Wednesday, March 24, 2010

parenthood through surrogacy part 2

Where my thought process has evolved the most is how I see the relationship I wanted with our surrogate. When we first started looking into surrogacy I was terrified of this part because I had no idea how to handle my relationship with the woman that was carrying our child. There is no comparable relationship that I have found.

I wanted her to be open to meeting our child if the child wanted to, but I was worried about having a close relationship between the her and us. My biggest worry was that my mommy toes would get stepped on if we were too close. It did not take me long to realize that I could not carry all of my infertility baggage into this relationship. There are wounds that will never heal, but they do not have to control my life or affect my relationships with others. Some part of me will forever be sad that I cannot carry our child, but that is a very small part that I give little attention to these days. Once I got to the point that I KNEW that I was our child's mother, no matter how many other people helped us get Cletus here, I am the mother.

Coming from a family that is very blended made it easier for me the know that biology is the smallest part of creating a family, but there were still many concerns and fears that I had. Adoption is often the nearest reference point that most people have when it comes to surrogacy, but surrogacy is a completely different situation. Our child is coming into this world with the help of an egg donor, gestational surrogate, and my husband. There was a lot of new territory for me to work through. I struggled with feelings of being completely left out of the process and a lot of guilt that I could not just be grateful that all these people were willing to go through all of this to make my dreams come true. Giving myself time to heal and work through these feelings also gave me the ability to have a trusting and honest relationship with our surrogate.

I will be the first to admit that we are extremely fortunate to have Sabrina, there is no one else I can imagine going through this with. She is an incredible woman with a wonderful husband and children. While Sabrina is doing the physical part of this, it is really her entire family that is involved in this. Her husband moved their house while she was away at our first transfer. There are going to be things she is not able to do with the kids in the coming months and she has been away from them because of transfers. Knowing that they are all doing this because Sabrina wants to make us parents is an overwhelming feeling.

I have spent many a social psychology class arguing the existence of true altruism. You have never experienced drama until you have told a good ole southern boy that his mama does not love him for purely unselfish reasons, I highly recommend this if you ever get the chance. Creating a family is the closest, I believe, that I will ever come to experiencing true altruism. Yes, there is compensation, but I will always believe that it is a small token amount of appreciation. Really, how do you put a price on completing your family?

So, the question becomes how do you not have a lifelong relationship with someone who has literally given birth to your dreams? For me the answer is that there is no way that I can imagine not having Sabrina being part of our lives. My own selfish reason is that I adore Sabrina and want to be friends with her forever. Even if this were not true, I would feel the need to have a relationship where there was communication about how the munchkin was doing. In my opinion, denying that relationship is disrespecting your child's story. I cannot deny how my child came into the world. We have always been committed to telling our child everything about their background from the time they start asking questions, this story belongs to them and it is not our place to deny them that. Again selfishly, it is much easier to explain who someone is when they are a part of your life, children are not very good with the abstract. Of course this all goes back to being comfortable with my place in my child's life.

Monday, March 22, 2010

parenthood through surrogacy part 1

over the past month a few people have contacted me about starting their families through surrogacy, and i hope that i was able to answer some of the questions they asked. this got me to thinking that i had not written about the whole process in a long time. right now our journey is changing so quickly that it is almost hard to remember how far we have come. i am going to break this up into a few posts so you don't have to read the whole novel at once.

when we started this journey 2 years ago, i was so frightened of the road that lay ahead of us. the prospect of having someone who was almost a stranger carry our child was a huge ball of fear. most of all it is a very lonely place to be, while surrogacy is gaining popularity it is still relatively rare. it still amazes me when i meet someone outside of my infertility circles that has a connection to surrogacy. because of this rareness there are a lot of misconceptions about the entire process as with all infertility treatments. not only are you trying to find the answers for yourself, but everyone you share the news with has a million questions of their own. i am the kind of person who has a hard time keeping anything to myself, which means that i have answered a million stupid questions and heard things come out of people's mouths that made me want to live in a hole.

surrogacy is controversial, this is just a fact. there are people who are never going to understand what is really happening and there are people who will say very hurtful things to your face. nothing is more hurtful than someone saying something horrible about the way your child is coming into the world. people do not choose to enter into surrogacy lightly. this is not about vanity or not wanting to carry a child for some other stupid reason. i would gladly endure the worst pregnancy in the world to become a mother but that is not possible for me.

i was fully aware of both sides of the surrogacy arguments, in fact i obsessed over these arguments. at the same time we had decided that surrogacy was the right path to parenthood for us. i knew that there was no going back but i continued to read every argument for and against surrogacy, which is really the same thing as torturing myself. the more that i read the more i understood that all the terror and fear was really coming from a fear of the unknown. there is no surrogacy how to manual, there should be, but there is very little out in the universe.

our first stop was an agency. something that did not turn out well in the end but was well worth the experience and knowledge we gained. there was an issue that we were unable to resolve and decided to move onto another agency. i found a great deal of comfort in having people who do this for a living to help us navigate what feels like an overwhelming experience.

in the end we did not go with an agency. for us it was because we found the perfect surrogate and felt that we were willing to put in the legwork to get the rest of the process completed. this has not always been easy, in fact there have been times that it was down right difficult. everyone had their own comfort level and our comfort level is light years away from where it used to be. it can be overwhelming making sure that every i is dotted and every t crossed, because there are a lot of i's and t's. at some point you get passed that part or at least get a prolonged break. the best advice that i can give here is to protect yourself and your surrogate by using a reliable surrogacy attorney and a clinic that works with surrogacy situations, as their requirements will often help to guide you through the process. if something does not sound right or does not sit well with you speak up, you should be comfortable with every step that you take in this process. not everything can be changed but sometimes just understanding the rational behind it can help ease stress.

as you can see all of these questions and choices are enough on their own. add to that everyone and their cat giving you an opinion or asking a question you cannot answer and i fully understand why people choose to go through surrogacy without the knowledge of those closest to them. we have not chosen to do this. not that we made some grand announcement about our plans, but we have never hid what we were planning either. we told our parents and other family members first, and as things became more concrete we began to share with others. there were of course a lot of questions, but surprisingly very few negative comments. in fact, i have gotten more negative reactions from comments here than in real life. either people are talking about us like crazy behind our backs or we are incredibly blessed with very supportive friends and family. i know that it is the latter, because they have all been very supportive and i have really enjoyed sharing this story with them. there have been times that i did not want to answer any questions and they always respected our space. it was very clear that i would share what i could and that was all i was capable of at the time.

these people have been my crutches through this whole process. there were many times when i had to just let others be excited for us because i was emotionally spent. i believe that these ups and downs are no better or worse than going through any process to have a child. making a family is an emotionally taxing process. i have spent many a distracted month or two recovering from some of the huge events along the way. right now that is getting much easier but i am sure it will show up again in some other form. then there are the moments that give you enough steam to make it through another event or two. an example of this is finding the perfect surrogate, but more on that tomorrow...

a simple sound

wow, how did it get to be the end of march and ILCW already? if you want to read how this story came to be go here.

this month has really just flown by, and while i have gotten a lot done there is still so much more i have to accomplish. saturday marked the 10 week mark. while this is wonderful news, when sabrina called to let me hear the heartbeat i really got a big smack in the head.

for just over 2 years we have been working to become parents through surrogacy and egg donation, and making a lot of really difficult decisions. a funny thing happened to us, and it is something i suspect that a lot of people dealing with infertility deal with, we got so wrapped up in the day to day process of getting to pregnancy that we forgot that we have to bring a live human being home. that beautiful heartbeat that makes my heart melt belongs to a real human being who we are expected to raise into adulthood. don't misunderstand me, we are so excited about becoming a complete family i cannot adquetly describe how happy we are to take on this challenge. that said, this is terrifying.

i have thrown myself into the books, checked into infant cpr classes, cried a little, and researched much more than i should have. information is power, and sometimes that power can make you a little batty. what i am most terrified of cannot be easily fixed with books or information, at least not fully. i have wanted to be a mother since i was a child, and when motherhood did not come easily i lost pieces of myself along the way. at the same time, i picked up a lot of anxiety. when you face not having the life that you have always wanted, and spend years knowing that the main desire of your heart is just out of reach, two things happen. first, there is a tendency to loose sight of the bigger picture, because it is hard enough to focus on the next step. second, the desire to protect this dream becomes so strong that it can overtake your life. it is the second part of this equation that feeds the terror monster in my head.

children are not born knowing how they came into the world, they do not care that you have waited years for them. they have every right to live their life without having to carry the burden of being the cure for years of heartbreak. i know that i have to let my child experience all that life has to offer, including those things that can cause bodily harm, like walking! i also know that there is a part of me that is terrified that something horrible is going to happen. i know that this is a normal reaction, and i am really trying to curb the desire to buy up the world's supply of bubble wrap because a bubble wrapped kid would make potty training a wee bit difficult. still i cannot shake the feeling of terror. there is going to be a human being depending on me for everything and that is scary because it is supposed to be scary.

surrogacy is an amazing experience, but this is one of the downsides. i have way too much time on my hands. because i am not worrying about holding down breakfast or fitting into the pants that fit perfectly yesterday morning. i just have unlimited amounts of time to think about everything that could go wrong and all the things that could go right. there are no feelings of jealousy that celtus is being cared for by another woman, because there is no person that i would trust more than sabrina to bring cletus into the world. there are just those moments when i wished i had something else to occupy my brain. preparing the house is helping, because that process comes with millions of distractions.

having to take an honest look at everything i own and the purpose that it serves is exhausting, but so worth the effort. i am still amazed that i let things get to this point, but the deeper i dig through it the more i realize that i am ready for this part of my life to be over. i am ready to take on this new role and i am ready to do all the hard work that i need to do on myself. as hard as this all is, there is nothing that i would not do for the person attached to that heartbeat. because that simple sound is part of my heart. there may not be a grain of my dna, i may not be the physically pregnant one, but that heartbeat belongs to a person who will change my life forever. that heartbeat belongs to my child, and there will never be a mroe beautiful sound in the world.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

psychotic nesting!

i have discovered a really bad part of being an intended mother, i have NOTHING to at the moment and then suddenly i will be momma. can i just tell you how terrifying and overwhelming that feels right now? A WHOLE BIG HUGE MUCHES!!!!!

when we moved into this house we both were very busy. instead of really getting everything put away properly most of our stuff ended up wherever it would fit. add to this living here for the past 4 years, well i will let you do the math. i have worked non-stop for the past couple of weeks, with the help of an amazing friend who i am forever indebted to, and managed to get my house to the middle stage. i knew that it was bad, but i had no idea how bad. i have to put a lot of things away and finding new homes for things that need to come out of the guest room, because everything has to come out of there. another week or so and i should have everything finished.

it feels wonderful to be at this point, but also very frustrating that i let it get to this point. i think that i thought i was handling this whole reproduction thing a lot better than the state of my house showed. there is no doubt that the past three years have been some of the most overwhelming of my life so far. there was no energy left for me to take care of the house, most of the time i was just hanging on till the next day. then there were the weeks that i waited for the next phone call, email, or smoke signal. those were the days when i would sit in the dark. rarely did i open the blinds because i could not face the mess and i just did not have the energy to open the blinds. i did not realize this until i started going through here and that terrifies me. the terror part is not from knowing i was feeling those feelings, but in not having any clue that i was not doing well at all. the fact is that i was miserable and unable to work my way through the feelings because i had no idea that i was in such a hole.

i open the blinds every day, things are not perfect but i can somewhat stand to see the mess. there is a different person living here, that real me i hope, i feel like i can breathe. there have been tiny exhales, but i really cannot remember when i was able to really feel like i was breathing. all the things that could possibly go wrong now are so much easier to handle, we have gotten farther than we ever have and for right now that feels great. we are getting there and i still cannot believe that we are really here.

these past two weeks have shown me just how easy it is to ignore things that are just too big to deal with at the time. at least i know there is a good chance that this can come back if the littlest stress could make a huge crack. not because i am fragile but because it is going to take a while for me to trust this new feeling. that happiness stuff is invading my misery and throwing me all off balance. forgive me if i am not great about writing, but hope that it will be a very short time.