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.