Thursday, June 19, 2014

The View From 30,000 Feet. Surrogate's Perspective

In the coming weeks I will also be posting two additional posts with the same title. One written by the dads and another written by our egg donor. Now that some time has elapsed, I thought it'd be really unique to do wrap up posts on the entire process from the perspective of each of us. So to get started, here are my final thoughts on this journey.

The IVF Process

I'd like to say this was the hardest part of the process. It certainly runs a close second to leaving the hospital without a baby. Even the memory of those long needles, large knots and my tender bottom makes me cringe. But as we finished surrogates tell the incoming ones, "If it was really that bad, none of us would do this twice."

The Goodbye Tears

The tears have been hard for me. I feel very defensive of them. Yes it hurts, and yes I cried more than I thought I would. But I don't cry for the reasons the masses suspect and the critics will claim. 

While these babies we, as surrogates, bear are not "ours" in the realest sense of the word, in some manner there are undeniably so. Ellie is MY surrobabe. No one else can claim that. No one else will ever carry her in their belly or harbor the same dynamic, albeit complex, emotions for her that I do. It's a unique bond unlike anything Hallmark has a card to celebrate.

It is this unique bond that I share with Ellie and her dads that led to the tears. Fear that this amazing bond would fade with my baby weight. As each day goes by though, and I am lucky enough to remain in their lives, I get a little stronger, a little more sure footed and a little less weepy.

Quite simply, and to be cliche, 
"From the outside looking in it can never be understood. 
From the inside looking out, it can never be explained."

The Friendships Lost

Did it happen? Yes, it did. While only one person made a loud and dynamic exit from my life, I noticed many more who started with removing their support of my story, then by not talking to me and ultimately by disappearing from my Facebook list entirely.

While I am grateful for their quiet departure (as opposed to a vocal showdown), it continues to confound me a bit. Nothing about my views or my voice has changed in the past 18 months. I have been an equal rights ally for more than half of my life. It's something I'm not tight lipped about. Anyone who knows me at all has known this about me for as long as they've known me.

I've always, "talked the talk" so to speak. But the instant I put that first foot out in front of me to, "walk the walk" something changed. I put my money where my mouth had always been... and that was simply too much for some people to bear.
The only view that matters.
Ellie at 30,000 feet. 

I don't have hard feelings though. None at all. Because the truth is I gained 10 new amazing people for every one I lost. And that, friends, is a wonderful return on investment.

The Friendships Gained

In college I was in a sorority. There I made some lifetime friends. The surrosisters that I have made over the past year and will continue to make have become my adult sorority sisters. We are bonded through experiences that no one outside of our club can relate too.This amazing network of women I have found through surrogacy are real friends, true friends, lifetime friends who I will likely never meet in person.

These women understand a part of me that so many others will be unable to understand. To you women I will remain eternally grateful and in awe of your loving hearts and dedication. Together we carry each other on this amazing ride, and without one another I'm not sure it's a ride any of us would survive. Has me singing "For Good" from Wicked.  I love you all.

I loved being Greek and I love being a surrogate. It's awesome to have been given this experience twice in one life.

The Girl Reborn

I believe that with every milestone moment in life you are changed. Another ripple added to the record of your song. Going Greek changed me. Becoming a mother changed me. Being a surrogate has changed me.

It has opened my eyes to things I thought I understood before, only to learn now that I still have no comprehension of what so ever. It has opened my heart and taught me to stand even stronger for who I am and what I believe in. I have learned within those convictions to find more compassion, and that sometimes the greatest words of support are found in saying nothing; and doing more.

I've loved being a surrogate. 
For well over a year it's been a huge part of how I define myself. 
Undoubtedly it will remain how I describe myself for the rest of my life.

The Future

Surprisingly, I am not often asked if I plan to do this again. The gals at Growing Generations tell me it's because, to them and probably the rest of the world, it appears a no brainer that I'll be back for more. I suppose that's a wonderful compliment since I have zero regrets over this major life choice, and would make the same choices all over again. 

But  to me, the future of my uterus is probably not as certain. With the exception to any potential sibling plans the boys might (or might not) be dreaming up, I'm not willing to give a concrete "yes" or "no" to much of anything right now. Unless you're offering me a job in third party reproduction. I'm open to that. ;)

The Blog

This little project started as a way to not have to tell the same story over and over and OVER. What it has turned into is something all it's own. That's because of you; my readers. I expected to have maybe 10 family members following along, but that's far from what I got.

As of this posting this blog has had more than 54 THOUSAND unique page views spread out from readers in every continent on Earth. I didn't anticipate that, but I am grateful that so many people have enjoyed this journey.

I will miss this blog deeply. I will miss YOU deeply. I am already seeking out cool new topics to start a new blog project. But what's cooler than carrying a baby for someone else?  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Belly Bumps!

Ever wonder how I went from tiny to tubby? 

Here's a pictorial look of how we went from 

A to B in 40 weeks flat...well... round is more accurate... 

5 Weeks
9 Weeks

11 Weeks

15 Weeks

16 Weeks

17 Weeks

18 Weeks

20 Weeks
23 Weeks
24 Weeks

25 Weeks

29 Weeks
31 Weeks

34 Weeks

35 Weeks

36 Weeks
37 Weeks

38 Weeks

39 Weeks

40 Weeks

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Your Questions. My Answers.

So I asked for questions, and got a small handful. Most of the things I find people wondering about are questions that will have a different answer for every surrogate you ask. So what I've done here is compiled them, answered them as they relate to me, and invited many surrogates I know to offer their answers in the comments below.  

Be forewarned, this blog might take as long to read as George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. It took just slightly less time to write it.

Here are a few questions that DON'T relate to me personally...

I've had a tubal. No way I could carry for someone else, right?
Wrong! In order to be a surrogate you need to have a beautiful uterus. Nothing more. Well, at least as it relates to your anatomy. As gestational carriers we do not give our egg to this process. That means having a tubal done does not matter. We don't use those parts at all. Pretty cool, huh?

I've had IVF to make my own family. Can I be a surrogate?

Absolutely. I know girls who have done it. It seems to me that while you may consider yourself a lesser candidate because of your need for IVF, you'd actually be sought out for this unique experience. 

I figure your past need for IVF proves that your body responds well to those medicines and ascertains that a successful pregnancy can be the result of those medications. Plus, you're probably less likely to whine about the painful shots, having done it before.

And now for a few questions that relate JUST to me: 

Where did you get your labor gown? I love it!
Hey thanks! I'm pretty fond of it myself. Especially after I turned it into a cute stuffed keepsake! It was a "Gownie." They're available from a lot of online retailers, most notably here. But, I found mine for a wonderful discounted price of $9.99 on Ebay because the size tag was misprinted. I'd check there first. 

Do you feel if your IPs were male/female you still would have nursed Ellie?
There are so many what ifs in there. Some intended mothers are able to nurse on their own. I don't understand the process, but I know of 3 first hand who have done this. So in that instance, the mother may not have wanted me to nurse. 

But for me, for my heart, I'd always be willing. I wasn't so sure of that before I actually did nurse a child that wasn't mine, but now that I have there is no question. If the parents says it's OK, I'm whipping out my breast to feed. 

 I just don't know how to approach that subject with my new IFs.
I'm such a strong personality and nursing is something I'm so passionate about that it was a subject we needed to touch on even before matching. I knew I'd be pumping at a minimum for my weight loss and health. I told them as much and said they may as well use that milk, if nothing else. 

As the months went on I talked about the many benefits of latch nursing for both baby and (tummy) mummy. I told them it'd be beneficial and my desire to latch nurse for the first three days, and promised to stop immediately if I felt a stronger bond forming. At first the answer was no. In fact, it didn't turn into, "OK, Let's try it" until a week or two prior to birth. 

So, how would I approach it? Little by little with much compassion and even more honesty. Tell your IPs what YOU want, because you need to be fair to your needs in this process as well, but understand that it is ultimately their decision. Then just go with the flow.

I'd love to know the way the hospital handled parental rights for the dads, visiting, just the surrogacy in general. I'm just remembering how my littles had security sensors on their ID bracelets that matched mine.
Yup, this was a quagmire. The hospital prints three bracelets per every newborn. One for the baby (with the 'don't steal me sensors), and per hospital policy one per the mother. That leaves one tag left, usually for the dad. But we had two dads. Now, math isn't my strong suit but this was a case where 2+2 didn't equal 4. 

We tried to get two sets printed, so that baby would have one that matched just me, and baby would have a second that matched just dads. But, that was a no go. Luckily for us the hospital staff was so awesome and so accommodating that this didn't become an issue. 

I think the fact that we were a unique situation, paired with a slow day in L&D played to our advantage. Everyone knew our names and situations. The banding became a non issue. Legally, once the baby was born I had no rights, dads had all. So she was never with me unless they were. 

Did they tell you what the grade of the embryos were? I know they transferred two right? Just wondering if one was a better grade than the other?
M&T, might need your help on this one. I know that this information was made available to them. I seem to remember hearing it while I was nude waist down spread eagle with a film crew in the room. But... I don't remember the grades and if one was better than the other. Can't imagine why I wouldn't ;) 

I'm sure what you're getting at is, "why did one take so easily while the other didn't at all" I've wondered this myself. The answer I've come to is simply that my uterus only likes girls. 

Questions That differ for us all. 
(Other surros, feel free to share your answers in the comments)  

There are a lot here... so let's have some fun with the answers and not waste your entire evening with my rambling. 

Do you know the couple?
I do now! No, we didn't know each other on day one. But a year later and I can't imagine life without them.

 Did you have to have sex with the parents?
Oh boy! Which one? Considering the baby is not mine from either side... I don't know if you're asking about my sexual activities with the egg donor or the dad. The answer is no, by the way. But even if it were yes, I don't kiss and tell. 

Who's egg and sperm? 

In our case, one dad gave sperm and the other dad gave his beloved cousin... who generously offered her egg. In this unique situation the baby bears a biological connection to both dads.  Here's more on that. 

Why did I become a surrogate? 

I like being pregnant.  I wanted to have more than two kids. Our family was done. The only way these conflicting emotions made sense to me was to become a surrogate. I felt then and continue to feel now that this is God's calling on my life. Read more on this here.

 Will you get attached to the baby? 

I did. But not in the way critics expect. I like to say it's like holding your best friends baby... only on the inside. 

Why won't you get attached to the baby? 
Because you have more than a year to prepare for the fat that it's not yours and you don't get to keep it. Because somewhere along the way you'll be asked to do things for this baby you didn't do for your own, reminding you that it's not yours. And mostly, because if I wanted another baby I'd have just had one. 

Why a same sex couple? 
Why NOT a same sex couple? I've said for years that when it comes to love it's about what's in your heart, not about what's in your pants. Or at least it should be. This is no different. That said, I did have specific reasons for wanting to work with two men. Here's more on that. 

Why not help a traditional couple? 
I would have. It's all about the match.

Why won't the parents just adopt? 
Why don't you? Just because you're blessed enough to be able to have your own biological children on your own should not negate the desire for others to be able to do the same. This is an infuriating question. I've addressed it in great detail here.

Don't you feel like you're playing God? Why would you help people skirt the laws of God?
Oh the God questions. The simple way to answer it is to say that we, as man, have no knowledge or technology that God did not mean for us to have. On a personal level, I chose to believe God will applaud me, not condemn me, on judgement day for loving any of His children enough to help them in such an intimate way. Here's a piece I wrote, and remain quite proud of writing, on where I see God in infertility in general. We'll leave the same sex variables out. 

How much do you get paid? 
How much do you get paid? It's not done for the money and I'd make more working a year at McDonalds and not have to answer your questions or live with the stretch marks. Heres a link to my salary on the Growing Generation's webpage. Here's a blog I wrote about crazy surrogate compensation stories. 

Will you get to see the baby ever again?
Yes. I see her through photos and Facebook quite often. And if I'm lucky, I'll get to hug her again someday. 

What do your kids think? Do you think it'll effect your kids?
My girls love baby Ellie and her dads. They've known who she was and where she was going since before she was put into my belly. Open communication made all the difference for us.

Are you going to do it again? 
Are you going to have more kids of your own? It's impossible to answer that on the fly, a lot of variables go into that equation. 

How did you really feel giving the baby away? 
I didn't. She wasn't mine to give away. 

How are you feeling now that it's all done? 
Whew. I'm working on that blog now. Check back next week. 

Did the dads save/bank the cord blood?

How accommodating was the hospital with the placenta collection?

I just had to sign a few forms. But, we live in a pretty hippie heavy state. I think it's illegal in Texas.... weigh in below, gals.

How bad are the hormones really? 
If you're asking about the needles... they suck. really badly. About the hormone therapy? No worse than being pregnancy with your own. 

How do you give yourself shots and keep track of all of that medication? 
I made Chris do the bad ones. I used an old lady pill box for all the pills 7 days at a time. I hid the rest in the back of my coat closet (not even kidding) the rest of the time. Out of sight, out of mind.

Will the baby look like you?
I love this one. My (African American) neighbor keeps asking me if I could potentially give birth to a black baby. A surrogate baby will look like the surrogate about as much as the baby would look like you. None of my genetics. Unless she's pretty. Then I'll take credit. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


So, what IS an FWA? 
Betcha most of you have at least one of them. 

FWA is a "Frequently Wondered About" thing. I don't say FAQ because let's be honest... when it comes to a surrogates brain, uterus, ovaries, breasts and placenta... you don't actually ask the things you're silently wondering about.

But, as with all things in life, the key to compassion, understanding and tolerance is knowledge. 

I've had it in my mind for months now to eventually post a FWA type blog, but I need all of your help to make it a hit.

So I'm asking... begging, really... to know the things you've been FWA (Frequently Wondering About). You know, the things you hope I'll write about so you don't have to ask.

Nothing is off limits, and it doesn't have to pertain to my journey specifically, though I will also entertain personal quandaries. So ask about surrogacy, or nursing, or birth, or how I felt when "xx" happened. Just ask! To my fellow surrogates who follow, how about posting a question you're asked frequently... just to help me build content!

Feel free to post questions here- on my FB page directly- or by Email here. I'll keep all questions anonymous when I answer them in a week or so, so don't worry about being called out.