Struggling

I think that for the most part, I try to present a happy face to the world. My “I’ve got it together” or my “I can handle this” face. I answer “How are you?” with “I’m fine” or “I’m good” … is being ‘fine’ even a thing? Could it be any more non-committal?

Lately, I don’t feel so fine. Or good. I do know that I’ve discussed the struggles I have with auto-immune issues here before, my struggles with my psoriasis and arthritis.

But basically the quick(ish) re-cap being that I had blood tests for food intolerance about 7 years ago, and was able to reverse my symptoms by cutting out those intolerances after having my 2nd child. Fast forward to baby number 3 and it wasn’t going well, so I opted for medication, which cleared up my symptoms. I had to go off that medication for surrogacy. It’s been about two years now, more or less. And I’ve been symptomatic the whole time.

Some more details …

The arthritis comes and goes – or at least goes to a point where it’s at an ‘everyday’ level that I don’t really think about. The psoriasis never goes. Which means I’ve spent two years in long sleeves and pants, in lots of foundation, in bangs, in scarves, in a lot of different cover ups to keep it hidden from the world.

I did 10 months of cleanses and avoiding my intolerant foods prior to my first transfer. I kept going, with no clearing up, because I thought “if I stop, it will get even worse”. I’ve tried on and off since then, but really struggle with finding the motivation to stick with it.

Psoriasis on me is very red skin, covered with scaly dry skin, in spots and patches – my forearms are always covered in large patches, so are my shins, my lower back, my right side, and usually my forehead. I get occasional flare-ups on my face, in my cleavage, and other spots here & there. It’s one of those things that people stare at – lots of people don’t know what it is … and sometimes they physically recoil from it. Close friends and family have seen me in short sleeves, or without makeup. And there are people who believe it isn’t a big deal, & I shouldn’t bother covering it up. I hear them … but until you’ve seen the look in people’s eyes as they see it & take a step back from you like maybe you’re contagious … it’s hard to understand it from my perspective. So I cover up. You should see my cardigan collection! But they aren’t a lot of fun in the heat, and frankly I’m ready to spend a summer in t-shirts.

My latest attempt to get it under control is cutting out all my intolerant foods, and all grains. I had cut out all nuts, beans, seeds etcetcetc as well, but I found I was lagging from not enough protein & not willing to eat meat three meals a day. So I’ve added hemp seeds to my morning smoothies, and some almonds/ almond butter when I feel like it.

Now the absolute injustice (in my eyes) is that making a drastic change, supposedly for the better, still flares up my symptoms. So my arthritis is flared up in my hands, and my psoriasis on my face … and it’s seriously bumming me out. It really taxes my will to follow through with this when I currently feel worse.

The combination of that, and the hormones (I’m back on meds for the next transfer) … well, I feel like the whole thing is messing with my head. I don’t usually consider myself a vain person, but this is delivering me a beating in my female pride. Like a look-at-myself-in-the-mirror-and-cry kind of beating. I don’t know how much of that is fuelled by the on-again-off-again hormone protocol that this has required, or if it’s just honest feelings.

I wouldn’t change doing this for anything, don’t get me wrong. I’m still committed to this surrogacy journey, and my amazing IP’s. I’m just taking a moment to acknowledge my challenges.

I did something I never do the other day, because I was really struggling and felt dragged down … so I went semi-public. I follow this group on Instagram called effyourbeautystandards. It’s all about throwing off the societally accepted version of “beauty”, which I think is a great thing – especially raising kids in this day and age. I posted a picture of my face without & with makeup on, tagged that group, with the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards.

Why? I needed to just let go a little of the hiding … of the feeling like I need to cower in shame so that no one has to see me. It felt pretty liberating, and there’s some very supportive souls out there, who said some very encouraging things to me – which fed my soul. I still feel a little “look at me, pay attention to me, feed my ego” over it – but I needed something in that low point, and I always tell my kids – you are entitled to your feelings & ask for help if you need it.

So I’m still struggling, but a little bit less than I was. I’m still trying to sort out which of my feelings are mine, and which ones are chemically generated/ altered by the meds.

I’m struggling with this post … part of me desperately wants to erase it all and type “I’m fine!!”. And I will be fine. I will be good. Great. Sad. Mad. Scary-hormonal… and a whole bunch other emotions. Hopefully not all in the same hour, but you never know. And so the ride continues.

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Needle Nerves

I am dwelling. I shouldn’t dwell on things (read: worry … dwell just sounds a little better) that I have no control over, right? There’s no point in dwelling on things, as the act of dwelling does nothing to change the event itself, just robs me of my piece of mind until then.

Does this logic ever seriously stop people from worrying?! Maybe it does. Maybe some people are able to talk sense into themselves, but most of the time I don’t fit into that category.

I have to have a shot tomorrow. It is being done at home, so either I have to administer it myself, or my husband does. He has agreed to do it for me (while trying not to cackle with glee at the thought of stabbing in me in the ass with a needle).

This shot is called Lupron, and it’s not one that I had to do last go-around. As a matter of fact, I had no needles last time (aside from having blood drawn). This time, there are two kinds of needles … and I’m nervous. I don’t like needles. I’m not the avoid-at-all-costs, faint-at-the-sight type. I haven’t fainted at one yet, and I even have a tattoo. I just don’t particularly like them. And if I were having it done at the doctor’s, I wouldn’t be dwelling … but there’s something about having to do it at home that is bothering me.

Lupron, at least the kind I’ve been given, is a one shot deal (so to speak) and is a one month, slow release dosage. The doctor explained to me that it basically disconnects the brain from the ovaries. The video I youtubed tonight says it controls the pituitary … basically giving the doctors control over my cycle and not allowing my body to enter a normal cycle.

After this shot, I don’t have to take anything (aside from folic acid, naturally!) until I start estrogen mid-September. I’ve heard the Lupron can have a dramatic effect on some women’s moods and rationality … and some not at all. Obviously, I’m aiming to fall into the latter category. It’s always good to have goals! But past behaviour on any kind of birth control tells me that just might not be the case.

Anyways- it’s the middle of the night and I should be sleeping … so sweet dreams & wish me luck!

And it’s off to the Big Smoke (seriously, why is it called that?)

Word has it, my last blog post ended abruptly. A bit of a cliff hanger, if you will. Of course by “word”, I am referring to the husband — the only person I can say with confidence actually reads this blog ūüôā

So, I left off with my fluffy lining and a plane ticket to Ontario.

Now, I am not a nervous flyer … I’ve flown all over the place. (I was blessed to have been raised by parents who took us on some amazing trips). However – I am a bit of a nervous traveller. Certain persons have been known to mock my need for to-do lists, overpacking, and needing to go through security check points at (or before) the time listed on boarding passes.

I haven’t done much travelling on my own, and definitely always rely on my travelling companions to take the lead. Travelling somewhere I’ve never been before, all on my own, with such short notice was pretty nerve wracking for me.

But I pulled up my big girl panties, packed my bags and off I went. My trip there was pretty uneventful. I left the mild BC weather and arrived late at night to cold and snowy Ontario. I arrived … and my suitcase didn’t. Luckily, a little voice in my head that morning had nagged me to pack a change of clothes and my meds into my carry on, so it wasn’t the biggest deal.

I was picked up at the airport by my IP’s, the first time we had met face to face. I felt instantly at ease with them, and after hugs all around, we started the snowy drive to their home.

They welcomed me into their home like I was a member of the family, which was just awesome. I felt totally comfortable the whole time I was there.

We decided to do a little sightseeing on the Sunday, so off we went to Niagara Falls – the snow had stopped overnight and it was a clear, sunny day (though minus 10 and snow covered). When we arrived, they drove nice and slow past the Falls one way… turned the car around … and drove nice and slow the other way. Then they were like “Ok?” And I laughed and told them to park, we were getting out of the car.

There isn’t really a reasonable place to park there, as best as I can tell. But we parked uphill from the Falls and walked down to see them. This is something they may never let me live down! I had my estrogen-fueled, personal heater thing going on. They didn’t! So there was much complaining about my dragging them all the way along the walk, in the cold, without gloves or hats, etc etc. I was really (not) popular, ha! But it was so beautiful, majestic … I have a thing for water – oceans, lakes, rivers, you name it & I will be drawn to it. Niagara Falls was no exception, I could have stood and watched it for hours.

Some random thoughts on the trip:

I learned that Toronto has the nickname “The Big Smoke” though I didn’t find out why… and ironically, got to watch Rob Ford’s interview on Jimmy Kimmel while there ….

Toronto and surrounding areas, where we were, have really beautiful architecture – lots of brick and stone buildings and houses.

Ducks. There were random groupings of ducks (yikes … autocorrect is killing me here … “ducks” can go a lot of different ways with just one letter or two letter changes …) where I wasn’t expecting to see them. And, of course, small duck figurines for sale in the gift shops. Because why not?

And back to relevant points:

Early Monday morning was going to be heading into the city for the transfer … and that was going to bring it’s own challenges- so I’ll leave that as a blog post for another day.

Now Hurry Up!

After waiting around for so long, all of a sudden the process went into hyper-speed. We pulled the contract together in a matter of days. The clinic put me on birth control to manage my cycle, so we could transfer the day we wanted to.

Once they stopped the birth control pills, they started me on Estrace- an estrogen pill. I should take this time to explain just how well I don’t fare on these types of medications! I gave up birth control pills years ago, due to just how charming my personality became while on them. So the one-two punch of birth control pills and estrogen pills had my whole household in duck-and-cover mode!

One day I said to my husband “What is your problem?! Why won’t you talk to me??” And he very gently said “I’m just trying to give you space. You’re a little … volatile these days”. Oh, right … whoops!! (Insert sheepish grin). The other noticeable side effect for me was actually being warm. I tend to be cold most of the time, and suddenly I was like my own personal heater.

Once you’ve been on estrogen for 10 days, they send you to the clinic for a uterine lining check. If it’s within certain parameters, then you are good to ahead with the transfer. If it hasn’t achieved a certain thickness yet, then they keep checking you every few days until you’re ready. I went in on the 10th day, and my lining was 12mm, which the doctor was very happy about. According to him, my uterus is a superstar … just sayin.

This was done on a Thursday morning. By Thursday afternoon, I had two more medications to take and a plane ticket booked for that Saturday to Ontario for the transfer, which would take place on Monday.

They started me on an antibiotic and progesterone. I managed to avoid the progesterone injections, for which my already psoriasis ravaged skin was very grateful.

So, I was all drugged up, with a “fluffy” lining, ready to get this show on the road.

Signing Away My Uterus

I promised a little backstory, since my blog posts went from “aiming for a transfer” to “we have a negative”.

My IP’s and I started working on the contract prior to the stall out of the whole procedure. We had a copy of a contract that had been given to me from a fellow surrogate- she had received it from another surrogate and based her first contract off of it. We used it as the basis for our ideas and worked from there.

Skip forward to post- stall out and finally going through the lawyers. The IP’s went to their lawyer first, and she basically threw out our draft and started again. Either because, as she said “It would be easier to start again then to try to fix this” or because that’s what lawyers do… I have limited experience with lawyers, but my IM would tell you that they do it in order to justify their exorbitant fees.

My IP’s lawyer gave them two names of lawyers that she would prefer to work with, suggestions of who I should choose. I had decided to go with a lawyer in Ontario as they just seem to have more lawyers there that know about surrogacy. For my part in deciding on who to use, I had asked for suggestions from the Facebook group of surro’s. You want an honest opinion on anything in the surrogacy process, this group of gals will give you the goods- no holds barred. (As an aside, I joined another group on Facebook briefly that was made of of mostly American surro’s, and they are a whole other breed down there! They were blunt, but in a generally rude and sometimes downright mean manner. My Canadian surro gals on the other hand, are also blunt but in a supportive and awesome way!)

Back to the lawyers. I did ask the gals their opinions on the lawyers that had been suggested to me- one got an all around thumbs down, and the other got mixed reviews. However, there was one lawyer I had been hearing about who had nothing but positive reviews from everyone that had spoken of her. In the end, she was the one I chose – it took one email and one quick phone conversation between the two of us for me to feel completely at ease with her, and to know that she was who I wanted to work with.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a good lawyer in this process! The husband and I were absolutely shocked at our ignorance when it came to the contract. We read the first draft of the contract and were pretty much like “Huh. Sounds fine I guess?!” We had a couple questions, but not many. At the end of the day, a) we didn’t want to be funding their pregnancy, b) we wanted my health taken into account, and c) didn’t want to have any ownership of the baby at the end! Those concerns seemed to be fairly well addressed, and we were ready to move on. Boy oh boy, did our lovely lawyer open our eyes! (With a complete disclaimer that we in no way think that our IP’s were trying to take advantage of us! The lawyers, of course, write the contract to be in favour of their clients as much as possible, which meant that there needed to be some negotiation to bring it around to something that best covered everyone’s interests …). We found that there were some strange clauses in their that we never would have caught on to, but the lawyer translated into civilian English for us and really opened our eyes!

In the end, we were working within a very short time frame as we wanted an early March transfer – the fertility doctor was going on vacation and it was hurry up and go, or wait another cycle. We all felt we had waited long enough.

After signing the contract, I had a really strong feeling of having signed away the rights to my body to someone else. It was a strange feeling! I said a couple times “I just signed away the rights to my uterus for a year!” It took a few days to wrap my head around it. I knew full well what I was signing, and hadn’t been expecting to have that kind of reaction to the actual signing of the contract.

At the end of the day, it was a positive experience. I have a whole new respect for lawyers- my previous experiences had pretty much reinforced the old lawyers stereotypes (not to mention the jokes about 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean being a good start!). My lawyer is passionate about what she does, down to Earth, accessible, honest, an just all around a lovely person to deal with!

First Time Fail

I’ll put in some back story in my next few posts, but I’ll start with where we are at today.

And that is with a BFN, as it’s called. A Big Fat Negative. It’s been a little under three weeks since the embryo transfer. This past Monday was the blood test where you get final word on the success or failure of the transfer.

It’s been emotionally trying for me- I can’t begin to imagine what it’s been like for the Intended Parents. And they aren’t saying much to me, so imagining is all I have at this point.

I don’t think I need to be their confidante or person to lean on, I’m fairly sure that isn’t my job. I’m happy to listen if needed, but at the same time- I feel like I’ve put a lot into this process already. To give myself over as a sounding board when I tend to take on other peoples emotions … well, I feel like a little distance at this point is healthy for all of us.

I don’t know where we stand for another transfer at this point. This transfer used the last two embryos they had, so it would require them finding a new egg donor. I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of that side of it. In the contract I agreed to four transfers in a year, so I’m good to go should they decide to keep trying.

Right now, I’m working on remembering that most things are just plain out of my control. And that’s ok. >

Hello Again!

How bad of a blogger am I? ¬†I had to Google myself to remember the name of my blog …. ¬†Yes, that bad.

I know I have been MIA- this has been a roller coaster ride, and at the same time there hasn’t been much to report. ¬†Short version is that the surrogacy has been stalled out these past months. ¬†My Intended Parents have been going through some things. ¬†Without getting into too many details, as they aren’t mine to share –¬†my Intended Mother got ill. ¬†Thankfully, she is doing well now. ¬†To be honest, I thought there was a chance she wouldn’t survive it.

As for me, in the time that was going on, my life also went through some major upheavals. ¬†It has left me a changed person. ¬†All big events in life seem to leave or take their mark, don’t they? ¬†You can’t seem to come out the other side as the same person who entered. ¬†I like to think that I have gone the right way, and chosen to use what I have learned to be a little bit of a better person. ¬†At the very least, I feel like I am more open and awake to certain aspects of my life. ¬†

Let me preface this next part by saying that I have every intention of moving forward with this surrogacy.  I am still excited for the idea of helping create a family for my IPs.  However, the length of time that elapsed with nothing happening has taken some of the wind out of my sails.  Once the processed started up again, I will admit that I got back on board with a little reluctance.  I knew that there was no way I would back out, but I am feeling like a different person now then I was before.  It feels a little strange Рlike I am fulfilling promises that someone else made.  

As things start to ramp up, I am getting back to feeling more comfortable in the process again.  The contract has gone through the IPs lawyer, and should be going to my lawyer this week if all things progress smoothly.  We are aiming for a February transfer.  It seems pretty surreal after all this time.

Updates to follow, assuming I can find my way back to my own blog!

 

 

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