Monthly Archives: April 2016

Hello Week 5!

And so begins the journey of Baby Coco and Auntie Helen. We’ve already started our adventure on a positive foot and I’m so excited to find out what the next ~35 weeks have in store!

Week 4 Highlights:

Getting back such a strong number on our beta result was for sure the high point of the week. I was a little nervous starting out at 64, but seeing that we more than doubled in 48 hours was a huge relief. I never found any definitive research about frozen embryos being slower starters than fresh ones, but it’s definitely a possible explanation and hopefully anyone who reads this who is worried about getting a number that starts out low can be reassured that anything is possible, so keep the faith!

We now hang out for the next two weeks until the first ultrasound May 11 to confirm heartbeat. That will be week 7, also when my first online class to earn my MA MFT starts back up, so it will be a busy week! Will just be biding my time until then, starting to feel more and more sleepy. It felt very good to take a 3 hour nap today. Exhaustion is my strongest early pregnancy symptom and it has hit full force.

Week 4 Lowlight:

My itchy, itchy butt.

What gives? I don’t remember having this happen in the previous IVF  pregnancy (did I block it out?!) The PIO – progesterone in oil injections – are causing these welt like hives to appear at the injection site, and like a mosquito bite, it feels sooooo good to scratch. I shouldn’t, but man, I’ve been butt scratching non-stop. Each one goes away after about two days, but since I’m still on daily injections, a new one pops right up to take its place. Ah, the joys of TMI in pregnancy.

I never took progressive bump photos with any of my other pregnancies, but since this will in all likelihood be my last hurrah, I kinda want to take them to see my body changes this time around. None this week though, I’ll wait til the ultrasound happens to start. Have a beautiful week everyone!! All the apple trees are in blossom right now and the hills are a sage green. Spring is a lovely season here.


HCG Beta Results

The results are in. Drumroll please….

Mon 4/18 10dp5dt: 64

Weds 4/20 12dp5dt: 176!!!!

Wow! Wednesday’s beta didn’t just double, it crushed Monday’s like a Nordic downhill skier on a gold medal run.

Although that was a big rise in levels, I think it’s safe to say we are still in the singleton number range, no splitters here. Baby decided to get all nice and settled.

Know what that means? It’s time to step up my Christmas gifting this year to level: baby. How cool is our due date??

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Why Surrogacy? A Surrogate Answers

Four years ago during my pregnancy with B, I expected to be asked this question from friends, family, and acquaintances far more often than it was actually asked. Why choose to be a surrogate? Why dedicate over 9 months of your time and put your body through the stress of months of hormone injections and a full term pregnancy just to help another couple start a family?

In fact, the question I DID get asked the most often, “was it hard for you to give up the baby?” (perhaps another blog topic for another time) came as a bigger surprise than the W-H-Y? I suppose primarily because this was never anything I questioned myself. Little B was never mine to give up in anyway so much as I was handing him back after a season of safekeeping. And I have the same attitude now carrying his sibling.

I wonder sometimes if my emotional attachment functioning works differently from other women. While I enjoyed the times I was pregnant with my own kids, I quite honestly prefer the bonding with them when they’ve been outside my womb over the time spent in. Fetal development is just one part of our lives none of us remember. I eagerly counted the days until my due dates, imagining what they would look like, the sound of their cries, if they would be good sleepers…the exact same things my intended parents are imagining. Sure, pregnancy can be viewed as this ~sacred~ rite of femininity, a tribute to fertility and goddesses of bounty. For me, it always been more of a means to an end.

I often come across in articles on surrogacy, which for the most part I’ve quit reading because they try too hard to be scandalous or sensational, that women who become surrogates say they do so because they have easy pregnancies. I can completely relate to this. We don’t say this as a point of bragging or smuggitude – believe me, I get how shitty pregnancy can be and why some people swear it off “never again!” after having a baby, especially when there are complications. For me, and for these other women who say pregnancy comes easy for them, it’s just the way it is. All 4 of my pregnancies have been downright boring (but in a good way!!). I never experienced morning sickness. No bleeding. I’ve never had any gestational diabetes nor preeclampsia. My babies were all born full-term at 39+6, 41, 39+1, and 40+3. Really the most unusual thing to happen was that my oldest was delivered C-Section because she was complete breech – the others have been subsequent VBACs. Knowing her personality now, the breech thing makes a lot of sense. Headstrong, that one….likes doing things her own way (kind of like her mom). I am 4 for 4 in basically floating through easy pregnancies like a rare breed of sparkly unicorn butterfly woman – and that’s okay. I like the way my body feels pregnant. My attitude and emotional state feels more balanced in this time. So in a way, sharing this sparkly uterine gift I have to help another woman unable to carry a pregnancy of her own feels very fulfilling.

I dont believe families suffering infertility should be denied the chance to become parents, especially when they desire so deeply and have the means to provide a child with a loving home, simply because some part(s) doesn’t work right. Being a good parent has nothing to do with whether or not you’re “meant” to have children because of your biology. For every one sensational surrogacy story that makes it to the media slog cycle, there are hundreds more abused and neglected children whose irresponsible, fertile, parents brought them into this world only to endure a brief existence of suffering. How is that fair? Adoption can be a wonderful calling. I have adopted family members and friends who have led amazing and loving lives thanks to adoption. I believe it is just ONE option, however, in the great process of family building and that people who call on those who seek assisted reproductive technologies to “just adopt” maybe take a look at adopting or fostering a child or two themselves. People experiencing infertility shouldn’t feel as if they have to default to adoption if that isn’t the path they choose to follow.

Oh boy, this is turning into a long thing…

Another reason why I quit reading surrogate stories in the news is because there is always a question raised on whether surrogates are being exploited due to the potential socioeconomic and wealth difference between the surrogate and the intended parents. As a real-life, genuine surrogate person receiving a contracted amount of compensation let me tell you in no way am I exploited. My compensation is distributed monthly throughout the duration of the pregnancy as opposed to one lump sum at the end, so in absolutely no terms is anyone buying or paying for a baby so much as I’m paid for a service provided. Does the comp money help my family? Absolutely. I feel we are being helped just as I am helping my intended parents grow their family. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship and this is not something I signed up for “just for the money”. My husband is a public school teacher and I am a returning graduate student stay at home mom of 3. You can deduce our financial situation from those facts – perhaps this speaks more on how poorly we pay educators in this country and what esteem we hold them in compared to most other first world nations where teaching is a revered and respected profession, but that’s a whole nother topic for a whole nother day… The financial component is not and should not be the sole motivating factor of why a woman chooses surrogacy. It isn’t for me and it isn’t for most women. The problems of exploitation lie in the unregulated, legally ambiguous zones of controversy in countries like India, Thailand, and parts of Eastern Europe where women can and have been taken advantage of. I am thankful that California, the state I live in, has legal protections in place to prevent against such things and that every step along the way of my surrogate experience has involved FULL and INFORMED legal consent. I support stronger and safer regulation in this industry so there IS a standard to how surrogacy arrangements should be entered with consent of all parties and the best interests of the child always of the utmost importance. When people feign concern that wholy informed and consenting women such as me are being taken advantage of, I want to shout, “do you not trust us with decisions over our own bodies?!” but then we have that problem of choice in this country, now don’t we?

To wrap this up, I made the choice to be a surrogate because I saw firsthand how it helped a friend of mine complete her family when she had her twin daughters via a surrogate. It was something I firmly believed I was capable of helping out another family with, thanks to my talented baby-growin’ ute, in a sense of paying it forward and doing my part to help make the world a little more fair. To know that the child I carried for 9 months would thrive with a set of amazing parents who tell him how very loved and wanted he is every day. I chose to make this journey again because I developed a relationship with a family so kind and open and loving as my own that helping them grow by another one is my honor and privilege. So if you ever ask “why?” well now you know.


The Pee Test Express

All aboard the emotional rollercoaster of the pee test express! In order to ride, your hormones must be raging and you better be prepared to accept that as easily as the pee test giveth, it can just as soon taketh away. Warning: if you’re not careful, you may also get wet.

On Day 5 and the morning of 6, I tested to a BUN – Big Ugly Negative. It wasn’t even a  big fat negative because there was nothing there to call fat. In the immense hormonal and emotional state I’m in right now, I emailed IM because I know she’s just as much on pins and needles waiting as I am, to let her know the result and all my anxieties about what could cause a failed transfer. Yesterday afternoon, after a tearful but optimistic phone call (they still have one embryo still in play from the last cycle, so not all hope is lost!) I went ahead and used the last HPT in the package and lo and behold, the faintest of faint lines appeared! It was barely there, but even I couldn’t miss it.

Baby! I hope that hearing your Moms voice made you go, “hey! I’m here! Stop talking bad about me being slow or non-existent. I’ll make myself known when I damn well please. Mama, please keep talking to me. I love hearing your voice .”

I went out to procure another pee stick for my arsenal this morning, hoping to see a stronger line. While it wasn’t as blazing flamboyant pink as I was hoping for, there’s definitely a darker line.

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Moral of this tale: if you choose to take HPTs and discover on day 5 after a 5 day transfer (the first day when a lot of women report a positive HPT result) a BFN – DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!!  It’s not over until the BETA levels come back (even then, I’ve read stories of extremely low levels resulting into a pregnancy). This is my completely unscientific theory, but maybe it just takes the frozen embryos an extra day or so to warm back up.

I really really hope that line gets darker tomorrow and we’re not looking at a possibility of a chemical pregnancy. Please hang in there, little angel! We are all praying for you!

My Beta test will be Monday.

I always want the weekend go on forever, but with this waiting, it will be the longest weekend of my life.

 


4dp5dt

Not much to report on today other than I have to say I am greatly missing coffee. I feel bad complaining about having to give up the liquid bean because so many women experiencing infertility give up SO much more just to even try to get pregnant, that me as a fertile whining “waaaaahhh, muh coffee” makes me feel petulant. But seriously, I really miss having my morning cup this time around.

One thing I find interesting about carrying a surrogate pregnancy versus my own is that I feel a stronger sense of duty or commitment for taking better care of myself than had this been potential kid #4 for us. Would I make the choice to drink that coffee? I probably would. Because I think I kept up caffeine consumption with kid #3 (and he’s turned out okay so far!). With my older two daughters pregnancies, I followed the rule book pretty closely – well, except for that whole travel to China for a month bit while pregnant with my oldest part, that might have been a bit risky – but I definitely halted the caffeine, the deli meats, the cat litter box cleaning, and the booze obviously for those 10 months.

Being pregnant and responsible for someone else’s child turns on the need for me to go above and beyond. I know my intended parents are reassured that I’m not some raging alcoholic floozy only in this for the comp money – but I do like to give them a sense that I know how much this little one matters to them, how important he/she is, because my own little bean sprouts are my everythings, and if I were in their position I would hope that the person responsible for growing my heart-outside-my-body would take just as good of care.

Anyway…I’m not peeing on any sticks until Thursday, when the pregnancy tests I ordered online are scheduled to arrive. I could go earlier, but at our grocery store they keep the pregnancy tests all locked up so you have to ask for assistance for someone to open the cage and I hate having to do that so Thursday it is!

I don’t want to speculate too much, but it’s Day 4 and this will be pregnancy #5 for me. Do I feel pregnant? Yes. I do. I would say that I am beginning to experience the all same symptoms in common with how all the others started. A heavier, bloated, “full” feeling in my uterus. The urge to urinate more frequently kicked in today. And when I accidentally brushed my hand up against my breast today, it was almost as if it yelled “hey, watch it!” at me. I know nothing is official until I get that BETA reading, which will actually be Monday the 18th. I thought they were going to do it next Friday so not having to wait as long is a nice surprise. But…if I were to bet on things after 4 babies and how my body has reacted at a similar time, I would say we have some good news coming our way. Thursday! Knowing my UPS delivery guy it will be a late in the day delivery. More waiting.

This is my favorite coffee cup, by the way. As a kid growing up with an old lady name, it was very hard to find anything cool with my name on it amidst the many offerings of Jennifer and Jessica key chains and slap bracelets. When my parents finally found me a Helen something, at 8-years-old, I thought a mug was just about the most unthrilling gift ever. Now? I am very grateful for this personalized sacred stimulant vessel.

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Two Week Wait

Here’s a list of five fun and relaxing things you can do while you wait out the time between your embryo transfer and a pregnancy test.

  1. Marathon a new streaming series (Vikings!)
  2. Take your kids out to a movie (I hear Zootopia is quite entertaining for children and adults alike)
  3. Heck, take yourself and a partner or pal to a movie
  4. Check out a fun touristy area of your city (Seaport Village!) and go in allllll the tschotke shops
  5. Call up your Grandma, or older relative if applicable, and take them out to lunch. Listen to stories about the good old days. That could take up some serious time.

Well, these are all things I SHOULD be doing instead of poring over Wikipedia pages on embryo implantation, scouring deep into internet searches for “implantation symptoms” and every time I lie down, questioning every twinge, “was that a cramp? I think it totally felt like a cramp.”

Once you’ve gotten to the point of wondering if your pinopodes are waving ‘hi’to the passing embryoblast and if that new embryo is hatching out of its zona  pellucida like a young spring chickadee, well, my friend you have delved too far into the anxiety of the two week waiting period.

Take deep breaths. Relax. Whatever will be, will be. (She tells herself).

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With Me, But Not Of Me

Four years ago was not your time. It came close as they wanted you to be a twin to your brother, but his journey was meant to be a solo ride, as is yours beginning today.

Your mother and father have dreamed about you since that day nearly four years ago, and while I can make no promises or guarantees of your arrival, I can put my faith in the doctors and in my body that the medication protocol all worked the way it should and come nine months from now, we will all be surrounding you as you breathe in your first gurgling shriek of air, all your family and friends welcoming you to this planet with overwhelming love and warmth.

So please stick around, little one. It’s your time. Things are so very good here. It’s time to make the change from frozen angel, to a real one.

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