Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another milestone!

Well today is a big day as we've hit another milestone -- viability!  And it feels amazing to not talk in weeks but MONTHS!  SIX MONTHS PREGNANT.  It's just awesome to think that in just a few short months we'll be with our little girl.  We are so lucky.  And so, so thankful to our surrogate every single day...

In the meantime, lots happened this week. We are almost done with our registry, which means we have made multiple trips to the baby stores to try things out, kick the tires of the strollers, see if they fit in the trunks of our cars, make sure the wood of the crib will match the room (we're so gay), try on baby slings, and shop, shop, shop...thank goodness for baby showers and the fact that everyone loves babies.  Cuz this one is gonna be SPOILED.

Here are some photos of our baby preparations and adventures this past week...

Chloe waiting for her little sister to arrive...oh and the nursery to be done!

Bill trying on a sling (not that kind!). Note the fake baby (?)

Even the tallest stroller looks like a mini-stroller next to me... and yes, my eyes are closed!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

1 pound mango and nearly a foot long!

23 weeks today!!! which means our little girl is the size of a mango and is nearing 12 inches in length!

I'm still scratching my head and saying "How are we almost to the third trimester??"  It's shocking how fast the last several weeks have flown by.  Yes, everyone said they would, but it seems I've merely blinked my eyes since we reached 12 weeks...and I really thought we'd have time to do much, much more...

Like choose a crib, a stroller, a car seat, pack up the guest room and start planning the nursery, figure out what other "stuff" we need and put it on (or better yet, create) a baby registry, figure out how we are going to be sane after two baby showers in Hawaii and one in LA, research pediatricians!...coordinate my leave from work for the month of May (get caught up at work, for that matter), and I'm absolutely positive I'm missing 1,000 other things but it's really time to get our butts in gear for this baby.

In the meantime, here's what's happening at 23 weeks!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Battles of Epic Proportion

I've often said if someone told me three years ago that it would take us this long to get where we are now, I am pretty sure we would have walked in the other direction and decided to not move forward with our dreams of being fathers.  Yes, it would have sucked big time, but at least we would have made a decision based on something, anything, that resembled an actual proven fact in the process of trying to adopt, or conceive, or be successful at IVF.  But for some reason, even after initial failures and dead end after dead end, and years of trying, something gave us the strength to continue.  Call it divine intervention or a strange alignment of the stars, but one of those strengths I feel came from our experiences in India, at a clinic in  Mumbai, with a particular doctor named Gautam Allahbadia, who gave us a piece of the Hindu faith in the form of a trinket, or what I readily call "happy crap"...but crap I don't believe it was.  It was something more...

Dr. Allahbadia gave us a plexiglas DURGA that was sitting on his desk as we left the clinic (only to enter our anxiety-ridden and tortuous two-week-wait).  It was handed to us in an almost spontaneous fashion, but with a lengthy description of what the Hindu goddess DURGA represented, one of "strength and determination, manifesting fearlessness and patience, never losing her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion" (you can say that again, call our battle EPIC would be an understatement!).  Most importantly, though, it was a gift from a man who would have a hand, one of many I might add, in helping us become parents.  We were appreciative, but we really had no idea how important this second-hand, chipped and worn plexiglas cube would be to us as we placed it in our bags.  Our two weeks inched by and were finally up, and we didn't get pregnant.  We actually failed twice in India.  And to be honest, I really felt like throwing that plexiglas piece 'o happy crap Durga out the window.  I decided to keep it, though (being the closet hoarder that I am), but tucked it away, because to be honest it was becoming painful to look at it.  I mean, I could barely even look at our photos from India without a pang of hurt and sourness jolting through my body. But eventually that jolt turned in to a small shock, and a shock in to an irritating poke, and then eventually, it disappeared...and we renewed our strength.  And the Durga came out again.  I actually wrapped it up as a Christmas present to Bill over a year after it was given to us, confirming that we were on this journey for the reward at the end -- a baby.  And we weren't stopping until we were successful, what ever "EPIC" battle we had to face.  Little did we know there were two more battles to come, two more pregnancies that ended in an early miscarriage...which absolutely crushed us.  Sourness and bitterness ensued, the Durga went back in to hiding, and I had yet another birthday and thought..."WTF?!!!!!"  It was at that time that Bill and I sat down and had some serious conversations about how we were going to get pregnant with a capital "P" before the end of 2011.  It was August, time was ticking, and we felt we had one more shot in us a la "turkey baster method" and then we were going to go back to IVF.  We decided to do our research, choose a clinic, get all the testing completed, and even went as far as choosing an egg donor, when, well, we got pregnant again, for the third time.  "This was going to be it", we thought.  Once again, our strength was renewed.  And the Durga came out.

I feel that strength comes from many places.  But I never thought it would come in the form of a piece of plexiglas.  The Durga has been on a shelf in our media room for several months now.  The other day I took a picture of it, and I knew that finally this Hindu god had looked down and smiled upon us, rewarding us for our courage and bravery, during one of the most EPIC battles of our lives.

At this point it feels awesome to have survived the fight, to have gained the knowledge we have in the past several years, and to think that one day maybe we could tell this story of perseverance to our daughter.  The story of how her daddies fought with everything they had to bring their little princess in to this world.  And how they learned a lot about themselves and what they could ultimately endure.  I'm hoping it will be her favorite bed time story.  Wouldn't that be just the happiest ending ever?

The Liebster Award and to all the blogs I've loved before...

Oh golly, I'm not so good with expressing thanks to those who appreciate me ("I'm not worth, I'm not worthy"),...but I am so very honored that our blog was chosen by fellow bloggers for a Liebster Award.  Special heartfelt thanks to Darshana in Canada who just gave birth as a surrogate to a beautiful girl, Hazel; to Mike and Tony, who I have loved following and getting to know their beautiful girl, Zoey; and to Cinderella and Prince Charming who are trying to conceive as we speak (good luck girls!)! all made my day for nominating our crazy blog for an award and I have to apologize for my tardiness in posting about this -- I've been busy trying to pull a baby registry together in our second trimester...I'm seriously overwhelmed!  The truly wonderful thing about these people and others that comment on blogs, write their own blogs, follow them, and are a resource for others, is that I consider this scattering of folks from around the world my friends.  And I know it sounds crazy but one day I hope to meet you all because your support has kept our dream alive. I can't thank you enough for encouraging me when I've been down and out and ready to give up, and I hope to be the same inspiration to others going through infertility as you have been to me.  Big, big hugs to you all!

A little background on the Liebster Award, if you haven't come across it already (which is doubtful :-)):

Liebster is a German word that means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’, but can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea of the award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers.  The Award comes with a few rules. You’re supposed to:

  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them
  • Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
  • Post the award on your blog
  • Bask in the love from the most supportive people in the blogosphere – other bloggers
  • Hope your recipients pass the award to their 5 favorite blogs to keep the love flowing
My picks for my favorite blogs are (this was hard, believe me, as evident by the fact that I've listed more than five)...

Mike and Mike of Spawn of Mike and Mike.  I happened upon this fascinating, hilarious and informative blog when I was searching for other IPs who had been to India, specifically to the clinic we were using in Mumbai.  I was not looking for a blog per se, nor was I planning on writing one for almost three years, but that is what happened -- and as psychotic as it sounds after all the heartache and pain we've gone through since then, finding their blog was one of the best things that ever happened.  It allowed me to create what we have today which is a network of friends who support one another.  I remember reading their blog from beginning to end, at work!  It took me hours and I got nothing done that day because I was riveted by their journey and by Mike's biting humor, which cracked me up with every post.  When I started this blog I wanted to be as funny as Mike but I think I consistently fall short. To boot, Mike is from Hawaii...which totally ROCKS!  And their two daughters Rose and Eva are just as cute as ever.

Terry and Steve of Christmas Eve Boys.  Another blog that I have been reading the entire time we have been trying to have a baby.  I am really indebted to these first two blogs and their writers, and I even wrote about my gratitude in a July 2009 post called Baby Hiccup. Terry and Steve had several obstacles in the beginning before their two beautiful boys Jag and Ajay came in to their lives in September 2010, and their experience and ultimate success was one of the things that fueled me to continue pursuing fatherhood.  Thanks Terry, you've become a good blog friend and your words of encouragement have made a huge difference!

Sean of Bollywood to Hollywood Road to Parenthood.  I'm just super glad that Sean is back after a long break from the blog world...he's had some rough spots in his journey but he's back with a vengeance and is 14 weeks pregnant with a surrogate in India. 

Edward of Faith to Vishwas.  Edward has been another super amazing encouraging force as we were trying to conceive.  His comments were always calm and positive.  He is also very smart and funny and his writing reflects this.  I don't know how he finds the time to actually write a blog since he and his partner have triplets, Vivian, Aria and Sidney, born in India in 2010.  He must get no sleep!

Toban of North Star. The love that Toban has for his son, Orion, is awesome.  His posts are short and so sweet and special...I feel the love from Canada, Toban!  Like many of these other blogs, trying to get pregnant wasn't always easy...and Toban took his lumps and kept on trudging until Orion came in to his life last year via a surrogate in India.

Jason and Adrian of Stalking the Stork.  Finally, Jason and Adrian are two great guys that we met in Los Angeles last year after running in to each other on our blogs.  They are expecting twins right behind us with a surrogate in India.  Jason and I share the same concern of being older parents, amongst other things...and he also went to school in Honolulu years and years ago.  If his parents didn't move to the "mainland" we most likely would have attended Punahou School together (I must add, however, that he would have been a couple grades ahead of me).  Jason is a great writer, very astute, and has a wonderful sense of humor about becoming a parent.

Ok, so the funny thing is that I had planned to just list my favorite blogs, but now this sounds like a love letter to all the blogs I've loved before.  Sorry, I digress.

Now I've just gots to go...only 118 days left to shop for our little girl!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

21 weeks today! And screw cognitive dissonance!

Yet another parenting article, this time in the Huffington Post and I would say more controversial.  Having struggled emotionally, financially, in our relationship, and in many areas of our life to get to this point in our pregnancy, I personally feel this is a crock of crap (I'm being nice).  But heck it's an interesting study and if you make it to the end, there's a bit of a payoff for making the "sacrifice" to become parents.

Basically my thought is you live the life you choose!!!...and even more so with surrogacy and IPs, there's an added cost on the front end...even BEFORE all the other "expensive" things come in to play after birth.  So we all knowingly embark on this journey of trying to have children via surrogacy, understanding that it will be expensive, and still we go through with it.  I believe it's a testament to the fact that all we really want is to become parents and raise a child.

Again, an interesting read and for the record, I don't believe any of it!

Except for maybe the child labor part!  :-)

I'm sure this will get a reaction from some of the parents out there...would love to hear your opinions.

To read the article on the Huffington Post site click here.

Joyful Parenthood: 
The Ultimate Cognitive Dissonance?

Raising children is hard, and any parent who says differently is lying. Parenting is emotionally and intellectually draining, and it often requires professional sacrifice and serious financial hardship. Kids are needy and demanding from the moment of their birth to... well, forever.
Don't get me wrong. I love my children dearly, and can't imagine my life without them. But let's face the facts: Study after study has shown that parents, compared to adults without kids, experience lower emotional well-being -- fewer positive feelings and more negative ones -- and have unhappier marriages and suffer more from depression. Yet many of these same parents continue to insist that their children are an essential source of happiness -- indeed that a life without children is a life unfulfilled.
How do we square this jarring contradiction? Two psychological scientists at the University of Waterloo think they have the answer. They suspect that the belief in parental happiness is a psychological defense -- a fiction we imagine to make all the hard stuff acceptable. In other words, we parents have collectively created the myth of parental joy because otherwise we would have a hard time justifying the huge investment that kids require.
In the jargon of the field, this is called "cognitive dissonance" -- the psychological mechanism we all use to justify our choices and beliefs and preserve our self-esteem. Richard Eibach and Steven Mock decided to explore the role that such self-justification plays in parental beliefs about their irreversible choice to have and raise children. They focused on economic hardship, and here's how they studied the costs of parenthood in the lab:
They recruited 80 fathers and mothers, each parent with at least one child under age 18. The parents were about 37 years old on average, and the kids were about eight. Half the parents were primed to focus on the financial costs of parenting. They read a government document estimating that the costs of raising a child to age 18 exceed $190,000. The other parents got this information as well, but they also read about the financial benefits of parenting -- that is, the fact that adult children often provide financial and practical support to aging parents. The idea was that some of the parents would be mentally calculating the out-of-pocket costs of having kids, while others would be left thinking of children as a mixed blessing, at least financially.
Then the scientists gave the parents a psychological test designed to measure how much they idealized parenting: Did they agree strongly (or not) that there is nothing more rewarding than raising a child? Do adults without kids experience emptiness in their lives? And so forth.
Finally, they measured the parents' feelings of mental and emotional dissonance: Do you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, bothered?
Eibach and Mock were testing a couple ideas. First, they suspected that parents who were focused on the costs of parenthood would be more likely to experience feelings of conflict and discomfort -- because they would be torn between the reality they have chosen and the costs of that choice. But second, they also expected that these negative feelings would motivate them to idealize parenthood in order to trump the negative feelings.
And that's what they found, with a slight twist. If they measured the parents' feelings of emotional discomfort immediately after priming their thoughts about cost, they felt much worse than did the parents with a more mixed view of parenting. They were conflicted. But if the scientists first gave them the opportunity to idealize parenting and family life, and then measured their conflicted feelings, those negative feelings were gone. In short, thinking about the high costs of children created significant emotional discomfort, which motivated the parents to focus on the joys of parenting, which in turn dissipated the uneasiness over choosing such a difficult path.
As a parent, I find this remarkable and discomfiting. How else might I be fooling myself in order to justify the high costs of my decision to be a parent? The scientists were curious about this, too, and designed a different version of the experiment to find out. In this study, parents were again primed to think about their pricey life choice or both costs and benefits of parenting. But this time, the researchers asked the parents about their intrinsic enjoyment of various life activities: One was spending time with their children, and others were spending time with a romantic partner, or engaging in their favorite personal activity. They also asked them how much leisure time they hoped to spend doing something with their child on their next day off from work.
The results were clear.  As reported on-line in the journal Psychological Science, the parents who had the high costs of children in mind were much more likely to say that they enjoyed spending time with their children, and they also anticipated spending more leisure time with their kids. In other words, being aware of parenthood's price tag made them idealize the time they spent with their kids, and this idealized image of family life led them to foresee more shared time in the future.
All this makes sense from a historical perspective, the scientists point out: In an earlier time, kids actually had economic value; they worked on farms or brought home paychecks, and they didn't cost that much. Not coincidentally, emotional relationships between parents and children were less affectionate back then -- and childhood was much less sentimentalized. Paradoxically, as the value of children has diminished, and the costs have escalated, the belief that parenthood is emotionally rewarding has gained currency. In that sense, the myth of parental joy is a modern psychological phenomenon.
This doesn't strike me as a bad thing entirely. We may be uneasy thinking of our families as all dollars and cents, but bank accounts don't lie. If knowing the bottom line makes us want to spend more time on kids instead of, say, TV or golf or work, that sounds like a healthy bargain for all involved.