When we were still in the hospital with Evelynn the doctors had already informed me that I should never use my uterus again. If hearing your child isn't going to make it isn't devastating enough adding that you should never get pregnant again on top of that will.
After Liam passed one of the first things I thought about was how I wanted to get pregnant again right now. Since that was no longer looking like an option for us we started thinking immediately about surrogacy and adoption, with surrogacy being on top because we really wanted our own biological children.
A friend from work had came to the hospital and saw me and Evelynn in the NICU that next day after she was born. She stayed a bit and then had to go to the dentist and would return after. It just so happened that her dental hygienist had already tried to be a carrier once for someone else. She gave my friend her name and number and wanted me to call her when I was up to it to see about the chance that maybe she could be our carrier.
We couldn't believe what we were hearing. Was there really someone just willing to offer to carry a baby(s) for us. Could it be that easy? Is there a chance we could actually start this process sooner than later. There was some hope in this and we became more less obsessed wanting to learn everything we could about the process so we could start it as soon as possible.
I called that lady I think a day or two after we left the hospital and she agreed to meet with us that next week and tell us what she has been through and knows about the process.
April 30th, 2012
We met with that lady, we will just call her Sally, at a local bookstore. She brought all of her attorney documents so we could have an idea what was expected of us as intended parents and what was expected of her as the surrogate. She explained to us that she had been through all the screenings; a huge psych eval. for her and her husband, tons of u/s and other lab work, and also doing all of the hormone injections to prepare her body for carrying a baby. She was trying to help her friend who also could not carry a child, but unfortunately every time they went to do the embryo transfer the embryos would die. After that she thought that since she had already been through part of the process before she could maybe continue to look for someone else who was in need of a carrier and help them. We talked for awhile longer about things pertaining to cost, how many embryos she would be okay, views on abortion, and so on. We did have a couple concerns though. She was almost 45 and also Alaska law would consider her the mother, Dereck the father, and I would have to go to court and adopt my own baby(s). Other than those few things she seemed perfect and we were excited that we might already have a carrier.
Both Sally and our grief group lady had given us a number to a doctor in town who does a lot of work with patients who have infertility problems and need to do IVF. It just so happened to be the same doctor. In Alaska there is no place to do IVF and so anyone in need of it has to go out of state and this doctor worked a lot with Pacific Northwest out of Seattle. When I called that doctors office she talked to me immediately. Apparently she was already told by the grief group lady about me and that I might be in need of her services. She explained a little bit to me over the phone about using Sally as our carrier. Sally had gone to this Dr. when she was trying to be a carrier for her friend so she already new a lot about her. She talked briefly about what she could do for us in Anchorage and then how we would have to go to PNW in Seattle for the egg retrieval and transfer. She also told me that we couldn't do anything until I was at least 3-6 months post-op so that my body was healed and healthy enough to take on all the hormones so we could get the best possible egg retrieval. She then gave me the number to one of the best surrogacy/adoption lawyers, in the country.
I called that lawyers office immediately and set up a phone consult.
May 10th, 2012
The day after arriving in MN we had our consult. It was a 2 hour consult where we discussed the law side of using a gestational carrier, what to look for in a carrier, and also the financial side. We learned how important it was to know which states were the best for having a carrier reside. Alaska was definitely out. It would have been nice to have a carrier right there in town and I didn't think Sally would've tried taking my babies from me, but it seemed there were other states that were definitely better options. That lawyer also didn't like the fact that she hadn't carried a baby in 15 years, so Sally was out for sure. Since we are from MN and even have family in ND we thought we would ask about those states since if we had a carrier from either of those at least we could be near family when we came back for the births or even an u/s or two. Minnesota's laws were okay. The day the baby(s) were born the attorney would file the paperwork and the baby(s) would be ours, but if they died inutero they would never be legally ours. North Dakota was definitely a better option. In ND the baby(s) would always be ours. Now in ND surrogacy is considered illegal, even calling it gestational surrogacy is, so going through ND meant we would always have to refer to whoever was carrying our baby(s) as our gestational carrier. Surrogacy, is technically what you call a carrier who also uses her eggs, and that is not what we are doing.
This attorneys office had its own agency for finding carriers if we couldn't find one on our own. She told us what to look for in a carrier and also all the things a person and there family would have to go through to be considered. She explained to us that if we did find our own carrier and she worked out it would actually save us quite a bit of money since we wouldn't have to pay the agency for this service. At the end of the talk we had to go through a list of questions of what we would like in a carrier if we needed them to find one for us. These questions revolved around views on abortion, carrying multiples, race and religion of carrier, and if there was a smoker in the house in which she lived.
We then started talking about the financial aspect of all of this. Hearing that the average cost for using a gestational carrier is approx. $60-80,000 made us want to cry. If we went through this lawyer we would have to pay her $5,500 up front and also another $20,000 that would go into an escrow account for the carriers medical bills and other expenses like maternity clothes. How could we come up with that much money in the next couple months if we wanted to proceed with this? How unfair was it that after all we had already been through to know that money could be what was standing in our way of trying to have our own biological children. So we already knew that we would need the $5,500 and that $20,000 the day we signed contracts but then there were the other costs. To go through there agency we would have to pay the carrier a min. of $20,000 up to $30,000 if she carried multiples, we would have to take out life insurance on her, pay for her lawyer, pay for her medical insurance if her insurance wouldn't cover her maternity, pay for counseling, and pay for all the fertility stuff out of pocket because our insurance doesn't cover anything fertility related. IVF is expensive enough and then added the use of a carrier on top of it- Holy shit! We had a lot to think about.
May 14th, 2012
Two nights before Evelynn's burial I got an email from a girl named Jessica. She said she had read Evelynn's obituary in the paper. She went to explain a little about herself and her family, how sorry she felt for us, and that she had always wanted to be a carrier. I didn't even know what to think about this. How did she even get my email? Did she google Evelynn's name, from there find my blog, read my babies story, read that we were looking into surrogacy, and then get my email off of my blog? All I could think was, "who does that"? After emailing her back and asking her that question, sure enough, that's exactly what she did. We emailed each other back and forth a couple of times in the next week and decided it would be good to meet her and her husband and see if this was really something that could work.
The first IVF clinic that I called was in Fargo, ND. I thought this clinic would be perfect since it wasn't too far of a drive for Jessica. This clinic was also recommended to us by that lawyer out of NJ. I called there offices and the lady I spoke to was super nice. She talked to me for about an hour about there success rates, the cost, and how the IVF process worked with a carrier. She also gave me the number of a local lawyer that other couples have used for this process. The thing that I wasn't too fond of with this clinic is that they weren't willing to work with me since I lived in Alaska. They had wanted me to fly back in a few weeks to get an u/s and other lab work done and also wanted me to be in the area during the weeks I was on the hormones through the embryo transfer.
The second clinic I called was down by Minneapolis. They had excellent success rates and had numerous satellite clinics, one being in Fargo and the other being in Alaska. The one in Alaska not only was in Anchorage but also was my Ob clinic, the one I have been going to since I moved there. It seemed perfect. Neither me nor Jessica would have to go to the actual clinic near Minneapolis until the egg retrieval and transfer since we could get the rest of our stuff done at one of the satellite clinics. Dereck and I made an appt. with them for May, 29th, the day before we headed back to Alaska so that we could be established there.
May 23rd, 2012
Met with Jessica and her husband. We got to know a little about each other first talking about our jobs, where we live, and there kids. We then talked about our babies and our situation. Jessica said how she always wanted to be carrier for someone and her husband said that when she read our story she said she knew right away that we were the couple she had been looking for. They have 2 boys, had one miscarriage in between them, had no other pregnancy complications, they don't smoke, she had a healthy BMI, she is a nurse and already had an idea of how this process works, and they just seemed like a perfect, loving, happy couple that just wanted to help us get the family that we wanted. We told them everything that we had learned so far from our research and talks with doctors and lawyers and said we will be able to tell them more after the appt we had scheduled with a fertility clinic down near Minneapolis Then we got into the financial side to all of this. We obviously had to pay for everything, like I mentioned above with the lawyers, the IVF, and ins, etc., but we also had to pay them for doing this for us. Jessica was so sweet, she actually wanted nothing for doing this, but her husband wanted some kind of compensation. We wanted to pay them something as well. As awesome as it would be to not have to pay your carrier, they are giving up a lot to do this for us. Not to mention we would be forever grateful.
May 29th, 2012
At the fertility clinic we met with the Reproductive Endocrinologist first. He seemed really nice. First he talked about how us doing IVF with a carrier is probably the best thing since I had the rupture. Then he talked about how we are good candidates for having this work well for us since he already knows more about us than most couples that come in. This mainly being because he already knows we can get pregnant and carry a baby pretty much to full term. He also said that we have a high probability getting pregnant, about an 80% chance, if we do 2 embryos. Also we will have a 50% chance of twins. We really want to do 2 embryos. Then he went onto explain the process to us.
Here is a shortened version of what we will be doing. First the carrier would have to get cleared by her Ob, then by him, and then the 4 of us would have to go through a counseling session. If all is good there we can sign contracts with our lawyers and officially start this process. The carrier and I would need to get on birth control about 3 months before we want to do the transfer so that our cycles will be the same, then we will have to both start our hormone injections. I will do everything up in Alaska and when my follicles are ready I can do my HCG inj. to rupture the follicles, and then hop a plane back to MN to do the egg retrieval. He said we would probably transfer 5 day embryos so 5 days later we would do the transfer into the carrier. Two weeks later she will do a pregnancy test and if she is pregnant she will continue take progesterone, and I think something else as well, through the first trimester.
Dereck had a full physical and a semen analysis done to check for STD's. His sperm was then going to get cryopreserved(frozen) until the egg retrieval. He will have another sperm analysis and STD test done before the egg retrieval to make sure he is still STD free, but the sperm that was frozen will still be the ones we use to ensure the carriers safety. Dereck had to get all of this done today because we have a 180 day waiting period now before we can proceed. I think the clinic said this was some kind of FDA regulation. They had wanted to do an u/s on me that day but since I hadn't been cleared yet by my Ob from my c-section they told me I could just get that done at some point with my own Ob. The purpose of this was just so they know the exact location of my ovaries for when we do the egg retrieval.
We then spent some time talking with the financial dept. about how we are going to be paying for all of this. They will bill our ins. for this consult and the labs but most likely nothing after that will be covered. Everything that they do with carrier, consult, labs, u/s, will get billed directly to us and about one month prior to the egg retrieval we will have to pay a lump sum of $12,000 for just the IVF process. I think they said the whole process with a carrier will be around $20,000. Crossing my fingers that this will all work on the first try, but if not at least if we have enough embryos left over so we don't have to pay for the egg retrieval portion again and just pay for the transfer which I believe was closer to $3,000.
So now we are back in Alaska. We are waiting to hear about how Jessica's Ob appt. went and when she can get in to see the RE so we can hopefully get started.