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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hip Hip Hoo--Shit!

People say two steps forward and one step back is still progress. Well, what do we call two steps forward and two steps back? Sucky? A waste of time? Pointless? Well, that's how I'm feeling today.

The relief and joy of getting a contract settled with my egg donor was short-lived. Just to start my day off on a sour note, about 8:30 a.m. I got an email from the nurse at the fertility clinic. The email said that my donor is a carrier of some rare disease that destroys the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. Having that gene prevents her from donating to me or anyone else in the future.

That's it. Case closed.

Gee, thanks for the personal touch. An email is a great way to hear devastating news like that!

I called the nurse to ask why this wasn't found before and if the gene is dominant or recessive. The second question was more for my own curiousity.

She called back later and left a voicemail. She didn't know if it is dominant or not (although a Google search said that you typically need to get it from both parents). This was not found in her previous donations because it wasn't screened for in the past. Every 6-12 months some agency or organization or something or other decides what needs to be screened in donors. Apparently this is a new addition. The donor and all of the families who used her eggs in previous donations must all be contacted now to know this bit of information.

On a little bit of a lighter side note, the message, at first, seemed a little annoyed. It was like I was a bother trying to get answers. But I think that's just her general tone. By the end of the message the mean nurse did say that she was sorry she had to give me this news. It sounded sincere.

Then, just to kick me while I'm down, the surrogacy agency called me and basically was harsh with me saying that Chloe wants to go to medical school so we better make this happen soon. First of all, I don't know if Chloe is set on med school any more and second of all I have no freakin' control over this! I said all we can do is ask if Chloe will stick with me a little longer. No one can force her to do this. So we'll see if my surrogate stays with me. I hope she does. I do like her.

I'm feeling a lot now. I'm frustrated with this process. I'm angry that this wasn't found previously (although I understand why now). I'm hurt that there was more admonishing than consoling from the surrogacy agency. I'm beaten down by the failures. However, I still feel like I can't give up. This is something that will define my entire life and I'm not ready to just accept that it won't happen, but I need support now. Not the "Oh...I'm sure it will happen next time" kind because I've heard that too much and you have no way of making that come true. It hurts to hear that because all the optimism in the world can't control science. I need the "I'm sorry it didn't work and I will be thinking about you" kind.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's a Match

After some more back and forth over the last few days the egg donor and I finally came to an agreement. Whew. I'm excited that it worked out. I'm even more excited to get to write her a letter so she gets to know a little something about me. I hope that we get to learn a little about each other that humanizes this crazy, legal process that removes the human element. And, like I think I said with my first donor, I want her to feel good about her decision to donate her eggs in general and also specifically to me. Although this back and forth was stressful, it did make me think a lot about her as a person and what it must be like for her to go through this process from her end. It is making me feel grateful.

So now I wait until the end of May. And we all pray and cross our fingers and eat Life cereal for days on end again!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Sentence

Yes, I'm about to get all dramatic on you for a minute. Be forewarned. The next sentence will be deep and profound. Ready? It's amazing how just one sentence can make you thrilled beyond belief or knock you down so hard you don't want to get up again.

Still reading? Good. Here's an explanation as to why one sentence can be exhilarating or painful.

I've been in contract negotiations for a couple weeks now with my new donor. It has been a very different experience than the first time. The first time felt very amicable and the donor seemed very open to reasonable requests and asked reasonable concessions. This time, I'm feeling like the donor is asking for a lot more. There have been times when I've felt like she is in this more for the money than for the actual donation process. I'm not naive...of course the money is a big reason why women donate eggs. I think you'd be very hard pressed to find a woman who would do this for free. But I also think that the women must get some emotional satisfaction knowing that they have helped someone create a family.

The donor did agree to register on the Sibling Donor Registry which allows me to contact her in the future in the event that my child wants some kind of contact with her. She had indicated in her assessment with the psychologist that she would be willing to do that so I think that alone made me feel like she wasn't in this 100% for the money. The fact that she would even consider some kind of contact in the future seems as though there is some emotional attachment to what she is doing.

I also kept trying to tell myself that our tough contract negotiating was just because she was trying to get what she felt she deserved, not because she is a greedy person. And the same could be said of me. I don't think I'm a bad person, but I'm asking for everything I want. You can't get what you want unless you propose it. For all I know she might think I'm greedy and don't care about her perspective.

But last Friday the big news came. It really changed my perspective on this woman and has made me excited about working with her. The mean nurse at the fertility clinic sent me an email and told me that the donor has been approved pending all of her lab work coming back. Then she added that the doctor "really likes this girl and has worked with her in two other cycles. She is a super sweet and cute girl and I really like her myself."

The fact that this nurse, who is (I won't say mean or witchy) all business and has no time to coddle anyone or deal with any of her patients' emotional states, likes my donor really made a big impression on me. The psychologist's report had some really nice things to say about her too. I like that she's smart and driven and I've been told she's a good patient and follows the doctor's orders well. I think she's attractive. But knowing that this nurse, who I consider gruff, likes my donor shows me that I am getting the eggs of a wonderful girl who knows how to connect with people in a meaningful way.

The joy was short lived. On Monday my lawyer called and said that the donor was getting...ummm...frustrated(?)...with the contract. I'm not sure if that's the right word. Apparently her previous contracts had very little negotiating. Our back and forth on the contract was making her...I don't know...upset(?). It's hard to know exactly what she's thinking because messages are passed from me to my lawyer to her lawyer to her and back the other way. My lawyer did say that she is still on board to donate. Maybe she just wanted to vent her stress(?) with this process. Maybe she wanted to express her irritation(?) with me. Maybe she isn't used to having any setbacks(?). I don't know. But it was hard to hear that she's having a less than ideal experience. I want her to feel good about her decision to donate to me. I think she still does. I also get to write a letter to her after she donates that will hopefully tell her a little more about me and show my appreciation for what she is doing for me. For now, I'm confident my lawyer understands my position and can express that clearly for me. Maybe this expression of dissatisfaction(?) from her is good because it'll make us understand each other a little more and come to a resolution. I know after hearing this I'm willing to make some more concessions because of what I've been told about her perspective in all of this. Some of her points are valid and things I can live with when I think of her as a person, not simply an anonymous donor. I'm frustrated that we have an emotional process (egg donation) clashing with a completely unemotional process (the legal system). Hopefully we'll meet in the middle in the next day or two.

On the plus side, this has given me an idea for a new song. I think there will be a great quartet number in the "Michael and Michaela" musical called "Telephone." We'll watch the message change as it goes from the donor to me through the lawyers just like "The Rumor" in Fiddler on the Roof. It'll be a great comedic song!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Gay Parents in 2011

A couple weeks ago my ex-neighbor came by to check on her condo. She left her condo probably 3-4 years ago and hasn't been able to sell it due to a number of reasons. She now lives way out in the suburbs and comes in from time to time to check on things and talk with the condo board. This time we bumped into each other.

We started chatting and catching up on life. I mentioned I wanted to move soon. I wasn't really planning on going into the whole issue of having a boyfriend and a baby. It's not her business and, honestly, you never know exactly how people will react.

After a while of chatting things started to come out. I'm not sure if I was sensing it was ok or if I just got to a point where I didn't care if she judged me or if it was something else. Who knows? But I did tell her that I had a boyfriend and we were moving in together to a new place because I was using a surrogate and an egg donor to have a baby.

She was thrilled for me.

She said she had seen two pairs of shoes outside my door from time to time and was hoping I had met someone. And she started telling me all the schools in Chicago to check out and how to get into magnet schools and how she managed to get her daughter into the places she wanted.

I have to say it was a pleasant surprise. Although I don't expect many people to directly tell me what I'm doing is wrong, I also don't expect neighbors who are merely acquaintances to be not only accepting but excited about two gay men raising a baby conceived through a very un-traditional way. Granted, she's a single mom with a bi-racial daughter whose parents were organic farmers before anyone knew the word organic so she's not June Cleaver, but still...

I know with each generation we become more tolerant. And I know that my child will still have a lot to deal with: an anonymous egg donor mother, a gay, Jew...ish, vegetarian dad, a black surrogate, etc. But I also see my child's life as being accepted as normal from the vast majority of society in another 20, 40, or 60 years.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Wicked Witch of the Womb

A while ago I think I wrote about my nasty nurse Ratched from my fertility center. She has been so curt with me throughout the entire process. I remember asking her to explain a really, really long document about something complex and medical and she turned to me and said, "I emailed you about this a few weeks ago" with a nasty tone of voice. She doesn't seem to get that this process is overwhelming and scary and I don't always remember every detail because taking an egg from a stranger and putting it into the womb of another stranger isn't a daily occurence in my life like it is in hers.

Last week I got an email from Witchy-poo (as I like to call her) telling me that because my donor didn't come to the fertility clinic in January, our March retrieval had to be pushed to May.




I had no idea what was going on. Last I had heard we just needed the donor to sign the contract by Feb. 26th and then all was good. I emailed her that the lawyer had my paperwork and asked if she meant we'd have to do April. I was confused why it would be a two month delay.

The response was "it is way to late" (yes "to," not "too") to do a March cycle so we are probably looking at May.

Yep...totally ignored my questions.

Through a long and complicated process I found out that my lawyer was just as stunned by this news as I was. I swear I wouldn't have missed something that big. And if the donor had to come to Chicago in January why was I hearing nothing about this until Feb. 22nd?!?!? It just doesn't make any sense.

Seriously, folks, I need some good casting for this nurse. Who can play mean? I think, though, she's gotta have a soft moment at some point towards the end of this film. We'll call it "artistic license" if the nurse doesn't ever warm up to me in real life. If we make her the "hard-assed nurse with a heart of gold" type she could definitely be in the running for an Oscar for this film. That type of character always wins awards. Besides, everyone has a heart. Maybe we'll have a scene of her going home and playing with her baby...or adopting a baby...or going through fertility treatment herself. That will melt the audience's hearts. What about Glenn Close? She played Cruella Deville. Or maybe Kathy Bates? She was mean in "Misery." Other ideas?

So now I'm pushed back two months to a May egg retrieval. The one good thing is now the baby won't be born the week of Christmas. No offense to anyone who was born around that time (like my brother) and there clearly are many, many more important things than that when it comes to having a baby, but I think it's hard to be born right around a huge holiday. We'll just hope for an end of February/beginning of March birth. Derek wondered what would happen if the baby was born on February 29th! That means we'd be the parents until the child is 72 years old. Oy vey! But would we be cool parents or the worst parents in the world if we said, "No dating until you're 4 years old"?