Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Random information about me

I figured it was time to let my readers get to know me better so I am going to write a bit about myself. I think even my close friends who read this blog will learn a thing or two about me that they never knew.

I was born on July 16th, 1981 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We then moved to Texas, and then settled in Memphis, TN when I was 4. When I was in 1st grade my teacher saw something special in me and recommended I get tested for the gifted program. I was tested and put into the 'CLUE' program, which I stayed in through 9th grade (when they no longer offer it). I was in all Honors classes in high school, and was a flute player in the band. I was the principal (top) player in the flute section almost the entire time from 7th through 11th. I graduated in the summer of 1998 through summer school. I took Senior English and Economics which enabled me to graduate a year early. I turned 17 right before I graduated and then immediately started college at the University of Memphis. It was tough being 17 when all my college friends were older. I was still living at home and didn't get to go out and do the things my older friends could do. I was in the concert band and marching band throughout college, and was in fact on a full tuition scholarship because of it. I was promoted into the top band (The Wind Ensemble) where I was the piccolo player. My fall was full of Tiger football games and my spring was full of Tiger basketball games; both semesters with Wind Ensemble practices, concerts, flute lessons, and master classes throughout. I also had a part time job at Target so I was pretty busy.

I met Chris through a mutual friend in the summer of 1999. We met and started dating immediately and within 6 months we were married (2/14/2000). I stopped going to school right after we got married and took a year and a half off. I got bored and missed my friends so I re-enrolled in the fall of 2001. I then decided to change my major from Psychology to Music Business. Chris and I had been trying to have a baby since early 2001, and we didn't succeed in getting pregnant until March 2003. I had been on the birth control shot (Depo Provera) and it had really done a number on my body. I had gained 50 pounds in 3 months when I first started the shot, and was unable to get pregnant 2 years after my last injection. We were elated when we finally saw those 2 lines. I was still in school, but the timing worked out perfectly. I was on winter break when Ian was born on December 11, 2003. My mother in law helped out by watching Ian for a few hours Mon-Thurs for me to attend day classes. Then when Chris was home from work I went to night classes. Eventually I was able to only take night classes so we didn't have to rely on Chris' mom for help. In the summer of 2005 I felt like I was ready for another child. It only took a day to talk Chris into it even though we had previously said that Ian was enough. I had my Mirena IUD removed at the end of July and by September I was pregnant again. I graduated college in December 2005.

Around that time we felt that Memphis had nothing left to offer us. Chris' parents had moved to Minneapolis for job purposes earlier that year so we had no family left there. My parents had split up several years earlier and my mother moved to Washington with my 2 sisters and 1 brother, and my stepdad moved to Florida. So we went to Minneapolis to visit Chris' parents for Christmas, and while we were there Chris had two interviews set up. Both companies wanted to hire him! We struggled over which job to choose, and we ultimately chose the smaller company with a more family-friendly feel to it, even though it paid less. We put our house on the market in January. The plan was for Chris to start his job in February in Minneapolis, and Ian and I would stay behind in Memphis until the house sold. Well one of my friends ended up buying the house from us right before it was time for Chris to go, so we all got to go as a family.

We stayed with Chris' parents for a couple months until we found a nice house to rent. Quinn was born June 1, 2006. We lived in that house for 2 years, and recently bought our dream home.

So that was my 'story'. Here are some useless facts:

Favorite kind of food: Its a tie between Mexican food and Buffalo Wings
Favorite junkfood: M&Ms of all kinds, especially peanut and peanut butter
Favorite color: Yellow
Pets: None, but we used to have 3 cats and 2 greyhound dogs
Favorite TV shows: Lost, Medium, Nip/Tuck, House, Smallville
Favorite singer: Fiona Apple
Favorite actor/actress: Russell Crowe, Reese Witherspoon
Favorite movie: Gladiator
Favorite sport to play: Softball
Favorite sport to watch: NBA and college basketball
Hobbies: scrapbooking, card making, and now gardening
Religion: Christian (attend a Four-square non-denominational church)
Goals/Ambitions: get into the best possible physical shape (all of us), be debt free, travel the world

I think that's enough for now! :)

Bloodwork results are in!

Estradiol - 35
Progesterone - 0.9
Beta HCG - 0

Everything is where it needs to be!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tickets are booked!

Well I booked our tickets today. All we need now is a hotel room and a rental car and we're good to go!

I had my appointments this morning; my ultrasound and bloodwork. The ultrasound tech said my lining was a 2 (which is good since my cycle just started) and there are just a few small follicles on my ovaries (which is good because we dont WANT follicles on my ovaries!). My bloodwork didnt come back today like it was supposed to because my doctor's office didn't see the 'STAT' on the order form, so they didnt rush the results. They were testing my E2 (Estradiol), P4 (Progesterone), and of course a pregnancy test. There's no possible way I could be pregnant so I'm not worried about that, and I'm sure my other levels are right where they need to be. Since the results werent back today, I couldnt start my Delestrogen injections tonight. I will do one last night of Lupron, though. My nurse at Shady Grove said a one day delay wont hurt anything. I finished up my Doxycycline (antibiotics) yesterday, so my morning regimine is back down to a prenatal vitamin and a baby aspirin. The prenatals are coated in vanilla, but if I burp later in the day I taste them and they're awful. I may have to go back to eating 2 Flintstones chewable vitamins when I'm pregnant, like I did with my own kids. I cant stand vitamin after-taste.

The closer we get to transfer, the more nervous and excited I get! And I'm only nervous because I want everything to go as perfect as possible. It may be naivete' on my part, but I feel that if I keep thinking positively that it will all go as planned and that my body wont let us all down. It will work, it will stick, and it will be wonderful!!

As of now we're still aiming for May 17th or 19th. That's less than 3 weeks away! In less than 3 weeks our families will officially start this amazing 40 week journey together!! It's going to be wonderful!

Friday, April 25, 2008

A surrobuddy's pictures

One of my surro friends delivered last month and her sister (a photographer) captured the moments during labor and delivery. I wanted to share a link to the photographer's website since she has them displayed publicly now.


Along the bottom where it says Portfolio, click on the last dot, called "Surrogacy". That will take you through a little slideshow of the pictures from the labor and delivery. It just brings tears to my eyes every time I look at them. :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lupron - day 2

I woke up feeling normal this morning, thank goodness! Lets see if I can have a side effect-free day. The boys and I are meeting Chris for lunch today, and when we get back home they'll play outside while I do some more gardening. Today is supposed to be sunny with a high of 72. Heaven!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lupron - day 1

Well I had my first Lupron shot last night before bed. This morning I woke up and just couldn't get myself out of bed. I have been absolutely dragging along all day. No headache though...which is a relief. All I wanted to do was take a nap on the couch this morning, but thats not possible when I've got two little boys terrorizing the house. Once Quinn went down for a nap I was going to try to get one myself, but had too many things to do around the house.

So now I am on autopilot until Chris gets home from work, and then I am vegging on the couch. He can be on dinner duty tonight. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quick update

I went over to my Inlaws' house and saw that I had received an envelope from Shady Grove. It was my official calendar. It was pretty cool and had M's calendar on the left and mine on the right. It was neat to see it side by side. I also called Shady Grove and changed my address with them to reflect my new address so that everything will come here from now on. That way I wont have to wait until each week when we go over to Chris' parents house.

I start my Lupron on Monday. Chris and I are going out for a nice dinner tonight and I will enjoy my last glass of wine for 9+ months!!!

I will call on Monday to get our plane tickets lined up through Uniglobe. Our dates arent etched in stone yet, but I was told that its better to go ahead and get the tickets now, then call to have the dates changed if need be, rather than wait and get last minute tickets which may cost more. Makes sense to me!

Well, time to start the weekend. I hope we get to do lots of fun stuff. :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Big big update!

I've had this news for several days now but have been busy and wasn't able to update yet. Well, we have our dates now!! My endometrial biopsy came back perfect so we're ready to rock n roll.

April 21st - start Lupron
April 23rd - stop birth control pills
April 27th - probably start period
April 28th - baseline ultrasound and bloodwork - start Delestrogen injections tonight
May 7th - followup ultrasound and bloodwork
May 15th - 19th - TRANSFER! (date depends on how M's stim cycle is going)

I am so excited to have a date for our goal! That means at the next Midwest surrogate support group meeting (June 7th, here in Minneapolis) I will hopefully get to announce a pregnancy!

I have also come up with a great way to tell M that I'm pregnant. But she'll have to wait until that day comes. ;)

My new big bundle of meds will be here tomorrow. It will include prenatal vitamins, too. It's just so exciting and it feels SO real now. I mean, it did before (especially when I was sticking needles into my rear) but now we're so close to transfer and its just awesome!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Surrogacy in the news... (and a rant)

It seems like surrogacy is everywhere in the news lately, and now on TV and a movie. Many of the articles and stories are good, but there's still such a negative slant on it. It's disheartening.

There's a series thats out now called 'The Return of Jezebel James' where a well-to-do woman waits too long to have a child, thinking she still had plenty of time, and when she starts trying she realizes she has fertility issues. So she looks for her wayward sister (who is characterized as irresponsible and flighty) who she hasn't even had contact with for years and propositions her to carry her child. She gives her a place to sleep and meals, basically covering all her expenses. She considers her sister her employee, basically, and the sister looks at it as a meal ticket. I'm sure the show will be interesting and will probably have its funny moments, but to me it seems that it will perpetuate the stereotype that surrogates are only in it for the money and, as I've heard recently, "prostitute their bodies".

There's a movie coming out with 2 hilarious SNL ladies (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) called "Baby Mama". It has a similar premise to the TV series previously mentioned, where the professional woman puts her career first, and tries to have a baby at 37 but has fertility issues. She then 'hires' a 'working class' woman to be her surrogate. The surrogate ends up having to move in with her (she finds herself homeless somehow but I dont know if her husband/boyfriend leaves her or what) and they get to go through the pregnancy together and develop a close bond. So it could be a pretty good movie, depending on how they portray the women. I have an issue with the mother always being portrayed as a busy career minded woman who has no time to have kids until its too late, and I also have a big problem with the surrogate always being portrayed as someone lower class, who will do anything for money.

What I think most people who are not involved in a surrogacy relationship fail to realize, is that being pregnant is NOT easy and if it weren't something that most of us surrogates REALLY wanted to do to help someone, then no amount of money would make it worth it. And I know there some people out there who are truly only in it to make money but I would seriously hope that they had a change of heart once they saw the faces of the people they are helping to become parents as they see their child(ren) on an ultrasound for the first time, and especially when the babies are born. As any mother knows, the moment you see your child you would die for that child. Your whole life changes in that instant. That is why I wanted to be a surrogate. No woman should be denied that life changing moment. Some people argue that if a couple cannot be parents then God didn't intend them to be parents. Well God gave us the technology for IVF and other Assisted Reproductive procedures, just as He has given us the technology over time to eradicate or cure diseases. No longer do people have to die from Small Pox thanks to vaccines and progressive health care. He gives us the technology and the scientific discoveries and we use them for the advancement of mankind. I see surrogacy and IVF as no different. But I digress.

Newsweek's current issue has surrogacy on the cover with the tagline "Womb for Rent". This phrase is abhorrent to most of the surrogate community, as it insinuates the whole 'doing it just for the money' issue. Technically I guess we are renting out our uterus, if even just for reimbursed medical costs. But I look at it this way, I'm not using it for myself right now so I might as well help someone else. But the term makes my skin crawl.

The article was meant to be about military wives being surrogates while their husbands are in Iraq, but they ended up interviewing 2 ladies from the agency I'm using who are NOT military wives. Amber B and Jen H, who are both pregnant with twins. There were a couple ladies who said they did it for the money, and then there was a military wife who talked about using the government insurance 'Tricare" to pay for the medical costs of the pregnancy. I think a whole can of worms has been opened up due to that article because there was another article on ABC news about military surrogates abusing Tricare to pay for pregnancies for other peoples' children and there were pages and pages of comments from people who were incredibly ticked off that their tax dollars are paying for that to happen. They were urging people to write their congressmen to have Tricare reformed to exclude surrogacy. They were also saying some horrible things about military surrogates. Absolutely heartbreaking things. I just can't believe that in 2008 we still have people who are so resistant to change or are afraid of anything new, that they can't accept surrogacy as a viable means to have children. They say "Well why can't they just adopt?". I think its nobody else's business how a couple becomes parents, whether through IVF, adoption, surrogacy, egg donation, artificial insemination, etc. Adoption is a wonderful, loving option but it shouldn't be the ONLY option that people are ok with. As humans we have the natural instinct to attract a mate who will produce quality offpsring to continue our bloodlines and genetics, so the desire for biological children is always there. Before I had my first son I couldn't wait to see what he looked like. I couldn't wait to see who's eyes he had, or if he'd have curly hair like me or straight hair like his daddy, how tall he'd grow to be, if he had the Blackburn doublejointed thumb (he doesn't but Quinn does!), etc. So it's important to me that I give someone else that chance.

Last night on NBC Nightly News they did a little segment about another surrogate from my group named Megan. She just delivered a little girl last week for her IPs from the UK. They had formed a pretty strong bond throughout the pregnancy. The mother was over here for a month around transfer time and lived with Megan and her family for that time. They became pretty close and her kids even named the extra bedroom "V's room". They were staying with them for several days once they were discharged from the hospital too, while they waited for the baby's passport and everything to be finalized. So on the segment they talked to them and showed them all interacting together and playing with the kids and cooing over the baby. It was very nicely done. Megan shared all the photos of the delivery with the rest of us Midwest CSP surrogates (even the 'revealing' ones!) and the shot of the doctor placing the baby into the father's arms just made me all teary eyed. The look on his face is absolutely breathtaking. And THAT is the reason I'm doing this.

So surrogacy is everywhere these days. Some things are wonderful and positive, but others, not so much. It's disheartening when you are doing something you believe so strongly in and people (and the media) try to portray it as something immoral, selfish, or 'prostitution -like'. But while I rant about it here in my blog, I really haven't encountered it much in real life yet. Most people who I've told about this journey are incredibly supportive. And if they weren't then I would pity them for being so closed-minded. The voices of the dissenters don't matter much to me, but I do worry for the future of surrogacy. There are other things to be concerned about that would be a much better use of their time, such as education (and birth control) for women who keep having unwanted babies, education and programs for women who are addicted to drugs throughout pregnancy, and a reduction in women who abuse the welfare system for higher checks. They need to worry about what's already broken rather than trying to break something truly beautiful.

Kudos to you if you put up with my rambling/ranting. :)

Edit: Here's an interview with Marissa Winokur (from the broadway show Hairspray and Dancing With the Stars). She had cervical cancer and her surrogate is 5 months pregnant with her son. Some great coverage!

Here we go!

Well today is CD1. I will start my birth control pills tomorrow. And at this point I don't know much more than that...haha. Hopefully my biopsy results will be back this week and then I guess they will let me know what to do and when. I'm really itching for a transfer date. Chris needs to have an idea of when it will be so he can take off work. We're flying by the seat of our pants here, but its so exciting!