Saturday 15 December 2012

5th Birthday Party

Five years ago (specifically, this past Thursday), my life changed forever and for the better. My son turned 5 this past Thursday - as mentioned, his birthday party was held today, Saturday. In previous years, I held his birthday party in late November because December is such a busy month for everyone but this year I decided to stick to the Saturday closest to his birthday.

For his first and second birthday party, I rented adjoining rooms in two different community centres. For his third and fourth birthday party, I rented an entire play centre. For this birthday, I went back to a community centre - the room I rented was for a maximum of 165. The party was small with only 11 kids (a few kids were sick and couldn't make it) but it was nice having the large space to ensure the kids had a lot of space to safely play. The adults also had a lot of fun. I rented four hours which included set-up and clean-up - it came with two party leaders who manned the arts and crafts table. They also pulled out the gym playground equipment including tables, chairs, decorations, and kid-sized, foot-powered vehicles. The room also had a stage up front and an adjoining kitchen. Since it was held after lunch, I only had some snacks (prawn chips, cookies, chips, mini bread sticks and cheese dip, pretzels, etc.) and beverages out (bottled water, fruit boxes, pop). Instead of cake, I decided to go with cupcakes with each letter of "Happy Birthday" on one cupcake. Four dozen cupcakes in total.

The balloon artist was great - she was advanced meaning she did more than the boring typical hat or sword. I've included a photo of one of my son's many balloons. The airbrush tattoo artist - who was also at my son's first and second birthday - was also great. Here's my son's cool spider tattoo. Kids went home with party favours in a plastic treasure chest they (or their parents) decorated with decorative jewels. Of course, my son received several gifts - as mentioned, we will go through the ones he wants to keep, donate an equivalent number of older toys, and donate the gifts he doesn't want. Yes, I don't believe in re-gifting. Overall, it was a long day but fun. Of course, what makes it special is seeing the smile on my son's face and the laughter coming from him.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Sunday 9 December 2012

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Just wanted to take this moment to wish everyone a safe, Happy Holiday Season! I feel very privileged and honoured to have met awesome people, followed some incredible journeys via blogs, and been part of something very special - surrogacy in India. Although my journey does not have a happy ending just yet, the journey I have taken so far has been an incredible blessing. So a big thank you to everyone who has been part of my journey in one way or another. Many 2013 bring you all many moments of happiness, joy, and success in all your endeavours, wishes, and dreams!

As always, thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 8 December 2012

Waiting Before Deciding

Wow, it's been a full week since I last blogged. Just crazy busy, preparing to go on my year-long parental leave starting next month including recruiting for my temporary replacement. Not much going on in terms of SCI surrogacy. I have a few account-related questions so been waiting patiently for a response before making a decision on next steps. Apparently, the account manager is away this month so it's been difficult getting a response from them. Given the delay in getting my answers, I will most likely wait a bit before trying again - I have 9 embryos remaining. I was hoping to have a third child soon after my second but waiting is fine too. I look forward to building a strong bond with my daughter, and watching her bond with her big brother.

All is well with my baby via surrogacy here in Canada. We are heading into the 33rd week. Given her advanced progress, we suspect we can have my surrogate induced mid to late January! Baby will most likely be above 9 pounds. Also, my son is turning 5 next week. For his pirate-themed birthday party, I rented out an indoor space (which can hold over 200 people) so the 14 kids and 30 or so adults have a lot of room to move around. There will be gym equipment, kid vehicles, balloon artist, airbrush tattoo artist, etc. Cake, cupcakes, and helium balloons ordered. I go big with his birthday parties but it only happens once a year. His birthday is also close to Christmas so to teach him charity, when new toys come into the house, "old" ones are donated to charity. This also keeps the toy inventory in check and my household looking like it belongs in a magazine :)

I'm still following the blogs and happy to read things are going well or progressing. Best wishes to all especially my Aussie crew that I met in India. I'm bummed that I cannot join them in India but I will surely make a visit to Oz in a couple of years or so. I also wanted to thank  everyone for their support and well wishes when I found out that I lost my baby with my Indian surrogate.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 1 December 2012

Sad & Disappointing News

So I got one of those "URGENT" emails. Unfortunately given the time difference and the fact that I was travelling on the road for work, I was not able to connect with Dr. S directly via phone. She did leave me a message so I knew she tried calling.

So it is sad and disappointing news - no heartbeat was found during this most recent ultrasound. When you get the good news, sometimes you feel like you are still dreaming. When you get the sad news, it also feels like you might be dreaming as well, or more accurately you are having a nightmare and hoping to wake up. Also, each loss is equally devastating no matter your personal circumstances - of course, I feel blessed with what I already have but in no way does that make this sad news easier to handle. I found this photo which represents how I feel right now.

After writing all of that, I am a matter-of-fact individual who logically focuses on what's next. Not that I don't wonder what went wrong but I also know even if that question can be answered, it won't make me personally feel any better - I appreciate that might not be the case for everyone. I also truly believe, what is meant to be, will be. So where do I go from here? Well, I'm not sure just yet. I will take the weekend or so to think about it. My goal was to have another baby close to the birth of my second child - I might have just slipped out of that time frame.

Also, although I personally wanted to finish having kids in my early 40s - I am 41 now - I might extend that time frame to mid-40s. I have 9 embryos left so at least two or three more tries. But again, I want to take the weekend or so to decide if I want to try again right now. In the meantime, ALL my thoughts and prayers now shift to my Aussie friends, and hope each of their little beans continue to grow. They are such wonderful people and I have no doubt they will make wonderful parents! Plus I want to thank them as well as other SCI clients for your invaluable, priceless ongoing support. It means a lot to me.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Irish Twins

I should receive my next scan update from SCI sometime today, Delhi time. In the meantime, I'm working on a presentation for tomorrow and hoping I will get some sleep before heading to the airport around 5:30am or so. At least, I will have a relaxing weekend, doing more organizing in preparing for the arrival of my baby girl in a couple of months. Sometimes I think I am still dreaming especially since I am also blessed with another baby from India.

It also has hit me recently that if all goes according to plan, I will be having "Irish twins". If each baby reaches full term, they will be born just over 5 months apart. I don't use the term "Irish twins" in disrespect but use it to refer to siblings born within twelve months of each other. As I repeat it again in my mind, I feel very blessed but also am very aware of how busy I will be as a single parent of three. Yet, I find this all quite exciting - ask me later in the year :) I will have to use my extraordinary organizational and planning skills!

Although 5 months is not a long time, I am happy that I will have that time in between baby #2 and baby #3. Yes, there are advantages of having twins born at or around the same time but I am happy that my son and I will get 5 months of bonding time with just baby #2. That's also enough time to get into a routine with baby #2 and just get back into the infant care swing of things. I appreciate baby #3 might throw that routine out the door but we'll cross that bridge if and when we get to it :)

Like most twins (Irish, identical, or fraternal), I assume these two will be close growing up. Not that there's anything wrong with it but I don't plan on dressing them alike. There's also less temptation to dress them alike because they may not look much alike given that they come from two different egg donors of different ethnicity.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 24 November 2012

Baby Girl Ultrasounds

I am entering into Week 31 with my surrogacy on home soil (and into Week 8 with my India surrogacy). All is well with my surrogacy here in Canada. My surrogate does not live in the same city but I still try to visit her and attend the doctor's appointments whenever I can especially if I am in her city on business.

I look at my pregnancy calendar and cannot believe how much time has gone by. People often ask if I am excited since the due date is fast approaching. I tell them I am but it's also a little different with your second one. Same level of excitement - woohoo - but just different. Also, because I plan on taking a full year off, I've been super uber beyond busy at work trying to not only get things done before I go on leave but also find (and ultimately train and culturize) my temporary replacement.

Anyway, it's all good. Here are a couple of ultrasound photos of my baby girl at 29 weeks - one is 2D and the other 3D. She was hiding quite a bit but the technician was still able to get a few good shots. This was my surrogate's second time getting a private ultrasound, and most likely our last. We have one final diagnostic ultrasound with our doctor at 36 weeks to check the baby's progress. We had asked for this because my son was 10 lbs 2 oz at birth (blame it on the Dutch genes) so if my baby girl is measuring similarly, there's a chance we will induce. At the last appointment, the doctor said she looks to be on track for 9 lbs plus. As long as she is healthy, that is all that matters.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 22 November 2012

Formula Feeding vs. Breastfeeding

This is always an interesting topic because everyone has an opinion on it and there's a lot of emotion around it as well. I will be bold enough to say that most of the emotionally delivered opinions are from the PRO-breastfeeding and ANTI-formula feeding people. After saying that, I respect that everyone has their own opinions about the topic even though I may not agree with them or even listen when their opinions are delivered in way similar to drill sergeants or bible-thumping pastors.

I'm not going to talk much about the pros and cons of what I call the "Boob versus Bottle" debate - you can find that information easily online. Instead, I will share my experiences as a parent of a formula-fed baby who is now turning 5 years old next month. I hope by sharing my experience, it will help relax anxious parents or parents-to-be with formula-fed babies (whether you have a choice or not) and assure your babies won't turn out to be stupid, unhealthy, ugly, unpopular burdens on society. God knows that there's a lot of finger-waving, preaching, fear mongering people out there who want to make you believe so and feel uber guilty.

I don't deny the benefits of breastfeeding. A plethora of reports and studies support that - and man, do I love studies as someone who has completed two degrees including a statistically heavy thesis with uber amounts of data and analysis. I openly admit that I am an information whore! Given this, if one decides to or has the opportunity to breastfeed (or use breast milk), I fully support that. After saying that, if one decides not to (I believe to each their own) or cannot provide breast milk (like many of us SCI clients), formula is just fine.

Keep in mind, even with studies, it's all about tendencies and probabilities. That's why you never see words like "will do this" but you see words like "can do this". For example, just because your baby receives breast milk, there's no guarantee that your baby won't have ear infections. It means breast milk can (not will) lower the occurrence of ear infections - you still have babies, who are given breast milk, develop ear infections. Breast milk may also protect children against allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. But we all know children who were breastfed who have allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. You get what I am saying. There are just so other factors that may contribute to these medical conditions, both environmental and genetic.

Yes, we want to give our babies a good start to life even if it's only a possibility and not a guarantee; however, if our babies don't get breast milk, it's not the end of the world. My son was formula fed since birth and he has never had an ear infection or many of the other cited medical conditions *knock on wood*. He was never sick as a baby, rarely sick as a toddler, and as a preschooler, he tends to be good as well even with the sick classmates (who their REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD parents willingly and knowingly drop off at school). You can probably guess my stance on this side issue :)

So again, I appreciate that breast milk can provide a good start but never think formula means that's it for your child. Formula can never replace breast milk but formula has come a long way. You are also not feeding your baby some toxin (although I'm sure some would disagree with me). In the end, I am not here to encourage or discourage the use of breast or formula milk when available. I am here to say that formula is just fine and that looking out for our children's health and safety does not just start and end at the baby stage - it continues for many years after that.

PS - I will add, for my son, I did try three brands before I found one that worked for him. Each brand also has different types (e.g., regular versus lactose-free). What you select just depends on your little one. This motivates me to bring different brands with me for baby pick-up if all progresses according to plan; however, I don't recall if the stores at Select Citywalk offers multiple brands for sale.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Monday 19 November 2012

Aren't You Single?

I've blogged before about why single parenting works for me but I wanted to blog about the not-so-serious side of being and becoming a parent as a single gay male. Honestly, this can be its own blog so I hope it won't be too long. The simple fact is that my certain aspects of my profile confuses different samples of the general population when you add "parent" to my profile. Where to begin?!? LOL!

Before I do start, I want to make it clear that, in general, most strangers and acquaintances are polite - they are more curious than anything else but sometimes they will throw in their unsolicited opinions. Nothing that bothers me really - I don't give unimportant people any power over my emotions. Also, I will not write much about why people get confused - there are so many reasons and this would become one heck of a long post and who wants to read a mega-long post :)

Let's start with the SINGLE aspect of my profile. Those who don't know I'm single, say "congratulations to you and your wife/partner" when they find out I'm having a child. But they get confused when I tell them, I'm single. For those who know I have a son, the majority assume I was once married - usually to a woman - and I have full custody of my son. So there's confusion when they find out that I am having another child. Then there are others (single, in a relationship, or married) who cannot imagine why I would want to choose to be a parent on my own.

Secondly, there's the GAY aspect of my profile. Here, I confuse both gay and straight people. Some straight people cannot imagine why a gay person would want kids. And yes, some straight people also believe a gay person should never have kids - that's yet another separate blog. On the flip side, some gay people cannot imagine why I as a gay male would want kids. Finally, the MALE aspect of my profile confuses some. Some people find it difficult to understand why parenting is so important to a male - only females have that innate desire to have and raise children.

Now throw these aspects together: SINGLE GAY MALE parent and boom, it's a ball of confusion :) The interesting thing is, becoming and being a parent is not confusing for me at all. It's crystal clear and just right. I feel my world is just perfectly how it should be. In fact, people's negative and illogical responses and reactions are the only confusing things to me but I don't logic the illogical. In the same breath, I do appreciate that everyone comes from different backgrounds and possesses different thoughts and emotions. It is what makes us human.

More confusion? Oh yes, when I add surrogacy into the mix = SINGLE GAY MALE pursuing SURROGACY, there's even more confusion because surrogacy is very new to many people or they only hear the bad surrogacy stories. Add to that people's personal opinions about surrogacy, and you have yet another separate blog :)

In the end, no matter what others might believe and say, no matter what you hear and read, you know your calling in life when you find it. The road may not be an easy one to fulfill that calling but that light at the end of the tunnel is what keeps us going and motivated to reach that dream. I hope everyone in SCI Land is doing well, whichever phase you are in with your journey!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 17 November 2012

Leftover Frozen Embryos

With my current pregnancy on home soil, it was a result of implanting my final two frozen embryos, which had been frozen for about 5 years. Of course, I made the decision to pay 5 years of storage fees not knowing but hoping that I would try again for another child. My goal was to always have at least two children if so blessed otherwise one would have been perfectly fine. I know that siblings don't always get along but I really wanted my son to have a sibling who he could have the opportunity to continue growing with and reminisce about the past and re-live all the good memories. Yes, my son will have his cousins and hopefully a spouse but there's something special about sibling relationships when they work. In the end, I do not have to make the decision of what to do with any remaining embryos at my previous clinic because I have none.

With SCI, although it's early in the pregnancy with my little bean, it has crossed my mind what I will do with my 9 remaining frozen embryos if everything continues going according to plan. I could continue storing them especially if I'm not 100% sure that I'm done having kids although I think three children as a single parent (even with the support that I do have) at the age of 41 makes for a happy, busy, and fun life. There's also the financial considerations for some. But what if I decide not to continue storing them? The typical options include:

  • Donating them to research
  • Donating them to infertile couples (or a single person)
  • Discarding them
  • Combination of any of the above

One could discuss the ethical and moral considerations but ultimately, it is up to those who these embryos belong to. Some research studies do indicate that those who used donor eggs have a higher tendency to donate leftover frozen embryos, which makes sense. There are many thoughts and questions that go through my mind when I think about this - I'm sure those of you who are in the same boat share those same thoughts and questions. In the end, when the time comes for all of us who are faced with this decision, we will make the decision that is right for us.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 16 November 2012

Heartbeat Scan Update

Right on schedule, I received an email from SCI. They sent it at 5:08am and something internal made me get up at 5:16am. I'm not an early bird by any means. So when I saw I had an email from them on my Blackberry - yes, not an iPhone user just yet - I held my breath, said my usual "what's meant to be, will be" in my mind, and opened the email.

To my surprise and delight, I finally saw my "rainbow" - the colourful email that I've seen other clients receive. The little bean is measuring 6w1d with a heart rate of 144 beats per minute. I'm very grateful to my surrogate M, Dr. S and her staff, and for the good news. I'm crossing my fingers that the positive news continues. The next scan is in two weeks - I can't believe December is just around the corner! PS - What makes this all even more special is that my Aussie Posse (C&T and N&S) are also pregnant. Yay for them! I hope I&D are doing well too!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 15 November 2012

Britax Chaperone & B-Ready

I should receive some news soon regarding my surrogate's heartbeat scan. Until then, it's time to start thinking about getting an infant car seat and stroller for baby #2 on home soil. I still have my son's awesome Britax Marathon car seat (he is now in a Britax Parkway) but you can't carry the Marathon around like an infant car seat. I sold his old infant car seat some time ago - many car and booster seats have a useful life up to 6 years with some as high as 9 years. I also sold his stroller pretty early on, as he outgrew that pretty quickly. My son is currently around 46" tall and just shy of  his 5th birthday (at the time of this post). This time around, I have to think a bit more strategically, meaning that I might have two little ones 5 plus months apart... and I may not. I could borrow an infant car seat and stroller until I know for sure I will be having two (i.e., after the birth of baby #3 in India) but I need a new set anyway.

There are many awesome brands out there such as Graco, Chicco, and UPPAbaby to just name a few but as you can probably guess, I am a fan of Britax. Putting that aside, I reviewed double strollers and single strollers that can convert to a double, specifically looking at those that you can configure in several ways. In the end, I focused on single strollers that could convert into a double if required. This makes sense since I don't know if I will be blessed with a third child and do not want to use a double stroller with just one child in it.

Ultimately, I have decided on the Britax Chaperone and B-Ready Stroller. The Britax Chaperone has great features but the one that stands out for me is the quick-adjust harness system that allows you to adjust the height of the harness straps without having to detach the straps. It's a longer car seat so measure for fit. What is appealing about the B-Ready stroller is that it has over 14 configurations with the infant car seat and a second child seat (which you can use with an infant) sold separately. In the end, get what fits your current and/or future needs and what you find visually appealing that fits your budget - there are so many great choices out there.

PS - Britax has "free ride events" now and then, where you purchase a stroller and get a car seat for free. They also have other promotions throughout the year. But I assume other brands have similar promotions.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 9 November 2012

USG Scan Result

As expected, SCI was right on schedule with the USG (ultrasonography) scan. This is no surprise as supported by my first visit to SCI. I was extremely impressed with how well-organized and well-coordinated the SCI office and Dr. S were and continue to be. I already had a sense that Dr. S and her staff were good-hearted people (no matter what you read out) but had little sense of their operations, procedures, processes, etc. plus I needed to see how things worked for myself. My first visit put closure to those questions quickly and positively.

Given the time difference, SCI emails me during the middle of my night so I usually read their emails first thing in the morning - sometimes I'm still a bit tired so I'm not sure if I am dreaming or not. Anyway, I was grateful to hear that the ultrasound revealed one pregnancy sac and now patiently wait for the heartbeat scan in a week or so. Crossing fingers that I continue to receive positive updates and news. Thank you to my fellow SCI clients who have sent and left me supportive and encouraging words - it's truly and greatly appreciated. Whether one already has children or not, we all can experience anxiety, disappointment, sadness, and hopefully and ultimately, happiness.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 8 November 2012

You Aussies are Lucky!

When it comes to baby items, there are some that are tried and true, and I stick to those items. However, for other baby items, there are a variety of choices out there, ranging from traditional to modern. I openly admit that I like splurging on the odd new/modern items, which are typically available in North America. However, there is one cool item that I recently came across that is not available in North America but it is available in Australia (as well as other countries) - luck you! It's the Nuna Leaf. I especially like that it's not motorized.

I have not given up on getting the Nuna Leaf but I might have to settle for the 4moms mamaRoo, which is available in North America. Although motorized, I do like the various types of motions it provides your little one. I already have the traditional manual push sleeper that sways as well as the traditional motorized swing. Having these options available will be handy with one baby on her way on home soil and possibly another from India. Plus I can also position these on different levels of the home without having to carry them around.

Of course, each baby is different so you just never know what your baby will like or not. My son always enjoyed his swing and especially his bouncer.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 6 November 2012

2nd Beta Test

On Halloween, I received an email from SCI advising me that my FET resulted in a "weak positive" - specifically the beta value was 41. I was hoping for a higher number but knew that this number didn't mean much - the critical value would be the second beta result.

On November 2, I received another email from SCI. I took a deep breath before opening up the email. My heart sank a little when I didn't see the colourful email that SCI is now known for when advising clients of a positive pregnancy. However, as I read on, I was happy to read that the beta value had increased to 112.4.

Although that is promising, I remain cautiously optimistic mainly because - and yes this will sound illogical - of the lack of colour in their email. I wonder, do they send those colourful emails only for first beta tests? Does the clinic feel 112.4 is still low or hasn't increased enough? Even with my past experience with beta testing and numbers, these questions still pop into my mind. But I appreciate that when you especially want something so badly, it's normal to have these concerns and question things. Don't get me wrong - I'm thankful for the increasing beta value. But I look forward to the scan (which should be some time this week) to determine the number of pregnancy sacs. Hoping for the best!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 3 November 2012

While I Wait

While I wait to see the progress of the FET with SCI, baby #2 on home soil has entered her third trimester as we enter Week 28. Things are busy with work as the year comes to an end and I prepare to take a year off from work. I have several projects to complete in addition to the day-to-day tasks and requests, six work trips between this weekend and early December, and of course, hiring and on-boarding a replacement.

On the home front, I am slowly preparing and making my checklist. Although this is my second child, it's been almost 5 years since my son was an infant. The good thing is that I am generally an organized individual who does not like visual clutter so there's actually not much to do on the home front. Renovating and extending the house last year really helped with that. Nonetheless, there's still some work to do such organizing (and donating) my son's older toys, going through his baby clothes for unisex items that the new baby can wear, preparing baby spaces, and just ensuring I have all the normal baby items. 5 years is not a short time so I don't have everything that I used to and some things need replacing.

Socially, the calendar is busy in November and December with year-end/seasonal work parties and lunches, birthdays (i.e., my son's 5th birthday, brother's birthday, BFF's birthday), dinner parties like tonight, etc. With everything happening, I am very grateful that I live a drama-free life with wonderful drama-free friends and family members. I really only had one big dream in life and that was to live a happy life surrounded by wonderful people including a family of my own. I believe I am living my dream. On a side note, a life partner has never been necessary but that is another story that requires a blog of its own - LOL!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Wednesday 31 October 2012

FET Results In

Not sure how to start this post as there are many thoughts running through my mind. There's disappointing news. There's a glimmer of hope. There's a sense of déjà vu for me as well. In the end, I remain grounded and will hang on for the next couple of days.

What am I talking about? Results are in from my first FET at SCI and it's a low beta HCG value of 41, which SCI categorizes as a "weak positive". So the words "weak positive" are disappointing for sure. However, as many of you know, 41 is just a number and it's what happens to that value in the next couple of days that will tell the tale.

Why déjà vu? Well, when my first surrogate was pregnant with my son, our first beta HCG value was 42 on a Thursday. I remember being so excited when she told me the number. I don't recall being disappointed at all, which is supported by past entries in my first blog. Anyway, that beta value grew to 393 a few days later on Monday during our second beta HCG test.

However, with baby #2, our first beta was 299 - that's much higher than 41. So I can see why 41 is considered a "weak positive". For some reason, I am being affected by the recency effect, meaning more recent events are having more influence over me than the less recent events. Given this, I don't have a good feeling overall. Of course, initial beta values can vary significantly from pregnancy to pregnancy. Betabase is evidence of that!

So as you can tell, I'm not exactly sure how to feel. "Weak positive" has a sad tone while my beta numbers from my first child suggest it's not over until "the fat lady sings". So I'm hoping for a true déjà vu and see that 41 double, double, and double in the next few days. One thing is for sure though - I still believe what's meant to be, will be. Perhaps it's a way to protect myself from negative and sad news but I also know I cannot force things to happen that I do not have control over.

Happy Halloween!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you! 

Monday 29 October 2012

Declaration of Parentage

This post focuses on declarations of parentage on home soil as my second child will be born here in Canada. My apologies for those expecting a post on this process in India. I should note this process varies from province to province so the following process applies to the province where my daughter will be born. You must choose a lawyer in the same province where your child will be born.

As we approach the third trimester, it is time for my lawyer to start preparing all the documents for the court application, which she will immediately bring after the birth. My lawyer will obtain the consent of my surrogate to act for all of us and will provide her with detailed instructions about what to have her physician record in the chart.

Immediately after the birth (or within a day if it is a c-section), the lawyer will send someone to the hospital to obtain the sworn evidence that she requires for the court application. That person will also assist in filling out the hospital forms, which will have me as the father and the surrogate as the mother (or other "parent" as it is known in other provinces). At that point, I will be free to leave the hospital with my baby and return to my province (subject to medical approval) - although I plan on staying a week or so before flying back. Vehicle is an option but the winters in the birth province are legendary so the sky is safer than the roads.

Within a day or so of the birth, the lawyer will bring the court application, the purpose of which is to have the surrogate removed as the "mother" on the birth registration form and to replace the form with only me as my child's parent. Once the lawyer has the court order (normally in about 2-3 days), she will send it to Vital Statistics, who will be expecting it and who will not have registered the form, which states that my surrogate is the mother. They will register the new form (which I will have signed in the hospital in front of my lawyer's assistant) and once she has confirmation that has been done, I will order a birth certificate and be shown as the only parent of the child on that document.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 25 October 2012

Diaper Pails

For those of you who are planning on using disposable diapers, there are many diaper pail options out there in the market such as the Diaper Genie, Diaper Champ, and Diaper Dekor just to name a few. Of course, you can use a plain pail with lid or even your regular trash can.

Personally, I really like the Diaper Champ. I used it with my son and still have it. I am planning on getting the pink one for downstairs. I'm hoping to find the original model and not the newer "deluxe" model because I read that the newer model is slightly smaller. The main reason for loving the Diaper Champ is the fact that you can use regular garbage bags (or any other bags really) and do not need to buy refill bags (that cost more than garbage bags), which is the case for the Diaper Genie.

I also read some reviews stating that the smell is still there. I don't know any diaper pail, no matter what is being claimed, that eliminates the smell from dirty diapers that have been sitting there for some time. When you leave any pee or poop diapers too long in any container, it will eventually stink. I usually place the pee diapers in the Diaper Champ and poop diapers in the regular kitchen trash, knowing I will discard it into the outside trash can later in the evening.

At the end of the day, it is all about your time, energy, and tolerance for smells. If you have the time and energy to empty your diaper pail or kitchen garbage on a nightly basis then great. If you have a low tolerance for pee and poop smells then it's wise to empty your diaper pail or kitchen garbage more frequently. For me, it really made sense to go with a diaper pail that I could use regular or my own bags versus buying refills that cost more than regular garbage bags. You will spend enough on diapers, diaper wipes, and formula.

Too bad I cannot take my Diaper Champ with me to India for baby pick-up! By the way, don't forget to bring your own garbage bags to India for baby pick-up. I can't speak for other places but the Svelte has no bags in their garbage bins. You'll want those dirty diapers in bags to ensure your garbage bins stay as clean and odour-free as possible.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 20 October 2012

FET Report & Grading

First of all, I received an email from SCI advising me that the frozen embryo transfer (FET) went well on October 20. Four embryos were thawed and all for survived the thaw. Embryos transferred included 2 blasts with 3AA and 3BB grade (explained later), Grade 3 morula, and Grade 4 with > 16 cells. There are a lot of stats out there but in the end, my blasts have the best chances. Morula transfers can be successful while I don't put much hope on the Grade 4 embryo that was transferred but you never know!

The pregnancy test is scheduled for October 31 - Halloween! So given the stage of the embryos transferred, instead of the 2ww, I have 10 days before the beta HCG pregnancy test... aka 10dw. With the time difference between Delhi and Vancouver, I'm hoping to wake up to wonderful news on October 31! I'm sure my surrogate is also hoping for the same result - I hope to meet here in 9 months or so!

Halloween is one of my favourite days of the year so hopefully that is a good sign! I found these "monster embryos" online - cute but not something I would purchase. LOL!

Secondly, for those of you wondering what is in the FET Treatment Summary Report, here's what it contains:

General Information
  • Name of patient (me)
  • Date of birth (my DOB)
  • Date of FET

Embryo Information
  • Embryos thawed
  • Embryos survived thaw
  • Embryos cultured to day 5
  • Embryos transferred
  • Details of embryos transferred (i.e., cell stage and grade of each embryo transferred)
  • Whether laser assisted hatching was completed

Embryo Transfer Details
  • Position (doral versus lithotomy)
  • Vaginal discharge (normal versus abnormal)
  • Cervix (healthy versus cervicitis)
  • Transfer Grade (I - no holding cervix, II - cervix held, III - dilater used)
  • Transfer (easy versus difficult)
  • Type of catheter
  • Mucus on catheter (yes or no)
  • Blood on catheter (yes or no)
  • Re-insertion of catheter
  • Date of beta HCG testing (aka pregnancy test)

Finally, some of you are experts with embryo grading given your previous experiences with fertility treatments; however, for those who are new to the embryo grading (which can vary from clinic to clinic), I thought I would provide a basic summary.

It appears SCI grades their embryos from 1 to 4 with Grade 1 being the best. Grade 1 embryos are "morphologically perfect, with round, symmetrical cells. They have the appropriate number of cells for their stage of development. Cell division is even, and there is no visible fragmentation. Only 20% of embryos receive the highest grade. Most embryos have slight imperfections, and this is normal and expected." Grade 2 embryos have "the correct number of cells for their developmental stage, and usually have even cell division. They might have slight unevenness of blastomere sizes and/or a small amount of fragmentation (<20%). Grade 3 embryos have "uneven cell division and moderate fragmentation (>30%), or are behind in their development, or have similar irregularities. Finally, Grade 4 embryos have "uneven cell division and extensive fragmentation (>50%). They may have few viable cells or be completely fragmented."

Generally, lower grades are associated with poorer chances for a viable pregnancy. Two of my embryos transferred were graded 3 and 4. However, keep in mind that success does occur with lower grades albeit a lower chance of success. You may just be one of those individuals who are in that minority of success with lower grade embryos. Plus there are other factors that will determine success.

SCI also grades with a number and two letters. "The number refers to the amount of expansion, the first letter to the quality of the inner cell mass that will develop into a baby, and the second letter to the quality of the outer cell mass that will become the placenta." My blasts are 3AA and 3BB - depending on the grading scale used, 3AA would be excellent to good while 3BB would be good to fair. Again, in the end, percentages and other factors aside, you just need one to make it to the finish line.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 19 October 2012

Just In Time

We are back from Disneyland - 39 different rides, 63 times in total on rides. My 4-year-old is such an awesome boy, trying different things and waiting patiently in the lines. Of course, I planned things out so he wouldn't have to wait to long in the lines - 20 minutes at most of those were usually in the morning gate line-ups. We went on the Tower of Terror 5 times and 4 times on Big Thunder, Grizzly River Run, Splash Mountain, and Soarin' Over California.

We return just in time for the frozen embryo transfer on Saturday, October 20. Then the 2ww begins again - hopefully with some good news once the 2ww is over. I can only hope and wish for the best like everyone else. Work-wise, the next two weeks (and pretty much until the end of the year) will be super-busy so time will fly by very quickly. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers in the next two weeks.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Deja Vu

Deja vu - similar to my first transfer, there has been a last minute change to my FET surrogate. I trust Dr. S to do what is right for me but hope that this will end in a different result this time around and get me a BFP!

My new surrogate, M, is 30, married, and has two of her own children. Again, looks good to me - both the surrogates I've worked with (on home soil) are 30 plus.

Here's to a successful transfer, pregnancy, and birth!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Monday 15 October 2012

FET Surrogate Chosen

While my son (my brave little man) and I were waiting in line in Disneyland - specifically his favourite ride, the Tower of Terror - I received an email from the clinic. Dr. S has selected my surrogate for the upcoming FET. I have to admit that although it was great news, my anxiety levels lining up for the Tower of Terror did not allow me to get fully excited at that time! LOL! We are going back to the Tower of Terror tonight for a third time on this trip :)

Anyway, my surrogate, B, is 26 years old, married, and has two girls of her own, 3 and 6. I know and preach, what's meant to be will be... but I really do wish and pray that this first FET works out. I know Dr. S and her staff are behind me 100%, and will do their best to help this happen. Until then, my son and I still have a few more days here in Disneyland. We arrived here Saturday afternoon and are leaving Thursday afternoon.

Hope everyone is doing well!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Friday 12 October 2012


Growing up, we travelled more frequently than most families I knew. Whether it was a road trip or a flight across the globe, I have very fond memories and photo-memories of our family time. Because of this, I have taken my son to various destinations around the world - starting when he was just 3 months old - to start creating our own memories and photo-memories.

One comment that I got and sometimes I still hear but ignore is, "Is he too young to remember anything?" It's an odd question to ask in my opinion. For one, the travel is not just for him but for me too. Secondly, the real-time experience of being together and having fun is as valuable if not more valuable than the future memory. Also, who says we can't vacation there again and again and again for many years to come? Finally there is a precious window when our kids will want to vacation with us so take advantage of those years as much as we can!

I do understand why some may ask this question based on their own experiences and views on vacationing. For me, showing my children the world and sharing that with them as long as they will allow me, is a priority of mine. I now just need to win the lottery so I can have unlimited time to travel! I will say, I envy my European friends - although I make time and ensure I have a healthy vacation budget, I wish I could visit several countries and cultures in a shorter period of time and for a greater bang for the buck, like they can. Sure I have North America and I have my favourite places to visit but I assume there are more diverse cultures in Europe versus North America.

After saying that, I am off to Disneyland  tomorrow (Saturday). It's our second trip to Disneyland this year but this time around, Carsland is opened and it's a final trip for us boys before a little lady comes into our life in early 2013. It's been a crazy week at work so looking forward to our one-week adventure. I just need to finish up the packing tonight. I will be refreshed when I return next week - the final few months before baby #2 arrives will be extremely busy at work. Next week, I will also be returning just in time for my first frozen embryo transfer! So wishing that it works this time around!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 9 October 2012

FET Success Rate

So the first and hopefully last frozen embryo transfer (FET) is planned for next week. I'm really hoping that I get a BFP so crossing everything starting right now! Feel free to back up your truck load of baby dust into my baby yard too!

When it comes to the success rates of our beloved totcicles (i.e., frozen embryos), there's a lot of research and statistics out there. My current pregnancy on home soil is a result of 5-year-old totcicles. Approaching the FET, I had the typical questions. I have not asked Dr. S these questions because given my previous FET experience, I feel good about the upcoming transfer. But here were my typical questions about FETs.

1. How long can embryos be frozen and still be viable? Embryos frozen as long as twelve years have resulted in successful pregnancy. Again, mine was 5 years. With freezing and thawing protocols continuing to improve, embryos frozen more recently may have better outcomes.

2. What is the thaw rate of totcicles? This depends on the freezing and thawing protocols, and the quality of embryos before freezing. Embryos graded higher before freezing tend to be more resilient to freezing and thawing. With my current pregnancy on home soil, I had two final totcicles - although they were good quality, they were the lowest quality of the bunch. They both thawed successfully - I remember giving a big sigh of relief because if none had survive, it would have been a wasted cycle.

Survival rate is also influenced by the stage of development at which your embryos were frozen. Some argue that embryos frozen at earlier stages of development survive freezing better because "they are simpler in structure and still have an intact nuclear membrane" while others argue that blastocysts may survive better because "they have more cells, and therefore can recoup easier from the loss of some of them." The best practice appears to depend on what works best for the clinic and their protocols.

Embryos with an even number of cells also appear to have a higher survival rate (5-10% higher) versus odd number of cells. Finally, embryos created with donor eggs also appear to freeze better than embryos of the same grade created with infertility patient's eggs with a 2-5% higher survival rate.

Focusing on the numbers, typical embryo thaw rates range from 50 to 80% depending on the clinic.

3. Does a success thaw mean all totcicles will be transferred? Some surviving embryos will not be transferred because they will have no surviving cells. Many embryos will be partial survivors with some cell damage. Although the extent of the damage may influence subsequent pregnancy rates, embryos that have been damaged often recover and can still capable of resulting in a live birth. The highest quality embryos are those that survive with 100% of their cells intact. Some have suggested that these embryos are essentially as viable as if they had never been frozen.

4. Is there a lower probability that thawed frozen embryos will produce a pregnancy versus fresh embryos? In general, the success rates of FETs are usually lower than those for fresh embryo transfers. This makes sense because damage may occur during freezing and also because higher-graded embryos are usually transferred fresh.

Summary: In the end, these are "just" percentages. The transfer will either be successful or not. Focus on the positive and plan for the negative but believe in the dream.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 6 October 2012

Dressing Baby 101

There are so many cute baby clothes out there - actually, "so many" is an understatement. I have to admit that I was one of those first-time parents that bought several cute (but functional) outfits for my son when he was just a baby. In fact, one of his first outfits was a Santa Claus outfit - he was born in mid-December so when he was just two weeks old, he was in his first costume. Plus you will have friends and family who will add to the "style pile" with their contributions. In reality, they don't wear these cute outfits too often. I am not discouraging any parent from buying them but just to keep in mind the amount of use each outfit will get over time.

In my humble opinion, there are three basic considerations for baby clothing. Very simply, the first consideration is that your baby will spend most of his or her time lying down so keep the back of the clothing free of anything that might make your baby uncomfortable. Secondly, especially as a single parent with only two sets of hands, I rarely bought or used clothing that required the baby's head to go through a hole, large or small. Although it was not brain surgery, you can imagine trying to put on a t-shirt or closed-front onesie over a baby's head and then slot their arms through the arm holes. It obviously can be accomplished with two people or while the baby is lying on his or her back with some effort. Some babies also do not like having their head and arms squished through an opening - perhaps memories of birth? :)

Finally, linked to my second point, think about location, location, location... of the buttons, snaps, zippers, etc. Of course, you want easy access to the diaper but it is also easier to dress your baby while they are lying down so anything that has a full opening (length of the garment) at the front similar to the photos is ideal. You open up the piece of clothing, place baby on top, slide in two little arms, and then snap everything up.

As mentioned, I'm not suggesting that you avoid buying the clothing with the cute sayings, trendy logos, or cool/adorable look. Just keep in mind that for your baby's daily wear, keeping these tips in mind will make things easier for you and your baby!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 4 October 2012

Baby Name Decision

As each week passes with baby #2 on her way (on home soil), I get more and more questions about her future name. It's normal for people to ask whether you have a name selected and whether you are sharing it. Some prefer to keep it to themselves - to avoid hearing others' opinions and minimizing the possibility of someone else taking their baby's name. I chuckle when I hear the latter - yes, I have had people use names that I have mentioned but baby names are not copyrighted. Some have no problems sharing like myself. It's not a guarantee and I do not call her this at this time - and will not until she is born - but there's a good chance her name will be...

 Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Thursday 27 September 2012

Diaper Rash

Diaper (or nappy) rash happens. I have tried many products and product success may depend on your little one's skin. However, for me and others who I have introduced the product to, one product stands out as number one. Unfortunately, it's not locally available so whenever friends or relatives visit from, you guessed it, Australia, I ask them to bring along several boxes for me. It's also available in the UK and serves other purposes beyond treating and preventing diaper rashes. It's Bepanthen!

So my dear friends from Australia, when we go pick up our babies, please bring along a few boxes for me... and yourselves!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Gender Surprise

I thought I would share an ultrasound photo of my daughter aka baby #2 on home soil. She is stretching her leg out - very cute. At the time of this post, we are at 21w4d - this ultrasound was taken at 17w6d. This was a private ultrasound with both 2D and 3D photos - I decided not to do 4D at that time. I plan on doing another private ultrasound session between 29 and 30 weeks.

Given who I am, I will always take the opportunity to find out a baby's gender without hesitation. Not that I care about the gender - healthy baby first - but it helps with some planning and organizing, and it's just nice to know. After saying that, I do like the fact that with SCI, I will not find out the gender until birth - a gender surprise. Very few surprises in life so I embrace it. I cannot wait for my second attempt!

On a side note, I learned something new today. For my son, I was told, "You're having a boy!" and with this second pregnancy, I was told, "You're having a girl!" Today, I learned that some doctors or ultrasound technicians say, "You're having a hotdog!" and "You're having a hamburger!" I thought these were funny metaphors! LOL!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Nasal Congestion & Mucus

My son has returned to preschool, which means more kids, which means more germs, which means more colds. Yes, yes, germs are "good" to build up their immune system but it's hard seeing your child sick. Very hard. For colds, he hasn't fully grasped the idea of blowing his nose - he relates it more to sneezing so he pretends to sneeze. Like everything, it will come with time - still funny though.

Although I don't remember him being sick as a baby, I remember the couple of times he had a cold and stuffy nose as a toddler. So what can you do if they can't blow their nose at a young age and need to clear the mucus from their little noses?

With loose mucus, you can use those infant suction bulbs or syringes. Although I had one, I never used it because of the feedback I got from my friends. The suction these provide including the rubbing of the syringe itself on the nasal membranes can be irritating, which in turn can cause even more inflammation and worsen or prolong the congestion. They do sell so I assume many have used them successfully.

Another option to remove loose mucus is to go old school - an option that I found gross to be honest. You can gently suck out the mucus by placing your mouth over the nostrils. You should do this for only a few seconds at a time so your baby can breathe - with the nasal passages congested, baby can only breathe through the mouth. Again, yuck!

For me, I chose to use the NoseFrida - my friends in Australia would be familiar with this. It's been available for some time now on this side of the Pacific Ocean. I think it's a God-send. It's better than a suction bulb because the tip is broad so it prevents you from accidentally rubbing it against the nasal membrane. It also provides you with more control over the strength of your sucking. Plus with the casing and filters, it's not yucky like the old school way. Of course, the more difficult task is getting your wriggly baby to stay still or older baby to cooperate but one could argue that this is a challenge with all methods.

For dried mucus, a saline solution/spray can sooth the inflamed membranes and help loosen the dried mucus blocking the nasal passages. I bought my spray but you can also make your own by using 1/4 teaspoon non-iodine table salt to 1 cup of gently warmed water. They say to use a dropper to get several drops in each nostril or use a wet cotton ball to squeeze several drops in. I prefer the spray versus dropper as it often triggered sneezing, which often cleared out the mucus.

Other tips that won't remove mucus but will help with nasal congestion are listed below.
  • Elevate baby's head safely to help keep airways open
  • Turn on the shower to create steam
  • Use a vaporizer in your baby's room
  • Use an all natural, non-petroleum based chest rub - many are not safe for young babies so ask the baby's doctor
  • Avoid products and detergents that contain fragrances or scents - babies have their own natural perfect smell
  • Use an air purifier to minimize airborne irritants - good for everyone, not just baby
  • Similar to the last point, I had the house vents cleaned especially given the age of my house as well as the year-long renovations last year

I'm sure there are many other tips but wanted to share some of mine with you. Oh I forgot - reason for this post is because my son has a cold. Poor guy but honestly, it doesn't stop my son - he is still energetic and active.

Summary point - go buy a NoseFrida for baby pick-up!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Onwards & Upwards

Off to the races again! If all goes according to plan, the frozen embryo transfer (FET) will happen October 18-20. Hoping that the second time around will result in a BFP - not only for myself but for my Aussie friends. Both couples are having two surrogates this second time around so my wishes, thoughts, and prayers are with them for one or more babies!

Talking about Oz, I have shared my baby #2 news with my relatives in Perth, who we are close to. They are asking us to visit Perth in 2013 - how fun would that be! This time around, I would have a reason to visit Sydney and Melbourne! Never been there before. I took my son to Perth when he was 3 months old and granted he was a great plane baby but at least I know what to expect flying such a long distance with a baby.

Regarding the FET, I was asked about my chances with frozen transfer versus a fresh transfer. Statistics aside, I know many couples and singles in the surrogacy community that have been successful and unsuccessful with both. If I have one piece of advice, I would say, try your best not to worry or think too much about this - whether it's a frozen or fresh attempt, it's one step closer to having a baby. My baby on the way is a result of a FET using five-year old frozen embryos. I had two frozen embryos remaining, luckily both successfully thawed, and one stuck. I believe 13 years is the longest that a embryo has been frozen that has resulted in a birth of a baby.

Anyway, life carries on. Work is busy at this time of the year especially with business plans being developed for next year and the fact that I will be on leave with baby #2 next year. Slowly but surely also preparing the home for the addition of my daughter. I don't have a lot of extra stuff (aka junk) in my house especially with the large-scale renovations last year but I do have one room to make into more of an efficient storage space. I have several plastic containers containing my son's baby and toddler clothes so I will go through them and take out anything gender-neutral and store the rest in that room. With my upcoming two-week vacation, I will take some time to get that all organized.

Also, just planning the details of our upcoming Disneyland trip. I appreciate some people show up to the happiest place on Earth and just go with the flow but to maximize our time there, I will plan our days out again like our first trip there in May. This time around, we will skip some rides and attractions but also try out some new ones... as long as I have the courage to do so! LOL! My son loves speed and fast movement so he's been a great influence on me to try different things. Children make so many positive changes in our lives that we don't expect or anticipate.

Anyway, a few weeks until FET - excited but grounded as usual. I trust Dr. S and her staff to do their best and help me complete my family. Fall is here in Vancouver - my favourite season - but it's been a summer-like September so far. Not complaining at all.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Sunday 23 September 2012

Hexadad Too Much

Although the BFN was disappointing news, I am grateful that I don't have the personality to linger in the "darkness" - the BFN actually made me even more motivated to move forward. Don't get me wrong - lingering in "darkness" is not necessarily bad because it's normal to feel down and sad about postponing a dream. I just choose to get up quick and focus on what I can control - and that is to decide what I am going to do with the next attempt.

I knew that I was going to give it another kick at the can but just wasn't sure if it would be with one or two surrogates. There are three main considerations for me. First is financial but in the end, it's money and growing my family is invaluable and priceless. I would just make things work. More importantly, the second issue is the additional number of babies I am willing to have. One surrogate would mean two babies at most while two surrogates would mean four babies at most. Yes, there is the reduction option (down to one per surrogate) but who knows what one will decide until one gets there. So add a potential four babies to my son and another on the way, that would be six - just call me "Hexadad". LOL! Finally, the third considering is timing. As mentioned in previous posts, I would like to have baby #3 during my year-long time off with baby #2. Having two surrogates would increase my chances of having #3 sooner than later.

Initially, I decided to go with two surrogates but in the end, I have decided to go with just one - thus the revision to this post. Again, financially, I would have just made it work. Also, if I am lucky with at least one of my remaining 14 frozen embryos with consecutive attempts, I will still have baby #3 while I am off on leave with baby #2. What sunk in for me is the potential for more babies. I have been blessed with one son already and another on her way - ideally, a third is all I really want. Sure if I am blessed with twins, I will be equally as happy; however, any more would be a challenge (mainly time and energy) for this single dad even with my ultra-strong support network. Reduction is a possibility (down to one per surrogate) but I really doubt I could take that route if both surrogates were to have twins. I would have "what-if" for the rest of my life. The decision to go with one has put my mind at peace - I was initially struggling with the decision to work with two surrogates.

What now? It takes four weeks to prepare a surrogate for a transfer so in the mean time, I will persevere, wait patiently, and continue to think positively. It will be a quick four weeks - two of those weeks I will be on vacation, of which one I will be in Disneyland with my son. Plus I get to read about everyone else's journey, which helps keep my thoughts and energy positive.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Results Are In

The two week wait went by pretty quick. Work is busy especially given that I plan on taking a full year off from work when baby #2 arrives in late January. Plus it was just one of those time periods at work when everyone needed to talk to or help from Human Resources. I do enjoy my job in many ways but being the main HR guy for a growing company of 850 employees can be much at times.

Outside of work, I'm also busy with the usual parenting duties, cleaning/organizing the home (especially with baby #2 coming), typical errands, volunteering, etc. I'm actually off to volunteer at a centre after this post, preparing and serving breakfast to the less fortunate with a bunch of work colleagues. Should be fun! Also, been planning our second trip to Disneyland year and finally got that booked. I took my son early this year in May but now that Carsland is open plus that this will most likely be our last time taking a trip together as a two-person family, I thought it would be a nice vacation since I'm off for two weeks' vacation anyway.

So yes, it was a quick two-week wait but the results are in! Well, it didn't work out this first time around. Disappointing news for sure and Dr. S said she would contact me to chat more. I did respond back to her, thanking her for her sentiments. Although it is not the news I wanted to hear, I also appreciate that even in the most ideal conditions, the final hurdle cannot be controlled and it's up to mother nature to help us out.

So I asked Dr. S how soon can I start the frozen embryo transfer - this may depend if I work with the same surrogate. Again, time is of the essence for me as I would like to ideally have baby #3 when I'm off on my year-long parental leave with baby #2. I'm also wondering if I should just bite the bullet and go with two surrogates this time around. No guarantees of course but potentially higher (not high) probability of getting pregnant. Topics I will chat with Dr. S about. Of course, her and her staff were very supportive in delivering the disappointing news.

That's it for now - off to volunteer but will keep everyone updated with next steps!

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Sunday 16 September 2012

Is He Yours?

Some of you are already experiencing this especially if you used an Indian egg donor (and you are not of a similar ethnicity). Some of us waiting in the wings could possibly experience this in the future. I might be a bit over-sensitive about this topic and not because I am embarrassed by any means. However, I do believe in being treated equally as well as respecting people's privacy. So to each his or her own.

Anyway, my son is bi-racial - half Chinese and half Caucasian. However, he completely looks Caucasian - sandy blond hair, extremely fair skin, and sky blue eyes. I have black hair, brown eyes, and do not have fair skin. I appreciate this is unique - one usually (but not always) can see the dominant Asian gene in half-Asian children. I have met an Asian-Caucasian straight couple whose biological children look completely Caucasian. Although I do understand people's curiosity about the connection my son has to me, I think to ask the question is not appropriate especially when he is older and can comprehend the question. It's worse when they asked if he's adopted. There's absolutely nothing wrong with adoption but to plant seeds of untruth about such matters into the minds of children is unnecessary. Also, biracial children are common here in Vancouver - we are a such a diverse city and have been for such a long time. Why does it matter anyway? I can think about hundreds of other topics to talk about relating to children.

Don't get me wrong - I don't jump down people's throats for asking the question. For those who I feel are friendly, I keep it simple by saying that he is my son. I will say the exact same thing again if they start getting specific about genetics. 99% they get the drift. At this time, I have yet to meet any nasty people who are pregnant or have children around - if that were the case, I would have no problems returning the question and asking if their children (or unborn child) were theirs, hers, or his. Fair is fair I think. Of course, I would remain considerate and not ask the question if their children were old enough to understand. I would just pull the parent aside or whisper to them, about the inappropriateness of those questions.

Although similar and stupid question is, where is his mother. You are looking at his mother - me! Mother is a role in my world and has nothing to do with genetics or what I have between my legs to be honest. I believe regardless of your gender, we all play parts of the "father" and "mother" role - of course, being single, I play both roles and enjoy doing so. Now, when it comes to female and male role models, that is different. I can never be a female role model - my son has his aunts, grandmother, and my female friends for that. Finally, why does it matter to you, a stranger, where his "mother" (e.g., egg donor, surrogate) is or his relationship with her? I just don't have such thoughts when I meet someone with their child. Again, so many other children-focused topics we can talk about.

Another reason beyond equality and privacy for keeping the answers to these questions short and vague is to stop people's opinions from entering my ears. Many people have uneducated opinions about surrogacy, surrogacy abroad, gay parenting, single parenting, single male parenting, how children should be raised, etc. - and they like to give their opinions without solicitation. My favourites? "I could never be a surrogate." My response? "No you can't - it takes a very special woman to be one." Another is, "every child should have a mom." My response? "Didn't you have a mom?" I know I sound mean and I'm really not - it's just that I have an extremely low tolerance for stupidity and disrespect. At work, I am paid  to listen to all employees and "care" - outside of work, I selectively listen to those who deserve it.

I know these situations will continue for some time, especially with a biracial daughter on her way and potentially more children from India. I will also continue growing my list of witty and not-so-witty responses. I appreciate that I also might be over-sensitive but it's truly less about me at the end of the day, and more about my children. I know I can't protect them from dumb questions forever but I will try as long as I can while educating and equipping them with the skills and knowledge to handle these situations when they arise.

Of course, all of the above is null and void for people in the surrogacy community. I am an open book and feel sharing experiences is helpful. I believe in giving back and helping others achieve their dreams via surrogacy. What strikes a nerve are people who just want to stir sh*t up or quench their curiosity.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Time, Energy, & Freedom

First off, I am half way through the 2ww! Another week to go - I will be holding my breath, waiting for the clinic's email. I am hoping for one of those rainbow BFP emails that I have seen - the ones with colourful words. I believe it's a regular email if it's a BFN. I truly believe that what is meant to be will be but of course, I would like to hear good news too.

OK, so I may or may not have talked about this before but because it comes up regularly - with strangers or new people I meet - I'm revisiting the topic. My family and friends know that being a parent is not a difficult role for me as my lifestyle suits it perfectly. Strangers or new people I meet (including those who are already parents) often refer to how parenting takes up a lot of energy and time, and how freedom is lost. Perhaps it's because my son has integrated seamlessly into my life but I don't feel he takes up that much energy or time, or that I've lost much freedom.

Freedom-wise, I have no problems taking him to various places whether it's locally in the city or travelling around the world. He's done his fair share of travelling with me around the world. I had no problems taking him to Australia when he was 3 months old. Sure, I can't just head out at night to grab milk without taking him along but I rarely did that anyway. Travelling-wise, I can still have those last-minute trips - I just have one more to pack for, which is not a difficult task.

Regarding time and energy, I think I use my time better now because of my son instead of him taking up my time. Although I am a natural planner and organizer, being responsible for a little one makes you even a sharper planner and organizer. I am also someone who doesn't need a lot of alone or me time. In fact, when I do need it (e.g., headache), my son is a brilliant independent self-entertainer - if I had conditioned him to be a needy child, perhaps that would have been different. Energy-wise, I would say he doesn't take up more physical energy - I guess if you sat on the couch 24/7 then yes but if you had a normal lifestyle with a mix of couch activities and outdoor activities, not much changes. You just use your energy time in a different way.

I will say that when it comes to mental energy, having a child does make you use up a lot more compared to when I didn't have a child. But this is normal because you are responsible for your child and you always want your child to feel well and happy. When my son is sick, I always feel stressed because I feel helpless - yes, I know what to do and look for but I can't instantly make him better. One also naturally gets concerned over their child's development if he or she is slightly behind even though you know everything comes with time including potty training *smile*

In the end, even if you feel having a child does take up more time/energy and will make you lose some freedoms, having a child brings so many new positive things into your life that you never had. I could list many things but you know what I'm talking about. Finally, no description can do justice to how you will feel when you finally fulfill your parenthood dreams.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Sharing My Journeys

Initially, I wanted to keep my posts focused on my journey in India. I felt if I shared too much about my son or current surrogacy pregnancy on home soil, some might perceive it as bragging or flaunting, which is not my intent. I am very proud of my son - he is my raison d'etre (reason for being) - and know how it feels when the dream of parenthood finally comes true after wanting it for so long, and I genuinely want that for everyone who have come to Dr. S as their dream maker. I know for a fact when the two couples I befriended in India finally become parents, I will cry like a baby. I get teary just reading blogs of strangers achieving their parenthood dreams let alone people I have spent some quality time with! I keep us all in my prayers and thoughts as we get through the 2ww.

Anyway, I look forward to potentially a surprise gender reveal in India in 9 months. For my current surrogacy journey on home soil, I am happy to share that my son will be a big brother to a little sister in late January/early February. I found out the gender the evening before I left for India. Like many, I am hoping for a healthy baby and gender is irrelevant. After saying that, another son would have been "easier" given the boy stuff I already have (same season as my son's birth) plus just the fact that I know boys and their parts best. A daughter will be a wonderful new adventure and I know there's nothing tremendously different except cleaning "down there" and even that is not rocket science. It's just the unknown so that makes me think a bit more. I am thrilled nonetheless and now I can finally go right and left when I'm shopping for children's clothing! LOL!

With one son and one daughter on the way, I think about what I may potentially have in India. As long as the baby or babies are healthy, that is all that matters. Because I will have one of each, I really have no preference. To be honest, I'm more curious if I have have two, one, or none. We shall see how things progress. In the end, I do feel so lucky and blessed to have this one last shot at building my family. With one or two babies in India, my family would definitely be complete.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!