Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dear Toronto, We're Here!

Hello Toronto
My IPs arrived in Canada on November 28th.  They had only one night away from Spencer until this trip.  Spencer was with as they were dropped off at the airport and I heard that there were some tears that had to be held back, not from Spencer, from his parents as they said good-bye.  It so hard to leave kids, and for some reason we all seem to worry even if we leave them with our parents - the ones who raised us...  Spencer stayed with his Grandma and Grandpa while they were gone.  It was fun to see the updates, cute pictures, and funny videos that his Grandma would send.  She spoiled him with lots of love - just like a Grandma should!  She sure is one sweet lady! 

I left my husband and kids at home and took a little hiatus for a few days.  I was able to drop off the kids at school on November 30th, my mom's birthday, and then Ben picked me up and dropped me off at the airport.  As I was leaving he said, "Ok, now go get pregnant!"  It was a funny feeling leaving my husband at home this time.  I really enjoyed having him with me the last time, but it was much more comforting knowing he was going to be home with our kids so I could worry a lot less.  He does an amazing job playing Mr. Mom.  I even came home to a nearly empty laundry room.  It's pretty impressive to be on top of taking care of kids, homework, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and working full time as a single parent. 

I had a nonstop flight from MSP to Toronto.  Of course I sat next to a psychologist who started picking my brain the moment he learned that I was heading off to become a surrogate for the second time.  Like most people, he asked the normal questions about "giving the baby away," etc., but he seemed to go back to the same question about our children's reaction to surrogacy and the impact it has had on them.  I guess Jack's story about sperm donation that he wrote in his second grade class and our kids feeling sad that this will be the last surrogacy can describe how they have taken to it.  Lydia still talks about how she'll be a surrogate one day, and Jack thinks his wife will be a surrogate twice.  George is already extra gentle with me and he'll be my snuggle-bug when I have a huge belly.  I think the man on the plane was just as fascinated by the process as most people are.  It's extra fun that we have such a positive story to share and it's fun to hear that I'm the first surrogate he has met.  Little does he know, the surrogacy world is a lot larger than he, or anyone, could imagine!   

While going through customs this time I was asked a lot more questions than I was the first time.  I was coached by our agency on what to say as I was going through customs and even had a letter from Dr. Virro in case I needed to break that out to show them.  I told them I was there for medical.  Last time that was the end of our questions.  This lady then asked, "Specifically what kind of medical?"  I replied, "IVF."  Then she asked, "Why are you coming into Canada for IVF?"  I said the first thing that popped into my head, "The parents are here."  I then had a moment of panic...oh shit, was I supposed to say that?!  Her face lit up and she said, "So, you're a surrogate?!"  I smiled, shrugged, and said, "Yes."  She wished me good luck and I was on my way to meet my IPs. 

My IPs met me at the airport and they rode along with me on the bus and subway back to the hotel.  It was a relief that they offered to meet me there so I didn't have to navigate by myself.  They had the transportation system down pat, and it was comforting for my family to know that I wasn't running around alone.  I was pretty hungry by the time we got back to the hotel, so after checking into my room and exchanging my currency we went to the Eaton Mall for dinner.  We were able to walk around the mall for a while and did a little sight seeing.  It was fun to count down the hours to the transfer while we were chit-chatting.  It amazes me that IP-B and I had the same feelings that this transfer will work but both felt that if we would have transferred in the fall, like originally planned, that it wouldn't have taken.  It's crazy how confident I feel that this transfer will take!

The next morning, December 1st, I got a beautiful wake-up call by four sweet voices.  Ben and the kids were very chatty and eager to talk, but they did need to rush off to school so the conversation was short lived (I later leaned they missed the bus).  It was a very wonderful way to start off an exciting day.  I met my IPs by the elevator at 8:30.  They rented a car so we could make it to Markham by 9:30, at which time I was directed to empty my bladder.  I then had to drink a liter of fluid by 10:00 so my bladder would be full for a 10:30 check-in and an 11:00 transfer.  We had breakfast at the hospital before heading into the fertility clinic and counted down the minutes. 

Grandma's Picture
I convinced my IPs to walk the stair to get to the clinic.  Knowing I was going to be on bed rest for the next 30-36 hours, I wanted my heart rate to increase a little before I was bed bound.  We checked into the clinic and were greeted by a sweet lady who said, "Oh, Transfer Day!"  We sat in the waiting room for a short while.  Upon sitting down, I spotted a painting on the wall that my Grandma had in her house, which now hangs in my mom and dad's house.  I took a picture of the painting and sent my mom a message.  We took it as a sign that good things were to come.  In addition, I did notice a few different couples in the waiting room while we sat.  My heart ached for those couples facing infertility.  There I sat, hanging out with my supernatural uterus, and these couples are struggling.  I feel fortunate that I'm able to help my IPs have a family, and at the same moment my heart sunk with heartache for these couples in the waiting room.  Dr. Virro is a pretty talented man, so my hope is these adorable couples will be able  have a family really soon!

We were called back first by Talli.  She went over all the procedure and post op instructions.  She sang music to my ears when she said, "Three days after the transfer you can resume normal activity."  I clarified asking, "Does this include running?!"  She said, "If it was part of my normal activity then yes, but if I was just starting a new workout routine then no."  We talked about how maybe instead of just going out and running a six miler that maybe I'd take it easy and just to a couple at a time and ease back into it.  This made me feel THRILLED that I didn't have to take two weeks off of running.  That would have just plain sucked!  After discussing a few other questions we went back to the waiting room.

Dr. Virro called us back next.  Last time IP-A was paying attention to the head nod.  This time he actually called me by name, "Josephine".  When we reached his office IP-B and I sat down while IP-A had to ask if he could move the third chair to join us sitting.  Dr. Virro is so funny, he didn't even look up and just gave a "yeah" response.  He then went on with a slurry of questions which made us all wonder a little bit and had me ask, "You're only going to transfer one embryo, right?"  I'm fully aware that his staff had everything under control, but he seemed a little out of sorts from the crazy questions he asked right away.  I had to give my signature again and off we went to the transfer room. 

Canada is so different.  I met Annie, our ultrasound tech, in the room and she explained everything I needed to know, handed me a paper blanket, and told me to undress from the waste down.  In the states it's common practice that the person then leaves the room while the patient undresses.  This is NOT common practice in Canada.  I knew this from the first transfer, so I just dropped my pants while she was in the room.  Meanwhile, IP-A and IP-B were out in the hallway while I was getting settled on the table and covered.  While in the hall they sorted out with the lab all the questionable questions we had while we were in Dr. Virro's office.  My IPs came in beaming from ear to ear and said Dr. Virro confirmed with the lab that there was only one embryo and we were good to go.

Having a full bladder is the only uncomfortable part of having the IVF transfer.  Annie, the ultrasound tech and assistant, was really confident and knowledgeable at what she was doing.  We could tell she had been doing this for a while.  After getting spread eagle and the speculum in place, Dr. Virro then flushes it out with saline solution to sanitize the area.  Then there is a tiny catheter that goes through the cervix, guided by an ultrasound, and right up into the uterine lining.  Remember that awesome 13.6 lining number I had?  Anything he puts in that lining is bound to stick!  The whole process takes about two to three minutes and is painless, except the uncomfortable part where Annie was pushing on my bladder with the ultrasound wand.  When he removed the speculum I could feel a gush of fluid come out of my vag and leaked right down my butt crack.  I asked Annie what that was and that's when I learned he used saline solution before the transfer.  I was then told to stay lying down for 10 minutes. 
Sweet Little Embryo in my Supernatural Uterus

IP-A sent Ben a message while we were waiting, "Well, we just knocked up your wife!"  We love surrogacy humor in our house so I knew he would get a kick out of a message like that.  My butt was sopping wet while I sat resting, I needed to pee more than you can imagine, and it was time for some pictures.  It actually took my mind off of how bad I needed to urinate.  That liter of fluid was defiantly telling me it needed to vacate my body.  Annie was kind enough to give us a picture print out of the embryo that was placed in my uterus, and she even went back to our transfer that I had with Spencer and the embryo that didn't take and printed us a picture of that, too.  That is such a cool treasure!  Finally, Annie said it had been longer than 10 minutes.  I could get dressed, go to the bathroom, and we could just head back to the hotel for my 30-36 hours of bed rest. 

Moments After the Transfer
For some reason I felt the need to have an extra gentle step as I slowly made my way for the bathroom.  I sat down and totally had an Austin Power's pee.  At one point I started laughing and hollered out, hoping my IP's could hear me through the door, "It's totally an Austin Power's pee!  He was cryogenically frozen and so was your embryo."  It seemed to make perfect sense to me!  While we were on our way out we did a little self tour of the office.  We looped back to the elevators and guess who was walking out of the elevator as we were walking in?  Someone who just took her smoke break!  Ugh, I hate the smell of smoke!

IP-B picked us up at the front door and drove us back to the hotel.  I was so tired that I went to my hotel room and took a couple hour nap.  I called my IPs when I woke up and they brought me food and came and hung out for the entire rest of the day.  We started getting to work on an outline for our book that we're going to write and we started watching the movie The Help but lost internet connection.  We actually looked at the clock at 9pm and hadn't realized how quickly the day went, so my IPs ran to Chipotle to grab food for all of us.  While they were getting food, Lydia called me in tears telling me how much she missed me.  We had a few moments gazing in the sky and gave each other hugs from afar.  She seemed to feel better after talking about how I'd be home the next day and we could snuggle then.  My IPs brought food back and we had a picnic in my hotel room.  My parents had been in contact with me on a daily basis while I was on in Canada, and we got a beautiful picture and message before everything was cleaned up and my IPs left for the night. 
"Tonight's sunset in honor of the great things that are happening in your life right now!" -MaBoom

The next morning, December 2nd, my sister-in-laws birthday, I met my IPs by the elevator and we walked to a nearby restaurant for a delicious egg breakfast.  We made it back to the hotel, gathered our things, and IP-A carried my Kimmy Schmidt, from the show Unbreakable, backpack so I didn't have to carry anything heavy.  It's my purple backpack from high school that I still have and it has colorful embroidered iron on flowers.  For some reason I think of Kimmy Schmidt and chuckle whenever I use this backpack.  We encouraged IP-A to have a 15 year old girl bounce in IP-A's step.  We took the subway and bus back to the airport.  Customs didn't interrogate me this time and it was smooth sailing from there.  We all had lunch at the airport and took the little plane back to Minnesota.

On the ride home I sat next to a engineering teacher from Toronto who was going to a convention in the twin cities.  He asked where I was going and what I had been doing in Toronto.  I'm pretty open, so I explained that I was in Toronto to get pregnant with my friend's baby.  We continued to chat and then he asked,  "What else did you do while in Toronto besides, you know...".  Clearly I was pretty loud because IP-B could hear me from a row back and on the other side of the airplane, and I said, "That's it, I was just hear to get pregnant!"  He was interested to know how it all worked so I explained the process and chatted for about a half hour.  Then I slept most of the flight home.

Ben picked us up at the airport and we dropped off my IPs at their house.  Our kids were more than thrilled to have mom home again.  We had a low key night and did a lot of snuggling.  I sure missed my family while I was gone, even if it was only two nights!  We're crossing our fingers, and my legs, in hope that this little embryo will stick.  It would be nice if that was my last trip to see Dr. Virro.  We'll have a beta test is coming up soon!  I'm on the same hormones until we find out the results.  Thankfully I haven't had any issues with my taste buds changing and being sensitive to sweets.  Lets pray that continues! 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Medication Protocol

New House
*Photo by our amazing birth photographer who was also our fantastic realtor
I'm a little behind blogging because The Dahlager Family was on the move again.  Ben and I purchased a house at the beginning of November in an adorable neighborhood.  We totally won the neighbor lottery when we learned not only do the people across the street have kids the same ages as our kids who are REALLY NICE and their mom teaches yoga-I'm pretty sure we'll get along, but my dad's cousin lives just a couple blocks down our street.  It's so wonderful that the kids have neighborhood kids to play with.  We left amazing neighbors back in Sauk Rapids, so this made the transition a little easier on all of us.  I think we'll always miss our neighbors up there though!  We had our work cut out for us to modernize a 1970's home filled with shag green carpet and matching wallpaper...lots of wallpaper!  We have almost completed the bedroom projects and Ben hopes to get started on a little demolition work while I'm away getting pregnant with another man's baby.

Check Out the Matching Green Curtains

1st day of Lupron

On November 7th I began my Lupron injections for 10 consecutive days.  Lupron is used to quiet my ovaries so I don't ovulate.  I was a little freaked out about the first one because no one really wants to give themselves a shot in the belly, but the first week wasn't really as bad as I had led myself to believe.  Days 8, 9, and 10 were a little rough.  I don't know why, but my pain receptors in my stomach must have increased in their sensitivity.  Those last few injections hurt and left me with a couple burses.  I was totally relieved to have those 10 days over and done with. 

On November 12th I started my Estrace oral tabs.  Estrace thickens my uterine lining, which is where the embryo will be placed through a catheter on the day of the IVF transfer.  I had to ask my surrogate support group and my coordinator at IARC if it was common to have an obscene amount of discharge from the Estrace.  I didn't remember that side effect when I got pregnant with Spencer.  I learned from experienced women who have done this many many times that each medication protocol can be extremely different.  This made me happy because I'm terrified of the side effects I had from the Progesterone last time.
On November 13th I had to get follow-up blood work to make sure my rubella booster worked and to verify that my hemoglobin was up.  I had to start taking iron supplements this fall to boost my levels.  I was cleared to keep on track with my protocol!  Everything looks great.   

IP-A doesn't like needles so I'm pretending this is painful just to be funny
*I was in the middle of painting when I ran to this appointment.  Normally I don' leave with paint all over me.
My Beautiful Uterine Lining is on the Monitor
On November 25th I had my transvaginal ultrasound to measure the thickness of the uterine lining.  I had an ultrasound tech named Liz.  Liz was fantastic!  Even though she was probing around with a big wand up my who-ha, she made the experience very comfortable and she clearly enjoys learning about surrogacy.  They want us to measure at an 8.  I measured at an 11 when I got pregnant with spencer, and this time I measured at a 13.6!  The results came back from our doctor that said 14, so I'm not entirely sure what the official number was, but our coordinator said that we may have hit a record high for any of her programs.  I also noticed this week that I have gained a lot of weight.  I don't own a scale, which I highly recommend for everyone, so I don't know how much, but my cloths fit differently and I don't feel like normal self.  I remember some of the ladies in my support group talking about gaining weight from the protocol medications but I didn't remember feeling this awful about my weight gain last time.  I'm sure it will all fall of when I start vomiting anyway. 

Uterine Lining

A Must Have for Progesterone Suppositories
On November 26th I started my progesterone vaginal suppositories.  The progesterone prepares my uterine lining for the implantation of the embryo and to hold onto the pregnancy.  Last time these little suckers extremely altered my taste buds.  I was so sensitive to sweets that apples and bananas were too sweet to eat.  It is also worth mentioning that it leaks out constantly throughout the day.  It's pretty gross and a pad is necessary.  I woke up at 5:00 on Thanksgiving morning completely freaked out!  I thought I was going to vomit, and my heart was pounding so hard that it felt like it was going to leap out of my chest.  Nothing about surrogacy scares me except the progesterone!  I couldn't fall back asleep and it took a couple hours to pull myself out of bed to insert my first suppository.  I learned from last time that it's much more comfortable to avoid using the applicator and just get it as close to the cervix as one possibly can.  I don't know why the first one scared me as much as it did,  I am fully aware that it'll take a few days for the side effects to kick in anyway.  Last night I put in my suppository and had a really powerful sneezed about 10 minutes later.  The suppository shot out like a rocket into my underwear.  Of course I couldn't waste it, so I just shoved that escapee back in place.  I about died with laughter! 
 I'm probably as excited as a kid on Christmas morning - I'm off to Canada for the transfer really soon!!!          

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


photo from Facebook

I wondered how I would start my next blog update and have rewritten it over and over and still have came up blank - until this morning.  I scrolled across this photo in my facebook newsfeed and knew that this was the perfect intro to our update.  What do you think when you look at this photo?  In the facebook comment below this photo someone stated, "HE will be Glamour's "Woman of the Year" next week. And real women all over the world should be outraged!!" and it had already received a couple "likes".  What are you feeling right now?  Look at this photo one more time, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and take a moment to really search your soul... 

How are you feeling?  I feel great sadness deep within me!  I can't imagine living with such judgment and hatred.  What if, just WHAT IF you look at both of these images and think that each one is courageous?  WOW, that could change the world!  Really, what if we all could see such amazing strength, bravery, and courage in both of these images?  That's exactly what I see. 

Our world has come so far and still has so far to go.  Courage comes in all forms, my friends.  I'm proud to be an American and am forever grateful for our women and men who are serving, or have served, our country.  In fact, I am a wife of a former military man.  It takes courage to say the military, in combination with Lydia's rough start to life, gave me PTSD.  It's amazing that we only hear about our soldiers who suffer from PTSD.  How often do we think about their families?  Yes, the military people in the top image truly are courageous!   

It takes courage to find help and recover from PTSD.  It takes courage to go to your first day of kindergarten.  It take courage to move schools.  It takes courage to make a new friend.  It takes courage to make it through high school.  It takes courage to make different choices than your parents.  It take courage to work hard until you succeed at your goal.  It takes courage to publically nurse uncovered.  It takes courage to stand up to your boss when he/she is wrong.  It takes courage to be different.  It takes courage to parent the way that is right for you.  It takes courage to make the choice to not have children.  It takes courage to undergo fertility treatment, adopt, or have a surrogate.  It takes courage to get our of bed when you suffer from depression.  It takes courage to get help when you suffer from an addiction.  It takes courage to come out of the closet.  It takes courage to leave an abusive relationship.  It take courage to tell your family and friends you're going to be a surrogate.  It takes courage to take a stand for something you believe in.  It takes courage to face your fear.  You see, the list is endless because it takes courage to get though most things in life.  So yes, it takes courage to go through gender reassignment.  The bottom image displays a strong and beautiful woman who just might help other people have the courage to be who they are.  And in response to the facebook comment...this "real woman" would be honored and proud if Caitlyn Jenner was Glamor's Woman of the Year!  It just might aid in the change that the world is still in need of.  Courage comes in all forms!          

The power of positive thinking never ceases to amaze me.  I've heard many times throughout the years that there is something really calm about my demeanor.  I was taught at a young age how to deep breath and I think that has given me a peaceful aura.  I practice deep breathing and the power of positive thinking on a daily basis.  I also believe that everything happens for a reason.  We landed in a really terrible apartment when we moved to the metro.  We, actually "I" because Ben knows me better than I know myself sometimes, thought this was the best place to land so our kids could get into the schools we wanted them to get into and we were able to sign a short lease agreement.  The terms were that the smoke smell in the apartment would have dissipated prior to our move in.  I believe they tried to the best of their ability, but the apartment reeks!  I know, I know, how on earth would they get the apartment smelling like non-smokers lived here...stupid Josie!  BUT we were able to get out of the lease agreement due to health reasons - second had smoke.  We still had to give a 60 day notice, in which time we were able to sell and buy a house.  We just got news last night that we might be able to close next week...a week earlier than planned!  This would give us a little extra time to rip down wallpaper and paint before I leave to get knocked up!  I just knew it would all work out!  The power of positive thinking prevails! 

Like I mentioned above, it takes courage to be a surrogate.  There are some people in my life who don't agree with surrogacy, but there are plenty more who are amazingly supportive.  Thank you so much for your love and support!  We are just a little over a week and a half from starting meds!  I have the giddy feelings, like a little kid on Christmas, and it's starting to feel like the days are weeks because I'm so excited.  I didn't have these feelings a couple months ago.  My life felt a little chaotic and I defiantly wasn't mentally prepared for a transfer.  I just had a feeling it wasn't going to take the first time, which is why it ended up getting  pushed off until the time was right.  I'm thankful it was out of our control.  I will start meds on my next day 1, around November 8th, and I need to get blood work done on the 14th to make sure I am immune to rubella again.  The transfer will be 3 weeks after my next day 1 and lots of testing.  It's so exciting!!

This journey will be completely different from the first.  We only live about 15 minutes from my IPs now and I'm excited that they'll get to experience a little more of the pregnancy.  I don' think they felt like they missed out on anything, but I think having them really close in proximity will be a nice change.  It's so funny how people believe what they want.  We lived a rural township where everyone knows everyone, so I heard from a neighbor of ours that the older neighbors across the street thought we were moving to the metro to be close to "that baby", if you get my drift.  It just cracks me up that people will believe what they want.  They didn't know that Ben had to drag me by my feet with my nails dug in the ground to get me to move.  Now that we're here and getting familiar with the area I'm excited to be in this location and know that it is for the better.  I also get to see Liz as my midwife for the pregnancy and delivery.  This will be a welcomed change and I look forward to seeing her for my care.  Plus, how cool is it that she'll get to attend the delivery of her niece or nephew?!  She is an amazing woman and I'm looking forward to getting to know her better!  

And I got to take Spencer's 18 month old pictures.  He's so ADORABLE!!!!  I had to jump in and get a couple with him...                

18 Months
18 Months
I almost forgot to mention that my sister and I finished our second marathon, and our older brother ran this one too.  This marathon was soooooooooooo much better than our first.  I felt like I was on top of the world!  I'm not sure if I was just so prepared or if the different supplements I used helped that much, and the crowd support was unbelievable.  I'll defiantly run the Twin Cities Marathon again!
26.2 miles

Thursday, September 17, 2015

And Now for the Sequel

It has been a while, my friends.  Life in the Dahlager house doesn’t ever seem to slow down, and just when I think we have time to breath…it doesn’t stop.  Life truly is AMAZING!  
On May 9th, my sister and I finished our first full marathon along with our big brother who has been our fitness inspiration for as long as I can remember.  We had perfect weather and the greatest cheering section we could have asked for.  I felt great up until mile 22.  It’s seems silly to say that the last four miles felt longer than the first 22, but WE RAN THE ENTIRE 26.2 MILES TOGETHER AND FINISHED BY LEAPING AND DOING CARTWHEELS (okay lets be real, I did the leaping and Megan did the cartwheels).  And again we jumped our way into the newspaper. 

The Second Time This Year I Jumped into the Newspaper
My highlighted conversation with my sister was around mile 24 when she told me she was feeling sad that it was almost over (Clearly she was feeling better than I was, because at mile 24 I wanted nothing more than my bed!).  We had trained so hard and had this huge goal that we worked so hard at accomplishing and we had just about reached it.  I can only liken that feeling to when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Spencer.  I totally understood what she was feeling, even though my hips and knees were in so much pain, I knew where her heart was.  This was a fun goal to accomplish with my BFF!
We finished our Marathon!

Sibling Marathon (3 of the 4 Boom Kids)

Cousin's Finishing Hand in Hand
4th Overall

In fact, that marathon goal was so fun to accomplish that we have set forth another goal, similar to The Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon, The Twin Cities Marathon on October 4th.  Truthfully, I didn’t think I ever needed to run another marathon again.  I love having races to train for so I always have a reason to keep running, but I wasn’t sure that I would have enough time to train for another race.  My sister bullied me into signing up!  She sent me these pictures of our kids at one of their races with the comment, “Just so we get the full effect [as to why we keep running these crazy distances]!” 

Look at George's Face!
So that very night I signed up for Twin Cities Marathon.  It has been hard to fit in the training this summer and I haven’t done every single workout I was supposed to, but we ran our 20 miler on Saturday and we’re just a few weeks out from the marathon.  We also have our Chocoholic Frolic 10K in November.  One of our chocolate-loving cousins, Kelly, joins us for that fun race!  It will be wonderful to check marathon #2 off my bucket list.
Andrew, Megan, Me, and Ben After the Graniteman 1/2 Marathon on Saturday.  Megan and I did 7 miles prior to the race.

Sometime in middle of May Ben got a job offer in the south metro.  My world turned upside-down.  We lived close to my parents, I had an amazing job, we loved our local theatre family, we loved our kids’ school, we had awesome new neighbors, and I finally made two very good friends.  We made the difficult decision to uproot our family and make the move, but our kids landed major roles in GREAT Theatre’s production of Ragtime the Musical in St. Cloud and rehearsals were Monday through Thursday for four hours a night.  We couldn’t pull the kids from this amazing opportunity, so I stayed the summer up in St. Cloud and Ben lived in the cities during the week, but frequently came home to help with housework and running the kids here, there, and everywhere.  We put our house on the market early July and we’ll close in just a couple weeks.  It was a whirlwind summer full of track, baseball, running, cleaning the house for showings, packing, and theatre.  Oh, and I somehow worked too.  

Lydia in the Journey On Scene

The kids and I will actually get to stay in the cities for five straight nights this week – the longest period of time we have spent down here.  Last week the kids had tech rehearsals for Ragtime, so I picked them up from school and brought them up to St. Cloud for their 5 hours of rehearsal each night.  We camped on air mattresses with sleeping bags at our house and drove down at 4:30am to get them to their first week at their new schools.  It was insane but we survived.  Check out if you’re interested in seeing the show.  Our kids are the main kids every other night- September 18, 20, and 26th are the remainder of the shows they’re the main kids in.  This show is incredible – one you don’t want to miss!  My sister called me the day after she saw the show and said how impressed she was.  She wants to see it again and bring her husband next time.  Even Jack’s new teacher is making the trek to come and support her new student.  I’m in awe! 

Jack in the Baseball Scene
First Twin Cities Run
I didn’t know there was a whole city where there were people who think a lot like me!  As reluctant as I was to the idea of moving, I’m surprisingly finding myself feeling very hopeful that this is exactly where we are supposed to be.  Maybe not this terrible apartment that reeks of smoke and new carpet, but this area is very neat (we actually checked out a house for the third time on Tuesday and put in an offer yesterday).  After a stressful summer dealing with trying to get into the right schools, we did end up landing at the Environmental STEM schools we desired.  These schools are AWESOME!  Bike pedals under the desks, balls for chairs, outdoor classrooms, classroom gardens, composting, treadmills in the classrooms, a nature preserve they visit weekly, and therapy dogs and chickens are just a few of the things our kids are exposed to at their new schools.  Lydia joined the Marine Team where she’ll get to learn about and take care of aquariums at school.  The Mall of America’s Underwater World even donated a couple sharks!  I’m excited about how forward thinking and hands-on these schools are.  I believe we will fit in really well. 

First 2 Miles for the 100 Mile Club
I must say, I might be the most excited about the 100 mile club.  Our whole family signed up to run 100 miles during the school year.  I even get to go to the school during recess and take groups of kids running!  This is going to be the BEST volunteering job I’ll ever have.  I got to run with the kids for the first time on Tuesday, and as the kids were leaving the playground a little girl, who is defiantly overweight, asked if I would come and run with her tomorrow.  UMmmm, do you have to ask that?!  Of course I went and ran with her the very next day.  I’ve never been so excited for a volunteering opportunity in my life!      

Our kids have already auditioned in the cities for upcoming shows.  Lydia and Jack auditioned at The Guthrie for A Christmas Carol.  Jack got a call-back and was selected as one of six boys to stay and read for Tiny Tim.  Neither of them were cast, but it was a really cool experience and we already have auditions on the books for a community theatre and The Children’s Theatre.  It will be fun to see what comes of the kids with these endless possibilities down here.  It is actually somewhat overwhelming.             

Whew, that was a lot of updates on our family.  Oh, you wanted a surrogacy update? 

On March 20th, IP-A, IP-B, Spencer, Ben and I had dinner to discuss our second journey. Exciting side note…we got to see Spencer walk for the first time!  We all decided that late summer/early fall we would be interested in pursuing our second journey.  My deal breaker was that I would only be willing to do a single embryo transfer this time.  I don’t want there to be any chances of carrying twins.  I guess everyone was fine with that decision because we all decided to move ahead and contacted IARC and did all of our paperwork again.  I had to start at square one by filling out an application.  Ben and I had to have a psychological evaluation again, and we also had to have medical testing done again.  On August 14th we all got together to have a signing ceremony.  I think it took about 45 minutes to sign the contracts and the Notary was a bit of a grump.  We missed you this time, Catherine!  With the change of job and our move, we pushed the transfer off until early October.  This allowed for us to get settled in and the endless paperwork completed as necessary.    

Needles and Drugs
MMR Booster
On September 1st I received a package full of oddly familiar needles and medications from Walgreens Specialty.  I would start my Lupron on my next Day 1 - such a nice way to say the first day of your period.  So, last Friday I contacted Kim from IARC to make sure I knew exactly what I needed to do over the weekend when I started my Lupron.  She called the fertility clinic in Canada again just to confirm everything was all set for my protocol, but after one final review of my labs she learned that I was no longer immune to rubella.  She apparently had to calm herself down for ten minutes before calling me with this news.  She said, “I have some bad news!”  I was thinking bad meant that I wasn’t going to be able to carry.  She went on to tell me about the rubella and how I needed to get a booster, then we would have to wait two cycles and start my protocol with my November cycle.  The transfer will be pushed off  until early December.  I responded, “Oh, that makes me feel so much less stressed!”  I asked to call my IPs and give them the news.  We all seemed to have the same response and peaceful feeling.  I haven’t had a chance to even feel excited about this second journey.  The changes in our life have been so huge that I honestly wasn’t even thinking about the second journey at all.  I feel grateful that I get two months to start feeling excited and using my power of positive thinking to make sure that the first little embryo will stick.  I was actually worried that it would take a couple transfers this second time because I haven’t been thinking about it at all.  I’m confident that all of this happened for a perfect reason, one of which is that this stinky apartment would have made me vomit more than I would like to think.  If all goes as planned, we should be in a new house before I get pregnant with Spencer’s little sibling. 

Spencer After the Contract Signing Ceremony

So, my day one has come but not yet gone, and will come and go two more times until…  

You Know You're Surrounded by AMAZING and SUPPORTIVE People When You Find This in Your Box of Feminine Hygiene Products.  I love my CO-Workers! 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Perspective Change?

It amazes me how ones perspective can change so quickly.  I'm on my eighteenth of an eighteen week training schedule for running a marathon and I have a whole new perception of distance running.  I had a conversation with an experienced marathon runner last week.  He ask, "How is training going?  Are you tapering yet?"  I replied with, "Training is going great!  We started tapering last week and the marathon is in a week and a half."  He then gave me a whole new light of where I'm at in my training, "Are you to the two and three mile runs yet?  Are you to the point where you're like, why even put on my running shoes for two or three miles?!"  He couldn't have had a more accurate statement.  I do feel like there isn't a point to change, gear up, put on my shoes, and go out for a quick two mile run!  MY PERSPECTIVE CHANGED!

Leslie and Me after her first 10k!

I had a very similar conversation with my new super amazing and inspiring friend, Leslie, as we were running last week.  I've had the privilege of running her two longest runs of her life with her!  Anyway, two weeks ago we went for a five mile run on a Friday morning and that evening she was hanging out with her college friends and they were in awe that she ran five miles that morning.  It puts a whole new perspective on just how far one has come when five miles doesn't feel like a big deal.  Leslie and I are planning on having weekly runs together throughout the summer and I look forward to and enjoy my time with her.  She has a way of deepening my thoughts and I feel like a better person because of that.  It is fun to have another goal oriented person where we can share our dreams and desires and encourage one another.  One of my goals for the year is to develop meaningful friendships.  I think that's one I can cross off my list as our friendship continues to grow.  Leslie has been a godsend!  Not to mention, she is a distance relative of Spencer's.  It just goes to show how small our big world really is. 

I may have jumped my way into the local news paper (you can see Leslie's purple shirt behind my orange coat):

So, this marathon training, you ask?  My sister had this grand idea about how we should run a marathon together.  Two weeks ago we successfully accomplished our longest run so far...20 miles!  There was a half marathon in town that our husbands were running, so we decided we would run the half marathon with them (they actually run faster than we do).  I know, I know, 13.1 miles doesn't equal the 20 that we needed to run, so we ran 7 miles to the half marathon and then ran 13 at the race.  It feels great to be at this point and I look forward to running my marathon with my best friend/sister by my side and many family and friends cheering us along the way!  You're all welcome to come out and cheer along our rout from Holdingford to St. Joseph on May 9th starting at 7:00 am...the more the merrier and funny signs are encouraged!

DONE!  20 Glorious Miles with my BFF

Just a few hours after our 20 mile run, my sister accompanied me to a biannual surrogate social that IARC puts on for their surrogates.  It was a splendid evening with great people, good food, and amazing story after story.  I love hanging out with surrogates!  It's a group of people who understand my crazy and I understand theirs.  It's fun to hear all about the relationships people build through their journeys, and the hilarious stories about all of our own children's conversations they have had with people about surrogacy.  I truly believe that biological children of surrogates have such a clear understanding about the beginning of life.  They accept anything without judgment and are an example of how grown people should behave.  They get to watch first hand the magnitude of how precious building a family can be, and these kids are eager to share their story of how their family was able to help another family.  Surrogacy is beyond beautiful!  The world needs more selfless acts of giving, loving, hoping, and sharing.  Surrogacy is just one example of the endless possibilities, but please do your part in making the world a more peaceful, beautiful, and accepting place!  

IARC is putting together a film with some of their surrogates to help answer questions of people who are looking into surrogacy.  I think it will be beneficial to both surrogates and intended parents.  I was asked to share about our story and was filmed at the surrogate social.  I answered common questions that people may have about surrogacy.  I'm really interested to see what they pull from all of my answerers.  It was a different experience talking about our journey while a camera was in my face. I just want my deep passion to be expressed and I'm confident that people will be able to see that through this film.  I guess we'll just have to wait and see how it turns out.          

Camera in the Face
I hope by joining in on our journey that you have had a chance to learn, grow, enjoy, and possibly changed your perspective of surrogacy.  It is a topic that most people don't know about and many people have varying questions, opinions, concerns, and joy to share.  I believe that we couldn't have had a more perfect story and we have touched so many lives through this journey.  Believe in yourself...once you have fulfilled a big dream you'll know you can conquer anything!  

*Many of you have asked if you can share this blog with your family and friends...Yes, of course you can spread the word.  Our "One Year Blog Update" was the most viewed blog with 359 people reading our story.  Please spread the word!  I really would like to write a book one day and maybe someone out there will be interested sometime soon.