There is something called one step forward, two steps back and we are very familiar with it.
In the last few months we have been going through a lot of soul searching about me carrying our baby vs. a surrogate carrying our baby vs. doing both. The more I pray about it, the more the surrogacy route sounds like the right path. The thought of potential complications with my own pregnancy is just too much for this moment. When I think about what is more important to me, I’d definitely vote for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. I know there is no guarantee. But the likelihood of a surrogate carrying a healthy baby to term is a lot higher than a pregnancy in my womb. My therapist asked me to consider this: if we decide to do a simultaneous transfer with a surrogate transfer and if we both get pregnant, how I am going to handle the surrogate’s pregnancy (namely having the emotional and physical health/energy to tend to her pregnancy and birth) if anything bad happens to my own pregnancy. That is really worth exploring.
While we haven’t ruled out a Lupr.on Depot trial and a transfer to me, we have been actively figuring out the financial aspects and logistics of using a surrogate. So here is what has happened in the last couple of months:
- An online friend of mine offered to carry for us as a gift. We were emailing back and forth for a couple of weeks about the logistics. She has young active children of her own and has two more embryos she’d like to transfer. Since she is not quite done with her family building, the conclusion is that it is best for her to not be a gestational carrier so that her future pregnancy is not compromised. We were obviously bummed out about it, but Bob and I totally understand her situation and are very thankful for her thoughtful and selfless offer.
- In the mean time, I have done a lot of research regarding surrogacy agencies in my state as well as in other states. I have contacted several agencies in California and the complicated fee schedules and the sheer high cost make me very hesitant to even consider interviewing any surrogates with them. I had phone interviews with two surrogacy agencies in another surrogacy-friendly state. I like both agencies. We reviewed profiles from both agencies and liked some of the potential surrogates. One particular agency’s fee schedule is more reasonable and the owner sounds very knowledgeable. Communication has been great. I asked for a reference for a parent who had worked with this agency before. We connected and this parent has very high praises for this agency. Because of the research, I have a good idea of the compensation a surrogate would receive in each state. A first time surrogate gets a particular base pay. An experienced surrogate often gets about $10,000 more. And first time surrogates in California gets about $10,000 more than a first time surrogate in this other surrogacy friendly state.
- Originally Dr. E told us that our donor was going to be ready for a retrieval for us in September. She then notified us that the original intended parents next in line can’t work with this donor due to their own medical reasons. So the donor will be available for us for a July retrieval if we want. We were very happy about it and wanted to start the process so we could make some embryos in July. I’d feel better that way so that when we find a surrogate, we can move forward with a transfer.
- A good friend of mine moved out of state five years ago. I spoke with her about the possibility of needing a gestational carrier. She informed me that a friend of hers in her town has been interested in becoming one. She gave me her friend’s contact information. When a surrogacy arrangement with my online friend didn’t quite work out, I reached out to this friend’s friend. I wrote her about our situation and asked her about her idea of a gestational surrogacy, her idea of the couple for whom she wants to carry, and the compensation. She asked to speak with both of us via video conferencing. The chat happened last week. About 45 minutes into the conversation, I asked about the compensation that she was looking for. We were a bit shocked by the number that she gave us. What she was asking for is equivalent to the compensation for an experienced surrogate in California, and is double of what a first time surrogate will get paid in the surrogacy-friendly state that I mentioned about. She herself had never been a surrogate, is in her late 30s, and her last pregnancy was 7 years ago. I told her very honestly that the amount was beyond our budget. We ended our phone call respectfully. We still appreciated her time but we just don’t have the funds to work with her.
- Bob sent in a sample for the sper.m DNA fragmentation test. We just received the results before the weekend. We didn’t expect anything to be wrong, but the results showed his numbers being borderline abnormal. Dr. E thinks that we could move forward if we wanted to, but if we want to optimize our chances, Bob can be on supplements for two months before we retest and proceed with the donor egg cycle. Needless to say, I felt discouraged that there could be potential problems with the sperm, and my fear is that the embryos we make would not be of good quality. The ultimate fear is that we won’t have any good embryos to transfer. Dr. E said that his DNA fragmentation level could be fixed with this technique called PICSI. You can google it to learn more about it. Nevertheless, it was a bit discouraging as I thought that we could cycle in July.
- One piece of good news is that with the out-of-state surrogacy agency I mentioned about earlier, we really like one of the potential surrogates’ profile. We actually had a phone interview with her yesterday. It was a trying day yesterday as Bob and I continued to sort through our feelings about all these roadblocks. I would say that the phone call was a saving grace and turned our day around. After learning about her reason to be a surrogate and her ideas about a bunch of important topics regarding surrogacy, both Bob and I like her a lot and feel that she is a good match. She is sincere, down to earth, ready emotionally for a surrogacy pregnancy, and has support from her family and friends. She is in a stable relationship and has been considering this for quite a few years. We like her a lot and would love to work with her. If we decide to work with her, we’d have to complete medical screening and other tests. I will write more about it in the future.
I have been putting off writing a blog post about all this because I have been very overwhelmed with the information. Some days I just feel like hiding myself in my blanket so I don’t have to face the world. Meeting with my therapist has helped, but I think what helps the most is prayers. I often start praying for peace and strength from God even before I open my eyes in the morning. Without prayers sustaining me, I think I’d be a much worse shape. I hope that you can all join me in praying for us that things will go smoothly for us from this point on in regards to the sperm, donor, and surrogate, if it is in God’s will. I want to trust and have faith, but some days are harder than others. I hope that after the two steps back, we can finally go forward without a hitch.