Surrogacy 101

Sent to my co-workers today:

Our 9-month long adventure is just about over. Thank goodness, too, because this devil spawn kid is on the verge of overstaying his welcome. Given the 24/7 demolition derby going on inside Michelle,  I predict his future career choice will be:

A)     Blacksmith

B)      NASCAR driver that likes to swap paint

C)      Crash test dummy

D)     Philly fan who enjoys running onto the field during a game

 So this is a heads up that I’ll be tethered to my cell phone, on alert for the ‘It’s go time’ call. When you hear my new ringtone of the song ‘Having my Baby’, well you’ll know what’s up.

 (Hey: Can I get that song at CD Baby?)

 This afternoon I’m out around 2:15. Going to watch her Doc do one of these amazing 3-D ultrasounds. I understand you can see every nook/cranny/detail of the child-to-be, including his preference for boxers or briefs, Coke or Pepsi, and future political leanings.

Our wedding anniversary is coming up — on April 4 to be exact. Ah, 18 continually blissful, calm, placid, stress-free years together as a family..

OK, even I had to roll my eyes over that one.

Despite our ups and downs — with a few loop-de-loops thrown in for good measure — we’ve beaten the odds and made it almost two decades as man and wife. Which begs the age old question:

What’s the perfect anniversary gift for the woman who was made pregnant by another man? (And another woman too, if you’re keeping score at home)

Anyone have a suggestion?

The fact of the matter is — we can see the finish line. Yeah, it’s still 13 weeks off, but the days are flying by. (Well, they are for me. Michelle might have a slightly different take).

I’ve always been the kind of person who looks downstream, straining to see what’s around the next bend. Is it rapids? Is it a long slow shallow. Or is that faint yet growing roar going to Niagra Falls!

My eyes stray to the horizon not because I’m bored or unhappy with where I’m at. It’s usually just the opposite, as it is now. Michelle’s journey has been rewarding in a surprising number of ways and we’ve focused on making the most of this challenge. Dare I say I’ll be sad when it’s over? Maybe.

No, I just like to know what’s next — and what are my options?  I’m a world-class ‘muller’, and you can usually find me sifting dozens of things over in my noggin in the background.

In fact, let’s take a current inventory of the things that are churning in the sub-routines of my mind while most of my brain is engaged elsewhere:

I know I can lose that 25 lbs. and do an old guys basketball league next fall….like I’ve vowed to do the last 10 years. (Back when it was 10 lbs. and it was a not-so-old league).

If I move my spatula fast enough, could I really make scrambled eggs on the BBQ?

That useless dog. Why can’t I train him to run out and get the newspaper in the morning? Yeah, if the paper came wrapped in bacon.

And why are all my subconscious thoughts revolving around FOOD in some way? Stupid company weight loss challenge.

In fact about the only non-food related thought crossed my mind lately is this: What come after When all the contracting-pushing-beathing-screaming-it’s-a-baby-boy-crying is all through…. what’s next?

Do I really try to package this amazing story into a book? Backfill it with more content from the IPs — which we haven’t explored in any detail here. Add back in all the really juicy content that would make a book sales zoom. (WAS TIGER WOODS REALLY THE FATHER?!?!) Find an editor who could hold his/her nose and really whip it into shape? And then trawl for a publisher who might want to take a risk on a promising, not so young writer?

Or am I content to simply leave this wonderful tale on this cyber platform, add any postscripts this summer that might give it closer and then just let it float in the ether.

The one thing I’m sure won’t happen after GuestWomb — to become a fulltime surrogacy commentator. I’ve encountered some simply amazing people in the blogosphere who have made surrogacy issues practically their life’s work. My hat is off to them — they’re performing a great service to those wanting to explore this world. But when this kid is safely launched into the world….I’m done with this topic.

As you can tell on your first glance at GuestWomb, this blog is ANYTHING but a ‘how-to’ guide to this journey. It’s much more of a “OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT HAS SHE GONE AND DONE PLEASE HELP ME” kind of narrative.

Or will THIS blog spur me on to write something that doesn’t involve Michelle’s private parts. Maybe even blogs that go something like this.

I don’t know just yet. But if you see a faraway look in my eyes during a meeting — or heaven forbid during tomorrow morning’s rush hour — you’ll know that I’ll be thinking about the possibilities.

Or pondering this eternal question:

What doesn’t go well with bacon?

In Michelle’s own words:

I feel I must update anyone who may be reading this as I may have left some people hanging.

I mentioned before that I was going to receive additional testing to see if there was  a placenta previa. And so I worried and worried. For about three weeks. Followed all the doctor’s orders. Didn’t do any heavy lifting or the like. Learned all the ins and outs of it.

And then….my fears all went away. I was tested again — this time by a new (and improved!) set of doctors. No placenta previa.

And through all of this stress and worry and extra doctor appointments, the IPs were there every step of the way. Michelle and Barb have gone to every appointment even though it meant driving 90 minutes plus out of their incredibly busy days to get there.  I so appreciate their support —  and even more the lunches we enjoyed after all those tense appointments!

The baby boy, who so nicely strutted his stuff on the ultra sound monitor, is healthy and very active.  He even did a hgh kick to show off as he must have known that he was being watched.

He is a healthy pound and a half and 12 inches long. So with 17 more weeks to go I am feeling more confident that everything will be just fine ……in spite of my age.

I’ve spent a couple of evenings trying to explain our ‘setback’ in Michelle’s journey as I alluded to in this post. And not doing so well. Maybe it’s because I’m much more inspired to write about light, whimsical and amusing topics. Not potentially serious stuff.

As a result, I’ve really labored (Ha. Labored. A pregnancy reference! See, this is what I mean about my problem of sticking to difficult topics. And being too easily amused.) at recording this little bump in the road.  So the last couple of nights have consisted of: Write, delete, write, edit, delete, play an online game, read ESPN, read about Conan and Leno…… And get nowhere. I even fail at describing accurately her latest situation above. It’s not a ‘setback’ or a ‘bump in the road’ at all. It’s a…..

Ah, to hell with it. Let Michelle tell the story and I’ll just get out of the way.

When I had been pregnant before (Ha, in the last century! Alright, that wasn’t fair. Or helpful. And I’m supposed to stay out of it.  Let’s start over.)

When I had been pregnant before  there wasn’t as much information available about tests, ultra sounds, diseases etc as much as there is today.  It was easy to think that everything was going to be fine, picture perfect becuase you were a little more in the dark. Ignorance was bliss in my case. I just assumed all was well. And it was.

But 14 years can make a differance.  There have been great strides in medical testing so that you can know everything about your baby, defects and all. And I mean everything.

Along my journey these last few weeks, there have been a couple bumps in the road (Oh, maybe it IS a bump in the road. I stand corrected.) starting with a blood test that came up a little  high for spina bifida.

So I did that natural thing, just retest……it too came up a little higher than normal but not by much. So additional tests were conducted.

The results were that all was well with the baby, No spina bifida was seen on an super 3-d ultrasound, but now they might have seen a placenta previa.  That is where the baby plants itself near the cervix opening or right on it, making it difficult to deliver later on. This will be confirmed later this week. 

So far there has been a lot of worries and stresses that I had never experienced before….I had always assumed that everything was going to be fine, and they were.

I am older now and have to come to terms with that, even though I feel 29. I am more than halfway through this pregnancy and feel very hopeful that all will be well, but am also being well cared for, cautious and informed. (Maybe too informed?)

The gift of life is just that, a gift….there are no guarantees in life, for life.  I dont believe in perfection, the perfect baby or perfect pregnancy.  I believe in being healthy, carrying a healthy baby and experiencing a healthy pregnancy. 

That is what I hope for now.

My regular GuestWomb readers — waving at my Mom and Dad. Hi, Libel lawyer. Howdy Mr. IRS agent  — may have noticed a few gaps between posts. I’ve set a pretty fast pace — 55 posts in 4 months — to launch this blog, and the last couple of weeks have been a needed break.

And it’s a good thing that I’m rested and ready to hit the keyboard. Because there’s a lot going on. It seems this surrogacy thing isn’t exactly the easy, slam dunk, done deal, no sweat, smooth sailing (insert cliche of your choice here) problem-free voyage that I had conjured up in my mind.

There’s a scene in one of Michelle’s favorite movie that comes to mind. It’s called Parenthood (ha…it just occured to me this very minute how ludicrous this is: A Gestional Surrogate’s favorite movie is Parenthood). Actors Steve Martin and Mary Steenbergen are experiencing more than the usual trials and tribulations of family life. Near the end of the movie, Martin’s elderly grandmother goes off on a riff about experiencing life in the allegory of an amusement park.

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
Martinl: Oh?
Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!
Martin: What a great story.
Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it. 

God I hope this ride doesn’t have those upside down, stomach twisting, loop-de-loops.

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Less than a week after the New York Times’ article depicting the darker side of surrogacy arrangements, I found this in my Google alert:

It’s an honest account of surrogacy that does a better job in presenting what I believe to be the norm of surrogacies, rather than the exceptions noted in that much-commented upon article.

I say “honest’ because Gina Scanlon — a two time surrogacy veteran — talks briefly on the video about two very different relationships she has with her sets of IPs. She’s an ‘aunt’ to one child, and completely cut off from the other and that saddens her.

And yet despite that heartache…and the invasive tests, drugs and all the rest….she talks about her joy in delivering up a true miracle. “It’s the most amazing thing,” she says.

What I’m discovering as I read more blogs and websites dealing this the subject: Surrogacy is no picnic. A happy ending is not guaranteed. But thoses who approach it with a good heart and intentions usually find happiness at the end of nine months.

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