1 Year Old

Today surro babe #2 is a whole year old! It’s funny how it can seem like yesterday and years ago at the same time.

She is getting so big and seems to be just a joy for her dads. We keep in touch regularly, especially since we’re working on a sibling for her! I get to see pictures of their adventures and hear all about what they’ve been up to.

I got an email this morning saying that the clinic gave me their pre-approval. The agency contact said that once IFs have all their “ducks in a row” we will switch to our coordinator. I would imagine that it will be soon since IFs are always on the ball so once the agency tells them what they need I’m sure they’ll figure it out soon.

For some reason…and there truly is no rhyme or reason to this guess, but I feel like their last embryo is a boy. I think that just stems from the thought that it would be cool to carry another boy to bookend the 3 girls between my son and what I’m almost positive will be my last pregnancy. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that the transfer goes well and their little one decides to stick around. It would be a great way to end this chapter of my life (the carrying and delivering babies chapter that is).

We will have to wait and see what this adventure has in store for us! Until then…a very very happy 1st birthday to surro babe #2!

Another Weekly Update

It’s Wednesday again so it’s time for another weekly update 😊

There’s not a lot to update on. I got an email from the agency last Friday letting me know that they were still waiting on the pre-approval from the clinic. Once we have that we’ll get moved over to our case manager to start making appointments I think.

I decided to email the agency contact today just to see if she could tell me how the insurance review came back and if ArtRisk thought we would be able to use my insurance for pregnancy coverage. She wrote back very quickly and let me know that they expect my insurance to cover a surrogacy pregnancy…woohoo!! This is great news for everyone. It saves IFs from having to pay premiums on a plan that likely would have either high premiums or a high deductible. We also don’t have to go through the hassle of having ArtRisk try to find a surrogacy friendly plan in the marketplace in Nov. or go thorough the administrative steps to get signed up for a plan. It takes a lot off of everyone’s plates which is great.

I decided to email the clinic today “just to make sure they received my records”. I know they did, it was more of a nudge to say “we’re waiting” 😏 Maybe I’ll hear back from them tomorrow

It’s been close to 100 degrees yesterday 😜 When I said I wish it would warm up a little (when it was 55 degrees) this isn’t exactly what I meant. Luckily it will start cooling down tomorrow (to 89 degrees lol) than keep getting cooler until it’s more reasonable temperatures.

Our schedule is about to get busy. We spent Memorial Day Weekend with family at the coast. We have a weekend home this weekend. The following weekend we have a wedding to attend in the valley (3 hours away). Then the next several weekends are taken up by redoing our son’s bedroom, family visiting, a short camping trip, then preparing and going on our two week camping trip…and that only takes us to August 7th! The summers always fly by for us because we like to do as many things as we can winters can be long and cold here.

Have a great week!

Weekly Update

Reading back over my old blog posts I was reminded that with surro journey #2 I decided to try and write weekly updates from early on in the process so that I would have posts to read in the future. I loved (and still love) going back through my old posts and following along with the matching, clearances, IVF cycles, pregnancies, and deliveries. With that in mind I’m going to continue to try and do a post a week even if there isn’t much to update on. Then if we hopefully end this next journey with another healthy baby and GC I can follow along again and remember the ups and downs.

This week will be a week that I don’t really have an update. I think my last post mentioned that the contact at the insurance review place said she was going to send in completed review to the agency last Thursday. I emailed the surro coordinator at the agency on Monday to make sure that I didn’t need to be doing anything this week (I don’t want people having to wait on me!). She said that there wasn’t anything for me to do. She said that they were wrapping up my preapproval and once that is complete they will move us back to our awesome case manager and we’ll start the next steps. She didn’t elaborate on what specifically would be the next step. Medical clearance with the clinic maybe? Or psych evals? I think they did psych first the last two times so probably that.

I’m feeling pretty excited to be moving along, but not in a rush like last time. Last time I was trying to make sure we would have time for an Aug/Sept transfer so the timeline was tighter. So when the matching process took longer it was frustrating and I annoyed the surro coordinator with messages wondering what was going on. This time we don’t have that pressure so I’m not feeling the rush to get things done. I mean would I love to get things going? Absolutely! My coworker is going on maternity leave any day (minute?) so I will be working more and we have a busy summer planned so fitting in appointments and a trip for med clearance to Portland may be a little more complicated. We’ll make it work of course, but I’d love to be able to start making some sort of plans/appointments so they don’t end up booked out further than we would like.

Patience is the name of the game!

Another Check

Yesterday a company called ArtRisk who specializes in dealing with insurance stuff with surrogacy situations, conducted a review of my insurance. They call the insurance then conference me into the call so I can give the insurance company the okay to give the ArtRisk representative information about my benefits.

The ArtRisk rep said that she would send the review to our agency on Thursday (so the day after tomorrow). When I inquired with my insurance about maternity coverage when acting as a GC they told me (through message so I have it in writing lol) that I would be covered and there is no surrogacy exclusion. I’m very interested to know if they told ArtRisk the same thing. It would be really great if my insurance could be used this go around. It would save IFs from having to purchase a separate insurance policy. We will have to wait and see. I have heard that a lot of times, even when the insurance says they will cover it, that ArtRisk will suggest a back up policy just in case. I assume this is to cover their behinds as they don’t want to say it’s covered only to have it denied later.

So that was another thing that was able to be checked off the to list. I don’t know what will come after that. I know the IFs have been in contact with the fertility clinic, but the clinic doesn’t want to move forward with anything until we’re officially “matched” by the agency. I think that just means that the agency reaches out to the clinic and sends my records for review. We will have to wait and see.

Checking Off Tasks

Not a lot to report on at the moment. I’ve been gathering the documents that the agency needs to get things going. My husband and I both had forms that needed electronic signing as well.

The things that the agency needed to get started were

β–ͺ Electronically signed HIPAA forms for my husband and I (this basically gives the agency the OK to gather any pertinent medical records to review and send them to the fertility clinic. I already sent them my records to save them some time though)

β–ͺ Electronically signed GC Agreement (this covers my responsibilities as a potential GC. I have to initial sections saying that I will update the agency and IPs if anything changes with my health, employment, insurance benefits, etc. I have to agree that I understand the agency is the legal representative of the IPs and I will have my own lawyer. I agreed to fill out all forms promptly. There were other sections as well, but I don’t remember them off hand.)

β–ͺ Pay stubs for my husband and I. (This allows them to calculate lost wages for time off for medical screening, transfer, post partum, and if any bed rest is needed)

β–ͺ A copy of our insurance benefit book to review for any exclusions of a GC pregnancy (This should have been super easy to track down, but it was kinds of a pain. Usually you can access this on your insurance’s website, but ours said to log into my husband’s employer’s website. So he had to create a login only to find that it’s not a document that is available on that website either. I called their member benefit number, but they wouldn’t talk to me because I’m not the employee. My husband called and asked for it and they gave him the run around about it. They gave him excuses why they don’t give it out. He ended up emailing his company HR department who was able to email the whole document. Now that the agency has it they will review it for any exclusions that would mean they won’t cover a GC pregnancy. I looked it over and didn’t see any mention of an exclusion, but I’m not a professional πŸ˜† If they don’t see anything obvious they will send it to a company who specializes in insurance reviews who will call my insurance, patch me into the call to give the insurance company the okay to talk to them, then the company will ask very specific questions about my coverage. If they determine that my insurance will cover a surrogacy pregnancy then that is great news because it means the IFs don’t need to pay for an additional plan which can be expensive, so fingers crossed! If they determine it won’t cover a GC pregnancy then we know that come open enrollment in the fall we will need to find a surro friendly plan…our healthcare system is soooo ridiculousπŸ™„ )

I think that’s all the documents I’ve sent to them so far. I had already sent them my medical records last week so they have those.

Now I’m just waiting to hear what my next step is!

Intake Call

Today I had a quick phone call with the gestational carrier intake manager at my agency. Fun fact: she was actually the coordinator for my first journey. She’s awesome and I love her πŸ™‚

We just went over a few informational things. She let me know that I would need to fill out and submit a new application with the agency. This is super easy to do so no big deal. She said she would need my OB and hospital records from my last pregnancy/delivery. I already went about getting not only these, but the records from my last 3 pregnancies/deliveries. My OB switched offices after my oldest was born and his pregnancy/delivery records disappeared and I’ve never been able to recover them. Fortunately I don’t need them. I emailed them to her today and she will send them to the fertility clinic for review at some point. She’ll need some signed HIPAA forms from my husband and I. They will also do a review of my current insurance to see if it will cover a surrogacy pregnancy. She said that IFs were going through some intake steps as well and that she thought we would be working with the initial intake people for a couple months before we get moved back to our previous coordinators care.

She said that she would start sending me emails “soonish” with things that she needs, but it didn’t sound like it was going to be anytime this week or next. Because we all know that we’re not transferring until the end of the year or beginning of next year she’s not in a particular hurry to get our stuff done. I know she is incredibly busy and I’m sure has a lot of items on her to do list that would take priority over our stuff because we’re not on a tight timeline. I’m not typically a patient person so it’s good practice LOL It enforces that getting things going now is a good decision though.

So no major movement forward, but baby steps in that direction! For some reason spring time always makes me miss being pregnant so I’ve been anxious to get started…I know I have to stick to my timeline though because my body needs it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not super excited to be moving forward now πŸ™‚

Next Steps

Since my last post I have spoken to my IFs and our agency coordinator. It was good to confirm we are all still on the same page regarding wanting to transfer their embryo and when. We are all still on board and they let me know that they are ready to go whenever I am!

I’m still on the “transfer end of Dec/early Jan” timeline which they said works fine for them. My body still needs a little more time to recover after 4 deliveries in 7 years lol I’m also hoping to avoid being pregnant during the holidays this time. After speaking to our coordinator and the IFs, we have decided to go ahead and start getting the ball rolling with all the stuff that needs to be done before we can start meds for a transfer.

When I texted our coordinator last week about when she thought would be a good time to get things going, I mentioned that my lawyer, while great at her job, can be slooooow to get things done. I’ve used her both times before and it is always weeks before she is able to look over the contract and discuss it. She is always VERY busy (because she is good at her job and in demand which is great, but…) and seems to do quite a bit of work related travel. I would assume that because this is the same IFs as last time we can just use the same contract and update it. In my mind that should make things go pretty quickly, but I don’t want to make that assumption and then be scrambling to try and get it done to start meds on time. However, I also know that not everyone is as type A as me so I didn’t want to sound like an alarmist or something, like we have to get this done right this second. I’m very happy with the plan to start getting things moving and being able to do things without worrying so much about the speed at which they’re getting done.

So, what things need to be done? Here are the things I think need to be done. I’ve never done a sibling journey before so I don’t know how different (if at all) this initial process is from a non sibling journey. We obviously get to skip all the matching stuff because we already know we’re a great match lol

I would imagine that there are at least a few steps that IFs need to take with the agency, (probably financial wise) before any of the steps that involve me that I won’t be party to. I have no idea how long those steps take or what they are because it’s not my business haha!

As far as steps that involve me…my medical records need to be gathered and sent to ORM again so that they include my most recent pregnancy and delivery. They’ll have to clear my records and give me the go ahead to go there for a medical screening appointment, same as last time.

I’m like 98% sure we will need another psych evaluation. There will be one for the hubs and I, one for IFs, then one all together. I would love it if we could skip this part just because everything is the same as is was when we did it two years ago. I mean it’s even better now that we know each other better and have a great relationship already. However, I have heard that these evals are only good for a year and fertility clinics usually require them in order to move forward.

Once both those things are done we would move on to contracts. Like I mentioned earlier, I would think that this could be a really quick process for us since we’ve done this together before. I don’t want to bank on that though because I’m not a lawyer and we’ve established that mine can move at her own pace lol I feel like our contract from last time was pretty solid and I can’t think of any changes that I would make. I can’t imagine that my IFs lawyer would send over their standard contract and not just update the one we used, but I couldn’t say that for sure. We will just have to see.

Once we have all that together I think we’re ready for transfer. Last time I was on meds for 6 weeks before transfer so anytime between when we get everything done and 6 weeks before a transfer date we’ll just be hanging out. I’m hoping that with getting things done early we’ll be able to have more of a choice for scheduling a transfer day. Appointments can be limited at the end of/beginning of the year so maybe being able to schedule early will be helpful…I have no idea. I tried to ask the clinic, but every time I ask them something through their general contact email (I had asked them another question about travel restrictions when we thought we might have to move our Hawaii trip to October) they skirt around the question and just say “The first step is for IFs to reach out and reestablish care” yeah, I know that and I specifically stated that we weren’t ready to dive in just yet, but I had a question. Is it so hard to answer what your holiday schedule is like? I was just wondering if they take time off at the end of the year or don’t schedule transfers then like some clinics, that was literally it lol

I’m excited to be starting to get things ready. I love being a GC and while I’m not ready to transfer just yet, all the other parts are exciting in their own way. I can’t tell you how happy I am that this is a sibling journey! I would have loved to do one for my first set of IFs, but it wasn’t in the cards for them. I’m very much looking forward to this and hoping so much that it all works out as smoothly as it did last time (minus the COVID stuff please!!)

I’m sure it’ll be a few weeks at least before anything involving me starts to move forward, but I’ll update when we get things going!

Well Hello There

So it’s been a hot minute since I sat down to write anything. I had to go back and see what the last thing I posted about even was. I’m still here, we’re just chugging along in life.

Winter was rough here because COVID cases kept the kids out of school much longer than we expected. My son’s basketball got cancelled as cases rose and indoor sports were no longer allowed. It was a relatively mild winter without a ton of snow so there were days that were nice enough to go to a park or on a walk in the woods, but there was still a lot of pent up kid energy in our house

We had to reschedule our Maui/Kauai trip that was supposed to be at the end of December to a Big Island trip in March. We were very wary about if we’d be able to go or not. We knew we would need to all have negative COVID tests in the days before we flew out and we would need another one at the airport in Kona when we arrived. I’m so happy to be able to say that it all worked out and we got to spend 12 days in our happy place with my parents and my in laws. The kids were in absolute heaven. It was the best mental health boost we have had since last summer. I know people have varying opinions on recreational travel right now. I’m not going to debate it, but I will say that we were very careful. The kids went to virtual learning before and after the trip so we could quarantine. Our area had really low case numbers at the time. We wore masks whenever we were around people outside our household. We had fully vaccinated and partially vaccinated members in our party. If I ever would have felt that we were exposing people to COVID or anything like that we wouldn’t have gone. I don’t want it to seem like we take COVID lightly, we don’t. We made our decision knowing that the chance of us spreading it would be almost zero. I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon so we’re learning to navigate a new normal.

Since we’ve been back my son started spring soccer. My daughter has resumed her tap dance classes. They are back to in person school which they love. The weather is getting better so we can be outside more. We were so ready for spring and are definitely looking forward to summer.

As far as a surrogacy update…I’m enjoying the time off at the moment. I haven’t discussed a second journey with my last IFs any further since we talked before and after surro babe #2 was born last year. At that time we had talked about trying for a transfer in early 2022. I’m still going with that timeline, but will probably touch base with them about it in the next few months. We don’t really need to do much until late summer I don’t think. Hopefully things can be semi quick since we’ve done this together before.

Speaking of IFs and surro babe #2…they still keep in touch pretty frequently. They send pictures and tell me what they’ve been up to. I love seeing them all together enjoying life together. I’m probably biased, but their daughter is adorable and seems to love their travels and adventures. I can’t believe she’s 10 months old today! She’s going to be 1 before we know it!

I hear from my first IFs and surro babe #1 pretty often too. She is getting so big and will be 3 in Sept. I love hearing her little voice on the videos they send. She also seems to enjoy a good adventure and being outdoors. I’m so glad that they’ve decided to keep in touch. I hope someday that the hubs and I are able to make it over to where they live for a visit, it would be great to see them all in person again…plus I’ve always wanted to visit the UK!

Surro Babe #1 She’s so stinking cute!

So that’s what we’ve been up to. We have some camping trips scheduled this summer. I’m excited that people are getting vaccinated and am looking forward to my husband being able to get his shots soon. I had both of mine earlier this year. That will just make me feel more comfortable as he can sometimes have allergy or exercise induce asthma. I’m hoping that people continue to get vaccinated and maybe we can gain some small sense of normalcy. I’m want to have our big family get togethers again and hug people again…although I’m not gonna lie, I’m good with continuing the 6ft away from people, the ones I don’t know at least. I also wouldn’t hate if people wore masks when they’re sick during cold and flu season, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

It will probably be awhile before another update so I hope you all enjoy your spring/summer…unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, then I hope you enjoy your fall and that winter treats you kindly πŸ™‚

Small Update

Just thought I would pop on and give a little update.

IFs and surro babe #2 FINALLY made it home a couple weeks ago. They had been gone since around March 22 if I remember right. It wasn’t just a straight trip home either. They had to travel to another state, then they went and visited some family in another country. After that they visited family in their home country before finally heading home. I have to say this little girl is already a world traveler!

I can’t imagine being away from home so long and with a newborn (although she’s not really a newborn anymore!). I’m so happy for them to finally make it home. It’s like the ending of a saga LOL

I’m enjoying our warm & sunny autumn weather before the cold and snow sets in. The kids are playing soccer which has been fun for them, despite how hot it has been LOL They have to wear masks when they play which is hard when it’s 80 degrees out. They’re still enjoying it though.

We’re supposed to go to Hawaii right after Christmas. This is a trip we’ve had planned since January, so long before this COVID stuff. I doubt we’ll be able to go, but I haven’t cancelled or rescheduled it yet. I’m waiting to find out if Kauai is going to implement a 3 day quarantine for all arrivals in addition to the pre-trip testing. If they do then we’ll try to reschedule for spring.

The kids aren’t in school yet. They were supposed to start going back this week, but our local cases rose too high and now we’re looking at the beginning of November at the very earliest. It’s sad for them and hard for us, but we’re making it work. Luckily they have amazing teachers that are super helpful. I just know they aren’t learning as much being at home as they would be at school and that’s hard.

Overall we’re hanging in there. I’m already looking forward to 2021 and hoping it’s better than 2020 has been!

1 Year Ago

A picture came up on my Timehop that reminded me that 1 year ago I was just starting meds for the IVF cycle that would eventually result in the most recent surro babe. It’s always so amazing to me the difference a year can make. She’s now almost 11 weeks old already!

I won’t lie, seeing the pictures of meds and the med calendar wakes up that part of my brain that is ready to jump in again. I have to remind myself why I need to wait and at this point it’s easier to not get ahead of myself. Come next spring/summer I will be more anxious to get going.

In other news surro babe #1 is almost 2 already!! She is so sweet and looks so grown up these days. I love getting pictures and updates from her dads. They are absolutely lovely people and I’m so happy they’ve chosen to stay in touch. More pictures popped up the other day of when I flew to Las Vegas for my screening with their RE three years ago. It’s amazing how fast time can fly.