Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Q & A

Although there aren’t very many Q, to be honest. My comments always go way down when I write about the surrogacy, and I worry that I’m boring everyone to tears. But in the meantime, if you can stop yawning long enough to leave a question in the comment section, I’ll answer it here.

Sandie from MN asked: “Hey Kristie--As I am reading, I keep thinking about how expensive medical processes such as these are. I'm sort of wondering (if this is too personal, feel free to ignore me) about all the airfaire/hotels/eating out and how that adds up. Is it designated who pays for what? Does everyone split the bill? Now I am second guessing asking you, but as nosy as I am, I won't delete.”

Sandie, that’s a fair question. I mentioned, in a previous journal entry, that the costs for the Intended Parents can be prohibitive. As in, they pay for everything. That’s not to say I’ve *never* encountered any expense, because I have, but my occasional expenses are normally minimal. A pharmacy co-pay here, perhaps some long-distance phone calls, or faxing charges, some gas or parking fees,etc. Nothing that adds up to anything noticeable, at all. The rare expense I encounter that is very large, perhaps an unexpected medical bill, or long-term parking fees, I am always reimbursed.

The parents to be, however, can run up huge bills in addition to the medical expenses. Travel expenses for themselves and the surrogate, if the reproductive clinic is long-distance, the medical and/or life insurance that is sometimes required on behalf of the surrogate. Also, the medical screenings, the psych screenings, and legal expenses for everyone. It’s a little insulting, isn’t it, that *they* pay for a lawyer to look over a contract on my behalf, that another lawyer *they* also paid sent to me? And different clinics, agencies, and attorneys can have various charges such as counseling services, etc, that are required.

I’ve said it before, I don’t know the ultimate total cost of a surrogacy, and I don’t want to know. Every couple I’ve ever worked with has been gracious and generous and thoughtful. I don’t think I’ve *ever* opened my wallet at a restaurant, or a movie theater, etc, although I offer every time. And of course, like you mentioned, the big-ticket items are the IVF procedures, screenings, tests, and medicines themselves. What’s really discouraging, with this as with any fertility process, is that there is no money-back guarantee if it doesn’t work.

Does that mean every couple that turns to surrogacy is loaded? Of course not. But I would hope people would understand, and be sensitive about the fact that in addition to the mental and emotional investment, there is a financial burden as well.


Cindi asked: “It's very clear that being a surrogate requires a support staff. With Kendrie being so young, and there being three children, and Blaine not always available 24/7 for the kids, did you ever have trouble finding someone to watch your children when you had to leave town? Did many of your family and friends know what you were doing? And one more thing, if I'm not prying too much, did anyone try to talk you out of doing this?”

Cindi, you’re not kidding about the support staff. Technically, it took four people to get me pregnant …. Me, the IM, the IF, and the doctor. But if you count the peripheral nursing and lab staff, and all the people who cheered us on and supported us from the sidelines, it probably numbers in the hundreds!

After Blaine, who supported the idea without hesitation, I think the next two people I told were my mom and my sister. They were both of the attitudes (if I could be so presumptuous as to speak for them) that they had no idea why I would want to do this, but hey, if that’s what I chose to do, more power to me. Ironically, as other people found out about it down the road and questioned *them*, I think they became a little more quick in their defense of it. Then, once my mom met my first couple (that story to follow) she became the biggest supporter ever.

The next three people I told were close friends who I asked to write references for me when I applied to the surrogate agency. I received whole-hearted support from all three of them, especially my best friend Kim, whose own miserable pregnancy had prompted the entire experience.

As more people started finding out, I never had anyone try to convince me otherwise. I had one distant relative tell me all the reasons he thought it was a bad idea, to which I murmured polite mumblings and then have purposely never discussed it in front of him again, nor has he ever acknowledged it in any way. Honestly, ignoring it seems to work well for the two of us, so that’s ok. I don’t see him often, so his avoidance of the issue doesn’t impact my life at all.

The only comments I get that are negative in any fashion are along the lines of “Good for you, but I could never do that” to which I reply, “That’s probably for the best” or “Oh, well, I love it and feel lucky to get to do it” or, if I’m feeling especially snotty, I’ll reply ”I doubt anyone would ever ask you.” (No, I’m kidding. But wouldn’t it be awesome to say that to someone sometime?)

I also get “Isn’t it hard to give up the baby?” to which I usually reply, "No, because I have a cold, hard, shriveled-up raisin for a heart" .... then, after the awkward laughter fades away, because I guess people aren't sure if I'm kidding OR NOT, I'll normally explain, “I’m not giving it up, I’m giving it BACK.” I’ve tried explaining that it’s like babysitting your sister’s or cousin’s or best friend’s baby --- you care about it, but you don’t really want to keep it, do you?

And the only other comment I can think of that ever bothered me was when people would ask if my kids were confused by the process, and did I worry I was messing with their psyche to think people could just give away babies like that? I actually have a story I’ll share later about this exact thing, but my only response to that question is to clarify that, in my own personal opinion, as long as the surrogate has done her job explaining the situation to her children, then honestly, kids are probably more flexible and adaptable than grown ups. In fact, when Kellen was in the 2nd grade, his teacher announced she was pregnant. Kellen, age 8, raised his hand and asked, matter of factly, in front of all his classmates, “Are you having it for you, or for someone else?” The teacher was a little shocked, but you have no idea how happy and proud that made me, to know I’m raising such open minded children.

As far as the physical care of my own children while I was gallivanting all over the country for doctor’s appointments and tests and transfers and surrogate support meetings … yes, to be honest, at times it was tricky. My kids were young enough that they did not attend any kind of pre-school or day care, and of course we were living on an Air Force base in Ohio, far from family. If I was traveling over a weekend, Blaine was (has always been, and still is to this day) phenomenal with them and I never batted an eye about leaving. If I would be traveling during the week when he was working, or especially those trips where he and I had to go together, it was another story. If it was just a few hours, I would normally ask friends to watch them. Once, when a friend kept all three of them overnight and all the next day, my IP’s paid child-care wages to that friend. And more than once, if I needed several days’ worth of childcare, it was cheaper to buy my mom an airline ticket than to pay childcare for three kids. Once the kids got older and in school during the day, childcare wasn’t much of a problem anymore. But hands down, without help or support, no woman with children of her own would ever be able to be a surrogate. Or at least I don't see how. Yes, it might take a village to raise a child, but in this case, it took a whole damn village just to get to the point of getting pregnant, too!

Jen in Maryland --- go next door and ask for Barbara. Tell her I said a huge hello!!!

Becca – (hee-hee, you said “ass” in my comments. I love that. Have I ever told you that “jackass” is my favorite word in the whole entire world??)

44 comments:

Lisa from Texas said...

Kristie,
Please do not take a lack of comments as disinterest. To the contrary, you are covering it so completely that I have nothing to ask or add. My only wish is that I could have done that for another family. What a wonderful way to give back. It is such a brave and generous (that seems a little lacking)act that you do by helping others complete or begin a family is amazing beyond words. Please continue the story!

Anonymous said...

The story is fascinating...I'm just at a loss for what to say.

Here's a question: any comment on the new movie "Baby Mama"? As I watched it, I was both disappointed by the writing, acting, and general premise, but was also thinking about your story. After reading your account of this journey, seems like that movie would be a real slap in the face!

Debbie, Scotland said...

Delurking just to say I don't usually comment but I love your blog and am really enjoying finding out about all the ups and downs of your surrogate journeys. Please don't take the lack of comments as a sign of boredom I'm pretty sure that it is exactly the opposite. Your story is so fascinating that there is nothing else to be added!!

Anonymous said...

Kristie,
I agree with others, you are covering the subject wonderfully. I always thought I would like to be a surrogate but was never brave enough to follow through. I probably didn't know where to start either. One question you may not want to answer....do you have to pay income taxes on the labor of your womb?
Loving the story!
Kathy in NC

Anonymous said...

Again, I love the story. I don't comment because I can never think of anything to say. I feel silly saying over and over again how I love reading your blog. Please don't ever stop writing.

Deb from NY

Anonymous said...

Kristie,
You do such a wonderful job explaining that I don't have any questions. I love the story that you are telling. I wish that I could do it, but 3 c-sections do not exactly put me in the position to do so! Keep blogging!
Sandy in Edison, GA

Anonymous said...

Kristie -
Just wanted to tell you to keep writing... it's like a good book I can't put down... however, I am only allowed to read a chapter at a time! Which is quite painful for me.. once I get started on a book, I can lose track of time forever... so please carry on with the story and don't let the lack of comments worry you. We are all still out here lurking!
Kristina
Ohio

Caroline said...

I love the story about Kellen! It reminds me of a story that my Mom just loves. She kept her maiden name when she married my Dad and so my brother, sister and I have my Dad's last name, and her name is different. She worried a little about how it would affect us, but when my brother started kindergarten he came home just BURSTING to tell my Mom something. He said, "Mom, you're not going to believe this! 3 of the other kids at my table have the same last name as their Mom!" I think that was when my Mom knew that we would be just fine. Kids are definitely a lot more adaptive than adults. Love the story!

Bridget said...

I am reading and memorizing every word. I find your story to be captivating and, because it is beyond the scope of what I have done, purely intriguing.

Waiting for more...

Stacie from MN said...

Kristie,
I am really enjoying hearing about your surrogacy journey. Just like all of the others, I don't always comment, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading!

I'm really glad you answered the "how can you give up the baby" question. When I talk to people about foster care I get the same response, and it is kind of irritating because I do sometimes feel like they think we are not caring loving people. When the fact is, our job, just like yours, is to care for & love these children until it's time for them to go home. When you know from the beginning that they will not be staying, it's not as hard as people think!

Anonymous said...

Kristie~

OHHH! I didn't know that we were allowed to ask questions!!!:)

Here is mine - once you got pregnant - how did you explain to your kids that the baby would not stay with you? Did they ever get confused? Did you ever have problems with other people in your life not understanding that the baby was not "yours"?

Love reading!!

Susan from TX

Anonymous said...

OK - I stink - somehow I missed a paragraph in your post and you already answered my questions! I guess I scrolled down too quickly!

I am sorry!

Susan from TX

(yes, I feel like a dork....)

The Running Girl said...

I don't usually comment on the surragacy stories because I don't have anything to add. I've not been a surrogate and can't really relate, but I do find it very interesting to read. So please, keep the story going. What you've been able to do for the families you have is a wonderful thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving the story.

I do have a question. You're probably going to cover this later on, but I'll ask anyway. How is the delivery planned? If you, the IP, and the fertility clinic are in all different states, where do you have the baby? I would assume that the IP come to you, but, even then, it's not like you can predict when you're going to go into labor. Do you pick a day and induce? How often does a surrogate go into labor early and the IP miss it?

Enya
Cape Cod, MA

Marisa said...

Kristie

I also am fascinated not only with this story but everything you write!! The cancer, the kids, the dog walking, scrapbooking, FEET ! etc. I am trying to comment more but you can bet I am reading every single day. I have a question: Are you going to make us wait the DREADED two weeks to find out if it worked? !! just kidding ...

KD said...

Kristie - Keep telling your story! I rarely comment only because I'm busy (okay, lazy), but I enjoy it so much. Can't wait every day to hear more about what you've done for these families. I can't imagine doing it myself (again, too lazy), but thank heavens there are people like you around to fill such a special roll in the world. Keep telling!!

leeanne said...

I'm not bored at all with the story. In fact, you are being so thorough that I dont have any questions to ask. I know I've said this before, but I am so impressed with you and the things that you do. You are such a great example to all of us. Now, did it work?!?!? or do we have to wait..... hee hee

Deb said...

The lack of comments is not because of lack of interest at all!!!! In fact I keep refreshing waiting for an update!!!

Anonymous said...

Checking here is one of the first things I do each morning when I get to work (yeah, I know...I should be working at work!) to see if the next installment is on. I read daily, don't always have time to sneak in a comment but love your writing and this is a very interesting story...can't wait to hear more!

Lenaya

Kelly said...

I am interested. Just don't know what to say. Here's my ?: Have you been a surrogate before?

minyee said...

Coming out of the woodwork as well to say hello. As a mom to 3 children herself I absolutely think it's phenomenal that you choose to help others complete their families. Though surrogacy hasn't even been a blip on my radar, I love hearing about your life experience and learning somethings too. Keep writing!

Karen said...

I am so enjoying your surrogacy story, Kristie! So much so that I linked your blog on mine under the heading of "blogs I read."

As a person who has fertility problems and is looking into adoption (I'm single, too), I am in awe of your generous spirit. It really comes through when you tell the story.

Kelly said...

I hardly ever comment but I look forward to reading the next "chapter" of your story every day. Please don't stop!

Abby said...

Please don't take the lack of comments as us being bored. I can't wait to read your story. I am going through the fertility process right now. It is hard and frustrating. It is so uplifting to hear how someone as kind as you can do this to help couples like me. I only wish I had the money to have a surrogate myself. My mother volunteered if needed, but even that would be expensive.

Anonymous said...

Kristie, I am so drawn in by the story, that I don't know what to say in the comments. So please don't take it as disinterest. I jsut don't feel right saying "that's so funny" about someone's Baby come to life story! One of those situations where I don't want to say the wrong thing! But I love your story telling. And honestly, I had always thought that I could have a baby for a friend b/c being pg is so easy on me (and seems harder on some people). But it never came to be. so i am really enjoying the story. And now that I know the dirty details of how HARD it is to be a surrogate, I am in awe of what you did!
Claire in Tx

Gina said...

Kristie,
Hi! I never comment but I read your blog everyday. I was wondering do they have a cutoff age for surrogates and is the whole process any faster or easier after you've already done it once?

Anonymous said...

I just came back from four days of traveling and it's like a gift to have several new posts to read. I agree with Lisa, your thoroughness is appreciated and makes your story so much more interesting.

As a fosterparent, I've heard the "isn't it hard to give up the baby" question or the "I could never do that...I'd get attached" so many times. It is really hard not to get very sarcastic!

I haven't seen Baby Mama, but I knew it would be a joke after reading the Real Thing!

Dixie

Anonymous said...

I find your surrogate story completely fascinating. No questions or comments have come to mind because you are doing a great job in the telling of the story.
Cheryl

Trish in Leesburg, VA said...

I am definitely not bored! :) I figure you will probably answer my questions in the story somewhere, so I am saving them for the end!

Oh, and I totally love the story about Kellen and his teacher! What a bright young man he was even then!

Karen said...

I am loving your story and would be heartbroken if you stopped telling it before the end. I think it is incredibly beautiful and selfless and I am sure your parents to be must think of you as an angel. I am not in the least bored. I just am not a very good blog commenter is all. Please don't stop.

krueth said...

Oh Kristie, Sorry for not commenting...I am loving every moment of your posts. I find it so fascinating. Keep up the bloggin', please...Wendy

Amie in UT said...

I am loving reading the surrogacy story. I'm not commenting for two reasons: 1) It's an ongoing tale, so I don't want to ask when you'll probably answer it in the next post, and 2) it seems like you're already sharing something very personal and I don't want to be too nosey. Thanks for writing. Learning all these details is fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I had to comment on to "comments" in your post. I loved how you said you were not giving up the baby, but giving it back. That is a great way to explain it. And I loved that Kellen asked his teacher is she was having the baby for herself or for someone else. Did the teacher know at that point the your were or had been a surrogate? That comment would have thrown me, when I was a teacher. But, it was funny to read.

I am so enjoying this story. I hope we don't have to wait two weeks to find out if it worked the first time :-)

Sheri in CA

Anonymous said...

Not bored at all - on the contrary - very interested. I check every day and hope for a new post. I hope that you'll tell the story of each of your surrogacies.

Lisa C.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I've always wondered; when I was pregnant, strangers would often ask when I was due, if it was my first, etc. Did you get these same kind of small-talk comments also, and if so did you just go along, smile, nod, and act like it was just a typical pregnancy? I guess that would be easier than explaining everything to a stranger, but I always wondered how you'd respond to comments like that.

Melissa

Grandma J said...

Sometimes I don't leave a comment. It's just that I hate being so redundant, telling you over and over how fantastic you are. B.O.R.I.N.G.

Grandma J said...

Kristie, I didn't mean you were boring. I meant I didn't want to bore you by telling you how fantastic you are....is that even possible? :))

Deborah from Cincinnati said...

Here here! Almost every time I explain that I'm a surrogate, at least one person says, "Oh I could never do that." And I wish I would have thought of "I doubt anyone would ever ask you." Served! That's brilliant. I'm using it next time. Keep the story coming! It's like reading my story, only much much funnier and more insightful and more interesting and...
Deborah from Cincinnati

Anonymous said...

Kristie,
Your story is not boring, it is riveting! I have never personally known anyone who went through the surrogate process so it is so fascinating for me to read every last detail. The unselfish act of offering yourself to aid another couple in having a baby is truly remarkable. You know better than many of us the frustrations of infertility. Fortunately your infertility journey had a happy ending. Isn't that what you are offering another couples; a happy ending? I have a million more questions but I have found if I am patient my questions are usually answered in another chapter of your story. I was glad to see that the issue of your children and how you presented these surrogacy pregnancies to them was addressed. Your children are learning such valuable lessons from you. Waiting for the next chapter…..

Rockess said...

Not bored at all. I find it all fascinating. You are quite the strong woman! I eagerly await the next chapter.

Anonymous said...

I am with the rest...love the story. Sorry about the lack of comments.

Rachael J

Sandie In MN said...

I feel strangely triumphant that you wrote to me directly!

Thanks!

Patty House said...

Hey Kristi!
You aren't boring me at all. I don't comment because I really don't know what say. I must amazed at it all. I love reading about your journey (the IPs too!) though and find it truly interesting and find you just amazing that you have been able to help! You at t-totally cool.

Jen in MA said...

Kristie, please keep writing I am hanging on your every word as I am in the beginning of the process of becoming a GS myself. We were approached by a friend on behalf of a friend, have met the couple, totally love them, and are moving ahead with prelim medical screenings and paperwork this week and next. I couldn't be more excited...your detailed blog helps me to set expectations and stay anchored in reality that this is a long process and has a lot of setbacks. Please keep writing!

Jen