Thursday, April 28, 2016

We all start somewhere...

It has almost been a year since we began writing this blog. For those of you who have been following, you know that sooooo much has happened in that time.... We've come a long way from where we started.

As part of our participation in National Infertility Awareness Week and their #startasking campaign, I've decided to do a re-posting of that very first entry (#tbt). It was a hard one to write because for the first time ever, I was going to be very public about something I had kept very private for so long.

When I was first diagnosed, I didn't ask a single question. I had no idea what to ask. I didn't know where to get support or who I could turn to. I had zero resources at the time and it took me 10 years to build up the courage to start asking questions.

We started this blog, inspired by other women and men, whom we'd found through blogs and support groups, who have helped us not only find answers, but find the right questions. And we haven't stopped asking questions since.

RESOLVE.ORG is an awesome resource and a great place to start asking. I found them a couple of years ago, during NIAW, through a blog I was reading at the time. They are an advocacy group for the infertility community and help bring light to a diverse range of issues. I'm happy to be posting in connection with them today.

So here is our very first entry from May of last year.


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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Nesting & Stressing


This is my first pregnancy. And even though I'm not physically pregnant, (we all know I ate for two during the first 6 months) it's been filled with a whirlwind of emotions (similar to a regular pregnancy, I imagine) and I've been kept busy throughout.

Coming into the world of surrogacy, I wasn't sure exactly what emotions to expect. Would I be jealous? Would I be sad? Would I feel left out? Would I still feel connected to the pregnancy?... I think the further we get, the more I definitely long to see baby, hold baby, talk to baby... and to be totally honest, sometimes that longing makes me feel a little lonely. But because Tina has been so great from day one (letting me feel her belly, talk to Baby, even play Baby music from a Belly playlist I made) I really do feel connected. Tina has been amazing at texting me with updates on how active Baby is and how she's feeling. We have dinners together and hang out. It's been super amazing to have found this new extended family. Literally... every step of the way has been filled with love and assurance. I even felt baby kick a couple of weeks ago. Like a really good one. Tina said, "Do it again Baby..." and then BAM! It was freakin' awesome. I'd felt babies kick in bellies before.... But this was our baby. So amazing. Even more recently I felt baby roll around in there. That one made me squeal! Even Luis got to feel it and he freaked out a little.

But I really have been missing being able to see baby on a screen. It was always really awesome to just watch baby roll and bounce in there. I felt like it was doing it for us. And I guess in that way, I did feel a bit more connected and a part of everything.
The other day I just sat and re-read some of our blog entries and watched all of the videos I'd posted of baby. I'm so glad we've kept this blog. Re-living those moments of total awe and pure joy.
...They really DO grow up SO FAST.

We also recently put together a "birth plan." My only experience with that was Amy Poehler's plan which I absolutely adore hearing her read from her book Yes, Please! Oh, it's so good.
For us, it was a total team effort headed up by our doula. Tina basically checked off lists and preferences for how she'd like to see things go during the labor, all of which I completely trust her judgment on. She knows herself and her body and I will honor any decisions she makes that day. And then we went through a checklist of preferences for once Baby is born.

I didn't know ANYTHING. Like seriously. I was pretty clueless. But I did find a great article that went over all of the interventions post-birth and explained why people choose to do them and why some people choose not to have them done. Super helpful. This whole process was like studying for a test, but afterwards I think we all felt accomplished. We got to talk about expectations... like the cutting of the cord, catching baby, skin to skin contact, how to get baby colostrum... fun stuff. And ultimately, regardless of the "plan" we have, we know that anything can happen. The only thing I know for sure is that in the end, we'll have an itty bitty baby in our life and however he or she decides to make an entrance, it will be a memorable one.

One thing I worried about initially was whether I would even have that "nesting" instinct. The answer was a definite yes.   I have finally gotten to that point in the pregnancy, where I'm feeling antsy and restless. I am at a point where I am just so freaking excited, stressed, and motivated to get everything ready for Baby!

For weeks I stared at paint chips and color swatches. What shade of aqua is the right one!? Some were too blue, or too green, or too gray, or too light, or too bright....
I definitely had a "moment" when I was holding up several different shades for Luis to compare, and then had him hold them up for me, so I could look at it from a distance..... It was happening.... We were picking out colors for our nursery. I felt like Jennifer Garner in Juno when she's stressing over the perfect shade of yellow.

And once I found the right color, I was stressed over the mess that I found in the nursery once remodeling got started. It looks like a disaster (it is) and so it's been kind of unsettling wanting to preoccupy myself with trying to get Baby's space ready and not being able to.
Yeah, that's a door.
Thankfully, a friend came by a couple of weeks ago and helped me paint. After getting the color on the walls, I felt a bit of relief. I had done something. Something that, to me, mattered and made things a little more real. I felt just a little bit closer.

One of my favorite things in the nursery is going to be this footstool.
Found it first at Land of Nod, but then found it at World Market on sale!
As much as I wished that I could experience all of the pregnancy part of parenthood, I know that all of this "nesting" and stressing is also all part of it, and knowing that Tina is taking such good care of Baby gives me peace amidst the mess.

"Baby, I hope more than anything, when we meet that you will know us as your parents. That you will feel connected to us and feel at home in our arms. We have spent years praying for you and the last few months getting ready for your arrival. I cannot even begin to fathom what that moment is going to be like! Seeing your face!? Oh... I. Can't. Even. But we will. Very soon. It will be the best day ever. And in that moment, there will be no stress, no worry. Only love, in overwhelming amounts." 
---excerpt from a letter to our baby