Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Relief, Reality & Surprises

So we are at the end of our 9-day visit to Seattle, which culminated in a day of medical appointments and the all-important 20-week ultrasound. This has given us a lot of relief that everything is progressing OK, and a good dose of reality about what the experience will be like when we return in just 18 weeks!

A few highlights of our visit...

The scan:

This was the world's longest ultrasound, lasting almost two hours, which had us all silently worrying about what on earth the radiologist was looking at. Apparently our little Joey was just being uncooperative and sitting at the wrong angle. But she eventually performed, and at 13 ounces, with long arms and legs, and again with the hand to the face... We can tell already that this girl is a princess.

The hospital tour

The staff at the hospital were so lovely, flexible and accommodating to our needs. Although they haven't seen a whole lot of surrogacy cases, they are familiar enough with it to know that we may have special needs, such as an additional room at the birth and some flexibility around security procedures and the like, which is a relief.

The surprises: 

There have been many pleasant surprises on this trip, not least of all the news we are having a girl! We decided to add one more surprise into the mix and a few months ago began talking a outs ow this visit would be a good opportunity to formalize our commitment to each other after our nearly 10 years together. 

With same-sex marriage not yet legal in a Australia, we found a judge, filed some forms and on the 26th December, we got married on the Seattle Great Wheel, with Mandy and family present as witnesses. This was a good old-fashioned shotgun wedding with a modern twist, and surprising our friends family back home with this news was so much fun. It sounds like they have already started party planning. We have promised our mums that there will be no more surprises in the near future!

The past nine days have been incredible, building a relationship with Mandy and her family, who have been generous, welcoming and hospitable beyond words. We never thought at the beginning of this process that we would gain friends, but that is exactly what has happened over the past week. 

It's mind-blowing to think the next time we see Mandy that it will be (hopefully) just days before the arrival of our little girl. We have told our 'bump' that she must wait until we are in Seattle before making her grand entrance, as the thought of enduring a 20-hour flight knowing the baby was on her way (or worse, has already arrived) doesn't bear thinking about!

As we begin the long journey home, we feel relieved and excited, but most of all, utterly grateful for the joy this little bean has already brought to the world, before she has even drawn her first breath.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Boy or Girl?

I have a perfect record of predicting baby's gender. Be it my own, or a friends baby, I have never guessed wrongly.

Which is exactly why when I said this would be a baby girl, 


OK, so I never said that. In fact, I've come very close to buying blue gifts for this kid several times because I was so sure... SO sure that it was a boy.

Only, she's not a boy. 
She's a she. 
Arm Under Chin, Her Favorite Post

Apparently, my body doesn't know how to carry boys.

This little lady was a wiggly little lass. We had so much fun watching this joey... er... flyer (that's a female kangaroo...) squirm.

Congrats to the guys, their mums, future aunts, uncles, cousins etc. I love me a little girl, and I'm pleased as punch to be carrying one for these awesome Aussie dads. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

First Weekend

The guys are going to be here for such a long period of time that making you all wait for one large (and lengthy) post visit wrap up post would likely be quite cruel. So, I'll just write a few smaller pieces instead. And as our first weekend together comes to a close, this seems like the ideal time for post umber one.

Two newly donned 12s
I must say that the best part about having them here has been watching how effortlessly they connect with my daughters. They both come from large extended families so I expected them to be good with kids. Even so, most non parents have this invisible bubble of personal space that surrounds them.
(Hell, I'm a mom of two and I even have it sometimes. I may or may not even loudly exclaim "DON'T TOUCH ME" when Emrys comes barreling for me whilst covered in ketchup. May. May not. )

Witness non existent non parent personal bubble
But not these two. After spending just an hour with the gals I caught T and Emmy blowing raspberries at each other in the car. Chris started to talk about how Aelia and Emrys really feed off each other... until T owned up to his shenanigans. :)

The next morning the first thing Adelia said to me in the morning was, "Where are M&T? When are THEY coming back?" Way to make a mom feel loved, kiddo... yeesh.

Not that it's any of my business to judge or contemplate how these two will be as parents once the Joey arrives, but watching them with my girls both Friday night and then today, I just can't wait to watch them in action with their own kids. It'll come so easily to them. They're going to shine. They're going to make other parents hate them for their ease, and other kids jealous because their parents just aren't that cool. I bet I'll even wind up consulting these two for parenting advise. Some people just get it. These guys just get it.

We took the guys out for a nice steak dinner Friday night, but the real highlight of our weekend was today's Seahawks game. Despite the Hawk's less than impressive performance, the 12s pulled together for a showing the guys aren't likely to soon forget. The guys were welcomed into the world of hot wings, loud fans and American football. We just all had such a blast together. I even got them both in Hawk gear. See photographic evidence.... M's mother... because I'm told such evidence is the only way you'd believe this had actually happened. ;)

Of course we talked legalities. And now the baby is kicking consistently. It was a good, good weekend.

Up this week? The big stuff. The gender reveal and BIG ultrasound.. meeting the doc, touring the hospital, Christmas, sessions with the film crew, and a few other golden nuggets I am not at liberty to discuss.

Hot wing. Beer. Football. And a Pregnant Lady. American Dream.
I am a very happy and very tired surrogate. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Today is THE day

At least until the 27th, that is.

But today is THE day that the guys arrive, and that they meet the Blondesters.

And how does the day greet me?

With an allergic reaction to the left side of my face.

No, I'm not posting pictures.

I have highly sensitive skin when it comes to laundry detergents and softeners. While I've not changed anything, even one garment getting a larger helping of detergent or softener can cause this. It will resolve on its own... and I should be able to conceal it for dinner tonight... only, I'll look like an ape while I claw at my jaw.

Never mind our surrogate, she's special.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

KICK Start To The Day!

My daily routine rarely changes by much. I start each morning with a parade of blondesters marching into my room, and always earlier than they should. Next they crawl into my bed and demand cuddles and cartoons. The amount of both varies by day.

This morning was no different. In they march at 6:56 (grrr), on goes Thomas, The Christmas special and cuddling commences.

This morning Adelia decided to really cuddle me. She put her head on my chest, which left her arm cradling my pregnant belly.

Then something out of the ordinary happened. 

Something amazing. 

The little Joey kicked. 




                                          FOUR TIMES. 

That folks, is probably the summation of every kick I've felt the entire 20 weeks combined.

And then Adelia moved and the kicking stopped. I tried to poke, prod and rub in the same areas where she was applying pressure and got no response.

Maybe the baby was hopped up on last night's cleaning chemicals.

Maybe, like everyone else who encounters her, Adelia had a magical effect on this baby.
Maybe he was playing with her.
Maybe he was telling her to MOVE.

I don't know... but either way, I finally felt more than the random kick. And with roughly 55 hours to go until Dads' arrival... the timing couldn't be more perfect. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cleaning Frenzy

Holy cow. The guys will be on my doorstep in 72 hours and 40 minutes. 
Cleaning woman vector
How I want them to think it looks here....

If they're on time...

This means I have exactly 72 hours and 40 minutes to transform my home from a toddler haven into the abode of a responsible and clean adult worthy of their child's prenatal care.


I'll start on a clean after dinner tonight... and then do more tomorrow during the day. I'm sure I'll do finishing touches Friday while Adelia is at school.

There will likely be a manic Mandy at 6778 137th for the next 72 hours and 39 minutes.
err... 72 hours and 35 minutes...

How it really looks here...

Friday, December 13, 2013

This post is brought to you by the letter T and the number 20

So I was chatting to Mandy today and she asked if we would write a guest blog before we leave Oz. Although there is plenty to write about, there is so much going on in our minds at the moment with the crazy end of year and all that goes with it, that I didn't know where to start.After giving it some thought, I was taken back to my childhood watching Sesame Street. And, ladies and gents, it seems this post is destined to be sponsored by the number 20.

- 20 days away from home (5 in Canada, 10 in Seattle, 3 in Portland, 2 days flying).

- 20 hours of flying to get to the Pacific Northwest (the price of living down under)-

20kg luggage allowance, which will filled with winter clothes and a few Christmas presents for our new extended family

- 20 degrees (f) in Whistler, which is where we'll be recovering from jet lag before arriving Seattle. This is seriously cold for us Aussies who are coming straight from an (albeit mild so far) Melbourne summer

 -20th December - the day we finally get to see Mandy and Chris, and meet their blondesters. Mandy mentioned recently that it feels like she is being visited by old friends... And it certainly feels the same for us too. It's so strange to think we have only spent 4 hours together in person and haven't even met their kids yet (who look like they will be SO MUCH FUN)

- 20 weeks - the very reason for this visit, the all-important 20 week scan. The halfway point. When gender is revealed, as well as a whole host of other important medical checks. The scan is booked for 27th December.

- 20 weeks from today (or thereabouts) we will be dads. Which, to be honest, still blows my mind. I think seeing Mandy's baby bump (and maybe even feeling a kick or two, hey, Jnr?) will start to make it seem very, very real.- lastly, funnily enough, Jnr will be the 20thmember of M's immediate family. And, having all sisters, the only one to keep their family name.

So that's a wrap. The next time you hear from us we will be stateside, with a whole lotta news to share. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Time to Whine

Because pregnancy in general isn't all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. And besides, I know there are at least a few of you out there waiting (patiently or not) for something to go less than perfectly here. It's just human nature.

Don't get me wrong, this is still my easiest and best pregnancy to date. Sorry, blondesters... but this mellow Aussie has you both beat. Even so, there are a few concerns I'd like to file with the management. These include:

Most Annoyingly... Round Ligament Pain.
RLP for short. From WebMD 
"It is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy and is considered a normal part of pregnancy. It is most often felt during the second trimester." 
So no worries M&T, this is normal. What is the round Ligament and what is it's purpose? Also from WebMd:
Several thick ligaments surround and support your womb (uterus) as it grows during pregnancy. One of them is called the round ligament.
The round ligament connects the front part of the womb to your groin, the area where your legs attach to your pelvis. The round ligament normally tightens and relaxes slowly.
As your baby and womb grow, the round ligament stretches. That makes it more likely to become strained.
Sudden movements can cause the ligament to tighten quickly, like a rubber band snapping. This causes a sudden and quick jabbing feeling.
RLP is a stabbing pain usually in my right groin area. I only feel it when going from rest (laying down or sitting) to standing. I had it with Adelia, and the first time it was so bad I fell to the floor and called my OB right away, CONVINCED I'd separated the placenta from the uterus wall. Because nothing that painful could be normal, right? Then, with Emrys, didn't feel it even once. So I thought I'd stretched that sucker out good and would never deal with it again. So perhaps I'm more annoyed that it's back than I am bothered by the pain.

This is kid is a time sensitive and picky eater. If I am late for lunch, my head THROBS. Until I get that first morsel in me, then all is well.. most of the time. The tricky part is that he (or she... i guess... maybe) is hungry more often than me. Which means eating when I am not at all hungry. Which is an odd sensation for me, albeit probably more healthy. I have been told that bio dad has to have toast just before bed and a banana first thing in the morning... and this kiddo seems to shadow those dining desires.

My Butt.
Not the fact that it is expanding (because really, I don't think it is) but more the odor emitting from it. OK look, I told you I was going to whine. It's not always going to be pretty. But man, this kid has some foul smelling fumes coming out of me pretty much all the time. Silver lining? No gas stomach cramps. Perhaps it's the fact that this kiddo loves greens (which give me gas)... I dunno. But I fart like an old man.

OK, that's it. I feel better now. Back to those sunshine and rainbows and unicorns.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I am SO grateful

Just thinking about the upcoming visit some more, and reflecting on the fact that I'll be spending a LOT of hours with some folks I've only ever spent 4 hours of real life time with.

That's when I notice that my feelings are anticipation, excitement, and joy. This opposed to nervousness, apprehension, and fear.

The filmmaker following our journey asked me recently how I was handling the long distance between M,T, and myself and if I was  nervous for such a long visit. I told him the honest answer, "Nope. I feel like these guys are my family. I share things with them I otherwise only share with family or close friends. To my head and my heart, they could live across the lake... I'd likely see and talk to them no more than I do with them in Australia."

I'm not nervous about awkward silences, or discomfort in having them at my OBGYN visit (a place Chris has only ventured a few times himself). I am excited to watch T and Emrys bond, because he's so sure they will... to show them our favorite places around town, to try their Aussie style cooking and share a few laughs. Mostly, I am so excited to watch their faces as they see their son (..or daughter, i guess...maybe) move around on screen for the first time.

These are some great fellas. Wonderful friends. For that I must thank their mommas. Good job, ladies.

For the brilliance of this match I need to thank Growing Generations. Way to go team.

But for the ease and beauty of this relationship, I need to thank the guys.
Thank you for sharing your lives with me and my family. 

For all of this I am so , SO grateful. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hello, are you in there?

I first reported feeling quickening around the 12-13 week mark. Which was super early. And super exciting.


That's what it's been ever since. 
At nearly 17 weeks... this is just a bit odd for me. 

Don't get me wrong, I'll feel the occasional kick. But either this kid is super mellow or the placenta is out front.

I have no reason to be concerned. Heartbeat has always been strong and consistent, and we've had no bleeding or cramping. This is not a scary thing. Just a new thing to me.

Baby movement is my FAVORITEST part of pregnancy, and usually by this point my uterus is a three ring circus. So these tumbleweeds bellowing by are a bit of a let down.

Come on ( name censored until parents release it), let's get this party started.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Oh The Planning

It's a good thing that my body craves organization like yours craves air.

Really... because prepping for this upcoming visit is taking a lot of preplanning and organization. Which, of course, makes me feel very needed, in control and useful.

I love it. 

During their 9 day visit we're squeezing in a LOT of things. Ultrasounds, hospital tours, social worker meet and greets, OB introductions, Christmas and all the traditions that come with and a few other American must dos (football, hot wings and beer... for them, not for me). It seems like almost every moment of every day is planned out. We've even found time for some surprises for the guys and a pair of date nights in there.

On top of all the other emotions... I feel so thankful for my AMAZING match. Because when I ask M if there is time to do yet another activity he says,

 "I don't know, let me check T's spreadsheet."

Sigh. A man after my own heart. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oh! Do You Know Them?

While I may not be "obviously" showing yet (truly, it depends on the day as to if I'm showing at all...) enough people know that I'm pregnant that they'e beginning to talk to me about it. The news that this baby is not mine is still regarded highly and often met with a mix of confusion and disbelief. And now, a new question is popping up quite a little bit.

"Oh! That's so wonderful, Do you know them?" 

The short answer for me is always, "Well, I do now!"

But that seems a bit evasive. I usually explain that, for matters of my heart and legalities, I felt it would be very difficult for me to be a carrier for someone I knew in real life prior to making this decision. At least for a first journey. I explain that we both used an agency to find one another, were expertly matched and have since become an extended family based on love and trust.

That's the real truth of it. I share tons of stuff with the guys. I mean, one of them knocked me up after all. They share their lives with me. We are family. There is love there. Does it matter how we met?

From the looks of people's faces, it must. There seems to be less honor in helping a "stranger." Or perhaps it's the fact that we met through a mediator? Let's call GG a "matchmaker" for this purpose. How many "families" today started as the result of a "matchmaker" like eHarmony, Match or ChristianMingle.com?

Maybe I should just start telling people I'm carrying for my brothers. 

Then let them sort out the plural. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Sweet Spot

Mandy tells us the second trimester is the sweet spot - the early pregnancy sickness, tests and worries have all passed; she's still a maneuverable size; yet the home stretch mayhem/excitement is still a couple of months away! It's really a case of 'no news is good news'.

For IPs though, it's a busy time as we rapidly move from the dream of becoming parents, to the reality of "this is really happening. In a little over 5 months!"
So with Mandy not having much to report, we thought we'd share some of our adventures since entering the second trimester.

The NT Scan.

We got the results back this morning and we have a 1 in 10,000 chance of a genetic abnormality. We're not betting men, but those are pretty good odds in anyone's books.  It's exciting to think the next scan will be at the halfway point - 20 weeks - and that we will be there in person for it.

We Are Moving. 

Although our current house is fine for minimalists like us (another thing we have in common with our surrogate and her family!), we could see us outgrowing it as soon as this little bean begins to walk. The idea of applying for a bank loan with one income terrifies us, but the idea of moving with a toddler terrifies us even more, so we decided to bite the proverbial bullet and move somewhere larger while we still have the luxury of time and money.

We Upsized Our Car. 

Our old two-door car wouldn't fit a child seat - no matter how hard we tried - so we have upgraded to a family car. To be honest, it feels a little empty with just the two of us, and a 5kg dog sitting in the backseat, but we it won't be long before it's filled with baby and all the parephenalia.

We Had a New Arrival. 

Welcome to the newest cousin!
M's sister had a gorgeous baby girl, which will be our baby's 14th cousin. His mum tells us we need to spend lots of time with her, practicing changing nappies and washing bottles. We think we will be happy waiting until we have our own baby to practice on!  It was very special holding her in our arms though; this is the first baby we've held since being pregnant ourselves, and will also be the closest in age to our child.  (We were also selfishly eying off her baby gear as they will hopefully become our hand-me-downs - don't judge us)

We Have Finalised Travel Plans. 

Tickets are booked and we leave in one month from today.  We fly into Vancouver and will spend a few days at Whistler recovering from jetlag (Mandy & Chris do NOT want to see us immediately after 22 hours of flying - believe me!).  We'll have 10 days in Seattle and can't wait to spend some time with our new extended family, to finally meet their 'Blondesters' and have some other fun adventures.  What makes it extra special is that we get to spend Christmas with them, and we're insisting Mandy puts her feet up while we cook lunch (but not until she's baked a peppermint cheesecake!). They have also talked us into watching a Seahawks game and eating something called 'hot wings' - for those who know us this is as adventurous as it gets!
So Mandy, enjoy this 'boring' time; as you can see we're more than making up for it down under!

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Quilt With Many Pieces

After my last post I had a great discussion with T about these sort of issues. Chances are I'll only run into them for a few more months. Chances are they'll be running into them for the rest of their lives.

I was thrilled to see that the guys had their wits abut them. That this instance of hate didn't get under their skin nearly as much as it did mine. That it rolled off their backs like water off of a duck. A great trait in a good parent, I might add. T shared with my a publication sent to he and M from Growing Generations. I wish I could post it here, as it is beautifully written and stated, but it's likely copy written. And I don't think they want this joey born behind bars.

So, I'm jut going to paraphrase some of the finer points.

The best of it to me is this snippet: A baby isn't born knowing what is "normal" and what is not. That is taught. They are born able to recognize love, and look to that love for guidance about how the world SHOULD be.

This child won't be born sad that there is no female parental figure in his/her life. This child won't even realize that they're "missing" out on anything. And in fact, with proper nurturing, overtime could come to feel they've really got the best of it through their unique exposure to two dads.

This isn't a recipe with a missing ingredient. 
It's a quilt with many pieces. 

Will the teen years be hard? Yes. Were you an easier teen because you had a mom and a dad? Will other parents be cruel? Yes. Have YOU ever been judged by other parents? Each of these experiences adds a patch to the quilt that will create a beautiful and unique story. We should all be so lucky to have such a warm and beautiful quilt.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Got My First Nay Sayer

I had to get it sometime, right? 

The good news is that it didn't come from family, or close friends. It came in the form of a Facebook Email from someone I'd only met in person once, and un-friended months ago. So truly, no big loss.

The letter was long, most of it trying to school me on how the bible says Homosexuality is a sin, and how my support of gay men parenting is a friendship deal killer for her. At a minimum, I am proud that she felt able to voice her religious standpoint and friendship breaking points. That takes integrity and courage to be sure.

I really don't want to dive into another religious debate here. We've been there, done that. But the part that really stands out to me is this:

"My heart bleeds that this new little person won't have a mom and dad as God designed - one parent to show them beautiful feminism, the other strength and leadership. "

Now this really breaks my heart. Who says I need a penis to teach my girls "strength and leadership" or that Chris needs a vagina in order to teach my girls how to be feminine and ladylike? Or that a single parent can't embody both? I resent the accusation.

I did reply, in a very kind manner. I told her that for every mention of homosexuality being a sin, there are 10 more preaching the importance of love, tolerance, acceptance and forgiveness. I'm not judged by law and society for my sins, and I don't think it's fair to use religion to punish others. I reminded her that Jesus dined with tax collectors and whores, that he preached acceptance and love.

Sin or not, I will always stand for equality, just as my Savior did during his time on Earth.

Matthew 25:40 spoke to me as I spoke to her.

"40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

I don't know what will happen on Judgement Day, but I can not believe that God will punish me for bringing new life into the world, or for loving ALL of his sons and daughters. I also can not believe that God will punish two parents who love a child so deeply and diligently, no matter which other sins they are guilty of. Because there is no such thing as a supersin, and we're all sinners.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The NT Scan

Yesterday we had our 13 week NT scan. It's a combined ultrasound and blood test that measures the fluid in the spinal column as well as certain blood hormones. When paired, these results will give a hint into the probability of a child born with a genetic disorder like Down's Syndrome.

This is a test we never had done with either of our girls. It's a test I wouldn't ever opt to do, if we're being honest. On a personal level, I feel like I'd never abort an "abnormal" child, so all knowing that you're carrying an abnormal child would do for me, would be to ruin the next 6 months of pregnancy.

But, this isn't my baby. 
It's not my pregnancy. 
It wasn't my choice to make. 

Baby waving at Adela 
It's the first time in this process where I would have made a different choice than the guys, if this were my baby. Probably about time that happened, too. I am proud and pleased  to say that the difference in opinion on having the test didn't create any hard feelings or awkward moments. I didn't/don't harbor hard feelings towards the guys for wanting this test.

This is a brilliant sign. It highlights to me that I am able to separate emotionally that this isn't my baby, and these aren't my choices to make. And that I won't feel negative emotions if the parents choices aren't the same ones I'd make for my own babies. This, friends, is a very very good thing.

Even so, I was nervous as I've been yet as I laid there and the scan started. What IF we saw something bad?

The news was good though, folks. The genetic counselor saw nothing to be concerned about. Though we won't have official results for a week or so while they process the blood draw, they said it'd be surprising for anything to be flagged.

During the scan we got a lot of great profile views, and a clear vision of baby sucking his/her thumb a lot. I swear I could hear the baby asking me for another glass of milk. My number one craving. The best part of the screening was that I had my 4 year old with me. She kept saying, "Hi, baby!" And every time she did, the baby waved right back at her.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reverse Gaydar

As many of you know, I've spent the last week or so cruising around the Caribbean. It's a hard life, I know.

I've spent most every night in the club with my cruising pal, Joy. It's her scene and once upon a time it was really mine too. But alas, 8 years and three pregnancies after my prime, I just can't keep up anymore. Plus, I just don't get the attention I once did. Could be because I'm with a blonde bombshell who can dance circles around me. Or, it could be those aforementioned 8 years and 3 pregnancies.

So last night we split company so that I could wander into my new scene, the piano bar. I really love piano bars. So I walked in and within 30 seconds had a gay man offer to buy me a drink. I politely declined. Within 5 minutes had two more offers from two more gay men. Of course I declined, this time explaining to the group why. Insert choruses of, "you go girl", "awe" and, "wow, you're an amazing woman."

My head grew larger by my nanosecond. It was ah-mazing.  Here are those compliments and the special attention I once found in the club.

Apparently my uterus is now more attractive than my ass. 


So, this all has me thinking about Gaydar.

If you don't know what that is, its this sort of "six sense" that a woman claims to have about identifying gay men. Let me say two things about this.

  • I wish it didn't have to exist. Gay or straight shouldn't be an identifiable trait, nor should it have to be something that is hidden to where people need "gaydar" to know. 

  • My gaydar is prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrretty good. 

But now I wonder, is there such thing as like, reverse gaydar? Wherein Gay men see me, and just know I am an instant friend? Is there something about me that screams advocate? I sure hope so.

I must make a note to ask the guys.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Farts On A Plane

To quote Samuel L. Jackson... 

Ok, so there are no snakes on this plane... but there are farts. Like, a LOT of farts. And most, OK all, of them are coming from seat 8A.

Afraid of passing gas in the cramped quarters of a plane? A new research study suggest the real damage comes from keeping it in.
Me about now...

This isn't incredibly and totally unexpected. Studies have proven that your gaseous actions can as much as double while on a plane. It's part of your body's way of regulating internal pressure changes. No lie.

And, well, I'm pregnant.

And in fact, recent studies have shown that it's not only normal, but HEALTHY to let 'em rip at 30,000 feet. Here's an article published in the New York Daily news giving me legitimate permission to fumigate this aircraft.

So to the lady next to me who bathed in Christian Dior's J'Adore before today's flight,
#1- Thanks for reminding me I love this scent.
#2- Thanks for the convenient exhaust cover-up.
#3- Sorry.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Huffington Post

I just read an OP/ED short on The Huffington Post website. It really got me thinking. Here's a link to the story.

It praised surrogates and narrated the story of when the author found out a distant friend was preparing to be a G.S. She made a Facebook announcement, and the comments field went crazy. The author was stricken by one comment in particular that highlighted the compensation portion of this journey. The author said this must be the single most offensive thing you can ever say to a surrogate.

Once upon a time I believed the same thing. Here's a blog I wrote about it.

But now, several months later and nearing the end of my first trimester, my opinion has changed.

I feel like most people who assume we're in this for the money aren't being hateful. They're just uninformed. First of all they think we're getting 10 times the amount that we are. They also all assume we're working with A List celebrities. I have found that these people are open minded and willing to learn the error of their ways. Therefore, I'm no longer offended by compensation accusations.

What really offends me now, are the people who assume surrogacy and myself (as a surrogate) are going against religion. That the only people who would make good (biological) parents are those who are able to conceive and carry naturally. Perhaps that's because I've crossed paths with so many people in this journey who will make AMAZING parents. They are gay couples, straight couples, single parents, survivors of disease and leaders in their fields and communities. They'll make great parents.

All you really need to be a great parent is a heart willing to love. 

I'm not even angry with people who just don't believe in surrogacy, to each their own. It's the people who so vocally attack surrogates, intended parents and even the children born of surrogacy. I've not encountered these people in my own dealings just yet, but I know surrogates who have.

So in closing, I say thank you to my support network. Thank you to those who may support me, but not my decision, and thank you to the surrogates who do endure hate at the cost of their love.

And the worst thing you can say to a surrogate? That the people she believes in, the family she's sacrificing her body to help create, isn't worth its salt.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First OB

It's so odd to choose an OBGYN based on the OB part, not the GYN part. I daresay I'm not the only woman out there who is with her OBGYN because it's the doc mom used, or the doc closest to their first apartment or some combination of the two. In 2005 I needed an annual pap smear, and went to the office across the street. 5 years later they delivered Adelia, 2 years after that; Emrys.

But now I've moved cross country and need a new provider. As a 30 year old mother of two, there are things more important to me than proximity to home. There are deal killers for me now too. For example...

  • I would NEVER work with a care provider who doesn't allow a woman carrying multiples to attempt a vaginal delivery, for the sole reason of "you're carrying multiples." As a surrogate, there was a high chance I' carry multiples. So when searching for a care provider this was one of the first questions I asked. 

  • It was very important to me to find a doctor with a voice and an opinion on c-section delivery. It was important that her opinion mirrored my own. With Adelia, after pushing for nearly two hours, the doc suggested, "Why don't we just do a C-section and finish this up, dear?" I was so PISSED off... it wasn't even an option for me, especially when the reason was seemingly that the doctor was bored with my slow progress, and I told him as much. Adelia was born 20 minutes later. I'm anti C-Section in ANY situation where it is not absolutely essential to life preservation of mother, baby or both. This isn't a blanket statement for all mothers,but for me- it's absolute. I needed a doctor (and IPS, by the way) who would respect this. 

  • I also feel strongly about finding a doctor who believed in a woman's ability to deliver naturally. I have experienced both medicated and natural labor/delivery, and see merit to both. I'm nearly 11 weeks pregnant and don't know which route I'll take this time around. But I wanted a doctor with a natural approach. Someone who liked to see moms go natural so that if I do go that route, she won't mistake 8cm Mandy for someone who needs drugs for survival... mine or hers.

  • Finally, I wanted a nursing advocate. While this baby may nurse, or may get pumped milk from a bottle (I'm open to either, up to the dads) to start, it will be formula fed after he leaves for Australia. Much as I hate it, it's just logistically impossible for me to nurse an extended period of time. Despite this, I am a major nursing advocate, and I want a provider who is to. I'd want someone who believes strongly as I do that breast is best. 

I feel very excited with the provider I chose. She made me excited for the next phase of this process. She's already going out of her way to accommodate me as a surrogate and the parents. We made a point to schedule a time for her to meet the parents when they're here in December. I just know that will give them both great peace. I feel so, so good about adding her to our team. Our surrogacy team. The close knit family of people who are making this baby happen.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Call I Never Thought I'd Get

Two weeks ago my nurse told me that I'd likely be released from injections today.

I heard her. I made it my truth. I told everyone who'd listen. But deep down, I didn't think it would happen.

I even got corporate clearance to bring a banned heating pad on next week's cruise to help with the injections. Deep down I thought they'd call me tonight and tell me, just a few more weeks Mandy. You can do it.

And yes, I suppose I could have. I suppose the needle would still go in, and it wouldn't kill me. Although, according to Chris, my knots were getting so tough the needle was having a hard time breaking the skin.

So tonight when the nurse call came, it was a mix of feelings when she said the news, "stop all injections immediately." It was a rush of emotions. Disbelief, joy, confusion, excitement.

So how did I handle the news?

I honestly cried. Tears. 

And even now I sit here feeling like I'm breaking the rules by not icing, injecting and heating.

My back is still incredibly sore. But I'm no longer perferating my back muscles. The healing can begin. The hurting is going to stop.

Was the pain worth it? DUH. Has the pain detoured me from the knowledge that I want a second journey, God willing? Nope. Even so, I'm so, so glad it's over.

Oh, and we also got to take a peek at the lil Joey today. Here's a glimpse! Measuring right on track and hb 176 bpm.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The truth about surrogacy hormones

Overheard on 137th this morning:

Chris: I can't wait until they stop pumping you full of hormones into every orifice you have. Hell, you don't even have enough. They're making new ones.

Me: Oh, don't be silly. They're not putting anything into my ears, nose or bottom.

Chris: I wouldn't put it past them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Slimming Down

I'm pregnant and losing weight. And it's great. 

I packed on ten pounds the 4 weeks leading up to the transfer. 10 freaking pounds people! In like a month! I was getting so scared of what I'd look like by 40 weeks pregnant. Hell, I was worried about what I'd look like at 12 weeks pregnant at that rate.

But, since transfer I've lost 8 of those ten. From what I'm told, most surrogates start their weight gain count at med start, because it doesn't usually come back down. So, I am one of the lucky ones.

This means I'm closing on 10 weeks pregnant and up 2 pounds. I'll take it.

Considering my appetite and inability to finish so much as a salad these days (I'm just NOT hungry) I think I'll wind up losing those last two pounds before I gain anymore. Again, I'll take it. M&T- This is GREAT news. I didn't gain a pound till week 14 with Emmy, despite being obviously pregnant. So nothing to worry about now.

Which brings on the next question.
 "Are you showing?" 

Well, I say no. But it could be any day, really. I didnt show until 19 weeks with Adelia. It was torture. With Emmy I was clearly showing at 14 weeks... which means if I follow the same schedule, I should pop on out any day. I love that part. When we stop playing, "Is she pregnant or just fat?"

I've shared a pic from last Sunday, 9w4d. I had just eaten a decent (for the moment) sized lunch, and no one was expecting to see the baby bump that we caught on camera. It was a shock. And by the time we lost welcomed this week's challenge, I was back to a flat front. So who knows. But for now, I'll keep the maintained (or slowly dropping) weight and slowly developing bump.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Alllllllllllllllll ABOARD

I leave in a little over two weeks for vacation. 
So what does this have to do with surrogacy?

Well, a lot it turns out. 

You see, I set sail on 10-23. And right now the plan is for me to STOP these darn PIO injections on 10-18. Of course, this could all change. But, I should be needle free by vacay. Which is sooooooooooooo nice. If I can't have fruity cocktail drinks, at least I don't have to take a second suitcase full of needles and oils and ice packs and .... drumroll please..... heating pads.

Because that's where the real issue is here. A heating pad.

There is some chance that my RE will extend my PIO time until after my cruise since I'll be out of contact with a monitoring clinic so soon after my injections stop. And heating pads onboard are against Carnival policy. Crap.

So, I've logged an inquiry with Carnival, in writing, requesting permission to bring my heating pad aboard along with doctor's orders deeming it necessary medical equipment.

I'm sure Kolb would write the note. But it'd be easier if he'd just axe the injections. Fingers crossed!

11 needles to go.

Friday, October 4, 2013

One Handsome Little Fella

Or perhaps little lady. Who knows.

Heart rate was 164 bpm today. Certainly following the girl line, as opposed to the boy line of our first scan. I still think boy though. I had a cup of coffee on my way to the scan. Maybe it had an impact.

The scan didn't really tell us much more than that today. But it was fun to have a scan done on such high tech equipment. We got an incredible side profile of the little Joey. I wanted to share it.

So what's next? Waiting on a phone call to see how great my numbers were yesterday. I'm expecting the word that I can start to wean from my meds this week or next. That would mean I'll be off of them by vacation (19 days... but whose counting?) And that would be AH-MAING.

Monday, September 30, 2013

It Could Have Been Me

I have a few friends in the surrogacy world who are sincerely struggling to become pregnant. It's so hard to watch them and to read their journeys. They all say similar things, "I'm so fertile! It was never hard for me to get pregnant on my own!"

I said the same things.

Truth is, personal fertility has nothing to do with IVF fertility. If you've been a long time reader of this blog, you'll know that I have a severely tilted uterus. My OB was concerned I'd not be able to find an RE willing to work with such a slump. He even said, "It looks like a deflated balloon, Mandy."

I was afraid I'd fail med screening. But HRC and Dr. Kolb said, "no problem."
For your mental imagination

Then, at transfer, Dr. Kolb said, "WOW! Your uterus is severely tilted!"


I was actually a bit afraid he'd cancel my transfer on the table. In front of M, T, B, the film crew and everyone.  But the eggs went in, and one stuck.

But, my story could have gone the completely other direction. Just like my surrosisters who are struggling... I could have been struggling. It could have just as easily been me.

But it wasn't. It's not. I'm pregnant. I'm making dreams come true.

I was once told that only 67% of first transfers take. So really, this transfer taking (while no surprise to me) is great news. Lucky news. Fortunate news.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Well, snot.

I'm pretty proud of my 3 year old. We've been working with her for months on the surrogacy concept. She's got it pretty well down. She knows the baby in mommy belly is M&T's. She knows we aren't keeping it. She knows it's going to Australia.

Mom pats herself on the back.

Until this afternoon when she told me that she was born out of M&T's bellies and then she came from Australia to live with me.

Touche, 3 year old touche.

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's been a minute!

Hello, blog world!
I have internet and a laptop at the new home!!! Even if I am hijacking my neighbors unsecured wifi... I'm still online.

So, the brief updates have told the tale. We are most certainly pregnant with one little blip. I must admit that I am a bit dissapointed that we didn't get two. I've wanted to carry twins with each pregnancy, and each time I've been told no. Maybe my body just isn't up to the challenge. Either way, I know that we are incredibly lucky to have had any egg stick and stay on a first transfer. So, I'll take it.

The heart rate was 126 bpm. Given my experience carrying two girls, I'm going on record early in calling that the boys will be having a SON.

Both my girls had heart rates closer to 160 at this age. I also craved sweets with the girls, which was odd considering I don't have much of a sweet tooth to start with. This time my already diminished sweet tooth is even further gone. I'm craving anything salty.Which, to be fair, is probably not the best thing for me considering I'm a sodium-aholic in my regular life. The good thing is, pickles only have 5 calories each. And Olives are filling. And salt is calorie free. Thankfully I have really low blood pressure and I can handle the extra sodium intake. Mmmmm Olives.

The tech did note a black spot on the reading that could either be pooled blood or an empty sac. That's my guess. And the nurses guess. Bittersweet really, because that's what happened with Emmy too. :( But dear God... two Emmys.... I can hardly wrangle the one!

Anyway, I go back Friday for the next screen to make sure that little blip clears up on it's own.

Next step? Med release. My hiney can hardly wait.