Surrogacy part 14…

After the miscarriage we decided as a team to continue trying again straight away. I knew I would find it emotionally hard whenever I tried again so thought putting off tries would only make it harder. So we tried again and this time I had a very different mental attitude towards it, obviously I still wanted it to work and did everything the same as last time but the biggest difference was that I switched off from thinking about it every day and instead almost pretended there wasn’t a possibility that I was pregnant in order to protect myself.

Then, about a week later I started getting exactly the same pregnancy symptoms as last time that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. That’s when the anxiety kicked in quite badly and I kept having flashbacks of the miscarriage, I couldn’t bare the idea of using the toilet for fear of history repeating itself and I felt scared. Me being me, I pushed these thoughts aside as much as possible and decided that if I were pregnant, I would just try and focus on me time instead of the pregnancy until 8 weeks when the risk of miscarriage significantly drops.

When I took the first pregnancy test I had specifically waited until day 9/10 to give myself the best chance of getting an accurate result and I remember being incredibly anxious as I felt sure it would be positive and I knew this would scare me and lead to weeks of horrendous anxiety for fear of another miscarriage whilst also being aware that stress can contribute to a miscarriage so it felt like a vicious circle.

I was that anxious that I couldn’t look at the test myself but it was negative and so I spent the next 24 hours in a heightened state of anxiety wondering if the dates were wrong because of the miscarriage affecting my cycle or not being pregnant but I couldn’t see this being the case because of the unmistakable symptoms.

This went on for 4 days until I finally started my period very unexpectedly as I normally can tell but, on this occasion, it took me by surprise. More so because of my symptoms which certainly were not PMS symptoms which added to the confusion.

In a way I was relieved because I had been so anxious and just wanted to know one way or another. However, I was also anxious because I knew it meant going through this again at least one more time and realistically a few times and it felt so painful. I contemplated taking a little break or just working on coping strategies as I couldn’t see the trauma disappearing.

I went into this journey 100% dedicated to helping create a family and once I put my mind to something I stick to it regardless of the consequences.

The days leading up to finding out I wasn’t pregnant were incredibly difficult and very emotional. I wanted to protect Ali & Andrew from this but did end up telling them I was finding it hard and as always, they checked in on me regularly to make sure I was ok but if it were not for my partner, I don’t know how I would have got through those days.

She helped me come up with coping strategies and what helped me through was giving myself a full timed schedule to keep my mind occupied as well as her love and support. I was incredibly productive that weekend I have to say!

….I am sat here not even sure how to say this, so I am just going to say it….

I spent a few days in pieces, feeling incredibly guilty that I was even contemplating this, the thought of upsetting or hurting anyone does not sit well with me at all nor does putting myself first.

I lost sleep, I cried lots, I worried, I felt scared…I wanted someone to tell me what the right decision was.

I reached out to friends in case they thought I was making a mistake, but I was surprised that everyone’s response was along the lines of… for once I need to put myself first.

So…one of the hardest and heart-breaking decisions I have had to make and the most painful conversation I have ever had was ending my surrogacy journey.

How I managed to hold it together during the conversation I will never know. I had prepared myself as much as possible and spoken with SUK and I made sure I did what I could to protect myself and I made sure I wasn’t on my own.

It is safe to say that after the conversation ended, I sobbed like a baby.

However, as hard as it was and still is, (I feel as though I am grieving for many reasons) I know it was the right decision for me at this time.

I am not turning my back on surrogacy and still want to be involved in the surrogacy world especially as a counsellor and it is something that I may come back to at a later date but right now I need to focus on me and my family as well as recovering properly from the miscarriage physically and emotionally.

Although this journey has ended, I have lots of amazing memories and have made some great friends.

Surrogacy part 13…

It has been a few weeks since I had a miscarriage now and partly it feels surreal, yet every known again I have had a moment of feeling emotional and sad. I didn’t expect it to affect me so much and I thought I’d be right as rain after a few days.

Fortunately, I am now feeling more like myself…. this has without a doubt been helped by the love and support of the people around me.

As a team, if anything we all feel even stronger than before, and Ali & Andrew have been amazing. I went into surrogacy wanting to help create a family and despite the miscarriage this hasn’t changed.

So, we have discussed the next steps and unsurprisingly the boys have pretty much left the decision making down to me. I knew that whenever we decided to try again that we could find it harder next time around and so I thought that it didn’t necessarily matter when we tried again.

The hardest part is that after a miscarriage it can take a while for you body to get back on track and that your cycles can be affected. Me and Ali are similar in the fact that we like to be organised and so this has thrown us both off as we aren’t able to predict when I will have my period or when I will ovulate and so it’s turned into a bit of a waiting game!

Part of me is anxious about the possibility of having another miscarriage even though there is no reason to believe it would happen again and part of me doesn’t want to let Ali & Andrew down as I know how much this means to them.  

In the meantime, we had the chance to spend some quality time together (just the adults) at the SurrogacyUK annual conference. It was lovely to see them as always as we had a great time. I had never been to the conference before and being more of a wall flower I was a little unsure about how I would find it. The boys were always going to arrive after me and so I had to put my big girl pants on and walk into the conference hotel on my own and navigate my way around until they got there. The main room was full to briming for the opening talk and that’s when I found out 450 people were there!

SurrogacyUK promotes friendship first and it really does feel like that. Everyone involved is incredibly friendly and supportive and you never feel as though you are alone on your journey. Throughout the day there were various workshops including those aimed at intended parents and surrogates. I was expecting to see a lot more surrogates there (there must have only been around 40 of us) but it was interesting to hear about their experiences. I still find it hard to believe that people don’t take the time to share their deal breakers or have the serious talks with each other until quite far down the line and this ends a lot of teams. There have even been occasions where surrogates haven’t felt able to have a say in how they give birth even though SurrogacyUK would always promote that those decisions should be down to the surrogate. I feel lucky knowing that as a team we have discussed everything, and that Ali & Andrew trust me.

One thing that I found interesting was when they discussed children’s involvement in surrogacy journeys and how to make them feel included. I definitely feel as though my girls knowing that I am hoping to help create a baby for Ali & Andrew and how that works is the right thing. However, none of us had really considered our children’s role throughout the pregnancy and so now we have thought of ways for them to feel involved such as attending scans if possible, recording scans/baby’s heartbeat and I always thought it would be nice for my girls to be aware of the stages of the pregnancy even just down to telling them how big the baby is each week and any milestones.

The conference was quite emotional as it touched on loss, but it was also emotional when other teams shared their journeys with everybody. It is so heart-warming to hear such positive journeys and the incredible friendships that have come out of this and that continue years after the surrogate baby has been born. I went into this thinking that I would help to create a baby and that would be it…never did I imagine that I could end up making some amazing friends and extending our family.

Who knows how our lives will have changed by next years conference??   

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 9…

For some reason it feels like it was ages ago since we were in London when we went to stay with Ali & Andrew. Our friendship seems to be going from strength to strength and it feels as though we have known each other for years!

We have since spent another fantastic weekend together near Stamford which was a picture postcard town! We stayed in an Air BnB together and to say it was only the 3rd time of meeting all 3 girls were really comfortable together. I realised that I don’t have my guard up at all around them and feel I can just be me which is such a lovely feeling. There’s no trying to impress or be on my best behaviour…what they see is what they get.

I love the fact that we can chat about anything and everything and not just surrogacy (even though obviously that is a big part of our relationship!). I’d say we know quite a lot about each other and as I have said before, in these situations you talk about things you would never discuss with new friends or acquaintances.

As Ali, Andrew & myself know that we will be forming a team even though we have to wait until the end of the 3-month GTK period to make it official we have been discussing the nitty gritty of stuff. As this is their first journey doing it the traditional way, they had a lot more questions and unknowns and I found it hilarious when they said they didn’t know where everything was and needed a bit of a biology lesson!!

I’ve always said from the start of my surrogacy journey that I want to write about it with brutal honesty because although it is becoming more prominent, so many people still have no idea about surrogacy.

So, we have discussed the agreement and unsurprisingly there was nothing that we didn’t agree on. I would always respect the IP’s wishes, but they have said very openly that throughout this journey they trust me and would never expect or ask me to do anything related to the pregnancy such as what to eat or when I can take a pregnancy test etc.

Ali & Andrew are trying to get their heads around menstrual cycles and ovulation and how it all works, and we’ve pencilled in the days around when I should be ovulating for when we want to start trying. I had to explain that unfortunately our bodies don’t always work like clockwork so there is an element of needing to be flexible. I am normally fairly regular with my cycles but since starting to take Pregnacare conception vitamins it has affected my first cycle but I remember it doing the same when I was trying for Florrie & Bea so I am hoping they will regulate themselves after this month.

When it comes to working out when you ovulate it’s a bit of a guessing game to be honest. I’ve always tracked my cycles which tells you when you should be ovulating, and I tend to feel when I am too, so I’ve not paid more attention to it than that. However, last month I decided to take an ovulation test when my tracker said I should be ovulating, and it looked as if I had already peaked so this month I am testing from a week after my period to try and work out exactly when I do ovulate. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the sticks provide two lines and basically when the second line is at the darkest this is when you should be ovulating. I have also got the clear blue ovulation tests but there have been mixed reviews about their accuracy so we will have to see. Fortunately, with conceiving it is more important to try in the few days before ovulation than the day you ovulate when trying yourself as you do have a limited window.

We know that the first month we try will be a bit of trial and error for both myself and Ali, but we’re pretty laid back about it (I say that now!!). I know I’ll be a little nervous as I want to get it right and obviously, I want to become pregnant for them, but I am also getting excited now!

There’s absolutely no pressure from Ali & Andrew when it comes to conceiving, the pressure is more from myself particularly as I fell pregnant 1st time with both my girls, but I know this is different as everything was being monitored by the clinic when I conceived my girls. So, we shall see!!

One thing that took me by surprise was that Florrie asked me how babies are made. She already knew that her and Bea were made with the help of a clinic, but I couldn’t say the same this time as it’s not the truth and I believe it is important to be honest with your children so that they know they can talk to you about anything and trust you.

I did have to think about what I was going to say but after talking about it with Paige I realised that it’s only adults that feel uncomfortable having these discussions. We happily teach our children from a young age about body parts but when it comes to genitalia, we can avoid the subject or give pet names for these parts which doesn’t set children up well for the future, particularly when they do reach an age where they understand about sex. So, in the end I told her that Mummy has eggs inside her and Ali has sperm (which are a bit like seeds) and when they mix together, they make a baby. For now, there were no more questions but if they do come up then I will answer them as best I can.

Florrie & Bea both know that I will be trying to make a baby for Ali & Andrew and that once Mummy has made the baby that it will be going to live with them, and they are fine with that (as long as they get cuddles with the baby!). Ali & Andrew have said how important it is to them for me to be a part of their baby’s life and that I will be an honorary Auntie to baby and Honor and that is very touching.

In the short time we have known each other I feel I have gained 2 incredible friends; an adorable ‘niece’ and my girls have gained 2 fab ‘Uncles’ and 1 ‘cousin’ (so far!!).  

Surrogacy part 8…

As with the early stages of dating the GTK (get to know) period has so far consisted of daily messages, regular conversations and the excitement and anticipation of meeting up. My girls were excited to be going to see Ali, Andrew & their daughter Honor as they enjoyed spending time with them when we first met. I was excited too however I also had butterflies as this was the first time, I was seeing them after I had offered them the GTK.

The girls very quickly made themselves at home after we arrived at their house, and it didn’t take long before we were all sat chatting like old friends whilst I was being plied with bubbly!! Ali & Andrew went to a lot of effort to make us all feel welcome and had gone out their way to make sure they had dairy free supplies for me.

The following morning, I even had a cup of tea brought up to bed for me…. talk about how to melt me! I can’t remember the last time someone brought me a cup of tea in bed! If I was dating someone who did this, I would certainly be thinking that they were a keeper!!

We shared an incredible and memorable day at Winter Wonderland….it really did feel like I was spending the day with old friends. It was so easy, laid back and fun. The girls had never been on a train let alone the tube, but Ali & Andrew made it so easy, and I was touched by how much they involved themselves with my girls without batting an eyelid. I certainly appreciated their help navigating our way through the busy tube stations especially as its not something that I particularly enjoy.

Ali & Andrew had offered to take the girls ice skating whilst we were there, but I wasn’t sure how everyone would get on as I had to stay in the viewing area with Honor, but they all appeared to have a whale of a time! The girls were all too happy to let them guide them around the ice rink and my eldest daughter would have happily allowed them to do this for hours! It was definitely heart-warming to watch.

Now for whatever reason, Andrew (who must be a softy!) offered to try and win both my girls the most enormous cuddly toys I have ever seen! I couldn’t watch as I thought it can’t be that easy otherwise, they’d never make money on the game, and he was determined to win twice otherwise one girl wouldn’t be a happy bunny. Well, surprisingly he won…twice! I’m not sure he had thought this through though as these gigantic toys now needing carrying around London and on the tube!! I had nothing to do with this as it was his idea!!! Having said that he wasn’t having any of it when I suggested that the cuddly toys stay at their house and so I am so incredibly grateful (can you sense the sarcasm?!) that I now have them in my house!!

After an incredibly busy but wonderful day I was plied with even more bubbly as we realised, we hadn’t captured the moment (any excuse!) and we spent the evening chatting away, including our thoughts about the GTK and what the future may hold. It was lovely to know that we are all on the same page, but I still don’t think it’s sunk in that everything seems to be going so well. It’s almost as if I am expecting something to go wrong but I hope not.

The weekend consisted of lots of giggles, fun, excitement, numerous selfies, and happy memories. I didn’t feel as though I had to put on an act, and I was completely relaxed and felt like I was myself.  

Before we got home, Ali & Andrew in their excitement had announced our GTK to the surrogacy community and their post was lovely to read (even if they had put photos with me on!!) and it made me feel warm inside.

Especially in recent times I think its hard for people to find other like-minded people so if Ali & Andrew are as lovely as they seem to be then I can see us really being good friends. We are all excited about what the future holds!!

Reflections of 2021!

What a year this has been for everyone…yet another year revolved around Covid which is becoming a new ‘normal’. Absolutely it has had an impact on 2021 for me personally but as I sit and reflect on this year it isn’t the first thing that springs to mind, instead its more like a sideline. Admittedly it is heart-breaking that it is still affecting so many lives and that so many lives have been lost to Covid, what I find more saddening and disappointing (although not surprising) is the governments handling of it and the anti-Covid/anti-vaxxers out there.

I howled with laughter when I watched Live at the Apollo Christmas Special on BBC iPlayer when Jason Manford spoke about Covid….the best bits were when he spoke about people who listen to the scientists and medical professionals and trust and accept what we are told (even if we don’t like it) and those who don’t believe what incredibly intelligent people are telling us and instead take to the university of Facebook for ‘facts’ on Covid. He talked about someone taking the piss out of him for wearing a mask and he said well ‘I figure if I’m wrong, I just accidentally wore a mask for a year whereas if you’re wrong someone’s nana died, you know?’ Brilliant!!

I know this is the time of year when you’ll see lots of posts about creating jars filled with positivity and some people write down all the good things that have happened throughout the year so that on New Year’s Eve, they can empty the jar and remind themselves…I love that idea, but I admit that I can imagine I’d get to the end of January and stop doing it. However, if I had done that it would have helped me write this post!! Instead, I’ve had to wrack my brain and look back through my calendar and photos to remind myself.

So much has happened this year…. I’ve certainly been through a lot, even I can’t quite believe it.

So, I’ll start with the not so brilliant things….

-Lockdown – although I enjoyed spending quality time with my girls, particularly as I knew that Florrie would be starting school in September. A highlight of lockdown was being able to legitimately go to York for my Covid vaccines!!

-Going through another court case…this time for divorce proceedings and it was pretty horrendous, it could have broken me at the injustice but instead I had to focus on the positives which were that I was finally free from my ex, and I was given a lump sum.

– My first surrogacy experience with a set of Intended Parents went pear shaped and knocked me down to the point where I questioned if surrogacy was something I wanted to carry on with.

– Having my jaw broken by my dentist which resulted in me being in a lot of pain for 2 months and led to me having to have an operation under general anaesthetic which petrified me, but it’s done, and I am now pain free and hopefully my jaw is pretty much healed.

Now for the better things!!…

  • I GOT DIVORCED!!!!! – Definitely a highlight of my year!!!
  • I booked 2 holidays for 2022 (Covid permitting) …so I’ll have to get over my fear of flying for one of them!
  • I completed the Ration Challenge and raised £440 for refugees. I am proud of this achievement, not only because it was tough going but also because I never imagined that I would raise that much, I didn’t even know if I’d raise £50 as I don’t know that many people. I’m very grateful for everyone who donated and sent words of support!
  • I passed the first year of my counselling course
  • I gave a presentation to the rest of my class at college where I had to speak openly about myself for 10 minutes…it was the first time I revealed so much about myself. It was a major milestone for me.
  • I got a tattoo… which I never thought I would do and I still love it. (Which is lucky because I’m stuck with it!!)
  • I started my placement as a trainee counsellor, and I am now more than 1/3rd of the way through the 100 hours I need to qualify!
  • Amazingly I was incredibly lucky to find and be able to purchase a house of my own – I still can’t believe it. It has taken a huge weight off my shoulders as the rising cost of renting was terrifying. I have to admit that I found moving and the process of buying a house rather stressful, but I did it.
  • I got to spend some quality time with my best friend, and we had annual trip to Bettys for afternoon tea which we hadn’t actually done for 3 years!
  • Florrie started school!! Fortunately, she has taken to it like a duck to water and loves it! She had a glowing report and ended the year by playing Mary in the school nativity! I am very proud of her.
  • Even though my first experience of surrogacy didn’t work out I met Paige through my old IPs, and I feel very lucky to have her in my life.
  • I met the lovely Ali & Andrew through surrogacy, and we are embarking on our journey together.
  • I have enjoyed discovery myself (even though there is still more to go) …I am so much happier in my own skin and feel like me and I quite like me. I have definitely taken more risks in the past year, mainly speaking more openly which I find risky as I still have a fear of judgement and rejection, but I am getting better at this. My best friend has massively helped with this as she has encouraged me to say how I feel and take more risks as life is too short.
  • And….my Christmas wish came true!!!

I am looking forward to 2022 and can’t wait to spend time with the important people in my life, to create lots of happy memories and hopefully qualify as a counsellor!

On reflection, I have realised that it is too easy to get caught up in life and to forget the good things that have happened. So as much as I still may forget to carry it on, I think keeping a notebook handy to jot down some key happy memories throughout the year would be a lovely thing to do. Having a notebook by the side of your bed is an easy way to jot things down before you go to sleep, and it will become something really nice to look at either at the end of the year or whenever you want to remind yourself of these things.

So, here’s to 2022…I hope it brings you all happy memories!

Surrogacy…part 7

My last surrogacy post left things hanging! I was umming and arring about what to do because I wasn’t sure if I could trust my instincts after last time, but I know you can’t live in the past. I read through quite a few IP profiles and knew that if I offered a GTK (get to know) that it would more than likely be to a gay couple. I get that writing a profile for potential surrogates to read must be hard as they are meant to be a snapshot but what stood out for me was the fact that hardly any mentioned anything to do with a surrogate and mainly spoke about themselves.

I already had an inkling that Ali & Andrew were different, especially having spent some time with them so I was intrigued to see what their profile would say. Admittedly I already liked them, but their profile was still important to me when it came to helping to make my decision. Well…unsurprisingly their profile stood out from the rest by a long shot! There was no comparison and to be perfectly honest it warmed me to them even more.

I had chatted to Paige about Ali & Andrew as I wanted another opinion especially given my previous experience. I found myself questioning if they only wanted friendship particularly as they were in the early stages of looking for a second surrogate and the fact that they live in London, but I realised that these things weren’t for me to decide or make assumptions about and Paige hinted that they liked me.

The thing with offering a GTK is that you wouldn’t generally know what an IP’s decision would be as you’re not meant to discuss it with them before going through SUK. So, I was a little nervous when I sent the email to SUK offering Ali & Andrew a GTK as I didn’t know what their answer would be. I also didn’t know how long it would take for my email to be read and actioned, so I was left in a little bit of limbo.

This was quite hard as I was still messaging and chatting to Ali & Andrew every day and I couldn’t say anything, and I didn’t know if they knew about my email. It got to the next weekend, and I still hadn’t heard anything and the not knowing was driving me doolally! I eventually contacted another member of SUK who informed me that the lady I had emailed was off as she’d just given birth! I had no idea! I was a little frustrated as I hoped that someone else would be able to step in and help whilst she was off, but I don’t like to bother people, so Paige stepped in and worked her magic!

Within less than an hour another member of SUK contacted me, checked that our profiles matched (in terms of the type of surrogacy we were both looking for i.e., straight or host and our expenses) and confirmed that she was going to message Ali & Andrew asking them for a call.

Well, the butterflies kicked in at this point and within minutes I got an email saying it was a YES!

I was over the moon and squealed with delight…apparently, they screamed when Sarah spoke to them offering a GTK!

I decided to give them a call and they both answered screaming with happiness!! I had to tell them that I had sent off the email offering them a GTK 2 weeks ago and how awkward I had found it whilst I had been waiting, especially when there had been a hint that they weren’t looking for other surrogates right now. I had no doubt in my mind that they would have been snapped up sooner rather than later and so I am very happy that we are now on a GTK.

So, for the next 3 months we will get to know each other even more and spend some time together before we decide if we want to form a team with the idea of me trying to help create a baby for them.

I feel very relaxed around them and have been completely open and honest from the start. They seem very genuine, open, and honest people and they clearly understand the process of surrogacy having gone through it once before. There haven’t been any awkward moments, nor have I had any niggles. It’s definitely like dating…wondering if they like you, revealing things about yourself that you wouldn’t necessarily talk about with new friends etc.

Obviously, I don’t know what the next 3 months will entail and we’ve yet to talk about the nitty gritty of what our journey may look like if we were to form a team, but I hope that whatever happens that we all enjoy this time getting to know each other.

They have invited us down to spend the weekend with them and we are all looking forward to seeing them again.

I can’t wait to enjoy some Christmas festivities with them all…. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Surrogacy…part 6

It’s been a while since I have posted about surrogacy for a variety of reasons. Partly because my experience with the previous IP’s left a bitter taste in my mouth and I wasn’t sure if or when I would feel ready to contemplate continuing with the idea of being a surrogate and partly because life has been rather hectic lately.

I kind of switched off after what happened with Greig and Owen and went into self-protection mode and found myself no longer as interested or excited as before and if it hadn’t been for Paige who is also a surrogate with SurrogacyUK I would probably have shut the door on the whole idea.

However, I decided to put things on a back burner but not to rule surrogacy out based on one bad experience. I’ve not been actively looking or participating in online socials as I have been busy moving and recovering (in a fashion) from my visit to the dentist.

I decided to continue with the process of joining SurrogacyUK and I can report that I am now a fully active member.

I had to have a video chat with a member of SUK before joining who was lovely and I talked about my previous experience and my concerns, and she completely put me at ease and reminded me of why I wanted to be a surrogate in the first place.

I then was asked to write a profile about myself including why I wanted to be a surrogate and dealbreakers. To begin with I kept this fairly short and sweet as I knew that after any potential IP/IP’s read this that there is a get to know you period of at least 3 months but after speaking to Jemma (who appeared on the BBC Surrogate documentary) who is my mentor I decided to add much more. She said that a lot of teams are ending before they have even started their journey due to people not having discussions about things such as dealbreakers and this made me realise how important my profile is.

The profile directs you to think about dealbreakers relating to pregnancy, but I decided to expand on this and think about what would stop me from wanting to have a relationship with an IP/IP’s and so included things such as if they were into fox hunting or were homophobic or god forbid were Conservatives!!!

I also wrote about what was important for me including my girls. Even if I had a smooth and straightforward pregnancy I will no doubt impact on them and so it is important to me that they gain something out of the experience such as making memories, fun experiences, or the creation of new friendships etc.

When I go into my bubble (usually to protect myself) I switch off to some extent and so I can’t really remember when I first started talking to Ali and Andrew who are IP’s with SUK. I remember that Andrew messaged me through one of the Facebook groups. I also remember that I was feeling detached at the time and so very quickly I told him what went wrong with my previous IP’s and that I wasn’t sure where this has left me.

Instead of feeling like I had to ‘impress’ potential IP’s I kind of went the opposite way and as I wasn’t thinking about matching with any IP’s I just chatted to him and Ali without worrying what they might think.

Ali and Andrew have already had a daughter with a surrogate through SUK and are on a sibling journey. When I first contemplated surrogacy, I didn’t think that I would ideally contemplate being a surrogate for IP/IP’s who already had a child and distance was fairly important too. However, after my first experience I realised what was most important was the connection and relationship.

We have been chatting regularly for a while now and they even came up last weekend.

I am certainly not in a rush to become a team with any IP’s, and I know that it is important to keep your options open, but I realised as I read through the IP profiles that none stood out for me.

It takes a lot of energy to get to know IP’s and I do compare it to dating rather than making friends as it is on a different level, its more intense and personal. I realised that I don’t have the energy to spend months trying to get to know IP’s for the sake of it and that although I am cautious that it is still worth trusting our instinct.

So now the ball is in my court as to which IP/IP’s I offer a GTK (Get To Know), where we spend at least 3 months getting to know each other with the intention (if all goes well) of forming a team. SUK having been very supportive and there is absolutely no pressure to offer a GTK to anyone unless I want to.

If and when I decide to offer a GTK I have to email SUK to let them know and then they see if the IP/IP’s match in terms of expenses, distance and whether they want a host or straight surrogate. If you do match, then they send your profile over to the IP/IP’s and offer them a GTK whilst you wait to hear if they accept or not.

As it stands, I have an idea of what I am going to do….so watch this space!!

Surrogacy…part 4

Last weekend I went across to Manchester to spend some quality time with the boys and I had such a lovely time. I think I was a little apprehensive about going, partly because I knew we would be going through the surrogacy agreement and I would be telling them how much my expenses would be and partly because somewhere at the back of my head there was a little niggle of doubt, that the boys would change their minds or once I opened up to them about my past that they would get cold feet.

However, the boys made me feel very comfortable and whilst chatting over a cup of tea they revealed that they had booked an escape room for us that evening. I have never been to an escape room before and didn’t know what to expect but I was definitely up for trying something new.

We decided to get the official stuff over with before we headed out and so we all rather officially sat around the table with some nibbles and worked our way through the 12-page agreement! It certainly covers everything you could think of and more…from where insemination will take place, to discussing wills, life insurance, me agreeing to abstain from sexual intercourse in the months of trying to conceive (the things we have to put ourselves through!!), to expenses, what happens if there are complications during pregnancy, birth arrangements including the first feed and the kind of relationship we all would like throughout this journey and afterwards.

I was very touched that the boys asked if I would be happy to consider giving baby its first feed and of course I said I am more than happy to if I can, and the boys also said that they would like to see me every 4-6 weeks during pregnancy and once the baby is born. Nothing came up throughout the agreement that posed a problem or raised any issues for any of us and it all went really smoothly.

The main thing that is on my mind is becoming pregnant in terms of will I get pregnant? G has had his sperm analysed and his results showed that everything was in full working order so if it doesn’t work, I feel it will be my fault. I’m also thinking about the deed itself in terms of the practicalities when it comes to my girls and managing to do it ok whilst being relaxed!!! But I know that all I can do is my best.

Once we had all signed the agreement the prosecco was popped open and despite going tee total the boys wanted me to have a glass (or two!) to celebrate this special moment together. Of course, being a lightweight I ended up feeling rather tipsy!! I didn’t have high expectations of being able to get out of an escape room in my tipsy state!

When we got there, we were told what would happen and what we needed to do and then the three of us were locked in a room and given 1 hour to escape! I enjoyed every minute of it and felt we all worked well as a team…there were no arguments or desperation to escape! I was in very safe hands and can’t take much credit for us escaping as both boys are mathematicians, which no doubt helped when it came to solving the logic problems! In the end we managed to escape with 10 minutes to spare and whilst me and G got straight out, O stayed behind to tidy up!!!

Then we went to the Corn Exchange for something to eat and they took me to a really nice Vietnamese restaurant where I had another first…the meal was served with chopsticks and because the boys could use them, I felt the need to try and use them too! I had never used them before but stubborn me powered (slowly) through my noodles…at least its good for the diet, eating slowly!!!

We ended up rolling in way after my bedtime and I slept like a baby and even enjoyed a lie in (and yes, 8am is a lie in for me!!).

Throughout our weekend together we talked about anything and everything and I even opened up to them about my past. I enjoyed probing the boys about their ‘gaydar’ especially when they both claimed to have a fairly good ‘gaydar’, yet both admitted they wouldn’t have known I was gay.

We certainly had a giggle and I felt very relaxed around them.

We have arranged to meet up with my girls and their baby (their dog) before the first attempt in November. G is already counting down the weeks until the first try!

I know I have said it before, but I really do feel so lucky to have met them and cannot think of a nicer couple to be going on this journey with. If there were any niggles before last weekend, there certainly aren’t any now. As far as I am concerned, I have made friends for life!