0

the between begins

More than most other things I enjoy being a musician. I’m a classically trained percussionist, whatever that means. In high school, I sat behind a set of 3 ancient tympani, a xylophone that had bars engraved with ancient hieroglyphs been badly vandalized, and an assortment of shakers, dingers, and whizzers galore during long after-school hours devoted to playing in the community theater pit orchestra. In my youth, I thought this set of instruments was very much a second fiddle to the adjacent drumset that in my later shows I would eventually occupy. While I enjoyed both, today’s ‘me’ would ask for the second fiddle because of the bar rests.

In music, the space between notes not occupied by toots, honks, and ratta-tat-tats is as important as its noisier counterpart. And even combined, the auxiliary percussion parts I helmed for the theater were brief at best — accents and highlights of themes that, in truth belonged to trumpets, violins — the occasional clarinet. Everything else I “played” was a bar rest — a black bar on a page of music that takes up the space of one written measure but carries a number above it that specified just how long the conductor doesn’t want to pay attention to the obnoxious drummer(s) classically trained concert percussionists. Three or so times through, I learned my parts well enough that I could completely zone out and still not miss a beat; I listened subconsciously and when my part was coming up, I’d put down whatever book I was reading, play my 3 notes, and pick my book back up. I loved the in between then and I love it still.

So I’ve decided to embrace conquer our new season of waiting with a little bit of wonder and a whole lot of fun: due to some poor math (I blame sympathy hormones) and the fact that the sun continues to rise and set, we have entered single digits in our super-secret and spazz-attack-inducing countdown.

Ladies and gentlefolks, we have 9 days left.

1

back to waiting

I never planned on going to San Francisco. Full House was as much as I ever thought I needed. It seemed like a lot of traffic and people and weird. It’s all of those things, but it’s a lot more than that, too. There’s a lot of culture, and the food that tags along with it; SanFran is a tasty city, make no mistake. Ramen, sourdough, sea creatures so fresh they wiggle if you’re into that sort of thing, mac n’cheese versions of Chipotle, impossibly good breakfast — if you can crave it, SanFran very probably has it. Hungarian? Yep — great Hungarian. Japanese grill-your-own-meat-at-your-table experiences? Mmhmm. French baked goods that make eating anything else that is isn’t a French baked good sad? Yes, and they are enlightening. New Orleans inspired BBQ with a Russian twist? In that specific case, unfortunately yes, they have that, too. Variety. Soooo much variety.

But there’s a lot more than food on the bay. There are festivals pretty much all the time, there’s always live music somewhere, and mass transit that, well, kindof gets you to all of it — okay, some of it. It’s called BART (Bay Area Rail Transit, I think?) but Amanda usually called it BERT or BENNY; whatever felt right in the moment, I suppose. So many hormones.

But this last trip, like the transfer trip before it, was 5 days long because it’s deemed safer for the freshly-transferred embryo to not fly for a few days post-transfer. So, per doctor’s orders, we hung around San Francisco for a bit.

But we aren’t city people, not really. We are suburb people, absolutely, but not really downtown folk. So we skipped town and drove somewhere out of the city on the daily: 2 hours north, 3 hours south, beaches crowded only by sandpipers, tide pools crammed with starfish, waves that drown out your thoughts, especially hermit-y crabs that hate everything — rocks and trees and skies and seas. That San Francisco is beautiful. So we spent our time there picking up tiny green rocks and polished emeralds sea glass for our biggest smallest fan back home and running for higher ground when rogue waves snuck in around sunset and having staring contests with seagulls who were always up to something — I swear they are organized and up to no good — all because adventure is out there but you have to go to find it. So we did. And we took some fun photos as we went along, Like this one:

Hey, I was looking at that magnificent sunset while I was taking this picture of an equally stunning sight. What? So I multitask.

And this one:

And this one:

And this one:

And, finally, this one:

That last one is pretty much a perfect snapshot of our trip: a whole lot of taking in the beauty around us while mentally and emotionally preparing for more waiting. And that’s exactly where we are now — and for 8 more months.

Amanda is pregnant.

0

mk II

And just like that, we are back to waiting and leaning on whatever the actual success rate for an IVF pregnancy is. That’s a weird sentence; let me explain.

Surrogacy is not a highly regulated thing. Because of this, a lot of clinics or agencies will report wildly different (read: usually fictional or skewed, unfortunately) success rates.

But what about the Web MD’s of the world? This is a medical procedure, after all; what does infallible internet medicine say about such things?

Good question. They have data, but it’s from 2009. The chance of having a surro-baby from studies released that year for a woman under 35 was 39.6% and for women over 40 just 11.5%. Regarding baby-having, age is more than just a number. But, again, this is all 9 year old data. This science is always being aggressively advanced. Unfortunately, because there is a lot of money involved, the data surrounding is not always reliable.

It is likely that we are looking at something in the 50-60% success rate given we are nearly a decade removed from the 2009 dataset above. But I’m no scientist or subject matter expert here. No — I’m just a guy with a keyboard and an internet connection; a virtual truth warrior! And 50-60% looks and sounds way better than 39.6, so we’re just gonna go with it!

Another question that has been asked after each of our two transfers now: How did it go? or Did it go okay?

I completely understand the nature of this question and we are always happy to be checked-in on by friends and family, so don’t hear this as “Well, that’s a silly question. *scoff*”. I hear the question and I know what happens during a transfer so I smile at the two things when I mentally put them together.

Here’s how it all works. It’s not exactly the same as the movies: typically Hollywood shows us a scene involving a turkey baster — sometimes the woman is even upside-down!! 😆 This is how it *actually* happens according to my better half with me paraphrasing:

  • Step one: don’t pee all morning — a full bladder makes watching the transfer via ultrasound much more feasible.
  • Step two: at the appointment, undress from the waist down and cover up with a sheet.
  • Step three: there’s no turkey baster involved. Instead, it’s like a giant bendy straw.

That’s it. Literally. In, out, pants on, French fries. There isn’t really room for variable unless a meteorite smashes into the clinic and kills everyone or the doctor, I don’t know, grabs the wrong sample? Pretty much any of the possible alternative outcomes would be worthy of a TV show not all that unlike Jane the Virgin.

All of that said, we love your questions and will be happy to feature them if you like, so ask away!

At the time of this writing, we were in search of a McDonald’s because apparently those French fries are the right French fries according to a bunch of superstitious surro-crazies other women who have pursued the incredible adventure of helping build families through surrogacy. Also, the photo below is not a photo of some classified alien installation on the moon. It’s a (hopefully!) future squish.

0

new

This is the view from our window this morning — a gentle reminder that today is ripe with possibility. We’ll flip a proverbial coin at our transfer appointment this morning and then go get French fries; in a week or so we’ll find out our heads or tails — whether or not it worked. And it’s different this time. It’s absolutely as exciting, but less, I don’t know… grave? Maybe that’s what a failed transfer does to you. Or maybe it’s the Sinatra/Gershwin Pandora station we have on as we wake up to the view above. I can tell you it certainly doesn’t hurt to know a little more this time around; to hear (from people that know) things like “…if [the last transfer] didn’t work for you, it wasn’t going to work for anyone.” Amanda is incredibly healthy and charts perfect numbers at every appointment. Between that and the absolutely flawless pregnancies and deliveries involving our own amazing children, she’s a baby making machine. No, we don’t want any more of our own, thanks for asking. 😜

Today, the hormones want omelettes and hash browns smothered in cheese, peppers, mushrooms, onions, and bacon. It’ll be tough, but I’ll suffer through it. And after breakfast, we’ll transfer while wearing some sweet action pineapple garb because supposedly they are lucky. I don’t much care for superstition, but I’m down because my pineapple shirt looks dope.

Happy Friday, everyone!! Enjoy the 8-13″ of snow, MN friends! We’ll send you some sunny-and-65 vibes from the coast. Thanks for thinking of us today, all. Send (squishy!!) baby vibes!

1

half the fun

These are plants on a windowsill. Are they special? It’s hard to say, but they are watered enough to be green — okay, yes, there are some yellow leaves that the super sleuths among you spotted right quick, I’m sure. All of that aside, these plants would very likely grow just fine outside in California. They would not fare as well outside in their current zip code; Minnesota is a far cry from (sub)tropical. They’re a reminder of what we’re up to and where we are headed.

Our last trip to California was in late December. It didn’t go as anyone involved had hoped it would. It didn’t involve anything altogether catastrophic, we just didn’t have any success in the squishy baby department. It’s a weird thought: had that transfer gone to plan, we would be in trimester three now. All of the possible timelines are dizzying if you step back and try to keep track of all the variables: what if this paperwork had been done sooner? Or, what if we had matched with a different couple? Full disclosure: I’m not saying that because we at all wish that we had been matched with a different couple. We love the couple with whom we are matched and are happy to be journeying with them. I just mention it because it’s such a huge variable in the surro-equation.

We’ve officially established a tradition. On the nights before we travel for surrogacy-related reasons, we book a hotel with a pool, order too much pizza, and watch the kids tucker each other out while they swim in ridiculous patterns around a tiled, man-made water box. Our master plan has worked beautifully thus far: blast the children with more fun than they know how to have all at once and they won’t even care notice that we are gone. We all miss each other on these long weekends, but a little absence is super greatdoes make the heart gro–blah blah blah. Married people with kids have a right–nigh, responsibility to get away and not have a schedule. On the flip side, I’m a firm believer in kids having extended times without their parents. I neither know nor care for the vocabulary that describes the psycho-social benefits of such times, but I can say that everyone is the better for it.

Completely switching gears: my wife, you guys. I won’t call her ‘perfect’ because the pressure would be crushing, but seriously–I cannot even with how great she is. Because I know she’ll read this and it will make her cringe (hard, too), I’ll use some of that Insta-lingo and tell you that she is so fire! Kids these days… ‘So fire‘? Try: ‘So ridiculous‘.

Anyway, I just think my wife is a superhero because hormones, as I’ve told you before, make ordinary things hard. This week, she not only braved the storm of medically induced pseudo-amnesia, but also packed every last little thing for our trip, checked into our flight, booked a hotel, organized a pool & pizza party, andto top is all off??! She ran out to find me a cure for my more-than-a-little-painful heartburn. This woman. I am not worthy. This is why I celebrate her often by, among other things, scheduling my own holidays that require gifts. Like flowers every Tax Day.

I don’t have a lot of surro-news, so if that’s what you’re here for, sorry to disappoint. We’ll have some fun updates this weekend as we pretend like we won’t adjust to Pacific Standard Time by sleeping in and staying up way too late.

One more thing before I go. We are going to surprise the socks off our kiddos. We made them a paper chain to count down to something super great. Every day, we wake up, the kids freak out when they remember we get to cut another link off the bottom of the chain, we sprint downstairs, count the links before we cut one off, actually cut one off (with grownup scissors!), count the links after we cut one off, and then do a super excited happy dance for something that might be no more than a paperclip. YAY!! So, readers that know: SHH!! Readers that don’t: we are on 25 today, so if you want to make a chain 25 links long and follow along, you go right ahead! Excitement levels over here are… (wait for it…) …OFF THE CHAIN!!! 🤣🤣🤣

That’s it for now! The pizza guy is late and the children are circling. Like vultures.

1

the medicine is going to win

April is the worst in Minnesota. Officially a “spring” month, it’s not uncommon for it to look like this outside:

And you would think that May couldn’t be worse, but it could; it has been. I remember a wedding I attended on May 4th a few years ago. It may have only snowed a few inches, but in my soul, it felt like 3 feet of snow. Because It was May!! *sigh*

It’s supposed to snow 10 inches here tomorrow, on August April 3rd. I give up on looking at the 10 day forecast; it’s either a) too sad or b) a lie. And then, if you’ve been in MN awhile and use Facebook and posted a year ago today, Facebook is being entirely emotionally unsupportive and reminding you that it was 85 degrees Fahrenheit 364 days ago. *groan*

We will find out for sure on Thursday, but we look to be on track for a second transfer attempt on the 13th, so we would leave on the 12th. Couldn’t come soon enough!! Minnesota has two seasons: 9 months of winter and 3 months of road construction. Come April, I’m beyond ready for road construction, let me tell you.

SanFran is no oasis this time of year by any means, but if your normal winter is in MN, it’s a welcome change of pace. Getting there is multi-faceted. The weather has us emotionally preparing, our sweet kiddos have us logistically preparing, and our med calendar has us hormonally preparing.

That last part has been–during the last transfer, too–the source of well, here: my wife’s indictment as a certifiable crazy while hormonally impacted. As promised previously, this is a post about hormones. (Note: under normal circumstances, the “crazy” has a much lower baseline; she is a capable multi-tasker and runs a tight ship. Between the two of us, she definitely wins the “who’s more on the ball” trophy on the daily.)

Exhibit A (before lunch)

A med-related craving brought us to Qdoba. Their card machine was broken. Amanda (or her hormonally-generated altar ego) reeeeeaally wanted Qdoba so she (they?) insisted on checking the card fee on the nearby ATM. I never dreamed that using an ATM would become a “supervision required” activity, but somehow that’s where I found myself this afternoon. A line started forming at the ATM behind my wife, so I walked back over with a kiddo in tow to investigate lend a helping hand. Between taking a phone call and trying to use the ATM simultaneously, we had quickly overwhelmed our capacity. Again, under normal circumstances, my wife can do these two things while juggling the laundry, Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, paying bills, remembering to pick up a child from a bus stop at a pretty arbitrary time, make dinner etc. This is how I know this is drug induced. The screen of the ATM was silently screaming at my wife to “LEAVE YOUR CARD INSERTED” while she is discussing who-knows-what on her phone… with her card in her other hand. *facepalm* I tell her politely: “Do your phone call.” and take her card out of her hand, put it in the machine, navigate/supervise the remainder of her transaction, and assist in getting the now not-so-short line of future ATM users moving. Big deal? Not really. Worth it? No. The fee was $3 to use the ATM and was deemed too much, so we picked a different lunch spot. *quiet laugh*

Exhibit B (during lunch)

N (a pre-schooler): Mmm! I love tater-tots. How are they made?
Wife: Tater tots are the same as French fries; they’re just cooked differently.
N: Tater tots are cooked the same as French fries; they’re a different shape. You’re wrong, mom, but I still love you.
Wife: *stunned* Oh–wait… what?! Shoot. You’re right.
Me: *allllll the laughs*

Exhibit C (last transfer; some time mid-December)

My wife went to The Nutcracker with the girls. Fun was had by all. Upon returning to the car, she was alarmed to see the lights on. She was further startled to find her car keys missing from her purse. And then she was mortified upon learning she had left the keys in the ignition and the engine running. For the entire three hours of the performance. She didn’t tell me for a couple of weeks. It didn’t really make any difference; I still sighed and laughed–hard, too. I can’t remember which one I did more of.

Exhibit D (back to today, after lunch)

Amanda: *apologizing for/agonizing over her hormonal brain* …I’m sorry! It’s the hormones!!
N (from the back seat): The hor-whats??!
Amanda: The medicine and my brain are in a big fight, sweetie.
N: *super nonchalant* The medicine is going to win.