About Me

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Caledonia, Northern Illinois, United States
I am a Thirty-Something mother of four beautiful girls. My love for them, and the joy I've experienced during this crazy ride called motherhood, has inspired me to help make the dream of a family become a reality for couples through gestational surrogacy. I've proudly helped A&T, as their lives were forever changed when they welcomed a son in April 2010 and K&S were blessed as parents in Sept 2012 when we welcomed their twin boys. I completed my final surrogacy journey Nov 2015 when I helped a wonderful local couple J&W and Big Brother add their family with the birth of twin boys. I am so very fortunate to have wonderful relationships with each one of my surro-families and continue to share in their lives.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Are Getting Closer

Just a brief update to hold you over through the holidays.

We have a transfer date and a few embryos - the little "snow-babies" are frozen and chill'n out till our upcoming winter transfer. I'll start meds the day after Christmas and then several monitoring appointments after the first of the year. We are scheduled for January 26th - about 6 weeks away.

I had the pleasure of meeting with K for lunch this weekend. Yesterday marked a year since K&S and Jason and I all met for the first time. I never imagined that we'd still be at this point in our journey but I try to look at the bright side. Over the last year and through the ups and downs we've had the opportunity to get closer which I have no doubt will make for an amazing second half of this journey - I can't wait to share in that with them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This is sweet lil Giovanni's favorite word right now. His momma A says he passed through the NO phase and in a mostly agreeable "Okaaay" phase now. It's too cute.

We had a wonderful visit with them this past weekend. My FIF T prepared a delicious seven course meal for us all - dinner began at 7 o'clock and we were wrapping up the final dessert course around 2 AM! It was great visiting with them, sharing several bottles of wine and spending time with Mr. G. He's getting so big and has the sweetest personality. He again didn't hesitate for a second when I put my arms out to him and he even nuzzled in for a snuggle - LOVE IT! He's busy as ever and full of smiles. FIM kept apologizing that he was "out of sorts", he was just getting over being sick earlier in the week but he didn't act any differently than any other 18 month old I know. ;) He keeps busy getting into things he shouldn't, loves to look at books and play with his truck(s) and show off his dancing skills.

It was a full evening of catching up, we got to hear all about the lil guys first trip to the ER and he proudly showed off his "Boo" in the middle of his forehead and the Mater truck the doctor gave him. Mom admitted it wasn't her best parenting moment - small child. blood. FREAK OUT!

Like all of us, they are gearing up for a busy Christmas season and getting in some travel time after the New Year. Since we all have a lot going on we likely won't see one another again until after holidays. Next time the girls will be included and I promise I'll get some pics.

I am feeling so very thankful today for my extended surro family and all the joy they've brought to our lives. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Livin' on a Prayer

This weekend Jason and I had the pleasure of helping K&S celebrate IFs 40th birthday. We had a great time surrounded by their friends - what a fun evening. It started out with the ladies at K&S's place while the guys enjoyed some scotch at a cigar bar. We then all caught up for dinner at Mexican restaurant in Bucktown, wonderful food and a great atmosphere. From there we proceeded down the street to a karaoke bar. Our party took control of the mic and the girls and guys all showed off their rockstar abilities. It was a blast. K and I shared a moment when Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" began to play. We sang the chorus together while sitting side by side arms around one another - I think it's our new anthem for this journey we are on together. My IPs have been on the road to parenthood for 3 years now, the last year of that we've all be working together with one goal in mind - to bring them a child but in the process a friendship has blossomed. It's been a long road but we remain confident that together we will see their dream of a family become a reality.

We gotta hold on to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not
We got each other and that's a lot
For love we'll give it a shot!

Oh, we're half way there
Oh oh, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Oh oh, livin' on a prayer

Speaking of giving it a "shot" - tentative date to start Lupron is December 29th! Only about 6 weeks away.

And just for fun ... a pic of the divas.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Forever Changed

Four years ago today I met some amazing people who would forever change me. I'm proud to say I had a small part in changing their lives too. Happy Match Anniversary A&T. Still amazed at what we accomplished together. ♥

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lucky #3

Warning - Rambling Post Ahead.

So I wanted to share my lucky #3 story. My "lucky" number has been 3 since I was in the fifth grade - long story but it stuck and I've considered it my lucky numbers since.

One day, many years later I realized that the #3 was in all of my expected due dates - Brie was due June 23rd, Chloe February 13th, Lauren October 13th and Isabelle March 13th ... then my surrobabe Giovanni followed suit with an EDD of May 3rd.

When we found out earlier this year we would be doing an FET and got to pick the transfer date I immediately started planning, hoping we could make it work out to an EDD with a 3 in it. Unfortunately it didn't fall within the RE's transfer dates that month. Bummer. Then the second time around it was a fresh cycle and out of our control but, had that transfer stuck we would have been so close with a 3/12 due date ... but it didn't really follow the previous pattern. Oh well, moving on.

So this time around we are again planning an FET. I got the RE's transfer window for January and nowhere within it was a date that would result in a #3 due date. Poo. Then yesterday I heard from our IVF coord that we would have to push things back by a week, the RE changed the dates and I now had to choose between Jan. 24th - 29th. You'd think I'd be bummed we were pushing things back but really I was excited - if we were to do a 5dt on January 26th the resulting EDD would be October 13th. :)

Not only is it a date with 3 in it, there's more. It's the same EDD I had with DD Lauren - my favorite pregnancy since it fell during my favorite seasons. Well basically all that means is it didn't include winter - my LEAST favorite time of year to be pregnant. LOL! Also over the past couple of years, I've shared this exact EDD with two of my close friends, most recently my BFF Daisy who delivered her surrotwins this fall. I know I'm totally over analyzing things but if you ask me, I say it's a good sign.

My surrobabe Giovanni was a result of try #3 ... hoping the "Third Times a Charm" this go around too and this #3 thing works in our favor. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

The New (Year) Plan

After a lot of thought we've decided to hold off on a December transfer and shoot for January instead. We of course hate putting off another try but, on top of it being the holiday season - my birthday, anniversary and our annual family vacation all fall within the last three weeks of the year. The thought of all that going on at the same time as an emotionally charged cycle/transfer had me feeling a little overwhelmed. K was so understanding when I told her my concerns and she was supportive of pushing things back so I can be in a good place come transfer and the TWW.

We initially hesitated because this timeline will require the retrieval to take place in early December and any resulting embryos will be frozen until the chosen transfer date. If you recall, we didn't have a good experience going this route for our first transfer. However, the clinic assured IM that we are dealing with a new protocol and a different set of variables this time around, and statistically there is no difference in success rates between fresh and frozen. We are praying this next cycle/retrieval results in some beautiful eggs that will make perfectly healthy "snow babies" for our wintertime transfer.

Since we are doing an FET we were able to look ahead at the RE's January transfer window and are making arrangements for the 20th. It's still 3 months away but with the holidays approaching and my protocol and monitoring appointments starting in the midst of it all - it will no doubt be here before we know it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some setbacks

Well the title of the post says it all, we've experienced some unexpected delays over the past couple of months so our transfer timeline continues to get pushed back. We were hoping for late fall but, it looks like we may be looking at December. IM has really taken this in stride, I don't know how she holds her head so high despite the disappointments. We'll continue to move forward and I'll share updates as we have more news.

I have some exciting personal surrogacy related news to share. My BFF and surro-sister Daisy delivered her surrotwins this past week. It was an amazing journey and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. I was even lucky enough to visit the boys in the NICU and get in some cuddle time before they headed home with Mom & Dad. I want to send a huge CONGRATS out to Daisy and her IPs A&S. Welcome to the world lil Austin and Owen.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Time with the Lil Man

Yesterday marked two years ... two years since I tested and soon after shared with A&T that we were pregnant. (BFP!!) Then yesterday, two years after that event, I had the pleasure of watching their lil guy trash our playroom from one end to the other ... AMAZING!!!

Baby G is a busy little toddler now, he's curious and doesn't miss a thing. He enjoyed hours of exploring my home, playing with all the toys, rearranging furniture, smashing grapes into the floor, attempting to play in the toilet and giggling while hunting down cats. I loved every minute of watching him do all this. He's a very happy kiddo, full of smiles and eager to share a hug or high-five when asked. Giovanni is doing a lot of babbling and using some words too; shoe, ball, dadda, "o ju" (hold you), "wh-tat" (what's that) and a few more. I wasn't sure how Baby G would look since last time I saw them all A was talking about getting his hair cut for the first time. Well turns out he's had a few trims but still has that gorgeous head of curls. I can see why A can't bear to cut them off - if he can pull of the lil baby look for awhile longer why mess with the cuteness.

A&T have definitely settled into their role as parents over the last almost year and a half. They've come a long way as their confidence has grown. You can tell they are amazed and enamored with their lil guy but like any child, he drives them crazy sometimes. Oh the joys of parenthood!

They have had a busy summer, lots of traveling seeing as they were displaced from their condo due to some renovations that were being done. After nearly a month of staying in hotels and at T's parents they are settling back in at home and life will hopefully slow down so they can get back to a normal routine. I'm so glad we were able to pin them down for a visit!

It's always a great time catching up, eating some good food and drinking a lil wine. I feel so blessed and lucky that I'm able to continue watching Giovanni grow, sharing in all these milestones, and having a great friendship with A&T too.

(A few pics were added to the Photo Album) Enjoy :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Special Evening

This past Saturday Jason and I visited my IPs K&S. They invited us to a BBQ at their place that included a small circle of their friends. Everything was wonderful. We got the warmest welcome from everyone and it was so very nice to meet everybody. K made a delicious meal, we were all stuffed. After dinner we enjoyed some dessert and drinks and played a couple fun games - girls against guys. It was a good time filled with lots of laughs and silliness and it was early morning before we all headed home.

I want to say thank you to K&S for including us and introducing us to everyone. They are very blessed to have such a great group of friends to support them through this journey. I'm humbled by the thought that although I've known K&S for such a short time I've been allowed to share in some of their closest friendships - thank you everyone for being so welcoming.

We are still hoping to move forward with a fall transfer, the details are still sketchy and it might be a bit before we can confirm a timeline but I'll be sure to let you know as things unfold.

Next weekend ... a visit from A&T and Baby G. Can't wait!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Onward and Upward

I figured an update was in order.

Last week was rough, I won't lie - I'd never experienced that kind of a letdown. I couldn't even complete a task like cleaning the litter pan without bursting into tears - "I'm supposed to be pregnant for K&S and shouldn't be allowed to do this!" I can only imagine how IM felt, this being one of many disappointments they've experienced on their journey to parenthood. We were all so optimistic that this was it and the "fun" wait was about to begin.

IM and I have been keeping in touch. We've shared our disbelief, disappointment but also continue to stay positive and hopeful. K had made the comment that she was selfishly glad I was here to go through this with her - to which I said that's not selfish at all, I'm glad I can be here. For years I've had a place in my heart for couples struggling with infertility and I choose to do this in hopes to share this burden and ease the pain and struggle. I knew there was no guarantee that it would come easy, even for me a mother of four and experienced surrogate.

The clinic has been monitoring my hCG levels. Last Friday they had dropped to 24.1 and shortly after getting these results I began to bleed - a sure sign that I was returning to "normal". They repeated bloodwork today and the levels are down to 0 again. As awful as this past week has been I'm really thankful that 1.) our RE requested the 3rd beta, otherwise we'd be walking into an u/s about now only to experience what I'd imagine to be an even bigger letdown 2.) this was just a chemical and not a more complicated miscarriage. As crappy as it's been it could be worse.

This isn't over yet. Infact a new plan is already in the works and we hope to move ahead with another cycle in the fall (Sept/Oct). Having this to look forward to has helped ease the disappointment and hopefully it won't be long before excitement sets in again. We may go into it a bit more guarded but even still, it's hard not to think of the possibility of it all coming together for them soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This Isn't Happening

I can't even believe it. Our 3rd beta brought the worst news ... it's a chemical. Basically it's a very early miscarriage before a heartbeat can even be detected. Sometime within the last few days the embryo stopped developing and the hCG hormone levels present in pregnancy began decreasing and the pregnancy was no longer viable. I don't even remember the number even though I had the nurse coord. repeat it. I just recall hearing 127 or something like that ... then blah blah blah ... stop meds, repeat labs Friday ... blah blah blah. So sad.

K heard the news from me but the delivery of those words were so impersonal - in a text. I hated sharing it with her that way but she's out of state at a conference and unable to take calls or listen to voicemails so earlier today she had asked that I text today's results when I got them. After I got the news myself I simply told her to call me when she could, which of course she knew wasn't good and asked what was happening. I could have sent a text saying a million times "I'm sorry" and it wouldn't have been enough.

Short term game plan ... stop meds and repeat bloodwork to be sure my hCG continues to decline. After that, I imagine it's a matter of getting up the courage to try again ... or at least I hope.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Repeat Beta

Our repeat beta results are in and looking good. We went from 96.9 (11dp3dt) to 262 today (13dp3dt). Ideally they want to see the numbers double within approximately 48 hours during the first few weeks of pregnancy and we are well within that range with a doubling time of 33.1 hours. The RE would like me to come in for one last beta before u/s. On Tuesday we'll be 17dp3dt and should be looking at a number around 1000. Stick baby stick!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Smiley Surprise

I received a nice surprise from my agency Family Source Consultants just a bit ago. They sure know how to thank a pregnant woman - a dozen smiley "flower" cookies. Thanks FSC!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Beta News

I just heard from the clinic and we have a nice beta for 11dp3dt.

The charts say - High is 223, Average is 95, Low is 33 - today's result was 96.9. This is a nice solid number which is very exciting - I'm thinking one sweet lil bean is growing.

Repeat blood work will be Friday with an u/s in about a week.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Positive Progression

Why so many tests you may ask. Isn't a "Pregnant" on a digi enough? Nope not for me - and I know K is enjoying the pic updates too. The first test was at only 7dp3dt (10dpo) and the line was very faint so, I spent my holiday weekend TESTING to watch the lines darken up and indicate that the lil bean(s) are snuggling in and my HCG levels are going up. IM says she hasn't stopped smiling and looks back at my text at least 10x a day - it all still feels like a dream.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

BFP !!

Oh how I love that acronym! Big Fat Positive - ok well in this case it was a faint positive (which is what we expect at this point) but there is no denying the results when you see the word "Pregnant" come up on a digital.

I was soooo soooo very nervous about testing this time around - I knew my heart would break for K&S if I didn't have good news, so I swore to no testing before the 7dp3dt (10dpo) window. At 3am I woke up needing to use the bathroom and figured there was no holding it till morning so ...

At first I didn't see it and I honestly thought it was a negative but then after what was only a few seconds - but felt like forever - I saw the hint of pink in the test area and soon enough it was pretty clear and undeniably there. Right away I texted IM "OMG I'm seeing double!! There is a second line!! It's POSITIVE!!" I tried to go back to sleep, which wasn't easy after all the excitement, and when I got up a couple hours later I tested again with the digital and sent the pics to K&S. I heard from them awhile later - they are over the moon excited and I'm just amazed and honored that I get to help create another beautiful family.

We still have a long road ahead of us all but K and I agree that sharing this news is so much better than the alternative and should be shouted from the mountain tops. I personally feel - regardless of the outcome - it's always best to have a support group and friends alongside for whatever may come.

We are praying for a healthy uneventful pregnancy and will be anxiously awaiting the arrival of their precious bundle(s) in Feb/March next year.

Blood work will be drawn at the end of the week.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beautiful Buttons Transferred

We had the best 3-day transfer possible bright and early this morning. With IM's history we decided to transfer the three embryos that were viable, all which looked great/good for their "age" - a 9-cell and two 8-cell embies each with <5% fragmentation. We were pleasantly surprised to hear the buttons looked as nice as they did. I think this news brought back the positivity and optimism that had been wavering for all of us over the last few days. Statistically we were told 65% for a pregnancy, 30% for twins and less than 10% for all three. (Very similar stats to my transfer that resulted in Baby G) :)

K&S and a good friend of IM's were all at the clinic along with Jason too. K and her friend both came back for the transfer. It went quickly and then we were on our way to breakfast where we enjoyed some chit chat and the gorgeous sunshine on the walkway for a bit.

I'm home taking advantage of my "couch potato" orders today and enjoying the down time. Jason and I are both off work till Tuesday so looking forward to a low key long weekend.

With this being a 3-day transfer there will be no testing for at least a week and nearly two weeks will have passed before our BETA on July 8th. STICKY THOUGHTS!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Almost Time

Over the last couple of days the little embryos have been watched and 3 of the 4 are continuing to grow. I'm not sure of the details regarding number of cells and grade but the RE has recommended we do a 3-day transfer. Although a 5-day transfer at the blastocyst stage would have been ideal, since there are only a few viable embryos it's best to get them back into their natural environment and out of the lab. We are hopeful one of these "maybe babies" will be strong enough to implant and a pregnancy will occur. Tomorrow at 7 AM we'll head to the clinic for what we can only hope will be the last attempt at making K&S parents. I'll update tomorrow with more transfer news. Sticky thoughts appreciated!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


We are in the countdown to transfer now. IM's monitoring appointments were going well, E2 numbers were great, follicles looking nice and then there was a bit of a scare that she might hyperstim (OHSS). She was put on some meds to be proactive and hoped there would be no complications. The cycle was even almost cancelled which would have been a huge disappointment but, then the RE said all was ok to proceed.

So her egg retrieval was yesterday and with the 18 ideal sized follies she had we were expecting it to be her best retrieval yet - however, they were able to retrieve only nine eggs. K was in quite a bit of discomfort this time around and emotionally disappointed in the results, but I tried to stay positive and hopeful - nine is decent if a good number of them fertilize. Well we got that report today and of the nine, eight were mature but only four fertilized. Not what we wanted to hear, but of course as they always say - it only takes one. The embryologist will continue to monitor them and a decision will be made tomorrow if we should do a 3-day transfer Saturday or hold out for a 5-day transfer once they reach the blastocyst stage on Monday.

Staying hopeful these lil "maybe babies" will exceed all expectations. Grow Embies Grow!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Coming Along Nicely

Today was another day for dual monitoring appointments.

I went into mine a tad nervous, it was at this point in the last cycle that they discovered the fluid and although it had resolved it's self - I was still worried. Well, I got a great update - NO FLUID and a nice lining of 12.3 mm with a triple stripe pattern (8+ is ideal). My estrogen levels look good too (238). So, my meds stay as is to keep me in a holding pattern till IM's retrieval.

K also went in today - she's on day 5 of stims and has had a couple of acupuncture appointments so far. Her E2 levels are high in comparison to previous cycles - estrogen levels are an indicator of follicle growth - so hopefully these numbers prove to show a nice number of maturing follies over the next few days. At today's appointment there were 9 follicles present measuring 8-10mm with a few additional smaller ones. She'll continue to be watched every couple of days and once these reach 18-20mm K will trigger for retrieval, likely sometime the middle of next week. The transfer will then be 3-5 days later.

We are getting close and things are looking good - positive vibes appreciated!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Great Start

Just a very brief update. K and I both had monitoring appointments today and all is looking good. I started meds a little over a week ago - tomorrow the estrogen protocol begins that will thicken the uterine lining in preparation for the lil buttons that we hope to transfer in a couple weeks. IM is now beginning her protocol that will stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple follicles, which we hope will result in a number of eggs to retrieve and fertilize. She's also trying acupuncture and massage this time around - figure it can't hurt. We are off to a great start and keeping everything crossed that this will be a smooth cycle with a perfect outcome. Keep us in your thoughts!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Beating the Baby Bust Blues

Well nothing takes care of the disappointment of a failed cycle like a new plan. I was very excited to get an email from Carrie our IVF coordinator with information about our next try. Since stopping all meds after the disappointing beta news, my period arrived right on time and last week I was instructed to start BCP immediately to synch K and I up for a fresh cycle. I'll start Lupron this upcoming Saturday and IM will begin her protocol soon too.

The new calendar has the egg retrieval tentatively set for June 21-25th with transfer to follow between June 24-28th.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day with Mixed Emotions

As I come to visit my blog on this Mother's Day I have mixed emotions. I'm overjoyed to know A (FIM) is celebrating today with Giovanni toddling around - I'm sure keeping her very busy. Playing a part in that miracle makes my heart full beyond words. I am saddened of course that K (IM) didn't get better news this past week but I am hopeful that when next year comes around she too will have the title of mom-to-be or even Mom on this very special day.

To all the moms in waiting, the moms-to-be, the birth mothers, the mommies with angels in heaven, the mothers of children young and old, the grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, surrogates, teachers, child care providers and any women who has played a special role in the life of a child - may you be blessed.

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Never Easy

I went in for blood work this morning, I waited over an hour for what should have been a two minute appointment, all for the news I/we'd been expecting - negative. It's never easy to hear even when you know it's coming. I feel so awful for my IPs and I worry that this failed attempt might have taken away the confidence surrogacy had given my IM - this was supposed to be their answer. Of course we'd all hoped it would take one try and they'd never have to hear those disappointing results ever again.

Instructions are to stop all meds, I should have a period within the week and then we wait till my next cycle to begin the process all over again - my guess would be moving ahead early to mid June for a July retrieval and transfer. I assured K I'm here and ready for whatever is to come. Thank you all for your encouragement and concern.

Since it may be awhile before there is another update I'll leave you with this surrogacy playlist I put together and shared with IM earlier this year. At first I was going to post just a song - but really all of them are fitting for this point in the journey. Much love to my IPs.

Share Baby Steps

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One Step At A Time

Things aren't looking the best for this cycle - still getting negatives (9dp5dt). To say my IM is disappointed is an understatement. Although this is our first cycle together this is their fourth IVF attempt - without any infertility insurance coverage. I know there is still the slight chance we could see a "miracle" but I've resigned to the reality that we may be back at square one. K&S only had the two frozen embryos from an egg retrieval she underwent in February. We were still too early in the process of working together to transfer to me at that time - it was supposed to be a "test cycle". However, since the embryos looked so good when they were vitrified (frozen) - we [RE, K&S, myself] thought there was a good chance we'd be successful with them and that IM might be able to avoid another retrieval. Well these embryos didn't thaw the best and we were given a 30% chance of success - the lowest statistic of any cycle they've ever done. The cost associated with each cycle is staggering and it's beyond frustrating for K&S that doing this transfer with a surrogate - that was supposed to increase the chances - the odds were actually decreased. The official beta (bloodwork) will be drawn on Friday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's An Obsession

I should know better, once you start testing it takes over your every thought and you lose ALL will power. I broke down late Friday night which was technically only 4.5dp5dt - which is very early - and I haven't stopped since.

36 hours ...

4 tests ...

Still waiting and staying hopeful.

Of course if I do see those coveted two lines my IPs will be the first to know and only after that and with their permission will I mention it here so you all will just have to wait too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Totsicles!!!

Today was the big day - Transfer!! I know K&S would have loved to have been there today but I was very honored to have my best friend and fellow surro sister Daisy along as my companion. We arrived on time but waited nearly 2 hours before transfer took place. One of the hold ups was that the clinic wanted to review over the phone with K&S how the embies looked after the thaw. Since they are in Hawaii, several hours behind us here, they were told to call in around 9am (4am their time) to get the news. Just after that IM text me (as I sat in the waiting room) to let me know both survived but had a little cell degeneration due to the thaw process. I wasn't sure what to make of this but stayed hopeful they were ok. After being brought back and given instructions to undress a nurse came in with the paperwork to sign consenting to both embryos being transferred. I asked about their condition and she said they looked great - the cell degeneration is normal and doesn't change their grading. A few minutes later we transferred two blasts, a grade 3AB and a 4AB. It was surreal watching the two lil embryos being moved into the transfer dish, then into a pipette to be inserted into their cozy uterine home which looked perfect.

So now we wait. We are all thinking positive thoughts and praying for good news.

Update: I spoke with IM (K) and she said that the embryologists report was that with the cell degeneration we were looking at about a 30% success rate. Not the best statistic but one thing I've learned through this IVF process is that it's really a crap shoot. I've seen beautiful embryos result in nothing and not so great ones bring positive outcomes so - Keep Praying!

A few new pics and even a video have be added to the album. Here's one of me all dressed up for the occasion.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday!!!

My family and I had the absolute honor of attending Baby G's first birthday party yesterday. It was such a wonderful experience seeing how much this lil man is loved. We were the first to arrive so I scooped Mr. G up right away so mom, dad and grandma could all put the final touches on the party before the other guests arrived. He's still such a social boy, full of smiles for anyone who holds him.

The weather was gorgeous and just right for hanging out on the patio visiting and watching the kids play. Many of the guests were familiar to me - I'd met most of them at the baby showers just before his arrival so it was nice to see then all again. T (IF) had prepared quite the menu for us to all enjoy. The courses included; charcuterie, tapas, grilled sausages, lasagna, and of course birthday cake. No one left hungry that's for sure. There was also plenty of champagne and wine for all to celebrate and toast the occasion.

The man of the hour got plenty of attention as he showed of his new walking skills - his lil bow legged waddle is just adorable and I found myself grinning from ear to ear just watching the delight on his face as he toddled across the room.

He of course was spoiled with gifts; toys and clothes galore. As with any typical toddler, he was most interested in the wrapping and ribbons. It was a long day for Baby G so by the time cake rolled around he wasn't very into it, but he got a little taste of the celebratory smash cake mama made. There were cupcakes and a variety of chocolate "suckers" and a delicious chocolate cake all made by A (IM) - so yummy!

It was a full day and as it grew dark Giovanni began to tucker out and was laid down to bed. I got in some night night snuggles - he's such a cuddly guy. Once he was in bed and things wound down our hosts were able to sit back and visit, we stayed well into the evening sticking around till the midnight hour which made it officially his birthday. Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Giovanni!!!

(Pictures have been added to the photo album)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Next Step ...

... is transfer!!!

I had another follow up appointment with the RE today to check the fluid issue, and I can not tell you what a relief it was that there was not even a hint. That's right - transfer for Monday is ON! The fluid was likely just a side effect of the synthetic estrogen and has since resolved on it's own and disappeared. No aspiration needed. My lining is a nice fluffy 12mm (the desired thickness is at least an 8) so all looks perfect now. Tomorrow I'll start the notorious PIO injections which are new for me - should be interesting.

On Sunday evening my IPs, Jason and I all shared our pre-transfer excitement over dinner. They invited us into the city to check out a unique small plate French restaurant Bonsoirée. The food was amazing, great atmosphere and we all enjoyed some friendly conversation - even when politics were mentioned. Such a fun night.

K&S are headed out tomorrow to spend the next two weeks in Hawaii - they are celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary. They'll be there during our transfer so my very good friend and fellow surro Daisy - who is 14wks weeks with twins for her IPs - will be with me. Monday morning the two lil "maybe babies" will be thawed and we will all start praying one or both snuggle in. We all talked about how they want to receive the news, during the dreaded yet ever so exciting TWW, and it was decided - they want to know everything. Fingers crossed that I'll have good news to share and this will be a trip to remember for them.

In other news - can you believe my sweet lil surrobabe will be celebrating his birthday in just 5 days!!! Giovanni will be turning ONE Sunday (Easter). Our family was invited to join in on the celebration this upcoming Saturday - I can't wait to see A&T, Baby G and all their friends and family again. Be sure to check back for an update and some pictures over the weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good News ???

I drove into the Highland Park FCI clinic bright and early - my nurse coordinator wanted the u/s tech there to take a look and see first hand what's going on. He asked how I was doing, I said could be better - feeling a little frustrated since in my previous three cycles all went well and now this. He commented that if all the RE had to do was give us meds and then say, "Come back for transfer" he'd be out of a job. Cycles change, responses change - makes sense but still - GAH! Anyway, he didn't say much while scanning me besides, "Doesn't look like much to write home about". I asked if he could still see the fluid and he said yes, but my lining was a nice and he saw "just a drop" of fluid. I could even tell by the u/s image that today looked different than yesterday - so good news???

The clinic called and said they reviewed the blood work and u/s and instructions are to continue my meds and they will contact me Monday to let me know if further monitoring is needed before transfer. Her tone was very "unconcerned" so I guess I'll go with that for now and try not to worry either. Staying positive that K&S's totsicles will be moving in soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Speed Bump

It wouldn't be surrogacy without a speed bump in the way. So the latest, I went in today for a monitoring appointment to make sure my lining was on track and looking good for transfer next week. What showed up on the u/s has thrown our cycle into limbo - fluid. Gah! My lining without the fluid is at 10mm which is wonderful - but the 2mm pocket of fluid has got to go. This is totally frustrating since in my previous three cycles everything on my end has always been "perfect". Totally was not expecting this today.

Transfer can't happen with a compromised lining - this has to be resolved in the coming days for us to move forward. The RE requested that I make the trip into the Chicago suburbs to visit the office where transfer will take place so their u/s tech can get a closer look at what we're dealing with. Bright and early tomorrow morning I'll head into the clinic to evaluate things.

Please keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

So Far - So Good

Just a little update to share how I'm doing with this whole "cycling" gig. I've used that term may times before, but for those that don't know, it's basically the time period in which meds are used prior to transfer to get the body ready - I'm on "preheat" if you will.

At my first monitoring appointment Monday, it was confirmed all is well. I'm almost two weeks into Lupron and my ovaries are nice and quiet - no follicles or signs of ovulation. I stopped BCP last Friday and AF arrived on cue a few days later. The tech confirmed during the baseline u/s that my lining was thin which was just as they want it to be at this stage in the game. So after getting the thumbs up I began introducing Estrogen into my system and cut back the Lupron dosage ... THANK GOODNESS! The Lupron was starting to make me feel menopausal and - as much as I make fun of my mother for her hot flashes and night sweats - it's no joking matter! I seriously had to get out of bed once or twice and dry myself off! I don't remember that from any previous cycles, but then again this protocol called for twice the amount I was on before (20u). Anyway ... when my blood work came in my E2 level was 38.1 which was "perfect" and now that I've started applying the estrogen patches that number will begin to rise. The next appointment is Friday and we should see an increase in that number as well as a thickened lining.

So far so good. I'm feeling good and very positive about our upcoming transfer. IM and I continue to email one another every few days - I've really enjoyed getting to know her over these last few months. We have dinner plans next weekend - can't wait! I'm very anxious to spend time with K&S and share in all this excitement as we count down the days - just a little over two weeks to go!!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Familiar Territory

It's like déjà vu but new at the same time.  Cycling for our upcoming transfer at the end of the April has begun.  I started my meds today - VERY EXCITING for all of us!  The sub-q Lupron injection is as I remember - simple, painless, easy peasy.  I know I've mentioned it before but I actually like doing these shots.  We'll see if I'm singing the same tune when I start the intramuscular PIO injections just before transfer (something entirely new for me this time around).

So for the next few days I continue to inject 20u of Lupron daily, a drug that will suppress my natural hormones so that the RE is able to manipulate and time everything.  In a little over a week I'll have my first appointments to evaluate if my body is responding properly. If all is on track then they will begin the introduction of estrogen into my system which will help build up the endometrium (uterine lining).  I'll continue to update on how my monitoring visits go - keeping fingers crossed for an easy cycle and looking forward to transfer in a few short weeks!!

(Subcutaneous Tummy Injection)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finalized !!!

Contracts are complete!  We got it knocked out in a little over two weeks with only a few hiccups.  I think we are all glad to have that part done and over with.  It can be complicated and having to communicate through two attorneys and not just sitting down face to face and and discussing everything makes it hard to effectively express your feelings and wishes without coming off as demanding.  Although I had a wonderful journey with A&T there were a few things going into this experience that I knew I wanted to change - so I had a few very specific requests - but overall I think we were all very reasonable with our expectations which has resulted in a strong well thought out contract.  It didn't come without a little compromise but I know for me personally I feel good about it.  We were able to finalize everything yesterday so now the signature pages will circulate and it will be official.

So excited to be moving forward with the fun stuff!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We Have A Date!!!

I HAVE A CALENDAR (almost)!!! Since RE/IPs decided against a fresh cycle and the plan is to now do a frozen embryo transfer (FET) with the two beautiful blasts that were vitrified we can move things along a bit faster. According to the nurse coordinator - my soon-to-be written calendar - will have meds starting approximately March 26th with a FET scheduled Monday, April 25th (the day after Baby G's first birthday). K&S won't be there unfortunately, they'll be in Hawaii. At first we hesitated thinking we might reconsider and push everything back to May but, I told IM it isn't so much them being there for the procedure that is important but more so sharing in the excitement, anxiety and all the other emotions that go with transfer. Since they were ok with it and I'm ok with it we decided to stick with April but plan to get together - face to face - in the days before they leave to share in all those pre-transfer emotions. I'm lucky that Daisy, my best friend and fellow surro, will get to be my companion and I can rub her twin belly for good luck. It will certainly be a nice distraction for IM to be sunning herself on a warm beach while we make our way through the TWW. I'm so hoping that the highlight of their vacation will be the news of a BFP.

Only catch is we have to get through contracts, which haven't officially even been started yet, and submit them to the clinic by March 23rd for meds to start on schedule. Praying we can pull it off!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Testing Testing - 1, 2 .... maybe 3!

Cycling has already begun - for K (IM) that is. This wasn't new territory for her, she'd been through it three times before, each time with "ok" results. IM doesn't respond the best to the meds taken to stimulate her ovaries so each of the prior retrievals resulted in only a couple embryos of transfer quality. Due to this the previous three IVF attempts - in which embryos were transferred to her - they transferred on Day 3. In an ideal situation embryos are allowed to "grow" to the Day 5 blastocysts stage and usually the two of the best quality are transferred. However, when dealing with a limited number of embryos the RE isn't able to pick & choose so the general rule is to put them back in their natural environment as soon as possible (Day 3) versus waiting to see what survives and which are strongest.

K&S and the RE decided to try a "test cycle". The game plan was to change up her med protocol a bit hoping for a better response - a greater number of oocytes - and to allow the resulting embies a chance to become blasts. This is to test the quality of the resulting embryos and see if we have a good chance in May at doing a fresh Day 5 transfer when IM and I cycle together. Any survivors from this "test cycle" were to be frozen and used for backup in the future if needed ... lil totsicles if you will.

So K underwent the egg retrieval procedure on Monday with the best results of any of her cycles to date - 10 oocytes retrieved. Out of the 10, 5 were mature and 4 fertilized. On Day 3, all four were growing stronger; there was one 4-cell, a 7-cell & two 8-cell - all with normal fragmentation. On Day 5 (today) they have two nice blasts - a 4AB and 3AB which will be vitrified. Another is at the morula stage and although they aren't expecting it to become anything, they aren't discounting it yet either. The fourth is only at 7-cells and is being discarded.

IM is sooooo excited!! She was keeping expectations low but was praying for one - at least one - that could be frozen and is super stoked that they have two and possibly even a third. So with this news the plan has changed a bit. Originally we were to cycle together in May but now we'll transfer the frozen embryos instead. K has been through 3 IVF cycles and now an additional ER all since April '10 so she's looking forward to taking a break from cycling for a bit. If the FET doesn't work we'll start over with fresh - but for now it's time for her body to rest.

So from here I'm not sure what our time line will be. Originally meds were to start late April and transfer end of May all because IM didn't want to jump into another ER so quickly. Now that cycling together is no longer the plan things may be changed - and even moved up - depending on when contracts are finished.

I'm excited that this could all get underway soon!!


Monday, February 21, 2011

A Speical Afternoon

I'd been anxiously looking forward to yesterday afternoon. I couldn't wait to get together with a special circle of women which included myself, my FIM A, my IM K, my bestie Daisy and her IM A - both whom I must congratulate on the recent news of twins!! It was great all coming together to discuss our journeys - the highs, the lows and everything in between. I also think this was the first opportunity for the IMs to meet other women going through the same process. I know Daisy and I have a great support group of other surros so it was nice that the three ladies had a chance to connect with one another. I really hope there are more of these visits in the future.

Following lunch, which was at a restaurant just blocks from my FIPs home, I stopped in to visit FIF & Baby G. He is just as cute and sweet as ever. Giovanni has been on the move for awhile now so IPs decided it was time to install the baby gates which actually runs the entire length of their family room to keep him corralled and away from both the stairs & the fireplace - IF has named this area the "veal pen". LOL I got in lots of snuggles, even when I put him down to see if he'd show off his "walking" skills he was quickly crawling back into my arms. It's always a treat to spend time with them all and look forward to next time which will likely be his First Birthday! OH MY!!

Just a little side note - I've added a Photo Album in the right margin here on the blog. If you are interested in seeing pictures please contact me for the password.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Off to a Great Start

My journey with K&S is beginning to move along.

So what's the latest you ask. Late last month Jason and I met with the psychologist for our assessment - ya know just in case I went crazy at some point in the last couple years. The evaluation went just fine. We actually saw the same doctor that was used for my last journey and she remembered us once we introduced ourselves. She was very interested to find out how things went with A&T and excited to hear of Baby G's arrival and that we had such a great experience. I dodged having to retake the MMPI, she didn't find it necessary but I must admit I was a tad disappointed - the 500+ question personality test was a source of entertainment last time. Before leaving she said everything sounded great and my clearance letter was forwarded on to the RE.

I promptly scheduled my first appointment to meet with Dr. Kaplan/FCI for my med clearance. I was looking forward to it and was disappointed when we had to rescheduled last minute thanks to the blizzard, going into downtown Chicago the day after that mess - not a good idea. Thankfully we found a time that worked without much delay and Jason and I visited the River North FCI clinic this week. We had bloodwork drawn for the FDA workup and I was also taken back for a saline ultrasound. No problems there, in Dr. Kaplan's words everything looked "beautiful". We then met with the third party reproductive coordinator to sign consents, review the protocol and go over a calendar - VERY EXCITING.

The highlight of the trip to the city was meeting K(IM) for lunch. Since we've been emailing each other over the last two months getting together again was very relaxed and comfortable. I just have to say how much I am enjoying getting to know her - she has such a fun outgoing personality. Unfortunately IF wasn't able to get away this time, but hopefully we'll all be able to get together again soon.

The next step is to begin work on contracts but as of now the time line is an April/May cycle with a tentative transfer the end of May. Come on Spring!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Have Baby - Will Travel

Well sounds like having a lil one has not slowed down my FIPs. At the end of summer they took a trip with Giovanni in tow to New Orleans, then just recently North Carolina. Baby G did so well with the flight that he'll be heading off on his first overseas visit next month - to Spain. FIM said that filling out the passport info was a bit comical; occupation, weight, height, etc., 20 lbs, 28 inches. LOL They've also talked about taking a trip to Italy before he's to old to travel for cheap - sounds like he's going to be quite the world traveler.

Giovanni recently went for his 9 month well-child visit. His growth seems to be leveling out - all in the 50-75% range - and out of the 90s! He weighed in at 20 lbs 10 oz and is 28 1/2 inches long. Still a big boy though (none of my girls hit 20lbs till well after a year)

IM says he's on the move, standing on his own for a minute and cruising the furniture - but no unassisted steps yet. He's also taken to wanting to climb so it's time to install the baby gates! He's a good eater and has been experimenting with plenty of foods, but still prefers his bottle. I'm sure he'll have a well developed palate before long - God knows with his daddy - picky eating will not be allowed. They've gotten lucky in the sleep department - who can complain about 10 hours a night? He's still not the biggest fan of naps, which I'm sure his nap loving dad has a thing or two to say about ... but overall he's a good sleeper.

I'm stopping in for a visit in just a little over a week, can't wait to get in some snuggles and see how big he's getting. Wow time is flying - won't be long at it will be party planning time!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Moment In Time (A message for A&T)

Happy 38 weeks 5 days!! It's probably silly that I know the exact date that marks this anniversary but, you [A&T] have had Baby Giovanni snuggled safely in your arms the same amount of time now that I carried him under my heart. It was 271 of the most amazing days of my life and I still feel so blessed and honored that I got to be a part of that experience with you both.

These last eight and a half months of parenthood are just the beginning - wishing you many many more wonderful memories.

Love you all!

Baby Steps,