Posted at 10:02 am by Stefanie, on September 23, 2023
Our surrogate asked for full compensation regardless of when she delivers, with transfer scheduled just a month out. Our lawyer said he’s never heard of this… Our chat with our agency felt seriously awful. The agency owner is a three time surrogate who admitted she herself once requested full compensation. So you can guess how the rest of that conversation went. She basically attempted to normalize such an ask. I felt she was unprofessional and unethical, bringing her personal life into our situation. I felt she was completely on the surrogates side, didn’t emphasize with this surprise to us at all, even insinuated maybe this was my fault since I’ve yet to make contact with our surrogate. I was waiting until the contract is signed… So many things about this process with this agency and match has felt wrong. But to lose sooo much again as we already walked away from another agency who was bought out mid match and requested more money. Why does it feel like there is so much protection for surrogates and none for IPs?? Our surrogate is saying that she is asking for full compensation because our embryo wasn’t genetically tested. But why even match with us then? She knew that all along, and to ask for something, in my opinion, outrageous, so close to transfer, well, just feels so wrong.
Posted at 1:21 pm by Stefanie, on September 22, 2023
Do you ever just have a feeling that something isn’t right?
This whole surrogate process has felt like hell from day one. First waiting two years with the other agency to get matched finally with someone who had more pregnancy complications than me… Now, with the second agency, our match having lots of red flags from the start… if any of you remember reading about that… She asked for quite a bit more than the average surrogate compensation, she doesn’t have health insurance of any kind, and a personal weird feeling of mine, why isn’t she married to the father of her three children who she has been with for years and years…? Maybe none of my business that last one, but sure makes me wonder about life choices on her part.
Anyway, so here we are, a month before embryo transfer, we’ve already spent a shit ton on all the pre stuff, the psychological evaluations, all the medical clearance appointments, blah blah, blah. Yesterday her lawyer sends ours some updates to the contract they are requesting. And again, I feel like something is off with this match. She wants to be paid in full regardless of when she delivers. I’ve asked a lot of people in my surrogate community, and so far not a single person has heard of this. Standard is that she is paid for 40 weeks if she makes it to 34 weeks. Otherwise, she is paid for say 22 weeks if she delivers at 22 weeks. Apparently she is scared she is going to deliver early because our embryo wasn’t genetically tested, and both my girls were born early. But the early issue was me, my cervix shortening early, not the embryos. Plus, Nadia wasn’t IVF… But aside from that, I mean, of course we are also worried about an early delivery. That can happen to anyone even if past pregnancies have been perfect. But can’t she be worried about that and not also be worried about her pay? Wouldn’t that leave you wondering why she’s really doing this? I mean, delivering early really sucks, but I don’t want to pay her for work not completed.
She also wants to be paid 12 hours for days she goes to appointments. Now, if she actually misses 12 hours, yes, of course, I will pay her, she deserves that. But we were told she works an average of 25 hours every two weeks. What are the chances she misses 12 hours of work for an appointment? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to think she’d at least try to schedule appointments around her work?
Missing work should be straight reimbursement, not something she profits from. Her compensation is another bucket of money. There are so many buckets of money! But if I’m nervous about her being honest when submitting missed work, should she be growing our human??
Posted at 6:47 pm by Stefanie, on September 11, 2023
Today was our first chat with the lawyer handling our surrogate contract. It seemed fairly straight-forward, not a lot of wiggle room. Iowa is fairly surrogate-friendly, but since there are so few laws on this topic it’s still a bit of a free-for-all. We didn’t really make any demands, though we did request a higher level NICU if such is required than what the contract stated. We’re comfortable in Iowa City, but God help me if we end up there AGAIN. The lawyer is sending the contract to the surrogate’s lawyer tomorrow and hopefully they don’t make any weird demands. The money part is fairly set, already agreed upon, so that isn’t really up for debate, but lots of other things are.
Since our surrogate doesn’t have any insurance we need to buy her a policy. And I’m wondering how that is happening before the transfer which is now only 42 days away. We also need to update our Will to include this possible child… Just a few loose ends. Oh, and I need to make our first contact with the surrogate. We have yet to talk without a 3rd party, like an agency representative, with us. What the heck do I say???
Posted at 6:32 pm by Stefanie, on September 11, 2023
I feel like I’m in Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) hell. Let me give you a little background, and then I’m all ears if anyone has any advice.
From the research I’ve done and in speaking with other professionals in the education world, there are two structured phonics programs recognized as being suitable for dyslexics, Wilson and Barton. I believe both originated together, but like all things, they have slight variations and split into two some odd years ago.
For the past two plus years Nora has been working with a private tutor we hired. Said private tutor is a master certified Barton tutor and dyslexia consultant and a licensed teacher with 30 plus years of one-on-one teaching experience. AND has had 11 graduates from the Barton Reading and Spelling Program. She knows her stuff. I trust her. Nora really likes her. I contribute pretty much all of Nora’s progress to this tutor. It’s one-on-one for three hours a week, every single week of the year. Literally.
For the past year since Nora’s diagnosis she’s been meeting for 30 minutes daily at school with the special education teacher. Who I also love. And Nora loves her too. But it’s only 30 minutes a day, and not even everyday, as if there is any change to the school say, special education seems the first to go. Plus, it’s with two other students, so not one-on-one. AND the special education teacher is certified in Wilson, the other program.
I didn’t think much of this over the past year, of Nora learning both Wilson and Barton, but her tutor recently discovered this and believes it’s really hindering Nora’s progress, that it’s too confusing for Nora to be learning two different programs, plus the regular language arts instruction she receives in class as well.
In talking with our Area Education Center I was told one of the goals on Nora’s IEP is to be taught a structured phonics program, and since the special education teacher is only certified in Wilson, that is our only choice. So I feel stuck. I feel like I’m hurting Nora by keeping her in special education, but if we take her out, I’m told she loses all her other accommodations, like extra time on tests, having items read to her, audio books, etc.
So what do I do? Who really turns down extra help when it’s offered? It was a lot of work to get Nora’s IEP in place, I hate to just give that up. I believe we might be able to get a 504 for the accommodations, but that’s through the school, and I’m told doesn’t really hold as much weight. But… with our private school, we’ve never even technically needed the IEP, except for the actual special education portion. Whatever I’ve asked for, the school has done, with barely any questions asked. Do I just fund the ‘special education’ myself with the tutor and try for just the 504 for accommodations? What happens in later grades, will we miss having a formal IEP in place??
And on top of all that, Nora’s tutor is convinced Nora has a touch of ADHD. But really, who doesn’t these days? That evaluation was never done when dyslexia was discovered. But if I don’t want to medicate, as God knows she is on enough as it is, when what is the point of an evaluation??
Posted at 10:05 am by Stefanie, on September 8, 2023
Things are getting real… Our embryo transfer is scheduled, pending all goes well with our surrogate’s medications and such. And the date is… October 24th! It still seems a little surreal. Well, but then I see the cash-pay medical bills and that makes it feel way more real, LOL.
Everyone keeps asking how I’m feelIng. Obviously terrified. I mean, right now I still have hope this could turn into a baby. About ten days after October 24th that reality could die, along with our last remaining embryo. I think I’m mostly sad because I don’t feel like I ever had the chance to decide I did or didn’t want more children. Once Nadia was born early, our second early baby, the possibility of more children felt decided for me. I wasn’t fit to carry another baby. Though I must remember, I have two beautiful girls now in 1st and 3rd grade who are thriving. And for that I am extremely thankful!
Summer is upon us. The girls finished school May 19th, which actually feels like forever from now… I can’t believe Nadia will be in 1st grade and Nora in 3rd in the fall!
A nanny is hired and so far, so good! The girls love her, she’s taken them to the library, some parks, we might have her venture to the pool, we’ll see.
The girls had their ballet recital the Saturday after school ended, which was amazing as well, they both did excellent. Nadia was really nervous though and has since claimed she doesn’t want to take dance next year. We’ll see. Maybe she will change her mind!
With summer, though, comes the lack of a schedule, and that is slowly killing me inside as I tend to thrive on consistency and order. The days feel lazy to me, too lazy, sometimes almost wasted. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have a ‘to do’ list, but it doesn’t seem to be getting completed any too quickly. Which reminds of the load of laundry in the washer that is slowly molding as I type.
Health-wise the girls are doing okay, though Nadia has had a bit more anger than I think is normal. And did I write about her tics I noticed back in March? She was excessively clearing her throat, though only when eating. Back in March when they started I made an appointment with our lady in Minneapolis who we love, but the appointment was just last week, as you know, booked out. So we ran some labs this week, which mostly looked normal, well, normal for Nadia, and switched up a few supplements, so we’ll see if any of that makes much of a difference. The tics lasted maybe three weeks, so thankfully those have been gone for quite sometime. We suspect they were due to an exposure of something, maybe strep, but hard to tell as who knows what people have out and about in the community and at school that the girls are exposed to from time to time. The presence of the tic tell us that Nadia is not all healed, so we might be missing something. So we keep fighting. It’s not easy, for them, taking all the icky medicines and supplements, and me, preparing it every night, keeping everything organized, worrying about it all, worrying about them. Some days, I don’t know, almost feels like too much. But what other choice do I have?
Speaking of choices, I ordered a rife machine. I’m guessing most of you haven’t heard of it. I’ll post more once I have it, it’s supposed to arrive Friday. The gist of it is, every virus, bacteria, fungus, etc., everything basically, has a frequency at which is too much for it to handle, basically a frequency at which it dies. This machines can target those frequencies and kill certain things. I bought it for Lyme and co-infections for the girls. It will be interesting. Google if if you’re curious, but I’ll update you as well.
I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of the girls, the pool, park, and ice cream!
We completed our profile with the new surrogate agency, Heartland Surrogacy, and they have already presented us with a match. I should be more excited. I mean I am… but… This process feels so daunting. So involved. And so freaking expensive. I still feel like all the laws and protections are for the surrogate, few if any for us. I mean, even the language, we are the ‘intended parents’ as if they aren’t sure yet. WTF. And maybe this is the wrong way to state this, but to be honest, it feels like we are being nickeled and dimed for everything. I know we are asking a lot of someone… I mean, to grow a baby, which is no small feat. But they are getting paid. A lot. More than the median household income in the US per year in profit, not to mention we are paying for all the healthcare out of pocket, legal fees, and for basically anything else she wants, or so it seems. So part of me hates when they have to bring in the whole, I’m doing it out of the goodness of my heart. Would you demand this much money if it was out of the goodness of your heart? Yes, clearly I have some strong feelings here. But who wouldn’t in this situation. Anyway, we reviewed her profile and emailed back some questions we have, mostly about her health history. She has been a surrogate once before, delivered in October 2022, so somewhat recently, which is good. At least this isn’t all new to her. I assume we will accept her… I’ll keep you updated.
Posted at 9:54 am by Stefanie, on February 15, 2023
I haven’t written in a really long time. So much going on, you would think I’d want to get my feelings out, or at least document life. But… I don’t know. With a very long to do list most days, this sometimes felt like one more to do.
First, our surrogacy journey. Our current agency, ARR, which is located in Chicago, IL, and was only really our agency because it was the only one our fertility clinic would work with… has been acquired by KindBody or KindEOS or something. Which to my understanding is a large corporate surrogacy agency. I know very little after them. But I also know that the communication they have sent us lately, about this transition to the new company, has been anything but organized. The would send us one thing, demand we sign new documents, require thousands and thousands more dollars, and then the next day send another email that said all that was wrong and there is a new policy that applies to us instead. They seem like they have no freaking clue what’s going on. Which is not how you want to feel when you’re thinking of having someone CARRY A BABY FOR YOU! So we are cutting ties with them and seeking out some new options with an agency in Iowa. So far all I’ve done is fill out their initial application and we’re in the process of scheduling a phone call with them for next week, I think. So much money and time wasted. But such is life.
Valentine’s Day was yesterday. And can you believe I didn’t take a single picture of my girls and all the ‘things’ we did to celebrate?? Clearly I need to set my camera out and make a point to take some darn photos. But I guess at least I can say I’m living in the moment, and not behind my phone. The girls wanted a fancy dinner, and to them, fancy meant something similar to Thanksgiving. But since a whole turkey takes awhile to cook, we did a chicken instead, but still with potatoes and gravy, dressing, brussels sprouts, rolls, fruits and veggies, and an ice cream cake from Cold Stone for dessert. Nadia ate well. Nora demanded mac and cheese. I have no idea how to get that child to branch out and eat more healthy foods. If feeding therapy way back when didn’t help her, is there any hope?
Which brings me to how the girls are doing. And I’m happy to admit, incredibly well! But… I contribute it to the ton of hard work I do every single freaking day to get their supplements and medications into them. And it’s exhausting. Seriously. Most night as I’m spending 30 minutes or more getting everything ready for them to take I just want to cry. To give up. This is so hard. The time, the money, the organization, it is all so much. But I do believe it’s working. Along with a lot of other things, like filtering water, filtering air, cutting out as many toxins as possible… And the Neurofeedback! Nora has had 26 sessions now and is doing so well. Nadia has only done 13 I think. She is harder, younger, and doesn’t want to sit still as much, obviously. But we’re getting there, slowly but surely.
My business, The Mended Mind, is doing so well! I’m busy, as busy as I can possibly be, as busy as I really want to be. And making money! Which is great. It is. But my goal was never to make money. It was to help people. Which I am. I’ve been really conflicted this week though. Someone I rented a system to wants in on my business. And I’m not sure how I feel about this. She saw great results and thinks it’s amazing. I mean, it is. I wouldn’t have started this venture if I didn’t really believe that. But this person who wants in, I don’t understand how they can be in… I don’t need investors. I don’t need employees. I’ve got it all under control in the means I want it under control. My first and only concern has always been to help people, but I don’t believe this person’s first concern is the same. I think it’s money. And that is not where I want to head this business. Pay off the systems, yes, but not to get rich. I fear she doesn’t understand my back story, my years of heartache with my daughters, which led me here, why I even got into this. I fear she just wants to take my years of research and run with her own ideals and her own benefit in mind. I see no way for her to benefit me. Am I looking at this wrong? Well, how would you know, without knowing the whole story. But I don’t even understand her whole story. It just doesn’t feel good. And I get it’s business. Anyone could start this same business, just as I did… But if they start their own, that’s their business. My business is based on helping people. Period. I’m just feeling torn, like someone is crowding in on me. Does that make sense? So I’m feeling lost. And maybe even a little sad that someone would turn helping people into money.
Posted at 9:59 pm by Stefanie, on November 8, 2022
I don’t have a lot of time, but wanted to share a few things.
Yesterday Nora and I were in Iowa City for her learning disability testing. They diagnosed her with dyslexia. Which wasn’t a huge surprise, but seeing it written on her discharge papers made it feel more real. So of course I’m sad. I’m not sure what an official diagnosis really changes, waiting to hear back from her school and special education teacher.
Last night my 16-year-old nephew ran away from home. From what we know, he took his parents jeep and left around 1:45am with some personal belongings and any money he could find in the house. So it’s been almost 24 hours since he left. The police have searched everywhere, although now the search has been expanded to nationwide as it’s possible he isn’t still in Iowa. I have no idea what to think… If you’re the praying type, would you mind saying a little prayer for Ryan tonight?
Subscribe to follow my infertility, pregnancy, NICU, PANS, and surrogacy motherhood journey. Outside blogging I enjoy reading, coffee, and long chats with good friends. I live in Iowa with my husband and daughters, Nora (8) and Nadia (7).