Grooooooooow babies!!

How 2 men + 2 women - sex + science = 2 babies!!

This is the funny, heart-warming, tearful, inspiring, and shocking truth about my journey to have a child.

How a man, another man, a woman, another woman, a couple lawyers, a few doctors, a psychologist, a couple social workers and some agencies make a baby.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just a Little Dab of Super Glue

It's interesting how different waiting rooms have different types of magazines. I go to a barber (yes, he even has the turning barber's pole outside his shop) and the magazines are all Sports Illustrated and Money. When I go to my dentist in Lincoln Park there are a lot of Time and Newsweek magazines. Then Derek and I go to the fertility clinic and we see Vogue and Cosmo. We found out how to know if you're good in bed and what men on the street's sexual new year's resolutions will be. I'm amazed these magazines have been around for so long. Maybe next time Derek and I can take an "Are You Compatible?" test since we all know those tests are accurate.

"Well this is frustrating," the doctor said as we started our meeting.

Yep. The doctor was right. That's pretty much how I felt. And, to add to my anxiety, I just found out I had to think of some sexual new year's resolutions if I wanted to be a "man on the street."

The doctor really had no explanation as to why this hasn't worked yet. I get that this is an art, not a science, but I still was hoping for an explanation. I did get an answer to one of my burning questions.

"So, you can take one egg and one sperm and isolate them," I said. "You can crack the shell of the egg. You can make an embryo grow in a dish for 3-5 days. You can freeze and unfreeze my sperm. You can watch the embryos enter a uterus on a monitor. Why the heck can't you just make an embryo stick to the uterine wall? C'mon...just shove it in there and make the surrogate lay on her side for a couple days. Am I right, doc?"

"It doesn't quite work that way, Michael," the doctor says in his awesome accent that I think is South African but I'm not sure.

Curse the limits of science. (Shake fist in the air.)

"If I touch the uterine lining," the doctor continues, "the lining gets irritated and won't accept the egg. And if the egg does stick but the body doesn't want it to stick, it will just lead to a miscarriage down the line."

"Even if you use a little dab of Super Glue?" I asked hopefully.

OK...I didn't really say that.

Then I asked the question every doctor hates to hear. "If you were in my shoes, and I know you can't really tell me what to do, what would you do?"

"I'd get another egg donor," he said quickly.

Wow! A direct, confident answer from a doctor. Nice. Not really the answer I wanted to hear...but I'm glad he felt confident about a decision. We talked about how the eggs are a major part in the success of surrogacy. My sperm looked fine from what they could tell (remember my five...yes FIVE vials!) and a healthy embryo can be put in a 40 year old surrogate and have no problems. The biggest factor that should be changed with my specific situation is the egg donor. So the doctor strongly recommended I find a donor who has either already has a child or has donated eggs that have resulted in a successful pregnancy. My first donor didn't already have children and it's possible that she is infertile and her eggs will just not result in a pregnancy. We're jumping to a BIG conclusion, but when you're in a situation like mine and it costs time and energy and money for every attempt we want to reduce every unknown possible.

I have been looking at donors over the last week or two since I only have one embryo left I knew that starting with a new egg donor was a distinct possibility. I found one woman who I like. She has actually donated 5 times before and the limit is 6 according to some governing board. If I pick her she'd have to retire. How cool to say she retired at 26! I also saw that the woman I was considering months ago who I couldn't use because someone else picked her is available to donate again. I'll have to check if her donation has resulted in a pregnancy.

When I mentioned I needed a little more fun in my entries someone suggested we go all "Survivor" or "American Idol" on this blog and have people vote for their favorite donors. Every week I could post a new fact about the donors to help people decide their vote. I'm sure there is something totally unethical if not illegal about disclosing information like that on a blog and that is clearly not a way to pick a donor. But the idea made me laugh. Picking the right donor is hard.

Meanwhile, back in the casting department, the doctor will most likely be played by Hugh Jackman. He's got a nice accent.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Friend Michaela

I wanted my next blog entry to be something funny and uplifting. I looked at what I wrote a few days ago and it was so depressing. I talked about all the signs I had in my life showing me that I wasn't going to have a baby. That's clearly not doing me any good. So, after failing to find the humor in all that I've gone through, I want to talk about something positive: my friend, "Michaela."

Michaela and I realized a few months ago how our lives have intertwined in such a unique way.

Picture it: Columbia College. Summer of 2001 (I think). A hallway. A young girl comes up to me and says...

Girl: Is your name Michael?
Me: Yeah. (She looks up to me because she's a newbie and I'm about to graduate.)
Girl: Is your last name H*********?
Me: Yep. (She knew me because I was such a phenomenal interpreting student!)
Girl: Did you go to Northwestern?
Me: I did. (Hmmmm...what's going on?)
Girl: You majored in theater, right?
Me: Ummm...yeah. How'd you know? (Should I be calling the cops?)
Girl: You graduated in 199...7?
Me: OK...why are you stalking me???

Maybe that last line didn't really happen.

Michaela was a dance major at Northwestern and she was two years behind me in school. She worked as a performer for a few years and finally decided that she might want a career change. Michaela, like me, wound up looking into interpreting. I'm a big believer that people enter and exit your life for a reason. At this point I didn't know why we connected again.

Michaela and I kept in touch for a while and then she moved out of state. I think we lost touch for a year or two but, through the magic of Facebook, we found each other again.

As I started this blog in February Michaela told me that she was getting close to her own surrogacy journey. As she went through the process and I blogged more and more and told her how wonderful this blogging had (and has) been for me Michaela decided to start her own blog.

Michaela's blog has been so helpful to me. She finds humor in pain like I can't do. She finds hope in adversity which I can't always find. She finds happiness in a frustrating hand that life has dealt her. I have definitely used her texts and calls and blog to help me through rough times.

She is about to find out if her surrogate is pregnant. She'll know in a couple days. I want nothing more than to read those magical words on her blog saying "SHE'S PREGNANT!" It would restore my faith in this process. Plus, Michaela and her husband just plain deserve it. So, as a little favor to me and my friend, please wish her good thoughts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All's Fair In Love and War (And Apparently Surrogacy Too)

Last night I got the news that Chloe isn't pregnant again. Last time I cried inconsolably. This time I cried a little but I was more angry and upset and frustrated. I'm at a loss as to what to do next.

I know that this is not the P.C. thing to say, but I'm going to say this anyway: it sucks to see unfit parents having kids when I'm trying so hard and not succeeding. I work for a hospital where about three-quarters of the people are on public aid, many have no job, some don't breast feed because they want to start using drugs again, some are high when they deliver, some are HIV+ with five kids and are completely living off the government, etc., etc., etc. I'm sure if I talked with more of the OB/GYN staff I would get more stories that would blow my mind. I's not nice to judge these people. I know that many of them grew up in an environment that lacked the opportunities that I had. I know while my parents were going to work every day and planning to take me to Disney World their parents might have been absent or struggling to make ends meet or maybe using drugs or in prison. I know this sounds arrogant of me like I think I'm more deserving of them. But right now I just want to be selfish and say that I do.

Derek turned to me last night after we heard the message and said, "I just want you to be a dad." I will remember that for a long time. What on earth can you possibly say to someone who is going through this? Apparently those are the right words. It made me feel supported and loved and was realistic. Sometimes it's hard to hear the "I know it'll happen for you" words of encouragement. A lot of my friends have said it to me and I know the intention behind it comes from loving me and wishing me the best. But sometimes, when I hear that, I just want to say "You don't really know that" or "It doesn't feel like that." After two failed attempts it is hard to say "It WILL happen" because after it seemed like all the stars aligned twice, they really didn't.

I also read "Michaela's" blog late last night and thank goodness I did. Michaela is in the egg retrieval stage and is plunging a needle into her stomach 3-4 times a day for the next month. Not fun. And yet her blog made me literally laugh out loud. Her take on the process is still upbeat and optimistic. I need that right now. Soon I'll get back to blogging about fun topics like why Eva Mendes will be wet in every scene in the movie or maybe I'll organize a protest against Neil Patrick Harris. But I need a few days to recover from this.

I'm off to call the doctor and the surrogacy agency to get more information and see what happens next.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hey Universe, Are You Listening? You Better Be!

It has been two weeks since the embryo transfer. My life has been busy so, to be honest, I haven't thought about it all that much. I do think about it from time to time and pray "Stick, little embryos, stick!" Then I go about my day until the thought pops into my head again several hours later and I repeat the same mantra. And, every night, I write a few sentences over and over again in a little journal. I write sentences saying things like: "my surrogate is pregnant now," "I will be a dad," and, as Chloe's uncle says, "Grooooooooow baby!" with nine "O"s because I need one for each month of growth. A part of me thinks it's silly and I know my pen and paper doesn't make an embryo stick to the uterus of a woman 15 miles away, but I also think it can't hurt. There are unexplained phenomena in this world that go above our understanding and so my putting it out into the universe may be just the thing my baby needs.

It has been interesting for me to see as I write these sentences every day how their meaning has changed for me. For a while, I wrote them without really thinking about them. One day I noticed I underlined a word in a sentence. Then I'd underline a different word the next day. Words like "pregnant", "dad", and "baby" started to have more meaning and truth. I started saying the sentences out loud as I wrote them. I'm hoping the universe is listening.

The thought that is always in my head now is "What will my child be?" I wonder if my child will be a teacher or an athlete or a scientist. I can't wait to see what kind of child comes from me. It will be exciting to see my child's personality and interests grow and develop.

The pregnancy test is on Monday. These last few days have been harder than the first week and a half. As we get closer and closer the excitement and nerves increase. But I'm imagining that moment that I'm told "She's pregnant" and the tears of joy that will come after that. This just has to succeed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. Derek and I got up so we could make our way to the fertility clinic for today's embryo transfer. I made waffles with syrup. Last time we did an embryo transfer we had eggs for breakfast and later realized the flaw in our logic - we already had the eggs! Now we needed something to make them stick. That's why we ate syrup today.

Right as we left my place I saw "Life" cereal in a shopping bag. I had bought some last night since I knew that Derek liked that cereal and I meant to offer him that for breakfast. All of a sudden, it hit me at that moment: Life! We should have eaten Life cereal!!! I grabbed the box and decided it couldn't hurt to take a few handfuls before the transfer.

When we got to the fertility clinic about 7:15 a.m. I asked the receptionist if "Chloe's" friend, "Steven", could go into room during the embryo transfer so he could capture it on film. I wasn't sure if filming would be allowed. The receptionist said that would probably be ok and she would check with the doctor.

After a couple minutes the nurse called me to go into a room even though Chloe wasn't there yet. Then she looked at Derek and wondered why he wasn't coming too. I'm not sure if she knows that he's my partner or if she just assumed he was a friend but I have to say that it has been so nice to never have felt judged throughout this whole process. The doctors, lawyers, nurses, agency representatives, etc. have never hesitated to use the word "partner" and never looked at Derek with a "who are you?" expression on their faces. Even some of the forms sometimes say things like "Partner 1" and "Partner 2."

Getting back to today, Derek came back to wait with me. The nurse gave scrubs to Derek and me. Once again we said that we wanted the filmmaker to be in the room and we weren't sure how many people could fit. The nurse said she would check with the doctor and there would probably be room for all.

Next, the embryologist came in to talk to me. He said that they had thawed the first two embryos and both were suitable for transfer. That was great news. I breathed a sigh of relief. It's nice to know I still have one embryo frozen for use in the future if I want.

Chloe and Steven arrived a little while later and they were getting ready in another room. The nurse asked Chloe if it was ok for Derek and me (and Steven, of course) to be in the room and she agreed. A few minutes later we all piled into the room: Derek, Chloe, Steven, the doctor, the technician, the embryologist and me. Someone was telling everyone where to stand and sit. It was almost like setting up a shot for a real movie.

I saw the dish with my name on it and my two little embryos! There they were on the screen, magnified 400 times, and they were no bigger than the size of a pea. I watched them get sucked up into a tube and then the embryologist came into the room. This time, it was hard to see the embryos get shot into the uterus. Last time Chloe and I saw the outline of the equipment on the ultrasound monitor and even saw the embryos get shot out. This time, the technician had said it would be hard to see and he was right. I'm not sure why. Derek and I are hoping it's because her uterine lining is a lot thicker this time, but we might be wrong. I'm trusting that they're in there, searching for a place to attach as I type this. A technician checked the tube to make sure that it's all clear before we were allowed to leave the room. He said nothing was left in the tube so the procedure was done and it was time for us to go home.

One day, when my child is small, maybe I'll show him/her the video and say, "That was you when you were 5 days old!"

Now I have 16 days of waiting. I think I might go have a bowl of "Life" for lunch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grooooooooow Baby!

One more day until the embryo transfer. It's getting exciting. I mentioned on Facebook that the embryo transfer is on Saturday and two of my friends said that they had dreams about my baby. One said she asked me how the baby was and I smiled and said, "Great!" I'm hoping that putting all of this out into the universe is telling the universe that I am ready to meet my baby -- or babies. I still have to remember that having twins is possible.

The first time we tried to become pregnant my surrogate took a pregnancy test 12 days after the transfer. Twelve days after this transfer is Thanksgiving day. I'm hoping I'll have something very big to be thankful for this year. Of course the clinic isn't open on Thanksgiving day so I won't find out on that Thursday. The pregnancy test is set for November 29th so stay posted for that news.

From what I remember the embryo takes anywhere from 2-4 days to implant. (I may have that wrong, though.) Regardless of the actual number of days, I know that it's within a few days after the transfer. So this weekend we'll all be thinking about that little baby latching on to the surrogate! And, as my surrogate's uncle likes to say, "Grooooooooow baby!"

On a completely non-clinical note, a friend of mine who is a playwright said he is writing a play about a gay couple adopting a child and he wants to talk with me about my process. How exciting! I'm not only going to have a documentary made about this process AND a Hollywood movie made about my life, now I'm inspiring a play too. If this becomes a movie-of-the-week and someone writes a hit song about me I can achieve an EGOT. (There's my "30 Rock" reference for all you fans.)

Friday, November 5, 2010

On Your Mark, Get Set...

I can't believe it has been close to a month since I last wrote a post. It makes sense. Not much has happened over the past few weeks since we have just been waiting for the doctor to "reset" my surrogate's cycle. Now we are eight days away from the embryo transfer.

I decided to look for some quotes to add to my blog and sum up some feelings that maybe I couldn't express in my own words. At first I decided I would write "Michael's Soliloquy" and start off with "To birth or not to birth" or something clever like that. Then I remembered I hate Shakespeare and don't understand him so spoofing him wasn't going to work. Instead, I just have a few quotes I found online.

Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves.
-Marcelene Cox

I have no idea who Marcelene Cox is. I tried googling the name and all I got were her quotes. But I liked this quote because I hope that I will remember this when I am frustrated or angry or stressed. I'm not at the rearing part yet, but I'm at the making part and so far this hasn't been a walk in the park. There have been times when I have forgotten the goal because of the heaviness of a certain part of the process. I have to remember that the good will far outweigh the bad when my dream comes true.

Ah! what would the world be to us If the children were no more? We should dread the desert behind us Worse than the dark before.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Last time we did an embryo transfer I was scared to get my hopes up. This time, my hopes are up. I know I will have a child and I will be a dad. That is the only option in my head right now. A few weeks ago my surrogate went in for blood work and an ultrasound (I think of her uterus...I'm not sure. I don't pay attention to girly parts) and everything was fine. Yesterday she went in for a check of her uterine lining. The nurse called me to say it's at 12.5 mm which is great. The doctors want the lining to be at least 7 mm so she is well above that threshold and this is better than it was last time we did the transfer. Things are looking good. My parents are flying to town today. If we have time we plan on looking at baby furniture. My parents said that they will buy me a crib. A few months ago I wouldn't have agreed to do this, but now I want to start planning. I'm trying to put it out to the universe that I'm ready for this baby!

Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your rest home.
-Phyllis Diller

Just had to add that.

In other news...

Chloe's friend did make a short video of the surrogacy process. He submitted it to a one-minute film festival. There were 26 entries and he took 3rd prize. I hope I get to see it. I asked Chloe is she wanted her friend to film the embryo transfer this time. Maybe that's why it didn't work the first time. Maybe we need my child's very first few minutes of life to be on video. I asked Chloe if she minded having her uterus on film. She didn't. She's so easy going. Plus she mentioned she just watched "Whip It" and wants to go skating. Derek loves the movie "Whip It." Maybe that's another sign I have the right surrogate!

Also, Neil Patrick Harris still has not posted on my blog. I don't care if he has newborn twins, it's not hard to write "Good luck Michael" on my blog. Can we all agree to boycott his show?

On the plus side, my friend who is going through surrogacy is moving along. I just wrote her a note and said that we should arrange a play date for our kids. She lives a few thousand miles away, but I think our kids should meet. Maybe February 19th, 2012? Can I pencil you in for that, "Michaela"?

Monday, October 11, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again

At times I feel like this just gets harder and harder. Talking with the doctor was tough...maybe tougher than I have let on. Every time I think about the next try it opens up a wound. Losing the embryos last time was hard and I think time heals all wounds...but it's not healed yet. It still really hurts.

Derek and I went to the doctor together almost two weeks ago. Here is what we learned...

The donor having 13 follicles was on the lower end of the spectrum. We kind of knew that. The doctor said 13 follicles should have given us 10 good eggs and I only had eight. So I kind of lost on that step. Out of the eight that were fertilized usually 50% don't succeed so my seven out of eight was great. And then, out of those eight, having five that made it to the blastocyst stage was about normal. So I had some bad luck, some good luck, and some typical luck. The doctor also said that 2/3 of people who use egg donors have embryos to freeze so I am fortunate that I didn't fall into the 1/3 who don't have any extras.

On November 13th we will try to transfer two more embryos. I have three frozen embryos. There are two ways to thaw the embryos. The first way is to thaw all three embryos at the same time and pick the best two. But, if all three are viable, the doctors will pick the best two and then the third will have to be discarded. It cannot be frozen again. The second way is to thaw them one at a time and, if the first two are viable, then we can save the third one. The only negative with this second method is that the one that is frozen may be stronger than the two that are thawed. There is no way to compare all three and take the best two with this method. That's ok with me if I can keep the third one frozen and possibly have a third chance. The big question I had was how much of a success rate do doctors have thawing embryos. The doctor told me 90% of embryos can be transferred. I like those odds.

So November 13th is the day. Twelve days later, which is when we do the pregnancy test, is Thanksgiving day. I hope that I'll be very thankful for something this year. My guess is I'll have to wait until Friday or even the following Monday, though, to get the pregnancy results. That will be a hard weekend.

My mom told me she had a dream recently. She, like me, doesn't usually remember her dreams. This one, however, she did remember. She had an extremely vivid dream that I had a baby named Richard and he started walking at 5 1/2 months old. OK...that second part probably won't happen, but it was nice that she had a dream about me having a baby.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What Happens Next?

It has been a week since I found out the pregnancy didn't take. A lot of people have asked what the next step is. I don't have all the answers yet, but I have to meet with my doctor again. My appointment is at the end of this month. And it looks like we will try again in November. Two months is a long time to wait for me, but I think I like taking that time to just get over what happened over this past cycle.

Meanwhile, I just got some emails from the fertility clinic yesterday and today. I have to sign a form to consent to thaw and transfer the frozen embryos and, of course, pay the clinic again. They always want their money! I read one form yesterday and it crushed me again. One paragraph said more embryos will be thawed than I expect to be transferred because not all thawed embryos are suitable for transfer.


I thought I had three embryos left. Now I find out that may not be true? This was a blow when I was already not doing so well. I feel like I need to talk to the doctor to get more information. My mind is just racing with "what if" questions.

So where is the silver lining?

Well, I may have one. On Sunday I met with a friend of mine who talked about the idea of making room in your life for more things to come in, positive energy in the world, and the power of your own thoughts to make real, physical changes even though everything around you is going against what you want. We talked about experiments like how you physically become stronger when you say the word "yes" or tell the truth and become weaker when you say "no" or tell a lie. The mind is definitely very powerful.

The next day I went to work. My job that day was tough. It was from 9:30-1:30pm and I assumed there would be a break at some point...just a few minutes to go to the bathroom or get water. People can't go four hours without a five minute stretch, right? At about 12:00 we hadn't taken a break and there was no mention of one any time soon. As my partner and I wrote notes back and forth to each other I wrote that I hoped they would take a short break. About a minute later someone in the room asked for a break. mind IS powerful!

As my partner and I chatted during the break (we hadn't seen each other in about two years) she mentioned the power of visualization and sending things out to the universe. I thought it was interesting I had two conversations in a row about this idea. I also remembered reading something about an experiment with water. I looked it up online and found this excerpt....

Dr. Emoto found that if he played beautiful music in the presence of tap water, it would then make beautiful frozen crystal formations. He also learned that the written word changed the water. Dr. Emoto taped paper strips on bottles of tap water and then photographed the frozen water. He found that words such as "Thank you," and "I love you," caused the tap water to form beautiful crystals. Words such as "You make me sick," or "You are a fool," caused ugly, distorted crystals or no crystals at all. Dr. Emoto then found that we can cause tap water to form beautiful frozen water crystals simply by praying for the water, by sending it loving thoughts, and by blessing it.

This came from the website

I have never been very religious or even spiritual. But when you're dealing with such high stakes, you'll try anything. During this first attempt I was scared to think the results would be positive or negative. I didn't want to go down either path. I was afraid of getting my hopes up but now that I have gone through this once I'm ready to throw myself into the process. I'm going to ask everyone to really think about my surrogate being pregnant, to pray for a successful pregnancy, and to hope that this next time will be a success. I do think that our thoughts can affect outcomes.

Meanwhile, Neil Patrick Harris is still M.I.A. Hrmpf!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Three Little Words

After 12 days of waiting I finally got the call. It was about 3:15 p.m. and I literally was walking out of my job the second the phone rang. I saw the 847 area code so I knew it was the fertility clinic. I answered not sure what I should feel aside from nervousness. The nurse said to me, "She's not pregnant."

It took me a minute to figure out what to feel. I thought I had a good shot at getting pregnant. (Well, not me personally, but the surrogate!) I tend to not live in the moment and I worry about the future and immediately I was counting my limited number of chances left. The nurse told me that I should call the doctor to set up an appointment and we would discuss using the frozen embryos.

I sat on a step on the sidewalk crying as I talked to the nurse. Right at that moment a woman walked by and asked me if I was ok. It was sweet to see there are people in this world who are concerned for a stranger's well being. The knife in the heart came from the fact that she was pushing a baby in a stroller. Real life is stranger than fiction, right? You just can't make up this kind of stuff. Right after she passed me by two guys came walking down the sidewalk and asked me if I smoke and had cigarettes. Do you not see me crying on the phone?!?!?

I called my parents. I called Derek. I told them what was going on. I also got a call from the surrogate agency asking if I was ok. What can you say? Not much. It is what it is. No, I'm not ok, but there is nothing to be done. "Chloe" also sent me a text saying she was sorry and asked if I was doing ok. It was very sweet of her to check in with me.

I guess this is part of the process. Other people go through this too so it's not like I'm the only person who has ever had to endure this. I will survive. It's just tough now.

The movie is still in development. My friend Tiffany (a.k.a. the "Michaela" of "Michael & Michaela") has come up with some song titles like "Makin' Babies in the 21st Century" (featuring porn, pipettes and petri dishes), a hilarious cover of "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof with all new lyrics, and the showstopping "Pushin' Real Hard," an revival-esque gospel number about the birthing process. Tiffany recommended Jennifer Hudson play my surrogate because she'll be great in her gospel song. I'm also thinking Barbara Streisand or Better Midler as my mom.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Longest 288...I Mean 336 Hours...

I'm wondering when my life gets to slow down and when I get a break. Yes, I realize the irony of wanting a break at the same time I'm hoping to have a baby. I know parents don't get a break. The stress and responsibilities will just increase and it is a 24/7 job.

Today I had to run to the surrogate agency to pay for insurance. I think I mentioned before that most insurance policies don't cover surrogates. My surrogate has a pretty strong policy that looks like it does not have an exclusion for her while she is doing this for me. I might get the pregnancy covered...but we won't know until the first bill is submitted. So I decided to take out a special policy on my surrogate.

There are a few different options, but not many. I can't remember what all the different policies do. One policy has a $45,000 deductible. I'm not really sure what you get from that but $45,000 is a big risk to take The one that seems to work best for me is a complications only policy. If the baby is happy and healthy then I won't use the policy at all. Let's all hope for that.

I went to the agency to drop off the insurance paperwork this morning and started talking with one of the women who works there. She is a nurse. I mentioned the pregnancy test coming up and how that will hopefully confirm that my surrogate is, in fact, pregnant. My heart sank a little more when I learned that the one test isn't really proof of a pregnancy. There is a hormone called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) that is measured to confirm a pregnancy. If my surrogate has that hormone it means she is pregnant. Usually that is a pretty good indication of a pregnancy. But my surrogate will have to go back two days later to get her HCG level checked again. That level should double every 24 hours. The waiting gets longer and longer all the time. The big milestone to get through is the fetal heartbeat which happens at about 5-6 weeks.

It's funny that HCG came up in my life today because it came up in Derek's life too. Derek found an application that is one of those "What to Expect When Expecting" things. He punched in the embryo's "birthday" and then it gives him updates and what is happening at certain points during the pregnancy. Today's update talked all about HCG.

A lot of my friends have been asking about "Chloe" taking a home pregnancy test. The results, as we all know, are not always accurate. The nurse at the fertility clinic said that the embryos can take 3-7 days to attach to the uterus. That's why there is such a long waiting period before doing the pregnancy test. I think it's not worth asking for a home pregnancy test. It has certainly crossed my mind, but the wrong answer - either way - is not what I want. I'll just keep thining about sticky things. Hmmm...maybe I'll get a Cinnabon today!

P.S. Still no word from Neil Patrick Harris.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Deja Vu

Derek and I went out to dinner tonight. I wasn't very hungry and just wanted something small and quick. We were planning on going to Noodles and Co. but at the last minute I remembered a Chinese restaurant in the area. We decided to go there.

At the end of the meal we got fortune cookies. I opened mine up and it said:

"Your present plans are going to succeed."

Hmmmm...same fortune I got on April 21st. Coincidence???

Friday, August 27, 2010

There's Good News and Bad News (This Is a Familiar Theme)

I guess getting up at the crack of dawn is something that will be normal for me in nine months. I had to be at the fertility clinic at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday. Of course I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was late. I remember seeing the clock said 3:19 a.m. Next thing I knew the alarm was buzzing at 5:00 a.m. Oy vey.

Derek (my boyfriend/partner/support system who just got major points for sending me flowers at work today and who will be played by Neil Patrick Harris in the movie and who was thoughtful enough to buy the surrogate a little thank you gift for our first meeting) and I had eggs for breakfast. We just couldn't resist.

We headed up to the fertility clinic and "Chloe" was already there with her friend who is hoping to make the documentary film about this process. I introduced Derek, she introduced her friend, and we all made our way into the clinic.

The clinic was much nicer than the last time I was there. The waiting room renovations were complete so there were flowers and bamboo walls and art deco couches now. I didn't have to walk past client files to sit in an overcrowded back hallway this time. Clearly the renovations were a success.

"Chloe" and I were called in almost immediately and that left Derek and the filmmaker to deal with awkward conversation and silence. "Chloe" went into one room to change into a gown and I was put in a separate room.

The embryologist came in to talk with me. She told me that embryos, which should be at the blastocyst stage by now, are given a number on a scale of 2-4 for the rating of the cavity and then get a grade of A, B, or C for inner and (I think) outer cell mass. I had four full blastocysts, two early blastocysts and one pre-blastocyst that is called a morula. The four full blastocysts were rated 4AB, 4AB, 4AB and 4BB. That sounded pretty good to me. The other three were not viable at that moment and could be watched for one more day. If they continued to mature I could freeze them. The attrition rate after fertilization is usually 50% so I was doing pretty well.

Then came the big decision. How many embryos to transfer? Fresh transfers have a slightly higher success rate than frozen transfers. If I decided to only transfer one and it failed, then next time I would have to do two. Then I might be left with only one, frozen 4BB for a third time and that doesn't give me very good odds. How many blastocysts I had influenced my decision. How confident I felt influenced my decision. How I felt about the possibility of twins influenced my decision. And, of course, my emotional state of how I would feel trying this two or three times influenced my decision. I literally just paused for a second and blurted out "two." It feels like the right decision.

The embryologist and I went in to talk with my surrogate about my decision to get her approval. We asked how she felt about twins. My surrogate said something to the effect of "Bring it on!" She is so willing to do anything and everything to make this pregnancy happen. It was nice to see her be so fearless in this process.

"Chloe" and I were left alone in the room. We wound up being there for, I think, about 30-40 minutes. I wondered how we would find anything to do to pass the time. We talked almost the whole time. I learned a little about her family, her education, plans for medical school, travel experiences and more. We had a really nice time. After getting to know her a little more I have a lot of respect for her and I like her. I really do. I see how when she wants something in life she goes for it with 100% commitment. Getting to know her as a person and not just as my surrogate makes me trust her more.

When the time came to do the embryo transfer "Chloe" let me go in the room with her. I got to watch the embryos on the monitor hung in the room. I saw the embryos sucked up from a dish into a tube. Then I watched the embryos injected into the uterus. The whole process took 10 minutes or less. The actual transfer was about 30 seconds. The surrogate said she barely knew they were starting before it was all over.

From a clinical perspective, it looked like two little dots moving across the screen. But from a personal, emotional level, I can't get it out of my head that I just saw my child(ren) for the first time! The idea that my child is alive now is amazing. As much as I wanted this child, I want him or her (or them!) even more after seeing them. If it is possible to love a collection of 20 cells, I do.

The surrogate goes for a pregnancy test in about two weeks. It has been about 36 hours so far and the wait is so agonizing.

Today I got a call saying that out of the three embryos that were not fully developed only one became viable. That one grew to a 4BB. So I have a 4AB, a 4BB and a second 4BB frozen now. Somehow I went from 13 eggs to 5 embryos so quickly. That's a harsh reality.

Now I wait.

And wait.

And wait.

On the ride home from the clinic Derek said that the filmmaker was sharing some stories with him. He said "Chloe" has had some people tell her that what she is doing is playing G-d and it is unnatural. It makes me sad to hear that people she knows are not supporting her in what she is doing. I feel lucky my friends have been supportive beyond belief. Is this natural? No. But nasty, hurtful comments like that make me think this film is a good idea. It is hard to hate when you put a face to an issue. I'm sure some people will always be against this. But maybe this movie will make some people will see what an amazing thing "Chloe" and my egg donor have done for me.

Meanwhile, last night I saw the episode of "Friends" where Rachel is in the hospital right after giving birth. Is this another sign? Or does this mean that I have an unhealthy faith in "Friends" paralleling my pregnancy process?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Odds and Ends

The last few days have been so stressful. My mind is constantly thinking about this process, my life, babies, money, relationships, and everything else. I try to remember that having a child is stressful. If I think this is bad now, nine months from now will be unmanageable. I just have to take things as they come. I have no control over the process right now. Sometimes that helps me calm myself down...sometimes not.

One thing that does run through my head a lot is how this process is so much more for me than for 99.9% of the world. Many people, hundreds or maybe thousands, without money, education, resources, support or even wanting a child, get one. As an interpreter I have seen examples of this: an HIV+ woman having her sixth child, a woman who didn't have $100 for a bite guard but who is trying to get pregnant (and we all know a baby costs a lot more than $100), a woman who barely has the language capacity to understand pregnancy had a baby. But, as I have also learned, I'm not alone in my process. By now about a dozen friends have mentioned that they or someone they know have used sperm donors, egg donors, surrogates or IVF treatments. These success stories are wonderful to hear and in nine months I will hopefully have my own success story to share with others.

I had another sign this morning. I usually listen to a morning radio program if I'm in the car. I almost didn't turn it on. I was close to listening to the tape of my singing lesson. In the end I decided I would listen to the radio show. As soon as I turned it on I heard talk of turkey basters and ovulation. I missed part of the conversation, but I did hear some talk of how little people know of the ovulation/pregnancy process. The DJs were talking about men wanting signs about when it was safe/not safe to "have relations" as they kept saying. An obstetrician called the show to talk about how male and female sperm differ (speed vs. stamina), how many days before a period ovulation happens, and how much more men know about this process now compared with 10 or 20 years ago. One DJ even asked how long sperm stay alive in utero. I knew that thanks to my fun fact I posted in a recent blog entry. I know that anything can be made into a sign if you are looking for them, but I thought that was just one more fun coincidence in my life.

Plus, there is a recall on eggs due to salmonella. Wait...that's not good. Moving on...

I also decided to write a letter to Neil Patrick Harris. No, I have not turned into a crazy stalker. My letter was very simple. I said that I was writing a blog about my surrogacy journey and said NPH should be in the movie of my life and a week or two later NPH announced his own surrogacy journey. That made me wish that NPH would follow my blog. I'm not really expecting an answer. On the off chance that you see "NPH" or "Neil" following my blog, though, you'll know who it is.

I have more casting updates on the movie. My friend (a.k.a. "Michaela") is a dancer and has decided she should choreograph this epic movie which will become a film and, maybe, a mini-series. Her husband will be played by Matthew Broderick since Matthew had kids through a surrogate recently. I think all my interpreter friends need to be condensed into one or two co-workers and I'm thinking Kathy Griffin and Tina Fey. This movie really is going to be an epic. We haven't even started the pregnancy and already I have a cast of thousands. I think we might have to break this movie up into parts like the final Harry Potter book which will be split into two films.

Finally, I will be going to the fertility clinic tomorrow morning at 6:30 (ugh) for the first embryo transfer. I guess I better get used to the early mornings. This is it. After a lifetime of thinking about being a father, years of planning, months of stress, weeks of contract negotiations, days of crying and hours or holding my breath we are finally at a point where this could happen. So cross your fingers, eat some eggs, wish upon a star, rent a Neil Patrick Harris movie, say a prayer, purchase creepy surrogate t-shirts on the internet, dream of babies, buy some booties, watch Phoebe give birth on "Friends," give your baby a kiss or do anything else that you think could increase my chances.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Babies are Everywhere

I thought, when you ride a roller coaster, the big drops are at the beginning and the ride calms down as you get towards the end. Clearly I was wrong. I recently had an amazing high that then dropped very low.

On Saturday I called the fertility clinic to ask what had happened with my donor. I was told the doctors got 13 eggs. Thirteen!!! What a lovely number. This was better than I could have expected. I felt like 13 eggs would give me a great chance of having a lot of viable embryos.

After the eggs were retrieved they were fertilized. The nurse said she did get the message to do ICSI and assisted hatching so that was a relief too.

Today was the call with news about how many eggs turned into embryos. As I listened to the message it did make my heart pound. It's incredible how one little word can change your life. Hearing a number like "12" would be very different than hearing a number like "3." The magic number was seven. Four of the eggs were immature and couldn't be used. One egg was degenerative. That left me with eight. Of the eight eggs that were healthy, seven made it through the first day of fertilization.

Of course I wanted more. But I have also heard from some people that having 6-8 embryos is average. I'm just trying not to freak out until I talk with the doctor on Tuesday or Thursday.

On a lighter note, babies are starting to pop up in my life. On Saturday I met a friend of mine for brunch with her 2 month old baby. She let me feed him. I was burping him after feeding him. I was watching his head sway from side to side and getting further and further away from the burp cloth. Sure enough, when his head was turned completely to the side facing me, he spit up his milk all over my shirt. Guess that's just my first taste of being a dad. At least I haven't had to deal with dirty diapers...yet.

And tonight I went to rehearsal for a show. I have a prop wallet with $25 in it. I opened the wallet and saw the fake $25. Nothing else was in the entire wallet except some photo holders. There were eight photos and they all were photos of babies. that a little bit of a sign? Let's hope.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 21st: It's the Day of the Retrieval, Y'all!

My poor donor. She keeps going in for more and more testing. I'm sure she is anxious to get back to her life. She is living out of town now and had to come back to Chicago for the retrieval. The original plan was to retrieve the eggs Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. The final decision is to retrieve the eggs on Saturday since the medications had to be adjusted as we went along and that caused her to be a few days behind the predicted schedule.

At last count the donor had 10 follicles in the ideal size range and 5 more that are small. Not a bad number, but I wouldn't have minded a few more. Here's the to-do list over the next few days

- eat brunch (probably eggs)
- get phone call about how many eggs were retrieved
- cry (from either good news or bad news)

- sleep in
- get a call about how many eggs were fertilized
- cry (from either good news or bad news)

- get oil change
- get a call about when embryo transfer will happen (either Tuesday or Thursday)
- buy more tissues in anticipation of crying

- go to the fertility clinic and watch embryos be inserted into a stranger's uterus

- use up all the tissues I bought on Monday and hope to hear the fetal heartbeat

The transfer day will be either Tuesday or Thursday. It is always 3 or 5 days after fertilization. Most times the parents go to the clinic, but the doctor can call me if I can't make it. I will hopefully be able to go in person. Plus, if the surrogate agrees, I can be in the room with her when they do the transfer. Everything can be seen on the monitor. How amazing is that??? I thought it would be neat to videotape it and then I realized the surrogate probably doesn't want a video of her uterus on YouTube or Facebook. I'll probably have to be content with just watching it myself if she allows me to come into the room.

My current nurse is much better than the mean one I had to deal with in the first part of the process. She noticed some decisions I made on some paperwork that didn't make sense. I think it was because the first nurse did a lousy job explaining the procedures to me. There are two techniques that can increase my chances of fertilization. ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is allowing the embryologists to hand pick the sperm and insert it into each egg. If I don't do that the sperm and eggs all mix in a dish and we hope the meet. Doing ICSI ensures that the sperm that inseminates the eggs all look good and healthy and nothing odd happens like two sperm entering one egg. The second technique is egg hatching. Women's eggs have a shell on the outside. The shell has to be removed at some point during the process. If I understood it correctly the embryologist doesn't actually remove the shell but will crack it to help the process. I told the nurse to please use both techniques to increase my chances.

Fun fact of the day: human sperm is fertile for 24-48 hours. A bat's sperm is fertile for 135 days. Could you imagine having sex once and then finding out four months later that you're pregnant???

Thursday, August 19, 2010

:-/ :-D :-(

On Friday my donor had 13 follicles. :-/

On Monday my donor had 21 follicles. :-D

On Wednesday my donor has 12 follicles. :-(

Whoa...what happened??? Did the follicle fairy swoop in and take some? How did I suddenly gain 8 eggs and then lose 9? Weren't things going in the right direction?

My nurse told me that the people who run the ultrasounds count follicles differently. Follicles should be 10-18mm and I think 15-16mm is ideal. I knew some follicles were small and may not have eggs so the ultrasonographer (who knew that was a word?) only counted the ones over 10mm. I only have 4 in the 15-16mm range and the others are closer to 10mm. The donor is going to be on medication for a few more days to hopefully help the follicles grow a little more and it now looks like she will donate either on Saturday or Sunday.

The donor's estrogen levels have almost doubled (I have no idea what the number should be but my nurse was very excited by this so I decided I should be excited too). Because the donor is donating for the first time it sometimes takes doctors some adjusting to figure out the right medication levels and combinations. My donor is moving in the right direction and responding to the medication, she's just a few days behind schedule. I asked the nurse to thank my donor for staying a few days past her planned donation date. I'm sure she wants to be done with the medication and see her husband again. I started crying thinking about how much she is doing for me and almost made the nurse cry. In the movie I don't think I should be crying so much. I want a comedy...and to win an Oscar I think I just need one, really good break down scene. That'll be the moment that clinches my award.

I asked about getting up to 30 eggs. I had been told that donors usually produce 10-30 eggs. My nurse said that was correct but 30 is definitely rare and sometimes you get poor quality. She also said most donors produce 10-15 eggs. Sometimes she only gets 7-8 eggs but they are high quality. Hopefully I'll get about a dozen eggs.

Keep holding your breath and crossing your fingers until the weekend. I'll be heading out to brunch on Saturday with a friend and her 6 week old baby. I think I'll order eggs.

I'm off to search the web for a way to contact Neil Patrick Harris. I'm hoping he'll follow my blog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm the Next Neil Patrick Harris

Over the weekend it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris is having twins born through a surrogate. I found that a little bit of a weird coincidence that he is going through this process at the same time I joked that he should play me in the movie. My friend wants Amy Adams to play her. I'm secretly hoping that Amy Adams is the egg donor for Neil Patrick Harris' baby. If she is I'll have to quit my job and spend the next 9 months trying to contact Neil Patrick Harris to get him to produce and star in my movie. One friend thinks he's not Jewish enough to play me. So the new plan is that Amy Adams will be my friend Michaela in the "Michael & Michaela" movie, I will play myself and get my big break and Neil Patrick Harris will play my love interest. I think it's perfect! Amy, Neil and I all sing too, so when the movie is turned into a Broadway musical we can all still be in the show. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this plan.

I got some good news today too. The surrogate went in for more monitoring and she is now above the threshold that the doctors want. I was also told she has a "nice quality" for her uterine lining. I never thought I'd hear those words in reference to that. A nice quality of life. Sure. A nice quality shirt. OK. A nice quality uterine lining. Not so much. But I'll take it. So she is ready to take an embryo.

The egg donor was on more medication over the weekend and it seems to have helped. She went from having 13 follicles to 21. The nurse said some of the follicles are tiny and may not produce good eggs. But she also said "overall, it's a great quantity." Again, it may not be optimal, but I'll take it for now. The surrogate will be on medication for two more days and then she'll go in for another check. We'll see if she actually donates on August 18th like my fortune cookie predicted or not.

I'm trying to read up on this whole process of egg follicles and ovulation so I understand it a little more. As a gay man I have to admit I'm not very familiar with cycles and ovaries and other girly parts. (Yes...I am calling them girly parts.) When I interpret ob/gyn appointments I definitely have to ask the doctor for clarification at times. I guess we have proof that my sex ed classes in high school failed a little, although I'm not sure follicle stimulation of a donor to be mixed with frozen sperm in a dish was a common topic 20 years ago. However, in my defense, I do remember one high school girl saying she had cramps so bad she could feel which ovary it was in. After she left the room, a boy - a senior, no less - responded with, "You mean she's going to have a baby?!?!?" I think the sex ed classes were a little lacking and my being gay might not be the only reason hoo-has and bajingas are foreign to me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There May Be a Movie!

On Friday the fertility nurse called and left a message. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was holding my breath during the first 20 seconds of the message because I was waiting to hear if it was good news or bad news. It was torture. I finally exhaled when she said everything was OK. The donor has 13 follicles. They were hoping for a little more so the nurse gave her a little more medication and on Monday I might have to order even more. So it's not bad, but it's not optimal right now. Hopefully a few more follicles will grow. I've been told they want to retrieve between 10 and 30 eggs so 13 is an OK number but more is better.

The surrogate needed a little more medication too, but she is very close to the expected results for her uterine lining. So again, we're not panicking, but it's not quite at the level that we all wanted.

The surrogate also contacted me to say that her friend is a filmmaker and wants to make a documentary about her process. She said she needed my permission. I know there is something in my contract with her and my egg donor contract saying that we will keep the other party's identity a secret. So I'm not 100% sure if she needs my permission if she doesn't say anything about me. But I'm leaning towards giving her permission anyway. I think it would be an amazing story for my child to see. I have to talk to my lawyer for sure to make sure this doesn't break the contract, but I don't think I have any issues with this. I'm very open about my situation so this film is not revealing anything new or unknown. A while ago the surrogacy agency sent me a message saying HBO was looking for people who were using surrogates and/or egg donors. I didn't have time to apply but I might have done that if life hadn't been so crazy at that moment. The more I talk about this (and my friend writes her blog) the more I hear stories about people wanting to know more, people who donated an egg, people who are considering a surrogate, etc. Information and exposure can only help bring this process into the mainstream.

I have been calling my boyfriend with updates about the women. I have to say that this process is so much nicer while having someone going through it with me. Of course my friends and family have been supportive beyond belief. As I have said many, many times this blog and the comments I have heard from other people have helped me make it through all this stress. However, having one person who is getting emotionally invested in this with me is calming and nice.

The exact date of the egg retrieval is still up in the air. It is supposed to be this Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Then I finally get to send the donor my letter thanking her for what she is doing. I am looking forward to that.

Time to not breathe for the next three to five days. Keep sending me - and the donor - good thoughts.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Proudly Baked in a Surrogate Oven"

Late last week I got the email address and phone number for my surrogate. I emailed her and she recently emailed me back. How on earth do you start a conversation/friendship/business partnership under these circumstances? I have never seen a Hallmark card for this and believe me, I looked. I did, however, find a card celebrating meat, Ramen, samurai time, tea and terrible teeth at

There is, however, surrogate themed clothing. Just in case I have an overwhelming urge to buy my baby a onesie that says, "Proudly baked in a surrogate oven" or buy the surrogate a "Yes I'm pregnant. No, it's not mine." t-shirt for Christmas I know I can order it at I might "accidentally" forget to add those shirts to the baby registry.

I will admit it is a little awkward, but I'm sure it will be better as time goes on. My surrogate, as most of you know, hopes to be a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine) so I mentioned that I work in a hospital and if she had any questions maybe I could find out some answers. I figured that was a good way to bond at first. And I sincerely do hope that she is successful in her career path. Why would I want to wish her anything but success? So we'll see where she is in 9 months and I'm sure you'll be getting some updates about her.

I recently posted about suspending my blog for 3 months. Many people wait for the first trimester to pass before announcing a pregnancy. I am a little superstitious and scared to talk about the pregnancy. But then I received an email from a friend who, unfortunately, had lost a baby right around the end of the first trimester and she was already showing. She said people knew and the support she got helped her get through the ordeal. It was very touching to have her open up to me like that since I hadn't known the story. Once again I get amazing support from people I wouldn't expect! So I'm leaning towards continuing my blog.

Approximately two weeks from today (I still don't have an exact date) the egg donor will go in for her egg retrieval procedure. Yep...two weeks. A great interpreting teacher of mine believed life is like a roller coaster. Once you're on it you can't get off until it comes to a stop. I'm trying to think of this process in that way. There's no getting off the ride now. And, in my experience, once I get off a scary roller coaster, I usually want to get back on and ride it again! Hopefully this process will have the same effect on me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Signed, sealed, delivered

Hooray! On Thursday I got confirmation that the donor's husband did, in fact, sign the paperwork. Whew. That's a load off my mind. I believed he did intend to sign then contract and I believed he did sign the contract like I was told, but until he got to a fax machine and actually sent it to his lawyer and his lawyer sent it to my lawyer and my lawyer sent it to me I was holding my breath. Now I can breathe again and un-cross my fingers.

For the next three weeks or so I just wait. The surrogate and the egg donor are taking medications to prepare them for their respective jobs. The egg retrieval will happen, I believe, between August 18th and 20th. The two women go to the doctor a couple of times for monitoring this month. At any point, if they are not responding appropriately to their medications, their participation could be canceled. So I actually need everyone to cross your fingers again...even all the sign language interpreters even though I know it's hard to sign that way. It is scary to know that at any moment I could get a call saying everything is off. Please pray, throw salt over your shoulder, pick up a four leaf clover if you see one, wish upon a star one night or do anything else you can think of to help this process. You all have been amazing support so far and I need a little more.

I also got my surrogate's contact information. I just emailed her. It is a little odd to start a relationship this way, but I also am very hopeful that we will have a positive relationship with each other and have a unique bond that is unlike any other. For those of you out there who wonder how I can approach this relationship, the answer is that I don't know how. I am going in with a lot of optimism and peace knowing that she is probably just as awkward with this as I am and we will just figure it out as we go along.

As we get closer and closer to the actual date of the embryo transfer I realize I have to make a decision. I need to decide if I will continue posting or not. I know that most people do not announce a pregnancy during the first trimester and I am back and forth on if I will be ready to announce the pregnancy so early in the process. A major milestone in this process is the fetal heartbeat. A huge section of the contract starts after confirmation of the heartbeat at 6 weeks so that is a possible time to start blogging again. Most people don't announce to the world they are trying to get pregnant on a specific date. I have. I'll have to wait and see what I'm feeling at the end of August.

Maybe I'll use the first trimester for casting! I'm thinking an unknown actress as the donor since she's anonymous. We'll never see her face; she'll always be shot from behind or just a voice on the phone. This has a Best Cinematography Academy Award written all over it. Plus there will be the birth of baby and lots of crying and angst based on a real story so I'm sure we'll get at least win a few awards at Sundance or some independent film festivals.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My movie went from a drama, to a comedy, to a love story to a thriller

Way back when I started this process I was all emotional about the joy of having a child and what it would mean to be a father.

Then I had the fun of learning about consanguinity, picking an egg and making my...ahem...donation.

All of a sudden a great man popped into my life. I haven't written too much about him, but I'm hoping he's a leading role in this film and not just a featured player.

Then my movie turned into a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller. You know those movies where the bomb is ticking away and the bomb squad is rushing through traffic trying to disarm the bomb before it explodes? You see the seconds ticking down and when there is one second left the bomb experts clips the wire and the clock stops and everyone breathes a sigh of relief? Well, my bomb went off, but it wasn't the end of the world.

All of the contracts were due by 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday July 21st. I needed legal clearance for the two women to start taking their meds. I was trying to coordinate the egg donor's contract (which needed both the egg donor's and her husband's signatures), the surrogate's contract, and the pharmacy. The egg donor gave verbal confirmation she was going to sign it but I spent several days seeing no actual contract. The surrogate and I were back and forth on issues of her traveling out of state and issues of sexual behavior while she was pregnant. (Yes...EVERYTHING can be regulated to a certain extent because it can harm the fetus.) The pharmacy kept pressuring me to authorize the medications but I didn't want to send them out if the contracts fell through. Long story short, the bomb went off. Noon came and went and I still had no signature on either contract.

I called the pharmacy and asked how late I could call to get the medicine out. They told me about 2:30 was the latest they could know.

I called the fertility clinic. I found out the egg donor didn't need her meds for another week. The surrogate needed her medication this Saturday so I had to let them know by Thursday.

By the end of the day I still had no contract. (This is where the meloncholy music starts playing and we cut to a shot of Michael sitting at home crying into a bucket of ice cream.)

Thursday morning no contract as well. I thought the surrogate, who was traveling on Wednesday, would have signed the contract and faxed it back to her lawyer on Wednesday night. No such luck. I thought the donor's husband, who is teaching at a camp, would have had access to a computer at night and scanned his signature in Wednesday night. No such luck. I started to lose hope that I would actually make this happen. I had been given verbal confirmation that the donor and her husband agreed to the contract and the eggs were more important than the surrogate. I had to get the eggs in August or the donor would be gone forever since she would be starting her PhD program. If I lost the surrogate I could survive but how long until I found another surrogate would be anyone's guess.

Thursday, about 12:30 p.m., I get official confirmation that the surrogate signed her contract. Finally! One down, one to go. I called the pharmacy and ordered just her first medication to be shipped out. No use in having a great uterus with no egg!

A few hours later I got proof that the donor had signed the agreement and heard that her husband will be able to sign until the weekend. It is now Friday and technically I don't have a contract, but I'm betting that the donor and her husband are rational, sane people. Do I think that this is all one big ruse to get me to send them fertility medications and then they will keep them for themselves? No. Monday morning I will hopefully have everything signed.

The egg retrieval date will be between August 18th and 20th. We are soooooo close!

I'm thinking Neil Patrick Harris could play me in the film. Any thoughts?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

T minus 68.5

On Wednesday I got some good news. I found out that my sperm is extremely healthy. I called the fertility clinic and asked how my thawed sperm did. I was told that everything looked good and I did not have to make any more donations. I asked the embryologist if he was sure and he told me that he had five vials. (Yep...FIVE!) I asked how many are typically used and he told me the doctors use one or possibly two vials. So yes, once again let it be known to the world I am manly and virile. :-) (Imagine my arms akimbo and me puffing up my chest looking proud now.)

I also found out that a friend of mine started her own blog and mentioned that my story has inspired her to keep a record of her journey. She is just getting started in the surrogacy process. Her first post is wonderful. I'm already excited to see what happens next. (Now I know how all of you feel reading mine. It is exciting.) I told her -- like I've said here before -- that I gain strength knowing that people are following my process and I gain inspiration knowing that three friends of mine shared their stories with me, are thinking about going through the process as well, and are benefiting from my experiences.

Well, now a word of warning to my friends and followers about the ups and downs of this process. Just when I thought everything was going so well I ran into a snag. I'm actually not sure how much of this I can say. Parts of my contracts with the egg donors and surrogates talk about how I'm not allowed to divulge certain parts of the contract so I'll make this a little vague because the last thing I want to do is read a 40 page contract again. I've been staring at them all week and I need a break.

I have had some issues with the surrogate and donor contracts.

The issue with the donor contract is that I didn't have one. I had heard she went in for her consultation with her lawyer last Saturday. I expected to hear a response to the contract Monday or Tuesday. I didn't hear all week. I wondered if maybe she got cold feet and backed out. My lawyer's assistant and lawyer contacted the donor's lawyer and heard nothing. This was completely freaking me out. The contract is due July 21st at noon! Time is running out! Finally, Sunday, at 1:55 a.m., my lawyer sent me a copy of the contract with the donor's changes. Phew! At least now I had some proof she wasn't backing out.

Overall it was good news. The donor did agree to register with the Sibling Donor Registry which makes me happy. There were a few minor details in the contract that I could live with if I had to, but I might try to amend one or two of them if possible. I am hopeful that I will get to use the egg donor I want to use and this will work out.

One down, one to go.

The surrogate contract came to me on Tuesday I believe. I had some small concerns which I could live with and one big concern which scares me. Basically a surrogate contract says that the surrogate is not allowed to travel outside the state in which she is residing after a certain time period because it risks the baby will be born in a state with different surrogacy laws. The last thing I need is to wage a battle in Montana or Georgia trying to establish my rights as a parent. My potential surrogate added one little clause that says she is allowed to leave the state at any time for something related to her education. I say no. I understand why she would want that clause but after recently hearing that my friend gave birth to a baby 6 weeks early I don't want to take that chance. My lawyer suggested adding some language that makes the surrogate consult with her lawyer about the surrogacy laws of the state to which she will travel and makes her financially responsible for any costs associated with that state. Again, I say it's not just the risk of the money, it's the time off work, it's the collection of legal fees from a surrogate who may not have the money and it's the stress of starting off my life as a father waging a legal battle in a far away state. I don't want that. I'm pretty sure I will be unyielding and she might be too. So the surrogate may fall through. I'm not sure yet. I sent an email to my lawyer telling her my concerns and I haven't heard back yet. I now have about 68.5 hours and counting until the deadline. This is starting to feel like an episode of "24."

On a lighter note, I saw a movie called "The Kids Are All Right" yesterday which is the story of a lesbian couple and their two kids from a sperm donor. The kids find their biological dad and start a relationship with him. The movie is a little ridiculous at times and eventually one of the lesbian moms sleeps with the sperm donor. I asked my boyfriend after the movie if he would ever sleep with my egg donor if we meet her. He said that would never happen. less thing to worry about in my life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Warning: Adult Content (Part 2)

A few days ago I got my results from the genetic testing. It was very good news. The donor and I were screened as carriers for a number of diseases and we both came back negative for every disease. There are diseases that I knew - like Tay-Sachs and Usher Syndrome - and diseases that I had never heard of - like Cartilage-Hair Hypoplasia, Hyperornitheinemia-Hyperammonemia-Homocitrullinuri Syndrome, and, my favorite, Maple Syrup Urine disease in which (I looked this up) your urine does smell like maple syrup because your body can't digest certain proteins.

Today, Tuesday July 13th, was my appointment at the fertility clinic to freeze my sperm. I was hopeful that the room would be a little better than the first time I had to "make my deposit." Let's go through my experience together, shall we?

I went to the clinic at 8 a.m. and the main door had a sign on it saying to go in a side door. There was construction in and around the office. So I go through a side door and the office was under construction and looked like a small war zone. I went around some corner and through a hall and the waiting room was in a tiny hallway where people waiting had to pull in their knees to let someone walk by. It was a little ghetto. I checked in and a nice woman gives me a form to fill out that asks me things like "have you shared needles with anyone recently?" or "have you had Mad Cow disease in the last 30 days?" I'm a vegetarian so that's definitely a "no."

After waiting a few minutes I get called to give a urine sample first. Easy. Then it's time for my blood draw. Now one thing you have to understand is that my veins are the easiest things to find. I don't think anyone has ever missed my vein on the first try. I'm pale and thin and wiry. I'm a nursing student's dream.

This nurse was frenetically looking in every cabinet for something but I'm not sure what. She seems new. She runs out of the "room" (it was like an alcove between the waiting room and the front desk and had no walls) and asks someone where something is located. She comes back into the "room" and opens the one cabinet she didn't open before and breathes a sigh of relief.

Again...I'm not panicking that she's new and freaking out because I know every nurse can find my vein!

The nurse wraps my arm with a tourniquet and hands me a large sperm to squeeze. Yes, you read that right. You know those squishy stress balls people use? Well, this was a white, squishy ball with a squiggly tail coming off of it. It was a sperm squishy ball. I wanted to take a picture of it because I didn't think anyone would believe me. If you don't believe me just Google "sperm stress ball" and you will find it.

So now that I'm squeezing Mr. Spermy my veins are popping out of my arm. No way she can miss because, once again, every nurse can find my vein!

The nurse pokes me with a needle and gets one vial of blood. So far so good. She switches the vial and no blood is coming out. Now she starts to panic by jiggling the needle around inside my arm. Hmmm...not pleasant. She decides to push and pull the needle back and forth inside my vein to try to get the blood to flow. Now we've moved beyond "not pleasant" to "my arm is feeling flush and has an inexplicable sensation." She calls another nurse over.

The second nurse pulls the needle out of my arm and wraps it in more tape than Ecuador uses in an entire year. I guess she thinks that 1 mm needle can sometimes cause a gusher so the pin hole needs to be wrapped up extra tightly. The second nurse then finishes up the job and gets blood from my other arm.

Now the fun part. It's time for the sperm donation. And this is the real one, not the practice one like a few months ago. I'm in a different office and I have high hopes for the room and the cup.

A man leads me into the room. (At least it wasn't a grandma handing me a cup this time.) There is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that at least this room is a little more spacious and the reclining chair can actually recline. It doesn't hit the wall like the other one did so I don't have to do this sitting up. The bad news is that there is no video or DVD player, just a rack of magazines with a sign that says "Do not remove magazines from husband room." And no magazines for me. I was at least looking forward to seeing some good movie titles like "Lord of the G-Strings", "Throbbin' Hood (Prince of Beaves)" or something sweet and romantic like "Sperms of Endearment." But I got nothin'.

I look at the cup and I swear it was smaller than the last one. Seriously people??? C'mon! I need a bigger target. These are not the easiest things to control!

Without going into the dirty details, I gave my specimen. I waited around for about 15 minutes so I could know the count. If the count is low I'd have to come back for more fun in the Husband Room and more small cups. The technician said I have about 60 million sperm which puts me in the 80th percentile. (Insert manly snort here.) The count is good but the real test is tomorrow. The lab will freeze my sperm tonight and thaw them tomorrow and see how they do. If they stay strong I might not have to go back at all. If they degrade it would be good to make one or two more donations to ensure I have plenty of strong swimmers.

It's almost midnight. I'm heading to bed. I might have a bad dream about cold sperm chasing me around a tiny cup.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My fate is in the hands of three lawyers

I thought I had plenty of time. I have until July 21st at noon to get all the contracts signed. No problem, right? The contracts for the egg donor and the surrogates were sent out to their respective lawyers this week. The surrogate planned on having a phone consultation this week and the egg donor planned on meeting her lawyer on Thursday. All is well in the land of Michael's Baby.


The egg donor decided to meet with her lawyer on Saturday, not Thursday so she could have her husband with her.

OK...well I'm now sure she's not Orthodox and that's OK because I still have all of next week to make changes.


The surrogate didn't realize that Ohio is on Eastern Standard Time and she missed her phone consultation. It was re-scheduled to Monday.

Alright...I can live with that, although I might wonder how she didn't know about the time change and why the one waiting for the phone call didn't call the other although may that happened and the one receiving the call wasn't available.

Oh %#*@%!!!

My lawyer is out of town all next week!!!

So when she comes back it'll be July 19th and we'll have 2 days to finalize everything. Hopefully the two women will accept the contracts as is and there will be no more negotiating. If they do then all is well. I'm going to call the lawyer's office on Monday or Tuesday and see what they have. The surrogate and egg donor's lawyers should respond with something early this week. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

This is the part of the movie with a lot of tension. I think I need a good composer who can write good, tension-filled music. Anyone know anyone?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yes, I cried again this week. And no, it won't be the last time.

I'm in the contract negotiating part of surrogacy and egg donation. I have two contracts - one for each woman. The surrogate contract is a lot more in depth than the egg donor contract. The surrogate contract is about 39 pages long and addresses so many issues that never crossed my mind. There are stipulations about everything from what happens if there are triplets, forbidding the surrogate to use hair dye, testing the surrogate's boyfriends (if any) for STDs, compensation if she is on bed rest, travel restrictions, doctor preferences, who is in the delivery room, etc. There is a huge section that is extremely morbid about what happens if I die before the baby is born or if the surrogate is hurt and on life support. Anything and everything is addressed. I guess surrogacy has been around long enough and so many issues have come up that it takes 39 pages to work out all the issues.

One thing that was a surprise for me in the contract was that I have to have a will and appoint a guardian by the 20th week of the pregnancy. As if this process weren't trying enough now I have to imagine my death, rank my friends and family and pick who will take care of my embryo for the next 18 years. The good part is that it'll be good for me to get a will made, but this is a stressful decision.

I've been thinking about this for a while. Today I talked with two dear friends of mine and brought up the idea of them being the guardians in the event of a piano falling on my head (which is how I've always thought I'd go). I told them to think about their answer for a long time because I don't have to decide today and it is a big decision - emotionally, financially, time-wise - and I'm asking a lot of them. About 4 or 5 hours later, while I'm sitting in Walgreen's waiting to get my prescription strength toothpaste for my cavity infested mouth, the husband calls. I thought it was weird he was calling me when I just saw him a few hours ago. I answered and he immediately said their answer to my request was yes. I was blown away they decided so quickly. He said he and his wife decided about 10 seconds after I left their place that they would do it they decided to wait a little longer just to make it look like they really thought about it but there was no question in their mind.

As I sat in the middle of Walgreen's pharmacy and cried out of happiness (aha! now you see the title of this posting is true), once again I realized how much my friends love me and how much support I really have in my life. It's an amazing thing to go through anything huge in life whether it be a serious illness, losing a job, or having a baby with a PhD student currently living out of state, a 23 year old black, Baptist who you met for an hour, a petri dish and some magic. (Don't try to convince me otherwise, I'm amazed by the process and I'm sure there's at least a little magic involved.) You really do learn a lot about yourself, your friends and your life.

This movie now needs the guardians too. It's becoming a cast of thousands. Since this is turning into an epic I may need James Cameron to direct. Anyone have any connections to his agent???

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'm at a loss for words

As we get closer and closer to the egg retrieval I keep thinking I should sit down and write my letter to the egg donor. I'm so excited to express myself to her, but at the same time what can you say to a stranger who is doing something so miraculous as this?!?!? It's hard to start knowing I want to include everything about myself because it may be the only contact we have. I asked the egg donor agency what the egg donor knows about me. They said that she was probably told some general reasons why I picked her but she may or may not know about me being single. The big question is whether or not to tell her I'm gay. I hope that she is happy to know that her eggs are going to a Jewish interpreter. Considering she is Jewish and getting her PhD in linguistics I'm thinking she'll be happy with that. And while most educated people and most secular Jews are not ridiculously homophobic, I do wonder if she would regret donating to help a gay man become a father. Considering the amazing support I have received middle-aged Republican co-workers and grandmothers and manly sports fanatics I highly doubt that she'll have an issue. Nowadays gay parents are becoming more and more common and people have less and less of an issue with it. So I'm pretty sure I'll tell her. I'm not the type of person to hide who I am so why start now.

I was also at a loss for words last night when my interpreting partner bought me a baby gift. I know my mom had bought a gift for the baby a little while ago. She has it in New York. This co-worker's gift was the first one I actually saw and held in my hands. It made it all a little more real. Now that I have contract due dates (in July) and egg retrieval dates (in August) and those dates are coming faster and faster things are becoming more real to me. The fear, the joy, the doubt, and the excitement are all becoming more intense.

Now I'm off to read my 39 page contract with my surrogate. Yep...39 pages. It even includes a two page table of contents. Should i be signing a document so big that it has a table of contents??? I can't decide if 39 pages longer or shorter than I expected. But I definitely know that we won't be including the nitty-gritty contract details in the movie. No one wants to see that. They want to know how I'm preparing for my second, third and possibly fourth donation and if it's as crazy an experience as the first one.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The doctor is in

I feel like I've been on hold for so long waiting for the next big step. My doctor was out of town (I think out of the country) for about a month and he just got back at the beginning of June. The two women - the egg donor and the surrogate - could finally go and get medical clearance.

The egg donor went on Monday and the surrogate went on Tuesday. Both have been tentatively approved. I have to wait for their blood work to come back and that takes about a week. After that the surrogate will be officially approved and I can go ahead and start with her contract. The egg donor got blood work as well that we'll get back in a week but she also did the same kind of genetic testing I did and that takes about a month to get back. So I think my lawyer and I can get the contract ready (it pretty much is ready) and as soon as we get the results we can ask her to look over the contract and see if she approves of it.

That means I'm kind of on hold again for a little bit.

I do want to write my letter to the egg donor. The egg donor agency I am with encourages parents to write a letter to the egg donor. I believe they said that one letter is usually sent if/when there is a pregnancy and the second letter is usually sent when the child is born. I definitely want to write at least two letters to the egg donor. I think this woman, who is getting her PhD in linguistics and is a donor because she read about the lack of Jewish donors, would be happy to know I come from a Jewish family and I work as an interpreter. (Shhh...we won't tell her I haven't been to synagogue in ages and I worked last Rosh Hashana. We can include that I make potato latkes every year for Channukah, though.) I'm not sure if she gets any information about me at all. I need to ask the agency about that because I'm curious.

A side note is that I ran a half marathon today. I'm not a runner. About two years ago I couldn't even run a mile. But I watch "The Biggest Loser" and watch obese people run full marathons and decided I had no more excuses. I could do a half marathon.

I ran it slowly. I walked part of the way. I'm sore. But there were moments when I thought to myself that if I can run a half marathon - something I never thought I could do - then other things are possible too. The marathon is a mental game more than a physical one and I succeeded so it makes me feel I can succeed in other things too. My crazy, scary, amazing journey of having a child has made me a stronger person as well and if I can do that then 13.1 miles is an easy challenge in my life. During all the stress that life will bring over the next year (and 18 years) I will try to remember that I can do more than I think.

My other little story deals with a guy I started dating. At the last minute I decided to invite him to my birthday dinner on Thursday. I wasn't really sure if he would come or not because going to dinner with a dozen of your date's friends is always overwhelming when anyone starts a new relationship. But he was very sweet and did come.

Right before dinner started I realized that one of my friends might ask me about the baby. I hadn't told him yet. We had had about three dates and I was planning on telling him soon because he should know of my major life plans and it looked like we were both interested in seeing each other more so I couldn't (and shouldn't) hide it for much longer. I pulled him aside and told him of my whole surrogacy/egg donor/baby plans. He told me that for me to do something like this takes a lot of commitment and courage and he sees that I don't back away from a challenge and that is admirable to him.

Whether or not we live happily ever after is not my point of telling this story. The nice thing for me is to see that there are men out there who will not be so scared by this that they will run away screaming. I really felt like dating was going to be impossible since starting this journey. It's good to know that while it may be tough or improbable, love may just happen for me. I need to find someone really hot to play him in the movie! ;-)

Monday, May 31, 2010


Paperwork sent to set up escrow account: check

Contract signed with egg donation agency: check

Learned the definition of consanguinity: check

Spit into a...

Wait. Consang-what???

Yep. There's a term for you linguists out there. Consanguinity has to do with the mixing of DNA (blood) from people who are biologically related. There must be a way to prevent my future child from possibly marrying my egg donor's future child. And, since we don't know each others' names, how many children I might have, how many children she might have, etc. we have to figure out a way to know about each other without knowing about each other.

Lawyers are pretty smart. When we sign our contract we can't sign our names. I am "Intended Father Y" and she is "Egg Donor Z" and we literally sign our contracts that way. My lawyer then keeps a paper saying that "Intended Father Y" really stands for my name and her lawyer keeps a signed paper from the egg donor stating she is "Egg Donor Z." Pretty tricky! That keeps thinks anonymous. The one piece of information we learn about each other is I get her birthday and she gets mine. It didn't make sense to me at first. Why doesn't she get my child's birth date? Well, apparently some egg donors go to, for example, Northwestern Hospital to donate their eggs so it is assumed (not always correctly) that the baby will then be born at Northwestern. If the egg donor did a little research she may find that only 5 babies were born at Northwestern Hospital on a particular day and it would be tempting and relatively easy to breach confidentiality. So we only know each others' birthdays. So when my little Mikey grows up and meets little Michelle and they want to fall in love, I can find out if my son's future mother-in-law was born on July 14th, 1982 or whatever particular date I get from the agency. If she has that birthday we may want to make sure Mikey and Michelle aren't half-siblings. But is that's not her birthday Mikey and Michelle can get married and live happily ever after and not have babies with three heads and one arm.

The egg donor contract is pretty standard. There are only three points to discuss right now. I have the option to do three things with the embryos I make: keep them, throw them away/donate to science, or give them to another person/couple. The egg donor has the right to veto my third option. I highly doubt I'll give them away to someone else. If she vetoes that option I will understand. We also have to work out a little bit of compensation since she will be traveling in from out of town so I have to put her up in a hotel and give her per diem. No biggie. The last issue might get sticky.

There is something called the Donor Sibling Registry. It's a website that basically allows anonymous donors to contact their children. It also allows half siblings (if my egg donor donates again my child will have a half-sibling) to contact each other. It's a long and complicated explanation as to how this all happens and there's no guarantee it will happen. But I like the idea that years from now there is the teeny, tiny, possibility that my child might have some contact with the egg donor.

Over the last week or two I've thought about this a lot. If the donor says she's not interested in doing this, I'm ok with it. At first I didn't like the idea of having absolutely no chance of any sort of contact. But I've also slowly but surely come to realize that an egg donor is not a mother. An egg donor is not a part of my child's life. An egg donor is simply an more no less. And I also get that this woman might be 45 years old with her own family and job and life and having someone new pop up after 18 years is a potentially tumultuous situation.

I do hope the egg donor is open to being on the registry. But if she's not, my child and I will be fine without that option. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another sign

I had a friend come over and we had Chinese food tonight. Right before he left I packed up his leftovers and saw that there were four fortune cookies in the bag. I said to myself, "I'll take one."

I open it up and it says:

"Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you."

The fertility doctor plans a few days a month to do all of the egg retrievals. The one in August, which is the one I plan to do if all goes well, would be around August 18th to August 21st according to the IVF coordinator.

Look at the date today. Looks like the universe is trying to tell me something again. :-)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A couple weeks ago I went to a psychologist to see if she could help me figure out the pros and cons of using an anonymous donor vs. a friend/known donor. Near the beginning of the meeting the doctor asked me if I had a partner. I told her no. I'm single. She told me that I could find someone. She then "lectured" me for about 3 minutes on how I should use to find a man. I told her I had tried and didn't have any luck. Again, she fixated on the idea that I could find a man.

Hey...crazy lady...we're talking about egg donors, not my dating life!!!

I need to make sure I find a kooky actress to play her in the movie. I'm thinking Carol Channing or Betty White.

The psychologist also told me that the mean IVF nurse mentioned that I just wrote the nicest email. I had recently sent an email to the nasty nurse and swallowed my pride and thanked her profusely for all the work she had done. I thought maybe killing her with kindness would make her nicer. Apparently it worked. I guess this nurse was touched by my email. She is working double time because her co-worker is off for a while. Guess I need to re-think this casting and make her the "hooker with the heart of gold" type in the film.

Eventually we got to my issue. The crazy woman actually had a point that changed my whole thought process. She said the donor is not a mother and I should think about the fact that there is a genetic contribution and a parent which are two separate concepts. Thinking about that was somewhat comforting. Just because someone made a baby doesn't mean that is the baby's family. I hope that I'll be able to provide a life for my child that is sufficient and fulfilling enough that the genetic part isn't a concern. The life that he/she has will hopefully be enough.

The doctor also mentioned that there is a possibility of future contact with the donor and I should ask the donor how she feels about it. So I talked with the egg donation agency and they brought up the issue with the egg donor. Nothing will be determined for a little while. First the egg donor has to be medically approved. If we start negotiating a contract then we'll discuss the possibility of contact more seriously. I asked that there be no contact until the child is 18 and the lawyer said that's typical and also mentioned that the donor is allowed to change her mind at any time. Or, in 18 years, the woman may not be found. There isn't really a legal obligation to have contact, but there is the chance of contact which might be nice for me.

The friend I was considering using was so supportive when I told her I was using the anonymous donor. She said that she knows that I'm doing what I think is best for me and the child and she supports me 100%. She assured me that she wants me to do what is right for me and not worry about her needs and I took a lot of comfort in hearing her say that.

In another couple weeks I should have the surrogate approved and then start contract negotiations. And my egg donor isn't going to the doctor until the beginning of June so no news about that for a while. Next step is boring: setting up an escrow fund for the surrogate. Hooray...another check to write! :-(

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Warning: Adult Content

Has anyone seen the "Will and Grace" episode where Will goes to donate his sperm? He is given all sorts of dirty magazines and can't find one that turns him on so he finds some carpenters in a Martha Stewart magazine. I have to say that pretty much is how the process works. That portrayal was pretty accurate. And if this experience becomes a movie this is definitely the comedic part.

Last week I made my appointment to go to the fertility clinic. I had to get my blood and urine analyzed and do a semen analysis. The fertility center needs to make sure I am free of all diseases and that my sperm is healthy enough to produce an embryo. I talked with a woman who, luckily, had a sense of humor about this process. We had to talk about my "homework." To do the semen analysis I had to abstain from "producing" for more than two but less than five days. So I literally had to "produce" on a specific day to prepare for the test. Much more fun than studying for a history test! I was trying to plan how long I had to be at the clinic to plan my schedule for the day. The woman said the blood and urine tests would be quick and the third test would be, according to her, "up to you." Yep...I guess it really would be in my hands. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

When I arrived I was escorted to a back room where I met a pleasant, older woman. She had a short, gray bob and looked like she should have been knitting on her front porch while tumbleweed passed by. My favorite part was that she wore sandals with black socks.

The lady led me into a small room where I was supposed to produce my specimen. She told me that there were videos and magazines. I wondered if they'd have anything that would work for me. They didn't. The only thing I got was a laugh from the title "American Booty." I had thought about bringing something from home but I forgot. However, had I brought a DVD it would have been useless. This room only had an old-fashioned VCR which plays tapes. Who has tapes nowadays?

Before the lady left me in the room she said, "Take as long as you need."

Ummm...thanks...I think.

There was no bed, just a reclining chair. The TV was hung so high that you'd have to crane your neck to watch the video. The sink was leaking. People were making noise out in the hallway. Hearing a bunch of women's voices wasn't helping the situation. And, just to creep me out a little more, I had to put this paper-like sheet on the chair and I just prayed that other guys were considerate enough to do the same when they used the room.

The woman had given me a cup. The cup was tiny. I won't get too graphic, but let's just say that a teeny cup, a lack of a way to lay down, an unpredictable, upward projectile and gravity do not make for a good combination. It really was quite a feat.

I gave the woman my specimen and filled out a form. She led me to the room for the blood test and gave me the parting advice of "Be well and be happy."

Ummm...thanks...I think.

The blood draw and urine sample were fine. Nothing exciting to say except that they took about 9 vials of blood. Yikes! Luckily needles and blood don't bother me.

I had paperwork to give to the clinic and needed a few questions answered. Plus, I wanted to be tested for some genetic diseases. As an Eastern European Jew who is considering using an Eastern European Jew as an egg donor I want to make sure neither one of us is a carrier of some prevalent diseases like Tay-Sachs or Gaucher disease. Marianne, my coordinator, came to talk to me. Again, she was not pleasant to talk to and made me feel like I was an imposition in her life. I'm sure she's not a mean person. I think she just says an answer once and doesn't want to say it again. When I asked questions I'd get curt responses like, "I already responded to that in an email." And if I repeat her explanation in my own words to make sure we are understanding each other her response is to repeat what she said the first time. That doesn't help me. I'm asking for a "yes" or "no," not the same sentence with a harsher tone. I'm considering asking for a new coordinator. But I also know that I have very few more interactions with her and, on the positive side, she does respond to emails immediately. She's on top of things.

In the afternoon I went to the dentist. He couldn't do the work we planned to do. As I walked to the el I realized I was about 5 blocks from the egg donor agency I'm considering using. I called and asked if I could stop by and my contact woman was available to meet me. I met her and we talked about the possibility of using the egg donor I saw because her schedule is tricky. The donor is in Chicago until mid-May and will be back and forth between Chicago and WI from mid-May until mid-June. Mid-June until early August she will be in WI. Then she has about a month off before going back to school. That 4 or 6 week time period is the only time I could do an egg retrieval with her. It does work perfectly with the doctor's schedule since the doctor has certain weeks he does the retrievals. It somehow worked out just right if I do decide to use her. It's good to know she's a viable option if that's what I choose.

I asked about contacting the egg donor. I know it's anonymous, but I wondered if I could say anything to her. I was told I'm allowed, and encouraged, to write letters to her which would make me feel good. I think it would be great for her to know I'm an interpreter and Jewish since she wants to donate to a Jewish family and she is studying linguistics. From time to time the egg donors do write back, but that doesn't always happen so I'm not going to hope for that.

Yesterday I went to a Chinese restaurant. I got a fortune cookie and threw it in my pocket. Today, after work, I put my hand in my pocket and found the cookie. I opened it and it said...

"Your present plans are going to succeed."

Ever think the universe is trying to tell you something?