Hello Everyone! It has been a while since I updated and that is because I wanted to make sure that everything was going smoothly first.
On April 21st, I had the embryo transfer, and soon after I already started having symptoms- sore chest, nauseous and tired. I was hoping these were pregnancy symptoms and not just side effects of the medications and injections I was taking.
It was a LONG 12-day wait before I was able to get bloodwork done to confirm pregnancy and that the tiny embryo had indeed gotten all snuggled into my uterus. To confirm pregnancy through blood, your HCG levels are checked. Typically you want that first number to be at least 50- mine was 756! Then you go back in 48 hours to get bloodwork done again and you want that number to double to make sure that this is a healthy pregnancy. I went back about 45 hours later and my number had almost quadrupled at 2,735. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I have been on this journey before and it wasn't as easy. It took 3 embryo transfers before we had a healthy, viable pregnancy and in between that time, there were many ups and downs. I was already in the mindset that this could possibly not work on the first try.
I AM SO HAPPY!!
Next, it was time to schedule an ultrasound just to make sure the baby has a nice strong heartbeat and is where it should be. I'm not going to lie, we only transferred ONE embryo but with how soon and severe my symptoms were and how high my HCG levels were, I was a bit nervous there maybe were 2 babies. Well, I had an ultrasound on May 24th (with the parents on a video call) and there is ONE strong, healthy baby growing just where it should. I am currently 7 weeks 3 days pregnant with a due date of January 7th, 2022.
I am staying positive that this will continue to be a healthy baby and pregnancy.
I have been having pretty bad all-day sickness- throwing up multiple times a day, extra tired, this weird taste on my tongue that I cannot get rid of no matter what, and a very tender chest- but this all just reminds me that I am pregnant!
Next, I will move on to regular appointments with my OB.
We have parents, we have embryos and we have a gestational carrier! Let the journey begin!
With Covid still lingering around, it has definitely crossed my mind that I may not meet this deserving couple until I give birth and that makes this process feel... disconnected. Thankfully, we have been texting, sending photos, and had an occasional phone call so we are getting to know each other that way and I am so grateful for that.
I had to wait for my period to come before we could get started with medications. As soon as it came, I sent an email to my nurse at the IVF Clinic and immediately started birth control, vitamin D, baby aspirin, and a prenatal vitamin.
I am not one who takes many medications so seeing a calendar FULL of what I have to take/inject daily is a little daunting.
Mid-April I will head back to the IVF Clinic and have an ultrasound to check that my uterus is doing what it is supposed to and to get some bloodwork done. If everything goes smoothly, at the end of April we will be doing the embryo transfer!
I feel like some people just think you get selected to do this, get pregnant, have a baby, and go about your life. There is WAY more to it.
CLINIC DAY! Since the intended parents agreed to have their frozen embryos sent to the IVF Clinic in Iowa I wouldn't have to travel to New Jersey (where they live). The clinic is almost in Des Moines so it was a little over 3 hours away from one way for me to drive and because of COVID, no one was allowed to come with me.
Now that we all agreed this would be a good fit, we needed to start working on a contract to not only protect everyone legally but to get everything in writing. I reached out to my previous attorney and she was willing to help me again. The contract is an important part of this process. The contract guides the entire surrogacy journey, clearly outlining each party's rights, roles, and responsibilities before, during, and after the pregnancy. We finished up the contract at the beginning of January and then the parents needed to get their embryos to Iowa. Because of the snow and bad weather in the Midwest, this was delayed a couple of times but by the end of February, they had arrived
Since I have already completed a surrogacy journey and trust the agency, I wanted to work with the same agency for my second one - The Surrogacy Experience.
I reached out to Tina, the Managing Principal, and told her after several years and chats with my previous intended mother, I knew I was ready to help another couple with their family. We got down to business right away and I collected my medical records and filled out all the required paperwork/applications. There is a background check, a drug screening, and a phone call with a psychologist.
Next, I was able to create a new profile that the intended parents would receive. In this you can add photos of yourself and your family, along with a bio describing your personality, hobbies, interests, your community and what a typical week looks like for my family and I.
Due to the fact that I had 2 failed embryo transfers and 1 cancelled cycle- some IVF Clinics did not want to accept me as their patient. In this case, we were able to find a clinic in IOWA that would accept me and then we would need to see if the intended parents would be willing to move their frozen embryos to Iowa.
Tina already had a couple in mind and she presented me their profile. They were lovely, so we set up a Skype introduction call.
Since I had such an amazing experience and a great relationship with my first couple, I was a little skeptical that anyone could be as wonderful as them, but I tried not to let that cloud my brain while on the call.
The couple already has a child via gestational carrier, so they've been through this process already as well. We chatted awhile and when we got off our call, I felt confident that the mom and I would get along just fine, and we all agreed to match. We are all so excited for our adventure together!
At the end of the year in 2014, I started researching surrogacy. I had seen a woman I know start a blog and share her experience and I knew after reading it that it was something my heart wanted. I simply typed into Google: What is surrogacy? and How do you become a surrogate?
As I am sure many people are unaware, there are many different qualifications in order to be a surrogate. Requirements can include: living in the USA, between the ages of 21-40, has given birth to and are raising a child of their own, no more than 2 previous C-sections, a maximum of 5 deliveries, BMI limits, financially stable, has a support system...
There are also 2 types of surrogacy: TRADITIONAL and GESTATIONAL. With TRADITIONAL surrogacy, the carrier uses her own egg and with GESTATIONAL surrogacy the parents create embryos using their own egg and sperm or donated egg and sperm.
I knew gestational surrogacy was the route I wanted to go. I filled out the initial online application with the same agency as the woman I knew and they reached out to me! I met all the pre-requirements and so I needed to get the agency all of my medical records for them to review, do a background check, a psychological evaluation, a drug screening and a home visit. After the home visit, I was shown a profile for a few different couples and chose which one... felt right. We had our lawyers draw up a legal contract and we were ready to start trying to have a baby!
Fast forward to April 2017 (& after 2 failed embryo transfers, a miscarriage and emergency surgery to have one of my fallopian tubes removed) I delivered a healthy baby to an amazing couple!
3 1/2 years later and I have decided to embark on this journey again, and I can't wait to share the details.
As time pressed onward, so did the pregnancy. Each week brought new excitement for us all. We spent the remainder of our summer weeks enjoying the outdoors, traveling, and allowing our hearts to grow along side our IF's precious baby girl!
Wait, what? Yes, a girl! I have now been pregnant 4 times, and each time it has been a darling, yet strong, little girl! Can you believe it? Me either! My jaw dropped when our dads told us transfer day that they chose a girl embryo!!!! I was so positive they were going to choose boy, (I also had thoughts my second daughter was a boy LOL), but here we are, girl number 4! Finish strong with GIRL POWER!
As the weeks went on, my belly stayed little, but she did not. She was growing just fine! With an incredibly strong heartbeat. Our dads were still holding their breath at this point though. With a late miscarriage happening for them the last time they were trying for baby #2, they were optimistic with caution. While I did everything I could to protect their precious darling, and build up their spirits, it was just going to need to be a successful pregnancy past their worry week. Almost there, and she is still holding strong for all of us. I'm fairly certain my daddy was watching over us, helping us all stay strong, and viable so there were no more heartaches. This sweet girl will be the new life given from my father's life taken. She will help me to fill that void. Providing her daddies with such joy and happiness in their hearts, will provide me with comfort, joy, and love for them to pursue their lives as a completed family.
Close to halfway through a second journey, and my final pregnancy, feelings of bittersweetness begin. I love having babies. I love, LOVE helping others fulfill their dreams of having a child. I also love that I was able to do it with The Surrogacy Experience backing me and my IPs. As I come closer to closing another chapter in my life, I reflect back on all the positive things that have come along for so many. This journey has been tough, emotionally, but has been a rewarding one none the less. I couldn't be happier knowing this precious angel will complete a family, and I was lucky enough to help ❤
Until next time readers. Stay tuned, as a new blog will come sooner rather than later.
Hello fantastic followers. I hope this holiday season is greeting you well and that the time will be well spent with family and friends. As we embark on the next part of our journey, some sadness ensues, and I want to put out a trigger warning at the beginning of this post. I never want any of you to not read a blog post about our amazing journey, but I know sometimes things can evoke an emotion for others, and this blog post will have some sadness. I hope you continue to read, because there is a happy ending.
We are so lucky! Lucky to have carried two beautiful girls for our own family, and now two beautiful babies for two more families. Lucky to be in contact with our first set of IPs still (2.5years post birth of their gorgeous daughter), and lucky to have such compassionate, caring, and loving IFs this go round. Lucky to have made it this far in this fourth pregnancy, to be released from fertility clinic care, and move on to being cared for by my local OB. Lucky enough to feel fantastic, with no problems, no pregnancy related symptoms, and not a worry in the world about this baby and the sweet family who will be on the receiving end. I mean, come on, how lucky can a person be?
And then BAM, you're struck with loss. (Don't panic too much, the baby is completely fine. We DID NOT lose the baby.) In July of 2016 my little family moved from Colorado to South Carolina to live closer to my parents. Two years earlier my brother unexpectedly passed away so it was always our intent to move to SC. My girls were so excited to be closer to my parents and equally to start our family's new adventure. My dad spent the last year and a half demolishing the existing home that was on our property, and helping my husband and I build our dream home (which happens to be next door to my parents). It was the truly the dream home I always imagined and it was built with love! On July 4, 2017, our family lost one, hard loving, hard working, dedicated, man in our lives; my dad. He passed away unexpectedly that afternoon due to a heart attack. His beautiful, giving, loving, heart stopped. It was broken, for good.
I cannot explain the hurt, the sorrow, the pain I was feeling inside due to this loss and sadness. It was all so hard to deal with. However, knowing I had so many people to lean on, talk to, express sadness to, be there for me, and hold me, provided the strength to help me get through. Also, knowing a life was growing inside of me, and how proud I knew my dad was of me for being able to give this gift to others…. kept me going. Don't get me wrong, I have days of sadness still. Moments that get me without any warning. But the angel, the new life I was growing for a set of astonishing and loving IFs, is what helps me get through.
The next few weeks were busy, and emotional, and a serious adjustment (life is still a major adjustment without him). The love and support from TSE, my family, my friends, the transferring fertility clinic, our neighbors, our community, our IFs, and SO many more, has been very uplifting and provides our family with the little bit of solace it needs to get us by each day without my dad, my mom's husband, and my girl's PawPaw.
Holding on so dearly to each other, and growing a new little person for a very deserving couple, fills a place in my heart I never knew was empty. Moving forward, making it through another first trimester of pregnancy, shines a light on an otherwise dark part of life. The first trimester flew by quickly. Our dads are still in shock and crossing their fingers, hoping this pregnancy stays strong and the growing anticipation of holding their child. Wow, just wow! The time is going to go so quickly. Before we know it, this baby is going to be Earth side; spreading love and joy to so many people.
Thank you for your patience as I know posting a blog was set aside for a while as I took care of my family and focused on them. I appreciate everyone’s support and hope to send more updates throughout my journey.
What an amazing moment! The moment you watch that sweet baby be placed in your body. Wow! Me, my husband, our Intended Fathers, the doctor, the nurse, all in the room, just holding our breath. We hope the embryo is strong enough to carry on, we hope my body is capable, again, to carry their baby this time. Oh the emotions! They are just rolling! All on the edge of our seats, hoping, waiting, with fingers and toes crossed.
At 5 days post transfer, I took a pregnancy test at home. The suspense was killing me! It was positive! Oh my goodness, it worked! Well, we hope! Of course we were all excited, but we couldn't be certain until we got a confirmed blood test result and an ultrasound to see the yolk sac and heart beat. We were REALLY lucky, and saw all the things we were hoping to see right away, and hear the heart beat and have HCG levels come with high levels. WE DID IT! WE WERE PREGNANT! But wait....this isn't the end of the things!
Progesterone shots (the big ones in the butt), continue for several more weeks, as well as monitoring to make sure things are progressing as they should. Just like with any pregnancy, anything can happen. But, we monitor much more closely with a surrogacy. So, we get lucky and get LOTS of screen time of baby, and some really awesome views of baby growing so early on.
The local monitoring site was as wonderful. They are all rooting for me, and so excited when I came in. It was a really great feeling because they were so helpful, caring and supportive. I was generally so sad with the thought that I would no longer be coming to see them. None the less, we rejoiced in all the milestone successes that we shared along the way.
Once the pregnancy was confirmed, and we knew things were going as they should, I was released as a patient from the fertility clinic'to continue my care with an OB. Our dads had a specific hospital they wanted me to give birth because it is the only one that has a level 3 NICU in my area. Based on that hospital, I chose my OB practice, and set up my first appointment with them. I also made sure they understood that I was a carrier, not the mom of baby, and made sure they were comfortable with that scenario. Thankfully, they were!
The Surrogacy Experience(TSE) has also been very much involved. They contact me, I contact them, we give updates, pointers, help, anything! Through setting up travel, taking care of expenses, making sure I knew my appointments, what to expect...they were there! TSE is the backbone to this process for me as a carrier. Without them, I don't think I would be as successful in my journey as we have been to this point. They take so much off of me, to allow me to focus on the right now, and make my mind and body all set for carrying a baby. Everyone in this process is involved, and from beginning to end, we are a family! I couldn't be more thankful for the family I have been lucky enough to acquire through this journey! Thank you, to all of you!
Check, YES, we are pregnant! We successfully made it through the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. With a great team by my side, a wonderful and compassionate set of Intended Dads, TSE, and my beautiful family, we are certain the pregnancy will carry on successfully, with a Happy, Healthy, and Confident baby!
And thank you for reading and following along on our journey!
On Tuesday, September 26th, we boarded a one way ticket to Minneapolis knowing that we would be returning home as a family of 4! We made our best guess when making car, hotel, and airport parking reservations as to the return date for each reservation. If only it were that easy and predictable!
After sharing a brief dinner with Jenna and her family, we headed about an hour and a half north from Edgar, WI to Eagle River. As luck would have it, a few weeks prior we found out that Jon's aunt has a lake house there and she had graciously offered for us to stay there while we waited. What an amazing gift from her and a beautiful place to stay to pass the time while we awaited the arrival of the babies. It was just the two of us until Thursday when our parents began to arrive. We enjoyed beautiful scenery, delicious food, and a ton of games of solitaire! Day by day we kept our phones close just in case Jenna went into labor and we messaged with her daily.
Here are some photos from our time of waiting:
During the days of waiting, we scheduled a few different day trips to Wausau to be with Jenna. On Thursday the 28th, we went with Jenna to the final OB appointment and were told that it appeared the babies would stay in there until they were forced to come out! After the appointment we had dinner with Jenna, Joe, and Rachel's dad. We were so excited for our parents to finally meet this amazing family.
On Saturday the 30th, all of our parents were now with us and we met Jenna, Joe, and their children at a sub shop to pick up sandwiches. We then went to a lookout over the city of Wausau for lunch, followed by a trip to an orchard. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for Wisconsin in late September and it was a very special time for our families to get to know Jenna a bit more.
As of Monday, October 2nd, the babies still had not decided to make their appearance so we headed down to Wausau. After a delicious dinner at Jon's favorite spot in Wausau - Red Eye Brewing Company (their Wisconsin burger will change your life!) - our parents checked in to a local hotel. Jenna & Joe graciously opened their home for us to stay there Monday night so we could all head to the hospital together Tuesday morning. Jenna needed to report at 6:00am. Yeah - we hardly slept at all...
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