3

Letting the cat partially out of the bag

We’re only 10 weeks and I already have 10 outfits per day planned for this child until they’re 18. Oh dear.

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I don’t have a shopping problem. I can stop annnnnnny time I want to…

In other news, hubby and I told our parents. In some ways it was fun, but if I’m entirely honest, I don’t think I was ready for the avalanche of excitement and “our news” all of a sudden becoming “everyone’s news”. I guess this is something to get used to once personal news is in the public domain (I can see the irony in writing this…. I’ve been blogging in public the whole time, but ‘real life’ public feels different).

I really enjoyed the weeks of quiet time that we had while the news was just our special news for the team, our closest support people, and those in internet-land. Now that the grandparents have hold of it it’s at another level! Of course our parents always knew we were pursuing surrogacy and have always been overwhelmingly supportive, but I made the decision that once we started transferring to “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. I am really glad we did, as it allowed us all space to breathe.

Anyway, we tried to surprise them with the updated “news” together as one family when we were all in the same place at the same time (which seldom occurs for logistic reasons); but there’s not much to surprise people with when it comes to surrogacy (unless you’ve kept everyone in the dark prior).

I was a little bit sad that I couldn’t say “Surprise!” in the usual way that people get to when it’s their own pregnancy, you know, you’ve all seen the adorable YouTube videos of people putting a bun in their mother’s oven and watching her reaction. My version would be something along the lines of “Surprise! We found out that I have a series of diseases and after a lengthy period of various consultations and meeting this awesome chick who lives on the other side of the country and going through counselling and legals and a few transfers in a questionably designed chair now she’s PREGNANT!” – doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Mum is a clever little bunny and had it all figured out that the news was about to be dropped. She’d told my brother what her suspicions were too, haha. She’d also told all of her friends, and was most displeased when I requested to not make the announcement public until we’d had our 12 week scan. Sorry mum!

I’m having to warm to the idea of it not just being our news now, which initially was a really weird feeling, but I think I’m getting there 🙂 I can only imagine how this must feel from a surrogate’s point of view – if I’m feeling a bit precious about it, imagine having the decision of who to tell and where and when about something to do with your body made by someone who isn’t you? This is one of the reasons why it’s super important to talk to everyone in the team about delivering important news. Really it’s not just the Intended Parents’ news, it’s the team’s news, and I felt honoured to be able to deliver it to our families, even if they’d already guessed it!

2 sleeps until I’m reunited with my lady-love! Can’t wait!

2

There really is a bear in there!

When you last heard from us, we were just about to head up to Queensland for our first scan. Everyone had a little touch of the nerves at some stage prior, but on the day everything went so well! It was amazing to see a little wriggly bean in there! And it had a heartbeat! Crazy times! I’m going to be a mum to this little jellybean!!!

The scan was fantastic. It made things feel a bit more real for us; but by far the highlight of the trip was getting to hang out with Rachel’s family. I’m starting to feel a little too at home with them, much to our husbands’ mutual dismay, as it’s getting harder and harder to pry the wifey’s away from each other!

Seeing Rachel quelled a lot of the morning sickness related guilts that I wrote about in my last post. I’m not sure why, but having those few days where I could give her pats and show some love felt like it was something that needed to happen in person before I’d feel ok within myself. I hadn’t seen her in person since transfer, so since so much had happened between then and now, I felt like a part of me wasn’t sitting right until we were reunited.

In other news, David’s parents are visiting from overseas. Even though we’ll wait until after our 12 week scan to tell the general populous, we’d like to take the opportunity to tell our parents while they’re all here together in person. So that’s happening tomorrow night when we all go out for dinner! I printed off some ultrasound pics to hand around so that they can do the talking for us.

Rachel even went out of her way to get another scan just before they came, so that we can show them a clearer picture of Bear! What an absolute sweetheart. She even sent us a video of the ultrasound! David and I were both at home the day she sent them. We huddled around the screen watching the video again and again. It was a really special day, even though we weren’t there with Rachel, it felt as though we were all together.

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Roar!

Anywho, fast forward a few weeks and Rach will have her first hospital appointment! Some might call it overkill, but I really want to be there to take her to things whenever possible and I’ll be damned if living interstate will stop me. I know that the likelihood of us being able to be there for everything is slim (already we haven’t been there for everything), but I don’t want her to miss out on all of the things she’d have with a same-state surrogacy. David will have to hang around here this time because his parents are still around, so it’ll be me flying solo for this one! I’m pretty darn excited 😀 though the idea of me taking Rachel backfired when she insisted on picking me up from the airport!

In other news, I’ve been to see my counsellor recently for a mental health checkup. I make a habit of doing so whenever anxiety surfaces to the point of being uncomfortable for prolonged periods of time. I am quite prone to anxiety, so went to visit the counsellor to see if there was any underlying cause for concern, surrogacy related or otherwise. Anywho, I am pleased to report that all is well on that front. She did suggest that I cut back my online commitments though, which I have done, and is one of the reasons this blog post is a bit tardy! So if you see less of me online, now you know why 🙂

Anxiety is a part of who I am, and so it’s my responsibility to ensure that I keep on top of it to keep our team swimming along awesomely. My reason for writing about it here is to encourage everyone who is predisposed to any sort of mental health issue, transient or recurring, to have a solid plan in place for if and when you find yourself feeling unbalanced. Your surrogacy team doesn’t need any additional stress on top of their current undertakings, and it’s up to you to ensure you are accountable for your own mental health.

Until next time! Peace out 🙂

1

Carrier pigeons and boobs

Long time no blog post! You heard from Rachel the other day about the fun she’s been having (I use the term “fun” loosely!), so thought it was high time to fill you in on what’s happening on my side of the fence. There are 2 parts to this post:

  • Part 1 is about morning sickness by proxy,
  • Part 2 is about boobs (yay boobs!).

Morning sickness by proxy is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. It knocked me around mentally, way more than I anticipated. When someone I love is hurting, I hurt too. It’s magnified significantly when someone you love is hurting because of something you’ve either directly or indirectly had something to do with, and even more when they’re at a distance.

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Visual depiction of feelings in cat form

Now I know that we all signed up for this knowing full well what was likely to happen, but it still took me by surprise about how heavy my heart has been this week. I am good at laying the guilt on myself at even the slightest thing, so this week it has been a bit of a challenge to stay balanced.

Not wishing to sit around and dwell more than necessary, I tried to do something about it. When you care about someone, it can be hard to know how often to check in to see how they’re doing, because there becomes a point where that’s smothering (and let’s face it, not all that helpful); so I wanted to come up with another way to show Rachel I’d been thinking of her that didn’t involve 24/7 video surveillance and an SMS based subscription service that asks every 10 minutes to rate her nausea on a scale of 1 to Donald Trump, sending an automated carrier pigeon with a tiny backpack full of cupcakes and pictures of cats for any score more than a 4.

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Thus the morning sickness care package was born. While it wasn’t intended to make *me* feel better, the days that I spent putting it together were therapeutic because I was physically doing *something*, even if that “something” wasn’t all that significant. It was a nice way to pour some positive energy back in to the situation rather than sitting around mindlessly layering the guilt on top of myself like some sort of delicious chocolate cake.

I’ll take this opportunity to give a huge shout out to Rachel’s amazing family whose support for her knows no bounds. Not only are they amazing to Rachel, but they also helped me out with some insider information on ways I might be able to be helpful from a distance this week when I was going stir crazy. Such sweethearts!! Can I adopt her whole family? Is that a thing? Let’s make it a thing. Of course my brain managed to find a way to feel guilty about the amazingness they’ve shown towards us during this whole venture too, but I know that logically I just have to suck it up and embrace surrogacy being a team effort way beyond just surrogate and IP’s.

This week I also touched base with some gorgeously supportive people outside of the surrogacy team. This reminded me of just how important it is for me to have good support people who are removed from the team, so as to not overload anyone. While Rachel’s morning sickness does give me the sads, it isn’t about me. But it is my responsibility to make sure I process my own associated feelings in a healthy way. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging at times, but I’m learning new strategies for staying balanced and all in all am doing OK.

Anywho, in no way does the discomfort I’ve had come close to what Rachel is going through – I just felt it worthwhile to report what it’s like on the other side of the fence, on the other side of the country 🙂

Anyway…. onwards

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Since Rachel included a boob-related update in her last post, I thought I should do the same. Sadly mine have not grown to porn-star proportions…. yet. I’m working on it though.

Did you know that people can take medication to induce lactation?!

Isn’t modern medicine amazing?!

Inducing lactation is something I’ve always been interested in. Over the last year or so, I’ve flip-flopped about whether or not to give it a go. My usual “let’s do this!” attitude takes a back seat the more my illness is present. New drugs to add to my already extensive regime, and exhaustion from pumping before bubs even arrives were the two things holding me back. Fatigue and stress are serious health concerns for me, as they can cause a flare in my illness, which can potentially have life-threatening consequences. There’s not much use running myself ragged to induce lactation if it means I’m unable to physically care for myself or a baby as a result. There was a little fear of failure in there too, combined with thinking that donor milk and/or formula are A-O-K, which lead me to feel like it might not be worth the bother.

Anyway, long story short, I thought heck, let’s give it a go and see what happens. I was really 50/50 about it at the time, but since now is the time to either start it or decide not to, I thought I better get on it or I might regret it later. And even if it doesn’t work, I will have surely learned something along the way that may be of assistance to someone in the future.

Another thing that really cemented my decision to give it a go was a gorgeous soul who emerged from the online ether to introduce herself and say she’s been following my journey and lives in my home town! We met up and exchanged stories over a cauldron of coffee, and I left feeling energised and excited to give it a go, as she has had great success.

So I waltzed in to the doctor’s office (after having read about the Newman Goldfarb protocol) and asked her for lots and lots of drugs. I love my GP, she didn’t even bat an eyelid, and even called the regulatory authority for medication in Australia to give me an extra massive supply. The medication used throughout the protocol needs to be taken at much higher doses than usual, so it’s not financially viable to buy it in single packets over the counter in Australia without an authority script.

My doctor left me with this pearl of wisdom as she signed the script:

“I’m ok with you doing this… on one condition. If it doesn’t work, you have to understand that it’s not your fault.”

… Yes mam! Woo drugs! Let’s do this!

I imagine this is what it will be like

I imagine this is what it will be like

Now that I’ve settled in to the medication regime (4 x daily, phwoar!), I am so glad that I decided to start it. It feels good. No sign of a third boob yet though, which is disappointing. I had a few minor side-effects but all in all I’m pleased so far to be giving it a go.

Anywho! In other news, I’m super excited because tomorrow we fly to Brisbane! It’s been far too long between visits up there. I miss Rachel’s family! And as a super mega bonus, Monday is scan day! It’s going to be scantastic.

I also received an AMAZING package of various pregnancy books from a dear friend, which I can’t wait to get stuck in to. I’m still undecided about just how much I want to know from them, but I am pleased to have some different resources to help guide that decision. I don’t want to know too much, but I don’t want to be entirely ignorant either. I think there’s probably a sweet spot somewhere where I’ll know enough to support Rachel, but not so much that I turn in to a nervous wreck trying to think of each and every eventuality. At the end of the day I will probably seek the same amount of knowledge as if I was pregnant myself, which is a personal decision I haven’t quite arrived at yet. I guess that my depth and level of curiosity will become more evident as the pregnancy progresses.

Hopefully next time you hear from us it’ll be with a blob on an ultrasound! Wheeeeee 😀

3

Morning sickness blows……chunks

We’re now officially past the 6 week mark. Honestly it feels like we should be 12 weeks already. Why does time move so slowly when you’re waiting for something?

How have we fared the last two weeks since we officially graduated from PUPO to pregnant? Maybe I should let Marian explain how she has been feeling, although I think the reality is still setting it. I was feeling great until about a week ago when the nausea started, just the odd wave here and there, but then Friday of last week it hit me. The stomach spasms, the watering mouth, the ‘please someone make it go away’ prayers and the only thing that helped was lying down in misery. Luckily I had acupuncture already booked for that day and my acupuncturist used a few methods to help counteract the nausea. He also put in a few specialised temporary needles that last about a week which have certainly helped ease the nausea and calmed my mojo but not quiet taken it away. Luckily it’s currently at tolerable standards.

Although the title suggests I have blown chunks I am not actually a vomitter despite wishing I could at times just so I could have a blissful moment afterwards of feeling normal. So instead I will just deal with the nausea as it comes, and those coping mechanisms include lying down feeling sorry for myself – usually with a good book to distract me, eating small meals, premium crackers mmmmm, salty and when times are tough I resort to pharmacological relief in the form of ondansetron wafers. Sweet sweet temporary relief.

Other pregnancy symptoms I have had include:

  • Waking to porn star sized and incredibly sore breasts. That was the first symptom hubby noticed 😛
  • Occasional spotting (GRRRRRR)
  • Going from happy mummy to demon possessed mummy in 0.2 seconds flat
  • Crying at ridiculously soppy TV advertisements. Just stop it already KFC
  • Being bone weary tired – like I haven’t slept in a week
  • Heartburn – oh lordy my chest is on fire!

I find it really interesting that although I’ve now had 6 babies (and counting) how easily I have forgotten what pregnancy is actually like. I swear that babies are cute for a reason….they do their goo goo and gaa gaa and they look at us with that twinkle in their eyes and their cheeky little grins and all of a sudden our memory of pregnancy (and labour) is wiped, or at least hazed over. Damn those diabolical babies.

Of course having said (and suffered) all of this, I am welcoming every bit of the blah-ness because it means Bear is hanging around and the pregnancy is progressing. It also helps to have the most supportive team members. Hubby even called in sick for me Friday when I was curled in the fetal position wishing the nausea away, now there’s a team member that deserves a raise! Which came in the form of his beverage of choice waiting for him when he got home. My eldest daughter continually asks how I’m feeling and gives me soothing head pats like I’m a cat just to show her support.

Marian and David have also been incredible. It’s hard for me to imagine what it must feel like to know someone is feeling sub-par because they’re carrying your child. I can certainly speculate how that would make me feel and I imagine there would be a fair whack of guilt in there somewhere. There was recently a discussion on one of the groups we are both members of that discussed what people in a surrogacy arrangement can do for each other to make the process more enjoyable or special for the other party. Of course there is a taboo surrounding surrogacy that involves the exchange of money or gifts – basically the surrogate is not allowed to gain financially from the arrangement, so obviously that is a no no, therefore the discussion surrounded non-monetary thoughts and support. For me the thing that makes all the difference is the expression of gratitude and support. A simple card with some heartfelt words on it, the odd text here and there of encouragement and excitement is all I need. Of course Marian being Marian she goes above and beyond and I have since learned she is in cahoots with my husband. I’m not sure how I feel about my husband being in cahoots with another woman, I imagine it’s how he feels when I have other men’s babies so I guess I can’t complain! 🙂

And so a very cheery parcel arrived on my doorstep early this morning. A ‘happy morning sickness and boob expanding’ parcel that included some of my favourite chocolate items, some small cat underwear (for comical effect as we have a cat that doesn’t know how to use a litter tray!) and some carpet odouriser for the same reason, some recycled trashy romance novels that I can only imagine were purchased from the finest St. Vinnies in Adelaide as they carry such titles as “His Untamed Innocent” and “The Executive’s Valentine Seduction”, and the most awesome rainbow coloured pill organiser so now I will never forget to take my multiple daily tablets. Of course all of this came with the most awesome card and it’s not just that I’ve received an awesome gift that makes it special; it’s the time and effort that went into the gift that makes all the difference.

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How people show their love varies and one thing I have learned about Marian (and David by proxy) is that they are the most giving people I have ever met. It’s not very often that I meet someone who is as giving or more than I feel I am, which makes me feel even more like I have the most fabulous IP’s and friends ever. There will never be enough words to express the way I feel about them, so unfortunately as our readers you are going to have to listen to me gush endlessly over the course of my blogging, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

As to whats the next big event for Team Kundaberg – we have our heart beat scan coming up next week, so watch this space!!!

11

14DPO and counting….

What a whirlwind of a month! My cycle this month decided to do something different for a change. Instead of my usual day 15/16 ovulation, it took us all by surprise when I ovulated on day 12! When the clinic called after my day 14 blood test results came through and said transfer was to be the next day I nearly died of shock then and there. Good thing I didn’t die, because I really wanted to see Marian again!

Fast forward 24hrs and we were PUPO! As Marian said in her last post, this cycle felt different. There was always a sense of rightness about this cycle where we all kind of felt like this one might be ‘the chosen one’.

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This cycle I was using an injection called Pregnyl. Pregnyl is a synthetic form of hCG which is the hormone released in early pregnancy. Taking this tricks your body into thinking it’s pregnant and is supposed to increase your chances of actually getting pregnant. A side effect of this injection is that it gives a false positive reading on a home pregnancy test, so this meant there would be no peeing on sticks! This made me happy. Pee sticks have been known to send me somewhat crazy as I stare at them for so long that I can make a negative pee stick into a positive one in my head, especially when I poke my tongue out, stand on one foot and tilt my head sideways.

Instead of peeing on sticks I spent my time calculating the clearance time of pregnyl from my system so I could pee on a stick!

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The result of my calculations found that the pregnyl should have been out of my system by 6 days past transfer, so of course I POAS to confirm it would be too early for a positive if I were pregnant but just the right time for the pregnyl to be out of my system. And low and behold the test was negative. This was the only time I have been relieved to see one line on a pee stick. Que 7 days past transfer (11DPO)…..

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I barely had to squint to see the BFP that was staring at me on not one test but two! The funny thing was I had a feeling from the beginning that this cycle would give us our BFP (big fat positive). From the moment Bear was transferred I felt like it was going to stick. And stick it did. We even go the blood test to prove it!!

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Telling Marian and David was super fun. There were a lot of OMG’s! All from Marian. David responded in his usually David way. He expressed his feelings in Gif form.

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I have a sneaking suspicion that Marian is now dreaming of all the shopping she gets to do and David is secretly fearing looking at their credit card. I have to say I was shocked when I learned that it’s now been three days since our official BFP and Marian still has not gone baby shopping. All in good time I guess, after all we have a good 36 weeks of shopping left to do! Maybe after the heartbeat scan.

We are now 14 days post ovulation and counting. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings and I’m so excited that I get to share it with Marian and David

Edited to add…by popular request – the Kundaberg BFP cake!

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6

There’s a bear in there

Holy surprise transfer, batman! Transfer number two crept up on us so fast, so much so that we only found out the day before that it was happening! So we quickly jumped online to book a flight for Rachel to Adelaide. Well, that’s a bit of a lie. We were already online. We’re always online, ok! I was trying to make it sound as though I do other things sometimes… which I don’t.

Both Rachel and I said that we enjoyed having it creep up like that, because there was way less anticipation anxiety!

Rachel arrived, and we managed to tick off a bucket list item we’ve had going for a while – to feed the ducks! Here we are at the Adelaide botanic gardens 🙂 I just love the lotus pond here in the gardens, especially when in bloom. It has often been a place I will come and quietly reflect by myself; and now will have an extra special memory to add to this special place.

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Two smiley girlies by the lotus pond

This visit felt different. Not good or bad different, just different! There was more of a calm energy in the team, rather than an arms flailing and squealing limitless ball of exploding energy. There was still an excitement, but it felt way more relaxed. Looking back on transfer number 1, there was way more manic energy in the air than this one. Rach has been to visit Adelaide a few times now too, which meant we could spend more time chilling out than making a mad dash to stay entertained. I love seeing this girly, so chillaxing was most excellent and I’m looking forward to doing more of it in the future.

Our emby was code-named “Bear” after Playschool’s lyrics -“There’s a bear in there, and a chair as well”,  because the transfer room at our clinic has a terrifying chair that only the unsuspecting women transferring have the pleasure of knowing. We call it the chair of destiny/terror – it reclines so much that Rach says you feel like you’re going to fall off! Kinda like the tower of terror, but less fun and more genitals in the open air. We were slightly better prepared for the chair of destiny this time. We’ve butchered the playschool lyrics accordingly:

There’s a bear in there
and a chair as well
there are people with catheters
and embies to deploy
Open wide! (… lol, don’t read too much in to that one)
Come inside!
It’s transfer!

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Bear!

And so we began the two week wait! I’m looking forward to reporting on how we went again (so far it feels very different for me). Since Pip didn’t stick around, I thought this time we could use a little extra stickiness, and made Rachel a “sticky bouquet”, complete with sticks, stickers, cinnamon sticks, sticky notes, a stick figure (lovingly hand drawn by my husband) with a baby stick figure in its belly (which was all his idea! so cute), honey for extra stickiness, ladies speed stick deodourant, sticky date pudding, sticky tape, paddle pop sticks and sticky lint rollers!

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The day after transfer, I took Rachel with me to exercise my “one retail adventure per milestone” rule. While we were at the baby shop, one of the assistants asked if what I was buying was for a friend (which in hindsight I should have said yes to for the sake of simplicity, lol!), but instead I fumbled out the truth because I’m so used to telling every man and his dog about surrogacy! I figure the more open I am about it, the more chance it has of being recognised as a normal venture.

Oh, and by the way, this is my friend – she’s gonna have my baby one day.

The two ladies behind the counter’s eyes widened, jaws dropped and they both started squawking with excitement. I think Rachel would have crash-tackled me to the ground mid-sentence if we weren’t in public. The poor love was then accosted by the overly enthusiastic old chooks, happily flailing arms and fawning over how amazing she is and asking a million questions. “Can I give you a hug?” I’m pretty sure she made their day! While I am sorry for having embarrassed poor Rach (she’s a modest sort!), I’m glad I got to see surprise-over-enthusiastic-surrogate-fawning at least once (because she IS totally amazing!). She just rolls her eyes at me when I try to tell her how amazing she is – she had to suck it up in the shop!! So there’s a bit of sorry not sorry going on there, but I think I’ll be more tactful in the future when we’re together – along the lines of saying “an amazing friend of mine is having a baby and I love her so much and I want to buy all the things!!”, because that part is true! 🙂

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Too much cute! You can’t handle the cute!

Until next time 🙂

xoxo

8

My name is Rachel and I’m a surrogate

My name is Rachel and I’m a surrogate. It has been 5 days since I peed on a stick. They say the first step to dealing with your problem is first admitting that you have a problem. Maaaaannnn do I have it bad!

Marian has kindly allowed me to hijack her blog from time to time. My plan of slowly infiltrating every little aspect of her life is coming to fruition. I don’t think she’s onto me yet *insert evil laugh here*. When I read Marian’s blog I get the warm fuzzies because how she comes across in her blogs is exactly the same way she comes across in real life. There is an honesty to her posts that is rare to come by these days and I find it refreshing and inspiring, so I feel the need to share the love a little bit more and give the other side of the story. Not that it’s any less filled with cat pictures, squealing at various cute pictures of babies and or puppies and love and admiration.

First disclaimer: I’m nowhere near as eloquent as Marian, so excuse me while I fumble through this post. Second disclaimer: Marian and David are totally rad. How do I know? I just know. For the last 11 years I have been a part of the online infertility community in some way or another. It all started when I decided to donate my eggs. It’s a long story and one I feel I have told almost ad nauseam so I will try and keep it brief for those following at home. I’ve donated my eggs to three couples between 2005 and 2008 and as a result there were three gorgeous girls born from my donation. Did I mention I already have three totally awesome girlies of my own, cause I do!? Then I went onto becoming a surrogate. Why did I become a surrogate? I have no idea, so if you meet me and ask me that question don’t be offended if I just stare blankly at you and shrug my shoulders. Surrogacy has some incredible highs that I feel completely blessed to have been able to experience. As a result I’ve given birth to three gorgeous (if I do say so myself) little boys. With the highs also inevitably come the lows. There have been repeated negative cycles, constant second guessing of myself, heartbreaking miscarriages and devastating break downs in relationships. So again you’re probably asking yourself why? I know I ask myself that same question from time to time. I’ll try to answer it as best I can…..

Every now and then someone enters your life and takes you completely by surprise. If 2015 had one stand out moment for me it wasn’t what I expected it to be. After three agonizing years of university I graduated as a registered midwife at the end of 2014. A long held goal I’d had where I couldn’t see myself doing anything else except helping parents bring their babies into the world every day. You mean I get paid to do this?? Stellar moment right? Sure it’s been more than I expected it to be and work has been incredibly rewarding this year, but still…not my stand out moment. That moment kind of snuck up on me and happened when another surrogate practically threw Marian at me when I mentioned I might want to do surrogacy again. It was Good Friday 2015, the ding of my phone alerted me to a facebook message from said surrogate; I believe the conversation went something like this – “Rachel! You want to be a surrogate again? I know the perfect IP’s. Here…I’ll start a group chat”. And so the chat begun…and over 60 thousand facebook messages, countless hours of emailing (not to mention a few flights across Australia), and an awesome baby making mixed tape in progress, here is my stand out moment of 2015: meeting an incredible couple that are honest, refreshing, genuine, completely lovable, smart, kooky, witty, talented, adorable (should I stop here?? I don’t think there are enough affirming adjectives available to describe them) and man can they cook! All of these words of course don’t equate to how I feel about them, see….for a little while there I became somewhat disillusioned by surrogacy. While I have had two incredible experiences that had their challenging moments, but ended with outcomes that changed me and have helped me become the person I am today (which I hope is somewhere around the decent human being stakes), I have also had some moments where I questioned why I wanted to continue to be part of the surrogacy community and why on earth I would ever want to be a surrogate again. There were times when I felt that I had put so much of myself out there for others that I didn’t really know who I was anymore and in amidst those feelings I had lost so much of the passion I had surrounding that which drove me to become an altruistic person in the first place; namely to help other people. The drive to become a surrogate again wasn’t initially driven by the desire to help someone else, but merely because I felt like I had one more in me, so why not? Needless to say that by the time Marian was thrown at me I was beginning to wonder if there was any IP that I would get that gut feeling where I knew unequivocally that they were meant for me and I was meant for them (cue sappy romantic music….maybe some Celine Dion…she does love songs right?). And so a great romance was born…..Marian is the woman of my dreams; in a completely heterosexual way. When we emailed and messaged each other it was easy to forget that we had thoughts of surrogacy in mind simply because we lost ourselves in general conversation and I found myself wanting to know her whole life story, her likes and dislikes, which male celebrity was by far the sexiest (I’ll give you a hint…his name is Chris), and what are you having for dinner tonight? And oooohhhh…that’s right, you need a surrogate to have a baby? Well guess what – I totally have a uterus that’s currently vacant! Want to populate it?

Could I have been more obvious?

Could I have been more obvious?

Back to the second disclaimer – Marian and David are totally rad because they have reignited a passion in me that reminded me of who I was and why I want to help people. The amount of gratitude I have to them for that is staggering. I keep saying they are refreshing because in a sea of people that needed the help of a surrogate Marian found me, and not just in a way where – oh hey there you are, lets become friends and maybe make a baby….I feel like she found me floating on the remnants of the broken titanic after Jack had frozen to death and quietly slipped to the bottom of the sea. Ok – maybe not that dramatic, but for visual effect it will do. Marian’s honestly and respect to be completely open with me about how she is feeling be it good or bad is what makes her rad. David’s quiet unassuming wit and ability to send me bad glamour pictures out of the blue to show his support and friendship is what makes him totally rad. Why wouldn’t I want to have their baby? It’s totally a no brainer.

Draw me like one of your French girls Jack

Draw me like one of your French girls Jack

We’re now one cycle down and it wasn’t the outcome we hoped for and we know how Marian handled the two week wait….so how did I fare? I would say my days could drastically swing from – it’s totally cool whatever the outcome to – holy crapballs…..what the hell am I doing?!?! What if it’s negative….what was that twinge? Do my boobs feel sore? I think they feel sore. Is it period sore or pregnancy sore? Why haven’t they made an all seeing crystal ball yet damnit! And then the negative came and I was reminded why surrogacy is hard at times. When you want something so bad for someone else you feel a responsibility towards them to help them get that desired outcome. When it’s your body that is to give them said desired outcome and it doesn’t happen, the ability to feel like your body has failed them is overwhelming. So I cried as much as I didn’t want to because I know that it can take a few cycles to get pregnant, and I know that Marian and David would be ok regardless of the outcome but I cried because I want it so badly for them as I feel like they have given me so much over the few short months I’ve known them. They gave me back something that I had lost – my passion to help someone and the ability to become a better person because of it, therefore it’s natural to be caught up in the moment where you realise the cycle didn’t work and just go with it. Luckily it didn’t last long and Marian has an uncanny knack at making me smile like a goon and coaxing the joy back into my life when I’m not at my best and my husband has the unnerving ability to know when ice cream is needed. We stayed in our little cocoon of disappointment for a while and then we emerged ready for the next cycle.

Kundaberg transfer take two.

Lets do this!

13

Still awesome until proven otherwise

Being in and around the surrogacy community for a little while now, I’d read a lot about the two week wait being terrible. Like, an octopus suctioned to your face levels of terrible. This post will talk about how it went for me, and what I’ve learned from it.

The wait went for 7 days, but it felt like a lot less (probably due to Christmas being smack bang in the middle). Of those 7 days, I’d say that 1 was a day of anxiety for me (day 6), but I can also attribute that to other things like being far too merry with the Christmas food buffet, and the gym being closed.

All other days felt pretty normal – the thought of the two week wait certainly did enter my mind, but not in an anxious way. I felt grounded and realistic, but at the same time did entertain the thought of what might happen with a positive or negative outcome.

The extent of my thinking on a positive was:

  1. Literally crap pants
  2. Panic
  3. Cake

I kept myself busy. I went shopping. I rode my bike to the boxing day sales. Each day I visited a different shopping mall, to get some exercise out of the sun (or at least that’s what I told my wallet). I made a deal with myself that I’d go on one baby-related retail adventure per surrogacy milestone, so bought the most adorable romper to celebrate our first transfer (that’s a lie, I bought two because I couldn’t decide which colour I liked more).

IMG_6087

Disclaimer: model in use is not an actual child.

I showed hubby, he called them “adorbs”. The one in the picture is super small and will probably never end up used, but I’m a sucker for tiny cute things on sale. God help my wallet when there’s an actual, non-hypothetical tiny human to go shopping for.

It used to feel like a big deal (confronting and terrifying) to entertain the thought of buying baby things, but during the two week wait it just felt normal, so I went with it, hoping that retail therapy didn’t add any additional pressure on Rach.

As a serial optimist, I also made a list in my head of the good things that could come from a negative:

  1. Get to see Rachel again real soon – that will always be a joy for me, regardless of whether it’s due to a positive or negative prior.
  2. Get to deploy plan B of amusing ways to make transfer fun
  3. Get a bit of karma-evening-out happening. I’m so lucky in so many ways that I felt it was my turn for a different card or two to be dealt our way.
  4. A negative would teach me so much. It’d show me what this kind of loss feels like, and maybe one day I’d have something of substance to offer to someone who is in a similar dilly of a pickle. And if it happens again, and again and again, this is the point I’ll always come back to. This is the one I’ve been focusing on.

And so it came to be that we had a negative. My loyal readership should be thankful, because crapping one’s pants and panicking doesn’t make for the most enlightening blog post 🙂

So, how did those predictions of how I’d go pan out?

Prior to the news, I predicted that I was adequately prepared enough to not experience a drastic low-of-lows with a negative. Thankfully I was right about that part. I’ve always seen surrogacy as a process with no end date, not even after birth or granting parentage. I will always be an Intended Parent. The relationship I have with my surrogate doesn’t have an end date, being involved in the community has no end date, and all those other milestone dates are up in the air until they happen. So although I’ll let myself get excited about milestones, it doesn’t make sense to over-invest myself in dates before they occur. I’ve always been about the big picture; and so was very pleased to learn that those values picked me up and carried me through this round.

So when the two week wait ended with a negative, I thought ok, drat, but no problemo, we got this.

That first day was weird.

In my mind I felt the same as the day before, and the day before that, just happily coasting along, still optimistic as ever. Weirdly optimistic. I didn’t cry. I cried at the final episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I cry on the plane when they play the Qantas commercial just before landing. Am I all of a sudden a heartless sea witch destined to live life imprisoned in an emotional desolate wasteland? What’s going on?

My main concern during that first day was that Rachel and hubby were feeling loved, and that my current optimism remained sensitive to how the others on the team might be feeling. I felt calm, collected and at peace with our negative, but I needed others on the team to know that their feelings are just as valid, irrespective of what they are. I wondered if either it hadn’t sunk in yet, or if perhaps I had prepared myself way too well for whatever the outcome, and so was actually – shock horror – ok.

I was ok – so ok that it didn’t sit well with me.

I wondered if that would change. It did.

During that first day, I spent a lot more time looking outwards than I did inwards. Most of my thoughts were about Rachel. As day 2 rolled around, my heart was heavy for her, far more than for hubby and I. I felt it wasn’t fair that she had to feel the weight of the outcome in her heart when she’s been nothing but amazing. This beautiful creature who’s come in to my life is not only helping to grow a family and saving my ass from serious illness or death in the process, but now has to experience her own kind of loss too. Damn it. That sucks. I know she wants this to be smooth sailing for me as much as I want it for her, so I knew she was hurting for me. I was hurting for her, too. I was flat.

I didn’t have room for anyone apart from Rachel and hubby in my bubble that day. I was pleased that I’d been priming friends and family with “don’t call us, we’ll call you” with any news, and told them it’d be a while before we’d be sharing any. A few people knew Rachel was coming to visit, and a very few select friends will now know the outcome of this round through this post, but beyond that, I am very content to sit on this one myself.

Sad isn’t the right word to describe it. My heart is filled with such gratefulness and love that I was still a long way off from sadness. I just felt weighty, but never to the point of thinking I wouldn’t bounce back, and never losing sight of all that is good 🙂

And then day 3 rolled around. I found myself smiling more than not. Excited. Bouncy again, and looking forward to the next two week wait 🙂 All in all, I think that round 1 was very kind to me, and I hope that round 2 and any that follow are just as kind 🙂

2

Awesome until proven otherwise

Transfer was great! Little ‘Pip’ as our embryo is now code named, is now on board with Rachel 🙂 We giggled like school girls the whole day. If I get to have transfer day again some time in the future, well, there are far worse things that could happen 🙂

133666 KUNDE

PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) is a funny kind of thing. It’s the time in between transferring an embryo, and the time it takes for confirmation of pregnancy or lack thereof, during what is known as the two week wait. For some it’s a really nerve wracking time, especially if IVF cycles have gone awry in the past (this is an understatement for some people – the two week wait can be hell).

Not being a particular fan of hell myself, I’m hoping to steer-clear of it. I’m not sure how, but so far I’m far from it. I’m thinking that a steady stream of “business as usual” might be the way to go. I feel as though there’s definitely an expectation for it to be a hard wait, but so far, no signs. I’ve had a lot of experience dealing with anxiety in the past, so I do wonder if this means I’m better prepared for spotting the signs and dealing with it before it gets out of hand.

So far I feel like the 2WW is a really exciting surrogacy bonus – most people in the non-IVF world only get to find out when they are pregnant, but we get to celebrate a milestone well before then! I really feel like it’s important to celebrate the progression of a surrogacy adventure, even if a particular milestone leads to a result not all had hoped for. That in itself is a milestone, as it signifies reaching another step along the way, equally as valid regardless of a positive or negative outcome.

I am actually really interested to learn how I’ll feel if we get a negative – thus far I can’t really pick it. Stay tuned faithful readers – will I be transformed from a bouncy ball to a blubbering blob? Only time will tell 🙂

Anyway, I told Rachel that she doesn’t have to tell me she’s doing or done done a pregnancy test until she wants to. I have wiped all dates out of my mind. The exciting bonus of having short term memory problems is that I’m really quite excellent at forgetting things. So I’ll have a vague idea as days pass that we’re getting closer, but I won’t know until she’s ready to tell me 🙂 This seems kinda fun because I like surprises (even if they’re not good surprises), and also should hopefully reduce a little stress for Rach, in that she can choose to do it whenever she wants, and choose to tell me whenever she wants to also.

The other reason why being PUPO is great, is that there aren’t too many opportunities in life where you get the chance to jam pregnancy tests in to a bouquet of soluble fibre and nursing pads, and present them to an unsuspecting friend 🙂

bouquet

I also just had to share this amazingly hilarious and entirely appropriate card that Rachel gave us right after transfer:

IMG_5852

We’ll be awesome until proven otherwise, no matter how this cycle goes 🙂

10

No WAY!

Oooooooohhhhhhhh my goodness. Oh. My. Gosh. Golly. Jeebus. All of the other faux-swear-words I can think of. I had to come here to let off some steam.

Flights are booked. We’re doing this NEXT WEEK! 😀

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Right, now that that’s out of my system… I’ve been reflecting on what it means to feel grateful lately, and more specifically, opportunities where we have the choice to replace a lot of other feelings with gratitude.

Last week I was sick. I mean *really* sick, not Lupus sick (all is pretty steadily uneventful on that front thankfully!), just a good old fashioned virus. It’s been a long time since I’ve lost a whole week to illness, so that’s what I chose to focus on – how incredibly fortunate I am to have times of wellness. So many people with my cocktail of disease can’t say the same. Last week wasn’t at all easy, but all in all I was glad to have a reminder of just how healthy I have been lately.

Since learning to adapt to having chronic illness in the co-pilot’s seat, I realise just how much choice I have about the way I steer my heart. I have a choice to be grateful. That’s how I see surrogacy too. How incredibly lucky am I to be here, in such an amazing community of people, to meet so many amazing people from all kinds of backgrounds, with a common thread of love and support running so deep.

Gratitude can replace other feelings too. I read a really good article the other day that shows how we have the opportunity to say thank you rather than sorry (check it out here), which prompted me to write this blog post.

When I first came in to the surrogacy world, I had a lot of feelings of guilt. Guilt that I was putting someone else at risk to mitigate my own, that I was putting my own desire for a family at the expense of another’s, and just basically allowing someone to do something for me that I would never in a million years be able to say thank you enough for. It didn’t sit right, and I wondered whether this guilty feeling would ever end. At times I felt as though it would prevent me from being able to ever “do” surrogacy.

I’m not saying that those feelings have disappeared – I think they’re still there and always will be; however instead of feeling like there’s a rock sitting in the bottom of my tummy because of guilt, more and more, I’m beginning to replace the guilt with gratitude, or as the article above says, replacing the “I’m sorry” with “thank you”.

Here’s a list of things I’m grateful for at this very minute:

  • Having the mental space to realise that now is an opportune time to slow down, reflect and learn. We are approaching a big milestone in our surrogacy journey, and I want to soak it in!
  • Allowing myself to be excited! I think it’s important to celebrate every opportunity for excitement, because withholding excitement with too much caution denies us of so many opportunities to be content in life.
  • Watching my husband get excited, and feeling more involved. Granted, his version of excitement is outwardly very different from mine, but I can tell on the inside that he has a genuine excitement, which I am so grateful to be able to witness, because it is something I felt I was denying him when I discovered I would not be able to carry.
  • Seeing the look of excitement on Rachel’s face, hearing it in her voice, being able to feel it even though we’re half a country away. I am so grateful that we will have an opportunity to share that excitement in person so soon!
  • Realising that all of the above dot points relate to excitement.
  • Excitement!

I am under no impression that this sweet spot will last forever, but I have resolved to fully embrace it while it’s here. I know we’re likely to have bumps, roundabouts and detours along the way, but right now, in this very moment, I am Joy 🙂