Friday, August 28, 2009

Pregnancy Announcement

Despite the fact that all of my friends, family, and the blogosphere knows that we are expecting twins in February my colleagues did not know. I decided to make my announcment via an email, which was a suggestion made by a former IM, N, who used to blog at Our Buns Were in Someone Else's Oven and now blogs at Crain Family Blog. N did this very thing when she announced her pregnancy to her friends and family (none of whom knew they were even trying to conceive) and used a FAQs section to explain gestational surrogacy and answer some of the common questions related to surrogacy. I remember reading N's posting of the FAQs and immediately told her that I planned to borrow her idea when we got to that point in our journey. I loved the idea of explaining everything up front to avoid the constant, likely repetitious, stream of questions I'd encounter, so last night I used N's idea as a template and this is what I created and sent to my colleagues ...

EMAIL:

Hello MHS Friends,

Welcome back! I hope that all of you had a relaxing summer vacation and are returning to the new year feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I think we are in for an exciting school year!

Since all of you have been so wonderful and supportive of me, particularly while Myles was in the NICU and after he died, I thought you might be interested in hearing our exciting news--we are expecting TWINS in February!That’s right, two new little [insert last name]'s are on their way. We are currently 13 weeks along.

Hopefully you haven’t set this email aside already as yet another pregnancy announcement because there’s something especially interesting about this one ... I’m NOT pregnant . . . a gestational surrogate is carrying our babies! Gestational surrogacy means that someone else (my cousin) is carrying our biological children (our buns are in someone else’s oven!). Since we know people will have questions, we took a stab at some FAQs (see the attached document). As you know I am very open about my infertility struggles and am more than willing to answer questions, so please feel free to ask any additional questions you may have!

Yours truly,
Niki


ATTACHMENT:

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Why is someone else carrying your babies?
A. About 5 years ago, we started trying to conceive. We assumed, like everyone does, that we would get pregnant in a couple of months. No such luck. After years of trying and a couple of miscarriages, we went to see a doctor who said we should do IVF (in vitro fertilization). This is where a doctor extracts eggs from my body, acquires sperm from my husband, mixes them together in a petri dish (think back to your high school biology experiments), then transfers the newly created embryos back to me in the hope that they will implant and grow into a healthy baby (or 2). We did this procedure when we conceived Myles and were fortunate enough to have 6 other embryos to freeze. Last year we did two additional embryo transfers of two embryos each and went through two more miscarriages. Since we had high-quality embryos in each of our IVF cycles, the doctor suspects that an acquired uterine defect (caused by an earlier miscarriage and “overzealous” D&C) might be the problem. Therefore, he suggested “renting a uterus” (i.e., using a surrogate). In the middle of last year, my cousin came to us to offer to be a gestational surrogate. With gestational surrogacy, you create embryos from our eggs and sperm like we had been doing, but you transfer the created embryos to someone else (the gestational surrogate – so she is not biologically related, she is just carrying the babies).

We thought long and hard about this offer and decided that my uterine problems coupled with the high risk of recurrence of preeclampsia were good reasons to pursue surrogacy. So, we decided to transfer our two remaining frozen embryos to my cousin instead of me. We did so in January, and it worked on the first try, but around 9wks she miscarried (a chromosomally normal male). Our doctor was baffled and convinced it was a fluke event, so we did not let this get us down. We embarked on another IVF cycle in June where we created 5 beautiful embryos from my eggs and my husband’s sperm. Two of these embryos were transferred to my cousin’s uterus and a few weeks later, we saw twins on the first ultrasound. It has been absolutely amazing and we are forever grateful to my wonderful cousin!

Q. So are the babies related to both of you or to the surrogate or…?
A. The babies are as much our genetic children as they would have been had we conceived like everyone else . . . they are just being physically carried to term by someone else. Sometimes surrogates contribute their own egg to an embryo, but that is a different type of surrogacy (i.e., traditional surrogacy).

Q. What if she doesn’t want to give you the babies?
A. People hear these stories all the time about surrogates who have used their own eggs and therefore there is a genetic tie (leading these women to sometimes not want to give the baby up). It happens very rarely with gestational surrogacy since there is no genetic link between the surrogate and baby. In our case, the surrogate is a family member who has two of her own children already so there is not even the slightest concern.

Q. Who on earth is willing to be a surrogate like this?
A. We agree, it’s hard to believe. We still can’t believe it. Her name is [insert K's name], she is 30, married, has two adorable boys (ages 7 and 4) and is a surgical technologist at a local hospital. She is doing this purely out of compassion as a loving friend and family member who wants to help us have a living child(ren). Her husband has been incredibly supportive throughout also. He watches the kids when she has to go to appointments, and has helped so much in the process.

Q. Are you paying your surrogate?
A. No, we are not paying our surrogate to carry our babies. She is doing what is called a “compassionate surrogacy” and doesn’t receive any compensation. However, we do pay for her meds, medical co-pays, etc. She won’t accrue any costs associated with the pregnancy. There are many surrogates who are compensated for their services, but most of them agree that the biggest reward is helping to make a couple’s dreams come true.

Q. Did you plan for twins?
A. We transferred two embryos to "K" because we would be happy with one or two children, but didn’t want to risk triplets or more. It’s always possible that an embryo splits into identical twins, though, so technically it’s possible that you can transfer 2 embryos, have both split, and end up with quads. The probability is 1 in 16 million. You can’t plan for exactly how many make it – whether it be 0 or 4 (or more – which would be exceedingly rare from 2 embryos). We were, however, hoping for twins since we wanted to have two living children and will probably not have this opportunity again.

Q. I bet you’ll still get pregnant eventually.
A. This is extremely doubtful. We are perfectly content with three kids (two living and Myles). Therefore, we will not be trying anymore! Trying to get pregnant is a costly, highly emotional scientific endeavor for us, which we won’t be doing again. It’s always possible (anything is), but that doesn’t matter to us anymore. After these babies are born our family will be complete and we will forever be grateful for the gifts we’ve been given.

Q. Why didn’t you just adopt?
A. Adoption is a very complex process in and of itself. While a lot of people think there are tons of babies sitting around just waiting for good homes, it is simply not true. It’s a long, difficult process. We wanted to try having a biological child through surrogacy before moving on to another stage. If this didn’t work, we would have moved on to adoption next. Furthermore, we already knew that we created embryos that result in perfect babies (i.e., Myles), so it seemed like the next natural step for us.

Q. How do you feel about not being pregnant?
A. Surprisingly absolutely and completely fine! I feel relieved not to have to worry about my body failing another baby. I know that the babies are safe and sound in a proven uterus and feel so very fortunate to have two little ones on the way! Plus, I did get to experience pregnancy with Myles and am forever grateful for those beautiful memories. My pregnancy experience will be the special experience that I will only share with one of my children, my sweet Myles.

Q. How does your husband feel about all this?
A. He is thrilled and actually quite relieved that he doesn’t have to worry about me and my safety. It was a scary situation for "J" to watch me so close to death in the hospital in my previous pregnancy and he really didn’t care to go through that again.

Q. So what are the genders?! What do you hope for?
A. We don’t know yet, but will find out in October. We are hoping for two healthy, living babies and honestly don’t really care so much about the specific genders. We’ll be thrilled with two boys, two girls, or one of each.

33 comments:

meinsideout said...

I loved it - perfect.

Jacinta said...

You guys are amazing. Well done on being so open and honest, I think it is an incredible email and your courage just shines through.

Alyssa said...

Totally great email and FAQs. :)

Anonymous said...

This seems quite self indulgent.

Anonymous said...

I love the email, and I think adding the FAQ's was a nice touch at the end. Perfect.

- Rosalinda
San Jose, CA

~Denise~ said...

I think it's a fabulous idea.

Dora said...

Well put. Love it. Looking forward to hearing about the reactions.

Anonymous said...

For the person who said this seems "quite indulgent", I think it is very sad that you feel the need to put Niki down like that. You don't deserve to even be able to read a blog like this, which has helped countless people. Respectfully, please keep your insensitive and uncalled for comments to yourself.

Kristy

Lost in Space said...

Perfect, Niki. I'm glad you are doing something to let people know. Those rumor mills can run rampant and putting everything out there in your words is wonderful.

I also like that it gets some dialogue started. If you were pregnant the physical reminders would be there for people to think to ask about.

To the anonymous "self indulgent" commenter: It's so easy to sit behind that anonymous curtain and say whatever you want. Please just go away.

TeriLynn said...

I just can't believe that someone would come and say something like that and make comments for all J & N have been through! I think the person whoever wrote that is a total loser because you ahve to do it Anonymous!

Niki, I sure wished i knew more about it, because i alway thought it would cost 30k to have a surrogate! But i am loving the 2 girls that got placed in our home and hopefully be able to adopt them or children that do come in our home!
Hugs Niki, I am so blessed that you are going to have 2 living children and Myles is sooooo lucky to have you and parents and be the big brother!!!

LK said...

Oh, internet trolls. Don'cha love 'em? They hide behind the word "anonymous" on their computer screen and spew ignorant garbage that exposes them as the small and thoughtless people that they truly are inside.

Clearly, being so put off by Niki's excitement and happiness over this glorious time in her life points to one thing: Jealousy. Don't waste even one minute thinking about this nincompoop's worthless comment, Niki.

I can't tell you how happy I am to log in to your blog each week and see those gestational weeks numbers going up up up! :)

Heather Jean said...

Dear Anonymous at 6:04pm on 8/28,
Self indulgent huh? It seems to me that you are the one who is self indulgent putting down someone like Niki, whom I doubt you have had the pleasure of knowing. Did you have a bad day? Did you need to rain on someone's parade in order to avoid kicking the dog today? I wonder what purpose it has served you to try to make someone who has already been through a living nightmare feel shitty again now that she is finally allowing herself to enjoy some much deserved joy, positivity and happiness.

May you never know the pain she has felt, although I suspect it's the only way you would ever understand where she is coming from.

It took a lot for me to wish you well in your future. If I were a lesser person I would have just told you to go fuck yourself. Peace to you and all those you love. I hope none of your babies ever die in your arms.

Andrea said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and educating people along the way. You and your family are so amazing and I feel honored to be able to read this.

I hope it doesn't seem stalker-ish but you, Myles, K, your twinnies and your hubby are always in my thoughts!

Take care!
Andrea
www.missprissdoesablog.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

To the "lurker" who found it this beautiful blog...
You're mother should slap your face. Shame on you. You obviously have the heart the size of a shriveled donkey testicle.

Self indulgent? Pfffft. I think by posting your moronic comment YOU are the self indulgent one. Indulge yourself elsewhere. You're not welcome here.

Nikster. You rock. Myles rocks. I loved-loved-loved that you refer to your 3 children. Well done!!

Tanya said...

Great email. I'm sure it will stop you from having to answer repetitively. As an added bonus there is nothing for the rumour mill to talk about...

I can't wait to hear the reactions...

Kelly said...

I kinda agree a bit about this being a bit self indulgent; it just seems unprofessional to send this mass email to all of your colleagues.

Niki said...

Kelly (and Anonymous), the staff and faculty at the high school where I work are like a "family". This type of email is a pretty common occurrence around our school. We update each other on major events (e.g., marriage, pregnancy, cancer diagnoses) that are occurring in our lives and everyone seems to appreciate the updates. As you may have noticed I didn't go into all the details of gestational surrogacy in the body of my message--I simply made the general announcement and attached the rest. Therefore, those who weren't interested didn't have to read it.

You may call this self-indulgent and unprofessional, but you don't know me and you certainly don't know my work "family". So, it's a pretty unfair assessment.

Anonymous said...

Niki,

I think it was very well written and is a fabulous way to share all the details for those people who are part of your "school family" that want more details.

I so enjoy reading this blog and am beyond touched by your love for Myles and the additional blessings on the way.

Thank you!

Heather said...

I think that's an awesome email, especially since many people have NO clue about surragacy etc. I think you worded everything beautifully.

Who the hell are these anon commenters that everyone's been dealing with lately?? Leave us alone.

Gina said...

Niki - I think that was a great way to explain things without having to play 20 questions with each and every co-worker. Inducing lactation? I have never heard of that before, but it is awesome that it is an available option! I'm glad you're enjoying the ride this time. Feb. will be here before you know it!

darateacher said...

I love your direct way of speaking and explanations. Your students are lucky to have such a good teacher! You've explained things with details and simplicity. Love it!

Also, you are so blessed to have your cousin as a surrogate, two beautiful babies bakin' in the oven, a wonderful and loving hubby, and a darling baby angel in Heaven. Truly blessed! Myles is looking out for you all. That's for sure! He loves his new sibs to be! :-)

Kelly said...

Niki-So sorry some have to be selfish and make nasty comments. Maybe you should block the anonymous posts again. Would be worth the peace of mind. You know we are rooting for you! :)

The Intended Parents said...

Niki - Fabulous idea! I love it, and I hopefully will be able to steal this idea from you sometime soon :)

Kelly (who wdoes not have a profile) and Anonymous (so brave of you to insult someone without leaving your name). How is this your business? Seriously, how Niki chooses to communicate this amazing wonderful news is HER BUSINESS, why is it self indulgent to explain to her FRIENDS what is happening in her life? It's pretty obvious that both of you have never been through the difficult, life changing experiences that Niki has been through and love to sit on the sidelines criticizing those of us who are brave enough to walk this road.
Please F* off.

sara said...

Wow - this is such a perfect way of answering those questions that many people unfamiliar with infertility or gestational carriers would have. Well put! I'll have to remember it when we do our own gestational carrier cycle coming up :-)

sara said...

Oh wow...I just saw that horrible anonymous comment. I'm so sorry. To that anonymous commenter...you should be ashamed of yourself!

Anonymous said...

I find it insulting that you imply that your surrogate is "just carrying your babies." She is nourishing them, her blood is flowing to them and is helping create the people they will be. It's not simply a "rent-a-womb" thing. You should be more compassionate about it. Just cause you used your eggs doesn't mean she doesn't contribute to your children's makeup. In fact, I would argue that she is contributing MORE than you since you "just provided the DNA" and she provide the rest of the elements to sustain these lives. Don't kind yourself that just cause these children have your DNA that your surrogate isn't contributing anything else but a rental space for 10 months. It's an insult to your surrogate and to women who use donor egg to conceive. Shame on you.

Kathy W.

Dora said...

WTF!?!? To the latest anonymous commenter: Is this the only post you've read on Niki's blog? Can you imagine how complicated it could be to explain surrogacy to people who are likely completely ignorant about reproductive technology?

I am currently pregnant via donor embryo, and I am not in the slightest bit insulted by what Niki has written. If you'd read her other posts you would know how much she values and honors her cousin's role in bringing her children into the world. There is so much love between these two women as they go through this together.

Also, if you'd read her other posts, you'd know how much loss Niki has suffered. I can't understand why anyone would want to cause her more pain.

Funsize said...

First time commenter but I've been following your blog for awhile. I have to say, while it's heart breaking that you have had to go through so much to get to this point towards parenthood, congratulations Niki! I hope everything goes well in K's pregnancy and you get to take your babies home.

To all the anon commenters, if you have nothing nice to say, go say it to yourself in front of a mirror. Obviously, none of you have ever been through the pain of losing a child, let alone not being able to concieve by yourself. If you had, you would never make such ignorant comments. Is it just as "self indulgent" to announce a pregnancy at 13 weeks, if you were the one carrying the babies? You wouldn't be showing at that point yet, so why bother announcing. What's the difference between that and Niki announcing her pregnancy via K's body, it's still her babies. And I don't know if you ever took biology, but a child gets its genetic makeup from from 2 sources- the egg and the sperm. What part of the uterus affects children's makeup? It is a sweet and a lovely gesture of familial strength and understanding, and K will always be part of those babies lives, just not genetically.
It's people like you guys that almost make me want to believe abortion is a good thing- maybe then none of you would be around.

Karma & Adam said...

Well said! I think the FAQ section is perfect. I spent a lot of time answering all those same questions - as did my sister!
To the anon posters - this is a public blog so it may feel like you can say anything. And I guess you can, but why be so nasty? Be nice. Have a heart. And don't be so quick to judge. I imagine you would be grateful for the same courtesy in your own lives.

MoDLin said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful post. You so generously answered many questions that most of us who don't go this route are likely to have.

What a special woman your cousin is do this for you. Best wishes to all of you.

N said...

Hey N! I just got back in town and am catching up on blogs...I was so happy to see you were able to use this! I hope you get as many positive responses as I did - so many people were really grateful for the "details". :) Isn't it great finally letting people know?

Bethany said...

Niki,
I found your blog through a link from another web site and I am so glad that I did. After reading this post I went back and read you blog from the beginning. I have never cried and laughed and wondered so much in my life. Thank you for putting it all out there and sharing with us annonymous strangers your lifes experiences. My sister lost one of her twin girls (also a micro-premie) after three days of hard battle. You remind me so much of her and I am going to share your blog with her ASAP.
I also hear much of my own grief and heartache over infertility and miscarriage in what you write. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my struggle and that while hope has sometimes gone missing, it is never trully lost and always found where least expected.

Thank you so very mcuh,
Bethany

. said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I got on google looking for the "way" to tell friends and family and this is perfect!