How I Started My Second Journey
This is my second surrogate journey! I completed my first in April 2020, and IT WAS AMAZING! Bringing life into this world for someone who otherwise would not have a child?!?!?! Science is amazing. Surrogacy is amazing. This process is…..Amazing! I feel like this journey was destined from the very beginning. In the summer before I met my current IP’s, I was approached by an acquaintance who knew someone who needed a surrogate. I got her phone number and chatted with her for over an hour. She was great! The only thing that she was worried about was I was only about 5 months post partum from the first surrogacy. She consulted with her RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) who said I had to wait 1 year before I could be a surrogate again. Which I was ok with, but it was sad, I really liked her, and she didn’t want to wait any longer and went on to find a different surrogate. No big deal, I needed time to heal.
My IP’s from my first journey approached me not long after and asked if I would do a sibling journey for them, which is something I always wanted to do! However, I didn’t feel like the timing was right. My husband wanted me to “not be pregnant” for a bit longer, and at the time we were considering selling our house and buying property, and I just didn’t know where we were going to be, so I told them they should look for a different surrogate and not wait on me. So they did. And I went about my life as normal.
Fast forward a few months and we didn’t sell our house, the market was just too crazy and we decided to stay and renovate instead. I decided at that point I wanted to be a surrogate again. My husband was fully supportive, and I contacted Cat to get the process going. I was presented with a profile for some pretty cool sounding IP’s. This would’ve been their second surrogacy also. Cat sent my profile to them and then sent my medical records to their RE. It seemed to take awhile before I heard anything back. While the RE was working on checking medical records, the IP’s talked to their first surrogate and she decided to do it again for them! What a beautiful thing! I was not disappointed AT ALL! I thought it was fate. I believe everything happens for a reason, and it was not meant to be.
Not long after Cat called me, very excited, and said “I have THE PERFECT IP’s for you!” Cat had just gotten off the phone with them, and knew instantly that these were my people. They were presented with my profile and liked it! I was presented with their profile as well, and it seemed like fate had finally shown her face! Everything on their profile, I was saying “Me too!” or “I feel the same way!” we had so much in common already! I couldn’t believe it! We moved forward with the match call. I was a ball of nerves. I wanted these people to like me so bad! I get awkward when I’m nervous, so as my husband and I were sitting at our table waiting for the call to start, I was doing weird things. Asking my husband “what if I do a pig nose when they come on the call?!?” Or “what if I fart really loud?”. He told me several times to “Get it together!”. The call went perfectly. I felt like I was talking to old friends. Everything we talked about we agreed on. All their interests were things my husband and I were interested in as well. I couldn’t wait to be their surrogate! When the call ended, I instantly texted Cat that YES! We wanted to continue with them! Jessica sent Cat a text at almost the same time that they also wanted to continue with me! I truly believe there is a reason for everything, and although it took a little bit of time, fate led me to Jessica and James. It was perfect.
The first med cycle
We got through all the medical screening with no problems. Even though I had done it before with the first surro baby, I was still very nervous that I would fail the medical portion. I had a D&C after the first surro baby was born due to retained placenta, and was worried that I had too much scar tissue, and wouldn’t be able to be a surrogate. Everything with Jessica and James was so perfect, I didn’t want anything to get in the way of getting them their baby. We had a transfer planned for the beginning of May. I started my period in April and started meds. Everything was going as planned. I went in for my lining check ultrasound. I had done this several times before (it took 4 transfers to get the first surro baby). The ultrasound tech isn’t “allowed” to say anything. I went about my day, figuring everything was fine. The RE emailed us and told us that my lining was not where it should be. It was only at 4MM, and should be closer to 9. I was devastated. What was happening that was making my lining so awful? The RE said we were going to increase the estrace tablets and try again in a week. A week later I went in to the ultrasound, full of nerves. Later that day we got an email from the RE saying my lining only grew to 5MM, and it didn’t look like I would be able to be a gestational carrier. I was so devastated. I was angry, mad, sad, and very confused. I had done this 4 times a couple years ago, what had changed? I felt like I had let my IP’s down as well. We had this great relationship and talked just about every day. And about everything! The last thing I wanted was to let them down. After days of discussion, we decided to wait another month for my period to start, and do a “natural lining check” to see how my lining was doing with no meds. I was relieved to get “another chance” to be a surrogate. I hoped and prayed that it was just an off month for me, and everything would be ok. The only thing that was different this time, was I got the covid vaccine during that cycle. I don’t know if it is related at all, but that is the only thing that had been different.
Natural Lining Check
After my endometrial lining failed to get thick enough, we decided to do a “natural lining” check. So no meds, just see how my lining is naturally 2 weeks after I started my period. Jessica had read that Raspberry Leaf tea was supposed to help with fertility and help with the endometrial lining, so I bought some and started drinking! I’m pretty sure that by the time I went in for the ultrasound I was peeing straight tea! I can’t even begin to tell you how nervous I was for this ultrasound, but overall I had a good feeling about it! Jessica and I texted the day of the ultrasound, waiting on the edge of our seats. I got the email first that said my lining was at 7MM, still a little on the thin side, but since I hadn’t ovulated yet, the RE said my lining would continue to grow and we could move forward with me being a carrier! I called Jessica with so much excitement! What a relief! Now we are just waiting for my period to start again in another week. Jessica already ordered all the meds I will need for this transfer. The RE switched me from oral estrogen to an injection, with the thought that maybe my body isn’t responding to the oral route. I don’t even care that I will have to do more IM injections, I am just very elated that I can move on with this and be a surrogate for my IP’s. I want nothing more than for them to be parents, I really want to do the honor of helping them become parents for the first time, but ultimately I just want them to have their baby, whether it’s with me or not.
The waiting is the hardest part
This is the week I’m supposed to start my period! I have all the meds ready to go! Since I will be doing IM injections for the estrogen now, I will need to prep just a little more than with the oral form. We are going camping this weekend for 4th of July, of course, when I’m supposed to start my period. I will have to bring all my meds with me to ensure I start on time. The unfortunate part is there is no cell service where we are going. The RE office has me email them when my period starts, and they send out a calendar of what meds to take and when, along with a tentative transfer schedule. We will likely have to drive into town a bit to get the email sent off. It’s a little bit more work, but again, totally worth it! Excited to start this process again and get to California to meet my IP’s in person! Why is waiting so hard?!?!?!
I had a nice surprise yesterday! Started my period! I was a bit worried it would all happen while camping in the middle of nowhere and I wouldn’t be able to get a hold of anyone for a medication calendar, but everything worked out perfectly! Since I didn’t respond to oral estrogen last time, they switched me to an injection form. I thought I would have to do it nightly, like progesterone, but it is only once every 3 days! Much better. I was supposed to get a baseline lining check today, but with the holiday weekend (4th!), the imaging center wasn’t able to get me in with such short notice. The RE said it was fine, we will just do baseline blood work and proceed. We have a tentative transfer for July 28th! I’m very confident that everything will work out this time, no more bumps in the road!
So I did the first estrogen injection. I feel like I’m a pro at doing self injections (did I mention I’m a nurse?), but it’s been awhile since I’ve done them and I was still a bit nervous. I was surprised at how thick the estrogen medication is, and it hurt! Obviously it isn’t going to tickle, but I was surprised at the burn while pushing the medication in. But my butt didn’t hurt the next day! It’s the small things in life. My IM had previously bought me a heating pad and pineapple shaped ice packs for when I start injections, so I pulled those out to help with injection site pain.
One thing I was not prepared for, was how utterly edgy I felt the day after the injection. Before, with the oral estrogen, after a couple days I would start to feel a bit more irritable. The injections were way different. I felt like I couldn’t control my feelings of madness! It was a struggle to keep it together and not lose my mind. Like a constant feeling of being close to exploding on someone for saying something that usually wouldn’t bother me. The kids fighting was extra frustrating for me. I had to pass off the disciplining to my husband because I wasn’t sure I could discipline in a fair way. I really hope I don’t feel this way for the next few months of doing these injections. Or if it does continue, I hope I can hold it together and not upset my family too much!
SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS!!!
Today I was traveling for work and did estrogen shot #5 in the airport bathroom!!!! I have lots of experience giving myself shots, since I did 4 transfers and a mock cycle with my first surro babe. The progesterone shots leave you very sore the next day or 2. I was anticipating that to be the case for estrogen injections as well, and was pleasantly surprised to find I am not sore after the shots! BUT!!! They make me feel crazy! The day after the first shot I was not myself. The level of irritability was astronomical! I couldn’t control what was coming out of my mouth. I didn’t feel like I should be the parent doing the discipline because I was so on edge, it wouldn’t be fair to the kids. I had a headache. It was awful (but also so worth it!). My estrogen shots are every 3 days, but the 2nd day post shot I didn’t feel much of anything. By the 4th shot, I think my body got used to the high levels of estrogen and I didn’t have the same side effects. I definitely still feel on edge and have a slight headache, but nothing like those first couple shots. When I did the oral form of estrogen it wasn’t nearly as bad as far as my temperament goes. But man, those shots really messed with my emotions the next day! 6 days until my lining check! I’m feeling very confident that everything on my end will be perfect! With how I’m feeling after the shots, and the lower abdominal “cramps”, I’m hoping these are good signs that my uterus is fluffing up! Can’t wait until Tuesday! Once we get the final word on my lining, my IPs and I can buy plane tickets to go to Cali. for the transfer! The day we’ve been waiting for since getting matched!
This isn’t the end
After putting up with the emotional ups and downs from those shots, I was so certain my lining would be amazing! I got the results of the blood work sent to MyChart, and it was much higher than it had been previously. I thought for sure that meant my lining would also be great. Whelp, not the case. My lining is junk, again. It was only 4mm. What. The. Heck. I just don’t understand. I did this 4 times with my previous journey and had zero issues. The RE said it happens sometimes, your body just stops responding to the hormones and starts doing the opposite. But there is a little glimmer of hope! Because we did the natural lining check and saw that my lining was fine, the RE said we can do a natural cycle transfer. We are going to monitor my ovulation this next cycle (which should start any day), and hopefully do a transfer in September if everything checks out. I’m not exactly sure what all is involved in a natural cycle, but monitoring my ovulation is a big part of it. I will keep you updated on what I know! I did some facebook research, I’m in a few surrogate FB groups, and I searched “natural cycle transfer”, and found a TON of people who also did natural cycles, mostly following a couple failed transfers, and so many people were getting pregnant with the natural cycle! It gave me hope. I really do feel bad for my IPs though. As surrogates, we go into this to HELP people, not create more disappointment and frustration. My IP’s are great though, if they are frustrated with me, they have not let on. I know the whole situation is frustrating, and it’s not my fault, how could I have known? But I still have that feeling that if they had chosen another surrogate, they would be pregnant by now, instead we are waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And that makes me feel awful for them. I am super thankful they are waiting for me, we have a great relationship, and the more our friendship builds, the more I just want to get them their baby! I will keep you all updated on what this next couple of months will bring!
Here’s a quick update for everyone! I sort of started my period. I let the RE know, she said we could get this party started with medication (Femara), that will help promote the growth of eggs, which will in return help the thicken up the lining, and we would monitor ovulation, have an ultrasound, and transfer a couple days later. My period was very light, like the last time I took estrogen, and it worried me that maybe we should wait until I have a regular period before we try anything, just to ensure we have the best chances. The RE said she thinks the light period is due to the thin lining (only 4mm), and said we could wait, or we could proceed this cycle. I talked to my IM, she said let’s wait for a normal cycle, which should start September 12. Hopefully we can transfer the end of September/beginning of October. Right now, I’m just going to enjoy my vacation (Yay!) and the end of summer with my family, and get everyone ready for the start of the school year. It will be less stressful to wait until the next cycle to start anything. Not every surrogacy journey is the same. You think it would be easy. Especially if you’ve done it before and had success! But we’re working with the human body, which doesn’t always agree with your timeline. This WILL happen, just on it’s own time.