Monday, February 9, 2009

We have a match: Part II

So the holidays passed and I received another phone call. Another match! I waited until the agency forwarded me their profile and pictures. And to my surprise, again I felt as if this was a perfect match! They are a wonderful couple and seem so similar to Brandon and me. They are around the same age and have the same interests. So I called Brandon and said "Guess what? We have another family!". He thought somehow that I meant that I was pregnant and we had another addition to OUR family, and proceeded to almost have a heart attack over the phone :) But after calming him down I explained what I meant. They live so close to us, so we decided to just go forward and schedule an in-person meeting at the agency.

Going to meet this couple was a bit odd. I mean, how do you react to people when you meet them solely to potentially have their child for them? What a crazy situation!! I could not help but put myself in their shoes, and if it were me meeting my surrogate, I know I would be looking her up and down and analyzing every single thing about her. How awkward!! But right away I felt totally comfortable around them. They were so outgoing and friendly - the type of people you just know off the bat will be fantastic parents. And then they went on to tell their story and how they got to the point of surrogacy.

They had gotten pregnant twice with twins each time, each ending in miscarriage. They later found out that the IM (intended mother) had a blood clotting disorder which caused the miscarriages. She also has PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) where her body grows cysts on her ovaries making it really difficult to get pregnant. She had gone through an IVF cycle which resulted in frozen embryos, but the cycle made her very very ill. So long story short, it would be very dangerous for her to continue trying IVF and for her to get pregnant. And they have 4 frozen embryos left for surrogacy, which would give 2 tries of 2 embryos each time.

Everything about the couple sounded great to me! Their responses completely matched Brandons and mine and I was overjoyed that we were able to meet them and get this opportunity to help them. And they seem so happy and excited to meet us as well to get started. So, finally an "official" match. Now on to the evaluations!

We have a match!

Shortly after submitting my application and meeting with the agency, they called to inform me that they had found match!! I was SO excited. We had set up a phone interview for later that week and I could hardly wait to talk to this couple. The phone conversation was a 3-way between the agency, the potential Intended Mother, and myself. I was really nervous and did not know what to expect. But I had received their profile and pictures and felt somewhat like I had already known her before I spoke to her.

The phone conversation went so great! Her story about having a hysterectomy after having her son due to complications brought tears to my eyes. We totally clicked throughout the conversation. I felt as if she was answering the questions the same way I would and she made it clear that she felt that I sounded perfect for her and her husband and what a great experience this would be. They lived in Indiana, and ironically we were passing right through the area to visit family the following weekend, so we decided to meet up during our visit. Yay! I felt so lucky to get matched with such a wonderful couple. I could not wait. We had both contacted the agency the day after our interview and said we thought it was a match and I got prepared to meet them.

Then, 2 days after that, the agency called and said unfortunately they had decided not to go forward with surrogacy. Their reason was financial. I felt so crushed! It felt as if I had gotten broken up with by a boyfriend - lol! But I was seriously upset. I felt as if they had wasted my time by getting me so excited and then taking it away. But I knew that it had to be meant for a reason. There were several other options for couples at the time. But none of them really had what I was looking for. I preferred to have a couple who were close so they could take part in all of the appointments and ultrasounds. Most of the couples were out of the country, which I felt would make it more like a business transaction. You know, get pregnant, have the baby, and off the baby goes on a plane to another place on the planet, never to be seen again. So there was nothing left to do but to sit and wait.....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Picking an agency...

The first thing I did when I decided to become a surrogate is what most people nowadays would do - I went to the web. I searched and searched all over online. The agencies I came up with the most were in California. What I learned was that not all states have the laws that support surrogacy. For example, in Michigan, it is technically illegal for surrogates to get compensated. In many states the actual parents of the baby cannot even have their names on the birth certificate until they officially "adopt" the baby from the surrogate. That's crazy! California seems to be the most surro-friendly state out there and their agencies are huge. So I placed a few calls with them.

Well, it was like a meat-market out there. Totally cold and automated responses to all of my questions - like they want to get you in and get you out and get their money. I just assumed at the time maybe that's just how agencies were. After looking over my application, they called me and confirmed one of my answers. The question was under what circumstance would you not want to work with a couple? Well, my answer was that I wanted to work with a heterosexual couple. Not that I have anything whatsoever against the gay and lesbian community, I just thought if I was going to help bring a baby into the world I would want it to have a mom and a dad. Well, the Cali. agency said if that were the case it would take over a year to match me with a couple. A YEAR? I was really disappointed. But luckily I had also found an agency through an online forum called Family Source in Illinois. They called me back right away and were so helpful and friendly towards me. They said they could match me right away. So that was it - Brandon and me met with the owner of the agency, who had a surrogate herself to create her family. She was just wonderful!!! So I filled out the application and sat and waited for a response.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

There's no way I could ever do that...

"There's no way I could ever do that"
That's what I hear over and over from people when I tell them I want to be a surrogate. I am not sure where it came from, but I have always thought about being a surrogate. Before I had kids, before I was married. To me it just seemed like something I should someday do. Years back Brandon's aunt and uncle were going through infertility and it had occurred to me that I could have a baby for them. Of course they chose the route of adoption, but had they come to me and asked, I would not have hesitated in saying yes. (as a side note, when I refer to surrogacy, I am talking about Gestational Surrogacy, as opposed to Traditional Surrogacy. With gestational, the baby has no genetic link whatsoever to myself - traditional would require the use of my own egg. My genetics are reserved for my own children :) ) But it was always in the back of my mind.

Shortly after getting married, Brandon and me started trying to start our family. It only took a few months and we were pregnant!! I was thrilled - overjoyed at how lucky we were to get pregnant so quickly. I told EVERYONE about it right away - people I had not seen in years knew. And then sadly at 11 weeks when we went to go hear the heartbeat for the first time by doppler, it wasn't there. A horrifying ultrasound showed a tiny lifeless baby that had stopped growing at 9 weeks. I had a D&C the next day. I was devastated. Actually, devastated is an understatement. I really did not have any other friends who were getting pregnant at the time, and did not know anyone who had lost a pregnancy before, so to me I was the only person this had ever happened to (although later in life I have found lots and lots of people it happens to - it is terribly common). It took us about 7 months after that to get pregnant with Leo, which may not seem long, but when you are desperate to have a baby, it seems like a lifetime. Fortunately my pregnancy with Leo was totally uncomplicated and 9 months later we welcomed our healthy beautiful son.

During that time, I vowed that if I was able to carry a pregnancy and have a healthy baby, I would help someone else who couldn't have that. During that time I didn't know if I could ever have a baby. It makes it extremely hard to imagine couples who have gone through what we went through in that short time for years and years. It is heartbreaking, really. You can't get away from it. It is impossible to leave the house, turn on the TV, open a magazine, without being reminded what you don't have.

So my answer to that, is how can I NOT be a surrogate? How can I go on knowing that I am totally capable of carrying a healthy baby and not share that gift with someone who cannot? Especially after having my son, and then my daughter. Anyone who has children can tell you, having kids is hands down the most amazing thing one can go through in life. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful and grateful for all of the moments I get to have with my kids. Yes, some times are rough, and there are days I feel like I am going insane :) But at the end of the day, they are mine, and I am theirs, and there is nothing in the world that can replace that.

So here I am starting out on this journey to start a family for somebody. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving! People tell me they are shocked that there are women out there who are willing to be pregnant for somebody else. Well, if there weren't women like me, there wouldn't be an opportunity for these babies - these babies that are wanted so extremely badly by their parents - these babies that will go on and hopefully do great and amazing things for our world. By being a surrogate, you are opening up a whole world of opportunity that just would not be there otherwise. Of course, it may still not happen. I have to go through several evaluations before it is decided I can do it, by health professionals. But it is a really exciting time. Brandon is surprisingly extremely supportive. I say surprisingly because it is not like it is total fun for him for me to be pregnant :) But he agrees with me that in the scheme of things, it is a very short period of time to give somebody a lifetime of having a family.

And yes, there is a compensation. I will get paid for it. That is typically the first thing people ask about when I tell them. But anyone who has been pregnant can tell you, it is HARD to be pregnant. There are many easier ways to make that amount of money in a year. It is NOT about the money - it's just a bonus. For those who are wondering (and I know a lot are!) if all goes well and I get to be a surrogate, the money will probably go into Leo and Carmela's college accounts, or it will go to grow my business. So it's a win-win. A couple gets a baby, and I help out my family too :) In many ways, I feel like money cheapens the whole process. BUT (and a big but) I will be giving up a lot to do this - I will be taking time and energy away from my own family to give to this baby. So if everyone can benefit from it, why not?

So it begins - we will see where it takes us. I am hopeful it will all go smoothly and I will get the chance to actually go through with it! And I will keep this blog to hopefully inspire others who may have ever thought about being a surrogate as well!