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! 

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