Sunday, December 18, 2016

Medical screening complete

I wanted to pop in during this busy holiday season and post a quick update (and a few pics, yeah!).

I had my medical screening with the RE last week. I shared my medical records, had an ultrasound, and met with the IVF coordinator. The RE says I am an "excellent candidate" for surrogacy, yay! I will have a saline sonogram in about a week and a half (no appointment date yet) to make sure my polyp removal was indeed successful. I also have an psychological evaluation scheduled for Dec. 30. After that, the IPs and I will move on to the contract phase. This will be slightly different as I am basically in charge of determining what goes in the contract, with the help of my attorney of course, as opposed to an agency telling me what HAS to be in there. I am confident in my experience to choose the necessary pieces for the contract. We are planning to begin contracts the first week of January, and are hopeful that the process will move much quicker this time around.

IM and I have been in touch about doctor's appointments, psych appointments, attorneys, etc. I feel like this will be a very communicative journey.

I have been very busy in my kitchen this season. My oldest son asked me to make cake pops. I have never attempted them before as I consider them quite above my skill level. But I gave it a go, and I surprised myself with how well they turned out:

They were delicious!
I have also spent the last month preparing cookie dough for my family's annual Christmas cookie baking day. Every year, we (ok, mostly me!) bake hundreds of holiday cookies and treats to enjoy. We also box them up and pass them out to teachers, friends, and neighbors. It is something that I look forward to every year. Here is a photo of the results from this year:

This is how we box them!

Keep checking in on me, friends. I'll post an update after my sonogram. For now, we just keep on keepin on!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Match update!

I'm about 5 days (!) behind in posting this update about my meeting with IM. My little family and I went out of town the following day, and school is out all this week for the holiday so time has just gotten away from me. You'd be surprised just how busy a home can be with 6 people and 2 pups! Well, maybe you wouldn't really. 😉

On to more exciting news:

The meeting with IM last week went quite well. I often find meeting new people can be a little awkward. Despite this, I felt that our conversation flowed rather smoothly. We shared a bit about our personal lives, and of course IM's desire to have children and my desire to help make that happen! I saw no reason why we shouldn't to try to build her dream together. So...

It's A Match! 

We are getting the ball rolling over here! I'm waiting to hear from my attorney about our next steps. I also have an appointment with the RE on Dec 12. I'm not entirely sure what this appointment will entail, but I suspect it will be a medical screening appointment. I'm thankful that the clinic is close (less than an hour) away, so no airplanes for this!

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to carry again, and even more fortunate to have the burden of travel removed! I'm confident in this decision and I'm excited to see what this journey holds!

Have a very Happy Turkey Day, friends!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Match meeting!

Hello, faithful followers! So much has happened since I last updated! As you can tell by the post title, we have made some forward progress. I'll get to that in a moment.

I have officially been accepted by one of the agencies with whom I applied earlier, but they currently do not have any IP's who would consider a "no terminate" surrogate. So for now, that's a waiting game. Also, I'll add that this agency has been wonderful throughout the application process and I'd love to plug them here: Family Source Consultants.

I am still waiting to hear back from the other agency on my official acceptance. Their insurance risk management had some problems with my insurance's clarity in benefits and exclusions as it pertains to a surrogate pregnancy. After many phone calls to BCBS, my attorney, and to my husband's HR department, I think we are finally squared away. (I'll leave it at that lest I jump on a soapbox about healthcare and insurance companies!) Also, one of the RE's that they work with has declined to work with me due to the number of pregnancies I have had. This isn't unusual as many doctors have their own protocols; it does not concern me in the least. The agency has now sent my medical records to be reviewed by another facility to see if they will accept me. So at the moment, I am not "officially" accepted as a surrogate with this agency, but I will say that they too have been wonderful up to this point.

Now, for some EXCITING news! I mentioned in the previous post that my attorney was also working on a potential match for me. We have been able to make some progress here and I am meeting with the IM in a couple of days!! We are very fortunate that this family is much more local (a few hours away) than my previous families, so I'm hoping - if we do indeed decide to "match" with one another - that they will be able to more closely be involved due to their proximity. Also, it would be no flying for me (bonus!) as their chosen clinic is within driving distance. 😊

I'm looking forward to meeting her and I am hopeful everything will go well. I'll be back in a couple days with an update on that!

Thanks for hanging in with me, friends!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Green lighted

Y'all, I've been green lighted.

My post-op appointment was yesterday, and I'm happy to say everything (down there) has healed up nicely. I asked my doc if she felt comfortable with me pursuing another surrogacy and carrying again she said, "Go for it!" So I am - yay!

I mentioned in my last post that I had some things in the works. I have applied to two agencies, and although I haven't been officially accepted yet (so much paperwork!), I am confident that I will be soon.

In the surrogacy world, I am what they call a "hard match," meaning the agencies could have a harder time finding parents for me because I choose not to terminate a pregnancy or reduce the number of embryos after they have implanted. So, I chose to apply with two agencies - neither have exclusivity agreements - in order to increase my pool of potential intended parents.

In another interesting twist, my attorney contacted me yesterday to let me know that she is actually helping a local family search for a gestational surrogate and wondered if this is something I would consider. Of course it is! I would love to be able to carry for a local family. They are working with Nashville Fertility Clinic, so no travel would be required of me. Since there are no agencies in TN, this would be an independent journey, meaning no agency would be involved. Of course, all the appropriate legal matters would be handled as usual. I am looking forward to hearing more about this opportunity, and really hope that it turns out well. I should know more in the coming days.

For now, I'm just waiting for my match to continue on to my third surrogacy, knowing that my future IPs are worth the wait.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A little getaway before surgery

October is my anniversary month. It also includes a mini Fall break for the kids. During their break from school, they got to spend time with their grandma while the husband whisked me away to the beach for a little early anniversary celebration. We are celebrating 17 years of marriage this year. (If any of my readers have been married for any length of time, y'all know this is no easy feat.) No marriage is without it's trials; it's what we choose to learn from them that can determine what kind of marriage we can have. I'm grateful for the many (and I mean many) opportunities for my husband and I to learn from our trials and grow in our marriage.

It's about a 6 hour drive to FL for us, and we ended up in a bay side condo on Navarre Beach. We were able to leave the windows open, let the breeze in, and listen to the waves.

View from the condo
We took the time to just enjoy being together and even went on a few adventures. We explored some historical sites at the Pensacola Naval Base and visited the National Aviation Museum. We took our obligatory beach dolphin watching cruise where we got to see a few Flippers. We even rented a jet ski for a little bit to have a little fun on the water. We decided that perhaps we are aging out of those kinds of adventures, haha!!

We traveled to the Orange Beach area to visit one of our favorite places

Us- about to enjoy some FABULOUS beignets at Brick & Spoon
After 4 days, it was time to head back home and get ready for the surgery. The pre-op appointment was easy enough of course. The next day, we had to be at the hospital at 9a to prepare for the procedure at 11a. My husband was with me the whole time; he takes care of me well.

Looking unafraid ....I'm lying.
I was super nervous about the anesthesia. It's a very vulnerable thing to know you are going to be put to sleep and be at the mercy of total strangers with none of your own control. That's some fear right there. Thankfully, I had a wonderful team who made me feel as comfortable with the procedure as possible. All in all, it went very quickly. My team wheeled me back to the OR around 10:30a and I was at home resting by 1p. My doc shared some photos of my uterus -- showing off her work. ;)

Polyps circled on left; all clear on the right!
I spent the rest of the day sleeping off the anesthesia. And today I'm back to normal with no cramping or spotting. I have no activity restrictions other than vaginal rest (no intercourse, tampons, douches, etc) for 2 weeks. I hope to get medical clearance to carry again at my post-op appointment on October 26.

I have not heard from K & J, or their attorney regarding their decision of legal liability in the matter. We have reached out several times, but with no response. I am ready to put that journey completely behind me and move forward in my search for another match. I may have some prospects in the works, but it's a bit too early for me say at the moment. You'll have to check back in for that update!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Going under (the knife?)

I'm back with an update -- I was hoping to have the legal side of things cleared up before I posted but I'll share where I'm at so far...

My consult with my OB was rescheduled for another day due to my doc having to deliver during my appointment time. The nerve of that laboring mama, right? ;) I did eventually have my consult about having these polyps removed. I shared the medical notes from the saline sonogram with my OB. Initially, the nurse performing the ultrasound said my polyps were "tiny." However, my OB said they were a "pretty good size." Those are my relative terms. I guess I agree with the "good size" description since my cycles have been AWFUL! I don't want to share TMI, but I literally can't go anywhere for the first 2 days of my cycle due to heavy bleeding and horribly painful cramps. I have never had cramps like these in my life. These symptoms have been present since the chemical pregnancy back in January. I knew they were likely from the hormonal changes from the IVF medications, but I didn't realize they would be permanent! So, surgery is my only option to take back my life from these monster cycles.

My d&c is scheduled for Oct 12. It will be an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. I did not realize that I have to be asleep for this procedure. I am a bit nervous, I confess. But it has to be done, so on we march!

As for the legal side of this situation, it is still being "discussed" among the attorneys. The discussion is revolving around whether the IVF medications actually led to the development of the polyps. If they did, then the IPs would be contractually liable. Their attorney is stating that there's no proof that the medications caused the polyps, therefore the IPs shouldn't be liable for the cost of removal. *cue my eye roll here*

A very simple internet search can you tell that polyps are a very common side effect of IVF medications. K's previous doctor told her that as well as my OB. But the attorneys need it in writing from a doctor. *cue another eye roll* My OB will not put this in writing for me as part of a legal document because I was not in her care during the IVF medications and procedures. K's doctor does not consider me a patient -- K is the patient, not that doctor cannot offer that. And of course, the clinic we previously worked with did not diagnose the polyps, so it's doubtful they would provide documentation of the cause.

It goes without saying that had our journey continued as we agreed, the IPs would have been responsible for the procedure in order to move forward with the next transfer attempt. Since they broke the contract before that could happen, this now seems to be a grey area in the contract.

While I do want to carry again, in light of this current situation, it's highly unlikely that I will carry with the same agency. I'm not feeling very confident in their abilities or desire to be an advocate for the surrogates as well as they are for their intended parents. (And I never even shared here about some issues with the previous surrogacy.) I'm certainly not comfortable with the surrogacy agreement resulting in me being left with a large medical bill as well my husband's personal time off from work to care for me during recovery. As this looks to be the likely case, it seems that perhaps I could not afford to work with this agency again. It's obviously my personal belief that the surrogate should not be left financially responsible for any medical procedures that are a result of the surrogacy agreement.


Other than all of the above, life has been pretty good to me these days. My oldest child at home just turned 16, got his permit, and got a job. He's working to save for a car.

My youngest (the one with the football) plays flag and is his team - that his daddy coaches - is currently undefeated.

The husband took me to see Boyz II Men with The Nashville Symphony. It was a super fun date night!

All in all, things are going well at the moment.

I do hope to seek another match after my procedure and complete a third (and most likely final!) journey. Stay tuned, friends!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Big, BIG changes


I don't even know where to begin this update. So much has happened in this journey in the past 3 weeks. This is a heavy hearted updated as this surrogacy journey has come to a close. K abruptly decided to no longer continue egg retrievals for the purpose of this surrogacy.
Here's how we got here:
You'll remember that K made the decision to switch clinics and I was to have another saline sonogram performed for our new doctor. I was fortunate to be able to have this sonogram rather quickly on August 8. The appointment went well, and my results were sent to the clinic.

I spoke with K regarding the appointment while we waited to hear back from the doctor. The sweet practitioner that performed the ultrasound noted 2 very tiny polyps in the uterine lining. K's doctor warned her previously that this could be a possibility due to the multiple rounds of fertility meds taken during these attempts. The fix is to have me undergo a d&c -dilation & curretage - which is a minor surgical procedure to remove the polyps from the uterine tissue. K and I had discussed this possibility previously and weren't discouraged at all by the results. This is not uncommon during IVF and we both agreed that having this procedure would be the next step in our process. We both ended the call in good spirits and excited to be moving forward.

Less than 24 hours later, my agency sent me a break-up email, stating that K had decided to break our match and put surrogacy on hold due to emotional and financial reasons. This news came as quite a shock to me as there was no hint at all that this was even an option for her. I reached out to K, but she said she did not want to talk. She did finally respond a few days later via text to apologize. She let me know that her decision was not based on the ultrasound results since she hadn't even spoken to her doctor. She said she would touch base with soon but of course she has not. I do not expect her to do so at this point.

I feel that the IPs are contractually responsible for the surgery costs since the polyps are a direct result of the surrogacy contract. My agency disagrees at this moment, so that is something I have to let the attorneys handle. *sigh*

I am now left trying to decide if I should undergo the d&c (I can't get approved as a carrier again with the presence of the polyps) or consider this the end of my road for surrogacy. I do have a desire to carry for another couple but an elective surgery, no matter how simple, is not to be taken lightly. I have a consult on August 30 with my OB to discuss the procedure, risks, etc. In the meantime, I will continue to search my heart to decide about my future as a gestational carrier.

Thank you all for following along with me. Life isn't always peaches and roses, I suppose!

I'll reach out to you all again soon.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A long awaited update...

Y'all. Summer break is almost over - back to school is in 4 days!!
I have been MIA on this blog for almost the entire summer break! BUT, I finally have an update. Fair warning: this may be a tl;dr post for some of you.

If you remember from the last post, we were waiting on K to begin meds for her thyroid condition before proceeding with her egg retrieval. She was finally able to begin those meds after weeks of begging the clinic to actually give her the prescription. She waited 5 weeks, THEN had to beg for the blood test to check to see if the meds were working. After several back and forths with the nurse (when she actually returned any phone calls or emails that is), K finally got to speak with the RE himself. That conversation left her even more confused than ever with the him telling her that her levels were well enough to proceed but couldn't tell her when she could proceed. He also mentioned several times that it was important she have her uterine lining checked. She corrected him that her surrogate - that's me! - would need the lining check. That seemed to confuse him, so he repeated that she would need her lining checked. He also said that K would need to repeat all her prior tests since the clinic had performed them "incorrectly." After all this, K still had no clear answers as to our next steps and was be no closer to beginning our 3rd attempt. She was very confused and frustrated, to say the least.

I have lamented in the past about the slow communication from this clinic. I can no longer lament about poor communication because they don't communicate at all. In fact, I have several unanswered messages out from months ago. It's a good thing I didn't hold my breath! This is such a shame because they've worked so well with me in the past. However, staff changes seem to be getting the best of them and they are no longer able to keep up with their patient load.

K made the decision to switch clinics to a facility that she could trust. We were very fortunate that she was able to be seen quickly at Baystate Reproductive Medicine in MA. She has already had her initial consult and bloodwork. The new RE has requested another round of testing for me as well; she is graciously allowing me to work with a local fertility clinic instead of flying to MA for the testing. I have reached out and been approved by Nashville Fertility Clinic. I hope to have an appointment next week for the initial testing and monitoring. In the meantime, K is waiting on her med protocol to prepare for her egg retrieval.

Although it was quite stressful to change clinics, we feel we have made the best decision. We feel we are capable and caring hands at Baystate.

Ok, so this post was not as long as I thought it was going to be. Seriously, there's even more to the story; I guess I just refrained from a lot of unnecessary details. I'll be posting again when I get the appointment confirmation from my local clinic.

We are so excited to finally be moving forward!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Waitin' on Round 3

If you read the post title, then you know that our recent transfer was not successful. Our beta blood test was negative. We are 0-2, folks. :( After recovering from the shock (K and I both had really thought we would be successful this time!) and speaking with the doctor, we have decided to move forward with our third transfer attempt.

We will be changing up our med protocols this time. For K, she will begin medications to treat a pre-existing thyroid condition before proceeding with meds for the egg retrieval. The doctor feels like this could help her body respond to the hormones in a more positive manner. The hope is to end up with two top graded tested embryos from one retrieval, however K is prepared to do multiple retrievals if necessary.

My med protocol will change as well. I don't have exact details yet but the doctor would like to try to avoid some of the lining setbacks that we experienced earlier. I'm excited about this proactive approach since the lining issues were definitely a new situation for me. This ain't my first rodeo, y'all!

We are planning to do two embryo frozen transfer as before. As of right now, we are looking to transfer near the end of August or possibly early September. In the meantime, I am just hanging out enjoying the summer, waiting to hear when I will begin meds again.

I'll be in touch soon, friends!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Embie baking, round two!

Hi! We returned home late yesterday evening from our transfer trip and I am happy to report that two beautiful embryos are in and are (hopefully) making themselves at home. I would have happily updated earlier, but I didn't bring my laptop with me on the trip and blogging from my tablet just isn't practical for me.

See how beautiful!

The picture above is magnified and shows the 2 embryos at the blastocyst stage. They look good! The transfer went very smoothly. The clinic sent us home with a perfect picture of these two little embies getting nestled into that lining! See...

K, J, and the hubs and I went out to lunch after the procedure. We haven't been able to spend as much time with them as we would have liked, so this was quite a blessing.

Our flight out to NYC went pretty smoothly other than a typical delay. I say "typical" because it seems my flights are always delayed; I don't remember the last time one was actually on time. I suppose all that matters is that we made it.

After we grabbed the rental car and a quick bite to eat (breakfast at 3p!), we headed to meet up with C and the twins. We were able to visit with them at their home for about 45 minutes before C had to load up kiddos and head to another activity. I almost forgot how busy little ones can be! She is in a very busy season of her life for sure. We took several pictures, but for privacy I can not post them here. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that those two are the cutest kids I've ever carried! I mean, they rank right up there with my own!

They are in NY and we are in TN so visits are few and far between as you can imagine. Although it felt like a short visit, I'm so grateful to have been able to see them; they are such a sweet family and they hold a special place in my heart.

Our return flight was a bit more dramatic - perhaps everything is "dramatic" when you hate flying! The airline attendant announced that 4 people would be bumped in order to accommodate a "weight restriction." The captain was in the terminal and requested a baggage and head count and asked that the plane not be fueled until after everyone and their bags were on board. He didn't say this to the passengers of course, but my anxious ears perked up after the announcement. The thought of being on a plane that may be too heavy, and therefore not weight balanced, was a bit unnerving. I know a (very) little bit about physics, and I'm pretty sure that weight and balance is important when flying a bird!

As we were sitting (me, anxiously!) on the tarmac, the captain then announced that we would be flying over some stormy weather so the second hour of the flight could be a bit choppy. *sigh* We made it just fine all the same, but I don't think I will ever get used to, let alone like, flying!

My beta blood test is scheduled for May 31. The Memorial Day holiday costs us a WHOLE  extra day of waiting! In the meantime, I've been instructed to carry on life as usual but with a 15lb lifting restriction. I need some time away from the gym anyway. ;)

I'll check in again soon, friends.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

FINALLY moving forward

We FINALLY heard from all points of contact regarding my last appointment - May 4 - and we are FINALLY a go for transfer! My uterine lining measured 17-18mm, which was a slight decrease from the 21mm it was previously. My clinic is happy with that and we are preparing for embryo transfer on May 19.  I am waiting to receive travel arrangements, but given the 19th appointment date, we should be flying out on the 18th and coming back home on the 20th. Then we wait for beta to see if either of those 2 embies decide to stick around! As much as I would like to lament over the fact that this is 3 weeks past our original proposed date, I'm too excited to care! We are FINALLY going to attempt a second transfer nearly 3 months after our chemical pregnancy. It's been a loooong 3 months, y'all.

C and I continue to be in touch about our travel dates, so we still hope to be able to see the twins when we travel for the transfer. We're excited about that as well.

My estrace was decreased again in preparation for the transfer; I'm down from the original 8mg/day to 2mg/day. The decrease in the estrace has caused some slight spotting (which helped to decrease that lining a bit), but this is normal and expected. I will take my last dose of Lupron tomorrow and begin the big progesterone shots Friday. I should be getting used to those by now...should be.

I hope you all enjoyed your Mother's Day this past weekend. My boys and I spent the day Saturday hiking, picnic'ing, and ended the night with a frozen yogurt outing, yum! On Sunday, we relaxed a bit at home and had a cookout that evening: grilled BBQ chicken and corn on the cob! We don't take time often enough to slow down and spend some time together;  it was such a blessing to do that this weekend with my family.

I will check in again soon, friends!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

News travels slow

I am so sorry for not updating sooner. There are a lot of moving pieces in the communication between my monitoring clinic, my fertility clinic, K & J, and myself. Whew!

Monday was my ultrasound to check my uterine lining to see if we are ready for transfer. (It was also my birthday, yay!) We saw a fluffy, trilaminar 21mm uterine lining. Since I was 19mm prior to the previous transfer attempt, I can only think is good news the fluffier the better, right?! So off I went to celebrate my birthday with my family complete with flowers, cupcakes, and even a surprise overnight getaway with the hubby, sans kiddos! The hubs and I spent a couple of days in Atlanta, exploring Oakland Cemetery, the Georgia Aquarium, and my favorite part: The Bodies Exhibition. Perhaps not everyone would enjoy viewing cadavers on their birthday, but it floated my boat! And just as we were wrapping up our trip and about to head home, I got an email from the fertility clinic...

Y'all. Another set back: my lining is TOO thick for transfer. I cried a little. Apparently, the RE would like my lining to be between 8mm and 20mm at this point. Soooo, instead of transferring on May the 4th (be with you!), we will have another ultrasound to see if lowering my estrace dose by half will drop that lining measurement a bit. I will be in the office bright and early next Wednesday, praying my body responds favorably this time.

I'm trying not to be discouraged with all the push backs; it's frustrating. And I know K is a bit frustrated as well. We're so so ready!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Let's try this again!

Hi, friends!! Perhaps some of you have been waiting patiently to find out how this week's appointment went, considering that the previous ultrasound did not go as we had hoped. I have better news this week. My ovaries are still suppressed (as they should be!), and my lining is at 5mm. The clinic is looking for it to be below 7mm before we can continue with the meds, so yay! I began estrace on Thursday and we preparing for transfer May 4th. Quote from my husband. "Transfer is Star Wars Day. So cool!"

Lining check will be April 25, so let's hope that goes well so we can keep the rockin' date as planned. April 25 also happens to be my birthday so it can only be a good day, right? 

And if all that news wasn't exciting enough, I also attempted and failed, then attempted again and succeeded at making pretzels...cinnamon sugar and salted. Not photogenic at all, but they tasted good!
Making Auntie Ann proud
I don't think my family minds being taste testers for my kitchen adventures. They didn't mind this sweet peanut butter cream pie either:

I promise not to fill the blog with pictures of food. It is about surrogacy afterall. But what a fun way to spend the "hurry up and wait." (and pictures are fun!)

I'll check back in soon. Thanks for following me!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another bump in the road

Yesterday's baseline appointment didn't quite yield the results we would want. Although my labs came back great and my ovaries are very quiet, my uterine lining was too thick. So, even though my cycle began as planned, the lining hasn't shed enough to allow us to begin the estrace. The clinic assured me that this happens sometimes and it should only delay us by a week. I will be rechecked next Wednesday. As a result, we will no longer be transferring at the end of April; we are pushed back to the first week of May. I will have an official transfer date after we receive the results from next week's appointment. Until then, we wait. I have to remain on the Lupron, with my ovaries turned off and no synthetic hormones to fill the gap. Thankfully, the side effects have been a bit more mild this cycle. Yay!

To pass the time with all this waiting, I have been in the kitchen. I love to bake, and last weekend, I made my first batch of real homemade cinnamon rolls! I generally fear yeast baking, but I found the courage to give it a try. I am so proud.

My baking skills are waaayyyy better than my photography skills. These were fantastic! They are definitely too rich and decadent to make every weekend, but perfect for special occasions. I don't think I can blame any of my recent weight gain on the hormones any longer thanks to glorious treats like these! They're worth it. This is a more interesting than all this "hurry up and wait" that's been happening on this blog lately, don't ya think??

Check back in with me next week, friends. I hope to have better news and possibly another kitchen adventure!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Back at it

Hi! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. We traveled and spent some time with family, and ate way too much dessert.

I began the Lupron injections four days ago as planned, so we are officially underway with the meds. I'm very happy that I have no noticeable side effects to report. Wahoo! I will hang out on the Lupron for a bit; we'll check the ovaries in a little over a week, then we can move on to prepping that lining!

Last week, the twins turned 5! C and I have been in touch a bit and we are hoping to get together when I head up for this transfer in April. They live very close to our clinic. Of course, we'll have to see if the timing works out for everyone, but I'm so excited at the idea of getting to see them as they get ready for Kindergarten in the fall! It really does seem like I just delivered them yesterday. They're so sweet - I can't wait!

My littlest is playing flag football for the spring. Daddy is coaching and I'm team mom'ing, so that'll keep us busy in the meantime!

Thanks for checking in with me, friends!

Friday, March 18, 2016

It's here!

It's finally here! No, I am not talking about my good ol' Auntie Flo, although she did indeed arrive. Aaaaand, I'm willing to bet that wasn't your biggest concern anyway. ;)

What I'm really excited about is to finally have an official timeline and transfer date, wahoo!!! The delay since my last posting (over 2 weeks ago!) has been simple coordination between the clinic, K & J, and myself about the actual date. Communication between several parties can be a bit slow, I suppose. But that's no matter anymore, because we have a date! We will have our second transfer attempt on April 28. As I type that date, it seems like it's so far away!

We will be transferring two frozen embryos, and I will be on the same med protocol. I have been on birth control pills for a little over a week and will continue on those through the end of the month. On March 25, I will begin the Lupron (belly) injections for 12 days before beginning the estrace to start building the lining. I'll have two monitoring appointments prior to transfer, then we'll be on our way to Connecticut!

I cannot wait; I am so excited! Let's stay busy and pass this time, friends!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Plan in Place

We received the results from the embryo testing a couple of days ago. Since then, we have been working on getting a plan together for our next transfer. Of the three embryos that survived to testing, only one was deemed viable for transfer. K and J have decided to move forward with the transfer of that one little embie and we couldn't be more excited! The doctor also suggested that we transfer a remaining embryo from K's very first retrieval. That will give us a two embryo transfer, and while the remaining embryo did not undergo PGD testing, the doctor feels that two embryos increase our chances for a successful pregnancy.

We do not have a transfer date yet, and that is because I am waiting to begin birth control, which I can do when my cycle arrives. I am expecting that to be any day; really, I expected it a couple of days ago, but since we're actually waiting for it to arrive, I'm sure it will be late. Once I'm able to begin the pills, we think it will be about 6 weeks before we can attempt our second transfer. All I'm thinking (other than "On my gosh, I have to fly again!) is Connecticut weather should be nicer in the spring than it was in January.  In the meantime, I'm literally just waiting on my period. If that's not the weirdest thing on which to wait...

So, I guess I'll keep you all posted on- erm- Aunt Flo's arrival? I'm sure you'll be checking back often. ;)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Making these babies public!

In my previous post, I shared that K had 11 surviving embryos. We found out this weekend that only 8 of those embryos stopped growing. K and J have 3 embryos that were frozen. Prior to freezing, cells from each embryo were pulled and will be tested for chromosomal defects. Remember, this can tell us which embryos will have a chance for a viable pregnancy. K is a bit discouraged, as I don't think the statistics are in her favor for all 3 embryos testing well. We will know the results in about a week. Unless they all 3 test well, K will have to undergo another egg retrieval.

As far as my part in all of this is concerned, I am still waiting to be begin meds. "Hurry up and wait" is the name of this game afterall.

In unrelated medical news, I have decided to make this blog public again. I began this blog in 2010 with the hopes of sharing my experience in order to encourage both surrogates and parents who struggle with infertility. I hoped to share my own perspective and feelings about surrogacy as well as offer some layman's knowledge on the subject,at least periodically.

To be honest, I never expected such negative responses from those who claim to to love me as family. In fact, the negativity weighed heavily on my family. Can you imagine having family actually tell you that you could be "so much more than just a mother." That's a real quote, folks. I try to assume that this statement had good intentions, rather than being a bless-your-heart backhanded compliment against my own personal choice to become a mother and subsequent surrogate mother. And of course I've received several "I don't agree with you, but I support you" statements. I'm not even sure what that means, but I won't be seeking that kind of "support."

The icing on the proverbial finger-pointing cake was the comment -from loving family, mind you -that surrogacy would send both me and my husband "straight to hell." (I won't get on my soapbox about those who believe in hell don't seem to believe in grace - perhaps my "sin of surrogacy" -it's not sin, by the way -  is just too much for Jesus' cross to cover, and only this relative gets to decide what His love forgives today as well in my future that she knows so well.) My husband was also told that he was not considered part of his family any longer because of my decision to be a surrogate. I suppose we truly are in this together. ;)

In light of all this unnecessary and hurtful drama, I made the blog private in 2013, prior to my second surrogacy. It was viewable to only a handful of trusted family and friends. My recent decision to open up the blog once again was born out of my desire to reach others by sharing my story. I found that keeping peace doesn't always mean keeping quiet. I believe that this same Jesus whom this relative says condemns me (He doesn't) is the same Jesus who offers me the grace to live in peace because of His love for me. Because of this freedom, I am no longer beholden to the opinions of others; instead I seek to live out my faith in love. The Jesus I know tells me in my Spirit that there is no greater love than those who would lay down their life for others. Surrogacy is such a beautiful way to lay down your life for someone else, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to offer such a gift.

Welcome back to my journey, friends!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Retrieval #1

Things are moving along over here. K had her egg retrieval yesterday. She had a very positive outcome, offering 18 eggs from this cycle. As of today, 11 of those progressed to the embryo stage. The embryologist will spend the next days monitoring their growth; the goal is to have the embryos continue steady, healthy growth over the next 4-5 days. The embryos that survive in the coming days will be tested as mentioned in the previous post. We should know those results by early next week. If K and J have even one embryo that is viable for transfer, I will begin meds to prepare for our next attempt. We think that could possibly take place sometime in April, but this is only our best guess as we've not yet received any hints of a timeline from the clinic. We'll have to continue waiting for now.

In the meantime, we've been celebrating this week of love in all kinds of fun ways! Flowers and chocolates all around, then we spent a family day at a nearby aquarium. We topped off our Valentine's celebration by adding this little cutie to our crew:

He is a miniature dachshund. We also have a 1.5 year old mini-doxie. They are so much fun! Such a fun Valentine's Day this year!

I'll post again soon with little embryo updates!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sad news

Our beta results from yesterday were not good as we had hoped they would be. The number dropped from 14 to 12, signaling an early miscarriage. The clinic made the decision to stop my medications. I am now waiting for the miscarriage to begin. This early in the pregnancy, it should be nothing more than a heavy period. K is heartbroken; we both are. I feel like I let them down, even though I know it's not my fault. There is no fault at all. There is always sadness in this, but we are hopeful for our next attempt.

K spoke with the doctor and he boosted her confidence in trying again. Since chromosomal abnormalities are behind most early miscarriages, the doctor suggested that K's future embryos undergo Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD. This can insure that the embryos are free from many chromosomal defects which could lead to miscarriage, although it's not perfect and doesn't guarantee a successful pregnancy. There are benefits and risks that  K & J will continue to discuss with the doctor as they make their decisions. In the meantime, K will undergo 2, possibly 3, rounds of egg retrievals in an effort to gather as many healthy embryos as possible. We will attempt another frozen transfer in 2 or 3 months, depending on how K's embryos grow. We should have a more definitive timeline in the coming month.

Until then, I'll be off medications and will be back to life as usual while we wait for K's procedures.

I'll check back in again if and when I get more information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

High hopes

We got the results from our beta blood test yesterday afternoon. I'm sorry to say that the number was quite a bit lower than we would want at this point. I wasn't surprised as I had taken a home pregnancy test the day before and it was negative. Our beta number was 14. The expected range is 5-426, so it is a positive result. We are pregnant.

However, our nurse was concerned that this could be a chemical pregnancy (that's really a nicer term for an early stage pregnancy loss). In a chemical pregnancy, the embryo implants but never continues to develop. We are not certain this is our case, and the way to find out is to have another beta on Thursday to see if that HCG will rise. If we have a sustainable pregnancy, our numbers should double (or more) every 72 hours. Our numbers on Thursday will tell us what our next step is. It really could go either way right now.

I will confess that K and I a bit discouraged but not hopeless. I have scoured the internet for encouraging stories regarding low beta numbers and there are many! We are cautiously optimistic and our hope is high. Reproduction is a miracle; we are praying that these little lives are no exception!

As of right now, we are pregnant; our due date is Oct 1, 2016.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Getting cozy

We had our embryo transfer a couple of days ago as planned. Everything went off without a hitch. The RE remarked that my lining looked great and those embies went! I've been experiencing some minor cramping since shortly after the procedure. I'm hoping those are implantation cramps and that means those babies are getting cozy and making themselves at home. Of course, we won't know for sure until official beta blood test planned for January 25. I might take some home pregnancy tests beforehand -- we'll see. ;)

All in all, the trip was pretty great. We had some slight bumps on the way in: an hour flight delay and getting patted down and having my luggage checked by the TSA.

Yeah, it was kind of like that.

We received the full air travel experience, I suppose. The flight itself was also very bumpy. I'm not the best flyer (in fact, I hate flying), so the bumps and the tipsy descent due to wind conditions peaked my motion sickness. I could not wait to get off that plane!

We were able to meet the parents for the first time at the transfer appointment. That is always such a sweet experience. The parents and my husband were able to be in the room with me during the transfer. I'm glad for that.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel for some rest. I was told to avoid strict bedrest but to stay off my feet as much as possible and to "keep optional activities to a minimum" for the first 36 hours after transfer. Um, being in a small hotel room kind of makes every activity optional, so it's entirely possible for me to remain nearly completely off my feet. My agency sent me a nice care package to keep me company during the rest:

I especially loved the jelly beans! Between that and the books and movies the hubs and I brought, we were all set. We did leave the hotel for dinner (with permission from the doctor's office of course). It was a good change of scenery for a little bit.

We caught a flight home the next evening, and I've been taking it easy ever since. While we wait for that moment of truth blood test, I'm instructed to reduce activity (walking is ok; jogging is not! - it's fine, I don't jog anyway) and to not lift anything over 15 pounds. I think I can manage that. My husband has been wonderful, allowing me to rest and relax. I could get used to this. ;) I'm off to tackle this whole "take it easy" gig.

If I decide to take a home pregnancy test, you all will be among the firsts to know. Stay tuned, friends!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All layered up

Yesterday was our lining check. We -and by "we" I suppose I mean the ultrasound tech - were looking for a thick trilaminar (fancy medical word for having 3 layers) uterine lining. And that is exactly what we got. In fact, my uterine lining measured 19.1 mm. Seriously, ya'll, that's a LOT of lining. Maybe that's why I feel a little puffy when I try to button my pants these days - could be all the Christmas cookies too. In my previous two surrogacies, my lining only measured 12 mm at this point prior to transfer. The thicker the trilaminar lining, the better chances at implantation. This means good things for us, I think.

We will continue our med protocol as planned. Tomorrow will be last dose of the Lupron (yay!). I will begin the bigger Progesterone shots on Friday. Remember those?? Even though I've done this twice already, those big ol' shots are something I never get excited about!

My kiddos are still home from school on their Winter break. They go back tomorrow. I'll be spending time making preparations for travel for next week. We will leave TN on Wednesday, transfer 2 frozen embies on Thursday, and be back home on Friday night. Here's hoping the cold isn't too unbearable in Connecticut. Wishful thinking, perhaps? I'll be sure to pack warmly.