A surrogacy journey, jointly documented by Surrogate and Intended Mother.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Pre-Christmas Update

Seeing as I have been told off for slacking on the post front, I thought I should write a little update about Cheese Teamcake and Little Hitch-Hiker.

We are 19 weeks pregnant today (how are we already at 19 weeks?! I can't believe it!) and according to various apps, this means that LHH is in the middle of a massive growth spurt with things like fingerprints and hair currently developing. He/she is also practicing moving and according to the wiggles and dancing that's going on in Niki's abdomen on a daily basis, this is fairly accurate. Niki is fantastic at communicating everything (it may or may not help that we chat on whatsapp every day) and it's so exciting hearing little updates from her. The fact we are having a baby is feeling increasingly more real, tiny bit by tiny bit, and extremely exciting photos like this help:

Sent to us with the best caption ever: "Does your bump look big in this!?"

Cheese Teamcake haven't seen each other for an abnormally long time; Christmas concerts took over our lives down this end but school is now finished for the holidays, woohoo! We're heading up to Coventry after Christmas and spending a few days up there catching up properly. We shall be having a little Teamcake Christmas party and I can't wait to spend some quality time laughing and chatting with our lovely friends, as well as of course being very near our bump!

We will also have our next big landmark moment at this point; the half way point and the 20 week scan. I absolutely cannot wait to see our little one again but am still pretty nervous as I'm sure any expecting parents are. I just want to know everything is OK, and have a tendency to worry too much. We will probably (if LHH is not being coy and crossing legs) have the opportunity to find out the sex and I think we may well do. I suspect that if it was me carrying, I might want to wait but being that little bit more removed, the idea of finding out and it feeling even more real is very appealing.

It just remains for me to wish our readers a very Merry Christmas and thank all of you who have been so supportive throughout this journey so far. Here's to 2013!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Telling people

The last week or so has been filled with the joyous task of telling people that we are having a baby. I was terribly excited about it, as it's not something I thought I'd ever be announcing, but was slightly nervous as well. Up until then, the only people we'd told were close family and friends, so people we knew would be supportive and happy for us, and who already knew we were pursuing surrogacy and understood what it involved. I needn't have worried; everyone either of us have told has been delighted, interested, and generally lovely. 

When it came to telling people, I realised I needed to think quite carefully about my wording. "I'm pregnant" obviously was a no-go, and I opted for "I'm having a baby", and then swiftly following that with "it's not in here though" gesturing at my stomach. (I never noticed before, but people look at your stomach when you say you're having a baby, totally subconsciously I'm sure!) Everyone has reacted really well and most have asked questions which is nice as I love talking about it because this is my (albeit unorthodox)  pregnancy and I'm absolutely buzzing about it!

My biggest fear was definitely telling my workplaces. As you may have read in our FAQs post, intended mothers (women like myself who will become mummies through surrogacy) are not currently covered by any maternity rights whatsoever. Happily, the government has announced that this situation will be changing soon, however we don't know when this will be and it's unlikely to be before Little Hitch-Hiker enters the world. I have now had the conversation with my workplaces and both have been very positive and supportive so far.

Telling people has definitely made it feel more real. I do feel like a bit of a fraud receiving congratulations as it's Niki that's doing all the hard work, but she says I should just enjoy it! Making this blog public was a nerve-wracking but important step for both myself and Niki, as we're very keen to raise awareness about surrogacy and help correct some of the misconceptions that are out there. I really hope that it's helping; we've received lots of positive comments and messages about it which is reassuring.

I cannot believe that we're already 15 weeks in, and moving swiftly towards the half way mark. Niki's bump is even more prominent (and even more beautiful) and she can now feel LHH wriggling around on a daily basis. My mind is constantly occupied with LHH-ey thoughts (I suppose this is part of baby brain, albeit with no hormones involved) and I'm absolutely loving it. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

Both Niki & I have realised that the same questions pop up from time to time, so we thought we'd do a joint FAQ blog which hopefully addresses most of them. We may well add to this over time.

What is Surrogacy?
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple who cannot do so themselves. There are two types of surrogacy; host - where the child is genetically the "IPs" (intended parents - so Adam and I in our case) and straight - where the surrogate uses her own eggs therefore the child is genetically related to her and the IF (Intended Father). Cheese Teamcake are undergoing host surrogacy and so have been under Hammersmith Hospital in London for IVF treatment. Surrogacy is legal in the UK and becoming more common. It is however illegal to pay a surrogate (reasonable expenses to ensure the surrogate is not out of pocket are allowed). You can find out more about Surrogacy in the UK here.

Why Surrogacy?
Emily: I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and knew at the age of 16 when my lung function dropped to below 60% that I wouldn't be able to have children. I became increasingly unwell and at the age of 21 was put on the waiting list for a double lung transplant. I was lucky enough to receive my life-saving new lungs in January 2007, and 2 years later, discussed the idea of pregnancy with my doctor. Unfortunately, post transplant pregnancies do not tend to go well and whilst some mothers and babies are OK, there are a high number of people who suffer rejection, which can be fatal. I was advised that pregnancy would put my life at risk so Adam and I started looking at alternatives. We stumbled across Surrogacy UK by chance and I'm so glad we did. Here was a chance to build a friendship with someone who wanted to be a surrogate to help others and hopefully start a family, but without endangering either myself or my unborn child.

Niki: We had a really easy time conceiving our two children and feel very blessed to have them. However I remember when I was contemplating starting a family with Steve, just the thought of having trouble conceiving was gut wrenching and I can't even begin to imagine what knowing you can't carry a child at all feels like. I just knew that those thoughts for me were just that, thoughts. For others it was a heartbreaking reality. This made me want to help.I am only 25 but Steve and I are both sure our family is complete. Why not share my unused fertility with somebody who needs it?
At first I looked at egg donation, but this process is anonymous at least in the first instance and I knew I'd be worrying about the life that my egg/s went on to lead. This lead me on to find SUK, their 'friendship first' and forming bonds ethos spoke to me and that is where my journey started.

How much does Surrogacy cost?
Surrogacy is expensive, but not for the reasons people think. Firstly and most importantly, it is illegal to pay for surrogacy in the UK. Surrogates can only receive reasonable expenses for carrying a baby, and this is important as they should never be out of pocket for doing such an incredible thing. Elements such as maternity wear, child care. pregnancy vitamins, loss of earnings and travel to appointments all need to be covered. IVF is also very expensive and so the two combined mean that Surrogacy can really add up.

How did your partner react?
Niki:When I first mentioned to Steve that I was thinking of becoming a surrogate he was quite against the idea. However he did hear me out and the conversation ended with him promising to read a bit more into it and keep an open mind. I'd have never have continued on my journey without his support so if he'd have told me he didn't like the idea then I wouldn't have gone ahead.
Luckily, once he'd read the in-depth information pack SUK send out to potential surrogates and joined the forum to ask a few questions he was fully on board. He'd have struggled more had this have been a straight surrogacy arrangement (so my egg and artificial insemination of sperm) but as we ended up in a Host arrangement he is 100% happy with our decision and is as thrilled as I am about helping Emily and Adam.

Will you get Maternity leave?
Emily: Sadly, due to a ridiculous loophole in the law, I am not eligible for any maternity rights. My work place may try and help me as best they can but it is up to them whether they do anything (even grant me unpaid leave) at all. Adoption leave exists to protect those who didn't physically give birth but who are adopting a baby, but surrogacy was somehow overlooked and is still not included. Niki will qualify for maternity leave which is vital as she will need it prior to when the baby is born and for a recovery period afterwards, allowing her to recuperate and focus on her children and husband. In September, Surrogacy UK submitted a claim to the High Court highlighting the discrimination IPs face and calling for a judicial review. Cheese Teamcake aim to support this as much as possible and all of us feel very strongly about it. You can find out more by clicking here and if you feel this is unfair, you can sign a petition to help draw attention to the matter here.

Niki: I am entitled to the same amount of maternity leave as if I were carrying my own child. However I don't intend to take my full allowance as I won't have a baby to look after. I will take enough time to re-cooperate and reconnect with my own family before returning to work, probably in the region of 8 weeks post par-tum. If I could give my remaining allowance to Emily, I would. I urge you all to sign the above petition and get behind the cause as it is grossly unfair.

Edited to add new government plans to introduce leave for parents who have a child via a surrogate:

Do you worry that the surrogate won't hand over the baby?
Emily: When I first started looking at surrogacy, before I really knew or understood it, it was of course a concern that passed through my mind. From an outsider's perspective, it is hard to understand how this wouldn't be a problem. I can honestly say now that I don't have the slightest doubt that our baby will be coming back to us once it's born. The main reason for this is knowing Niki. Niki is doing this because she wants to help another couple experience the joys of having a child. She falls pregnant easily and so if she and Steve wanted another child of their own there would be far simpler (and more enjoyable!) ways of conceiving rather than going through weeks of injections, scans, patches and pessaries. Niki has 2 beautiful children and a happy family and just happens to be incredible enough to want to create the same for someone else.
Understanding surrogacy better in general also helped alleviate these fears very early on (prior to meeting Niki). On joining SUK, it became clear very quickly that all these ladies have researched and considered surrogacy and the implications of it all very carefully. They always refer to it as "giving the baby back" and never consider the child to be theirs to keep in the first place. At SUK, surrogacy is first and foremost about friendship, and developing a bond between you as a team. We are so lucky to have such a loving and caring family looking after our Little Hitchhiker until he or she is big enough to come home with us.

Do you worry that you will form a bond and not want to hand the baby over to the Intended Parents?
Niki: Quite simply. No. To say I won't form a bond with the baby I am carrying is difficult, I think it's only natural to bond with a foetus you spend so many months nurturing, however the bond is very different to that of the bond you form with your own children. The most important thing here for me is the mindset you go in to surrogacy with. I already know this baby isn't mine, I knew that well before meeting Emily and Adam and have had the mindset of 'giving the baby back' right from the start. If you enter surrogacy wondering how you'll cope with 'giving a baby away' well then surrogacy possibly isn't for you.
Another important thing for me is the bond I've formed with Emily and Adam themselves. This alone makes it impossible to even consider the baby as your own as I am simply looking after it for two very good friends whose excitement at becoming parents I'm sharing. All I can picture when I think of the birth is them holding the child they have so long wished for, and that already makes this journey a very easy one.

Do you worry you won't bond with the baby?
Emily: No, I really don't. When I was born, I was rushed to another hospital to undergo a fairly major operation and was kept in the SCBU there. My poor mum had had a C-section so was unable to come and visit me at first, and then once she was able I was still not able to go home for some weeks. My mummy and I have an incredibly strong bond and she had all that to contend with. From the moment our baby is born, Adam and I will start building that magical bond and relationship that all new parents - by whatever means, "normal" pregnancy, surrogacy or adoption - have to create. I am positive that we will feel as excited, overwhelmed, nervous and in love as any new parents.

Will you let the surrogate hold the baby?
Emily: Short answer = of course! To me, it's logical. This wonderful person has just gone through months of pregnancy and then labour to give you a child, the least they deserve is a cuddle! But interestingly, not all IPs feel the same, and some arrangements (not made through SUK I hasten to add) are much more business like. Niki is not just a surrogate to us, she and her family are now dear friends. They are the reason we have a baby on the way and we would love them to remain a part of our (and our child's) lives. We intend to continue our friendship as it has been, and for our child to grow up knowing how special Niki, Steve, Jack & Beth are to us, that Niki "looked after" him/her till s/he was big and strong enough to be born and come home with mummy and daddy, and what an amazingly kind and loving thing that was to do.

Will you want to hold the baby?
Niki: Of course! The same way I'd certainly want to cuddle my Sister's/best friend's baby, but not until Emily and Adam have had their precious first bonding moments. I strongly believe the first people the baby comes into contact with (in ideal circumstances) should be it's parents. That inital bond/skin to skin time is so important and It's for this reason the baby will go straight to it's parents.
I will have my cuddles later on.

Whose is the baby in the eyes of the law?
Niki: When registering the baby myself and my Husband will be named on the birth certificate, although baby will be registered with Emily and Adam's chosen names and surname.
Once the baby reaches 6 weeks old Emily and Adam apply for what's called a Parental Order with mine and Steve's consent. The courts get involved with this and must be satisfied that the surrogacy arrangement was all legitimate and that only reasonable expenses were paid. This can be a lengthy process but once completed all legal rights for the child transfer to Emily and Adam and they will be issued with a new birth certificate declaring them the legal parents.

What happens after the baby is born? Does the baby have to stay with the surrogate?
Niki: As soon as the baby is born it will become the responsibility of Emily and Adam. With the aid of a carefully pre-arranged birth plan, provisions will be made for Emily to stay in the hospital with baby should we not be discharged straight away. Once discharged from hospital the baby will go home with Emily and Adam. Although the surrogate is legally responsible for the child at this point, the parents privately foster their child at their home until the parental order is granted.We will both get separate post natal midwife care, myself to check I am recovering after the birth and baby to carry out all the after birth checks and tests.

What reactions do you get when you tell people?
Niki: I've had mostly positive reactions but there has been a few negative ones. I've been called stupid, selfish, heartless and been told it's just 'not right'. I've also had people question my motives ('because it's got to be about money, right?') and my ability to cope with it all.
My Mum for one was totally against the idea and avoided the subject at all costs when I first approached it. She's since met Emily and Adam and has had lots of time to process the whole idea and, in her words although she will never fully understand why or how I am doing it, she will support me and is proud.
Most people just don't understand and have lots of misconceptions about how it all works, mainly because of how the Americans go about it and from what they've seen on the TV. On the whole, once I've explained things and put forward my reasoning behind wanting to do it (usually in a very lengthy conversation involving lots of questions) people are really very supportive.

Getting his/her wiggle on

It seems like an age ago that we were all sat in the room, getting funny looks from the receptionists who had just seen my notes and waiting for the sonographer to call us all in for the 12 week scan, and what a magical scan it turned out to be!
After a few delays Little Hitchhiker appeared on the screen and it wasn't long before s/he gave Mummy and Daddy a little wave. I really do struggle to find words to describe the emotion in the room at that point, but complete and utter jubilation probably comes close.
We were so lucky to get a fantastic sonographer! Having had many ultrasounds previously I know that the time she spent just showing Em and Adam the various views of the baby and the effort she went to to get me jiggling so they could see the baby move was above and beyond that of a normal scan appointment.
We all came away from the hospital 100x more excited about everything than we were previously and it's been so nice watching Em and Adam let themselves believe this is actually happening and that they are actually going  to be parents in a matter of months.

As if that wasn't a huge enough deal, on November 8th, a day short of 13 weeks I rudely interrupted Em and Adam's evening by sending a late night Whatsapp message that was far to important not to share.
I felt their baby move!!!!
I was told I'd feel movements earlier this time but wasn't expecting it to be at 13 weeks, I even had to do a quick Google to make sure it was even possible. With this being my third pregnancy there was simply no mistaking those first flutters though, the tiny pops under the skin that tell me LHH is getting his/her wiggle on.
As expected they were hugely excited and LHH continued his/her party while I drifted off to sleep.
I've felt movements most days since and jut can't wait for the time when Em and Adam will be able to feel them from the outside.

For me it can only get more and more exciting from here. Tangible changes are now happening and LHH's developments will be very visible from here on in.
Next Milestone: 20 week scan!

Monday, 5 November 2012

The big one: 12 week scan

Friday 2nd November was a very very important day; LHH was 12 weeks and we had our dating scan booked. I was absolutely terrified. I had managed to get myself into a state of semi nervous breakdown in anticipation of what the day might bring. I think it's a self-preservation thing; I still cannot believe we're actually lucky enough for this to be happening, and that it is really true. It gets more real (and more exciting) each time we hit a new landmark though.

We drove up to Coventry early Friday morning and went straight to Niki and Steve's for a cup of tea and quick catch up before heading to the hospital. As we walked into the woman's unit, I kept feeling like I shouldn't be there or I was there for someone else, and it felt incredibly exciting as well as nerve-wracking.

Adam Niki & I booked in and then sat down in the waiting room, next to all the other couples. Adam was fab, chatting away and making us laugh, whilst I worried quietly to myself and tried to process it all. After a while we were called in, and the three of us walked down the corridor to the scanning room. Yet again, we were incredibly lucky and had a lovely sonographer, who not only didn't make a fuss about Adam and I both being in the room, but was genuinely kind and interested in our rather rare situation.

Niki got herself settled and then the computer decided to build up the anticipation by freezing and making us all wait before the scan could begin. She took the probe and moved it onto Niki's abdomen and I grabbed Adam's hand, almost terrified to look at the screen. Then suddenly she said "congratulations guys, there's your baby" and there, clear as anything, was our little hitch-hiker, tiny, perfect, and (to my shock - goodness knows why I hadn't really thought about this) moving around merrily.

As we clutched each other's hands and I sobbed "oh my god" repeatedly (I'm going to have to come up with something more creative for these magical moments) she took the various measurements she needed to and everything was perfect; our wonderful friend is doing an amazing job of keeping LHH safe and warm. Niki lay quietly, letting Adam and I absorb everything, and I squeezed her shoulders tightly and said "thank you" for the millionth, but definitely not the last time.

Watching the screen was just incredible - I know it's real, I know that there's a baby there and that it's ours, but somehow watching it just makes it really real. I think the sonographer was generous with her time and she really was supportive and (quite rightly) pointed out that Niki is in fact an angel.

12 weeks is of course a huge landmark, and the following day was mine and Adam's 5th wedding anniversary. We had a celebration that evening with special friends and family, and it was so wonderful to be able to introduce Niki and Steve to people and celebrate properly. Seeing as Adam did all the talking at our wedding (not sure that's ever happened since) I did the speech, and got a few lines in before breaking down in tears when it came to saying the words "we're having a baby". I still can't believe I can say it out loud.

In my speech I thanked some incredible people who are responsible for getting us this far and who were there to celebrate with us - my transplant consultant and our IVF consultant, our amazing families who are just always always there, and of course Niki, Steve, Jack and Beth - I don't think I was able to put into words how much what they are doing for us means to us but I did try.

On Sunday, we got to listen to the baby's heartbeat via a doppler. It was just the perfect end to a truly magical weekend. I do keep thinking I'll wake up in a minute as this is all too good to be true, but it is real, and I just need to enjoy this amazing time and appreciate all the hard work and kindness that has got us this far.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

*insert shamed face here*

I've been slightly lacking in the blogging department lately and have shamefully left all the updating to Em :/
The thing when writing these things, especially when it's about such an important and emotive subject is that you've got to be in the right frame of mind to even begin to sound coherent.
With sickness and tiredness I've not exactly been 'there' recently so for that I apologise.

I'm happy to report I'm now feeling better (and as Em rightly pointed out, fatter!) so I will endeavour to update you all on my part :)

So, lets rewind 4 weeks and revisit the viability scan. With the bleed the week before and all the hopes pinned on seeing a heartbeat I have to admit I was a little nervous. I knew we should be seeing a heartbeat by then but had told myself over and over (and told Em too) that if we didn't see one it could just still be slightly too early and not to panic. I'd been feeling so rubbish that, deep down I knew everything was progressing nicely, but the worries were still there...
After donning my attractive white paper wrap around skirt and trying desperately not to flash my bum to Em and Adam (who was kindly looking everywhere but at me at this point bless him) I hopped up onto the chair and waited for Anna to do her stuff.
The relief and pure elation in the room when, within seconds she announced there was a heartbeat is really quite indescribable. I was completely overwhelmed with emotions at that moment. We all just looked between each other, tears in our eyes, almost in disbelief. The realisation hit that it had really worked and I had a tiny Little Hitch-hiker growing rapidly inside me making dreams come true. Teeny baby Assen starting his or her journey back to it's parents. We all kept looking at each other with goofy grins and I almost felt guilty for intruding on such a precious moment. It was amazing.
The rest of the day was pretty much filled will random squeals and 'Oh my Gods' and lots more happiness.

That was a huge personal milestone for me and I relaxed lots and worried much less afterwards. I was aware that once you'd seen a heartbeat the chances of a miscarriage significantly drop, so although I appreciate that there is a long way to go, that was a big big hurdle and getting past that really put my mind at rest that things were going well.

Fast forward 3 weeks and on to the booking in appointment.
I was worried about this for very different reasons. I knew full well it was a bucket load of questions and paperwork but I also knew what a MASSIVE deal this was for Em. As she put it to me, she was going to the place where people go when they are having babies!!!!! Hugely exciting stuff!!
I had no idea who the midwife we would see would be and was quite concerned she'd be negative, disapproving, rude or just plain unhelpful. I really wanted this first appointment to be a positive experience that Em would come away from feeling even more excited and not one that would spoil the journey.
As it happened we had THE most perfect midwife who was just fabulous and even with going 45 minutes over, extra paperwork and column editing she made the whole experience enjoyable and light hearted but most of all exciting.
I'm really not fussed who I get for my 5 minute, pee in a pot appointments now as that first one was just perfect, and it meant a lot to me for Em to get that :)

So here we are today. 10wks 5 days and I'm officially a fatty. Maternity jeans have surfaced and normal wardrobe is slowly being packed away.
I'm loving the fact that Em and Adam are now starting to believe this is all actually happening and can finally get excited and plan for a future involving a much wanted squidge.

The next milestone is the 12 week scan. The hospital have already been helpful and added it to my notes that I will require 2 people to accompany me (there policy is only 1 person and they can be quite strict about that) so hopefully this bodes well for the coming months and the inevitably complicated birth and post natal care plan we will be presenting to them.

1/4 down, 3/4 to go...


There's a bump. There's a bump, there's a bump, there's a very clear little BUMP!!

Niki & Steve sent a photo to Adam and I earlier and then I chatted to them and saw it "live" this evening. I did actually cry when facetiming with Niki, Steve and kids as they proudly showed it off. It's appeared so quickly over the last week and is the most beautiful bump ever.

That's our baby in there, I cannot believe it!

That all folks, as you were...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The booking in appointment

A booking in appointment is seemingly mundane appointment for most women out there I imagine, but I woke up on Monday morning raring to go and feeling very excited. I think not being the one carrying LHH, days like Monday feel extra special and precious, as it makes it all seem much more real, rather than like an incredible dream.

I drove up to Coventry as our care has now been taken over by Niki's local hospital. After some cuddles with the kids and a lot of nattering, Niki & I set off for our appointment. Once we got to the waiting room a sudden wave of nerves hit me. What if the midwife didn't approve of this situation? Could she make things difficult or perhaps not even want me in the room? (Not that Niki would have let that happen - we already have some good arguments lined up for any difficulties we may encounter!). It's a shame that these things cross your mind but sadly not everyone fully understands surrogacy, and with ignorance come negative reactions.

As it turned out, I was worrying about nothing. Our midwife (sadly only covering short term) was absolutely lovely. She was chatty and cheerful, and excited for us all. When I explained a bit about my history and how long it's taken us to get here, she exclaimed "well no wonder you're so excited!" so I'm assuming my attempt at giving off an air of cool calm and collected mother-to-be was not very successful.

Unfortunately I think we must have given her a headache as we certainly did not fit into her booklet of tickboxes which she had to fill out. After a call to a more senior midwife and some creative adding of extra boxes and columns, the form filling began. It was tricky because some of the questions applied to Niki (eg: previous birth history) some to me and/or Adam (genetic screening information) and even some to Steve (environmental factors). She did a fab job of squeezing all the info in and making it a very positive hour and 45 minutes (seriously - the poor woman) despite the huge number of questions and large amount of information.

Our next appointment will be the 12 week scan, which we don't yet have a date for. I'm already very nervous and very excited about that day, one of my concerns being whether both Adam and I will be allowed into the scan room (standard regulations are 1 person plus the person being scanned) but we'll tackle that when we get there. In the mean time, it's our wonderful Niki who's suffering all the morning sickness, heartburn and tiredness, and Steve who is supporting her through it and therefore supporting our LHH. Two utterly amazing people who are taking us a step closer to this incredible dream each day, and who we will never be able to thank fully for this gift.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

6 week viability scan

We had a fantastic weekend as our lovely teamies came down to stay in Surrey again. As always, they just slotted right in, and it was fantastic to spend lots of quality time with them. There are so many excited people our end who are desperate to meet them/see them/thank them/hug them and they've taken it all in their stride, especially the children who have met so many new faces recently and just been brilliant! The four of us clicked the first time we met, but as time goes on, it just feels even more relaxed and normal having them here.

Our viability scan was at Hammersmith on Monday. This scan is standard practice in an IVF pregnancy, unlike "natural" pregnancies where the first routine scan is at 12 weeks (unless there are any concerns). The day before, we were all sitting around chatting about the logistics when I felt tears well up; I don't think I'd realised just how nervous I was but Monday was a big day - it would determine whether this was a viable pregnancy, and if we saw a heartbeat, that would be a massive step in the right direction. We drove up on Monday morning, and superstar Steve dutifully took the kids off to the restaurant whilst Niki, Adam & I sat down in the waiting room. I felt fairly sick with nerves, even though the scan the week before suggested things would hopefully be OK.

Our lovely consultant arrived and took us into the scanning room. Niki disappeared off behind the curtain to change and I felt the tears rise up as the reality of what the next few minutes would hopefully show hit me. Adam and I hugged as Dr C started the scan, telling us not to be concerned if it took her a little while to find the sac. Barely a minute later she turned the screen towards us and said "there's your baby, and there's the heartbeat" and there it was - a tiny white blob with the centre pulsating gently. The tears were in full flow now and I was absolutely speechless. I grasped Niki's hand tightly with one hand and then Adam's, and we all just stared at the screen in awe. It was absolutely magical and I was completely mesmerised.

Niki got changed and then we just hugged tightly; there were tears all round and whispers of "thank you so much" - completely inadequate words for this incredible gift but all I could muster. I was a blubbing mess and the tears just kept coming - it just made it so much more real seeing that tiny life beating away calmly inside our wonderful friend. Technically, now the pregnancy is viable, we will be discharged from Hammersmith IVF unit and care will transfer up to Niki's local hospital. Lots of hugs and thanks to very special members of the Hammersmith team followed; they have been absolutely incredible throughout our time with them, particularly our charge nurse Prem, and our amazing consultant Dr Carby, who have bent over backwards to make this rocky journey as smooth and as easy for us as possible.

So here we are, still very early on in the pregnancy, but having overcome a large hurdle. Monday was one of the most magical days of my life, and hopefully there is even more to come. We feel so very very lucky.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

11 days in

It's been 11 days since we found out we were pregnant. In some ways, it feels more real, but in most ways it still feels like a surreal and magical dream. Every morning I wake up and remember all over again that Niki is carrying our little hitchhiker (LHH) and my heart skips a beat in sheer joy. It's so early on but already it's consuming the majority of my thoughts; I can only assume that that's like most women who have found out they are expecting.

On Saturday we went up to see Niki and Steve. We were so excited about seeing them, and I couldn't stop thinking that we were going to be near to our LHH for the first time since transfer. We arrived, greeted as always by a fantastic excited happy feet dance from Beth and lots of hugs and joyful squeals ensued. Niki looks fantastic, and if she was feeling poorly (as she frequently is at the moment thanks to LHH) she was hiding it very well. We had a lovely catch up over lunch and then a hugely exciting moment - Niki (the generous soul) lent us some wee so we could take a pregnancy test! It may sound daft - we already knew the result, but even so I still felt nervous watching the timer flash and waiting for the screen to change...and still felt utterly elated and emotional to see "Pregnant" flash up, in the test I was holding with my own hands. We headed home grinning from ear to ear and feeling hugely excited, and with it beginning to feel a little more real.
Jack and I enjoying sunshine and ice cream.

The next day was a little different to put it mildly. I had just got home when Niki messaged; she had had a small bleed, and whilst trying to reassure me and telling me to try not to panic I could tell she was also really scared. It was a horrible 24 hours; I was so worried about Niki and about what might be happening to her, worried about LHH and panicking that it was all over before it had even really started. I felt absolutely useless being so far away, and powerless to do anything. Niki booked a scan at her local EPU for the following day and all we could do was wait.

As the afternoon went on, we both felt calmer (the boys remained calm throughout or seemingly so) and nattered on the phone reassuring each other that things were probably fine and that there was absolutely nothing anyone could do so we just had to stay positive. Sure enough, luck was on Cheese Teamcake's side and the scan revealed no sign of any problems, and everything looked just as it should for the 5th week of pregnancy.

It was a horrible 24 hours but trying to find a positive, I think it did a number of things. Firstly it reinforced just how amazing Niki & Steve are and how strong we all are as a team. Secondly, it was a reminder as to just how precious and delicate this is and how early on we are. And thirdly, we got to see LHH on a scan photo for the very first time. A tiny blob admittedly, but the most beautiful blob I have ever seen. I really feel like we've passed some sort of initiation test into the expectant parents club!

We have given LHH a firm talking to and are hoping for no more naughty behaviour. We have our 6 week scan (viability scan) next week which all four of us will attend. I'm naturally nervous about it but so so excited at the prospect of seeing our LHH on the screen, and possibly even a heartbeat. Our gorgeous teamies are coming down to Surrey this weekend and we can't wait to see them. Bring on the good times, the smiles and laughter and then please keep your fingers crossed for our 6 week scan.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Positive...Part 2.

I know you guys will have already read the fabulous news in Em’s post (yaaaaaay!!!) but we both felt it would be good to get this down from my perspective too.

This 2ww (actually 11 day wait) has been the longest 11 days of my life. Knowing somebody else’s, and something else’s fate lies in your hands is just an indescribable feeling, and one that has brought with it a rollercoaster of emotions.
I’d started to ‘feel’ pregnant just a few short days after the transfer and when I started to get a few signs and symptoms I started to think my feelings may have been right. After a couple of days of feeling a bit funny the sickness started to creep in and I let myself tell Em about it all. I played things down a little bit, and in a way, felt awful sharing this with her, as the last thing I wanted to do was get her hopes up. As the sickness crept up a notch and the tiredness and lethargy crept in I let myself tell her a little bit more.
I was so sure, yet in the same breath was so damn nervous about being completely wrong.

I dreamt we’d got a positive midweek, a 2-3 weeks pregnant on a Clearblue Digital, but woke up telling myself off for being so confident and spent the rest of the day convinced it had failed.
By Friday morning I was itching to test, for various reasons we’d all agreed to stick with the test date Hammersmith had given to us but the wait really was driving me crazy.
Em had said to be that she wouldn’t hold it against me if I needed to know but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it without her. Even though we wouldn’t be together in person on the day, it was their moment and their result to share, not mine, and I didn’t want to know a result any longer before them than I had to.
So my decision was made, I was driving myself mad for 2 more days.
I kept feeling more and more pregnant, yet almost feeling more and more negative. My minds way of keeping me grounded I guess.

So, along came Sunday, ‘pee on a stick’ day (or pee in a pot and dip the sticks in my case).
We’d already planned that we’d talk via our ‘Teamie’s chat’ group on our phones and all 4 of us were online bright and early at 7am.
We all said a quick good morning and I headed off to the bathroom to do my stuff.
After an agonising 40 second wait (yes it appeared that quickly) I gingerly pulled back the cover on the Hammersmith test to reveal two lines!!!!

We were Pregnant!!

I think my words were ‘Bloody hell’. I showed Steve and, in a typical Male (sorry), blasé response he simply said ‘yeah…well we already knew you were’.
I still couldn’t quite believe it so spent what felt like an age staring at the flashing egg timer on the Digital, willing it to hurry up. After a minute or so, staring back at me was the word pregnant, closely followed by the numbers 2-3 (just as I'd dreamt).

The first thing I did was burst into tears, quickly followed by snapping a photo to send to a nail biting Em and Adam followed by the words ‘OMG’.
The emotions that followed are really hard to describe.
Those of you reading who have been lucky enough to experience a pregnancy will know that magical feeling you get when you know a new life is growing inside you, the instant that instinct kicks in to want to do everything in your power to protect it. Well I felt that as much when seeing that positive test as I did with my own two children except this time my instinct is to do everything in my power to help it make it’s way safely to it’s Parents. And this time I had the added magic of knowing that the news I was about to break to two very special friends would not only make their morning, but their day, week, year and many, many more years to come.
I felt like the luckiest person in the world being able to be the bearer of that news, and being able to share the utter elation that followed it, and I feel truly honoured to be carrying a very special little baby for two very deserving, now parents to be.

And the result is...


We are pregnant. Let me just write that again, WE ARE PREGNANT!!!! I honestly cannot believe it, I don't think Adam can either. It hasn't sunk in at all; we are just floating on cloud nine, unable to absorb that we are actually pregnant.

We woke up bright and early on test morning. Niki was going to message at 7am to check we were all up and ready. I woke up at 6.30 and swiftly felt sick with nerves. Tried to distract myself (with Rastamouse incidentally - got to love CBeebies at that time of the morning) and try and steady my pounding heart.

At 7am Steve and Niki messaged, and Niki went to test. Those few minutes felt like an eternity; I was desperately trying to talk myself into "being ready" to hear that it was negative, trying to brace myself to cope with it as bravely as possible. I started crying whilst we waited for the result (I've managed to do this every time, it's the anticipation I think) and then the little message came up that there was a photo to download. Fearing the worst, I clicked on it, and there it was: a clear blue pregnancy test quite obviously displaying "Pregnant".

The next bit is a blur - I could hear my own loud heartfelt sobs as we hugged tightly, speechless. After 3 long long years of pursuing surrogacy, we were finally pregnant. The very earliest of stages, yes, but we have never got this far, never seen those blue lines appear, that word confirming a dream is well on the way to becoming a reality.

As soon as I was vaguely coherent we rang Niki and Steve, and I sobbed down the phone to them as well. The words "oh my god" have been uttered so many times I think we may have used up the world's annual allowance.

The rest of the day was just magical - telling our closest family & friends who have been rooting for us so much, picking us up after each failure, and each time we've felt sad and found things hard - being able to share such joyful news and watch their expressions of shock and joy was just indescribably amazing.

We had an inkling this might be the result, as Niki has had some symptoms, but I don't think we wanted to allow ourselves to believe it. Now things are entering my head that I've never thought about before, never let myself stop and consider, that Adam and I have never dared talk about....We are all aware that it's very early days in the pregnancy, but oh my goodness what an incredible hurdle, and we all intend to celebrate the hell out of it.

What can I say at this stage about Niki & Steve? How do we try and put into words how much this means to us, how much they are giving, what joy they are bringing? They are doing the most amazing thing for us and are just being so incredible and supportive throughout, especially Niki as little hitch-hiker is already making its presence known. I'll leave Niki to tell the tale from her side of the fence but before I sign off, will post the best photo I've received in a very long time....

Friday, 31 August 2012

Little Hitchhiker 2

As Niki has said, Wednesday really was a truly exciting day. We had a lovely time at Westfields before transfer (boys probably slightly less than us as they had to keep themselves busy whilst we hunted for bargains) and sauntered down to the hospital munching our sweets and still chatting and laughing.

Sitting in the downstairs waiting room was the most nerve-wracking part for me; at that point we had no idea how many (if any) embryos had made it to day 5. We went upstairs to the next waiting room (edging ever closer to the transfer theatre) where as Niki says, there were other couples looking v sombre. It made me appreciate again what a huge huge (cannot emphasise it enough) plus the incredible friendship is when you're going through surrogacy; they say a problem shared is a problem halved and I'm sure having 4 of us in this together helps make it easier.

We were called in to discuss the embryos and the lovely embryologist said "it's good news" very swiftly which slowed my pounding heart down somewhat! Out of the 8 that had been developing, 2 had made it to good quality blasts, with the others still alive but further behind. The decision then arose as to whether to transfer 1 or 2, and after some conversation between the 4 of us and advice from both Dr Carby and the embryologist, we went for 1.The other good one (along with 1 other good one that caught up and 2 average ones) would later be frozen and put into storage.

After gowning up and spending a silly few minutes playing "what can we turn the paper square into" we were taken in. I think one moment sums Niki up pretty perfectly; we were in the transfer theatre, Niki was lying on the bed in a hospital gown, legs in stirrups, and she turned to me and said "are you OK?". As always, worrying and caring about everyone else.

The star itself, little hitchhiker (photo taken through microscope just prior to transfer)

As I've mentioned before, I have a love/hate relationship with the 2ww. I love the possibilities it offers, the fact we're PUPO (or SPUPO as some of the lovely Hammersmith hospital ladies I chat to have renamed it for us, the S standing for "Surrogately" which is now officially a word....) I love the fact that we're so close we could almost touch it, that we've already overcome so many obstacles. On the other hand the what ifs can drive you crazy, and the idea that it might again be a negative is very hard to digest. I cannot imagine the pressure Niki feels; I know how much she cares and how much she wants this to work for us, and I know whatever the result, this superstar lady could not have done more & we are eternally grateful regardless.

You might be able to help keep us preoccupied. Obviously we cannot really blog about progress for a bit, so we thought you might have questions for us. Perhaps those reading who are Niki's friends and family have questions for me, and vice versa. Or perhaps there are questions which are easier to ask written down than face to face. Anyway, if you do have any, please ask away, we're both happy to answer what we can and as I say, it might keep us busy and sane!

Little Hitchhiker

As the title suggests, transfer was a success!! I now have a top grade little embryo on board that I have affectionately named 'Little Hitch-hiker'.

I thought transfer day would be hugely nerve-racking but instead it was lots of fun. Nerves obviously still played a part and as much as I'm very aware that Em and Adam will be forever grateful for me just trying, I also know how much a success would mean. It's hard not to feel that pressure, even when none is ever put on me, but that's where my 'What will be will be' mantra comes into play.

 Transfer was in the afternoon so brunch and shopping beforehand was a must - matching transfer day souvenir dress anyone? After losing the boys to gadget browsing and spending far to much time in Dorothy Perkins trying on clothes we headed off to Hammersmith with our 'Hospital snack' bag of sweeties.
Once there and in the waiting room I (and I think I can speak for Em here too) started to feel a little guilty about the smiles and jokes we were sharing. We were seated with three other couples, all of which were undergoing transfers after us. The pain and nerves in their faces was heartbreaking and it really did put into perspective yet again just how lucky I have been and why I am doing this.
I know Em and Adam have had more than their fair share of heartache and I'm certain they were equally as nervous as the other couples in the room but I'm so glad we are all close enough as a team to make it as fun and exciting as it could possibly be.

 Transfer itself was quick and painless and felt extremely similar to having a cervical smear. Afterwards the nurse talked us through a still image on the ultrasound screen and showed us where Little Hitch-hiker had made it's temporary home.
It's certainly a bizarre feeling being PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) as, unlike a natural conception I KNOW their is something in there, I just don't know how long it will stay, and it's truly out of my control.

I think we all have a gut instinct at the moment that this was truly meant to be and has worked, and Em and I are currently trying desperately (and somewhat failing) to put things to the back of our minds and be rational, but it really is in the hands of fate now...which is exciting and terrifying all at the same time!

So we are now in the dreaded 2 week wait...with everything crossed.

Taking things very seriously

Gorgeous Hospital attire

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


We got a phone call bright and early yesterday morning to update us on how our 8 little embryos were doing. Astonishingly, all 8 were still developing which is really good. For anyone who is interested, here is the breakdown:

3 x good 8 cell embryos
2 x good 7 cell embryos
2 x average 8 cell embryos 
1 x average 6 cell embryo

Embryos on day 3 should have developed between 6 and 8 cells, so all have done what they should have. They are then rated "good" "average" or "poor" depending on the quality of cell division (ones that are fragmented or show other signs that I don't understand get lower ratings)

Consequently, transfer will be tomorrow - day 5. We will not know till tomorrow how many embryos we have still developing and what quality and stage they are at (hopefully blastocyst). Approximately 50% embryos will reach blast stage and of course we may get less than that. Please cross your fingers tightly for us that tomorrow goes well; we are all definitely feeling the nerves as well as the excitement. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Magic 8

Sorry for the lack of posting yesterday, we were busy saying goodbye to some dear friends who are buggering off to sadly moving 'oop North'.

We were woken up at 9am (I know I know, lazy lie in...) with a phone call from the embryologists. Out of the 13 eggs retrieved, 9 of them were mature so were injected with sperm. 8 of those fertilised successfully and we now have 8 embryos sitting in a little petri dish in Hammersmith hospital. This is a really good fertilisation rate and we feel v lucky. Transfer will either be on Monday (day 3) or Wednesday (day 5) depending on how the embryos are doing. Crossing everything...

Quick edit to add this rather cool video I found which shows what our embryos are currently (hopefully) up to and will continue to do over the next few days.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Our lucky number?

My egg collection is all done! Adam and I got to Hammersmith just after 7am; I was already dressed in my rather unglamorous surgical stockings so looking the part. We only waited for about 10 minutes before we were called through and I was given a bed. The anesthetist came to chat and credit to him, did not turn pale and run out the door screaming when I relayed my medical history. Obviously concerned about a similar prospect, Anna Carby was there to reassure him that she could get my transplant consultant on the phone should he have any questions.

I was second on the list so I donned my gown, attractive hat and slippers, and settled down to wait. Not long after, someone came to get me and I walked into theatre. The anesthetist had a bit of fun playing find the vein, but once the cannula was in and the sedation was given, I don't remember anything else.

So very attractive....
 I woke up to discover they had managed to get 13 eggs. Adam and I first met up with Niki on Friday 13th April so we've already joked that 13 is a lucky number for us and that's the first thing that popped into my head (and Niki's when I told her). A good omen? Let's choose to see it as such.

Last time I got 22, but I also got a condition called OHSS, and 13 is still a really good number - many fight hard and still get far less than that. I'm just relieved we're one step closer. Tomorrow we will get a phone call from the embryologist to let us know how many have successfully fertilised. So need your fertilisy thoughts now please....

I'm back on one of the jabs as they want to ensure I don't develop OHSS again, so have to do them for 5 more days to try and calm things down quickly (I visualise the jab going in and saying shhhhh to over excited hopping around follicles - not sure that's quite the scientific version but nevermind). Will update as we get news on the embryos and head towards the most exciting day, transfer day!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Egg collection

Just a quick update to say that my egg collection is tomorrow. I had to have my trigger shot last night, which was 2ml of a drug called Buserelin. I was quite poorly 2 years ago when I had IVF and they think it might have been the Buserelin that was partly responsible, so I was rather apprehensive to say the least and was a bit wussy and made poor Adam give the shot!

Luckily I manned up quickly (with the help of some jaffa cakes) and am feeling OK today, so so far so good! Will be at Hammersmith by 7am tomorrow, complete with sexy anti-DVT stockings on, so please keep your fingers crossed for us all and think eggy thoughts...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Getting very close

In the short time between blogs, lots has been going on behind the scenes (various hormone injections and oestrogen patches mainly) and both Niki & I are well into phase 2 of our treatment cycles. Niki braved a stupidly early morning journey today to come down to Hammersmith as we both had scans to see how things are going. All is going well, the drugs are doing what they should, and we are nearing exciting times! This is a bit more of an informative blog (not sure if anyone's actually interested in the process but you're about to find out...!)

I will have my egg collection at some point this week, which will involve as much sedation as I can persuade them to give me, and not much else on my part, but a short spell in theatre having them retrieved from each follicle. I am currently looking a tad rotund/sore/nauseous due to the drugs causing my ovaries to get very over excited and create lots of follicles, but that's all part of the plan (and the purpose of the drugs) so I'm not complaining. After they have collected all my eggs, they will fertilise them, and then we have a tense wait till the following morning to find out how many successfully become embryos.

The next hurdle is the daily wait to see how the embryos develop. The aim is to get to "day 5" which is when embryos turn into something called blastocysts. The reason the clinic will try and push the embryos to this stage is that the weaker ones die out along the way, the result of which is transferring an embryo that has a greater chance of survival/implantation. Once the transfer is done and we have 1 or 2 embryos tucked safely inside Niki, all that's left to do is wait till we can do a pregnancy test.
This is hopefully what our embryos will be doing in their petri dish.
There are just so many unknowns in IVF. Will we get a good number of eggs? Will they be mature enough? Will any of them fertilise? Will the embryos develop properly? How many will we get? How many will we have to transfer? Will there be any left to freeze? So many questions, and no way of telling, and that's not even thinking about the biggest question of all. My biggest fear is the egg collection - I just don't want to let anyone down at this vital stage. I'm well aware that that's a stupid comment and that no one would feel remotely let down at all, but I just want it to go well and for us to get a good number of eggs.

My favourite bit (well, it's a love/hate relationship...) is probably the "2 week wait" - the period between transfer and the pregnancy test. This is a lot of people's worst bit, but for those 2 weeks, the idea of being pregnant seems closer than it has ever seemed before, so close we could almost touch it. It's the closest I've ever got, so I do try to enjoy those two weeks of "what if".

The next few weeks will be extremely exciting but very nervewracking as well, so please keep us all in your thoughts, especially Niki who is just being incredible and could not do any more - she is a true star.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Overwhelmed and Excited

As Em has already said last week was Teamies week and Steve, The Kids and I took the Caravan down to Surrey.
It truly was a fabulous week full of meeting new people, cuddling squidgy babies, being big children and realising just how useless men are at communication ;)

Scan day was very exciting! After a very early start and a fairly stress free trip into an Olympic London we actually arrived at Hammersmith early and we were in and out before my actual appointment time. This of course meant we had to kill some time window shopping and having breakfast in Westfields ;)
I was so pleased to hear I was fully down regulated, mainly because it means we can now move on to the next stage of treatment (yay!!) but also because it means I'm one day closer to being able to stop these injections!!

We had a lovely afternoon and lunch at Emily's parent's house afterwards and the weather even held off long enough for a park trip so the big  kids could burn off some energy. Friday we spent at Adam's parent's and it was lovely seeing all the children playing together in the glorious sunshine.

I am really overwhelmed by how lovely both Emily and Adam's family and friends are and how they have all welcomed us into their lives so effortlessly. I really struggle with being thanked and praised for the help I am very much hoping to be giving very soon and always react awkwardly but it really does put in to perspective just how many people our journey is affecting.
This isn't only going to be a very special son or daughter, but also a grandchild, a great grandchild, a niece or nephew, a cousin, a special friend... that though thought literally brings tears to my eyes, more so now these once strangers now feel like friends.
This is the first time along our journey I have truly felt nervous. There is so much riding on this and so many people behind us all and with them all in mind,just allowing myself to consider the possibility this may fail breaks my heart. I am very much with Em though, why not invest our heart and soul into this and enjoy each step for the exciting time that it is.
 I am still remaining very positive and am quite convinced it is going to work. Fate has played its hand in mysterious ways in our journey so far and I really believe there's a very good reason for that.

Only a few weeks to go and we can hopefully prove that point :)

Monday, 6 August 2012

A week of teamcake fun

On Monday, our fab Teamies came down to Surrey for a little break. They have a caravan and stayed on a lovely site in Redhill. Adam and I went to the site when they arrived to run around with look after the children whilst Niki and Steve got set up and settled. Over the next few days, we proceeded to do grown up things like sit around in the ball pit at soft play and fall off children's play equipment at the park resulting in a v bruised leg (guess which of us that was....)

Both our families hosted lovely afternoons and Niki, Steve and kids were absolutely fab at handling the many new and excited faces that were eager to meet and chat to them. The more time Niki & I spend with each other, the more similar we realise we are. Thanks to Steve babysitting, she came out with me to see Adam drum at a local gig, and we were talking so much we were almost late and poor Niki had to have a rushed cheese on toast for dinner as we'd gossiped so much we'd not eaten! My poor hostessing skills aside, I think this is a good thing.

On Thursday, Niki had a scan so the two of us got up far too early and braved the trains into London. Bar one very packed train, it wasn't too bad, and we reached Hammersmith in good time and were seen quickly. The scan all went well, and within a few hours our consultant had emailed instructions of what we are to do over the next week. Niki is now "supressed" (i.e - they've shut everything down ready to start it back up) and by the end of this week, both Niki and I should have started phase 2 (starting us both back up at the same time so we're in sync) which is hugely exciting! 

I am definitely feeling very excited and positive about all of this. That is setting off a bit of a warning light in my head - am I setting myself up for an even bigger fall if it doesn't work by allowing myself to be excited? The answer (on reflection) is that I don't think so, no. If I go into it full of optimism and hope, and it doesn't work, I will be devastated. If I go into it very cautiously, trying not to believe it will work, and then it doesn't work...I will still be devastated. Why not enjoy this part as much as possible? What will be will be, and I think I'd rather make the most out of every step, enjoy it whenever I can, and thanks to Niki, Steve, Jack and Beth, there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had. 

Photos of the week to come soon!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The agreement session

As we mentioned on the last 2 posts, at SUK the team need to carry out an agreement session before commencing treatment. Having been given a little wiggle room to allow Niki to start her jabs on the correct day, we got to agreement day yesterday. Adam and I traveled up to Coventry on Friday, and after scoffing down a very scrummy lasagne, spent a lovely evening meeting Steve's family. It was fantastic to spend some time with Niki's children Jack and Beth again; Adam and I are so chuffed that they seem to really like us. Friday night was a late one, and part way through the evening, Jack snuggled up on me and fell asleep - I took this as a huge complement and was v touched that he felt comfortable and happy enough with me to do so. 

On Saturday morning, Adam and I headed over to Niki and Steve's for the agreement, picking up brunch on the way. The agreement is essentially a large form with lots of questions on it, which ensure that you've all thought about and talked about the ins and outs of a surrogate pregnancy. They are questions that if you were having a "normal" pregnancy, the couple would be thinking about, however of course in surrogacy there are 4 people working very hard to make this happen, and it's important that the answers given are right for everyone. Some of the questions are simple, some are more difficult to contemplate (such as what would happen in the event of a stillbirth) but all are very important. 

The lovely Vee from SUK came to do our agreement for us - she is one of SUK's experienced surrogates so was able to offer us advice as we went through the forms. We had all discussed the questions thoroughly in advance before hand, so knew there were no issues, and the session went very smoothly. Vee left, and Niki and Steve suddenly got out 2 little packages - they had bought Adam and I gifts to congratulate us on reaching this landmark stage. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole thing and couldn't speak, so in good old Thackray tradition, sobbed on Niki's shoulder instead. 

I have no doubt that this will get boring as I will keep saying it, but my awe and wonder for these two  knows no bounds. They are doing all this for us. They are going through all of this to try and help us start a family. I mean, that's huge isn't it? Unfathomably huge. And the additional support and friendship they're giving is invaluable. We really are hugely lucky.

They're all heading down to Surrey tomorrow for a week of Teamie fun and we're really looking forward to it! Watch this space for updates and photos...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Ready....skip the next bit...GO!!

Well, where do I start? The beginning is always a good one I know but it's all such a blur I'm not sure where exactly that bit was!!

Everything was so clear in my head after our previous appointment with Anna, I was to start meds on day 27 of my cycle, day 1 was looming, all was fine....then in jumped Mother Nature to keep us all on our toes.
Day 1 didn't come. When it still wasn't here a week or so later I started to worry a little (OK, a lot) and after lots of panicky messages between Em and I, and a reassuring email from Anna (on a Sunday evening too, she really is fab!) we all felt a bit better and resigned to the fact we'd have to let nature take it course and decide what to do when it finally arrived.

On to the day of the joint appointments. After a last minute re-route on the tube Steve and I met Emily and Adam in London and headed off to Hammersmith. First was the compulsory counselling with a lovely lady called Jeni. She made Steve and I feel really at ease and just wanted a general idea of why we were wanting to help Emily and Adam, how we met, what sort of relationship we had etc. I did have a 'wave of terror' moment when she asked Steve how he would feel when I was pregnant and his response was simply 'I haven't given it much thought, she'll be fat and I'll be looking after the kids'!! Luckily though it seems that's a typical male attitude to take and she actually commented that she'd have been more shocked had he have been completely happy with everything all along and had all the 'right' answers.
As Em had said she complimented the whole team and seemed genuinely delighted at the close friendship we all have.

After a quick gourmet lunch in the hospital cafe it was in for our appointment with Prem, our coordinating nurse.
A short introduction was followed by some quick cycle day questions and off he popped out to liaise with Anna about our treatment protocols. (Cue complete childish behaviour from the boys once left alone in the nurses office!! *rolls eyes* ). It seemed like an age before he returned but when he did he announced they'd like me to start treatment the very next day!!!!!! 
As Em has said, we had some idea this might be an option already, but for it to actually suddenly be a reality was both very daunting and hugely exciting all at the same time. Em and I shared an excited smile and then it was time to do lots of listening and learning...eeek.
I have a date with one of these every morning now.
Is it pleasant? No. Does is hurt? A little. Is it worth it? Yes.

So as you can see from the picture above I have started jabbing each morning and as of Thursday 19th July we are officially in our first treatment cycle! The oven is being prepped!
It is completely bizarre to think that less than a week ago I was worrying I may not start treatment in time to be ready for our aim of a fresh transfer in September, and now here we are, 5 days in!

Along with Em, I cannot thank SUK enough for being completely behind us all and giving us approval to begin a few days before our official agreement with them is signed.

So that's it, the official start to what's going to be a hugely exciting couple of months.
Positive thoughts for Cheese Teamcake please.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Nought to Sixty.

So yesterday was pretty huge really.

We went along for our coordination appointment. This meant all four of us going to Hammersmith for various bits and bobs. First came the compulsory discussion with the counselor, to ensure that Niki and Steve are doing this voluntarily and with fully informed consent. Then Adam and I joined them to talk things through, and the lovely lady gave us a glowing report.

We had to fill in a few forms before hand....
Blood tests, chats with the nurse and even more forms, and then we got onto trying to work out when treatment would commence. We had vague thoughts but I think we were all a bit shell shocked when our nurse returned and announced that Niki would need to start her 1st drug the next day! Huge excitement, a huge amount of (legal) drug purchasing, and a bit of a mind blowing day really! I'll leave Niki to detail how they felt about it all - I cannot imagine what a whirlwind yesterday was for them, but they were truly fantastic.

A minor panic trying to sort out SUK stuff ensued, as we are should sign an agreement before commencing treatment, however the Executive Committee have been fantastic and very supportive and accommodating so all is now fine.

So basically, here starts the beginning of Cheese Teamcake's first ever attempt. How am I feeling? Predominantly excited, but mixed in with trepidation, worry (I am a bit of a worrier but Niki happens to be as well so we understand each other well on that one!) and some fear. Am I feeling positive? Definitely. Realistic - we know all too well it doesn't always work, and a part of me stays braced because of that - but definitely positive. And whatever happens, Niki and Steve are making every step of this journey feel as enjoyable as possible. That is definitely a silver lining of surrogacy - we are going through it with the additional support of team friends every step of the way. I feel very lucky in that respect.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Feels like progress :)

Just a short update from me.
Emily and I met for girlie lunch and then had our latest appointment with Anna this afternoon. After the formalities of confirming all of our various test results were perfect (naturally ;) ) we got down to discussing time scales for treatment.
We have all got to attend the compulsory counselling session to make sure we all know what we are doing and that I'm not being dragged into this kicking and screaming...standard stuff, then there is the SUK agreement session to do. Then all being well I could begin my down regulation treatment THIS MONTH.....WOW!
I think I can speak for both (if not all) of us when I say the words 'stupidly excited'. It has seemed like an age away for so long and now it's actually tangible, and very very real. We even did a little 'happy feet' dance on our way out of clinic.

It's all looking good for our joint aim of a fresh transfer early September.
Dreams could well come true in the space of a few short, and probably hectic months.
Watch this space...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Slow and steady wins the race.

This whole process can feel painfully slow at times but bit by bit we are moving forwards! Niki and I have had our various tests done and now have an appointment booked with the consultant to discuss the next steps. I think we might get an idea of our treatment timeline which is really exciting!

Niki and I both had to have scans, I've had my blood work done, and Niki had to have an HSG, which I was quite worried about her having to have. From what I had read it's slightly more invasive/less pleasant than a normal scan and if I could possibly have had it for her I would have! The feeling of watching someone go through various medical procedures for you is quite hard, even though I know she's doing so willingly. As ever I'm just in awe really that this awesome lady (not forgetting her rather fab husband who holds the fort at home whilst Niki is in London being prodded and poked) is doing all this for us. It's incredible beyond words.

As well as the appointment with the consultant, we have to have our SUK agreement session (we're currently still in a mandatory 3 month "getting to know you" period) which we're hoping to do at the end of July. This will make us officially a team however I think I can safely say that all parties concerned already feel that we are. Making it official will mean we can start treatment though so it is a  very exciting landmark!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Niki's first post

Niki here. Thought it was about time I bit the bullet and wrote my first contribution to our surrogacy blog.

I was most definitely as nervous as Em when meeting for that first coffee on Friday 13th however, as Em has already said it was very relaxed and the chat and laughter flowed without any effort at all. So much so before we knew it nearly 2 hours had passed and I was going to be late for work!
I couldn't wait to tell Steve all about it and although it was a little longer before I made it official, I just knew I'd met the couple I wanted to offer to help have a child. Endless chit chat in the days following (and pretty much every day since) and a genuine emerging friendship confirmed this for me and here we are today, in our exciting journey as 'Cheese Teamcake'.

We are already in June and time is flying by. It's so hard to believe we were all complete strangers just a few months ago.We've had lots of fun teamie meet ups and of course our first appointment in Harley St. I have my first 2 scans very soon - complete with mandatory girly London jaunt afterwards!- and then hopefully our next meeting with Dr.C will give us some treatment dates to get excited about.

I am both extremely excited and extremely nervous to be entering into the unknown world of IVF. I'm learning things I thought I already knew every single day of the journey and coming across emotions I didn't even know existed. Thanks to Google I can now recite the names of all the drugs I need to take,what they do and the possible side effects, and coming from the girl who has a headache for a week before taking painkillers, this is good!

One thing Google can't answer for me though is the question I am faced with most often when telling people about our surrogacy journey... Why?
If they could only see the joy I see in Emily and Adam at just being given another shot at this, then they wouldn't even need to ask. I feel very lucky to be teamed with such a wonderful couple and I truly hope we have lots of positive news to blog about in the near future.
Signing off for now.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The beginning...

Em here, plucking up the courage to make the first post! This is (at present) a private place for Niki and I (and the boys should they be able to get a word in edgeways want to) to share our thoughts and feelings about the journey that lies ahead. At some point we may open it up to more readers, but we'll see...

Back in April (Friday 13th - lucky for some clearly) Adam and I wandered up a little riverside path in Warwick to meet Niki for a cup of coffee for the first time. I was very nervous about saying/doing all the right things, but I needn't have worried, as the conversation and laughter flowed freely whilst we scoffed tea and cake in the sunshine. This appears to have set a precedent as all our meet ups appear to feature food, drink, chatter and laughter in various quantities, as well as an awful lot of childish behaviour. We're having a wonderful time in this "getting to know you" period and loving every teamie get together. 

We had an exciting step forwards on Thursday as Niki and I went to Harley Street for our first appointment with Dr C. This was really just a preliminary one, to get various details and discuss the necessary tests that needed to be done before we start talking about treatment. We both went away clutching test request forms, a little dazed from the large quantity of information. 

Even though I've already "been there", it felt pretty much as new/exciting/confusing as it did in 2010! I need to look at getting my IVF done over the summer (so it doesn't impact on work) and whilst I'm a little nervous, I just want to get it done so we can get some embryos in the freezer and know what we're working with. I was so excited to introduce Niki to Dr C, as it made it all feel a lot more real. Timing wise, I suspect things will suddenly move quite quickly - the last few months seem to have have flown by so it will be July/August before we know it....

                                  Post appointment, in the sunshine, with well earned cold drinks.