Have you ever watched the premiere episode of each Real Housewives season and noticed it begins in the middle of an INSANELY heated argument without giving us, the viewer, any context to what it’s about? Dorinda is yelling “CLIP”, or Dorit and LVP are arguing about what happened to a dog? And then after 2-3 minutes of watching said argument, BOOM, the screen flips to the words, “6 months earlier"…and then begins the season. Meanwhile, we are all still sitting there slack-jawed wondering who Dorinda is saying clip to …and why LVP and Dorit are in a fight about a dog?!!
SO, what you’re telling me, Andy Cohen, is that we now have to wait the entire stinking season to figure out what that argument was in regards to? SUCH AN UNFAIR, YET, EFFECTIVE TACTIC. Of course I am going to tune in every week to understand what happened all season that lead to that moment. What a brilliant and evil mastermind.
Welp, I find it only fitting to start you in the epicenter of my life clipppppp/Real Housewives teaser. Remember the four frozen embryos I mentioned before? Two of them are camped out and ready for transfer in the photo below. OH, and here is the obvious plot-twist, those are our embryos.. but that is not my uterus.
6 MONTHS BEFORE EMBRYO TRANSFER…
Check out those overly-excited nerds getting ready to board a flight to Denver to meet the gestational carrier that would change our life. Prior to hopping on this plane, here’s what we knew thus far: we were about to match with a lovely mama named, Desiree. (PS, it is with her incredibly kind permission and candor that I am allowed to share this info).
Desiree had four amazing kiddos (3 biological, 1 stepson) prior to having any interest in pursuing the idea of surrogacy. I always say it takes a special kind of person to open their family and heart to carrying another family’s pregnancy. And that decision itself is not only incredibly brave, but it is incredibly HARD. Remember, she still has to go through all the same motions of a frozen embryo transfer and pregnancy like everyone else. And word on the street is, pregnancy is HARD, without factoring in the intricacies of our unique situation. (I’ll let her explain her motivation and calling to surrogacy so I don’t butcher it. That’s right, friends, she is going to be guest writing a blog!)
We originally kicked around the idea of a gestational carrier with our reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Friberg, and team last summer. Not only did we decide it was the safest route, considering my autoimmune disease and symptoms, but it was also the ONLY route that would give me an inexplicable peace of mind. Here’s what I can say for sure: I was never married to the idea of being pregnant…I was married to the idea of building a family. And for us, it was incredibly important that we pursued the option that minimized the risk to myself and our future kiddo. Candidly, it felt selfish to even consider that I was the right vessel for the job. Family building can often feel like putting a puzzle together, and finding Desiree was certainly our missing piece.
Being the perfectionists that we are, we wanted to do a lot of research prior to humoring this avenue any further. Frankly, I was familiar with third party reproduction cases from working on them in clinic. (Working with a reproductive endocrinologist definitely afforded me some amazing references for my own journey, and for that I am forever grateful.) However, when it comes to your own family, emotions definitely have a way of clouding the decision-making process. We wanted to recruit the surrogacy agency our clinic had partnered with over the last few years to manage our case. If I could throw out some non-solicited advice to any intended parents looking to explore the option of surrogacy it would be this: having an agency advocating for both the intended parent and gestational carrier parties is an absolute, non-negotiable. Their role in this process is invaluable. Anyways, back to our trip.
We flew in and out of Denver knowing we were going to meet Desiree’s family for lunch on Sunday. We took Saturday to catch up with some family, explore the local restaurants, and get a pulse on if we could really imagine meeting our future babe in that city. The logistics of having a baby come into this world in a different state than home certainly adds a little zest to an already complicated situation. For those that are unfamiliar with the process of surrogacy, it’s important to note that your gestational carrier does NOT need to live in the same state as you. Choosing a carrier in Colorado was ideal for two reasons: 1) Surrogacy is permitted because no statute or published case law prohibits it 2) The courts grant pre-birth parentage paperwork, which means we would be the parents on the birth certificate without needing to go through the process of adoption.
The morning we were meeting Desiree’s family, we explored Red Rocks to take our mind off of what was to come. After a quick walk around the grounds, we headed back to the hotel to change and get going to the next chapter of our lives..literally. Needless to say, we were more than on time that day.
In hindsight, I don’t know what I was ever even nervous about. Have you ever met someone and felt like you have known them your entire life? That’s what Desiree was like for me. When her family walked into the restaurant to meet us for the first time, it felt like we picked up in the middle of an old friendship. We never felt the need to talk about the weather or other meaningless things. She was so warm and loving, and the exact kind of woman you would pray would take care of her “womb-mate” for you.
During that particular lunch, we had the privilege of meeting her husband, Terry, and her two little ham’s, Serena and Jeremiah. I would be lying if I said those two kiddos did not make the decision even easier. Serena stole my attention and heart the entire lunch. I didn’t even have a whole lot of time to talk with the grown-ups at the table, because when an adorable 6 year old asks you to play tic-tac-toe, you do it!
We truly left that lunch thinking we were the lucky ones, as though we had the support and backing of an entire family behind us. Needless to say, we landed in Chicago the very next day, and hit the ground running. And although we had a few logistical hoops to jump through, we were ready to start our frozen embryo transfer cycle as soon as humanly possible. Baseline would only be a few weeks away.