Baby Steps

Since connecting with my intended parents (IP’s), we started speaking almost everyday.  We connected in February, and it’s now June.  This should give you a pretty good idea on how slow this process can be.

In April of 2013, the IP’s invited my daughter & myself out for a visit to Colorado.  It was incredible.  I got to meet some very important people in their lives, and we really got to see each other’s true personalities.  It was still a perfect match.  It was really magical for me to see them interact with my daughter.  Seeing them with her made me realize how perfect they would be as parents.  And me made me even more excited to assist them with that.

Earlier this month, I had my first appointment at CCRM (Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine).  This was my first gestational carrier work up. It was really important that the timing was right for this.  It’s just insane how much you rely on your body’s timing to make everything work perfectly.  The appointment HAS to fall within 5-13 days of your cycle.  Normally my “visits” are always on time and in sync; but not this month.  This month it was 4 days late. FOR NO REASON.  Thankfully it didn’t affect my appointments.  I was on day 5 of my cycle on the day of my work up. My day looked like this:

8:30 – 9:30  Baseline Ultrasound & Doppler  (this was an ultrasound of my reproductive organs, to test blood flow & thickness of my uterine walls.)

9:30 – 10:30 MMPI  (this is a 530+ questionnaire.  Based on personality.)  This test literally asked me 40 times if I wanted to kill myself.

10:30 – 11:00 Blood work  (say goodbye to 12 tiny tubes of blood. yuck!!  They test for just about everything you could imagine.

11:00 – 12:30 Urine test, Hysteroscopy, Pap Smear & Regroup with Dr. Surrey.  (I was going to post a picture of what exactly a Hysteroscopy is but it was a little.. eh, lets just say intense…a lot like the procedure.)

12:30 – 1:30 PPI (another brilliant 350+ personality questionnaire)

BREAK (FINALLY!!!)

2:30 – 4:00 Donor Nurse Consultation

4:00 – 6:00 Psychologist

It was really important for me to share my intimate details on my appointments with all of you readers at the Iowa City Moms Blog, because I get a lot of questions about surrogacy, and what exactly goes into it.  I will be the first to tell you that I did TONS of research on it.  However, I had no idea how long the process was and you really don’t know what to expect until you’re in the office with the doctors.

Reality.

I woke up that morning, already full of anxiety.  As much as I have prepared myself for this moment-the day of my first appointment-the second I woke up that morning I was nervous.  Millions of thoughts went into my head.  What if the psychologist thinks I’m too crazy?  What if I had a disease that I had no idea about?  What if the doctors don’t allow me to take the additional steps?  I mean. I know it sounds super crazy, but there is SO much pressure on me at this very moment.

jacquiultrasoundI walk into my appointment with my Intended Mother by my side for support, into this GORGEOUS building, and my heart races.  They call me back for my first appointment, my ultrasound.  I want the IM (intended mother) in the room with me.  I want her there. I mean I want her to know ALL about my basket.  After all, all of her eggs are going in there and she has a right to know exactly where her children will be baby-sat, right?!  So things get going and the sonographer does not have a lot to say.  Which automatically makes me nervous.  I ask “so… does everything look good?”  (Out of all of my fears, I never thought that something could be wrong with my reproductive parts.  I mean I had a healthy daughter, with no complications, and no problem getting pregnant)  She answers me, and tells me that my uterus looks like a crescent moon shape, and it’s supposed to be a pear shape.  Then she tells me that the doctor would need to talk to me, and that she really can’t answer any questions.  I immediately felt horrible.  It took everything in me to hold back tears.  I had a lump in my throat and I wanted to barf.  I felt like a failure.  No, I had no idea what this would mean for our surrogacy, but I pictured the worst.  I wanted to cry, I wanted to break down.  I wanted to fall apart in that moment for my IP’s.  Not for me. but for them.  I am hoping for a child for them.  I put myself on the line, and expected I was healthy.  Otherwise I would have NEVER offered my services.

jacquigraphSo, we get through the day & its time for my appointment with the actual doctor who will hopefully be performing our transfer.  He is a brilliant genius, and I was so comfortable with him. We continue with the pap smear (Those are the worst, are they not?) and the Hysteroscopy.  (By the way, f you have never had a Hysteroscopy, then lucky you).  This is such an invasive 10 minutes of your life.  Let me sort of explain this procedure.  If you are grossed out, then jump ahead. 🙂  So, the doctor leaves the speculum inside, and also enters a telescope-like device.  He enters this through your cervix, into your uterus to take a look.  He looks for any abnormalities, and for the thickness of your uterine wall.   He also blows carbon dioxide into your uterus.  I’m not sure why, but it’s so uncomfortable!  It feels like awful gas bubbles and cramps. Once the procedure is done, the doctor has you get dressed and he meets with you one-on-one in a conference room.  It’s really intimidating, because you really don’t know what to expect.  He comes in the room, and looks pretty serious.  He says “well, we have a small problem”.  My heart races.  He continues to tell me that I have a Septate in my uterus.  A septate is tissue that separates your uterus.  Some are very mild, and some are VERY serious.  Some women have a septated uterus that separates the uterus into two entire cavities.

I start to cry.  I feel like a failure.

He explains to me exactly what this means for me, what this means for the surrogacy, and what this means for my future fertility.  He said that my septate is very minor; it’s only 1 centimeter long.  There is a surgery that can remove the septate.  He also told me that it can be the cause of infertility.  He continued to tell me exactly what it meant, and what my odds are. Since I have a history that is very positive (one pregnancy, one healthy baby and no miscarriages), he told me that we can continue with the surrogacy and if we end up not being successful that the septate could be to blame, but with a surrogacy we would never know exactly the cause.  My IP’s had a decision to make.

I left conference room and walked right to my IM and told her everything.  Holding back tears, one slipped.  She stayed positive and said that she doesn’t have a problem with the chances with the septate.  That without me, there was no chance of them ever having children, so she is willing to take the risk, but of course we needed to speak with the IF (intended father)

jacquischeduleSo…once IM and I had a talk and a quick bite, it was time to have our sit-down with the donor nurse.  She sets down a GIANT binder and opens it up.  We go through everything page by page and this made it oh. so. real.  Oh my God, I knew that I would endure hormones and a few medications but I truly was so naive to exactly what I was going to have to do.  I wasn’t overwhelmed until the nurse opened the page and explained all of the medication in detail.  We went through everything step by step, and I can tell you right now that it was way too much to even remember. Thankfully I am able to take this binder with me, and contact her at anytime.  CCRM is so wonderful because they also have an online portal for their patients to communicate with the nurses.  It’s fantastic.

I am starting my mock hormone cycle in July.  Once I start my period, I will contact my nurse and she will send me the month of hormones.  During the month, I will have multiple doctor appointments  per week to check my uterine lining to see if we are making progress.  If my body doesn’t respond, then the nurses will check my results to see if we need to decrease or increase my hormone intake.  If everything goes well, then we are hoping for a transfer in October.

So much to take in right now.  I’m just waiting for the next step with the hormones.  I’m slightly nervous to see how my body responds to this.  The weight gain, sickness, the whole nine.

A little nervous (wait, maybe really nervous) but even more excitement.

Jacqueline Graham is a single mom of a sassy four year old daughter, Danity, a full time Studio Director at a busy salon in Davenport & everybody's friend. Jacqueline grew up in Davenport, continued her education at Kirkwood Community College, & then ventured off to the Windy City. During her pregnancy with Danity, she decided to leave her event filled life in Chicago & raise her daughter in simplistic Iowa... But as you will find out her life is anything but simple. While trying to balance her career, her daughter & her passions, she is embarking on one of the most important journeys of her life. She is opening up to the world and sharing her step by step adventure in to becoming a Gestational Surrogate.

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