Monday, April 22, 2013

The 2 week wait... Surrogate Side

I am a very impatient person.  I prefer things done, like, yesterday.  So, needless to say, this 2 week wait (2ww) was going to be the death of me.

It had been a running joke between K and I about my obsession with home pregnancy tests (HPTs).  I like to pee on a stick (POAS) like nobody's business!  Despite the recommendation of our agency, K and I decided that it would be okay to take a few HPTs just before our scheduled beta blood test to get an idea of what could be happening ahead of time (and K even sneaked a few into my overnight gift bag).

I had to use such great self-control to not begin testing 2 days after our transfer.  We had our transfer on the 9th and K suggested we start testing the following 17th or 18th (our beta was scheduled on the 20th).  I gave myself a personal goal of the 16th whole week (because I already knew I wasn't gonna make it to K's dates)!  I had every intention of keeping that goal, but...

On the 14th, my family and I went out for some ice cream and on the drive there, I got this wave of nausea and a substantial hot flash.  I looked at my husband and told him I wasn't feeling well.  This incident was very reminiscent of how we figured out I was pregnant with my "surprise" daughter.  That evening, my husband suggested that I take a HPT, and much to my surprise, I declined!  I told him it was too early and I didn't want to see a negative (and I had to at least wait until the morning for the first pee of the day - better odds... wink, wink).

My alarm rang on Monday morning and I just laid there thinking to myself, "should I" or "shouldn't I"??  I came to the decision that I would test Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week completely expecting to see a big fat negative on the stick this morning since it was only 6 days after my 3 day transfer.  Waaaayyy too early for a positive.  With this in mind, I jumped out of bed and quickly got the test going.  I wait about 30 seconds before reading the test and I'm, like, "dang"...  You know these things are like car crashes and you can't help but look at them every other second.  I take the HPT and throw it up into the light and I think I see something.  I mean BARELY see something.  Is there something really there?  Am I just imagining it??

So, I take a picture of it (and that was not an easy feat as I had to get the right angle for my iPhone to even attempt to maybe capture it - if "it" was even there).  I texted this image to my IPs.

Yeah, I know.  You probably can't see it...  You had to squint, tilt your head and hold it up to the light, but it WAS there.
It was nearly two hours before I got a response from them...  I was about to call them and wake them up when I finally got a reply.  The response I got was "Is that positive ?!!!!!"  My response to them: "Uh-huh!"

Because I was so worried that I was imagining it and getting my IPs hopes up, I texted K and she's, like, "did you take any with you? Lol do it again now."  I told her I hadn't, but I went out and bought more.  I took one and anxiously waited for the mysterious second line to appear.  Much to our relief, a second line appeared and slightly darker than our first try.

From there, a HPT was taken every morning up to and including the morning of our beta.  All tests continued to progress to darker lines and then, ultimately, to a line darker than the control line.  There was no denying it.  We are PREGNANT!!

Our beta blood test on Saturday, April 20th, which was 11 days after our transfer, confirmed a pregnancy with levels of 151!  We have a second, follow-up, blood test on Tuesday, April 23rd to be sure my levels are increasing as they should.  From there, an early ultrasound will be scheduled for around May 15th.  Woot woot!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The day after... Surrogate Side

As the evening of the transfer progressed, I would feel some twinges and mild cramping.  Good, right??  When I woke up in the morning, I was thinking, "umm...there MUST be some magic happening because I haven't felt cramps like this since I was a teenager!"  I was in touch with K and let her know how I was feeling and we both chalked it up to being good because it was SO different than the last time.

However, as the morning went on and the more I moved around, I began getting nauseous and cold sweats and ended up not being able to walk.  I was in so much pain.  Agony.  I let K know that something was wrong and that I was going to call the nurse; which I did.  They wanted me to been seen by the doctor right away.  I was brought to the clinic and seen upon my arrival.

The doctor was stumped.  It couldn't be an infection from the procedure as it was too early.  He had me describe what happened and his initial diagnosis was a ruptured ovarian cyst.  His internal exam confirmed it.  Turns out, it was completely coincidental to the transfer; not caused by it.  Although very uncommon, it can sometimes happen.  I asked the doctor (on several occassions!) if this would affect the embryos at all.  Every time, his answer was "no, they should be just fine" or "the ovaries are not the same as the uterus".  Good news!  Let me lose an ovary, who cares?, but let those embryos be okay!! LOL!

In the end, I was fine.  I was in a lot of pain for the remainder of the day and into the next.  And then, absolutely no pain at all.  Phew!  I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from Circle to make sure I was doing okay - my IPs had gotten in touch with them so they were aware of what was going on.  Just another indicator that the right choice was made and I chose the PERFECT agency. 

Now onto the two week wait until my beta blood test scheduled for Saturday, April 20th, 2013...  Bleh.

Second IVF cycle... Intended Parents Side

We finally made it Boston to begin the final stages of our monitoring. Things were processing really well and I was creating more follicles than I had ever produced in the past. The new clinic was amazing to work with and we were happy. We ended up spending 2 weeks in Beantown and although we loved seeing family and friends the wait was sort of terrible, we wanted to get the show on the road. In addition, probably due to the high amount of stims I was on I started feeling really yucky. I never developed OHSS, but I was feeling very ‘full’ and sick by the end of the stimulation period, but totally worth it and often the way it goes.

The retrieval went really well and we waited for the transfer. We planned on doing a 3 day Assisted Hatching cycle since this had worked for us in the past and our new physician felt this was the best approach this time, based upon how good the little embryos looked that day we would transfer possibly a few embryos that day. The day of the transfer our carrier and I both hit copious amounts of traffic but we made it just in time. She quickly got dressed in her gown and robe and we both put on our ‘lucky socks’. The physician who was doing the transfer came over and told us that the embryos looked “spectacular”. I almost fell off my chair. I later asked our carrier if she thought he was reading the wrong medical file and she started laughing and said “NO”! Things went really well and we transferred 3 embryos that day.  We also had 3 more to freeze. We all felt good and had a quick lunch after and our surrogate went to her hotel room for the night to rest before her journey back home the following morning. Now on to the 2WW.

Second IVF cycle... Surrogate Side

The time had come once again - I was given my instructions for meds and was directed to begin them on March 9, 2013.  It was about time!  K and I were ecstatic!  We had waited so, ahem, patiently, and couldn't be happier to be on our way to getting on the baby train.  Watch out!  The crazy surro-ladies have been let out of their cages!

This round of medications was a bit different than last time because this time we were doing a fresh embryo transfer vs. the frozen embryo transfer last time. (There are mixed reviews on which type is best, but we were very confident that this fresh cycle would be IT.)  My meds differed in that I was put on Lupron subcutaneous injections.  These injections were tiny needles that went into my "fat pouch" on my belly.  Not too bad - stung like crazy, but only for about 7 minutes after the shot.  The purpose for this medication was to suppress my ovulation.  Again, I was told there would be some side effects to this med -- hot flashes (better described by K as "warm flashes" and given my extreme dislike for being cold, I joked that I was a little excited to have them as it was still cold where I was living).  Too bad that never happened...  Another change was the switch from the intramuscular progesterone injection to Crinone, a vaginal gel.  No more backside injections!  Woot!  (Or, so I thought...  I would take the backside injections over the gel ANY DAY; for some maybe not-so-obvious wet reasons.)  All in all, I was really fortunate to not be adversely affected by all the meds.  Phew!

I continued my medications as instructed and went for my monitoring appointments until I was given the go ahead to leave for my vacation to Vegas.  While I was in Vegas, K was starting her meds and then undergoing the retrieval.  I was called on April 4th, 2013 and given my updated med instructions and told that our transfer would be on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013!

Upon my return from Vegas, I got things prepared for my transfer.  I drove down to the clinic with my full bladder and got stuck in traffic - the WORST traffic I had ever seen.  I was 14 miles away from my destination for about an hour.  K texted me and said she was in traffic and was worried that she would be late.  Uh-oh!

I arrived at the clinic with about 15 minutes to spare and K arrived right on time.  We made it!

We were brought back to prepare for the procedure and I changed into my little robe.  K had gotten us both some "Lucky Socks" and we both wore them into the procedure room.  We shall see how lucky they really were and if they worked...!

When the procedure was over, we had lunch and then I was on my merry way to rest and keep my feet up at my hotel.  Things didn't feel much different than the last time, so I was a little worried.  I put on "My Lucky Transfer Jammies" (a cute overnight gift from my IPs) and nestled in for the night.  

A second opinion... Intended Parent Side

After our first round of IVF with our carrier failed we decided we really needed to consider getting a second opinion. We had been with this particular clinic in Boston for a total of 6 cycles and at this point we felt like were just hitting our heads against the wall. When we asked them about next steps for our second carrier cycle we had some apprehension and didn’t feel they were really looking at the full picture or listening to our concerns and medical history enough.  Also change can be good and we decided to make a move.  So I quickly started looking at physicians that were well known in both the area of IVF and surrogacy. I searched as many clinics as I could but I kept going back to 1 physician in particular who was known for dealing with difficult cases and for second opinions. I set up a medical call with him for the first week in January, and we were quickly impressed with his medical opinion as well as his care. He felt we could hopefully make the next cycle successful but we needed to make some drastic changes to my medications and protocol. I would change from a long Lupron cycle to an antagonist cycle and I would be on the highest dose of medications I have ever been (Gonal F 600 or more IU DAILY and a few others). I would start my medications in my new home and after I had been on everything for about 5-6 days I would fly out to Boston to begin  monitoring and my hubby would join me a few days later, since we wouldn’t know when the retrieval would be till the last minute. After we agreed to work with this new clinic in Boston, we went on to the INSANE wait period. We had to transfer all of our medical records from 1 facility to another, and you would have thought we were trying to do the impossible. This took over a month to do, things kept getting lost, medical staff were very busy, fax numbers were incorrect, and some records were incomplete. At this time we were assured again that we had been blessed with the perfect carrier because between the two of us, and Circle we were working around the clock to try to get everything organized, time was ticking!  The bad part was that none of us are particularly patient people and this caused a lot of frustration, but we made it through. This was a lot of work for everything, especially for our carrier and her hubby who had to basically start from scratch, but we really felt this was for the best.  

A second opinion... Surrogate Side

Given the outcome of our first transfer, my IPs were back and forth about getting a second opinion.  I expressed my understanding and told them that I was up for whatever decision they make.  I was ready to do it again.  Just let me get through my period and let's go for it!  If only it were as simple as that...

In early January 2013, my IPs decided to go for a second opinion at another large fertility clinic in the area.  They met with a renowned and highly qualified doctor and were told there is hope.  The doctor described a different protocol for K's treatment for retrieval of more eggs and of better quality.  Woot!  I am sure that was music to her ears!  The doctor also mentioned that there was the possibility that they would transfer more embryos than the last time if they aren't of "great" quality.  My IPs ran this by me and I agreed to it.  I think they were shocked that I would be up for it, but for me, I had complete trust in the doctors to know what would be appropriate and not set things up for disaster.  Also, K at that point was not producing embryos of superior quality and I understood that.  Given this hopeful expectation, they ultimately decided to go with the new clinic and new protocol.  That meant, we're starting over.  And, pretty much from scratch.

As much as we both (myself and my IPs) wanted to get started right away, we ran into quite a bit of a scramble to get our medical records transferred over - missing this and missing that - more tests for me and my husband to meet the standards of the new clinic, getting my IPs records together, K meeting with the doctor more to finalize the protocol and just overall waiting for the clinic's staff to pull everything together. K and I described ourselves as "crazy surro-ladies" and felt bad for our nursing staff from our constant calls and emails.  If it wasn't K contacting them for our next steps, it was me or Circle, our agency.  Circle really stepped up when we needed an "authoritative" edge (so helpful and always made it clear that they were there to help in any way).  Poor ladies.  Lol!  We just felt like we had to be on top of things and didn't want them to "forget" about us.  (And I am SURE they didn't.)

As K had said at one point, "we are on the fast track to baby!"

In late February 2013, we were finally told that we had everything in place and were just waiting for the doctor to review our charts, prepare a treatment plan and pull together a timeline for the cycle.  Our next cycle! WooHoo!!  All of which was arranged around a vacation of mine to Las Vegas.  We were told to expect a transfer as soon as I got back.  A little R&R in Vegas and soaking up the lucky vibes to bring them back for our big day?  Sure thing! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

First IVF cycle... Surrogate Side

Waiting to hear back from our cycle nurse to give me a date to stop my birth control pills was like waiting for a 10-gallon pot of water to boil to curb your immediate, ravenous appetite.  And then, when I finally got the go-ahead, waiting for "aunt flo" to arrive was ten times worse!  Who would have ever thought that I would be BEGGING for it to come??

But, the time did come and the meds were started.  I was told that I would be a huge hormonal mess, but (luckily) that never really happened.  Well, I thought it hadn't - my husband may have a different response??  I was super-nervous about the progesterone injections - intramuscular and into my backside.  I knew I would have to do them myself because we all know now that my husband wouldn't be able to help me without passing out.  I kept going back to when we were at our Medical Screening and literally took 15 minutes to give myself  a "practice" shot of saline into my backside.  Mind over matter.  I have to say, if I didn't have such a great relationship with my IPs, I would have been lost.  K, the intended mother, was there for me every step of the way and offered great tips and humor.  God love her!

After many trips to my monitoring clinic to be sure the meds were working as they should, we were finally given our transfer date -- the date when they would place the IPs fertilized embryos into my uterus.  This day couldn't come fast enough!  (I am sure by now you have realized my lack of patience with regard to this stuff.)  As the date approached, I began planning playdates for my children and looked at my calendar and told my friends, "sorry, I can't that weekend because I'll be getting knocked up!"  It was becoming REAL.

December 9, 2012 finally came and I made my way down to the fertility clinic with my full bladder.  K met me at my hotel room and brought me the most thoughtful overnight gift chock full of magazines, snacks and other necessities (all wrapped up in the cutest Vera Bradley bag)!  Together we traveled to the hospital for our big moment.

When deciding to become a surrogate, your vanity and self consciousness has to go out the window with your application.  During the transfer procedure, you are "exposed" with your knees at your ears for the whole world to see.  But, all done for good cause and all very worth it.

We were told that my beta blood test to verify pregnancy would be on December 20, 2012.  K joked that we would have to purchase home pregnancy tests to test before then.  Little did she know that I planned on it from day 1!

Although I could feel some "magic" happening in there, this cycle was sadly unsuccessful.  


Our first "date"... Intended Parent Side

Shortly after we decided to go ahead with surrogacy we decided that my husband was going to make a rather large career change. He accepted a job out of state and we were moving to the Midwest (Sadly many of the states in the Midwest aren’t known to be surrogacy friendly but that’s a LONG story for another day). We were sad to leave our beloved Boston but felt we had to embark on a new opportunity. We were told by our IVF Clinic at the time that we would all need to meet in person and our carrier and her hubby would have to complete a few more tests and we would as well. In addition we would need to have a separate and joint social work meeting. We left the evening before, but due to weather we were really afraid we were going to miss the last flight going into Boston that evening, and because we had an early meeting the following morning we thought we would miss our appointments. Long story short, my husband ran through the airport as fast as he could to our connecting flight and begged the airline to hold the flight for me, and much to our surprise they did and I shortly joined him after, I’m a little slower on the running! 

We started our appointments early the next morning and I think we were both a little nervous yet excited. While we were sitting in the waiting area I thought I saw our carrier’s hubby, but wasn’t 100%. I think I was staring a little too long, so my husband poked me to stop. I didn’t want to be rude if it was him, but I still wasn’t sure. We shortly met the social worker and our carrier and her hubby a few minutes later and I felt terrible as well, since he was sitting only a few feet from me earlier. Everything went perfectly at our meeting and we were so happy to finally meet this AMAZING couple in person. From this point on we waited for our orders and our carrier would begin her medications for our FET cycle since we had 2 embryos frozen. 

Our first "date"... Surrogate Side

Although we had not "met" in person yet, we were in touch on a regular basis to coordinate a date for our Medical Screening, which was also our first meeting face to face.  Due to everybody's life dynamic and work schedules, this was not an easy feat.  My husband was probably the most difficult to accommodate due to his line of work, so that made me feel bad.  (I even asked if I could leave him at home because I just really wanted to get on with this!  Lol!)  We were finally able to establish a date that worked for all of us - a day after we returned from our vacation in early November!  

My husband and I eagerly made the trip to the fertility clinic to have our remaining medical screening completed and to meet our IPs!  Our first stop was to have blood drawn (my husband doesn't tolerate needles very well) and then we met with the nurses and doctor to have my hysteroscopy performed.  My husband had to leave the room during that as he was already becoming "faint" from having his blood drawn and the short time he was watching the procedure -- which is very much like a gynecological exam.  He, obviously, is a softy.  From there we met with the nurse to review the medication procedure for the upcoming IVF cycle.  Again, my husband had to leave the room as he was now beginning to turn ghost white and feeling queasy just from TALKING about the meds procedure - no needles were out at this point! ;) I met up with him again after I was done and we walked into the waiting room together to wait for our social work screening.

When the social worker was ready for us, she retrieved us from the waiting room.  When we were in the hallway, she asked us why we weren't talking with our IPs.  I was like, "What?? They were in there?  I didn't even see them!!"  My husband then spoke up and said, "I thought that was them."  I looked at him and said, "You knew they were in there and you didn't tell me??"  His response was, "I wasn't sure it was them."  I felt SO bad.

When our social work session ended, we were joined by our IPs for a joint social work session.  (We finally met in person!!! WooHoo!)  I immediately apologized for not seeing them in the waiting room - I didn't want them to think we were rude.  How crazy is that?  We must have seemed like jerks.

Our joint social work session went well (apart from the fact that the social worker was just a bit, let's see, "intense") and we all were able to fine tune some future details.  And from there, we wait until our next big step in the process -- the start of the IVF cycle!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting matched... Intended Parents' Side

We were told that our 'wait period' could be anywhere from 1-4 months. One of the social workers asked  us if that was too fast and we said "no way". On September 21, 2012 we were sent an email that said "potential surrogate for review." I couldn't believe it. I actually pulled over in a parking lot as I was driving somewhere for work to read the email on my phone and I read it cover to cover at least 2 times. She was PERFECT, and I mean better than perfect, we KNEW she was the person we wanted to work with. What stuck out most, was her love for her own family and her desire to do this for someone else, and she was doing it for all the amazing reasons you would hope for. From our perspective you are putting all of your 'trust' in a sense into someone you barely even know at that time, but from the moment we read her profile, we were thrilled. When you think about someone else doing this for a total stranger it's remarkable and selfless and we felt that we had hit the surrogacy lotto! 

Circle nailed it and we had to act fast.  We spoke on the phone with the four of us and it honestly wasn't uncomfortable. We wanted to reassure them that her health was number 1. We understood this more than most. We wanted a baby, she wanted to help. Seemed pretty simple (not really, but we can pretend). It was a match and we were really looking forward to the next steps.

Getting matched... Surrogate Side

Circle really listened to what I wanted from this journey and for whom I wanted to become a surrogate.  They worked their magic and sent a potential Intended Parent profile for review in late September.  Within minutes, I knew they were the ONE.  I shared the profile with my husband and he agreed.  THIS family was THE family for us.

We set up a time to "meet" over the phone and my first impressions were solidified.  They are amazing.  Their story encompassed everything I was looking for - a family who had been trying to conceive without success for quite some time.  I could sense their love for one another and their overwhelming desire to complete their family.  They were so thoughtful and wanted me and my husband to know that my health and safety was their first priority.  Wow, they rock!

After connecting back with the agency, we were considered "officially matched". WooHOO!  We both agreed that this was a good fit and were eager to get the party started.  It was a bit awkward in the beginning to establish a relationship with them -- what do I do?  do I call them?  email them?  text them?  what do I say? -- but knowing that we both wanted the same thing made it less weird. The bullet was bit and regular contact was made.  They turned out to be a fun, loving and hilarious couple.  I am so lucky to have been matched with them. 

Welcome to the best agency EVER… Intended Parents' Side

Previously my husband and I looked at a few different surrogacy agencies. We asked around at the time to our current physician and also to anyone we knew that may have gone down this journey. One of the main things we were looking for was a large trustworthy agency with a good history, and a quick matching period. We narrowed it down to 2 agencies and decided to meet with Circle first, because frankly they were a block from my husband’s office at the time in the city. We met with them on June 29, 2012. We walked into the office and were surprised at how large it was. The legal floor was on a separate floor. We were quickly met by a man named Doug, who worked at Circle. We went into the “family meeting room” I believe it was called. We sat on a large couch and tried to act like this was just another typical day.

What struck us was that before we came that day, they asked us to fill out a very long application with our medical history, and background. They remembered so much of what we had written down, that was a good sign. Within a few minutes he had us laughing, he himself had used a surrogate to help him build his family and he was so happy with his experience and his beautiful sons. He asked us about our journey to date and my husband did most of the talking. We asked him many questions and he even laughed out loud a few times since some of them were probably a little crazy. Next came an attorney who went over the legal aspect of the journey, and this was the section were we had the most questions and concerns, he was great and all of our questions at that time were answered. Lastly they went over the financial aspect of the journey. All of this was a huge commitment, a possible life changing game decision. We left the meeting feeling good. They answered every question we had and now, they were allowing us to digest all of this information for a few days. A few days later we spoke with another agency, but we kept going back to Circle, we felt that they were a great agency. We told Dean and Doug that we were ‘in’ and from that point on, we went on to the plethora of legal documents, living wills, power of attorney forms, more medical testing, FDA testing, background checks, psychological tests and much, much more. It was a huge undertaking to complete all of this but we knew our future surrogate was doing this, plus then some and we were grateful already. For the first time in a while we saw a glimmer of hope. Game on.

Welcome to the best agency EVER... Surrogate Side

Upon the submission of my Gestational Carrier application with Circle Surrogacy, I felt good.  I felt as though I did my fair share of research.  I knew with whom I wanted to work and was ready for it to begin.  I just knew that this was right.  I found the right agency, I think, and I'm ready.  I'm ready to do this!  When will I hear back from them?  What are the next steps?  Who am I going to tell about this?  Am I really doing this?!  Yes.  I am.

About 4 hours after submitting my application, I received a response from Circle - wow!!  I was kind of shocked, but pleasantly surprised - they were ON it!!   I like this agency already!  I read the welcome email and was delighted to learn that I had met their pre-screening criteria!  I was happy to read the nice words and the overall friendliness of the coordinator, Jeni, who had been a carrier previously and offered to share her experience via her blog.  I then took a look at the attached paperwork involved - holy smokes!! Jeni made it very clear that she was there for me every step of the way.  She even included her cell phone number!!  Who does that but someone who really LOVES what she does for a living! 

I immediately checked out the paperwork and began pulling everything together.  I was so amped about getting started that I lived, breathed, dreamed everything surrogacy related for weeks!  I was in touch with Jeni often.  We laughed together about some frustrating parts of the process and never once was she annoyed with me or my plethora of questions.  Believe me, there were MANY questions to be answered, but my most asked question was probably, "what's the next step?"  To that, I would get "we wait."  Bleh!

But, things progressed relatively quickly and before I knew it, I was having my social work screening and signing my Commitment Letter.  From there I had my Psych Exam to prove I was sane and, of course, passed with flying colors. ;)

How it came to be... Intended Parents' Side

How it came to be… (*Contributed by Intended Parents)

My husband and I both always knew we wanted children. We dated for several years before we got married, we were best friends and looked forward to our future. Shortly after we got engaged, on a fluke we found out that I had a large benign liver tumor that needed to be removed and I had to have surgery right away. The tumor also known as a Hepatic Adenoma was caused by OCPs that contained estrogen and due to my prolonged use, I had developed a tumor.

Because of this, I was told by physicians that I could never use OCPs again. This was disappointing news because I have endometriosis and birth control is known for keeping some of the symptoms at bay. After we got married I decided to go see a fertility specialist due to my family history of endometriosis. My husband and I went to a large clinic in Boston and one of the first of many tests that I had to have done was a HSG test, where they checked my fallopian tubes. I learned at this appointment that both of my fallopian tubes much to our surprise were both blocked and even worse, were so damaged that they both had to be removed before we could proceed. I remember walking out of the hospital that day and sitting on a bench outside the hospital. I sat there for almost 2 hours and cried. This may sound dramatic but at that very moment in time, I knew that I would never be able to have a baby without IVF. I knew that I would have to have my tubes removed and that it would be a complicated medical journey. My body had defeated me and I was frankly really angry.

I quickly had a Laparoscopy and had a Salpingo-oophorectomy (fallopian tubes removed). During this surgery they also found pretty severe endometriosis. This was not my first Lap, in fact it was my third to date, and each surgery my endo was progressing I was 27 years old. IVF came next after I healed. The most difficult thing about IVF is the unknown. The unknown of how well your body will respond to the medications, how many follicles you will create, how many eggs will fertilize, implant, and result in pregnancy. 

We did 2 IVF cycles and they both failed. On the third IVF cycle we added AH (Assisted Hatching) and it worked like a charm, I was finally pregnant. Yet, I started bleeding very heavily early in the pregnancy. I learned that I had a SCH (Subchorionic hemorrhage) that was causing the bleeding.  Although they can be somewhat common in IVF, it was not fun. I had very heavy bleeding for over 2 months during the beginning of the pregnancy, and despite this I learned I was pregnant with twins. We were in complete shock, yet thrilled. At the time we felt like we had run a marathon and we had won. Infertility is tough on a marriage. It can be described as putting a microscope on your relationship. I was a hormonal nightmare to be around. Yes, I was the one who was going through all of the treatments, but my husband was the one who had to deal with me, and I was frankly tough to deal with. I was on a mission, and that mission involved IVF and I often stopped at nothing to make sure this was top priority, even to a point of obsession at times. Looking back I give him a lot of credit, I was a hot mess at times.

Things progressed with the pregnancy for several months, but I could never get the fear out of the back of my mind that something could go wrong. I waited months to tell most people that I was even pregnant, and I wasn’t gaining very much weight at all, compared to what most people gain while they were pregnant with twins. On a week day in November I drove to Burlington, Vermont for a work event and by the end of the event I really wasn’t feeling well. I chalked it up to pregnancy but the minute I walked into my hotel, I went to the bathroom and I was bleeding and it was heavy, I was 21 weeks pregnant. I was in shock but thought at the time that perhaps it had something to do with my previous SCH. I called my hospital and was instructed to stay at the hotel unless the bleeding became worse and to come to the hospital in Boston, first thing in the a.m.  The next day I drove several hours back to Boston and from there it became a world wind of bad news.We learned that the amniotic fluid in our daughter was quickly depleting. We had just learned the sex of the babies a few days before and everything had been fine. We learned that we had a few possible outcomes. One of them was that we would loss our daughter but our son may survive. The other possible outcome was that we would lose the entire pregnancy. The condition of the two babies over the next 2 1/2 weeks quickly became more serious. The fluid in both babies dropped completely and I was hemorrhaging and very weak due to all the blood loss.  We had no choice but to deliver both babies at 23 ½ weeks gestation. I was required to deliver both babies stillborn and we learned following the delivery that I had a severe placenta abruption. Nothing could have been done at that gestation to save the pregnancy. Our greatest fear had come true, they came into our lives and so quickly they were taken from us. In situations like these you look for answers, for explanations, we got second opinions we left no stone unturned. We were told although placenta abruptions are rare; they are more likely to occur after they have happened once, not the news we wanted to hear. Several months later we did IVF again. I wanted to do it right away, but my husband and the doctor both wisely made me wait till the spring.  

We couldn’t believe that this cycle was also successful. But nine weeks into the pregnancy we suffered a miscarriage. We also knew that moving forward our chance of success was much smaller, because we were told to never transfer more than one embryo due to my previous abruption and the quality of our embryos historically has not been great. We know we were always at risk for another abruption in a second or third trimester if we to become pregnant again and we felt that this was a risk we couldn’t take. 

During the catastrophe of our twin pregnancy, I emailed several surrogacy agencies. I knew that the pregnancy wasn’t going to end well and I was searching for hope for the future. I heard back from a few agencies but one agency in particular really stuck out and their office was in Boston, a block from my husband’s office at the time. I emailed them and a few days later they wrote back. We kept this in the back of our minds and after our second loss we decided to schedule an appointment with Circle and meet with them in person. My husband was 100% on board, but we had many questions. For many people this may sound illogical, unthinkable, but for us it seemed like an incredible option. 

How it came to be... Surrogate Side

I had always wanted to be a surrogate.  Well, maybe not always, but for a very long time.  The desire surfaced at the age of about 20 after I had a doctor tell me that I may or may not be able to conceive children.  From that moment, I decided that if I could indeed have children of my own, I wanted to be able to help a family less fortunate do the same via surrogacy.  I was so passionate about this that I even mentioned it to my serious boyfriend at the time (who ended up lucky enough to marry me) as something that I wanted to pursue after creating a family of my own.  What a great guy I had - he was on board!! WooHoo!

Although it was never really mentioned again, it was still always in the back of my mind.  My husband and I went on to get married and have 2 very precious and incredibly gorgeous children - a boy and a girl; our quintessential American family.  Much to our disbelief, I was able to conceive VERY easily.  So easily that our 2nd child was a bit of a "surprise" I guess you could say.  My son was only 9 months old when we learned of our newest journey.  We welcomed the surprise with open arms (after shedding a few tears of "what?" "how?" "can we do this?" of course).  We got through it and wouldn't have changed a thing.

It had been about a year and a half since giving birth to my daughter when I finally felt "ready" to begin looking into becoming a surrogate.  I broached the topic with my husband who was kind of caught off guard with it.  He explained that he thought that I had forgotten about it.  I quickly told him I hadn't and reminded him that he was supportive of it before we were even married.  I respect his reservations -- we have a family now to think of, you are an integral part of our family; the kids need you, what if this doesn't work out?, what if you become ill?, what if....?  My answer to his concerns was simple: I want to do this.  I want to help a family share in the gift we were so blessed to receive from God - becoming parents.  It took some convincing and reassurance, but he ultimately got on board once again and gave me his blessing to proceed.

I began researching agencies for surrogacy.  I was astounded by the numerous possibilities.  I was overwhelmed, but eager to do this.  I knew what I wanted out of this journey and for whom I wanted to do this.  I just needed the right agency to find the family for me.  Although there are several options for surrogacy agencies, I kept going back to the same website - over and over and over again.  I felt a connection.  And that is what I needed.

At about 1pm on August 23, 2012, I submitted my application to become a gestational carrier with Circle Surrogacy.