Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Making of a Parent

The NYT's article (no I am not trying to beat a dead horse) brought up a good question, one that all of us in the IF world ask ourselves at some point. "What makes a parent?" On some level, I think that everyone fears that his or her child will look at them one day and use the words of Dr. Seuss, "You are not my mother, you are a Snort!" All children, regardless of how they came to be, will one-day wish that their parents were anybody else. For all of us there will come a day when our sweet, darling, loving child will rip our hearts out and stomp them into the dirt.

I grew up in a very blended family that has prepared me well for dealing with the feelings of not being the biological parent of my child. I am the adopted child from my mother's first marriage, who has been raised by me "step" father since I was two, and my sister is the biological child of my mother and "step" father. My "step" father is my DAD. He has been there ever since I can remember. Over the years, he has mended my boo-boos, suffered through my math homework, dealt with my teen years and loved me through every moment. I am his daughter and I dare you to tell him any differently. My mom has been my mother since I was 12 days old. She loves me just as she loves my sister, who she birthed. We both drive her crazy, make her worry, and we are both the fabric that makes up her heart. My parents are my parents because they love me not because we share genetics. All of us are a family because we share our history, not because we share our DNA.

Birth mothers, surrogates, egg donors, sperm donors, and anyone else I have left out, are very special people who give us the ability to become parents, but they are never the parents of our children. Parents are the people who know more about us than we know about ourselves. They are the people who would rather die than see their child in pain for one moment. For every moment of our lives, they celebrate, cry and feel every emotion a thousand times over. I know this, just as I know that it will be dark when the sun sets.

One day my child will wish that I was not their mother. When that day comes my heart will break because he/she are getting older and are able to imagine a day when he/she will not need me to care for them, it will not break because I believe that maybe I am not their mother. I have been his/her mother for all the years that we have tried to make him/her a reality, and I will be his/her mother forever whether they like it or not. I am his/her mother because I love them so deeply and care about them so much that I could not begin to use words to convey these feelings.

This is the strangest part about IF; we become parents long before we ever have a child. Many of us spend years living our lives around people who do not exist. There are moments when I feel like an insane person living with this being that is very real to only me. For many years now, this being occupies most of my days. At some point, I began to realize that what sometimes feels like insanity is just the world's longest pregnancy.

Over the years, I have watched my friends prepare for the birth of the life that had overtaken their bodies. Not one of them prepared in that same way, but there was always one common denominator. RESEARCH. In their own ways, they reduced their anxiety about becoming parents, by becoming experts in their chosen field of neuroses. I have done the same, only I started a little further back in the process. I went into depth with all our options to become parents, adoption in all its various incarnations, infertility treatments, childlessness and surrogacy. Each subject got my complete attention for months on end. When surrogacy and egg donation became our chosen path to parenthood, my focus of research changed. I now research furniture, safety measures, schooling options and the thousand other things that children bring with them. Many of the conversations that parents have during pregnancy and after birth have already taken place between Joe-Bob and me. In fact, some of our epic fights have revolved around the non-existent being that lives with us.

One day my child may see me as a Snort, and that is okay because I know in my heart that our souls are made of the same matter even if our DNA is not.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Hazel

A dear friend of ours is having a really horrible time. In short, her daughter swallowed a battery from a remote and is now fighting to recover. Please go over and read the story. Please let everyone know how dangerous those little batteries are when swallowed, remember these batteries are in those cards that talk and sing songs. Most of all please keep Hazel and her parents in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Her Body, My Baby and another Intended Mother’s Feelings

"Her Body, My Baby" ran in the New York Times on Sunday. Again, I am reminded of the ignorance that we are up against in educating people about the special way that our child will come into the world. We are by no means wealthy, paying for surrogacy means sacrificing as it does for many others. We are not doing this so that we can have a child that looks like us; we are using an egg donor so the child will not look anything like me. We do not look at our surrogate as a commodity, she will be a very special part of our family. I have no issues with not giving birth to my child, my mother did not give birth to me but she is no less my mother.

We are doing this because it was the best option for us. We want to be mommy and daddy from day one. As an adopted child, I know that I would not be able to deal with an open adoption arrangement. I have thoroughly researched open adoption, not just a few personal stories, I went to the Psychology and Social Work Journals, I talked to professionals who deal with adopted children, and I did a lot of soul searching. In the end, I learned that open adoption is not what I thought it was and that my preconceived notions were wrong, but I also knew that it was not something that was right for my family.

I do not begrudge Alex and her husband their feelings on surrogacy, and I would never want to minimize the pain that someone feels going through this journey. For me it was important to work through the years of pain and heal the wounds left by infertility before I went into this process. Educating myself in every way possible was really important. I want to go into this journey with my eyes, heart and mind open and clear, because everyone involved in this process deserves that from me. Sure there are going to be moments when all this fails, but at least for now I know that I will be able to handle what will come up in this journey. In my opinion, it is something that many women do not do and it can lead to panic and heartache for everyone. My main problem is that she has chosen to word her journey and chosen to show pictures that convey the stereotypes that I am trying so hard to dispel, the same stereotypes that both our children are going to come up against if they ever choose to share how they came into the world. I will be the first to admit that I too thought that most surrogates were women who needed the money, but after a tiny bit of research (and I do not have the power of the New York Times), it was obvious that this was not the case. The altruism in surrogacy, which Alex dismisses, is a real thing there are women who do this for free, the ones who do not are not desperate and they would be offended to hear someone say that their motives were purely financial. Compensation is difficult but the feelings we have about it need to be dealt with before this journey begins.

Reading the comments bothered me more than the actual article, which is usually the case. "Why not adopt a child with special needs?" Parents who have children with special needs are my heroes; it is a job that takes so much commitment and an incredible amount of fortitude. Choosing surrogacy left us open to having a child with special needs in a way that adoption would not have. What bothers me about that comment is that people just assume because we could not conceive on our own that we would be appropriate parents for a special needs child. If we have a special needs child, it is something that we can handle, but not a situation that we find ourselves equipped to handle well enough that we should actively pursue. Maybe it makes us bad people in some peoples' minds, and I am okay with letting them think that. To us it would be worse to take in a child that we were unable to care for.

"Maybe this is the universes way of telling you that you should not be parents." "Darwin's theory dictates that your genetics should not be passed on." "People like you should not have children." It is true that some people are not fit to be parents, but that determination has nothing to do with fertility status. No one asks to be infertile. A person's fertility status has nothing to do with their character or the type of person that they are. These comments are the worst, in my opinion, because they add insult to so much injury. When I found out that I was infertile, it made me question my status as a woman and defining myself as a woman again has taken a lot of work. I am still amazes me how much of our identity as men and women is tied up in our fertility. Our lives are so much more than our ability to produce children.

Overall, I am happy that Alex and her husband have their child. I know that the journey is difficult. I am happy that she was able to write about it for the world. I just wish that she had found a way to express some parts of it differently. Most of all I wish that the pictures had been different, why did they feel the need to use those pictures, so many people are not going to read the words and those pictures tell a very untrue story. I hope that Alex and her family are happy for many years to come. Like I said the part that really bothered me was reading all the comments, which I know hurt her just as deeply as they hurt all of us chasing baby dreams.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

What I am thankful for:

My family, those I am with and those who are celebrating elsewhere.
My husband, who is my rock.
That we are all healthy.
Everyone in blogland who has given me so much support. I have learned so much from all of you and you have made this journey much easier.

Hope that all of you have a wonderful day with friends and family. Eat up!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Empty

Empty…. Head, arms, soul, heart. Busy…. Mind, life, schedule.

These are the reasons that I have not been writing. These are also the reasons that I should be writing.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and all associated activities are coming at me like the fast pitch machine at the batting cages. Problem is that I was never good at sports; in fact, I was horrible, that whole hand-eye coordination thing just never worked well for me. For years, I have filled up my time to avoid the hurt that comes with family holidays, not my actual family, the one member we want to add. There was comfort in years past being so busy that I barely had time to think about how soul crushing it can be not to be able to have the one thing you really want.

My mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, in years past I rattle off a few things and be done with it or at the very least come up with something in a day or two. This year there was a silent pause filled with tension and pain. We both know what we want, I want to be a mother and she wants to be a grandmother, something that seems so simple and so elusive at the same time. "Next year we will go to the toy store, next year we will have a baby." Was my mantra for the holidays. Only this year that will not work, at most next year we will be expecting our child, but I am too afraid to think that way right now. That way of thinking just makes the next year worse.

I love spending time with my family over the holidays and we have a ton of fun. Still there is emptiness. When we look at the stockings and talk about how hard it will be to find a similar one for the baby, or pretend to savor the extra sleep that we get on Christmas morning, all I am really doing is easing the pain. Yes, being able to set the table the day before with worrying that little hands will break the crystal makes our lives easier. Of course, it is fun to have a relaxed dinner on Christmas Eve, pleasant not to hear, "Can we open the presents yet?" a thousand times, well a thousand more times than my sister, and I ask. All these wonderful things are just ways to comfort myself, because the truth is I will not miss them for a second, nor will they matter when "Thank You" is replaced by giggles, and the boxes are so much more fun than the toy inside.

This year will be exciting and we will have fun, because we always have fun. We will skirt the issue and talk about Christmases in the future when Santa will need cookies and little voices wake us at the crack of dawn. At Christmas, more than the rest of the year, my infertility becomes more than our loss, it becomes my entire family's loss, my parents have no grandchildren, my sister has no niece, and worse my grandmother's have no great-grandchildren. They want this just as much as we do, it makes it so hard, not because of anything they do, but because I want to give them the one thing, I cannot give them. I am so fortunate to have a family who is so supportive, has never once made me feel bad, and most importantly would do anything to make this dream a reality.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feeling Real Emotions

My baby sister is getting married!!!!!

I could not be happier she is so incredibly happy. J is an awesome guy and he loves her like she deserves to be loved. They are adorable together, and balance each other perfectly.

They are just so cute and happy and all is just so wonderful in their world.

_____________________________________________________________

We have a small family. In other words, we tend to have few big events. When we are all together you would think it was always a big event, we do have a ton of fun together. Ever since we started the surrogacy process there has been no major events, this journey has been our major event.

Suddenly I find myself in uncharted waters. Last night I was talking to C about her wedding plans and I was making plans that did not involve getting to our child. For me, the weirdest part of the whole surrogacy experience is feeling like a parent to a child that is years away from being born. We make life decisions as if they were here. I have researched baby products, education styles, been educated about all the "Mommy War" debates, and filled my head with enough information that I think it is starting to leak.

Part of me feels guilty for celebrating this happy time in my family's life. Somehow I feel like I am neglecting this future child, it feels like I am being a bad mother. As irrational as that sounds the feeling sits in the pit of my stomach. If someone else said this to me I would tell them that they were being crazy and that they should allow themselves the joy. I am enjoying this, I am happy, but there is a limit to which I feel this happiness and joy.

Infertility has taught me not to get my hopes up, because I will be disappointed. Spending years going from highs to lows, that are not allowed on roller coasters, teaches you to be suspicious of the highs because it is all going to come crashing down. Self preservation dictates this damping down of emotions. If I were to allow myself to feel all these emotions full force I would be living in a padded room by this point.

The downside to all this is that these occasions when I want to feel this incredible joy, I have a ball of anxiety that sits in my stomach. My brain sets off a siren, repeating "Warning, Warning, emotions are not good." Ignoring this warning is okay in this situation, I am going to ignore the anxiety and just be happy. The world may stop spinning, but I am willing to take the risk.

MY BABY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!!!! This is an amazing time. I am going to ignore the irrational guilt and just be happy for her. She deserves all my happiness. I deserve to live in the moment. It is okay that I am so happy.

Now all I have to do is lose a thousand pounds in 4 months.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is Part of Friendship

Our friends and families have supported our quest to have a child, by whatever means necessary, so unconditionally that the hurtful comments that so many others suffer are a small part of the baggage we are carrying. Having this huge cheering section has come with a huge price, one that I was unaware we were paying until the other day. Over the past week this issue has come up a couple of times and each time it breaks my heart just a little more.

Some of my friends who already have children are having a difficult time conceiving again, secondary infertility. While speaking with my best friend the other day I realized that people who already have children are reluctant to talk about having trouble conceiving another child. Out of all my amazing friends that I am so lucky to have, L is the first person I want to call when I am hurting and when I am overjoyed. L is one of those friends who will stand by you no matter what and over the years, she has seen me through some of the worst times of my life. As a mother, L is incredible and if I am able to be half the mother she is, I will consider myself an excellent mother.

When L told me that she had been trying to have her third child for over a year I nearly fell over. I knew that L wanted more children, but I had no idea that she was even trying at this point. Realizing that she had been suffering for over a year and felt that she could not tell me, made me feel awful. Infertility sucks, hurts and is lonely for many people, but for me that pain has been eased by her support and love. Now here L is going through all the same stuff and felt that she could not tell me. Just because she already has two amazing children, she said that it made her feel guilty for complaining to me because we are trying so hard just to have one.

I know that not all people who have infertility problems feel this way, and I very well may be in a small minority. No matter how many children someone already has, not being able to have another is just as painful as not being able to have the first. Yes, they do already have children. Yes, we are trying to have just one. Yes, they already have what we are working so hard to attain. Yes, they do not have to endure the pain of empty arms. Yes, to any of the thousand reasons why they could just be happy with what they have. Only, they want their children to have siblings, they want to have a larger family, they want another child and are suffering with the pain of infertility.

Baby showers, kids' birthday parties, christenings and many other child related activities are difficult to attend and often I avoid them like the plague. Some days I cannot even watch a television show with children or babies in them because it is just too painful. L mitigates so much of this pain for me simply by believing with all her heart that I will be a mother and constantly telling me that I will be a great mother. Better than all of that, she reminds me that no hard days will matter on the day I can hold my child in my arms. I want to give her that same support. I know where she is, facing so many questions and fears that she should not have to endure alone.

L was the first of my friends that I called when I found out that having a child was going to be very difficult for us. She was the first person to tell me that it did not matter if I gave birth, what mattered was being a mother. When I felt like I was not a "real" woman because my body would not do what it was designed to, L was the one who listened to me cry and said she would support me any way that she could.

I know that she is trying to spare my feelings. She is trying to be compassionate. What she forgot is that I have travelled that road and she was by my side the whole time. I need to be there for her, I need to share my experience with her. Yes, there are going to be days when it is painful for me to listen to, just as it has been painful for her to listen to me. This is not a road anyone should ever travel alone, especially when there is someone who has already been there.

L you are my best friend, my best cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, my foundation, and most importantly you are my sister. I may not always understand what you are going through, I may not always be the best friend, but I will always be here and I will always love you. Your struggles are my struggles.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Redefining The Dream, Part Two

Surrogacy feels like a string of giving ups at times. Not that all the things you have to give up are bad. I will not have to experience morning sickness, which is great because I hate to vomit. Then there are the huge things. I will never feel the kicks coming from inside my body, and I might not be there to hear the first heartbeat. All these things I have come to terms with, it is all a part of how I get to become a mother and I will give up anything to make that a reality.

Hospitals have policies and procedures that are in place for a good reason, but these same policies and procedures could cause us to have to give up even more. If our child has to be delivered by c-section, we would have to give up being there when our child is born. Most hospitals only allow one other person to be in the operating room, and I could never imagine going into surgery without my husband. Each time a situation comes up where I have to make a decision I always try to think what I would want if I were the one who was pregnant. For me my husband is the world's best painkiller, just knowing that he is there makes me feel a thousand times better.

Recently, a surrogate that I know had this situation come up and she was afraid to tell her intended parents that she wanted her husband to be with her. My reaction to this was of course you would want your husband to be there. Sure, this is another thing that I may have to give up and this one seems huge compared to some of the other things, but there are other people to consider here and it is a fact of surrogacy that this journey is not all about me. In fact very little of this journey is about me. This is a concept that is difficult at times, not because I am that conceited, but because having a child has been the center of my universe for so many years. Without our dream of completing our family our child would not exist. The child our surrogate is carrying is not just a child; he/she is the culmination of years of dreams, heartache, tears and a lot of hard work. What helps me remember that this is not just about me and my family is that without this amazing woman our dreams would never come to fruition. In addition, this wonderful woman and her family will forever be tied to my family and disrespecting her and her family would be disrespecting a part of my child.

From the moment, we decided to involve all these other people, our surrogate and her family, our egg donor and whoever else shows up, in our quest to become parents we started redefining what family was going to mean for us. Possibly not seeing our child(ren) take their first breath of air is part of our new reality. Not only because of hospital policy, but also because babies have a habit of being born on their own schedule, it is entirely possible that we will not make it to the hospital on time.

Like I have said before surrogacy demands flexibility. In my opinion she is the one who is pregnant therefore she is the one who gets to decide, within reason, how the birthing process will be conducted. Of course should everything go as planned I will bite anyone who tries to keep me out of the room. My friends who are surrogates have also taught me that they all dream of seeing the look on the parents face when they look at their child for the first time. So not having the intended parents there and not being able to see the look on their faces when they first see their child means that she is forced to redefine her dreams of how the birth would be.

This post has taken me forever to write. These words have been deleted and re-written more than I care to admit. An issue this important seems too big for words at times. Frankly until this came up in someone else's life I had given the issue very little thought. Hearing a surrogate say that she was nervous about telling the parents, something that was so important to her made me sad and scared. I never want any surrogate to feel like she does not have a voice when it comes to something that is so big in her life, and so little in mine.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not Your Typical Easter Egg Hunt

Now that you all know we are using an egg donor, I thought I would try to explain the process for choosing a donor. As in all things written here this was my experience.

Step 1: Google "egg donation agency"

Step 2: After smoke clears, attempt to remain calm

Step 3: Realize that this is going to take a lot longer than I thought

Step 4: Begin going through each agency

    A: look at location

    B: year in operation

    C: number of potential donors

    D: contractual obligations of both parties

    E: cost

Step 5: Realize that this is going to be much harder than I thought, close the computer and walk away for a little while.

Step 6: Realize that this child is not ever going to be born if I cannot make decisions.

Step 7: Decide that I will give myself a month to narrow down candidates to four.

I know that four sounds simple, how many people could possibly look like another person? This is the point that having just enough information to be dangerous severely hampers this process. What is more important to me is not that my child will be the most beautiful person in the room; in fact I would rather they not be, as being to one end of any spectrum is never a good thing.

The List (Not in any order):

  1. Must be willing to work with all people, because this shows that she is open-minded.
  2. High GPA, SAT scores or whatever else.
  3. Willing to meet the child should they desire to do so when they are older.
  4. Has musical ability. Not that I have any, but let's give the kid a fighting chance.
  5. Likes being social.
  6. Enjoys giving to others. Which is most of them otherwise they would not be willing to donate their eggs.
  7. Must have good family medical history. I do not have a complete family medical history and that has caused problems for me.

That list got me about 100 results. 100 is nowhere near 4. Maybe I am going to need 2 months. Now we are going to get to the part where I feel shallow. I try very hard not to be a judgmental person. As a child, I was teased for being ugly and always have felt horrible about the way I look and the internet does not have enough room for me to list all the things I do not like about myself. So starting to eliminate potential donors on the basis of looks just feels gross. On the other hand I cannot think of anything else to narrow down the pool, and I cannot figure out a way to use all 100 donors.

My thought process:

  • Eye color, not something I really care about. I have hazel eyes and Joe-Bob has blue. Maybe blue because I love blue eyes.
  • Height not too short over 5'3" not too tall under 5'11". I am 5'5" and Joe-Bob is 6'2". I do not want a toddler who is taller than me.
  • Hair color? I have brown and Joe-Bob has red, so maybe red since it is recessive, but brown is good too.
  • Body composition well we are both fat and hate being so (we need to get in the gym). Okay thin would be good, being fat sucks. I went to fat camp at 12 and have always struggled with my weight and having a child doing so would break my heart.
  • Nose shape. Okay, Joe-Bob has a tiny nose (he hates it), but some people in his family have ample nose. No reason to give the genetics lottery more ammunition, a smaller nose would be good. What, rhinoplasty is expensive?

I guess it will come as no surprise that we still have not narrowed this down very far. Oh wait, Joe-Bob chose me so he should choose the egg donor, right? His answer to this was, "I trust your judgment, just narrow it down to 10 and then I will help you." Seriously, 10 is an impossible number.

Now I have it down to 50. No the rest of them were not fat with huge noses. I just started taking women out for stupid reasons, like a love of sushi. I do not know if I like sushi, because I cannot bring my self to try eating raw fish, I have hang ups.

To top this all off, leave it to my husband to throw all my work out the window. "You know that if you want everything she has we should get her parents to make us embryos." Thanks honey, I love you too.

Helping Others

Thank you all for your comments. Things are going much better here; we are working through the depression. I will always be amazed by how much it helps me to focus on helping others; it makes my own problems feel less overwhelming. Now I owe all of you a "real" post, which will come later today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Standing Outside the Pain

Here it is again that suffocating feeling, watching someone you would move the world for slipping into a hole. Wanting to join them there because it is comfortable, being that far down that is familiar. Knowing that jumping into the hole only makes the hole deeper. It all happens out of love, a love that on the right day could re-align the solar system.

Instead of jumping in, I am going to throw a rope and start pulling. Believing that not letting go will work, fighting for them with all the strength that comes from standing on the sidelines. It is painful knowing that my strength cannot be transferred. Knowing where this road leads if love and strength is not enough. We started in a place so far in the hole for so long they were the strength that pulled me through and now the table has turned. Now I am the one who must plant my feet and pull.

Today I stand in awe of how fast watching someone you love suffer can make everything else seem so petty. Yesterday my problems were all encompassing; nothing could have hurt so deeply than walking through life without a child, today it is simply a small blister that will become a callous. Life can change so quickly when someone you love is in pain.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Have Been in a Fog

I have not written in a while for a number of reasons.

First, I am having a hard time making myself do anything. Part of the problem is that I am still trying to adjust to the medication and part of it is that I am just overwhelmed. As I have said before I am getting close to finishing college which is terrifying on so many different levels. In some ways I am setting myself up for failure, and that is not going to happen, but it is easy for me I know how to fail.

Second, what was already a scary financial obligation of surrogacy is getting even more frightening with the current situation that we are all facing. Part of me knows that we will find a way to accomplish this not matter what, another part of me is trying to prepare myself for the reality that this might not happen. I am in the process of finding ways to cut costs, which is not easy. I need this to work, my heart needs this to work.

Over the past week or so I have actually begun to entertain the idea of what our life would be like if we were childless. The first thing that came to me is that it would not just affect us but our whole family and while I know they would be supportive I also know they would be broken hearted. Under no circumstances are we having a child to satisfy others, but the reality is that infertility affects everyone that loves you and has suffered right along with you. For me though, while it would break my heart in ways that I cannot fathom, I would learn to live without ever being a mother. It is conceivable to me that I could find a way to do something really meaningful in this world that would make it bearable. People go through their lives without children all the time and they find a way to have beautiful, meaningful and often extraordinary impacts on the world. Even though I thought mine would be to raise a child who loved and respected everyone it may not be and I am starting to accept that as okay.

Just because I am starting to think about these things does not mean that I am giving up we are still planning on going ahead in the new year. It is important to me that I know what my life will look like in the future, so I have something to throw out the window when my world gets turned upside down and the road takes a big curve. Plans are made to be broken and goals are set to be changed, what is important is that we keep looking into a future and seeing all the possibilities that life has to offer.

I am going to try and be here more I promise, and I will try to find some ways to make this more affordable which I promise to share. Thank you for your patience with me. This road is long and lonely at times, but I am finding a lot of amazing people along the way.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Green Eyed Monster and Surrogacy

The other night I got an e-mail from a woman asking how I dealt with the feelings of jealousy when it comes to surrogacy. Dealing with these feelings is one of my major concerns during this journey because I do not want jealousy to cloud the experience for anyone involved. Moreover, I see this as my own personal problem, yes there is going to be a special relationship that the surrogate gets to experience with my child that I would love to experience. When we first started talking about surrogacy this was something that I thought a lot about.

I concluded that if this was going to be a happy experience for me I had to find a way to deal with my feelings. In thinking about this issue, it occurred to me that:

  1. Our surrogate had no intention of keeping our child, she was doing this to help us have a family
  2. Our child was never going to remember having this *relationship* with our surrogate
  3. I was the one who had the problem with the situation

At some point, it became a ridiculous idea for me to be jealous. Sure, this is not the path I planned to motherhood, but it was the option that I chose and one that I was comfortable with. Spending nine months waiting for my biggest dream to come true is going to be hard enough. Spending those nine months bitter and angry because I was jealous of a situation that was only real for me felt ridiculous, especially when I could be spending it happy and relishing every detail while I enjoyed a good relationship with our surrogate. This is not saying that I will not at times be jealous I am human after all. I just have to keep telling myself that this is my issue and reminding myself that nothing good comes out of me focusing on these feelings.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

asking for help and the stresses of surrogacy

The past week has been a painful one, both physically and emotionally. "Serious Clinical Depression" the three words that defined my adolescence. In adulthood, I have managed to keep these debilitating feelings out of my daily life. Then at a moments notice that old companion creeps back in attempting to stain my world. At these times, I get the interventions that I need and go on with my life and this time was no different.

I do not need a "professional" to tell me what is wrong that much is obvious. I am prone to bouts of depression and my life is stressful at the moment. On top of the surrogacy, I am in my second to last semester in college, and I am seriously loosing the battle to lose weight. At this time I do not think that talking to anyone is going to help, but I have no problem with talk therapy if the medication and working on addressing the weight in a different way. I count my ability to monitor myself this way as the "prize" I earned from struggling for so many years and making it out fairly in tact.

Part of what is not talked about with surrogacy and IF is that you are a parent for years before you have an actual child in your home. As a friend of mine said one day, "Well you are a mother you just do not have the child yet." This is exactly how I feel, every time I feel like I really need a break from all this I immediately feel guilty because I am delaying the birth of my child. It is the most irrational feeling and yet it is one that permeates my life, which is difficult for me because I like it when my life and thoughts make sense (at least to me). Our child is real to me part of this comes from the fact that so much time and energy has been put into getting him/her to really exist this makes every decision to delay the process feel like a betrayal and like I am already a bad parent for being selfish. Before you go running from the insane woman let me assure you that I know this is irrational and walks a razor edge of sanity. Intellectually I understand that these thoughts are not normal and I brush them aside and do what needs to be completed.

Part of the issue that I am dealing with now is that I am almost finished with college. With a degree in Social Work and Psychology, it is imperative that I obtain a Masters degree to work in my area of interest. I have the opportunity to start this summer and cut my time in graduate school down by 6 months this time frame would put my still in school when we had our child. Throughout this process, it has always been my intention to spend at least the first 2 years home with my child. As I am not getting any younger I am not willing to put off the baby making to get my Masters, as it stands now I am firmly committed that if I do not have a baby in my arms by the time I am 36 (3.5 years) then we are finished. Now I have to decide how I am going to work these two very important things together. Women do this every day most women do not always get to plan when they are going to have their children and they are still able to do what I am having so much trouble wrapping my head around. After missing huge parts of the first 9 months, I do not want to miss another second and I do not want someone else being there while him/her is discovering the world for the first time.

Then to put the cherry on the sundae in spite of my decent attempts to lose weight I am just gaining. I am in the gym with my trainer 3 times a week. In the place where I feel so out of place, self conscious and judged, but I go because; I do not want to feel like this anymore. Even though I know that I feel better, that number on the scale keeps going up. It is getting to the point where I do not want to leave the house. My parents were in town yesterday and I was embarrassed to see them, which is crazy because they too have struggled with their weight (They both look amazing and have worked really hard to lose weight and I could not be prouder of them). My desire to put curtains on the mirrors in my bathroom is overwhelming. In the next few weeks I will be seeing a doctor about this situations. This is such a familiar struggle but I am getting scared that I will not be able to get this under control and it will change who I am in a fundamental way. Back to the doctor I go to stumble around in the dark trying to figure out what is wrong with me, figure out where the new cracks are in the body that hates me.

I will start the anti-depressants tomorrow and knowing me it will be a couple of weeks before I am starting to get balanced out again. Yes, I hate it that I could not do this on my own and some part of me feels weak. Stepping back and looking at the big picture, I am surprised it has taken me this long to get to this place and I think I should have asked for help much sooner. Not being able to ask for help will sink someone going through this process. I am so lucky that I am surrounded by people who know how to read me and are not afraid to tell me that I need help, I am so grateful that if I had not been able to get help on my own that they would have made sure that I did. The importance of having great people around you and asking for all the help you need without shame cannot be stressed enough. It is a difficult enough to get through this process with tons of support, trying to go it alone would be treacherous for me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Distractions from Surrogacy

Yes, I am still here. Honestly, I planned to post a lot this week; it just did not work out that way.

Some of you may recall that I need to loose a lot of weight. Well that has been going about as well as dragging an ice cubes across the desert. In the beginning of May, I began working out 3 days a week with a trainer. To date I have gained 20 more pounds none of which is muscle. To say the least I am frustrated. I am supposed to see the doctor because I believe that the PCOS is once again rearing its ugly head. A part of me thought that once I finished with the bleeding problems this would all be something that would no longer require attention.

I have been feeling horrible about everything for the past few days. To top this all, Joe-Bob could be away from home for 14 weeks over the summer that may put a real kink in our surrogacy plans. An amazing opportunity one could advance his career in ways that we could not imagine this soon. I am grateful that he has this chance, but I just want to get on with my plans. Of course, there is still a chance that this will not happen as I think it will.

Over the years, I have learned to prepare for the worst-case scenarios. Some people think this makes me morose or fatalistic, I think that it is the best way to protect myself. It may not be the world's best coping mechanism but it works for me and I am going to stick with it. It hurts a lot less to fall from 2 inches than 20 feet.

In order to maintain my sanity I have come up with a new project. I am going to finally rid my kitchen of the early 90's wallpaper. When we first saw our house I wanted to get rid of that paper, so 2 ½ year later, I am finally going to do something about it. This is all part of having something else to focus my energy on besides surrogacy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall is here

Just a few pictures I wanted to share.

last days of withered beauty.

the first signs of fall!!







Whispering about surrogacy and infertility

I am re-posting this today because I have had some comments about the "Comments Section" is messed up in the other post. Hope this works. Thank you so much to all of you who read this before.

Just stumbled across this blog Barren and Beautiful who asks the question "Why do we whisper about infertility?"

Since I love answering question (and none of you is asking any), I will answer questions I find floating out in blog-world.

There was a time when I did not want anyone to know about these difficulties, I felt so horrible about myself that I could not fathom the looks of pity and false sympathy. My infertility diagnosis came when I was 21 while I was still trying to identify myself as a person. In childhood, I always imagined that my primary title as a woman would be "Mother" and as I approached that milestone, it was suddenly snatched away. Over the past 11 years much has changed, as it does for most people, the biggest change for me though is my ability to talk about infertility without shame.

At least that is what I believed before reading the above-mentioned post. With my friends and family, I give them all the gory details, of which there are plenty; with others, I use it almost as a weapon. When I hear the questions, "So do you have children?" "Wow, you have been married a long time, when are you going to start a family" or "Do you not like children?" My immediate reaction is to kick them in the shins or stick them with hot pokers, but since my mother did an excellent job in curbing these violent tendencies I usually just say "We are not ready" or a similarly benign answer. At some moments, those moments when I cannot stand to hear that question, I say things like, "I had to decide between being a mother and being pregnant, so we chose to be parents." or "It is not possible for us to have children." or "I am infertile so having babies is not that easy for us." I am sure that there are more but those are the ones I use most of the time. People are always disarmed and generally try to change the subject, though there are others who actually keep asking questions. As stated above I love questions and do my best to answer them.

I hate this part of myself, that part that wants to hurt others who hurt me. A part of me who picks out people's insecurities and uses it against them. 99% of the time, I can keep this side of me in check and then there are those times when I let it out in all its glory. This is the part of me that I would happily get rid of if given the opportunity that is until I feel the need to defend myself. The only solace I get out of this is the hope that the next time they are around someone without children that they will not ask insensitive questions.

I am trying to whisper as much as I can about infertility because lately discussing the subject has brought out a side of myself that I cannot stand.

On track 2 of this album, I am here telling everyone about my infertility. This blog is a safe place for me to talk about what is happening. The majority of the people here are going to something similar and understand how cutting these comments can be. I am sure there will come a day when someone says something negative, but that day has yet to come. I am so grateful to have this outlet and the feedback from all of you. Knowing that other people are out there helps more than you know. Infertility becomes very lonely after so many years and there are some things that try, as they may people not in the infertility shoes cannot understand.

I cannot whisper about infertility because I love this support system made possible by me going "public".

Moving onto track 3, I want to use this experience to teach others about this little understood part of infertility and what I think is the most surrounded with misunderstanding. One day my child will go out into the world and I want to try to reduce the number of people will have misconceptions about how he/she came into the world. It is difficult for me to think that one day someone may say something hurtful to my child about surrogacy. I can only hope that it is long after they are old enough to know the entire story so that they realize how ridiculous the comments are.

I cannot whisper about this issue because the more people who know the reality the fewer chances ignorance has to affect my child.

Skipping to track 4, being here in the black hole of infertility a lot of emotions build up. In the years that I kept this all quiet were painful and difficult years. For the first four years of our marriage, we dealt with this issue by trying to convince ourselves that children were not something that we wanted in our lives. It was important for us to not discuss children for two reasons, we both knew that it was going to be a long process and we were not really ready to become the parents that we wanted to be. Around 3.5 years into our marriage we started to talk around the edges of adding to our family. Since we knew that, it was not going to just happen we started to educate ourselves about the options. I did really well with this emotionally for about 6 months, I was able to stay detached and look at everything in an objective manner. Then one day I was reading a website and it hit me, "we are going to be parents, we are actually going to have a baby." That was the day the clock really started to run, and it has been getting louder with every passing second. Every announced impending birth felt like a punch in the gut. When surrogacy finally became our chosen path, I knew that I was going to have to do a lot of work on myself before I was ready to participate appropriately in this adventure. Being able to work out many of my feelings here has benefited me more than just about anything I have done. Having to be brutally honest about the process and the accompanying feelings has helped me shape what this journey needs to look like for everyone involved.

I do not whisper here because it is cheaper than therapy.

Finding the balance between screaming from the rooftops, spitting in peoples' faces, or being a mess of mental illness has personally been a constant battle. I believe that I have been getting better at finding this balance, but I am human and do get it horribly wrong from time to time. Infertility is a wild and bumpy journey, but mostly it is an overwhelming journey that gets very heavy sometimes. Staying silent or whispering in corners is doing very little good for all us women and men who are locked in the struggle to become parents in a way very different from what we had expected.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Secrets

I have been keeping a secret that is important to this journey.

When I first began this blog, I intended to take it down once we had our child. At that point, in our journey we still did not know what information we would share with our child about their unusual beginnings. Honestly, at that point we were sure that we were never going to tell them that another woman carried them. It was not that we were embarrassed, we thought that we would be protecting them from pain and hurt. As an adopted child I went through a time in my life when I felt flawed and carried guilt about my start in the world and I would never want that for my own child. Then I began to have nightmares of our child finding some piece of paper or picture and no longer being able to keep up the charade. All I could think of was how much worse that situation would be than just making it part of their narrative and leaving it at that.

Over that hurdle, we then had to decide how much of the story we were going to tell. Was it enough to just tell them that my stomach was broken and that another lady gave birth to them? Would it be better to let them see pictures of, talk to, or meet this woman? How far would we allow that relationship to go? How were we going to handle the relationship more to the point how was I going to feel about that relationship?

After weeks of debate and looking at every advantage and disadvantage, we made a decision. If we were going to tell the story, we had to tell them everything. It was an all or nothing deal. For those of you who know us will not be at all surprised, we are very much all or nothing people. One of the things infertility has not been able to steal away from me the commitment that no matter what the story of how our child came into the world I never wanted the time between thinking that they got here like anyone else and the true story would not exist we would always be honest with them. I still do not have the words for that day.

Okay so now that I have completely written us into some circle I guess I should tell you what the point of this was. Wow, I am actually nervous about this, and I am not ever nervous about saying anything here. We are using an egg donor. You will be happy to know that my head did not explode, I was afraid of that happening at this moment. I am not sure why it was so hard for me to say. For me this was the hardest part of choosing to use surrogacy. I had to make sure that I was not going to feel that I had less of a claim to our child or blame my husband when they turn out to be horrible people I cannot stand to be around, well at least not any more than a normal person would.

Before we entered into the world of surrogacy, we were preparing to adopt from China. I had researched everything that I could about the process, down to what airline discounts we could use and filling out a few applications with agencies. Something just never felt right, I knew that we were both able to parent a child that was not biologically ours and I knew that we could handle the extra challenges of adopting a toddler who would need extra help. After a year or so I realized what would not be right was that I would miss out on possibly the first year or two of my child’s life, and remember when I said we are all or nothing people because that is what drove me to this decision. I want to have every moment I can with my child, without being the type of parent who moves to the same town their child goes to college in, or calling to ask the nice man at company X who did not hire my child.

Surrogacy became the answer for us. We could be parents from day one and having a child that was not biologically mine seemed to be about the same thing as adoption. At least that is what I thought, until the day that I realized that I was ashamed to tell anyone and was considering breaking rule number 1 “always be honest”. I knew that when I consented for my surgery that I would loose my ability to have a child and I have never questioned that decision.

It began with the “creepy” factor of looking through hundreds of profiles. Somewhere in the middle of narrowing down these profiles, there were things that I had to start weeding out that made me uncomfortable. There were those things that were obvious, like a history of cancer and then there were things like eye color and GPA’s. I began to feel like I was living in one of those insane private preschool parodies in the movies. The real punch in the face was looking back through those I had narrowed down were nothing like me and part of that made me feel great and another part of that felt horrible, horrible in a way that nothing had ever made me feel and very shocking. I have never thought that biology had anything to do with being a good parent. My parents are great and not a bit of biology is shared between us and that has never made them love me less.

I believe that what was so hard to accept was that I was not just going to have a child “assigned” to me; I was going to have to choose a woman to be half of their genetics. For a while that felt strange, and then it felt hugely overwhelming. My first real decision as the mother of my child was to pick their genetic mother and that is one decision that I do not want to get wrong. I have talked about my paralyzing fear before and this was a time when I was really stuck. More people have looked at egg donors with me, and the more people that I pulled in the more my choices were confirmed. Having others agree that they too were seeing what I was seeing was so helpful.

Affirmation of your choices is so rare in the world of infertility, that when it finally happens it feels like Christmas and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. I have no other words to describe that feeling of elation when you finally feel that you are competent enough to make “parent” level decisions.

We are using an egg donor, because I would not be able to live with myself if my child inherited even one of my disorders. That is the trouble with knowing just enough to be dangerous when it comes to the heritability of disease and disability. Well that is at least what I am telling myself for now. Other than me being able to carry this baby on my own like most women no solution is going to be perfect. Surrogacy just happens to meet more of our criteria. At the start of this process I believed that I would have, a much harder time dealing with my feelings about the surrogate, so far that had not been true.

There is my little secret. Now it does not seem like such a big deal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

a new look

Well my time would probly have been spent getting my hair cut or my face waxed. If I had done that though, how would you have seen the beautiful transformation?

Instead you may notice that things are looking a bit different over here. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Surrogacy Compensation

I got a question about compensation, from Bump Fairy. First, let me say that I love questions, please feel free to ask away. If you do not want to ask on the blog, you can e-mail me and I will not use your name, but I will answer the question.

So back to the question of compensation for surrogates.

Bump Fairy wrote:

Jaymee, you speak so highly of surrogates. How do you feel about the compensation aspect? I know some don't, but most surrogates request financial compensation for their journeys. I'd love it if you could post your thoughts, as an IM, on that issue. As a surrogate, that was (and continues to be) my biggest hurdle. Being called a "back alley baby seller" never feels good, and from my seat it feels like people suck all of the good out of the journey just because of that one detail; as if it is not a good thing unless it is "free". But the people speaking those words have never been in your shoes; I wonder how it is viewed from your side?

Wow, are you sure, you would not just like to know the meaning of life?

Seriously, this was one of my major concerns when we started this process. First, I need to dispel the myth that all surrogates are poor, financially unstable, and uneducated. In my experience, this could not be further from the truth. The majority of these women are doing this to help others experience the joys of parenthood, they had easy pregnancies or in some cases dealt with infertility themselves or someone close to them has, the money that they receive is a secondary benefit. From what I have read many of these women are using the money to put away extra funds, start college funds, or to help pay for further education for themselves, they are not using the money to throw crazy parties or expensive vacations. Most of the surrogates that I know are appalled when others comment on how nice it must be to get the extra money.

It would be wonderful to live in a world where everything was free, time ran as fast or a slow, as we needed, and every problem would be solved with a hug and a kiss. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everything, including the air at the gas station, costs money. We as a society have agreed that the paper with dead white guys on it is how we are going to trade goods and services, and yet somehow we have made it something dirty when it come to particular goods and services. I guess I could give my surrogate a $25,000 piece of jewelry, like a friend of mine received from her husband after the birth of their first child. That would then really feel like buying a baby and what a more degrading way than with something bright and shiny like you use to distract small children.

For me the compensation came down to taking an honest look at what money was being paid out and what that money was for. Reality is that being pregnant costs money, you eat more, you need new clothes, you need more help with you own children, you have to travel to doctors' offices and worse you have to sit in doctors' offices. Then there is the physical toll that pregnancy takes on the body, weight gain, swelling, being uncomfortable, heartburn, hemorrhoids, morning sickness, not seeing your feet, loss of sleep, limited mobility, and a thousand other things. Of course, there is the big pink elephant on roller skates in the middle of the room, the baby/ies have to get out, and that is something that is not pretty, I saw the film in health class and that is some serious pain and suffering. Of course, this would be assuming that she was getting pregnant the "old fashioned way", which is not how this works. So add to all that the injections (done by her significant other or herself), hormone overloads, and all the other lovely things that come along with regular infertility treatments. Now tell me that you would willing do that free for a stranger.

In making, my decisions through out this process I have tried to put myself in the shoes of our future surrogate. This is hard to do at times, because I have never been pregnant and cannot fully appreciate what pregnancy is like. I consider myself to be a very generous person, I give to charity, donate my time, and think nothing of going out of my way to help others, but short of doing this for my sister (and even then there would have to be some really nice Christmas presents) I would never put myself through all that for nothing. Sure, the knowing that I helped fulfill someone's life dream would be an amazing feeling, but realistically I do not think that many people are that altruistic.

This is Joe-bob and mine's child who is lucky enough to have another woman willing to get them through the gestation period. This is going to sound like I am insane but bear with me for a moment. As a teenager, I was clinically depressed and my parents, who loved me more than anything, sent me to a boarding school where people could help me in a way that they were unable to at the time. Those people were paid to care for me when my parents were unable to, and nobody would expect it to have been any other way. I am unable to care for our child through gestation so we are sending it to someone who can. I do not see any difference in me going to boarding school and using a surrogate. Maybe I am stretching here but I really see these things as analogous.

What our surrogate will give to us is something that no amount of money could ever repay. How much is the appropriate amount for a dream? So realistically, the compensation that she is getting is simply for her pain and suffering, and I believe that she deserves every penny of that 25 to 35,000 dollars. At least this way I do not feel the need to follow her around for the rest of her life laying rose petals at her feet or erect a temple in her honor. In reality, she is not just giving us the chance to be parents. Going through this process is giving us the chance to heal from years of disappointment, intense pain, and so many moments of agony. Infertility takes away so much of your dignity, self-respect, confidence, trust and faith in humanity; it makes you bitter and makes the world a horrible place to live. The first time that I knew it was stealing parts of me was the first time that someone who I love told me that they were pregnant and I was angry. People are supposed to share in the happiness of a new life, not be angry and jealous. I do not want you to think that I believe a child alone will heal all this, because it will not and I am well aware of that.

Before we started this process, I did a lot of work on myself. Bringing all the pain and hurt of infertility into a surrogacy takes away from the beauty of the process. If you are going to be jealous of your surrogate and think that you are less of a woman, because another woman is carrying your child then you and your surrogate are in for a very long journey. From what I have seen of others' experiences it is these feelings that lead to misery for everyone involved. This is not a process for the weak; you have to know who you are and where your limits are to get through this, which goes for both parties. People are going to question what you are doing and say some of the most horrible things you have ever heard straight to your face. Without knowing whom you are and how you got here surrogacy is going to be another painful experience and the pressure will bury you. That is why being in this for just the money will never work; there is not enough money in the world to make anyone go through what surrogacy asks of you. It is a beautiful and amazing way to begin a family. It is also difficult and emotionally draining.

Bump Fairy, I hope this answered your question. Thank you for all the love and support you have given me through this process, you truly are an amazing woman who is giving P-daddy the gift of a lifetime.

For everyone else please feel free to ask me anything. I may not answer here but I will answer. I want to get as much information into the world as I can about this process.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Decision Making and Surrogacy

After reading Amani and Bob Surrogacy this morning, I began to think about redefining dreams. How through the adventure of having a baby these dreams have been redefined a hundred times. From the first time, the reality of medical intervention steps in to the point that you are going to need the help of more than just a doctor. Going through this process so many times it would be logical to think that this gets easier, that by the time you need to decide between surrogacy and adoption that it should only take a few moments and the pain should be non-existent. No statement can be further from the truth. Each moment is excruciating, because with each decision comes a new reality and with each new reality comes new chances to have your heart broken. Each new decision drips with the dew of self-doubt, rages with the thunderstorm of unknown factors, and culminates in the hurricane of excitement for new possibilities and intense emotional exhaustion.

The worst part about it all is trying to keep emotions out of something that is so intensely emotional. For me this is where having my father to go through all the legalese makes it so much easier. I am not capable of taking out the emotional intensity of needing to hold my child in my arms and dealing with the business side of all this, of making huge economic decisions. This is not to say that he is completely emotionally detached, he is just able to separate it out, ah the wonders of men. If I had to give only one piece of advice to people who were just starting out with surrogacy, get someone in the trenches with you who can keep their emotions out of the proceedings (and this cannot be your lawyer, agency, etc.).

Faced with having to make so many "life decisions" at once can also make having to make other decisions just excessively overwhelming. On more than one occasion, I have left the grocery cart in the middle of the aisle and just walked away, because there were too many choices in bagels. The prospect of having to make one more choice was too much. Funny as this sounds it really happens, at some point the brain just says "I am not going to make another choice" and the body must obey. Thankfully, I did not have to choose which way to turn on my
way home, or I may still be sitting in the parking lot. Truly there are no words to express how overwhelming all of this can really be.

Enter the fact that you are making decisions that affect a child who you love more than life itself, even though it has yet conceived. I know that this sounds weird, trust me it feels weird. It is like trying to live in a fantasy world and making decisions that affect the real world. At moments you feel the need to have a psychologist follow you around to make sure that your brain did not escape and go running down the road screaming in agony. I am almost positive that this cannot happen, but there have been moments when I look behind me just to make sure.

Then there are the moments when you have to make the big decisions that are going to affect a number of people who you care about deeply. For me it came when Joe-bob told me to make the decision that I thought was best for us. WHAT? YOU WANT ME TO MAKE A HUGE LIFE DECISION!, you are the one with the big huge brain and all that knowledge; you should be the one to do this. I make decisions on laundry detergent and dinner choices and I am not very good at those. Okay, I decide that we are going to do nothing, we are going to sit right here for the rest of our lives and not move, because movement will require other decisions. We sat there for a while and then came the moment when sitting a there was more painful than being terrified and making
decision. I got up one morning and taught myself everything that I could about surrogacy. I weighted through all the moral and ethical issues, because I was going into a fight and I was going in armed with as much ammunition as I could gather.

That is right, at the beginning of this whole process I thought that maybe I could not go forward with this because I would not stand for doing something that would put others in a situation where I was taking advantage of them. Obviously, I found this not to be the case. Now this ammunition is used to defend myself against people who look at me like the devil incarnate for wanting to have a child. More specifically that I want an infant whose parentage I can trace and who will be mine from the first moment they breathe air. Those people who try to make me feel guilty about not taking in some sweet orphan who will be condemned to roam the streets in some 3rd world capital. I myself question whether it is right to create another person rather than taking in one who needs me. In the end I want what I want and if that is selfish then so be it, if it makes me a bad person I will beg forgiveness to the powers that be, but I know that it is not any of these things this is the way things are meant to be for me.

I cannot express the feeling of excitement and terror that accompanies every step in this adventure. All I can say is that coming to this point has been difficult, but actually being here is wonderful. To be in the presence of women who are willing to sacrifice so much to give to a stranger the chance to make a dream a reality. At some point on the road of infertility, I began to have a very pessimistic view of the world then I found this option and something changed. Even with all the fear there was suddenly a light that I have long forgotten existed, I was able to see the light at the end of the cave and I knew that this was where we were meant to be. Finally, I had made a decision that made perfect sense. While this happens to others when they find other alternate methods of reproduction for me, it happened with surrogacy. The other day someone wanted to know how I knew that this was going to work for us, and all I could think of is that you just know, in the same way that you just know when you meet the person you were meant to be with for the rest of your life. I am not saying that this made it any easier it just made is easier to get through the rough spots. In future months, I know that there will more overwhelming decisions but knowing that this is how we are to expand our family makes it a little easier to make those decisions.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Something very scary

My dear friend Amanda is going through some very scary medical issues. She is one of the smartest, compassionate, and most amazing women I know. After a long struggle with IF she gave birth to Hazel, the most perfect little girl, 6 months ago. No one should have to go through this ordeal, but especially someone who has just found such a profound new love. Please go by and leave her a comment at Hazel's Adventure Begins or just send her good healthy thoughts.
I love you dearly Amanda.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

100 things

  1. I will never give up the quest to become a mother
  2. I am still afraid of the dark
  3. I am constantly fighting off depression
  4. I believe that only 4 people in the world truly love me
  5. I feel so lucky that I have a whole 4 people who love me
  6. When sick or in pain I still want my mother
  7. My husband really is my best friend
  8. I hate my body
  9. I am angry that my body betrayed me
  10. I am sick of surviving my life
  11. I am trying to just be happy in the moment
  12. I feel guilty that I have so much and still want more
  13. I have a learning disability
  14. It has taken me almost 17 years to finish college
  15. I feel like an amalgamation of disabilities and disorders
  16. I have never felt "good enough"
  17. I still hate my 4th grade teacher
  18. I have only lived alone for two weeks of my life
  19. I am terrified of being alone
  20. I try very hard to keep everyone in my life happy
  21. I am afraid of getting yelled at
  22. I do not know how to argue
  23. I hate stereotypes
  24. I try to treat everyone as an individual
  25. There are books I still have not read because I was assigned them in school
  26. I am afraid that one day someone if going to discover that I am just winging this
  27. I really love my 1000 thread count sheets, even though they are snobby
  28. I am terrified of rodents
  29. I hate shaving my legs
  30. Christmas is my favorite holiday
  31. I am adopted
  32. I am fatter now than I have ever been in my life
  33. I sent myself to Weight Loss Camp when I was 12
  34. I had an imaginary friend named Fruity
  35. My fears stand in my way more than I want to admit
  36. I want to skydive
  37. I love my camera
  38. Taking the photographs helps keep me separate from situations that make me nervous
  39. I am not sure who I really am
  40. I miss my nose ring
  41. Daisies are my favorite flower
  42. I read to put myself to sleep
  43. I had the first cavity of my life filled today
  44. I took my braces off with a spoon when I was 16
  45. I miss my Beetle
  46. I do not feel safe in the dark until my back is on the bed
  47. #46 started because of The Brady Bunch episode about Jesse James
  48. The shower scene from Psycho still scares me even though the last time I saw it I was 5
  49. My favorite TV show as a kid was Little House on the Prairie
  50. I often feeling intellectually inferior
  51. I hate being scared
  52. I do not understand why people like horror movies
  53. It still amazes me that my husband married me
  54. I am addicted to toiletries
  55. I get nervous when I am down to my last 3 bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc.
  56. I gave up cigarettes
  57. I love Diet Dr. Pepper
  58. I do not drink alcohol
  59. I have a scar over my right eyebrow from an accident at my 2nd grade back to school party
  60. I had a pony named Scout when I was a kid
  61. My first intercontinental trip was to Kenya
  62. I love to swim
  63. I learned to scuba dive when I was 12
  64. I went to boarding school when I was 13
  65. I have taken two cross country trips in a van full of other teens
  66. I got my high school biology credit in the Florida Keys
  67. My favorite place that I have lived is Oregon
  68. I have lived in 6 states
  69. I have been to 7 different colleges
  70. I hate moving
  71. I have never climbed a tree
  72. I have a turtle collection
  73. I do not like Sushi
  74. I can kill plants just by looking at them
  75. I got my first driver's license when I was 19
  76. I had my first e-mail address in 1995
  77. I still wish on shooting stars
  78. I got my ears pierced when I was 2
  79. I have 2 cats and wish I had a dog
  80. My nana served me breakfast in bed every Saturday morning of my childhood
  81. I am named after my maternal grandparents
  82. My parents video taped most of my childhood and I love them for it
  83. I was a very lonely child
  84. My eyes look like snake skins
  85. I used to cry very easily
  86. Sometimes I worry I do not cry enough anymore
  87. I never look in other people's medicine cabinets
  88. Some day I want to live in an Earthship
  89. My own medical issues do not scare me as much as they should
  90. I love shoes, but only wear 1 pair the majority of the time
  91. There are way too many people I miss
  92. It is easy to make me laugh
  93. It is hard to make me mad
  94. I got my first stretch mark when I was 10
  95. My middle toe is the smallest toe on my foot
  96. I have always wanted to learn to blow glass
  97. I wish I was artistic
  98. I never went to public school
  99. I love roller coasters

I still believe that my wishes will come true

Saturday, September 6, 2008

the isolation of surrogacy

tonight we went to a department party to welcome all the first year graduate student. let me start by saying that i hate these parties, because i am the spouse and therefore am looked down upon, and who wants to be looked down on by a bunch of people 10 years their junior. i used to think that this was all in my head until another one of the spouses said the same thing and then a student said something about how hard it must be to be "just a spouse".

let me tell you there is no such thing as being "just a spouse" when that spouse happens to be in a PhD. program. in those cases you are the person that keeps said spouse's life in order so that they never have to worry about anything because there is no time for them to worry. in addition to making sure that my life is in order i have to keep his life in order so that his energy can be focused on getting his research, papers and whatever else it is he does done. add to this that i am going to school myself and that makes me one busy person. there are days when i want to tell him to make his own lunch or cook his own dinner, but i can not because there is no time for him to do these things. let me also say that during the time that i was working i never had to worry about doing anything around the house, he made sure that everything ran smoothly.

while at this party people kept asking if we had kids. i guess this is a natural question when people know that you have been married for 7 years. each time we answered no, the immediate response was "oh you don't want children?". not wanting to go into the whole explanation i just said that we were too busy right now to be able to devote our full attention. thankfully these are psychology PhD. candidates who have a basic understanding of the demands of rearing children. at least they do not think that children are pocket pets.

generally people i know well enough to ask the kid question already know the story. these people do not because frankly it is not the kind of relationship that joebob has with these people. it was the first time in a long time that i have been in this situation, and it was painful. more painful than i can explain. after the 5th person asked, i wanted to scream. i wanted the questions to stop and i wanted the assumptions to cease. i wanted to yell, "we want children more than you will ever want anything in your life, and the pain and heartache that we feel right now would shatter you." i know that this is not true, because 5 years ago i would have told you that i would not be able to survive this and somehow i have found the strength.

it was quite an experience to be around people who know better than to talk kids with me. i know that none of them meant any harm, i just forgot what a charmed life i live some days. it also made me worry that maybe we do not get out enough. these past few years have been so difficult that i have isolated myself from being around people who are not in my circle of friends and some family. that is right there are even some people in my own family that i try not to have too much contact with, not because they have done anything, but because i just do not want to have to deal with them.

being so isolated from others is something that i suspect that many others dealing with infertility do to themselves. the truth is that other than that we had a good evening. i met some people that i really like and was able to really enjoy myself once we got past that sticky subject. now i am wondering how many really fun nights have i missed? how many opportunities to step outside of the pain and misery have i missed? the truth is that even those people who are close to us are not around all that often.

this is something that i am going to try and work on over the next couple of months. i can not allow my life to stop.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

the surrogacy waiting game

nothing is happening, we are in a holding pattern. which means nothing is happening except that my mind is racing. these are the times when i start to question everything, i am trying to stop this. these are the times when that dark monster finds a way to invade, and this time i am going to win the fight.

one of the blessings and curses of infertility is that you get to decide when you want to start trying to have a family. the really bad side of this, is that there is never a "perfect" time to have a family. something is always standing in the way, there is always one more thing left to do, one more trip to take, one more dream to accomplish. the depth of this struggle makes us want to be the "perfect" parents, while we know that there is no such thing, and that we will fail miserably in this quest within the first hour of our child's life. we just are not perfect people types, we are the type of people who do everything in life the hard way. we question everything that comes easy and deem it not worthy of our attention, those are the things we toss aside. it is my biggest fault and the thing that i would change tomorrow if i could, unfortunately it is just not that easy.

our child will start their lives with a father who is tattooed up one side and down the other, a mother who only wears makeup when her mother makes her. yes i still worry about what my mother thinks, which leads to another point, my child is going to be raised by someone who has never felt like an adult. do you need to feel like a grown up to raise children? i know grown up things and can handle some big situations, but i have never felt like an adult. i told you that monster was trying to get in my head.

fact is that i know we are going to do the best we can and that will be enough. we are going to manage to raise a perfectly fine child. we just need to get one and start the raising process. we just need to give up the idea of the perfect time, because no such thing exists. times that are better than others sure, but not the perfect time. i feel like a kid the month before christmas, my letter to santa is all written and now i just have to wait and i hate waiting. i have been waiting for this all my life, i want to start doing. it is coming fast, and i know in a few months this will all seem silly, but tonight i hate the waiting.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

why are babies following me

These past few days have been bad baby days. Those days where everywhere I turn there is an infant or a pregnant woman. I want to hide from all these bundles of joy. Do not get me wrong, I love babies, why else would I be going through all this, I just have had it with them infesting my life. I just want to be able to go anywhere and not have babies follow me. Today in class, a college class, there was a baby, babies should not be in college. They are distracting and I need one place where I do not have to think about my lack of child.

I always feel like a horrible person when I have these days. Most of the time I can deal with children. Going to places where children are, the zoo, kid's stores, and parks, are not a problem for me 90% of the time. I do have a horrible time with baby showers, I am not sure what it is about them they just make me sick to my stomach and depressed. One day I will no longer feel this way, or at least I hope I will. I am just so ready for this all to be over, and I have barely started.

Friday, August 29, 2008

because we all need to laugh

Cake Wreck had me laughing so hard I had to stop reading. Joebob was also threatening to call my friends in the white coats.

Just do not say I did not warn you. Please do not drink and read this blog, it will be hazardous to your computers health.

Enjoy the belly laugh!

breast milk and the surrogate baby

Okay, now I am going to bring up a topic that is the mine field of the mommy wars. BREASTFEEDING! Let me start by saying that I was not breastfed, and believe with all my heart that I was in no way negatively affected. Being that I research everything about babies and what is best for them, I have read a lot on the subject. Since I am not giving birth there are a few options open.

1. Let surro-mom breastfeed for the first couple of days.

Pros: Baby get some benefit. Might make surrogate feel better.

Cons: Baby not getting full benefit.
More bonding between surrogate and baby (the whole one more thing I can not do for my child, completely my own issue).
Logistics if baby or surrogate is released from the hospital. Surrogate may not want to do this.

2. Take drugs to induce lactation so I can feed baby.

Pros: Good for baby.
Good for waist line.

Cons: Creeps me out more than Alfred Hitchcock.
Have to take a bunch of drugs.
Still have to use bottle and formula.
Still creeping me out and now is making me doubt mothering ability.

3. Let the surrogate pump and ship to us so we can feed with bottle.

Pros: Great for baby.
Great for surrogates waist line.
Easy for me and not creepy.

Cons: Expense (it will either be cheaper or more expensive than formula).
Still have to use formula if something happens to shipment.

I know that this issue is controversial, and that I am putting the cart miles in front of the horse, but this is what you think about waiting around. What brought all this up is another blogger, which I should have bookmarked and did not, who is breast feeding her baby who was carried by her sister. Along with beautiful stories of her daughter, she also talks about breastfeeding. Before reading this, I had done some of my own research on the issue.

The more that I think about induced lactation, the more it just freaks me out, and the more freaked out I get the more I worry that I will not bond with the child. I know that this is crazy, but that is the way my mind works. If I am really going to feel that this is my child then feeding them from my body should be a no brainier, and it is not. See I told you it is not good to have so much time to think about this stuff.

Seriously, I think that having the surrogate pump. To me this makes the most sense.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

lessons learned from surrogacy and infertility

While I was writing our profile, I had to go back through our entire history of infertility. Of course this was painful, but it was also a great learning experience. So I thought today I would chronicle what infertility has taught me.



1. Sitting in the floor and crying gets you nowhere.

2. It is better to hug your friend in pain than give them "advice", the hug can help to heal, the "advice" not so helpful.

3. I am sooo much stronger than I ever believed.

4. Wanting something, even deserving something, does not mean that you are going to get that thing.

5. Broken hearts do not stop beating.

6. Making dreams come true, sometimes means redefining the dream.

7. I should have payed much more attention in biology.

8. I know my body better than anyone, and no doctor can ever tell me any differently.

9. Murphy's Law is real and should be respected.

10. The moment you give up, you end all hope.

11. It can always get worse.

12. It will get better.

13. Puppies, while amazing and having wonderful puppy breath, ARE NOT a substitute for children.

14. Deciding to change course is not the same as giving up.

15. Carrying and giving birth to a child does not make you a woman, and not being able to do so does not make you less of a woman.

16. Armadillos have the right idea, grow a tough skin.

17. True happiness is found in the moment, not in those things yet to be attained.

18. Never underestimate the capacity of the human heart.

19. You are the only person who will look out for your own best interest.

20. Life does not stop just because I am running down a dream.

21. Men experience this just as much as women.

22. Modesty and embarrassment go away very quickly.

23. Every bit of happiness is precious.

24. Finding the humor in the situation is essential for dealing with the pain.

25. Laying in bed gets you nowhere.

26. Sometimes just putting your feet on the ground and one in front of the other, is enough.

27. There are times when rolling up the windows and screaming over the radio, really does make you feel better.

28. Stepping outside my own life and doing for others helps more than I ever thought it would.

29. Bring your own book to the doctor's office, they never have anything to read.

30. Fear is an emotion that will stop all progress.

31. Nothing is as scary as I think it will be.

32. My limit is never where I thought it was.

33. There will always be someone who has been through more than me.

34. At times I just need a break and taking that break can make all the difference.

35. Plans rarely work out the way I think they will.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My heart believes in healing

Women who are super model thin should have to work out in their own gym. My big struggling butt should not have to sweat next to the glistening sticks. I am happy they are sticks, great for them, but they should not be allowed to work out in front of me. I am sure that they think that I should have my own sty to work out in, so I do not feel bad for saying this. It is just going to be one of those days. My struggle with the weight is moving forward. I am staying off the scale for now, but my jeans are fitting a bit better. The biggest struggle at this point is not being a raving lunatic b/c I am sick of eating rabbit food. I just keep telling myself I am going to feel better, I am going to feel better.

____________________________________

I was talking about surrogacy last night to a bunch of people in my social work class, it was a primer course as they had no idea what the word meant. So once again I was answering all the questions that get on my nerves. I am working really hard at just making these answers automatic and not letting it bother me. Though it is starting to get to the point where I just want to keep my mouth shut. This time it was in the context of what I wanted to do with my degree, it had nothing to do with my personal situation. Part of the problem is that most of these "kids" still think that they are going to save the world. I lost that illusion a loooong time ago. At this point I will be happy if I can work in the social work field for ten years before I am completely burned out. We will see what happens. At this point I think I will end up in academia.

___________________________________

While I was thinking about all this on the treadmill, something else occurred to me. I am making plans that have nothing to do with my personal infertility. I am finally to a point where I can plan other things. This is HUGE, ENORMOUS. Finally this pity party is over, at least for a minute. There are finally times when I can see days when this will not be what consumes me, that there will be a time when all this will be a distant memory.

I have know this intellectually for a long time, but today my heart finally believed that there will not be a day when infertility was my whole world. Today is a day that makes me believe that I will heal from this, that these wounds will not infect my child.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thanks for the comments

Until this weekend when all the comments started coming, I did not realize how much they meant. I am a chronic blog lurker who rarely leave comments. Knowing that my mother is not the only one reading this, HI MOM!!!, is an amazing feeling. So thank you all who have commented, it means the world to me. I will try and write something more worthy tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

i love him

today the energy is gone, the hope is fading and there is no urge to get any of it back. nothing happened all is still moving. it is just one of those days where putting one foot in front of the other is more than difficult. we talked the other night and the words finally hit my brain, and out jumped the fear. the feeling provoked are not his fault, they are my feelings, he just provides the safety to release them.

"Do you feel like you are apart of this whole process. I mean you really are just following me around."

"Of course I am part of it. This is like the wedding, make the plans and tell me when to show up and what to do."

"We are creating a child not throwing a party. Don't you want more input."

"I trust you. Just do what you think is right."

"I know you trust me, but I don't want you to feel left out. You don't get excited or upset, you just follow along."

"My life is just really busy right now. I am excited, you are just going to have to wait a bit for me to break out the pom-poms." He is getting a PhD and works insane hours.

"Okay, I just wanted to make sure you were in this with me."

"I am"

that was the end of the conversation. ten minutes later.

"You have been in so much pain for so many years, and now you are in a position that your heart can be shattered. If I get in there with you, who is going to piece you back together? I need to stay detached for you."

he never ceases to amaze me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

a family through surrogacy

I have been working my way through a lot of blogs over the past few days, it being ILCW and all. A lot of people have been leaving comments here which I LOVE. In leaving comments I have been reading a lot of comments and I noticed something. I am getting a lot of comments about how brave and courageous I am. This is not true. I have written another post about this, but I want to make this really clear.

Surrogacy is the right way for me to make my family, it is the only way that I can have my family. Not that I would not adopt a child in a second. What makes this right for me is that I want my husband to have a chance at having his biological children, not that he says this is important to him. Being the one with the fertility problem makes me feel responsible and makes me want to do all the rest of it the best I can. Surrogacy was the answer. I could have tried to carry our child, but at some point I decided that I wanted to be a mother not a pregnant woman. This was not a brave, courageous, or noble move on my part, it was an answer to a horrible problem.

I started this blog because there was a dearth of straight intended parents' voices in the world of surrogacy. I began to feel like there was some secret hand shake that I did not know. Our journey was becoming very complicated and I needed to know that others had been in my shoes and come out the other side. My insecurity and fear started this blog, and now that some of that has subsided my need to keep others from ever feeling that alone keeps me here.

Surrogacy is the third rail of infertility. Many in the IF world see it as a last resort and the general public have all kinds of weird ideas about what the process. I have had people ask how I could allow my husband to have sex with another woman. Been told that I was exploiting some disadvantaged women who could not possibly know better. Worried myself that I was not really going to be able to be a mother and still have a relationship with our surrogate. I have heard people tell me that anyone who would buy a baby should not be a mother. All of these statements are completely false. In reality none of this is happening, and if I thought for one second that it would I would have quit.

One day my child may have to tell the story about how they came to be and I do not want them ever to be ashamed. Not that I am going to make them wear a shirt saying they were a product of surrogacy, nor am I going to make it a big part of their life. We have decided that we are going to be honest about their beginnings, and yes there was a time we were not sure we wanted them to know. There was a time when I wanted to move to a cabin deep in the woods with my newborn and husband and stay forever, a little family of hermits. I was so angry that all these people were in our reproductive life, so raw from all the comments, and so tiered of feeling the pain. One day it dawned on me that the reason for all this was so that I could be a mother, and if I was just going to runaway I was not going to be a very good mother. A good mother advocates for their child and tries to make the world a better place. So here I am educating a few people about the incredible process that will make my dreams a reality.

Motherhood may still be years away for me and that fact breaks my heart some days. Those are the days that I come here and hope to teach someone a little bit about this process. One of the blessings of infertility is that you have time to research and think about everything. From highchairs to cloth vs. disposable diapers, I have read everything and then some. It was just natural that if I was going to put so much time and effort into those things, I should put at least the same amount of effort into educating as many people about how this whole thing works, so maybe when my child tells someone about surrogacy they do not have to hear a rude and hurtful comment.

There is no courage or bravery here, just a woman white knuckling her way through life.