Friday, April 29, 2016

Bastinne's surrogacy story

            It’s no secret, I am a surrogate! Where did this journey begin? What made me decide to venture into this unknown territory? What drew me to want to even be a surrogate? All things I will explain to you!
            I am first and foremost wife to my husband Benjamin, we met while we were both active duty in the Navy in 2010. We eventually got married in 2011, and quickly welcomed our first son, Jacob into the world in 2012. He was a surprise, we were not expecting him so soon, but it was God’s plan, and it was great. Jacob taught us so much, while we were still young 20’s budding adults. Life continued on, and soon I was finished with my 4-year enlistment  in 2013 and headed to my homeland of Idaho. I had wanted another child fairly quickly after Jacob was born (I’m literally insane, I know) but Ben wasn’t quite ready (we joke that we still aren’t ‘ready’ for Jacob…and he is now 3.5 years old!) anyways, let’s say from mid- 2012 until late-2013 we were NOT preventing pregnancy. I was out of the military, we just moved back to Idaho and just barely getting our feet on the ground being full-fledged civilians again. Somewhere around 4 months into ‘trying’ to have another baby, I realized…well…nothing was happening. My cycles were always, ALWAYS irregular, very hard to track and basically felt pretty dang helpless. I had many friends ‘easily’ having babies of their own, and I even reminded myself that Jacob was an ‘easy’ conception. Truth is, it’s not ‘easy’ to just conceive. It’s truly a miracle when it does happen, that little sperm has SO many odds against ‘him’ it really is amazing when a zygote is formed. As time went on, I found myself crying nearly every night and questioning my fertility capabilities. What if Jacob was TRULY, my miracle child? Did I have some underlying problem I didn’t know about? We did not have the ability to see fertility doctors, or get testing done, so we had to just let it go.
Tears were shed, it was over a year since trying to have another baby, and still, nothing. I became completely irrational, moody and hard to deal with (says Ben) and we tried to just remain hopeful that clearly it was not God’s plan for us to have baby #2. Besides, Jacob was easy enough, and we did have our hands full being full-time working parents, and Ben was also a full-time student. It was September 2013, and by then I had given up ‘trying’ and honestly we were SO busy, we had just moved into our new apartment that our love-life majorly lacked for a short while. Ben finally said that we should just get some long-term birth control and forget the idea of ‘trying’ for a few years. Just to ‘refresh’ ourselves, and move forward with our lives. I was reluctant, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. Funny thing, that day I had been feeling quite, off, pretty tired and unexplainably moody. I said “Fine, since YOU don’t want kids, I better take a pregnancy test and I’ll call my doctor tomorrow to talk about Mirena!” (pretty callous thing to say, and I hope I apologized!) I then took the test, and instantly BOOM it was mega positive. I was in utter shock, and awe.
Needless to say, we did not get the birth control and 9 months later our 2nd son, Benson was born. I wanted to mention all of that because although I was not infertile, or diagnosed with an actual medical issue, I knew that I had difficulties conceiving! Usually pregnancies will occur within a year of active trying, and I had gone well beyond that year. I shed so many tears! I had hurt feelings when a friend would mention her new pregnancy, and I kind of, in the slightest (because I am not infertile) can empathize with woman who have struggled to conceive. It is utterly heartbreaking, and terrifying. With my utmost sincerity, I wish that upon no woman. The feelings, the sadness and heartbreak would wreck me nearly every night and it was hard to be romantic.
            Shortly after Benson was born, I knew that I wanted for NO woman or man to experience infertility, even though we all know it happen, I wanted to somehow help. I began re-searching surrogacy in summer 2014, discussed it with Ben but decided the time was just not right because Benson was still so little. So, we put it aside and waited.
Eventually, February 2015, I started to research again, and got hooked! I watched videos, read countless blogs and joined tons of Facebook groups (not always the best source of information, but still, very nice to see other ladies journeys unfold) and eventually, Ben and I agreed the timing was better to start seeking an agency to work with. Overall, It took 9 active months of searching for the right couple to help assist become parents. I don’t want to sound smug, so I wish I could convey this in the most sincerest, and non-smug way possible that I had some standing beliefs about what I envisioned surrogacy to be like. Nearly every little girl envisions her wedding, and has ideas of what she wants to happen. Well, with me, I knew that I wanted to help a family that wanted to be super involved in their baby’s development, the appointments, and sharing the joy, and tears (of happiness or sadness) and I wanted to bond with the intended parents, not something that can be forced or negotiated. So, we dealt with a few different families and although they were great, we had some issues and unfortunately it is wise to move on when something doesn’t feel quite right thus leading us to seek independently without a surrogacy agency involved. (NO MIDDLE MAN!)
Months later, we met E & B (names not mentioned for privacy protection) in September 2015. They are not from Idaho, and live across the country. This was something Ben and I were totally OK with. From the very first conversation, Ben and I, along with E & B agreed on so many deep aspects of surrogacy. I knew that they were the ones! Right away, we got the ball rolling and medically I was approved, and on the way to starting the medications once the legal contract was signed!
I knew in my heart that this is my calling. I so deeply, and profoundly wanted to be a surrogate. I can’t explain the joys, and also the stress of starting the process. Sometimes emotions run wild! I am scared, I am happy, I am eager. I don’t know what to expect or do if something does not go as planned, for example…miscarriage or maybe some other anomaly happens. As with any normal pregnancy, you tread cautiously and optimistically. I pray a lot for this baby, and for his parents. As a surrogate, you have to mentally distance yourself in a way that is not callous, but loving. I guess the best way to put it would be like this: Your friend asks you to babysit their child while they get deployed. It will be 7-9 months of you feeding, caring and of course loving on their child. Each night you will treat their baby, like your babies in the sense that you only want the best. However, when the baby’s parent’s return from deployment, you graciously hand their child back with loving tears in your eyes, you’re sad to see the baby go home, but so thankful and joyful that the baby has a wonderful home to be raised in. That’s the best way to describe surrogacy.
I am now 10 weeks pregnant with a little boy to the most loving, and beautiful family. They do not have children yet, and this just makes the little spark in me, ignite with happiness! Do you remember laying eyes on your child for the first time? You counted their toes, and fingers right? You nuzzled the soft downy hair, and wanted to see if your baby had blue, green or brown eyes! Guess what? I remember when I saw Jacob the first time, I counted his fingers and toes immediately and said…He’s perfect.
I feel blessed to have the honor, and it truly is an honor to carry, grow and nurture in my body a baby who is SO wanted, and SO loved even before conception. It truly is an honor to be a surrogate, because it is not an easy task. The choice to become a surrogate was not made overnight. I spoke with so many other ladies who ventured down this road before and I got some beautiful, and tough insight. Not every story has a rainbow at the end, and we must fully prepare ourselves to experience, and to share heartache. I am not an expert, and I feel like I officially become a surrogate, when this little boy is born.
I hope that my small testimony may open your heart, and mind to the joy that it brings If you have any questions, or maybe have it in your heart to be a surrogate one day, reach out to the many surrogacy agencies, or seek to become an independent surrogate like myself, because it is possible! It’s rewarding, and beautiful.

Thank you Bundled Blessings for sharing my testimony, and my heart!
-Bastinne Simon *I don’t in anyway speak on behalf of any surrogates, this is purely my interpretation and views. While these are my thoughts, beliefs and history not all surrogates believe the same things or have the same views as I do regarding surrogacy.*

 photo bundled-sig_zpsiuixbukx.png

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Jon and Breanne's infertility story

            Life was going as we had planned. We were happily married, on our way thru optometry school with two beautiful daughters from two easy, perfect pregnancies. Infertility was a word I never thought that I would use to describe us, but, here we are.

           About a year after having our second daughter, we decided that we were going to try for our third child so that they could be close in age, and in my mind, best friends.  We got pregnant pretty quickly, just as we had with the first two. We were elated after the positive test. After going to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy we found that my levels weren’t as high as they should be and after a few more blood draws we found that they were dropping. I was having a miscarriage. We were heartbroken, but hopeful that this was a one time thing. We waited till the doctor gave us the green light, then started trying again. It took us longer this time, and after about a year the positive pregnancy test graced us again. A little over a week after the test, I started to bleed and cramp. I knew something was wrong, and after some blood tests the doctor confirmed our fears, another miscarriage.

The second, of course was even more difficult to bear than the first. We didn’t know why this was happening, and tried to stay hopeful.  We took some time to recover, mentally, physically, and spiritually, then decided to start to try again. We tried for about nine months and with the help of clomid got pregnant a third time only to miscarry a few weeks later. The third miscarriage really took its toll on me and I felt really hopeless and confused. We were ready for some answers.

 Three miscarriages is the magic number for specialists to look at you, so we got into Idaho Center of Reproductive Medicine pretty quickly. We ran more tests and found that my fallopian tubes are blocked. This answered one question, but in turn raised many more. When and how? How did we have two perfect pregnancies?(clearly a miracle) And most importantly, what is the solution? We could try surgery to unblock the tubes but that could cause some scar tissue which could block them all over again. Or, we could bypass the tubes altogether and do IVF. After a lot of prayer and discussion we decided to move forward with IVF. In August of 2015 we did our first round of IVF. We ended up with 4 great embryos so we transferred two and froze the other two.

 On August 21, my birthday we got great news that IVF was successful and I was pregnant! After my 3rd beta test they called with bad news, my levels were dropping again and I was having a miscarriage, AGAIN. I can’t even describe the shock and pain that ran thru me at that moment. We were so happy and so confident, it all came crashing down on me. It was a dark couple of weeks for us. We knew that we had two frozen that we could move forward with, but I needed some time to heal. We decided to wait a while and talk about it in the new year. Then, in November, my period didn’t come. Amazed and curious I took a pregnancy test that came back a strong positive. Was this the miracle we had been waiting for? Well, that was definitely too good to be true. After going to the doctor we discovered that I had an ectopic pregnancy. Of course! We decided to not do the surgery and wait as my body terminated it on its own. It seemed to take forever. After several weeks of blood draws and one terrible night in the E.R. It was finally over. Our doctor ran some tests to make sure that nothing was damaged during the ectopic and I was healthy and ready to talk about our next steps to baby.
 We took some time and decided that we are ready to move forward with our frozen embryos. Thursday, April 28 we are transferring our two frozen embryos with faith, hope and trust that we can bring another angel into our family.

Thru all the ups and downs of the last 4 years we have learned so much. We feel so blessed to have the two miracle babies that we have. They carry us thru this trial everyday. We have also learned how many couples are facing similar trials and we hurt and pray for all of them. We are not alone. The biggest thing we have learned is that our faith, and hope can get us thru anything.

 photo bundled-sig_zpsiuixbukx.png

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why It Isn’t Always as Easy as ‘Just Adopt’

C:\Users\Shauni\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\L0VXCK24\Collage 2016-04-22 01_35_33.jpg

This is a statement that those diagnosed with infertility hear INSANELY often. Without a doubt, adoption is an amazing thing, but it is a difficult decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Over time, I have come to realize that this isn’t always stated to be mean or insensitive, but because people don’t always fully understand what it means to ‘just adopt’ and that it isn’t really something you ‘just’ do. There are so many things to consider and obstacles to overcome when deciding to adopt.

  1. At least in Idaho, there are often times more couples wanting to adopt than there are babies available.
  2. Adopting out of the foster system is a fabulous choice, but takes a very special person prepared to do so due to the events that have happened in the child’s life that brought them into the foster system in the first place. This may not be for everyone, and bringing a child into a home and uniting them with parents that aren’t fully prepared for this can be detrimental as well.
  3. Adoption is expensive as well. You have to have time to financially prepare for this.
  4. It is not set in stone until the very end. The mom reserves the right to keep her child until an official release of rights is signed. This does not happen until at least a few days after the child is born. While the mom should have the right to keep and raise her baby if she desires, it can be very scary and overwhelming for the intended parents.
  5. Couples unable to conceive or deciding not to move forward with treatment still need time to grieve and to come to terms with the fact that their child will not have their momma’s eyes or their daddy’s nose. While this is not necessarily a negative thing, it is something that a couple needs to work through and feel okay with in order to ensure the best, most welcoming home possible for the adopted child.
  6. There is still the waiting. Adoption doesn’t happen overnight. Once the initial paperwork is complete, the couple must wait for an adoptive mother to like their profile enough to interview them and then, after that, they must wait to see if they are selected. Getting selected could happen quickly or could take a very long time.
  7. Adoption is difficult and emotional and beautiful.

Adoption is an amazing option and an amazing thing to be able to do, but is not as simple of a decision or process as choosing to ‘just adopt’. Next time you hear about someone struggling through infertility, I hope you reconsider reminding them that they could ‘just adopt’. It may be something that they are considering, but there are a lot of emotions and circumstances that will play into this VERY, VERY personal decision.

 photo bundled-sig_zpsiuixbukx.png

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kara and Landon's Journey Through Adoption and IVF


Landon and I were married in December of 2003. About one year later, we felt it was time to bring more people into our family! We started our journey but skipped “trying” during the months that could possibly bring us a baby in December; who would want that?! I am a worrier. So it only took a few months of no results to make me concerned. We started our charting, knowing that's what the doctors would recommend next. We lived in Idaho at the time and met with a wonderful doctor a few months after that who, after seeing that my "charts" were anything but consistent or patterned, prescribed chlomid and ran a few other tests. Good news. My thyroid was normal. All of this was so foreign and weird and invasive to me. Little did I know, that that was nothin'! We tried several months of on and off chlomid treatments.

After about two years of trying, we moved to Ohio for graduate school and took a break, cuz that's what everyone says to do. That will be the solution...just stop thinking about it so much and it will happen, right?! While we were "not thinking about it", my 16 yr old sister had a friend who decided to place her baby with a family and she was wondering if we'd ever considered adoption. We hadn't. We didn't feel like we'd gone too far down the fertility path yet to feel like we could justify adoption. However, after many prayers and fasting we decided to take a leap into the dark and meet with an LDS family services caseworker. He was amazing. He was kind and helpful and willing to work with our short time frame, even though the birthmother was still trying to make a final decision about an adoptive couple. We had almost finished our visits, interviews, and paperwork to be approved when we found out the birth mother chose another, probably far more deserving, couple instead of us. I was devastated. I didn't understand. We were AWESOME! It was a girl, and I'd always thought I would have a girl first. The way it all came together seemed so directed and inspired and meant to be. And I was a tad bitter.

So I said, forget adoption, we'll make our own baby! We met with a new doctor in Ohio. I had a few recommendations to this doctor. He may have been great for women who knew how to make babies, but I didn't seem to know how and he didn't seem to care so much, but was willing to go through the motions anyway.

He had both of us tested. My tubes were crystal clear and Landon's swimmers were stellar. So, I must just not be ovulating correctly. Chlomid again and a shot to make me ovulate on schedule for a few more months, none of which worked. Then we realized the chlomid was over stimulating and creating cysts. I was in pain and we needed another break.

During this break, just before Christmas of Landon's second year of grad school, our caseworker called to check in on us and see if we'd like to finish the adoption approval process. We thought we might as well, we were already $1000 in!

This time it felt a little different. It felt more relaxed and focused and like we were headed down the right path. I almost found myself relieved when I wasn't pregnant every month because I was looking forward to adoption and I had a feeling once we were approved we would be chosen quickly. We were approved the end of May and chosen in June. I quit my job and we flew to Washington together to pick up our preemie, baby boy. We had three weeks to get to know this birth mother. She was cute and fun and friendly. I can't think of many kind things to say about the birth father. He was really putting up a fight but had agreed to sign just before we left Ohio. We met with him to try to reassure him, but every time we tried to go to the hospital to see the baby and the birth mother there was too much drama and we weren't allowed to go. After two days hanging out in Spokane, the birth father finally talked the birth mother into keeping the baby.
I bawled for two days straight, I screamed, I swore, I was angry.

I stayed in Idaho with my family for a week while Landon went home for school. I finally went home too, because what I really needed was my husband. But I was terrified to go back to our church family and friends, 21 of which were expecting. It felt like a slap in the face. I decided to keep busy and hunt for a new job. I found one in a matter of weeks. It was a wonderful job with wonderful people I still try to keep in touch with. With the job search out of the way, we went forward with fertility treatments again. We tried two rounds of IUI, but I could tell our timing was off. Over the next year and a half, we met and spoke with and were "chosen" by several birth mothers. Some were scammers, some were scared, young girls exploring their options, some were sincere, but just couldn't do it in the end, including one girl we spoke to often who was having twins, a boy and a girl. She let me know on Mother's Day that she was getting married and keeping the babies. She contacted me a month later to say she'd changed her mind and they still wanted us to have the babies. The babies were born the day before my birthday and she texted me on my birthday to let me know they were keeping the twins.

Why did I feel so great about adoption if it wasn't going to work out either?

Four months later we were chosen again. Our contact with this birth mother was a little sporadic, but I wanted to give her space, she wasn't due until the middle to end of January. It was only November. Then she went into labor at 31 weeks. A problem we hadn't had yet! They kept that baby cooking for three more weeks. We were in Idaho at the time, while Landon completed an externship. The day she came we told all of our families and drove all day and all night to get to her, in Ohio. She was two days old by the time we got to the hospital and the birth mother put our name for the baby, Bexley, on the birth certificate and waited to see her until we arrived. The birth father visited her in the NICU several times until we got there so she wasn't lonely and often put his finger in her hand and she would hold tightly. When he walked us back to her bed, he wanted to show us his trick. But when he placed his finger in her hand, she didn't grasp it. Landon asked if he could try. The moment he placed his finger in her hand she grabbed ahold of him. It was like she knew her daddy was finally there.

However, in the state of Ohio, a birth parent cannot sign within the first 72 hours. I was so anxious for the next 24 hours, we were exhausted. Thankfully we slept well that night and woke the next morning to a phone call from our caseworker letting us know the papers were signed and Bexley was ours! A December baby, but a girl, as I'd always hoped.

Immediately we started getting the comments about getting pregnant now because we were relaxed and that's what happens to everyone that adopts. The whole process took nearly three years the first time, so we thought we'd get started early the second time around and met with another caseworker just after Bexley's first birthday. This time I wasn't feeling as focused on adoption. I just kept feeling a pull to the fertility avenue again and again.

Over the next year we were approved for adoption again and moved across the country, back to Idaho. Bexley was growing up. She was a smart and entertaining little ball of fire. She was always "playing with her brothers" and telling us where they were and what they were doing. So, after having another adoption for a little boy fall through, I was determined to try everything we could down the fertility road just so I never wondered if we'd done all we could.

I met with Idaho Center for Reproduction Medicine, told the doctor what we'd been through and told her I just wanted to try a couple more rounds of IUI before we jumped into IVF. She did an ultrasound first and found some scary looking cysts that would have to be removed surgically. We scheduled the surgery right away. That surgery resulted in the removal of one ovary and the discovery of severe endometriosis. Too severe to clean up without doing more harm than good. We also discovered that one of my fallopian tubes was completely blocked. Our only shot at getting pregnant now was IVF and the tube would have to be removed first. We scheduled another surgery for the tubal ligation one month later. Bexley was 2 1/2 and we were finally ready for the IVF journey. By November, we went in for egg retrieval. We started with 12 eggs and ended up with three viable for transfer. We decided to transfer two, since it was only a 10% chance of both implanting. Ten days later the nurse called to tell us our numbers were through the roof, we were definitely expecting. I immediately dropped to my knees and offered a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.

The night before our first ultrasound I turned to Landon and told him I was worried they were going to tell us there were two babies growing in my belly. I thought for sure he would reassure me that there was only one and all would be well. Nope. He'd been having the same thought. The next day was Bexley's birthday. We went in for the ultrasound while she was at preschool and found out she was going to be a big sister to two babies. A few months later we found out it would be those brothers she'd always been playing with and talking about, though she was devastated she wasn't getting a sister somewhere in there.

The pregnancy, delivery, and recovery was not enjoyable, but it was smooth and wonderful at the same time.

The twins are now 2 1/2 years old and we are preparing to use our final frozen embryo!
 photo bundled-sig_zpsiuixbukx.png