Surrogacy part 11…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and it feels as though so much has happened in this time.

I went down to London to stay with Ali & Andrew for the weekend for our agreement session which all went well and so we are now officially a team!

It was lovely to spend some time with them on my own and as usual they went out their way to make me feel at home and spoilt me. They took me into London for a night out and we explored China Town (which I’d never been to before) and Soho. It felt bizarre to be out late and for it to be so busy, everywhere was buzzing which is something I’m not used but I enjoyed it (even if I was drinking mocktails!).

In the lead up to trying for the first time I did plenty of reading around the best ways to do insems at home and gathered quite a few good tips. I got a pineapple ready so that I could eat a piece of the core for the 5 days leading up to ovulation and complied a playlist of videos to watch to do with insemination as this is what I did when I tried for my girls.

I’m a firm believer that it’s worth giving things your best shot and so I wanted to do everything the same as when I conceived the previous 2 times.

Going into this I didn’t feel as in control as when I used a clinic as they do all the monitoring and control what is happening and when whereas this time round it’s down to me trying to work out when I’m ovulating and hope for the best.

Fortunately, it worked out that the 2 days leading up to ovulation for our first try was when my girls were away so at least we knew we had the first time without worrying about being disturbed or juggling how we were going to look after the girls whilst doing the deed.

Of course, we were both nervous as it was something new for us…neither of us had tried insems before and it felt like there were lots of things to remember. I tried to be as prepared as possible and so I had everything we needed to hand.

We were told that it’s a good idea to warm the syringe, pot and pre-seed before hand and I got all my pillows in the right position.

It was good that we’d had a few chats about it before hand and we both told each other that the first time was just a trial run with no pressure (not that I’ve ever felt pressured by them).

So when Ali went upstairs I had the TV on loud and played myself some feel good tunes with my headphones on and he messaged me with a 5 minute warning so I could go up and get ready whilst he let everything rest before drawing it up in the syringe (this was another suggestion as apparently it makes it easier to do). Then he came through and passed me the syringe and left me to it. The syringe part is very quick and easy and then I used a conception cup afterwards which is supposed to help keep everything up there. After I did my part, I stayed lying down with my hips slightly tilted for 10 minutes whilst I watched the videos about inseminations which I find fascinating. Our bodies are incredible!

We both felt everything went really smoothly and so the next couple of times we did insems that week seemed like a breeze.

In between insems, me and Ali went to the cinema, and we joked with one another about how he was supposed to wine and dine me first, not the other way around!

I believe that feeling comfortable around each other and being able to have a laugh about things really helped.

Yes, I am obviously taking things seriously but the last thing either of us needs is to feel stressed or pressured as this won’t help with anything.

I think due to anxiety on the lead up to and during the first insems we were both exhausted afterwards!

For now, Ali’s part is done, and I am left with the painstaking 14 day wait to find out if it has worked or not. Of course, I am not expecting for it to work the first time round but equally there’s always going to be a part of me that would like it to.

So, watch this space!!  

Surrogacy part 10…

Since I last wrote about my surrogacy journey, I tracked my ovulation as best I could during my last cycle which mainly consisted of peeing on sticks daily and sometimes twice. I decided the best way to do this would be to keep the sticks so that I could line them up against each other to truly follow how dark the line got in order to figure out when I was at my peak.

It’s no good throwing them away everyday as you’d have nothing to compare it with and you’d be guessing if you thought it was darker than yesterday or not. It was interesting particularly as you could sometimes see a difference even in the same day which does go to show that the less diluted your urine the better.

What I also found interesting was the contrast between the cheap and cheerful sticks and the Clear Blue ovulation sticks. When I ordered them, I didn’t realise they do 2 different ones – ones that track just the LH levels and ones that track LH levels and estrogen. I had the ones that tracked both LH levels and estrogen and started using these alongside the cheap and cheerful ones 5 days before I was due to ovulate.

To begin with I just had a circle which meant I wasn’t fertile and then I got a flashing smiley face which meant that I was fertile and at this point the leaflet told you this was the time to start having sex (if only!!) but to keep testing until you reached a smiley face which was when you are ovulating.

However, I stopped testing after 3 days of having a flashing smiley face because the cheap and cheerful sticks showed the 2nd line was fading and when examining myself and based on symptoms, I also felt by this point I had ovulated.

The window for ovulation can be as little as 12 hours which can obviously happen at any time so could happen whilst you are sleeping and seen as sperm can survive for up to 5 days before you ovulate, I wasn’t concerned that the Clear Blue sticks didn’t show a smiley face when I think they should have. However, this month I am moving onto the other Clear Blue sticks that only measure LH levels.

For those of you that don’t want to know the ins and outs feel free to stop reading…

So, another way of trying to work out if you are fertile is by examining your cervical mucus, this can be done by either seeing what it looks like if you get any in your knickers, but it is more accurate if you can try and reach your cervix with your fingers and then see what it looks like. If you check it at different times throughout your cycle you will notice that it changes. On day 1-4 after your period ends it can be dry or tacky, day 4-6 it is sticky, day 7-9 it becomes creamy, and yogurt like in consistency and day 10-14 it becomes stretchy and resembles raw egg whites. It is between days 10-14 when it becomes stretchy that you are fertile. The position of your cervix can also help indicate if you are ovulating as it is higher at this time.

By combining ovulation tests, tracking your cycle, noticing any symptoms you have as well as noticing the position of your cervix and what your cervical mucus looks like is probably the best way of knowing when you are fertile or ovulating.

As I rarely get the chance to go to the toilet in peace (as my daughters tend to follow me even if they are happily playing at the time!) they obviously have seen me doing ovulation tests and so they are aware of what I am doing and why. I was surprised when Florrie asked if she could help and so she took an interest in watching the test as it flashed and liked being in charge of telling me if it was showing a circle, flashing smiley face or just a smiley face. When she saw the flashing smiley face, she gave me a very grown-up look and said, ‘does that mean it’s time to make a baby?’ – this completely took me by surprise and made me giggle.

Everything is beginning to feel real now because we have our surrogacy agreement session booked and Ali & Andrew came up for the weekend and met my mum and best friend. When they met Maddie, it was lovely as she has 2 little girls who are a similar age to my girls who get on really well and Maddie said to me that she was honoured to be involved in my journey and for her girls to experience surrogacy as well. I’m pleased (& relieved) that Maddie approves of Ali & Andrew (not that I expected her not to). So now we are on the countdown to signing the agreement and starting to try and conceive!

Surrogacy…part 2

It feels ages ago since I met the boys for the first time and that so much has happened since.

If you haven’t gathered from my last post, I have officially offered to be a surrogate for G & O, and we are in the process of embarking on our surrogacy journey together!! I am incredibly excited but as I sit here writing this it also feels a little surreal!

After we met, I wondered what the boys made of me and how they felt about everything particularly as O is more reserved (but lovely). It made me smile when they said that on their car journey home O spoke of me going over to Manchester to go baby shopping with them and how he wants to make sure the guest room is ready in case I want to visit.

In our initial conversations we spoke about our thoughts on surrogacy and how we all felt about the process. Admittedly it felt a little awkward because as I’ve said before these are pretty personal conversations to be having and it is a big thing.

For all we knew, we could have been on completely different pages when it came to surrogacy and that would have no doubt ended our journey before it began. I’ve felt from the beginning that I am very open minded and laid back about the process in terms of how it works and don’t have any real deal breakers. Obviously, I would only offer to be a surrogate for people I feel are decent and who I believe will respect me in this journey.

G & O had previously had their own discussions about surrogacy before they met me and had contemplated creating an embryo and then finding a surrogate but that has its own pros and cons. Then they met me and during our conversations I said that I don’t mind whether I did host or straight surrogacy and so we decided to go with straight surrogacy (meaning the baby will be created using my egg).

As I have said before, I wanted to be able to donate my eggs when I went through fertility treatment so the idea of creating a baby that is genetically linked to me doesn’t phase me.

Of course, there will be an element of curiosity about what the baby looks like, and I am sure I would feel some sort of a bond having carried a baby for 9 months but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We talked about how the boys see the relationship with the surrogate (me) and they were very open and honest and said that they always hoped that there would be a relationship there from day 1 which would continue long after the baby is born. They said that they would want me to be an honouree auntie which I was very touched by and of course I would love it if that were to happen.

I went into this with open eyes and never expected to form a close relationship with the IP’s and of course part of me is a little cautious in case it doesn’t turn out like that. Equally, this is an intense and deeply personal journey whereby you are going to spend a lot of time together and get to know each other incredibly well so I can’t imagine why you would want to forgo that friendship after the baby has been born.

Having decided that we were going down the straight surrogacy route I then asked them if they wanted to use a clinic for this or the more natural method. Again, there are pros and cons to both options. I had IUI at a fertility clinic which is basically artificial insemination but you are pumped with hormones, regularly scanned and have blood tests to give you the best chance of success so in a way I feel some of the responsibility is taken out of your hands this way but having said that I know millions of women get pregnant without the help of a clinic and obviously you don’t have to pay thousands of pounds in the process.

So, we have decided to try it the more natural way. Obviously, I know what that entails but now that it is all real my head is spinning with what we will need and how it will work. We did have a giggle about the nitty gritty of it all!

I just hope that it works and that it doesn’t take months of trying, but I know that it might. So, when we start trying the boys will drive over from Manchester a couple of times a month around the time of ovulation for us to attempt ‘the deed’ as I call it. Now just to be straight this will not involve any level of intimacy, it will be G doing his thing and then me doing my thing. I imagine the first time we will both be nervous as it is unconventional but all we can do is our best.

When G & O went to a SurrogacyUK gathering, despite not walking away with a potential surrogate they did meet someone who they got on really well with and who they chatted to a lot about surrogacy. So, once they found me and we decided to go on this journey together the boys had a lot of unanswered questions (as did I) and so they turned to her for help and advice. I suddenly got a message from G with her contact details and although I wanted to chat to someone else who was embarking on their first surrogacy journey, I was also nervous about getting in touch, after all I didn’t know anything about her nor what the boys had told her about me.

However, she was incredibly helpful, supportive, and lovely and she put me at ease straight away. Since then, we’ve been chatting a lot and I feel incredibly lucky to have met someone who is starting their journey at a similar time to me but more than that, how incredibly well we get on and as we’ve said to one another, how meeting each other has been one of the best things to have come out of our journeys so far! She is amazing!

This journey means a lot to both boys and so I intend to do everything I can to give myself the best chance of becoming pregnant.

I have started taking pre-conception supplements, stopped drinking alcohol (not that I drank that much), moved onto decaf tea and coffee and have been trying to eat more healthily.

The countdown is on until our first attempt….2 months to go!!

Here goes…

A while ago I wrote about how I have a few exciting things in the pipeline and how I had made a rather big decision, but I wasn’t going to share it yet…

Well, I have now decided that the time is right, and I want to share this potentially incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, and unique experience…

I can hear you saying, ‘just tell us what it is!’

I’m getting there…

Ever since looking into fertility treatment before having my daughters, I knew that I wanted to help others who couldn’t naturally have a baby of their own, without a little help. I knew that if I had to have IVF that I would have happily donated my eggs for those who may need them. However, because I only needed IUI to conceive, the clinic wouldn’t take any of my eggs.

I then considered the possibility of fostering; however, you need to have a spare bedroom and that isn’t something that I have, and I am aware that whilst fostering can be very rewarding, that it can be rather stressful too and that’s after you’ve been scrutinised with a fine toothcomb by the agencies.

So…in my quest to want to help those who cannot have children of their own, I have decided to (hopefully) become a surrogate!

I thought about waiting until I was pregnant before writing about it but then I thought that surrogacy seems to be something that isn’t really known about, let alone talked about and this made me want to share my experience even more.

My journey began by googling surrogacy and seeing what was out there. I found a few agencies and started reading the information on their websites.

I was shocked to discover that surrogacy is illegal in a lot of countries and whilst it is legal in the UK it is illegal for surrogates to be paid and not surprisingly the UK legal system with regards to surrogacy is like spaghetti junction – messy and confusing to say the least!

Despite this information, it didn’t put me off and so I decided to contact a couple of the agencies to find out a bit more about the process.

As I didn’t even know if an agency would consider me as a surrogate, I decided to fill in an application form and send it off. After all, I’m nearly 35! However, the main criteria for being a surrogate are that you have already had children, be at least 21 years old, be classed as healthy and have a healthy BMI. I tick all those boxes, so that was the first hurdle passed.

The application form was fairly straight-forward although it was quite long and it did ask deep questions that I hadn’t even thought about by this point, including, what type of surrogate do you want to be? There is a choice of host/gestational surrogacy and straight/traditional surrogacy.

Host surrogacy takes embryos made by an intended parent or parents and transfers them via IVF into the surrogate. The surrogate is not genetically connected to the child conceived.  The embryos are either fully made up of both intended parents genetics or made up of one intended parents genetics plus either donor eggs OR donor sperm.

Whilst straight surrogacy uses the surrogates’ own eggs to conceive. This can take place at home using artificial insemination, using an insemination kit or via a clinic using IUI or IVF with the surrogate acting a known egg donor.

I was asked to write about the kind of individual or couple that I would like to help, which to begin with I had thought I would want to help anyone, however, on reflection, I know that in my heart I would prefer to help an LGBTQ+ individual or couple.

It also asked what kind of relationship you hope to have with the individual or couple that you are matched with, which I struggled to answer as at this point as I didn’t know what the other party may be looking for. When I filled in the form, I thought that most people wouldn’t want a relationship with the surrogate and so I put that I didn’t mind what kind of relationship I have with them. Having said that, I knew that it would be lovely to have a relationship with the parent/parents.

Looking back through the application, I imagine it does put some people off before you even start, although I do understand why they ask the questions that they do.

Quite a tricky question to answer was what kind of relationship you hope to have with the child once it is born. At this point I thought that most intended parents wouldn’t want you to see the child again, let alone have a relationship with them and so I accepted this possibility.

The application wanted to know how you would feel if the baby was found to have something wrong with it and if you would be happy to carry on with the pregnancy or how you would feel if the intended parent or parents wanted you to terminate. Very hard questions to answer but at the end of the day the baby wouldn’t be mine and so I put that I would follow the wishes of the intended parent or parents.

The list goes on! Reading it again is enough to make anyone’s mind boggle!

I have only shared my journey so far with very few people, partly because its very early days and partly because I don’t want to be judged. I am quite surprised and taken aback by some people’s thoughts about surrogacy. At the end of the day, it is an individual’s choice to be a surrogate and I personally think it is an amazing thing to do and I know that I am eternally grateful to the donor who helped create my beautiful daughters.

There is so much to think about and consider and there is definitely more to come about this journey!