Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not Again, Never Again

As some of you will remember, a very good friend of mine almost lost her daughter Hazel almost six months ago. Hazel swallowed a battery, which lodged in her throat for a number of days. Thankfully, Hazel is now an active little girl and doing just fine. Sadly, Elaina Redding and her family do not have a happy ending to their story. My heart is breaking for the Redding family and all families that are affected by this tragedy.

Please help us get the word out about these batteries. Children are dying. Taking the time to pass this one could save a life. Pass this story along, and hug the children that you love just a little tighter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blogging About Surrogacy

Over the past few weeks, a couple of blogs that I really love have gone private. This is something that I just cannot seem to wrap my head around. Not so much that they would go private, but that they would do so without telling anyone. To tell you the truth, I feel a little hurt that I was not given the opportunity to express my good wishes in the future, or asked to be invited. This feels like a high school clique thing, and I hate that. The world of surrogacy is bigger than most people think, but when it comes to intended parents who are willing to share the world gets much smaller.

Surrogacy is a touchy subject and blogging about it opens you up to a lot of nasty comments, I get that. I keep my personal e-mail address on the side of my blog, so most of the hate comments that I get tend to go through there, so I get these long e-mails about what a horrible person I am and how my child is just going to drain the world of resources and how I am exploiting this poor pitiful woman who has no other options in her life. I write back to every one of these people because I hope that in some small way I can educate them. No matter how bad these comments hurt me, they are going to hurt our child even more. Educating people may just make my child’s life a little easier.

I want to take a moment to answer some of the comments that I have received.

- Adoption, is a wonderful thing and I am a strong advocate for adoption. I am an adopted child, I have worked in the adoption field, and it is something that I believe very strongly in. That said, it is not something that is right for my family. I believe that it is important to know your limits and work within them.

- The world’s resources, yes this is a concern for me. My only question here has always been, what is the difference between having a child that I carry and one that is carried by a surrogate? Does a child carried by another woman use up more resources? No not really. We would still have used IVF resources if I was carrying the child.

- “You will never be the mother of this child.” This one really got to me on so many different levels. First, it came from a woman who has two adopted children. Second, I will always be this child’s mother, I may not have carried them or given birth, but I have literally willed them into being. Third, a mother is not someone who gives birth, yes that can be part of it, but the much larger part is being there for every moment of the child’s life and loving them through all of the good and bad.

When I began this blog my intention was to give myself a place to get all this out because carrying it around was so painful. Over the past year, my goal has shifted, now I want all of this story out there so that one person may not have to feel so alone anymore. When I first started talking about surrogacy to the people in my life it was very difficult. Not because they were unsupportive, but because there were so many questions and so many suspicions. They were trying to protect me, which translates to they love me.

Back when we started this process all I wanted was someone who had been there to tell me that this would work out and that there were people out there who had come through the other side. What I found were horror stories of surrogacy relationships that had gone horribly wrong. I learned from these stories, I read them all and they helped me decide what was and was not right for us. While I was learning from them, I was also being scared away from making our family through surrogacy.

For those of you who have found it necessary to take your blogs private, I will miss you. I am sorry that you feel that you can no longer share your story with the world. For those of you who find the need to berate and be rude to people who are just telling their story, try for a second to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you say something hurtful.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where I was, where I am

As many of you are new here, I thought this would be a good time to give a bit of a re-cap.

At age 12, I was diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, von Willebrands disease. This diagnosis was made after I had my period for over 2 months and 3 birth control pills a day were not helping.

At age 20, I was diagnosed with PCOS.

Combine these two disorders, and you have a recipe for disaster in the menstruation department. For almost 20 years, I battled month's long periods, the longest being 6 months and 3.5 weeks. As you can imagine that gets really old really fast. There is not a hormone made that I have not taken, and not one of them worked for longer than a few months.

At 31, I had decided that I could no longer live like that. There was no way that I would ever be able to raise a child when I was wiped out half the time. I opted for an endometrial ablation, kind of like cauterizing your nose only with your uterus. As bad as I was suffering this was a decision that took me almost four years to make.

As an adopted child, with amazingly wonderful parents (HI MOM!!) I have understood for a long time that biology has nothing to do with making a family. My husband (Joe-Bob, which is not his real name) decided that my comfort and health trumped having a child. After the surgery, I began to research the best way to create our family. My main motivation for surrogacy was that I did not want to deprive my husband the chance to have his biological child, not that he ever said that this was important to him, but because I felt so much guilt about not being able to give him this child. He is the love of my life, we have been through hell and back together and I would walk through fire for him.

For over a year, I researched surrogacy as if someone had a gun to my head. We went to an agency thinking that this would be the best way for us to have a great experience. It turned out that we were very wrong, there were many hurt feelings and we almost just gave up. I began this blog because there was so little information from the prospective of the intended parent. My pain and hurt was so deep that there were days when I was unable to think about children, which meant that I spent a lot of time at home staring at the walls. I have always been prone to depression, and spent all of my teen years in such a deep depression that I forgot what it was like to be happy. Thankfully, I came out of this until I thought that all hope of ever having an infant was gone. All those feelings came back and I was scared out of my mind, this was a road that I had been down before and I knew where all the sinkholes were. I was standing right on the edge when I wrote this post. Little did I know that it would bring an amazing woman into my life, Sabrina has been just amazing. She e-mailed me and brought me into a support group that honestly saved my life, and gave me hope that I would become a mother. Months later, Sabrina agreed to be our surrogate, this amazing woman was going to help us create our family, to this day I only half believe how lucky we are.

Here we are.

  • Our contracts are signed.
  • We have our first clinic appointment.
  • We are waiting on the genetic testing to see if we can do PGD on the embies, so that I can use my own eggs.
  • Sometime in August or September, we should be transferring.
  • We are just transferring ONE, because the idea of two at a time makes me want to hide in my closet.

Please feel free to ask me anything that you want. I LOVE questions, almost as much as I love comments. No question is stupid, I understand that this is something that most people do not know a lot about.


Growing By Four

This post is long overdue because I have just had a hard time getting it to sound right. I am so happy, which is not something that I am entirely used to feeling.

Meeting Sabrina and her family was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When we first started this adventure, we had every intention of treating our surrogate well, sending some updates, but other than that we really did not want to have a big relationship. Not that we wanted to be cold, but we just felt like we needed to have our family to ourselves and with all the problems we have had there was a need to insulate ourselves. After all the time that I have spent reading stories of relationships like this I knew that this was no longer what we wanted. It was a dishonor to our child and their life-story to have this kind of relationship with the person that played such an important role in bringing them into the world.

This weekend cemented our commitment to make this a lifelong relationship. I must confess that this is for purely selfish reasons on our part. The whole weekend was like being with people that we had known all our lives, and now they are stuck with us. I cannot imagine not having this entire family be apart of our child's life because they will enrich it in so many ways.

As we were on the way back to the hotel, exhausted from spending the day at the zoo Joe-Bob said it perfectly. "You realize that our family just grew by four."

It makes me sad to think that there was a time when I was in a space that would have made this relationship impossible. On an intellectual level, it makes sense to protect yourself, your heart, and your family from everyone when it has been such a long road. In reality, a family can never have too many people who love them and care for them. This world is not always a nice place and the more people you have who love you the better life becomes. We could not have custom ordered better people to share this experience with, and I am so grateful that this worked out so well for us.

So many times we hear the tragic stories of surrogacy, and sadly I think that some people do not pursue this avenue because of these stories. I know that is scared me to death. Over the past few years I have chipped away at a lot of the fear and the mysteries that surround surrogacy. Meeting Sabrina and her family laid any reservation we ever had to rest.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Match Made in Heaven

Sabrina and her husband and my husband and I all had dinner together tonight. This is the first time that we have met face-to-face. It was like having a meal with old friends. We laughed, ate way too much, and just had the best time ever.

We are the luckiest people in the world to have found such a wonderful woman and her husband to help us create our family. They are just the most amazing people. It is important for us to all remember that the spouses of our surrogates go through this with us too. I am just so excited about all of this that I really am at a loss for words, so I will leave you with a picture.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Word of Caution

Please go read Sabrina's post about her problems with insurance from her first journey. It is important that we are all as educated as possible when it comes to these issues.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Whirlwind

I have been super busy and there is no slowing down in sight.

The husband and I went to Denver last Thursday to see The Dead, it was an amazing show and a wonderful graduation gift. This will hopefully be our last show without a baby, yes we plan on taking the baby if we ever get the chance. I think that it is important for children to have these experiences, and let's face it these great bands are not going to be around forever. It was also just nice to get away and have a couple of days without worrying about the surrogacy and genetics. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to take a small mental break.

I graduated with a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Social Work on Saturday!!!! College has been a huge struggle for me, like most things in my life. I was diagnosed with a learning disability in the fourth grade, so graduating from college is something that I did not always believe would be possible for me. I am not used to completing things in my life, most of the time when things get really hard I run. I ran a lot from college, which is why it took me 16 years to finish. I finally feel like things in my life are really coming together. As much as that scares me to death it also feels wonderful. The most wonderful part is that I did not wake up on Sunday morning feeling like some kind of adult, I just woke up and felt like there was one less thing on my plate.

At the end of this week we are going to visit Sabrina and her family!!!! Part of me is super excited. Another part of me is really scared, not because of anything anyone has done, but because until now I have been able to live a bit disconnected from this whole experience. It is safe hanging on the edges of the orbit, and I am comfortable here. I am so excited to get started, but I am also scared that these steps ahead of us are not stable and could be masking a lot of heartache and pain. I know that focusing on this part is not going to so me any good, but I am a prepare for the worst and be happy when the best happens.

I really am excited about finally being able to sit across from Sabrina and meet her family. I know that whatever the future brings that I will be able to handle the situation. The streangth that I have and my amazing support system ensures that there is nothing that I cannot survive.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Year in Blogland

A year ago, today I started writing here, in the hopes that this would just be a place where I could vent and chronicle this journey for myself. I never really thought that anyone besides the people that I knew in person, okay my mom, would ever read what I had to say. Over this year though so much has changed, more than I ever imagined. The people that I have met and the stories that I have been privy to are so amazing that I have no words to describe how I feel about them. On the days when I think that there is no more that I can take, when this journey just becomes overwhelming I come here and all of you show up and find healing. The healing comes from every comment, every view, and every other story that all of you allow me into. There are the times when this journey actually goes right, when I cannot wait to come here and share the news, and you all show up and celebrate with me. Infertile is not a title anyone of us wanted, and this is not the club that we want to belong to and this makes the support even greater. The fact that so many people in the world can show up and support each other through something that is often horrendous, will never cease to amaze me. So, I am going to use this post to thank all of you, if I forget anyone it is not because I do not care, it is just my little brain gets overwhelmed.

Amanda, this would have never started without you. It was because of you that I had the courage to come out and tell this story. You are an amazing friend, I could never be able to articulate the ways you have made me a better person.

Mel, all of us infertiles owe you a debt of gratitude that I cannot begin to comprehend, thank you for bringing us all together and making me so much less lonely. I will never be able to put into words what you have done for me.

Sabrina, what can I say? You found me at my lowest, when I was ready to give up. You took a chance and let me into a group that has saved me more times than I can count. That would have been enough, just to have you next to me while I walked this path. The fact that you will be carrying our child still astounds me. Thank you is too minute a word.

Emily, my hopeless Emily, you have given so much hope. You have let me into your life in a way that I could have never imagined. Your strength is infectious, and I could have not gotten through this last year without you.

Amani, you are constantly amazing me and have taught me so much about overcoming what feels like insurmountable problems. The way that you are able to take a situation that would break others and use it to change the world so that others may realize their dreams, is awe-inspiring.

Allison, I could not ask for a better cheerleader. Even when you are working so hard with your own journey, you have always been there to encourage me.

Meredith, your writing takes my breath away, your talent as a photographer inspires me. Sharing your journey over the past year has given me the ability to open up here and learn that fear will get me nowhere.

Momsoon, thank you for making this world of surrogacy feel much less lonely.

Duck, you handle all of this with a grace that I can only hope to have. Thank you for teaching me that surrogacy is truly as beautiful as I imagine.

Daniele, you are always there to comment and support me even when things are not going well for you. Just reading your beautiful writing has given me the ability to heal more than you will ever know.

Cara, you give me the strength to face the days that I feel like will finally cripple me. The Bear and The Comedian keeps reaffirming that I am working towards what I really want.

Mrs. French thank you for the beauty you bring into my darkest days, and all the shopping you make me want to do.

Kristen, your constant comments make me want to keep doing this.

Corine, the humor and beauty you bring into my life is so important. It is also her birthday today (hint, hint, wink, wink)

Yolanda, you are my self-esteem coach. You do not blog nearly enough, I only say this because I miss you. Thank you for the amazing amount of support that you have given me, it mean more than you will ever know.

Lisa, you are my geeky comedian and the person that is never afraid to say what is on her mind. Thank you for the friendship and the smartass comments.

Cyn, you just amaze me.

Anonymous, who commented yesterday. Please feel free to e-mail me anytime.

To all of you, who I may have forgotten, thank you. All of you really mean the world to me. I never thought that this community would give me so much. It is hard to feel like I take so much more than I will ever give, but I am trying. Please go read some of these amazing women, I promise your life will change.

I look forward to being with all of you in the next year. To share all the moments that makes our lives and our world a little better.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Infertile Life

As part of National Infertility Awareness Week, I have been reading some new blogs, not commenting as much as I should, but learning new stories and processing the enormity of the issue. It is so easy to for me to let myself get wrapped up in my own little world; this cocoon is safer than out there in the big world. Out there, I live in fear of the questions and having to give answers that make others uncomfortable. It has been my experience that when others become uncomfortable the platitudes begin to fly. All the ones that we have heard at some point or another, those comments that are made to end the conversation and to lock our mouths. Those comments that just scream, "I am incapable of dealing with your pain, so just keep it to yourself."

Relaxing is not going to get me pregnant. Adoption is not that simple. A dog is not a child. My time will not just come, I have to struggle to parenthood. Going on vacation is not a cure for infertility, if it were I would be living in the Caribbean.

No doubt that this is an uncomfortable topic, it is painful, personal, and sad. Therefore, I have decided to let it all out. If you cannot read any further that is fine. If you do, I hope that it helps you understand or gives you somewhere to direct someone who is having a hard time understanding you.

I am just going to list all the ways that this marathon to parenthood has changed my life, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Any modesty that I began with is gone. Once you have discussed you sex life, been poked and prodded, had countless internal sonograms, and had everyone in the free world examine all the workings, there is just nothing left. My dignity has gone the same way. Not only has my body failed me but also it has come to define me, what I had of brains and talent no longer mean anything, I am just a broken body.

Over these years, I have walked around like a shell of a person. It is nearly impossible to continue with a real life when all your energy is focused on one event, one moment in time. I would guess that this is what it is like for someone with a substance addiction to function in the world, constantly searching for the next fix. My life has become an endless search for becoming a mother, I read, research, and thrive off this quest. At times, I understand that it is destroying my relationships, my future, and me; I am unable to give up. I cannot let this defeat me, with all the pain it brings; I just have to keep going. All those times that I have not gone to the baby shower, all the times that I have missed the birthday party, all the times that the birth announcements get tossed aside with nothing more than a glance, and all the announcements of pregnancy make me angry, have all stolen pieces of me and ended friendships. I do not want to be this person, I want to feel the joy and excitement, I want to be 100% elated for all these people because that is what they deserve, the pain just stands in the way. This all will bite me one day.

All the times that I have wanted to be with my friends and family, on the holidays and special occasions. Those times when I am there just thinking about next year, the future that will bring a child. I have robbed myself and them of these moments. I smile through these moments, and know that I am not the person that they deserve. No matter how much I want to give them all of me the majority of the time it is just not possible. There are different reasons in different situations but the result is always the same I am not fully there. Dealing with infertility is stealing my moments, my relationships, and major parts of my life. it is also stealing me away from my family and friends.

I feel a constant guilt for my infertility. I blame myself for not being a better person, for not being more deserving of motherhood, and for stealing the chance for my husband to be a father, my parents to have grandchildren, my sister to be an aunt, and my friends to have one more child in their life to love. This is not all about me, yes, I am the one with the problem, but it affects all of us. I know that there are times when they hurt just as bad as I do, because this is there loss as well. Of course, this is something that I have always kept to myself all these years. Seriously, how so you tell anyone that you feel this way about yourself? It is a burden to put that on other people.

Not only have I walked around with all this pain, trying so hard not to put it on others, but I also try so hard to be a whole person. It is hard to measure if I am successful at this because it is almost impossible for me to gauge how others see me. I am almost certain that this is a universal problem, the majority of people have no idea how others perceive them. I guess I could ask, but the truth is I do not really want to know. The feeling that I am not really a woman shadows the feeling of not being a whole person. Frustration and anger accompany the fact that my body refuses to do what the majority of women have no problem doing, just simply having a baby. As a child, I always believed that I would grow up get married and have a baby, sound pretty simple and straight forward. Not for me, no matter what I have done, there was just no way that this was going to happen for me. I am so unhappy with myself all of the time, even now when I have made peace with the fact that motherhood is not going to happen for me the way I dreamed. This anger just will not go away, these feelings of inadequacy sit in the pit of my stomach and in some ways, and they are eating me alive.

Over the years, it has become necessary for me to harden my heart, build walls that deflect all of these feelings, without these defenses I will crumble. The walls that protect me also keep me from living the way that I want. As much as I want people to be close to me, I am afraid that my damage will infect them. What this really means is that those who want to love me have to work that much harder, most people are unwilling to do this and I understand the result is that with each passing year I become more isolated. Just at the time when I should be surrounding myself with support, I am incapable of letting people get that close that easily. It also is not fair to the people who love me because they have to work that much harder to stay near me. I do not want to make them go through this with me and at the same time, I am incapable of surviving without them.

There was a time when this all got so bad, where I had sunk so deep, that living childless was the answer. I had resigned myself to having a life where no one would ever call me mother. It was actually a very liberating moment. I found enough strength in myself to know that I could learn to live without the one thing that I had always wanted. It was during this time that I learned to concentrate on myself; it was also when I learned a lot about healing and what happens to a heart that has been shattered. I was never going to be the same person again. At the time we decided that, we were ready to have a child and that we both were just lying to ourselves when we said that we did not, I learned that healing is not always lasting.

Complete healing may never happen there is a very real possibility that I will be broken forever. For a long time I told myself that once we got to parenthood, once we started the process the healing would begin. Now that we are there, I am learning that there is nothing that will make this all go away; I will forever be an infertile woman. The best that I can hope for is that the pain will fade and my heart will soften, and I am okay with that. More importantly, I know that it is no one else's responsibility to save me, especially the child that we are creating. I am learning to rise above this; I am learning to not allow being an infertile woman be the only thing that I am.

In all the sadness and tragedy to this, some wonderful things come out of infertility. Compassion, just being able to sit in those uncomfortable moments with someone, I am so much better at this than I ever was before. Not that being there is always easy, but after years of platitudes and stupid comments I have learned that there is nothing better than someone just being willing to sit and listen. No one has the power to fix these issues, but they do have the power to help me heal. It is as simple as just being able to listen and care. I am going to live with this forever, my family will live with this forever, and my child will live with this forever.

All these years will become part of my child's story. This makes me so aware of how everyone in this situation is treated because he/she will forever be a child of surrogacy a journey that he/she did not choose. I really overlooked this for a long time. Sure, I knew that one day this would be part of the story that created our child, but for some reason I was just not able to understand that one day this story would wholly belong to them. The best that I can do is making sure that they are created with as much love as I already feel for them.