Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top 5 Must Have Items When you are Inducing Lactation

Remember back when I mentioned I was going to induce lactation? Well many of you have sent in questions and asked how it was going. The answer is it worked! Kind of. My 3 months of prepping, pumping and supplement taking has paid off. Having not experienced the physical act of pregnancy which triggers the pituitary gland to say to the rest of your body “hey, let’s start making an all you can eat milk buffet,” this was my way of giving Mother Nature a swift kick in the box on behalf of my broken lady bits, or lack thereof.  I stuck firmly to using a protocol that involved no hormones just pumping, herbs, and Domperidone resulting in infinitely sore boobies. But being an IF vet, we all know pain is for the weak I say! By the time Jellybean arrived I had been able to stock pile around 100 ounces. This is a HUGE benefit for those who are in the surrogacy situation such as Chris and I or those inducing for adoption. You can be ahead of the game in freezing a stock pile which takes some stress off of you during those first few weeks. It also doesn’t hurt to have a trusted mommy friend with extra on standby as well, depending on how comfortable you are with that concept.

Now, I say it kind of worked because Jellybean was losing more weight than we were comfortable with. Most babies lose weight after birth, but the red line is at 10% of the birth weight. Once that threshold is crossed than plan B needs to kick in. I knew I would have to supplement it was just disappointing that it happened 2.5 weeks into her being here with us. We were advised to fortify the already pumped/expressed milk with a ½ teaspoon of formula so that it would be 24 calorie bottles each feeding on top of putting the baby to breast. Which I am glad to report she is now “fluffy” and back to birth weight. I told Jellybean this will be the only time in her life that gaining weight is fashionable and very much encouraged as a woman. Back fat is the new black and is quite a good look on her. Good thing I had that frozen cache of pumped milk right? So for those surro/adoptive warriors who are inducing lactation, save Every.Single.Drop.

So that you do not have unrealistic expectations, it is very important to set tangible goals. Realistically, I know will not be able to exclusively breastfeed for the full year. I will be very happy to get through the first month. So I have set target goals, mine is 3 months, then 6 months, anything there after is a huge bonus. If I can be fortunate enough to provide breast milk for Jellybean for the first 3 months I will be all unicorns and rainbows inside. Anything thereafter is me succeeding my goal. 

I waited to write this post because with all things it takes a bit of trial and error. I started induction well over 4 months ago so I have had some time to get some experience under my belt. That being said, here is a list of the top 5 items I could not live without during my Milkcapades:

1. AHH Bras-Seriously they are a warm inviting, yet supporting hug for your ladies which will be sore, as in someone has taken a titanium bat to your bitties kind of pain. So needless to say, it is a bit-o-heaven at night when you go to bed. Even if you have never slept with a bra on, you will reconsider and start using this AH-mazing bra.  You also must have at minimum of 3. Because let’s face it, you will need to wash them eventually and you cannot be left in the desperate situation where you need one and it is wet and soggy and currently on the slowest dry cycle of your life. Click here if you want to check them out.  Thanks to K, my fellow blog friend for the Bras! My ladies double thank you. 
2. Coconut oil or Olive oil-  After repeated pumping, your nips will start to resemble cracked, ashy raisins. Sounds awesome right?  Lube them and your flange up with coconut oil or olive oil and it’s like nip-paradise. Now, many people use Lanolin. I have tried all three; olive oil, coconut oil and Lanolin and can say 100% that the oils are way better. Lanolin SUCCCKKKS. If you still think it is good then look up the ingredients of it and the adverse side effects hereDo you really want your little IF miracle suckling at the tit that has been coated with this nasty stuff? Case in point, moving on.

3. Breast Pads- Not because you are leaky, this is because you do not want huge crop circles on clothes. Remember the Jheri curl scene from the movie Coming to America where there were huge oil stains on the back of the couch? Soul Glow? Well that will be you instead it will be on your shirt, like two oily headlights. Trust me here folks, I learned the very hard and embarrassing way. Olive oil and Coconut oil is still better than lanolin so breast pads are your solution. Check out this site where you can get them and other goodies for free! I love free stuff don’t you?
https://www.breastpads.com/ code:AthrifyMom1 

4. Hands-free pumping bra- For those random moments you want to spontaneously break out in fits of jazz hands while pumping. And because you want to multitask like stalk a friend on FB, or knit an afghan for your neighbor, or trim bonsai trees, or read our blog, you get the picture. This is a must, may as well buy two. 

5. Hospital Grade Pump- My Pump "Larry, Sir Pumps A lot" is mighty fine crafted work of mechanics  that can make even Chris lactate. Seriously folks, I am pretty sure if I replaced my tatas with two inanimate objects like rocks, it would suck milk out of them. I used a regular pump and got drops then  I  started using a hospital grade pump and BAM it squirts out like a water gun. You can rent them from lactation consultants and some pharmacies. For some insurance companies, with a proper RX from your OBGYN, you can get one through them for a discounted cost or even free. Really, if you are inducing lactation, this is the way to go. I use the Ameda Platinum and I love it.

There you have it folks, the top 5 things I know that were (and still are) a life saver throughout my lactation inducing adventures.

Just incase it may have slipped your mind, please vote for us! Recall back in April (National Infertility Awareness Week) when we were challenged to write about a specific topic “Resolve to Know More About…?” Well, that is the post that secured our nomination for the Hope Award Best Blog.  So here is what you need to do:

Cast your vote HERE 

Share, Share, Share. More votes for “Our Misconception” = #winning!

Thank you for supporting us, our journey and reading our misadventures in the land of IF. 

If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Day Pigs Flew

Candace: It was 5am when our alarm woke us up. Really, it didn’t even have to make much of a noise to jar us out of bed since we were already subconsciously waiting for our wonder-surro to call us and let Chris and I know what time to meet her at the hospital. With our clothes laid out and bags preloaded the evening before in the car, we were given an hour notice to make it to the hospital. Good thing we are OCD and thought to have everything ready beforehand because our hospital was a good 45 minute drive with traffic away. Apparently pigs can fly. We were on our way to the hospital to meet our child because one woman was giving us the most precious of all gifts. See folks, I even wore appropriate socks for the occasion. 

Now, when you are in a hurry and you need something to grab and go for breakfast what would you chose? Breakfast bar? Perhaps a quick piece of toast? NO, we took two bowls of oatmeal with us. WTH? We are driving the speed of Mach-F to the hospital while we eat oatmeal. I am pretty sure at that moment our heads where not entirely clear. There were so many other things racing through our minds that morning that little things like, rational thought did not seep through the filters.

We met our wonder-surro at the L&D check in area and were quickly assigned a room where we waited, something couples master the art of when  baby making with broken parts. Oddly, I was at peace with waiting as long as it took that day. I think finally my jitters and anxiety started to kick in. Here you have me, knees bruised from praying for this child, fighting back the growing fears of if I will be a good mother. Will I let all those people down who have cheered us on? Will the folks that helped us fund raise to see me in this mother role think I am not the Donna Reid meets Carol Brady type of mom they thought I would be? How about the IF community? I see the finish line, it is right there and many of you reading this right now are still licking your wounds from the last failed IVF or failed adoption placement. Our Jellybean will be here that day and I am already feeling like I will not be loving enough, have enough patience, protect her from young hormonal teenage boys. It was at that point I felt the pressure of every failed procedure, but more so I was terrified I will let my partner-in-infertility down.

14 hours later, we got the green light that our wonder-surro was dilated to 10 centimeters. We had requested to the hospital staff that immediately after the birth I wanted to do skin on skin contact and try to breastfeed. Since I did not carry Jellybean it was important to me that we started the bonding process immediately. The L&D staff was so accommodating to our unique birthing situation. They sectioned off an area with a rocking chair, fitted me with a gown for easy booby access. Our wonder-surro was amazing and even asked me if I wanted to hold her leg while she pushed, and if Chris would cut the umbilical cord.

The doctor came in, the table of instruments rolled up to the center of the room, the blinding lights turned on and the once bed our wonder-surro laid in turned into a birthing table with stirrups. Chris jokingly refers to it as a medical version of a Transformer. My stomach dropped, my throat started to tighten and she started to push. Now, the whole day of dilation checks Chris stared at his shoe laces. This time however we were on a crotch watch of a different kind. We saw this wrinkled up dark haired round object first. Chris and I both talked about it later that day but we agreed that we had the same fear that Jellybeans brain was on the outside of her head. Silly right? Four pushes later, we got the first glimpse of her. She was perfect in every way, brain on the inside for those interested. Someone had put a needle in the balloon of pressure I had built up. All of those thoughts and fears had deflated when I took the first glimpse of her. I can say in that moment, everything was washed clean from the past years of our infertile purgatory. She was worth the wait.

Chris:  To recap Candace’s part, it was a crazy long day.  We were terrified at every second that something would go wrong and we would literally get to the precipice of being parents only to be turned away again.  And then, in the smallest fraction of a second, we were turned from infertiles trying to be parents, to infertiles that were parents!!  Now what?

Thing is, we have been steeped in all of the research, experiences, and lore of infertility, and we have not done our due diligence at thinking about how to be parents.  That showed right away as Grayson, in a moment that so poignantly brought this into focus, pooped all over my hands.  I literally was with her for about 30 seconds and she decided that now was as good of a time as any to introduce herself to me.  It was sticky, black, and not nearly as appealing as it sounds.  Funny thing though, I didn’t mind a bit.  If there was anyone’s poop that I wanted on my hands, after waiting for her for so long, I was over the moon that it was our child’s. 

Candace’s introduction to infertile parenting was a bit more graceful and, yet again, showed us the true beauty that is all around us.  I know Candace already covered this, but I wanted to weigh in on this moment too. The most amazing part to me was that Candace was actually able to nurse Grayson right there!  We were so worried about how Grayson would interact with us.  She didn’t hear Candace’s voice while she was in the womb.  I didn’t get to play with Grayson at night while she kicked the crap out of Candace’s organs (our surro would text us to tell us her spleen was really getting wailed on some nights). Grayson means so many things to us (hope, determination, kindness, altruism), but in that moment, she meant one thing, completion.  As I stood there, with gloved hands and activity all around me, I kind of got tunnel vision.  I saw my wife nursing my daughter and nothing else.  There was nothing else we needed … we were complete.  And to think, just a few minutes later I would be covered in Grayson’s poop!  I wonder if Candace had a similar transcendental experience seeing me?

We have Grayson, she is nursed and gotten her very first exam, now what?  Our wonder-surro was being tended to and we wanted her to see Grayson before making the trip up to the nursery.  We brought Grayson to her and let her hold Grayson for a bit.  Then, it was off to the nursery.  We watched them give Grayson a more thorough exam, give her a sponge bath, and put her under the heating lamp.  She had to stay there an hour and the nurses told us that she would need to stay there for an hour and we should use the cafeteria opening for the midnight shift to get something to eat.  Reluctant as we were, we succumbed to their suggestions.  I can say now, retrospectively, that part of me thought we would be coming back to the news of some terrible, albeit totally unpredicted, complication and Grayson would be taken away.  Yep, the whole infertility robbing you of peaceful, rational thinking strikes again.  When we got back though, Grayson was fine and we got the opportunity to wheel her into our room.

Our room.  Awesome hospital staff comes through major here.  For normal pregnancy (what’s that?), you have a room on the mother-child ward.  For us though, there was no recovery after labor for Candace.  The hospital had 2 nursing rooms right across the hall from the nursery and they offered to let us shack up in those for the entire time Grayson was in the hospital!  Yep, we were literally 6 feet from the door to the nursery.  Awesome because we were peppering the nurses with questions the whole time we were there!  They even had one of those super uncomfortable “Daddy beds” that they had in the mother-child rooms.  Guess where I slept that first night?  In the Daddy bed.  It sucked, my sleep sucked, and Candace couldn’t understand why.  I simply explained that I finally had a reason to do it and this would literally be my only opportunity to do so. 

We were in the hospital for two and a half days.  We met with a lactation consultant twice and asked the nurses about a bajillion questions.  I don’t think even as we were leaving that it had really sunk in that we were parents.  How could it?  We had been chasing after this dream for so long, all we knew was how not to be parents.  Even now, we look at Grayson and somewhere, in a dark recess of our being, we still think that she will disappear.  That somehow this is some amazing dream and we will wake up with our trashcan of negative pregnancy tests and containers of used needles still wet with IVF meds.  But we are parents now, infertile parents, and there are new and unexpected differentiating things that separate us from a “normal” set of parents, more on that in future posts though.  Grayson is home and we are learning what it means to be parents, to have truly unconditional love, and how to face those dirty diapers we prayed so hard for.  They are fine with us though, the dirtier the better.  We have Grayson and retaining a sense of smell seems insignificant compared to that.

Bored and need something fun and exciting to do? Well want no more my friend, here is what you can do! Do you remember back in April (National Infertility Awareness Week) when we were challenged to write about a specific topic “Resolve to Know More About…?” Well, that is the post that secured our nomination for the Hope Award Best Blog.  So here is what you need to do:

Cast your vote HERE 

Share, Share, Share. More votes for “Our Misconception” = #winning!

Thank you for supporting us, our journey and reading our misadventures in the land of IF. 

If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Gift of Life

After seven years, it is not very easy to figure out how to start this post.  We had our baby seems appropriate enough … or maybe this is better – WE HAD OUR BABY!!!!!!!  

We will go into more details in our next post but we wanted everyone to see our story through the amazing eyes of the folks that shot our birth video, Sarah and Justin from Lovell Productions.  Obviously, we will forever be indebted to our wonder surro and her entire family!  Without them, we would not be all blurry eyed and sleep deprived from our daughter, Grayson (a.k.a. Jelly Bean) needing to be fed at all hours of the night.  One short comment on that though, we heard from a lot of parents around us to “wait” until we have to deal with the loss of sleep and all the hardships and then we will revisit our desires to have a child.  Well, we are there.  3-4 hours of sleep tops, dirty diapers, and lots of wardrobe changes from getting spit-up on them.  Guess what, we love it.  We are not tired from drinking a keg of sorrows the night before, we are not changing diapers from gambling with whether we could make it to the bathroom or not and losing, and we are not doing wardrobe changes because we are starring in a musical about infertile hysteria.  Nope, we are in the trenches of newborn care and are loving it.  Alright, enough drabble, please enjoy the video from Lovell Productions and keep reading about some more exciting news in the lives of us, the infertile editors!

The Gift of Life from Lovell Productions on Vimeo.

On top of all this, we are incredibly honored and truly humbled by Resolve and our amazetastic readers to have been nominated for the Hope Award Best Blog. WHHHHHAAAAT? I peed a little, (ok, ok, busted, maybe a lot) out in immense excitement when I opened up that email that said we were 1 of 5 blogs in the running to win such. There were over 130+ that were submitted!  The Hope Award is an annual award given to someone who writes about what it's like living with infertility and passionately fostering awareness of the disease through their words, electronically speaking. Uhm, Uh hem, over here!! Choose us!

Do you remember back in April (National Infertility Awareness Week) when we were challenged to write about a specific topic “Resolve to Know More About…?” Well, that is the post that secured our nomination.  SO what is behind curtain #2 if we win? A NEEEEWWWWWW CAR!!! I kid, even better really. We are presented with the Hope Award at the Night of Hope Gala in NYC in November. This is like the Heisman trophy of infertility bloggers…THUMP…Yeah sorry, just passed out from excitement again.  At this point it is in the hands of YOU. No pressure right? So here is what you need to do:

Cast your vote HERE 

Share, Share, Share. More votes for “Our Misconception” = #winning!

Thank you for supporting us, our journey and reading our misadventures in the land of IF. 

If you like our blog, even just a little, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

5 Things to Have Ready Before a Surrogacy Birth

Organized or OCD?

Some will call me OCD, but for the sake of this post we will say it is a healthy balance between the two. It is time to start getting ready. OK so not just getting ready but REALLY getting ready. Now at any point, we could get a call. We must have everything in order, but wait this is not a normal pregnancy scenario. It is a surrogacy which adds a whole lot of other steps and parties into the mix.

1. Create a Mountain of Bags by the Door

One would think we were moving in! But really, we have a lot of people to think about. Chris and I will be staying at the hospital. It always surprises people when we tell people that. It also doesn’t hurt that I will be breastfeeding, hence I am the food source. Aside from the nutritional benefits and the breast being best, another pretty good reason why I wake up every night pre-Jellybean at 3 am to pump. I’m just securing my spot, calling out “Shotgun” if you will on a room. Boobies are a magical thing. A nice rack can get you out of a speeding ticket, buy you free drinks in college and also help you get a room to spend the hospital days and nights with your surro-baby. Who knew?

Pack Our Bag- There is not a lot of “storage” room at hospitals. Hospitals are a far cry away from being a posh-swanky hotel. The mindset is get in and get out, and everyone is cool with that motto.  So we have to pack light and use the “roll” technique.

Pack our bag- a change of clothes for 2 days, minimalist toiletries and makeup, camera, cell phone charger and comfort snacks.

Pack Her Bag- I put together a bag of items to help foster comfort while our wonder-surro was pulling the heavy duty.  Fun toiletries that she may not have, new PJs, comfort snacks/unhealthly delicious junk food, stool softener, pads- AKA- The Red Boats and magazines. 

Pack Jellybean’s Bag- This is hard because what the hell do I pack? For many years I have dreamt about the day I hold my child for the first time. Never once have I put any thought into what to pack for newborn or for that matter, what epic outfit to bring her home in. I did ask the hospital what I should bring and here was the list they recommended: a few onesies/easy access out fits, mits for their little hands (they don’t have these typically and little babies have Freddy Kruger nails), a cap, a car seat- already installed.

2. Birth Plan
It is go time! I imagine Chris and I looking at each other and saying OH SHIT! Then running around bumping into each other in a panicked frenzy so we can get to the hospital before our wonder surro has a messy car birth. At least this is the image I have in my head. Really, that likely will not be the case. With labor, it can take hours. Don’t get me wrong here though,  I will be hauling ass (at a safe speed) like Earnhart Jr. bobbing and weaving through traffic to the hospital the moment we get the Jellybean green light, but no need to have a complete spazout. Through all of that chaos we have to call our lawyer first, and any other family second.

May also want to consider the importance of discussing a head of time how to communicate. At the first sign of physiological change it is good to keep all relevant parties looped in. You want to talk over the method of communication and emergency numbers to contact you at. Obviously a Facebook message, smoke signal or random tweet are examples of ways you should not deliver the “hey I am going into labor, come meet me at the hospital” news. Also, will she want to see the baby that day or rest and wait for the following day? Who should be present via c-section and who should be present if it is a vaginal birth?  Since it is a sensitive time, it is probably best to keep outsiders down to a minimum during the actual birth. Everyone can visit after the baby, wonder surro and parents have had time to clean up, rest and recover.

3. Don't Forget the Nursing Staff

Chris and I are no strangers to hospitals. We have spent many weeks getting to know nursing staff. They have a tough job and they have to deal with extreme situations when emotions are high. So in C&C fashion we made “thank you” baggies to give to the hospital staff.  One for the maternity mother/baby nurses the other for the nursery nurses. Each little baggie is filled with Hershey’s Hugs and Jellybeans with the saying: Hugs and Kisses for taking care of our Jellybean!

4. Furbaby Care

Your furbaby(s) need to have a plan as well. Who will be the caretaker? Do you have a bag of food, treats or ‘trizzles’ (so thug) as we like to call them already packed and ready? We even have a blanket packed in our diaper bag that we will wrap up Jellybean in and then send home to our little cold nose family member so they can get pre-acquainted.

5. Paperwork
Ah, yes the most important item other than the car seat, in order to bring home your little one. Surrogacy creates a lot of paper work.  Bear in mind that every state and hospital is different but this is what we must have with us to make certain everything goes smoothly:

  1. The Entrustment Agreement
  2. Both signed copies of the surrogacy contract
  3. Cord blood paperwork
  4. Affidavit of Physician Performing Assisted Conception
  5. Copy of signed (once baby is born) Entrustment Agreement and a request in writing to the insurance company

 {SCREAM} So much to think about that I needed away to get organized! Check out this idea I got off of my Pinterest collection.  A pretty snazzy folder to organize and help find a place for all surrogacy- hospital- baby related material you have or will acquire throughout the process.  The link above even has print outs, but I wrote in my own since our situation is a little different. Here is a picture of the one I created for Jellybean.

 I added the following tabs:

Surrogacy Documents
Pediatrician Visits
Immunization Records
Nursing/Feeding Info
Birth Certificate and Social Security Card
Receipts and Warranties
Other Health Records
Parenting Articles

Alright, I think we are prepared. Kinda, sorta, maybe? At least now that I have my 5 point check list done along with my baby binder, I will have all requested documents and items at the ready for us to take home our little miracle. Sometimes a little OCDness can come in handy especially when there is so much to remember! Ready or not Jellybean we are ready for YOU!

If you like our blog, how about showing us some sweet sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Monday, June 23, 2014

She Doesn't Look Pregnant?

Chris-  At least, that is what I feel them saying with their looks.  Whenever we meet someone that doesn’t know what is going on with Candace and I and we happily announce that we will soon be having a baby they do a few things almost every time.  They smile back at us, their eyes meander down to Candace’s stomach in an attempt to gauge just ‘how’ pregnant she is, then in a mixed sense of confusion and feeling like they are being lied to, their eyes slowly meander back to our faces half expecting for us to pose with a ‘Gotcha’ look and half expecting for us to apologize for lying to them. 

And there we stand, the 2, 3, or 4 of us at an impasse.  How much of our story do we divulge?  Do we go into the events of the last seven years that led us to meeting our wonder surro, the frozen blastocyst transfer, the tense 2 week wait, the guarded optimism that we could actually be parents very soon?  Do they care?  Do any of us have enough time for all that?  Do we want them to know all that?  What we typically do is say, or blurt out really, that we have a surrogate that is carrying for us.  But then, a few interesting things happen.  First what goes on outside of my crazy head and then what goes on inside my head.  So, what goes on outside my head is that sometimes people will take a second look down at Candace’s stomach.  It almost seems like there Superman laser vision is looking right through her to where her uterus should be, like it is a ‘just making sure she isn’t really pregnant and playing it off kind of look.’  Weird right? 

What goes on in my head is probably a bit of good ol’ fashioned Chris insecurity shining through.  In that moment, right after we announced how blessed we are to have a surrogate, I start to have these thoughts of “Do they think we are doing this because it is fashionable and we have piles of money or something?”  “Do they realize that were it not for our surrogate we would not be able to have a biological child?”  “Are they judging us for not adopting?”  This fury of thoughts bouncing around in my head ultimately boils down to “Are they happy for us or judging us as some kind of yuppie couple enamored with current trends?” 

Candace-  I walked into a baby boutique recently with a friend that was about a month further along than I, we? ahhh sigh... The lady took note of her appearance and with a huge ear to ear grin began the barrage of questioning. When is the due date? Boy or Girl? And it goes on and on and onnnnnn. For me, her eyes glaze past me unnoticeably and I get asked if I am shopping for my friend. At that exact point I have the Hoover Dam of emotions, thoughts, sarcastic remarks brimming to escape. I selfishly want to be noticed that we are expecting. Is that wrong? For some this maybe an annoyance for us though we are busting at the seams with joy and anticipation of our newest mini-human.

I could just pacify the situation and not tell the clerk that I am shopping for my unborn 37 week bun in another oven. Quietly nod and continue to go about my browsing. Or, take the the bitter infertile approach which consists of going on an irate tyrant on how my uterus is stupid, missing womb, shots, cervical mucus, Mr. Ultrasound Wand blah blah blah… and then an hour later I get to the point that I have a surrogate carrying our baby. Most likely though I could breakout the most shocking response of all (the truth), and smiling proudly say that we are 37 weeks along via surrogacy. What happens after I reveal our situation though, typically is the following response:

1. I get the empathetic look of ultimate pity.

Please do not pity me as I am proud of our journey and the milestones we accomplished to get to this point. Our marriage is stronger. My appreciation for life is sweeter and my will is much tougher now.

2. He/She is utterly surprised it is biologically our baby.


3. I get asked if our surrogate lives with us.

Most surrogates become a surrogate because they know they have a gift, they are people makers. They are selfless women and families who want to truly bless childless couples.  More so, they fully know that it is a gift as many of them are mothers. They are also a wife, and a daughter, a friend to someone. They have other lives than just surrogacy. So no, our wonder surro lives with her husband and kids, in her own home. Shocking, yes?

There is a wide open door opportunity to educate others here. This is a chance to talk about my IF-PTSD and ultimately bring light to a topic that most are ashamed to talk about. Many people know what IVF is, or have an inkling about adoption. The majority of the population do not know about surrogacy. The thing is people are curious by nature. If I can fuel that curiosity and share our story just maybe my words will resonate and they can support someone they know or maybe they are the ones struggling in silence and need that one simple invite to open up.

Chris Again:  Although the looks we get when we say we are expecting soon are awkward, they pale in comparison to the awesome that is the fact that We Are Expecting Soon.  Just like my brain surgeries and many other obstacles in life, it sometimes seems like we can’t get out from under the shadow of IF.  You know what though … I kind of like the shade.  Candace and I plan to tell our Jelly Bean about how amazing it was for her to be conceived (in a fertility clinic), about how amazing it was while she was pregnant (in someone else’s uterus), and how amazing it is to tell others about her (befuddled looks and all).  Will Candace and I ever escape the menacing shadow of infertility? No.  But with so much love, support, shared prayers, shared tears, and shared hopes, why would we want to?   

Kinda like our blog? How about showing us some sweet bloglovin' and follow us? You can subscribe to our blog via email and can receive our posts as soon as we click send! (See right sidebar for how to sign-up) If you REALLY like us, we are also on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What a Night

Another evening, Jelly Bean-less, and Candace and I are biting our nails waiting for that call, waiting for that moment when our little one decides that she is ready to make our debut.  One thing is for sure though, after seven years, we are not waiting alone!  We had the most amazing experience involving something that would, to the outside non-IFer seem like nothing, maybe even an inconvenience.  We had friends over, more about them in a minute, and they had a little one.  A nine month old, named baby cuteness for the purposes of this post.  Well, we were excited to have this couple over as they have been a huge resource, huge cheerleaders, and huge guides for us as we have been going through all things surrogacy.  They too have had to face family building difficulties.  If you want to know more about who we are talking about, read about their amazing strength as they got to know, love, and ultimately were forced to say goodbye to Sophia.

Overcoming an insurmountable tragedy and coming out all the better on the other side would be an understatement for how amazing this couple is!  Suffice it to say, Candace and I have great admiration for them.  So, back to tonight.  We were excited to show them our-still empty-nursery (bear with me folks, I will explain that sentiment more in a bit).  As we were showing them the nursery it became clear that Baby Cuteness was more interested in exploring every nook and cranny than any of us were.  So, Candace and I broke out all the toys that we accumulate for Jelly Bean for Baby Cuteness to try out.  Unbeknownst to our guests, this was an amazing moment for Candace and I, as we sat there watching Baby Cuteness playing with all of these things, it became that much more real that we “could” have a baby soon and experience similar things with her. 

What do you mean “could” Chris, your baby is due very soon?

Although that seems like the logical response, Candace and I don’t necessarily feel that.  Don’t get me wrong, we are over the moon that we will hopefully soon be parents, but for us, it won’t be concrete until we hold her in our hands.  Until I change her first diaper, I don’t know if I will believe I am actually blessed enough to be deserving of this child.  Overcautious, absolutely!  Unanticipated, no way!  Candace and I, as is true for most of you, have thought we were close so many times before, only to have the rug ripped out from underneath us.  And each time, we fell.  We fell hard.  Sometimes that rug that was pulled out from underneath us didn’t reveal the floor.  No, much worse, it revealed a nearly bottomless pit that Candace and I tumbled into.  We weren’t clawing with our hands for something to grab onto.  We were pushing our hearts, out hoping that something would embrace it with a loving grasp, only to find our hopes and aspirations meant with an abysmal emptiness … sound familiar? 

Whew, dark place.  Come back Chris!  All that is to say that Candace and I are guarded.  We can’t take a fall so hard again.  It will splinter our soul irreversibly.  As we stood there, watching Baby Cuteness play with all of the toys readied for Jelly Bean, I felt assurance.  I felt joy and peace.  I felt “Yes, you are going to be a parent.”  We have a bit longer to go, we have more time to wait and fear and pray that nothing goes awry.  But in that moment, with Baby Cuteness marauding all over our nursery, we saw a glimpse of what could be our little Jelly Bean in there, checking out every surface, exploring every inch, nearly falling on every corner, and learning about what it means to exist.  It was a truly transcendental experience and certainly the capstone to my day. 

We can’t predict the future.  We can’t say for certain that some incredibly rare complication will take Jelly Bean from us FAR TOO soon.  We CAN enjoy each moment (advice from great friends).  We CAN pray that Jelly Bean will be healthy.  We CAN share all of our hopes and fears with each other and those we call close.  We CAN say goodbye to today and hello to tomorrow and all the hopes and aspirations that tomorrow brings.  Until we hold Jelly Bean, the fear of not having her will be ever present.  When we hold her, the love we have reserved for nearly a decade will explode … hope the hospital has sturdy furniture.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Guys, we have all done it … forgotten about some monumental occasion in our relationship with our significant other, neglected to mention or even notice that she left that morning with flowing locks of hair and came home with a crew cut, failed to comment on how beautiful she looked in her new dress.  Admit it gents, it has happened to you.  They can’t hold us down if we are united in our aloofness guys!  One thing that I haven’t done, thankfully, is forget about our wedding anniversary.  Whew, that is a relief.  Forgetting that is an automatic 6 months in the dog house with the next six months expected to be dedicated to planning for the next anniversary.  Nope, never been in that situation and I feel very bad for those that have.  My man-heart goes out to you.

Candace and I are getting ready to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary and, as we have gone through a lot of changes and are getting ready to go through a lot more changes, I recently was reflecting on everything we have done for our anniversaries over the years and how our life events have orchestrated what we have done.  Here is a brief run-down of the standouts.  First year, of course we went all out.  We stayed in the honeymoon suite of a 4-star beachfront hotel.  We ate a balls-expensive dinner and lived it up for an entire weekend!  Second anniversary, fairly similar. 

Our third and fourth anniversaries were very different.  I had my brain surgeries the October before each of these anniversaries so I had limitations.  Our fourth surgery actually, we went to a secluded mountain resort thing with no TV and no phone in the room.  We wanted to get away from beeping electronics and people and the overwhelming busy-ness of medical drama.  Fifth anniversary though, different story.  We lived it up!  I was tumor free!  We went to a fancy resort where I got in trouble for not wearing a suit coat to dinner.  That pissed me off a bit and I went up to the room, got my super cheap jacket (my shoes cost more), put that on, went to my table, promptly took it off, and made sure to be boisterous about holding that jacket over my arm on the way out of the restaurant.  Dress code stuff is stupid to me. 

Anyway, digression aside, at about our fifth anniversary is when we started to delve into the scary world of IVF.  Guess what happened, our anniversary celebrations deflated dramatically.  Huh?  Wait, isn’t family building supposed to be easy?  Right guys?  We get to ‘practice’ all we want right?  Nudge nudge in the locker room … tons of sex … oh the uninformed.  Yep, scheduled sex where all we are focusing on is trying to get pregnant is super erotic, like new age porn or something right?  Not sure about you guys, but it was everything but that for me.  So, here we go, anniversaries after starting IVF: sixth anniversary-wine tasting at a park, seventh anniversary-don’t even remember, eighth anniversary-dinner at a place that we wouldn’t normally go to, ninth anniversary-not a damn thing.  Crazy right?  Why the big change?  Why didn’t we fly to Vegas?  Rent a private jet to New Zealand?  Train with the Chinese acrobats?  Because we were flat broke, timing everything around Candace’s ovulation cycle, and burning through home pregnancy tests.  Our day started with thinking about our next IVF round and taking shots, and it ended with … thinking about our next round of IVF and taking shots.  Our world revolved around foods to improve fertility, meditation to promote embryo implantation, and a foot soak to do something (have to ask Candace about that one).  Such is the life of a pair of inferts (my catchy name for a couple suffering with infertility-do you like it) such as us. 

Where am I going with all this?  We don’t normally dribble on about meaningless stuff so I apologize if I have utilized your attention for futility, I hope I bring it all together here … big hope!  Our tenth anniversary is coming up.  That is BIG time, right?  10 years!  We are past the honeymoon phase, past the 7 year itch, past Candace realizing how often I fart and burp, past 2 brain surgeries, past 7 years of infertility and now hoping to meet our Jelly Bean soon.  And, what are we planning on doing?  Going somewhere not too expensive for dinner and not too far away.  No fanfare, no extravagant trips, no fancy gifts.  We are way too focused on not missing an instant of what will be our only biological child … ever … coming into the world.  And you know what, in retrospect, we couldn’t be happier.  We did it.  We celebrated rock star style for the earlier anniversaries and although we would love to live it up at a rave in Spain or something for our tenth anniversary, it’s not in the cards.  Why?  We are definitely flat broke, definitely worried something is going to go wrong, definitely holding our breath and afraid to travel to the next zip code for fear of missing some monumental second in our little one’s life.  We are terrified, not scared, petrified!  We have come so far, worked so hard, and prayed so much that our Jelly Bean will be healthy and be delivered by our Wonder-Surro with no complications that our tenth anniversary seems to pale in comparison to the importance of all that we are facing. 

I have known Candace for 13.5 years (She has known me for 13 … ask her about that).  We have been married for almost 10 years.  She is my closest friend, my confidant, my source of stability when my world falls apart.  You know how to tell you have found ‘The One,’ when being around them makes you a better person.  That is my Candace.  We battled a brain tumor and have been battling infertility for what seems like forever and did nothing but get closer.  If your boat in the tumultuous seas of life is similar to ours, I hope that you always look towards your loved one with hope and admiration.  No matter how tough and scary the storms get, you will make it through.  You, together, will survive.  For our tenth anniversary, we will celebrate each other and celebrate what we hope will be the product of that love.  Happy anniversary Candace!

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Monday, June 2, 2014

It is not the "S" Word, it is a Party for Jellybean

Does anyone recall the movie 27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl? For the past decade that has been me but instead of weddings it is with baby showers. I have thrown countless showers for so many of my friends. The majority of who started trying to build their families long after Chris and I. This is an important detail because at all of these said showers I have slunked off to an isolated bathroom or on the drive home and cried my little infertile heart out. I have admittedly gotten pretty sloppy drunk at a few as well, really I personally recommend it. It helps pass the time and takes the edge off. Just don't drink and baby shower drive. For others, I have faked a terrible bout of IBS to get out of my showerly duties. (For those who are not regular readers, this is a typical “fall back excuse” I sometimes use to get out of uncomfortable IF situations). See previous post on how to survive said showers here. Since we have always been the spectator and never the spector, I also have friends who were standing in line for a bit of redemption. More on that later.

I did not know how I felt about having a “baby shower.”  I mean, isn’t it where you and all of your friends and family stand around and grope all over your stomach, violate your personal space and you complain about swollen ankles and heartburn? The thought of that makes my eye twitch and it is safe to say I will not be doing the string game where you guess the size of my belly.  I don’t have one. Since there is a bitter infertile deep down inside me I was not sure how I would take having a shower.

Do I deserve one since I feel like I am just the coach, not the player?
Who do I ask to come?
Should our wonder surro come?
Do I invite my fellow IFers?

SO. MANY.QUESTIONS and lots to ponder...  There is no right answer I found, you will feel infertile guilt. I have friends, comrades, fellow couples with waiting arms for a baby that are still waiting. Some waiting much longer than Chris and I. How dare I gloat when I know all too well the pain it can bring others?  It is our turn, and there are still those left in the trenches fighting the fight.  So for those reading, I am sorry. I have been in your shoes and partly I still am.  I can say HOPE, keep it in your heart the moment that it stops beating is when you give up. Don’t.  I will also warn you that the rest of this post will be of our “Party for Jellybean” so go ahead and stop reading now if you need to. It is O.K, there is no judgment here.  I have been where you are, self-preservation is a brave step.

All of these emotions and thoughts were floating around in my head.  I feel funny calling it a baby shower.  To me it actually lessens the true impact of what it was for us. It was a party for Jellybean, a celebration of determination and preparation for someone who is loved already by so many. Chris said this to me right before we walked in hand in hand, “Candace I prayed on the way to the party. I want to remember this overwhelming joy I am feeling for the future when life becomes hard and when things are not so great.” This was before we even stepped foot into the festivities.

He was right.

Here are a few pictures from our Milk and Cookies Party for Jellybean…

We pulled up to have personal parking signs equipped with flashing nights for that extra added ambiance. The "We makes it, she bakes it" is my personal favorite.

They even made a sign for our Wonder Surro. Or in this case our Super Surro.

That cheesy-goofysmile that you see there, well that never left our faces. I have a permanent grin even now from this day. 

A lot of folks drank a lot of Starbucks coffees to get those bottles. The favors were make and bake cookie mixes. 

The party was jumpin' and the food was fantastic! #Thetwistedsisters. Everything was decorated so beautifully. #Wafflesandcrew

And there were cookies, every where...

 In the main hall was a onesie making station, bow making station, a unique guestbook signing area. Basically anything you can think of that is considered creative and cute for a party of this purpose was included. OH and did I mention booze? Yep, I, or we are all in the 3rd trimester and I can drink! Fringe benefits of broken plumbing. I seriously could have main veined the "adults only" punch it was THAT good.

This is a demonstration of payback for many showers past. Our friends asked us a few questions separately prior to the party and then we had to guess what the other half would answer. For example, What kind of car is acceptable for Jellybean to drive? My answer a Sherman Tank. Chris got that one incorrect had to take a not so delicious bite of homemade baby food.

Yep that my friends  is a "Crib Dribbler" for those days when you just want to sleep in or better yet can't find a baby sitter. Just set it and forget it... I kid I kid. It was a fake box that hosted more baby friendly gifts.

For so many years, I have detested baby showers with every ounce of my being. Now, after many years and a very dusty onesie, I had a chance to finally experience my own with Chris right next to me. That joy that Chris described overfilled us that day and still lasts in my heart. It wasn't from the gifts, balloons and all things baby-ness, it was the fact that we have made it this far. We made it this far, one step closer and our friends and family were there to share this day with us. More so they, our surro and our everlasting hope made this day into a reality for us. Thank you everyone for our Jellybean Soiree, we will remember this moment always.

Now, for those who are still in back of the line of the baby line and decided to subject yourself to all of the ooohhhs and ahhhs of our party, know that we never knew when this day would happen. We are just like you and waited, prayed and cried those same tears. The will of a woman who wants a family is unbreakable. Trust your journey and trust your tears, for they will lead to tears of joy.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What to Expect on a Hospital Walk Though… When You Are Un-pregnant

I was very fidgety that day.  “Well, this is awkward” I thought to myself as we waited in the lobby along with two other very pregnant couples.  I found myself time warping back to that first day of grade school. When I was a scrawny kid with stringy hair and always a day late and a dollar short on the latest fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I had nice clothes but for some reason we would take a “family” trip right before Labor Day weekend and fore go back to school clothes shopping until later in the school year.  I also had a sweet “Dorothy Hamill” home-cut at one point.  Yep, I didn’t even get the pleasure of a Rudy and Kelly special.
It was one of those 80’s hairstyles that shall remain forever locked in the past never to resurface again. OK, so I know I got off track here, but the point is I was a bit of a sloppy mess. It was like the first day of school and I was the kid that  stood out. I was not like the others.

We were different. 

We stood out from the crowd.  I am pretty sure the other couples were wondering why we were even in the hospital walk through tour to begin with.  More so where was my belly bump? I did not have a bump like the other women in the group. For Chris, he would be the newly nervous expectant dad, the coach on the side lines if you will. For me, I stood there walking the halls watching the expectant mothers rub their growing bellies with a bit of unwarranted envy.  The real shocker took place when the nurse who was conducting the tour asked each couple when their due date was. The Q&A finally panned to us after stating our due date which was around the same time as others, we watched their eyes scroll from my face to my stomach and back to my face again. After a long pause we then explained our unique surrogacy birthing situation.  It was then that everyone on the tour had an 'AH HA!' the light bulb has turned on kind of moment. 

That is when we realized our nurse-guide was incredible. For every step of the tour she would in great detail, talk through two separate situations.  How a birth would go for other couples and then what Chris and I should expect with our surrogacy birth. As you can imagine we had a lot of questions. This is what we learned:

Well it’s not as dramatic as in Indiana Jones but there are only 4 bracelets. 2 for baby, 1 for the person giving birth and 1 for a guest.  Although Chris and I could have played paper-rock-scissors (which I always beat him in by the way), it was understood that the last ticket would go to me.  These tickets are like the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory golden tickets into the nursery.  No ticket means no getting to see the baby.  So, where does that leave Chris?  In the hallway looking at his shoes?  Well, we don’t have all of the answers for this yet but we are hoping that when delivery day comes, we will be able to get everything squared away with the maternity ward to make sure that Chris has access to the nursery.  We will let everyone know how that goes …

 Natural versus Cesarean
Speaking of a limited access situation, what about natural birth vs cesarean?  It turns out that with natural birth the limitations on number of people allowed in the room are much more relaxed relative to a cesarean situation.  Now that is not to say that you can have an entire roller derby team in there in full roller derby regalia, but both Chris and I would be able to be in the room when our Jelly Bean takes her first breath.  Not the case if our surro needs a cesarean.  In that case she gets (1), not (2), not (1.5), not (1.1) people, NO she gets (1) person.  She wants that (1) person to be her husband.  Can you blame her?  Chris and I are totally supportive of this.  It’s a big deal to get a cesarean and she wants her husband by her side to help her through it, wouldn’t you?  We are trying to work our mojo to see if we can sneak into where the baby will go right after being extracted from our surro but that is TBD.  Stay tuned.

Name Changer
Have you had that conversation yet … what your baby’s name is going to be?  Chris and I have.  You know what, we haven’t been able to narrow it down to one.  We are down to 2 and that is going to be what we walk in the hospital with.  One thing that we didn’t need to work to decide is what our Jelly Bean’s last name is going to be … she will be born with our surro’s last name.  WHAT?!  It won’t be your last name?!  Nope.  In Virginia, the baby will be born with our surro’s last name and we have to file some paperwork to have the name changed.  Crazy right!  Turns out that it will take a few months, up to 6 actually, to get her birth certificate changed to our name.  I’m guessing that during that 6 months we may have other things to occupy our time, but still, crazy.

 Paperwork to Release Care to Intended Parents
Yep.  Although it is spelled out explicitly in our contract that once the child is born the custody will be transferred to us, we still need our surro to sign some paperwork indicating her compliance with us having custodial responsibility for our Jelly Bean.  Although we do not anticipate any issues here, it is yet another hoop both us and our surro have to jump through.  No worries, we have jumped through so many hoops at this point we get calls daily from Ringling Brothers asking us to join their act.  Sorry folks, the only circus we are going to participate in will be the one going on between our room, our nursery, and our living room.  That’s enough for us.

Paternity Test
“That ain’t my baby!” Jerry Springer anyone?  Turns out that yet another hoop to jump through is a paternity test.  We gotta make sure that our baby is our baby, or at least Chris’s baby.  Makes sense right.  We need to make sure that our surro didn’t happen to get pregnant at the exact time that we did our blastocyst transfer.  Chris has told me that he has good information that this is simply not possible.  

Surrogacy births are not a common occurrence; as a matter of fact only 2 others have happened at our particular hospital and my surrogate’s previous gestational birth was one of them.  Just as we had questions, so did our nurse-guide. She took this as an opportunity to learn more. She also took a substantial amount of time to answer all of our questions, and trust me we had a lot.  I am unsure how Jellybean’s hospital birth will be since I am not giving birth physically. It will not take away the sting that I cannot experience birth. I am sure some of you reading this are probably thinking “Is she nuts?” Labor is painful, it is messy and it is awful! This is the constant struggle with life; we all want what we cannot have. The grass is greener mentality.  Instead of being the quarterback making the touchdown I have trusted someone else with our precious ball. I will stand hand in hand with Chris on the sidelines as the co-coach, as equals.  I know it will not be typical in the business of birthing, I know it will be different. I know it will be part of our very unique journey to parenthood and I cannot wait.

HEY YOU! Yes you!

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