We’re doing what?! -Dan’s Perspective on Surrogacy

Now, as I said previously, Dan wasn’t initially a big fan of this whole idea.  So I asked (read: forced) him to answer a couple more questions in order to try and get an idea of what was running through his head during this time:

Q: Your first reaction to the idea of surrogacy was that it wasn’t for us, can you explain your initial concerns?
A: That just sounds WEIRD! No one actually does that. Sure, I thought we would have to try some different procedures to attempt to get pregnant, but this just seemed odd.
Q: When we made the decision to sit down and discuss the positive and negatives of surrogacy and adoption, what were your thoughts?  Were you surprised at the final decision?
A: Going into the pros and cons, I thought for sure I would have way more Pros for adoption as I have always thought adoption would be a great way to fulfill our dream of  starting a family. Once we actually got into it, there are many many hurdles you have to get over before you can even think about adopting a baby. I was also shocked at the criteria you have to meet to adopt from most countries.
Q: What were two things that surprised you most about surrogacy/gestational carriers?
A: I was shocked with how detailed and specific the legal side of the agreements are. It makes sense but it goes into detail about EVERY little aspect and possible circumstances that could come up.
The other thing that surprised me was regarding payment.  Although I knew that legally, in Canada, you can not pay a surrogate/gestational carrier, I didn’t know it is actually illegal to even buy her flowers while she is in the hospital- as it’s considered a ‘gift/payment’.
Q: What are your biggest concerns or apprehensions surrounding this decision?
A: Although Jen is a very close friend (basically family), I would never want her to feel responsible if anything beyond her control goes wrong.
Q: But seriously, Adele’s best friend is going to carry your kid…. How are you going to explain this to friends and family?
A: The people who matter in our lives are very supportive.  Also, the more people we share this idea with, I find they are more curious than anything else.
*     *     *     *     *
Choosing to build our family with help from a third party obviously isn’t an easy decision.  We have been plagued by impossibly difficult moral and ethical decisions along the road.  Decisions that we, quite frankly, had never dreamed of having to make.
I’m not quite sure what the right answers are.  And I know that there are tons of nay-sayers out there- about fertility treatments, about IVF, about freezing embryos, and now about involving a third party.  Sometimes I feel the need to defend our decisions to others.  Sometimes I just want to laugh and say what others think doesn’t actually matter.
Ultimately, one of the most important things that we have learned through this process is this wonderful quote:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
– B. Baruch
lucky

Our baby… Her belly?

quoteSo we got the okay from the clinic that we had been praying for.  Once we actually got the okay, I was on a complete high.

Thus far in our journey, I felt as though we just continually got bad news.  The meds don’t work, the IUI didn’t work, the cycle won’t work, sedation didn’t work, IVF didn’t work, FETs didn’t work…. my body didn’t work.  This was the first time that I could feel a real sense of optimism.

I made all of our happy calls to family and close friends.  Of course, Jen was the first text I sent.  “We’re approved!!!!”.  Jen and I BBM all day long… basically every day.  And she didn’t answer right away.  She generally is pretty good at answering quickly, however, she does run a daycare so I know to expect a text back once she has a spare second.

A minute went by… then two… Then the doubt started to set in.  Holy crap.  What if she isn’t ready for this?  Well, it’s not that we have agreed to everything yet.  We had really only agreed that we would discuss it seriously and evaluate our options if the clinic gave us the approval.

I couldn’t wait another second.  My car phone was now calling her.  “Jen! We’re approved!! … Don’t have a heart attack!”.  She laughed a nervous laugh and said that she was just shocked.  After the last appointment it seemed like this was no longer an option.  We had all kind of accepted that this wasn’t the path that we were going to take, and now we had done a 180.  My heart dropped- maybe she wasn’t as sure as I had thought she was when she offered.

She laughed- a real laugh this time- and said she was just taking a moment to let it settle in.  My instinct made me blurt out, “If you’re not sure, or if it’s too fast, or it’s just not what you thought, it’s ok.  I more than completely understand.  The fact that you ever thought about it means the world to us.”

My heart was thumping 1000 beats per minute.  Was this great news, not really so great after all?  Surrogacy was not an option that we were thinking about with just anyone.  Surrogacy was something we considered based on the fact that it was Jen.  We had already made the decision that if it wasn’t her, we weren’t interested.

She then talked me off the cliff, as only best friends can.  We didn’t know everything, and there was a lot to figure out.  But she was still on board.  She had to just get her head back in the game.  Her offer was the same offer that we had started with.  Surrogacy might be right for us- but we had a lot to figure out first.

I think this is the part that I get to say… My friend’s better than your friend!~

LOL… ok.  But seriously.  How many people have a best friend in their life that they are willing to literally give up a year of their life (if it works the first time!), have invasive tests and procedures, go through the emotional roller coaster of pregnancy and the associated health risks that go along with them- the stretch marks, nausea, labour and birth- then simply hand over the baby to you.  Not to mention deal with the social stigma of being a single pregnant woman trying to explain to her children, family, church, friends, and daycare parents that yes, she is pregnant.  But no, it isn’t “hers”.

Words don’t even begin to describe our feelings.  How can you put into words our sincerest gratitude for such a miraculous gift.  The words Thank-you just don’t seem to cut it.

Whether or not this works.  Whether or not we even go through with this.  The very fact that she has given this idea this much thought, and is willing to investigate it further, is perhaps the biggest gift that anyone could ever give.

*     *     *     *     *

I guess here is where you begin to wonder what is going through Jen’s head.  Is she actually crazy or a saint as I have described her.  My vote is the saint… but here’s some of her thoughts in her own words.

Q: At what point during our  journey through infertility did you consider offering to be a surrogate?

A: I’m honestly not sure.  I had thought about it before, but I know it was after you received upsetting news that I knew it was a for sure offer that I had to give.

Q: What resources did you use to better understand surrogacy in Canada?

A: Before I had talked to you about it, I had been doing research online and had downloaded a few ebooks to get me informed.  It helped me with the legal view and most of the medical (we all know not one case could be like yours… but close!).  There are a lot of forums out there FOR surrogates so I was able to see things from their point of view and know their feelings actually going through it.

Q: What was/is your biggest concern or apprehension about offering to our surrogate?

A: Obviously my kids were the only part I was really nervous about… Well, and my Grandparents.  Just explaining this situation is, dare I say, “weird” and I wasn’t sure if my family would be on board with it.

Q: Are you crazy?

A: I am your best friend… Can’t get much crazier than that!  🙂  Well, minus the sister wives jokes from the doctors… awkward!

*     *     *     *     *

hope

Hoping for the best, Preparing for the worst: The Clinic’s Final Decision

October 24th, 2013: The big day!

Today is the day that we head back to the clinic to find out the RE and the team’s opinion about how we move forward.  I’ve spent the last 3 weeks going through each and every scenario, and how it would work.  I also have every scenario’s questions laid out in my mind to ensure we get all the answers we need.  Knowing the RE didn’t seem to be interested in surrogacy for us, I needed to know every medical reason behind each option and how it might work.  This was the only way we could make decisions about how was can move forward.

Dan and I got to the appointment, and I was trying to prepare myself for the news- and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly expecting great news.  Could I do another IVF round again?  How…? Emotionally, mentally, and physically I wasn’t so sure I could handle it.

To doc sat us down and opened with, “After review with my team and your medical history, we believe we’d be very supportive if you wanted to move forward with a gestational carrier”.  WHAT?!!!

This was the one scenario that I didn’t plan for.  The last appointment made it pretty clear that this wasn’t something that he was excited for.  My mouth actually dropped.  He laughed and said he thought I’d be happier with the news.

It wasn’t that it wasn’t exciting, but how did this come about?  What had changed?  The doc explained that after reviewing everything, we didn’t have very much medical evidence to base our decisions on.  We were basically guessing at best.

He explained that there was a very high chance of OHSS for me due to the amount of meds I require, and the extremely high levels of estrogen that I kept having.  This would not be supportive for the transfer, and additionally, could actually lead to us being cancelled- meaning either no retrieval or no fresh transfer- both not good.  Secondly, there was no medical evidence to support that is would work if we continued.  He said that we might be right, but then so might he.

He emphasized the importance of the ‘right’ carrier, not just any carrier.  Third party fertility was very difficult and not clear cut in Canada due to our laws.  This was not something to do on a whim with such anyone.  He felt that the close-knit friendship I had with the potential carrier, as well as her family situation was actually optimal for a gestational carrier.

The other issues that weighed into the decision was if I was able to get pregnant, we still may have problems during pregnancy and birth due to my bleeding disorder and the anti-depressants (which we now an even higher dose than before- thanks infertility!).

I honestly had no response for the doc.  This was the exact appointment I had dreamed about getting, but was not expecting at all.  Dan asked a bunch of questions, which, quite frankly, was very un-Dan like.  He is normally more of a nod and listen type of guy.  But he was the pinch hitter in this appointment as I just sat there stunned.

The doc said we needed to talk to the IVF nurse to discuss specifics, but we had his blessing and off he went.  My heart was racing, I had a huge smile plastered across my face, and I couldn’t stop squeezing Dan’s hand- this was it!  We’re going to have a baby!!!

The IVF nurse came in and went over how to move forward.  First things first, did we understand the financial impact? Well yes, I already had a colour coded spreadsheet at home with our guess-timates of cost.  Then, out came the sheet.  Holy sh*t… I perhaps forgot that OHIP would cover nothing.  At all.

Every appointment with the doc, blood tests, ultrasounds etc would all need to be paid for.  And man, did those fees add up.  We remembered the IVF fees, the counseling fees, the legal fees, the expenses, the post pregnancy expenses, but totally forgot about these.  The general estimate for typical surrogacy arrangements in Canada was anywhere between $60,000 – $90,000.

We swallowed and smiled.  Yes, the fees were ok.  Nothing was going to make my smile disappear today.

Our plan was that Jen would need to come into the clinic for an assessment by our doc.  He would go over her medical history and determine if she was a medical fit.  If she passed that test, she would get the privilege of having a sonohysterogram and blood work.  If she passed that hurdle, next was the psychiatric analysis.  If we all made it through those appointments, then we’d be off to the lawyers to sort out a surrogacy contract.  Once we have that, we would have to sync up Jen and my cycles, then off we go- I’d get medicated, grow awesome eggs, get them retrieved at the same time as getting Jen’s uterus ready for the embryos, pray the eggs fertilized, pray they make it and continue to grow them in an incubator for 3-5 days, then implant them back into Jen.  Then pray for sticky vibes and hope they stick and she would get pregnant!

Easy peazy….??! Breathe in.  Breathe out.

By the time I made it the 30 steps from the conference room to the front desk, I had texted Jen and my parents with the good news.

Even though we hadn’t had our official sit down with Jen, I got a bit ahead of myself and booked her for her initial consultation two weeks from now (to the tune of $250.00… :S) and left my credit card number.

To do: Call Jen and set up a little family meeting to discuss her carrying our child, go over all the information we had received and try to ensure we understand each step then come up with a new updated budget, oh, and raise our credit card limits.  Bright side is that we’re about to get a ton of air miles…!

On we go! Surrogacy here we come!!

Image

Found this… Infertility, IVF, Depression, Surrogacy… all scary things to put out there onto the internet for anyone to read. But this quote sums up what my hopes are!