Before I begin, a disclaimer: this is NOT our actual surrogate or our actual baby! We are nowhere near that far along in the process yet! This is a stock image intended to convey the topic of the article.
Whew, now that I've gotten that off my chest... it's been a long time since my last update about our journey to start our family, and honestly, I've been holding off until there was anything new or significant to report. I was hoping for AWESOME news to share with you all, but unfortunately we will have to wait a little bit longer for that!
What I can say is that we have moved on to a new chapter. Three years after complications from surgery caused permanent damage to my kidneys, my kidney function still has not recovered enough that my doctors believe it is safe for me to go through pregnancy. So, we will need to use a surrogate for the embryos that we froze last year through the IVF process.
For some reason I've been taking this harder than I expected. Giving up on the idea of carrying my child and having him or her with me from the very first moments of consciousness... giving up that precious time for someone else to share with him or her... and most likely not being able to nurse my child after he or she is born either... It has really surprised me how much grief I feel over this. I guess I didn't realize how attached I was to the idea of pregnancy.
Part of the reason it's been hard is that I'm someone who has a very hard time letting go and trusting! This is why we have decided to work through an agency even though it will be more expensive that way. I have no illusions about myself... I know I am not an easy person to deal with under the best of circumstances, let alone during times of stress! So I would like to make the experience as smooth as possible for our surrogate by essentially removing myself from the equation and letting the law firm handle communication between us. This takes the emotion out of it and I believe it will provide for a better experience for both sides since it creates clear boundaries for communication and all the terms are clearly spelled out in a legal agreement.
So far we have just had the initial consultation/orientation session with the agency. The orientation session was intense and emotional, and in some ways it raised more questions than it answered, but it also is a good feeling to have more clarity about the process. (For some reason I feel strange about posting it publicly here, but if you would like to know which agency we are working with, just email me and I will be more than happy to tell you.)
During the session, the attorney walked us through the process from start to finish, going through all of the costs involved... which are significant. In addition to the match fee and any fee the surrogate charges, the intended parents (that's Sean and me) are responsible for all legal costs (both the surrogate's and our own), including drafting and reviewing the contract, and the court proceeding after the birth to establish us as the parents on the child's birth certificate.
We are responsible for covering the cost of a health insurance policy for the surrogate, as well as out-of-pocket costs for the embryo transfer and associated medications (any service considered to be treatment for infertility, including this, is not covered by insurance). We also cover the surrogate's travel and lodging costs for the embryo transfer, and other expenses including medical and psychological screenings and a maternity clothing allowance.
I am not trying to dwell on the costs; I am just trying to provide as much information as I can to others who may be considering surrogacy or working with a surrogate, since I know it can be hard to get good information on what this experience is like. And I know it will be more than worth it the moment we hold our child in our arms, but for now honestly the cost is a focus for us as we bust our butts working to afford this!
I will provide further updates on this blog as things move forward, but for now I will leave you with the image that burst our hearts wide open during the orientation session. The attorney was telling me how we will get our own room in the hospital when the time comes for the birth, and that honestly had never occurred to me. I guess I was thinking our surrogate would get to hold the baby first and we'd come into the picture once she was released from the hospital. The thought had never crossed my mind that we would get to be there with her or the entire process. When the attorney told us that, I could so clearly picture the scene... our excitement heading to the hospital and knowing that it's finally time to meet this child we've wanted for so long, and then getting to be there through the birth with whatever happens, and to be able to witness that moment of our child experiencing the outside world for the first time... taking its first breath, opening its eyes, giving that first cry.
That thought still brings tears to my eyes, and that moment is what's keeping me going through all of the tough parts including the uncertainty and the tremendous cost. I think of the day we'll get to meet our child every single day. Some days it feels closer than it ever has before, and some days it still feels so far off and unsure. All I can say for now is... Stay tuned.