Friday, December 25, 2015

Last Christmas


We're thankful for this Christmas season and looking forward to the ones ahead.  This is officially our last Christmas together as two. Everything will be different next year and I'm excited and nervous for it all. (I've been eating my way through the excitement and have definitely gained some... a ton... of sympathy weight. At my birthday earlier this month my dad asked, "So... are you eating for two also?")

This season has been filled with baby stuff already... thinking about baby, researching stuff about baby, thinking about what baby is gonna need, receiving so many new and loved gifts for baby, and spending time talking and sharing our anticipation with everyone. Even my dad has started to come around and ask more questions and told me he'd been suppressing his excitement, but that he finally feels like he can share his happiness.

Even with all the business of the season, we were able to take time and celebrate.

Tina, thank you for helping us pick out our Christmas tree this year!
Your kiddos did a good job finding the perfect one!
And thank you for coming over for some delicious Abuelita's hot chocolate and cookies.
You guys are welcome any time.
(And Shiela... thank you for the mug!)
We'll be heading to Mexico this New Years and I'm excited to welcome 2016 with our family for the first time in a long time. I think they're excited to share the love for baby also!

To all of you reading...
Thank you for taking time to follow our story and watch it all unfold. We hope you all have a safe and happy New Year.

2016 is going to be a life changer.

"I cannot wait to celebrate Christmas with you and start all of our own brand new traditions as a family and share the old ones with you too. We're a big crazy family. You're going to LOVE it."
---excerpt from a letter to our baby

Thursday, December 10, 2015

We Graduated!


We had our last visit with our fertility clinic a few weeks ago. It was filled with mixed emotions. Over the the last year we have developed a deeper relationship with everyone there, something more than business and client with our clinic. The faces have become familiar. Their voices and tendencies a bit more expected. The conversations about coffee, forms, and appointments that we would hear from the other side of the counter were calming. It would also mean the last time for the “Magic Wand,” and Tina was closer to ending the daily painful injections. We were graduating.

The last time we had seen Dr. Lin was at our transfer. He had been in a very positive cheerful mood during our second transfer and it was the same for this last meeting. As we watched our baby on the monitor, there were smiles on everyone’s faces. It’s hard not to smile. We got to see our little one dance and hear their heartbeat. I’m just as amazed as the first time, each time we're able to get a sneak peek at our baby.

After the ultrasound, we had a final meeting with our doctor in his office. I asked the question again about what had made this attempt different from the first transfer. I asked him knowing that he would do his famous graphs and statistics (which he did). From the math that he did and all of the explanations he presented, the answer to my question ultimately had no answer. Which made me, in a weird sense, happy. We have taken a very scientific journey to grow our family, but even with all of these high tech tools, life is not always guaranteed. Our little one has truly been a miracle.


Watching our doctor draw and scribble down notes and diagrams while always explaining each step in the process is something I'm definitely going to miss. On a few occasions, I'd asked to keep some of the notes... trying to decipher it was more complicated than I'd thought. 

We went back right after Thanksgiving to drop off a few little things for the office. It was funny to see their surprised faces when we walked in. We gave the office staff a Starbucks gift card to get their early morning fix which we knew was crucial to their workflow. They were always there by like 6am and even at that early in the morning, they would have smiles on their faces and be ready for the day. We also got them flowers to match the office and the blondie bars I'd made for the very first transfer.

For our doctor, we got him a little globe for his shelf (just like one we have in our living room) and a passport of chocolates from around the world, to thank him for playing such a huge role in helping us along this journey. He was there for us, despite personal family issues I know he was dealing with, and we are just so grateful to him for his guidance and honesty.  We had faith that he was the best choice for us, especially after running into family friends in the waiting room 9months ago, right before we'd decided to go with his clinic. And in the end you could hear such genuine joy in his voice when we saw the baby dance around at our last appointment.

Though these were tiny gestures of gratitude, there really was no way to ever express our joy and appreciation for all that they have done... They handled all of the stressed out emails, constant questions, and scatter-brained moments with ease and thoughtfulness and that really helped us get through.


The following week we had our appointment with the actual OB office. We were moving on up in the world and, personally, I was nervous and didn't know what to expect.

Would they let Luis and I be part of the process? Would they talk to all three of us during the appointments? Would they care what Luis and I had to say? Would they welcome this new dynamic into the office? Would it be uncomfortable or weird?... I know... so many negative questions. I was just nervous that Luis and I would be brushed aside if we ended up working with an office that didn't have experience with a surrogacy situation. Thankfully, our agency provided Tina with a list of offices that they've worked with and so that put my mind at ease a bit. And honestly, the most important thing for us, is that Tina and our baby get the best care possible.

So... we're at the appointment and they called Luis and I back to the room so we could hear the heartbeat. A plus to being at the OB is that all checks were now ontop of the belly (no more "Magic Wand")... but using tools that had probably been used before I was even born.

For about 5 minutes (though it seemed like an eternity) the nurse used this old Doppler thing (no monitor, just sound) to try to let us hear the heart.

We were sitting in silence for that entire time. Nothing was getting picked up besides Tina's heartbeat.
The silence was excruciating.

...I felt like throwing up, my heart was racing, and the room was getting hot.  We were all silent, holding our breath, trying to hear a hint of it. Nothing. After a couple of minutes had passed, I started praying. A couple more minutes passed.  Thoughts jumbled up in my head. This is not how I expected the appointment to go. At all other visits (when the nurse had "direct access") there was never any issue hearing the heart. It always sounded so strong.

"Where are you baby?"

Eventually the nurse decided to call in the physician's assistant. She came in right away, rolling in a huge ultrasound machine from the 80s. With this machine we would get an image, but no sound. She came in with a smile and got straight to work. Initially the screen was facing her, but once she got set up, she turned it around for us.

As soon as I saw the screen I shouted out "BABY!" And my eyes instantly darted towards baby's chest. It was the most beautiful, glowing, little flickering heartbeat.

Huge Exhale.... 

Our first selfie with the baby!

And really after all of this, I could not have been happier with how the appointment went.
(Also, I found out later that this is totally normal and happens at most early appointments. 
Thanks for the head's up!) 

We didn't get to meet the official OB, but the nurses, the physician's assistant, and the office staff were so helpful and friendly. The nurse who was with us for the appointment initially seemed a little distant and serious, but I kept smiling extra huge, and straight at her. I could see it was starting to breaking her down. By the end she was cracking jokes and was really awesome. 

The most important thing for me was to see how they all worked with the dynamics of our situation. They didn't just talk to us, they didn't just talk to Tina. They were talking to all of us. When they'd ask questions, the three of us would look at each other blankly, like... "Well... what do you  think?" It was kinda funny. Then they asked what questions we had... I didn't write them down... and after our little hide-and-seek session with the baby, all of my questions went out the window. Again, we all looked at each other.... Clearly we could have been more prepared, but my nerves got the best of me and I mostly just wanted to see if we all meshed. We did. And that answered my biggest question. 

Before we left, the physician's assistant looked at all of us and said, "Don't worry. From here on out, it's easy. No need to worry. It's easy." It was really nice to hear such positivity and see how supportive she was. Hoping our OB is the same.

Got home to find an envelope on our kitchen table.
It was a card from his sister, whom we haven't really seen much of over the last few months. 

Needless to say... instant tears. It had been an emotional week, as I'd also witnessed an amazing friend give birth, and after the Doppler fiasco, the card just pushed me over the edge. Luis walked over to me and recognized that instantly. He let me cry and rubbed my back. 

Huge exhale....

"Little baby of ours... you are a "tough cookie." You're also a sneaky cookie. I realize that you were probably shy because we were at a new office, with new people, but please... no more hide-and-seek till you get here, ok?"
---excerpt from a letter to our baby