Sunday, December 1, 2013

Updates, updates everywhere

My apologies for the radio silence. Things have been a little crazy and some stuff was up in the air, but I'm back. :)

I had my medical screening on October 3. It went great. I flew into LAX the evening of the 2nd and stayed with a friend, Jackie, who has been a surrogate herself (and also happens to be a doula). She went with me to the medical screening, I was happy to have her input and companioinship. :)

The morning of the 3rd, we went and met a friend of mine for breakfast (GREAT start to the day). Then, Jackie and I went to the fertility clinic. I fell in love with Dr. Ringler and his staff. Professional and knowledgeable, yet friendly and courteous. Dr. Ringler was very personable and happy to patiently answer my questions. The saline ultrasound went great. I didn't feel any cramping when the saline was injected but inserting the catheter inside my cervix was mildly uncomfortable. Still nothing comparable to giving birth though. Dr. Ringler said my uterus looks "picture perfect". My nurse coordinator went over the medication protocols and gave me a lab order for my husband to get his bloodwork done at a lab here at home. Jackie and I had a lovely lunch and then it was time for me to go back to the airport and return home.

Before too long, I heard back that my IP's doctor in their country wanted me to have a specialized bloodtest done to check my HLA-type (a different way of blood typing than the typical A, B+, etc.). I had to get that test done at the local lab, I can't remember whether I went to Lab Corp or Quest Diagnostic, I think it was Lab Corp. Anyways, a couple of weeks of waiting ensued. I finally heard back that my HLA-type[1] was not the type he wanted me to be as he was concerned that my HLA-type might result in my body rejecting their embryos. Sadly, we had to say good-bye WRT surrogacy. We parted on good terms though.

I thought I would be a lot more upset but when it came down to it, I realized that there's nothing anybody can do to change a blood type. I'd be upset if it were an issue of disagreeing on contract items or having a fight, but this is something that makes it apparent that our match was just not meant to be. I wish them all the best and hope they are able to welcome a baby (or babies) soon.

My agency was able to get me matched again very quickly since Dr. Ringler had totally medically cleared me and with my new IP's, we've been able to just go straight into contracts. :) I actually just got off the phone with my attorney after reviewing the changes I was requesting to have made to the contract. She's emailing the contract draft and requests to the attorney for the IP's and hopefully we'll hear back by the end of the week. They're international so that makes for potential for it to take a little longer than in they were here in the US.

So, that's where I'm at. Matched, medically cleared, and hoping to get legal clearance soon (aka: everyone agrees on and signs the contracts). Once the contracts are out of the way, the clinic will make a med schedule and send me the meds I'll be taking. We will be transferring frozen embryos so I won't have to get sync'ed up with anyone else's cycle the way I would if it were to be a fresh transfer.

[1] I *think* HLA type is what their doctor was worried about. I heard the term haplotype used by my nurse coordinator too and I'm still not terribly sure if there's a difference between the two. I'm pretty sure it was HLA-type though. If you're confused, you're right there with me because I'm still not totally sure I'm 100% clear on what he was looking for.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Not really an update

Not a lot has been happening on my end of things as far as surrogacy goes. I'm still waiting to hear from the fertility clinic to schedule my medical screening. They've talked to my IP's again so I'm hoping now that they have a better idea of how to progress with them, they'll get in touch with me pretty soon. I'd really love to get the medical screening done by the end of the month and get in contract by the end of October. I did finally hear back from the Insurance company that my application has been passed on to the underwriters. Wait and see, wait and see. I hear there's a lot of that with surrogacy. ;)

In the meantime, school has started back up for me. This semester, I'm taking English 2 (Composition and Critical Thinking), Political Science 1 (Intro to American Government), Digital Photography, and Black&White Photography. I've also met with an adviser at the college and decided to change my Nursing major to English, making me a double major in English and Photography. I've come to the conclusion that I can achieve my goal (involvement in the Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder community with a goal of increasing awareness and education, as well as supporting those with/survivors of PPMD) just as well with an English/Photography major and a Doula certification as I can by becoming a nurse. Maybe even better because with nursing, there's no guarantee that I would be able to get into a job that would allow me to work with that community; as a Doula, I will be working in the pregnancy/birth/postpartum community. English/Photography would allow me to target writing, speaking, advocacy work, etc. Anyways, I suck at science and math so this is a very logical change for me. I have appointments next week to do a new Veterans Ed Plan and then to turn that in to the VA Rep at my school so the VA can certify me for the change in major and change in classes.

I'm pretty excited about the new things coming my way. There are some other exciting opportunities heading down the pipeline but I can't talk about them yet so I'll settle for this little teaser. ;)

Friday, August 16, 2013

I passed my psych eval

Today was my phone appointment for the psych eval. She said I passed with flying colors. WOOT! I'm hoping the clinic is pretty close to done reviewing my OB records. I'd love to get my medical screening done by the end of the month and be in contract by the end of September. But who knows. It's all gone so fast and so smoothly so far, here's hoping it keeps going that way.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My first appointment!

I got an email from my case manager for the screening phase. She sent me a lot of info and some paperwork. The investigator is working on my background check, the insurance agent should be contacting me soon about applying for the insurance policy, my attorney will be contacting me to start working on the contract, and once my psych eval is complete and good to go and the fertility clinic has finished reviewing my OB records from my last pregnancy, they'll contact me to schedule me to come down for my medical screening. I also spoke with the person who will be doing my psych eval. I have an appointment for Friday morning to speak with her on the phone for that.

I'm so excited that things are moving forwards. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Great Insurance Debate

I may not be that old in the grand scheme of things but I've been around the online military significant other/spouse/family member community for a few years; I've been on various discussion forums, Facebook groups, and Facebook pages. I've seen multiple of each implode, split, and spawn new groups (for various reasons). One thing I know about surrogacy is that when a military spouse announces that she's going to be a Surrogate (whether GS or TS), it often involves a very heated and passionate debate; what about? Insurance, of course.

The insurance that military members and their dependents are covered by is called TriCare. For all it's foibles and occasional frustrations, it's actually pretty darned good insurance. Many people, both inside and outside the military community, object to military spouses using TriCare to cover healthcare for a compensated surrogacy; the idea I've seen among those who object usually seems to be that they see it as "theft", and benefiting financially from tax-payer dollars.

This post is NOT to discuss/debate whether or not it is ethical to use TriCare for surrogacy; I will indiscriminately remove comments on that topic, this is not a debate. My sole purpose in even touching on TriCare and surrogacy is to explain what I will be doing for insurance so as to hopefully stave off any questions and potentially nasty conversations about whether I personally will be using TriCare for a surrogacy. I will insert here that this is only my own personal decision and I do not make any judgment of others who choose differently.

I personally will not be using TriCare for my surrogacy. Without even getting into the ethical questions, it's pretty up in the air as to whether TriCare covers surrogacy or not and, if they do, how much and what they cover. In my reading and conversations with other surrogates, I have come to the conclusion that the answer to that depends on who at TriCare you talk to, what mood they're in, their feelings about surrogacy, how the doctor/hospital/etc. codes the insurance claims, etc. There's just too much uncertainty and I'd rather not end up having to fight insurance and potentially end up with me/the IP's getting stuck with medical bills.

I was very up front with the Agency in my profile about the fact that I'm not comfortable using TriCare for surrogacy; what will happen, since medical bills are the responsibility of the IP's, is that the Agency will assist them in getting private insurance for me (here are several companies/plans that cover surrogacy). I'll have to be on insurance before any procedures are done, so I'm hoping that should be getting started pretty soon.

Anyways, there you have it. No TriCare for this surrogacy. Thanks for reading. I welcome any comments and input about companies and plans that other surrogates have experience with. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not really an update

Sorry for the lack of updates. There hasn't really been anything to update about, except that my OB faxed my records from my last pregnancy to the agency in a VERY timely fashion. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my OB/GYN?

One question I've been hearing a lot is "How will you be able to give the baby up after it's born? Won't that be really hard?". Obviously I can't speak to how it will impact me emotionally, but I can tell you the mindset that I have going into surrogacy.

This baby is not mine to "give up" at all. There won't be a genetic connection whatsoever between us. As a Gestational Surrogate, the embryo that is transferred via IVF will be composed entirely of someone else's sperm and eggs. Whether that's donor for both, IP for both, or IP for one and donor for the other depends entirely on the individual couple.

Anyways, I can't give up something that was never mine to begin with. I'm being entrusted as a caretaker for someone else's baby, sort of a babysitter for 9 months. That's the mindset I'm taking into this. :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Game, set, match!

I talked to the Intended Parents yesterday. The conversation went really well and we're matched! That moved a lot faster than I expected, now to hope the rest of the process goes as smoothly and as well. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

That ball rolled fast

Wow! My profile just got put up on the agency's database a few days ago and yesterday (Monday) I got an email from Francesca with a profile for me to look at, there's already a couple interested in me. Wow!

I have a call set up for tomorrow to talk to them. I'm super excited and nervous, I feel like I'm getting ready to go on a blind date. A partly, that's a pretty typical feeling at this stage.

I guess we'll see what tomorrow holds. Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The ball is rolling.

It's been a while since I posted anything. There weren't really any updates to speak of. When I had talked to Francesca at Modern Family Surrogacy Center at the end of last year, I was still breastfeeding my son who was, at the time, 3 months old. To start the medical screenings, you have to have been done nursing for a few months. You can't start the process while you're nursing due to the fact that breastfeeding does all sorts of fun things to your cycle and hormones. I didn't want to wean my baby until it was the right time for both of us, so I waited and enjoyed that precious time with him. In fact, in January, he and I took part in the Worldwide Hollister Nurse-In. Nurse on, baby! In February, I started my first semester of college. In March, my husband had to go out of state for a couple of months for some training (thank you Army) and he got back in May. Aaron weaned himself at the end of May/beginning of August at 8 months old.

At this time, Aaron has been off the boob for a little bit and will not be starting up again even if he wants to (he cut 6 teeth, is working on a few more, and likes to bite, which Mama don't do... he was close to getting force-weaned just for the biting if he hadn't self-weaned). Soooooo... I've submitted my application, profile, and profile pictures to Modern Family! When I talked to Francesca the other day, she was working on putting my profile together and was going to put it up as soon as it was done. YAY!

The next step is the Matching Process. Intended Parents are able to log on to Modern Family's database and look through the profiles that are listed. When someone sees my profile and goes "Oh hey, she sounds awesome!", they'll let Modern Family know. Modern Family will send me the profile of the couple in question. If, after reading their profile, I'm interested, we'll set up to talk via email, Skype, phone, whatever. We might get to meet in person. If both sides want to move forwards together in the process, we will be considered Matched and can start with various screenings, agreeing on and signing a contract, and generally moving towards transferring their future baby into my uterus.

Matching usually takes an average of 1-3 months. For now, I'm also working on getting my OB records from my last pregnancy sent to Modern Family, and working on being patient. My goal is to get from checking my email every 5 minutes to maybe every half hour? Baby steps, y'all, baby steps.