Monday, December 26, 2011

Generosity of Spirit

The holiday season is my favorite time of year. Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved giving the perfect gift to my friends and family. Sure, I love getting presents-who doesn't?? But I really live for that moment when you see someone open up the gift you picked just for them and seeing that reaction. We usually see who can make my grandmother cry the most when she opens her presents :) (We are a family of criers)
This year has been especially fun because the kids are both at that point where they really get the Christmas magic thing, and let me say, it warms my heart and makes me soooo excited I feel like I'm 5 again.  As the nurturer that I am, I usually get much more out of giving than receiving, and I don't say that to try to sound super altruistic, it is the truth. So I can't really explain how I felt when I received gifts in the mail for my children from the couple I will be a surrogate for.  REALLY nice gifts. Did I mention that they have never met my children? I was blown away to say the least. I'm not even pregnant yet, and here they are, thinking of MY children and family. It just cements the feeling that I know that they are the perfect couple for me to help. This isn't something they were in any way obligated to do; they are just generous and loving. This post is really just about me needing to have an outlet for the emotions this simple gesture caused. It may not seem like a big deal, but I can't stop thinking about it, and about the utter joy delivered to my children on Christmas Eve. I know gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and as this journey progresses, I am realizing more and more that the intended parents are not the only ones who  are receiving a gift.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Ok, so I am not a legal expert by any means, nor do I pretend to understand politics. So consider me shocked when I found out that surrogacy for compensation is illegal in several states and highly restricted in others. Yep. I've done a little research on the subject and from what I gather, surrogacy has been likened to prostitution if a woman receives money for the use of her body. Wow, I had no idea I was such a trollop.
My new friend Kelsey (whom I met at a Birth Matters event and met the goddess of birth herself, Ina May Gaskins) is very knowledgeable about this subject, as she has written a massive paper on it in her field of study. She is the one who informed me that my own state has highly restricted this practice. Which would explain why the company I am working with is based out  of another state. Obviously there are people out there who agree that compensation for surrogacy should be illegal, perhaps even some of you reading this blog. I am assuming (hoping) there are legal reasons OTHER than the hooker comparison that these laws exist. And as I stated, I am by no means a legal expert. But in my humble opinion, let me explain why I believe surrogacy is NOT the same thing as prostitution.

1. Prostitutes get paid to provide someone instant gratification of a physical desire. Surrogates get paid to provide someone with a child that they have been, in most cases, trying to have on their own for years. Call me crazy, but I find it difficult to equate getting your rocks off to creating a life, even though the first can result in the second :)
2. Prostitutes do no go through the extensive screening, interviews, psychological/medical testing, paperwork, education that surrogates do. If they do, that is a damn selective pimp.
3. While surrogacy can be entered into for some women by the "lure" of compensation, it involves and requires MUCH more than most people can imagine. Medical procedures just to get pregnant, traveling, opening up your entire personal history to be analyzed, BEING PREGNANT FOR 9 MONTHS, all the issues associated with pregnancy, labor and delivery, handing over the child you've carried...these things are all sacrifices. Entered into willingly, yes. Deserving of compensation, yes.
4. Just because genitals are involved in both "services", it does not mean they are the same thing.

So hopefully this doesn't cause too much controversy, or piss of too many people who think that I am wrong on any of these 4 points. If it does, that won't change my opinion. I am honored to be able to help an amazing couple realize their dream of having a child, and if that makes me a prostitute, then bring on the hooker heels and fishnets.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Face to Face

There really isn't much that makes me nervous. I tend to be a pretty confident person. But tonight my husband and I went to meet the intended parents that I plan on being a surrogate for. I have to say, I felt like I was going to throw up. Seriously, my stomach was in knots. This felt like the most intimidating job interview ever. I have spoken with them on the phone and truly felt as though this was the couple I was meant to work with. But I was worried that maybe they didn't feel that connection, and I was about to find out if this relationship was going to progress.
Dad and Mom (I'm not going to write their actual names to maintain their privacy) drove 2 hours to come and meet us for dinner. They are a lovely Nigerian couple, both hardworking professionals. They have been married since 1997 and have been trying to have a baby since then. Suffering through several miscarriages and failed fertility treatments and procedures could have made them bitter, but it has not. They are sweet, funny, optimistic and gracious. And they are thankful that I am willing to carry their baby.
The meeting was wonderful, better than I could have hoped. Russell and I both adore them and I believe this is the beginning of a lifetime friendship. We are moving forward on this incredible journey together.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Conversations with my children

I am fortunate enough to have been blessed with two of the most affectionate babies on earth. Their sweetness melts my heart, and sometimes I can't even stand how lovely their love is. I ache for them when they aren't with me, even on the days when they are driving me so crazy that its best they not be in the same room with me. My sweet Stella is a spitfire, but a nurturer, like her mama, and she is a dreamer. My precious Roy has BIG emotions, feels everything so deeply that it amazes me.
I sat down with them to try to explain what I am doing with regards to the surrogacy. This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: "Ok guys, I have told you this before, but I really want to talk to you about something. Mommy is going to carry a baby in her tummy for another mommy and daddy. When the baby is born, it will go live with its real mommy and daddy. "
Stella: "We don't get to keep it?"
Me: "No, the baby won't be ours. It will go home with its real parents."
Stella: "I wish we could have a big basket with a hot air balloon, then we could fly to the new parents house and give them the baby. Are they nice?"
Me: "Yes, they are very nice."
Stella: "Well, I wish we could keep it, but ok"
Roy: "Yeah, ok"
Stella: "I guess we will have to deal with it tomorrow"

Well all right then, I'll take that as a favorable response. Roy is such a mama's boy that I think he would have a hard time with me paying too much attention to another baby in our house; Stella would love it. But unless God intervenes and reverses Russell's vasectomy, that is NOT happening :) So we will see how things go as I progress in the pregnancy. Our goal is to keep having honest, open discussions with the kids so that they understand that families are made in lots of different ways. It is important that we keep things age appropriate, so I'm not planning on overwhelming them with too many details. In all honesty, I think it will affect Stella more than Roy, since odds are that she will remember it whereas he may not. Only time will tell, but I'm encouraged by their responses so far.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My 10 Step Program to Becoming a Gestational Carrier

Here is a brief overview of the steps I have taken/am taking to become a surrogate:
1. Research process/companies online.
2. Fill out form for company I like, wait for initial approval.
3. Fill out LONG application. Sweat for 2 weeks waiting for a response. I hate rejection.
4. Telephone interview with very together, self-assured lawyer who (through no fault of her own) makes me feel like a complete moron.
5. Realize lawyer is awesome; own the fact that self-doubt is MY problem.
6. Face to face family sit-down with lawyer, who is the company owner. Watch my children destroy her lovely sitting room in 2.5 seconds. Send children outside with husband.
7. Submit to psychological assessment, including the MMPI (personality inventory-is mine fully stocked?) and two interviews, during which I hate the psychologist because I used to be one and think her style sucks ass. Realize later I am hypersensitive, yet psych is indeed a stuck-up biotch (husband confirms as he has worked on her appliances before). Pass assessment with flying colors and glowing reference. Shocked.
8. Interviews with prospective Intended Parents (IP's), first on phone then in person.
9. Medical phase involving lots of hormone shots to sync up my monthly cycle with egg donor.
10. Transfer of embryo-conception-knocked up!

So I'm on Step 8, about to meet the IP's face to face, to ensure this is the right match for all of us. I'm pretty sure it is. When I spoke with them, I instantly felt a connection. I really hope I get to carry their baby for them. They have tried for years on their own and have suffered miscarriages time and time again, and that breaks my heart.
The matching phase is super important, and brought up issues I had never considered until I became enmeshed in this process. Issues like how often I'm willing to try to transfer if it doesn't work the first time, who will be in the delivery room, and deeper moral issues as well. I had to do some serious soul-searching on the heavier topics and take a definitive stand on those that were deal-breakers for me. I don't intend for this blog to be a huge moral/ethical discussion, but the reality is that a surrogate has to be very clear where she stands on any issues regarding termination of a pregnancy that may be problematic for various reasons. Sometimes pregnancy can be life-threatening for the gestational carrier or there may be severe genetic complications that the couple may not be prepared to deal with. I'm not getting into my beliefs on these issues because frankly, they are private and because that is not the point of this discussion. The point is that the surrogate and the intended parents have to be in agreement with those beliefs, whatever they may be. Dude, that is heavy stuff. Regardless, the couple's beliefs match up with mine and Russell's (my awesome hubby), so it looks like its a go...
Looking forward to my face to face with this amazing couple!

Monday, November 28, 2011

You're gonna do what??!!

Well, here I am, a place in my life that I never expected to be. Truthfully, I've found myself in unexpected places before, so that part isn't really unusual for me. What is unusual is that I am planning on carrying and giving birth to a baby that genetically has nothing to do with me.
You may be curious as to how I reached this decision, what my motivation is to do such a thing. There really isn't one answer, but the most simple response is that I want to help a family become complete. I want to do what I can to enable two people become parents. I want to use the abilities that I have been blessed with to make someone else's dream come true.
As anyone who is a parent can attest, becoming one is the most life changing event that will ever happen to you. It doesn't just change your lifestyle, it alters you in a fundamental way that shakes you to your very core. It is earth-shattering. It alternates between heights of profound happiness and depths of deepest self-doubt. Once undertaken, it is a job you never leave, and it colors your every perception of the world. And I love it. I am hooked, mind, body and soul. I am a junkie, a convert, a fanatic, a true believer that family, however you define it, is the most important thing on earth. My children have changed me irrevocably, each in their own ways, and I thank God every day for that.
The knowledge that there are those who want this craziness we call parenthood and are unable to have it, is not new to me. I have known several friends who have struggled with this issue in one capacity or another. What really brought this issue to the forefront with me was a book written by Jennifer Weiner, my favorite chic-lit author. "And Then Came You" is a fictional (highly fictional) account of surrogacy from all of the women involved in this one particular situation. It is not entirely realistic, obviously, but it really pulled at my heart strings. My midwife told me during my last pregnancy that I was made for it; I should have a ton of kids. And despite the fact that we are perfectly happy with our two amazing kidlets, she was right. My body handles pregnancy wonderfully. I get knocked up easily- both times it was the first month we started trying. I've never been sick, I feel great, and I have fast, amazing labors. My body goes into auto-pilot and I love every second of it. Labor is a beautiful, spiritual, empowering experience for me; I truly love it.
So here I am: a woman who loves pregnancy and childbirth but doesn't want to raise more kids; a dedicated birth doula passionate about the work and importance of birth; and a deeply emotional mommy. Surrogacy seems ideal- but will it be? There are so many unknowns. I invite you  to join me as I journey, as I learn, as I question, as I grow.