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.

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?

Monday, April 12, 2010

I put all my eggs in one basket...and then the basket broke

A lot has happened since my last update. Where to even begin?!?!? We'll start with the egg donor drama...

As some of you know I had one friend offer me an egg about a year ago. Then, after I put down a financial deposit another friend offered me her egg. But there are issues with using a friend's egg. The concerns are that my friends are older than they should be when it comes to doing IVF (nature is cruel to women's eggs) and, more importantly, there are issues what is her role in my child's life and will she overstep the limits I set up. So I've heard a lot of talk as to why an anonymous donor is better. Well, not better, but easier. But the concern I have is that my child will never know his/her mother. I see that as a big, potential negative. However, after talking with friends who have been raised by a single parent or who were adopted many of them feel like life is just fine for them. As always, you can't predict how your child will adjust to anything.

A few weeks ago I was pretty sure I was going to use an anonymous donor. Last week, a third friend of mine offered me her egg. There are some similar issues and some different issues, but needless to say it's not an easy decision to make with her either. She's an amazing person and the thought of her being my child's mother is extremely attractive, for a lot of reasons, but again, I was pretty set on the donor I found in the data base.

Last Friday I found out that the donor I was considering is not available. (A few days later I found out she's working with another parent so it's possible she'll be available in the future...but we'll see. It is good news that she is going with another person for now because, if her eggs result in a pregnancy, she is then considered a proven donor and I'll have more information about the viability of her eggs.) Finding out she isn't available was a shock and it threw my plans into chaos. I also started to feel pressured to make a decision ASAP because it feels like things are moving quickly now.

I freaked out over the weekend. I talked with some of my potential egg donor friends and the conversations were so wonderful they made the decision even harder. One friend said that before she even considered donating her egg she reminded me she had promised to sleep over 1 or 2 nights a week after the baby was born so I could get some sleep and not do it all alone. The other friend said she was planning out the vegetarian meals she would cook for me so she could stock my fridge with meals I could heat up for the first few days after coming home from the hospital with the baby. She also said that she didn't understand why I was so shocked 3 women wanted to be a part of this process with me. She said from her perspective it makes sense that my friends would want to donate their eggs to me because I mean that much to her and she sees how I treat my other friends. That is the most amazing compliment in the world. If you ever want to know who your friends are, undertake something as crazy as surrogacy and you'll learn so much about who cares about you. I've also got two women vying to throw me a baby shower. So sweet. The support is overwhelming.

Anyway, I contacted two other egg donation agencies just to keep looking and have as many options as possible. I did find a Jewish donor who speaks several languages and wants to get a PhD in linguistics. Her background is Belgian, Russian and Polish and I am Russian and Polish. She currently teaches ESL and Hebrew. She was involved in theater in high school and likes organic food, farmers markets and foreign films. She wants to donate because her sister in law works at a fertility clinic and mentioned the lack of Jewish donors. That's a great match for me. She's almost like my long lost twin. The biggest problem with her is that she has blond hair and blue eyes, but my darker features should win over that! If that's the biggest problem I think that's pretty good. I don't know who I'll go with, but it was a little bit of a relief to see that there are others out there and the one I wanted isn't my only option.

I also went to the IVF doctor yesterday. I liked the doctor a lot. He was very empathetic and explained the process to me. Plus, he has a cool accent. Maybe South African? I'm not sure. I'll need to find some foreign actor to play him in the movies. His coordinator, however, who coordinates all the appointments for the surrogate, the egg donor and me is not my favorite person. She doesn't communicate well and I never understand what she's trying to say. I need some bitchy actress to play her. I'm thinking Pierce Brosnan as the doctor and Shannon Doherty as the coordinator!

Meanwhile, my mom has bought the baby's first book. She bought "Goodnight Moon" and told me that it will be my favorite book because it will definitely make my child fall asleep. It's nice to have my mom get excited about this. I can't get excited yet. There are still too many steps and it's too scary to think ahead. But having someone start to buy things for the baby means it will happen.