Tag Archives: surrogacy

Pre-Eclampsia & Post Partum Aftermath

It has been a month and I’ve been contemplating on how to start writing this. I still am not really sure what to say first. I feel inclined to start off with a joke; brush it off with nonchalance and minimize the situation because that’s what I do. And I do it very well, a little too well. And really, that’s sort of what got me into the problem in the first place. Four weeks ago I was compelled to simply write about the order of events that happened to me, but that seemed kind of pointless. Then I wanted to relate it all to surrogacy and birth, but again, so what? However, I’ve had a lot of time to think in these last four weeks and I’ve reflected on myself quite a bit. I realized that my anxiety, more specifically my anxiety coping methods, almost killed me.

I have anxiety and depression, however, I have a pretty good handle on it. I’m in tune with myself and almost always am able to head off a panic attack. I’ve learned what my triggers are and I can talk myself out of a mood. I also have an amazingly supportive husband who also can see through me (most of the time) and can help minimize a situation and handle a mood swing. I’ve not had any issues since college; that’s ten years of keeping myself in check and sane without medication or therapy. I’m happy with that. I feel very successful with that. Sometimes I even feel “cured”.

My anxiety nearly always presents it’s self as a physical ailment rather than an emotional one. I simply am not emotional. I don’t cry and rarely get mad. Instead I suffer from angina, headaches, muscle aches or cramps, bloody noses, dizziness, etc. When I was a junior in college I ended up in the hospital with severe chest pain. I could have sworn I was DYING. I was fine. I was just terrified of finals approaching and trying to juggle three jobs. My senior year I was rushed to the ER for fainting and extreme kidney pain. Again, my organs were failing me and I was on my death bed. I was fine. The emotional toll of moving cross country and living with an abusive boyfriend was really getting to me though. Over the years I learned to not freak out so much about the physical aches and pains. I learned to stay away from Dr. Google and to evaluate emotional issues first. By looking at stressful situations at the onset of a headache I’ve been able to avoid both the physical pain and the panic attack. I’ve learned how to let nearly everything roll off my back as a means of self preservation; this has saved me both physically and mentally.

I’m strong. I’m really strong. I can run an all up-hill race in sub zero temperatures and set a course record doing so. I can birth giant babies in my living room without so much as a Motrin. I really can just kind of turn my brain off and power through anything. It doesn’t matter how much something hurts. I can take a deep breath and muscle through to the end. I like that about myself. And, that is my coping method. Muscle through and it will be over soon. Suck it up, Buttercup. Just Do It.  I hate involving other people in my drama, so I usually brush it off with an “I’m fine!” I act calm or even use humor to deflect what I’m feeling. And it usually resolves it’s self. You’re not dying. If you ignore it, it will go away.

Except when it doesn’t. Apparently sometimes physical pain really is more than what one can simply suck up.

I started gaining weight rather rapidly in December. I knew I wasn’t running as frequently as I had wanted. The plan was to run 3 to 4 times a week (no more than 5 miles at a time) until there was ice and snow on the trails, making it dangerous. With the consistent 60 degrees there was no excuse to NOT get out there and workout, but the start of the start of the third trimester brought on a new fatigue. I began taking naps during my workout time. I blamed those extra pounds on my lack of movement. I also wasn’t really digging the pregnancy anymore. I was uncomfortable, nothing fit right, doctor’s visits drove me nuts, and I just wanted my body back. I was feeling aches and pains that I had never experienced during any of my other three. I had figured it would be my last pregnancy anyway. And then the dizziness and headaches started. My butt was growing bigger by the day and (surprisingly) causing a serious depression. I was having strange body image issues that I had never had before, but again, I assumed it was because it was a surrogacy pregnancy.

Monday, December 14th was a difficult day to get through. Something just wasn’t right. I was beyond tired. I felt like I was walking through Jello. My thighs and butt were huge. I was dizzy and paranoid, but I couldn’t figure out why. I kept thinking and feeling that any moment I would simply be dead. But, like all the other days the week before, there wasn’t really anything that bad. I had to admit that my pain level was fairly low, that there wasn’t really anything wrong. It was brushed off as pregnancy aches and pains as well as some stress related to either the surrogacy and/or the upcoming holidays. Anyway, there was no need for alarm. I knew I had an OB appointment on Wednesday the 16th. I would just mention all of these nuisances to him and I assumed he’d brush them off as well. I’d be fine because I’m always fine.

That evening my husband wasn’t as convinced as I was. He feared I was suffering from pre-eclampsia, a very dangerous condition that affects pregnant women, usually after the 20th week, and the only cure is delivery of the baby and placenta. He took my blood pressure at the dining room table; 150 over 90. My stomach flip-flopped and my heart sank. This wasn’t just nothing. This really was serious. Even though I felt pretty much ok, I realized I might actually not be. But I had three small kids around me and my husband’s terrified eyes looking at me. Act normal, there’s nothing to see here I told myself. “That’s too high. I guess we should go to the hospital then and get things checked out.” While Hubs called around for a babysitter I quickly braided my hair as tightly as possible (I knew I’d be in the hospital for a few days and I didn’t want to deal with tangles) and threw together a go-bag (the largest novel I could find, tablet, phone charger, a few changes of socks and underwear) and off we went to Manchester ER.

At first I wasn’t taken very seriously. I clearly wasn’t in any sort of distress, let alone labor. I was very calm. My pain level was around a 3, maybe, I guess….am I in any pain, really? I explained that my blood pressure was typically low, in the 90 over 60 range, but this evening it was 150 over 90, and I had significant swelling, and I had gained over 6 pounds in the last two days. I was given a gown and some hospital socks (that wouldn’t fit over my feet), I was put on a gurney, and hooked up to all the monitors. My hands were flapping and I had whole body shakes, but I was incredibly warm. I couldn’t focus my vision and I kept having episodes of dark spots and sparklers on the edges, forming a strange shimmering tunnel. I felt like I was falling even when I was laying flat on my back. I couldn’t breathe and a giant lump in my throat made it hard to swallow. I felt like I was dying, but knew it was an anxiety attack. Being in a hospital was terrifying and my body was betraying me. My blood pressure was checked every ten minutes and it went up with every reading. My blood was drawn and a scant amount of urine taken. My platelets were low, liver enzymes were up, and I had a crazy amount of protein in my urine. I actually was dying.

I was hooked up to an IV of magnesium sulfate and given some pill for the headaches. Because my blood was being drawn every two hours and vitals were taken every 30 minutes it was impossible to sleep. The fear of a seizure didn’t help. Thankfully my sister arrived early the next morning (Tuesday, December 15th) and the hospital let me have some breakfast. Unfortunately, as I finished up my oatmeal they determined that I would be delivering ASAP. I was given a shot of steroids in the rear (to help the baby with his lungs) and told that I had to hang on 24 hours for the next shot. The baby needed two shots. I needed to stay on magnesium (and then remain on the IV for a full 24 hours after delivery). I was also going to be transferred to Hartford Hospital so that the baby and I could be in a more advanced NICU. I was terrified but I knew that succumbing to the fear wasn’t going to help. I knew I had to stay in control to try and keep my pressures down and to cause as little stress for the baby as possible.

My swelling continued and by the time the ambulance arrived at Hartford I couldn’t even stand on my own. I was given a catheter and the nurses practically willed me to produce urine, but my kidneys had given up, leaving me dry. My sister followed the ambulance in her car with my belongings and made it to my room just as I was meeting my new team of doctors and nurses. A doctor was performing an ultrasound on the baby when I felt a new wave of nausea, but I knew I wouldn’t throw up. I was falling very fast backwards into a hole, yet I was strangely peaceful. “Something bad is about to happen,” I said to the doctor. She looked up alarmed. “Are you nauseas? Do you need a bucket?” she asked and motioned to a nurse. “No, no. It’s not that. Something else isn’t right.” Suddenly my body broke out into a cold sweat, drenching my body as I hit the bottom of the hole causing a terrible, slamming pain to go through my body. At the same time all the alarms and bells went off on the machines. Someone said something about the O2 being at zero. Someone else said something about my blood pressure and my pulse being gone. I was surrounded by more doctors than I could count, but all I could see was my sister’s eyes looking at me over the top of their heads. I could see the whites of her eyes and all I could think about was how unfair it would be to die in front of her. An oxygen mask was put over me and I realized I couldn’t hear anything anymore. I don’t want to deal with this, I thought to myself. I just want to sleep. So I rolled over and went to sleep. I dreamt about walking through the woods with my daughter.

I don’t know how long I was out, probably not long really, but I woke up to someone in blue scrubs doing an echo on my heart. My head was on fire. My pulse was back up to 40 and my pressures were back to being too high. I wasn’t dead yet and the doctors didn’t know what had happened. Through chattering teeth I tried to explain that it was most likely an anxiety attack. I don’t think they believed me. It didn’t matter anyway. By now I had gone into self preservation mode and basically shut my brain off. I had to take this in steps. The first step was allowing enough time for the steroids to work. The next step would be delivering the baby. The third step would be getting through the rest of the magnesium and hoping my blood pressures would come down.

I delivered my three children without and medications, completely natural and on my own terms. My children were also born well past their due dates and without so much as a hiccup and entirely on my own terms. This was going to be my first hospital birth and I was a little nervous. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to labor the way I wanted to, that the doctors and nurses would be too medical, would insist I lay on my back, stab me with needles, and tell me when to push. I was also very nervous about being pushed into a C-section. The idea of having my abdomen sliced open while I was awake was simply terrifying. I was afraid that the Pitocin wouldn’t induce labor because it was too early and I’d have no choice in the matter. I was afraid they’d hack me open and I’d die anyway.

My husband came and went (he was incredibly nervous), my sister had to leave to go to work, and my father had to go home to sleep. My mother stayed with me though. Finally the next morning, Wednesday the 16th, came and I was given the second shot of steroids. By noon they had decided that my liver was going the way of my kidneys and so I was given Pitocin to begin labor. I was 29 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The surrogacy agency had already been in contact with the baby’s parents and they were well on their way to CT. I could feel early labor contractions and they were a welcomed distraction from my headache. By 4pm I had a pretty good sense of a timeline and suggested that Hubs and my father go and get some dinner; the show would be on soon and they wouldn’t want to do this on an empty stomach. And I was right. They came back about an hour and a half later just as full on labor was starting.

Contractions picked up speed, but they still didn’t feel strong enough to birth a baby, but I was also so done with being pregnant and wasn’t going to give in to having a C-section. My body was huge and unwieldy, but Hubs managed to pick me up so I could turn to all fours into a semi-squat, using the back of the labor bed to support me. Hubs pushed on my hips and the small of my back and I could suddenly feel the pressure of true labor at 6:30pm. A doctor with an ultrasound wand was insisting that I lay back so she could determine the position of the baby. “I know the position!” I yelled at her. “He’s just fine, I know he’s head down!” She didn’t seem to believe me, again insisting on an ultrasound. I was afraid that if I managed to turn over and lay down again I wouldn’t have time or even be able to get back up and would be stuck trying to push on my back. I stood up a little straighter and told her she’d have to do it this way or not at all.

Suddenly a whole new fear came over me. I knew this was going to be a very tiny baby. What if the contractions were too much for his little bones? What if I broke him just by pushing? I didn’t know what to do. I knew I had to push to get him out, in fact, my body was screaming at me to push. But I was so desperately afraid of hurting him that I didn’t even want to move and I held back against my primal urges. I could feel that his head was at the cervix and all I could envision was having his head emerge but his neck being broken with the next contraction. I decided it was time to just be done with it. It was certainly too late to do anything else, so I just pushed. And I kept pushing. At 6:44pm, less than an hour after labor began, the baby rushed out all at once, intact in the bag of waters, and with his placenta. He was immediately whisked off to the NICU while the remaining doctors examined me. I had had a full placental abruption and some minor clotting.

Now that everything was over (and I was still breathing) my husband and parents went home for the night. I stayed on the magnesium and continued to swell.

I had gone up to about 180 lbs, almost 40 pounds of water weight in less than two weeks. My body felt like it was going to burst like an over-ripe tomato. My skin was hot and it hurt. I was getting a new text message every five minutes, but my hands and arms were too swollen to respond. Even my scalp was swollen! The nurses could no longer find a vein and gave up drawing blood. Now we were just waiting for my kidneys to kick in.

I finally peed a tiny trickle about noon the next day (Thursday December 17th). The only way to get the swelling down would be to pee it out. The magnesium drip was stopped at 6:45 and my pressures were monitored until about 8:30pm. That’s when I left in the ICU and was placed in the “general population” on another floor where they continued to monitor my blood pressure every two hours. I also no longer had a catheter would have to get up on my own to pee.

The first time I had to stand on my own without the nurse to help me was a little terrifying and extremely painful. I was so swollen that the pressure of my body weight on my legs and feet was incredible. The nerve endings in my feet were going nuts. The muscles and ligaments in my legs were straining. But I knew I had to get up. I had to pee because the faster I started using the toilet, the faster the swelling would go down & the faster I could get back to normal and a lot less pain. I gritted my teeth and dug down somewhere inside of myself and just did it. I just got up. I could hardly stagger to the toilet, but thankfully it was only three steps away. I got myself into a two hour routine: get up and pee, wash hands, set up pump & pump breastmilk to send to NICU, get up and pee, wash hands and pump parts. That was all I could do for the next 24 hours. The TV was too stimulating and caused a headache. Reading was impossible since I still couldn’t focus. Texting my friends was just as difficult. Staring at the clock and waiting for the next half hour was all I could pull off.

I was told that it could take up to six weeks for my blood pressures and the swelling to return to normal. Just take it easy, remain on bed rest except to use the toilet, and monitor my pressures. I was told to return to the hospital if my pressures went back to 160 over 90. I was handed a breast pump, a giant box of bottles, and 500 labels along with discharge paperwork. I went home (Friday December 18th) just as they were passing out dinner trays.

Life at home was much more trying than life in the hospital. Children were making noise, the TV was always on, and the house was a complete disaster. I was in the hospital less than a week but the whole household seemed to have disintegrated. I tried to avoid anything that would cause too much stimulation, but that proved to be difficult. The simple task of folding laundry was enough to cause dizziness and raise my blood pressure. I was down to about 160 pounds, but I still felt terrible and was depressed about the condition of my body. My parents’ Solstice Party loomed ahead and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go because I didn’t want to be seen. I felt like Jaba de Hutt and wasn’t sure if the stimulation of a holiday party would be too much for my head. I would wake up in the middle of the night in convulsive tears because the headaches were just too much to bare.

I made it through the weekend okay and decided not to mess with the kids’ holiday and do the party. Plus I was down another 5 pounds and able to squeeze into some of my own clothes again. (I left the hospital wearing a giant pair of men’s PJ bottoms and a hospital gown because I was too swollen to wear even my maternity clothes.) The goal was to go to my follow-up visit on Tuesday December 22, pick up the kids from school on the way home, and then go straight to my parents’ house & just sit in a quiet corner. But Tuesday felt a little off. I didn’t complain because I didn’t have anything to really complain about. Of course I’d be a bit dizzy. I had just given birth and gotten out of the hospital…I could suck it up. My OB did not agree with me. My blood pressure was 175 over 95. My reflexes were excited. My vision was spotty. The doctor insisted that I immediately be admitted for stroke symptoms. So we flew back to get the children from school and an ambulance met us at the house. At this point I was completely flushed on one side and had very little strength in my right hand. Shooting sparklers flew across my vision and the headache began to mount. My blood pressure had risen to 190 over 118.

I was given two IVs with various kinds of medication in attempts at bringing my pressures down. I was given several kinds of headache medication to attempts to return my vision to normal. An EKG was taken. I was put in an MRI machine to look at my brain. The nurses watched me like hawks, waiting for the stroke to get worse or a seizure to take over. Finally the right kind of drugs was found and I was able to sleep.

But it was a terrifying ordeal, much worse than waiting out the pre-eclampsia and birth. Now it was truly serious and I knew it. I kept thinking about my brother and how insanely disappointed I was that I was missing the holiday party and my one chance this year at getting to visit with him. He hadn’t been at Thanksgiving dinner and wasn’t going to be at Christmas dinner. I was lonely and scared. What if I had a full on stroke before seeing him again? Would I recognize him if I got to see him again? How badly was this going to affect my brain? How much work was this going to be for my husband? What would we do?! Just dying from it all seemed easier, but I was terrified that I wouldn’t be so lucky. I didn’t even care about my blood pressures and brain anymore; I just wanted to see my brother and sister, laugh and be goofy like we did at every Solstice party. I wanted to watch my kids open their presents from Santa. I wanted to eat a Christmas cookie. But that just wasn’t going to happen.

Despite how badly I just wanted to break down and cry, I somehow I managed to push aside all the emotion and just focus on willing myself to not have a seizure. I made it through the night and my pressures came down. I still had a headache, but it was tolerable. By the middle of the afternoon the following day (Wednesday December 23rd) I was discharged for a second time in less than a week. I was put on blood pressure medication and instructed to take my pressures at least twice a day.

Physically I got better very quickly. My swelling was almost completely gone by Christmas and by New Year’s I was a “normal” weight. (I’m three pounds shy of pre-pregnancy weight right now.) I even started running again last week. I’ve been off the blood pressure medication since January 11th and my pressures have been my regular 90s over 60s. Even my headaches have subsided. My only lingering symptom is the lump in my throat. While physically I am well again, the pre-eclampsia has left my body, I have to be honest with myself. I am not yet mentally well. I can brush it off all I want and make all the jokes, but my emotions are still raw. I’m crushed that I had such a less than perfect birthing experience. I’m scared at how quickly my health deteriorated without me even being aware until it was almost too late. I worry at the thought of my family being left to deal without me. I’m nervous about the brain fog and any lingering effects the whole ordeal may have had on my brain. I’m not afraid of death, I’m afraid of living broken and now that’s just another thing I need to deal with. I haven’t yet completely addressed the whole emotional aspect of everything that happened, and I know I still need to. But for some reason it is the emotional pain that seems so much harder to deal with than the physical pain. What if I’m just not as mentally strong as I am physically?

P.S. The baby is doing very well. The parents did make it in time and were there to hold him right away. He has had no complications and his lungs have proved to be very strong. At the time of this writing he is still in the NICU gaining weight. He was born at 2 pounds, 6 ounces but gaining close to an ounce a day. I am still pumping breastmilk every two hours and sending it to the hospital for them.

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It’s Not Me, It’s You: Break Ups in a Surrogacy

If you are  on the giving end or receiving end, it doesn’t really matter; break ups are sucky for everyone.  And whatever the reasons are, it feels like it’s not enough, as if there needs to be more explaining, and closure can be hard to find for a lot of people. Breaking up a surrogacy relationship isn’t any different.  In fact, in some ways it’s more difficult than dumping that creep from college.  Emotions are already running full throttle during a surrogacy, so when wrinkles turn into speed bumps (or even all out spike strips), putting on the breaks and calling it quits before spinning out of control is often the best option.

The relationship with my Intended Parents wasn’t going well.  Even before the embryo transfer, things just didn’t feel right.  At first it was the interpreter, Wayne.  I didn’t like him personally.  I cringed whenever I had to speak with him or spend time with him.  He was just a jerk; making the situation all about him, flashing the Armani tag in his shirt, trash-talking his own wife, and bragging about money and a job he didn’t even have.  Then there was the fight the night before the transfer.  I witnessed Wayne wrestling the Intended Father, Steve, in the hallway of the hotel right after I had heard him throw an iPad at his own wife (which hit the wall between our rooms).  Then after our stay we discovered some tidbits of info about the family that left me feeling a bit uneasy.  For one, Wayne is not anyone’s brother-in-law since he’s NOT married.  Oh, and his “wife” ISN’T the sister to the Intended Mother, Sara, but, maybe a cousin…they weren’t real clear on giving us the rest of that story.  And if that wasn’t enough, I learned that Sara had NEVER had a miscarriage.  The three (or ten as reported in some places) miscarriages that were reported to the fertility clinic were in fact elected abortions because at the time she and her husband “weren’t financially ready for children”.  And, they used the fact that they had never had a miscarriage as the reason why my miscarriage of their embryo had to be solely MY fault.  They were very hurt by the miscarriage, as any parent would be, however, the way it was handled was borderline abusive.  They would go weeks without speaking to me at all, to then randomly call me (or show up at my house) to demand to know what I did to cause the miscarriage.  As a gestational carrier it was horrible.  It was anxiety inducing.  It was torturous.  On one side I knew that it wasn’t me, that I didn’t do anything.  The doctors told me so.  Statistics told me so.  It was normal, actually, it was almost expected.  But on the other side I felt like a huge failure.  I had failed.  I wondered if my running had caused it, if I had picked up my daughter weird, if I had missed something important.  I agonized over the why of that miscarriage.  Despite how they made me feel, I planned on trying again once my cycles returned.  But, then things escalated.

The Intended Parents and Wayne came over for a visit.  They were supposed to stay in town for a few days and I was a bit excited to show them around where we lived.  But during dinner they announced that they were leaving that night.  We understood that they had things to do (and a second surrogate carrier to visit in PA) so we didn’t want to take it personally.  When the check came at the end of the meal, my husband handed over cash and paid the bill.  He figured that they had paid last time, so he’d pay this time.  Also, he was the one that brought along our three kids, ordered a ton of food including appetizers, and picked the restaurant.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  The IPs and Wayne threw a huge fit and our table became the center of attention in this packed restaurant.  There was lots of yelling and pointing and carrying on.  The waiter was yelled at.  Managers were called over and yelled at.  There was a loud discussion over who got to pay.  In the end my husband’s cash won out over their credit cards.  Then the argument continued out in the lobby when Wayne squared off with my husband.  “You’re lucky you’ve got kids with you,” he spat at him, “otherwise I’d knock you out right now!”  Poor Hubs.  He tried to diffuse the situation by explaining that he was just trying to be friendly by taking his turn with the bill.  But Wayne responded with “You have three kids!  You don’t have the money for this!  If I’d known you’d insist to pay then I would have made sure we went to McDonald’s cause that’s what you can afford.”  And that was the last I heard from him.

I contacted my agency and told them the situation and that I no longer felt safe working with this family.  I kept getting “Are you sure?” type Emails back in response.  Being both polite and firm with the agency was more difficult than I had anticipated.  I finally made it clear to them that I would not be continuing with the family.  The response back from the agency was strange.  First I was told that I was at fault because I was misinterpreting their motives and their culture.  I was urged to reconsider because they had been so nice to me, giving me money and buying me things.  I was told that I was lucky because no other set of parents would be so nice or tolerate so much.  But, once I was firm about the break up I  was told I wouldn’t be put back on the surrogate roster because my “medical history was incomplete due to my previous homebirths”.  Later, almost two weeks later, I was finally asked for a termination letter from my lawyer.  Also, between those two weeks I received phone calls from the family’s fertility clinic wanting to know when I was ready to come back in for a second transfer!

I’ve been trying to break up with this family for nearly two months now and I’m honestly not sure if they fully get it yet.   I keep getting mixed messages from everyone from my agency to their doctors to the lawyers which indicate that they may not have even been told.  And every time I tell someone that I’m terminating the contract I get a shocked response, as if surrogates never break up with IPs, which only makes me feel worse.  Throughout the process I’ve constantly been second guessing my choices and constantly being bullied into making new ones.   But, I’ve come to realize that any relationship that is this difficult to get out of is an unhealthy one, be it that creep from college, Intended Parents in a surrogacy arrangement, or a boss.  You should never have to repeat yourself or your reasons for breaking it off, and someone who keeps coming back for more explanation, more closure, more you is not getting over it or moving on, and that’s not healthy.  Get away from these people fast, and don’t look back!

I’ve contacted my lawyers about the situation and (I think) they are handling it, though I don’t get much feedback from anyone.  I’ve since moved on from everyone involved and am starting over with a new agency, new doctors and will be using a new lawyer.  I’m jaded now and I’ve told the new agency so.  I’ve also closed off some doors on who I’ll consider being a surrogate for.  But I’ve also learned a lot about the surrogacy process as well as people in general.

Number One: Ask questions, even the straightforward ones.  Even the embarrassing ones.  Ask them.  And keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers. Make people explain themselves and expand on their answers until you have the full story.
Number Two: It’s ok to set limits, to have expectations, and to be selective.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to say no or to turn someone down.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to keep searching for that person or situation that matches your morals, ideals, and dreams.
Number Three: Trust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  Act on your gut immediately because letting things drag out makes everything ten times worse for everyone.

Devastated

Today was cold and rainy, much like my mood.  It was tiresome, it was painful and heart wrenching.  You could say it was the worst day of my life.

Hubs and I got up at 5am and it was still very dark.  We warmed up the car and carried our three sleeping children wrapped in their coats out to their car seats.  After a stop at the gas station for a fill up and some Dunkin’ we were on our way to Bridgport for a belated 9 week ultrasound.  The sun was up once we finally got there, but couldn’t be seen behind the thick layer of clouds.  I trudged into the fertility clinic for the last of my monitoring before I’d officially be turned over to regular OB care.  (Hubs and kids were with me because the drive without traffic was an hour and a half.  Hubs had a meeting at work in a few hours he couldn’t miss, so I would have to drop him at work after my appointment and then fight Hartford traffic back home myself.)

I was the first appointment of the day at 7am sharp and was ushered into the small room right away.  The technician went to work right away on my exam.  But she quickly swiveled the monitor out of my view and I watched her crystal clear blue eyes searching and scanning in vane.  She moved the ultrasound wand and tried various pressures.  She wouldn’t look at me, but I knew.  There wasn’t a heartbeat any longer.  She removed the wand as she apologized profusely.  Back in the waiting room she took my fertility clinic’s contact information as well as my OB’s. She apologized and fumbled a hug.

I let go in the stair well on my way down to the car and my awaiting family.  How could this be?  What happened? How on Earth would I tell them after everything they had been through?  I hadn’t intended on being emotional, but the frustration took the form of hot, stinging tears.

Once I finally got home I first called my OB to get a message to my doctor.  He called me back within 10 minutes and told me his receptionist would call me later to set up an appointment because he wanted to see me as soon as possible.  Next I called my contact person at the surrogacy agency.  I was told not to call the parents since that would be done by the fertility clinic.  I was told not to worry, it wasn’t my fault, and that miscarriages are very common.  After we hung up, I called the clinic and told them what happened.  By now I had an appoint with the OB for later in the day. The nurse reiterated what my agent had told me and said to go to the OB and update her once I got home.

Sigh.  Throw some laundry in the washer, make some lunch for the kids, wash hands and faces, and rush my four year old to preschool all while charging my phone and staying close in anticipation of more calls.

The OB’s office was understanding, and I was very thankful they were willing to see me on such short notice.  I had assumed I was getting another ultrasound, but instead he only talked to me about signing paperwork to consent to a D & C.  Blindly I signed and set it up, then bundled two of my three kids back out the door so I could rush to pick the third up from preschool.

I spent the day in a fog as well as shivering from both the damp cold and the shock.  I really wanted it to be wrong.  I really wanted a second opinion.  While I knew it wasn’t my fault, I felt it had to be something or someone’s fault.  I searched Google with as many different combinations of key words as I could come up with.  No one could give me an answer except that it happens.  It’s normal.  It’s common.  1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage while mothers over 40 (like my intended mother and her eggs) have a 1 in 2 chance.  Oh, and there isn’t anything that can be done to prevent it.

Finally after supper I was able to have a conference call with one of the nurses from the clinic and the parents’ interpreter, Wayne.  She told us that the fetus had measured 8 weeks and 4 days, so it ceased about a week ago.  I was told to end my injections and go ahead with the D & C, however the clinic was requesting that after the fetus be tested (I think for chromosomal abnormalities).  Again, we were told it was no one’s fault and that it “just happens”.

After the nurse left the three way call, Wayne’s voice took on a different tone.  He started asking questions about what I had been doing in the past two weeks; how much had I been lifting, did I fall on anything, how much was I running, and were Hubs and I being sexually active.  I knew what he was doing.  He told me just how pissed off and upset the parents were (completely understandable).  Then he said he wasn’t going to make conclusions until the results came back from the fetal test.  If it turned out to not be my fault after all, then they would discuss a second try.

While it did hurt my feelings that their grief was being taken out on me in such an accusatory way, I did understand the immensity of their loss and could not take it personally.  They need to be alone to deal with their loss in their own way, just as I need to be alone to deal with it in my own way.  We agreed to not contact until after the D & C procedure.  Hopefully next week we will have a few more answers and will be able to move on to the next step.

Two Months Pregnant!

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Here I am at eight weeks. Yep, I’m getting bigger, slowly but surely, I am getting bigger.

The Side Effects are Kicking My Butt

I’ve been lazy lately; lazy with keeping up with my posts, lazy with making dinner (my kids have been eating the likes of fish sticks, mac & cheese, and pizza for several days in a row now), and lazy with house keeping (I haven’t made my own bed in a week).  But I’ve been so incredibly, ridiculously, painfully TIRED for weeks now.  It’s one of those deep seated fatigues that a nap won’t touch and not even 8 solid hours of shut eye can shake.  And I’m not allowed to self medicate with Red Bull.

I’ve been taking the hormone injections for about two months now, and while initially I didn’t experience too many side effects, I am realizing now that they are indeed catching up with me.  Sure, the Lupron injections in the abdomen weren’t too bad, however, the daily shot in the rear of Progesterone and the bi-weekly shot of Delestrogen are very hard on the body.  Drugs.com has a rather daunting list for both drugs, and unfortunately for me, I am beginning to experience a lot of those side effects.http://www.drugs.com/sfx/progesterone-side-effects.html
http://www.drugs.com/sfx/delestrogen-side-effects.html

The ones I’ve been dealing with as of late are as follows:
*chest pains/angina
*chills
*cold or flu-like symptoms (This hit the hardest shortly after we got  back from CA for the transfer. I thought I either got the flu from someone, despite my flu shot, or was dealing with a reaction to a spider bite. Turns out it was my nightly butt-jabbings!)
*persistent crusting of the nipple (yup, as sexy as it sounds)
*bloating & weight gain
*confusion
*diarrhea
*dizziness, especially when standing up
*headache
*hives (only happened once, thank goodness…thought it was a spider bite!)
*irrational irritation
*itching (EVERYWHERE!)
*joint pain, stiffness
*nausea
*numbness or tingling in arms or legs
*pounding, rushing or ringing in the ears
*pelvic discomfort, aching or heaviness
*sweating
*tightness in the chest
*unusual tiredness or weakness
*breast pain or tenderness
*changes in behavior (hahahahahahaha, *weep*, ROAR)
*depression
*muscle or joint pain
*runny nose

I know, impressive list, right? Thankfully I don’t experience everything all at once or all the time.  I think I would die.  But, what gets to me the most are the muscle & joint pain, the headaches, extreme fatigue, and depression.  I’m sure a lot of it feeds into each other (which helps bring out the irrational anger later). The worst part about dealing with it all, especially the depression part of it, is that I know it’s all just a side effect: my feelings, thoughts, reactions, even pain aren’t really real.  And that is frustrating because it all FEELS so damned real.  I’m experiencing a real sadness or anger toward something that seems like it has a legitimate root cause (namely my husband), but I know deep down that I’m not really upset…that I wouldn’t feel this way or be thinking these thoughts if I weren’t taking these drugs.  And my body pains–some days it’s hard to accept that nothing is wrong, nothing is causing them, and nothing is going to make them go away until my course of drugs is complete.  Telling myself this helps, sometimes.  And sometimes reminding myself that I’m a Scot, therefore I can withstand anything helps.  But, sometimes I can barely move & throwing a frozen pizza in the oven is a huge ordeal.  Sometimes I just go to bed really angry & try not to cry.

As much as it truly sucks, it will end.  I will be ten weeks on March 29th and at that point my placenta should be substantial enough to support the baby without the use of these hormone injections.  It is almost over!

Perhaps the saddest part about this whole drug ordeal is that it is making me really think about whether or not I want to do future surrogacies.  While some days it’s a real struggle both mentally & physically, I know I can handle it. I can get though it.  But subjecting my children and husband to it is another thing.  Even though I’m the one carrying the baby, they are the ones carrying me & I’m not entirely sure their shoulders can hold so much for so long.  The side effects of the drugs effect everyone involved, including the surrogate’s family and friends.  And, while it’s only about three months worth of hormones, it certainly feels like an eternity!

 

 

One Month Pregnant!

One Month Pregnant
Now, I know it doesn’t show yet, but I’m a month pregnant!  (Actually, I forgot to post this earlier, so really, as I write this, I am 5 weeks and 3 days pregnant…but you get the point.) Now, I know I’m not really that pregnant; after all, I know exactly when I conceived this child (February 6th at 11:45am), making me only 2 weeks and 5 days along, but the estimated due date is still based off my last known period, giving me an extra two weeks.  I know…weird and a bit confusing.  A lot of things are weird and a bit confusing when it comes to pregnancy though.

One Month PregnantI am happy to report that for now I am still symptom-free.  Even though all of my pregnancies were fairly easy, none of them were exactly alike, and I am well aware that symptoms can come out of the blue.  AM was only a wee bit of nausea, but lots of food cravings and fatigue.  IM was blissfully symptom-free.  Sometimes I’d forget I was pregnant until I caught a glimpse of myself & large belly.  RM, the girl, came with never ending mood swings, nausea, morning sickness, and sore backs.  Perhaps having another boy will be easy!

The Results Are In

They say the waiting is the hardest part and man, oh man, when you are waiting for a pregnancy test it sure is!  The fertility clinic gave me a whole list of things I couldn’t do until the pregnancy had been confirmed via blood test.  Of the Refrain From Or Else List, no running, no lifting over 40 lbs, and no sexual intercourse were really getting to me.  But I still had to wait the ten days until I would have enough of hCG (the pregnancy hormone) to register.

I am part of a surrogacy support group on Facebook, and all the ladies there were taking home pregnancy tests and posting pictures of them.  But I was afraid of testing too early & getting a false negative & then being bummed out & possibly stressing out….and God forbid Wayne or the parents find out….  So I exercised my will power & held out as long as I could, which was Friday (14th, Valentine’s Day).  It felt as if an eternity had passed before the test FINALLY registered, though I suppose it wasn’t more than a minute and a half.  And it was a sweet sigh of relief to see this:
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That 1-2 means one to two weeks pregnant 🙂

I did have my actual blood test the next day.  Urine stick tests are not as accurate as blood tests and cannot test for the amount of hCG hormone in the blood stream, only that it is present.  In general pregnancies it doesn’t really matter, especially if the woman knows the date of her last menstrual period.  However, when doing an IVF pregnancy exact numbers are necessary.  Thankfully I didn’t have to go all the way into Hartford again to the fertility clinic there, but instead got to use a regular lab clinic for the blood draw.  They opened at 7am Saturday morning and I was the first in line, ready to go.  But, then I had to wait all day to get the results back.

A nurse from Pacific Fertility Clinic, the IP’s clinic in California, called around 6pm to inform  me of my results.  I was told that a 50 or more was needed to indicate a pregnancy.  My results were 115!  While the numbers were great, I wasn’t in the clear yet.  I would have to return in 48 hours to take another test to make sure that the hCG levels were rising like they should.  That meant that today I was there again at 7am with my sleeve up dishing out more blood.  This time, I was told that it was necessary for my numbers to have doubled from my previous test.  And BAM! I came back with a 270!!

I am certifiably pregnant!  After so many months of idle chatter with Wayne and signing and resigning of paperwork, we have finally gotten this party started and it feels great.  But at the same time, it’s a little intimidating.  We are past the point of no return and I do have fleeting moments of wondering if I’ve gotten in over my head.  And I find myself having to talk it up a lot in my head.  I am weary of how it will all play out; the doctors, the parents’ involvement in the the pregnancy, testing, and my first hospital birth.  Though I’ve been pregnant three times before, this is my first in so many ways.  This is going to be an interesting journey to say the least.