Tuesday, May 29, 2018

And then there were 3!

It's been nearly 2 years since I posted. C is five and a half, and R is two and a half. We now have a daughter, T, who was born in January!

As I mentioned in the last post, we did a third donor cycle when R was born, and it resulted in 2 genetically normal XX embryos. We were able to work with the same gestational surrogate that helped us have R, which made things pretty straightforward.  We transferred the first one early in 2017 and it didn't work. We transferred the second one, knowing it was our last transfer ever (thank goodness!) and really being at peace with either outcome. Either it would work, and we'd have a daughter (amazing!) or it wouldn't work and we could get rid of all the baby stuff, and be nearly done with diapers, and sleep through the night, and travel (also great!) And it worked.

T was breech, and an external version wasn't successful in turning her, so she was born via c-section. DH and I were able to be in the operating room (I didn't watch), so I've now given birth to one baby, watched one baby be born vaginally (and held him while the umbilical cord was still attached), and not-watched one baby be born via c-section. She was born around 9am, and we left the hospital midday the following day (same hospital as R - he was born around 2am and we left about 18 hours later!)

I induced lactation again, which meant I had more than enough supply when she was born (we had 9 poopy diapers the first day in the hospital, which the nurses had never seen) but not enough to keep going. With R I exclusively pumped for 6 months and hated it, so I knew I wasn't going to do that. So I nursed for about two weeks and our surrogate sent us milk for about 3 months, and we're using really good European formula (Lebenswert Bio if you're curious - with international shipping it works out to $15/box which makes about 108 ounces.

T is doing great. She's sleeping through the night as of about two weeks ago, and so the clouds have parted and the blue skies have come out. Her brothers adore her.

It's a huge relief to be done with more than 10 years of family building. I'm so grateful that we had the resources and the stamina to get to this point. Our kids are amazing.

I decided for National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) this year to share that we used an egg donor to build our family. I had kept that private, outside of immediate family, but I'm so open about everything else - miscarriages, infertility, surrogacy - that it felt awkward to not be open about that too. Lauren - thanks for the wonderful example to follow!

I'm rarely on twitter these days, and even less on blogs. Both were so important for my sanity over the years of infertility struggles - thank you for being my community. Now I spend most of my infertility-related time supporting friends and friends-of-friends who need perspective or advice. And I donate to RESOLVE, and post publicly about our experiences.

Love to you all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

R turns 1!

My last post was when R was born. His first birthday was two weeks ago - time flies! He's doing great - started walking at 10.5 months (had to keep up with big brother C, who turns 4 in December). He's very attached to me right now - cries when I leave the room, etc. It's hard on DH since he was arguably the primary caregiver when R was a newborn (C was really needy), but we know this will pass. He's so much more fun at a year - he's not as good at communicating as C was (and I spent more one-on-one time with C), but it's improving every day. I'm one of those people who would skip the first year if I could - I enjoy my kids way more when they can walk and talk.

I ended up not having enough milk supply to nurse, so I pumped and got enough for a bottle a day, with two pumps a day, and we used good organic formula from Europe for the rest. For the first 5 months my surrogate also sent us milk, so two bottles a day were breastmilk and the rest was formula. I stopped pumping at six months. In hindsight if I hadn't gotten the flu right before R was born I think I would have had enough supply for him. And regardless, it was definitely good for bonding. Bonding was rough for the first three months, but then it smoothed out. (Oddly, he didn't smell good to me for those first few months, which I'm sure is hormonal.)

I'm going back to work full-time in a week - I haven't worked full-time since the end of 2009, when I quit right before starting IVF. I'm excited - it's a great job, and I'm ready. We have an awesome nanny, which is a big part of what makes this change possible.

We've also started talking about doing another journey. Last fall, right around the time R was born, we did a third cycle with our egg donor and ended up with 2 normal female embryos. We're talking about doing a transfer in March - our surrogate is willing to do another journey with us, which is awesome and makes a lot of the logistics easier. I have a call with our RE at the end of the month, and am starting the lawyer process for the contracts. So we have two chances - gives us good odds, but no guarantees. It's overwhelming to think about going through the baby stage again, but we figure the sooner the better.

Life is good! Hope you're well!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sorry it's taken so long... He's here!

Apologies for the two week delay...

Baby R was born on Thursday, October 15!

Our surrogate had a midwife appointment on Wednesday, October 14 and she was 3cm dilated and her bag of waters was very low, so her midwife sent her to labor and delivery and broke her bag of waters. This gave us time to drive up (about a 90 minute drive, with no traffic) and then hang out with her and her husband for about 12 hours until she was fully dilated. Once she was fully dilated, he was out in two pushes (less than 10 minutes after full dilation!)

The hospital was amazing - all the nurses were informed about the surrogacy and really excited for us. They were universally excited that I had induced lactation. And we were discharged 18 hours after R was born. (Our surrogate was discharged the next day.)

I was given R as soon as he was delivered, and held him while the cord stopped pulsing. Once it was cut, I nursed him while our surrogate delivered the placenta and got a few stitches. About 45 minutes later, DH gave him a bath and the baby nurse took his measurements.

My milk supply never got great - being horribly sick for two weeks before R was born definitely hurt me. But I was able to feed him exclusively my milk for the first week (fresh + frozen stash) and now he's on a mix of my milk (both direct and pumped), generously shared milk from a friend (thanks, Jamie!), pumped milk from my surrogate, and fancy organic formula from Europe. We're doing as much breastmilk as possible for as long as possible, and supplement with formula as needed.

One perk to using a bottle immediately is that DH has been able to be incredibly helpful. He's done more feeds and changed more diapers than I have, since our preschooler C is very attached to me. C is very sweet with R - gives him little kisses on the head and exclaims over his tiny fingers and toes and nose, but spent a few days asking for cuddles every time I nursed. That seems to have passed, and in fact C was 'feeding his bunny' yesterday by laying his stuffed animal rabbit in his lap and pulling his shirt up (and telling the rabbit not to bite). Lol!

We had our two week pediatrician appointment today and all looks good. We were back above birth weight a week after his was born (it helped that I had milk immediately), but his days and nights are switched so even though we don't have to wake him up at night to feed him, he wakes up pretty frequently on his own. I'm looking forward to days and nights sorting themselves out - he sleeps like a champ during the day. :)

Bonding has been different than with C. DH is madly in love, but I don't have those strong feelings yet.  I think it'll change more dramatically when he can connect with me and react to my presence. It's odd to be able to compare the two experiences. I will say that it's a heck of a lot easier to manage a newborn and the related sleep deprivation when you don't have a physical recovery to get through. Silver linings!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

38 weeks!

Our surrogate is 38 weeks today. Crazy!

Her midwife thinks 39 weeks is more likely than 40. Her body is definitely getting ready. It's a little stressful knowing we could get a call at any time now. My MIL is going to take care of C - we'll either have her come to our house, or rendezvous at my SIL's house (on our way to the hospital, and a quicker drive for my MIL) depending on time of day/urgency.

We've packed hospital bags for us and the baby, and have our (signed!) legal paperwork for the birth certificate.

I had a baby shower that involved a chocolate tasting with alcohol pairings, and no gifts. It was awesome and exactly what I wanted (thanks, SIL!)

I started pumping at the beginning of September, and immediately had milk. However my supply hasn't increased very much, in large part because I've been horribly sick for the past 10 days with a cold/flu. I'm on the mend, and hoping it manifests in my milk supply. But I definitely feel there's more milk than the pump is getting out, and babies are better than pumps. So I'm holding out hope that the baby will stimulate my production (I get about 1/3 of an ounce per pump right now, and I'm pumping 8 times every 24 hours - this of course has made it harder to recover from being horribly sick). Just in case I ordered super high quality organic formula from Europe, figuring if I need the backup, I want the best formula I can get. I also have a super generous friend (hi JM!) who has offered me some of her milk stash, and our surrogate is also willing to pump if needed. So there will be good options, but it would sure be nice if my body would cooperate. I'm on domperidone, moringa, fenugreek, goat's rue, and blessed thistle, and am eating lots of oats.

Really surreal that we're about to have a newborn. I've been going through all my video of C in preparation for sending it off to be made into a highlights video, and it's been fascinating to see how much he's changed, and to remember when he hit certain milestones.

We're going to be moving early next year, so the new nursery isn't really decorated, and still has my computer and printer in the room (we did get our Comcast router moved into a different room at least). C is excited about the baby, but has also been extra clingy and needy. Typical sibling stuff. It's cute - he'll pretend to change a diaper on a stuffed animal, or put a book he doesn't want anymore in his baby brother's room. He also periodically says he's my baby, so there's lots of processing going on in his head. Preschool has been going pretty well, so hopefully that routine will be helpful in the early days.

Good luck to J as she welcomes her #2 this week!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Half way!

Not many people read this blog anymore, but a few do (hi, J!) so I wanted to update...

Even though I don't believe it's accurate to say 20 weeks is halfway through a pregnancy (since transfer is just before 3 weeks in), we have hit that milestone! In fact, we're 21 weeks tomorrow.

We had our anatomy scan a week ago and everything looks great. Our surrogate is feeling good, and hasn't had any issues.

I'm in my third month of taking the pill, in preparation for inducing lactation. I'll start pumping in September, about 6 weeks before the baby is due.  In late May, I realized it was 5 months to the baby, and 3 months until I start pumping., which feel like a long time. But with a surrogate, the time passes quickly, and we have a busy summer ahead.

DH and I took a nice trip to Europe, without C, and it was nice to be able to drink wine. (I have to take those silver linings wherever I can, man...) It'll be our last trip solo for quite awhile, though we have travel plans with C this summer.

And now we wait!

Saturday, February 28, 2015


If you read my last update in November, you might remember the "however"...

Yesterday, DH and I drove two hours to the office of an ob I'd never met before to see an ultrasound of a perfect embryo with a perfect heartbeat. Our surrogate is pregnant. Our due date is October 20.

We transferred a single embryo on February 2. 9 days after the 6 day transfer, her beta was 234 (she'd POAS the afternoon before and got a good line, and had a crazy strong line the morning of the beta). Betas have been climbing appropriately and she's been nauseous and tired. But it was still nerve-wracking to be in the room holding my breath for the ob to get a clear ultrasound picture.

There's no reason to believe there will be any problems, and every reason to believe we'll have smooth sailing, but almost 8 years of dealing with infertility and 2 miscarriages for unknown reasons have a way of keeping us unsettled. Once we get through the NT scan, I think I'll be less on edge and more willing to truly believe we'll have a baby this year.

I have a lot of empathy for my husband, and husbands generally. I really feel like I understand what it's like to be the husband: I know intellectually that we're expecting, but it's completely abstract and will be for quite awhile.

It's hard not to tell everyone - we previously decided to wait until the NT scan to tell our families and so far are sticking to that. A handful of people in real life know, but it's awfully nice to be able to share the news and updates on twitter (and here, though I don't expect I'll be blogging all that regularly about it). I experimented today with telling strangers that we're expecting a baby via surrogacy, and it was oddly fun. Lots of curious questions, but the reaction is generally positive and enthusiastic. The only awkward part about telling our families will be that both my mother and my MIL offered to be our surrogate when we were trying to have C (and didn't need a surrogate), so that may lead to some interesting comments/conversations (they're both in their late 60's, so easy to just refer to medical advice.) And I can only imagine my grandmother's reaction (she doesn't filter, and she's religious, anti-doctor, etc.) so we'll be waiting awhile for that one.

I'm planning to induce lactation, and will be starting that process pretty soon. I have my yearly mammogram this week, and my annual exam in April, but will talk to my lactation consultant about getting on the pill soon (I'll likely be following the Newman-Goldfarb protocol since I have plenty of advance notice.)

Time is passing very quickly. Life is busy - C turned 2 in December and is a marvelous creature. He's incredibly verbal, loves to sing and dance (his particular favorite for dancing is what he calls "The Jump Song", which the rest of us know as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and his favorite for singing is "Two Little Kitty Cats" which he learned at Music Together, though he's mostly memorized "Do-Re-Mi" from the Sound of Music), is funny and stubborn and loving and will ask to read books all day long (mostly about construction equipment). I can't wait to find out what his brother will be like.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Books about egg donation

I've wanted to do this post since 2012 when we found our egg donor and I started collecting children's books about egg donation.  I have a similar post with books about surrogacy in the works, and in fact started collecting those books at the time same based on a conversation with a psychologist (required by my clinic) who suggested having an array of books about different ways families are made, not just egg donation. So include books about adoption, surrogacy, sperm donor, egg donor, two dads, two moms, etc. to illustrate all the ways people build families.

This post starts with the egg donation books, but I'm also including some more general assisted reproduction books at the bottom.

Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big

Recommended. Hardcover. Boy baby. This is my favorite of the egg donation books. The language is simple and straightforward. It addresses the sadness of not being able to have a baby. The donor is referred to as a "special lady (a donor)" initially, and then as the "donor" later. It talks about "Daddy's cells together with the donor's egg". It doesn't explain uterus vs. tummy, and uses 'tummy' or 'body' throughout. The illustrations are simple but cute. It's not at all religious.  My son asks for this book.

A Part was Given and an Angel was Born

Hardcover. Girl baby. The rhyming is overly cute and a little strained, but works well enough for reading aloud. The illustrations are cartoony. The story addresses the sadness of not having a baby. The book refers to the baby being in the tummy and is not at all specific about what's getting donated; "there was a part in Mommy that just didn't work as it should." The illustrations that go with the "part" section are likely to be confusing to an older child - one has a Classifieds page in the newspaper with "parts for sale: Auto, Body, Baby, Home" and another shows a box of "spare parts" that has safety pins, screws and nuts. Despite the title, and a later reference to 'angel', the book is not at all religious. There is a blank page at the back labeled "to baby" if you wish to add personal notes. It's not my favorite book, but I keep it in the rotation.

How We Became a Family (Egg Donor, Singleton version)

Recommended. Hardcover. Baby is not gender-specific.The illustrations are much more conceptual than in other books and less kid-friendly/more sophisticated. The couple is portrayed as two birds. One thing I like is the book describes the couple as a family of two, and that they wanted to grow to be a family with children.  It addresses that they were sad about not being able to have a baby. The book is factual about baby-making requiring "an egg, seeds (sperm), and a nest (uterus)" and the illustrations show the correct anatomical terms (in small type so it's easy to skip or not, depending on your preference and the age of your child, and these illustrations show people, not birds). The book talks about sperm donors and egg donors and defines them as "people who want to help other people build families". There's one page that talks about the egg being fertilized and defines "zygote" and "embryo". Not at all religious. It's a sweet book, but the illustration style and the detail in the text suggest it's better for an older child. There is a blank page to fill in birth details.

One More Giraffe

Baby is a giraffe, so not gender specific. I have an earlier version of this book (softcover instead of a board book) so I will update this review when the new version arrives. This book is very simple. It defines a family as including children. It addresses the sadness of not being able to have a baby. It's very general about the donor: "a kind lady giraffe who wanted to help them. She gave them a very special gift." The gift is shown as a wrapped box with a ribbon, and the text explains that a doctor helped them with the gift. It's such a simple book that it barely introduces the concept of a donor, so I wouldn't recommend it as an only purchase. It could be a good companion for a more detailed book for a very young child. Not religious at all.

The Pea That Was Me (An Egg Donation Story)

Softcover. Baby is not gender specific. This book is straightforward about eggs + sperm, which is sort of funny since the baby is shown as a pea in a peapod, and the embryo is described as a pea (the word 'embryo' is not used). It also refers to the baby growing inside of mommy's tummy. The book doesn't use the term 'donor' and instead refers to 'a very kind lady who had lots of extra eggs. There is a blank page in the back to fill in with the baby's story. The illustrations are crude but cute, and the tone of the text is cute (if you're ok with an embryo being referred to as a pea). Not religious at all.

A Tiny Itsy Bitsy Gift of Life (An Egg Donor Story)

Softcover. Baby is a girl named Nicasha (and she's a rabbit. :) This book talks about tiny itsy bitsy seeds from the mummy and daddy. The donor is referred to as "a lady rabbit" who has "lots of tiny itsy bitsy seeds". It talks about putting the seeds in the mother's tummy so they can grow. Doctors are never mentioned.  I find this book strange - it talks about putting the two seeds together to make a baby bunny, like a cookie where two halves make one, which makes no sense. It does address the sadness about not being able to have a baby.

Books about ART

Recipes of How Babies are Made

Recommended. Softcover. This book compares babies to cakes  - that with ingredients + a place to bake, you can get a baby similarly to how you get a cake. It talks about egg and sperm, which go in a woman's tummy. It later describes a woman's tummy as a womb, which may be a problem if you're trying to be precise with anatomy for your child. The illustrations are realistic but not graphic, although there is full frontal nudity. The book then steps through what happens if an ingredient is missing and what the variations are: natural conception, in vitro, sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, surrogacy, and adoption. It does address sadness about not being able to have a baby. There's also a page about families being different, referring to varying numbers of kids (or no kids), divorce/remarriage, one parent/two parents, etc. The illustrations are cute and the text is straightforward and educational.

I loVe my Family (a book about assisted conception for young children)

Softcover. This book focuses on IVF. It talks about putting an ovum together with a sperm and forming a "super cell" called an embryo which gets put in a uterus. There are some guidelines for parents about how to talk to children about their conception, and also some suggestions for how to use the book to discuss egg/sperm donation or surrogacy. There are some coloring pages in the back with some discussion tips on love, hope, wishes, and family. The illustrations are crude, and don't follow one family through the book, but rather show a variety of couples and kids of various ethnicities. Not at all religious.

If you have suggestions for other books that I should review, please leave a comment.