Medical Screening for Surrogacy

The clinic my potential IP’s (intended parents) are using like to meet and screen both partners, so the agency booked our flight, hotel, and car and off we went.

Luckily my mother and mother-in-law are super supportive.  My mom watches our kids during the day while my husband and I work, but that is exhausting! So my MIL took off work to come help with that and do the dinner/bedtime routine.  It truly takes a village!

I was kind of hoping that since we were both going to be going and we were kid free for a night that we would have a nice relaxing trip… but I, for some reason, felt VERY anxious.

I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Was it because I had left something I would need?  I’m pretty sure I packed everything for a not-even-two-day trip. Was it because we were leaving our babies?  That always makes me a bit sad, but getting a dinner out with husband without worrying about whether the menu was toddler friendly or stressing about my kids making too much noise and disturbing other patrons sounded pretty stellar.  Was it because we were flying?  It had been a while, but I was raised on airplanes. Was it because I was headed to a strange town, to a new doctor, for a bunch of tests I’ve never been subjected to? I’ve traveled my whole life- new places are nothing to fear (thanks GPS). I’ve never been one to freak about doctors, they’re usually quite helpful and friendly.  As for the tests: I don’t do drugs, I haven’t been subjected to STD’s of any sort, I’ve never been sexually “promiscuous,” and I ovulate regularly, have had two kids naturally, gotten pregnant naturally and without issue, and have never had uterus issues before… why am I so anxious?!?!

As I tried over and over to pinpoint the source of my stress, I was able to quickly reason each potential cause out— but the anxiety still hovered.  Enough so that my husband noticed and became worried something was wrong.  Its rather difficult to assure someone that you are “okay” when you can’t really figure out if you are, in fact, “okay.” An apology for my “off mood” would have to suffice. I promised to try and shake it off before we landed.

We flew Southwest and were in one of the last boarding groups (bleh— I should have checked in for the flight sooner) so my husband and I were at the very back of the plane with no option to recline  but at least we got to sit together (*sad face* though I really shouldn’t complain #atleastitwasn’tUnited).  As we settled in to our seats, a family of 5 boarded the plane.  It was a mom and her 4 kids.  They were all going to have to sit separately unless someone was willing to move.  Without even one word, my husband and I looked at each other and silently agreed to move so at least two of them would be together.  I guess we both figured that we would appreciate someone granting us that courtesy if the roles were reversed.

As I looked for another seat option, I spied a mom wrangling her not-quite-two-year-old daughter on her lap.  That seat had my name all over it.  I’ve been in her shoes: sleepy baby wiggling around in my lap with other people looking at the empty seat next to me thinking, “oh hell no!” and continuing to walk on past feeling as though they dodged a bullet.  Hell, I’ve been the person who avoided the seat!

I asked if I could sit and quickly made friends with the beautiful 18 month old girl who was experiencing her first flight and her mommy who was overly apologetic for anything that might go wrong (a role I am familiar with).  I was promptly informed that baby girl was WAY past her normal nap time and was overly tired.  In mom speak, “hell could break loose at any moment and I am so so so so sorry for what you may be about to witness!” I quickly assured her that I had two of my own at home and know her pain.  I distracted baby with some random shit in my purse until I could tell she was at the point of crashing.  She didn’t want to take her eyes off the goofy stranger next to her so, while she rested her head on mommy’s chest, we played a calm game of peek-a-boo.  Then, I pretended to fall asleep until she also closed her eyes and the plane, providing the perfectly calming white noise, soared into the sky.  I gave mom and quiet thumbs up, pulled out my papers, and got to grading while the tired mommy also got some quiet rest.

It was an uneventful flight and navigating the airport to the rental car area was smooth as well.  Babies, infants, toddlers, and parents in every stage of exhaustion were everywhere!  Strangely, this made me desperately miss my kids.  I found myself wishing they were with us.  (I KNOW, strange, right?!?! Here I was looking forward to traveling kid free!  A breeze… and then I missed them! Ugh, I’m a damn mess.)

We got our rental, being careful to keep all receipts for reimbursement purposes, and headed toward the hotel.  Check-in was quick and easy so we decided to scope out the area.  In San Jose Highway 1 runs the length of the coast.  highway 1We drove over and up to see some views of the pacific.  They were awesome!  Spring flowers blooming on the rocky expanses, long stretches of sandy beaches, the crash of powerful waves, the crisp, salty breeze, and… a lingering anxiousness.  What the heck!?

As we scoped out a place for dinner, we both noticed the number of parents walking around with babies.  First the plane, then the airport, and now in downtown Mountainview- what was the deal!?  Is California the mecca for people with babies?  Or are we in some sort of baby boom?!

After a delicious meal and a nice glass of wine, we headed back to the hotel to get to bed early (#oportunitytosleep #tiredparents #nokidswakingusupbeforeouralarm).  As I attempted to sleep I reflected on my anxiousness.  I missed my babies.  I was probably more nervous about the appointment the next day than I was willing to admit.  Why was I surrounded by so many families?! I thought about how exhausted and nervous the mom on the plane was and how tired the parents in the airport seemed and how frustrated that mom was arguing with her toddler at the table across the way at dinner and realized that even with the constant reminders of how tiring life with kids can be… I missed mine something fierce! Then, I started thinking about all the couples out there still trying for a baby, suffering from infertility, or being told that “kids weren’t in the cards” and I was reminded of my purpose. I am taking the next step on the path to make this ridiculously exhausting, wouldn’t-trade-it-for-the-world trip called parenthood happen for someone else.

For the first time in a couple of days I felt reassured, my anxiety lifted, and I fell fast asleep.

Turns out that traveling into a state with two hour later time difference combined with kids who wake you up at 6 means that you will naturally wake up at 4:30 and feel perfectly rested and not be able to go back to sleep (*shrugs* #icouldn’tsleepin).   I enjoyed NOT having to get out of bed and watched the morning news and sipped coffee in bed while the rest of CA was fast asleep.  The appointment was long, but we luckily didn’t spend too much time just waiting. (I am briefly outlining this clinic’s procedures for any other potential surrogates who like to know what they can expect! It should be noted that other clinics might run different tests or have different methods/tests)

  • First, I had vitals taken.
  • Second, we met the actual IVF doctor that the IP’s had been using.  She briefly went over our charts and records, asked us “Why?” and then sent us to the ultrasound room.  I got completely undressed and put on a terrible robe.  I HATE that feeling of exposure. I wrapped my robe tightly around me and sat on the table and waited.  I love that my husband was with me.  He always creates a sense of calm for me.  Doc came back in and completed a breast exam, asked a few more questions about my health, and finally completed the vaginal ultrasound.  I had never had one and was worried it might hurt or even be uncomfortable, but it didn’t.  Not even a little. She took her measurements quickly and quietly so I asked some questions:
    What are you measuring?  She was measuring my lining.  I was close to ovulation (which I already knew) and I had a “nice triple lining.”
    What exactly are you looking for?  
    Shape of my uterus, polyps, and any other signs of issues.
    What the heck am I seeing on the screen? 
     She was looking at my pear shaped uterus and showed me that I was ovulating from the left ovary (again, I already knew that.  I can feel middleshmirtz which for me feels like pinching on the side that will release an egg.  But, it was kinda cool to know that what I was feeling was actually correct- thanks google).
    It was kind of frustrating that I had to ask for this info rather than be told up front what she was looking for. After all, it is my body and I think it’s fair to know. Right?  Don’t get me wrong, she was friendly, she just wasn’t forth coming!  Once the ultrasound was completed and everything “looked okay”  she shook our hands and said that the surrogacy nurse would be meeting with us soon.
  • Third, the nurse in charge of surrogates for that clinic came in.  She was very sweet and very personable. She was much more upfront and welcoming (again, nothing wrong with the Doc, she just wasn’t as warm). She went through the “next steps” assuming everything comes back and we are cleared to begin the legal process.  Since we live in a different state from the clinic, we’d be working with a satellite clinic near us.
    • I will have to start birth control as soon as my next cycle starts.  I am to contact her on day one and she will call me in a script.
    • I will continue to take the pill until the legal paperwork is completed.
    • Once legal is completed and all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, I will start injections.  She will send a detailed calendar later but wanted us to have a good idea of basics before we left.needles
      • I’ll start with Lupron with a small needle into the belly.  Seemed easy enough! It is like a centimeter in length and pretty thin (see smaller needle in picture).
      • Then I’ll have to do Progesterone.  Oh heavens!  I had done so much reading and knew it was pretty intense, but the sight of the needle she brought out… I’m not going to lie… I wanted to run screaming from the room.   I QUIT! I fought my instinct to do so though, don’t worry. I think she saw the look on my face because she made me stand up and decided that I could get away with a smaller needle!  YAY!!! She also reassured me that their office doesn’t use the oil.  What my husband will inject will be thinner and therefore a little less painful. Whew. (The one I will get to use is much smaller than the big one in the picture- thank goodness!)
      • She showed us how to do both types of shots, asked if we had questions, and assured us that she would be in close contact and offered her cell number.  Did I tell you I really liked her?  She was great.
    • I’ll have a baseline ultrasound somewhere in there
    • A beta draw after the transfer
    • Then I’ll be released to my OBGYN for normal monitoring.

This is all just the basic stuff she covered, but before we were moved to the next station, she hugged us and thanked us for what we were doing.  She was just really nice.  I didn’t realize it until after the fact, but I needed that thank you after all that info. That lady is truly good at what she does.

  • Fourth we went to the room where they would draw our blood. vilesBut, since we hadn’t gone to the bathroom since we had gotten there, both of us opted to give a urine sample first. That lady was also very friendly.  She was able to easily get the needle in and start drawing blood and filling about 350 viles.  Not really, it was only like 8, but it felt like quite a lot of blood considering I ate breakfast at 5:30! I drank some juice and sat while she got blood from my husband.  Then, we were free to go.

That was it.  Certainly nothing to be anxious about… lol.

Now, it’s back to waiting. Yay *eyeroll*

I should hear back in two or three weeks… I’m so ready to get moving!


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