Sunday, May 31, 2015

Human Pin Cushion

This is the inside of my sewing box... I haven't used it in years, but the pins are still there, waiting.
You may want to prepare yourself for this reading with the help of my main men LMFAO and Lil Jon. Right before the first injection, Erika made this Dubsmash to help calm her nerves.

Shots! from Erika Perales on Vimeo.

While I had never really been nervous for this portion of the process, Erika had been more than a little freaked out about it. If you don’t know this by now, we tend to handle our anticipation of things a little differently. I let things come to me, play it as things go, plan and coordinate just enough to get a rough idea. Erika however, especially with this shot thing, turned pale on more than one occasion. The all powerful internet had spoken of women going crazy with pain and mood swings. And the internet is always right, NO?

So, yeah. It looks like someone's trying to start a car. It actually felt like Pop Rocks.
In addition to the shots, Erika wanting to do what she could to help the stimulation and retrieval be successful, she had done a lot of midnight research on acupuncture. After getting some recommendations from friends, she decided to go for it.
Under heat lamps in a dimmed room, it was actually pretty relaxing. First two times I stayed awake, afraid I'd roll off the bed. But on the third and last day, I passed out and took a nice 20 minute nap.
Even though she swore she'd never do acupuncture, it was just one more step she was willing to take.

Erika had mentioned to me a few months before that I would be responsible for  injecting her with a syringe daily.This brought wonderful childhood memories of my Grandma Margarita telling my mom, uncles, and even me, “Dejame ver las nalgas.” Rough translation: "Let me see the butts." As far as I knew it would be as simple as 1. open syringe 2. poke butt with syringe 3. slap the other butt to equalize pain. That's how Grandma did it. Easy. Unfortunately, we wouldn't be doing Mexican style injections for this part of the process.

Upon returning from her appointment, the clinic had gone over all of the protocol to start the the injections. Erika had brought a fairly large box of needles, various multi colored vials of powdered hormones, alcohol wipes, larger "omg do not stab me with that size" needles, and a Red Sharps Container (to toss all hazardous sharp things after each injection), along with a storybook style instruction manual, complete with pictures, on how to prepare and administer the injections. 

One night's worth of meds. Erika had bought those bandaids a few years back... just in case.
The first night of shots was more about the excitement of things than anything else. What would eventually take 5 minutes 9 other nights, was an hour ordeal the first time. I carefully looked over the manual 3 times and watched several YouTube videos to prepare right before. Erika took pictures of all of the goodies she was about to be injected with, probably as a way to distract herself from what was about to happen. I followed the instructions exactly as stated, looking at my hands, then looking back at the instruction manual, back to my hands, back at manual, over and over just to make sure things looked the same. With the syringe ready to go, the shot was placed to the side and slightly lower than her belly button, and the needle we ended up using was fairly small.  I would provide details of focusing in as I pressed down the syringe needle until it punctured Erika’s skin... but it brings back horror style flashbacks to my brain. Rather than writing out the details, take a look at the pictures below.
Last minute research...
This looks like a face you can trust, right?
He eventually became a pro.
Immediately after the first one.
The bandaids served as a good reminder. (taken by Luis)
Right there with us. Poh did a good job providing emotional support. (taken by Luis)

Different colors and shapes also served as incentives each day. Attempt at keeping it fun and light-hearted.

This little red box was soon filled to the brim.
I am happy to think back to the strength Erika showed during that week and a half, as she became increasingly sore, tired, and upset. I would tell her “Do it for the Baby!” ...knowing that as in most cases she just needed to laugh a little. On more than one occasion we were out with friends and we had to leave early to make sure we got her shots in by 9 P.M. Leaving something early because of "responsibilities" at home was not something that I was used to. I thought to myself that this is where it starts... and how it would one day be a blessing to have that "responsibility" we are rushing home to, be our children.

Erika did a short video documenting how it went down, just in case something went wrong and somehow she was over drugged and became the HULK. (It's a cute video, one that I will probably watch several times and not tell her.) Note: If you don't like needles, do not push play.

shots-SD (480p) from Erika Perales on Vimeo.

I survived. All I really have to add is I think it's safe to say that I have successfully overcome my fear of needles. Luis impersonating my eggs each night also helped... imagine his high pitched voice (or that of the Gingerbread Man from Shrek) shouting, "Yaaay!!! We're going to make a baaaabyyyy!"

"It was a labor of love. We worked, we prayed, we hoped, we dreamed, we believed.... The more we did all of those things, the more we could actually see you and even feel you growing in our hearts." 
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Baby steps


As I have opened up to friends and family, their words of encouragement have led me to one conclusion. Everyone has a different birth story. There are lots of decisions to be made along the way, but in the end, they all lead to the same place. Babies. This journey we're on is our story... and there have been lots of decisions we've had to make already.

In early 2014 we were finally ready to get into baby-mode. Somehow our "five year plan" got a bit extended. And that's the first lesson in understanding how not in our control things truly are. One weekend I felt like the walls were all starting to cave in and I emptied out our master bedroom and moved all of our stuff into the guest room... just so we could make more room for a baby. (That room is still empty and we haven't really touched it since....)

I have meditated a hundred times on the fact that throughout all these years everything has literally been falling into place as it should... leading up to that moment when we'll get to hold our baby. We've always known that we had 2 family-building options: adoption and surrogacy. Because we know that the baby we hold on that very first day as parents is meant to be ours, regardless of the journey it took to get there, the pressure is lifted a little. We decided that if surrogacy was still an option, then we would pursue it.

If you've ever seen "New Girl," there is an episode from season 2 called "Eggs." In the episode Jess gets stressed thinking about how many baby-making years she has left. Basically, that's where I was, and I needed to find out if my eggs were ok, and if so, we'd follow that road as far as it would take us. I've re-watched that episode several times over the last couple of years, and it really doesn't get old. If you haven't seen it... you should really go watch it on Netflix... it's hilarious.

So, in March of 2014, we made an appointment with a local fertility clinic. We got the results back within a few days and the numbers were actually pretty great. We sat down with the RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and asked a lot of questions. This was the first time we'd ever sat down and spoken to a doctor together. We went home that day with more questions to ask ourselves and set out to do even more research.

This whole process of research, discussions, and prayer took another year.

That brings us to 2015. While this window remains open, we've decided to move forward with a pregnancy, via gestational surrogacy. It's the ultimate gift, and one that we will never take for granted. It is a self-less act, one of total sacrifice, that will hopefully, one day, lead to a little Baby Perales. We know that there are no guarantees with this process, but we believe that it's worth a shot. ...Ooh... shots.... More about that in the next post.

What it all comes down to is Love. We know that we have lots of love to share and for that reason,  we will also be pursuing adoption to grow our family, regardless of how things turn out with this first journey. We may even begin that process this summer, because we know that adoption can be just as unpredictable and take a very long time. We are excited to get started with all of this family-building and know what a blessing it is going to be.

All children are a gift.  God has a plan. Those two things are true. As much of a hand as we are having in this process, ultimately, we know it's all in His hands. Understanding that has brought and will continue to bring us a lot of peace along the way.

"...The how and the when don't matter nearly as much as the simple knowing that you were meant to be loved by us. ...And we already do, unconditionally and eternally."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

5 years ago in Cambria, Ca

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

From the Beginning


I wanted to start a blog before I turned 30. So I did.  I’d planned to one day use it to discuss all things baby-making. I thought when I turned 30 I could start the conversation. Then I decided to wait till I was 31, since that is how old my mom was when she had me. But we knew we were still a ways away from really moving forward, and so, we waited.

In that wait time,
...we traveled.
...I became full time at work.
    ...we did research and waited for doors to open.
...we prayed and figured out which doors we would be walking through first.
...we shared our story with close friends and family.
...we continued to breathe.
We continued the journey.

And now I’m 33. (Luis’ favorite number.) I know it’s more typical to say that we took things one day at a time or one step at a time. But there were  moments when we couldn’t step anywhere. For whatever reason, someone had called a “time-out.” And so we’d wait… and though we may not have been moving forward, we always continued to breathe.

Breathe in faith… breathe out fear.
And now we’re ready.  One breath closer, we’re ready to share our journey.
Here it goes…

At the age of about 20, I got news no one expects to hear.
“You’ll never be able to carry a baby.”
Never? Like, never never? The Dr. assured me. Never. In that moment, sitting in his office, holding a picture of my insides that made it very clear... that word gave me a sense of total hopelessness. In my mind he had just said, “You will never be a mother.”
Keep in mind... he just told that to a person who had breast-fed and birthed nearly ALL of her dolls growing up. I played the mommy game. And I played it well.
At the time, the shock prevented me from asking questions or seeking out support.
I remember the day… and I remember driving my ‘89 red corolla around for a really long time. A really long time. And then I found myself at Luis’ house. Out of high school, just over a year… this news was going to end it all.
The relationship was over.

I told him. He listened. I was ready to walk out and he said… with an unnatural certainty that no sophomore in college could ever have… “We’ll have a family one day.” He said more, but that’s all I heard. It was as simple as that.

It was that hope that got me through the last 13 years. Not to say it was easy… not at all. I’ve dealt with my share of major lows in this time, but I came out of it knowing “we’ll have a family one day.” It took years to grieve the loss of a belly I would never have. Once I fully accepted that, I was able to focus on the baby that I one day would have. It was the joy, in that hope that I found, that got me through it.

One other thing that has really helped in just the last year, sharing. We have finally told family and friends about the situation. For years I was terrified that we would be met with tilted, sorrow-filled heads and pity-filled hearts. I could NOT have been more wrong. Everyone has been SO crazy supportive, curious, encouraging, positive, and loving. A few tears, but all filled with joy and excitement (and some laughter) at the thought of seeing Luis and Erika become parents. Everyone thought babies were the last thing on our mind, when really… babies were always the goal. We didn’t want to necessarily discuss it till we had to.

It’s time.

This is for people to follow if they want to stay caught up on our journey.
My hope is that through this blog people will realize that road-blocks in baby-making are a lot more common than people think. We need to take the shame out of it. Just in the last year I have connected with so many others who’ve had their own struggles and it’s been great to connect and add to the collective sense of hope.


It is only fitting that I start writing this returning from Las Vegas. It would serve as a great metaphor for what our life has been like. We have made some major gambles, double downs, stay, parlays. Winning a few here and there along with some losses. However, I hope that our biggest win is still to come. 

I suppose this might be an insight to my thoughts and feelings. They do not come out much on a regular basis. Not that I don’t have any, but more so that I try to keep busy so I don’t have to think about it. Do I feel NUMB? Not really. Just putting things that might cause pain to stay at a distance. This whole process has not brought us pain and I don’t figure it will. We have tried to keep things positive. Understanding that there are no wrong choices or bad outcomes. Things happen just as they are suppose to. With a purpose. With cause. It's tough to think that the things we have decided on doing are the way things are suppose to happen. But God has the plan.
I would hope that if you read any of this, you would get a chance to know what it’s like to be in our situation. We have all been given things to overcome in life. No one gets a free pass. Ours just happens to be one that’s not really discussed socially. Infertility is almost as taboo as sex. Only we don’t really make light of infertility. Unable to have children… yikes, it’s heavy to think about. It’s tough to swallow, the thought of not having a father daughter/son relationship. As much as we may love or hate our parents the fact remains that we have one. At some point all of us think about being parents. It’s in our nature. Our survivability. 
What drives me to be a dad? Relationships. I have this unexplained gut feeling that I HAVE to be a dad. I’m ready to be one. Some of us don’t have a choice in when we do become parents. BUT since we do, I’m happy that it’s starting now. Not for selfish reasons, but for the relationship that I want to build. A life long commitment. An accountability for more than just me. "Aren’t you married?" Ya, and I’m sure Erika would agree that we might love our child beyond the love we know for each other. I want to be part of that.
I would also add that I’m open to talk. We have held this in for more than 10 years. I guess I would like to talk. About whatever. No bad questions. There are no, “should I have not asked?” questions. And if you don’t want to talk, that’s ok too. But encouragement is always appreciated. A hug, handshake, comment, wink, smile, “like,” whatever works.

We’ll add to the story a little bit at a time. For now, we leave you with this:

“As much as we have enjoyed our travels, we have always known that there would one day be an even bigger and more exciting journey ...more rewarding than all of them combined. Our life together, thus far, has been in preparation for our next “trip.” It’s been a preparation for you.”
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

these faces look pretty freakin' excited.