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?