I’d like to start this blog the same way I start all of them, and thank each and every one of you that reads this, shares it, identifies with it, and grows from it. I genuinely feel like our big experiences in life define us, and everyone can learn or take away something from them… even if they aren’t directly affiliated. I appreciate the inquiries, the well wishes, the text messages, and even the random friend requests of those eager to know more, I appreciate the support. I also want to apologize, as this blog is very content filled. Even as I sit here with only the paragraph above set in stone, I know it will be a piece that has you laughing, and a piece that has you in tears. I said from the beginning that I would share every bit of my journey, and while I plan to keep that promise, there are some parts that are darker than others. Enjoy your reading, and thank you for your support.
Make it a double.
Casey planned a wonderful date night for us in mid-June; it was to be our last “big” outing before I would begin IVF treatments for the surro-babes. We headed up to Blackhawk one Tuesday night, eager to enjoy the uninterrupted peace that comes from being in each other’s company. Once we arrived, we realized we had probably made a mistake in hotel choices, laughed about it, and pressed on with lots of drinking, and a little bit of gambling. At about 10:00pm on our blissful night out, my mom-clock began chiming so loudly from within, that I swear only the sounds of various slot machines around us drowned it out from everyone else’s ears. “WHY ARE YOU AWAKE?!” The clock chimed loudly, and so I told Casey that despite the rare and wonderful situation we were in, I felt it might be time to go back to our $215 hotel room with burn marks ALL over the carpet, and call it a night. I of course woke up at 5:30, well before even the sun forced its way through the curtains, and laid there thinking, “so much for last hurrah, I feel tired, and hung-over, and ready for the biggest cup of coffee I can get my hands around.” Despite myself, I decided to let Casey sleep until 9:00, even though it felt like 2:00pm by the time he had woken up. We headed out to get breakfast and return to our babes, and just like that, the “big night” was history.
I firmly believe that intimacy is important in a relationship. For some, it is more physical. For others, it is more emotional. For the rest its allegedly a 50/50 mixture of the two. I tend to be more emotionally intimate, which is something not many people can or would willingly admit to. I know that there is a calendar steadily running out of days before it announces in bold letters BEGIN ABSTINENCE, but given what I have just said, that really isn’t as daunting to me as it would be for some. Casey and I have been together almost ten years. At this point in our relationship, we know all the little details that make the bigger picture when it comes to one and other, and we have also gotten really good at growing that emotional intimacy within our relationship. So though this trip we’d just taken was at once a last “getaway” as a couple, it was also a refocus for both of us in terms of the hard transitions we were about to endure emotionally and physically, together and individually. Casey and I were ready to take it all on.
What are you worth?
Due to the nature of the “services” (this is how the life insurance agent phrased it, it is very P.C. but also, kinda reminded me of Pretty Woman) being provided between myself, J, and M, I had to get a life insurance policy, or in this case, a worst case scenario-just in case fund. People do die during childbirth, even today. I’m not down playing the severity of that, but it did get the wheels turning as far as how important my physical presence is in this world in terms of dollars and cents. “Ms. McKenna, how much would you say you’re worth right now?” “Well, if you ask my kids, I’m worth a lot! In reality I have a house that is a positive asset, a little bit of a savings, and two cars, dogs, and weekly grocery bills that make sure I’m not worth much monetarily speaking.” Of course, this question wasn’t formulated for answers like mine, so the agent quickly worked to add up some type of number to soothe what she misread as defeat in my voice. I was being a smartass, but an honest smartass. I’d never been asked that question, and when you have two kids, cars, animals, and a household that constantly need the attention of Mr. Greenback, you tend to feel less like something that is a worthwhile “investment” and more like something that needs a TON of investing. We figured out what I was worth, and moved onto scheduling my nurses visit.
My nurses visit took place at the well-rested, not chaotic in a house of babies, hour of 6:00am. Of course Charlie sensed that breakfast could be delayed that morning, and so he woke up at fifteen after five with enough time budgeted to at least eat a banana. My nurse arrived with a punctual-I get enough sleep and still manage to be a part of the world this early, smile and I invited her inside. Immediately, I apologized for the impromptu karaoke session in my living room as Charlie shamelessly (and inaudibly) belted out a song playing in Moana. “It’s better than crying, it’s like they know I have a sharps container on me when I walk in the door sometimes!” Oh yea, I forgot to mention… in addition to starting the self-loathing early with a weigh in, I got to get my blood drawn and give a SMALL urine sample from my bladder that had been bursting long before Charlie called out “Momma!” over the baby monitor. “How much do you think you weigh, and how tall do you think that you are?” She asked me. I thought it a strange way to preface the question. I have never been asked how tall I “think” I am before, as that number is pretty much concrete at an earlier age. I replied with the truth, reluctantly telling her that I’d never actually made it to 5’5, but most doctors willingly gave me that last little bit without much more than an eye roll. “Actually, you’re 5’5. And you weigh less than what you thought!” I told her that I was shocked, and confessed that I’d weighed myself on every different surface in the house before she’d arrived. “Well, what they don’t tell you is that digital scales are usually higher. Now you know.” MIND BLOWN. That is right ladies and gentlemen, technology does not always supersede the old-fashioned way! After she’d drawn my blood and tested my urine sample (albeit, on a towel) on the very table I was about to serve my children breakfast from, she told me she was amazed and proud of my heart for taking on the journey that led me to this strange examination in the first place. “Good luck to you, I hope this experience is great for all involved. You’ll only hear from me if you forgot that you did drugs and it shows up in your lab work, otherwise that’s it!” An odd encounter and experience from start to finish, but I found myself filled with joy checking off another item on my list.
“Enjoy the Journey”
On June 24th, the surrogacy center held a “surrogate appreciation” lunch at a cute little restaurant in the Sloan’s Lake area. I was very excited to meet other surrogates that were on the same track as I, and I was excited about meeting with our Case manager, C, in person. Once inside, we walked over to a table filled with the shirts I had wanted for months, and The Little Golden book version of the story “Brave.” “Take however many you’d like, and please go grab one of our Brave boxes from the table by the window.” My mom who so graciously joined me that afternoon found us a seat right next to C, and we began visiting with her about where we were at so far. C wrapped me into a tight, strong, hug like the kind you would get from an old friend, and informed me that we could order drinks whenever the server came back around. So there we were, my mom, Sangria, and I, sitting amongst a group of people celebrating surrogacy… it was wonderful! I met several other women and their spouses, and even got a chance to meet the surrogacy center’s own celebrity… the triplet momma! The triplet momma was what you think of when you hear the phrase “she’s glowing.” At twenty weeks pregnant, she looked like I did right after I had gotten a positive pregnancy test with Charlie. The perfect little bump that I learned was housing three baby boys wore no sign of any meals she had eaten that day, and she did not seem the slightest bit phased as she spoke of what it was like to be a literal baby house. I asked her as much as I could, given that a triplet pregnancy could happen in my case (only a 4% possibility) should one of my surro-babe embryos decide to push the odds. I learned that the triplet boys belonged to a single father in another country, a detail I made sure I committed to memory so that I could tell J and M how great they had it by comparison.
Another mom that I had the pleasure of chatting with was just out of her first trimester with a single baby, also for an international single parent. I feel like the women that can commit to international families deserve a monument erected in their honor. I listened to her describe the challenges they’d had based purely on time difference, and noted how much more calculated and precise things had to be in order to accommodate the presence of an international parent at the time of the birth. The surrogacy center does not push you into scheduling an induction, that is something that is between you and your OB, with that said, I could not imagine NOT being there for the birth of my child. The mom with the single baby described scheduling her induction and my uterus told my brain to replay Pitocin contractions on repeat until the thought of perhaps scheduling things with my surro-babes no longer seemed appealing.
All of these women were of course mothers of their own, hardworking, and devoted to not only their families, but that of their intended families as well. To sit in a room with other women that felt the same conviction within their hearts was beautiful and it was empowering. To speak candidly about IVF shots, suppositories, embryo transfers, and all of the evaluations that’d we’d all been through felt extremely comforting. The suppository conversation was pretty hilarious, as its not exactly table conversation. Unless of course you find yourself in this EXACT setting, then it becomes okay to talk about while people are at various stages of their meal. I also had the pleasure of meeting with the two founders of NWSC, John and Sandra. (I felt okay putting their names in here only because you can google the center and read about them should you feel so inclined) John asked my mom what her reaction was as a parent, and I watched my mom fill with pride as she described her surprised, yet joyful reaction when I told her that I wanted to pursue this. John and Sandra were extremely down to earth; a quality that warmed me given the fact that their business was what afforded me and so many others, the opportunity of a lifetime. My mom and I decided to get into the box that they had given as a gift to all the surrogates. Immediately upon opening it, I felt the warm rush of tears fill my eyes as I read a bracelet engraved with “enjoy the journey.” A truer statement does not exist in this situation, as so much of this process is just that… a journey. We finished our drinks and visiting with the small circle we’d immersed ourselves in and headed back home. As we left, I told C, “I’m sure I’ll be calling you next week sometime to let you know I’m ready for travel!” C smiled at me and offered a very genuine farewell hug. “Talk to you next week! I can’t wait!” she said as we exited the restaurant.
“Welcome to ORM”
By far one of the most anticipated moments of this journey so far, was getting an email from the reproductive clinic to inform me of our next steps. Not long after this nurses visit, the two women I had met via email from the reproductive clinic sent me an email to inform me of what was coming next. I had to switch my birth control pills to one of their preferred pill packs, something that my coordinator managed to have filled at a nearby pharmacy in RECORD time, despite being unfamiliar with Colorado. I was to finish my birth control pills on a Saturday, and start the new pills the following Friday, and somewhere in that time frame, I was to have a period and let EVERYONE know with elation when I’d gotten “it.” I’ve never looked forward to a period like, EVER, in my whole life. I’d never finished my last active pill and thought “Oh my god! I can’t wait!” But then I did, and let me tell you, its a strange association to have. J and M texted me the Tuesday before I was to start the new pills and asked what we were doing next in the process. I thought for sure the reproductive clinic would’ve explained this part of the process (stop. go. wait. do this.) in depth with their intended parents, as there is a great deal of excitement at this point, but alas they were in the dark. “well, we’re waiting for me. I can’t schedule my visit with the clinic until the first day of my period. I would imagine we’ll know when my trip out there will be within the next day or so.” I told J, trying to pretend I wasn’t talking about my period so candidly with a man. The guest of honor arrived within 24 hours, and I found myself texting J and M letting them know “I got my period, YAY!” and what day and time our trip to the reproductive clinic would be. J responded with elation as well, something that still makes me laugh and probably always will. I texted my mom, because everyone wanted to know when the town celebrity arrived, and told her “I just texted two men and told them I started my period, we are all so excited. “Whose life am I living?” Period talk aside, this meant that we could plan a trip that would serve as our first meeting in person, and a trip that would provide a calendar for what would hopefully be a very exciting future.
I picked up my birth control pills from the pharmacy, and scheduled my visit to the clinic. I, of course, took the earliest offered day, as my visit had to fall between days 6-10 of my cycle. Everything fell beautifully into place, and on the fourth of July, the day before my big trip, I found myself wandering through my day like a love-struck Cinderella. I cooked with my family, and enjoyed the time spent with all of the kids playing and visiting. I indulged in a big ass drink with my mom, something that tuned out my “oh my god I’m traveling to a new state, away from my babies for a whole day!” fears. I watched excitement and wonder fill the sweet rosie cheeks of my baby girl as we waited for the firework show to start. I enjoyed every moment that day ten times more because I was high on an idea of what my trip might be like. My alarm went off at 4:00am and I jolted awake, overeager to start my jam packed day. I was so excited that I completely blew off taking the hot rollers out of my hair, a little detail I’d all but forgotten until I pulled up at a light and was met with an awkward glance from the car next to me. Once I had put the car in park, the nerves set in. I’m not a big traveler, especially via airplane. I’ve become ridiculously motion sick over the years, such that I can’t even really swing at the park anymore, coupled with general anxiety and excitement for what may unfold throughout my day… I felt like shit. I swallowed a Dramamine and navigated my way through security to my gate. I am always early, but because of what was at stake, I now sat my always-early ass in an uncomfortable chair next to at least ten people blissfully snoring away… OVER AN HOUR before boarding would even begin.
Boarding for my flight began at 7:35 am, and I eagerly took my place within the queue marked “4.” Of course, my seat was at the back of the plane and in the middle of a man that insisted on listening to his Rosetta Stone on the highest volume as he snoozed away, and on the other side, an elderly woman sat, pissed off at her husband for forgetting the travel pillows. I had just the day before, purchased two books in preparation for my five and half hours of flying, so despite my less than desirable circumstances, I was excited to do something I hadn’t done in at least three years… READ IN PEACE. I purchased a Tina Fey book, and a book about the Ariel Castro kidnappings from a few years earlier. Odd combo, sure, but I justified it as the salty and sweet that didn’t have to be shared with anyone else… BLISS! I read and pretended to ignore my nauseated stomach, and time flew (literally) by. As I exited the plane in an airport I knew NOTHING about, my nerves settled back in. I had just shy of an hour before J and M’s flight would be landing, and I was determined to find my way to their gate. The employees of the Portland airport were SO NICE and went so far out of their way to be helpful that I was amazed! A really nice TSA agent gestured me in the direction of J and M’s gate, and pointed to an odd spot off to the side telling with a bright smile “that’s like the only working outlet nearby, go charge your phone!” I went into a little shop and bought water and some gum and settled in with my phone charging away on the best-kept secret in PDX.
“You had me at D9”
You know in the movies when people are reunited with loved ones immediately upon exiting the airplane? The big moment we all secretly wish we get to experience in life was about to be mine. From gate D9 emerged two cheerful, handsome, smiling men that made their way towards me with open arms. We all wore the same mile wide smile as we navigated our way out of the airport discussing our flights and the day ahead. “We want to take you to a place called Mothers for brunch.” announced M. “How perfectly ironic!” I responded as we opened the doors and found ourselves on an island of sorts waiting for our Lyft driver to arrive. “I think that because this is the first opportunity and probably the last for a very long time, that we should celebrate this day together by having a cocktail!” I said with a hopeful smile. “Absolutely!” they both agreed, as we sat down inside of our newly arrived Lyft. J and M are both very busy professionals, and so given that our appointment came the day after a major holiday, M had to make some business calls as we drove to Mothers. J and I talked about the babies, both of us speaking of them as if they already existed… talking of their future, their names, and just process in general. I asked J if I could see a picture of their egg donor, a curiosity that I’ve had from day one, and he excitedly began scrolling through his photos. “This is her!” J said as he handed me his phone. Of course, she was beautiful! The donor had such striking, unique eyes, and this beautiful hair that would leave anyone envious, she was perfect, down to the pictures she’d provided from childhood… perfect.
M had called ahead to see if there was a wait while we waited for our Lyft back at the airport and at that point there wasn’t one, a far different scene than the bustling restaurant we now stood waiting outside of. It was a beautiful day in Portland, blue skies, warm sunshine, and of course, the company I found myself in. We talked about paternity leave, we talked about mini vans, we talked about the impending sleepless nights, and we talked about everything baby centered, almost as if the twins were already within my womb. J and M were ready to be parents, even if they openly (and wisely) admitted their reservations/hesitations regarding the future with the two babies, they were ready because their hearts were undoubtedly in the right place. As I listened to them squabble over the pros and cons of a minivan, I thought to myself “they sound JUST like Casey and I!” Ultimately, I side with J on this argument… NO EFF-ING mini vans!
About 20 minutes after we arrived at “Mothers” we were gestured to a cute table in the corner of the restaurant. Old architecture, coupled with loud wallpaper, and the perfect visual blend of light to dark, and new to old fulfilled every sort of “I’m in a different city” vibe I never knew I was after. “You know, this place is kind of, as my generation cleverly revived the word, boujee!” I announced to J and M. “Totally boujee!” J responded back with a laugh. In a mere hour since my arrival, we’d discussed things like the political world at hand, their egg donor, their trepidations about parenthood, mini-vans, and now, we’d managed to use boujee in context. If you don’t know what this lovely word means, I invite you to google it and refer to the third definition on Urban dictionary. I scanned the menu and noticed zero brunch appropriate adult beverages, and so when the waitress arrived and I asked for iced tea, my words were immediately repeated back at me with shock as I defended my choice by stating I didn’t see anything in the menu that reflected a brunch alcohol menu. “We have mimosas and Bloody Mary’s!” Offered the waitress with a sweet smile. J and M each ordered a bloody mary, while I indulged in a mimosa. As we talked about a baby shower and do’s and don’ts’s in that realm, M’s face softened as he said, “I don’t know anything about baby showers, except for what I’ve seen on Sex and the City.” Oh, my heart. At our little corner table, in this little boujee restaurant, in this beautiful unfamiliar city, I felt the strongest sense of belonging and ultimately, love for J and M.
Here is where it all starts…
After our lovely brunch together, we decided to walk over to the reproductive clinic since we had some time to spare. It was about 90 degrees of pure perfect day outside, a temperature I was grateful for given the triple digits I’d left behind in Denver. As we walked we talked about their two cute dogs, and we talked about the old architecture and beauty of a downtown that felt like Denver ten years ago. J shared with me that M had actually proposed to him in Denver while they were there doing some political work, a fact that I reminded them was just “one more tie they’d have to my hometown” besides that it would be the birthplace of their babies. We walked for about twenty minutes until we arrived in front of Oregon Reproductive Medicine. Of course, after walking twenty minutes in 90-degree heat, I suggested we take our first picture as a trio together. You know, nothing makes a picture look special quite like beads of sweat across everyone’s forehead… that’s why it is in black and white!
We headed inside to a little reception desk where we checked in and were told to head upstairs for our appointment. J and M grabbed a complimentary bottle of water and offered me one as we headed out of the reception area. I was told in my instruction packet to “drink three glasses of water slowly one hour prior to uterine evaluation” a detail that I scoffed at thinking, “I have had two babies, if I even think about sneezing, or laughing, my bladder is suddenly so full it literally cannot contain the contents!” If I drank three glasses of water like they asked, I would’ve literally peed (with minimal shame) all over the ultra sound tech. Once upstairs, we were directed to a rather large, serene, waiting room. The waiting room was quite an interesting mix of people. Some were old, some were young. Some were speaking English, others were not. Interestingly enough, we were (by appearance only) the only surrogate situation (I rather like that wording) in the mix, and we looked the most comfortable out of everyone in there, which was perhaps blissful ignorance. “Claire” called out a petite blonde woman with bitchin frames. I stood up and immediately asked “can they come with?” gesturing to J and M. “Of course!” she said as she directed us down the hallway. As we walked two nurses met my gaze and complimented my dress, a detail I’d agonized over for days leading up to this moment, despite the fact that I was the only one that cared what I wore that day. “We’re just going to borrow Dr.B’s office because he’s not here right now.” she said as she gestured us into a simple, yet beautiful corner office.
J, M, and I took our seats on the couch and settled in waiting for our coordinator, H, to take a seat amongst us. We noticed immediately a white container that housed needles of various sizes, and vials of at least three different medications. “Okay guys, because you are so early, we’re going to do things a little backwards. We are going to do the instructions for the injections now, and then Claire will go for her evaluation once my medical assistant is free. After that, K will come in and you will go over the Gestational Carrier packet in depth. If everything goes fine, which I’m sure it will, you will also set up a calendar similar to this sample version here.” H then opened the white container which had become quite disheveled (from what I assumed was multiple demos), an appearance she apologized for multiple times. “If we are looking at the sample calendar, it clearly says which injections you will do on which days, the dosage, and the frequency. You’ll notice that you will never be on more than two injections in a given day, and you will start the process by using Lupron. Lupron reduces your estrogen, which is what we want given that the first two weeks of the calendar we are essentially putting your body into menopause to prevent the production of your eggs. Once you have completed the Lupron, you will take a blood test to see if your estrogen levels have done what we want them to do. You will need to do all testing of this nature at a lab that can provide rapid results, as I will need access to all results along the way same-day.” In addition to the Lupron injection, I will also be taking the clinic prescribed birth control pills, a prenatal vitamin, doxycycline, and an aspirin pill to maintain blood flow to my uterus. If that hasn’t scared you off, then holy shit you should see the needles for the delestrogen injection that follows my two weeks of Lupron. “I always tell people Pink for pain, blue for injection.” H announced as she showed us the rather involved way of preforming this injection. “You’re going to want to pull the plunger down to your desired dose of medication, and then insert the pink needle into the vile to remove the liquid. The needle is thick because it has to be in order to extract the medication. (Or, it is thick to scare the shit out of future surrogates, but who am I to judge) Push the air into the vile, and then begin to extract the liquid into the syringe. Always take out more than you need, and push the remainder out until all air bubbles are removed, and the medication begins to come out of the needle. At this point, you will change the needle to the blue to perform the injection. The skin on your love handle area will need to be taut, and you will inject into the muscle area. It is important to note this is only a Monday/Friday injection, NOT a daily one.” Oh thank god, I thought as she offered to let me practice doing the injection on a sample tissue. It was much thicker than the nice, kind, your skin doesn’t have to be taut, Lupron injection, thus I’m sure it felt “different” too. Once we received the demo and preformed the practice injection for the final injection, progesterone, I’m fairly certain that “F**K!!!!!” could be heard on some really high enough frequency from J, M, and I’s internal monologue. I knew this shot was the least favored shot by all those that had been down this road (I’d been googling for weeks) but I didn’t realize just how THICK it was in terms of how quickly (or not) it dispensed. “I’m going to go see if my medical assistant is ready for you now, Claire,” said H excusing herself. The minute she left, J, M, and I all discussed how intense our little “injection therapy session” was, and J immediately offered up an “I’m so sorry!” I laughed as I responded, “I knew what I was getting myself into. I researched it, I have talked to friends that have gone through IVF, the only thing I did not know I learned today, and that was what a tentative injection calendar looked like. ” “Claire, how’s your bladder?” asked H through a slight crack in the door. “Um its good? Not about to burst, but full enough, I think!” I replied. “Great, come with me!” As I walked out of the room, J and M offered me their best “sorry you’re about to be uncomfortable for twenty minutes” face and wished me well.
I was gestured into a small exam room that proudly displayed a very “versatile” ultrasound machine. After I got ready for my exam, another new face greeted me, this time the nurse practitioner who would be preforming my uterine evaluation. “I’m going to pass this catheter through to simulate what the actual transfer will be like. After I do this, you can go empty your bladder, and return for the uterine evaluation.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I finally get to leave the room after a blessed pelvic exam I practically run my ass down the hall, in an excited hurry, to get as far away from that experience as possible. Knowing that I was granted temporary reprieve to empty my bladder was sadly not enough for what was to come next. I re-entered my interesting ceiling tile-less room and climbed back onto the exam table, awaiting the return of the nurse and medical assistant. Once they returned, the catheter process was repeated, only this time a small amount of saline was passed through in order to inflate my uterus for examination purposes. Through the help of a trans-vaginal ultrasound, the nurse was able to view my uterus clearly, a process necessary to rule out anything that could be problematic for embryo transfer. The process itself was not painful at all, but the silence was deafening as she continued to view various angles of my uterus. I remember sharing with you all the hardest moment from my pregnancy with Charlie. The moment where I went for my first ultrasound with Charlie and there was no heartbeat. I was told it was probably just too early, and scheduled a follow up ultra sound two weeks later. I will never forget not hearing that sound, I knew something was wrong immediately, before my brain had time to process it, my heart already began aching for what I feared was lost. Back to present day, I watched as the nurse practitioner zoomed in as if to measure something, and I finally asked what was going on. “Well, you have uterine polyps, which are just growths that occur from raised levels of estrogen. You’ll need to have these removed before you can move forward in this process.” she responded to my desperate “is everything okay?” question. All along, this was my greatest fear, that something would be wrong with me. That I would get all the way to this very point, get attached to a family, and get attached to a journey I’d not yet embarked on. My heart was broken. “This does happen. While I’m sure it wasn’t the news you wanted or expected, it is better that something came up now rather than later in the process.” A truth that could not be denied, yet I found myself overcome with sadness. I had trained my eyes not to let me down in moments like this, and held back my sadness and frustration as I went through the motions of having my vitals completed. My whole world just changed, a major timeline gone, and now I was about to have to sit with J and M as they heard the same news. I knew it would sting SO much worse having to be in the same room with them as we listened to K tell us we would not be getting a calendar today, and that I’d have to return to Portland to have the mock transfer completed again once I had the polyps removed. “Usually, the longest part of the process now is getting your provider to schedule the procedure. Once it is done, we will bring you back here to perform the mock transfer again, and to make sure everything was removed successfully. Rarely, we have to send people back to have the procedure performed again, but that almost never happens.” So that was it, we weren’t getting a calendar today, we were leaving here more knowledgeable regarding the injections, but we were leaving here shot-less, which in my case felt worse than any amount of pain those progesterone shots could cause. I’m extremely type A, extremely time oriented, and I love to have a sprawling calendar of dates as a reminder of the good things that are to come… I’ve always been this way. In saying that, I am trying to justify my sadness and generally, the slight sense of defeat I’d just encountered with the news of a setback that was due to my own body. Ironic, I thought, that here I am trying so hard to have babies for someone else, something I had done seamlessly when it came to my own family, and I am having issues that some women have when they are battling infertility struggles. Perspective is what you make it, and perspective can often dictate a large portion of your experience, so while I have expressed my above frustrations, I knew even in that moment that I would only allow myself a very limited time to feel “this way” before I forced myself back to the bright side. Negativity isn’t going to remove what already exists, and negativity isn’t going to get me to my end goal of growing these babes for J and M, and thus, there really isn’t room for it long-term.
When I see you again.
As we opened the doors to exit Oregon Reproductive Medicine, we were welcomed once more by the warmth of a perfect summer’s day. I told J and M that I was slightly bummed at just the setback, but that I was still so excited. We all expressed our gratitude that something had come up NOW rather than later in the process, when it could potentially mean harder “hardships.” J and M still looked at me with the same loving, awed expression as they expressed their gratitude for the journey we would soon be taking together. “There’s just no way to thank you for all of this.” M said to me sincerely. “I know it seems like a lot, and it absolutely is, but I promise the return on this investment, your babies, will make all of this seem worth it. The shots are just a wrinkle in time; the babies are your forever. I absolutely cannot wait!” I said to them lovingly. After all, polyps, setbacks, delays, or anything else we may encounter will only make us appreciate these babies more once they are here! M had helped me install and figure out Lyft, something that prior to a few hours ago, I had NEVER used. As we waited for my Lyft driver to arrive, we hugged a few times, exchanged “I love you’s'” and talked about our next meeting, one that would hopefully occur in September. I got into a little white Hyundai sonata and watched J and M until they were out of my view, “Okay” I thought as I took a deep breath, “soon we will begin again.”
I got to PDX much earlier than I’d anticipated and found myself on the phone with Steph, going through the whole jam packed day in great detail, as she cut up dinner for my “eager to talk to momma” babies in the background. The thing about Steph that I love and appreciate most is that she absolutely does not let me dwell. Steph and I are so freakishly close, that she likely felt the same lump in her throat and tears burning at her eyes that I did as I told her about the uninvited guests that would have to be removed from the party. Steph is also a master director of conversations like these, never letting me get stuck too long on anything negative, choosing instead to ask positive-whats-going-on-moving-forward questions. I really appreciate this from her, so much so that she was the only one I could bring myself to actually speak on the phone with at the airport. My phone had about 20% battery, and with no outlets in sight, I knew I couldn’t sit just anywhere and talk to my mom or Casey, because I’d of been a crying mess. I think that taking news like that, in a new city, several hours from home, also played into the “poor me” factor. I didn’t have my mom or Casey, or Steph there to reassure my troubled heart. I had to be the reassure-er, a role I’d only recently taken on when I entered into motherhood a mere three years ago. I didn’t want to cry, or be too dramatic about it, I wanted to process it on my own terms, and not drag anyone (namely J and M) through my emotional mud puddles as they formed and dried. As boarding began for my flight, I tried to be positive about my day, and reminded myself just how much I’d gotten out of spending the time with J and M, even if nothing else went “according to plan.” The next time I would see them, we’d have some sort of direction to travel, and that was cause enough to put a smile on my face, if even for a little while.
Surgery, then shots.
The Friday after I’d returned home, I got a call from my OB’s office to schedule my procedure. “We’ll need to schedule a pre-op appointment, then the actual surgery,” said the receptionist. We scheduled both, the pre-op for the 31st, and the surgery for August 8th. “The surgery takes a little over an hour, you will be knocked out for it, and you’ll need to take it easy afterwards and bring a driver with you.” “Oh, I’m put under for this?” Back at the reproductive clinic, they talked so lightly about this procedure, that it sounded like an office visit type of thing, NOT a hospital style, operating room, situation. “Yes, some providers do them awake, but because of the length of time, its better for all if you are put under.” Hear that guys? It’s that quartet from the last scene in Titanic, you know, the one before the boat sinks. They are playing that beautiful, sadness evoking music just for me! Surgery like this was a much bigger deal than I had allowed myself to google. I felt now afraid of the surgery, the outcome reproductively speaking, and the recovery time since I willingly take on a lot of role in our household. I like to be active; I like to be hands on, all things that this will complicate. I felt the lump grow bigger within my throat as I was given the time for my SURGERY on August the 8th, 7:30 am. Here we go.
After my call with my OB’s office, I called J, M, and I’s case manager, C, to discuss all of the recent activity within our particular “case.” I told C that I was bummed, a detail she did not let me dwell on as she announced, “Oh yea, this happens. About 20% of our surrogates have had this. Guess what though? ALL OF THEM HAVE GONE ON TO HAVE SUCCESSFUL PREGNANCIES.” I couldn’t even be sad for another second upon hearing this. Not only was I not the only one to experience this, but I had a brighter prognosis for my future to look forward to. I asked C, “Because this was likely a pre-existing condition, do you want me to have this surgery under my insurance, or the insurance provided to me by J and M?” C said that was not a “stupid question,” but reminded me that in the grand scheme of things, this “little surgery and the expense associated with it, were all just a drop in the bucket” in terms of paying towards a deductible. “You likely NEVER would have known these polyps exist had we not of done this evaluation, so please, do not feel uneasy, or guilty, or responsible for any of it.” Have I told you lately that I love C? I needed so badly to hear concrete, “this shit happens” type of statistics, and hearing it from her lifted the last of the bricks off of my chest.
I would like to close this blog post with a thank you again, to you my readers. I would also like to say a huge thank you to my mom and to my mother in law, for their constant reassurance and love is something I am so grateful for. A thank you to my Casey, you have to go through all of this with me, especially the emotional parts, thank you for remaining a strong pillar to lean on. A thank you to Steph, you really get me, like, down to the fiber of my being. I love you dearly. A thank you to my other wonderful sister in law, Kaley, for always being positive, and always offering to help me in any way you physically can. A thank you to my close girlfriends, Ashley, Lauren, and Missy… thanks for listening. Whether it was at 3:00am, between clients, or at the very end of your day, thank you. Finally, a HUGE thank you to J and M. If you guys were at all discouraged by our slight setback, you NEVER faltered. The gratitude you expressed towards me is equally felt in reverse order, and because of that, I know we are a perfect match. I remain, faithfully “yours”, hopeful and optimistic, and full to my brim with excitement. I am still just as excited for what is to come, and eager to have these hurdles behind me. I knew that when I started this journey, I had the potential to be matched with people that would change my life, and now that I have met you and gotten to know you, I feel like I can safely say that I know that will happen. Even as I sit here writing this, with acne all over my once pristine skin, (thank you new birth control), I can say (and believe) that it is not all bad. Stemming from this set of “setbacks,” comes the likelihood that I will be enormously pregnant over the summer… a thought that is a little bit daunting, but then… tee shirt dresses, pools, and flip flops… I’ll be alright after all. Thanks for reading, loving and supporting.