Saturday, June 30, 2012

After the Match Meeting--

This trip has flown by.  in the past 48 hours I've been to Arizona, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. That is a lot of traveling to do in that amount of time.

I've already told you in another post about the basic itinerary and all the flights.

We got to Pittsburgh on time, and were picked up at the airport by the hotel shuttle. We went to the hotel, kicked back and relaxed for awhile and then we went out to eat at Olive Garden, and walked around a mall for a bit.

When we got back it was a little after 10pm EST, so I got our stuff ready for the Friday, took a shower.. went to bed.. all pretty basic. I was a little nervous, but in general, okay.

We got up at 7:30 and HOLY COW. My nerves had jumped up a few degrees.

We got ready, ate breakfast, and headed down to check out at 9:30. Our car was already outside waiting for us, so we hopped in and off to WV we went. Passing through Ohio on the way.

My husband enjoys meeting new people because he gets to ask them questions, so it kept me pretty entertained on the way hearing the driver talk about his fear of snakes and calling us crazy to live out here where it's so cold.

About an hour later we were in WV and he showed down in front of a tall building to let us out. My nerves came back again, but I was still in check. We went in, found the floor, rode the elevator up and walked into the Agency's office. They greeted us and led us into the "living room". When she opened the door, I expected the parents to be there already.


So we sat and waited. In those 15 minutes my nerves really his a peak. I can't remember being that nervous. Ever.

My stomach was rolling. Every time I heard a noise outside the door I'd think it was them, and then nothing. Finally, the door opened and in they came. We shook hands, sat down and the meeting began.

They may have been nervous, I'm sure they were, but they seemed really calm. Thank gosh for one of the agency ladies in on the meeting, she kept the conversation flowing, and there was never a lag in conversation.

We went through a lot of basic questions. What brought us to surrogacy, what we were open too, communication, etc.

After, my husband and I, along with the IPs, went out to lunch and it was really nice. We talked about our lives and got to know each other a bit more. I asked if they were fine about me blogging/vlogging about the surrogacy and they told me to knock myself out, haha.

Our flights left within a few hours of each other, and the IPs had rented a car, so they'd offered to take us to the airport.

We talked the whole ride back, and when we got out in the airport garage they thanked us and I thought that was it. We walked into the air port and  they stopped near the restroom. The mother had walked away and I went over to the father and said something along the lines of "well,  it was really good to meet you both"

Before responding, he called to her and said "they're leaving!"

She hurried over and both of a huge hug. He hugged me too, and then shook hands with my husband.

We're both supposed to tell the agency on Monday what out decisions are. I know what mine will be. Here's hoping they feel the same way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anxious Ramblings

Last night I dreamed about the Match Meeting. You know those dreams when you can tell your dreaming. It was that ridiculous.

IF (intended father) was quizzing me on definitions of words. I remember "Relic" was one of them....I have no idea where that came from. Really.

I came out of the dream feeling pretty good about it all, I'm hoping that's a good sign.

On the less crazy side of things, I got itinerary yesterday. It looks like I'm in for a crazy trip.  Holy crap, jet lag here I come.

I leave from the SLC airport at 7. We'll get to the Phoenix, Az Airport at 7:51 their time, but technically almost two hours later from when we leave. We have a 1 hour lay over there and then a 3 hour flight to PA. Which is actually kinda funny, because it'll be 6 hours later....when the three hour flight lands.

Go to the hotel, grab dinner. Do...something? Then it's off to bed because we have a car picking us up at 10 the next morning to take us an hour away to the meeting place. We've then got a one hour long meeting with the IPs (intended parents). Then we're supposed to go to lunch/dinner with them.

Afterwards, we're all heading back to the airport together because our flights leave the same time.

The flight back is pretty much the same except then my 3 hour trip back to Phoenix is only "1 hour" haha.


On a more personal note. I feel like it's gonna be forever until I see my baby. I'll have to drop him off at his sitter's Wednesday night, to avoid a 2 am drop off. And then as we'll be getting back early Saturday morning, I'll have to wait until 8 or 9 to pick him up.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Match Meeting

So the agency I'm working with, as I think I've mentioned before, lets you meet your IPs after you've both "accepted" each other. This basically gives you one final shot to decide if this is the couple, or in their case, surrogate, that you want to work with.

On June 19th, I got the email saying that they were sending my profile to the parents I had selected. On the 22nd I got a phone call saying that the IPs really liked my profile and they wanted to meet us. That was actually a shock, for some reason I just had let myself believe that the wouldn't like us back. It was definitely one of the times I've been glad to be wrong.

The next part was even more shocking. They wanted to meet me in 7 days. On my end, it was fine, luckily my job is really understanding about the whole surrogacy thing. I asked for the woman on the other end to email me with her contact info and I would email her back as soon as I know if it would work with Glen's schedule, and also if we could get someone to watch our son on that short of notice. It all worked out great, so a few hours later I was emailing them saying that we could make it on the 29th.

She said I'll have my itinerary on Monday. I'm excited, but I don't think it's truly set in yet. I'm sure withing the next few days I'll probably go into full blown panic mode.

I hope they like me after they meet me.

I've got to end for now, I've work tomorrow and a lot to think about..

xx- Michelle

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Choosing a Profile

I was hesitant to right this blog just yet, mainly for fear of disappointment, but then I realized that the whole point of this blog was to document my journey. The good, and the bad.

On Friday, June 15th, I received my very first IP profile. At that point, it had been 8 days since I got an email about my medical clearance.

The Monday before, I got a telephone message saying they had a profile in mind for me, but wanted to make sure everything was going to work out, legally, before sending it on to me.

The very first thing that came to mind, was a same-sex couple. I was really excited by the prospect. Then another surrogate, who went through the same Agency, told me that same-sex was a definate no-go with surros in Utah. (at least through our agency).

Next to mind, was an international couple. The idea was neat, but there was some worry about the language barrier. I hadn't thought of that until my husband said "are we going to even be able to talk to them?" Oops. good point, there.

So on Friday, I opened up the email and the attachments; "IP Questionaire- "last name", then "last name"Profile" I couldn't for sure judge where they were from with their last name. So then I opened it up.

I read the questionnaire first, it said their first names, ages and location. They were actually a US couple. I was not expecting that at all. It really, truly, didn't even cross my mind that it was a possibility. I was at work, and too anxious to wait to read it at home. I spend the next hour or so half working, and half reading my profile. I'd minimize, read a few lines, then go back to whatever I was actually supposed to be doing.

I formed my opinion, and when work was finished, took the papers home to my husband. I refused to tell him what I thought, I wanted to hear his own first. He read through, asked me what different things meant, and then said "Well, I think we should send them our profile! You?"

We agreed.

I emailed the agency back right away, hoping someone would still be in the office. Apparantly not, as I didn't get a message until Tuesday the 19th saying that they would forward my profile to them. Here's hoping.

I really don't know what my reaction will be if they turn me down. Part of me would be glad, it's better now than to spend the next almost year in contact with someone who didn't care for us, at the same time.... I think I might be slightly....put off. Why wasn't I good enough?

So, I was told they had 2-3 days to respond to the profile with either a yea or nay. This is day two..... let's see what happens....

Friday, June 8, 2012

You Have Medical Clearance

I didn't realize that those 4 words would turn around my morning like they did today. 

When I left LA after the screening, they told me that the medical results would be back within 7-10 days. But talking with other surrogates, I wasn't going to start worrying until around 3 weeks, as most of theirs took 14 days.

I woke up yesterday morning, pretty excited because it was day "7". I knew the odds of getting it that soon were slim, but that didn't stop me from checking the inbox every few hours at work, and the same when I got home. 

The agency has two of my emails, and I get different things from them sporadically through each of them. So while I was at work yesterday, I checked both. By the time I got home, I checked only the main one. This morning, my husband told me to check. I laughed and told him there is no way there is anything there as it was only 6am in LA. Checked the main email, nothing.  So I really wasn't expecting anything from the 2nd. Low and Behold, new message from the agency, time marked 2:55pm yesterday........

I'm officially a surrogate with them now Which means in as little as hours or a few days... I could be getting the profile of the couple I'm going to work with. The idea of that seems so crazy! So exciting!

Now I have a whole new reason to constantly check my email............

Surrogacy and the Media

Surrogacy has become more well known than it was previously. It may be in part with the surge of celebrities who have expanded there families with surrogates.

In 2008, Ricky Martin was present at the birth of his twin sons being delivered by a gestational carrier. He said it seemed quicker and easier, although plans for adoption may be in his future.
In 2009, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick announced that they would be having twins via a gestation carrier.
In 2010 Neil Patrick Harris and his partner, actor David Burtka, used an anonymous egg donor and a separate surrogate to give them twins.
In 2010 Nicole Kidman and Husband Keith Urban welcomed a little girl via a gestational carrier.
In 2010 Elton John and his partner, ad-exec-turned-filmmaker David Furnish, sought help from a surrogate mother. Friend and fellow parent via surrogacy, Neil Patrick Harris, was one of the first to know of the upcoming arrival of their baby son.
In 2011 Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman decided that after years of TTC and failed Fertility Treatments to use a gestational carrier, who delivered a little boy to them.

In recent news, controversies of foreign surrogacy are headlining. This, I feel is another big part of why more people are finding out about it. Of course, the media isn't always shedding a good light on it. 

The following information can be found by clicking HERE.

In her book, the Intended Mother (IM) explains: Surrogacy advocates in the United States will tell you not to get involved with poor surrogates under any circumstances because it can lead to exploitation,""I initially disagreed with this line of thinking. Charges of "renting a womb" and exploitation have long tarnished the practice of surrogacy. But in my mind, a woman going through the risks of labor for another family clearly deserves to be paid. ((While the idea of doing a completely free surrogacy is wonderful. It's not practical. In any country. Yes, the IP (Intended Parent) will usually pay less than she would by doing it in the US, but with less money comes a few more struggles. ))To me, this was not exploitation. This was a win-win, allowing the surrogate to have a brighter future and the couple to have a child. If my money was going to benefit an Indian woman financially for a service she willingly provided, I preferred that it be a poor woman who really needed help because the money that a surrogate earns in India is, to be blunt, life- changing." ((to put this into perspective, on average a US surrogate gets paid around 1 year of salary, later the IM will explain how much they India surrogate gets))The book chronicles her struggle to cope with having a surrogate halfway across the world while fielding criticism from others over the decision to spend about $30,000 on the process, less than half of what IVF costs in the United States.

In an interview with CNN she spoke about the entire process.

CNN: What were some of the moral and ethical dilemmas you had to confront in using a foreign surrogate?
Arieff: I never wanted to exploit anyone and there's so much exploitation in India. (( This is where I would be, if I were in the IMs shoes, hesitant. You need to know that while the money is wonderful they genuinely want to help someone who needs it. )) I definitely wanted to make sure that my surrogate was really on board and wanted to do this and felt empowered as a woman to be doing something to help me and her family. The whole "womb for rent," that's where the medical contract and the business transaction side of things comes in, but after doing my research I felt comfortable that she was helping me because she wanted to and I was helping her. You have to be an advocate for yourself and surrogate and I always made sure she was OK. I wanted her to feel special because for the rest of your life I was going to put her on pedestal. With a lot of clinics in India you never meet the surrogates and that's weird, so there are definitely a lot of horrible things that happen in India with surrogates. It's big business but like with anything, you have to do your homework and be really smart about what you're getting into, financially, professionally and personally. So yes, there is a lot of corruption and exploitation with surrogacy in India but that was not the case in our journey. ((Obviously, as a GC in the US, I'm glad when people choose to work with surrogates here. However, I think it's important to know that you cannot judge all experiences with foreign surrogacy as equal. Just as there are good and bad experiences with it here in the US. )) I was surprised by some of the criticism I got from people, especially ones who knew about my infertility and our history with miscarriages. This wasn't the way we'd planned it or wanted it. But still, it was shocking sometimes to hear the judgments in spite of everything we'd been through.

CNN: How did the relationship evolve?

Arieff: When I first met her it felt like a business transaction. She needed some money for her family, it was the equivalent of 10 to 15years of salary and I had fertility challenges so it was win-win, but initially it felt like more business transaction. It's surrogacy, it's not ideal but we came up with a business agreement for both parties. (( Following are the additional struggles I mentioned before)) I saw her for the first time in the beginning. After I left, we'd exchange e-mails through a translator and Dr. Patel would send photos during the course of the pregnancy. One of the most challenging things was the distance. When your surrogate's in the U.S. you're able to talk to her every day and you're free to be engaged in her life so I didn't have that option, which was really sad and unfortunate because I really wanted to feel connected to the pregnancy. I had been pregnant before, once until very far in, so it was hard for me. If I could do it all over again I would stay in India the whole time. I think it's such a big part of the process and that was definitely a huge challenge for me.When I couldn't do it any longer I got on a plane, and I was so happy that I did. We'd do things like braid each other's hair, do each other's makeup. We don't speak the same language so the relationship was based on these basic human principles and exchanges.We'd take short walks, watch movies, some Indian films. I got this drum set, and we played that a couple of times. Music, we really bonded on music and had fun making fools ourselves. There were lots of iPhone films and looking at films together and sitting around doing nothing. We'd look at magazines I'd brought. I think her favorite was when I bought Toblerone chocolate.

While this particular interview didn't really form negative opinions on surrogacy, others are completely different.

In 2004 a surrogacy mishap was reported in the UK. A Traditional surrogate who on accident gave her and her partner's baby away.  The full article can be found by clicking here.

Carole gave birth to a 9lb 4oz boy for a delighted London couple. The mother was unable to conceive and so Carole self-inseminated herself with sperm from the husband, a wealthy businessman.
Six weeks after the birth the furious father phoned  to inform them a DNA test had proved the baby was not his. A second DNA test revealed that the boy was in fact the son of Carole's partner Paul.
"When (they) phoned me I laughed at first because I just couldn't believe it and insisted on having my own DNA test carried out," says Carole.
"When the results came back we were stunned.
"This couple were very cross. They were threatening to call the police and have me arrested for fraud. They were demanding all their expenses back and said they weren't sure if they wanted to keep the baby.
"They even demanded that all my couples have their children DNA tested, which they refused to do. It was the most traumatic time in my whole life."
COTS advises all surrogates to abstain from sex while trying to conceive a baby for a client couple and, although Carole admits she ignored this, she insists she and Paul did take precautions and handed the baby over in good faith.
"I never promised I would never have sex.
"How can you expect married couples to abstain for months?
"We used a condom and it wasn't my fertile time, so I felt 100 per cent certain when I fell pregnant the baby wasn't Paul's," says Carole who insists this was her only slip-up.
You might have expected Carole and Paul to demand their baby back - as they were legally entitled to do - but no.
Carole is quite happy for their son to be brought up by an aggrieved couple who feel they've been cruelly deceived.
"They obviously wanted him otherwise they wouldn't have kept him. I kept my part of the agreement and refuse to give any money back. They got a baby didn't they?"
Since then, Carole has had no contact with the couple, unlike her other families.
Carole remains "very good friends" with two couples, "casual friends" with most of the others, but two have proved rather testing and have left her feeling "used".
Apart from the furious parents of Baby Number Nine, she also doesn't see the parents of Baby Seven any more - a 7lb 7oz baby boy, born in January 2002.
"They were very distant throughout the pregnancy. The mother would phone me once a month and after the baby was born they withdrew completely.
"Surrogates hold a lot of power over couples.
"Some women do enjoy that and it goes to their head. They like feeling important and being fussed over, but I've never abused the relationship because I have my own children and my own life."

With stories about "surrogacy gone bad" it's no wonder, really that so many people form negative opinions on surrogacy as a whole, without taking time to research it before coming to a decision. 

Nothing should be taken as fact blindly. In the same way I don't expect you to support Surrogacy blindly, I'd hope that you don't form a negative opinion. The good stories never get reported as widely as the bad ones. Remember that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Screening Trip to LA

I would have a ridiculously long blog, if I wrote everything I was feeling. So instead, I did a vlog about the entire trip and how everything went.

In short, I really couldn't be happier.

They told me I'll be hearing from them in about 7-10 days. WOW. That's not long at all before I get the chance to begin looking at profiles of couples. I'm loving it.

I know it's my longest video, but SOOOO much happened. Enjoy!

I've a few blogs in mind that will be coming soon, so don't go anywhere!