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!!