Sunday, September 27, 2009

Anything but a nursery

As part of my chronic, compulsive "nesting" disorder and my husband's desire to expand our livable space, we've decided to remodel our basement. Our old basement was finished, but probably in the 1970's and the people who did it were so lazy that they paneled right over all the windows, leaving us with a definite feeling that we were living in a cave. Our basement didn't get much use, except for all the wonderful space that we could store everything. Now, that everything has been moved throughout the house as we have emptied almost everything from the basement.

We had a contractor lined up to do the work and then he decided to never call me back for several days, when I had important questions about the work he was to start in a few days. I followed Oprah's advice to "Believe people when they show you who they are the first time", and I knew it would be unlikely that he would be urgently returning my phone calls once he had my money in his pocket, so I fired him. Over email. I actually preferred to do it over the phone, but he never answered my calls. So, blackberry to blackberry and it was done. This occurred after the basement was already emptied and my dh was giddy with anticipation of having a beautiful new basement. Dh decided that he wanted to construct this basement himself and had me imagine how wonderful it will be that he works with his own two hands to create the space that we will soon call our "family" room. I couldn't resist the warmth in my heart as I imagined us, in our new living space that was created by my own husband, as we glowed with joy as friends and family came to see our baby. I imagined exactly where the baby swing would go and thought it would only be appropriate to also have a bassinet downstairs for the little one to rest in for those short periods of time that he's not in my arms.

We've decided to carpet half the basement and install pergo in the other half. The true purpose for the pergo is so I won't kill one of my dh's friends if he spills a beer on my new shag carpet. However, dh has convinced me that the pergo will be the ideal spot for the "kid's table" during holiday's so our children, nieces, and nephews won't make a mess of our new carpet. He knows that I cannot resist any suggestion that involves our future family. He's even convinced me that we should pre-wire the bar to have a flat panel television. Although this seems quite similar to what a sports bar would have, he's suggested that it would be for the children to watch TV during a big game. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to put a DVD in for the kid's while the adults are watching a football game on the big TV? Interesting how he's also thrown in a "big TV" into his plot.

We have a three bedroom home, the third bedroom has two entry doors that have been removed and we use it as an office. A bookshelf stretches almost the entire length and height of the wall to hold my dozens of books about how to make a baby, obviously none of them proved to be very successful. The second bedroom is the 'nursery', although I can't hardly bring myself to refer to it as such, but it's always the label that I mentally assign to it. It usually contains a double bed, small vanity area where I blow dry my hair, and random articles of clothing that haven't found their place in our main closet yet. Currently, it is packed solid with Rubbermaid containers, wall hangings from the basement, the mesh bag of mis-matched socks, early Christmas gifts that I've purchased, the ironing board, along with other remnants from our basement.

Although it never functioned as a nursery before, it was always clean and organized and much easier to envision quickly becoming a nursery with just the removal of a few pieces of furniture and a fresh coat of paint. It would require so much work now to transform that space into anything appropriate for even the smallest of babies. Perhaps all the effort that would need to be exerted to make the room a nursery is a gentle reminder that there is still quite a bit of effort required before we become parents. Some days it seems so simple, we have a surrogate that we're in love with, a small amount of money going into our "baby account" every month, and a hidden container of baby items that have been purchased over the past several hopeful months. But today it seems overwhelming. Today I realize that I need an egg, and sperm; both of which we don't have. I need them to find themselves in the perfect moment of marriage and create a miracle for us. I need 9 months of uncomplicated gestation, a beautiful day of healthy birth, and an attorney, court date, and tens of thousands of dollars. It's too much to imagine sometimes. It's too much that I can't control, too much money that I don't have, and too much too risk. And then I remember, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?" -Anonymous

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I've really been doing well with trying to learn and absorb the lessons that infertility is teaching me. I'm slowly learning to embrace our temporary childless state (emphasis on the temporary) and learn to enjoy these moments alone with my husband. I can see now, the deliberate actions of the Universe and the perfect pattern of events that will lead to my becoming a mother at the perfect time, with the perfect surrogate, to the perfect child. Despite my aggressive attempts to intoxicate myself with all these profound lessons, the Universe doesn't shop challenging me. What more must I learn? It seems only appropriate that there should be a limit to the number of intensely difficult events that one must endure in life. While I know such a limit doesn't exist, it still takes me by surprise when I find myself facing yet another.

After my "ischemic colitis" diagnosis while we were visiting M, which lead to a hospital stay after enduring a lot of pain, blood, and misery, I've been not feeling great. Nothing too horrible but I know my body enough to understand that I haven't been normal. Over labor day weekend they did another colonoscopy and the biopsies were normal. They know what the diagnosis is, they just don't know what is causing it.

Sunday night I woke up in a lot of pain and called the doctor on-call. I explained to him my medical history and he wanted to speak directly to my doctor (who is both a clinical and research expert in my disease) before he advised me. Monday a.m. he called back to say they had me scheduled for a colonoscopy on Tuesday. I immediately had to leave work to start the glorious bowel prep. Despite the raging hemorrhoids and horrible cramps I had anyway, the bowel prep went relatively smoothly. I went to bed at 10:00 p.m., ready for the colonoscopy the next morning. I made it until midnight at which point I woke up in extremely intense pain and the immediate sensation that I was going to pass out. I woke up my dh & told him what was going on. I was afraid to move, knowing I was going to pass out, but had to get to the bathroom right away. I crawled to the bathroom, went to the bathroom, and then immediately fell off the toilet and passed out. Dh caught me (he's learning now to not let my head hit the ground) and I was out for a little bit. I awoke and all I could say was "bucket" and he ran into our office to get the garbage can. I vomited so intensely for quite a while and then passed out again. At that point, we called the dr. on call and they told us to go to the ER. Because I have to be seen at the University of Michigan, our ride to the ER was almost a full hour away. When I started to get up off the bathroom floor to go to the ER, I realized I had gone to the bathroom while I was passed out and didn't even know it. My poor husband. I changed my clothes and got in the car. We had to stop on the freeway so I could go to the bathroom again, I couldn't make it to the exit. I've heard of people doing this before, but I've never done it myself, it's quite strange to have your pants pulled down as semi-trucks are driving past you. Thankfully, I'm not shy and it was very dark with few cars on the road.

We manage to make it to U of M without any major problems, although I cannot walk on my own and my ability to function is extremely limited. I lay down on a bed in the ER immediately as the nurses are asking me questions, I tell them, "I'm going to pass out now". I'm not sure she believed me because she didn't react, but dh knows that I don't say that unless it's really going to happen. I passed out while lying completely flat on my back in bed which something that is very rare to do as your body usually passes out to force you to lay down, but I was already laying down. They had a very difficult time reviving me & ended up having to give me some injection and oxygen to get me to wake up. Thankfully, that was the last time that I passed out. They temporarily cancelled the colonoscopy because I wasn't stable enough but then rescheduled it when I started to show signs on improvement. The colonoscopy proceeded and the anesthesia didn't work at all and I was awake for the entire thing. Of course. I was then admitted to the hospital for another night and released yesterday.

I'm searching really hard to find out what I'm supposed to learn through all of this. I've watched as one-by-one my organs have been removed as one disease after another is discovered. I never imagined that such problems would continue to expand through the remaining parts of myself. I simply can't imagine that there are great lessons to be learned from a colon disease? I suppose there must be, and i just haven't found them yet.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It's amazing to me that there will be countless people involved in making me become a mother but yet I still feel so alone. I would give anything if just for one hour my dh could live in my thoughts. If he could understand how it is truly impossible to get through the hour without second-by-second reminders of infertility.

I was speaking to someone on the phone in the surrogacy world today and she mentioned a sperm bank that I had never heard of before. When I checked out their website I was really liking their donor selection (a lot of PhD & MD donors, a lot of them tall, which are two main factors we are looking for) until I read that they are entirely anonymous. It's been known since April or so that we will likely be needing a donor, at which time I spoke with dh about all the factors we have to consider when selecting a donor and he replied with the infamous "I'll think about it" remark. So, nearly five months later, I ask him "What do you think about using an anonymous donor?" He replies "Yea, that sounds good. Can you scratch my back?" I just looked at him, I couldn't believe any decision regarding such an important aspect of our child begins with "Yea". I scratched his back. He asked what my thoughts were & told him. If we use a donor that will allow his identity revealed upon request of our child, our child will always have that option. Selecting an anonymous donor removes that as an option forever. We should keep all options available for our child. He replied, "Oh, ok, that sounds good then."

My voice started to get louder, my patience shorter, and my words stronger. How do you just vacillate between those two options so easily? Haven't you considered these options? What exactly did you mean 5 months ago when you said that you would think about it? Was that simply a rhetorical statement meant to appease my sense of urgency? When were you planning to think about it, as M is pushing our baby out of her vagina? When our teenager is walking across the stage receiving his high school diploma? Perhaps neither of those times, perhaps you would put off thinking about it until I unilaterally make the decision which frees you from any further obligation toward that particular topic. And then, when we need to have discussions with our child about his genetic background, I'm sure you'll assume that I'll handle those discussions also because, afterall, I'm the one who decided to use a particular donor.

"What would you like me to do? I can't think like you. How do I think like you?" Ahh, perfect question my dh posed. So, I thought briefly, how does he think like me? How do I think about such things? I propose:

Divide the day into 15 minute increments. 5 minutes of those 15 are completely dedicated to thinking about a baby. It can be any variety of baby related topics. You now have 10 minutes left. A diaper commercial will come on TV, so you change the channel and the local news is talking about a potential "labor strike" at a local manufacturing plant. However, since you're me, hearing "labor" makes you think of a baby, which makes you think of M, which makes you think that you can't believe you are putting another woman in pain for your benefit. It makes you think about how you'll ever repay her. Speaking of repaying, how the hell are we going to fund this surrogacy journey? Back to the labor. We should write a birth plan now. I wonder if M knows if the hospital she's working & will deliver at is surrogacy friendly. I wonder if they'll give us our own room. We should include that in the birth plan. I wonder if both of us can stay in the room with her if we can't have our own room. What if she needs a C-section, will she still have one of those big labor rooms? Speaking of C-section, we should get M some help after the baby if she needs to have a C-section. That's enough, I'm turning the TV off. I should do laundry. I wonder if I can make my own laundry detergent that is safe for the baby, like dreft. On my way to the laundry room I walk through the office, the unsigned surrogacy contract sits inside a special folder on my desk; dozens of infertility, surrogacy, adoption, menopause books sit on the bookshelf. That can't be normal for a 26 year old. Oh, and about menopause, here comes another hot flash.

15 minutes is up. Repeat daily in 15 minute increments until you're a mother. That, my husband, is how you think like me. Now, you must devise a plan to still function as a semi-normal human being and fulfill all other adult obligations while having a brain that is incapable of thinking of any thought without somehow connecting it to our baby.


It's not him, it's me. It's not normal to be like this. Seriously, not normal. It's actually part of what is so depressing about this situation...I've turned into a person that doesn't live a normal life. Everyone is pregnant right now and that is not helping. I thought I had triumphed over the "everyone is pregnant" stage last year when both my bff and 2 SIL's were pregnant at the same time. But, it's happening again. My neighbor is pregnant with baby #2, a very close family friend is publicly discussing her readiness to begin "trying" (if she only knew the depth of that word), another family friend is pregnant, my cousin just delivered (and no one wanted to tell me she was pregnant so I found out at a family function when they said her mom couldn't make it because Erica had just delivered. Delivered what?, I asked), my bff's brother & wife are pregnant, even M's SIL is pregnant. Everyone is preparing for a baby and I'm arguing with my husband about which other man's sperm we'll use to try and make our baby with another woman's eggs. It's too much to wrap my head around at times...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

That could be our baby's due date. Of course, it's too soon to know exactly when M will have her last period before we do insems, but, I've been playing around with the numbers and a July 2010 insem that results in a BFP could give us a due date in March 2011. It's so surreal how it feels so far away but yet so incredibly close all at once.

We have managed to tell absolutely no one, except my bff Christy (who is also our attorney that will handle the step-parent adoption & other surrogacy related matters) about our plans to pursue surrogacy. Our parents and family still feel that since my ovaries were removed we can abandoned the idea of surrogacy. My mom will occasionally mention about when "you adopt" and still asks questions about adoption. When she meets someone who has adopted their child, she tells them that he daughter will be adopting "someday" soon. I feel slightly, emphasis on the slightly, guilty to be lying by omission about our true plans for parenthood. My mom would be incredibly thrilled to know that we've met M and that we love & trust her and her wonderful family and she is going to make us parents. I'm not worried about what anyone thinks or fearful about what anyone might say. It's just that our battle to win the position of parenthood has been very public and the defeat was tough. I don't surrender easily and I was forced to surrender to this evil enemy also known as my body.

I know our families would be thrilled to wait the next year with us as we anticipate all the excitment that will come when M is pregnant. They would all want to meet her and her family immediately and express their genuine gratitude. In some ways, I would like that support and affirmation by telling everyone. But, there are so many reasons to keep it quiet. Our plans for surrogacy with M is a very personal secret between my dh and I. When we're together and my mom mentions something about adoption, we both nod in agreement but in my heart I know that we have a grander plan and that plan is private between he and I. In a strange sort of way, I feel as if this is how it's supposed to be. Most couples don't announce to their parents the date or method by which their grandchild will be conceived. Those moments are meant to be private, shared between the love of a man and a woman. This moment is still our moment, it is still the moment that our child will be conceived. It is, however, shared between 2 men and 2 women. A love that two couples have, both for their own spouses, and for each other. M would unlikely be doing a surro journey if not for the support of her dh. And I certainly wouldn't be engaging in surrogacy without the love and support of J. Two couples will be making a baby; two times the love; two times the commitment; two times the support. This most certainly will succeed!

There are specific daydreams that continually replay themselves in similar form. The most popular show seems to be that of our baby shower. I cannot stop day dreaming about the decor, the smiles on every one's faces, our adorable nieces helping with the presents. What I most daydream about that day is how I will be in front of some table, opening some gifts, while the perfect gift that God has ever given me will be seated in front of me. She'll be wearing the maternity outfit that we picked out together, as we've agreed to go shopping for maternity clothes together. She will be smiling and I'm sure at least one hand will be place atop her firm, round belly. As excited as I will be to receive dozens of onesies, thousands of diapers, and a collection of baby items that I'll probably only use for a few months; I am actually most excited for this woman and for what she has done for me. I want her to know that no matter what terrific baby gift I open at my shower, nothing compares to the gift she will be giving me very soon. I want her to know instinctively that I would give everything back. I've learned my lessons. Life is not about the "stuff", it's about the miracles, the acts of kindness, and the understanding of compassion. Those are values we must never let go. She, in all her beauty, exhibits those traits even today. Even when she's not pregnant, she is so understanding and compassionate about what women like myself must go through to become parents that her frame of reference has been forever altered. She has changed.