Tomorrow will mark one full week on the lupron injections, prenatal vitamins, and baby aspirin.
I wrote a little about the side effects I have been experiencing, but every day is a little bit different. Today, for instance, I woke up after having had a very restful sleep. I have no residual headache, though it had been hanging on in a very weak form for most of the week. I did have a bit of a hot flash, but that could be more from my pile of blankets than anything else. I fell asleep starving last night, and I woke up not feeling hungry at all.
Insomnia, Headaches, fatigue, hunger, and hot flashes are all potential side effects of lupron. I have experienced all of these to some extent this past week. None of them have been more than a slight annoyance, so there is still nothing too bad to deal with. Those things are temporary and such a small piece of what I am trying to accomplish here.
The strongest side effect is excitement of the journey I am now a part of. The date isn't set yet, but to know that in three short weeks I may become pregnant for my IPs is just so unbelievable. I haven't quite wrapped my head around it yet. I use the word honored a lot when I describe the relationship between a surrogate and her IPs. That's because it truly is an honor to have someone accept you to carry their child- to many mothers, or hopeful mothers, the most precious thing they have. It takes a lot of trust, and in this scenario it takes a lot of effort.
Because of this, I don't even miss my sushi, soda, deli meat. I have no desire to put those things in my stomach because I know that doing so could potentially lower the chances of a good transfer, and could hinder the baby's development. It's funny how your mind changes when circumstances change. Another example of this is that I generally hate taking medicine of any sort. The only time I ever take pain killers is if I have a headache that is bad enough to stop me from being able to work or care for my girls. I now have a whole tin full of medications and a calendar event on my phone that pops up every morning and night to remind me to take all of the stuff. I have not missed any of my medications- not once. This process is such a big part of my life right now, and the amount of time and money invested- even though it isn't my own- is too much to let something mess it up like a missed birth control pill or thyroid medication. In short, I'm like an actual adult doing what needs to be done.
I am just so excited to get to be a surrogate, and can't wait until I can put that x1 after my name. (on the message boards, surro x1 means I have had one successful surrogacy journey)
If you have comments, questions, or anything, don't hesitate to hit the comment button below and talk to me. :)
I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the ugly side effects of the medication. In honesty, there have only been a few, but I am documenting this for my own memory, and for the use of others who may be considering surrogacy and end up stumbling across my site.
The Lupron shots are nothing. The needle is so tiny there is no pain, only the ick factor of putting a foreign substance in my body. After three days, I am already over that, and I just do it. The process is also a novelty to my girls, who seem to be in attendance for my shots if they know I'll be doing them.
The only real side effect so far has been the headaches caused by the Lupron. On Saturday, the day after my first shot, my headache was something resembling a migraine, sinus headache, and tension headache all at once. Because I am preparing for pregnancy, I can only take tylenol for this. Tylenol did take the edge off, and my oldest daughter (almost 11) offered to brush my hair while she watched tv to help me until the medicine kicked in. I know, I am so lucky. By the time she was done (She actually brushed my hair through an entire disney channel show) I was left with a dull ache, nausea, and fatigue. I fell asleep shortly after.
The next day, I had to get up early to go to my little sister's dance competition in Columbus. I woke with the memory of a headache hanging on as well as that nausea. I was also quite tired that day. No caffeine allowed, so I tried eating to help make it better. The headache wasn't too horrible. It was nothing like Saturday's when I wanted to cut my brain loose. I was just so tired. I actually stayed up to wrap some presents for my soon to be 11 year old, then took my meds and fell asleep quite quickly.
Sleep is another thing that has changed, but I don't know if it is psychological due to all of the changes or if it has to do with any of the medications. While I spent most of the weekend tired, I also tended to wake up super early and not be able to go back to sleep. This is a skill I have always possessed and been proud of. I am a good sleeper. When I am sick, I sleep until I am better. This means that my sick goes away faster because my body just rests so it can recover itself.
All in all, there is nothing I wasn't led to expect, and aside from Saturday, nothing I couldn't handle. Also, my dose of Lupron will be cut in half next Monday, so that will make it even better. I am still optimistic. :)
Update: AT about 2 in the afternoon I had to take more tylenol. The headache is creeping back in. creeper. everything from my glasses, to my pony tail feels like it is causing pressure on my skull. in just under three hours I get to go home. Yay!
The tin came with Tina with Wisconsin cheese and other goodies in it. I think this is a good use for it now. Also, I am more excited that I should be about the biohazard container. Those are my prenatal vitamins to the bottom left.
This is my open tin. In here, I have Lupron, some steroids, some antibiotics, progesterone, and estrace. I also put a small amount of my syringes in here and my alcohol wipes. These needles are nothing. They are very tiny and only 1/2 inch in length. I did my first injection of Lupron last night. I was pretty nervous about it, but I have two tattoos, and they hardly phased me at all. I figured I could handle it. I did.( If needles make you queasy go below the picture) For these injections, I can do them in my upper/outer thigh, backs of my arms, or in my stomach. I chose to do my thigh because I know I have so much fat there that there was no risk of going in too far. (This is not an actual risk anyway due to how small the needle is.) I also chose my thigh because it seemed like it would be easier to see and get to for my first shot. I swabbed the skin with alcohol, put the needle to it and just pressed in, gradually increasing the pressure until it went through. Once I broke through the skin, the rest was easy. I no longer fear this part of the journey. I do, however fear the intramuscular injection of progesterone. That needle is a slightly bigger gauge and is 1.5 inches long. And it has to go in my bum. Needle Rant Done.
SInce I am taking the lupron now, I guess I will mention what the lupron does. As I understand it, lupron suppresses the hormones that stimulate egg production. Which is a good thing, since my own eggs will not be required at this time. I am also to take baby aspirin and prenatal vitamins. I will keep taking birth control for four more days, then I will stop taking those.
This medication thing is SO fun. :)
Many surrogates go through agencies. I considered, for maybe two seconds, going independent. Independent means that the surrogate and intended parents would find each other through ads or message board on a surrogacy. I immediately decided against it. I have a few friends who have been dealing with infertility, but none of them were at the point where a surrogate was required. Anyway, I had no idea how to navigate the legal, medical, and emotional issues that were involved.
I filled out several applications to various agencies a little over two years ago. The standards are quite strict for a surrogate. They require a complete medical/obstetric history. All clinics require that the surrogate have had at least one child of her own. Most, maybe all, require that the surrogate still have custody of their own child.There is also a weight limit, or more accurately, a BMI limit. I am just under that limit, and going lower due to my new regimen of thyroid medication. (small victory: I lost 6 pounds in 3 weeks after I began the thyroid medicine with no changes to my diet.) I only completely submitted applications to two agencies. One turned me down due to a previous medical issue that I had handled. The other had dealt with said medical issue before, and saw absolutely no problem with proceeding. Note: The medical issue happened before I had my last child, and caused absolutely no complications.
This is why I ended up with The Surrogacy Experience.
Tina at TSE has taken great care of me from the beginning. She has been so open about the process and what to expect. The agency in general has helped get all of the testing done, helped me obtain a lawyer to go over the surrogacy contract, and helped me get over my initial fear of shots. In the beginning, Tina had to fly out to meet my family and check out the living situation. She has been out twice since we just moved to a new home over the summer. The second time she came out, which was in August, she mentioned a Chinese couple who lived in Pennsylvania. She told me their story. They are in their early 30s, have one daughter from a previous marriage, and want a large family. She shared our respective profiles and we had a phone meeting. Tina ran the call, asking each couple (Stephen and myself and the intended mother and father) a series of well designed questions to help us get to know each other better. Stephen and I knew right away that this was a couple we would love to help. The next day, Tina let me know that they were also okay with the match.
After that, things moved at what seemed like a snail's pace at the time, but I actually think it must have been pretty quickly. We got a contract drawn up. I am not proud of myself that the only item on the contract I changed was the complete ban on caffeinated drinks. I had it changed to a limit of one half caffeinated coffee per day. I have since broken that habit, and don't even need that much caffeine. It was really more of a protection for those days when the morning is really rough and I need some sort of pick me up to get through the work day.
Stephen and I both went to labcorp and had a bunch of blood drawn to be tested for any infectious diseases, or in my case, anything that might harm the development of the baby. We are both officially FDA approved and good enough to eat, by the way. I also had two different ultrasounds to check for fibroids, cysts, or any other blockages. That is also all clear.
The next step after that is to get a transfer date scheduled and begin the medications. I started those last night, and our tentative transfer date is Dec 13-16th as long as I respond as I should to all the medicines.
Wish me luck.
I am currently in the process of becoming a gestational surrogate. This decision has been in the making for over two years, but the actual process didn't really begin until August when I was matched with my wonderful intended parents. I have never faltered in my decision in the least. I know that this process will be fulfilling in so many ways. I will get to help bring a new life into this world and deliver that life to the family to which it belongs. I can't imagine how difficult the decision would be to allow a woman you have never met to carry your child. I am so honored that my intended parents have chosen me to be a part of their journey.
I am very lucky to have the support of my husband in this venture. He probably mostly supports it because I am not a super annoying pregnant lady. My girls understand and are supportive as well. Faith was the first to acknowledge that it was a nice thing to do for someone else. That said, I should mention also that my husband and I had long ago agreed that we are so done having more of our own children. I love my girls, but I feel that I could never be the best mom possible if we had more children. We are so blessed with our three beautiful girls, there is absolutely no reason we would want to mess with a working system.
I also have the somewhat begrudging support of my mom, who has worry for obvious reasons. She has always been my rock, and I can count on her to give me straight and logical answers no matter what the question.
Lets get down to the basics.
Gestational Surrogacy means that I carry a baby to term that is in NO way genetically linked to me. This particular baby will be genetically linked to one of the intended parents. If all goes well, (a very well orchestrated undertaking that requires a lot of my blood to be drawn and tested) we will begin the first, and hopefully only, transfer in mid december. The transfer is where the already fertilized egg is placed in my uterus. Hopefully it will stick, and nine months later there will be a lovely new addition to Family A.
You may notice that I am going to be slightly vague when I mention the intended parents (IPs or Family A). They are aware of this blog, but it is not my place to share their story. I will refrain from giving any specific information on them. Just know that they have tried and tried and struggled for a very long time before deciding to pursue surrogacy.
Where I stand right now:
Family A and I have all completed testing and are FDA approved to proceed. In the process I did find that my thyroid is underactive, so I am on medication for that and being monitored regularly. There are a lot of medications involved in the preparation to be a surrogate. So far I have been on active birth control for almost 9 weeks, and tonight I get to begin my first injections of lupron. That, prenatal vitamins, and baby aspirin are all I am taking for the next ten days. I will have another appointment on the 25th to monitor and determine when I should start progesterone. I will probably discuss the medications in more detail as I come to them.
The most challenging aspects of this journey so far have been breaking myself of a caffeine habit and the waiting. I am very much an instant gratification kind of person. I hate waiting for things beyond my control. For that reason, waiting for each step to be reached and "okayed" has been horrid. On that note, I am glad for the wait as well. It helps me feel more and more secure in my decision.
I am so excited to begin this journey, and I hope you can share in our excitement by checking back to my blog, where I will update on changes- good, bad, ugly, and beautiful. I want to be as honest as possible, with TMI warnings where required.
Now- off to give myself a shot. :)