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.
...OR THESE?!

HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT FIVE MORE OF THESE?!

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.

18 comments:

  1. Gummy prenatals? A-mazing! Please keep me updated on transfer date and such! love you. -Kate

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    1. March 8th is the current transfer date. :)

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  2. Do you want me to weigh in or no? I have no problem keeping my mouth shut if you'd rather me do so. ;-)

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    1. It sounds like you've already made up your mind. But I've been studying gestational surrogacy for a couple of years now, and there are three things that really worry me.

      The first is that there is no data on the long-term effects of fertility drugs--not on the donor, not on the carrier, and not on the child.

      The second and third relate to one another; the second centers around fetal microchimerism, and the third involves the trauma that is caused by breaking the bond that has developed between mom and baby during development.

      If you don't know anything about fetal microchimerism, please do some reading. It's fascinating. And when one is talking about surrogacy and/or adoption, worrisome, in my opinion.

      That third concern, well, you've have to make that call--and live with the consequences of your decision, either way. Please remember that there's someone else who'll have to live with those consequences, too, though. Babies are human beings. I know from a lifetime of experience as an adoptee that human beings are not plug-n-play. I understand that gestational surrogacy and adoption are different, but as a mother, I also know that the bond that develops as you carry a fetus to term is a very strong one. You know that, too. Can that connection can be severed without damage to the child? Personally, I don't believe it can. You may feel differently.

      One last point for you to take or leave. People are not parents until they have children, and no one actually has a RIGHT to children. I don't know what it's like to be infertile; I make babies as easily and well as you do. I certainly don't wish infertility on anyone, and I'm sorry for people who want to have children but cannot. But that's as far as it goes for me. Just because a person wants something doesn't mean she deserves it. To put it very plainly, infertility may be individually tragic, but in terms of the human race, it's a necessary evil. Weak and defective genes are weeded out by the simple expediency of being unable to reproduce themselves.

      You're a smart woman, and I know you'll do what's right for you and your family. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't share a few things that I feel are important considerations, though.

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    2. Thanks for sharing; it's always good to look at things from another perspective, and I do appreciate your concern. Microchimerism is very interesting too. But you're right that the decision's been made and things are in motion. These are really great people and I feel good about helping to grow their baby. There may be a bond formed in the meantime, but he/she will be 100% biologically theirs, so I think it will probably be harder on my end--not at all dehumanizing the infant though. I really just view it as long-term babysitting.

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  3. Love that break dancing. You giant pregnant fatty.

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  4. Good on you for following your heart in spite of the discomfort of others. You make the best babies ever, and the parents are very lucky people indeed.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth! It will be an experience, for sure...!

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  5. I am so in awe of you right now. This is something that not very many people would be willing or able to do, and you went from "freakin' amazing cousin" closer to "inspirational hero amazing cousin"... i guess we could keep the "freakin'" in there too, so "freakin' inspirational hero amazing cousin."

    Those parents-to-be are lucky to have you. Not everyone is able to have children and that doesn't mean they weren't meant to be parents. A lot of people that ARE parents out there aren't fit to have that job, so why not let the people that want it so badly they will do anything to have their own, have them?

    I am thrilled for you. And them.

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  6. You're a freakin amazing cousin for saying that. Thank you so much! It means a lot. :) I totally agree with you too--people that are willing to go to such lengths to have a baby are deserving parents if you ask me.

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  7. I'm sure this is going to be difficult on a number of levels. That said, I think you're doing something so incredible for another family.

    And yeah, it can't be any weirder than being Baby Jesus' wet nurse, so hey, you have that covered.

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    1. LOL. RIGHT?! Definitely not that weird. Thanks though! :)

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  8. Having struggled with infertility myself, I know the heartache it causes. The fact that you are willing to help someone else with their dream is wonderful. As far a overpopulation, leave that argument with the irrisponsible crack whores who live off the government and have (or should have) all 12 of their kids taken away from them. I know you are an incredibly smart woman that will be able to go into something like this well educated. I'm sure it will be tough, but having the state of mind that you are just babysitting for a while is fabulous. Don't second guess your choices, especially after the birth and the flood of hormones come. All those horrible feelings that you will have are normal, just remember that ahead of time. It's hard enough dealing with them when you have a baby to hold as you well know. The only thing that would get me through the flood of hormones would be the thought of the happiness that you made possible for someone else. They will never be able to repay you that debt. Not only did you give them a child, but you gave that child life. One that would not have been possible without your sacrifice. While there might be an unavoidable connection between you and baby, I don't feel that there would be any abandonment issues from on the child's behalf, because you didn't abandon anyone. You made life possible. If a baby was in a house fire and was rescued from the flames and returned to their parents, would they feel abandoned by the person who prolonged their life even if they have no recollection of the event? Certainly not, they are viewed as a hero, a saint, an angel, but never someone guilty of abandonment.
    I know you will do what is best for you and your family. My hat is off to you, my dear. Love and hugs! Kacee

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    1. Wow thank you so much, Kacee! I like your house fire analogy. I've heard the overwhelming joy of the parents overshadows most of the sadness the carrier feels, so hopefully that's the case...of course you can't control those hormones! Yikes. Anyway, I truly appreciate all that you said! :)

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Mountain Mama / Dirty Hermit

Revisiting and updating the ol' blog today, naturally as a mode of procrastination, when I should be working on some art. Sound fam...