. It's hard to believe eventually is knocking on our door.

Of course, there could still be hiccups in the road. I don't believe they will exist, since I feel this is God's will for me... but even so... things to pray over include:
1. My uterus. Given my diagnosed "severe" tilted uterus, fertility and surrogacy clinics could choose not to work with me, despite two out of two successful pregnancies.
2. Failure to match. It's in my heart, but the process is double selective. I might find a family I want to help- but who don't feel I am the ideal carrier for them.
3. Failure to ovulate. With Adelia, I returned to normal menstruation within 9 months. With Em, it's been nearly a year and still no new cycle. Most breastfeeding mothers return to menstruation within 6 months. Although my surrogacy would be another woman's egg and another man's sperm, I still need a proven track record of regular ovulation to be a qualified candidate. I have no doubt I can and will ovulate again, the question is just when.

Additional prayers... kindly requested... include:

Please pray for my intended parents. Though I have yet to meet them, I think of them often and of the road they are traveling. At this point I bet they're down hearted and discouraged in their own fertility process. I pray that they will have faith, patience and guidance... in that we will find each other in God's time.

Also, being in a new city, I request some prayers for finding a New OB-GYN who I can trust to lead me through this process. I miss Dr. Little already...

Many who know me know I lost my "dad" in 2010... and my "mom" last month. He never knew of my plans... as they were just blossoming about the time he passed. And, In her final weeks grandma's opinion  of this surrogacy went from full support and pride to skeptical and unsure. I suspect highly that was the influence of the brain tumor... but it makes it difficult to proceed as planned when she died without a final blessing. Please pray for my peace in this, and some sort of assured blessing from her on the matter.

I think that's it for now. Expect more update and closer together posts as we get closer and then into this process.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Potential Life Hiccup

You know the saying... We plan, God laughs. I actually prefer the longer version, "If you wanna make God laugh, just tell him your plans."

Seems pretty true about now for my surrogacy journey. I am already worried about a tilted uterus that could make me an unfavorable candidate (who knows) and now an awesome job opportunity has us considering a long haul from Ohio to Washington State.

The good news about this is that folks out on the west coast tend to be more progressive about everything, so the laws should be at least as favorable (if not more favorable) in support of my choice to carry a surrogate child. I've done just basic research and it appears Washington actually has legislation in place to allow these types of procedures, whereas Ohio's legislation is unclear... kind of a "I'll look the other way" type of policy.

The bad news is that when we leave Ohio (read: if we leave Ohio) we'll also be leaving behind the large support network we have here. Apart from what it means for my own girls leaving their grandma and buddies, it also means that I won't have support watching my girls during appointments and the delivery/hospital stay of any future surrogate. I'll be in it alone.

On one hand I think this could be OK... it will force me to find a support group out there and make new friends. Perhaps I could even plan on flying in grandma for the birth to help me. (Most surrogacies are induced labor to ensure the intended parents can be present at the birth.)

I suppose there is no point in worrying about this yet, as we are still waiting on our formal job offer to see if it makes sense for us to go. Just seems like this big decision is coming on so quickly and I'd hate to have such a long intended life plan disrupted without giving it proper thought.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Emry's Episode

Today my youngest daughter Emrys (5.5 months old) had an odd episode. Basically, after her bath I laid her on a towel, and turned my head to grab a nearby towel. I looked away for maybe ten seconds max. When I looked back at her she had turned blue. Her lips, gums, and tongue were so deeply colored they resembled a glass of merlot, or a ripe plum. Her hands, feet and face were light blue. It was terrifying.

I first thought she might be cold, so for about 15-20 seconds I just stared at her. She was clearly scared, almost panicky. I decided she was more than cold, and lifted her up. As soon as I did she gave me some chunky breastmilk puke. (Sorry for the fun adjectives). This is quite normal for her. I thought this might have been her issue, but she was still blue and seemed uncomfortable. I thought to myself, If she can nurse then she's probably OK. I figured nursing meant that she could breath and swallow fine. So I latched her on, and she did nurse fine for about 30 seconds. I figured she was OK after that and just held onto her. After about 10 minutes her lips, gums, tongue and hands and feet were all back to normal.

I was still scared, but not panicked. I figured I'd just write this off as scary and move on with my day. But all my facebook friends seemed to think I should call the doc and have Em checked out. Turns out the Doc agreed that she should be seen ASAP (Which in doctor hours means in 4 hours.)

4 hours later we went to the docs office. Emrys had still been acting fine. She had nursed and even napped. I was sure she was OK, but still better safe than sorry. They checked Em's blood-oxygen saturation level, her pulse, her heart and her lungs. They checked the windpipe for obstructions and had me tell the story to two nurses and the doctor, three times through just to make sure I didn't leave any details out.

At the end, the doctor told me what he suspected happened was a perfect storm of conditions that would probably never replicate. Basically, she had been just on the verge of spitting up when I moved her from the tub to the towel, and said vomit had a touch more acid in it than her system is accustomed to (blame it on my dinner or breakfast.) When that fore-acid hit her windpipe, the windpipe reacted exactly the way it is supposed to react, and the way in which it would react if you or I had acid hit it un-expectantly. It closed tight.

In you, I or even an older child (as young as 12 months) the body would recognize what it had done and instantly relax, thus keeping the acid splash out of our lungs but reopening the windpipe before we even feel short of breath. If we did notice at all, it'd feel like a gasp or having the wind knocked out of you. But in infants who have never experienced this, the initial and biological reaction is panic. The more Emrys panicked, the tighter her windpipe constricted. This is why she went so blue so fast. When I lifted her and the vomit was expelled, it cleared the windpipe. When I latched her on to nurse, the doctors suspect this is when she felt calmed and relaxed, allowing the windpipe to reopen.

The doc applauded my actions (honestly, he made me blush. It was almost uncomfortable.) He said that most times when this happens, the parents flip out and either call 911, drive the kid to the hospital on their own, or become so panicky themselves that it's impossible for the infant to calm down. He said in these cases, the vomit that had been about to come up could easily have been aspirated, creating a real problem. But my staying calm and observing her thoroughly before acting (even though that phase only lasted about 20 seconds) allowed me to get enough information for them to accurately diagnose the situation, and it allowed me to create a calm environment for Emrys.

While my self diagnosis in the moment of nursing being my indicator wasn't quite on the money, the doc said I was probably right that this action was what calmed her enough to reopen the windpipe. Though really, just holding her could have had the same effect- who knows?

The story ends with knowing that it is unlikely this will ever happen again, she had to have just enough acid in the vomit, and be ready to vomit at the exact moment I moved her and then be too panicked to release the windpipe on her own.

My baby is healthy, happy and breathing fine. Thank you all for your concern and prayers over her today.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Get This Show On The Road

I like to pretend that every one of my blog posts is deep and has an emotional lesson to be learned. But this one does not. It's mostly complaining and feeling guilty for my lack of patience.

I'm ready. Now.

It seems to me that once you've made the choice to do something as life altering as have a baby for someone else, the idea of twiddling your thumbs for nearly a year seems to be so incredibly cruel.

I know I want to do this, and I know I am ready. I know we've got support from friends and family. I know my church supports me. I know we've made our decisions on the type of family we want to find and help.I know we've decided legal preferences, residency preferences, medical preferences... I know we've made our profile of who we are and who we're seeking. I know we're ready to dig in and get going.

I also know that before I can have a baby for someone else, I need to give my baby the best shot at life possible. That means nursing her for at least 12 months. Emrys will be 6 months in two weeks, so I've got roughly six months to go until we can "officially" start our process. I know I need patience. But, I'm ready to go NOW.

Perhaps because we really made the decision to become a surrogate family in June of 2011 and had more than a year to evaluate, consider and mentally and emotionally prepare, I just feel like I'm not at all rushing and I'm ready to start the process. I know it sounds weird, but I'm ready to be pregnant again. I like being pregnant. Honestly, I'm even ready to do child birth again.

Never in a million years would I consider ending our nursing before 12 months. Not for anything, not even this surrogacy, which I feel called by God to complete. But sometimes I feel like, come on Em... lets GO!

Like I said... this blog isnt deep... no secret meaning.... just belly aching... about how I'm ready to get started. Sigh.

I hope you're thinking and praying for me, indented parents. Be patient, I'm preparing myself for you. Perhaps we both need patience.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ultrasound, a mixed bag

We had our ultrasound today to check on the IUD device. I walked in feeling like I was a contestant on that old game show, Press Your Luck (no whammies no whammies no whammies!) I had a dream last night that when I went in today, they say not one but two babies in me. It was  catastrophic for us and where we thought our life was headed. Chris says the dream was just a premonition that our next pregnancy (the surrogacy) will be twins.  At the end of the appointment, I am left feeling a bit of mixed emotion. Here's Why.

***Warning, Biological talk coming***

The Good
According to Dr. Little, I have a "textbook" uterus for an IUD device. His exact words were, "It couldn't look any better if it tried." Which is great news. It means that there are no babies in there now, and won't be until we're ready. My uterus is large enough for the device and accepting it well. This makes me happy as this is the easiest, most pain free birth control I've ever been on. It. Is. Amazing.

The Bad??? Maybe the indifferent...
The IUD is able to be left in place for up to 10 years. Dr. Little asked me how long I planned on leaving it in, and I told him anywhere from 12-18 months. I reminded him that we want to be a surrogate family sometime next year. To which he said, "Well, your uterus is greatly tipped." He didn't say if that was a pro or con for me.. but it left me feeling very nervous.I have been told and read that just because you were able to birth your own children, doesn't mean you're an ideal candidate for surrogacy.. I did a quick internet search and found opposing articles. Apparently only 20% of women have a titled uterus... and I am troubled by Dr. Littles inflection of "very titled". Some of the articles say the inclined uterus means its difficult to place an egg inside, others saying it should have no effect. Here is a pretty nuetral article.

Anyway, that's the round up on my visit. Kids are sleeping, better go clean house or log in and do some work while I can.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The First Ultrasound

Chris and I have a doctors appointment on Thursday the 15th to go in for our first ultrasound in the surrogacy process. I can't believe it is happening already!

While we will be having an ultrasound a week from right now, the purpose is not to see a baby. In fact, if we DO see a baby, well, the entire surrogate process will be put on hold for another two years (if ever) because it would mean Chris and I were pregnant with a third. We don't see that in our plan, so we hope that there is no baby!

Now Im going to talk about things that might be over sharing, too biological or otherwise discomforting to some. So If I lose you here- peace out, :)

A month or so ago we had Paraguard inserted. It's a copper composed IUD (inter-uterus device) used as birth control. Next Thursday's ultrasound is to make sure the device has settled into my uterus properly and that it is not posing any danger to me or my future child bearing potential. These risks are incredibly minuscule. The docs just check as standard procedure.

Using this method of birth control seemed pretty favorable for the next twelve months as it will allow my body to return to normal ovulation. Several other IUD devices or some hormonal birth control pills can slow or stop a woman's regular cycle. We need to have at least two regular cycles charted before we can being the syncing process, so a birth control method that alters what my body doesn't naturally would slow our process even more. Plus, I just don't think it's natural to mess with nature. I like that monthly reminder that I'm not pregnant. :)

That said, I find myself feeling some anxiety over the scan. In the very tiny chance that this device has lodged in my uterine wall or punctured my uterus, I could lose the ability to carry a child to term. This isn't a huge loss for Chris and I as a family, as we feel our family is complete... but it would completely derail what I feel God is calling me to do for others. I know God is in control, and that means that the scan will go perfectly. Even so, there is that tiny fraction of a chance that my journey could end before it even begins.

I've also been thinking a lot lately about my intended parents. I wonder where they currently are in their fertility process. If they're even considering surrogacy yet? If they've thought at all about me and what I will be like. It's interesting to me to know that together, these two families can come together to create such an incredible bond and a new life. But right now we don't even know one another. That some day we will be so intricately intertwined in one another's lives. Right now were on two completely different life tangents. Right now they're likely very stressed over infertility and Im stressing over my first steps in helping them. Yet we've yet to truely begin looking for one another. Reminds me of that movie Sliding Doors.

Any how, those are my baby to share thoughts for right now.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

When God Gives Fruitcake

This blog has nothing to do with surrogacy. But as I do think of other things, I think it's appropriate to share these thoughts on my blog as well.

Everyone of us had received a regift. You know, that item no one wants so it keeps getting passed from person to person? The giver hopes that the recipient wasn't the one to give the item to them in the first place, and the recipient accepts the gift with a wide eyed smile that says, "Crap, what am I going to do with THIS?"

The idea that God can give us "re-gifts" has been on my heart and soul a lot over the past few days. My prayer life has been pretty focused on some friends from Chris and I's past who are dealing with the birth of a child who has some serious medical needs. I am also praying for our Worship Minister who is furthering his call by taking a trip to South East Asia to help in the fight against Human Trafficking. Seems to me these are three people who are dealing with God's fruitcake... seeing first hand the gifts no one wants to receive.

I am a strong believer that God does everything on purpose and with purpose. It's no accident that Adam Young has the soft heart of a child, yet has been called to witness some of the most heartbreaking acts one human can do to another. It's no accident that God is asking Jill and Josh Robinson to be shining examples of faith in the face of impossible odds, when they minister to young people who often feel as though the odds are stacked against them.

Perhaps my favorite verse in the bible is found in 1Corinthians 10-13 ".12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." I chose to interpret this verse less literally than it probably should be taken. As an over achiever I often feel impossible odds and great stress, and a temptation to give up. I call on this verse often to remember that God will never fill my plate with more tasks than I can balance and will never ask me to do anything He knows I am not able to do.

Perhaps we should all take a shine to this faithfulness when it comes to interpreting and feeling grateful for God's fruitcake. Even the gifts we wish he'd kept for someone else are given on purpose and with purpose. No doubt in my mind that God has already used Josh, Jill, and baby Judah to reach the lives and touch the hearts of hundreds. No doubt God will use Adam's soft spirit to provide comfort to women and children and give them a peace and love they may not have ever had the chance to know before. And who better to deliver it to them than one of God's soft hearted servants?

In the end, I hope I can learn to be grateful for all gifts God gives me. I hope I can learn to stop seeing some things as gifts while seeing other things as obstacles or challenges.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Womb for Rent

Today on the Today Show, Guilianna Rancic told the world that after a long run with infertility, she and husband Bill are planning to welcome a baby into the world via gestational surrogate.Here's the Clip

As a disclaimer, I think this is awesome news, and wish them nothing but the best. I was happy to have caught the segment. It did get me thinking about my own journey though, and a couple of the pet peeves I'm already forming. For example:

Have Some Respect
Ann Curry had a laugh over a celebrity having a "baby momma" and asked how it worked.  First of all let me just say that I really dislike calling a surrogate a "baby momma." Honestly, that term has become synonymous with a half witted, drama prone woman that the other biological parent doesn't want to deal with. That kind of relationship is far from what I hope to have with my Intended Parents. So, in cause you're reading this later on, IP's, please don't call me that.

I feel like surrogates are going through a LOT of emotional highs and lows with the hormone injections, the transfer process, the pregnancy itself, and then handing a baby over. I feel a surrogate deserves respect. And to me, being called a "Baby Momma" just aint' respectful.

Just because a woman has sex, doesn't mean she'll have sex with everyone.
Just because I desire to be a surrogate, doesn't mean I'll have your baby. 
Maybe it's because I am already on this path for myself and I understand the importance of finding the right match, but I felt she gave the air of the matching process being as simple as finding a woman in the produce section of your local grocery store.

I am not walking around wearing a t shirt that reads, "womb for rent." Just because I am willing and desiring to become a surrogate does not mean I'm willing and desiring to do it for any old Joe on the street.

When I told me OBGYN about our decision a few weeks ago (to ask for local resources and his experience with surrogacy), the nurse in the room actually stayed back when he left to ask if I'd be her carrier . It was honestly so awkward. I hadn't even begun to think about my preference for the location of my Intended Parents, and to be put on the spot like that was downright weird. Truly, she didn't even tell me her name before diving into her infertility story. I wound up saying we were long from the start of the process and that I was sure she'd have a child before I was ready to begin. I feel for her, but what a burden to drop on my feet.

I'm not really angry, though as I re-read this I sure sound it. I just want to make sure I find the right fit in Intended Parents. And I don't take it lightly.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Welcome to our Journey

Chris and I have begun sharing our decision to become a surrogacy family with many of our friends and family members. Although only met by support, we also encounter a lot of questions. I decided to start blogging about the process not only as a diary for us, but also to keep everyone updated on our journey. 

For My Intended Parents
My hope is that in the future, hopefully about a year from where we are now, when we are matched with our Intended Parents (those whose child I will be carrying) they can review this blog and see that my journey to find them started long before we ever exchanged words. I hope that when you read this (my IP's) you'll learn about Chris, Adelia, Emrys and I and that my words here will help you to feel secure in choosing us to help start and grow your family. 

For everyone else out there... here's a round up of 
Where We Are And how We Arrived Here
Adelia was born February 14, 2010. Shortly after that I began to feel a pull and whisper from God about what he wanted me to do with my life. I really didn't mind pregnancy, and despite a rather violent birth (25 stitches!), I didn't even mind the child birth experience. I began to pray over and consider becoming a surrogate. I didn't tell anyone, not even my husband. I wanted to talk with God about it for awhile first. Plus, Chris and I knew we wanted to have more kids. 

When we found out we were pregnant with Emrys, God's whisper became more of a direct instruction. It was louder and more urgent. I decided it was time to tell Chris that I had been considering surrogacy. It had been about a year, and I felt fairly sure it was a process I wanted to move forward with. I also knew that his reaction to the news would greatly influence where we went next. I was so pleased to find that he supported me! For the next nine months we talked and prayed over the decision and applied aspects of my current pregnancy to a hypothetical surrogacy in the future. I really feel as though it helped us to consider the pros and cons of this decision. 

After the birth of Emrys (Jan. 15, 2012) Chris and I knew our family was complete. But I felt equally as strongly that I was in no way done being pregnant. To me, this was our sign that God intended to use me to help others grow their family. We decided to begin telling our friends and family about our decision to move forward in the process. We expected to be met with criticism and a few nay-sayers. Imagine my shock to find only support from our friends, family and church. To us, this is just another sign that this is indeed God's plan in action. 

What's Next
To date we've contacted an agency and read a book on preparing for this journey. Although I have found an agency and a mentor to work with (Hello, Anna!) we know that I can not start the process of psychological and physical screening until I am done breastfeeding Emrys. That (Hopefully) will be in roughly 12 months when she's about 12-15 months old. In the meantime Chris and I have a lot of legwork to do, building a road map of characteristics we hope our Intended Parents will have and the views we hope they will have surrounding controversial issues like selective reduction, amniocentesis, and multiples. We need to decide how we feel about these issues as well. 

I do not think we will post much about these decisions on the blog as they are deeply personal, not only to us but also to the intended parents out there. I don't want our views to be too public as it could skew the matching process, and it could also reveal more about this couple than they're comfortable sharing. So, those details may not be revealed for quite some time if ever. It is important to me to protect their privacy as well as our own in this emotional process. 

What I am Expecting
A baby! Ha! Seriously, I am expecting a rewarding journey that will be God guided. That's not to say I expect it to be an easy journey. I know it will be emotional and tearful. I am dreading exactly two things already:
1. IVF and Fertility Treatments
2. The 72 hours after birth and before the baby leaves me

I know this journey will be difficult. But I also believe it will be life changing and make my life have a purpose beyond anything I could imagine. I feel this is God's calling on my life. While I do have fear entering this process, I do it with Him as my guide. I have a lot of faith in His divine guidance. My old pastor, Craig Fourman, once told me that, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." To say I am fearless leading into this is a lie. But as my grandpa always told me, "Fear and faith can not co-exist. You have one or the other." So I am trusting God. After two years of feeling His Call and purpose for me, I am trusting His will and starting this journey. 

Happy reading!

Meet Dad (for now)

Just kick starting this blog with a litttle info about the guy who won't really be doing any of the work.  The little red hen will be baking the bread, but I still get to come along for the ride!

In all seriousness, I think it's important that the husband is on board during such a hormone-ridden, physically and emotionally demanding project as a surrogate pregnancy, and with all the moral implications, it's important that the entire family is approves and is supportive.  That's what they say, anyway; there are incidents of friends and family being very against the concept of having someone else's child, but we haven't really run into them yet.  Most of our network seems to be supportive, excited, and somewhat intrigued by the concept.  I certainly never thought about it until Mandy mentioned it to me.

We haven't really made any important decisions yet, other than that we are going to do this; we need to get legal representation, talk to an agency or choose to go it alone, and fill all the prerequisites of even beginning the search.  We have to be done breastfeeding, for instance, so we get to take our time deciding on things.

Like anything else in my life, I want to keep this as simple as possible, so wherever I really don't have an opinion, I want to stay neutral, since people seem to be so picky about all the details.  That said, the few things that I do care about, I can hopefully stick to those when it comes to signing paperwork.  You would be amazed how long the laundry list of preferences can get, from local/long distance to the types of food the mother can eat.

Not much else to say at this point, but I'm sure we'll start making concrete decisions as time goes on.