Friday, July 27, 2012

Finding an Attorney

About a week before my med screening, I started looking for an attorney.  My IPs have an attorney in Chicago who specializes in third party reproduction issues and has a great reputation.  But my agency told me that since the baby will be born in Missouri, it's important for me to get an attorney in my state so that he/she can make sure the contract is in compliance with Missouri laws and standard procedures.

I'm sure it doesn't shock you to hear that there aren't really that many attorneys with experience in surrogacy issues.  There is one very well known attorney who is THE go to person for dealing with surrogacy, particularly when it comes to getting your ducks in a row to establish parentage when the baby is born.  So, it was a natural step to see if she could help with reviewing our contract as well.  Well it turns out that her daughter is in business with her and is the one who reviews surrogacy contracts, and when we contacted her two weeks ago, she was 36 weeks pregnant with twins.  She said that she would still represent me but might not have a lot of time to devote to her work soon (you think?!?).  Since we have a deadline, we decided our best bet would be to find someone else.

Jesse from Pink & Blue recommended someone that she had heard was good, and I also mentioned someone else I had seen recommended on the online surrogacy forum I belong to.  Unfortunately, neither of these men responded to our inquiry.  After a couple of days, figuring that promptness probably won't be their priority if they can't even bother to respond to a new business request within a few days, I went searching for someone else.  Luckily, there was one more attorney who was recommended to me by another surrogate in the St. Louis area as someone she has worked with for two surrogacy contracts.  I made a call to her office, spoke with her assistant who 1) sounded positive about working with us, 2) recognized the woman who referred me by name, 3) confirmed that they have experience working with my IPs' attorney in the past, and 4) confirmed that she could help me get it done by our deadline.  Yippee!

Now they have received all of my and my husband's information so they can open our file, and Jesse gave them all of the information regarding how they will receive payment.  Jesse is sending the IPs' attorney over all of our information today so she can start the first draft, then it will be sent to my attorney for her and my review.  I'm hopeful that this process will go smoothly.  I don't feel like I'm too picky about any requests my IPs may have, and I don't think they are very picky either.  We have to have the contracts done and signed by August 23!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


So after hearing back from the NC, it sounds like my thyroid level isn't that concerning to her.  She just said I should let my local doctor know about my levels when I see him for the appointment we have scheduled for August 6, and she if he wants to retest or put me on medication.  She said that unless he recommended cancelling the cycle they wouldn't do so.

So, that's a relief.  Now on to dealing with lawyers and contracts!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thyroid Problems

I received a call from the clinic this morning that my blood work came back and my thyroid levels are elevated.


I tried to glean a little more information about exactly how high my thyroid levels were and what the implications were, but I'm not sure the person on the phone was qualified to give that information.  She did say that they like to have you between a 0.4 and a 4, and mine was a 5.8.  Since medical numbers mean nothing to me, I'm not sure if that means that my levels are just a little bit elevated, or if that's very high.

She told me I need to contact the doctor at my local clinic to be retested and possibly be put on medication.  She didn't say anything regarding whether this was cycle-cancelling news, or if I have a certain amount of time to get my levels corrected, or what.  I emailed the nurse coordinator to find out more information, so hopefully I will hear back soon.

From just basic knowledge, I know that wacky thyroid levels can lead to miscarriage.  So this is obviously something that needs to be addressed.  Hopefully the number was just a bad test and next time it will come back fine.  I'm pretty sure I was tested during my last pregnancy, which was just a year ago, and they were fine then.  Although I do have a family history of thyroid issues (along with just about everything else - seriously, I would be the worst egg donor candidate ever), so it wouldn't shock me if mine were slightly out of the normal range.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Have a Beautiful Uterus...and a Calendar!

So I am back from my trip to Chicago for my med screening.  It went great!  Despite a 6 hour drive each way with a baby, a rainstorm, and a VERY late night the night before, I would say the trip was a success!

My appointment was at 9:30.  The agency had arranged for someone to babysit my daughter at our hotel room during the appointment so both of us could come.  Since I was supposed to be meeting with three different people (doctor for ultrasound, tech for blood draw, nurse coordinator for information regarding the cycle), I brought my Kindle to pass the time while I was waiting.  Well, it was totally unnecessary.  I think I got 2 pages read total!  The place was huge and there were a ton of people there, but everyone was moving through the process so efficiently.  I felt like we were all on a perfectly timed conveyor belt.  But even though there were so many people filing through, I felt like all of the staff took the time to make us feel welcome.  I especially liked that the nurse coordinator spoke about my IPs in a way that let me know that she actually knew who they were, and that they weren't just a number to her.

First we met with the doctor, who was very nice.  He took a look at my uterus using the saline sonogram and said it was just beautiful.  The procedure wasn't too bad, not any worse than a pap smear.  I had a little bit of menstrual like cramping for a little while afterwards, kind of like I remember feeling as my uterus was expanding in early pregnancy.  The whole procedure only took a couple of minutes.

We got blood taken to test for various contagious diseases (mainly STDs), which we should get back next week sometime.  I'm not worried about those coming back badly, but it will be nice to have that formality out of the way.

Then we met with the nurse coordinator to go over the medications and the schedule for taking them, as well as signing various consent and acknowledgement forms.  I will go over the meds in more detail in another post.  I was expecting to get a general rundown of the drugs and how to administer them, but in addition I got my actual projected calendar!  I will start taking my meds on August 24, and the transfer will be sometime between September 23 and the 27th!  I let the NC know about our vacation to Italy in October, and she said she's not worried about it at all.  She said the meds will travel fine and she can give us a doctor's note to travel with liquids and needles.  She also said there would be no harmful effects on the pregnancy, since it will be at the point where it will either be sticking around or miscarrying, and there will be nothing I can do to help or hurt the pregnancy.  Based on the calendar, the worst thing that could happen is that I could already be in Italy at the time I should be getting my blood drawn to confirm a pregnancy.  She said if that's the case, she will just give me instructions on when to take a regular home pregnancy test to determine whether I should continue meds until I return to the US.  I'm thinking the timing of this is actually going to work out well, since I should be back in the US before I am 6 weeks along, which is when my first trimester pregnancy symptoms really started kicking in last time.

The calendar right now is contingent on a couple things:
-The egg donor.  She is currently cycling with another couple.  This is her third donation, and ours will be the fourth.  For her first donation they ended up freezing all of the embryos, so we don't know if any did/will result in pregnancy.  The second donation did not result in pregnancy.  So the NC said that if her third donation ends up not resulting in pregnancy either, they will recommend that my IPs consider choosing a new donor.  Unfortunately that will mean starting from scratch with screening/contracts with the donor, so we will probably be pushed back to November.  So we are keeping our fingers crossed that this cycle results in a pregnancy!  We should know in the next few weeks.
-The contracts.  The NC told me that in order for me to be able to start meds on August 24, they need confirmation of signed contracts by August 23.  So it seems like it should be plenty of time to get our negotiating and signing in, but you just never know.  My IPs already have a lawyer, and we are working on getting one for me.  Since we will be delivering in Missouri it's a good idea to get a lawyer here too, and there are really only a few that are well versed in surrogacy matters.  I'm hoping to get someone within the next few days and get started on the contracts by the end of next week.

I'm so excited to actually know what my timeline is now.  Hopefully my IPs will be parents come next June!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Two Days Till Chicago!

I'm getting so excited to head up to Chicago for our medical screening.  It probably won't be fun to be poked and prodded, and then learn about how to poke and prod myself some more in the future, but this is a milestone we have been trying to get to for some time.

In addition, we will be getting to meet my IF for lunch.  I wish my IM was able to come as well, but she will be recovering from a medical procedure and won't be able to make it.  I was really looking to taking a step forward with our relationship since all of my long distance communication goes through my IF.  So I'm disappointed that she won't be able to make it, but it is what it is I guess.

Since I work a full time office job, I will have to take a vacation day to go up to Chicago (which will be reimbursed by my IPs).  I have a feeling working in absences for surrogacy is going to get tricky.  I have a VERY nosy boss, and I work with a team of 6.  Only 2 of us are allowed to be out of the office at any one time, and I am at the very bottom when it comes to seniority for requesting time off.  If I were taking off a Friday or Monday I could have just said we were going to Chicago for a long weekend, but I couldn't think of any  legitimate reason that I would be taking off a whole day on a Thursday.  And believe me, taking off a whole day would require an explanation.  So I will just be waiting until Thursday and calling in with the sick baby card.

I'm starting to worry about the transfer.  It's looking like November will be the ideal transfer time, but unfortunately I can't be out of the office for the last two weeks - others with more seniority have already requested all the time around Thanksgiving off.  I can't even use the sick baby excuse, since absences of 2 or more days in a row require a doctor's note.  It would be easy enough if we could just schedule some other time way in advance, but unfotunately in this process we are at the mercy of the egg donor's cycle.  I'm hoping my job doesn't end up cancelling a cycle or pushing us back another month!

Anyone else who has been through this before - how do you go about getting time off for screenings, monitoring, transfer?  Or am I the only one with this problem?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Woo Hoo, I Have a Screening Appointment!

I will be going up to Chicago for my med screening appointment next Thursday, July 19!  My husband and I will both be going up - we both need to do bloodwork to screen for infectious diseases.  Then I will have a saline sonogram, which is where the doctor will fill my uterine cavity with saline in order to expand the uterus and check for anything that might prevent pregnancy (fibroids, polyps, etc.)  After that we will meet with the NC to go over meds and schedules.

I am so excited to finally be to this point!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Psych Clearance is (Finally) In

So yesterday my psych clearance finally came through!  Apparently the hold up was that they hadn't received the MMPI results until yesterday.  It normally isn't supposed to take two weeks to get MMPI results, but I guess with it being 4th of July week, no one else was in as much of a hurry for the results as we were.

So now we believe everything we need has been forwarded to the nurse coordinator (NC) at our clinic.  She contacted me this morning to see if I was already taking birth control pills, so at least I know I'm on her radar.  I'm hoping to get an actual appointment set up very soon...they like to get them done at a specific part of your cycle (normally around CD12), and I am already on CD3.  So if we don't get something set up in the next few days we will likely get pushed back to August.