Saturday, October 11, 2014

The beginning...

When I hit forty, something kicked in, maybe common sense, maybe age, but whatever it was I finally realized I didn't want any more children. It was an eventful year: I'd been diagnosed the year before with fibromyalgia (after a prolonged period of illness); my husband had endured a near fatal car accident; our youngest son had graduated high school and spent the summer traveling; our daughter moved out, moved back in, got engaged, called it off, found out she was pregnant. I'd recently begun my career as an editor and author, had a fairly successful humor blog, and realized I was looking forward in a way to being an empty nester.

Fast forward two years, I'm forty two, my youngest has joined the air force and is set to ship out, my oldest is settled in a group home (he has autism) not far from where we live, my daughter has gotten married, joined her husband in California (he's in the air force too), and is pregnant again. And while I ADORE being a grandmother, I'm so glad I'm rarely the one on middle of the night duty. But my one of my best friends (whose several years younger than myself) and her husband (who I think of as family) have their first child. And it nearly kills her. She is unable to have any more children.

Time goes by, and my friend and her husband start talking about surrogacy and decide that's the way they'd like to have their next child. They don't want their son to be an only child and really want one more. I follow along as she researches it and begins a search for a surrogate. They don't have unlimited funds and the process is pricey.

Somewhere that year I start to think, "what if I volunteer to be their surrogate?" I mean, women my age still have babies. Well, celebrities do any way. And one of the girls I graduated with had a baby the same year as my daughter's first. So it can be done, right? But then, I think, no, it's probably a silly idea.

Time passes and my second grandchild is born. I'm with my daughter again as she gives birth and she makes it look so easy. In fact, she's just like me, easy pregnancies, easy births. And I start to think about the surrogacy thing again.

Meanwhile, my friend wasn't having any luck finding a surrogate. Their little boy was 14 months old by then and adorable. Of course I see him all the time because we're all such good friends. He deserves a sibling. My friends are good parents. They deserve another child. I start thinking again. The big hold up is my fibromyalgia. So I start researching it. Some studies say fibromyalgia symptoms decrease during pregnancy. People in a fibro support group say no, they get worse. But my pregnancies were so easy. I did have pneumonia when I delivered my first baby, but at the time no asthma meds were safe while pregnant. My pregnancy with my daughter was so textbook we never even had a sonogram. And we were only at the hospital twenty minutes before she was born. Even my youngest son, though ten pounds and breech, was delivered naturally (no drugs) in a mere 8 hours. I was good at being pregnant.

Time to talk to my husband. My husband had always said if babies came out a year old he would have let me have ten of them. I was great while pregnant, unlike some women, but he really didn't like the little baby part. And since we had three in three years, he made me table that particular talent. He was open to the idea of my being a surrogate, after all, they're very good friends of his too. But he was worried about my health. I promised to talk to my doctor.

Then we talked to our offspring. They too, were concerned about my health. My daughter said she'd offer to be the surrogate, but since they were still having children, it probably wasn't a good idea. My youngest son said it would be totally weird. But if I really wanted to, they'd support me.

So I went to my doctor. I honestly thought he'd be on board. He was not. I told him I'd been eating healthy, losing weight, and felt better than I had in years. He insisted it was because of my meds and that I'd have to quit all of them (except the asthma medicine) to get pregnant. I told him while I respected his opinion, I'd like to try getting off the meds to see how bad it was. He reiterated his dissension, but knowing I'd do it with or without him, he helped wean me of them.

And crazily enough, I'm doing fine. Sure, I'm a little more tired than I usually am. And in a little more pain, I notice my joints bothering me more. But no fog, and nothing like before my diagnosis. So I approached my friends with my offer. They were thrilled. Not only did it solve the problem of finding a surrogate, but if I did it, they could be involved every step of the pregnancy. Their son could watch the belly grow and bond with his sibling before birth. I'd be around them plenty, so the baby would hear their voices. They could go to doctor appointments and sonograms, and be present at the birth.

And so the decision to do this was made. The doctor from the fertility clinic conducted an interview. My husband and I both had contagious disease work ups. We're all clear. I went to the clinic for a sonogram, and a weird test where they pump water into your uterus while watching on the sonogram. It's to check for polyps and fibroids. The doctor said I have a perfect uterus.

Then we had to do an interview with a social worker. All four of us had to do a session, then just my husband and I, then just the other couple. This is a law. It had to be done before the clinic will progress further. Who knew? I guess it's to judge whether the surrogate will really part with the baby at the end of the pregnancy. And to judge every one's mental status. We passed.

Now we're waiting on the lawyer to finish the contract. Also a law. No one in our small area does surrogacy law, but my friend was able to find a lawyer willing to learn. I think he realized that at some point, more people may decide to go this route and then he'd have a booming business. Luckily, we'd all worked out a lot of the terms. Things you don't even want to think about: what if I'm in a catastrophic accident and pronounced brain dead? Well, of course, they would keep my body alive until the baby or babies were viable. That's another one--am I comfortable with the possibility of twins? Yep. So many things to think about. And then there's the money. It feels weird taking money from friends. But obviously, there are expenses I wouldn't otherwise have like maternity clothes, time off work, doctor bills. And when you look into it? Surrogates make a shit ton of money. But I suggested way less; obviously, I'm not doing this for the money. After the lawyer finishes it up, it goes to my lawyer, then we sign. And everything is legal.

And yet, things aren't exactly going smoothly.

I started this blog, because, well, I'm a blogger at heart. Also, around here surrogacy isn't something people know much about so there's a lot of questions from the few people we've told. And it's interesting. I've read a couple of other surrogacy blogs and was fascinated by what I learned. And someday, maybe the grown up baby will want to know how he was conceived, carried, and birthed with love.

I'm open to questions. Feel free to ask them in the comments and I will answer them either there or with a blog post if the answer is really long or complicated.

Thanks for joining me,
♥ Spot

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