Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Surrogacy Appointments- When Three is a Crowd

I have a complex. We see our wonder surro frequently and Chris and I are very lucky that she does not live too far away from us. It is also is a little bittersweet too. The reality of it all, is our baby is 20 minutes away from us in another home and in another body. Because our gestational carrier is so close to us we are able to go to every appointment. We have not missed a single one. How could I? It is the small period of time that I can for a moment experience this pregnancy. Even if it is just sitting next to her in the waiting room.  I am close, I can touch her belly and be a part of the process.  

When you go into a surrogacy agreement there are some hard line items that each party will request. Our wonder surro had delivered multiple births at a specific hospital in the area previously and her OB had delivered all of her pregnancies. So when she told us her preference was to keep the same hospital and OB, we completely understood. I also pouted a little, ok maybe a lot inside, because I really do love my OB. I trust her. She is invested in our journey and even now she still answers all of my questions concerning my ‘unpregnant’ pregnancy. Naturally, it would be a hard sell for me to warm up to our wonder surro’s OB. When Chris and I met with the new OB we drilled her with questions. We explained to her OB that we wanted full involvement. I just wanted the warm and fuzzies. This was going to be the care provider that would oversee our baby’s development and growth in utero and I wanted her to understand that surrogacy is a party of three.

This all went south when the 3 of us sausaged ourselves into a small exam room at one of our appointments and that same provider we had sat down with and poured out our infertile hearts too weeks prior, looked at my wonder surro as asked her directly if she would be doing a AFP test. For those who are unsure what that is, it is a simple blood draw that can tell you whether a baby is at an increased risk for certain genetic problems. Some of the conditions the test screens for are chromosomal abnormalities like Down syndrome and Trisomy 18, as well as neural tube defects like spina bifida.  Yes, my wonder surro would be the one getting the test, but damn shouldn’t the OB have afforded that question to us? Now our wonder surro did not skip a beat. She looked at her OB and said should you ask the parents? Hello OB {waiving flares and flags}!! We are right here in this small room, kinda hard to miss us.  But she did. Our presence is secondary.  My ‘unpregnant’pregnancy is just that secondary.  We have found many situations where IF still is ever present. For someone who has just had a failed IVF round or adoption placement, baby showers feel like you are a lone outcast that does not quite fit in.  It is the same feeling for me here in the OB office. We are that puzzle piece that looks like it might fit but no matter how hard you press it back into the empty spot, it simply will not fit.

I should learn really though.  After multiple appointments the same thing happens every time. Here is what will typically happen; when the nurse calls our wonder surro back to the clinic area I jump up like I have won the lottery or a spin at the wheel on the Price is Right show. Only to have the nurse who is nowhere as cool as Bob Barker or Drew Carey tell me she will call me back separately.  Dejectedly, I shuffle back to my chair avoiding stares of other pregnant couples and waiting patients.  I’m pretty sure those waiting room spectators are wondering what the hell is up with that situation?  Is that the baby's mama, mama? Or is that the sister of the daddy to be? Or is this some weird love triangle from the show Big Love? With a rush of insecurity pulsing through my mind, I uncomfortably wait patiently to be called in to meet back up with my little jellybean and wonder surrogate in the exam room.  

You know what? Yeah, I may just be a spectator. I am riding pine here in this pregnancy game, but I am an integral part of a team. There are 3 people invested in my child's life. WOW. That is 3 people who are caring for her and hoping she has a safe and healthy entrance into this world. She is, I am and Chris is lucky we have surrogacy and our wonder surro to be that pitch hitter for us.  I will have 9 months without her, but I will have a life time with her, which makes any challenge we face obsolete.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Heal a Burn

Candace and I both worked in restaurants for several years during college.  She was mainly front of the house (hostess, server, bartender, manager) while I was mainly in the kitchen.  Being in the kitchen, if there was one way we injured ourselves too numerously to count, it was getting burned. Somewhat similar to getting pregnant, there are a whole host of myths and wives tales for how best to heal from a burn. You should put it under cold water, you should put it under warm water, you should put butter on it (never understood that one), put a bandaid on it, put burn spray on it. I adopted a somewhat different strategy though… I touched it… a lot. My thought is that if I continue to touch it, ultimately it will be desensitized and I can move on with using my hand like normal. Now, I’m not talking about burns that go to the bone and look like a combination of the surface of the Moon and Swamp Thing. I am talking about simple burns, hot butter that gets on your hand, a drop of rebellious grease that decided to part ways with its brethren that were in the fryer, checking to see if the water is hot enough to put the pasta in; that kind of thing. What’s the alternative? Treat the burn like it is a life-jeopardizing injury. If you burned your finger, don’t use your whole hand.  If you have a burn on your right forearm, try to be ambidextrous and do everything with your left arm. At the end of the day though, no matter how much you shield yourself from having your burn come into contact with anything, even air, eventually you will brush against something or someone will bump into you. And that burn, that little puff of red or blistered skin, will hurt like you were thrown into a blender. So, now you have incapacitated yourself to prevent the pain from happening and guess what, it came anyway. Doesn't sound like a great strategy to me.

Just like a simple burn on your hand, the injury or hurt of infertility is an unwanted invasion into your very being.  Just like a burn, there are so many ways to overcome that hurt and, just like a burn, so many of these are difficult to discern their likelihood of success. My advice to you … touch it. Don’t hide away your infertility because, just like a well concealed burn, eventually you will see that very pregnant woman complaining about the 6 kids she already has and the hurt will start all over and may even be intensified.  Now, I am not saying to display it, it’s not a badge to pin to your shirt every morning. What I am saying is be open about it to yourself. Accept that this is a part of you, hopefully temporarily like a minor burn. Until it goes away though, it is with you whether you want it or not. So touch it, own it, accept it, then, work like hell to make sure that you overcome it. 

 So…when you get burned by infertility…touch the burn, remove the sensitivity… then grab those resources you have to overcome it! Want some ideas on how you can overcome the burn? April 20-26th kicks off NIAW, (National Infertility Awareness Week). Advocate. Here are some ways:

1. Are you also a Blogger? Then participate in the Resolve’s Bloggers Unite Challenge. Every year during NIAW, RESOLVE rally’s all of the IF bloggers to write based on a given theme. This year’s theme is “I Resolve to Know More about…”  Click  HERE for more info on how to use your words to make a difference. 

2. TWEET and Twibbon- Try saying that 5 times fast! That’s right  add a Twibbon to your twitter and FB profile.  “Twibbon” not to be confused with “twerking” Twibbon-ing is way more classy. Get your Twibbon HERE.

TWEET Example:  Support #NIAW 4/20-26. Add a #Twibbon & and help spread #infertility awareness. Get your own from @rmisconception

3. Take an “IF-ie” and join the Virtual Art Project.  The author of The Truth Behind  The Secret “Infertility”   is rallying for those to raise awareness through this art summit. Here’s what you do, take a Selfie. Maybe at your clinic, maybe on a good hair day, or when your lazy eye is actually being productive (my personal habitual photo issue) be creative,  either way you can send up to 4 shots to this email with a quick blurb about your journey no later than 4/18. You can reference your name or can opt to stay anonymous.  Just indicate that in your email.  

4. Facebook Covers! Go ahead, be out with it already or better yet support someone you know that is part of the 1 in 8 that suffer with infertility. Seriously, no pressure though, I know it is difficult to cross over that line. Incase you do though,  My Hopeful Journey (also the talented creator of the Infertility Survival Kit App) has made it very simple to click, save, and post a new cover to promote awareness of NIAW). Click HERE to get one.

5. And more… Resolve has compiled a comprehensive list of 25 additional ways you can support the infertility movement.  You can aid in the cause silently or loudly. Point is if you are wanting change, be the change and inspire. Click HERE for 25 more ideas on how to spread the NIAW love.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No Womb for TMI in Surrogacy

One thing is for sure, I know very little about pregnancy.  For the most part it kind of makes sense, Chris and I spent many years and all of our spare Google and reading hours researching on all things fertility.  When you spend all of your time trying to get pregnant the actual process of pregnancy seems so far out of reach.  It is similar to enrolling in college courses; there are pre-requisite classes you must take first. You cannot take the core classes till you have taken the preparatory classes. Here is our course load:

Our wonder surro is very open with us, a bit of a free spirit if you will.  Since this is her 4th pregnancy she is well tuned into what to expect while being pregnant. Not much can make her blush or I guess is a surprise to her. Since my uterus is missing like Jimmy Hoffa, being pregnant is not something I can fully understand.  So Chris and I will read and do our research on what to expect but it is hardly relate-able. It can also be emotionally painful at times as I have unfortunately discovered. I find myself reading the pregnancy app on my phone, but I have to scroll through all of the actual changes for a pregnant mother and go direct to the growth and progress information for our baby, stalking what fruit or veggie we are at this week. (Cucumber BTW).

Although I cannot and will never experience a pregnancy biologically, our surro has been great at giving us a glimpse into that world by sending us weekly bump pictures, letting me know along the way if there are any new milestones gestationally speaking.  She also tells us the other side of what she is experiencing.  I call it the “tri-fecta.” Our wonder surro at one time has had the triple combo of heartburn, hemorrhoids and fire crotch, AKA a yeast infection.  Apparently, these are normal unwanted events that occur in pregnancy.  I mean let’s be real here. It is not her baby, so the drive to go through these very uncomfortable body and lifestyle changes has to be not only difficult physically, but mentally challenging as well. It takes someone with a very altruistic nature to carry a baby for another couple, to endure these changes for 9 months. If it was her child then it would make those hemorrhoids seem like lumps of love.  On top of all of this she has new, worrisome, unpregnant-pregnant intended parents like us. I worry if the herbal tea she is drinking has low levels of caffeine. I worry if the medication she was given will be ok for our little Jellybean. I worry, worry and worry some more. Thankfully, our wonder surro does not get too annoyed, at least I don’t think she does, when we ask her basic questions to help ease our concerns. It is all about communication. Since this is a team effort TMI is off the table. 

The tri-fecta was in full effect when our wonder surro had our latest ultrasound. Chris left early and I stayed at the clinic to make sure all was taken care of and to tie up any loose ends.  Feeling remnants of her fire crotch (yeast infection) she went on a hunt to look for her OB. So here is when everything got weird (as if there were not enough slightly awkward possible scenarios already in surrogacy).  I stood in the hallway of the reception desk, certainly out of place, holding jackets and purses waiting for her to come back. About 15 minutes later, our wonder surro came bounding back with a new pep in her step.  Now, I have said before that the surro-isms she says are book worthy, well the first thing she tells me with a large smile on her face is “My cuca is purple!”  My jaw dropped and all I could say was “What?” Our wonder-surro went on to describe that her OB stated that for the next few days it would look like her and Barney, yes the big loveable yet creepy dinosaur, had a romp in the hay.  My surrogate had a purple vag.  First thought. Will our baby come out of the womb resembling Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? This time the color is from a medication called Gingin Violet or Gentian Violet.  

 I will say that I learned something that day, apparently lady bits come in all colors. Our wonder-surro said it was like a free vajazzle. Since I live under a rock I had no clue what that meant, so what did I do? Googled. Don’t. I will save you from that image being burned into the back of your eyelids. Basically, it is like the beadazzle for your lady bits. Personally, I do not intend on beadazzling or vajazzling anything of mine. In the words of a dear friend, it is much like “putting lipstick on a pig.” You can rhinestone and glitter your bits all you want but there is not much that can be done to make it look any less like a lady bit. Just had a thought, can you imagine what your OB or RE’s reaction would be if you went to an appointment with a vajazzle?

 Fire crotch problem evaded and I am fairly certain I will never look at Barney the big purple dinosaur the same. Just another day at the corporate headquarters of Our Misconception.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Mask of Infertility

I resented God. Chris had been through two full craniotomies and we were very aware of the delicate balance that the fulcrum of life can teeter from one direction to the next. After spending weeks of being in and out of hospitals and watching my husband in the ICU it was then that it was clear to me that I wanted to start a family.  What if the tumor came back? What if he couldn't fight this battle next time? I wanted my husband's legacy to pass on. Selfish maybe, more so I think it is that primal sense of procreation.  So we started trying to conceive. Two years later I was not pregnant and I could not bear my husband a child.  I was grateful that God (or for those of different religious beliefs insert your higher power) saved Chris. We both had a new start on life, together again and tumor free.  Funny, how quickly you can lose sight of those gifts. I had started to laser focus on what we didn't have which was a baby for our empty nursery.

I shut out my faith. I couldn't understand how so many who in my opinion were undeserving could have a family.  It seemed that every news channel had been reporting cases of parents for lack of a better word drowning their babies, abandoning them in bathrooms and selling them into pornography.  Yet, Chris and I have a house busting at the foundation with love to give a child and it was not happening.  Perhaps I was being punished for the many bad decisions I made in my past, those skeletons in my closet I dare not release.  I even thought that I had used up all of my prayers, wishes, and genie lamp rubs on Chris when he fighting his fight.  It took a few years for me to find my way back into a church. It took some shopping of the church variety. We are not a hell-fire and brimstone kind of couple. We needed to find the right fit, a place where we can walk in as damaged goods and leave with hope, not judgment.  Through suggestion by a friend we stumbled across our church.  Now, this is not a post to convince those reading it to be all churchy and for me to tell you will burn if you drop the f-bomb or wear a skirt that is 1 inch above finger tip length. If that was the case I would be a walking ball of fire. 
This past month our pastor hit on some heavy topics that really resonated to what we all experience with infertility. The series was called Masquerade with the premise that everyone wore some kind of mask to cover an issue that they battle with.  Over the many years of our struggle and even now our infertility presents a melting pot of raw emotions. Allow Chris and I to touch on the masks we wear, the shrouds of our struggle. 

I could rival the Incredible Hulk (for green-ness) with the envy I had for those who never had to spend their life savings on infertility procedures, surgeries, adoption costs and surrogacy fees.  I envy those moments that Chris and I were robbed of. We will never lay in bed with his hand on my 25-week along belly anticipating  feeling our baby kick. Instead we wonder from a distance, envious of the moments we do not have.

Chris- Anger
Anger is certainly something that I have had my fair share of as it relates to our infertility.  I have been angry that Candace is crying uncontrollably on the couch and there is nothing that I can do about it.  Angry that for some masochistic reason I let myself lower my security walls and believe again that “this time it would be different.”  Angry that those around us were popping out babies with no apparent difficulty at all.  I was angry that I was angry; that infertility had caused me to lose my even-keeled temperament. 

Candace-Control Freak
I am a self-admitted control freak.  Ironically, I do not have control here. It is my own personal hell.  I would be eating every damn super food that existed.  I would have done pregnancy yoga, I actually still have the book and videos.  I would have been tempted to adorn bubble wrap on all of my clothes to help protect the little miracle I would have carried. The key word here is “I WOULD”. I cannot though, I have absolutely no control. 

Us guys are known for several things, bragging is damn near the top.  Unlike what women believe, us men-folk are complex as is our pride.  If we are proud of our ability to get women pregnant, we would say things like “My sperm are like finely sharpened arrows,” or “My boys are like embryo snipers.” Certainly, as many other men can testify to, I didn't want any negative results for my sperm evaluation-testicular pride.  Although we would never brag about knocking up a one-night-stand, being responsible for unprecedented speed of family growth, a.k.a. Mr. Super Fertile Groin, would certainly be worth mentioning to the boys at the gym.  That cannot happen for me and thus, I feel the need to feign my infertility to protect my very fragile pride-fertility pride.  It could also be conceived that there is something to be said for showing off how incredibly pregnant your wife is … man that must have been some seed you planted in her-preggo trophy wife pride.  My pride regarding fertility has taken a huge beating and in all honesty, I think it left me entirely.  Maybe that is a good thing though.

So we all have masks, we all want to hide, we all want to put things in a mental closet with the intent of never showing them, our vulnerabilities, hidden agendas, and dark thoughts to anyone.  If there is one thing that fighting infertility is, it is pervasive.  Infertility will impact every aspect of your life.  It will change you and force you to admit to the masks you have been wearing.  And you know what, we all wear them.  In one way or another, whether intentional or subliminally, we all acquire these masks as we seek to process new events in our lives or situations too raw to relate to what we have experienced before.

Once the mask is off, or at least you are aware of the mask itself, that is when you get to make a very important decision, now what.  Do you take that mask, reinforce it with high tension steel wiring and tighten back over your face, heart, mind?  Do you convince yourself that you don’t really have the mask?  Or, do you take that opportunity to learn something about yourself, about your partner, and about your relationship?  Once you can realize how infertility is affecting you and your partner, you can change it.  You can redirect your envy at that future where you will have a family-it’s spelled a little different though-hope.  You can acknowledge your anger, find constructive ways to get it out so you can re-center yourself.  You can recognize that not everything is in your control in any facet of your life and identify the meaningful things that you do have control of.  You can expose your flaws and embrace them as proud features that define who you are.  In short, once you see the mask come down, it’s time to decide what you will do.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sex Party!

Now before I elaborate this post comes with a warning.

***GENDER REVEAL*** For those deep in the fertility trenches, please know that not all of our posts will be smothered in goo-goo-gaga baby-ness. This is an infertility blog. All too well, I understand those emotional darts that sting when you see those posts on Facebook.  I have opened many shower invites only to have that one letter set the stage for an empty bottle of wine accompanied with an empty box of tissues. These are reminders of a mountain peak that seems insurmountable. I also feel (still do) guilty when I have trouble feeling the full joy for others whose path to parenthood is so easy. {shaking fist} Effing Duggar family. If you choose to stop reading this post from here it is ok not to walk through that door today. I call it self-preservation. You can pick up our story and other bits of the IF stroller-coaster next week.

I laid in bed the night before stir crazy. After a few moments in the dark in silence I pulled the classic “Chris are you awake?”  He responded with a snarky, “I am now.” I just couldn't sleep. I wanted to talk about the excitement in store for us the next day. I also wanted to try to sleep as soon as possible because I knew that morning would come and we would find out if we would be buying baseball gloves or ballerina shoes. These are the moments we waited and prayed for what seemed to be an eternity and I was hours from finding out. If you bottled the built up anticipation of every Christmas Eve of your existence together that is what it felt like.

Now, there are 3 people and the technician in the ultrasound room. At first, we wanted to have the ultrasound tech write down what our jellybean was and we would be surprised with everyone. After speaking with our surrogate we realized it would be logistically challenging to pull that off. So we made all parties swear to secrecy. I mean it was only 2 days that we would have to wait before we broke the news. Surrogacy is different and challenging in the fact that you still want to do everything that you would have done if you could carry your baby. The reality of it is you have other factors. There are multiple parties involved. A gender reveal was no-exception. We would still celebrate and surprise our family and inner circle the same way as if well, we had had a normal pregnancy for lack of a better term.

 Create a suggestive yet, awkwardly enticing invite. CHECK

 Make cupcakes. Sorry folks you have to read on to see what color we covertly put in the middle.

 Decorate.  We are on a budget (gotta save those “surro-bucks”) so I made the majority of the decorations. Chris even made the chalkboard for under 8.00! He had extra molding, all we needed was chalkboard paint and wood.

I used inexpensive card stock to make girl/boy signs, confetti and food labels and then cheap streamers to add some flare to the table!

This is where I felt conflicted. I was decorating in baby motif. I felt seemingly out of place and guilty. Weird right? I guess it was so incredibly foreign to me that it seems like at any point  I will wake up from this dream. The emotional scar I bear is deep but I also don’t want to remove it. It is a reminder of where we have been and how to appreciate the future.

We chose to do a brunch. Pink Mimosas, Blue Moon beer, Chicken and mini waffles, and a few other tasty bites! Check out my Pinterest "NOM NOM" board for these recipes. 
Gather our village and make them guess. Then make them wait a bit, just to raise the suspense a little.  Sneaky C & C style.  You will notice there was a fair amount of  boy guess's. 

Surprise them with this…

That's right He as we all thought, is going to be a SHE!!  From now it, it will be little Ms. Jelly Bean!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Different Kind of Cup

We are starting a new thing here. Over the years we have tried just about anything to conceive. Trust me if you want something bad enough you will do just about anything to make your dreams into reality.  Ever done a hand stand right after having sex hoping that gravity will be your friend giving the fertilization process a bit of a leg up?  Literally. We have, and about a zillion other really comical, unwieldy, totally superstitious activities hoping to increase our changes by the slimmest amount. Even if it is .002% increase. Been there, done it, will write a book about it someday soon. Periodically, you will begin to see a random C & C review of either a fertility boosting product or a fertility boosting activity.  No, don’t worry, we won’t include any graphic tutorials on how to perform position #138 in the Kama Sutra, “The Twisted Canyon,”  we still have family and friends that read this and don’t want any awkward holiday moments. AH, let me rephrase, we don’t want to increase the awkward holiday moments.  (Uhmm, that isn’t a real Kama Sutra position, sounds like it though huh.)

So, for our debut review, let’s talk about Soft Cups.  We have tried this … it is different … as in it is a freakin’ bedroom circus trying to make this happen. For those that don’t know, the Soft Cup is a female menstrual cup (Chris: GROSS!) (Candace: Chris thought it was designed to be a female prophylactic, silly boy BAHHH HAHAHAHAH).  Anyway, you jam this thing up your hoo-ha when you are menstruating and it collects all the remnants your dirty Aunt Flo leaves behind. Then, 12 HOURS LATER, you remove the Soft Cup and grace the bathroom with everything your period has had to offer for half a day. 

As with most things though, we used it for our covert infertility fighting missions as a swimmer plug.  There are actual studies out there that have shown this to work.  And there are some success stories to support this as well.  Without batting an eye, we jumped on the IF Fad.  The idea is fairly straightforward, you do your business, slap in the soft cup, prevent the advancing army of sperm from getting cold feet. Think of salmon swimming upstream, this is the Hoover Dam to help the salmon stay on course. We came up with a few lessons and observations based on our own experiences with these gems of modern technology:

1   1.  Nothing says romantic like doing your deed and shoving a foreign object in your lady bits right afterwards.

2   2.  Don’t forget this is a fight against gravity and contracting muscles.  So, plan to move fast, position yourself right, and laugh at how crazy you are being to try this.

3   3.   It gets stuck.  Think about that.

4   4. After thinking about this, imagine how hard it is to convince yourself to plunge back in trying to get this thing out … that is now covered with man-essence. Gross. Seriously, I just did the ibby-jibbie dance.

          5. "Hey babe, that was great.  Want a cigarette?”  “Naw hunny, I think I could go for a Soft Cup though.”

6   6. Want to scar your husband for life, have him watch the instructional videos.  (Candace: I did and now Chris doesn’t complain about doing chores, fart, or leave his stuff all over the house.  The threat of showing him that video again has straightened him out for life.) 

1   7. People really use these for periods?  I mean, to each their own, but what happens if you accidentally drop it upon removal?  Over the intercom-Clean up in stall 3!

      8.  Put a cork in it, it’s done!

Seriously though folks, this has been shown to work in some cases.  For us, maybe we didn’t do it right.  Maybe we didn't give it a fair shake.  Maybe our plumbing was too busted for a Soft Cup to be the miracle baby maker.  We can say that it made us laugh a lot and ultimately, made our misadventures with fertility boosting aids that much more of a positive experience on our way to our family.  Happy Soft Cup adventures to all!

Last thing I promise. Let's talk about how ridiculous this picture is. Apart from the fact a stuffed plush cartoon-like uterus is hugging a box of Soft Cups all while twirling it on its right ovary. What is the marketing message here? "Uterus's LOVE Soft Cups" or how about "Has your Uterus Hugged a Soft Cup Today?"  I have no clue but it made me laugh so for the time being, this will now be me my computer wallpaper/background until I find something equally comical. 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Power of Might

Spoiler alert: this is not intended to be an uplifting, motivational post, i.e., the ‘might’ I am referring to is not the powerful, awe-inspiring might, it is the might as in ‘could happen.’

Candace and I have a surrogate.  She is pregnant with our child.  We are over the moon excited about it.  However, when we talk about plans post-gestational period, we say we ‘might’ be parents.  What?!  Didn’t I just say we have a preggo surro?  Yep.  Is there something to make you think the pregnancy is at risk? Nope.  Actually, our surro is doing great, all the blood work has checked out, our little jelly bean is developing just like it should.  So, what is the issue?  Experience.  Candace and I are no spring chickens when it comes to the world of IF and after being steeped in the cycle of hope, desperation, failure, and rebuilding, we have developed an incredible resilience.  The unfortunate double-sided sword impact of this though is that we have developed a resilience to prevent us from being hurt too deep but also from being able to fully embrace the good, the blessings bestowed upon us.  We are waiting for the crumbling away of our in-the-moment joy to begin.  And it sucks!

We have been waiting to celebrate all of these moments for 7 years.  We have a surro that has allowed us to be very engaged with the pregnancy.  We are at every appointment, as close as we are comfortable getting.  Even if I am staring at my shoelaces, I get the opportunity to be right there as we learn more and more about how the pregnancy is going.  We have all of these events, each a truly cherished memory, and yet, we carry around this 20 ton elephant of previous disappointment that is constantly telling us, “Don’t get too attached, you know it is only temporary like all the other times.”  Who knew elephants could talk, right?  Anyway, this damn elephant drags along with us for all sorts of things; ultrasound appointments, text messages back and forth with our surro, talking about the baby’s room, and talking about (finally) being parents.  Honestly, I think we ‘might’ be carrying this elephant of doubt until we are holding our little jelly bean, and maybe even a little bit after that too. 

There is no training to get the elephant to leave us alone.  We can’t throw peanuts over a cliff and hope the elephant goes for them.  We can’t undergo therapeutic hypnotism to trick our brains into thinking the elephant is a swimsuit model … at least I don’t think we can, I  need to do some Internet searching on that.  But, there are very rare instances where we push the elephant out of our psyches and truly experience that intangible, irresistible joy that we have sought after for so long.  I want to share with you the lucky experience I had to watch Candace boot the elephant out at our latest ultrasound.

This was our first ultrasound at our surro’s OB.  Man it was exciting!  We were going to get to see our jelly bean again, maybe hear a heartbeat, maybe be reassured that everything is going okay.  That last one was Mr. Doubt elephant that insisted on coming along with us.  We went into the ultrasound room and, for the first time, they did an ultrasound on our surro’s belly.  No clue what that is called but it was not another uninvited visit from Mr. Ultrasound wand.  Well, when the ultrasound tech found our jelly bean and focused on it, we all saw the baby move!  Jerk really but I guess that is what they are supposed to do at 8 weeks.  It was incredible!  I have no idea why I was so excited to see that, but I would have rather sat there and watched that than anything else I had watched on a TV screen before.  My reaction was nothing compared to Candace’s though.  She crumbled.  I mean Walls of Jericho falling kind of crumbling.  Seeing our jelly bean actually move brought life to the idea of our surro being pregnant and Candace, for that brief moment, sent that Mr. Doubt elephant to Antarctica!  It has been one of my favorite memories thus far in our journey to becoming parents.  I saw all of those walls, all those years of disappointment fall to the ground and Candace was smiling, crying, and having trouble standing and talking.  Mr. Doubt elephant is a greedy mammal though.  And he was quick to return to being front and center in Candace’s conscious.  She glowed with this joy for about 10 minutes after the appointment but quickly began to dull.  As those walls were rebuilt and the doubt returned, I knew that the temporary ‘will be parents’ returned to ‘might be parents.’  Unfortunate for Mr. Doubt elephant though, I witnessed the whole thing.  I have that memory, that brief moment when I saw my wife overflowing with joy and excitement about her future, and sorry Mr. Doubt elephant, I am keeping that memory. 

We won’t be able to say with any certainty that we will be parents until our baby is successfully and safely born.  But, after seeing Candace’s reaction that day, I think Mr. Doubt elephant lost some grip on me, he lost some weight.  Now, he is only a 19.5 ton elephant and I hope he continues to shrink every day until there is no longer any ‘might’ left in us.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Unpregnant Pregnancy

Sheepishly, I can admit I have once before ok ok ok maybe a few times in moments of  weakness, stuffed a pillow under my shirt just to see for that brief second what I would look like if I would have been able to carry a pregnancy. Silly I know, but it is hard not to play into the temptation of wondering what I would look like if things were just a little different…

In this post, these words may do one of two things. Piss people off, or maybe in the dark pits of your emotions you know the ones you are not proud to admit, it will be somewhat relate-able. Case in point. I should be so incredibly grateful, I am. I have someone who is carrying my child, where I could not. An amazing women is carrying my child. I cannot. My body has failed me and I defied mother nature and went around to the back door and found a way to have a child.  Our child will be the genetic make-up of both Chris and I. This is an incredible gift and I have been blessed to even have that ace of spades of science in my back pocket.Here is where it gets a bit complicated. I am pregnant but I am not pregnant. I guess the term I could use for this is I have the Unpregnant pregnancy. 

Let me begin with my shopping trip with our wonder surro. She has “ism’s.” I will make a post at some point compiling a comical list of the hilarious things that she say’s but the need was prompted by her stating that she felt like she was starting to  resemble “a busted can of biscuits.” Time to shop! This was a bump in the road for me. The first time I felt envy or maybe I can attribute this to a derailment of emotions of sorts. Since this is the 4th pregnancy for our wonder surro (2nd gestational pregnancy for her), she is showing. I mean not a small bump, I’m talking BAM positive pregnancy test BAM BAM Bump appears. She needed maternity clothes stat.  I also have a weird thing about heels and so I wanted to buy her some comfy flats. I found myself in the dark depths of the maternity section, a place where in any other scenario I would avoid at all costs. I finally had a reason to go into the pregnancy clothing jungle, our child was growing and our surro needed some stretchy-roomy-threads to support a growing miracle.

She was picking out various elastic banded pants and I found an adorable shirt I thought would look really cute on her. She plodded off to the dressing room and I stood there, misplaced in the middle of the maternity section having a rush of emotions; feeling vulnerable, envious and overwhelmingly inept.  I will never have a need to wear a belly band, but I once had looked forward to wearing one before I knew my plans would be different. It was a reminder that I am helpless bystander. Our surrogate is doing what I am incapable of doing!  I fled.  I hustled off to the dressing room to check on her. She tried on her pants and I stared at her with a growing volcano of deep simmering emotions; wonderment, envy and gratefulness.  We checked out and as I said good bye I got into my car and sobbed the whole way home.

 I was angry at myself for feeling upset when I have so much to celebrate. I was angry because I felt like if I cannot provide for my child now at such a critical and natural stage how could I later? I felt shame. I called her later that evening and told her what I was going through and said I would probably skip out on shopping in the future and that I didn't want her to think that I was bailing on future shopping just because. The great thing about her is she incredibly understanding. This is the ugly side of infertility, and I naively no foolishly thought that that since my whole life has changed I would be immune. Although what is going on for Chris and I is amazing and we are eternally grateful to our surro, there is always that slight sense of failure, inability, or just plain bad luck that creeps its way into our conscious every once in a while.  Will I be able to venture into the dark recesses of the women’s maternity section someday?  Maybe.  For now though, seeing bumps, other than our surro’s is still too raw of a reminder that I will forever be “bump-less.”

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hugs, Kisses and IF

When we first started to work on baby C&C eons ago we naively thought it was going to be sexy-fest with lots of fireworks.  That sexy-fest died out quickly as did the candles when we realized something was wrong.  I mean it’s not rocket science right? Place object A in object B and bada bing bada boom a baby arrives 9 months later. Well, once you add in a shit load of doctors and needles there’s a lot of objects A going into object B and the romance leaves faster than air leaving a deflating balloon.   Point is, you are a couple and even though your life is surrounded by cycles, timed intercourse, doctors, agencies, waiting and classes you have to still be a couple and enjoy each other.  Sounds impossible right? Not entirely.

We do a lot of writing here in the C&C household.  Our blog is where we share our personal story and some of the things we learn throughout our journey to parenthood.  This blog is our passion but from time to time we guest blog, and write for other sites like Huffington Post, Fertility Authority, and  I wanted to share a snippet from an article we wrote for the Huffington Post on “Six Tips to Rekindle your Romance While Trying to Conceive.”  Guess what happens at the end of this week? Duh, I know Friday. It will also be Valentine’s Day.  So here are some ways you can spice things up even if your bedroom is under the microscope.

Be the Messenger- Simple gestures to make your partner know that they are desired and that you love them is easy to do and takes no time at all to do. Try writing a sexy message on the bathroom mirror in red lipstick before they get up to go to work.  I have from time to time wrapped a note around a candy bar and tied in a saying like: We are “mint” to be together or tonight your may “Skor” (named after the candy bar). 

Go off the Grid- Get out of dodge and go on a vacation. Yes, your bank account maybe filled will dust bunnies and IOU’s from your fertility/family building misadventures but you need to take a recharger and be a couple again.  If you are on a budget, go camping, s’mores and one sleeping bag to cuddle up and share included.

Date Nights –Remember these? No? Well, just because your family building doesn’t mean that these need to go the way of the dodo bird. This is what made you a couple; dates and doing things you enjoy together.  Game nights, Red Box/movie rentals, night in at the movies, splurge and go out to eat or you can even go park somewhere and make out like teenagers. Whatever you do, setting aside time to enjoy each other will help revitalize what it was that gave you those characteristic butterflies from the very first kiss.

Sexy Photo Shoot-  The whole process of trying to conceive from the upside down handstands after intercourse to many deposits made in a clear cup for sampling has a way of making both partners feel unsexy and undesirable.  How about some spontaneity?  The latest photography trend on the scene is Boudoir and Pin-up pictures. Not only will you feel sexy again but I am pretty sure your partner will not suspect you will do this. Let’s face it the “male deposit” reading material in the fertility clinics are outdated and have been around the clinic block.  You will be providing your own personal material for their plastic cup enjoyment.

Unplug- What is this you say? No computer, no smart phone, and no TV. Now before you start getting the nervous shakes and your right eye starts to twitch, remember that we are running at 100 miles an hour. Most people have forgotten the lost art of a conversation and instead txt msg 2 talk lol. We simply get lost in the rat race of the day to day.  Read a book together a real one.  Relax, I am pretty sure with all the electronic overload removed for a day you both with find other ways to entertain yourselves (wink wink).

    Communicate- When was the last time you just talked? Not about your next doctor’s appointment or when you are ovulating again but had a conversation about each other and what is going on in your partner’s life outside of infertility. Believe it or not this is the root for why most couples fall out of love. They forgot how to talk to each other as if it was your first date. You will be surprised that even after years of being together you will discover something new about each other.

Oh, and for those who have followed us for some time now. You know our annual Valentine’s Day chopped competition will be commencing. For the last 2 years now instead of going out to eat and waiting countless hours for overpriced food, we do a friendly competition. I buy Chris’s mystery bag. He buys mine. We set the timer and have to prepare a meal using the mystery ingredients that the other person has very devilishly picked out for each other.  This will happen for the 3rd time on Sunday and the record stand (Candace: 1, Chris: 0, Tie: 1).   If you follow us on Our Misconception Facebook page you will get to see a play by play on me kicking Chris’s butt Julia Childs style. Mauh hahah….

It's the time of year for lovin'. If you like our blog, show us some serious bloglovin' and follow us! You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts hot off the press!  We are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest! 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Different Kind of Ultra Sound

Candace-Nothing is ever how you imagine it. That image of how it is “supposed to be” in your head is always much different than what it is in reality.  That is the spontaneous beauty of life though.   You can plan it out down to the second but there will be inevitable delays, there will be road blocks and there will be unsuspected surprises.  

I had come to terms with most of the dwindling images of how it is “supposed to be” when we closed the door to fertility treatments. I knew that when we started to seek out adoption that more than likely the first sight of our child would be when it was placed in our arms by the social worker at our adoption agency.  In some cases, adoptive parents are able to be a part of the gestation period and at the birth. However, that is not always the case.

When we were presented with the once in a life time opportunity to have our child through surrogacy, I was completely lost as to the logistics of appointments and how much interaction we would be able to have with our future baby.  Who schedules the appointments? Can I be in room? How about Chris? Will the doctors think we are weirdos?  I will probably incessantly ugly-face-snotty- cry, so will I get kicked out of the OB for being an emotionally unstable disturbance? These are those new unknown factors and we did not know what to expect.  We were lucky though because this was not our wonder-surro’s first rodeo at dealing with green intended parents.  A few years back she carried gestational twins for another couple so she knew the ropes. More so she is 110% ok with us being at every appointment and there every step of the pregnancy.  This is what raced through my mind when the monitor screen lit up and Mr. Ultrasound Wand emerged:

It was awkward.

I am sure it was awkward for our wonder surro too.  When you are a fertility patient you do not get released from your clinic until week 6 or 8.  So here we have 1 RE, 2 nurses, my surro in stirrups and Chris and I sandwiched into a very small exam room.  I have been in that same chair in compromising positioning with my lady bits on display countless times.  But wait, it is not me this time it is her.  I have to make sure she is comfortable all while making sure Chris and I are positioned in a way where we cannot see her ladybits that would make it even more awkward but in a place where we can have a clear view of  the monitor.  The sheer logistics of where to stand is downright a complicated cluster f.

I feel like a dude.

I am spectator. Not a participant. I feel helpless and have no control over anything that is going on. I look on with anticipation wondering what morning sickness is like or what a flutter of a kick would be. I too, now do not have the plumbing to ever know.  It’s ok though because I am not standing alone. Chris is right next to me holding my hand as the lights turn off and the monitor lights up in full focus.

Time stood still at that moment.

And just like that without much of playing hide and seek there was the first glimpse of our baby.  My knees almost gave way and I had to remember to breathe. Good thing I did not pass out because I am pretty sure Chris was not paying any attention to me, he was also glued to the image before us in amazement.  I did not even feel the tears streaming down until one of the nurses handed me a tissue.  I was intoxicated by disbelief. This moment was one of those “supposed to be” times in our life that had not happened the way we expected,  but I can tell you that it was a surprise that was intended for us and this embryo was now a baby that had been chosen for us, and gifted by our wonder surro.

It was awkward. 

So, for the female readers of this blog, have you ever been in a room when a bunch of doctors were planning on looking at and diagnosing your husband’s friend’s shlong?  No?  You haven’t been in the room when the doctor tells him to whip it out and then proceeds to manipulate his ‘man-plumbing’ to see what he wants to see?  Oh really, that has never happened to you?  Well, that is exactly what this situation was like.  I saw Mr. Ultrasound Wand.  I knew where he was going.  And all I could think about was “Where the hell am I supposed to look until things start happening on the screen there?”  My feet took center stage as I focused on the intricate lacing job I had done that morning while the doctors were getting everything situated.  Awkward isn’t quite the right word.  It was awkward when it was Candace in the stirrups and surprisingly, my shoes were equally interesting while the docs were setting up.  No, this was an infinite amount more awkward.  But, we knew why we were there and although Candace didn’t say it, I think both of us walked in with the mindset that ‘the proof is in the picture.’  In other words, we are not going to start to dismantle our 7-year-in-the-making wall of safety against disappointment just because a blood test said we should. 

I feel like a dude (a me).

Well, I never had the plausibility of having Mr. Ultrasound Wand visit my ladybits (not complaining by the way).  But, nevertheless, I am a spectator yet again.  Although this time, I am maybe even one more measure removed.  I cannot comfort the person on the table getting probed.  Actually, Candace has a bit of an “in” on that because she can pull the “I’m a girl” card and be a bit closer than me.  But, at this point, I am accustomed to the spectator role.  Like I said, I am a huge fan of my shoes so staring at the ground is nothing new to me.  What was new was having Candace there in the spectators’ arena with me.  It is a different feeling and we talked about it afterwards.  I know it is not the most interactive role to play, but like Candace said, at least we got to be a part of this very early stage of knowing our baby.

Time stood still at that moment.

Seems like a bit of an understatement.  Maybe something like, the very first electron from that image that smacked into my eyeball made the past seven years all worth it.  We saw it!  I mean we really saw it.  It wasn’t an imaginary positive or even an actual positive test.  It wasn’t a phone call saying “You’re preggos,” or at least your surro is.   Nope, this was an actual entity that was still in the earliest of early phases of formation and growth.  But there it was!  That was the day that the nickname “Jelly Bean” was born.  The first day that I saw our Jelly Bean and started to imagine everything I would do with “that” Jelly Bean instead of the imaginary one I had dreamed about for so long.  Time didn’t stand still for me.  I stood still as the time I had been holding onto so tightly for the past seven years rushed passed me and I turned my hopeful eyes once more, and after so long, at the future.  And this future, had our family in it!

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