Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In Limbo

We are still waiting on the contracts and my genetic testing. So right now we are just waiting, nothing is happening except angry calls and pacing. I am just so ready for this part to be over. It does not help that I have a whole month off, which just adds to the waiting. I am currently in that space between one thing is about to end and another is about to begin. A month from now I will wish that I had this time back, but at the moment it is a bit overwhelming.

Getting my hopes up is just not something that I can allow myself at the moment. I am afraid that if my expectations are not met that I will just become more numb than I am now. Over the years I have dealt with all the disappointments by just growing a tougher skin. Each scab that has gotten pulled just leaves a thicker skin, and it is now to the point where I am afraid it will turn to stone.

Part of me believed that once we got this process started I might begin to soften, as if moving forward would be like an exfoliate. This has not been the case, it is not getting any worse which is wonderful, but it is also not getting any better. It is not a bad thing, it just is and for right now that is okay. Just being is not something that I have been able to do in a long time. In fact, it has been so long that I find it a bit uncomfortable, almost anxiety provoking in fact.

All these years have changed me. Some of the things have been for the best, but some have not. Maybe that is what this time is for. I need to redefine who I am now, learn where I fit now. Spending years as the inactive infertile has left me complacent. I guess for now it is just growing pains.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

wow these are harder than i thought.

Contracts!! Don't they sound like the most fun you can ever have. They are so much fun I am thinking of having my toenails pulled out next.

This is one of the most important and one of the most uncomfortable parts of surrogacy. This document is to protect all parties involved, legally define the relationship and in the end make it possible to take the baby home. In all the research I have done on surrogacy, I have found very little information on what is normally included in a contract and what others expect out of these contracts. So, I am going to try and give you an example of what we have done, what we feel is important, and what we have had to decide that we did not expect.

This is just the initial basics that you need to think about.

- Get a lawyer who specializes in third party reproduction law. Having someone who is already familiar with the process will save you a lot of time and a lot of money. I would also suggest finding someone who charges a flat rate, because I thought this was going to be cut and dry and it turned out to be anything but. We are currently on our second draft and I am thinking there is a good possibility for a third.

- Be clear about what you want. This is not the time to commit to things that you are unable or unwilling to do.

- Prepare yourself for questions that you never wanted to think about. Trust me they are in there and you are going to be very uncomfortable at moments, but more about that later.

The nitty gritty:

  • Compensation:

    • One what dates are you going to pay your surrogate?

      • Most compensation starts at some point after the first positive blood test, and then in regular intervals thereafter.
    • How much are you paying for housekeeping and childcare?

      • Make sure that you and your surrogate have an accurate idea of how much this is really going to cost. In the event that she is on bed rest the amount agreed on needs to cover everything that she will need to take care of her children and her home. The number may look scary, but it is also vital for everyone to know what will be needed in the worst-case scenario.
      • Come up with a limit for bed rest and one for the third trimester. I have never tried to clean a toilet 9 months pregnant, but I imagine it is not an easy task.
      • Remember that this is for the health of your child. I know I was initially not in love with the idea that she would have a house cleaner and I would still be cleaning my own house. Really, this is just to give her a hand when it is not in the best interest of your child for her to be doing all that work. Of course, I had these thoughts pre-Sabrina, post-Sabrina I would hire a cleaning crew for her right now; then again, I would also hire the celebrities of her choice to carry her around.
      • Just so there are not any questions of abuse of these services, put a daily cap on what will be paid out for these services. This helps everyone be clear on what is and is not permissible.
      • As with everything else this will be a personal experience, and what is right for me will not always be right for you.
  • Insurance

    • How much life insurance are you going to purchase for your surrogate for the benefit of her family? Yes, I just said life insurance. Pregnancy and birthing are not risk free activities. While the chances are small, she is putting her life on the line. For us, there is no way that we could live with ourselves if we did not know that her husband and children would have a buffer financially if something were to happen to her. (I told you there were things that you did not want to have to think about.)
    • Health Insurance!! Do not assume anything. Get it all in writing, once they have written it down they are legally obligated to fulfill their promises. One issue that we ran into was that our insurance will not cover the child while they are out of state, this is not written anywhere in our books. Thankfully, we found this out by asking and were able to make other arrangements.
  • Death, the part that we really do not want to talk about.

    • What happens if the intended parents die? You need to identify who will take custody of the child if something were to happen.
    • What happens if the surrogate dies, but life support could be used until the baby was viable? I warned you that this got nasty. For us, we have no interest in turning Sabrina into a human incubator. Nor do we want her family to have to watch her in that situation just so we can have our child. It is a horrible thing to think about, but it needs to be thought out. This is a situation that we both feel strongly about, and also one that none of us really wants to talk about, but I know we will all sleep better knowing that it is taken care of.
  • Legal representation

    • It is important that everyone has an attorney. For some people this will make having to talk about these uncomfortable situations much easier, just let the lawyers talk to each other.
  • How much are you going to compensate for invasive and other procedures?

    • Having a huge needle in your belly is uncomfortable. Who am I kidding, it is down right painful and terrifying. There are also all other kinds of procedures that hurt. What you are compensating for is pain and suffering, and these things fall under that category. There are additional fees associated with doing these procedures. I would say that it is best to define these procedures to the best of your ability, this helps with any confusion that could lead to a strained relationship later on.
    • Along the same line it is preferable that you do some research on these procedures and decide what you may or may not want. This does not have to go in writing, but at least you will know what it means when someone starts spewing abbreviations at you.
  • Travel

    • Where can the surrogate go and when? There are laws that make it impractical for her to travel outside her state after a certain amount of time. Surrogacy contracts are not enforceable in all states, in fact most states do not even recognize them. If you have questions about this ASK.
    • If you are doing this without an agency, and with some agencies, you are going to have to work out these arrangements. It is important to define how much she and the person traveling with her will have for food and other incidentals.

The most important thing with these contracts is to be honest. This is the time to speak up. If the person decides not to work with you because of something, then it is a good guess that there would have been trouble when you are dealing with the situation. I understand the feeling of desperation and fear that comes with this relationship. You want to be the perfect person in the beginning because you just want them to like you. Think of it this way, when you first start dating someone how long does it take for you to finally be the real you? If you are like me, not long and defiantly before 9 months. It is better to know that you are not a right fit before your lives are forever entwined. The right person will come along.

For those of you that have been through this I would love to hear the things that worried, surprised, or made you laugh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Toxic Anger

Over the years, I have done a lot of research on planning my family, and this research has taken me to some very dark places. No one wants to be in the place where we are having to research alternative family making and there is nothing worse than reading all the stories about people who want to prey on us because of our desperation. Many people approach the business of creating a family from a place of distrust, and this distrust is often a posture that is necessary. Sad as it is, the fact is that there are many people who make a living promising others the sky, only to take what they can and run.
There is another reason for this distrust that I think a lot of people are reluctant to speak about. I know for myself, I have spent a very long time being angry, very angry. None of this is fair; my body is refusing to perform the most basic of biological functions. There are people who judge me every day for the decisions that I have made. There are days when I look at children and think that they were all put here just to remind me of what I will never have. Over the years I have missed events, because I cannot find it in me to be around children. While I love all the children in my life, they have also been the source of a lot of heartache. So on top of all the anger at my body, I am angry that the world can seem to keep turning while I am crushed. I am angry that there are people who do not want their children, who seem to pop them out on after the other, I am angry at all the people who judge me, I am angry at the world some days, and I am angry at all the people who tell me that I should not be angry and that the anger is just making things worse.
Here is where it gets tricky. From my observations there are some people out there who go into their relationship with their surrogate and forget where the anger belongs. My anger is my own and I am the only one who is allowed to play with it. I know this goes against everything that we were taught in preschool, but here it is appropriate. Just as I would never share a snotty rag with someone, because I would not want to give them an illness, I cannot share my anger either because it is just as infectious. I think that many people do not recognize this because it comes out in very odd little passive aggressive ways. The most common is being annoyed about the money that must be spent. Now this is a very fine line, and I would tell anyone that you should never pay out anything that is not spelled out in your contract. This is the whole point of a contract. Sure there are going to be little things that can be forgotten, but this is why you take your time and make sure that you are not forgetting anything. That piece of paper is there for everyone’s protection and should not be rushed, even when it feels like you are never going to get it done.
This is also why I think that is important that intended parents be emotionally ready to enter into a relationship with their surrogate. It is not easy to do this, but it is incredibly important for everyone involved. Why add stress to an already stressful situation? A few more months is really nothing in the scheme of things, and it really is nothing to ensure that you have the healthiest baby possible. I know that I have given up a lot in deciding to use a surrogate. I know that there are going to be times when I am going to sit in the floor and cry because I am missing out on parts of the experience. I also know that I am going to experience something that very few people ever do; a relative stranger (who will forever be a part of my family) is willing to give up at least a good year of her life so that my dream can come true. I do not want any of my own issues to get in the way of having this experience.
The only way to ensure this is a good experience for all of us is to make sure that we are clear about our expectations from the beginning. How would I be any different from all the scammers out there, if I promised things that I had no intention of doing? If you do not want to share pictures or have any contact after the birth, then you need to make that clear from the beginning. You should never promise anything just so someone will work with you. That is unfair to that person, but more importantly it is unfair to your child. This is their history and their beginnings in the world. Do you really want that all to be built on a lie? One day they are going to have to be told, whether you think they will or not, and do you really want to have to tell them about the lie that started their life. Yes, creating a child is all about us right now and our desire to be parents, but one day it will all be about the child and they deserve to be created in a place of honesty and trust.
If this post has offended you, I am not sorry. It is my opinon that things that offend often hold truth.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spinning Head

I never thought we would get here. The contracts should be ready for review by Thursday!! I know it blew my mind too. With every step that we take this becomes more real to me. it is not that all this was not real, it is that I never really let myself truly feel like we were ever going to be parents. Sure I always knew that this is where we were heading, but I just never really believed that we were going to get anywhere close.

While I have said this a thousand times, I worry that all these years have obliterated parts of me. The fact that I can let myself get excited about pieces of paper make me feel like I can recover form this. One day these scars will fade, like stretch marks. At the same time I am careful to guard myself, there are still a million things that can go wrong. I am just so grateful to have all these amazing people on my side. In this adventure the most important component, is not the quality of the materials or the experts on the team, it is the people who are willing to walk through the dark forest when you are completely lost. Once you have these people with you, all the dead ends and u-turns are so much easier. Even when some of these people come with snide remarks, often made out of ignorance, they are valuable.

Thus far, the contracts have been the most stressful. You find this amazing person that you want to work with and then you have to dig through all the details of their life. A personal relationship that, to me at least, feels like a marriage turns into what at times feels like a hostile takeover. I know that this will all go away once we get through this, but it is just so uncomfortable. Like medicine that you know is working because it burns, getting the contracts done and getting them done right is painful but important if you want to keep your body parts. No matter how much we want to make this all about the personal relationship, and I think for us it is 99.99% of the time. I also want to make sure that all our butts are covered under the law. Our contract process has been fairly straight forward, and I think that can be attributed to the fact that all of us feel like we can speak our minds about the whole process. That and we try to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing.

LAUGHTER!!! It will save you more than it will ever cost you.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I have said a million times that a pet is in no way a replacement for a child, but they are wonderful to have around. These are my current babies!!

Maggie, the old cranky kitty.
Daisy, our little kitten, who is 9 but still acts like a little kitty.

We have to give them catnip bags to get them to sit this close to each other.

Outside for some supervised play time, that is their dada's problem.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Adventures in Insurance

Have I mentioned how much I hate relying on others to do things for me? This is the control freak in me coming out. I know, not very conducive to the whole surrogacy experience. Good thing that I recognize this and have informed Sabrina that she has my full permission to slap me upside the head if I pull the whole controlling crazy lady act on her. It is also good that most of the insanity I manage to keep to myself, which I think is part of the reason that I never considered myself a control freak. I mean are you really a control freak if you do not make others suffer along with you?
So now we are caught in the most sadistic game of “Mother May I” that anyone has ever played. You know the game, we used to play as kids, where you would make your friends do insane things just so they could boss others around too, the one where if you forgot to say “Mother May I” you had to go back to the start. Really it was just a game to torture the hyper kids, and show everyone who your bestest friend was, or at least make others try to promise you that you could be their best friend if you would only let them win. Well now I am playing the adult version. This time I am waiting on doctors, lawyers, this specialist and that specialist. Nothing that I do is going to make any of this go faster.
Then there is the whole take a tiny step forward and take 6 giant leaps back. We just found out that our insurance is not going to cover the baby while they are out of state. Sabrina is not going to come here to give birth, she has a life you know. So now I have the fun task of trying to figure out how to get the munchkin covered. Easier said than done. The first hurdle is trying to get people to understand that you are calling about a child that has not been conceived. After they quit laughing in your face, you then have to convince them that you are not insane. Some of these insurance people are real pains to deal with.
Here is a sample conversation:
Yes, I know that it seems way too early to be talking about this Mr./Ms. Insurance Person, but you have to understand that I am a newly diagnosed control freak.
NO, there is no code for that, I am not requesting treatment for myself, I just want to find out about covering a child that may or may not be born a year or so from now.
NO, not an elephant, a human child.
YES, I know that it only takes 9 months to make one of those, I refer you back to the start of this conversation, you are dealing with a C-O-N-T-R-O-L F-R-E-A-K.
EXCUSE ME, I do not need everyone in your call center laughing at me, could you please take me off the speaker phone?
YES, I understand that no one is going to believe this one. That is your fault for not being a more credible person.
Somewhere in all this they do manage to pull it together long enough to actually give me some information. Like I said this is just an example, and has been infused with humor. Most of the time I am talking to an idiot who just passes me on to the idiot supervisor after I get them confused enough. I know that we will get this worked out, I just wish I could find one person with half a brain to speak with.