MicroblogMondays: Transfer Day Is Here

Microblog_Mondays

Today, our embryo Max will be transferred into our gestational carrier Annie’s uterus.

After all these years of waiting, maybe today will really be the first time we meet our future baby.

Maybe because I was distracted by my overseas trip to see my grandma, I hadn’t thought much about the transfer until these past couple of days.  At this moment, things still feel so surreal.

It has been almost nine months since our last failed transfer.  It would have been past our due date if we had succeeded a pregnancy.  So many things happened in the last nine months and it is just so hard to believe that we have finally come to this point of physically placing an embryo in another woman so Bob and I can be parents of a live baby.

I am hopeful that the last nine months were not for naught.  I hope that the struggles we had in the last nine months will make the next nine months even sweeter, more hopeful, and more full of anticipation of a dream that will be fulfilled.

Advertisements

Gorgeous

Our surrogate Annie had her lining check on Monday. Because of the time difference, I was sound asleep when she sent me a message. I read it in the middle of the night.  She typed this:

“What an amazing appointment! The tech said lining went from a 3 to almost a 14! She also prayed for a successful transfer and delivery so you would be blessed with a miracle from God!”

What a wonderful message to wake up to! 14mm!!!  Isn’t that a bit thick?  When I grew my lining, it was barely 8mm. And I was on estrogen patches which are supposed to be more potent.  Annie has been on oral estrogen and her lining just grows and grows. 

When I actually woke up, Dr. E’s email was already waiting for me.  She said: “Annie’s lining is gorgeous!!! Like with a capital G!!! Transfer is set for next Monday!”

Praise the Lord for wonderful news!

She went on to ask me what embryo(s) we would like to transfer. 

We decided to transfer the 3ab first. If it is not successful, we’ll just go down the list. 

Annie starts her progesterone today. Transfer is on schedule. 

It is so surreal that this is happening soon. It is even more surreal since I’m overseas and so far away physically and mentally from it all. 

Five more days until we see Annie and her husband!

MicroblogMondays: Mid-Visit Report

Microblog_Mondays

A few more days before I go home.

One day I came down with a fever and had to stay in bed for two whole days.  I managed to throw up everything that I ate.

Once I felt better, Hong Kong was hit with two typhoons.  One of them was strong enough for the government to cancel work and school for everyone.  So I was again trapped at home.  The weather next day was better but I had heartburn and nausea.  Extreme discomfort made me feel for those with chronic illnesses and pain.  Feeling normal and healthy is so precious.

I visited with one of my closest college friends.  That wasn’t the original plan.  Originally lunch was with a few other friends, but the plans were changed due to my sickness.  When I finally felt better, I opted to just see this one friend and her 4-year-old girl.  It was nice to catch her up on my journey of DE and surrogacy.  I doubt that I would have shared anything about it to the bigger group of friends.  Her little girl is sort of a marker of the length of my fertility journey.  My friend and I started trying for a baby at the same time.  That was a month after she got married.  She got pregnant right away and I didn’t.  Her daughter is already four and mine has not even implanted yet.  Seeing her, I wasn’t upset or anything.  It was just a thought that crossed my mind.  I know that it will forever be a thought that crosses my mind.  A part of my fertility history.  That my friend’s dream came true right away while I continue waiting for another five years.  Hopefully the wait is going to be over soon.

I don’t know why but many of my friends feel the need to tell me about their own friends’ fertility journey.  I guess because these people also had to use IVF to get to their babies.  This friend told me about her friend who tried for a couple of years, first in Hong Kong, then in New York, and finally now is in her second trimester after trying one more time in Hong Kong.  This friend of hers is a year older than me but she used her own eggs.  Sometimes I don’t know how to react to this kind of news especially when she’s successful carrying using her own eggs but I have to use donor eggs and another person’s uterus.

My grandma’s birthday banquet was last Saturday night.  I responded well to all my younger cousins’ babies as I played with them and interacted with them.  Most of my family was good and didn’t ask me about babies.  Except for one person.  My least favorite relative.  This is my grandfather’s nephew who grew up without his dad so he was raised by my grandpa.  He somehow disliked me a lot when I was a little kid and yelled at me a lot.  After I grew up, I had made peace with his existence and do talk to him when I see him at gatherings.  The moment he saw me, he asked me, “Why don’t you have a baby? You should have a baby by now.”  What the heck?  I didn’t know how to respond to him so I just mumbled something. But it had been a long time since I reacted strongly to someone’s inquiry about my childless state. I guess it’s because I knew that he didn’t mean well, unlike other inquiries. My childless oldest cousin who has had miscarriages and recently divorced overheard our conversation defended me and said to him, “You think it is that easy, huh?” She turned to me and said, “Just ignore him. ” Thank you cousin for being my voice when I couldn’t find one myself at that particular moment.

My best friend told me a story about her elementary school classmate that had me scratching my head. Let’s call her Jean. Jean is our age and tried for a long time to have a baby with her estranged husband.  This is the first red flag of the story. Why would she want a baby with a man she doesn’t like or love anymore?  She eventually got pregnant via IVF and gave birth about a month ago. This is what my best friend discovered through their conversation. Once the baby was born, Jean hired a helper and sent the baby and her husband to her mother-in-law’s house since Jean’s own house is under renovation currently. But, since she doesn’t like her MIL, she won’t let her MIL take care of the baby. Only the helper does all the feedings and diaper changes. What does Jean do?  She watches the baby and the helper’s every move via a webcam on her phone all day long ever since the birth.  She yells out commands to the helper via the webcam.  She has not gone to see, visit, touch, hold, kiss, or feed the baby since he was born.  She sits at home daily by herself and monitors another person’s work of taking care of her own baby. In Chinese culture, traditionally women are recommended to stay at home postpartum, but it’s an extreme that she doesn’t even go visit her own baby who had taken a lot of her effort to make.  So her husband and helper take the baby to all the checkups and she stays home by herself.  She doesn’t have friends and she’s not close to her family. So she is home everyday without any human interaction and just stares at the screen on her cell phone.  You can imagine next month when she takes the baby home she would have missed a lot of her baby’s development and bonding time with her. It boggles my mind.  To each their own.

Finally, I bought a couple of things for my future baby. Here they are:

You know me. I’m not afraid of jinxing things.  I can’t wait to put these cute onesies on my baby.

One more week until transfer!!!

MicroblogMondays: Without My Husband

Microblog_Mondays

This will be the longest Bob and I are apart from each other since we got married.  I wish he were here with me in Hong Kong.  The trip is not the same without him.

Why didn’t he come, you may ask?  This is kind of a last minute trip as an effort for me to spend some time with my aging grandmother and celebrate her 98th birthday before we embark on our journey of maybe/really/hopefully/finally making a baby.  I anticipate our life to be a little bit busy flying to Annie’s state periodically for appointments when we get pregnant.  Then I won’t have the freedom to just hop on a plane for a trip out of the country as easily as right now, when we are just waiting for Annie’s lining to be built and for the transfer to take place.  If Bob came with me, we would have had to also go to India to see his parents, and two weeks would not have been enough time to visit both places.  Since I just saw my in-laws for an extended period of time in the summer, my presence in India is not required.  However, if Bob had come, then his mom wouldn’t have let him just go to Hong Kong and not fly home to India.  Because of all these reasons, we decided that it was best for me to just do the trip alone.

The 14-hour-flight was actually pleasant.  I slept for 7.5 hours on the plane.  The two movies that I watched were both a trigger for me.  Finding Dory made me think about my unconventional way of creating my family, and Up always makes me cry.  I have watched that movie quite a few times so I started crying even before the flashback scenes got to where Ellie was told she couldn’t have a baby.  I didn’t care about what the guy next to me would think of me and cried an ugly cry.

Once I got off the plane and freshened up at home, my dad and I went to see my grandmother.  She has aged quite a lot.  Compared to how she looked and sounded 2.5 years ago, she is now a lot slower with her movements and her response time.  She has become more suspicious about people and things and her memory has deteriorated.  She doesn’t go out anymore unless my dad gives her a ride.  She walks very slowly and insists on using her umbrella as her support rather than a wheelchair or a walker.  My dad only drops her off at places where she does not need to walk up and down the stairs or even an escalator.  When I speak to her, I need to speak slowly and often repeat myself several times.  It pains me to see her this way as she had been so mobile and lucid for so many years.  And it also pains me to know that it will be a little while before she can meet my future child.  I just hope that she is still going to be around for that.

My BFF and I met up the first day I arrived.  It was great to see her as the last time we hung out was 2.5  years ago.  We have known each other for 30 years. I had to catch her up on all that has happened to us including the whole history about our donor disappearing, frozen DE cycles failing, the need to use a gestational carrier, the whole fresh DE retrieval with the twist of positive cocaine urine test and to the most recent development of waiting for a transfer.  Just like many other people, she asked if we had thought about adoption since it’s not my eggs or my uterus in this endeavor, as if adoption is automatically the best plan for those who can’t get pregnant naturally.  I gently explained to her our choice and the rationale behind that without being offended or emotional.  Education is the best way to respond.  And yes, even though it is not my eggs or my uterus, I still want to start my family this way.

I realized that it would have been so much more fun to have Bob around.  Coming here by myself, many people asked me what I wanted to do.  To me, this is just me coming home and having a chance to hang out with my friends and family. If Bob had come, we would be taking many different modes of transportation and going to many different places. Without him being here, I don’t have a lot of motivation to do much. I’ll be seeing my old friends of 30 years as well as my college friends. I originally didn’t want to see my old friends since they don’t know much about my fertility journey.  I didn’t want to get together with them and their kids. It would just remind me of how far they have gone with growing their families while I’m still trying to get started. I thought more about it and decided to have a girls’ night without kids.  That way we can still catch up and I will not be constantly reminded of what I don’t yet have.  I’ll also be going to my grandma’s birthday banquet and will see all my younger cousins and their new babies.  I just hope that no one will ask me when I will have mine.  And I hope even more that if someone does ask me, I will handle their questions with grace.

Thanks to technology, Bob and I get to talk to each other and see each other’s faces on video chat. It makes life a little easier without him around. Ten more days before I go back to my husband and fourteen more days before our transfer!

MicroblogMondays: We Have the Best Gestational Carrier

Microblog_Mondays

I have many things to be thankful for.  Having the best gestational carrier is definitely one of them.

In order to have a transfer on October 31, we needed to get the gestational carrier agreement completed and signed by last Wednesday.  Annie, our gestational carrier, was great.  She received the draft on Monday at noon and read it completely by 3pm.  She had a few questions that she had to run by her attorney.  Her attorney didn’t get back to her until Tuesday morning.  Annie let me know that she and they attorney spoke on the phone and there were a few concerns/questions that our attorneys had to discuss and make changes for.  Annie asked if I wanted to know what those concerns were.  So we spoke about it.

So this is the tricky thing.  Annie lives in a surrogacy friendly state.  However, she is only about 40 minutes from a big town in the neighboring state that is not surrogacy friendly.  In fact, commercial surrogacy is illegal in that neighboring state.  In the contract, there is an item about restricting her from traveling to the next state once she reaches 24 week gestation.  The problem is, Annie’s parents live 8 hours away in that neighboring state and her sister lives in the big town in the neighboring state 40 minutes away from Annie.  Annie goes to see her parents once every couple of years and she just went in the summer.  Her sister sometimes throws birthday parties for her kids and Annie would like to be able to attend.  Annie does not plan on being at the next state big town for more than a couple of hours each time, and she does not plan on traveling to her parents’ place in the near future.  However, she was worried about the what-ifs.  If there is a family emergency such as her parents being very sick, her presence in the surrogacy unfriendly state would be considered a breach of the contract.  She felt that 24-week restriction was a bit too early.  I was glad that she was willing to share with me.  At first I was willing to adjust the restriction to 35 weeks.  However, Bob didn’t feel very comfortable with that since 35 weeks is so close to delivery.  So we agreed on 32 weeks and that she could only go for a family emergency that requires her presence after 32 weeks and with OB permission.  And we agreed that if she was to somehow deliver while visiting her parents, she’d try her very best to deliver in the next next state, as her parents live 45 minutes away from a surrogacy friendly next state.  I checked that there is a hospital there with a level 4 NICU.

I didn’t wait for the other attorney to contact my attorney.  I took matter in my own hands and presented the case to my attorney and cc’d Annie, agency owner, and Bob.  My attorney responded within ten minutes.  This is what she wrote:

Note there is significant risk if she were to deliver unexpectedly in [surrogacy unfriendly neighboring state] since surrogacy is illegal there. If she were to deliver in [surrogacy friendly next next state] , it would be fine.  It is a simplified legal process and we could establish parentage fairly easily.  If you are comfortable with the potential risk, we can modify the language from 24 to 32 weeks and provide for travel after 32 weeks only in an emergency and with OB approval. However, if Annie doesn’t plan to travel to [surrogacy unfriendly neighboring state] during pregnancy anyway, then I would keep the 24 week restriction but add the exception so that anytime after 24 weeks she can only travel if there is a family emergency that requires her presence and OB approval. There is just a lot of risk with [surrogacy unfriendly neighboring state].  So while I understand the exception language, I would apply the exception for any travel past the 24 week mark.”

I asked her to clarify the legal consequences for delivering in [surrogacy unfriendly neighboring state], she said:

I’m not licensed to practice there so I don’t know all of the ins and outs of what might occur, but what I can tell you is that [surrogacy unfriendly neighboring state] prohibits any kind of paid surrogacy. Any surrogacy agreement for compensation is void and wouldn’t be enforced.  Meaning, you’d have to go through an adoption process.  Also, the parties to an agreement could face criminal charges as a violation of the statute is a gross misdemeanor.”

Oh definitely not what we would want to deal with.

So here comes the part where I think and feel that we have the best gestational carrier.  I texted Annie and told her that there was a lot to digest, and please take her time and let us all pray about it.  It would be okay if we didn’t get the contract done on Wednesday.  It wasn’t even a few minutes before she wrote me back with this:

“Kenneth and I are comfortable with the language of 24 weeks and traveling if family emergency with OB permission.  A little sacrifice for your big reward!”

Boy that was when I started to tear up.  This is a woman who has Bob and my best interest at heart.  She is willing to sacrifice her freedom of going to see her family because of us.  She understands how important it is for us to stay put in her state and not to venture into the next state where legal consequences are dire.  I asked her if she was okay even if she couldn’t go to her sister’s kids’ birthday parties.  She was okay with it.  I texted her back saying, “Did I tell you already that you and Kenneth are lovely people?  You are both so lovely and I am tearing up.”  She wrote back, “That’s why we’re doing this together.  You and Bob are awesome and we can’t wait for you to hold your baby together!”

Our legal team is awesome.  We received the final copy of the agreement with all the changes.  We all signed on Wednesday.  Dr. E received the letter of legal clearance Wednesday evening at 8:30pm.  Because of that, Annie could take her last birth control pill on Wednesday and go to her ultrasound appointment on Thursday.  She reported that everything went well with the ultrasound.  We got the Okay from Dr. E’s office and Annie will start her estrogen pills today!  I couldn’t believe how quickly everyone got the agreement done. Because of that, we are on our way to our transfer on October 31, 2016.

God has carried us through many trials and triumphs during this journey.  It was definitely NOT our doing to have come across such a perfect surrogate for us.  I trust her 100% on doing her best to take care of our baby.   We have already booked the plane tickets for her and her husband to come for the transfer.  With all of these things done, I feel so relieved to leave for my trip to visit my grandmother in Asia this coming Friday without much to worry about.  This is such an exciting time and hopefully everything will continue to fall into place for the rest of our journey.

MicroblogMondays: Gestational Carrier Agreement

Microblog_Mondays

Last Tuesday, I looked at the calendar sent by Dr. E and found out that in order to have a transfer on October 31, Annie will have to take her last birth control pill on Wednesday October 5th and have a pelvic ultrasound at a local clinic on Thursday October 6th.  And Dr. E would like to receive the legal clearance from our attorney before the scan.  So it means that we had about a week to finish reading, changing, and signing the gestational carrier agreement.

Well, let’s just say that we are cutting it very very close.

At that point, I still hadn’t received our first draft of the contract yet.  I emailed our attorney and her paralegal about the exact date that the contract would have to be done.  They responded to us with a promise that we should have the draft in the next few days.  “Few” could mean 2, 3, 4 day, or longer.  This is the process: upon receipt of the draft, we would have to read it, make changes, send it back to our attorney for the changes, and then pass the draft to my gestational carrier’s attorney so that the attorney can go over it with our GC.  So it could potentially take another week, which means that we would have to push the transfer back.

My immediate response was feeling stressed.  It was interesting that I felt that way because in reality an October 31 transfer and a November 7 transfer do not make a huge difference to us.  We should devote our time to make sure that the contract’s terms are accurate instead of rushing it.  Worrying about it means that I don’t trust God’s timing.  If I have learned anything in this process, it is to trust God and His timing.  Me rushing things doesn’t get me anywhere. But yeah, my reaction was probably not out of the ordinary.  Since we have been waiting for so long, it’s natural for us to want to get it over with as soon as possible.

After that realization, I had just been waiting patiently.  Wednesday, nothing.  Thursday, nothing.  Friday I woke up at dawn with a headache, checked my email, and was pleasantly surprised to find the draft of the agreement in my inbox.  Since I couldn’t fall back asleep, I entertained myself with the whole 30 pages of this legal document on my little iPhone screen.  Such a fun activity for 5:45am.  That day I spent my whole lunch time (and some more) writing down the corrections of typos and changes that were necessary.  It was a lot of work.  Our donor’s agreement was 19 pages and that was a lot to read.  So 30 pages was just so much more fun (not).  I was surprised to find that errors included the gestational carrier’s name and her husband’s name at various places being wrong, as they weren’t changed from a previous draft with another client.  I thought that it was quite a record to have read all those pages and emailed the changes back to our attorney within 12 hours of receiving the document.  My head was literally spinning after focusing so hard on the computer screen.

So why is the document 30 pages long?  It includes literally everything needed to protect us and our gestational carrier and her husband: psychological evaluations and testing, insurance, details about transfer, conduct during pregnancy, restrictions on travel due to Zika virus and after 24 weeks to stay in her own state, medical emergencies and how things should be handled, early termination and fetal reduction, delivery details, custody upon birth, parental rights, contact post birth, disbursements of compensation and allowance, compensations for bed rest, D & C, C-section, and other things, health insurance and medical expenses…  So can’t blame me for feeling dizzy after reading such a document.

The good news is that the attorney also did her part, made all the changes, and sent the revised agreement to us on Sunday.  It’s wonderful to know that she also wants to help us with the deadline as much as she can.  Hopefully my gestational carrier’s attorney will go over the agreement with her today so that we can actually have the agreement signed by Wednesday.  If not, I am at peace with waiting another week for the transfer.

Either way, we are on our way to a transfer, and hopefully a baby in the very near future!