Angel’s Journey – Part 3

March 14th, 2014

1896828_10100643859627318_1880928148_n

 

Whew! What a long few weeks it has been – both mentally and physically. I am now almost 10 weeks pregnant with one sweet surro-baby who, to be honest, has been sucking the energy from me for the last several weeks. I remember this part from my own pregnancy as well – the feeling of being utterly and completely exhausted and can’t even think of staying awake much longer. Oh, did I mention that happens at 9am when all you’ve done so far for the day is get up and take a shower? Yeah, I’m there. Let’s not forget the fun episodes of overwhelming nausea and the complete aversion to chicken I’ve been having. Last but not least, I am in my last week of medications – one injection at night and two estrogen patches every other day that I feel have certainly contributed to my hormonal “lapses in judgment” (or complete irrationality as my husband might say).

I’m very careful not to complain about these symptoms, however. While unpleasant, I also remember that in infertility I would have paid money to be tied to my porcelain stool due to morning sickness or would have gladly accepted overwhelming fatigue if it meant it was because I was growing a baby inside of me. Although the child I am carrying is not my own, I still feel blessed to have these symptoms because it continues to remind me of the miracle I’m a part of. Do I like to gag at even the thought of chicken? No. Do I like to go from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds flat because there are no pickles in my fridge? No (but I really wanted pickles!). Is it completely worth it every time I hear the baby’s heart beat and see how much it’s grown in such a short time? Absolutely. Pregnancy is hard and often times, not very pleasant. Some women loathe it and some love it. I just happened to love it. The point is that just being pregnant is a miracle. When you understand all of the pieces that have to be so perfectly in sync for a baby to come to be, I’m honestly surprised the miracle happens as often as it does!

The further along I get in this pregnancy, the more I am realizing how different it is from my pregnancy with my daughter. I feel 1000 times more paranoid and anxious about the uncertain first trimester hurdles and feel like the days are just crawling by to get to week 13 so I can breathe a little easier.  I’m only 10 weeks along but it feels like I should at least be 25. I attribute this to the fact that I’m not spending countless hours doing things I would be doing if it were my own that would distract me  – like spending entire afternoons creating a baby board on Pinterest or signing up for every imaginable pregnancy email list to get day by day updates of baby.

This brings me to my next point – the advantages of being a surrogate:

  1. First and foremost, you get to help build a family. Enough said.
  2. That weekly check list of to do’s you get in those baby related emails (start looking for pediatrician, discuss child care concerns, think of possible names, etc.) – send it on to the parents, my friend, because that is not on the Surrogate To Do list!
  3. You don’t have to worry about picking out a name, because let’s face it, that can get ugly between partners.
  4. You get to shop for those super cute and tiny baby clothes but don’t have to worry about peeling off every… single…tag (and there’s never just one) and washing them.
  5. You get to educate others on surrogacy and ConceiveAbilities when they ask about your pregnancy and then find out it’s not yours. The conversation rarely ends at “Thanks, but it’s not mine!”
  6. You get to see people become really uncomfortable when you tell them you’re pregnant but it isn’t your husband’s (or spouse’s), until you decide it’s time to also tell them it’s not yours either (I’m not sure that one will ever get old)!

But in all seriousness, the advantage of it all is being able to witness firsthand the building of a family. I find myself just as excited, if not more in some ways, about this pregnancy as I was in my own; but it’s excitement for the fathers, not myself. I think a lot has to do with the fact that the fathers and my husband and I have a really good relationship and make the time to talk often and check in as much as possible. It really is a team effort.

Until next time my friends. Now where can a girl get some pickles and ice cream?!

Charmed by Charleston

March 11th, 2014

It was another wonderful conference weekend in charming Charleston, South Carolina, as nearly 200 professionals took part in The Donor Egg Meeting. Celebrating 16 years, the conference brings together members of the infertility community from all over the country to learn more about ART technology, legal updates, and psychological considerations as they relate to egg donation.

ConceiveAbilities was honored to once again exhibit at this prestigious event, and we were thrilled to connect with old friends while introducing new colleagues to our dynamic egg donation and surrogacy programs.

DEM2

We thoroughly enjoyed the food and festivities of Charleston, too. A highlight of the visit? A true Low Country Oyster Boil with our colleagues – truly an unforgettable experience as we shucked oysters together! 1974435_10100701913402197_656477275_n  1960211_10100701902738567_1172121547_n

 

10013543_10100701871376417_1067410684_n

Gay Men Talk About Parenting Journey

March 5th, 2014

We were thrilled to see the Making Parenting Conceivable seminar featured in Windy City Times – check out the full story:

Gay Men Talk About Parenting Journey

Meet Team Baby at The Donor Egg Meeting

March 4th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ConceiveAbilities is pleased to be returning to The Donor Egg Meeting at Charleston Place Hotel in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. From March 6-9, hundreds of professionals will be attending the symposium focusing on the technology of oocyte donation and third party reproduction in ART. It’s an honor to be exhibiting at this prestigious event again, and we look forward to sharing exciting new details about our rapidly expanding egg donation and surrogacy programs.

 

 

Making Parenting Conceivable: Seminar Success

March 3rd, 2014

Together with Fertility Centers of Illinois, we were pleased to welcome hopeful parents to our first Making Parenting Conceivable seminar on Saturday, March 1st. The event was an exciting success, with nearly two dozen potential dads in attendance to learn more about their options.

It is clear to us that this is just the beginning, and we will be implementing regular seminars to help educate the gay community about parenting possibilities. Look to ConceiveAbilities for more information about your next opportunity to attend a Making Parenting Conceivable seminar.

MPC1

 

 

MPC2

MPC5

MPC4
MPC6 MPC8 MPC9 MPC11

Angel’s Journey – Part 2

February 27th, 2014

Angel is back with an update in her  journey – read more about how she’s handling the early stages of a surrogate pregnancy and some of the inevitably unique issues that accompany it! 

 

Hello again! Since I last wrote, two weeks and 2 ultrasounds have come and gone. They showed great growth in the baby I’m carrying. We heard the sweet sound of the heart beat, and I’ve also been released to my OB and am weaning off medications – one of my favorite parts so far.

I’ve also announced via social media that I’m officially pregnant with another couple’s baby! I’ve been open about my journey along the way, but since the transfer I have had people asking if we knew if it worked or not. I was glad to be able to tell them YES! I find myself being more anxious about this pregnancy than my own because there are more people counting on me than just myself. I am so looking forward to getting to the second trimester so I feel like I can breathe a little easier – mentally that is, since physically that’s just going to get worse!

Compliments have been a funny thing. I’ve never been one of those people who can so graciously accept compliments or praise. I will always say thank you but like to quickly move on and take attention off of me. I don’t want to seem conceited, do I? However, I’m also not the kind of person who argues back to find something negative about myself to offset my anxiety about being complimented. Case in point (excuse me while I make up words):

Complimentor: “Your hair looks great today!”

Complimentee : “Oh goodness, this rat’s nest? I barely brushed it today. It looks awful.”

See what I mean? So when I decided to be open about my surrogacy journey from the start, probably much earlier than most other surrogates decide to “go public,” I don’t think I expected the type of positive response I got. Thus, when the compliments and praise of “doing something so selfless for someone else” started coming in, I didn’t know how to respond without sounding like I was tooting my own horn, wearing a shirt that proudly states “You’re right, I AM amazing!”

If I am being completely honest, the choice to be surrogate was a selfish decision for me.  I loved being pregnant. Really loved it. So I didn’t see it as this great selfless act and sacrifice…until recently. Last week, we had another ultrasound to check on the baby and I was almost 7 weeks along. I had the opportunity to Skype with the intended fathers during the ultrasound at the clinic as well so I was really excited. They sat in amazement as they were shown their tiny little baby on the screen and even more so when the doctor was able to play the heartbeat for them. It was 118 beats per minute of pure love, joy and hope. The fathers said they will “never forget that sound.” Seeing the father’s faces when they got to really see their tiny baby for the first time in action was also the first time I really felt like I deserved the praise I had been receiving. It really was incredible for me to sit by (well, lie by) and watch them look at their baby and hear its heart beating. In a way, at least to me, I think it made it seem more real. That this was really happening and I have a VIP, front row seat to watch this unfold before them.

So, I’ve realized in this journey that it’s OK toot my own horn, to just say “thank you!” and “I know!” when someone tells me they think what I’m doing is amazing and selfless and all of the other awesome things people have told me. I don’t feel like I’m the only one who deserves that praise though, because it took a lot to make this baby I’m carrying possible – starting with the intended fathers. They had enough hope and desire to build their family that they were brave enough to start this long and sometimes uncertain and daunting process. Throw in an egg donor, a fertility clinic, lawyers, ConceiveAbilities and supportive friends and family and voilà – here I am 7 weeks pregnant with their baby. I am amazing. The fathers are amazing. ConceiveAbilities is amazing. I think I’m lucky just to be a part of it, not needing praise but definitely appreciative of it. So future or current surrogates who might be in the same “I don’t like attention on me” boat, get over it! I mean that in the nicest and most sincere way. Surrogacy is an awesome gift that deserves to be celebrated and you’re invited to the party!

Is a celebrity’s miracle our business?

February 27th, 2014

When MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and her husband welcomed their daughter earlier this month, the announcement was accompanied by a beautiful tribute to their gestational carrier.

“It took two families, three states, four doctors, and five attorneys to get this little girl here. And while our gestational carrier has no genetic tie to our little one, she is now our family. She gave our daughter love, safety, and nourishment for nine months. On Valentine’s Day, she gave her life and placed her in our arms.”

While her news was met with warmth and joy, particularly from the many who have utilized third party reproduction to build their own families, others applauded the fact that Harris-Perry herself made the choice to go public with their story.

In an article for Slate, contributor Jessica Grose, noted, “I’ve been somewhat appalled of late at commentators who say celebrities older than 35 must talk about their struggles to get pregnant.”

With a number of women in the spotlight having children a bit later in life, much speculation is made about reproductive assistance – and many seem to expect announcements about how they had their babies when nature indicates it’s not possible. Grose made an interesting point that it is not up to celebrities to act as our biology teachers.

“There is no shortage of media telling women about how their eggs are shriveling up and dying,” she said. “It’s a tragic disservice to assume that women can’t learn that there’s a relationship between age and fertility without someone famous telling them so.”

We have always maintained that disclosure is a very personal decision, regardless of celebrity status. While it’s been exciting to witness more and more people feeling comfortable sharing their journeys, we certainly respect the decision not to. What do you think? Do public figures owe an explanation to the rest of the world regarding the conception of their families?

 

Friday Round Up

February 21st, 2014

ConceiveAbilities is keeping you up-to-date on the latest news in the busy, burgeoning world of infertility. Below, a round up of this week’s need to know stories:

From CNN: Record number of women using IVF to get pregnant

From The Conversation: Rest assured, IVF babies grow into healthy adults

From The Tampa Bay Times: Dealing with the high cost of conceiving

From MSNBC: How we made our miracle

From Chicago Tribune: Number of test-tube babies born in U.S. hits record percentage

From The New York Times: And Surrogacy Makes 3 

And in ConceiveAbilities news?

There’s still time to register for Making Parenting Conceivable: A Gay Man’s Guide to Family Building, our free educational seminar for hopeful dads! 

Angel’s Journey – Part 1

February 13th, 2014

We’re so pleased to welcome gestational surrogate Angel as the latest Team Baby guest blogger. With a positive pregnancy test under her belt, she’s excited to share her unique perspective on the process as it unfolds in a series of upcoming entries. 

angel transfer

 

January 28th, 2014 – I took a home pregnancy test and was ecstatic when it came back positive. I couldn’t have been happier or more excited to see those two beautiful little pink lines. I was equally excited to quickly go tell my husband the good news… and even better – it wasn’t his! He didn’t react the way most husbands might when they find out their wife is pregnant but with a baby that isn’t his, but then again, the baby wasn’t mine either! He was just as happy as I was. It was the next step in a journey we started together 9 months prior to help build a family for a wonderful couple. That is where I am at now, but I think it’s important to go back and start from the beginning…

My name is Angel. I am a 29-year-old tired mom of one beautiful toddler and have been happily married for six years to the better half of me. In early 2013, my husband and I had made the official decision to not have more children. We had struggled for two years to conceive when we were finally blessed to become parents to our precious miracle.  Those two years of infertility truly changed who we were as individuals, a couple and as parents – for the better.

But I was sad at the thought of never being pregnant again. I so loved every moment of being pregnant – even the unpleasant sides, like not being able to tie your own shoes. I loved being pregnant because I knew I was lucky enough to experience pregnancy and parenthood – the good, the bad and the ugly – when so many others could not. And then surrogacy just came to me, almost like an epiphany. It was the perfect solution! This gave me the ability to experience pregnancy again while helping complete a family. I searched online about surrogacy for hours and came across ConceiveAbilities. From the moment I clicked on their website, I knew this was the agency that would help me become a surrogate. I filled out an application and waited for a response. I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, but from the first encounter with them and speaking with Alicia after my application was accepted, I felt completely comfortable and at ease. I came into this knowing nothing about the process and the fine details. It was scary and overwhelming at times, but I knew I had the support of everyone at ConceiveAbilities. Alicia took the time to answer all of my one hundred questions and was so patient with me. From June through November, my husband and I completed mental health exams, a home visit and a medical workup and were cleared to move onto the legal process which, for us, took about a month to complete.

Once we were through the legal portion, we were finally able to start building the relationship with our intended fathers (IF’s) that we were matched with in August. This was my favorite part; we were so excited, nervous, curious and happy to start talking with them. Our IF’s live in Spain, but it has not been any sort of a barrier in our experience. We set up Skype calls every other week or so and email basically every day in between to catch up and get to know each other. When we Skype, an hour flies by because we all feel so comfortable with each other. It’s a unique relationship being built. We are all working towards the same goal on “Team Baby,” but getting to know each other in a way that works for us while navigating a very personal journey. Sure, I wish they lived closer because I would love to see them more often, but we are always keeping in contact and thinking of one another. We are becoming a part of each other’s families and it’s wonderful.

January 21st 2014 - We transferred two beautiful embryos and waited two long, agonizing weeks to confirm if we were pregnant or not. We were so ecstatically happy to get the results back that I was in fact pregnant and my IF’s were going to be parents! In that moment, when I told them that the test was positive, seeing their reaction and their excitement was worth every second of everything that I had done in this process. The trips away from our daughter to complete the mental health exams and medical work up, the daily shots, pills and all the other excitement but uncertainty and anxiety I had faced thus far. There was nothing like that moment and I’ll cherish it forever.

I’ve always been an open person and have been sharing my experiences with surrogacy on a personal blog and social networks. I wanted to do this for two reasons – one was because eventually (hopefully) I would be pregnant and I knew I couldn’t hide a big belly forever. It was easier for me to explain to my friends and family all at the same time. And two, because I wanted to educate others on what the process is really like  from someone going through it. And who knows, maybe even open a few closed minds. The response I got from going “public” about my choice to be a gestational surrogate was so overwhelmingly positive that it was almost hard to accept. I have received so many heartfelt messages of gratitude from others, positive thoughts on important days, like the transfer day and genuine excitement from friends and family about my our decision to do this for another family. To any potential surrogates reading this, this is a journey you will not forget or regret should you choose to embark on it. It’s not always an easy journey but you will have the support of ConceiveAbilities and other surrogates to help you through. I am just getting started in my surrogacy journey and it has already been life changing. From the bond that comes to getting to know other surrogates to gaining new family through your IP’s, I look forward to sharing more of my experiences.

Friday Round Up

February 7th, 2014

ConceiveAbilities is keeping you up-to-date on the latest news in the busy, burgeoning world of infertility. Below, a round up of this week’s need to know stories:

 

From Huffington Post: This Celebrity Just Gave Birth at 49, But Don’t Assume You Can Too

From The Dallas Morning News: To each, his own

From Cornell Chronicle: Protein that culls damaged eggs identified, infertility reversed

From Channel News Asia: Gluten intolerance could be possible caused of “unexplained infertility”

From CBS Boston: Secondary Infertility Becoming More Common

From Wisconsin Gazette: Grant to help inform HIV-positive people of family-building options

From Fox News: Fate of a fertilized egg: Why some embryos don’t implant

 

And in ConceiveAbilities news?

Surrogate Angel and her Intended Dads are celebrating a successful embryo transfer with beautiful beta numbers this week!