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.

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???