Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It takes a village

   It is time for an update again so here it is!
   We had our appointment to get the results from all of our blood work… and Ryan’s “swim-up” test. Leading up to the appointment, we both felt great. We weren’t worried about our results, though we knew that if they were bad the road we were on would come to an end and we, most likely, would fall apart emotionally.
   We talked a little about what we would do if we did have negative results, but neither of us truly felt that that would happen. We maintained a very hopeful, positive, and calm attitude right up to the day of the appointment. That day, Ryan was still calm, as usual, but I was suddenly very nervous. It started to sink in that we could get more bad news that day and our dreams of having a child might never come to fruition.
   Luckily, the appointment was in the morning so I didn’t have all day to work myself up, only a few hours… Our intuitions were right and we got great news! All of the results came back positive and we were given the “go ahead” to continue moving forward!

   We talked to the doctor for a while about what our next steps were going to be. The doctor went into detail about everything that is going to happen and told us we could register to get my eggs retrieved! Wow!!
   Diane’s first appointment to meet the doctor was coming up in a few weeks so we decided to wait until then before we registered. We left the appointment feeling elated, and since we both had the day off from work, we went out for a celebratory lunch. On the way to the restaurant, we called Diane to give her the good news and we all cheered and celebrated. At that moment it really began to sink in that this whole thing could all actually happen.

   Over lunch, Ryan and I talked about becoming parents, how happy we were, and how to begin fundraising! Once you are registered for egg retrieval, all the money and legal agreements need to be ready because the clinic won’t do anything until they are paid in full and they have seen our agreement. We called our parents, who were all completely over the moon, and we enjoyed the excitement of the day.
   Diane came into town for her appointment a few weeks later and stayed with us. It was so nice to spend time with her and talk all things surrogacy and baby! As luck would have it, I came down with the flu her first night with us and the next day was the appointment! I sucked it up enough to go the appointment with her, and Ryan surprised us by coming along too.

   The appointment went great and the reality sunk in even more. Diane’s results were good and she was given some other standard tests. I registered for my egg retrieval, which I was actually really nervous about because I didn’t know what kind of timeline we were looking at between registering and when it actually would happened. It turns out it’s a four-to-five month wait so, although I want it all to happen as fast as possible, it’s a good amount of time because we have so much to do and to organize in the meantime!
   We are approved to move ahead with Diane, so we are now waiting to get our mandatory counselling session. The number of sessions we need apparently depends on the couple but the counsellor said he anticipates it being just one for us. He explained why it’s mandatory and shared some examples of families using coercion for their surrogates as “bait.” For example, one couple had a family member who was willing to do it but lived in another country and wanted to move to Canada. During the first appointments everything seemed fine but during the counselling, it came out that the couple she was going to carry for were going to let her live with them, and pay for her to move here. But the only way they would do that for her was if she carried the baby for them.

   That is clearly not a typical situation but because things like that happen, the counselling is mandatory. It seems crazy to me that people would try to use any of this as a bargaining tool with someone else, but at the same time, I totally understand how people are willing to do anything to make their dreams come true, especially dreams of a family. Anyway, that stuck with me and made me just that much more grateful for Diane for being so giving, selfless, and loving.
   Along with the counselling, before the egg retrieval can happen we have to have a legal agreement written up by lawyers, which will cover all of the details about everything from the transfer to pregnancy to the birth plan to what happens after birth. Every province has different laws regarding whose name goes on the birth certificate and things like that. In Manitoba, it doesn’t matter whose DNA the baby has. It’s who gives birth to the baby so Diane’s name will go on the birth certificate. We will have to deal with all of that legally as well.

   The other thing that needs to happen before the retrieval is that we need to somehow come up with $20,000. Raising that amount of money in such a short time is going to be our biggest hurdle to date. It’s the part that has me the most stressed out. I have so much faith that the transfer will take, that the pregnancy will go smoothly, that both Diane and baby will be okay through it all, and that everything will work, but paying for it has me so worried.
   We have decided to have a fundraiser, similar to a social, but where, when, and how are still up in the air. It’s a little overwhelming trying to figure it all out and, to be completely honest, a little depressing that we even need to do it. But, hopefully, we’ll be able to raise the money we need by the time we need it so Diane can give us the gift of parenthood, and we can give the world an amazing little person. The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” goes through my head all the time because for us, it’s going to take at least a village to make this child.

   All of the science behind it all is so unreal to me. It is just so amazing that this is even possible. It makes me think about the fact that I have a pacemaker in my chest that is keeping me alive. A battery installed next to my heart is the very thing that lets me write this blog, have the life I have, and my dreams to fulfill. I am so unbelievably grateful I  cannot express or describe it in words. I am a living, breathing, thriving example of what science can achieve, and if we end up having a baby via surrogacy, he or she, too, will be another example.
   So we are ready, and this is actually happening. We are truly on our surrogacy journey, officially, totally and completely! We aren’t just waiting to find out if we can do it, we are doing it. At this point, the only things that will stop us are not having the money, not getting good enough eggs from the extraction, or if the transfer doesn’t take. We are hopeful that none of these things will happen and we are maintaining a very positive attitude.

   While she was in town, Diane and I even dragged Ryan through a high-end baby furniture store to “dream” a little. He was a pretty good sport, and since then has become more and more excited and open about the entire thing. He’s always good and happy, but he doesn’t really get excited—pretty quiet about it all. But even that seems to be changing, and watching his excitement grow makes mine grow even more. It is still really scary of course, and we know that it still might not work out. I think we find it easier to get excited when it’s just the two of us (or three when Diane’s here). When other people get excited, I find myself trying to talk them down and help them realize it might not happen. I feel like I will be disappointing so many people if this doesn’t work out so I don’t want them to get their hopes up too high. It’s such a fine line between being excited and being realistic.
   It’s still a long road ahead, with a huge financial bump to get over. I am adding a breakdown of the costs to help you all understand where all of the money needs to go. It sounds crazy when we say we need $20,000, but it adds up quickly! We’ve had so many people ask us just where it goes and what it’s for so, hopefully, this will help to put it into perspective.
Egg retrieval Registration:.......................................................................................... $550
Gestational Carrier IVF Cycle with ICSI:................................................................ $8800
Subsequent Thaw, ICSI, Embryo Culture & Transfer:........................................ $3500
Our Lawyer fees:........................................................................................ $2500 (approx)
Diane’s Lawyer fees:................................................................................. $1500 (approx)
Misc. expenses including medication, flights, clothes, etc.:............... $5000 (approx)

TOTAL:.................................................................................................................... $21,850

   ICSI is an extra step in the fertilization stage that the doctor said we will need in order to help ensure a viable pregnancy. Though all of our results were good, there were some factors that led to us needing to use this extra step. We were also not given a financial number as to what my medical costs will be for the hormones I will need, but we were told they are expensive.
   By law we cannot pay a surrogate for her “services” because it is considered an altruistic act. I love this law because I do believe it should be an altruistic act. I mean, this is life we are talking about, not buying a car or something.
   However, I also think we should be able to show our gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices our surrogate will be making for us. It is common practice that the Intended Parents pay for travel expenses, medical expenses, lawyer fees, reimbursement for maternity clothes, and any other out-of-pocket costs the surrogate will undergo. This is something we will cover in our legal agreement. Of course, we would give the world to Diane if we could. 
   So, where do we go from here? Well, we wait for our counselling appointment, we try to arrange lawyers, and Diane has to undergo some further, more invasive testing. And we plan a fundraiser. We will be looking for and accepting any donations, or ideas for fundraising that may come our way. Once we have the details organized, I will write a post about that too!