Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Guest Post: Her Story

The following is a Guest Post written by "S" - our surrogate.


I am so excited to introduce myself to you. 

“You” being whomever is reading this. I’m so excited to share my story and how it ties in beautifully with the story you’ve been reading. 

To start, please know that I share no expense when it comes to storytelling. I feel that you need to know every detail, I bounce around chronologically, and I often go off on tangents. When you ask for the time... I build you a watch. So, if you are one that enjoys to the point Readers’ Digest stories, this isn’t for you.


To start this story, we need to rewind three years to 2016. 

To set the stage: In that year, I had been married for over seven years. I had a beautiful daughter (who was conceived while I was on birth control and no, antibiotics weren’t a factor).  She was five years old at the time, and I had just had a son who was a few months old.  I wish I could remember where I was, but that is irrelevant to the story. All that matters is that I remember the thought coming into my head remembering that both of my OB/GYN’s made comments on how my body was made to birth children. At this point in my life, I had known [Mrs. Thompson] for about 6 years. I didn’t know her story in detail, but I did know that her and Mr. Thompson struggled with infertility. So when this thought came to me about how two different doctors made the same comment to me, my mind instantly thought, “YOU SHOULD CARRY THEIR BABY!” As quickly as this thought came to me, it quickly followed by the other little voice saying, “DUUUUUUDE! You hate being pregnant. You just HAD a baby, it’s these hormones talking. That’s such and absurd thought.” And that was that.

But that wasn’t that.  It was actually just the beginning. 

Things kept happening throughout that next year. Mrs. Thompson and I would go to sushi dinners with three other friends and we would all express joy, sadness, heartache and triumph. But EVERY time Mrs. Thompson was able to make it to sushi, we talked about the cancer and we would get updated. I know that she wanted to be a mom and I would always search in my brain for some way I could help her. 

Keep in mind, we aren’t childhood friends, I didn’t know Mr. Thompson extremely well at the time and there was nothing extra about my relationship with them on the surface level. Mrs. Thompson and I served in our church's youth group together.  We were leaders to young women ages 12 - 18, along with some other special leaders/friends who eventually became part of a sushi group.  But something about this group of leaders who continued a friendship over sushi, is something that I hope that everyone can experience once in their life. When the five of us are together (which involves sushi 99% of the time...) there is zero judgment. Legit - ZERO judgment. It’s something that truly is tangible that I don’t think I realized fully until the promptings to help Mrs. Thompson became more clear.

Little things would happen that at first I would chalk up to coincidences. Things like, I would glance down at a gossip magazine and it would say "Surrogate" on the front cover. Or... I would be wondering how things were going with Mrs. Thompson's cancer and at that moment someone would text the group saying we were due for another sushi night. The events were small and seemingly insignificant, but every time without fail, I would get the same feeling. The feeling was almost like butterflies in my chest and they went on.

In 2017, as I was doing one of our sushi friend's hair (We'll call this friend "Taylor" in order to protect the innocent ), we had a conversation that stood out.  I SERIOUSLY wish I could remember what sparked me to say what I said, but I can’t. Anyway, at that time I mentioned to "Taylor" all of the things that had happened in the last year giving me the feeling that I could be Mrs. Thompson's surrogate. Her response was an excited shock. As I recall, the conversation led to no where and she ended it by saying, “You’ll have to keep me posted if that turns into anything.”

The events didn’t stop there. I had one salon guest sit in my chair and say, “You talk to people a lot in your profession, so I feel like you would know something about surrogacy. Tell me what you know.” Ha ha ha ha ha. Obviously my reply was that I knew nothing and didn’t even know who to direct her to so she could get her questions answered.

Another night, I vividly remember waking up from a deep sleep and instantly thinking how I could carry their baby.

If you’re reading this, you know what a private person Mrs. Thompson has actually been about her and her husband's infertility struggles over the past 12 years. She would randomly post her blog updates and I would only sometimes read them. I remember a very distinct time that I couldn’t fall asleep because all I could think about was coming up with another way to help them because my uterus wasn’t for rent. That idea was just too absurd to me. The next day, she posted about her "embryo hotel" (reproductive center) wanting more money so the embryos don’t get evicted. Not a coincidence, folks. It was at this moment that I realized HOLY CRAP! That little butterfly feeling in my chest was the thing that connected all these other things. 

No wait, there’s more!

I was at work doing "Taylor’s" hair again last spring and she asks me, “Hey, what ever happened to that surrogacy thing you mentioned to me?” What seemed totally out of the blue to me, was all in God’s plan. Her asking this was 18 months after we originally had the conversation that fizzled out. The butterflies in my chest were there.

I wasn’t totally convinced at this point because... well... I don’t know why. But we all went to sushi and Mrs. Thompson told us that she paid the money for the embryo hotel without Mr. Thompson knowing.

This got me slightly more convinced.

I then logged on to the Facebook and see that I have been added to a group that one of her friends had made. This group was to try and find foster, adoption or a surrogate option for them. Yup. Okay. Call me convinced.

I then remember speaking with her about how people in this Facebook group were willing to do fundraisers or even donate part of their commissions to help raise funds for a surrogate. She was totally against that idea. I shot that down real quick when I replied, “No way, man!  I am the owner of small business. I don’t have $90,000 to donate for a surrogate, but I am really good at hair. You can’t tell me "no" if I say that everyone that comes into the salon saying they know you would mean 100% of the money goes towards your surrogate fees. It’s my business and I can run it how I please.” I was abrupt {again} for my friend, but even in saying those words to her... I knew that was not how I was going to be able to help.

At this point a lot of time has passed without me mentioning anything to ANYONE other then "Taylor" (which is very unlike me)!  But up until that moment the idea felt absurd. So one night in June of 2018, after the kids were in bed, I was washing dishes and just blurted out to my husband, “I THINK I WANT TO BE [Mrs Thompson's] SURROGATE!” Man, his face was priceless. Before he could say anything, I went on to tell him that it was something that had been on my mind for some time and I explained the ways that God had ever so gently planted the seed into my brain. At this point I knew that it was God’s doing. After I unloaded on him, he responded with, “Wow. I really don’t know what to say right now. I need some time to process this.”

A short period of time went by and my husband suggested a trip to the temple (our religious house of worship) to receive inspiration and guidance. We got a sitter, grabbed our bags and drove our fasting butts to the temple (fasting is when we sacrifice food to try and draw closer to God's inspiration). It was in the parking lot that we realized my husband's temple recommend was expired. In the car we sat and talked and prayed. There was SO much unknown but it was at that point my husband suggested we open up this conversation with Mr and Mrs. Thompson This is when I started to freak out. How the heck do you start THAT conversation?!?! After much deliberation, I came to the conclusion that I would text her. Yes you read that right - I sent her a super informal text that I wish I still had. I decided to text because I wanted her to be able to read everything and process it in HER time. I didn’t want her to have to feel rushed or that she needed to respond in a certain way. I remember saying something like, “I’m not saying I want to or that I don’t want to. I am saying that I think we need to have a conversation about me being your surrogate.” Yes, the text was much longer, shocking, but that’s the summary.

So there you have our half of the story. I get it - I’m not the best story teller and should have had her ghost write this for me... but now you know. 

The one thing I want everyone to get out of this was that God has a plan that often we don’t see and it is set in motion long before we realize. We have had a few hiccups along this entire journey from a few legality issues (a great topic for another day - as two smart women, we bypassed the lawyer and did it ourselves through the court system!), to me traveling to Bali which was Zika territory, to some surprise fluid in the uterus last week... yet everything at the core is peaceful.  It's peaceful because every step of the way has been led by God's Spirit and inspiration. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help these two people and my heart wants for nothing more then for them to have a baby. 

Thanks for reading my side of the story. She's been calling me “S” for Surrogate to keep me protected. But really the “S” stands for Samantha.Shepherd.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Our Pea. Their Pod. - The Path To Surrogacy

During this crazy week of peaks and valleys, our Surrogate (hereby referred to as "S") reminded me how important it is to journal through this experience.  I agreed, because I want more than anything for a little child to one day know how incredibly loved s/he is.

And oh, this child will be loved!  By so many people.

The Path To Surrogacy:

     Part 1, Hope Rekindled

     Part 2, Stepping Stones and Sushi Dates

     Part 3, Faith and Friendships 

When the time is right, I've offered this space to "S" because her side of the story is so incredibly beautiful and powerful.  I hope she'll share it.


As a matter of update, we were originally scheduled for an embryo transfer tomorrow, 2/25/2019.  Unfortunately, we have a six day delay due to some fluid that was found in S's uterus last Tuesday due to high estrogen levels.  It took some time but with tweaks to her medication and daily ultrasounds/blood draws... we're back on track. 

As a result, our six Day 3 embryos will come out of the freezer this Thursday for the embryologist to work his magic. The best of the best will be transferred next Saturday. 

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers - we need them!

I've felt a lot of gratitude during this entire process but am especially grateful to a good friend who is sitting in the front seat of the roller coaster next to me, reminding me to put my arms in the air.

It's a gift. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Into the Wilderness

For the last week, I've been in the wilderness.  No.... correction.  For the last twelve years, I've been wandering in the wilderness.

You know, those times that we feel like we stand alone in that place that is uncultivated, uninhabited, inhospitable, and sometimes... unforgiving? It's the lonely place where we venture to find something... yet often times end up stumbling around feeling lost, alone and afraid.  Always searching for a way out - or a way through -  the barren wild, always hoping to find the promised oasis on the other side.

That's where I've been.




But stumbling through the wilderness.

Most recently, it happened as I wandered through Nevada on a work trip last week.  In a literal wilderness - I drove over 1,500 miles east to west... north to south... across a state so stark that I had nothing but tumbleweeds, snowdrifts, my thoughts and an occasional car to pass the time. What resulted was seven days in which I had the opportunity to sink really deep and get very comfortable with... myself.  Moi. Mí.

It was incredible! 

I took a hard pause.  I learned to meditate.  I read scripture.  I prayed.  I started a gratitude notebook. I fasted.  I became a friend of Brene Brown and studied topics like vulnerability, shame, joy and gratitude.  I journaled.  I rested and relaxed behind a hotel door and dug deep into some guidance my yoga-master best friend supported me with. In her words, I needed to more fully "feel the feels".

Ugggggg!  I stink at that... but made an intentional effort with the help of my bestie, taking advantage of my time on the road. In seven days I only skimmed the surface of self reflection but think I finally flipped the switch on joy.  As in, 100%.  All in.  And in choosing joy, this is what I came away with:

I am so over the moon about this surrogacy opportunity.  I've had a constant smile upon my face for months, but I've been very cautiously optimistic.  I've secretly been having a little war with myself about getting my hopes up and it’s been a challenge. If you know anything about Brene Brown you'll be familiar with the term "foreboding joy".  And I've definitely mastered that one!  You know, the kind of joy where you are too scared to be totally joyful because you think something will go wrong.  So you prepare yourself for the worst and patiently wait for other shoe to drop.  The kind of joy which worries that happiness won't last and fills the space you hold back with anxiety, fear and even a little trepidation.

It's the weirdest sensation.  I am soooo excited and positive with what is going to come (and it will come!) but I'd be lying if I denied that there wasn't a little seed in the back of my head that constantly wonders "what if"....

So yeah, I win at that "foreboding" thing. But I've really been working on it.

There was an awesome conversation with "S" (Surrogate) this week that helped me out tons and tons.  It was a pivotal moment of gratitude for me.

It started with a belly dance on the Marco Polo app with our friend group as she was giving herself a nightly Lupron shot.  It made me laugh really hard and in that moment I was kind of hit over the head with how blissfully joyful she is.  In an instant I stopped laughing and thought, “how can she be so happy about something that is so HARD?!”  By nature she is the most positive person that I know and her laughter and unbridled happiness has always been 100% infectious.  But I had to ask her about it.

So I did.

And the revelation that followed was staggering for me.  In the kindest way she told me that although I only know disappointment... I have to understand that she only knows success.  Pregnancy comes very easily to her.  And it was a beyond-awesome conversation with a lot of "ah ha" moments.  My take away was that I must... I MUST... get my hopes up! 

It's easy to complicate our challenges.  But it's also very easy to simplify them.  Have hope.  Practice gratitude.  Choose joy.  Expect miracles. Trust God.

Sometimes, it's just as easy as that.

And so I tried it.  For seven days, I tested that simple path theory.  AND IT WORKED!

I'm still a novice at feeling the feels, but I'm really working on it. As a result, something is changing from the inside out and I love how it tastes.

And all the sudden, it feels like after wandering 12 years in the wilderness, I've finally stumbled through it into the promised land.

And I never want to go back.