Saturday, August 27, 2011

In for the long-haul!

It's been a little while since I last posted, and I"m sure most of you know about the insanity that has been happening at my house. I am now officially a single parent, and as of a couple days ago, I am once again a contracted surrogate! I am SO excited!

Just one week ago today, I made a crazy journey to PA to meet the doctors that would determine my 'suitability' as a surrogate for this particular NY couple. Needless to say it was a looooong journey, each leg took me over 5 hours, partially in part to the heavy rain on the way up, and my serious miscalculation on the way home that led me directly into New York City. But I digress..

The girls stayed with their father Sunday night, and were to go to their grandparents in the morning. After a very long, rainy, 5 hour drive during which I learned that my daughter was inconsolable and begging for me, I finally arrived at my hotel room. 

 Nice place, quiet, plenty of room. It would have been wonderful; if I hadn't felt so alone! I missed my kids a whole bunch to say the least. So, knowing I would see them soon, I worked on some homework and went to bed. Did I mention I started my Bachelor's program that same week??

Got up in the morning, jumped in the shower, and ready for my appointment. Here I am, don't I look fabulous? lol
 The appointment took forever! Basically it was like a job interview! We went over just about everything in my medical file, which took almost a full hour! Then we did a baseline ultrasound, blood work, and formulated a game-plan that included waiting about a month to get me on birth control, a mock transfer, and then the final transfer sometime around Thanksgiving.

Well, as you can imagine after all that excitement, I felt I deserved to treat myself. So before stopping home, I went to Starbucks and got myself some jet fuel for the way home:
 When in the interview, the doctor mentioned something about being familiar with Connecticut, the general Manchester area, and how high gas prices were there! Gas was at $3.59 at the area in PA where I was, and went up to $3.77 as I got further from Philadelphia on my way home. Imagine my surprise when I crossed over the New Jersey line and found this at a Hess station:
Of course, I filled up!!
$37 for a full tank of gas, now that felt good!

On the way home, I mistakenly took I-87 instead of I-287, sending me directly through New York. Let me just state for the record that I HATE New York traffic. 2 hours to get through Manhattan, almost 6 hours to get home.. I MUST remember next time to take the other route..

To make a very long story at least tolerably short, I got home finally and spoke with my new intended family. There were some concerns over how long the clinic wanted to take to do the transfer, the necessity of the mock transfer, and my personal travel plans to see my mom in St. Louis over Thanksgiving. The family wishes to move things along as soon as possible, and therefore made a request to the clinic to fore-go the month waiting time, and get started right away. So currently I have begun the birth control phase and waiting for the next set of instructions! If all goes well, I shall be pregnant soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Heartbroken.. amongst other things

You may not have noticed, but I've been very quiet over the last week. My facebook page has lacked its usually upbeat demeanor, and a quiet storm has been brewing. I wasn't ready then to let it all out, but I feel now is the time.

I am no longer a surrogate.

It breaks my heart, but things have gone badly over the last week and my intended father has been convinced to find another surrogate to carry his child/ren. I'm still coming to terms with everything that has happened, so I will try to make my re-cap short and sweet. Forgive me if I start ranting..

On Tuesday June 21st I had my baseline ultrasound. This was my first ultrasound for this cycle, and was supposed to be a short, simple procedure just to take a few measurements and such. I should have known something was wrong when the technician took forever and asked if I"d been bleeding heavily. Of course, they didn't disclose the results to me, so I went home to prepare for a very long drive to the lab in Norwich to get my FDA and STD testing done. As I was on  my way, I got a phone call:

Clinic Coordinator (K):"We're going to have you hold off on getting that lab work done. Something showed up on your ultrasound and I need to speak with the agency coordinator before we proceed."
Me: "What is it?"
K: "You have a polyp on your uterus. Normally this would have been found during your preliminary hystogram, but your agency coordinator refused that test for you and this puts a bit of a kink in things."
Me: "What does that mean? What is the next step?"
K: "A polyp is a growth in your uterus. We don't really know why some people get them, but they can make it very hard for you to keep a pregnancy, especially with IVF. You're going to have to have a minor surgery to get it removed before we can allow you to go through with an embryo transfer."


Ok, so this is bad news! According to the clinic though, its just a hiccup, and as soon as I have the surgery and recover (about 4-6 weeks she tells me) we can go through with the procedure as planned. Not great.. but ok.

I freaked a little about that.. we all know how fond of doctors, hospitals, and general anesthesia I am..

So now I"m driving home, and wondering what the agency coordinator is going to say about all of this. I have an email when I get home from her
"I'm waiting for clarification from (K). Will be in touch."

When she finally calls me, there's a lot of commotion, her saying I"m so sorry, this could mean cancer, this could mean this that or another, don't worry you have to get it taken care of but once you do we can match you with another family, etc..
What do you mean!!? The clinic just said I could carry for my intended father in about 4-6 weeks!

Apparently she had her mind already made up. I didn't hear from anyone back that day, but I did make a doctors appointment for June 30th to find out what all this means and just how long it is going to take to get this polyp resolved. I emailed the intended father myself the next morning, letting him know what was going on, and how I had been told that in 4-6 weeks we should be able to continue if he wished to do that. I completely expected him to email me back saying 'yes of course we will wait, don't worry about it' He has been so kind and understanding through everything that I never expected what I got next.

This morning, I received an email from him. He says that he is sorry, that the clinic will not accept me as a gestational carrier because of this complication and the risks it may pose after the surgery. Best wishes to me, move on with your life. Of course those aren't his exact words.. but you get the gist.

I was devastated. Along with very confused. After all, the clinic told me there would be no problems. Being the person that I am, I immediately emailed the clinic asking them why they would tell me such a thing. Turns out they didn't. My agency coordinator told him something. It's the only thing that could have happened, because (K) did not speak to him, and stated that she would have told him that this was an easily remedied situation and that the process could easily be re-started as soon as my recovery from the surgery was complete, as long as the polyp was found to be non-cancerous (of course).She states how all this could have been avoided if we had just consented to the test in the beginning.
(R), on the other hand (the agency coordinator) insists that she has no idea why they didn't do the test in the first place. She tells me in emails that I should focus on getting this taken care of, and then 'we'll see what the clinic says'. She is 'hopeful that I can carry for someone in the future', but will not admit that she told the intended father some heavily biased and blatantly wrong information, and that he is making the decision to find a new surrogate based on flawed information. Of course I am in no position to write to him myself; I would seem desperate and probably very mis-informed since (R) is supposed to be an 'expert' in all things surrogacy related.

I am in pieces right now. There goes everything. My plan is in shambles, my emotions are out of whack from the hormones already and I feel misled, deceived, and rejected. I'm scared to death of surgery but I know its necessary. I have to get this thing out of me, especially if I want any chance of being a surrogate.. EVER. I feel as though I've been strung along to keep me happy and quiet..

I feel like a failure. I'm failing my family, and I've failed myself. My body has failed me, and I haven't felt that way since before I had children. I can't take care of my children the way that I want to without this, I've prepared for being pregnant for the last few months to the point where now I just want to GET pregnant so that I can feel happy and ok with my circumstances again. I know that's not a smart decision; I know that's a bad choice, so I won't do it.. but the urge is definitely there. I feel like I"m tottering on the edge of yet another depressive episode, one of those things that I've worked so damn hard to keep at bay while I"ve been waiting for this.

They say everything happens for a reason. I wish I knew the reasoning behind this one, because I really feel like its going to break me into a million pieces. That could very well be the residual effects of the hormones (I've only been off them for a day), but knowing myself as I do.. I've got to be very careful over the next month or until this surgery is over and done with. I'm standing on the edge of a very deep chasm, and it's going to take everything I've got not to fall in.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

This is nothing!!

Day three of Lupron. I can handle this!

At least that's what I thought..

I've been doing my own injections now for three days. The first day, I'll admit, I had a bit of an anxiety attack taking the cover off the needle and realizing that I had to put that in my skin. But I held my breath and did it, and it actually didn't hurt! Apparently the 5/8" needles are small enough that they really don't make that much of an impact. These are called subcutaneous injections; they only need to go into the fat under the skin, not all the way through to the muscle. The muscle shots are the ones that hurt.
...or so I'm told.

So, of course I was feeling pretty good about myself when I talked to my clinic coordinator yesterday about what was going to happen after the transfer. She had a list of medications that she had ordered for me, and wanted to know which ones I had gotten and which I hadn't. Sadly, I hadn't received a single thing on the list.. including the 1 1/2" needles that I noticed at the top of the list.

Seeing that, I kind of freaked. Somehow I had convinced myself that I would only have to continue these subcutaneous injections, since they were a piece of cake. I could do those for 3 months if I had to! So I started asking questions, trying to find out if the shots were absolutely necessary, if there was any other option, etc.

Well I guess I ruffled some feathers. Suddenly I"m receiving worried emails from my Intended Father asking why I was upset about the shots and didn't want to do them,.. emails from my clinic coordinator saying 'this is the only way we can do this' which I know is a load of crap.. and this morning came the kicker..

Now, I was just looking into my options. Yes, I panicked a little. but let me explain something. I'm the one who at the age of 15 had a severely traumatic experience getting my final set of shots from the doctors office. I'm the one who at the age of 16 had to have radioactive dye shot into my bloodstream to determine if my mysterious ankle pain was blood-flow related. I made them chase me around the treatment room and hold me down to get that into me. I am not fond of needles. So just me saying that these injections that I"m doing now are a piece of cake is a HUGE step. I think I have come a VERY long way in my ability to deal with things that I am uncomfortable with. Additionally, they've had me on hormones now for three weeks. I've been on birth control, which makes me angry.. and now they have me on Lupron, which suppresses my estrogen production, makes my milk harder to produce, and has made me very highly emotional. I don't think a day has passed since I started these injections that I haven't cried for a substantial amount of time. So yeah.. maybe I over-reacted. But seriously, give me a break. I was just trying to find an alternate solution, if there was one. I didn't involve anyone else because I wanted to find out the options for myself before concerning anyone else. I'm very analytical about those types of things and usually do a lot of research and discovery before making any sort of decisions.

At 8:30am my phone rang. My agency coordinator is on the other line, saying 'I received two emails, one from (Intended father) and one from (clinic coordinator) saying you have concerns and are not willing to do the progesterone injections. What is going on?'

Are you serious?? That is NOT what I said!
As I'm trying very calmly to explain this to my agent-lady, she reminds me 'when we originally talked I did say there were other options for the progesterone, but we always go along with what the doctor recommends'. So, since the clinic was unwilling to discuss alternatives, I'm stuck with the shots.
And that's when the shots started showing their true colors.

I started crying.. told her how I'm terrified of the bigger needles, that I'd convinced myself it would be all the small needle shots which I can do but I am not sure I will be able to handle the intramuscular shots every day for 8-10 weeks after transfer.
Luckily, my agency coordinator is very sweet. She has been so understanding and encouraging with me through all of this. She assured me that we could find a nurse that would be able to come and give me the injections so that I wouldn't have to do it myself. She also told me that she speak to the clinic coordinator and figure out what the problem was. It was clear this was a communication issue, and I expressed my disappointment in the clinic's ability to clearly communicate to me what was supposed to happen when, the mix-ups with medications, and how I felt completely in the dark about what I was supposed to be doing.

I feel a little better as the day has gone on and the conversation is in the past. I was really mad this morning that the clinic went over my head and caused such a rift in communication with my intended father and agency coordinator. But I guess they were just doing their job.

Like I said.. I can handle this..

Monday, June 13, 2011

Remember how I"m terrified of needles?

So tomorrow is a big step in the surrogacy journey. A BIG step. And I'm a little freaked out.

I have to start injections tomorrow.


The girl who's scared to death of needles..

Injecting myself.

What did I get myself into???

I mean, granted.. I've been pregnant twice now. I've gotten stuck plenty of times. Getting poked for bloodwork has almost (almost) become a non-event to me. My fear of needles and absolute and utter horror at getting shots and blood drawn has become pretty tame after two pregnancies and all this pre-surrogacy testing. But that's when someone else is doing it to me. I don't have to watch that!

This, I have to do to myself. I have to pinch my skin (my belly skin.. not a fun place to get a shot!) I have to put the needle in my skin and inject the medicine. I have to do this for the next.. 14 days.

I don't see myself being a very happy camper for the next 2 weeks. Someone better find me a good place to hide from the world so I don't kill someone.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I hate artificial hormones!!

Let me just start by saying that I've been off of hormonal birth control for almost 3 years now.. with good reason.

When I had my oldest daughter, I went on the NuvaRing for birth control shortly after her birth. The doctors never mentioned anything about the synthetic hormones contributing to postpartum depression or hindering the production of breast milk when I made the decision to use it. By the time she was 5 months old I was so angry and depressed all the time that I was barely functional. I made the decision to stop the hormones, and while the depression took a while to subside, I noticed a significant difference in my anger.

When I had my second child, I made a conscious decision not to go back on synthetic hormones for birth control. I chose the Para-Guard, and while I hated having an IUD, I did not experience the postpartum depression or the anger issues I had with my first daughter. 

Since I am now a contracted surrogate and the process is starting to move along, the clinic I am working with has placed me on 'April', a birth control pill to regulate my cycle and bring me to their preferred 28 day cycle for transfer. It has been a long time since I was on hormones, and I'm not exactly liking the effects.

For one, I'm feeling angry a lot. Tired, irritable, impatient, and its affecting my relationships. This morning I flipped out on my dad for asking (numerous times) 'what?' Told him he was being nosy and to stop butting in on everything I did.
This of course led to a not-so-great morning and subsequently another fight when he said something about me having all the free time in the world to do things like make my own lemonade. He said I should 'get off Facebook and do something'. Like he has any clue what I do around here, how much I bust my butt keeping the kids happy, house cleaned, food prepared, and all the other things that I do. So yes, I got mad. I'd normally get mad, but I wouldn't normally start  yelling just for that. Of course, it only made things worse and he called me a 'neurotic psycho'.. which set me off even more.

This isn't the first time my dad has set me off, and I"m sure it won't be the last. Things between us have been pretty different after I had children. It's like he wants to be their parent, and treat me like just another child. But this is different. The last couple of days I have felt like my entire mood is getting worse. I"m feeling irritated a lot more, I'm much quicker to snap, and my poor kids have been getting the brunt of it. I certainly still try to stand by my values, I don't spank and we talk things out frequently, but I do notice that I am a lot quicker to yell before looking at what's going on and less willing to let them work things out for themselves. This is what artificial hormones do to me, and I am not a fan.

I am just glad that this will be short-lived. I"m only on the birth control for a two week period, and then start the <gasp> hormone injections. Those will probably make things worse, but at least its all for a good reason, and it will all be worth it in the end. My second and third trimesters of pregnancy are when I feel the best about myself and everything around me, so I'm looking forward to that change. I just hope everyone can deal with me until then!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Surrogacy.. the very very beginning

So the surrogacy journey has officially begun. The hurry up and wait is over, and we are on our way!

For those of you who don't know, I have wanted to do surrogacy since my first child was born. I loved everything about being pregnant; the way I felt, the way I looked, the feeling of having a baby in my body. I never thought I would want a second child though, mine was way too much to handle all on her own.

Then came #2. Very much of a surprise, very much unplanned. I was uneasy about the prospect of having another baby to take care of, even though I was very much enjoying being pregnant again. It was during this second pregnancy that I decided I would like to pursue the idea of being a surrogate. Infancy was never one of my favorite times of child-raising, and my own children give me enough trouble.. lol!! Having gone through nearly 10 years of believing I could never have children, I know very well what these couples, and single people go through believing and often being faced with the reality that they can never have children. I believe that I was given a gift when I got pregnant with my daughters, and I hope to give that same gift to another deserving person.

So, back to my journey. The last few months have been filled with lots of 'hurry up and wait'. There was the hurry up and meet the intended parent, the hurry up and get the IUD out so we can proceed. The contract period, the months of communication about processes and getting set up with the clinic. Then there was the hurry up and get to the doctors to do the blood-work so that we can.. you guessed it.. wait for your next cycle to begin before progressing.

It appears that is finally over. The hurry up and wait has moved along to emailed instructions and pharmaceutical deliveries. Right now I've got medication in the mail and instructions to start birth control. Soon will begin the daily injections and the preliminary ultrasound. Things are progressing quickly and I am excited, nervous, and a little apprehensive. My 'tentative transfer date' is in early July!!!

This process is crazy! I'm very pleased to be involved, and I am looking forward to helping a wonderful little family get its start. Follow me as I take this journey; I promise its going to be an interesting ride!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nobody wants a nanny...

Over the course of the last few months, I've begun searching for a job.

Now, in the current economy, finding a job is presumably harder than it used to be. So it goes without saying that I figured it would take me a while to find something that is suitable. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would still be searching after a year and a half had passed since my last employment. I have a proven record in child-care, with over 10 years experience. I've worked for two different daycare centers, and as a nanny for three families. I hold certification in Child Day-Care, an Associates in Human Service Management, and am training as a birth and postpartum doula. So what, you may ask, seems to be the problem?

The problem is that nobody wants a nanny.

Or at least a nanny with children.. 

I am a member of three different nanny search websites. My profile on each site states very clearly that I have two children that I would be bringing with me to the job. I have applied for, in the past three months, a total of 78 jobs (that is not an estimate). Most of the time my applications go without a response. Those that do respond always ask the same question "Are you looking for something you can bring your kids to?" No people, I want to leave my kids in daycare and miss out on their lives so that I can take care of yours.. OF COURSE I want to bring my babies along!

Now, nannying has always been my go-to job of choice. I've done it for years, I'm good at it, and I have great references that can back me up on those claims. I was lucky enough when my oldest daughter was born to find a great family that would let me bring her along. My daughters have both grown up with me caring for other children, either full time or on an as-needed basis. It seems, however, that since the job market has gotten so tight, people seem to think that having your own children, and wanting to be involved in their lives makes you a bad candidate for child care. I understand the concerns, but here are my reasons that I think having kids makes me a great candidate to be someone's perfect nanny:

1. I've seen it all: 
By hiring a nanny who has children of their own, you know that they will be prepared for anything. There will be a distinct lack of panicked phone calls to your place of work about things that are not emergencies (including but not limited to: lost shoes/socks, potty accidents, crayon drawings on the walls, bumps and bruises, teething fevers, refusal to nap, etc). You can be assured that I"ve handled every infant feeding situation and toddler adventure your child can throw at me, probably without batting an eyelid.

2. Your kids will get as much attention as my own:
Now, I know this is one of the main concerns of parents who are looking to hire a nanny. They're afraid that a nanny with her own children is going to pay more attention to her own, and less attention to theirs. However, this simply is just not the case!! If a person has had a career as a nanny, chances are they're pretty familiar with the idea that they are one of the main resources that your children have. They learn from their caregivers, it is their job to teach them. I know before I had children of my own, I always called my nanny charges 'my kids'. I loved them as if they were mine and I did my absolute best to do right by them and teach them the best I could. That did not change when I had my own children! I am still committed to the idea that I am a teacher for the children I care for, I am a major influence in their life, and I have a job to make sure they are well cared for and well educated. Therefore, the same attention that I give to my kids to make sure their needs are met, I will provide for your kids. In my opinion, me having my kids actually ensures that your kids will get MORE attention because I will have to plan activities and do things as a group just to keep everyone entertained!

3. I know all the best kid-oriented activities and events:
Having children, I know where to go with children, what works when entertaining children, and how to find great things to do with children! You see, my life already revolves around children, why not use that to your advantage! I know I'd rather do the same thing in my work-life as I do in my non-working life, it makes it easier!

4. Your child will actually BENEFIT: 
One of the greatest things about having my own kids with me when I work with other children is the benefits that they all receive. I have worked with many families, and I have seen firsthand how children develop social relationships. I can say with a degree of confidence that many  children who receive private care instead of daycare do not have a lot of contact with other children. Social development is important at a young age to help children be better able to adapt to situations where interaction is necessary, such as school. With my children around (since I only apply for jobs where the children are around the same ages as my own) my nanny charges have playmates. They have buddies. They learn about sharing, about playing together and being nice to others. These are skills that will benefit them for a lifetime!

In closing, I know that the job market is tough. These opinions are my own and I can completely understand the concerns of people who do not know me or my philosophies on children and learning. Maybe I"m just a little frustrated. But after a year of searching for a job, and facing the reality that I may have to put my own children into childcare just to make an income, I don't feel that my frustrations are without validity. I am a great nanny; my track record speaks volumes to that effect. I just wish somebody would give me the chance!

*On a side-note. It is my BIGGEST pet peeve when people contact me looking for care, having read my profile and knowing that I have children to bring along, and then tell me that they want someone to come work alone or they feel it would be too many children to handle. If you feel that way, why did you contact me in the first place!?*

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Introducing... ME! *Brokensoul1982*

 I'd like to say I've got life figured out.

I'd like to say that I am exactly where I want to be and that I've got life by the horns, directing it where I want it to go and taking no prisoners along the way.

However, if I said those things, I'd be lying.

My story is long and complicated. Much too much for this, my first blog post on my brand new blog. It's been fraught with hardship, complication, joy, sadness, change, learning, and a myriad of other situations and occurrences that I can't even begin to go through in a simple and understandable format.
Let's just say it's been a journey.

This journey has taken me places I never thought imaginable.  I am a high school graduate, an experienced horse-woman, a daycare provider, an auntie, a sister, a friend, and an entrepreneur. I am also a mom, a naturalist, a cloth diapering freak, a breastfeeding advocate, a natural birth lover, an intactivist, a parental rights believer, doula in training, and to some.. a hippie lost in the wrong time period. Some of these things I am better at than others ;)  Above all, I am me. As the quote says "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." Thank goodness for Marilyn Monroe, she really got it right there!

I've been to hell and back, and I've learned a lot along the way. Four years ago I really thought I had life figured out. Living on my own, my little apartment with my nanny job, my friends and family, a history of depression that I finally had under control, my religious beliefs (which are more life philosophies) and my own little niche in the world. Then two little pink lines changed everything forever.

Becoming a parent is the single most defining thing that ever happened to me. It changed everything. From dealing with a child with a heart defect, fighting postpartum depression, and realizing that the world wasn't about me anymore, I felt lost. I thought that it was dually the best and worst thing that ever happened to me.

Then came #2.  They are now 15 months and almost 3. ButtButt is a crazy whirlwind of a child, spirited in her own ways, who loves to be active, has communication 'issues', and loves to play puzzles, watch "Ana-ina" (Angelina Ballerina) jump on her trampoline and give mommy snuggles and kisses. BooBoo is a little more laid back, (as long as she's being held!) a booby monster, and just learning how to get into everything. We're not perfect, but we have a lot of fun!!

Over the course of having and raising my children, I'm slowly finding my way back. I"m learning all over again who I am, and what is important. I know that my children are the single most important thing in my life and I am oh so blessed to have them. They are the only ones who I will have the most influence upon, and I thank my lucky stars every day that I have them. They have made me re-evaluate my priorities, take a good look at myself, and I am a better person for every day I spend with them. I've developed an innate sense of personal responsibility which as led me to challenge choices that I would have made for children I provided daycare for in a heartbeat. My nutrition, medical opinions, safety and career choices have been drastically changed just because these two little lives became mine to cherish and nurture. I hope I do well by them.

SO.. since this is already becoming long (lol, I tend to do that when I start writing) I'll close by saying that even thought I"ve got a pretty good handle on things at the present moment, I certainly don't have it all figured out. I've got a good idea where I"m going, but life throws many obstacles and challenges our way every day. Keep your eyes and ears tuned for all sorts of really fun and amazing stuff. I really hope to keep up with this blog a little better than my last attempt, and I shall be posting recipies, natural living tips, my surrogacy adventure, deals and events going on in the area, and my personal reflections and musings in general right here, for your enjoyment. So hold on tight.. its going to be a great ride!

Kristal (and BooBoo who is refusing to sleep)