Thursday, February 21, 2013

Needles and Moneys

So I went to the acupuncturist for the second time in my life the other day. ("Acupuncturist" is a word that I have to type very slowly, with frequent use of the backspace key.) I've always heard amazing things about the wonders of acupuncture (a…c…u…p…u…n…c…t…u…r…e), and wanted magic to happen. I was expecting a miracle. Instant cure to headaches and back pain and/or supernatural feeling of awesome health and wellness. When such things did not occur, I wondered, perhaps I didn't believe in it enough. Maybe I need more faith in the voodoo powers of magic needles, freeing the channels of chi and all that. (I'm aware that "chi" is actually spelled "qi", but I'm sticking with "chi". Sorry.) Maybe my logical western medicine brain ruined everything. While some scientific research has proven results, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that tiny needles at seemingly random points on your body have the power to cure all ills. Constipation? There's a needle for that. Poor circulation? There's a needle for that. Bad breath? There's a needle for that. Broken leg? Maybe not. Regardless, it's been around for a looooong time and there's gotta be something to it.

I'm going to continue going because I want it to work. I want it to be more than placebo effect. But hey.  It's also a very common procedure for the day of an embryo transfer—they say it increases the chances of implantation—so the surrogacy is paying for it each week until the transfer date. The first time I went, it was a treatment for back pain. The needles were placed in my right hand, left elbow pit, right heel, abdomen, and head. Maybe some other places I didn't notice too. So strangely arbitrary in placement (to the untrained brain anyway). The second treatment was an “overall alignment” so the tiny quills were running up and down my spine.

I found the whole process fascinating…and more importantly, restful. Lie perfectly still in a warm, dark room while listening to soft, soothing music? Um, yes please. More please. Things that can be described as "quiet" and "soothing" are few and far between in my life. The needles were only mildly pokey. Some I didn't even feel. The few that hurt slightly more apparently were releasing the flow chi, so the ache I felt was allegedly the good kind of hurt

The only issue I had was the itching. That persistent, unscratchable itch on my face. Scared to move my right hand cuz it's a porcupine. Can't move my left arm cuz the inside of my elbow is bristling. That was the first treatment. The second time I was face down in one of those donut face pillows, sniffling at the sudden, extreme congestion from the pressure in my head, wanting to breathe through my mouth but afraid I would drool onto the floor. I will never understand how mouth breathers can be mouth breathers. I can’t even sleep if my nose is whistling. I definitely can't sleep breathing through my mouth. So, anyway, the second time was slightly less restful, and I had this awful itch on my eyelid that couldn't be helped. 

I'm happy to keep going in for acupuncture, and am still hopeful that I'll get some tangible result. If not, at least it makes my IPs (intended parents) feel good, knowing that I'm doing something potentially beneficial for the pregnancy. AND it’s always nice to have a reason to have an outing alone because then I can go to Kohl’s afterward with my $10 Kohl’s cash and end up spending $60 instead but I’m only slightly guilty because I got a huge pile-o-crap because their sale racks are so great, plus they gave me more Kohl's cash so I have to come back again. That Kohl’s cash is a brilliant marketing scheme. Those jerks.

Speaking of spending money, and while having a moment to myself out in the world, I also decided, out of the blue, that I wanted a leather jacket. I was owed a more expensive, selfish purchase. Something not for the house or for the kids. Something quality. Not thrift store. Not Craigslist. Not even consignment. Or Kohl's. Nope, I snubbed my love of frugality and went for the real thing: Wilson’s leather. They were having a President’s Day sale and a $500 buttery brown lambskin jacket was marked down to $150. Still, for me, even the reduced price tag gives me pause. Think of how many shirts I could buy at Goodwill! Like, 100. Think of all the groceries! Like, a surprisingly small cart full, but still. Then there was the issue of style. Motorcycle? Bomber? Blazer? Not sure if I’m bad-ass enough to pull off a motorcycle or bomber jacket, but the blazer ones are too business-y. I also have a strangely long torso and all the cropped jackets were super duper short and boxy on me, but the longer ones always had a belted tie, and make me feel like I’m wearing an uncomfortable bathrobe. Long story short, I ended up with a beige-colored faux leather “moto/scuba”-style jacket. I figured I’m seldom in the mood for things that are tight on my arms so I’m not about to wear the hell out of it or anything. Or maybe my thrift brain couldn’t bear the thought of spending $150 on a single item. Either way, it was a trying and embarrassing ordeal of indecision. I inadvertently had three different employees helping me and I probably tried on the same jackets a bazillion times. Whatever, even $50 is a big commitment. 
Meanwhile my darling husband, who has recently decided--after enjoying the fruits of his labor, i.e. frozen elk meat, all year--that he is really, really into hunting, has purchased himself a bow (as in: Robin Hood style bow and arrow, only way more complex…and camo-colored), and also swears that he needs a new fly-fishing rod. Now those are large purchases. As a result, I feel entitled to go on a shopping spree. Yet I just…can’t…bite the bullet and spend the big moneys. Being dead broke is still too fresh in my memory. And what about a new deck? New carpet? Painting the house? New car? So. Many. Things. But that's what they are: things. 

...Maybe now I can tell him about that non-cancel-able membership to Massage Envy...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Someone Else's Baby

The following is going to give most of you the mega weirds. It definitely gives me the mega weirds. For so many reasons…but it must be shared for the sake of sheer weirdness. I apologize in advance for its sacrilegious nature, but let me remind you, you can’t control your dreams…(sorry to my husband and sister, who advised me NOT to post this, but I have been inspired by a super cool 10-year-old to "break dance in Hobby Lobby")...

Recently I dreamed that I was baby Jesus’ wet nurse.  Yeah. I know, total sacrilege. Apparently baby Jesus came back again, but mama Mary was absent. I was helping to care for him. There was some bottle feeding at first, but then I was magically lactating. The end.

It obviously resulted from some religious ruminations, combined with thoughts on having someone else’s baby (surrogacy), but I’m all for peculiar dream interpretations if anyone wants to undertake its analysis. 

On surrogacy. You may have heard me mention it a time or two before. It's been clunking around my brain for two years or more, and now it's happening. It doesn’t seem real quite yet, although I have been “matched” with a couple for awhile now; a few months ago I had a lovely day-long medical workup of blood draws, exams, and other oh-so-pleasant poking and prodding, and just this week we’ve finally finished negotiating and signing a beastly legal contract between “my” lawyer and the “intended parents” lawyer. I'm sure it will feel more real tomorrow, when I give myself the first shot.

If it all works out, I’ll be having someone else’s holiday baby in 2013. Hooray for summer pregnancy! Not really. Boo. Really boo. I know the whole thing seems super unusual and foreign to everyone, so I’ll try to explain how I came to be involved in something like this…

[Disclaimer: please remember that, for the most part, I am not a sentimental writer and this is more of a humor blog. Infertility, pregnancy, babies, surrogacy, etc., etc., are all very loaded and emotional subjects. My treatment of these topics in this post does not reflect the actual depth of my feelings; please don’t perceive my casual, joking manner as insensitivity or dispassion. I actually do have a soul, you know. For the beautifully written, poignant side of things, here is an amazing blog by another surrogate who is much better at expressing the soul-y stuff.]

Makin' babies.

When my daughter Tuesday was born, I made an offhanded joke about how I should make a living having babies because it was so easy. Granted, she was my second, and I was ALL about the epidural the second time around, but all in all, I sort of like being pregnant, in a way, and my deliveries were both relatively easy. But long before she was born, when we were dead dead broke, I came across a Craigslist ad for egg donation and thought, Hey, easy five grand! That’s when I became initially involved with the surrogacy/donation agency. However, the more I thought about that, the more I couldn’t fathom selling my eggs--my very own progeny--to someone else, knowing that I would be haunted by the possibly of one of MY children out there that I would never know…unless I became a crazy stalker and hunted him/her down to spy on them from the bushes, because how could you not?

It was Dooley who initially suggested—nonchalantly, because everything he says is nonchalant—that I go the surrogacy route, because A. You aren’t biologically related to the baby, and B. It pays more. It’s true. I will admit the money was a factor in the beginning, even though it’s no more than a really crappy first-year teacher’s salary (at least in Colorado, where we pay our teachers crap), AND it’s all taxable income. I think that’s total BS, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’m happy to say that now we don’t need the money like we did a few years ago. We feel like freaking ballers since being able to buy our shiny red front-loading washer and dryer. They were from the scratch’n’dent place, but still…our last set was $50 at a garage sale, which we kept for five years, even though you had to run the dryer three times. Anyway, the point I am very roundaboutly trying to make is that after meeting the couple, or “IPs” (intended parents), and hearing their story, there’s more to it than money. In fact, the money honestly isn’t a motivating factor at this point.

And it just doesn’t seem that weird to me. I am just the oven, baking their bun. It’s their baby—fully, biologically, theirs. I’m just holding it for them. Babysitting for nine months.

One big question is how I will feel after giving birth and handing the baby over to the parents. Other questions I have or have been asked are things like: What if I bond with the baby in utero? Will I bond with the parents? Will we stay in touch afterwards? Will I want to have my own baby immediately thereafter? Or even more thought-provoking, will I get super duper fat with this pregnancy? …What? Think I have answers? I don’t. It just feels like the right thing for me to do at this point in my life, and I’m going with it.

In any case, I’m dreading the hormone shots and extensive drug regimen that surrogates must undergo before the embryo transfer. I’m supposed to start meds tomorrow. Guess what fun things I get to start with? You know, to ease me into it? Aside from abstaining from alcohol, coffee, and sex, I have the pleasure of giving myself ABDOMINAL INJECTIONS (click on Lupron)! I’ll let you know how that goes. From a scientific standpoint (instead of the holy-crap-I-hate-needles standpoint), it’s fascinating to learn about the specific powers of these medicines, and how they can deactivate ovaries while activating uterine lining…but I won’t get too into it. (I alienated enough readers with that religious/political blog, and even more by mentioning that dream earlier in this blog. El. Oh. El.) 

The very idea of surrogacy stirs up all kinds of thoughts and feelings for people…moral qualms, ethical dilemmas, medical concerns, insurance/financial quandaries, and of course, the weirdness factor. My parents just express their concern for my health, with poorly disguised discomfort over the whole idea. One or two of my close friends are enthusiastically supportive, which is refreshing. My sister is like "cool...but weird...okay then...!" My business whiz of a mother-in-law and a lawyer-y friend helped me look over the contract, but the former seems uncomfortable. Another besty of mine asks why I hate myself so much as to submit myself to pregnancy and fatness. You know who you are. I'm admittedly kinna nervous about telling some friends and family members, as I'm not sure how they'll react. I don't quite feel like it’s necessary to make a scene by announcing it to extended family, until of course I start puffing up with baby in the summer and have to explain that it’s not mine…or until they read this blog. ;) <--That winky face is for you, family. 

But it’s really not that strange, the more I hear about it. It’s actually pretty neat. And exciting. I’m obliged to attend a monthly support group, which I’ve gone to twice; it is very interesting hearing the stories of the other surrogates, all at different places of the journey. It’s supposedly a very rich and rewarding experience, although everyone’s story is a little different. I finally am allowed to communicate with the Intended Parents now that legal is done; our flurry of excited, friendly emails over the last couple days has definitely made this whole thing seem more real and more, well, exciting (let me know if you think of an adequate synonym, as I lack the capacity at the moment). 

So, again, WHY would I willingly put myself through this? Other than having an unforgettable experience helping someone grow their family in an amazing way? Oh, besides that. Yeah. Here’s a few more WHY nuggets: 

1. I like being pregnant (or at least don’t mind it). It’s totally possible that my brain has blocked the negative aspects of pregnancy, but overall, I had uneventful and pleasant pregnancies. Although it’s true that a pregnant woman’s “glow” is usually just due to sweat, I felt all proud and Earth-mother-y and magical—that is when I wasn’t bemoaning my shiny new varicose veins or practicing my moose call every time I tried to roll out of bed or pick something up off the floor. Moreover, the spouse insists that we’ve met our quota regarding reproduction and owe it to the Global Community not to further contribute to overpopulation. I would argue that we make especially adorable offspring and would be doing the world a favor by making more of them, but the fact remains that I may not get to be pregnant again unless I’m a surrogate (notwithstanding “forgetting” to take the pill...which is uncool...but totally doable). It's also quite possible that my brain has blocked the unpleasant bits of babyhood. Quite possible.


2. I already have the stretch marks, and it’s not like I’m sacrificing my rock-hard abs. And who doesn’t like having a valid excuse not to work out all the time?! Furthermore, I don’t mind being told that under no circumstances should I even consider going on a diet. Done and done. 

3. It makes me feel like my time “sitting around” (HAHAHAHA--good one!) as a stay-at-home-mom is more productive, as I am literally producing a human being. (Of course it’s nice to contribute financially as well.) Then again it could be argued that my time spent just with my two kids is producing human beings too—teaching them and molding them into awesome little people, that is. Perhaps it’s not so much an issue of productivity, but excitement…? Not to say that it’s just something to do since I’m bored, but sort of…in a way…

4. If I’m pregnant again (I just fought the urge to say “preggers”, which, come to find out, is a word I can add to my do-not-use list of words that I hate, which currently includes “panties” and “sixth”), I can justify wearing these super comfy maternity yoga pants…which I may or may not be wearing right now, even though my last baby was born over 2 years ago, and the original owner of said pants was pregnant over 4 years ago. I also stand a pretty good chance at scoring new maternity yoga pants, cuz maternity yoga pants are where it’s at, y’all. 

5. Reason #5 is one of those "reasons that Reason does not know". As I said, it just feels like the right thing to do. Plus, I get to have this built-in table again! What else could a girl ask for?!

--------------next day addition---------------

P.S. Holy happy hopping around my first Lupron shot was SOOOOO easy! Of course the nerves and adrenaline were like "fire in my veins" (thanks for that gem, Jemnoscity), and I was hopping about like a crazed boxer, staring at the needle, staring at my handful of tummy fat, then back at the needle, nervous hopping, anxious staring, trying to psych myself out, going "DO IT! Do it...NOW! Okay, no, how about...NOW!....NOW!", until finally, I just did it. It was amazing. Seriously tiny needle felt like almost nothing and I am super pumped about how tough and awesome I am, administering shots to myself. Like a boss. Or a doctor, maybe. A boss doctor. Take that.

I also got gummy prenatal vitamins, and while they are rather tasty, I refuse to spell gummy with an "i", as written on the label. No no no.

New Year New Me: Pony Progress

Today I thought I’d mix up my morning “internesting” ritual (coffee and computer time, usually comfortably nested on the couch); I brought ...