Last week we went on our Babymoon Cruise...which in actuality we didn't know that's what it would be when we booked it last May, before we even did our IVF egg retrieval. By that time Heather had already offered to be our surrogate and we were planning our transfer for January (we KNEW we would have good embryos). So we planned this thinking, either we would try three transfers between January - May, and if it didn't work then this would be our regrouping/reconnecting time together to figure out our next steps. And if all went well it would be our Babymoon..... Thank goodness everything worked out!
We received the NIPT Harmony test results last week. Chromosomal results showed a less than 1 in 10,000 risk, meaning our baby is unlikely to have down syndrome, trisomy 13, or 18. So a healthy baby!! yay!
And the test was able to determine the gender!!
We had our Nuchal Translucency screening and genetic counseling today. Lots of big words and science stuff, but basically we had an ultrasound that measured the fluid at the base of the neck of the baby to see if it was a marker for Down Syndrome. We also did some blood work (NIPT Harmony test) to look for other chromosomal issues and to determine the gender. We should have those results in 2 weeks. We're assuming it will all come back normal and healthy.
We had our first Midwife appointment since being “cleared” from the Reproductive Endocrinologist (IVF doctor) at 7 weeks. The Midwife was very kind, gentle and down to earth. She said she does have a few surrogacy situations a year so it is familiar, but that each case is different with regards to information sharing and relationships, etc. There were a few times where when she asked a questions I would respond…when she was clearly asking our Carrier… I guess I’m just used to always being the patient… I think it’s just something I’ll have to get used to! She did do her best to include us in the questioning and invited us to take a new parent class they have and a breastfeeding class since I plan to induce lactation, so I can breastfeed our child.
I’m sure you’re all saying "what?!?!?! I didn't even know you found a carrier?!?!?"
Well, we decided to keep our journey a complete secret up to this point (our parents didn't even know until last week!) for a few reasons. But mainly because this entire process is just so.... public. It’s not the private romantic story most parents have of how their child was conceived. With so many doctors, professionals, and participants involved we wanted to keep what little shred of privacy and “sacredness” we could in such a public process.
Now that we are comfortably 8 weeks pregnant we wanted to share our news with the world!!!
This is mainly aimed towards those diagnosed with MRKH, but it can be for anyone that is diagnosed with infertility early in your life, i.e. before you start to try to have children naturally.
I was diagnosed with MRKH at 14… so I knew I would need to take an alternative path to becoming a parent way before I was ready to become one….but I was completely naïve about the cost and the process. Initially when you receive your diagnoses, you fear “I’ll never be a mother” and that can be depressing and isolating. Knowing you have options, and at least vaguely what the process looks like seems to help most girls when they’re first diagnosed. Having a bit of knowledge can also help educate and calm a new significant other that may have a hard time coping with the idea of possibly not having kids.
Here is a list of things “I” wish I knew when I were younger about this journey to become a mother. (compiled with the help of many ladies). If you even have an inkling that you might want to be a parent one day, these are our tips, and if you decide you don’t, then hey you might have a good chunk of change for an amazing vacation!
And yes most of these are aimed towards Surrogacy, just because that is the path I chose and have subsequently become an “expert” in, but most also apply to adoption.
Last year I was asked to join the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation’s Advisory Board. I was so excited, and honored...and I felt like a grown up!!!
Well last night we had our first official meeting via video conference, the 9 of us (8 MRKH Warriors and 1 very dedicated Mom of an MRKH Warrior) all brainstormed for an hour on how to raise funds for various events/grants/ideas for the foundation. It was interesting to hear all the ideas since we are all in different stages and ages in our life and everyone had great ideas.
FYI I set up a separate Alias Facebook Account for my MRKH work, and I will only be friending follow MRKHers and supporters there. Its also a way to keep some level of privacy both ways.
I can’t wait to see what we are able to accomplish this year. I know 2015 is going to be amazing!!!
My nephew Isaiah was born Sunday morning!!
My sister had previously asked me to stay with my 8 year old niece when it was time, so when she called me at 39+ weeks gestation, at 7:30am Sunday morning "Hey, um... do you mind coming over now?" I knew what the call meant, it's baby time!!! She didn't seem to be in a panick or rush so I finished my breakfast quickly and grabbed the bag I had already packed and headed to her house about 2 miles away. Her and her husband, Simmie, were already in their coats ready to walk out when I got there at 7:45am. My niece was awake and excited. They said they would call after she got checked to see if it was the real thing or if they were going to send her home. At 9:30am I got a call from Simmie, and I was assuming he was going to say they finally admitted her and to tell me how things were progressing since Keira took over 24 hours to be born once she was admitted. Instead he answered “He’s here! I’m holding him right now. He's perfect” whhhhattt?? Wow that was fast! I'm glad I didn't delay in coming over!!! ...
On Saturday night Lee and I got all dressed up fancy and drove to Ravenâ€™s Stadium in Baltimore for our 2nd Cade Foundation Gala. Last year at the Banquet we received our grant and I spoke publically about our infertility journey for the first time. I honestly donâ€™t remember much from that evening, it was a blur of faces and emotions. But afterwards I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders and I knew my life would be changed forever. Our lives have changed so much in the past year, itâ€™s actually stunning when I think about it.
On Saturday night Lee and I got all dressed up fancy and drove to Raven’s Stadium in Baltimore for our 2nd Cade Foundation Gala. Last year at the Banquet we received our grant and I spoke publically about our infertility journey for the first time. I honestly don’t remember much from that evening, it was a blur of faces and emotions. But afterwards I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders and I knew my life would be changed forever. Our lives have changed so much in the past year, it’s actually stunning when I think about it. ...On Saturday night Lee and I got all dressed up fancy and drove to Ravenâ€™s Stadium in Baltimore for our 2nd Cade Foundation Gala. Last year at the Banquet we received our grant and I spoke publically about our infertility journey for the first time. I honestly donâ€™t remember much from that evening, it was a blur of faces and emotions. But afterwards I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders and I knew my life would be changed forever. Our lives have changed so much in the past year, itâ€™s actually stunning when I think about it.
Friday afternoon as I was leaving work I saw an article on Facebook announcing that a baby boy was born (over a month ago!) from one of the 9 Swedish women who received uterus transplants in 2012….how amazing right??? Well I am ashamed to admit the first emotion that I felt was jealousy… pure and utter green with envy type jealously. And then I felt horrible for feeling that way. Yes I was ecstatically happy for that mother, and yes of course I was beyond thrilled for the future MRKH Warriors that could potentially benefit from this amazing scientific accomplishment. But the bratty teenage girl inside of me was whining “Why not MEEE????”
On Saturday September 13th, Lee and I attended our second Cade Maryland Race for the Family event. The weather forecast was iffy, and we were concerned it would get rained out. Luckily the rain held out until we were literally driving away after the event, so that was great!
The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation is a great local organization that helps couples struggling with infertility and the cost of treatments and/or adoption. They graciously awarded Lee and I a $5,000 Family building grant for 2014 which we used to pay for our IVF egg retrieval in July.
Very good friends of ours, who actually went to Shady Grove to conceive their son, joined us in support and it was great having them there with us. Lee and Stephanie decided to run the 5k, while Heather, Liam and I walked the family friendly 1 mile loop.
The Shady Grove physician's tricycle race was cut throat and hilarious to witness! There was a children’s musician and Lee and I were able to entertain Liam…or maybe he was entertaining us! Either way it was fun and he's so adorable. There was a tent with children's activities sponsored by Savannah's Playground, and "sister" organization to the Cade Foundation. They also had snacks and various fertility vendors were there giving away swag.
It’s great to see how the Cade Family grows each year and I can’t wait until Lee and I can bring our own child to this great event in the future.
What do you do when you feel like you need support but don't fit in a specific "box" even when it’s a box no one wants to fit into...... infertility.......
Well I found myself in that situation earlier this year. On Facebook there are countless fertility support groups, and even dozens of specific support groups for the various paths to parenthood. But the common theme was pain and loss.... recurrent pain from the loss of pregnancies.... unexpected loss of reproductive organs, or maybe even no diagnoses at all after years of trying to conceive. All of which I couldn't specifically relate to. For all of my adulthood I knew surrogacy would lead me to parenthood. I got to bypass all of the pain and suffering that most have to go through to figure that out.
Ok maybe I didn't bypass it... yeah I certainly didn’t bypass ALL of it, there was definitely pain and suffering and grief, loads and loads of grief, but I was able to get a grasp on my grief when I was younger...before the baby craze took hold of my life. Some days I am grateful of this, and others I'm angry, angry that I didn't have the opportunity to be "blissfully unaware" of my infertility while I planned and dreamed of what it would be like to be pregnant, buy maternity clothes, pee on a stick and wait to see if two lines appear…
Lee and I auditioned last week for a "surrogacy docu-series." We really liked the casting agent and we were excited about the possible adventure, we're always up for a good adventure, and with our journey to parenthood already "strange" why not thrown in a camera or two.
The Skype audition seemed to go well, but then yesterday the casting agent called me and said the producers wanted to change the direction of the show and they were hoping we would be open to what she called a "social experiment" or more exactly:
She wanted me to pretend to be pregnant at the same time our surrogate is, and hide the fact we are using a surrogate to have children from our family and friends…..
After the test run of Clomid, and paying the required deposit, we ran full steam ahead with IVF. I wanted to make extra sure our child would be Jewish so I bought our medication from Israel ;-) and I started the required injections of medication on June 15th. After a hilarious first injection (video will be posted eventually, pretty much anything that could have gone wrong went wrong, but we laughed through it all) the rest were smooth sailing and really didn't hurt as much as I thought.
Throughout the weeks that followed I had to do the very time sensitive injections in various places including the in-laws house, a bathroom stall at Nationals Baseball Stadium (picture to the left!) and a hotel in Philadelphia!
While we are just starting out on our unique journey to become parents, we have already been asked/told some mindboggling things. And while I know surrogacy isn’t all that common, and what most people know are from celebrities and the news media, I was surprised by some of the comments and questions.
I have had so many people ask me so many questions about our journey, about infertility and about gestational surrogacy… some of them stop themselves and say “Am I being too personal? If I am, just tell me.” And if you’ve ever said this to me, you’re probably right now thinking, “Crap, she’s writing this because of me. I offended her.” Just know that you didn't and this post is not directed at any person or situation in particular. With the help of fellow amazing Intended Mothers I have compiled a list to help the general public because of the many questions we'’ve been asked, the many comments I’ve heard shared on the surrogacy pages I follow.
Fun is a realtive term, but for us the past 2 weeks have been very busy/fun on the fertility front. We have had lots of doctor visits and tests. And have spent astonishing amounts of time and money getting us steps closer to our dream......
There are women who become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss, and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.
I will be better not because of genetics or money or because I have read more books, but because I have struggled and toiled for this child. I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed. I have endured and planned over and over again.
Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams. I will notice everything about my child. I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore, and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.
I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold, and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.
I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child.
Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love. I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend, and sister because I have known pain.
I know disillusionment, as I have been betrayed by my own body. I have been tried by fire and hell that many never face, yet given time, I stood tall. I have prevailed. I have succeeded. I have won.
So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs. I listen. And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely.
I have learned the immense power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept
the harsh truth when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes by walking in those shoes.
I have learned to appreciate life.
Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.
Unfortunately for many of us, starting a family comes down to….money.
Below are several possible ways to save money in your surrogacy journey, the first several can also apply to regular IVF as well.
While some of these may sound rude, crazy, some may contridict eachother, and many may or may not be helpful in your situation, I just wanted to document the brainstorming we did in our house to hopefully help others out. I’ll continue to add to this list as our journey goes on.
The quote generally listed when you Google "How much does Surrogacy cost?" is $80,000-$100,000 (or upwards!)!!! Gulp!
Even though we have no health insurance coverage for fertility treatments, we are hoping to keep our journey under $40,000 by following several of the tips I share HERE.
Yesterday was a life changing day for me. I met amazing people, some of whom have Resolved their infertility, while others are still struggling. I was surprised by the number of professionals (doctors, pharmaceutical reps, etc) that participated. I woke early and headed to DC for 7:30am breakfast and training. I sat at a table of others from Maryland (there ended up being about 13 of us!) we had time to chit chat before the training started, and I was (not) surprised that most of the women were also patients at Shady Grove Fertility, and 3 others at the table were actually doctors from SGFC!
I started becoming active in various Facebook Groups around the time we “went public” about our surrogacy journey in January 2014. I joined several MRKH groups, as well as surrogacy groups and learned a great deal about the process. But there was no place that was just for us MRKH ladies trying to become mothers, sort of a combination of both types of groups. I found several MRKH girls were also starting their journeys this year, or had recently completed theirs (how exciting!!) and started chatting with them all on a regular basis individually but wanted to find a way to have group discussions so we could learn from each other’s experiences, and provide support and encouragement for each other. I
decided it would be a great idea to start a Facebook Group.
So on March 20, 2014, I created a Secret group on Facebook called “MRKH Mothers” a secret group means no one can see it exists (you can’t search for it), no one can see if you belong to it, or what you post in it. You can only be invited by current members and approved by admins. This safety was important to me, the topics we discuss are personal and emotional, and many of the ladies are very quiet about their journeys. Since it is secret, recruiting members was a concern of mine, I made an announcement on the main MRKH pages about the group, and within 2 days we had over 50 members! I was completely surprised and now less than 3 weeks later we have 68 members, and get new requests to join almost daily.
It continues to amaze me how supportive and understanding all the ladies are, and it’s incredibly comforting to be surrounded (virtually) by other women in a similar situation. I have learned so much from everyone, some of the women are expecting children currently, through surrogacy or adoption, and we even have a Grandmother or two in the group! What great knowledge and wisdom they can provide us.
If you’re interested in joining the facebook group, send me a message :-) we’d love to have you!
I recently met with Amy Lossie, the founder of the Beautiful You Foundation (who I recently found out works less than a mile from me!!) and discussed the group and how we can work with BYMRKH to hopefully increase donations. I thought it would be cute to have baby onesie’s available for new mothers with the BYMRKH slogan “My Mom is an MRKH Warrior” we also now have shirts “I’m an MRKH Warrior MOM” That I hope to get the chance to wear one day.
Check out our store: http://www.zazzle.com/mrkhmoms
I’ve always been a "reader" but I generally listen to audio books to help me endure my hour + commute twice a day…and I tend to stick to YA sci-fi...
Bram's Birth Story
Ways to Save Money
Things not to say to IPs
Tips for newly diagnosed
Mothers with MRKH
Our Gender Reveal
2000- Chrissy dx w/ MRKH
2002- Chrissy & Lee meet
2007- Chrissy & Lee Marry
2009- Chrissy 'hysterectomy'
2013- Awarded Cade Grant
7/3/14- IVF egg retrieval (5)
1/18/15- Embryo Transfer (1)
9/29/15 - Bram born!