The Stork Chronicles
July 13, 2016

Hey, everyone.

I’ve been putting off writing this update because it’s still a sore subject for me, but here we go. Unfortunately, our embryo transfer was unsuccessful and I am, in fact, NOT pregnant. There’s a different kind of sadness with this negative pregnancy test than with anything I’ve experienced previously. The grief I feel for the intended parents has been overwhelming, and I just hated knowing that they got the same sympathetic, sad phone call from the fertility clinic as I did. I never met the intended father, but the IM is such a sweet and genuine person, and more than anything I was looking forward to seeing the expression on her face at the exact second she became a mom and got to hold her baby for the first time.

The embryo that we transferred was their only embryo, and they aren’t going to be trying surrogacy again. I don’t know the exact reason for them ending their journey, but I think the worst part is that they didn’t even tell me themselves, they just had our coordinator relay the information. It’s a little hurtful that they would be willing to have me carry their baby for them, but when it came to telling me bad news they couldn’t be straightforward. I totally understand the sadness and other emotions surrounding this situation, because I’m experiencing similar feelings. I just feel like there was no closure on this chapter of my life, and it’s a little hard to navigate through right now.

I’m honestly not sure what I’m doing next. If I’ve learned anything since signing up for this in December, it’s that this is an emotionally draining process, and you have to be pretty strong to get through it in one piece. I’m not sure if I can handle another round of meet and greets and trying to find another good “match” for me. The past two couples I’ve met with have been incredible people who deserve to be parents, and neither one of them is any closer to having a baby in their arms. It’s hard to see, and even harder to be a part of.

One of my dearest friends said something to me that I’ve since screen shotted and keep referring back to. She said, “Maybe you were only meant to have this experience and not complete the process. I know it’s difficult to see now but I pray you can find closure later on in seeing why this happened. Maybe you going through this process encouraged just one single person who is going to now be a surrogate for a wonderful family- and that kid will do great things in 30 years.” (I love you for sending me this by the way- it totally changed my perspective when I was having a rough time. You know who you are <3 )

That might be wishful thinking, or stretching it, but I’m choosing to believe that it’s possible. Even if my experience hasn’t impacted anyone else, it’s definitely opened my eyes and made me want to be a better mother, and I’m forever grateful for the experience, even if it ends here.

June 15, 2016

Hey all :) It’s been SUCH a long time it seems since I wrote last, but honestly it’s just been a series of ups and downs and I’ve been working on distracting myself to get through the anxiety of this whole “hurry up and wait” process. I have a tendency to go straight to having a negative attitude whenever something goes wrong (I’m working on it!), so broadcasting it was not anything I was interested in doing. Luckily I have some great friends & family who always know exactly what to say when I get like that.

So, let’s see. The downs first– My transfer date was supposed to be a month and a half ago, but between my cycle being two weeks off and then getting a cyst because of it, we’ve had to delay awhile. It’s SO frustrating when you’ve been wanting to go all in with this process for so long and it keeps getting pushed back,  but then of course I think about the intended parents and how they must be feeling and I know it doesn’t even compare.

The intended mother has been pretty distant ever since our in-person meeting, which has bummed me out honestly because when we met, she made it seem as if she was interested in forming a friendship rather than strictly a business relationship. Today I finally got a glimpse of what she’s probably feeling though, and without talking about it directly I think I understand her better. I had emailed her to tell her about today’s appointment and wrote how excited I was for her, and she replied that she was getting really excited and anxious but trying to keep her feelings at bay. I have absolutely no basis for comparison to the way it must feel being an inactive participant in having your own baby. With Leah, we only had to try for a month before we found out we were expecting, and Nicholas was an “Oh sh–” baby, so all I can do is imagine how she must feel reading updates from me and trying to be both optimistic and realistic at the same time.

She’s going to be at the embryo transfer next week (This is where the ups start!), so I’m hopeful that once she gets that PPT she will stop holding back and we can start bonding more.

Next week! Monday. 6 days away. The transfer is FINALLY happening! It has been this faraway concept and discussion topic for me all year thus far, and now it’s really going to happen. I have been on this rollercoaster of emotions ever since I originally signed up- excited, nervous, hopeful, disappointed, discouraged, excited again, optimistic, impatient…and now I have to add terrified and anxious to that list. I can’t even explain why. I truly don’t think I will have any difficult attachment to this baby. I’m happy with our family and don’t feel any desire to add to it, so I don’t think it’s that. I think I’m mostly anxious that the transfer won’t be successful and that the intended parents will be disappointed in me, or maybe even worried that they chose the wrong surrogate for their journey. Those feelings of inadequacy always seem to creep out at the most inopportune times, and of course for me it’s when there’s LESS THAN A WEEK before it happens.

And then on the other hand, if it’s successful, that means I’ll be pregnant! What an exciting and strange feeling when just a year ago, I knew next to nothing about surrogacy and just knew that I never planned on being pregnant ever again. Things can change in the blink of an eye, it’s crazy.

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             My daily setup for the next 8 weeks!

All the meds are starting tomorrow, and there’s another cause for anxiety surrounding that. Progesterone in oil, or PIO, is the main one, and I’ll be getting daily intramuscular shots in the behind from my lovely husband until the end of the first trimester. My husband-who hates shots, blood, or anything deemed “gross”- is going to be responsible for the most important medication a surrogate has to take. We’ll see how this goes! On top of that I’m still taking estrogen, adding two more oral medications, and then a suppository which I won’t get into out of sheer disgust 😉 Needless to say, it might be rough living for the other inhabitants of our household who have to deal with me daily, so you all should definitely pray for them.

 

The side effects might be rough, and I’m learning that this side of things surely isn’t glamorous, but the end result will be so worth it and I just can’t wait for the end result.

 

April 5, 2016

Well, it seems like I was complaining about this slow process way too much, so now things are moving at the speed of light! Last week, t12418055_10208258158789075_2835285919174008135_nhe contract between myself and my new IP’s (intended parents) was signed, so things are locked in and official.  We are all extremely excited, and I’ve talked to the intended mother more in the past week than I did the entire time I was working with the previous couple. I’m hoping that we can remain friends after this experience is over, so it’s reassuring that we seem to be on the same page.

Because I’m impatient by nature, I already had my first appointment at the fertility clinic today. I really think that after spending the afternoon there, I have more appreciation and gratefulness for Leah and Nicholas than I ever have before. I knew that infertility is very common (I learned today that over 1.5 million women in the US have infertility issues), but when I walked into the waiting room and saw nearly every seat taken by couples and women, my heart immediately broke for all of them. I never understood how lucky I am until now! It definitely opened my eyes and gave me an entirely new perspective that I’m going to try to think of on days when being a SAHM seems a little too tough for me.

My IVF coordinator and doctor are both wonderful. They broke down the process and schedule for the next two months with me and answered all of the questions I had been waiting for the chance to ask! It was a little uncomfortable meeting them for the first time wearing only  a paper shirt (open in the front of COURSE) and tiny paper blanket on my lap, but naturally I made things awkward so we could just move on to the big stuff.

**If you’re a guy reading this and don’t want to know the intricacies of IVF, don’t read any further! There will be several mentions of the word “uterus” :) **

My appointment today was to establish the baseline of my lining to see how much thicker it needs to become before the transfer. The doctor checked this by performing a saline ultrasound, which is essentially the same as an ordinary ultrasound except for prior to starting, a catheter is inserted and saline is injected to “open up” the  uterus for better viewing. It sounded pretty terrible to me when she described it, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined so for that I’m grateful! Fortunately, everything looks great- “beautiful” and “perfect” are the words she used, but I’m going to stick with great when referring to my own uterus. We now have a medication schedule and I’m on track to have my embryo transfer on May 23rd! So close and yet so far away!

Things are finally speeding up, and I’m grateful for all of my friends who have congratulated me and been supportive so far. I’ve heard that surrogates often get judged but I haven’t heard anything like that, at least to my face. Thank you for being interested and reading about my journey!

-Lauren

March 21, 2016

One of the biggest lessons I think I’m supposed to be getting out of this journey is that sometimes, things are just out of my control and that’s for a purpose. I can easily point out some of my main flaws as being impatient, slightly obsessive compulsive, and most definitely neurotic. I LOVE when things work out just the way I plan them out in my head, and when something falls out of place it can easily ruin my entire day, week, month…even year if I’m being super dramatic.

Last week, my contract fell through with the intended parents I was hoping to carry a baby for. I spent the entire week feeling completely guilty and thought about just moving on past my desire to be a surrogate. What I had hoped wouldn’t be a deal breaker for them in the changes to the contract were indeed something that we couldn’t come to an agreement on, so we had to part ways. I felt as if it was my fault because my opinions on some things had changed from the time I originally signed on with the agency, to our meeting with the lawyer. As confident as I was that I was making the right choice for my family, I HATE being flaky or backing out on my word, so I was worried about what the IPs thought about me. They had never taken interest in emailing or corresponding directly instead of through our coordinator, so I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out to clarify things, which made everything much more unsettling.

Knowing that if I wanted to continue with my dreams of being a surrogate I was going to have to completely start from scratch again opened the door to a ton of doubts and hesitations on my part. If it takes too long, there is a chance that I won’t have much time to bounce back and work on preparing for the police physical exam. Since I’m planning on leaving the island before my husband does, I need to be cleared to work out so I’m ready to get a headstart on our life outside of the military! I spoke with my coordinator and expressed my feelings, and she sent me a profile of a couple who just became in need of a new surrogate because their journey with a previous woman had ended unsuccessfully. My coordinator said they were ready to get started right away, so I decided to take a look. After sending the profile to JD, we both agreed that, online at least, they seemed like genuine and kind people, so I decided to set up a meeting.

I met with the potential intended mother this afternoon, and OH MY GOSH. Everything that happens in my life has a purpose! She was incredible. Once again, I was super anxious and slightly nauseous about the idea of being judged on all aspects of myself. The second we met and started talking though, I knew that there was potential for us to have an awesome journey together. She has been the recipient of not one but TWO kidney transplants, and her experiences have led her to have an appreciative outlook on life that I thought was incredibly refreshing. Her and I seem to share a lot of similar personality traits (the good ones!), and her description of her husband to me reminded me a lot of JD. This time, I didn’t even have to wait a few hours to get feedback because she said at the end of our conversation that she felt great about me and wanted to start a journey together! Let me tell you- it’s an awesome but indescribable feeling to hear someone say to your face that they want you to bring their child into the world. I’m truly honored and excited, even if it means I’m back to refreshing my email every ten minutes waiting for updates.

As excited as I am to start over again, it’s becoming clear to me that there is a higher purpose to this roller coaster I’m on right now. I’m so quick to lose hope and get discouraged the second that things start looking like they’re going downhill. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m being taken on this ride, made to feel out of control and disoriented, only to be shown that eventually I’ll end right side up on solid ground. I just hope that eventually I’ll get the hint and enjoy the ride.

 

March 2, 2016

Today is SUCH a great day. I was starting to lose hope that this journey was going to happen for us because of what seemed like the LONGEST wait for news with no updates. Just as I was starting to get discouraged, I woke up to an email with my copy of the contract! Now that I’ve seen it, I realize why “forever” (but actually just about six weeks) took so long– this thing is over 30 pages long! I feel a little paranoid for being so anxious the past few weeks now. I think it’s because once I make up my mind to do something, I want to start right away, so having a delay that was entirely out of my hands was extremely hard for me.

The majority of the contract is self-explanatory and items that the intended parents and I have already discussed, so it was a pretty easy read. Unfortunately, in the time since we had our first meeting, I have decided that I’ll only allow one embryo to be transferred at a time, so I’m hoping that this change won’t cause too much of a debate or hold up. I felt bad initially because I totally understand how they want to give each try their best shot by implanting two, but after talking with women in a surrogacy support group and doing research, I just can’t take the risk of both embryos splitting and becoming pregnant with multiples.  For anyone who knows me and my children- there is just NO way I could be put on bed rest and somehow take care of Nicholas. That kid would either escape, or burn the house down, or both. He definitely requires a mom who can be active and keep a close eye on him!

In the time that I’ve been waiting, I’ve been going through a ton of different emotions. At first I was so excited, especially right after I met the intended parents because they are so wonderful and truly deserve their chance to become parents. As a week or two went by I started to get a little impatient, but that was mostly because I was just really looking forward to this journey and being kept in the dark was making the time drag on.  But to be honest, the past few weeks or so I have really just been feeling apprehensive. When I decided to do this, in my head I assumed I would be pregnant all of 2016, would have 2017 to bounce back and get into awesome shape, and then I would leave the island at the beginning of 2018 to apply to the police academy and begin my career. The longer it took to hear from the surrogacy agency, the more fearful I got that things aren’t going to happen quickly enough and the timeline that I’ve oh-so-carefully planned out isn’t going to go as planned.

But man, waking up this morning to that email changed everything! I took a second to sit back and imagine what the intended parents must be feeling. If I’m anxious, I’m sure their anxiety is magnified by ten. I know that God is sending me on this journey to help a wonderful couple become parents, and I’m going to have to put my faith in Him and His timeline a little more instead of trying to constantly be in control.

JD and I meet with our lawyer this week to go over the contract with a fine tooth comb and address any issues or make changes if need be. If all goes well, the next steps could be happening pretty quickly! Here’s to hoping, at least :)

 

January 24, 2016

 

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I realized that I never posted an update after my first meeting with the potential IP’s! As it turns out, they called our surrogacy coordinator six hours after our meeting ended (making it midnight!) and told her that they really liked me and wanted to work with me as their surrogate! I was completely floored that I didn’t have to wait long to hear their feedback, but so happy that we seemed to all be on the same page since I thought they were perfect for me almost right away!

It’s now been almost three weeks since we met, and I’ll admit that I had no idea the process required so much waiting. Initially, I was told that the IP’s just had to fill out some paperwork on their end, and then we would begin the contract draft and revision phase. I assumed that would take a few days at the most, but I’ve heard nothing from them or from my agency,  and I’m starting to get anxious! I was trying to hold off until I had more to post about, but at this point who knows when that will be.

In the meantime, I’ve been staying pretty busy and trying to keep from checking my email for updates every ten minutes (now it’s every 20 and that’s with me actively forcing myself not to refresh). I’ve been living here in Hawaii for nearly a year now, but I don’t feel like I’ve put down roots yet as far as creating lasting friendships with anyone here. I’ve always had a problem connecting with other women, but it seems to be even more difficult when you’re a younger mom. I’ve made it one of my unofficial New Years resolutions to find my “mama tribe” and create friendships with people that extend beyond “How are you?” and “Oh I’m doing well”. I’m starting with a new connect group at my church, specifically for moms and including childcare in the room right next to where we meet! I get a good vibe so far, so I hope it continues that way.

Here’s to hoping I have an update soon with good news on all fronts!

January 4, 2016

Today was a huge day for me! After stressing and psyching myself out for the past few days, I met with a potential couple for the first time today with our surrogacy coordinator. It was definitely not what I expected, but in the best way possible!

I have been worrying myself sick over this meeting since we scheduled it earlier in the week. I think it was a combination of not expecting this process to be moving so quickly, coupled with my deep seated fear of criticism and rejection.  The idea that you sit across from someone, get grilled with questions and judged on your appearance and your answers, and then you leave while they go over everything they liked/disliked about you is terrifying.

After talking to my family and best friend about my worries, I decided to go into the meeting without putting up any sort of facade. After all, my true personality would end up coming out eventually, and who wants to put on a show for a long period of time?

The couple I met with was absolutely amazing. They told me their story, including their seven year journey to conceive a child along with their seven miscarriages. As she (I’ll call her L for all intents & purposes) poured her heart out to me, I realized that she didn’t seem at all sorry for herself or discouraged in any way. Her husband (M) said that they have had hard days and times when they wanted to give up, but throughout their experience they realized that there was no point to being depressed, and that everything would happen for a reason. I think it was then when I realized that I have to do whatever I can to help their dream of becoming parents come true. Seeing a couple that is so in love and positive after such a difficult journey is really awe inspiring.

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We ended up sitting and talkingfor two hours! I made them laugh, which was an accomplishment since JD tells me all the time that I’m not funny. We share alot of common beliefs and random things in common, and I left feeling like I had spent time with people I had known for years. I know I don’t have much to think about, but they are going home to discuss (all my pros & cons, YIKES!) everything and will call our coordinator when they make their decision!

In the meantime, I’ll be here twiddling my thumbs, resisting the urge to stress eat, and checking my phone constantly until I hear from them.

 

January 1, 2016

Hey everyone! Thank you for visiting my page. As I’m writing this, the only people who know about my decision to become a gestational surrogate are my family and a few close friends, which means that means I’m not advertising this blog at all! I’m not sure why I haven’t announced it yet, but I think I just want it to be more concrete before I start getting hounded by endless questions from friends and family.

My decision to become a surrogate happened pretty suddenly. I have always known that I wanted to adopt a child, and possibly be a foster parent if I thought my heart could handle breaking on a regular basis. As for surrogacy, I didn’t even know about it until recently. One of my favorite comedians, Jimmy Fallon, announced that he and his wife had their first baby via a surrogate, and I think that’s when I became more familiar with the process.

I happened to do a Pinterest search for surrogacy, and came across the absolute most beautiful photos I had ever seen of a woman giving birth to her best friend’s baby. The indescribable look on both of their faces hit me right in my gut, and it was then that I knew that surrogacy was an experience I needed in my life. I can’t really explain it in any other way. I searched for surrogacy agencies here in Hawaii, found one, and emailed them right away.

I’m now just about done with the screening process. I applied, allowed a background check, and completed my initial psychological interview. As of right now, I’m just waiting to be matched with a couple so we can meet and see if we’d be the right fit for one another. I check my email at LEAST 50 times a day, waiting for an update!

My husband, JD, is the absolute most laid back person I know. I barely even had to explain the process before he was in agreement and said whatever I decided I wanted to do was fine with him. At first I thought it was just because of the compensation surrogates receive (which definitely isn’t bad, I’ll admit!), but after talking with him a little more, I can tell that he just wants me to be happy and will do whatever it takes to help me along the way. He was fantastic with both my previous pregnancies, so I’m not at all worried about that.

I plan on explaining much more about myself, my family, and the process, but I was anxious to get my first post out of the way, so there will be more to come!

-Lauren