Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not this time

Going out of town instead of hanging around, waiting for the call ended up being perfect for us. True, it was on my mind a lot, but there's nothing like hanging out with Mickey and Minnie to take your mind off of things. Unfortunately, when you leave the land of magic and pixie dust reality sets in.
We spent this morning waiting and waiting for the call. And it finally came. Not this time. No baby for Christmas. Sigh. I guess there was a part of me that expected this. As I've mentioned a couple times, it seems like for the past few years very little in my life has gone as "expected". Even the IVF cycle didn't go as expected. And so while I was praying and hoping that the flip of the coin (our 50-50 odds) would land our way, when it didn't I wasn't totally shocked. Funny from someone who always prides herself on being an optimist. I guess sometimes even the optimist becomes a realist. Aaron and I are both sad. And I know "Lisa" is sad too. She wanted so badly to give us "the best Christmas present ever." She was so sweet when she called me today.
It's weird, I feel like I've suffered a loss, but I'm not sure how to categorize it. It's not like a miscarriage or something. But looking at the picture of those two embryos and feeling like they were a part of Aaron and I, and the joy that comes with that. Yet, they never implanted. They never really were a "baby". They only existed in the petri dish. But they were hope. They were potential. And for right now that hope is gone. And that's where the loss lives.
As I mentioned, we don't have any frozen embryos. Another IVF cycle would be very expensive. And we don't know why we got so few embryos during the last cycle. So right now things are up in the air. We've got an appointment with our doctor next week and will talk about options.
I don't want to make this sound like a complete downer. It's not. It just "is what it is." For now, I'm trying to regroup, mourn this little loss and then refocus. It's time celebrate the birth of another baby, the amazing baby born in Bethleham. It's the hope and promise from that baby that we will take comfort in as we head to the next step.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hilarity in the face of surgery

I am a big believer that when one has an option, choosing to laugh is one of the best options out there. Don't get me wrong. There are so many appropriate times to cry, mourn, worry, etc., and I would never say that anyone should deny their emotions. At the same time, there are times the opportunity arises to choose either to go down the path of those emotions or laugh, or, while on the path of one of those emotions, to pause, look around, and stop for a laughter break before continuing on.

There is no doubt that this entire process has been hard. I'm trying so hard not to be anxious until the 22nd. I'm trying so hard not to be angry for all of the medical challenges I've faced in the last several years. And most of the time God has brought me to a place of peace. And sometimes I need to cry and rail against the "unfairness" of it all, though truth be told fairness is highly overrated, and I think life seen through our eyes is often more "unfair" than "fair" so I'm not sure why we ever thought life should be fair in the first place. But I digress.

Anyhow, three things happened on the day of the surgery to retrieve my eggs that I wanted to share them with you all. Enjoy!

1) Yes, I can sleep through a party
From the time I was young, my mother stated that I was such a deep sleeper someone could throw a party in my room, and I wouldn't wake up. Well it turns out, especially on the day of surgery, I can! I had some trouble sleeping the night before, however I set both of my alarms to get me up in plenty of time to be ready when my parents came to get me at 6:30 am. I had to be at the clinic at 7:15, and Aaron was working so my parents agreed to drive me. It is very important to be on time. Because of the medications, there's only about a 1.5 hour window to retrieve the eggs before it's too late. Well, it turned out Aaron got really sick the day before and called in to work, however because he was sick and we didn't want me to get sick, he slept in the guest bedroom. Now, recall that I said that I set both my alarms. I have been known to sleep through one alarm, thus I have 2, including one positioned far enough away from the bed that I have to get out of bed to turn it off. I finally fall asleep, and the next thing I know, all hell has broken lose! The light in my bedroom is on, both of my alarms are blaring, the doorbell is ringing continually, our dog is barking like crazy, my cell phone is ringing and Aaron is shaking me awake. Yes. I had slept through my alarms. Thus, when my parents got there and I didn't answer the doorbell, they began ringing it continuously. This caused Winston (the dog) to begin barking like mad. Which woke Aaron up. My parents also began calling me on my cell phone. And naturally I slept through all of this. It was Aaron shaking me awake that did it. I rolled over, looked at the clock and saw that it was 6:32. Oops. Options at this point: 1) panic, 2) swear, 3) laugh at the absurdity of it all. Needless to say, I chose option 3, although I can't say all of my family members did (in order to protect them, each of their choices shall remain secret!).

2) I'm the Queen of Pop!
We finally get there, I'm in pre-op, and the nurse anesthesist comes in to speak with me. Now, for those of you who aren't in the medical field I should share, it is a well known fact that certain personality traits tend to go with certain medical specialties. Pediatricians never really grew up. Radiologists enjoy looking at films more than patients. Surgeons have a god complex. Needless to say, anesthetists and anestesiologists are exremely precise people, and thank goodness for that! In the OR they are the ones who are actually monitoring what is going on with your vitals and changing medications in milliliters to help you either not wake up while your belly is cut open, or enter a permanent sleep. So, back to the anesthetist. She mentions matter of factly that she will be using Propofol to keep me alseep. Propofol, Propofol, Propofol, I think. Where have I heard that before? Then it hits me and I say, "Propofol? Isn't that the drug that killed Michael Jackson?" And so the nurse anesthetist starts into a 5 minute soliliquiy on how, (summed up) "Yes, but according to his doctor the amount he gave him was so small that, honestly it couldn't have rendered him unconcious. So the doctor believes that once he left the room Michael Jackson gave himself a bolus of the Propofol that actually killed him. And it also says clearly on the label that the drug is only to be used by trained personel in the operating room with proper monitoring and his cardiologist clearly wasn't trained in anesthesia and shouldn't have been using it any way....." Finally this comes to an end. And I look at her with a sweet smile and say, "Oh. Well, actually, I was just wondering if I was going to get a single, sequined surgical glove."

3) Let's talk about comfort (may be uncomfortable for some people if you don't want to hear all the gory details of the OR)
So I'm in the OR. They've already given me a bit of happy juice, relax me, and I'm getting into position. Then someone, I can't remember who at this point, says, "OK, now before we give you the last bit of medicine to put you to sleep we want to make sure you're comfortable." Now, many of you know, I sometimes I do we say...low filter to begin with. And I had been given some happy juice at this point, so any remaining filter is gone. So while any good patient probably replies (if they say anything at all), "Oh, ok." I say, with a smile on my face as the inanity hits me, "Comfortable? You want to know if I'm comfortable? Well let's see. I'm laying her on a surgical gurney in nothing but a thin hospital gown 12 sizes too big, under which I'm naked as the day I was born, and you've placed my entire lower legs such that my hips are at a 90 degree angle and my knees are at a 90 degree angle so that you can see directly the area that you need, although you have strategically covered me with a warm blanket which I do appreciate, but you are about the render me unconcious, and then insert a very long needle into an area no needles were ever meant to go and yank several eggs out of their happy ovarian follicles. So, comfortable? Well, not really!" Now, as this monologue progressed everyone in the operating room began laughing, which actually was quite comforting, as they all began to realize the absurdity of asking if I was "comfortable." Finally one nurse said, "Ok, really, we just want to make sure you're positioned appropriately because it's a lot harder to reposition you if you are unconcious." To which I replied, "That, I buy. Position away and then render me unconcious!"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And then there were two...

The day 3 transfer went off without a hitch....sort of. I mean, the transfer went off without a hitch. Getting to the transfer was kind of crazy. However, given everything we've gone through to get to this point, I had actually mentally prepared myself for things to not go as planned today. I figured it was better to be pleasantly surprised if things went perfectly than panicked if something came up. And no, that's not pessimism you hear, but, given everything up to this point, realism!

I was driving in, ready to pick "Lisa" up at the train at 12:00, when I called her to let her know I was going to be about 5 minutes late. Well, that was going to make absolutely no difference. Because she was running about 2 hours and 30 minutes late. Yup, she was only in Kelso, WA. Apparently the train had engine problems, and they were finally in the process of hooking up a new engine, but she would get here about 2:30. My first thought (so happy to think about the well being of others first) was that if she was going to be on a form of transportation and having engine trouble, I was glad it was a train and not a plane. My next thought was....CRAP! Because we were supposed to get to YFCFT21C at 2:45. We had planned to have nice, leisurely time after she got in, hang out, and then head up there. Well that was out the window. Fortunately the clinic knew what was going on, but I HATE being pressed for time over these things.

So I headed to the hotel to check in for her. Now, I understand the need for security measures, it makes sense. And the hotel reservation was a little confusing, it was made in her name, but it was made under my address and with my credit card. So when I got there, they wouldn't let me check in. ARGH. I was able to get "Lisa" on the cell phone, and Lisa gave them permission to let me check in for her. Great. But then they wanted her to confirm a detail, like the credit card number used, or the address. OK, hello! I had given them the credit card, and my driver's license with those numbers on it when I tried to check in! And, of course, Lisa doesn't know those things off the top of her head. So, in the ultimate act of why-can't-common-sense-prevail-every-now-and-then, I asked for the phone back. I asked Lisa to grab a pen and had her write down my address. I then handed the phone back to the clerk and Lisa told the clerk that information. Sheesh. But I was able to check in.

It was a good thing too, because I had some reading to do. The thing is, all along, Aaron and I really haven't wanted twins. It's not that we're scared of having twins once they're here (although Aaron may disagree a little bit with that), but our main concern is the health of Lisa and of the babies. The chances of being born low birth weight, and premature increase about 50% with twins. And LBW and Prematurity are associated with a host of other challenges. So all along we've really been saying we wanted to implant just one embryo. And now we were on the verge of implanting 2. Being the thorough person I am (or crazy, as others may put it) I had gone to PubMed, the computer summary of all the articles published in medical journals, and searched for articles on ivf twins and possible complications. I printed two of them, and wanted to review them to make sure we weren't possibly creating a situation we couldn't handle in the future. After reviewing the articles and talking with Aaron, who had joined me by that point, we decided we were ready to go forth. If one embryo looked fantastic, we were only do one. If they only looked ok, we would do two.

We headed to the train to meet Lisa, and the train came poking into the station at about 2:50. We made it to the clinic by about 3:10. Total craziness. Then, the amazing things started to happen. They told us our embryos weren't the highest quality, but the second highest quality at this point. Ok, we'll implant 2. Then they showed us a picture of our two embryos. One is 10 cells in this picture and one is 12 cells in this picture.

I couldn't believe it. A picture of our two embryos. Now for a moment of gloating, ha ha! Take that all of you who conceive naturally! You get your first picture at the first ultrasound. We got ours at 10 and 12 cells! Totally crazy. The interesting thing is, Aaron told me later that, although he thought it was weird (I assured him I didn't think so), he immediately felt a connection to that picture of our two little embryos. I was just entranced. And because we were talking about 2, not 3, I felt the need to rename them. Thus Larry and Curly (or whichever two these were) became Holly and Ivy after the Old English Christmas Carol, The Holly and the Ivy. (I don't know if that was because it's Christmastime, or because they were on a green background ;>). And frankly I can't wait to pull that picture out in about 14 years when we have 2 strapping teenage boys and tell them, "See boys, when you were just this little we called you Holly and Ivy! Isn't that sweet?" and hear them reply, "Mom!" ;> Yes, already planning on how to torture them when they're teenagers. Now THAT's thinking positively!

From that point on, it really went like clockwork. They had to check Lisa's bladder a couple times because it had to be full to do the transfer. And Lisa, bless her, after she was undressed from the waist down, but totally covered, let Aaron come in and sit by her head with me to see the entire process. When they zoomed the microscope in before they sucked them up in a catheter I could see that they had been busily dividing, and were now even more cells than they were in our picture. So so cool. And we could see the ultrasound of her uterus as they transfered the embryos, and could see the embryos entering the uterus! The transfer went beautifully according to our fertility doctor. And after 15 minutes of lying down, Lisa was able to get up and get dressed.

We had decided that since she had come up alone, we would spend a girls' night at the hotel, order in room service, watch some movies and then I'd go home and pick her up the next morning to go back to Portland. We did have our girls' night, but there was no movie watching at all. Nope. We talked. And talked. And talked some more. For about 5 hours straight. We talked about growing up, we talked about the families we grew up in, we talked about our current families, we talked about our jobs, we talked about so many things! And the conversation was so natural, not forced or anything. I love how we're becoming friends. The thing is, that wasn't necessarily going to happen. I didn't need for that to happen for me to be happy with surrogacy and our experience. But it is SUCH a bonus. She really is an amazing woman. And her husband cracks me up. Last time she came to town the two of them, and the two of us went out for dinner and spent 3 hours at the restaurant. Again, it's just another sign that God had this woman specifically planned for us. How wonderful.

So the sad news we received this morning is that our 3rd embryo didn't survived to a point at which it could be frozen. It just stopped growing, which can happen. That was one of the reasons they wanted to do a day 3 transfer. And now I am so glad we did. And that we transferred 2 embryos instead of just one.

So this is our shot, at least in this stage of the game. No frozen embryos to fall back on. The pregnancy test is on December 22nd. And I'll let people know either way. So instead of sitting around chewing our nails down to the quick, Aaron and I have decided as soon as I finish teaching my last class, and have my last doctors appointment, we're going to head out of town on a mini-vacation so we can be completely distracted!

My friend Michael, whom I've mentioned before, always encourages embryos to "Grooooooooow!" That's with 9 "o"s, one for each month of gestation. So little Holly and little Ivy, grooooooooow!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Please Pray for Larry, Curly and Moe

Hi All,
I am planning on writing a newsy blog about yesterday's egg retrieval, however I need to get this out first. Yesterday we got 6 eggs. 5 were mature, and only 3 fertilized. This is not exactly the news we had hoped for. Because my mother didn't have any problems getting pregnant at 33 and 36, we never anticipated that this would be a problem. Given the fact that I had so few follicles to begin with compared to what one would normally expect in a 33 year old and then 3 achieved fertilization, the doctor thinks that for some reason we are dealing with some unanticipated infertility. Whether or not this is related to my underlying condition or for some other reason, we really don't know.
They do embryo transfers at day 3 and day 5. On day 5 they can choose the best embryos, however, given the fact that we only have 3 to begin with they want to do the transfer on day 3, which is this Friday. We will know a little bit, but not too much about the quality of the 3 embryos at that point. Because of this, they are also recommending that we transfer 2 embryos. We've been talking all along about transferring 1 with Lisa, and I'm really hoping she'll be ok with transferring 2. Technically according to our contract it is our choice, but seriously, this is HER body, and we want her to feel comfortable.
The statistics at this point with a day 3 transfer with 2 embryos: 50-55% chance of pregnancy with a singleton, 25% chance of twins. I'd like the statistics to be higher of course, but we're looking at the flip of a coin.
So friends, please pray for our little embryos (whom I'm calling Larry, Curly and Moe). Pray for Lisa, that she will be totally on board with 2 embryos. Pray that we achieve pregnancy. Pray for Aaron and I. I'm really just sad right now. Nothing about this journey has been easy. I guess I was hoping that once we got the pros involved everything would come together. Pray that the Father's will would be done, as we know it will.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

Thank you,

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is this how a chicken feels?

I'm going to start out by saying something that may tick some of you off, so I apologize for that. But here goes. I've never really had PMS before. Things were pretty easy for me. However, call me Miss Empathetic now, because I FEEL for those who have PMS. With the doses of hormones I've been on, the last week has been really weird. I felt cranky and weepy, and wondered was it A) The end of Thanksgiving and hanging out intensely with my family, B) Worries about getting to this point, C) The hormones or D) I was losing it and about to go off the deep end. Fortunately my nurse coordinator reassured me that while it was most likely a combination of A-C (but not D, although others in my life might disagree ;>) C was a big factor. Whew.

So the chicken thing. I've been going to the doctor every other day for the past 12 days for a date with the intrusive ultrasound machine. And each time I go in we get a peek at my follicles. The medication that I give (see previous entry!) causes the body to produce more than 1 egg in a month. Each time I go in they measure my follicles to see if they are getting bigger or big enough to harvest. It's all about my eggs! However, in my case, at least my eggs are in 2 baskets, so to speak. ;)

The thing is, I don't think the chicken ever really thinks about her eggs. They pop out, get carried away, and she continues around the barnyard (I'm thinking of a happy free range chicken) pecking up worms and enjoying life. And yet for the last week I've had my eggs on the brain quite frequently (sounds like a weird breakfast dish). Sure, twice a day with the shots. Then every time I go into the doctor's office. Then, particularly, about 2 days ago when my "baskets" started to ache. Thank goodness I had a friend go through this less than a month ago and she mentioned the bloating and feeling odd. Otherwise I, once again, would have wondered if I was going off the deep end. I suppose it makes sense. These follicles are growing inside me, and whereas in any given month a woman usually has 1, about 2 cms round, I have a handful. And, to be blunt, it sort of feels like I've got two bags of marbles sitting on my pelvic floor. In a way, it's kind of cool. It's sort of a psudopregancy. Right now my bladder feels really full even when it is completely empty, and my tummy is a bit hard. Perhaps it's a poor substitute for actually being pregnant, but at least I kind of get what it might feel like, at least a little bit.

Now, for the not so good news. I don't have nearly the number of follicles they'd like to see. Today I had about 5 mature follicles (it all depends on their size) and 3 other ones. The mature follicles are most likely to contain a mature egg. The smaller follicles may, but, from what I understand, probably will not. So, in a best case scenario I'll hopefully get 5 good eggs. The thing is, most people have between 15-20 follicles at this point. Oops. Guess my body missed getting that message. OK, we know I have a funky body. That's why we're doing surrogacy. But until we started the stimulation of the follicles, there was no indication that I might not produce a good number of eggs.

So, I'm worried. I know that I shouldn't be. But I'm being honest. I am. About 70% of the mature eggs will fertilize, so we may have 4 embryos. I keep reminding myself, all it takes is 1. The other thing that's interesting is Aaron and I have been praying and talking through all of this about embryos, and the thoughts about when life begins. Is it when the sperm and egg meet? Is it when they are in a habitable environment? The answers just aren't clear. What I know is that I wouldn't feel comfortable with our embryos frozen forever. And that's just me. I'm not saying anything about the choices anyone else makes. That's totally up to them, and I respect any choices people make. Believe me, until you've been in this position, you really can't understand what it's like. We pretty much agreed that we wanted to create as many embryos as we can "use" be it this round, or with the idea of a sibling. If we had many eggs retrieved we probably wouldn't fertilize them all. And maybe this is one of the ways God is working. Maybe He's limiting the number of embryos that are being created. I don't know, but the thought has crossed my mind. What I keep reminding myself is that ultimately this is all in His hands.

So here's the schedule, Tuesday, they retrieve the eggs and they get their groove on with Aaron's swimmers. Then, on Wednesday we'll know about the quality of the embryos, how many got fertilized, who's looking good, etc. The transfer will either be on Friday or Sunday, depending on how the embryos look. I'll keep you all updated. Thanks so much for your prayers. I can't believe how supportive you all are!

Monday, November 29, 2010

My Belly, My Pin Cushion

So whether or not you take the book of genesis literally, I find it interesting that the part that speaks to reproduction speaks to traditional and non-traditional reproduction.

After Eve eats the apple and Adam has a snack too, God comes along and finds them and, along with other things, says to Eve “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe" (Gen. 3:16). Now I could talk about all the psychological pain people who go through non-traditional reproduction face, but right now I'm keeping it real, keeping it light, and keeping it physical!

The other day I received a box. A REALLY BIG box. And in this box were a gazillion different medications (ok, only about 5, but it seems like a gazillion), and around 200 syringes and needles. Why? Because it's time to begin the IVF cycle fertility meds! Woohoo! And, because of Eve and her darn apple-eating ways, all of these are giving via shot. OK, so Eve's probably not exactly the one to blame for the way these meds are taken, but I've got to have someone to blame, right???

The deal is, I'm not really afraid of needles. I don't hate shots. I mean, every 3-4 months I get about 30 Botox injections, so I've gotten used to it. But what I've never had to do is give them to myself! There's something about that that is oh so wrong. I mean, from the time we're kiddos we learn, if we see blood, something not good has happened. Skin breakage=not good. Scissors are for paper, not skin (and not your sister's hair...but that's another story). Pain is not fun. We take Advil and Tylenol to get past a headache. For bigger pains we take bigger drugs. And we consider those who purposefully harm themselves in need of psychological help. And yet now, in the wonderful, miraculous context of having a baby, I am supposed to purposefully do something I am unequivocally evolutionarily programmed against...cause myself pain and pierce the protective barrier of my skin with a sharp object and then shove clear liquid into a body that is already in a happy state of homeostasis. Does anyone else see the conundrum this poses?

The other day I went in for injection lessons. And then it gets better and better. These lovely suckers are going to go into my belly! My lovely, soft tummy! Of course, this is precisely why the shots go there, they go into fat, not muscle and my tummy has a healthy amount of it. So there we are in the office and it comes time for me to try it myself. Swipe with the alcohol, pinch the fat, plunge the needle in (apparently if you do this fast it "doesn't hurt as much." lovely.) and push the plunger. It sounds so easy. Yet I sit there, the needle poised over my pinched fat, and every muscle in my body rebels against what I am trying to do. Although my brain keeps signaling to my arm to "Just do it already!" I can't bring myself to do it.

I had brought Aaron with the idea being that if I couldn't do it, then he can just give me the shots. But then, as we sat there, I had second thoughts about that one. First of all, Aaron gets up and leaves for work at crazy hours, like 6:00 am. I can think of few more lousy ways to wake up than with a kiss from my husband (ok that's not so bad, but wait for it...) and then a sharp object stabbed into my belly. Then another thought crossed my mind. What exactly will it do for our marriage if he stabs me with 3-4 needles a day for the next month? If I'm suffering cognitive dissonance at the thought of giving myself shots, then what's going to happen to my psyche if this person who I love dearly starts jabbing me with needles several times a day? I don't know if there are any published studies on that, but that can't be good for a marriage. I mean, I complain about the way he takes bandaids off of my back after my botox injections. If I complain about bandaids good gracious what will I say when it comes to multiple stabbings a day?

No, it's time for me to put on my game face and just do it. So, with one deep breath, I closed my eyes (which isn't all that great for accuracy, but not bad for the initial plunge) and did it. wasn't too awful. OK, my hands were shaking, but I blamed that on the dystonia, even if maybe that wasn't the total cause of the tremors. ;)

And now I've been at it for several weeks now. And it has gotten easier. My hands no longer shake. But the meds I'm on now (the ones that stimulate the ovaries to produce extra eggs) kind of burn going in. And I've got quite the bruised belly. You could get a really cool dot-to-dot picture by connecting all the marks.

And, if all goes as planned, the eggs will be retrieved between the 4th and the 7th, get their petri dish groove on with Aaron's swimmers, and be transferred to Lisa 5 days after that. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Signed, Sealed, Delivered!

Woohoo! Another major hurdle crossed. On Monday Aaron and I made a monster trip down to Portland, down on the 7:30 train, back on the 4:30 train. 7 hours of travel is A LOT in one day, but during our 4 1/2 hours there we accomplished a lot, and if you're going to have to travel 7 hours in one day, the train is TOTALLY the way to go.

The shock-and-awe-commando-raid-zip-i-and-out-before-they-even-know-what-hit-'em trip had two main objections, meet with a midwife at Oregon Health Science University hospital to decide if we wanted to go the midwifery route, and SIGN THE CONTRACT (big dramatic music). Once the contract was signed we were free to keep moving and proceed with the baby-making business.

We began with the trip to OHSU. And, can I just say, Portland has amazing public transportation. From the train station we took lightrail to a stop, hopped on their other streetcar/light rail system, walked about 1/4 mile to a tram, and took the tram to OHSU, all for free! Seattle could learn A LOT from that.

Both Lisa and Liam were able to be at the appointment which was really nice. It was the first time we got to meet them without kiddos in tow, and since we had to wait quite a bit, it was a really great time for us to talk more and get to know each other better. I had scheduled this meeting because I was really nervous about using a nurse-midwife. Maybe its because I work in Pediatric OT and I see a lot of results of "births gone wrong." I admit, sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and knowing everything that can go wrong with a birth, or with a baby tends to lead one in the direction of using all the latest medical gizmos and gadgets to try and ensure 100% that nothing can go wrong. And the idea behind midwifery is to let the woman's body do what it knows best. Lisa has used a midwife for both of her children's births. And she has delivered without medication. She and Liam both very much believe in natural childbirth. OHSU has a level IV NICU and pediatric neonatologists, obs, etc in the building 24/7. Using a nurse midwife at the hospital seemed to be a good compromise, if Aaron and I ended up feeling comfortable with it.

During this meeting, I also realized something significant. The vast majority of births go very well, and require no intervention. The midwife said, "I'm a specialist, I specialize in normal pregnancy and birth. The second I feel something isn't quite right, either in a prenatal appt or during the birth, I call for MD assistance." And it occurred to me that, medically speaking, over the last 3 years, very little in my life has gone "right" or "normal". I mean, let's face it, they still can't figure out what is wrong with me! And in this whole baby-making business very little has gone right or natural there either. We've got YFCF21C and all of its parties, a surrogate, a lawyer and so many other people involved. There is nothing up to this point that has been normal or natural. And I had a "Tipiphiney" (a Tiffany-ephiphany) during this meeting. I'm expecting something to go wrong with the IVF. I'm expecting this pregnancy to go wrong or have complications. And truth be told, why shouldn't I? As I said, nothing has gone "right" or been normal. But we're entering a new paradigm here. Lisa has had 2 perfect pregnancies and births. She's had no complications. And although IVF is complicated, there's nothing to indicate that ours will be particularly difficult or wrong.

Awhile ago Aaron was facing some challenges at work. Nuclear medicine was drying up and he was getting very few hours at work. He thought about completely switching careers to something else in healthcare. But after prayer and discussion we remembered something. God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of hope. We don't want to make decisions out of fear, but out of trust and love. I thought of a verse while we were talking to the midwife, John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." This is not a decision or process I want to be afraid of. I don't want to spend the next 10-12 months in total fear. That's not what God calls us to do.

So at that moment, as I recognized my fear, I named it, and released it. I talked about it with the midwife, and with all 4 of us ;> who are going to be pregnant, Aaron and I, Lisa and Liam. Lisa said that hearing me say that made her understand a lot more where I was coming from, and understand me. Naming and sharing my concern brought us all closer. And it let us all decide that we want to go with a nurse-midwife.

Of course, Tipiphanies take time, and with all of our conversation and processing we realized we were late for our appointment to sign the contract. Our lawyer is great, so kind and accommodating, and she had agreed to meet us at the train station so that we could sign the contract there and then hop on the train. Now, these contracts are no little thing. 39 pages of legalese defining everything from what happens if Aaron and I die while Lisa is pregnant to how the payments get distributed to how our communication should be during the pregnancy. pagesandpagesandpagesandpagesandpagesandpages. Fortunately, Aaron and I had spent one entire evening going over the contract with a fine tooth comb and sending our corrections to our attorney. So by the time we met with her it was merely a formality of signing the contract. All 39 pages. Initialled. Individually. Half an hour later, writer's cramp setting in, the legal process was completed. We are now good to go!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Update

Been awhile since I've written. Honestly, all of this has just kind of been wearing on me. It's hard work with a lot of people involved. We're now in the contract phase. Our lawyer is drafting the contract. We'll review it, make any changes we want, and then it will be passed off to "Lisa's" lawyer who will review it with her and then either sign it or make changes to it. Until all of that gets in place, not much else will happen.

Aaron and I are making a journey down to Oregon Health Sciences University to meet with the nurse midwives there to make sure we are comfortable using a nurse midwife (which our surrogate would greatly prefer) over a traditional OB. Anyone have any comments on one way or the other?

I promise a very newsy interesting blog entry will follow shortly, but I know folks are wanting the know the state of things so I thought I'd do a quick update.

Makin' Babies in the 21st Century

(My apologies to TLC/Discovery Channel for co-opting their sentiments)

WARNING: The following blog entry contains actual descriptions of medical procedures that may seem incredibly space-age, out there, and, perhaps, disturbing for some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

The way the movies would have you believe, babies are created after a night of steamy hot lovemaking. The way most sex-ed classes in high school would have you believe, babies are created in a fit of hormone driven experimentation in which one does not use a condom. And the way most friends would have you believe, babies are created after a couple drinks a whole bottle of wine one evening instead of a half bottle, and someone forgets to take a pill for one day. While all of the above scenarios are true and lovely, I must point out that there is yet another way- the amazing process of fertility drugs, doctors, pipettes and petri dishes! And Aaron and I got to discover all of this in a nearly 3 hour appointment the other day.

I'd like to point out that in all of the above scenarios, baby-making involves two people...that's it. A him and a her. And perhaps Aaron and I were naive in thinking that although we would be doing it slightly differently, our baby-making in the 21st century would still be focus around 2 people, he and I. Answer: Uh, no. Big time no.

We headed for our appointment at Your Fertility Clinic For the 21st Century (YFCF21C)for what we thought was going to be an hour tops, with a consultation from the doctor, and from our nurse coordinator. OK, 2 more people in this fun process. (I'm beginning to feel like perhaps I need to start another blog entry just listing primary characters, like they do in a script). We had gone to YFCF21C for our first appointment where we met with 1 person, the doctor, learned all about IVF, dand we assumed it would be similar. Well, we all know what happens when you ASSUME! We walked out about 3 hours later having met with 8 people and with our heads spinning with information (seriously, it might have looked like the crazy part in the exorcist).

Everything began as planned, with the doctor. We got the report on Aaron's...we'll call them "swimmers". Needless to say, Aaron is quite virile (he puffs up his chest). The number of swimmers, their ability to swim, and their shape are all quite nice, yay Aaron! So we discuss this with the doctor and then it is time for my exam, an ultrasound. And here again, we find that women have the challenging time. In all of this 21st century baby-making, Aaron will spend a bit of time in a comfortable room alone and deliver his "contribution" in about 30 minutes. My part will involve drugs (SHOTS!), anesthesia, and other invasive, lovely procedures, the first of which I was about to undergo. Let's just say they did an ultrasound. And any ultrasound I've ever see they put some gel on a woman's belly and see what's going on beneath the skin. But there is another way to do an ultrasound. Involving using an orifice and a long wand that they actually put a condom over before using it! I never thought I'd see a whole basket of condoms in a fertility clinic, but there is was! Oh boy. Apparently this is the best way to visualize the ovaries. And yes, even ovaries look 10 pounds heavier on TV.

Next was off to the blood draw. And I know I have difficult veins. They're deep, they roll, it takes everyone a bazillion sticks to get blood, etc. etc. etc. And this was no exception. Although there nurse was very kind, after 2 pokes with no success they had to bringing in the big guns, the nurse with the magic touch! But that would take a while so we were shuttled off to embryology and an embryologist who showed us what seemed to be a 1000 slide power point (my eyes started glazing over about the point of the discussion on "day 2") showing us how they go from egg to embryo. They've apparently come a long way with this, rather than just putting everything in a petri dish and letting them mix, mingle and do their speed dating thing to make a match, they can now individually select the best swimmer and put it directly into the egg. It's called ICSI. Holy cow! So now we have to decide if we want that. It does increase the chances of egg fertilization, but I think there's something to be said for letting them all swim around, letting the hardiest of the swimmers meet the acquaintance of the gorgeous egg and get their groove on. IVF seems to get more and more scientific, but I'd also like to leave room for God to help them meet. Granted, God could work through the embryologist to select exactly the match He wants, but I figure there's got to be room for nature somewhere in this sci-fi procedure. We also discussed the number of embryos we'd like to try and create. They'll get a bazillion swimmers and quite a few eggs, however we really don't want "left over" embryos when this is all done. Fortunately, not all the egg retrieved need to be fertilized, it's up to us.

The other thing they do is something called "assisted hatching". Did you know that human embryos at some point have to "hatch" out of their first covering? Yup, I didn't either. Sheesh this is getting complicated! To make matters even more humorous, the embryologist was humorless. Any attempt at humor on my part (I mean, come on, thinking about human eggs hatching is kind of funny!) went totally over this guy's head. Which, considering he's the scientist who will be working with our little guys I supposed having no sense of humor is ok, but it made the 45 minute slide presentation painful, and reminiscent of grad school. ;) So the embryo will be implanted on day 5. And at that point it will be about 100 cells. AND, this is cool, we'll get a picture of it before it is implanted! HA HA! So all of those parents who are so excited about their first ultrasound picture, well, we've got you beat! We'll have a picture of our kiddo at 100 cells! Think about that!

So at this point we're 2 hours into this appointment, my eyes are glazed over after meeting Mr. I-Must-Be-An-Incredible-Scientist-Because-I-Have-No-Sense-Of-Humor and it's time to meet another player at YFCF21C, the IVF nurse. Turns out she'll be the one adjusting my medication and helping me through the creation of the eggs. Did I mention SHOTS? Lots and lots of them. Fortunately after all of my botox treatments every 4 months I've gotten used to shots, but somehow I think Aaron should have to get a shot each day to share in the joy and excitement of the creation of this baby. You know, just so he can be an equal participant. But no, it shall just be me wielding the razor sharp instrument of procreation on a daily basis for a month.

Then it was back to blood draw. As I mentioned above, needles really don't bother me that much. Honestly. HOWEVER, Ms. Nurse-With-The-Magic-Touch shows up. And indeed, technically, she only poked me once. But she did the "Now that I've made one hole I'm just going to move the needle around inside your arm and slide it back and forth until I manage to hit a vein." And while it probably only took 1 minute, it felt like forever. Not fun. At all.

OK, so blood draw is done, we've met everyone and their second and third in commands and it's time to go, right? Nay nay my friend, nay nay. Time to meet with the donor egg coordinator. "What?" you say, "Donor egg coordinator?" Yup. Even though Aaron and I are providing the DNA for this endeavor, because another person is going to be lovingly carrying our kiddo for us, this process is treated as an "egg donation". Interesting, eh? So we find out about all the tests for various things including, but not limited to, every STD on the planet that we'll need to have. So then it's off to schedule physicals for both of us. Oh yes, and counseling. Yup, we have to meet with a counselor who will talk to us about surrogacy and make sure we're fully prepared to participate in this endeavor. Frankly after all of the research we've done, talking to lots and lots of different people, mourning on our own the fact that I can't carry our child, dealing with disappointment over not being able to adopt, and meeting with all the agencies and finally finding a match, I think we've come through remarkably intact. Honestly, I think our marriage is stronger for having gone through this. And if we we going to go nutso I think we'd have already gone there. But another stamp of approval we need to get. So off to schedule the counseling appointment.

And then, finally, 3 hours later, we are done. We trudge to the car, barely remembering what floor we parked on, and sit in the car for about 5 minutes, unmoving, not talking, before we can bring ourselves to engage our brains enough to start the car and go. Yes friends, baby-making in the 21st century has come a loooooooong way from 2 people spending time together after missing a pill, or drinking too much wine, or even deciding to just forgo the birth control and let it happen. And at the end of all this, as crazy as it is, we are incredibly grateful. Let's face it, we would love to do this the traditional way, but that's not the path God has us on. So we'll hang with the crew at YFCF21C, trust them, and create a baby, all 8+ of us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's a Match!!!!!

WooHoo! Amen! Yipee! Yay! Awesome! Cool! IT'S A MATCH!!!!!! Not that I'm excited or anything.

Traveling down to Portland last weekend was full of anticipation. Would we like them? Would they like us? Most importantly, would she want to carry our baby and would we want her to?

I didn't sleep hardly at all the night before, which is very unusual for me. With the amount of neuro-acting medications I'm on I could probably have fallen asleep during the middle of the The Blitz. But I was up most of the night tossing questions around in my head. And suddenly, when it seemed like I had been asleep for 5 minutes, my alarm was going off and we were headed to Portland on the train. (A little aside here-train travel is THE way to go. It's spacious, relaxing, no fighting traffic, or trying to follow crazy directions. Totally fabulous. But anyhow...) We arrived early, checked into our hotel, and went to meet our surrogate and her husband.

To our surprise, they had brought their children. At first I thought this was a bad thing, I mean, how are you supposed to have a meaningful, adult conversation with a 4 year old and a 1 1/2 year old sitting at the table? But actually, this ended up to be a blessing. The kids were amazingly well behaved. We were at the restaurant for 3 hours and they only started getting antsy in about the last 1/2 hour. Also, it was quite revealing to see how they interacted with their kiddos. They are amazing parents, and if they are willing to care for and shepard our baby in utero with half the care, love, and discipline that they raise their children then our baby is going to be amazingly blessed. And, conversation wasn't too difficult. Since the kiddos were so young, when we needed to talk about more difficult or intimate matters the conversation was really over their heads.

Almost from the minute we sat down and started chatting we knew this would work. The surro-matchmaker was only at the meeting for about 1/2 an hour before we were off and chatting on our own, and she was out the door. I'll call our surrogate "Lisa." Lisa's main motivation for being a surrogate was watching a friend of hers go through the pain and struggle of infertility. She was at an appointment with the kiddos when she saw something about surrogacy in a magazine. She thought it would be an amazing thing since her pregnancies were all "easy, with little morning sickness and easy births." She kept talking to her husband about it and when he understood that it wouldn't be her egg, but a fetus with no genetic relation he got on board. When she received our application she started reading it out loud to her husband who was wrestling with their 4 yo boy. Finally he said to the kiddo, "Hold on, I have to listen to mommy," because Lisa was so excited and sharing fun details from our application.

And, as it turned out, the difficult details weren't all that difficult to discuss. Both Lisa and her husband (we'll call him "Liam") are dedicated to making this an amazing experience for Aaron and I. At one point Liam was talking to Aaron about how cool it was for him to cut the umbilical cord for both of his kids and that Aaron had to do it. Aaron slightly paled at the idea, but gamely smiled and nodded. For Lisa's first pregnancy Liam was overseas in the military. They talked about how he would call home and she would place the phone on her belly so that Liam could talk to the baby, and that we would have to do that for our baby.

Overall, it was an amazing experience. With the comfort and security and love I felt from them I know that the hand of God reached down and chose this couple for us. I think the cutest part was at the very end, as we were walking out, Liam was carrying their young daughter. Their son was holding his mom's hand and looked up at his mom with a curious glance. Lisa replied, "you can ask him." The little boy walked up to Aaron and asked, "Can I hold you hand?" And with that, he slipped his little hand in Aaron's and the two walked hand in hand from the restaurant to the car. It was the most precious sight. And so our journey together begins.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A leap of faith

OK, I admit it, I'm nervous. I know, those of you who know me well are gasping in surprise. "What?!?! Tiffany nervous about meeting someone?? Can't possibly be!" But it is true, honestly. Why, you ask? Well, we've matched (yay!) and are heading down to Portland tomorrow to meet our potential surrogate and her husband.

This surrogate was the third application presented to us, and things just seem to "fit". Out of respect for her privacy I'm going to give very few details other than to say she's married, has two kiddos, and lives in the Portland area. In our application I shared that I am writing a blog about our experiences with surrogacy, but the last thing I want to do is spread her business all over the internet. I, on the other hand, am currently an open book. :)

So here's the thing, what the heck do you say to the woman who might carry your child for you? "Hi, nice to meet you! well do you plan on taking care of yourself for the next 10 months? Are you trustworthy? Do you have a cervix of steel to hold a baby in place until it's really, truly time? If you sense any sort of teratogen entering your personal space by land or air or in your food will you run screaming in the other direction? Do you like us? Will you make us feel as included as if I were carrying the child myself only I'm not and we live over 3 hours away and instead of spending 24/7 with our child-to-be for 9 months we'll only get to hangout maybe an hour every two weeks or so?" Those questions might send her running as fast as she can in the opposite direction. But really, what do you ask? I mean, picture this: you're having a first date with someone, and in the span of an hour and a half you have to decide if you want to have a baby with this person. Maybe if I had been single until an age where I really felt my biological clock ticking I would have approached dating that way but I never really did that.

Actually, as I've thought about this, worried, wondered, prayed, stressed, whatevered, I've realized that no matter what questions we ask, no matter what our impression of this woman and her husband is, no matter what the medical and psych reports say, no matter how great the surro-matchmaker thinks we'll be together, when the decision needs to be made, ultimately it's a matter of faith. Whether one has a child through traditional means, fertility treatments, adoption, surrogacy, stepparenthood, or any other way there is a moment where one has to pause, take a deep breath, and step into the arms of faith. Faith that this is the right step to make. Faith that having a child is the path one is supposed to follow. Faith that whoever else is involved in the process is as committed as you are. This proverbial leap of faith is something everyone has to take whether religious, spiritual, agnostic, atheist, or anything in between. Because nothing is guarenteed. Nothing is for sure. There are so many times when I've been terrified. When I've been angry. When I haven't understood. And yet Aaron and I keep pressing forward, believing in faith that this is right for us.

So I guess that's the bottom line. We're going to meet this couple tomorrow and decide if this is the woman with whom we make that leap of faith. Sure the questions matter, sure the conversation is important and the details we'll talk about, about what kind of relationship we'd like to have and how we'd like to go about this. The chemistry will be key. But, when the decision needs to be made, we'll all hold hands, take a deep breath, and jump off the cliff together, in a leap of faith.

"For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strike Two...

For those of you who follow baseball you'll understand the analogy. For those of you who don't, just read the wrap up. To continue with the baseball from the previous post, the catcher pointed to the first base umpire to make the call on what the homeplate umpire said was a ball, the homeplate umpire deferred, and the first base umpire ruled it a strike.

Now for your non-baseball fans, what had been our "ball" (the second surrogate applicant who might work) is now a strike. We got the medical report, and the doctor who did the report feels that the surrogate is too heavy to be a good surrogate. If she loses weight she'll qualify, but he's recommending a significant amount of weight, so we're not looking at any time in the next couple months. Sigh. So, we've got our third application that we should be receiving on Monday or so. If you are the type, please pray that this is the match for us! If you are not the praying type, if you could please conjure up good thoughts, karma or whatever you believe it, we would really appreciate it.

I'm starting to feel a bit discouraged. We were supposed to have a meeting on Wednesday with the IVF clinic to go over the details of our IVF procedure, however it had to be cancelled and can't be rescheduled until the 22nd. And we've now had 2 surrogates we've rejected. I don't feel bad about rejecting the surrogates, I mean, if we're going to be choosing someone to carry our baby I really want the right fit (think 2010 Rav 4, not a 1995 Echo), but I am discouraged in how long this is taking. I know you all have been reading this since maybe July, but for Aaron and I we're about 2 years into this process between looking into me carrying, then adoption, then surrogacy. I just want everything to fall into place. What if this third applicant isn't a right fit either? The waiting weighs on you after awhile and I'm starting to feel discouraged and tired. Maybe it's just because I worked a 10 hour shift at work. I'm sure things will look brighter in the morning. I just thought once we signed with an agency things would move a lot faster.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Strike One, Ball One

We got the first application from our surro-matchmaker. After talking it over, we decided it doesn't really work for us, for a number of reasons. Anxiety is starting to set in a little. What if we don't find someone? I just want to get the process going. Waiting is so tough. Fortunately, when we told our matchmaker that it didn't feel quite right she was very understanding. The next application she sent us seems great, although the woman lives a little farther than we'd like. She said she's in the process of screening someone who she things would be a "really great" match for us, so cross your fingers everyone! Hopefully the third times the charm!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Married, Child-Ready Couple seeks Woman with Great Endometrial Lining

I have never filled out an application for online dating. OK, I'll admit having checked out when I was single, but I never even contacted anyone from there. And now Aaron and I had to fill out an application to help pair us with a surrogate. Oy. I mean, what do you call EHarmony for babies, ECooing? The idea behind the app is that the surro-matchmaker will read it, and then in all of her glorious wisdom read through all of her gestational surrogate applicants and miraculously match us with the perfect GS. She then sends the GS' application to us. If we approve and decide to go forward she then sends our application on to the GS. If the GS agrees then we meet. And zap! the chemistry flies, Aaron and I adore her and she adores us and in about a year we all have a baby together. So this is important. We have to capture our personalities and how cool we are in a couple of typed pieces of paper well enough that the GS is going to adore us and want to work with us. No pressure. Yeah, we can sum up ourselves in 5 pages of less. riiiiiiiiight.

So the first part is easy, vital stats. Name? Got it, and I've even been able to spell it since preschool. Social Security Number? After several college applications I had that one memorized! Have you ever been arrested? Nope! At this point both Aaron and I are thinking, "No sweat! We've got this covered!" Then things get significantly trickier.

What has led you to this decision? Well, I can think of a variety of answers. The internet? The Holy Spirit? Desperation? But somehow we decide those aren't quite what we wanted to share. So then how to sum up: my medical condition and the challenges it presents + being unable to adopt= Surrogacy? A simple equation and yet so complex. I mean, we're supposed to sum up everything we've been going through around this for the past 4 years in a few sentences? Oh man, Reader's Digest never had it this hard!

OK, moving on....Do you wish for the Gestational Surrogate to carry multiple fetuses? Wish for her to? You mean like, do we want a two-for-the-price-of-one deal? If it happened that way I'm sure we would figure out a way to make everything work, but wish for? Like, on a star? Um, no.

The next one is easy: What is your time frame for being paired with a Gestational Surrogate? Yesterday! ;)

Of course, that easy one lulls us into a state of ease that is quickly shattered by the next (essay) question: Please list the characteristics you are seeking in a Gestational Surrogate (i.e. personality, hobbies, occupations, etc.)Oh boy. I mean, what's a person supposed to say to that? BMI less than 25? A strong preference for leafy green organic vegetables? Great birthing hips? Willing to read the dictionary to her growing belly and play Mozart symphonies for it? All kidding aside, how do we say we want someone who would take as good of care of herself when pregnant as I would when this person is not me and is not going to do 100% of the things that I would do if I were pregnant. I mean, I don't even know all of the things I would do if I were pregnant, since I've never been pregnant! And, frankly, I want someone who would take even better care of herself than I would take of myself! But this is a person on the other end. A person we want to respect and show respect to, and value in, what she can bring, womb aside. We want a relationship based on trust, mutual respect, communication, and a healthy sense of humor. So I, now being a Blogger Extraordinaire, write the perfect paragraph extrapolating on those themes.

Then, another tricky question: Please describe the kind of relationship you hope to establish with the Gestational Surrogate (before, during, and after, the pregnancy): Um, hello! How the heck are we supposed to know that? I mean, ok, we can talk about what we think we'd like before, that's pretty easy, because that's pretty much where we are right now. And we have some idea of what we think we'd like during the pregnancy but I'm sure that's going to change throughout the pregnancy and what we think we'd like right now may be way off from what we actually want and where it actually goes. But after? Come on, I have no idea! Who knows where our relationship with this person will be? Maybe we'll be really good business partners and once the project is finished yearly Christmas cards will suffice. Then again, maybe we'll all become BFFs and see each other several times a year. Or, maybe we'll just be Facebook-type friends where we catch up with each other through reading status updates and that's enough. Isn't this a little bit like asking someone before a first date where they see the two of you a year from now? Ay yi yi! The panic sets in. Sweat drips down my brow. OK, slow deep breaths. We can do this. Somehow, I can write all of the above in a way that makes sense. I don't know how, but I am a Blogger Extraordinaire! I will not back down from this challenge!

OK, we're to the last essay question: Please write a personal note which describes you and your family. Here it is, the in-500-words-or-less-sum-up-everything-you-and-your-husband-are-in-life-and-to-each-other-and-those-around-you-ok-ready-go question. Because how am I supposed to describe how amazing Aaron is in less than a novel? How he'll get up in the middle of the night to warm up a heat pack when one of my muscles cramps up even though he has to get up at 5 am to work and he really wants to sleep? And how is he supposed to describe my quirky sense of humor that takes all of the craziness in my medical situation in stride and decides to laugh 95% of the time and cry 5% of the time instead of the other way around? And how do we describe the 4 grandparents who will pour everything they can into this child (and spoil him or her rotten if we let them!)? How do we write about how we feel so perfectly complete and content right now, yet at the same time we would be a thousand times more complete and content with a child? There's no way to sum up everything we are on paper. It can't be done. So we do the best we can. And we know with God's blessing though our answers on this application are woefully incomplete in describing everything we are desiring in a relationship with our GS, everything we are looking for in the woman who will carry our child, everything we are to each other, and may even include typos on something like our social security numbers, He, the Matcher of Matches (I'm sure that falls under one the domain of one of the names of God in the bible) already has the perfect GS picked out for us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a match....

So earlier this week Aaron and I went down to Portland, OR to meet with 2 agencies and 1 attorney.

Needless to say, the interviews were exhausting (each was about 1 1/2 hours). Yes, there are the traditional questions, but then there are the intangibles. And how do you go about choosing a surro-yenta anyway? As yet, there hasn't been a musical about that! After meeting with the two agencies it wasn't really too difficult of a decision. We both felt that one of the agencies was, overall, good at both the "business" side of things (organized, appropriate spell-checked materials, referrals to attorneys and OBs in Portland, etc.) and the "interpersonal" side of things, and the other was not as high on the business side of things although also very good on the interpersonal side. Aside from this, the was one major differnce. Both agencies have very lengthy application processes and perform criminal background checks on surrogates. Eventually all surrogates need to have a medical evaluation, psychological evaluation and legal consultation. The agency we went with does the med, psych and legal consults all before you are presented with any surrogates. It's the only agency in Portland that does this. All the others present you with the surrogates, then after you select one, she has her med, psych and legal consult. Thus, if we had gone with the other agency we could have selected a surrogate and then she could have failed the med eval or another eval and we would have been back to square 1 with a surrogate. The agency we went with has a slightly higher cost because they do the screening ahead of time, but considering we would have to pay for it out of pocket for the other surrogate it's basically negligible.

The attorney was a really nice woman with a lot of experience in the field. She gave us a whole list of things to think about (Like, "were both of you to die before the baby was born, who would you name as guardian of your child?" You know, really easy ones like that!), but overall, she was very reassuring and reiterated that OR law favors heavily the IPs and that with a legal contract in place we have next to nothing to worry about.

With all those meetings out of the way, on Wednesday before heading back to Seattle we biked along the riverfront, and then explored Powell's Books. Ahhhhhhhh. A book lover's dream bookstore. Independent. Used. New. Multi-story. An Old Warehouse. Multi-Building. As hard as I tried to lose Aaron and camp overnight there he found me, and we came back to Seattle for the adventure of filling out the application. But I'll save that fun for another post. ;)

PS: With a 3 hour car ride in each direction, after sitting in traffic and getting a bit stir crazy, we continued to cast the movie we want to make with my friend Micheal who is also having a surrogacy experience. Thus, Aaron and I decided that Matthew Brodrick (with his hair dyed) should play Aaron. So, with my friend Michael, Neil Patrick Harris as another person in his story, Amy Adams as me and Matthew Broderick as Aaron we have an incredible musical shaping up! And I, of course, intend to choreograph it. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010


You know when you ride a rollercoaster, and right before a big hill the rollercoaster attaches to a chain and as you get pulled up you hear, "Click....Click....Click....Click"? That's the sound I keep hearing in the back of my head right now. I know the rollercoaster metaphor is probably overused, but in this journey towards surrogacy it really applies. Aaron and I started wanting to have a child. We waited in line until it was "our turn," got in, and pulled down the safety bar. And then the coaster was like nothing we expected. We hit hairpin turns, corkscrews, and even some loop-de-loops. We bottomed out at those places where it feels like a volvo is sitting on your chest, and hit the top of hills where it feels like gravity doesn't apply and you float for several seconds. And now we're approaching another big

On Monday evening we're heading to Portland to meet with 2 agencies and a lawyer. We're really getting this process going, IN TWO DAYS!
I spoke with 4 agencies on the phone and we've narrowed it down to two. One of the agencies was very expensive, and they weren't comfortable with having the implantation take place in Seattle, they wanted everything done in Oregon. To do the IVF procedure I'm going to have to get a bunch of shots over a period of a bit more than a week and have ultrasounds nearly every day. I really don't want to take the time off from work to spend over a week in Portland doing that, Particularly because we've found a fertility clinic in Seattle we really like and I want to work with them. Another agency has been pretty slow to return phone calls and e-mails. I'm talking like 3-4 days, or never getting a response to an e-mail I sent. They seemed great on the phone, but if that's the return time for phone calls and e-mails now when we're not signed with them, then why should we think it would be any different if we signed with them? So that's two that have been crossed off the list, leaving 2 for us to meet with on Tuesday....Click....Click....Click....Click

I suppose I should mention that on Friday I had my first major meltdown of the surrogacy process. One of those throwing-pillows-screaming-into-pillows-refusing-kleenex-as-snot-runs-down-your-chin-damn-this-sucks-balled-up-on-the-couch meltdowns. I don't really know why. Well, I guess I do. This process is hard. It's weird. And at times it feels really lonely. Let's face it, 99.99% of the population doesn't have to have kids this way. And I'm jealous. Well, maybe not jealous, but I feel bad. I want to have kids the easy way, just like everyone else. And it hurts that we have to do it this way. We've accepted it, I'm ok with it, but it still really hurts at times. I get so mad that I've got this weird disease and how much it's changed my life. And usually I'm ok with it. I've gotten to a place of acceptance and okness with it. But then something like this comes up. And I feel broken all over again. I feel pissed off that I'm so different. I feel angry that I can't be fixed. And I feel horrible for how difficult this can make the simplest things for Aaron and for our marriage. Aaron is, of course, wonderful. He accepts me and loves me in whatever condition I am, and he wouldn't have it any other way. But it still sucks. And that little part of me that's angry that we have to go through all of this erupts every now and then. And it's a lot of stress. Talking to agencies, trying to figure out who is best to help you have a baby. For most couples it just happens. You don't have to think about the minutia. But on this road you examine every detail and look at every little thing, and feel responsible for every little thing. Oh I wish it were as easy as they made it sound in health class in high school.

My friend Michael may actually have a movie about his journey! He's been joking about it every since this started, and it turns out his surrogate has a friend who is a documentary film maker who wants to follow their journey! So I gues Neil Patrick Harris isn't going to play him since he'll be playing himself. I just think that's really cool. There's got to be something better than "Baby Mama" for people to know about surrogacy. Maybe we will still make a major motion picture after this and I will get Amy Adams to play me. I'll throw this out to the world now, if anyone wants to make a movie about our journey, I'm all for it, just give me a call!

So that's all the news for right now. We're just about at the crest of the hill for this part of our journey. Oh boy. Hang on. Sit tight. Keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times.!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Interviews...and prayers

So far I've interviewed 3 agencies and there are 4 on our list. Then we plan to narrow it down to 2 or 3 and go to Portland and talk to them in person. But how the heck do you pick one? They all sort of offer the same services. They all are around the same price, with one that is quite a bit more expensive...but that seems to be the most "polished" agency. It's run by a lawyer and I know she knows her stuff, contract-wise. And she has surrogate profiles available. The other agencies are smaller...but they are running by former surrogates and IPs. Maybe that's the way to go, with people who know what it's like for both parties? All of them have references we could talk to. Some are more established, in terms of length of time, that they have been around. But so far the person who I feel like I've connected the most with is the smallest, newest agency. That could be a risk, but she says she likes to keep her agency small so that she can give personal attention to her clients, and she, the director, is a 4 time surrogate herself. She started the agency because she had worked with 2 agencies as a surrogate and felt that she herself could do better. If we're having this much trouble choosing an agency, how are we ever going to choose a surrogate?

All I keep remembering is Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And I know that future involves our child. And I keep meditating on Psalm 127, "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."

Maybe I'm feel particularly drawn to these verses because it is Sunday. And, OK, so Aaron and I aren't exactly in our "youth," and our quiver is actually a house in Bellevue that may reach capacity after one, and considering the time in which this was written property was passed via male aires so the emphasis on sons, I think I can safely think of sons or daughters as belonging in this passage with equal emphasis. I guess what these verses mean to me is, A) Don't freak out because God already has a plan and an agency and a surrogate picked out for us and knows how all this is going to happen, and B)God likes children and knows the desire of our hearts and "has our backs," on this one. Of course, if one of my pastors reads this one he may totally disagree with my interpretation of this scripture. ;>

But I'm still kind of freaking out. Ah yes, my "humanness." Interestingly, there is a collegue Aaron works with at work who has been asking a lot of questions about surrogacy. Maybe she'll be interested in being our surrogate? Or maybe someone else will volunteer and we won't have to find an agency. Boy would it be amazing not to have to travel back and forth to Portland for the next year to be involved in the pregnancy.I just don't know. But God knows. Whew.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Surro-Wear! and Openess

Who knew there was a whole market for Surro-Friendly clothing? Check out this search:

I personally love the "I'm not the mom, just the stork!" gifts. Gonna have to get something with that for our surrogate.

Also, I just wanted to send a thank you to all of you who have been so supportive of this journey so far. I was really nervous about going live. Would Aaron and I be judged? Would people respect the choices we've made thus far? Would people think this was just too weird to grasp? We've received so many positive responses and prayer support. I can't believe it. Originally I had sent the link to a few select people, but based on the support I've been getting I'm going to take another step out in faith and post my blog in my Facebook status to open it up to all my Facebook friends.

You may be wondering why. Here's the thing, this blog is doing exactly what I wanted it to. It's getting support for Aaron and I on our journey. It's creating a record of our journey for our child. And, amazingly, one of the other things I've prayed for is happening, people are starting to talk about things not often talked about. I've heard from a friend who never mentioned that she and her husband considered a surrogacy journey. I've heard from 3 friends about their incredibly painful and challenging journies with infertility. Seems like everything these days is open for discussion, but infertility and difficulty starting families are still things rarely talked about. First off, it's painful for the people and families experiencing it. Another thought I had is that it can start to become a "values" or "family values" discussion and might become heated very quickly. But I've found a lot of support, and I want to continue to talk about our journey in the hopes that friends and family members who might also be facing challenges starting families of their own, and feeling that unique, raw pain that sears your heart when you see someone holding a new baby or talking about a child as being an "accident," would feel more open to talking about their experiences, or at least supporting Aaron and I and allowing us the blessing of supporting them.
And for people who have never faced difficulty starting a family I'd like to help them get a glimpse of what our experience has been. To have them pause before asking a couple who has been married for 2 years, "So, are you thinking about starting a family?" In our case the answer was some non-committal, "eventuallly," but my heart was breaking as I wanted to answer, "Yes! Yes Yes Yes! It seems like we're thinking of that all the time! And trying to figure out how! And banging out heads against the wall! And hurting...oh how we are hurting so much!" Or having friends understand why you may love them so much, but just can't attend another baby shower, and to please try to understand, instead of guilt you into coming, or feel that you don't care about their amazing, life changing experience, but are simply hurting too much at this point to share in the celebration.
With all that, since we are talking about the "Baby-Making Process" (beyond sex ed!)I wanted to let you know I'm going to be changing this blog to "adult content." The content will be staying the same as it is now, so please don't think I'm suddenly going to be adding petri-dish porn movies (Ooooooh, how exciting watching fertilization in a petri-dish!), but I am "friends" with some high schoolers I know from church and I want to be responsible with that, particularly since I am talking about things that some parents may not want their high school children to hear at this stage in their lives (although please, once you head off to college, come back and visit! ;>).

I don't know how the "followers" link works, if you get an e-mail when the blog is updated or what it means to be a "follower", but if you'd like an e-mail when I update, please drop me a message via Facebook at at my e-mail account. Otherwise, check back occassionally and hopefully there will be more random musings on not-so-random topics from my random brain. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Shall Testify!

So last year there was a bill in the Washington State Legislature that would have allowed for compensated surrogagies in cases of medical necessity in the state of WA. I think I forgot to mention, in most states that allow for surrogacy there has to be a reason that makes it medically necessary. It passed in the house, but got buried in the senate and never came up for a vote. We heard from a lawyer we met with in Seattle that the state Rep. is going to bring it up again for a vote this year. We don't want to wait that long for us, it could ultimately take a couple years, but I wrote the congressman an e-mail supporting his efforts. You know me, can't just do things quietly, but also have to work to make it better for others. Well, based on my e-mail he invited me to testify before the WA state senate and house! How cool is that? Here's my e-mail and his response below:

Dear Representative Pedersen,
My husband Aaron and I live in the 41st Legislative district, and the 8th Congressional district. I know you are in the 43rd district, however we are contacting you after speaking with Raegen Rasnic about surrogacy and the surrogacy laws in Washington state. I read with interest HB 2793, a bill you and 9 collegues sponsored. Looking at the history of the bill it seems like it got stuck in the Senate in committee.
I have a medical condition that makes it unsafe for me to carry a pregnancy, both for me, and for the developing fetus. My husband and I have been researching gestational surrogacy since January of this year, and after much prayer, discussion and thought have decided that gestational surrogacy is the way for us to become parents. Unfortunately, we do not have any family members or close friends who can carry a pregnancy for us. It is very much of a challenge and a hardship on us that Washington State does not allow compenstated gestational surrogacy. Right now we are searching for IVF clinics, surrogacy agencies and lawyers in the Portland area to assist us on our journey, however to do so from the Seattle area is very difficult. We will be making many trips to Oregon over the next several months to interview doctors, agencies and lawyers. Then we will make trips to meet with surrogates. Then when we find a surrogate I will need to spend more than a week in Portland to prepare my body for ovum retrieval. Then we will travel back and forth for doctors appointments with our surrogate. I'm not complaining; indeed I think any journey towards parentage rather through traditional means, adoption or surrogacy has it's share of twists, turns and adventures (personally, I think it's all to prepare people for the trials and tribulations of eventually living with teenagers ;>!). Nonetheless, Washington State could make our journey so much easier by removing the barrier to compensated gestational surrogates.
I think what has been hardest in this journey is first discovering my illness, then realizing that I would never get the joy of being pregnant myself. It was absolutely devestating for someone who always wanted to have a house full of children. And with the distance between here and Oregon, the opportunities for my husband and I to experience the beautiful process of a pregnancy with our child through another woman is going to be limited. We won't be able to be at every doctor's appointment. We won't get to see every ultrasound first hand. We won't get to see a pregnant belly slowly growing week by week. How many parents cry during the first ultrasound showing a beating heart, or anxiously wait for their weekly check-ups towards the end of pregnancy where doctors let them know everything is ok? How many could sit for hours with a hand placed on a pregnant belly, feeling the fluttering of the tiny growing child? If I could, I would visit the woman carrying our child as often as possible. I would take many pictures and write journal entries so that when my child is old enough to ask what it was like when they were growing in "another woman's tummy" I would have great stories for them and pictures to share. However, with the distance we will have to travel to visit our surrogate I don't know how much of that is going to be possible; certainly not enough to fill our desire to know our child and support our surrogate. Of course, besides the emotional impact and desire to bond, support and nuture both the growing child and the wonderful woman who will carry our child, there are also all of the concerns of the possibilities of emergencies during the pregnancy when we are hours away.
We heard from Raegen that you plan to reintroduce this bill during the coming legislative session. I know with the midterm elections there will be some changes in the make up of congress and more than likely changes in those in congress who have previously shown support for your legislation. I don't know if there's anything we can do to assist with the passage of this bill, but if you need people willing to go to capitol hill and talk to legislators or talk to committee members we would be more than happy to talk about our situation. Honestly it boils down to two people who desperately want to bring a child into the world to love, and want to use the medical advances available to them in a way that's legal in other states and currently isn't legal in this state. I don't know if our story would make a difference, but if it would, we would be happy to share.


Dear Ms. Sparks-Keeney –

Thank you so much for your message and for sharing your story with me. I hope that you will share it with your 41st district legislators as well before the start of the next legislative session. If you are available, I would love to have you come and testify on the bill next session. I’ll try to remember to check in with you in December, but if you haven’t heard from me, please don’t be bashful about contacting me. We’ll have a decent amount of notice about timing in the House, since I chair the relevant committee and get to schedule the bill (unless we lose the majority). The Senate will be dicier and the timing harder – but that is actually where we will need the help more. Anyway, thanks again for the offer of support. We will need it!

Best, Jamie

Representative Jamie Pedersen
43rd Legislative District

The State of affairs

One of the things Aaron and I quickly learned is that the State in which you live, in our case, Washington (Although we've been known to also exist in the state of bliss, confusion, chaos and other exciting places)matters a lot. As of right now there are no Federal laws regarding surrogacy. Thus some states are more "surro-friendly" than others. Some states have no laws at all, which can be a real challenge. In our case Washington has laws, but not exactly favorable ones for us.
In Washington one can use an "uncompensated" gestational surrogate. What that means is that usually a friend or relative agrees to carry the child for the couple, however, no money can be exchanged for actually carrying the child. You can pay for every other expense possible: medical care, housekeeping, lost wages, maternity clothes, groceries, childcare if needed for other children after birth, gas money, travel expenses, life insurance, legal fees, psychological counseling, even gym membership, etc. etc. etc. (to quote The King and I) Any expense as long as it's justifiable in a pregnancy. There just can't be a fee for simply agreeing to carry a child. Unfortunately, Aaron has no sisters, and my sister doesn't qualify because a person must have carried a child before she can be a surrogate, and we don't have anyone else to carry the child. Thus we have to look to a compensated surrogacy arrangement. Basically in that arrangement all of the above expenses are covered, plus a fee to carry the child, which is pretty expensive. There's also an agency fee involved for having an agency find your surrogate and then help both you and the surrogate through the process (all of the screenings, handling the money in escrow, etc. etc. etc.). In the end however, I think all the fees will be worth it. I shall look my darling newborn in the face, wipe a tear from the corner of my eye, and say in a gentle, soft voice, "Pumpkin, I love you so much, however I hope you didn't have your heart set on Harvard, or any other out of state school for that matter. The University of Washington or Washington State are both great institutions and all of your potential out of state tuition money was spent on getting you to this point...of course, there's always athletic scholarships, however with our gene pool...well, the U is a great option." ;> Seriously though, Aaron and I know that it will be worth it, and we will make it work.
So, since we're looking at a compensated surrogacy arrangement, we unfortunately have to look to a neighboring state. Oregon is what is known as a "surro-friendly" state. That means that it's laws about compensated surrogacy are well established and there are reputable agencies and attorneys we can work with. I'm really happy that there is an option, but 3+ hours away seems so far. I'd always dreamed of being pregnant. Sure, I wasn't looking forward to the morning sickness, or not being able to see my shoes, or things like that, but I wanted the experience. I wanted to share that experience with my child, to be able to tell them stories about what it was like when I was pregnant with them. Unfortunately, while in many surrogacy arrangements IPs do attend all of the doctor's/midwife's visits and whatnot, with our surrogate being at a minimum 3 hours away that's going to prevent us from being as involved in the pregnancy as we both want. I wanted to watch our surrogate's belly grow. I wanted to bring over healthy snack and some not so healthy but oh so good Ben and Jerry's. I wanted to see all the ultrasounds live and hear what the doctor has to say, but I guess that's not the be. Sometimes this story just feels like one loss after another. But again I hang my hat on resilience.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Babies, not furry creatures

I was just realizing as I was typing the address of the blog for some friends that when the URL is read quickly it could look like No Wombat and wanted to assure everyone that I am in fact referring to a Womb and NOT a Wombat. Just for any of you that were confused. Or wondering.

The "S" word

So when Aaron and I decided that we were ready to have kids, we consulted several doctors, particularly my cardiologist, the high risk OB center at the UW, and the lab at the UW that specializes in studying and maintaining a database on the teratogenic (Teratogen: a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, causing birth defects...thanks!) effects of about every drug and substance out there. And from this research we realized that it really wouldn't be possible for me to carry our child. Thus, I was devastated. For over a year I couldn't be around friends who were pregnant or go to baby showers, it was just too hard. I know I lost some friends during that time, and I miss them dearly, but I just couldn't handle it, it was too sad.
When I finally emerged from that depression, we set about looking into adoption. Interestingly, this was something we had talked about before we even got married, and we had thought about adopting, even if we had our own biological kids. So once we were to a point emotionally to head down this road, we started looking into foreign adoption. And, there, we got smacked in the face again. You see, the vast majority of countries out there have the adoptive parents fill out a very detailed form, in addition to the forms adoption agencies have you fill out. And all of these forms ask for your medical history. Oops. Some are more detailed than others, asking for a list of all the medications you're taking, but they all ask for some medical information. Note to all of you out there ever thinking about adoption: having an undiagnosable neurological illness pretty much disqualifies you from most of the countries out there. I can understand their thinking, do they really want to put a child in a situation where the mother may become severely incapacitated, or even die? Will the child end up taking care of the mother? Etc. etc. etc. Thus we hit brick wall after brick wall after consulting with about 6 agencies. Now I know some of you will probably be thinking, "but did you look into this agency?" or, "Did you look at this country?" and the answer is, no we probably missed a few. But after spending the better part of a year looking and being rejected...well, you can only handle so much rejection. And let's face it, hearing all of these things really made me question whether or not I had the capability to be a parent. Maybe they were right. Maybe it would be "irresponsible" (one agency's words, not mine) to have a child. I tell ya, self doubt stinks, particularly when you are already struggling with an undiagnosed illness and wondering what exactly is going to happen to you. But Aaron and I made the choice that we can't know what will happen 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years from not. That's for God to know, not us (although I prayed long and hard for God to send me a burning bush!) Anyone could get hit by a truck and paralyzed. Anyone could develop multiple sclerosis. All we can do is go on the information we have today. And the information we have today says that I can care for a child, that we will be good parents. So then what do we do?
We spent some time looking into domestic adoption, but after praying about that and considering that we began other research and decided to take the road less travelled and certainly less talked about unless you're reading some dramatic article in the newspaper or 20/20...Gestational Surrogacy!
OK, I know alarm bells are going off for some of you, "What about this case?" or "What about that case?" Things have come a long way in the world of surrogacy. There are contracts that protect the IPs (intended parents) and the GS (gestational surrogates) and spell out just about everything. There's also the fact that through the magic of IVF the child will be biologically Aaron's and mine. That's the difference between a Gestational Surrogate (who nurtures a baby not biologically related to her in her womb)and a Traditional Surrogate (where the child is created with the surrogate's egg, and sperm either from the intended father or a sperm donor).
Thus began the journey of learning all about surrogacy and looking for a surrogate.

Time to go live....

Hi all,
So I've been debating with myself, do I want this to be a shared journey with friends able to read the drama, or is this just for Aaron, our child and I. There are pros and cons to both. But I've decided that beginning by sharing information is the first step to being open with our child about where s/he came from and how s/he was created, so here we go.
I've actually been writing a lot, but haven't been posting it here. So I think I'll post a bunch of my electronic journals about this today, so it will look like I did a lot of writing in one day, but know that this was actually over the last two weeks ;>.
Also, the friend who I previously mentioned has decided that this process is so complicated and adventurous that we should make a movie about our respective journeys (we're totally joking about this, but it's fun to look at it in that light). So, who do you all think should play me? Aaron suggested Sandra Bullock, and I think she rocks, but I also think at this point she might be a bit old. I like Kristin Bell, especially from her Veronica Mars days. Any other ideas? How about for Aaron? My other friend has decided Neil Patrick Harris should play him. On a random, but not so random tangent, a friend told me about the site You submit a writing sample, and then they compare it to a bunch of authors and tell you who you write like. I submitted my first blog entry and it said that I write like (drum roll)...Agatha Christie. So apparently this story will have drama and intrigue, preferably minus the murders. But my friend is right it does look like it would make for a good movie!

Friday, July 16, 2010

It all began a few years ago....

So I was inspired to write this blog by a friend who is blogging about his current life experience relating to mine (continue reading and you'll find out)- Thanks Michael! I've always wondered what I could possibly have to share that anyone else would consider worthwhile reading. Of course, when I worked at Disney or on the cruise ship I would have had a fabulous blog full of exciting tales. But my life now is kind of boring, right?
Well, not really. You see, as most of you know, a few years ago I developed a very odd neurological disease. I've been to doctors in several states now, been tested for everything known, genetic diseases up and down the yin yang and on and on. I've finally gotten to a place spiritually where I'm at peace. For so long I was depressed with so many questions- Why is this happening to me? What did I do to cause it? How can I fix it? What the *(&!$@#)($@! is it? and the very big one, OK, I know what's happening now, but what's going to happen 1 year, 5 years, 10 years down the road? Aaron and I both wrestled with this over the last several years. And in the last year/year and a half I finally have found peace in God's arms. I don't know the answers to any of my questions, but I know He does. Most importantly, I don't feel like I need to know anymore. I'm learning to live day by day. I'm learning to listen to my body each day and read it for right now, and not worry about what will happen with it tomorrow, or next week or next year or however long away. This is all a work the Lord has done in me, truely by His strength, and not by mine. I've found a medical protocol with medications, PT, daily exercise and acupuncture that works for me. For right now. And that's good enough for me. Aaron and I are also in a place where our marriage is stronger than ever. When something like a major illness happens just few years into your marriage it's going to cause challenges and test you and your spouse. And we've had moments of tears, moments of yelling, moments of not understanding. But most of all we've had moments of love. And moments of amazing communication. We've been through the first fire (I say that because I know there will always be more on the way) and our marriage has been refined and come out shining.
So we're now 5+ years into this crazy thing called marriage, and we want to add to our family beyond Winston (our dog). And that's where the challenge begins. What do you do when your body is unreliable and not a safe haven for a developing child? When the medications that make your life liveable could poison your child? Sometimes expanding your family is not as easy as they made it seem during high school sex ed. So really, that's what this blog is about. Our journey towards growing our family. And I invite you, my friends, to come with us on this journey. To hear where we've been and see where we're going. To be honest, I'm kind of freaked out sharing this much information. I'm sort of a private person in certain areas of my life. I play my cards close to my chest so to speak. But I know we're going to need the love and support and prayers of our family and friends along the way. And that's why I invite you on this journey. I also think the route we are choosing, after much thought and prayer, isn't a commonly discussed route for expanding families, and I want to share our journey and the trials and joys we face along the way to educate others and encourage people to talk about different ways to start and expand families. Most of all, I write this for our future child. To know how much care was put into his/her creation. To know that s/he was desperately wanted. To know that we believe God has a plan and it will be fulfilled with his/her birth. My child, I love you so much already, and I can't wait to hold you in my arms.

PS: I can't say for sure how often and when I'll write in this blog but hopefully I'll get to it every now and then. Thanks for reading.