Friday, December 18, 2015

Expectation vs. Reality

One of my life catch phrases is, "I LOVE a captive audience!"

Most people fear just one thing more than death.
Public Speaking.

Not me.

I adore public speaking, it's a natural high for me. I've actually job searched for positions where I could get paid to talk to audiences about.. well, anything. Those jobs don't exist.

While I honestly feel like I could talk to an audience about just about any topic, it's an added bonus when the subject is something I'm passionate about.

So when I got the chance to give an impromptu interview about surrogacy.... I mean... is it even really a question that I'd be champing at the bit?

This particular journalist had a very difficult time accepting that surrogates could:
  • Not be here only for financial gain
  • Not have a maternal attachment to- and desire to keep- the child she carries
  • Are not being exploited

During our conversation I felt like I had a break through moment, and I wanted to share it with you all.

This journalist cited two Italian couples who had both gone to an IVF clinic with hopes of conceiving a child. Through a horrible (and impossibly rare) occurrence, these women had their embryos swapped. Mom A was implanted with mom B's embryos, and vice versa. Well, mom A's transfer wound up being unsuccessful, and mom B? She wound up pregnant with twins. Twins who were not biologically related to her or her husband.

So, naturally, mom A wanted those twins. They were, after all, her biological children. And, of course, mom B wanted those twins as well. She was, after all, carrying them. Read more about this horrible story, here.

This reporter felt that, as a surrogate, I must feel as mom B did. While the children in my uterus are not my biological kin, how could I NOT want them, in the exact way that mom B wanted the twins that she carried to term and birthed?

Well, friends. Here's how.

It's all about expectation vs. reality.

When mom A and mom B walked into the fertility clinic, they both expected to be implanted with embryos that were biologically their own. They expected that, 9 months later, they'd give birth to children that were biologically their own, and take them home with them.

As a surrogate, when I walk into the fertility clinic, I expect to be implanted with an embryo that is in NO way biologically related to me. I expect that, 9 months later, I'll give birth to a child than is in no way biologically related to me, and that the child will go home with his/her biological parents, and not me.

Tragically, mom A and mom B had realities that did not meet their expectations.

For me, my reality will always match my expectation, and that is why I am able to do this. I walk in with a predetermined expectation, and my reality will meet that- every single time. Comparing the Italian case against that of a standard gestational carrier... is comparing apples to oranges. Or, better yet, comparing apples to eggplant. They're no where near the same situation.

When you add in the layers of ethical surrogacy- the hyper intense screening process wherein 99% of applicants are declined- of course surrogates (at least those working with Growing Generations) are here for the right reasons- they're in no way desperate for money or being exploited.

It is eye opening to me to meet real, sincere, heartfelt people who are so far removed from what I consider to be an obvious truth. This reporter was in no way rude, or abrasive. This was simply a case of underexposure and under education.

I hope that maybe I gave her something to consider, and that hopefully I have opened her eyes to how gestational surrogates can do what we do without being victimized, exploited, or left in despair. I hope that, maybe just maybe, I opened her eyes to that fact that, for most of us, surrogacy itself is its own reward. We're not here for the money, we're here to make dreams come true.

I do this for that first cry. For that moment when a new life exists because of women like me. For that moment when I hear three cries... one from a baby and one from each of two new parents. Because in that moment, my life has made a difference in the world. I have changed a family tree, and potentially the whole world, because I said yes. Yes, I will help you do something that you can't do on your own.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Moving Right Along

Things are really flying at a nice pace over here. It's hard to believe we only met this amazing couple a few weeks ago. Since then Allison and I have been in regular contact via text ,which is so fun! I know it's early to think this, but I just feel like we vibe like girlfriends. I enjoy her cleverness and admire her transparency. I', so excited to make her a mom!

We have our first milestone call today, in just a few hours. We'll talk about our next steps with the help of a GG mediator. So, what are those next steps?

First we'll need to get our surrogacy agreement in order. This process has already begun, and usually take a few weeks to wrap up. I will do a post in the next couple of weeks about surrogacy agreements, and what they entail.

Once we're legally bound to one another, it's baby making time. We already have a timeframe in mind, and I'll share the target date once we're a bit more firm in those plans.

And if all goes well, then we're looking at a big belly and a little baby around the end of 2016 sometime. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

That Tattoo on My Wrist

I'm not sure I've ever blogged about my surrogacy ink. But, given that it represents many of the things I am most thankful for, I figured this weekend would be a good time to talk about it.

First- a little background.
I got my first tattoo as a junior in college. The incredibly popular and often regretted tramp stamp seemed like a great idea at the time.  Knowing how my very conservative grandparents would react, I did what every self respecting grown ass woman would do. I tried to hide it from them.

Does that ever really work?

When grandma eventually found it, the fall out was catastrophic. While we did eventually mend fences, grandma would go on to tell me over the rest of her life  that my tattoo was the only time I ever truly disappointed her or that she felt ashamed of my decisions. We were always honest with one another to a fault, so I had to reply that I felt horribly that my choices had impacted her so, but that I did not feel the same, and that I did plan to get more ink in the future. I did promise to wait until after she and grandpa had passed to do it, out of respect.

That promise put my tattooing on hold for a bit over a decade. I knew where I wanted my next design, on my wrist, and I knew that I wanted it to be something symbolic, but not literal. Apart from that, I was open. After surrogacy I knew what it had to be.

I talked with several artists. 3 outright turned me down. 1 told me that any artist willing to do what I was asking was careless and dangerous. But, as grandma used to say, "If you want to see Mandy soar, tell her she can't fly.

The issue was with my desired placement- the heel of my hand and outer wrist- and my personal anatomy. I have very large veins positioned very close to the surface of my wrist. Apparently that's a problem. But I eventually did find an artist with a great portfolio who I trusted. We did have to alter my desired location just a pinch, but I was OK  that.

I wish you would have seen the look on his face though, when this soccer mom walked into his shop with her Burberry bag and heels, showing no other visible tattooing, asking for a 100% exposed tattoo in one of the most painful locations on the body without an ounce of hesitation. He tried to tactfully ask if I was aware that it wouldn't be concealable, and that it would hurt...a lot. I had to laugh. After waiting 10 years for this, there was no turning back.

Turns out he'd never done anything on this part of the body, I love being a trendsetter! My ink wound up making his portfolio, and a few of his advertising pieces as a result.

Anyway, the tattoo became my family tree, each life symbolized by a star. Symbolic, but not literal. The two medium stars are meant to represent my grandparents who raised me (irony not lost on me that they hated and disapproved of ink, and I wound up representing them in a tattoo). The two large stars represent Chris and I. And those 3 small, filled black stars on the bottom right? One each for Adelia, Emrys, and Eleanor.

And yes, I've left room to add a few more stars.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Time to Make a Mom

Introducing the New Team.
Time to Make a Mom (and a dad)
As a professional writer, I rarely struggle with words. But as I sit down and start to write about the experiences that were today, I just feel like I’m on a roller coaster. The words are flying a million miles per minute and they seem all scrambled. I suppose that in itself, that is a testament to what a wonderful day today was. So, please bear with me as I try to describe why today was so incredible on so many levels.

The day started with some lovely poolside sunshine. It’s winter in Seattle, which means a nice warm morning with a bright, hot sun is the closest thing to euphoria I can imagine. The vitamin D put me in a sunny mood as it so often does and we were off to the Growing Generations offices to meet this new couple.

Mandy with the Growing Generations LA Team
We arrived early so that I could spend a bit of time catching up with the staff, who happen to be my co-workers and friends as well. I felt so appreciated and like a million bucks as I walked in and was greeted like an old chum and showered with praise. Between my morning sunshine and afternoon affirmation, I was feeling like an Olympic gold medalist by the time we went in to meet this new couple.

And then my day got really good.

I’ve been very tight lipped about this couple- on purpose- on the blog. Until I met them and received permission to talk about why Chris and I are so excited by them, it just wasn’t fair to share their details. But, now we have met them, and I can share with you all.

The couple, Allison & Orin, have given me permission to share their names (and thank GOD for that, because writing out ‘the new couple’ constantly was driving me n-u-t-s) as well as some of the many things the four of us have in common. Things like being the product of an online dating courtship to lovers of the outdoors, good food, and great wine- we have just felt from day 1 that we will vibe well with them as people. 

Professionally we are very similar. Orin is an accomplished classical musician and I often find that musicians just get one another. On top of that, Allison and I share a love of written word. I envision eloquent email exchanges and a total lack of moments where we are left at a loss for words.

The match meeting itself went well. 

Very well. 

I say that because the moderator needed to speak very little. The conversation was naturally flowing between the parties and that is always a good sign. They’re totally fine with my consuming the placenta (yum!) and are seemingly as passionate about breastmilk as I am.
Our match gift to Allison & Orin
Cheese board & Wine
Custom label reads:
" ---&Storer
Sometimes the Perfect Pairing
Changes Everything"

After the meeting ended we all walked across the street to a restaurant where we learned that we share more in common. 3 out of 4 of us ordered the burger and I learned that, like me, Orin does not accept well-done meat. 

He became the only person that I do not share blood with that I’ve watched order a burger medium-rare even after being told that burgers are only served medium or higher. I liked this, for many reasons.

Not only do I not have to worry about those disgusted, confused glares I often get when ordering a steak rare in mixed company, this simple act showed me that this is a person who stands up for himself and what he wants despite opposition. It would have been far easier to accept more well done meat in the face of potentially not ruffling the feathers of a new acquaintance, but he chose to assert himself (in a polite manner) and stand up for what he wanted. Sound like anyone else you know? This one of the things I like most about my own personality, and find so incredibly admirable in others.

We also somehow wound up with an assortment of free desserts. That was spectacular. Good day to be me.

After lunch we strolled LACMA, the tar pits, and the surrounding area. For 4 people who just met and in a situation poised for the potential of lots of awkward silences, there really were none. We talked easily, laughed even more easily, continued to find similarities, and simply bonded. We even lost track of time, and after spending nearly 6 hours chatting, found ourselves in an outright rush to grab an Uber and make it to the airport in time for our flight.

I am so thrilled to have been matched with this incredible couple. We are seeking the same things in surrogacy and I feel, with great certainty, that this is the start of another beautiful relationship. This pairing has all of the ingredients to bake a beautiful cake, and I just can NOT wait to make this fun, open hearted, loving, kind, compassionate, smart couple a family.

Made by Mandy, Version 2.0, now in full effect. 
This time with ingredients supplied by Allison & Orin 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Managing Logistics

I am so excited for Monday. But, getting there takes a bit of logistical juggling. Lots of balls in the air. Here's what's up.
Image result for mom juggling
Chris and I are lucky enough to be attending the Seahawks last chance at a victory this season game on Sunday. We've had these plans for a long time. We've arranged for the girls to hang out with our good friend and her kids for the day. We are really excited for this.

Then we got the opportunity to meet this new couple and jumped on it. But, it means we need to fly out of Seattle Sunday evening, right after the game ends. Like, leave from the game for the airport.  So, we asked another very trusted friend to keep the girls for us, and help with getting Adelia to and from school on Monday.

So, the Blondester's schedule for the weekend looks a bit like this.
Sunday morning- off to a friends house
Sunday evening- to a different friends house
Monday evening- transported from friends house to their house- after bedtime
Tuesday morning- oh look, mom! You're home!

Here's our schedule
Sunday morning- tailgate party! wahoo
Sunday noon- game. Don't screw it up Hawks
Sunday evening- flight to LA
Monday morning- mint tea with honey to try and recuperate my unavoidable laryngitis from the game.
Monday noon- Match meeting
Monday night- flight home.

So, whose ready to juggle?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Date is Set

We have a date of when we will meet this new couple.
In 6 days.

That's right, on Monday.
Less than a week from today.

It's so fast! But, I really like that. It feels so nice to have a couple as invested in this process as we are. Plus, this surely gives everyone something fun to talk about with family over Thanksgiving this year!

So, what happens at this meeting?
We'll sit down and talk to one another about important surrogacy stuff. Everything from why each party is doing this, to how many embryos I'm willing to carry. We'll discuss my desire to eat the placenta, and they'll share their desires for my dietary behavior as well. We'll laugh, probably cry a bit (always happens), and just get to know each other.

At the close of the meeting some folks go out for coffee or lunch to continue chatting. I could easily see that happening here. At the close of my match meeting with M&T, we went across the street and had a beer. Match made in heaven. ;) 

I want to take a moment to tell these new intended parents that I know our case specialist has shown you this blog. And I am so glad that she has. This gives you a glimpse at who I am, and how I am, in surrogacy. I want you to know this will be a safe space for your story, too- no matter how many or how few details you're comfortable with my sharing.

M&T loved having this blog to share with their families, and they were even able to take an active role in their story by posting here. It's made an incredible story that both preserves our experiences and educates the masses about how beautiful these bonds can be.

The fact that I know you're here, however, does mean that I can't talk about a fun little match gift I may have procured for Monday. For now. ;)

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Verdict is In

What's the old saying, "A watched pot never boils"?

That's typically how results day goes in surrogacy. I knew I'd have an answer today, so I was mentally prepared to receive it around 530pm or so. Just to keep my excitement in check.

So when my phone rang at 9:13 am, and the voice on the other end started with, "I was hoping to get you on the phone for this..." I thought, surely, the couple must have not liked me. It's always better to be broken up with over the phone than over Email, right?

Well, after a tense 10-12 seconds of bated breath, it turns out the news is good! Very good, actually.

This couple eagerly accepted Chris and I, apparently in a matter of hours (as opposed to days) along with the comment of, "As if we'd need a deadline for this decision."

It feels so incredible when you tell someone who you are and they react so positively. When you admit you're a bit of an "over the top sarcastic" type and fess up to being a "bit" stubborn, and they say, "SIGN US UP!"

This couple is excited to move forward aggressively, so it looks like it's full steam ahead to a match meeting. I'll share details about that as I know them.

I'm feeling very excited, very wanted, and super hopeful that we'll move forward with purpose. It's thrilling. <3

Friday, November 13, 2015

On The Clock

News for you!
In the words of Pinkie Pie:

(That means nervous and excited at the same time)

Just got word that were officially "On the Clock." This means that the new couple, the one we felt the puzzle piece lock with, has our profile. Very likely, they're reading it and looking at photos of my family as I write this. High probability they'll Google me tonight (we all do it) and good chance they'll find and read this post, too.

So, in that case, let me just say:

When I think back and try and put quantitative reasons on why things went so incredibly well with M&T, I think one of the biggest reasons was that we were alike as people. Even before we met it was obvious we shared interests and a close enough professional background that we knew we'd have things in common. It felt like we already knew each other and that we'd hit it off easily.

I feel that way with this couple, too. The more I Googled them (we all do it) the more I felt it.  I really hope they like us, because I'm so excited to just get together with them and talk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Answer is No

No. I don't have any news to share yet.
No. I don't know when I will.
No. They have not yet seen my profile.

So here's the dealio- Before the couple Chris and I have accepted can have an opportunity to accept or reject my profile, their IVF doctor has to approve me for a surrogate. Typically this step doesn't happen, as typically, a surrogate has just been granted her medical screening before GG starts trying to match her. But, I never do things the easy way, now do I?

At current my medical records are with a different IVF doctor, the one the previous IPs had planned to use. So, first we needed to request that he release my records back to GG. That takes a few days.

Then, we needed to send the records to the new IVF doctor and wait for his approval. That takes a few days.

Then, the doctor wants to see more of my records. So we send them, and wait a few more days.

That's where we are right now. Growing Generations is on top of things as usual and working hard to get things going. I am so thankful for that. In fact, my admissions specialist told me yesterday, "I'm giving him until Wednesday. Then I'll have the IPs call him directly." I like her style.

So hang tight friends, I'm hoping to have news for you by the weekend.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

BM I don't want to hear it!

It stands for Body Mass Index, but really it could stand for "Bain of My Existence." Yes yes, I know that's an "E" and not an "I", but you try finding a synonym for existence that starts with an "I".

I could go into the fallacy of the BMI system for measuring one's health, but your attention span is likely not that long. Suffice it to say that under BMI, Arnold Schwarzenegger is considered morbidly obese. Yeah. It's a flawed system.

Anyway, to be a surrogate you have to be beneath a certain BMI. Multitude of reasons for it, most of them legit, but still annoying. Growing Generations, my agency, has an upper limit of a 33.9 BMI.

This has never really been a concern for me. On the day I gave birth to 8.8 pound Eleanor I had a 36 BMI... and by 2 weeks post partum I was down to 32. My normal healthy self tends to hang out around 28 or 29. I'm not a beanpole, but I'm usually out of the area of concern for BMI.

Until today.

So there I was, sitting at the pizza hut lunch buffet gleefully munching of a stack of cinnamon sticks dipped in icing when my phone goes "Chirp Chirp" and says, "Hey Mandy, are you just fat, or too fat, you big fat fatty?"

Ok, so it didn't say that exactly. Instead it told me that the new couple we've chosen to work with are using a doctor who has BMI requirements that are much more strict that that of Growing Generations. They won't take surrogates with anything above a 30 BMI.

So, I put the carb saturated goodness down...slowly...with a touch of longing and a twinge of sadness.

I'm still OK to proceed, my BMI is a 29 right now, but now I have to be mindful of my food, and maybe try to knock another 5 pounds off or so, just for good measure.

Ironic isn't it? That I have to watch my weight and keep it low... in order to qualify to gain a whole bunch of weight?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Like a Puzzle Piece

Moving forward Chris and I both felt excited to find a different family to help. But, if we're being honest, I was also a bit nervous. Just like anyone feels after a failed relationship, I was worried about being hurt again.

 Now, let me tell you a bit about my matching history. I'm picky. Very, very picky. I've been turned down once, and I've turned down a handful of people myself. I feel like being picky in the matching phase and taking your time leads to a better relationship over the course of the surrogacy. So, I'm picky.

So when, on Friday afternoon, we received a profile to consider- I wasn't expecting too much. I've never taken the first one I've received and, as I mentioned, I was still a bit guarded.

But then we read it.
At the bottom of their profile I looked up from my laptop and said just two words in a near whisper, "They're perfect."

In that moment, something happened that hadn't happened for us in surrogacy since we received M&T's profile nearly 3 years ago. We felt that effortless lock. That instant approval that feels like when you put two corresponding puzzle pieces together. That fit that just gives you peace and says, "We're going to be easy friends. This is going to work."

And, spoiler alert, it's an intended mother. We're back to making a mom. Something I thought wasn't going to ever be a good fit for me. I had decided my place in surrogacy was to help gay men. But then I got this profile, and there is just no arguing with that "lock" feeling.

We were given the weekend to consider them, and we really tried to take at least 24 hours. But we just couldn't. We knew right away, and at 19 hours after receiving their information, we couldn't wait any longer. We said yes.

Now we wait to see if they like us, too. To see if they feel that lock.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

An Important Update

Previously I posted about writing letters that you never intend to send. The post wasn't just me waxing all philosophical. I had actually just written a letter that, like many others, I suspected that I would likely not send.

The letter was to request that our current surrogacy match be dissolved, and request that we try to find a better fit with a different family.

I didn't want to send the letter for a number of reasons. I am not a quitter, and we had already invested 6 months into this match. But when I woke up yesterday morning and re-read the letter, I realized that while a few parts needed to be edited out, overall, I still felt just as strongly as I had when I wrote it.

At the end of the day, and the end of a 6 month exercise in patience, Chris and I felt it was in our best interest to send the letter, dissolve our match and move forward.

I do not- will not- want to talk about many of the reasons behind this. They're personal to Chris and I, and I certainly don't want to paint a poor picture of this family. This was an incredibly challenging and very difficult choice for us.

When it comes right down to it, life is short, and a surrogacy career is shorter. As surrogates, we only get to help a very small number of people. Most of us build just one family. The lucky ones build maybe two or three, but that's usually it. We need to be our own advocates and stand up for the experience we want, and the for the surrogacy experience we want our children to view first hand.

So, next up- back to matching. I look very forward to having more news to share soon, and hopefully a more positive upbeat experience for you to go on with me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grandma's Rules

Growing up my Grandma always had  little bits of wisdom she'd share with me. Little nuggets of golden knowledge that she'd spew at me as easily as she'd whip up biscuits and gravy. I used to hate the repetition of morals that, at the time, I found to be no more than memorized rhetoric.

As I aged though, I have caught myself using these regularly with my own children. I find that I live my live around these expressions now. Examples include:

  • "I'm sorry, I can't hear the words you're saying, you'r actions are speaking too loudly."
  • Fear and faith can't live together, Mandy. One will always beat out the other."
  • "The only thing wrong with you is your attitude, and I can't do a thing about that."
  • "Bored is a state of mind you allow yourself to be."
  • "If He brought you to it, He'll see you through it."
  • "I can't never could"
  • "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little 'extra'. Anything worth doing, is worth the little extra."
  • "How you do anything is how you do everything."
  • "If you don't love you, how can you expect anyone else to love you?"
  • "Practice in private, perform in public."

The list could go on and on. While each of these little bits has impacted my life in such a huge way, there is perhaps one lesson she shared with me that has shaped who I am more than the others. The lesson was this:

"If you're so angry with someone that you fear you'll regret what you'll say, if you're so angry that you want to say mean things, if you're so angry that your mouth can't keep up with your thoughts, if you're so angry that you want to make big, bold choices in anger: don't.

Instead, write them down with pen and paper. Be as mean, nasty, raw, and honest as you want. Get it all out. Then place that letter- that physical representation of your hurt- in an envelope, seal it, and sleep with it under your pillow. Carry it in your pocket. Keep those vengeful, hurtful words close to your heart and head for a full day.

Then open the letter, and reread everything you wrote. If you still feel like saying those things is the best choice, if they're still true to how you feel and you're not embarrassed by the things you would have said, give the letter to the person and walk away. The next move is theirs, and understand that they may never talk to you again."

Over the years I wrote more than a few pages heavy with ink to my grandma. In hindsight, she must have known what I was doing. I'd huff and disappear to my room for a few hours to write. I never felt peaceful after writing the letters, but I did feel justified. Most of the time I'd read the letters the next morning and find that I was ashamed, and couldn't burn them in the fireplace quickly enough. Only once did I ever deliver a letter to her. And that once, she admitted she was at fault, and deserved each of those mean nasty things I'd written. We grew from it.

This lesson has served me well over the years. I still do this today.  This lesson has saved friendships; it has allowed me to end friendships with a clear heart and head. It was strengthened my marriage, it has highlighted flaws in my personality. I'm more than thankful for this lesson.

My thoughts wander to this lesson today as I think back on Grandma and the incredible woman that she was. She was more my "mom" than my "grandma", though she hated when I'd point that out. In this way, lost my "mom" too young, just in my 20s. I miss her every single day, but more so when life gets stressful or I feel frustrated, as I do now. What I wouldn't do for a chat with her right now. But the good news is that, while she's not here, I know exactly what she'd tell me if she were.

She'd say, "Everyone is allowed a bad day. Stay in your pjs, eat ice cream, cry, leave your hair unbrushed, and feel sorry for yourself. But tomorrow morning get up, put on your big girl panties, and get to work [fixing the problem]."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Finding Our Rhythm & A note on Intended Mothers

Journey #2.
It's been a long road, friends.

But, I am pleased to report that after spending nearly 6 months in the early stages, things are finally finding their rhythm. I am formally matched, and working on finalizing legal agreements this week. From there things tend to get very busy very quickly, and the hope is to be pregnant by the end of the year.

I spoke previously about having concerns about finding my stride in a second journey. I didn't want to find myself comparing the two families against one another; especially considering how incredibly lucky I was in my first match.

The good news is that this journey has already begun to mold itself into something different than my first experience. It has a different feel, a different breath to it. That said, it's not a bad difference... it's just apples and oranges. For the first time in months I'm feeling like I will wind up creating two families with two romance stories that are unique to one another. This match has a different cadence, but it's a good one. I'm feeling solid, and sure footed. I'm excited to move forward.

I recently had the opportunity to speak about my experiences at a second FTS (Families Through Surrogacy) conference, this one in San Francisco, CA. I want to take a moment to speak to the Intended Mothers out there. While, after much self examination, I have decided that my role in this world is to carry for gay male couples, I just have to say that it's these women who move me to tears.

Had I not been able to so easily conceive, what lengths would I have gone to in order to create my own family? Would I have been brave enough to stare societal misgivings in the face and explore surrogacy? I don't know.

But these women, they're rocks,  and man- I admire them. Society tells women that in order to be a "real woman" we need to bear children. So the women who wind up at these conferences, they're dealing with emotional pain, societal discord, and personal struggle, but yet they're so strong, so determined to become mothers, that none of this can stop them. They're going to have a family, and that's that. These women are so admirable and simply blow my mind.

Mommas, you amaze me. You rock.

Up next, we'll chat about the pending medical cycle!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I am an Ally. Here's why.

I was raised in a Christian home where, unless you were Aunt Pepper and Aunt Aimee, gay was wrong. Period. No (other) exceptions. It was against God’s way, against nature, perverse, and unspeakable. That said, all good Christian girls should reach out and be friends with these deviants. It’s a common Christian teaching. I have many friends who still feel this way.

But the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years something happened that would start the ball rolling to change me. I was sent on a school trip to Washington D.C. While there I stumbled into the middle of a Pride parade.

As it would happen, my group was given some free time around the national mall. I got lost… and stumbled out of an ally and into the middle of Pride. A kindly man dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz (not even kidding) recognized me as lost, asked me where I needed to be, and told me the route back to the Lincoln Memorial (our rendezvous point) was right along the parade route. So, I walked with Dorothy, a few hundred of her closest friends, and a middle school friend (whose name I can not recall) through our nation’s capital.

At the end of my first ever Pride parade I realized something. They were not deviant. They certainly weren’t predators. Hell, they weren’t even mean. They HELPED me. They INVITED me IN to their celebration. Openly. Without Judgement. Freely. I bought a pride T-shirt and was sold on a new attitude.

When I got home from the trip and grandma saw the t-shirt, she literally burned it in our living room buck stove. Symbolic, really… because her fire only served to further ignite mine.

I began to question what I had always been taught. What beliefs were MINE and what beliefs were simply learned behaviors? I decided some very important things that summer.

  • ·         Homosexuality is naturally occurring. Happening in every animal species on Earth, regardless of social implications.
  • ·         Homosexuality can NOT be a choice. Because who on EARTH would choose the discrimination and hate that these people have to endure, just to be who they are?
  • ·         It is morally wrong to sit silently and support inequality and injustice.

There is a very famous Holocaust quote that says:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”  
 --Martin Niemoller

For me, becoming an ally was that simple. It might not be MY fight, but sitting by silently made me just as guilty as those actively discriminating this community. Even so, I just considered myself fair- not yet an ally.

In my freshman year of college, an ex-boyfriend from high school came out to me. He told me first. Before closer friends, family, or his first “real” kiss (because trust me, we’d kissed plenty). He looked me up out of nowhere to tell me. We hadn’t spoken in nearly a year. I was not the easy or obvious choice to be the first to hear his secret. I later asked him, “Why me?” And he told me he wasn’t sure. Just simply that he knew I was a safe place to land- somehow. He knew what I did not yet know.  That I was, and had been for quite some time, an ally.

During a recent conversation with a good friend I had a life break through. For the first time ever, I figured out WHY I chose to become an ally. I’d like to share this realization out loud. Because it’s a part of my story.

I am a child of a broken home. I was judged for that.
My dad is a drunk. I was judged.
My mom did a lot of drugs. I was judged.
I was raise by grandparents. I was judged.
I was very Christian. I was judged.
I got great grades. I was judged.
I was very thin. I was judged.
I was seemingly good at everything I did. I was judged.
I was a teacher’s pet. I was judged.
I was always early for everything. I was judged.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

In that parade, in the dorm rooms of my teenage years, the gay bars of my 20s, and now as a surrogate for gay men, I found something that I found nowhere else in my life. A complete absence of judgement. Pure acceptance. From these people who were so judged, hated, discriminated and oppressed daily, I found a purely safe place. 

And apparently, they found one in me as well. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Best Kind of People

Seems I have forgotten about the hurry up and wait part of this process.
It wasn't easy for me last time, and it's proving to be ... trying... for me again this time.

The couple I have decided to help are quite busy. Frankly, so am I. It's proving to be a bit of a struggle to get us all in the same room at the same time. But that's OK- busy people are the best people.

I once told my grandma, "I'm the kind of person who has all five burners on the stove going at high temp and water boiling in each." She asked me if maybe I'd consider turning the heat down on one of them... and I couldn't even fathom the idea.

I am often told, "It makes me exhausted just watching all you do." Maybe it's not meant to be a compliment, but I wear it as a badge.

I like to be busy. I like to have a lot of things going on at once. I like deadlines.  I live for m to-do lists and can't function without a schedule.

It's been said that, "If you want something done, do it yourself give it to a busy person." I actually like to be that person. It's weird, I know. But it's me.

I'm willing to wager at least one of these guys have a similar personality. Just a hunch. This probably means that WHEN we do finally manage to get together, it's going to be a lot of fun. Probably some speed talking, too.

Because I can accomplish more when I speak more quickly.

Monday, June 22, 2015

No Such Thing

We got the thumbs up to start planning for our match meeting today. We should be in LA in the next several weeks to meet this new couple. To hitch our hearts to this cart and get going. To make another family.

As a mother of girls, I know that some day I'll need to teach my little blondesters some things about the internet. Chiefly, nothing ever really goes away once you hit "Send" and, perhaps most importantly, there is NO SUCH THING AS ANONYMITY.

There is something inside of me that is dying to know if these fellas are already reading along. This couple knows my name and face- it's part of the matching process. Google search "Mandy Storer" and the number one result is this blog. It doesn't take much cyber-sleuthing at all to find me, my story, and my heart.

Do I hope you're reading along, new couple? I don't know. But if you are here, I hope you're as excited as I am for our match. I hope your support circles are as pumped and ready to cheer you on as mine are for me. I hope you're ready for this season's Big Brother, because it rules my summer life. Mostly, if you are here, I want you to know you're being thought of daily. Because, there is no such thing as anonymity anymore.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

We're Official

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to announce that the blog you use to have to google "A baby to share blog" to find, now has an official home. From now on, you can find my uterus and I at:


Share the news (And the address) far and wide!

Also- as a hobby- I design T shirts. I've decided any sales from my shop will go towards the annual premium on the domain. If you have an idea for something not currently in my shop, let me know! Also- each design is customizable in color cut, wording, etc. Happy shopping!
Blondester Blog Gear Storefront

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Born to Gestate

Great news,everyone! My uterus is still smooth, thick, bloodrich, and otherwise perfect. Here's a wrap up of my visit with Dr. Ghadir, no longer the nasty name I called him before... because really, he's a sweetheart.

I will say that I will miss the HRC experience. I felt a bit like I was in an Urgent Care waiting room as opposed to a high end southern California fertility clinic.

Being sent to the porn pantry...err...specimen sample collection area and then being directed to, "Go down the hall to the right, find the hanging clipboard and sign up for a blood drawl" is just something that wouldn't happen at HRC... In my previous experience I peed in a room without porn, latex gloves, a wrapped chair and TV and then could expect to be personally escorted to a technician ready to draw my blood.

But, aesthetics aside, the doctor was quite nice, the scan went very well.

On the day of my scan I was on day 12 (Yes, 12) of my menstrual bleed, and was shedding that lining like crazy (Read:bleeding like a broken dam). So,by 12 days of blood loss, many of those days the heaviest I've had in quite awhile, I expected to find a huge open cavity (normal) and thin lining (normal) on my scan.

Instead, we found a 6mm lining (ideal transfer is 8mm or above) and a triple stripe (walls of the uterus touching in the middle, no open cavity).  Essentially, my uterus was transfer ready on day 12 of my bleed. This just proves that I'm a fertile Myrtle, and born to gestate. Maybe I should rebrand the blog, "Born to Gestate". What do you think?

So now we're back in a holding pattern wherein I wait for my urine and blood to come back drug free (they will) so that we can schedule our actual match meeting with the new couple.

I'm very eager to meet them, in large part, so I know what all I am allowed to blog about this time. It's always my first priority to respect their privacy wishes, especially as this blog still has a pretty healthy following. I can't wait to tell you all why Chris and I love this couple. But until I get the green light, mums the word.

Until next time, friends!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I'm Baacccccccccccccccck

First step of journey #2 is being medically cleared for a second time. Which I am currently in L.A. to do, right now.

Here's the hitch... this time I'm going to be working with a new doctor. And this doctor is a bit known in my surrogacy circles as, 'Dr. Fat Shame." Apparently he has a way of trying to talk anyone with a BMI over 26 into losing some weight before getting knocked up.

Now, let's look at the facts here, folks.

Fact: my BMI is not a 4. Hell, it's not even a 24. (it's a 28, and I'm kind of proud of it)
Fact: I out-gym most men.
Fact: I've lost 61 pounds (and counting) in the last year.
Fact: I am healthy, and my body does what I want it to do.
Fact: I've successfully carried and birthed 3 children.
Fact: No one really shames me for anything.

Fact: I'm nervous for this appointment despite the facts. 

Makes no sense. But I am.
They'll also be looking inside of my uterus to make sure it's still beautiful. I'm fairly certain it is, but this doctor seems to be a bit more picky... so who knows what he'll think of my "deflated balloon"

So here we go. Off to the doctor, nervous, but daring him to fat shame me.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ellie!

I recently was given the incredible opportunity to travel to Australia to speak about surrogacy. I was on a panel discussion at the Families Through Surrogacy Australia convention in mid May. It was simply one of the best things I've ever done. 

The timing of the event was incredibly fortunate- it fell just days after the first birthday of Ellie. So, naturally, when given a free day in Oz I chose to hop a flight from Sydney to Melbourne to meet up with Ellie and M, T was out of state on business.

In case you don't recall how our last visit went, Ellie was not a fan of her surrogate mother. For the little girl who refused- REFUSED- to vacate my womb 9 months earlier, she outright couldn't stand the sight of me that day. One look from me would send her into tears. And I had even brushed both my hair and teeth that day. I wasn't heart broken by the rejection. Truly. I knew it was a possibility and really, she's surrounded by men. So imagine this strange looking (and sounding) woman coming at you and assuming familiarity? I think  most kids would cry.So this time I decided to try a different approach. I went to her more slowly, less familiar, and asked her for permission to cuddle, hug, hold and play. Imagine my incredible joy when she was OK with each request! So for the day we spent time playing peek-a-boo, cuddling, tickling, raspberry blowing and bonding. It was such an awesome change from just three months prior. 

After lunch I stopped by her home to see the place I had sent this child into just over a year earlier. I think my favorite part was a bulletin board by the back door that is covered in snapshots of the family. Every time the dads walk E by it they stop and point out one or two people and call them by name. My heart was flooded when I noticed photos of me with Ellie as well as other photos that my girls have sent them over the last 12 months on the board. It was obvious that these photos weren't added just for my visit. The photos were there because we really are a part of one another's families at this point. When I think back on this visit, it is likely that board that I will think of first.

The guys had also saved me one of E's birthday cakes from her party. In this way I was able to have some of her birthday cake, even though I had missed the party. So, over coffee for me and tea for Grandma and M, we talked surrogacy, and Ellie, and parenthood. I shared a tearful hug with M's mom. We really do have a unique and special bond. After our snack we crowded around the TV to watch video from the birthday party so that I could see the traditional singing of Happy Birthday. It was very cute, but what was really moving was what happened next. The computer went right into the video montage the guys made shortly following the birth. It had video of the days just before the birth, footage at the hospital, immediately following the birth, and a bit from E's first days of life. 
I've seen the video before, clearly, but this time it had an entirely new impact on me. I started to cry, again. You see, this time I had this fly on the wall view of my choices to become a surrogate and how HUGE that choice really was.

I made a little person. I'm not so arrogant as to say she wouldn't be here without me, there are other surrogates, but because of people LIKE me, Ellie exists. M&T are dads, Grandma S has another grandchild. Because of my choice, someday M&T will be grandpas. The branches of this family tree have forever been changed "for the good" because one person with a big heart and an able uterus said, "Yes. I can help. And I will." That realization sends chills down my spine. It's so big! On that day, in that living room, with those tears running down my face while holding the hand of the grandma I helped make... I felt such incredible pride. A new pride, a new sense of self. 

And I knew, I just had to do this all over again. 

So, one year removed from the end of our epic and well chronicled journey, I am here to announce that there will be another journey.

M & T are quite happy with their family of three, and have changed their position from "coach" to "cheerleader" for this journey. They'll be a part of my support team, but not the parents this go-round.  So, if not M&T, then who? There will be more on that in the coming weeks as I learn more myself.

But for now, buckle your seatbelts! The ride of a lifetime is back for seconds.