Thursday, June 21, 2012

Medical clearance, check!

Update! We had my medical / psych screening on Tuesday June 19th. The clinic is a few hours away from us, so the agency set us up in a hotel for the night prior. We were able to find someone to take care of our son that night and the day of the screening. We got to our hotel around 10:00 pm, ate dinner, then went to bed. I got up around 6, we ate breakfast at 7, and we got to the clinic at 8. The receptionist got us registered, then we waited until 8:45 when I got called back to get blood drawn. They're testing for 14 things, but I don't read lab code so I couldn't tell you what they're looking at - but it was 6 vials they drained from me. I really wished that I had drank some water before hand because the phlebotomist had to poke me twice. After my blood draw we waited a little longer and our nurse coordinator called us back to discuss how they do cycles at their clinic. Her and I hashed out that I needed to deliver during my summer break next year, and we figured out a tentative transfer date. We really didn't spend too much time with her since I've been through two IVF cycles already, and have a good idea of what to expect. When we left her office the lab tech was ready to draw my husband's blood, lucky guy only had to have 3 vials drawn. While he was doing that I gave a urine sample for drug testing. At about 10:15 the Doctor called us into his office. He asked us a series of questions, well mostly me, but Johnathan got to answer a few. He asked about things regarding my prior pregnancies, my history with IVF, my health habits - exercise, smoking, diet, etc. - then he very briefly went over the cycle plan that the clinic goes by (even though the nurse had already done that). He then excused Johnathan back to the waiting room, and brought me to an exam room. He started with a breast exam. He asked if I had breast fed for long, when I said no he replied "hm, you're quite deflated" - of course I just replied "yup" I'm quite aware of the crap job the guy did on my reduction. Anyway, he did a quick ultrasound from the outside - I really don't know why, he didn't measure or take any pictures. Then out came the speculum. I got a pap smear, then he used the ultrasound probe to measure my ovaries and the outside of my uterus. After all that he put a catheter into my uterus, and put the US probe back in. While he was looking around, the nurse filled my ute with saline solution so they could make sure I didn't have any issues with my lining. When he was done he left, and I got to sit and drain for a little while. When I felt like I was done leaking saline I got to get dressed and go back to the waiting area. We weren't in the waiting area long, the nurse took us back into her office to start the MMPI. It's a 567 item true / false questionnaire that tells the psychologist if we're crazy or not. I had to take it for both of my prior surrogacies, but this is the first time Johnathan had to. We got about 1/2 way done when the psychologist came to meet with us. She took us into another office and again we discussed what we expect from the cycle, our life style, my pregnancy and surrogacy history, how we feel about the parent's requirements. The meeting with her lasted about an hour, then we we left to finish the MMPIs. We left around 1:30, which is an hour and a half earlier than we were expecting. The next thing I need to do is meet with a high risk specialist for a preconception something or another. I guess I need a specialist OB to tell the clinic that he / she thinks if fit for pregnancy. This isn't something I've ever had to do, but I'm not too worried about it. After that it's contract time, and once that is complete I can start my cycle to get pregnant. So, there we go, everything is still moving along, albeit still slowly.

Monday, May 21, 2012

at a snail's pace

So, it seems that because I need to be pregnant between August - October everything is permitted to move REEEEEEALLY slowly. It kind of nice though, not having to rush here and there trying to squeeze in so much before starting a period. What that means for the blog though, is that updates wont be quite as frequent as I'd hoped. I love seeing that so many people have visited though, and I hope that I am able to maintain such interest!

Anyway, I do have a small update.

The nurse coordinator at the fertility clinic got ahold of me, she said that everything looks good with my medical records. Whenever the agency gives the go ahead she'll schedule us for the medical workup - blood tests for both Johnathan and I, then a whole bunch of poking and prodding in my girly bits.

The other news is that the social worker came on Friday (May 11th) to do a home visit. I had to give her a tour of our house, and she took notes on this and that. One note I was kind of miffed about was "no sheets on bottom bunk" - like really? Aiden doesnt sleep on the bottom bunk, why do I need to keep it made up? Granted, it looks more presentable, but I dont know why she would note that... there were sheets on the top bunk, but she didnt even look up there. Then she sat at our table and asked us a bunch of questions: How long have you been married? How were your previous pregnancies? How do your friends and family feel about you doing surrogacy? Do you want to have any more kids? Y'know, normal interviewy type stuff. She said that she'd be writing her report and sending it back to the agency, but I have yet to hear from them.

So, thats it for now. I dont know when the next update will be, but it will be a day or so after whatever happens next :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

and the ball is rolling

So, I'm officially matched! Johnathan and I had a conference call with the intended parents and the coordinator from the agency on Saturday the 28th. It went as well as a call like that could go. They always feel a bit more like an interview than anything else. I was totally unprepared for the whole "tell us about yourself" portion of it. After the four of us giving a brief biography we got to the nitty gritty questions. It is vital that everyone is on the exact same page, no, paragraph about things like abortion, reduction, and other such touchy subjects. Once that is all out in the open, we were free to ask questions about how the relationship between us and them would go. It seems that it isnt going to be a butterflies and rainbows type of deal. They dont want to go to any of the appointments, but they do want contact with me throughout the pregnancy. She would like to be in the delivery room, but he is undecided. I'm glad that they were HONEST about the way they wanted things, rather than the whole "oh, we'd love to go to as many appointments as we can, blah blah blah..."

So, to conclude the call we were all told to think about the discussion and decide if we'd like to move forward with this as a match. I waited until Monday to email the agency, but the intended parents had made their decision within 10 minutes of ending the call. They couldnt wait to let our coordinator know that they liked me, which is a bit of an ego stroke for me.

Anywho, I'm writing this as I'm scanning my OB and fertility records from the last surrogacy. I got the contact information for the fertility center we'll be using. I greatly hope they dont require me to do a mock cycle, the fewer injections the better! We also are sending in our background check forms, and we have to have a social worker come and do a home visit. That's just going to have to wait for a couple weeks, my house is a wreck right now since we're moving on the 12th.

Friday, April 13, 2012

a little closer

I got a call from a woman at the agency today. She said she has a couple for me, but they have "unique" requrements that she wanted to make sure I'm ok with. I cant really get into too much detail about my mystery couple, or their requests. All I can really say is that I'm fine with the requests they've made.

So, now the agency is going to send them my "profile" and if they like what they see they'll allow the agency to send me theirs. If we all like each other on paper, then we'll have a phone conference. 24 - 48 hours after that each side will tell the agency if we'd like to proceed, and if everyone likes eachother then we'll be considered a match!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The hurry before the wait

So, I spoke with my coordinator at the agency today. She said that due to my history with surrogacy I should match really quickly. That is most certainly good news! She is putting on my "profile" that she sends to potential parents that I need to schedule my pregnancy a certain way, so that the parents know up front about it.

I suppose that you may be wondering what about my history would cause me to be matched quickly. Well, basically, its because I get pregnant really easily, have a big uterus (apparently thats good for IVF?) and have virtually no complications aside from normal stuff like morning sickness...

My first pregnancy was very easy, and my son was 9lb 9oz. His weight alone made me a desirable candidate to potential IPs. For some reason they all liked the idea that I would be comfortable, if not capable, carrying a larger than average baby or two average sized babies at once.

The first surrogacy we did a frozen transfer (meaning that the embryos were frozen for nearly 6 years before they were thawed and transferred to my ute), and I got pregnant the first time. There is some debate about the survival rates of frozen embryos. One side claims that embryos that survive thawing are more hardy, and more likely to implant. The other side argues that frozen embryos become compromised because they loose a few cells in the process of freezing then thawing. I dont really have an opinion either way. We transferred two embryos (a 7 cell and an 8 cell) and both implanted. One did not survive past 5 weeks, and the other turned out to be an 8 pound 6 ounce baby girl.

My second time was a fresh transfer, and again I got pregnant on the first try. Only one embryo stuck around, but we did transfer two. I had a really low level of PAPP-A (pregnancy associated plasma protien - A) likely due to the biological mother being 41 at the time of egg retrieval, which raised the odds of a few things. Down syndrome, stillbirth, pre-mature labor / birth, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, just to name a few. The parents elected to do a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) at 13 weeks. Everything with the CVS turned out fine, but since the level of PAPP-A was so low the pregnancy was still considered high risk for all those other possibilities. So, I ended up with having a monthly ultrasound until 32 weeks, then 1 per week, and a weekly non-stress test after 32 weeks. Everything went normally through the entire pregnancy, and their baby boy was born at 39 weeks weighing 8 pounds 3 ounces.

So, I guess all of that = my womb being in fairly high demand.

P.S. - I want to forwarn everyone that once I start injections I'll be posting pictures. You're liable to see needles, some blood, and probably bits and pieces of my butt. I'll preface those posts with a warning, for the squeamish or prude readers :)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Getting started

Now that the whole "I'm Jennifer, blah blah blah..." stuff is done, I can talk about what's happened so far, which isnt a whole lot.

I decided to work with the same agency as my second surrogacy. Even though I just delivered in December, I had to put in another application. I suppose some information changes, so I understand. 13 pages of questions later and my application is in, and accepted. All I need to do now is get a copy of my medical records from my last pregnancy, and get my IUD removed.

I'm feeling excited, but nervous at the same time. I think the nervousness is because we'll need to plan the due date to be between mid May and early August. I need to deliver while I'm on summer vacation from school, which means that I need to be pregnant no earlier than late August. I guess I'm worried that potential intended parents (IPs from here on out) wont want to wait that long to get pregnant. I suppose if they cant wait that long I'll just match with someone who will, right?

Is this dry so far? I'm attempting to put my personality into it as much as possible, but its hard! I feel like I'm talking to myself rather than to someone reading this. Maybe when I know someone is actually reading (even if it is just one person) it'll get easier.

Here we go! (again)

Ahh, new beginnings. There are so many of them in life, really. Here are two in one; a new surrogacy + a new blog = a new surrogacy blog! So I suppose a little "about me" is in order right?

Well, I am just an average person who happens to one un-average thing. I spend my days going to school (associates in registered nursing) and my nights with my insane asylum of a family. Husband, son, dog, and some fish. We also share an abundance of our time with our friends, who are pretty stinkin cool. Oh, and both my husband and I are pretty heavily tattooed, which isnt really a personality trait, but I suppose its worth knowing. A quick synapse of my life:

-Born in Washington state (between 20 & 30 years ago)
-Mostly raised in Nevada, graduated high school there, then moved back to WA
-Served in the US Air Force for 4 years, bringing me to Delaware
-Met my husband, had a son, and started nursing school in DE
-Did two surrogacies so far, and I only want to do one more.

 I knew after I had my son that I would be ok with just one child, but I REALLY wanted to be pregnant again. That is what led me to surrogacy, I would get to be pregnant, but I wouldnt have to bring home another baby! Its like a win-win for everyone involved really. I knew I wanted to do 3 surrogacies when I delivered my first surrogate baby. There was something about changing a person's life that just got me. It was like an epiphany, realizing that I, in all my baby carrying greatness, could actually do something for someone. That I could make someone else's dreams a reality, forever impacting their life.

I've never before kept a record of my surrogacies, but I have attempted plenty of blogs, all of which I lost interest in before I gained any "followers." I'm not a wonderful writer, but I can type till my fingers go numb. I'd like to share the process, the emotions, the surrogate - intended parent relationship with others, as it unfolds (of course from my own biased point of view). So, here we are, at the beginning of a journey. All will be aired; the good, the bad, the monotonous at times. Feel free to comment or ask questions, everything is welcome!