(To read how we found our gestational carrier, read Part I.)
We have a gestational carrier. And she is wonderful.
After we notified Winnie, the agency owner, of our decision of working with Annie, our gestational carrier, we had to wait until Winnie received the retainer fees before we could communicate freely with Annie. It took another five days before we were given Annie’s contact information.
Winnie sent an official introductory email to me, Bob, and Annie. Her advise was for us as the intended parents to reach out and write the first email. So I did. Annie and I started texting each other that same day. At that point we had only talked on the phone and saw each other’s photos. We hadn’t done a video conferencing yet. So that very night Bob and I chatted with her and her husband on Skype.
I was a tiny bit nervous before the chat as I was wondering if we would all get along well. It turns out I had nothing to worry about! Annie and her husband Kenneth were very nice and cool. We were supposed to just chat for a few minutes since it was getting late at night. However, the video call lasted 45 minutes. We shared about our backgrounds, their backgrounds, how they met, his work, her life, and our lives here. Being able to watch their faces while they talked was so much better than just listening to her voice on the phone. I even told them about dreaming big and thinking far ahead. If everything turns out to be the way we want, we would be doing a transfer some time in September or October. The anatomy scan would be in January or February. Of course Bob and I would want to fly over there for this big event. I expressed how I was already nervous about driving in snow since where Annie and Kenneth live has four seasons unlike the Bay Area. Annie and Kenneth put me at ease. She told me not to worry about it since they’d come and pick us up from the airport so there would not be a need for us to drive in the snow. What a relief! Anyways, we enjoyed talking to them a lot and learned the next day that the feeling was mutual on their part. Their two younger children even showed their faces on video that night while they were supposed to be asleep already.
One thing I love about this agency is that the owner is really on top of things. One service she includes in her agency fees is a home assessment of the gestational carrier’s home to ensure that the baby will be grown in a safe, comfortable environment. Annie’s home passed the inspection with flying colors! Winnie said that Annie has a lovely home that is well decorated and very tidy, with a fantastic homeschool room set up for her children. Such a relief to know that.
The next thing to schedule was the medical screening. Annie has to get a saline sonogram to check on her uterus and some blood work done. Many clinics require an in-person visit for gestational carriers, but Dr. E somehow does not require it. She reviews the GC’s medical history and has a Skype video call with her, but she does not require the saline sonogram or the lab work to be done here in California with her. I chatted with Miranda, the mother with twins via surrogacy who used the same agency. I mentioned about her in the last post. She told me that her GC did everything locally using the GC’s own insurance. In her honest opinion, if Dr. E said things could be done locally, then why not save some money?
I worked very hard on having Annie be seen at the same local clinic that Miranda’s GC went to. After waiting for a few days for Dr. E’s physician’s assistant to finish Annie’s orders, I called that particular local clinic to ask about insurance and the cost for the saline sonogram. Somehow the person who answered the phone didn’t know what I was talking about. She said that they didn’t do saline sonogram there. She gave me the name of a local imaging center that might do the scan. The phone number I got through internet search was disconnected for that place. So I had to call back the clinic and asked if the imaging center had closed or changed its name. Finally, she confirmed that she gave me the old name. So I searched for it under the new name, tracked down the phone number and called, and got the answer that the imaging center too did not do saline sonogram. At that point, I was very confused and frustrated.
Miranda confirmed with her GC that she did go to that same local clinic for saline sonogram during the screening phase. So it was impossible for me to be told that the clinic didn’t do saline sonograms, unless it no longer offers the service. Dr. E promised me that her PA would follow up the next day. Annie and I communicated and she understood my high stress level trying to get her to be seen somewhere locally. My stress level also came from watching the airfare go up each day as we navigated the need to fly her out here for medical screening. I knew that I had to make a decision quickly as Bob and I are going to go on vacation from August 17 to 20. Airfare at that point for the second week of August was too high. And I didn’t want to wait until the 4th week of August because I would like to get the legal paperwork started ASAP. Without passing the medical screening, we won’t be able to start the legal contract. The best day to fly her in would be August 16th, the day before our vacation.
My mind was fixated on saving money on the plane tickets and on the scan. (We can use her insurance for a local scan but not with Dr. E as Dr. E’s clinic has stopped taking insurance a couple of years ago.) Bob came home that night seeing how stressed out I was and told me that it wasn’t worth it to be so stressed for a little bit of money. He was very sweet. He has given me free rein of the money that we need to spend so he told me to just do what feels right. And he will buy me massages for all the stress that I was experiencing. Of course I wanted to do right by our savings, but maybe he was right, that it really wasn’t worth it for me to have to sort out that local scan when I could just schedule the time with Dr. E.
The next day was when I found out that Annie is indeed a great person and a great gestational carrier. She took it upon herself to call the local clinic up. She found out that not only does the clinic do saline sonograms but it also accepts her insurance. She explained the situation and the clinic’s person had to find out if she has to become an established patient before she could be seen there. Annie sent me a text letting me know what she found out and I truly appreciate her effort. She saw how stressed I was and decided to help. So after some investigation on Dr. E’s part, it turned out that Miranda’s GC was seen at that local clinic for a saline sonogram because she was already an established OB patient there. Since Annie had home births with the help of her midwife, she isn’t an established OB patient at this clinic. She can be seen in the future for a saline sonogram but just not prior to her becoming a patient there. In order to become a patient there, she’ll need to see a doctor first. That particular doctor won’t be able to seen her until August 22. And who knows how long it’d take after that to schedule a saline sonogram. I scheduled an OB appointment for Annie there on August 22 as I knew that she’d want to become a patient there when she gets pregnant with our baby. Plus we can also send her there for lining check prior to transfer.
Since Annie lives in a smaller town in an area that doesn’t have many IVF clinics, there aren’t too many other choices for her saline sonogram. I called another clinic in the area but she too has to become an established patient there before she can be seen. I really didn’t want to wait a few weeks for that to happen. So I decided to just fly her in to see Dr. E. I know that we’d have to pay more to get things done, but the advantage is that Dr. E has first hand information of the condition of her uterus so it beats reading a report from another clinic. I asked Annie if she preferred to arrive in the Bay Area early in the morning on August 16th or to arrive the night before and spend a night with us. She chose to spend a night with us! She said that she had never spent a night away from the kids so it is going to be a nice break for her. That very same day, I purchased plane tickets for her and scheduled an appointment for Dr. E to see her on August 16th. So guys, she is going to arrive tonight! It is very exciting that I get to see her face-to-face as well as to spend some time with her. She also gets to meet Bob, which she wouldn’t be able to do had she chosen to fly in on the same day of the appointment.
Annie has to be done with her period when Dr. E performs the saline sonogram. Annie told me that her period was going to come on August 10th and usually only lasts about 3 to 4 days. I was a little bit worried when her period still hadn’t come on August 11th. But, she reassured me that her cycles are usually 27 to 29 days and August 10th was day 28. So her period should have come and gone for the saline sonogram. I was a little bit worried at first. I had taken time off this week so I could take her to the appointment. If somehow her period is in the way of the scan, then we’d have to change her plane tickets to next week and I’d have to take another day off. But I prayed and decided to just let go of the worries. If it is God’s will for this to be done, He will make it happen. So I somehow had tremendous peace waiting for Annie’s period to come. And it did on Friday. She wrote me and said that for the first time in her life, she was happy to have started her cycle. 🙂 So we are all set for the appointment tomorrow!
Communication with Annie has been great so far. We text each other at least once a day or once in two days. I don’t hesitate to call her when I need to. She does the same. Although sometimes I do feel sad about not having the chance to carry my baby, I feel so thankful for ladies like Annie who make a conscious decision to carry a baby for someone else. This is the ultimate letting go of one’s control as you have to trust another human being to do right by you and your baby. I believe that God has a plan for us and He has led us down this path as His plan. I pray that tomorrow will be the first successful step towards our goal of holding a healthy baby in our arms next year.