What is Gestational Surrogacy?

Credit Due to http://step1removelenscap.blogspot.com/2010/11/waiting-for-their-miracle-daughter.html
Credit Due to http://step1removelenscap.blogspot.com/2010/11/waiting-for-their-miracle-daughter.html

As I defined in an earlier post a gestational carrier is a surrogate who carries a pregnancy and delivers a child that is created from the egg and the sperm of the intended parents. The gestational surrogate is not genetically related to the child and acts only as a gcarrier for the pregnancy (That is what I am).  A traditional surrogate either undergoes artificial insemination or IVF with sperm from the male. The surrogate herself provides the eggs and is therefore genetically related to the child.

One of the most frustrating things about this process is how unclear the path is that you need to take.  First of all, from state to state it varies in what is allowed and what is needed to be done.  For example in New Jersey surrogacy is illegal (Baby M Case), however being a gestational carrier is not.  In DC any form of surrogacy is void under law which makes it criminal to enter in or assist in forming a surrogacy contract.  In 2012 New Jersey had a chance to relax its surrogacy laws, but Governor Christie shot the bill down saying, “While some all applaud the freedom to explore these new, and sometimes necessary, arranged births, others will note the profound change in the traditional beginnings of the family that this bill will enact. I am not satisfied that these questions have been sufficiently studied by the Legislature at this time.” (I am having a hard time not pointing out the fact that the Governor was not opposed to untraditional methods to losing weight.) This bill would have eliminated the three-day waiting period for parents of children born to surrogates to be listed on their birth certificates. It also would have required the “gestational carrier” to surrender custody of the child immediately upon the child’s birth.

To add to all of this even though gestational carrying and surrogacy has been going on since the 80’s, it has only been in recent years something that people talk about.  This once taboo subject finally is acceptable for public discussion. I have learned the general public knows very little about it and therefore does not know what options may be available to them.

I could not help but think through the first few hurdles we had to cross we were up to random luck if this would work.  After many discussions with the intended parents it was obvious that you need to know more than any of the professionals and in some cases have to teach them what they need to do.  Still there was this constant gnawing feeling of what the next landmine would be that we would have to navigate through. I only hoped we didn’t step on a mine that would detonate the whole thing.

Some insurance companies have no idea what their protocol is for surrogacy and other insurance companies have very specific exclusions of what is and isn’t allowed. I had to call my insurance three times to get a clear answer and I still think the last woman I stoke to was guessing.  The intended parents that I am doing this for are very fortunate and have an insurance that not only covered the process leading up to the transfer of the embryos, but will also cover me for the next nine (9) months for pregnancy related issues.

Then there are the doctors themselves.  It is very important that you use a doctor that has done this before.  One error in insurance coding and it could cost you thousands of dollars and years of clearing it up.  On the same note in New Jersey you need to have a surrogacy contract to move forward having a transfer done.  However, not all family law attorneys practice in surrogacy law.  It is never a good sign when you ask an attorney how much they charge for a pre-birth order and the reply is, “What’s that?” A veteran attorney in this field is a must. Although it is costly it is not only necessary by state law, but it will help clear up any confusion of what the intended parents and surrogate’s roles and responsibilities are.

Well it is time for me sign off for now, but before I do last Friday I was officially 5 weeks pregnant.

Explaining Pregnancy to a Three Year Old

Last Saturday when I found I was pregnant I screamed out loud out of excitement.  Liam asked me, “Mommy what’s wrong?”  I said to him, “Nothing is wrong.  Mommy is just really happy. I am pregnant.”  Without missing a beat Liam replied back while waving his hand towards Ava, “Why you are already have her?”  I could not help but giggle but then I tried to explain in simple terms that mommy was carrying the baby, but the baby would not be coming home with us.  This must have satisfied Liam because he then asked for a cookie.  I love three year olds.

In With the New Out With the (Sniff) Old

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Ava 7 Months old
Liam 16 months old
Liam 16 months old

 

It happens several times a year and it never gets easier for me.  I love watching my kids grow and learn new things.  I am excited to be able to do more and more with them.  But every once and a while there is a sharp reminder that my kids are growing up fast!

I remember the first time I sorted through Liam’s drawers to weed out the clothes that didn’t fit him and I found a newborn onesie among the clothes.  There was a small part of me that could not bear to put it in the give away pile and I held onto for a while longer.

Each and every time I go through this process two things happen; (1) Elicit tears come as I remember certain memories when they were wearing those outfits; and (2) Inevitably some clothes will remain in the drawer because I cannot stomach to part with them yet.

Little after Liam’s first birthday I knew I was pregnant with Ava and for a short period of time this purging of clothes was made easier knowing that there was another baby on the way.  But now my “baby” is 20 months old.  I am so proud of both of my kids.  They are truly little sponges learning, speaking, doing new things every day but a small part of me mourns what has past.  Everyone says enjoy these moments and don’t look too far ahead because it goes fast.  There in lies the problem for me.  I truly did enjoy all the moments leading up today (and I know that will continue) so it is hard for me to let one moment go for another moment.  I know each one will bring an amazing experience for both me and them, but in the still of the night when they are both sleeping I go into their rooms and check on them and think, “Wow they have gotten so big.”

So today I have two bags full of clothes that Liam and Ava have outgrown. Giving them away is the best part of the process. Knowing that someone else who needs them will get to use them and maybe just like me will remember good memories as they fold and put the clothes away.

 

Baby Blue Days

When I was pregnant with Liam, he being my first everything, first doctor’s visit, first kick, everything was new and thrilling.  I remember being so excited to go to Lamaze class because that meant I was coming down the homestretch.  It’s funny in hindsight I probably should have been a little nervous or even scared, but I contribute that to the fact that I refused to read the last chapter of “What To Expect When You Are Expecting”—Delivery.  Maybe I should have read it.  I would not have been so surprised when the doctor told me to lie back down after Liam was born because he had to stitch me up.   For the next 2 hours after that I tried to grapple with the idea of what a fourth degree tear was.

During my delivery I had an excruciating migraine to the point where during various times of pushing I had to stop to throw up.  The minute Liam was born my wonderful husband began trying to hustle down any nurse that could give me just a little something to eat and something to take for my head.  Persistence paid off and I was rewarded with a half a tuna sandwich and two Motrin.  With that being said I was still really out of it and my first moments with Liam are a blur at best.  I wanted to be happy and I wanted to be excited, but I wasn’t.

I had every intention to breastfeed Liam.  I even got a really nice portable pump so when I went back to work I could continue, but Liam would not latch on.  The first few days in the hospital nurses and breastfeeding experts came by to help me.  Finally, one of them gave me a shield which seemed to help a little but Liam would have to suck so hard to get just a little half the time he would fall asleep only to wake up 1/2 hour later hungry.  I was failing miserable in this.  I could never produce enough milk for Liam and once we got home each time I finished feeding him I would have to supplement some milk with formula.  The one thing I thought was suppose to be second nature I couldn’t even do.

I was so sleep deprived.  Because of my inability to properly breastfeed Liam I was on a schedule that he would cry I would feed him, put him down, and then try to pump anything and everything out of for the next feeding, and then collapse back into bed for if I was lucky an hour before the process began all over again.  Sleep deprived, failing at breastfeeding, new mother angst, I chalked the fog that I lived in up to it all.

It was a dense fog where I was very numb.  Nothing good or bad really affected me. I had no motivation to do anything; clean the house, cook dinner, do laundry, nothing.  Liam would cry and I would be unbothered by it.   My detachment to everything was unhinging at times to me.  I remember pretending at times it was upsetting me when Liam cried because I thought that is what a good mother would do.  When I went back to work it never rattled me, to the point that someone said to me they were shocked how well I was “holding it together”.  That was when I began calling home to check on him because that’s what a good mother would do.

Everyone around me kept telling me enjoy these moments they go so fast and how wonderful this time was.  Those simple comments would send me to tears in the privacy of my car or shower because there was nothing wonderful about what I was feeling.

Liam was born in February and one of my best friends had her son that September.  I remember her telling me how she was concerned that she might have postpartum depression because Baby Blues are only suppose to last 10-14 days.  That’s when it hit me like a sheet of cold ice. I had read articles regarding postpartum depression, I had seen a movie about in the hospital before I left but it was that simple comment that made me realize this wasn’t normal.  I am lucky that it was not severe but nonetheless it was difficult.  At that point it was the first time I remember mentioning something to my husband. I remember feeling so helpless and hopeless.  How could have such a wonderful thing made me feel this way?  I prayed that I would snap out of it and slowly around when Liam turned 11 months the veil of gloom drifted away and I began to feel like me again.  However, I felt terribly guilty about what was left behind.  I had no memories of my little baby boy.  I can’t remember anything about him as a baby.  When I see pictures, I know it’s him but the moment seems so foreign to me.

I am trying to let this part of me go.  I am trying not to beat myself about it too much.  It’s hard though.  Guilt sucks and no one wins with it but I tell myself now I have happy, smart, wonderful two year old and to enjoy these moments and let the other ones go.