Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inquiring Minds

Here are the answers to the questions I've received lately:

How difficult/or not was it to send him home with his parents? Even though you know the whole time this is a gift you are giving to someone, and its not your baby, does the instinct to be mom and cuddle and care for him come about?
This one is really hard to explain! Mostly, it wasn't difficult for me to see him go with his parents because that's where he belongs. The hard part of saying goodbye for me, was that the family lives a few hours away, and I knew I would be missing them. (Especially K, since I had been seeing her once a week for a while!) Being in hospital, having delivered a baby, going through surgery, hanging out playing games and watching TV in the hospital room with my husband, were the things that made it "strange", because we have been through those things when we had our children, and were in the same hospital with our last child. I was also surprised with my husbands reactions. For example, he was glad we didn't get my tubes tied, which was something we discussed several times before the c section. It brought up feelings in both of us about missing ours being babies. (But surprisingly, the "baby fever" wasn't all that severe, although we still haven't decided if we will have another later on.)  The instinct to cuddle a baby is always there for me, and as much as I do truly LOVE baby B, I never felt like his mom.

another question I got along the same lines: Was it emotionally hard carrying the child knowing you were not taking him home with you?
Not really. I did get attached to him but it felt like a different attachment the entire pregnancy than it did with my own. I loved thinking about him getting to "experience" things with us especially things I knew would be similar to what he would experience with his family, or if his mom would have been able to carry him. I loved when he would dance around during church services, and so far I'd say thats been the only times since delivery that I kinda miss being pregnant.

I want to be a surrogate, where do I start?
The first place to start is with research. Look up surrogacy laws for your state, research the medical process. Also one of the first things to do is decided if you would like to be a traditional surrogate, or gestational surrogate. A traditional surrogate uses her own eggs, and a gestational surrogate (like me) is a carrier whom is not genetically related to the baby/babies. Also you need to decide if you would prefer using an agency, or going "independently". There are pros and cons to each route, but I choose an agency because I don't trust myself to be organized and on top of things enough to make sure I didn't miss anything. If you decide an agency is the best route, I HIGHLY recommend Fertility Resources of Houston. They were exactly what I wanted from an agency, professional AND personal. If you are considering starting the process, start gathering your medical records because that could end up taking a while. Here are some sites with helpful information:

I have just recently decided to become a gestational carrier. I am not yet matched, but I was wondering if you could tell me more about the matching process and how you knew your IP's were "the one"? And after matching can you tell me what to expect as far as the medical screening and psych screening?
Every agency and clinic is a little different, but for me I did the psych screening before matching, and the medical screening afterwards. The psychological evaluation consisted of my husband and I meeting with a social worker, she went over alot of things and is very involved in the world of fertility. I also had to do a 600 question inventory called the "MMPI" which screens for personality disorders. It asks some very strange questions but it's not too bad. The medical screening for me was a long visit with an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) during which we did a medical history review, blood work, a mock transfer, and a saline sonogram. I was lucky to have that all done in one visit, many times it takes 2 or more office visits.
The matching process one is very personal to me, and is similar to dating! The first couple I was told about sounded nice, but they weren't married which bothered me since I didn't want to be on the baby's birth certificate as "mom" even for a few days.  I was unsure if I even wanted to set up a match meeting with them. Very shortly after, my agency coordinator called me and told me about K and M. They had previously been matched but it didn't work out, so they were looking again. I immediately got butterflies hearing about them and knew I wanted to meet them. That night, we scheduled a meeting. When we drove to meet them, I told my husband to "make me" wait a day before saying yes or no. But on the way home, we both knew it was a yes! Hours after meeting them we decided to call and tell the coordinator "YES" and K and M had done the same! We just felt so comfortable after talking to them for a couple of hours, and we trusted our hearts.

How did Olivia react when you didn't come home with a baby? & Conner too but he's younger, so not sure how much he understood.
Yes, Conner just turned two so he didn't seem to care either way. He has been only ever so slightly interested (for a couple of seconds) the times he's seen B. Olivia, however, understood very well from the beginning. I did worry because once toward the end of the pregnancy she hugged my belly and said something like "our baby B." I corrected her and she said "I meant ours to hug." I tried to talk about K and M anytime the pregnancy or baby was mentioned, and I think that helped alot! When people would ask her if she was getting a brother or sister she would say something like "Conner's my baby brother, this one isn't ours."  But she did great at the hospital and when we came home. I show her pictures when K sends them, and we've seen them a couple times since delivery. (She's WAY more interested in B's big siblings than B when we get together!) When it came time to getting back to normal, she did really well. She was great about remembering to be careful because of the surgery. One day at the park a couple weeks after delivery, another kid overheard me telling her I couldn't push her on the merry-go-round, and asked Olivia "why?" In words wise beyond her years, I heard her explain that her mommy just had a baby but he isn't our baby, that mommy is a surrogate, and the doctor had to cut her to get him out. I was about to burst with pride hearing her. Kids are amazing at understanding and accepting things just as they are!

How difficult is the legal part of surrogacy?
This will change depending on several factors. But overall, if you live in a surrogacy-friendly state like Texas, its rather easy. Basically, the contract is drawn up by the parents lawyer, then the surrogate and her lawyer reviews and makes changes if necessary. This contract protects the surrogate and parents and discusses several preferences by each party. Once everyone likes the contract, it is signed and the embryo transfer can happen. The next legal step is custody, which is also easy in Texas. There is a Pre-Birth Order which gets signed by a judge during the pregnancy and deems the parents as the legal guardians and ensures they are listed on the birth certificate. This only applies to straight, married couples. If a surrogate carries for a gay couple, or a single man or woman, then these rules change and the surrogate is listed as the mother, and must reliquish her rights and the parent(s) then adopt.

Did you nurse or pump for the baby at all? Did the mother prepare so that she could nurse the baby?
I started pumping for him a few hours after delivery. There wasn't enough for him to take much home when we left the hospital, but my milk came in that weekend and I shipped to them. Yesterday was his 2 month birthday and I still haven't stopped pumping, although the last two days I've only pumped in the morning and at night (so twice a day.) I keep saying I want to stop but to me its emotionally difficult to stop for some reason. Pumping is ALOT of work though, so I'm thankful now that I'm able to only do it twice a day without much pain. I never nursed him. I wasn't entirely opposed to it if necessary, but prefered to pump, and it was never discussed. His mother was advised not to try to induce lactation because of the medications it would require and how that would effect her medical problems. She was able to nurse her other children and is very thankful that B is able to get breastmilk as well for now.

What was the hardest thing about the journey?
This is a tough one! Honestly, everything went so well for the most part. Pumping has hard its hard times. Recovering from major surgery, although my recovery went well, was difficult at times because without a baby around, its easy for myself and my family to forget I needed to be taking it easy. I had emotional breakdown the day we came home after my husband and I realized I physically couldn't do what we were all used to me doing around the house! Aside from the post delivery stuff, I'd say the autoimmune disorder I developed was the hardest thing. My pregnacy was nearly perfect besides that. It was the most miserable rash. I itched all over and was up in the middle of the night taking baths in vinegar water, trying multiple remedies all the time. I was relieved to get a diagnosis, but also sad that its something that I'll always "have", and the rash could potentially flare up again. If it does though, I know what I need to do to control it.

Thanks for all the questions, hope this helps! If anyone has any more questions, I'll edit them in later!

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