Monday, January 28, 2013

Have a Hart....

So Growing Generations has asked Chris and I to consider being a part of their HART program. It's one that specifically helps intended parents where one partner is HIV positive.

I must admit, my first reaction looked a bit like this...
I seriously almost just deleted the email and laughed it off. Instead, I forwarded the request to Chris.

Chris had a different reaction. To him the request looked a little like this... .
 (I will see if I can get him to blog his thoughts on this sometime soon...) 

So here we are now needing to make an important decision. And I just can't decide. I told the agency on Friday that I'd take the weekend to think it over, and here we are at Monday and I'm no closer to a yes or a no. So I write about it. Here you go bloggers, enjoy my internal debate.

The bones of the story are that no, it's not realistic that I would have any chance at all of contracting the virus, nor is it feasible that the infant would be born with HIV. Those were my first and most primary of concerns.

Next up, I pondered the moral implications of helping a couple have a child who would ultimately have to bury their parent long before is natural. I am assured though that recent medical breakthroughs are allowing people with HIV to live as long as their uninfected partners.

So with my two main concerns erased  I should be really open to this, right?!?!? Chris thinks that this is the IDEAL opportunity for me to help a couple who needs it the most. A couple who can not have their own children and will also have a very difficult time finding a surrogate. This is the ideal way to make a difference and to be on the front lines of medical technology. Growing Generations has birthed close to 1,100 babies and only 50 of those have been a part of this program.

I feel like doing this would totally broaden my horizons and teach me a new lesson in love, tolerance and acceptance. Who DOESN'T want that?

Would I discriminate from helping a couple where one individual had a pacemaker or heart disease? Nope. This should be absolutely, positively no different. But it is. And I can't decide why. I just can't see it in my future. Yet at the same time, I am not willing to tell the agency no.

Here is why I think that is. 

There are issues that matter to Chris and I. Very important issues. Things like number of live embryos to transfer. Views on selective reduction. Opinions of building a large family or just having one baby... These are big deals to us. A couple's sexual orientation just is not.

I don't favor discrimination, but it's exactly what I am doing if I tell this program no. There is no risk to my health, and I've decided previously that my health is the only right I should allow myself in this process in order to maintain an emotional separation from the fetus. So, I can either do this or be a big ole hiporcit saying I don't discriminate and knowing my heart that I am actively doing it.

I feel like if I agree to be a part of this program, I will ONLY be matched with HIV positive parents. I don't want that. But if the path God is leading me down ends with my IPs being a of the Hart program, I think I'd be OK with that.

Well golly gee bloggers, I think I've made my decisions. Maybe. More thinking, more praying... and an update soon. Promise.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Second First Post

I do believe I have posted here before, but it was all so theoretical.  We weren't really ready to embark on this crazy journey for several reasons which were beyond our control.  At this point, however, we are more than ready to begin the process, so with no good reason NOT to, we are starting.  There is plenty of legal wording in our initial contracts to protect everyone but us, so we'll probably have to go through the process of finding an attorney to represent number one.  It's certainly not the first thing I would like to think about during this process, but it is important, and you are a fool to neglect it.

Secondly, we build our little dating profile.  "This is me, and my wife, and here are our hobbies and preferences, and if you like me, give me a wave, or poke, or like, or whatever online button thingie you have!"  In all seriousness, it's a very important process, and I am excited to start snooping at people who are interested in help having their new baby.  How often to you get to window shop for THAT?

I have specifically tried not to envision a specific type of couple, because the reality is, the right couple will probably just jump out at my like my wife did, and no amount of wish listing will change that.  Still, narrowing down the prospects through some very general specs is probably a good idea, so as not to waste my time wading through thousands of profiles.  Or hundreds?  I'm not even sure of the scale of what we are doing.  How many people are out there right now looking for help?  Mind you, they have to be able to actually afford the medical processes, which are mostly not covered by insurance, so it's a smaller percentage of people who would REALLY like help.  Still, I imagine in a country of hundreds of millions of people, there are a handful :)

That's probably all I can say for now; there is still so much that I don't know.  Until next time!

Oh the Paperwork...

Chris and I are slowly chipping away at the mountain of paperwork in front of us. We've read and signed our waivers and our earliest contracts with the agency.

Some of the fun stuff has been writing a letter to my intended parents. Hoping they're like what they read. The way the process works is that the agency (after extensive interviewing) will make a profile of my wants, needs and desires in a family.

They will then query that information against the clients they have on file to look for a perfect match. (PS- I LOVE the idea of having a neutral third party make the match. It takes emotion out of the search.) Once they believe they've found someone Chris and I will like, they will send us that couple's profile.

If Chris and I agree that it is a match then (and only then) the agency will send the profile Chris and I have been working on to the couple. The couple then has the opportunity to accept me as their carrier or reject me. The cycle goes on until both the surrogate and the intended parents find an ideal match. I am told company record is no more than three attempts.

Super exciting!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Easiest Choices Are Now Impossibly Difficult

Jusssssssssssssssssst printed the first 30 or so pages of my paperwork. There is SO much to go through I can't even think straight.

Am I crazy for taking this on?

The first form I find on the top of my stack?

Should be the easiest of all. Identify your OB and delivery hospital of choice. Except that I just moved 2,377 miles from my OB and Delivery hospital of choice. 

This stresses me out to an extent I can't really share. More research. New choices.Will they be right? No more comfort of Cornerstone Pediatrics, Kettering Hospital and Oak Creek OBGYN.. who I know and trust from two pregnancies and nearly a decade of experience. 

Kind of going bald right now as stress makes my hair fall out. 

Hello? This is your future calling ...

Who says a watched pot never boils? While it is true that I have been waiting for this phone call for a few years all day, the Growing Generations staff called me at 1 p.m. on the nose. I spoke with Lisa for exactly 46 minutes about a variety of issues and the big news is.... 


Well, mostly. There is still the issue of my medical and psychological screening but hey, they didn't go running after the first phone call. In truth, I was told the the story of why I am choosing to become a surrogate was a first for the director, and one that had touched her heart. Now, she could say that to everyone I suppose but I honestly didn't get that impression.

Given my former eating issues and body image issues, I am scheduled for a pre-screening phone call with their staff shrink just to make sure I'm not still sticking fingers down my throat and what not (I am not). So long as this person agrees that I sound mentally competent, Chris and I will be flown to California for a day trip to do my other screenings. 

Big picture? We're thinking after all clearances have been obtained and matching is made, it could be a late summer or fall pregnancy. 

It was odd to me to listen to this woman talk about the issues former surrogates had encountered. One woman who almost quit because her embryo transfer was scheduled the same day as her daughter's dance recital. Seriously? You volunteered for this chick... and your IPs have spent bank to make this happen... and you've both been pumped up with hormones so that this happens... and a dance recital makes you want to walk away? I don't get it. Perhaps it was the influence of said hormones. I guess maybe I should adjust my holier than thou attitude till I've live it though. 

In all seriousness, We did learn that I won't be allowed to travel post 26 weeks gestation... so Ohio friends/family will need to come here if they want to see us. But we have time to plan for that. 

Next Steps?

Paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Let the drudgery begin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be Still

What a massively huge and cool day today was! First up, it was little Emrys' 1st birthday. I just can't believe it's been a whole year already. Just to highlight the change it has been... Here is a picture from one year ago today...and then today.

My oh my what a year can change. Tonight we went to dinner as a family to celebrate. It was a fun time. Emmy only nursed twice today, and only once with real interest. At this rate she will be done by next Monday. Sigh. Hey baby, SLOW DOWN. Anyway, here is a glimpse at birthday fun. Check out Adelia stealing Emmy's birthday princess crown.. and check out Emmy's reaction in the background.

As for the surrogacy interview process, I have scheduled my phone interview for tomorrow. I haven't received any confirmation on the agency's end that the call will actually happen, but if it does, I will know this time tomorrow night if I've been accepted into the program. Wahoo!

I feel all of today that God is yelling into me, "BE STILL AND LISTEN!" I am trying. I am listening, and I am trying hard to be still, and be quiet. 

Until next time friends...

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Snowball Effect

I posted earlier that the ball was officially rolling. What I did not anticipate happening was the snowball effect my actions would really have today.

I have spent hours reading and researching today. (This on top of the YEARS of research, reading and praying I've already done.)  After a few conversations with my husband and new surro-pal Jeni (aforementioned blogger-queen) I have made a few major decisions. Cue quirky theme music play and read on....

I will be filling out my second round application with Growing Generations Agency tomorrow. Sending it in, and waiting for approval. Once I get it, I'll be flown to California for my mental and medical screening. Once I get that all cleared, I'll be pairing with my.... drum roll... INTENDED PARENTS. It could all happen inside of 6 weeks. 

Now, not all first "matches" are the ones you will ultimately end up working with, but if all goes swimmingly I will be right on track for my first transfer and possible pregnancy in MAY. 

If you know me at all, you know why that's a big deal. I conceived Adelia May 5th... and Emrys May 31st. (Yea yeah... holiday babies...) 

Am I scared? Nope. I'm terrified. It's scary that literal YEARS of planning are now evolving into actions instead of just words. I'm excited, anxious and hopeful. It feels like maybe it's moving all a little too fast. Please pray that I can stay grounded and continue to make informed decisions. 

---------For My Intended Parents----------------

I shared a thought with Jeni tonight about this blog. I want to post it here, because after I re-read it I thought it to be rather insightful. 

Most of my blog readers are fb friends.
but, maybe someday what Im writing will make a difference. i started the blog so i wouldn't have to tell the story to a million people a million times after every dr. appointment. it very quickly has sort of morphed into my way of recording the history of this surrogacy for two people I haven't even met yet, my IPs. I want them to know it all. Not just the part they are around to see. I want them to know I thought about them and prayed for them almost daily for years before meeting them. In fact, just last week my husband and I prayed for them in earnst... because I imagine at this point in THIER journey, they're feeling frustrated and broken. if they're a traditional couple- they're upset they can't concieve. If they're a gay couple they're nervous. either couple is struggling with the potential costs I am sure. and my heart goes out to them

The ball is officially rolling

Not sure what motivated me to make today the day... but I did it. I've reached out to a few of the major surrogacy agencies to make inquiries. I have be "pre-approved" by a couple... sounds like a credit card application a bit. Odd isn't it? That something so incredibly personal is handled so impersonally at the onset? Some handle my interest a lot like a bank actually... cold and businesslike. Is this best? Who knows.

Part of me actually thinks it would be best to work indy- without an agency... but I'm certainly not that brave with attorneys. I think I'd rather enjoy my journey than focus on the legalities etc.

In the midst of this, I did make a fun little personal connection. I met Jeni, who is an adviser for one of the agencies. She gave me the warm fuzzies after inviting me to read her blog of her surrogacy journey last year. It was fun to read it and know I had already made my decision as I watched her live hers. Her blog made me smile, cry and totally neglect Emrys and Adelia while I read it. Here's a link, check it out. Jeni's Blog.

I get the impression she's a sort of quasi-celebrity, but I can't help feeling like she and I had a personal connection and that perhaps we will wind up friends. Maybe. Her blog also inspired me for what this blog could be. If people read it. (No offense to the handful of you who do, but she gets like 10k pageviews to my 100. :) ) That said, this blog isn't intended for mass consumption. Mainly those who love and support my family and I, and those whose lives I am about to impact greatly.

On the note of bloggers, I've also made a new friend who has a parenting blog. While not surrogacy related, I'll share it too.The Rowen Tree

Other news? One day shy of Emrys's first birthday and ... ((over share warning))... I am cycling again. This is good news. It's well time for this to be happening. That said, I don't know a woman alive who celebrates her period. Well... maybe I do, but that's kind of the opposite of what this blog is talking about.

Em is also only nursing about twice a day. Once I start actively weaning her tomorrow, I'm betting she will be done inside of a week. I'd elaborate on the closing of this chapter.. but I'd cry.

These are two very positive steps. All that's left now is choosing the CORRECT agency, and passing my screenings. I am nervous about those. But there is no point in fear. It's not a test I can study for, and I still strongly believe God's will will prevail.