Friday, November 27, 2009

And today's word of the day is...

dis-ap-point-ment   [dis-uh-point-muhnt] / [dɪsəˈpɔɪntmənt] / hear  **
  1. the act or fact of disappointing: All of his efforts only led to the disapppointment of his supporters.
  2. the state or feeling of being disappointed: Her disappointment was very great when she didn't get the job.
  3. a person or thing that disappoints: The play was a disappointment.
  1. 1605-15; DISAPPOINT + -MENT
  1. failure, defeat, frustration
  2. impasse
  3. setback
  4. fiasco
  5. mischance
  6. dissillusion
  7. false alarm
  8. flash in the pan
** Compliments of (An Service)

We received the call at 11:23am to let us know that we're not pregnant.  We immediately called Jane (not knowing if she had already received the results), and sure enough, she already had.  Needless to say, all of us were somewhat shocked.

Dr H called us this afternoon to follow up with us and discuss options.  Hearing from him really helped; more on that later.  For now, we are all trying to stay upbeat as we consider our next step in this journey.  Jane is doing okay, and though the Potatoes are a little bit mashed up, we haven't beome French Fries yet...

My apologies for not updating everyone sooner, but I'm sure you understand. 

Thank you all for your good thoughts, well wishes, and prayers.

Potatoes 1 & 2

Today will be a loooong day while we wait for the Pregnancy Results!

Jane's appointment is this morning, and we should know by noon if we are pregnant!  Wish us luck!  :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

We have frozen Embryos (yes, that's a GOOD thing)!!

This morning, the Clinic notified us that two of Potato #2's embryos had achieved the desired blastocyst stage, and had been vitrified/cryopreserved and stored!  YAY! 

I was also made aware of a great site that does a wonderful job of explaining the advanced assisted reproductive techniquest that we are using.  It provides a timeline, pictures, and statistics, and we really wish we had known about it before hand, as it is likely that it may have impacted some of our decisions to date!

Jane also went to get her estrogen and progestorone levels checked today, and they are "perfect."  The Clinic wanted her estrogen above 250, and her progesterone between a 10-47; Jane's levels were 357 and 25.9 respectively!  YAY!

So, we keep praying and hoping for good beta results next Friday, and really want to thank everyone for their continued well wishes, good thoughts, and prayers!


Potatoes 1 & 2

Monday, November 16, 2009

Embryo Pictures!

WOW - what a difference good eggs make for good embryos! Below are pictures of the two "perfect" day three eight-cell embryos (according to the embryologist and Dr H2) that were transferred to Jane today (on Day 3).

Potato #1's is a Day 3 EIGHT-Cell Embryo who, like his papa, likes Cuban food, long walks on the beach, Star Wars, Star Trek, playing guitar (with his extra fingers), pondering world peace (for which he hopes to one day receive a Nobel Peace Prize), and playing with his doggies. 

Potato #2's is a Day 3 EIGHT-Cell Embryo who, like his papa, likes Italian food, long hikes, gardening, family, and playing with his doggies.

Scroll down the page and compare these Day 3 embryos to the Day 5 embryos that were transferred to Jane back in August, and against the "generic" sample of a Day 5 eight cell embryo shown further below.

All I can say is "WOW!" I guess THAT is what a Day 3, eight-cell embryo is supposed to look like!!!

YAY - Now comes the hard part - the waiting!  We need to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to find out if we are pregnant (well, actually... if Jane is)!!  It is going to be difficult (not to mention wierd looking) to be walking around with all of our fingers and toes crossed for the next couple of weeks!!!

Calls, Calls, Calls... :)

8:45am Call #1: From Embryologist
Each of our batches have (3) "nice" 4-6 cells embryos, and (1) "beautiful" 8 cell embryo! Given how beautiful the 8 cells are, he is recommending that we transfer TODAY. Needless to say, we are kinda' surprised (as we didn't think today would be "the day"), but we are all for it - after all, the embryologist knows what he is talking about!! So, the donor team has been notified!

8:48am Call #2: From Clinic donor team
Jane has been called, and is scheduled to be in for the transfer at 11:15am. Unfortunately, due to the drive distance, this means we can't be there (earliest we could be there if we left immediately would be noon - ugh)! The Clinic will email us some paperwork to sign/pdf back to them.

8:50am Call #3: From Jane
Jane is excited that today is the day, though is equally surprised (as we were)! She is gearing up to get there, and will be hitting the road soon. We explained that we can't make it on time due to the distance, and she is understands (have we mentioned how awesome she is?).

8:52am Call #4: From Donor Team
Either Dr H2 or the Embryologist will be calling us to further discuss the embryos and the "transfer options." This may impact the paperwork we need to complete/pdf (?), so there will be a slight delay in the paperwork.

9:01am Call #5: To Jane
Called to update her on our conversation with the Clinic. Apologized again that we can't make it there for the transfer (as much as we really wanted to be there!). Invited her to lunch with us and our moms on Wednesday.

10:01am Call #6: From Dr H2 (Dr H's associate)
We each have (1) "perfect" Grade A embryos which are doing great, and are "exactly" what they want to see for transfer! In addition, Potato #1 has (3) "nice" embryos with 4-6 cells and Potato #2 has (4) "nice" embryos with 4-6 cells. Dr H2 indicated that given the perfect quality of the embryos, he really recommends transfering them today, and to let the additional embryos go on through Wednesday or Thursday in the hopes that they will develop into nice blastulas that we can cryopreserve. We may also choose to transfer some of the other embryos, but that may introduce additional risks including multiples, but the last thing we want is to create any risks for Jane, or additional multiples - two is definitely enough!! :) So, we agreed to go with the transfer of the perfect embryos from each of us, and to let the others grow out for cryopreservation! We also reminded Dr H2 about the pictures... :)

10:18am Call #7: To Jane
She is on her way to the transfer, excited and doing well! We updated her on our conversation with Dr. H2, and talked about how excited we all are!!

10:38am Email #1: From Donor Team
Paperwork to fill out, initial and sign re the "consent for disposition of embryos".

11:19am Email #2: To Donor Team
Initialed/signed documents re "consent for disposition of embryos".

Though we really are somewhat dissapointed that we can't be there for the transfer, we are really excited too! More info posted as it happens! Yay!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Fertile Friday Update...

Dr. H called us a little while ago and gave us an embryo update:
  • (14) Donor #414 eggs were thawed; and separated into two batches (one for each of us Potatoes)
  • (1) Donor #414 egg wound up being immature
  • (6) Donor #414 eggs in each were successfully fertilized (way to GO, sperm!)

Dr. H commented that this really is great proof of the quality of Donor #414's eggs, and that since so many fertilized and looked good, it appears likely that the transfer will actually occur on day 5 (Wednesday), rather than on day 3 (Monday).

Since they don't like to distrub the embryos, they will be next checked on Monday morning to see how they are progressing and give us a call with an update.

Yay!! :)

Fertile Friday (a.k.a. Friday the 13th)

Weeeeeeeeeee're Baaaaaaaack - and ready to blog! Why? Because we're still working on getting pregnant of course!

During the past few months, we spent time working with Dr. H at the Clinic to identify another donor since the last donor just didn't work out. Too many of her eggs wound up being immature, none of the embryos seemed to develop properly, neither of the two implanted "took", and none of the fertilized embryos survived to freezing - pretty much an all around failure! Dr. H assures us that her remaining eggs will be destroyed, and that she won't be used as a donor again. Whew!

Our new donor (a.k.a. 414), is a proven donor (just as the last one was), but is also commonly referred to internally as a "super donor", as she has donated many eggs which have all resulted in healthy babies (including twins). Granted, there aren't any guarantees, but we're hoping to not break her success rate!!! :)

This time, we spent a lot more time focused on the frozen egg vs fresh egg debate. This isn't exactly a very easy decision, as it seems that there are so many conflicting opinions out there, and there appear to be very few quantifiable and scientifically-based studies to help in the choice. Though the CDC does have a great site dedicated to these statistics (specifically check out the Assisted Reproduction Technology Report which includes fertility clinic updates by state/clinic), the data can be several yers old. Issues to consider include the changing regulatory lansdscape and technology... Advances in cryopreservation and the technological (and legal) ability to grow embryos out to five days are relatively newer advances, which make it even more difficult to interpret the officially reported numbers to the CDC against the backdrop of assurances from embryologists and fertility clinics, and doctors alike that the success rate of fresh vs frozen is now equal to each other. We ultimately chose to go with frozen eggs for a variety of reasons.

Meanwhile, Jane has been awesome! We can't say enough good things about how excited we are to be working with such a wonderful surrogate who has become a friend. We know that this hasn't been easy for her or her own family, as it inevitably creates a major disruption, yet her ability to maintain a positive attitude throughout the process has been especially helpful and encouraging for us. Jane cycled back onto her medications this summer and has been doing great - according to the Clinic, her system is ready to be pregnant! And, of course, so are we!

Friday the 13th (yesterday), became known as Fertility Friday. Frozen eggs were thawed, and we drove to the clinic to do our FDA required labwork, and provide our specimens for fertilization. Due to scheduling reasons, we didn't have an opportunity to discuss the status of the frozen eggs with the embryologist, but expect a call today to learn their status, along with how they fertilized.

Don't worry, we'll update the blog MUCH more regularly now that we are back on track!

Oh, and in keeping with the theme of Fertility Friday (as opposed to the ever spooky Friday the 13th), we are looking for something to rename the day after Thanksgiving, commonly referred to as "black Friday", since that is the day we will find out if we are pregnant!

Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yesterday is History. Tommorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. THAT is why it is called the present.

Ah... what wise words of wisdom from Kung Fu Panda!


We regrouped with Dr. H, discussed our options, and agreed to move forward with another attempt, from another approach by asking Dr. H to help us narrow down the donor selection process by recommending his most fertile donors (commonly referred to as "super-doners") for us. Dr. H told us that he was relieved to hear that we were open to options, as that is exactly along the lines of what he would have recommended. Great minds think alike. Dr. H's commitment came through loud and clear - it was pretty obvious that a failed transfer makes him work that much harder to make this work! Thank you Dr. H for your support!

Tuesday we have another conference call set up with Dr. H to discuss donors. We will definitely have another update then.

Jane is officially off her meds, and doing well. Everyone feels pretty bummed out about this transfer not working, but Jane is really encouraging and helping us stay positive. Timeline-wise, Dr H suggested that it would be 10-12 weeks at the earliest (mid November to December) before we could try another transfer. We figure that means we have approx 4 weeks to dig in to the donors and figure out who the next Suzie will be.

We're trying to keep ourselves upbeat, which isn't too difficult to do when you have a cute new little puppy in the house (Addie). Daisy our 'doodle and Addie are getting along great, even though it seems like Daisy is regressing a little (as if she never knew how to "stay").

Otherwise, while I can't say that everything is great, we really are trying to stay focused on the next attempt.

I seriously doubt we could do this a third time...

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and wisdom!!

- Potato #1

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When life serves you lemons, will you know how to make lemonade?

Well, as it turns out, life gave us a ton of lemons today, so line on up for some lemonade! Cash only, please.

Jane's bloodwork today came back negative - so, we aren't pregnant... Though your first thought might be to "break out the frozen embryos", we are sorry to report that there aren't any. Apparently none of them reached the blastula stage necessary for cryopreservation.

So, we're regrouping with Dr. H on Friday, and figuring out where to go from here. Fortunately, we have an AWESOME surrogate! Though equally bummed, she is doing well, and looking forward to the next transfer... Now if we can only find some good eggs!! :(

Yeah, life sucks sometimes, and you get stuck with lemonade (maybe even with lots of seeds) - yuck. I hate lemonade - though it is rather yummy with a splash of Chambord and Vanilla Grey Goose (remember that THAT is the secret to good lemonade when you get those lemons)!!

But don't worry, though there aren't enough words to described just how bummed we are, we haven't given up... We just need to figure out what the next steps are.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An-ti-ci-pa-a-tion... it's making me wait....

To answer everyone's questions... No, we don't have any update yet...

I guess the blood test is tomorrow morning at 7:30am, and the results should be ready by 12:30pm. Needless to say, I'm guessing this will be much more accurate than peeing on a stick!


We'll post an update as soon as we have one!

Monday, August 3, 2009

What a crazy day!

So, while we were able to stick to most of today's agenda, BOTH of the potatoes' telephones died in CT! Now, what is the chance of THAT?

We woke up at 5am, and were on the road by 7am, arriving at the Clinic at 9:30am, just as Jane pulled in. Jane got to meet the moms, and then we all went up to "the room" and hung out chatting. Jane was taken in to get prepped, and Dr. H (H for Handsome) met with us momentarily for an update and overview (and to meet the moms).

According to Dr. H, we each had good embryos growing, but as we all know, they could only select one from Potato #1 and another from Potato #2's batches. The remaining embryos will be grown out a few more days, and the best of them will be cryopreserved.

I'm sure you're asking what these little guys/gals looked like this morning, before the bright lights, makeup and stylists... queue the drum roll please... Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Potato #1's embryo, more commonly referred to as "el cubanito", is a dashing young embryo who (like his father) enjoys being an immigrant to a foreign land:

Potato #2's embryo, more commonly referred to as "el gringo", is an equally dashing young embryo, who (like his father) enjoys camping out:

Dr. H showed us their pictures prior to transferring them to Jane (below). In the spirit of "Where's Waldo?" can YOU find the eggs? They are there.... in fact, they are in plain site!

Following the transfer, the Potatoes and their moms went out with Jane for lunch, and to get to know more about each other. We had a blast, which served to drive home just how lucky we are to have such a wonderful surrogate working with us to make this happen! :)

Wow - what an exciting day today was!! The next HUGE step is 8/12/09, which is the official pregnancy test. Lets hope that the "cubanito" and "gringo" do well in their new home, and continue to grow!

More updates as they happen - Cheers!

Potato #1

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Agenda for Monday, 8/3/09

  • 5:00am Wake up
  • 6:30am Hit the road
  • 10:15am Begin takeover of the world
  • 12:00pm Light lunch with family
  • 5:00pm Play with puppies
Don't worry, we will be benign rulers - everyone will get a teddy bear.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

NINE - make that NINE embryos to take over the world with!

Quick update from the Clinic:

The embryologist called to update us on the status of the fertilized eggs at "Day 3".

Potato #1's batch developed another fertilized egg! To their surprise, a 3rd egg was found to be cleaving!! Woo-Hoo!!! That means I now have THREE chances to procreate instead of just two!!! According to the embryologist, I have:
  • One 8 cell embryo
  • "Two nice" 6 cell embryos
Potato #2's batch is developing along nicely too! He has:
  • Three 8 cell embryos
  • One 6 cell embryo
  • Two 4 cell embryos
According to the embryologist, they are looking for 6 to 8 cell embryos at this stage, so we are looking good!! He also shed more light on the decision to go with a 5 day transfer vs a 3 day transfer. It seems that since neither of the donors are "older", and since we have some really nice 6-8 cell embryos, it makes sense to do a day 5 transfer at which point the embryologist will have a better selection of embryos from which to choose from for the transfer.

Generally speaking, the Clinic has developed grading methods to judge oocyte and embryo quality. Embryos are graded by the embryologist based on the number of cells, evenness of growth and degree of fragmentation. The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the egg donor, the age of the surrogate, and various other health and diagnostic factors. Embryos that have reached the 6-8 cell stage used to always be transferred three days after retrieval; this is still true today if there are really only a couple of embryos available (or based on other extenuating factors). However, if there are many good-quality embryos still available on day 3, the embryos are placed into an extended culture system with the transfer done at the blastocyst stage at day five. Blastocyst stage transfers have been shown to result in higher pregnancy rates for a variety of reasons.

I know I'm providing lots of details here, and I hope they are accurate. In the event they aren't, please let me know so that I can update the blog post, as I don't want to be misleading anyone reading this.

Here is a "generic" picture of an 8-cell embryo for transfer 3 days after fertilization.

Note that this is NOT one of our embryos, just a "generic" one I found on the Internet!

On a separate note, I think it is also important to point out that the first transfer of an embryo from one human to another resulting in pregnancy was reported in July 1983, and subsequently led to the announcement of the first human birth resulting from IVF on February 3, 1984. It is really amazing to think that what initially caused all sorts of controversy ("the test tube baby") has evolved over the past 25 years into what is now a mainstream clinical practice.

This is simply amazing stuff, and truly an amazing application of technology at work for ME!


Eight embryos should be enough to take over the world, right?

Clinic Update:
  • We received a total of 12 eggs; they were divided into two batches of six each.
  • The embryologist decided to allow the eggs to fertilize naturally.
  • Potato #1's batch fertilized 2 embryos; Potato #2's batch fertilized 6 embryos; this leaves us with 8 embryos to grow.
  • The surrogate transfer date has bee set for Monday morning. Both moms are coming with us. We get "babies first pictures" of the embryos.
  • The remaining embryos will be cryopreserved (frozen).
Next major hurdles will be:
  • The pregnancy test on 8/12/09 (two weeks from from the egg retrieval).
  • The ultrasound on 9/2/09 (three weeks from confirmation of pregnancy). This is when they will confirm the number of embryos that have developed into fetuses and we will be able to listen to the heartbeat.
The big question in my mind that currently remains unanswered is: why day five vs day three? I was told that if the embryologists think that the embryos aren't doing too well, they tend to transfer them on day three in order to get them into the uterus ASAP. Based on some research on our end, it seems as though three days used to be considered the typical transfer period just a couple of years ago, but that by waiting until day five, the embryos have a much higher surface area in which they can connect with the uterus. Coincidentally, it appears that most clinics' statistics show higher success rates overall during the past couple of years, since it became more common to go with the five day transfer. But I really wish we could get a better explanation of just how they determine to go with the three day vs five day transfer. Are they focused on just getting two good embryos to transfer, or on getting one from each of our batches? Will my two fertilized embryos be jeopardized if we are waiting for fertilized embryos from my husbands batch to develop and vice versa? I'm hoping that they are in fact focused on the batches as individual batches to be maximized, as opposed to just getting the best of all eight...

More breaking news as soon as we have it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mr. Sperm, please allow us to introduce you to Ms. Egg. Please skip the hanky panky, and just GET IT ON!

Wow. I don't know how else to sum up today.

We arrived at the Clinic at 11:00am, checked in, and met with our handsome Dr. (whom we will refer to as Dr. H). Dr. H is the Medical Director at the Clinic, and is "the" guy responsible for the technology behind the journey we are attempting. Personable, charming, able to talk to us at our level (without the mumbo jumbo so many doctors often spout), and committed to helping us have kids, Dr. H is really great, and we are excited to be working with him and his wonderful team!

Dr. H told us that Suzie's egg retrieval went well, and that the eggs were in the process of being prepped and reviewed, and he told us that "so far, everything looks great."

We wrapped up our individual appointments, in which we provided our sperm samples, and were later told by the folks in the Sperm Lab that they seemed "fine."

From there we did some paperwork, and Dr. H stopped by to see how we were doing and help with any additional questions we might have.

From what we understand, here is basically what happens next:
  • The embryologists are basically in control.
  • The eggs and sperm are allowed an opportunity to acclimate themselves to the environment they are now in. The eggs are quantified and qualified. Since we are conducting a "shared" cycle, we have contracted for a specific quantity of eggs, with the remainder going to the Clinic for use with other couples.
  • The eggs are stripped of surrounding cells and prepared for fertilization. In the meantime, the semen is prepared for fertilization by removing inactive cells and seminal fluid.
  • The eggs we are receiving will be separated into two batches; one for each of us potatoes' sperm to fertilize.
  • The eggs and sperm are reviewed to determine whether they will be allowed to naturally fertilize, or whether assisted fertilization is necessary. This will be determined today, as the goal is to fertilize ASAP with all of the fresh material.
  • The sperm and the egg are incubated together at a ratio that may vary from clinic to clinic, but is typically around 75,000:1 in the culture media for about 18 hours.
  • The eggs and sperm start to date. The rules are simple. No long-term dating. They need to get down to business and get some home runs going ASAP! We have asked for pictures, but understand they may be shy.
  • In most cases, the egg will be fertilized during this 18 hour period. This is not one of those long term relationships that go nowhere. The fertilized egg will show two pronuclei.
  • The fertilized egg is typically passed to a special growth medium and left for about 48 hours until the egg consists of 6-8 cells.
  • We should get a call tomorrow informing us of just how many embryos were fertilized and how they are doing.
  • Over the course of the next two days (Thursday and Friday), the embryos are checked, evaluated, and reviewed for "assisted hatching" as necessary.
  • By Saturday morning, the embryologists should know if they want to conduct the transfer of the embryos to Jane on Saturday (day 3) or on Monday (day 5).
  • I believe we will receive pictures of the embryos on transfer day. :)
  • The remaining embryos are frozen (through cryopreservation).
Jane's bloodwork will be regularly checked during the next 8 weeks to verify pregnancy and hormone levels, but most importantly to make sure she is doing okay. It is critical to point out that Jane's health is of foremost importance to us. She has a wonderful family, and beautiful kids. She is a really wonderful and amazing person, and the our appreciation for her help in making this possible for us is difficult to put into words.

That's basically today in a nutshell. Wow.

More as it develops!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thirty Nine (39) Hours Until Fertilization!

According to "Baby Central" (the Clinic), we are now at 39 hours until fertilization, and everything is proceeding on schedule!

Suzie is scheduled for egg retrieval early Wednesday morning, and we are scheduled to provide our "samples" at 11:00am.

By 11:15am, the "samples" will be busy doing their thing.

We should know on Thursday morning how they did.

Let us all bow our heads and pray.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Let the Egg Harvesting Begin!

Everyone's monitoring is continuing along smoothly!

Potato #2 and I went yesterday morning to get our second round of labwork completed. The young lady that did the bloodwork was very pleasant, and excited for us!

Suzie's follicles continue to grow, and folks at the Clinic tell me that they expect her eggs to be mature either this weekend or early next week, at which time they will inject her with Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to cause the eggs to complete their maturation. Once hCG is administered, we are given our 48 hour notice to get to the Clinic to produce our sperm samples for fertilization, embryo culture, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD; only if necessary), transfer to the surrogate (Jane), bloodwork and follow-up.

Suzie's eggs will be divided in half, with half going to the Clinic (because we are doing a "shared donor"), and half being set aside for us. The half that go to the clinic are cryopreserved via oocyte (egg) freezing. Our half is further divided in half, with one half to be fertilized by Potato #1's sperm and the other half to be fertilized by Potato #2's sperm.

The sperm from both of us are added to the eggs on the day of the retrieval (typically within an hour or so). Oddly enough, the embryologists like to give the sperm an opportunity to fertilize the egg "naturally". If a problem with fertilization occurs, the embryologists then turn to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is chosen ("the chosen ones") and injected directly into each egg (of course, this would be done to each of our batches of eggs).

Embryo Culture
Once the eggs are fertilized, they are cultured for 2-4 days before the resulting embryos are considered ideal for transfer. During this period, the embryologists monitor the embryo development through several crucial cell division stages. One critical cell division stage may require the embryologist to "hatch" the cells in order to assist in implantation. Embryos may be graded based on their appearance or on PGD.

Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
It has been determined that in our IVF case, PGD does NOT apply, so there isn't any need to perform PGD on our embryos, but because of the significant debate PGD presents, I thought worth writing about it to "make you think"... of course, if you would rather not think :) you can just skip ahead to the Transfer section!

PGD utilizes an embryo biopsy (where the embryologist separate one of the cells from each embryo) to evaluate the genetic composition of the growing embryo in order to determine the true genetics of each embryo prior to their transfer and subsequent pregnancy. The thought is that by using the results of the biopsy, the embryologist can identify the embryos that are "truly perfect" from others which may look good but may have chromosomal disorders which could lead to miscarriage or birth defects. Some argue that the mere process of biopsying an embryo may subject it to so much strain that it may impact its long term viability, or cause other issues. Others argue about the actual tests performed against the biopsy: (1) chromosomal testing (aka aneuploidy screening) and/or (2) genetic testing.

The chromosomal testing ensures that the embryo does not contain an abnormal number of chromosomes, which may lead to a failure of embryo growth, miscarriage, or birth abnormalities such as Down Syndrome. Women who may benefit from chromosomal testing include older women, women in whom embryo quality is a concern, and women who have experienced multiple miscarriages or prior births with genetic disorders.

The genetic testing is usually done for a specific disease by detecting a specific gene defect that can be inherited from one or both parents. These defects include ones that may lead to conditions such as cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Tay-Sach's disease. There are many other genetic disorders for which PGD can be used following proper genetic counseling with the intended parents and/or donors.

Needless to say, PGD raises many potentially ethical questions, and I think both of us are relieved that we don't have to deal with them. Coincidentally, I read in the NYTimes today that Yury Verlinsky, considered "the" expert in the field of Embryonics Screening, and credited with developing the techniques to detect genetic disorders in embryos through PGD just died recently in Chicago. I'm sure that his work has helped many families, and that his loss will be felt far and wide within the IVF community.

Embryos are generally transferred on either the third or fifth day after harvesting, in order to allow the embryologists to observe the way they develop and grade their quality. Based on experience, the embryologists select the embryos with the highest chances of pregnancy based on embryo quality. The number of embryos being transferred to Jane is anticipated to be two - one from each of our batches of fertilized eggs; the remaining embryos will be cryopreserved (frozen). Assuming all goes well, we wind up with twins that are genetically related to each through the egg donor, and genetically related to each of us through our sperm.

Bloodwork and Follow-Up
An initial blood pregnancy test is performed on Jane two weeks following the embryo transfer date, the Clinic will follow Jane closely for the next 8 weeks, with some visits and bloodwork. Within five weeks of the embryo transfer, they should know how many embryos remain viable.

Gosh, this is starting to get so damn technical - lets bring on some babies!!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nine (9) Days Until Egg Retrieval!

NINE days and counting!

Throughout the past few weeks, the Clinic has been monitoring Susie and Jane. We've been advised that:
  • Suzie continues her Lupron treatments which are used to suppress the pituitary gland’s secretions of luteinizing hormone (LH). Normally LH is secreted in high amounts by the pituitary gland just before ovulation. In fact, it is this rapid release of LH (the “LH surge”) that triggers egg release (amazing!). Lupron suppresses the LH surge and prevents ovulation so that Suzie does not release the eggs prior to the retrieval (which would be BAD).
  • Suzie began her Gonadotropins (which stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles) within the past two weeks. The Gonadotropins have been adjusted according to her hormone levels and ultrasound results, as her follicles have been produced.
  • Suzie's regular monitoring suggests that her ovaries are "plump" and that her eggs appear to be "maturing nicely." Suzie will be further monitored on Tuesday and Thursday of next week and into the weekend. This last portion of the monitoring is focused on determining when to "pull the trigger" by injecting the hormone that causes all of the eggs to be released. When the largest follicles reach a critical size (approximately 20 millimeters) the eggs within them should be mature. Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is then given, which causes the egg to undergo a final stage of maturation. The retrieval then follows precisely 34-36 hours later.
  • Jane's "uterine lining is nice and thick and ready".
  • Us potatoes need to get the final FDA-required lab work (yes, from the FDA) completed on 7/24 (this is a follow up to the blood work taken over a month ago for comparison purposes). Since we are both essentially considered to be donors (according to the FDA), the FDA requires all sorts of analysis work be completed to ensure that we are healthy and don't carry any contagions that could be passed along to Jane (certainly reasonable enough).
Jane and the Potatoes are "on deck" for the week of 7/27.

The next steps include Fertilization, Embryo Development, Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), and Embryo Transfer - More on that later!!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

2 1/2 Weeks Until Egg Retrieval!

I know, I know, I know... I've been slacking... But there really ins't THAT much new to update everyone on...

At this point, we have 2 1/2 weeks left until the egg retrieval, insemination, and transfer. Suzie and Jane have been on their medications for a couple of weeks now. Suzie's drugs are stimulating fresh eggs for retrieval, while Jane's drugs are focused on making her eggs dormant and stimulating the lining of her uterus for pregnancy. Everyone is doing great, and seems to be "on track." Once Suzie's eggs are retrieved, they are inseminated, and "grown out" 3-5 days. The folks at the Clinic will determine when they are at ready for transfer to Jane. After two weeks (and several monitoring visits) we will know if the pregnancy "takes." Two to three weeks later, we should know how many heartbeats there are, and since we are hoping for twins, there should be two!!

Its amazing to think that we could be pregnant within 5 weeks - isn't technology just amazing?!?

Woo0Hoo!! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My day of reckoning...

Everyone has a day of reckoning...

...It seems that mine was yesterday (Friday, 5/22/09).

Unlike President Clinton, I can't say "I didn't inhale", and my colleagues from FCI will be the first to attest to my (in)ability to drink copiously. Did any of these "youthful indiscretions" (aka bad decisions) damage any of my sperm (a.k.a., "little men", "fighting men", "troopers", or "soldiers")? After all, being gay, I never thought they would really be of any particular use to me (it's not like I'm heading off to war and need troopers, right, everyone knows Cubans are pacifists)?!?!

So it was with great hesitation and serious contemplation that the 2nd Potato and I headed out to the Clinic yesterday to complete our FDA required tests, since technically speaking, the FDA views us as sperm donors for this process. Now, if the FDA can't do anything to prevent/monitor salmonella in peanuts, broccolli, or hamburger, how am I supposed to trust their conclusions re my sperm?!?

Nightmares that ended in "... sorry Potato #1, but your sperm has salmonella, so we can't allow you to reproduce..." followed by the sounds of news trucks camping out in our front lawn waiting for a statement, kept waking me up in the middle of the night Thursday...

To ease my concerns, the folks at the Clinic conducted all of their tests quickly, and happily informed me that my little men are fine - better than fine, in fact! It seems that my troopers are ready to fight and conquer England (well, maybe not England, but certainly France, right? I mean, according to certain history books, they are pretty good at welcoming invaders, no?)! But rest assured that I've given the troops orders to stand down for a few weeks until they are really needed - people of England (and France) need not be afraid and can relax!! Of course the 2nd Potato's troopers are fine too, and we can finally relax.

The next step is the results of our blood work, which should be completed by the middle of next week. Once we get over that hurdle, the "official time line" gets created!


Sunday, May 17, 2009

I didn't inherit the laborer gene!

You're either part of the problem or part of the solution, right?

We've chosen to be a part of the soluition by starting our own garden! Given the lousy quality of our soil, farmer Potato (err, I mean the 2nd Potato) decided that we should build a "raised garden", to which I just looked at him blankly and asked if it would be like the one the Giant had in Jack and the Beanstalk? "Exactly" he sighed.

So, the 2nd Potato set about to design a "raised garden" like his father and his father before him did, with a pencil and paper. His layout was for an 8' x 8' x 1' garden with four rows of companion plants...
"You have to allow for enough space between the rows"", he said.
"Of course, I replied, giants have big feet!"
"Right" he sighed....
Additional considerations re our "raised garden" include:
  1. We have a groundhog, commonly referred to as a woodchuck, or Chuck. Chuck took up residence on our property years ago, keeping to himself, and to the edges of the grass line. Chuck would probably like our "raised garden" a little too much, so we have to keep that in mind, pointed out the 2nd Potato. Now, I'm all about share and share alike, but since Chuck doesn't really have anything to share with us, I would tend to agree with the 2nd Potato.
  2. We don't have a truck, van, or other vehicle with a large bed/trunk. So, we will need to be creative in how we get the materials for said "raised garden" from wherever one gets such materials to the house.
  3. Farmer Potato, err, I mean the 2nd Potato, doesn't seem to think I know how to build a box?!?
Okay, so for those of you that don't know me, please don't let me handsome mug suggest that my body was built for labor - it wasn't. In fact, growing up, I wasn't even allowed to wear jeans, because as grandma would point out " seas come mierda chico, que no eres un campesino, ponte pantalones como un hombre!" which essentially translates into "... you're not a laborer, put on slacks like a man!" As a result, I don't think I ever even owned a pair of jeans until I was in my 30s...

So, anyhow, I got out my own paper and pencil to layout how to build a box... Granted, it isn't really a box... it is just four sides of a box - no top or bottom... though technically, it will have chicken wire on bottom to keep Chuck from digging his way in. One trip to the local Home Depot later (along with one nasty conversation with a very unhelpful customer service lady, who makes me wonder why we even bother ever going there), and we had our materials: four 8' x 12" boards (cut into 4' lengths so that they fit into a vehicle), some nails, and some connecting and corner braces (technically, Simpson Strong Ties). We assembled the 4' pieces into 8' pieces with the connecting braces, connected everything together with corner braces, and then added the chicken wire to what became the bottom of the box, and voila - we built a box!! A local garden supply company delivered some great quality loam today, and after laying down some weed blocker, we shoveled the dirt into the box, and now we have a great box of dirt - er, I mean "raised garden"!

So, I am now under the influence of Advil Migraine, in the hopes it will help with my bad case of laborer aches and pains! My back aches, my triceps ache, my hands ache, my thighs ache - I ache all over! Damn, now that I think about it, I think grandma had a great point! Maybe I just misunderstood... maybe she meant to say that I don't have the genes to be a laborer, instead of the jeans? ;)

Anyhow, sometime this week, the 2nd Potato will probably put some netting up (to prevent the nefarious squirrels, rabbits, and deer from gaining access to our "raised garden"), and plant the seedlings we started weeks ago (and have been waiting for the DEA to come banging down our door in a case of mistaken seedlings)! With any luck, we should be able to enjoy a versatile cornucopia of "raised garden" stuff like tomatos, squash, peas, greenbeans, and various herbs.

Yay - we have a garden!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just what is a "Great Dad"?

Someone recently told me that they were sure I'd " a great dad." I asked them how can they be so sure, to which they replied "I'm sure you'll do a great job, just like your dad did with you!" I smiled, said "Gee, Thanks, I guess I never thought of it that way!"... and then started thinking...

And thinking... and thinking... and thinking... I love my dad, and think I have a good relationship with him - though admittedly not as good as I'd like to have - and lots of family and friends insist that I will be a "great dad" but...

The reality of the situation is that the Cuban Revolution wreaked chaos on my family, just as it did to so many others. As a result, when I was 18 months old, my father was unable to migrate with the rest of my family as we left Cuba to come to the United States on our raft of tires (okay, I'm embelishing here - there was no tire raft, we actually flew over on a plane - but as I writer, isn't that a liberty allowed to me?)... Because of the politics of the situation, my dad wound up stuck in Cuba for years, during which time he remarried and raised two daughters.

Now, I'm not trying to cry "poor me" by any means - after all, I had the opportunity to grow up here in the "Land of the Free" surrounded by my mom, grandparents, and other close family members (how many people actually knew their great grandparents? I did!)... My family did a great job raising me, imparting a strong sense of ethics and hard work. Between my grandfather and uncle/godfather, it's not like I lacked any fatherly figures, but they weren't my dad...

I never did have anyone show me how to toss a ball, cast a fishing reel, ride a bike, recognize a birch tree, track a deer, or do any of those things that Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Good Parenting, or any of those fatherhood websites say you're supposed to do with your kids... Though I do know how to spot deer droppings, and a robin's egg (thanks to the 2nd Potato)... Gee, I hope these things will come as natural as typing on a keyboard does!

So, just what makes a "great dad"? For that matter, what makes a "good dad"? I don't know how to toss a ball, cast a fishing reel, recognize a birch tree, track a deer, or do any of those things yet! Geez, I just learned how to ride a bike two years ago!

Wow - what pressure!!... I'm hoping some of this just comes naturally, and think I'm going to just focus on being a dad - which is going to be TOTALLY NEW, takes a little pressure off, and might be easier!

So to help me figure out what to do, I decided to invest in two books (I know, I know... but I'm hoping they can help)!!
  1. The New Father - A Dad's Guide to the First Year (2nd Edition), by Armin A. Brott
  2. Your Baby's First Year week by week (2nd Edition), by Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler

Both books seem great, and I think we'll try to blog weekly about how the tater tots compare against the week by week book!

Wow - I can't believe we're going to be dads!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Tentative" Schedule

So it looks like we are one step closer to making this real now - we have a "tentative" schedule!

Susie and Jane have already completed their "workups" and the focus is now on the Potatoes' "workups!" Since Potato #1 has to take 5/22/09 off as a furlough day (unpaid day off), the Potatoes have scheduled the drive to the Clinic to complete our "workup" on 5/22!!

Once our "workup" is finalized (takes about a week for all results), Suzie and Jane begin their six-week med cycle, and a more detailed and "formal" schedule will be created. Based on the "tentative" schedule, it looks like we could be pregnant by August, with babies due in May!

YAY!! :)

Gee, is it time to get nervous yet?!? Naaaaaah... we'll wait until we are pregnant! In the meantime, I think we need to avoid watching any TLC or Discovery shows re "primordial dwarves", "giant syndrome" or anything else along those lines....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nurses and there a difference?

We went to visit our goddaughter last night at the hospital, bringing one of her sisters and staying late to make sure we all got a chance to visit. When we entered the ICU where she is, everyone was very quiet and polite. As we walked around the corridors looking for her room number, the rooms have large sliding glass doors for monitoring, and one of them was open and there was a toddler style bed with toys all around it and a nurse attending to the patient. Further down, we find our goddaughters room, we enter a small nurse office before entering the room. The nurse was very polite and caring, she explained why we had to enter through her office and double doors to get into the room. After we entered, we see tubes and computer screens and see her lying in the middle of it. The nurse attended to everything around us, never once asking us to move or bumping us out of the way.

She's 16 years old, not a clue what's wrong with her, she's in an induced coma while waiting for biopsy results due at the end of this week. Here lies a girl with messed up hair and no makeup on, tubes out of her mouth, her smile is gone, in a "window" as if on "display"...a most uncomfortable and unflattering image. -Yet she is getting the best care and as we walked in her mother and sister are holding her hands and caressing her feet, just to let her know she's not alone. Her mom has not left her side since she entered the hospital, knowing how fearful she is of needles and hospitals and such. She sleeps in the same room as her daughter, right near her, she notices everything. The temperature wasn't right, there was no music, so she addressed it with the nurse and they changed it to be more comfortable for the patient and the mom!

I guess the point of this story is I don't see a HUGE difference between a nurse and a mom, they both look out for the patient, whether it is one they've loved from birth, or one they've just gotten to know and is lying there in a coma expecting them to help them feel better.

I just hope I can be half the "mom" or parent this woman is to her youngest child and that I could act so selfless and defiant of my own needs to assure my children have the best care.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Man "bags"...

I was talking with the other potato about diaper bags and we'd both noticed how many diaper bags are geared towards women .... or on stage drag queen accessories. Not that there is anything wrong with drag queen accessories, but how many pink, frilly, shiny "pleather" quilted bags with shiny faux gold buckles can one guy carry?! Most of my family live in northern NH, so carrying that around would definitely get me shot at, hunting season or not. It seemed the more we looked, the more feminine they looked and the more pricey they got.

We decided we'd sit down and figure out what we wanted out of a diaper bag and search for something more mannish...a "man" bag! Now I'm not talking cammo with a gun rack that tucks into a side pocket or a bag that holds a six pack of beer and ice, just something less winnie-the-pooh'ish. We both are a bit geekie, the other potato is more so than myself. That would mean we'd want something that holds a cell phone without getting applesauce on it, that can hold a laptop without getting baby powder sprinkled on the keyboard, and that would be a somewhat neutral color. When he first mentioned carrying a laptop, I had to laugh! -Are you serious? Carry a laptop with diapers and a "binkie"...can they do that?! Well, apparently they do! I found this great looking diaper bag online, that holds diapers and a laptop...I almost fainted. I attached the link so you can all see it for yourselves.

It would appear they have many geek items, for adults and baby alike! -How exciting!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The nursery room...

So I've been thinking about the nursery for a while and I realized I don't want our nursery to look like something out of a magazine or a showroom. Now that may sound selfish to some, but really the nursery is for the comfort of the parents with of course accommodations for the babies. -But by and large, it is going to be for those long nights of crying babies and the big potato is gonna want some comfort! :) That is not to say that the changing table is going to double as a sports bar and the "painting" on the wall doubles as a flat screen TV, or that the ceiling fan will be used for jerry-springer-like acrobatics and wild moments around a pole. that I put it that way...but NO, no I won't do that!

As I'd thought about a theme, which apparently is still all the rage, I decided to go against the grain; no strawberry shortcake, no flying barnyard animals and over sized butterflies, no ginormous rats or cats with striped hats, no such thing at all will be put upon the wall (catch the Dr. Seuss'ish way I said that?). I've looked and looked and looked at countless manifestations of nursery propaganda and it was all too commercial for me. I wanted something that said unique, fun, meaningful, but most of all that the children would be surrounded by family. Yes, you guessed it, the theme of the nursery will be "family".

Now you might be wondering to yourself how on earth will farting Uncle Clarence and belching Bertha contribute to a "good night's sleep" for the babies?! From afar! I've asked several family members to contribute stories of their upbringing to be shared with our children. Now nothing that will contribute to the delinquency of our sweet lil babies, but some stories that might be filled with more moral fiber than wretched abandon! When all those stories are received, I will sit down and create a children's book of these stories and the other potato will help me in making the book(s) bilingual, adding and subtracting as necessary to make the story fit for a child without taking away from the actual story itself. I will also add drawings and pictures as necessary to help in creating the depth of each story. Other ways that I've asked them to contribute is by giving me titles of their favorite childhood books, so that we may place them in the nursery and read them to our children. Even further contribution will be done by placing a genealogy tree in their room, with pictures and names and dates of course. I've also had an idea of advice that my relatives have or were told to them as they grew up, that we might be able to put up in their room on the walls in fun colored frames or painted on the walls in certain areas. -Nothing that will put them into therapy of course, but wholesome, honest one-liner advice from family. Lastly donations from our family to the room, such as a baby blanket that was handed down from a relative (which a special someone is already doing...thank you Gabby!) or other family-hand-me-downs that we would be able to put in the room. I will also be designing and sewing curtains for the room as well as minimally painting their room. This is not to say that cuddly teddy bears and toys won't be in there as well. I want our children to know their roots. With stories from both potatoes family members it will allow the children to get to know family members that have passed on or are simply too far away. I want to make their room special with family influence, but it will also have accents of colors and fun things that will enable the room to easily transition to adolescence and beyond. -Besides, who wants a strawberry-shortcake themed room when they turn 16? (Sorry potato #1!)

Having children is like running a marathon...

So it has been some time since we've posted, but rest assured we've not abandoned our readers! With one potatoes work increasing and the other potatoes school coming near an end, it's crunch time.

A little birdie, we'll call her Lisa, had mentioned a marathon that she and her daughter signed up for this fall in the area. She is walking a half marathon to just help get her into better shape. As I pondered the last time I ran (nearly 20 yrs ago), I thought if she can do it, why can't I?! I'm not as young and foolish as I used to be, so that means I'm older and wiser and should be able to tackle this "project" like any other. The sensibility of getting into better shape certainly seems realistic considering twins running around for years to come!

So I signed up for the Bay State Marathon in October. I had no idea what to do to start prepping for this marathon, as I'd never ran one before in my life. Did I say run the full marathon? -Yes, I did! Isn't that crazy! I didn't know what stretches to do or which set of leg warmers to use or if my "walkman" would still work after all these many questions! As I did my research I find out that there are so many older adults running marathons and there is a ton of information out there from diet to apparel (leg warmers are out, just so you know!) to which stretch can put you in the running and which stretch can put you in the hospital (good to know!).

I'm very excited to be running a marathon, some have told me that having children is like running a marathon. My one inspiration (or two!) in getting up at 5:30am on a Saturday morning and running 6 miles is the idea that I will be physically ready (at least somewhat) to be able to address the needs of my children. It's one thing to be financially ready and emotionally sound, but what about physically ready for the task? I feel running a real marathon will be a stepping stone to running a life-long marathon with raising children. - Exhausting, yet satisfying!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Updates, Updates, Updates...

Okay, so I've completely slacked on posting any updates lately. But, then again, so has my better half, so maybe I can get away with just half the blame?!?

Anyhow... to be fair... there really isn't that much to provide as an update...

Have I mentioned the amount of paperwork involved in this process? In order to get the correct contracts in place with everyone, there are lots of questions and answers that need to be memorialized in contracts. Contract with the Agency, contract with the surrogate (carrier), contract with the egg donor, contract with the Clinic, etc.

As of Friday (5/1/09), all of the contracts are D-O-N-E! YAY!!!

Susie starts her medications within a week to stimulate egg production. Jane's process starts out with various exams prior to the start of her medications within a week too. The 2nd Potato and I start our own medical exams within a couple of weeks.

At this time, it looks like we could be pregnant within 6-12 weeks! I expect that within the next few weeks there should be a timline established by the Clinic.

In the meantime, we continue to scour through FreeCycle to gather stuff for the kids!


Monday, April 6, 2009


Well potato #1 finally allowed me out of pen and paper prison and into the "big sky country" of blogspot. He's done a great job being the front potato with good direction from the potato behind the However, now that this spud is above ground, plan on seeing a lot more of me!

Want a Boy or a Girl? Have you thought of any names? Do you care if they're Gay or Straight?

So once people get over the "how cool" factor that the two of us are having kids, there seem to be three questions that inevitably come up:
  1. Do you want boys or girls?
  2. Have you thought of any names?
  3. Do you care if they turn out gay or straight?

Of course, all we can hope for is healthy babies, but for those that keep pressing, here are some answers:

Re (1), I don't really know anything about women (you know what I mean), but we are confident that between family and friends, there are plenty of women in our lives that will be able to help us (and THEM) if we wind up with girls! Of course, whoever tries to date them will need to find their own help to get pass the two of us when they get to the dating age of 47! Ah, what happy babbies they will be!

Re (2), Yeah, don't worry, they won't be named Baby #1 and Baby #2! We've started thinking about names, and have a running alphabetical list on the left of some of the "contenders". We'll keep it up to date, and will eventually start sorting it in order of those that are more likely than less. Happy babbies need a name!

Re (3), Fifteen years ago, I think we both would have shared the opinion that their lives might be "safer" or "better off" if they were straight - but lots has happened in the past fifteen years, and we firmly believe that lots more progress will be made during the next fifteen years! So, we can honestly say that we really don't care and believe that they will really have an equal opportunity regardless of whether they're gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning! Happy babies just need to be happy!

BTW, we have tip our hats to this HILARIOUS post over at "gay dads in munchkin land" titled "OMG, he likes girls" that I highly recommend for a great laugh!

So to recap, we really don't care if we have boys or girls (or one of each), or if they wind up gay or straight - we really just want to have happy healthy kids!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

If you've got something to give, then give it away.

Okay, so having never had kids, but ever the project manager, I've started to think logistically about what we will need...

A crib, a changing table, a car seat, a coddle up rocking thing, a glass bottle (okay, several glass bottles), diapers (okay, lots of diapers), a TV (oops... scratch that and replace it with toys... lots of toys), and of course books! Then I sat back and realized "UhOh"... since the plan is to have twins, then most everything we will need is going to be "times 2" - Yikes!

How will we be able to afford all this "stuff" I thought... There must be generic equivalent substitutions we can use, right? Just so long as the active ingredient is the same, who cares about the fillers, right?!?! So, ever the project manager, I pulled together my substitution list:
  • Crib = Daisy the dog's bed (after all, Daisy tends to sleep in the bed with us most of the time)
  • Changing Table = carpet or ottomon
  • Coddle Up Rocking Thing = Potato #1 or Potato #2
  • Glass Bottles = hmmm... lacking breasts, I don't think we can go generic on this, and since we don't want to use plastic bottles, and neither of us drink heavily (yet), we don't really have bottles in the house... we may not be able to go generic on glass bottles...
  • Diapers = cloth
  • Toys = either share Daisy's toys (which she would LOVE to do - especially the pull toys), or use the squishy squeaky things vendors send in the mail at work all the time
  • Books = TV! Damn, no... that's not generic enough (though it is close enough, eh?)... Um... how about reading our junk mail together, or the stuff I throw into the recycling bin at work? After all, they should start learning the realities of how to put together a municipal IT budget during lean years now!
Fortunately, I let Shane review my substitution list in advance. His thoughts? FreeCycle!

FreeCycle is a grassroots movement originally created to help reduce landfills of unwanted waste that someone else might want (sorry, guy with the shopping cart)... Their philosophy is rather straight forward. Rather than just throwing away something which is still in working/useable condition that you simply don't want or need anymore, why not give it away ("pay it forward") to someone else that may want it for FREE; no bartering, no exchange of cash, no resale, a simple "Thank You" will do. Of course, the idea is to pass it along to someone else when you are done with it.

FreeCycle groups are available nationwide and though some of the stuff available may sound strange, what seems even stranger is that people take it! We've spent some time this week looking at our local FreeCycle groups (Lowell, Tewksbury, Chelmsford, Billerica, Dracut, and Burlington), and have decided to try to use FreeCycle as a means of pulling together stuff for the kids! We'll maintain a list of FreeCycled "stuff" we have received on the left column of the blog, underneath the "BLOGS I FOLLOW" list. Of course, once the kids are done with the "stuff" we receive, we'll FreeCycle it along to other couples that may need it...

In order to establish some sort of savings, I'll attempt to include each item's retail $$ (or best guess), and a link to a description - lets consider this an experiment in FreeCycling!

Wish us luck, and remember: "If you've got something to give, then give it away."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Run, walk, stagger, or crawl...

So I'm running a marathon... correction... That would be walking, yes, walking a marathon... correction... Um, err, well, actually, it's going to be a half marathon...

And I'm really hoping to just be able to finish it without passing out and being carried out with a stretcher from sun poisoning, malaria, exhaustion, bunions, paper cuts, tapeworms, africanized bee swarm bites, or any of those other ailments that runners are prone too!

So why am I putting myself into such great peril? Gee, I keep asking myself that...

I'm not running through Lowell to raise awareness for anything in particular (though I think everyone should know how to become a better dad and husband (well, if you're a guy, that is). I'm not walking through Lowell to raise money for anything in particular (though anyone that wants to pledge donations to our "Tater Tot college fund" is welcome to do so). I'm certainly not staggering around Lowell without a Blue Moon and a slice of orange (Mmmmm... Blue Moon). And I'm not crawling through the streets of Lowell on my hands and knees asking for change (you go to Boston or Cambridge for that)!

I guess I'm doing it because I want to get healthy, so that I can enjoy the rest of my life with my wonderful husband, and the kids that are as yet to be, and who's names shall not be spoken (since we don't have names picked out yet)...

Yeah, I'm doing it for me. Because I know that running, walking, staggering, or crawling, it is well worth getting in shape so that I'll be there for my family. So, I guess it is time to start training for the half marathon walk!

BTW and for the record.... I'm also doing it for the shoes - I mean, I'll just have to get new shoes to do this, won't I?!? Maybe a jogging suit too... and does anyone know if headbands are still "in"? I think I'll need a hydration pack and a heart monitor pacer thingy too!

Seriously though... I am going to do this.

Gotta go - I mean run! Err... I mean, walk, stagger or crawl!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cyclying - NOT Bicycling!

The Clinic contacted us today - well, actually, I called them just as they simultaneously emailed me - to let us know that the egg donor ("Susie") is in fact available to cycle for us!!

For the record, cycling doesn't mean dressing up in one of those all showing skin tight outfits, strapping on a helmet, jumping onto a two wheeler and hitting the road. It means that Susie's schedule is available to work with Jane's so that we can move the process one step further to having kids. Who cares about the Potatoes schedules - after all, kids happen, right?!? :)

WOW... we really are going to be parents!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's A New Dawn, It's a New Day, It's a New Life!

Hola and welcome to our blog!

Though we have been really trying to get prepared for the adventure of becoming parents, I don't think either of us thought it would actually happen so soon!! So, we thought we would blog about the process and experience(s) to share with our family, our friends, and others that may be interested in learning about two guys and their adventure in having kids and raising a family.

Where to start?!? Since this is our first blog, lets get you caught up...

My husband and I are two gay married men (thank you MA Supreme Court). We originally thought we would adopt children. So, we spent last summer (2008) participating in MAPP training (Massachusetts Approach to Partnerships in Parenting) through the Home for Little Wanderers here in MA, and prepared for our home study.

Then came the late great election of 2008. While most people were focused on getting rid of Bush and his silly conservative policies and resetting things by getting a Democrat into office, the conservative right was busy making gay adoption illegal. With so many questionable parents out there that keep pumping out kids and live in squalor, why should two guys (or gals) that love each other be allowed to share their lives and love with their own kids?!? After all, that's just going to lead to more kids lacking direction and becoming questionable parents, or - horror of horrors - more gays and lesbians, right?!?

So, since we don't really know where our lives will take us in the future, and since we don't want to be limited to "gay friendly states" (yes, CA, we still consider you to be gay friendly), we decided that it would make more sense to surrogate, than to risk having our kids taken away by people who think they know more than us, just because they can quote more bible verses than we can.

And, since surrogacy isn't something most folks have been exposed to other than hearing about the OctoMom, we thought we could set the record straight, explain a little about the process, and a little about the choices we have made to date:
  • No, we aren't interested in 8+babies. One would be just as welcome as two - we're just interested in having kids to share our lives and love with... Though we are working on having two, through the same egg donor, so that they would truly be twins!
  • Yes, there are many options out there for surrogacy. Frozen eggs, shared eggs, and fresh eggs, in increasing order of respective expense.
  • We chose to go the shared egg route, working with a proven egg donor (who has successfully donated previously. Half of the eggs retrieved will be shared with the IVF clinic for their frozen egg bank.
  • Yes, we do choose an egg donor, and while everyone may have different criteria, ours was based on health. Incidentally, the egg donor is very pretty, but that wasn't a contributing factor, as all of the egg donor profiles we reviewed were very pretty. The egg donor will provide eggs to be separated into two batches; each batch will be fertilized with our sperm. Hopefully, zygotes from each batch will make the grade, and can be implanted into the gestational surrogate.
  • Yes, the egg donor's complete biological/health history is revealed, and she is open to contact by the resulting children, if they so choose to at some point later in life. We believe that this is important in case there are any biological issues that may arise in the future, whether with our kids, or their own eventual kids.
  • Yes, we do choose a gestational surrogate, as opposed to using the egg donor for the surrogacy, which is often referred to as a "traditional surrogate".
  • No, the gestational surrogate is not the same as the egg donor, so as to mitigate the legal risks of surrogacy (e.g., "I think I'll keep the baby" which she can't since there isn't any biological basis to do so).
  • Yes, we have to choose a fertility clinic to conduct the various medical components related to the entire process. The egg donor needs to go through a battery of genetic tests, and a series of hormone treatments to prepare for the stimulation of her eggs, and their retrieval (the half that we don't use are placed into the frozen egg bank at the clinic). My husband and I have to go through a battery of genetic tests, and have our sperm retrieved and prepared. The gestational surrogate needs to go through a battery of genetic tests, and a series of hormone treatments to prepare for the implantation of the subsequent embryos.
  • After lots of research and due diligence, we finally chose the IVF clinic ("the Clinic"), and and we can't say enough wonderful things about them. Incidentally, we also chose to use their inventory of egg donors for the shared egg donor cycle.
  • Yes, we are responsible for reviewing all of the egg donor profiles and selecting the egg donor, based on whatever criteria we want to apply.
  • Yes, all of this is done through lawyers. Lots of them. So many in fact, that they have gravitated towards each other and created many different firms/agencies across the country.
  • After LOTS of research and due diligence, we finally chose the surrogacy agency ("the Agency"), and we can't say enough wonderful things about them and their talented staff - though professional, courteous, caring, thoughtful, and helpful immediately come to mind!
  • The Agency also handles the process of identifying gestational carriers that we may be matched with, conducting the due diligence, screening, psychological reviews, etc.
  • Yes, the Agency will take care of all the contracts between all parties, and protects everyone's rights.
  • Yes, it is not exactly inexpensive.
  • Out of courtesy and respect, the actual names of the egg donor and surrogate will not be used in our blog, neither will the names of the IVF clinic and/or surrogacy agency. For consistency, we will refer to the egg donor as Susie and the IVF clinic as "the Clinic"; the surrogate will be referred to as Jane and the surrogacy agency as "the Agency". We ask anyone that posts here that may know their true identities to refrain from using them, and to use these names as well. (Thanks!)
We signed the contract with the Agency in January 2009, to get the process started. We contacted the Clinic, and began to review the egg donor profiles. Typically, the process consists of identifying the IVF center, identifying the egg donor, and then identifying the carrier.

In March we were notified of a potential gestational surrogate match (Jane). Fortunately, we had also narrowed the egg donor list to the donor we were interested in. We reviewed the gestational surrogate profile, and were excited to learn about this wonderful woman, living not too far away, who is educated and responsible, and open to working with us. We asked that our profiles be sent out to Jane, and nervously crossed our fingers while waiting to hear back. Within a few days, we were provided with Jane's telephone number, and we arranged for a telephone call. Prior to the call, the Agency arranged for a prep call from one of their staff (which was REALLY helpful, since this is really so foreign to us).

The call with Jane went great - the Agency really made a great match! We wound up talking for a little over an hour, and decided to move forward with a face to face meeting.

While waiting to meet Jane, we contacted the clinic and worked on finalizing the egg donor. We are hoping to have a final answer re the egg donor's schedule this week, and keeping our fingers crossed...

We met Jane this past weekend, and were really blown away with the match. Jane is a very intelligent, responsible, stable, caring, and outgoing person. She is married to a very nice man, has two beautiful young children, and lives in a very nice home. We wound up spending almost five hours visiting together, and my husband and I left feeling unbelievably ecstatic over this entire experience. Though we had never met before, we felt like we were hanging out with an old friend.

And that essentially brings you up to date....

We are now waiting to hear from the Clinic re the egg donor we have chosen, and the Agency is working on contracts for everyone involved. Um, did we mention the lawyers? I don't see how anyone could navigate this without them!

It is entirely possible that we could be the proud father of twins by this time next year (2010)!!


This really is the start of a new life!!