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, March 29, 2012

A Few Days Early

Chloe had one more doctor's appointment before the big induction day on March 30th.  On Monday, March 26th Chloe was scheduled to go to the doctor at 1:15 PM to check her blood pressure and make sure everything was OK for Friday.  Easy peasy...right? 

I figured it would only be a 5 minute doctor appointment but by 2:23 PM there was no response to my text or call.  Weird.  I thought the doctor would look at Chloe and say, "'re swollen...stay off your feet until Friday" and then I'd see her at 4:30 AM on the 30th. 

At 3:06 PM Chloe calls.  Finally!  I know she'll tell me she's fine and just ate a cheeseburger and a drank a milkshake and that's why she was so late in calling, right? 

Me: Hi Chloe.
Chloe: (calm voice) Hey Michael.  How are you doing? 
Me: I'm good.  More importantly how are you doing?
Chloe: I'm good too.  You know I had a doctor's appointment today, right?
Me: Yeah, how did everything go?
Chloe: Well, the doctor said I don't have preeclampsia now but I'm moving in that direction so they decided to induce today.  I'm going to the hospital now.
Me: Ummmm...OK...ummmmm  (something that wasn't English, a lot of crying and several "thank you" type mumblings).

I won't bore you with every detail of every minute at this point.  Basically, though, I called Derek's work and cell phone again and again and again and even called the front desk and had him paged.  He was in a meeting telling everyone that Friday was the big day.  (Ummmm...guess again.)

Derek, Chloe, Chloe's mom, Chloe's sister and I arrived at the hospital.  Chloe was at 1.5 cm like she had been for a long time. 

Start the pitocin.

Chloe wasn't even aware she was having contractions.  We had to tell her when they were happening on the monitor.

Increase the pitocin.

Chloe started to feel some contractions but continued to watch TV.

Increase the pitocin.

Chloe barely winced during contractions.

Check Chloe - 2.5 cm after 4 hours.  Grrrrrrr....

Increase the pitocin.

Chloe evenutally asked for her epidural around 11pm or midnight. 

Increase the pitocin.

At 1:00 AM she is still at 2.5 cm.  Chloe's sister goes home.  Chloe's mom tries to sleep in the room. 

Increase the pitocin.

At 2:45 AM Derek and I finally try to sleep in the family waiting area down the hall because we are 100% sure the babies won't be here for a while.

Fifteen minutes later my phone rings.  It's Chloe's mom calling from the room saying Chloe is suddenly at 10 cm and she'll be pushing soon.

(More of something that isn't English, a lot of crying and several "thank you" type mumblings.)

We rush into the room and about 3:20 AM Chloe and her mom are escorted to the OR for the twin delivery. 

Derek and I waited and figured we'd have to wait an hour or two. 

At 3:47ish someone comes into the room with an update.

"You have two boys.  The first was born at 3:37.  The second was breech and was born at 3:41.  Both vaginal deliveries."

(More of something that isn't English, a lot of crying and several "thank you" type mumblings.)

Derek and I were brought back to meet our boys.  Aaron Mitchell was born first and was 5 lbs. 10 oz. Jeffrey Alan came second at 6 lbs. 11 oz.

All is well.  We'll be discharged in about 12 hours and when we're home I'll try to get a couple pictures posted.  Although this surrogacy journey has ended and the parenthood journey is beginning, stay tuned.  I still have a few more stories to tell about this wonderful story of how I got a family.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Chloe Is a Rock Star and More Pictures

I was texting with Chloe last night and asked how she was doing.  She said it's pretty much the same.  I then asked if she was going to try eating spicy foods or exercising to help start labor.  She said she was going to hold out.  She's amazing to keep this up.  Chloe also said the hospital had called her to say she has to be at the hospital at 4:30AM on Friday to start the induction.  So we officially have a date and time for the beginning of the end of this journey.  It's exciting of course, but there is a little sadness that this journey has a very large and important chapter coming to a close.  Of course the excitement far outweighs the sadness.  

I also have more pictures from the baby shower in Chicago.  My dad loves to take pictures.  When digital cameras were invented and he could click, click, click and not waste film it was like a dream come true.  Sometimes my family thinks he takes too many pictures.  With babies on the way, I think we may have to eat our words.  I'm sure we'll be happy to have a family photographer.  Here are a bunch of pictures he took at the shower that I'm thrilled we have to remember the special day.

A Baby Breeza so we can feed the twins healthy fruits and vegetables.

Wall decals.  I can't wait to put these up!

The bowl that defies gravity.

Bibs and bottles - definitely necessary.

First books to make our kids smart.
Hand rattles.  We're bringing those to the hospital with us.


Some of the softest blankets AND they match out theme.
A drain for the 1,437,392 bottles we'll be cleaning.

I haven't quite figured out all the uses for a boppy but I hear they are invaluable.

Books including a book about the bond between a dad and his child. 
Animal blankets - Derek's nephew LOVES these.

Cute clothes and clay to remember their feet and hands when born.

Toys!  Love toys!

To help with bath time.
And more bath time fun.
Gosh, babies need a lot to take a bath.

"My Soft Shabbat Set."  How cute.  Plus challah, candles and even wine. 
The crotchet hats and pictures from Chloe.
The party decoration which will be hung in our home.
The awesome gift containing advice from all of our friends and family at the party.

Friday, March 23, 2012

No Eviction Yet

About two weeks ago Chloe told Derek she was starting to get uncomfortable.  We knew it was bound to happen and were thrilled that she made it about 35ish weeks without any major issues and very few minor issues except the never-ending nausea she had for the first trimester.  Last weekend I asked Chloe how she was doing and her response was that her feet were so swollen she could barely walk.  I told her that she must be making such a nice home for the babies that they don't want to come out, but I think she's ready to be done with this pregnancy.  She's like a landlord who is unable to evict her tenants even though they keep her up at night and steal food from her fridge.  Wait...isn't that what teenagers do too?  Who knew bad tenants, fetuses and teenagers are all the same?

When the process started I didn't think about how it would feel to watch someone suffer for a few weeks for my benefit.  OK, maybe "suffer" is too strong of a word.  But it is a little hard to know what Chloe is going through for me.  I wish I could help and do something, but we all know I can't really do much except offer to drive her to appointments or bring her some chocolate since chocolate makes everyone feel better.

Wednesday was the doctor's appointment.  When Chloe showed up she revealed her feet which were extremely swollen.  She wasn't kidding.  At least we had a little fun in the waiting room with another lady.  Chloe and this other patient were comparing their swollen feet.  Also, the weather is extremely warm for March all of a sudden so Chloe can wear sandals.

First we had the ultrasound.  Our awesome technician told us again that Derek and I have to bring the babies to the office so she can meet them and know the genders!  I  hope to do that.  My lawyer works about a half mile from the OBGYN's office so hopefully we can swing by both places in one day and show off the twins.  The technician also gave us the estimated weights of the babies.  Their weights are 7lbs 1oz and 6lbs 15oz.  Yikes.  The estimate is +/- 25%.  We're hoping to minus a few ounces, not add any! 

Chloe went into the doctor alone - like she always does - and while Derek, Chloe's mom and I were waiting I thought, "What if the doctor thinks the swelling is so bad that we are sent to the hospital right away?  I could have babies in a few hours."  As prepared as I am and as ready as I am to meet these little munchkins it was a little bit of an overwhelming thought.  

Derek and I went into the doctor's office with Chloe for the last part of the appointment.  The doctor said that Chloe is doing well and doesn't have preeclampsia so there is no reason to induce yet.  (I couldn't decide if I was relieved for me or sad for Chloe or both.)  Chloe will go into the office for one more visit on Monday to have her blood pressure checked and if she's still OK then we won't induce until next Friday. 

So that means no news yet.  You can still vote on the twins' gender or their due date and weight.  Keep an eye out for the big post that will come in 7 days or less. I sent Chloe a cookie recipe to induce birth - Jump Start Your Labor Cookies.  If she bakes them I'll let you all know to be on high alert for Baby Watch 2012.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Name Is Michael and I'm a Blog Addict

Who knew when I started this blog about two years ago that it would mean so much to me?  I didn't.  I had no idea I'd make friends, find support and encouragement, get advice, and follow some amazing stories that included heartbreak and humor.  When I go out of town and lose internet access I can't wait until I come back home to catch up on my stories.  (Yes, these blogs to me are like soap operas to little, old ladies.) 

I also know that I started this blog to try to help others in the future deal with surrogacy.  Here are some lessons I learned.  At the bottom, feel free to add any more lessons you feel my readers should know.

1. This is not easy.  Had I known what I was getting into I still would have done it, but I might have braced myself better.  I didn't know there were lawyers, contracts for egg donors, contracts for surrogates, fertility center doctors, OBGYN doctors, parentage paperwork, and more.  It was a lot to juggle.  You have to take things as they come and focus on one thing at a time.  Then it becomes manageable.  I thought one agency would take care of everything -- I was wrong.

2. This is expensive.  I knew how much the surrogate cost.  I didn't factor in the agency costs, egg donation costs, contract fees, parentage paperwork fees, estate planning (required in the surrogacy contract), hospital fees, blood work, DNA testing, travel expenses, maternity clothes, sperm analysis, egg donor travel expenses, medicine for the surrogate, and more.  It's a lot.  My insurance covered nothing because I don't have a fertility problem.  (That's a topic to deal with on another day.)  My surrogate picked a health insurance that will cover the OBGYN visits and delivery.  (I was very lucky on that one.)    I'm fortunate that I was able to pay for it all.  Not many people can do what I did and it's sad to know money prevents dreams from coming true.  Just know that it is expensive and whatever you think you're going to pay is wrong and it will be more than you predict.

3. A support system is necessary.  Whether it's a partner, friends, family, other people who have been there before, bloggers, agency workers or anyone else, get people who will help you through the rough patches.  There will be rough patches.  If you can make it through, the payoff is worth it. 

4. Learn to trust your surrogate.  I didn't at first and I'm sorry I didn't.  I do worry.  My lawyer had warned me that if I couldn't trust someone to carry my child that I shouldn't do surrogacy.  I wanted to be a dad so badly I said I could.  It was hard at first.  In a way I'm a little grateful that the pregnancy didn't take until the third time because it gave me more time to get to know Chloe and trust her more.  I still worried, but she proved herself by sticking with me, dealing with headaches and nausea, keeping in touch with me via email, filling out required paperwork and being sympathetic when the pregnancies didn't work.  I really do trust her now.  Trust always takes time.  I'm sure every parent-to-be will worry.  Reading surrogate blogs helped me realize how invested surrogates are in the success of these pregnancies and made me worry less.

5. Think before you blog.  I love having a memory of this whole experience.  I hope my children use this blog to know how much I wanted them.  I also think it has been great for me to remember my journey.  It was great for my friends and family to keep up with what has been happening with this endeavor.  But make sure you know what you're writing.  It's there for anyone and everyone to see.   

6. Get up after you're knocked down. I remember being told that 90% of people leave the surrogacy process as parents. I also was told that there was about a 75% chance of pregnancy with two fresh embryos transferred. I was told there was about a 50% chance of a pregnancy with two frozen embryos transferred. These numbers sounded so good. You all know, though, that my story took three tries and three egg donors. I am part of that 90%, but it took time. It's hard to get back up after being knocked down a few times. Keep remembering why you're fighting and rely on your friends to help you through.

7. Live for now.  I live with very few regrets.  I believe (thanks to my mom's advice) you make a decision at any given time because that's the best decision at that time.  Believing is one thing, doing is another.  I focus on the future.  I am already freaking out about how to pay for two kids in college at the same time.  This 18-years-into-the-future-freak-out last week made me stop in my tracks and say to myself, "Enjoy your babies while they are babies and don't miss this time."  I'm going to try to live in the moment more.  Planning is good.  We have to plan for the future, but not if I ignore the present day.

I'm sure there are more lessons to be learned.  If you have more - friends, family, surrogates, parents, or parents to be/IP (intended parents) let's share them with each other.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The 3:30 A.M. Call

I swore I would start sleeping by my phone on February 1st.  February 1st came and I decided that was really just a little too early.  We still had about two months until the twins were coming.  February 15th would be better.

February 15th approached and I thought to myself, "We're still weeks away from the adjusted due date for twins.  I don't really have to sleep with my phone.  I'll start later."

As March 1st drew closer and closer I decided it was time.  The April 11th due date wasn't going to happen for sure.  The March 28th (which became March 30th) induction date was a good date to hope for, but since twins are born on average at 37 weeks that put us at March 21st.  Then I remembered it was that twins were born on average at 37 weeks.  If I remember my 3rd grade math correctly an average means that there is a 50% chance that the twins would be born after March 21st but also a 50% chance that the twins would be born BEFORE March 21st. 

OK...time to start sleeping with my phone.

I, like many people, get emails sent to me all night every night.  I didn't want my phone beeping and buzzing all night just to tell me that Groupon has a great deal on socks or Netflix recommends I put some obscure Bulgarian movie in my queue.  I found out that I could set my phone to be silent except for phone calls.

Problem solved.

Or so I thought.

I forgot to take into account that people call me in the middle of the night.  I work for a hospital and I freelance for several agencies too.  As much as I'd love for no deaf person to ever need an interpreter from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. to ensure I get my beauty rest, that clearly is only a dream. 

Early this morning I think I was half awake...or maybe I wasn''s hard to know at that time of night.  I was having a nice dream about visiting a friend who had just bought a beautful house.  He was showing me all the rooms he had.  The carpeting was plush and he had plenty of --


"This is it," I thought.  "Chloe is calling." 

I didn't know if I should be excited or scared.  I picked up the phone as Derek started to wake up.  There it was on my caller boss???

Well, long story short, the hospital needed an interpreter and here I am at 6:30 a.m. trying to stay awake until I'm finish my regularly scheduled shift at 6 p.m.  Wish me luck making it through this day.  At least I know I'll be able to wake up if Chloe's call does come in the middle of the night.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Here are some pictures of the Chicago baby shower.  Yep, they're finally here.  It took me a while because I needed to do a little bit of editing.  (We've learned that I'm clearly not a photo editor and that I should stick to my day job.)   I didn't feel it was right to post pictures of Chloe on the internet.  So, instead of Chloe, you see the actress that will play her in the smash Broadway musical and blockbuster movie and the real pictures will be for our family to love and cherish.  And besides, now I can say that I've had my picture taken with Jennifer Hudson. 

Also, the Iowa baby shower was amazing.  The Chicago shower was mostly my friends and the Iowa shower was people who I had met once or twice or not at all.  Everyone was so wonderful and happy to meet me and congratulated me and told me what an exciting adventure parenthood will be.  I wasn't planning on saying anything, but since there was so much enthusiasm about the babies I mentioned that we might be in Iowa in the fall.  I applied to give a workshop at a conference and if it's accepted we would be able to show off the babies on the way to the conference.  Of course everyone got their hopes up that they'll get to meet these two bundles of joy.  We'll see if that actually happens or not.  I hope it does since these people were generous and loving and supportive of Derek and me. 

The whole party
The grandmothers-to-be

We had a ton of gifts

Everyone had fun -- even the kids

Friends and family at the party

The cutest cake ever!

The family

The gifts at home...and that was only the first shower

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Twin Facts

I was planning on just cutting and pasting twin facts, but I think you all deserve a little update as well.  There isn't a ton to say, but here's what's going on in my life...

1. My surrogate is off work now even though my surrogacy agency said she wasn't supposed to be off work until next week.  I think I have to pay lost wages for a few weeks but I guess I can't complain.  Chloe has been a rock star to make it 35 weeks in such great shape.

2. My whole FMLA issue is still up in the air.  I may qualify or I may miss the minimum number of hours by just a few.  I talked with my boss today and she seems willing to let me take off one day a week and work one day a week at the hospital.  As long as I have one day off a week I won't need child care for a couple months.  My friend says if I don't qualify for FMLA I should try to get a doctor's note for stress and use my sick leave.  I am stressed...but what parent-to-be isn't???

3. Derek and I just got approved for a new apartment.  It's more than we were hoping to spend (but just barely in our budget) and the stress of moving a month after the babies come isn't fun.  But the apartment will be better, it's closer to work, and we'll have in-unit laundry and parking.  Woo-hoo!!!  I wasn't sure if we had to disclose we will be having babies are not.  I called a housing rights group today and asked them.  They said because we don't actually have the babies now and we don't know what will happen in a couple weeks we don't legally have to disclose it.  I'm a little sorry for my neighbors who may hear babies crying, but I guess that's how it goes when you live in an apartment.  Any lawyers out there or parents with babies know any rules about this?

Now, the fun part of the posting.  At work I give a report of what happened and I always add a "medical fact of the day."  Just something random about our bodies that may just pop up one day while interpreting.  Today, I decided to research twin facts.  I found 20 cool facts.  Here they are...

1. A whopping 22% of twins are left handed. Amongst the general population, the number shrinks to 10%. Handedness isn't always a clearly genetic trait, and the factors that go into it can be quite complex. In fact, scientists are not even entirely sure how or why so many twins are left-handed – just that it very likely has to do with a connection between a genetic predisposition for twinning and a genetic bias for left handedness. Why are the two connected? We still don't know.

2. Rates of twin births vary by location. Certain areas of the world and our own nation have much higher rates of twin births than other places. For instance, if you live in Massachusetts, New Jersey or Connecticut, the twinning rate is 25% higher than the general populace. On the flip side, Hawaii and New Mexico have a twin birth rate 30% lower than that of the national average. Scientists believe that this propensity for multiple births is the product of multiple factors involving fertility drugs, heredity, food choices and age.

3. While most people are only familiar with identical and fraternal twins, there are actually 7 different types of twins. They are: identical, fraternal, half-identical, mirror image twins, mixed chromosome twins, superfecundation, and superfetation. Those other than identical and fraternal can be quite rare.

4. Twins do not have to be born on the same date. In fact, they can be born surprisingly far apart. The longest recorded gap between twin births is 85 days. How does this happen? The simplest explanation comes when one twin is born just before midnight and the other after. In cases where there is a longer gap, it's often because one twin is born early due to complications, while the other is left in the womb to further develop. This is much safer for the second baby and can help improve survival rates.

5. Twins do not have to have the same father. While we often think of twins as having the same mother and father, it's possible for a woman to give birth to two children on the same day who don't share a father. This phenomenon is called heteropaternal superfecundation. It happens when a woman releases multiple eggs, each fertilized by sperm from separate instances of sexual intercourse. It's uncommon, but genetic testing has shown that it is possible.

6. Identical twins have different fingerprints. Some people might think that identical twins are the same right down to those whorls and swirls on their fingerprints, but while identical twins share most of their genetic material, identical fingerprints aren't among them. While the fingerprints may be very similar, on close examination it is possible to tell them apart – much like the twins themselves.

7. About 25% of identical twins are called mirror image twins. This means that they are, in fact, identical, but only in the way that your reflection in a mirror is an identical image of you. For example, if one twin has a mole under her right eye, the other will have it under her left eye. Scientists think this is due to the fertilized egg splitting later than the norm for identical twins, around nine to twelve days after fertilization.

8. Identical twins have almost identical brainwave patterns. The notion that twins think alike just might be true. Research on identical twins shows that they have almost perfectly matching brainwave patterns. Some think this could explain twins' abilities to know what the other is thinking and feeling.

9. Twins can celebrate their twinning in Twinsberg, Ohio. If you or your children are twins, you can head to this city in Ohio to celebrate the Twins Days Festival. You'll be amid a sea of look-alikes, with twins, triplets and multiples from all over the nation converging on this town to celebrate being a twin.

10. Twins often develop their own language. This phenomena is called idioglossia. It's something that has fascinated people about twins for years, but it's really a relatively simple and easily understandable process. It happens when one twin models the disordered or incorrect speech of the other, leading to both twins using the same grammatical or speech sound errors. It sounds like a foreign language, but is really just a normal part of cognitive development.

11. Identical twins can be of different sexes. It might sound strange to stay that identical twins can be different when it comes to gender, but technically speaking it is possible. It happens when the egg splitting process doesn't happen quite as it should, resulting in twins that display genetic abnormalities like Klinefelter's syndrome. This means one twin might have the right correlation of XX or XY while the other has XXY.

12. Twins share DNA, but it is not identical. While identical twins come from the same sperm and egg, their DNA isn't necessarily identical, according to new research. Scientists used to think differences in twins were due to environmental factors; they now know that isn't the only force causing variations. Genetic studies have demonstrated that there are certain points where twins will veer away from one another, with one carrying different or multiple copies of the same gene.

13. Certain diets may increase your chances of having twins. What a woman eats can help increase her chances of having twins, or so researchers think. While genetics obviously plays a big role, diet can also influence this phenomenon. Researchers have found that women who eat dairy and animal products are much more likely to have twins than those that don't. This is likely due to a protein called IGF that increases the sensitivity of the ovaries to hormones that cause ovulation.

14. Fraternal twinning is genetically predisposed. Identical twinning is random. Fraternal twinning is the result of a woman releasing multiple eggs at the same time, and is largely the result of a genetic predisposition to release this extras. Identical twins, however, are the result of a random split of a single egg, something which cannot be genetically predisposed. In recent years, the number of fraternal twins has risen in response to fertility treatments, while the number of identical twin births has stayed the same.

15. Fraternal twins can have vastly different skin colors. This is an incredibly rare phenomenon (the odds of such births are 1 in a million according to some experts), but it does happen. When parents of mixed or different races have twins, they can have quite different skin colors upon birth. A number of cases have made the news in recent years and have fascinated the public at large. Because fraternal twins don't share identical genetic material, one may inherit the genes for one skin color, the other another. The parents provide potential coding for either.

16. Twins can have different gestational age. When it comes to fraternal twins, fertilization doesn't always have to happen at the same time. Fraternal twinning is the product of releasing two eggs within the same cycle, and the eggs are not necessarily released on the same day. One egg may be fertilized days (even weeks) before the other, leading to a difference – however slight – in the age and development of the twins.

17. 27 lbs and 12oz is the heaviest combined birth weight of any set of twins. if you think it would be rough to carry around and deliver one 14-pound baby, then imagine doing it with two. That's just what happened in this case, the largest twin birth on record. Of course, it doesn't hold a candle to the largest singleton birth weight of 23 pounds.

18. Twins separated at birth and reunited are often found to be eerily similar in personality and interests. The studies that discovered this fact, however, have widely been condemned as some of the cruelest and morally repugnant in medical history. During the 60's and 70's, identical twins were separated at birth in an attempt to determine whether it was nature or nurture that determined their personalities. However unethical, the study demonstrated that a great deal of who we are comes from our genes; many of the twins bore uncanny similarities in personality and preferences despite spending decades apart.

19. Scientists believe that the number of twin conceptions greatly outnumbers the number of twin births. Twin conceptions are much more common than many people realize. Of course, these conceptions do not always result in the birth of two healthy babies. Very often, one of the fertilized eggs or embryos will be reabsorbed into the mother's womb in a phenomenon called "vanishing twin syndrome."

20. The incidence of twin types and genders are oddly symmetrical. These facts about twinning are sure to leave you in awe. One third of all twins born are identical, one third are same sex fraternal and one third are male/female fraternal. Of the identical twins, half are male/male and half are female/female. Of the same sex fraternal, half are male/male and half are female/female.