Friday, June 7, 2013
June 6th, 8:15 PM
One by one.
Only twelve more to go.
"Jimmi! Are you coming down?"
"We still have like ten minutes to go. Relax!"
I refreshed Facebook for the thousandth time. Not much had changed in four minutes. I checked my e-mail again. No one had written.
I decided to reread the Home Study Report Tara had sent us this morning, which detailed her visit to Lily and her husband, Jason's house last night. Tara had not one negative word to say, and even after picking it apart sentence by sentence, I still couldn't find anything wrong with these people. Could this really be be happening for us?
"Jimmi! It's time! Bring the other phone when you come in here, please."
Jimmi entered the kitchen, phone in hand. "Are you nervous?" I asked as I dialed the number Tara had e-mailed me. "No, not really. I'm sure it'll be fine." I heard the automated voice prompt me to enter my conference call PIN and I carefully punched in the numbers, took a deep breath and hit the pound key.
"Hello!" Tara sang as the automated service announced our arrival. "Lily and I are here, so now we're just waiting for Jason to call in." There was a bit of silence on the line as we waited, but it was quickly broken as Jason entered the conference.
"Good, we're all here," Tara said. "Before we begin, I just want to go over everything we'll be talking about tonight. You'll all introduce yourselves and then we'll discuss what brought all of you to the decision to begin this journey. After that we'll talk about what you expect of your relationship before, during and after the pregnancy. Then we'll go over any medical questions you may have and discuss your support system and then I'll open it up to any other questions we may not have covered. So, Lily, let's start with you. Why don't you introduce yourself."
Lily started to speak and I thought to myself, 'This could be the voice my unborn baby will hear every day until she's born.' I listened as she told about her job in the donor services department of the hospital, where she collects blood and platelets that will be given to others in need. She talked about her two children and let us know that she and Jason still live in the town where she grew up. Though it doesn't matter to the welfare of our baby, I was thrilled to hear that Lily was very well-spoken and clearly had an education. Jason spoke next. He, too, sounded perfectly normal, like a down-to-Earth, good-natured guy who would give you the shirt off his back. Then it was my turn.
What should I say? If I make a bad impression, they could decide not to carry for us. Then we'll be back to step one! Why am I so nervous? I've never had trouble making friends. Hell, I've never had trouble talking at all! Just say something, Suzanne!
"Hi, I'm Suzanne. I grew up in New Jersey and I lived in New York while I was in college at Syracuse University. I also lived in New York City for a few summers while I was interning. I worked in the music industry for a few years until I got married the first time and had my kids." Should I have mentioned the first marriage? Was that a turn-off? Well, they know I have kids so I guess mentioning the circumstances in which they were born isn't off limits, right? "After I had the kids I left work to be a full-time mom. I met Jimmi about seven years ago. Then, two years ago, four months before our wedding, I found out I had a super rare form of cervical cancer. I had to have a hysterectomy and radiation and chemo. I wore a wig at my wedding, but we got married!" Ok, Suzanne, put a cork in it. Let someone else talk. Have I mentioned my habit of nervous chatter?
Lily jumped in, "I saw your wedding pictures in the profile Tara sent us. I never would've known you were wearing a wig. You looked beautiful." Awww. That was sweet. Then she continued, "And I actually think we have the same wedding date. I read some parts of your blog (my original blog about my cancer journey) and I think it's the same. September third, right?" How random is that? Maybe it's a sign! They got married on September 3rd, we got married on September 3rd, logically, that means she needs to have our babies for us, doesn't it?
And then Jimmi was called upon to speak for the first time. I'll admit, I was a little bit worried about what might come out of his mouth. Jimmi is a super sweet guy with a huge heart, but sarcasm is a big thing with him and to someone who doesn't know him, it may not be taken well. "Hi, I'm Jimmi. I grew up in Upstate New York, near Woodstock. I'm a drummer. I love all animals. I have a younger brother and both of my parents are still alive." Whew! Ok, he did well.
Tara took over the reigns again and asked if any of us had any questions for each other before continuing on. Jason did. "I have a question for Jimmi. Who have you played drums for?" I saw the sparkle in my husband's eyes as the chance to talk about touring the country and playing in front of thousands of people presented itself.
"Ok, if no one has any other questions, let's move on," Tara directed. "Suzanne, since you already spoke about what brought you to this journey, maybe we can hear from Lily about how she decided she wanted to be a surrogate." Lily explained how she started thinking about helping another couple's dreams come true after her son was born, five years ago. Then she really looked into it three years ago, after she gave birth to her daughter. But it seemed to be fate that brought Lily to her first experience actually carrying a baby for someone else when she saw a post from her cousin on Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in being a surrogate for her and her husband. Lily offered to help and the miracle baby was born in December 2012. The joy in seeing her cousin's happiness led Lily to her decision to bring a child to another couple in need.
This woman is amazing.
But Lily isn't the only one making this decision. Jason supports her decision as well, and wants to be totally involved in all aspects of the ride. Ok, so far everything sounded copacetic. Now we had to figure out our involvement in a resulting pregnancy. Oh, PLEASE let them want us to be a part of everything. PLEASE!
"We want them to be involved and come to any appointments they can make," Lily began. Ok, good start. "My cousin and her husband were there for everything, so it wouldn't be weird for me." Tara broke in, "What about the birth? Would you feel comfortable having them in the room during delivery?" This was the question I needed answered. I mean, I'd assumed any carrier would probably be ok with me being there, but Jimmi was another story. Would it be uncomfortable to have some random guy in there watching her give birth? Seriously, at that point about 50 people will have been up the poor woman's cooch, but Jimmi isn't a doctor or a nurse or any part of the medical team. But he would be the baby's father. I would really want him to be there. "Oh, absolutely," Lily immediately replied. "I would expect them to be there. When I did this for my cousin, Jason originally didn't want her husband in the room. I looked at him and asked if the roles were reversed and it was HIS baby, wouldn't he want to be there for the birth? And that totally made him understand." Jason added, "Now I'd find it weird if the baby's father WASN'T there to watch." Could this really be happening? "I just hope I don't pass out!" Jimmi joked, "I saw that video in health class and it scared the shit outta me!" I shot him a look and he quickly rephrased, "I mean crap!"
It felt like we were all on the same page...so far.
"Lily, what kind of relationship do you hope to have with the intended parents before, during and after the pregnancy?" Tara questioned. Again I held my breath, hoping Lily's reply would match our desires. "Well, I would hope it could become a friendship. We really want a couple we can get along with and easily talk to." The same question was directed at me regarding our carrier. "Obviously you can't force a friendship, but I hope that's what it could become. Someone who would have a big enough heart to carry another couple's baby is clearly an amazing person, so I would think a friendship would easily happen. We want to know everything that's going on with the pregnancy without being annoying, if that's possible. Ideally, we'd love to be at every appointment, but being in two different states could make that difficult. And after the pregnancy I would hope to keep in touch and send photos of the baby. I mean, this is a pretty huge deal. I don't expect to be like, hey! Thanks for the kid. See ya later!" After a few giggles on the line, Lily said, "By the way, my OB is really great. He did an ultrasound at every appointment and took lots of pictures for my cousin. I'm sure he can do that again so you'd be able to see everything, even if you couldn't be there."
"Ok, I don't really need to go over the medicines and injections that Lily will need because she and Jason are familiar with the process from their past experience. But I do need to talk about a very uncomfortable subject because it's important that we're all on the same page," Tara explained. "What is everyone's feeling about selective reduction? I know Suzanne and Jimmi are hoping to implant two embryos, which may or may not lead to twins. But there is a small chance the embryos could split and you'd have triplets or quadruplets. What are your thoughts? Suzanne?" As I watched the blood drain from Jimmi's face, I responded, "You should see Jimmi right now! ha! But seriously, if everyone is healthy, meaning babies and carrier, there's no way we'd reduce just to have less children. But if there is a health risk to anyone we'd really have to think about what's best. Our goal here is to have a baby, not put anyone in danger." Then Tara asked another question, "What if there is just one baby but find out there's a severe defect and the child wouldn't ever be able to live a fulfilling life?" The answers I gave at that moment could definitely make or break this union. I didn't want to offend anyone, but I had to be honest. If we end up in that situation, having a surprise change of heart could be devastating for everyone involved. I answered, "Well, honestly, I would never want to have a child who lives in constant pain or can't enjoy life. It's just not fair to the baby. We'd really have to think about it, but we'd want the option to terminate if it's in the best interest of the child." Was that a terrible thing to say? Tara asked Lily the same question. Lily said, "I really had to think about this one. But in the end we've decided we'd leave the decision up the the parents."
Does she really mean that or did I just blow it with my honesty?
"Ok," Tara announced, "I hate that question so let's quickly move on!" From that point on everything went pretty smoothly. We discussed our support systems to make sure our families and friends were on board. They asked what Dylan and Justin thought about this possibility and I told them how excited they were. Then I asked Lily what she had told her kids when she helped her cousin out last year. "Well, my daughter was too young to really understand. I told my son that my cousin had a broken tummy and my tummy was good for making babies, so the doctor took her tiny baby and put it into my tummy to grow and I would give it back when it's ready." That was a great answer. "And about five minutes later he came back and asked how they got the baby into my tummy! We told him it was magic!"
It kind of seems like magic, doesn't it?
As the conversation came to a close, Tara let us all know that we should take some time to think about everything and decide if this would be a good match for us. It was Thursday night and she asked us to please give her an answer by Monday. Of course, if we made our decision before then, we were invited to let her know sooner. "I've had couples hang up the phone and immediately send me an email with their answer, but you don't need to do that." Little Miss Impatient was sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear, "You're totally gonna do that." I flicked her off like a mosquito so I could say my goodbyes to Lily and Jason. And as we were hanging up, Jason let out a totally sincere and heartfelt sentiment, "No matter what happens, know we're praying for you and hoping everything will be ok." I'm not the most religious person in the world, but I always accept prayers. And I just knew...
These were good people.
We hung up the phone and I gave Jimmi the doe-eyed stare. "They seemed really nice," he said. Little Miss Impatient was sitting on my shoulder again. "So? Can I e-mail Tara and say yes?" Never one to rush into anything, he replied, "We don't have to answer until Monday. Let's just think about it." I was annoyed. "What's to think about? We want a baby, I can't have a baby, this selfless woman and her husband have agreed to help us have a baby. And, from the sound of it, it seems like the two of you would really enjoy having a few beers while I take Lily on her first trip to New York City!" He agreed, "I know, but I don't want to sound too desperate." Dude! We ARE desperate! "Desperate would've been accepting the first, or ANY of the candidates from Agency A. This match is perfect. They are exactly what we've been looking for." If I've learned anything about Jimmi over the last seven years, it's not to push him on important decisions. Even if he knows exactly what he wants, he always takes a day or two to let it sink in before giving his final answer. I wasn't worried that he'd reject Lily and Jason, I was just anxious and wanted him to accept them RIGHT NOW!
But I had to wait.
And I didn't only have to wait on Jimmi's official, "Yes!" I also had to wait and see if Lily and Jason still wanted to do this for us. What if we gave the wrong answers? What if Jimmi's accidental "shit" was the deal breaker? Maybe something about us just rubbed them the wrong way? They were just as much a part of this decision as we were. It could be totally possible that they would turn us down.
I went to bed wondering how it would all turn out...
Luckily for my wonderful readers I was too tired to finish this entry last night. Know what that means? It means you don't have to endure another cliffhanger to read what happened next!
Jimmi had to go into the city for rehearsal today and he left before we had a chance to talk. When he got there he texted me, "It's raining so there wasn't any street parking. Had to put the car in the garage and it's gonna cost a fortune!" I took my opportunity, "That sucks. I won't be mad at you if you let me answer Tara now." I laughed at my marvelous ability to throw a nag into any conversation. The response Beep! was much quicker than I'd expected. "Yes!! Grumble!!" he wrote, and I could almost picture him shaking his head with the knowledge that I'd never allow him to make me wait any longer than he already had. "Really??" I replied, but didn't bother to wait for his confirmation before emailing Tara: "If Lily and Jason are on board, so are we!"
What if they're not "on board"? Or what if they've decided not to give Tara their decision until Monday. How will I hold Little Miss Impatient at bay?
Tara wrote back:
"Ha. They emailed me as soon as you were off the phone saying they would be honored to go on this journey with you!!!
I will send you both the next steps by the end of the day.