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...
Welcome back to the next exciting part of this surrogacy journey! Since I am blogging in the "catch up" way, instead of real time, I have to really dig deep and remember all of the things that happened. I am likely missing pieces, or forgetting some details, but I assure you that what is written is as close to actuality as possible. If you EVER need clarity, or have questions about something I post about, please do not hesitate to reach out! We must all stick together to make our journeys, however they look, be smooth and positive!
OK, let's talk about medications, shots, and transfer day!
Contracts are so business like, and a not the glamorous part of a surrogacy journey, right? Meds and shots are pretty non-glam too, but a very important, necessary, and big part of the journey. At the clinic day you talk about all of the medications, get all of the paperwork, and go through learning about how to use the medications, so you feel like it won't be too bad. Totally doable, and you're going to remember ALL of the things your nurse told you about them. NOPE! You are going to receive a box in the mail, full of vials, syringes, suppositories, and pills. And you may panic. But don't! Seriously, you may not remember each detail but between the clinic and TSE they walk you through every step. And much of the medication you receive can be put away until further steps. Always go back through emails, and paperwork to know exactly which medications you will need now, and which can go away. And, if you need help remembering how, where, or when to take meds, email or call your Fertility Clinic nurse. That is what they are there for. I'm not joking! They would much rather get ten emails a day worth of questions from you, than you guess and something go haywire.
This being my second journey, I was prepared for all of this stuff. This is not to say that I didn't need reminders of how to inject, when to inject, which pills to take, how many, and when to take them. Once I had all of that in place, and my nurse gave me the go ahead date for pills and injections, we DID IT! We started the process in making my body super ready for this baby to grow in my uterus for months to come.
The beginning part of the medication protocol should be easy to follow. We go for blood work, we check levels, we make sure medication dosages are correct, and that our body is responding. An ultrasound of my uterine lining and the inactive follicles within my body is done as a baseline. This all takes place at a local fertility clinic, and mine this time just happened to be AMAZING! I couldn't have been more thankful for the happy, positive, loving, guiding, and peaceful people and atmosphere I was provided. Quality fertility clinic monitoring is super important! Do research on local places and make sure there are plenty of positive reviews of quality staff before making a decision on which place to go to. TSE helped with some suggestions and together we found the perfect place.
When my monitoring clinic sends results of my blood work, and ultrasound over to our Dad's fertility clinic, I was on pins and needles hoping they would say everything was perfect and we could schedule transfer. We work and try so hard to get to this point, and I certainly don't want them to wait any longer than they have (and I don't really care to stick myself longer than I have to either - wink wink). WE GOT THE GREEN LIGHT! Jumping for joy, super excited, can't flipping wait to 1) See our Dad's again; 2) See our awesome doctor and nurse again; and 3) Put a baby in my body to grow, grow, grow!
I hardly could believe it! It was time to head out to transfer day. We were jet setting the day after Mother's Day, with nothing but happy, squishy, sticky, baby vibes! The next day we wake up super early to go in for blood work; well, just me. We await results, and then get the final call for what time to be at the clinic for transfer. We arrive, we go back, I get undressed, we do some laser acupuncture, we chat a bit, and enjoy each other's company. Yes, we are ALL together. Because, yea, it's their baby! I wouldn't let them miss a single second of the journey! We have some laughs, and then it's time! Doctor and nurses come in with baby ready. This is happening, yes? YES!
We all watch (and video), the process of baby going into my body and just hope my body takes over as we know it can. I think we all held our breath as baby went in and doctor says, " There you go! That's it! Now, grow!". It was magical. Lake and I weren't aware of which gender embryo our Dad's decided on yet. They kept it a secret from us until transfer day. As this was all taking place, they asked if we wanted to know now. Of course we did! And the baby is.......That's a secret for us to know and you to find out later in our journey!
We left the clinic and went for a lovely breakfast all together, with some really incredible signs of positivity, strength, guidance, and love showering us. We loved every second of time we had with our Dads that day! I wished it wouldn't end, and we could just spend all of our time together. However, they had to get home to continue on with their days, work, and soak in the exciting morning for themselves.
Until next time...
Once we were matched, we had to go through contracts. UGH! I think this is likely the least favorite portion of a journey. Mostly because it can be lengthy, and dealing with attorneys, (yes, they have one and I have one), can be a tad frustrating. However, it's not a terrible ordeal. It is mostly streamlined because contracts are baseline. They add in and take away things in contracts based on things you and your IPs have agreed upon. Some examples from our contract would be - I do not get the flu shot, and after expressing why I don't, and chatting it all over directly with our Dads, we took that part out of the contract stating I would have to get a flu shot. An addition we made was, I would absolutely not do an induction of birth unless the OB believed there was a medical risk to myself or to baby. Many times IPs want to schedule inductions so they can plan to be there for the birth of baby; I understand that desire. I am not comfortable with that idea, and thankfully both of our amazing IPs have been very welcoming of that scenario. So, we go back and forth, read the contract, send it to our attorney, they make the necessary changes, and send it off to the other party's attorney. This goes on for a little while, until the entire thing has been picked through with a fine tooth comb by both the IPs and the carrier. Then, it is FINALIZED!!!!! Signed, sealed, and delivered!
Holy crap! This is so real! The contract is signed. We are IN THIS! What a relief once contracts are signed. It is almost as if everyone is holding their breath during this period, and once it is signed, everyone relaxes a little bit again, and the relationship really blossoms.
On March 12, we flew out of SC on our way to clinic day, and meeting The Dads for the first time! We fly out, we get to our hotel, we hang out, and the anticipation is so great. Clinic day can't come soon enough. Lake and I talked about how excited we were, what The Dads would be like, seeing our same doctor from last journey again, and things we would talk to The Dads about.
We have to be at the clinic earlier than The Dads. We have some things we do before they do. So, we do our first few things and go back out to the waiting room for what's next on the itinerary at the clinic. Next thing I know, I look and I see two men walk into the clinic, I lock eyes with one, and he says, "Ashley?" YEP, THAT'S ME!!! Lake and I got up, walked toward them as they walked toward us, and we were all greeted with amazing hugs, beautiful smiles, and joy in all the hearts! We were only able to sit and chat for a few more minutes before we were all pulled to our next appointments. Eventually, we all had a meeting together to talk more in-depth about some of the things we all expected from the journey, the pregnancy, the birth, and the experience. This meeting is mediated to help everyone along, and so that things don't go too far off topic, or to help one party understand something the other is trying to express. Another step in the process to help get to know each other.
Clinic day is a LONG day. It's very information based, and overload. BUT, it doesn't have to be brain boggling. Because all of the people with The Surrogacy Experience and the fertility clinic are there for you any time you have questions, concerns, issues, or anything. They are all, always just a phone call or email away. They never want you to hesitate to contact them. This process requires a lot, and no one is expecting any of us to remember it all at once.
Whew! The day is over, and we finally get to leave all together to grab some lunch and chat freely. Conversation just flowed so easily and effortlessly. It felt as if we had known each other for our entire lives, and we were just casually catching up over lunch. I couldn't believe how comfortable we all seemed to feel with each other. We all just got each other. And that was another sigh of relief. Thank goodness for, what seems to be, the perfect match!
That was a lot of information and a big catch up. I hope you stuck through the entire post, and I hope you'll come back for the next. We talk about medications, shots, and transfer day! We are almost caught up to present day!!!!
Chow for now
Match Made in Surrogacy
Now that we all understand how amazing surrogacy is, and why I want to be a carrier for other people, let's move on to the current day stuff. When I told Tina I was ready again, she immediately said she had the perfect couple. WOW! Of course we always hope for quick matches; but already out the door? Ok, let's do this!
Hi everyone, it's Ashley Boulton again. That's right, AGAIN! We are embarking on another journey. This is not a sibling journey, but a journey for a new couple in our lives. Before I begin on the current, and very wonderful journey, I will recap my previous journey.
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