Thursday, May 24, 2012

How do you sleep at night?

Quite some time ago, I received a lot of negative feedback about my decision not to follow through with the IPs wishes and abort the little soul that we have come to know as Baby S. At that time I was still relatively unknown in the surrogate community, only having posted a few little updates here and there. At one point, one of my critics asked me 'How do you sleep at night knowing that you are forcing a child to be born who isn't wanted?
That comment has always stuck with me. It haunted me for weeks, and in quiet moments I can still hear it in my head. But the answer is:
I sleep very well!
I sleep well knowing that the child that I am carrying has a chance.
I sleep well knowing that I can look back on my life and my actions without regrets.
I sleep well knowing that I can be a positive role model for people everywhere who feel pressured to 'get rid of the problem' when faced with a less than ideal pregnancy.
My question is, how do YOU sleep at night?
better yet.. how do the IPs sleep at night?
I'm betting it's not very well..

Monday, May 21, 2012

The thing I"m most proud of:

A certain wonderful person in one of my due date groups today posted something that really got me thinking. I've been struggling with what to say after the latest move by the IPs.. how do you follow something like that?? But I think I've got it now.

The posting was something like this: Since people are getting itchy to deliver, I thought we could take a moment to share something we are proud of about how we handled this pregnancy. What are you proud of yourself for? My answer was quick, to the point, and a little bit off-humored: 'I'm proud that I didn't cave to the pressure, and that I haven't sent any hate mail.... Oh and that I'm still here and not in an asylum ;)' but after I posted, I did start thinking a little more about the question and how much I really have accomplished during this pregnancy.

For starters, I really am proud of myself for standing my ground. There were plenty of times where I had shadows and doubt cast upon my very existence because of the situation. The bullying from not only the IPs, but also from my agent and the lawyer; those were all things that could have at any point made me give up. People say I am strong, but I don't see myself that way at all. I am usually a person who avoids confrontation, not a leader but a follower, one who goes with what others want because it's easier than fighting for what I want. I tend to make decisions on a whim, without really considering the long term consequences. I like to go with the flow instead of fighting against the tide.

I am proud of myself for asking for help and reaching out to others, something that has always been hard for me to do. Especially after the initial act of refusing to abort, when I was met with a lot of negativity from the surrogacy community, a lot of personal doubt, and even suggestions from people who I thought would be supportive that I wasn't doing what was 'right' or 'best' but only what was in my own best interests. After hearing that so many times, it was even more difficult to put my personal struggle out there to a public that I didn't know personally. Asking for help isn't something that comes naturally to me; I'd much rather work my tail off and show everyone that I can do it on my own. I have always been very proud of my independent nature and my ability to rise to the challenge when it comes to my own needs and those of my children.

I am proud of the positive attitude that I have managed to maintain. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the 'forever optimist'. My positive mentality has been something that I have worked very hard to incorporate into my life. It's been difficult, and there have been plenty of times where I have faltered. Even during this experience I did have my moments of doubt, my episodes where I simply could not see any positive outcome. But I have managed to keep those thoughts and episodes to a minimum, and I am very proud that the majority of the emotions that I have experienced during this pregnancy are not those of despair, hate, or anger; but of hope, love, promise, and pride. Even faith, in the sense of a greater spirituality and belief in karma and fate.

I guess everything changes when it's all about something you care very deeply about.

Miss S has given me a great new outlook in the short time that I have been blessed to know her. She has helped me grown and change into a better person, and that is something that I will always remember about this experience. There are many things that could have happened during my pregnancy that probably would have had an equally negative effect as the positive one that I have experienced. That I have not had those experiences, for that I am grateful. The way that everything has happened, the people that I have found who support me and us; all of this enforces my belief that this was the right path to take, as treacherous and difficult as it has been. I will venture forth from this experience a better and more whole person. Because the alternative simply no longer applies

And.. to add.. after looking back and thinking for a few more moments. I'm proud of myself for not developing a deep sense of hate for Baby S's biological parents. There have been plenty of instances where I could have grown to hate them. Plenty of reasons that I would have to detest their existence. But I don't. I can't say that I agree with them (or we all know how that would have turned out) but I don't hate them for what they feel, or what they did. I do wish they had gone about things differently, but I can't say that I hate them for it. I actually feel really sorry for them; for the kind of people who see the only solution to a difficult situation as getting out and washing their hands. It can't be easy to live in those shoes..

Friday, May 18, 2012

The NERVE...

I'm still trying to put my feelings on this one into concrete thoughts so forgive me if this is a bit jumbly...
Basically we finally got some activity from the IPs over the last couple of days. Right before I left their lawyer sent a letter to my lawyer demanding all my medical records up until that point. My lawyer simply told them that I had retained new counsel and gave the address of where to forward any further requests.
Fast forward 3 weeks. We heard nothing from them during that time. Suddenly I get a phone call that the IPs lawyer has called my Michigan lawyer, and not very nicely demanded that I be presented so that they can serve me with papers to 'pursue their legal and contractual rights'in the state of CT, and that I turn over the medical records that they requested. They also state that they do not consent to any adoptive placement of 'the fetus'.
Seriously?? What the hell!?
They have stated time and time again that they do not intend to take custody of this baby. For Gd's sake they wanted her life terminated after allowing her to develop for 21 weeks! They proposed signing over custody to the state.. putting her in foster care where she is pretty much guaranteed to spend her life as a ward of the state, or even better, become a pawn for some foster family who seeks out special needs kids to leech off of. Yeah.. ok!
What the hell do they think they are going to do!? Are they thinking of keeping her? Because let me tell you if they are.. well I don't really know how I feel about that. I understand that biologically she is their child, but I can't tell you how much it bothers me that they have been adamant up until this point that they do not want any responsibility for her. Even if they are seeking out the records so that they can see what the 'experts' say about her condition, what kind of people are going to base the decision of whether or not to keep their child based on 'how bad' the diagnosis is!? Oh, right, the kind of people who didn't want her to continue to exist.
So what is this!? Is this some sort of game to them? Let's see how far we can push this girl. Let's stress her out and watch and see what happens!? Cuz let me tell you.. I'm a little stressed by this. I have no idea how this can or will play out. I do know that the IF is the biological father of this child. I can't deny that, and even my lawyer says that having someone else stand in and claim to be her father is a bad idea because they can come after me for false representation that way (which I totally get and wasn't considering). But that means that he can make this really really freaking difficult. If he refuses to give up his parental rights for whatever reason.. that leaves me with a really tough choice. I have already made the decision that I can't keep this child. I love her and I want what is best for her; but I realize that what is best for her is not for me to keep her. In the state of Michigan I have parental rights to her.. that is something that no court is going to take from me because she will be born in Michigan. However if I give up my rights and he does not.. that puts the ball in their court as to what happens to her. They can then very easily turn over custody to the state, just as they intended to do in CT. I will have no recourse to stop them. If I don't terminate my own rights, then I have responsibility for this child! Don't get me wrong.. I'd love to be able to say 'yes, I will take her and care for her and love her as if she was my own'.. but this is not the time, nor the place for me to be able to do that. I have much more at stake right now. Keeping her would mean losing everything that I already have in place, as well as everything that I've been working so hard to accomplish. I became a surrogate to give joy to another couple, not add to my own family. As much as I love this child, I love her enough to know that the best place for her is with a family that can handle her physically, emotionally, financially, etc. A family that is in a good place to accept the challenges that having a special needs child brings. That family is not mine.. no matter how much I may wish it was.
Part of me thinks that this is just their way of punishing me. Keeping me tied down.. like a game of revenge in a way. If I cave, they get what they want. A child who is in no way connected to them, put in a place where she can just be forgotten. And the woman who carried her is forced to go the rest of my life wondering what happened to her and if she is ok, with no way of finding that information out. That's what happens if she goes into the state's custody. I"m sure that's what will happen if she goes into the IP's custody. They certainly aren't going to be too keen on keeping me involved in their lives after all this has transpired. If I don't give in to what they want.. then I"m the one that has to live with the responsibility of the child, the situation, the medical bills, etc. I don't think they see that there is another life that is going to be severely affected by their quest for revenge. A beautiful little girl who is going to suffer at their hands. For being people who wanted so badly to 'avoid her suffering'.. they're doing a pretty good job of ensuring it right now.
So currently the lawyer is trying to negotiate. He has asked their lawyer what their intentions are. He has made a proposal for carrying forward which includes me turning over the medical records that have accumulated in Michigan, that I allow them access to speak with the doctors here in Michigan, that they sign over their rights before the baby is born and allow the adoption to take place, and that we all sign releases saying we will not sue each other. He doesn't think that the last item is going to go over well, but he says it's worth a try. And at this point, once again, it's a waiting game. We will see what they say when they decide to get back to us. In the meantime, as worried as I am, I am trying my best not to stress. Everything works out just as it is supposed to... Right????

Quick medical update

OK. So Facebook has been updated, but the blog has not in quite a while. I guess with everything going on (and switching between two barely working computers) the blog got lost in the shuffle. So here's a quick update:
We moved! We are in Michigan now, the trip here was beautiful and long and tiring. But we're here, safe and sound, with medical coverage and a great network of doulas and midwives supporting us.
We have met with the new doctors at the University of Michigan. The first appointment was oh.. so.. long.. and my poor babysitter was called last minute and stayed for so much longer than I anticipated. Thank you thank you thank you Toni!
There are a few differences between what Yale and U of M believe as far as Baby S.' heart goes. Some of this I believe has just come with her growth and the fact that the heart has continued to develop, and some could just be a matter of what they were able to see on each scan. U of M believes that the heart, instead of being anatomically isomeric (both sides being anatomically the same) that they are simply inverted. They also see enough of a septum between the right and left sides to believe that a bi-ventricle repair is possible! They don't believe her pulmonary arteries are narrow enough that she will need that initial surgery in the first few days either. If everything goes well after birth she could be cleared by the cardiologist within the first week!
Of course, that's never the extent of what they see, nor the extent of the 'new news' that I recieve. The good news is that after hearing a 'death sentence' diagnosis by the last geneticist that I saw at Yale (the day before we left for Michigan), I became a little paranoid and made the u/s tech spend some time looking at both her brain and her hands. The (now)former geneticist had said that they didn't see her hands opening and closing which was an indicator of severe neurological dysfunction. I'm pleased to say that I saw her open her hands on more than one occasion. But the doctors are still concerned. The more in-depth scan of her brain shows that there is a possibility she is missing a big structure of the brain called the corpus callosum. This is where the nerve bundles are located that allow the right and left hemispheres to communicate. The implications of this vary from case to case and can be very mild, or moderate. Either way it's better than severe neurological dysfunction, so it's better news than what I was being told.
See!! Open Hands!!
I like the hospital, I like the doctors there. Nobody is a huge alarmist, everyone has been really nice. It's not like Yale where I am the 'one in a million' mom with a very complex baby that everyone wants to get a chance to look at. At U of M I'm just another mom; they see plenty of sick babies. After all you don't get to be the #3 hospital in the country for pediatric cardiac surgery without having a good number of heart babies come through your doors. So I feel less like a freak show and more like someone who's concerns are being addressed and they actually aren't being really pushy about how when where and all the specifics of how I give birth! I have a wonderful volunteer doula who is a former nurse, and a great system of people ready to help me out when the time comes.
Don't get me wrong.. it's hard being away from everyone I know and love. It's hard being the only one day in and day out dealing with the kids especially since they've been adjusting and then sick and all the other stuff that comes with being 2 and almost 4.. but we're doing ok. I just really hope all the adoption stuff gets finalized quickly, cuz I have this horrible feeling way down deep inside that we're running out of time!!