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, January 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, And The Lovely

The Good News

I went to another appointment on Wednesday with my surrogate and got another ultrasound.  We had Jocelyn who is the technician who prints a million pictures for us -- OK, not a million, but 26.  The babies are growing.  Remember way back when Chloe's uncle used to put his hand on her stomach and say, "Grooooooooow baby"?  Well, it worked.  The babies, according to the fruit tracker, should be the size of a cabbage and two and a half pounds.  They are 3lbs 13oz and 3lbs 14oz.  Yikes!  They're in the 83rd and 84th percentile.  They have plenty of fluid and the low-lying placenta has moved up enough that it is now not an issue.  The only problem is that Baby A has decided to go butt first again.  Hopefully he/she will go head down at the next ultrasound.  We still have about 5 more weeks of twisting and turning to try to avoid a c-section.

The Bad News

I went to H.R. a couple days ago to file for FMLA for when the babies come.  I want my paternity leave and my boss was bugging me to go do the paperwork.  I explained to H.R. that I wanted to take several weeks off and asked what I had to do.  The woman who runs that program checked my hours and said I was probably ineligible.


Yep...that's right.  I work part-time for a hospital.  I work 20 hours a week which comes out to 1,040 hours a year.  In order to qualify for FMLA I have to work at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding my leave.  As luck would have it I am very, very, very close to 1,250 hours because I grab every bit of overtime I can possibly get.  But my broke hospital is clamping down on any overtime so I probably won't be able to get FMLA.

What does that mean?  It means that I can take all my PTO at once IF my supervisor approves many weeks off all at once or I can take Personal Leave of up to 90 days IF my supervisor approves that.  However, neither one of those provides me with job protection and with the money situation I'm hoping my paternity leave doesn't make for a good excuse to make it a permanent leave. 

Gotta love our amazing Congress for making such "family friendly" laws.  Apparently parents who work less than 24 hours a week don't need time off to care for their children.

The Lovely News

Oh, and the other piece of news is that I asked Chloe if she wanted to attend the baby shower and she immediately said yes.  Maybe I'm over-analyzing it, but she seemed excited to come so thanks to everyone who told me that I should invite her.  My lovely friends who are hosting the shower are planning on giving her a book full of thank you notes and one friend mentioned making a basket full of things to pamper her.  I think it will be nice to have her there.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Grandmothers To Be

Last week the real machatunim met.  Yes, it's true my previous posting used the word machatunim wrong.  There really is no Yiddish word for the mother of the surrogate carrying your baby.  Guess the Yiddish language couldn't keep up with the changin' times.  The machatunim is really the relationship between the parents of the two children who are in the relationship.

The last night we were all together we went out to dinner.  There were seven of us and we were sitting at a long table.  My mother and Derek's mother were at one end across from each other.  I was having my own conversation so I only heard bits and pieces of their conversation, but I loved what I heard.

I know they were talking about having to explain their sons' situation to their friends.  It's something I hadn't thought about too much, but I get that explaining that their gay son is in a relationship with another man and they're asking a stranger to donate eggs and another stranger to carry their babies isn't always the easiest topic to bring up to people in their 60s, 70s or 80s.  Of course they're thrilled to be grandmothers, but at the same time there is a "coming out" process for them too and their joy in telling people becomes more apparent every day.

They talked about how wrong it is for anyone to judge them or their sons.  They have announced to the world that they will be grandmothers.  They are proud of what their children are doing.  (Yes, Mom, I was eavesdropping a little.)

In a world where some families hide, don't talk about, don't talk to, or punish their children for being gay, it's nice to know that we have some pretty awesome mothers -- and fathers too. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Invite Or Not To Invite, That Is the Question

I recently read an article asking if the constitution still mattered.  The writer wondered what the constitution would say about Libya, the debt ceiling, Obamacare and immigration.  The gist of the article, if I remember correctly, was that the founding fathers could never predict that we would have fights about universal health care and whether or not to build a huge fence to protect our borders.  In 1787 when the constitution was written (thank you Schoolhouse Rock for teaching me that) issues that we face today were not on anyone's radar.

Well, now I face an issue Miss Manners could never have imagined in her wildest dreams.  As the baby shower approaches, Derek and I wonder if the surrogate should be invited or not.  Is it nice to include her because she is a major part of this process?  Is it hard for a surrogate to see all the baby clothes and toys knowing that she won't get to dress them and play with them?  What would Ann Landers say?  Our friends are planning on making some sort of sentimental gift for Chloe regardless of whether or not she comes.  They're thinking of some sort of collection of letters telling them how grateful they are for what she is doing for Derek and me.  Is that a good idea?

Since a lot of surrogates and IPs read my blog, I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts, advice, experience with this?  Of course every IP-surrogate relationship is different so we'll have to make a final decision on our own, but I could use a little advice from my online family. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

First a Liebster, Then a Tony, Then an Oscar!

When I was 14 years old I went to a theater camp. (There's a documentary called "Stagedoor" about that camp but even better is a movie called "Camp" loosely based on the real camp.) At the end of every session there was a fake Tony award for best actor, actress, cast, etc. I am proud to say I won Best Ensemble Member in a Musical (Pippin 1990), Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Annie, 1991) and Best Lead Actor in a Musical (Once Upon a Mattress, 1991).  However, those plastic, gold colored "Tony" awards mean nothing compared to the Liebster awards I just won.

I'm now one-fifth of my way to my LEGOT.  For those of you who don't get the reference, a few seasons ago on 30 Rock an actor was trying to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award.  Well, I'll do even better by getting those AND a Liebster.   

Thank you so much to Jeni from Love Makes a Family and the lovely ladies at Life on Prescott Street for the award. Jeni will definitely get a role in my musical and I am happy to give the Prescott Street ladies all the advice they're willing to take when they are blessed with their own, precious bellyfish.

The Liebster Blog Award is an award for bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve more recognition.

Liebster is a German word that means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’, but can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea of the award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.

The Award comes with a few rules. You’re supposed to:
§ Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them
§ Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
§ Post the award on your blog
§ Bask in the love from the most supportive people in the blogosphere – other bloggers
§ Hope your recipients pass the award to their 5 favorite blogs to keep the love flowing

I don't like that I only get five recipients.  I'm a very indecisive person and I don't like the idea of singling out only five blogs from the amazing people I've been following online for the past year.  But rules are rules so I will comply.  Besides, I think most of the surrogates and IPs' blogs I wanted to mention have already won Liebster awards, so here are some a few non-baby-makin' blogs.

Drum Roll Please...

And the Liebster Award goes to...

1. Since I was inspired to start writing because of the whole Julie & Julia thing, I want to share the modern day version of it.  Carly isn't cooking an entire book of recipes.  Who has time for that with a job and a baby???  But she is sampling every single-serving frozen meal out there.  She hasn't posted in a while, but maybe this award will make her realize she has fans waiting for the next entry.  Check her out at A Girl's Gotta Eat.

2. If frozen meals aren't your style and you want to cook for yourself, you should check out The Amazing Shrinking Actor.  Chase has lost almost 150 lbs. to date and he provides some great advice on weight loss and sometimes a couple tasty recipes too.  Give him some support and you'll get support in return.

3. As a former actor who did two years of touring shows I know how great it can be to see the entire country.  If you don't have 9 free months and a few thousand dollars to see it on your own, follow the adventures of a super actress/interpreter at New Adventures and see what she discovers.

4. I couldn't resist adding a couple of surrogacy blogs and I don't think this blog has won a Liebster yet.  There is one particular entry that really touched me and this link goes directly to that day.  Chelle is so passionate about having a successful pregnancy for her IF and you can see it in her blog 4 St@r Womb.  She's starting another cycle very, very soon so let's all keep her in our thoughts as the day approaches. 

5. The last award goes to a blogger who is dear to my heart, Tiffany - otherwise known as Michaela in the "Michael and Michaela" movie/musical/mini-series.  This particular entry from No Womb At the Inn shows how our lives became connected for the third time.  Tiffany and I started our journeys around the same time, found strength in each other, cried together when things didn't work, yelled together when we we angry at the world, laughed together at the craziness we endured, and now we can celebrate our successes together as two families.  Her story has ended, but it's worth reading again and again.   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thank Goodness for Mark Zuckerberg

I did it. I took that little gun and went zap, zap, zap. My friends and their two year old met Derek and me as well as Kirsten and Marty (who are quickly becoming stars in this movie/Broadway musical since I know you're all becoming more and more invested in their story) and we went to the bastion of baby needs: Babies R Us. All I can say to any future parents is that you need to take someone with you who has a baby.

My friends told me how many blankets we need (a lot), whether fancy Pack 'N Plays are worth the money (they're not), wipe warmers are necessary (babies love them), what socks are best (triple cuff so babies don't kick them off) and more. Kirsten and Marty and Derek and I were in awe of this dynamic duo of CC & KK who made their way through the aisles of baby paraphernalia like pros.

By the end of the experience my head was swimming. I had seen strollers, cribs, clothes, bedding, toys, books, and even little booger suctions. I think had CC and KK not been there I would have been found at closing time curled up in a ball in a corner and quietly weeping.

We made it through most of the small stuff but Derek and I were still trying to decide on a crib. We had heard everything from "Get it on Craig's List" to "Spend $1600 on an Amish, all-wood crib -- it's worth it." This is the reason I am grateful to Mark Zuckerberg.

This morning, about 7:30am, I asked about cribs on my Facebook status. I asked if I really needed something that was $1000+. Within a few hours I had about 10 opinions telling me that almost any crib is fine and the most important thing is to make sure there are no recalls on it. People had hand-me-downs, IKEA cribs, or cribs that were a few hundred dollars that they used for 2 or 3 kids and they all worked. One friend's response to buying an Amish crib was, "And yet many non-Amish still raise kids just fine." So thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for helping me get a lot of answers quickly.

Also, my hormones are so out of whack I cry at everything. I think it all started with the gift registry. That day meant that this is real. This is really happening...and soon. This has been a long and emotional journey where the stakes are among some of the highest we face in life. There have been heartaches and, as one other blogger put it, we put up walls to protect ourselves. Now, the wall is starting to crack and it's exciting and scary and wonderful all at the same time.

To show you how bad my crying has become I'll tell you a story about crying at a sitcom. Yes...a sitcom. I know. I'm supposed to laugh. Derek would agree with you and didn't know why I would cry at a sitcom. Allow me to defend myself.

The sitcom was "Up All Night." If you don't know the show, it's about a couple who recently had a baby. I've started watching it to get pointers -- often I learn what not to do. If watching a show about taking care of a newborn wasn't enough to make me cry, this particular episode was a flashback to the birth. (Are you starting to understand my side now?) The parents were on their way to the hospital and started realizing it was their last few minutes on earth not being parents. They wanted to remember their lives before they changed forever. (Are YOU tearing up now?) During labor the mother wanted to give up but got strength from a supportive husband and knowing that she would soon see the face of her child allowed her to push the baby out. In the end they were holding an adorable baby girl as a happy family.

How could you not cry at that?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Met the Machatunim

What the heck is a machatunim?

Yeah, I know I better explain that first before I continue.

Machatunim is a Yiddish word meaning the in-laws. I didn't really meet the in-laws last Thursday. I've already met Derek's family. (Although this month my family will meet his family for the first time and I'm so excited for that.) On Thursday I met Chloe's mother. Chloe had previously mentioned that her mother had been wanting to come to an appointment. I'm not sure if it was just to see the ultrasound or to meet Derek and me or support her daughter or a combination of everything. It was fun to meet her. Here's what I took away from that experience:

1. Chloe's mom is excited for this pregnancy. She talked about feeling the babies kick and how great it is to watch the babies grow.

2. During the ultrasound she got up to get a closer look at the monitor and afterwards she was looking at the picture (we only got one, measley picture of Baby B that day -- how sad).

3. She seemed truly excited for Derek and me.

It's this third one that really gets me. Once again I am amazed by the lack of judgement of our situation. As Derek and I start shopping for cribs and strollers and get ready to register we "out" ourselves and our situation more and more. I expect to get that surprised look on people's faces for a second as they readjust to understand they're talking with two dads; they don't. We're not so special any more. We're commonplace in (parts of) America (and the world).

Speaking of shopping, my friends with a 2 year old are taking Derek and me (and Kirsten and Marty of the fame from my last post) to register at Babies R Us this weekend. There is so much to learn: stollers, cribs, car seats, monitors, clothes, toys, bottles, etc. I'm sure we'll be overwhelmed but we have to start soon. Wish us luck and make recommendations if you want.

Also, a little update on the babies. They're big. Oh, and I don't mean big for twins -- I mean big for singletons. Poor Chloe. With every measurement I became more concerned for her. The babies are each over 2 lbs. The ultrasound technician measured their femurs and heads so we got four numbers based on the size of a singleton. I can't remember all four numbers but I believe they ranged from the 72nd percentile to the 92nd percentile. My dad has long legs. I have long legs. I'm not so worried about the femurs and sort of expected tall kids. (I believe the 92nd percentile was for a femur, not a head circumference.) It's the large heads that are tough. Women who have given childbirth can attest to that. I had a kidney stone so I have some idea of what birth is like (don't argue...people say the pain is similar!) so I'm worried for Chloe. The doctor said she is measuring at 31 weeks even though we're only at 25. We go to 38 weeks and after that the babies are coming out one way or another. One piece of good news is that the larger baby will most likely be born first and doctors like it that way. Plus baby A was not breech this time so hopefully he/she will continue to have his/her head down. We also got to listen to the heartbeats for the first time. I've heard so many heartbeats while interpreting appointments but it's different when it's your own. That sloshing, whooshing sound is beautiful when it's your own kids.

The last piece of news is that Derek proposed to me. We took a "we-need-one-last-time-to-ourselves" vacation and Mexico and he proposed on the balcony of our hotel overlooking the ocean. It was pretty awesome. We had already known that we were committed to each other, but I have to say there is something pretty amazing to have someone tell you that you are the one person in the world who they want to be with for the rest of their lives. Kinda makes ya feel special!