Friday, February 8, 2013

The Match

So I've kind of been carried away in the whole process of becoming a gestational carrier.  My life has been filled with meetings, phone calls, appointments, and paperwork, on top of my already busy life of wife, mom to 3 small kids, and Preschool Director.  It's been hard to find time to blog.  I've also started a private online journal about my journey as a carrier, and barely have time for that. are the cliff notes to catch up to this point:

I was matched with a family!  They live in Louisville, KY.  They have a little boy, 4 days younger than my little girl, who they used a carrier for.  The mom tried and tried but was never able to conceive even through invetro.  They want a sibling for their little boy.   

I started fertility meds and my body cooperated flawlessly!  We had our first embryo transfer on January 14.  We found out on January 25 that it didn't take.  Very sad and disappinting, but we are getting back up and trying again.

I went back to the fertility doctors this past Monday and they found a rather large cyst.  I guess it's a pretty common side effect of the fertility meds I'd been on, but we can't proceed as long as it is there. 

The family has decided to harvest new embryos and switch to a fertility doctor in Cincinnati.  So the cyst is pretty inconsequential at this point.  We have some new hoops to jump through at the new doctor's office, and we have to wait for the mom's body to be ready for an egg retrieval and for embryos to be made and frozen.  We have our first appointment at the new fertility group on Tuesday, February 19. 

In other news, I ran my first official 5K in November.  It was quite an accomplishment for me!  I was pretty proud of myself.  I ran the whole thing without stopping, and it was a very hilly course, which I was not very prepared for.  I ran a few more times after that, but really stopped running altogether by about Christmas.  I had started taking fertility drugs and knew the embryo transfer was going to happen soon.  I kind of went into survival mode and have just done my best to maintain my current weight, which I've managed to do with counting calories alone and no exercise. 

I needed to run (or do something) to get myself over the plateau, but honestly, I don't enjoy it and it's really hard to find time for it in my busy life.  I do want to remain healthy, watch what I eat, and maintain healthy weight, but that's enough of a chore.  Maybe one day I'll be able to exercise just for the fun of it, but it really was just a necessary evil and something I don't feel like I have to do anymore, especially with the process of becoming pregnant being eminent.  I want to stay healthy during pregnancy and not gain a crazy amount of weight.  I am committed to doing that.  I'm glad I ran and accomplished my goal of a real 5K, but running really isn't for me.  It's hard on my body and I'm really not very good at it. 

So right now, we wait...

The Test

On Saturday I went for allergy testing.  This has been something I have wanted to do for years.  I've known since I was a kid that I have allergies.  Over the years I've been able to pinpoint that I am allergic to most living things (other than humans): grass, plants, cats, some dogs, etc.  This was confirmed through my allergy testing, which was quite an ordeal! 

The process starts with not being allowed to take any allergy medication of any kind (Claratin, eye drops, inhaler, etc.) for 5 days before the testing.  I was familiar with the testing process and knew that I would be injected with several types of potential allergens and the reaction to the injection would determine my level of allergy to each item being tested.  After 14 injections (not even half way done), I started feeling dizzy and lightheaded.  I was not bothered by the shots, but have a history of passing out when it comes to needles, so I informed the nurse about how I was feeling.  She stopped to let the feeling pass.  Next thing I knew, I had passed out.  Seriously?  I've birthed 3 children.  One of them was 9 lbs 11 oz!  Another one was a c-section delivery.  But I pass out over some stupid little needles.  Give me a break!  So embarrassing!

I was given juice and crackers & transfered to a reclining position to finish the rest of my testing.  I was diagnosed as mildly and moderately allergic to several things, but I am severly allergic to grass.  As soon as I got in the car to drive home I started having a HORRIBLE reaction to the injections.  All of the skin on my body was terribly itchy.  My right eye swelled almost shut (I was wearing contacts, which made it even worse).  My throat became incredibly sore.  I could not stop sneezing and my nose was pouring -- I mean literally POURING -- snot.  (And, as a side note, I was driving Scott's car which had no tissues in it...AWESOME!)  The best part of the whole thing is, I couldn't take any allergy medication after the testing until the next morning.  Some of the injection sites were circled and I was supposed to watch for a delayed reaction, or swelling outside the circled area.  If I took allergy medication and I did have a delayed reaction, it wouldn't have been detected.  So I layed in bed and suffered through the rest of the day. 

They suggested I come in and do a grass panel to determine better exactly what kinds of grass I'm more or less allergic to.  This will help them better taylor make my allergy shots for me.  We'll see about that.  My understanding is I would not be able to take allergy medication 5 days prior to that and would probably not be able to take any after it's over until the next day for the delayed reaction thing.  We'll see about that.  While I'd like to finish this process and do it right -- it is only one day of my life afterall, there's another part of me that is not sure I need my allergy shots that taylor made for me if I have to go through that again.  I start allergy shots on Friday. 

I blog about this only because it is terribly ironic, as my sister-in-law pointed out, that I am so severly allergic to grass, and the name of my blog is The Tallest Blade Of Grass.  Too funny!       

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Big news this week! I hit my goal weight of 190. Well, truth be told, I was 190.8 yesterday and today I'm back up to 191.2. BUT...I knew nothing would probably happen quickly with the reproductive assistance group, so I went ahead and notified them that I hit my goal weight, knowing I would have a few days to “cement” it. They confirmed that the next step is to get me matched with a family. I'm super excited about this, but also covering that whole process in prayer that I will get matched with the family God has already picked out for me to do this for.

Now that I've lost 35 lbs, my physical appearance is different; smaller. People notice and tell me how great I look, etc., blah, blah, blah. I try to be gracious and not roll my eyes, but knowing the whole purpose for this is to get pregnant, which will cause me to gain the weight back, does not make me super excited about the weight loss, other than for the fact that it allows me to move forward with being a carrier. Now that more and more people are finding out why I've lost the weight and why I've started running, I'm starting to get comments like, “I just wish I could find the motivation” or “I just need to get motivated to lose weight/start exercising/start running”, etc. God has taught me several things in this process/journey that have nothing to do with being a carrier. First of all, all the excuses I used to tell myself about why I couldn't lose weight are no longer valid. I can do it, and I now know what I have to do to do it. So once I am finished being a carrier, even though I will probably never be bound to a number on the scale, I have no excuses for not being healthier and there are some things I've learned along the way that can and should become a part of my lifestyle. Second, about the whole motivation thing...I've learned that I will never, naturally, on my own, just magically become motivated to lose weight, exercise, run, count calories, watch what I eat, etc. If I wait for the motivation to come, I will wait forever and never do it. It's a necessary evil, like unloading the dishwasher, putting away laundry, cleaning the house, or grocery shopping. I don't particularly enjoy doing any of those things, but I also don't like my kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, being unable to find clean clothes, living in a dirty house, or not having food in the house. Counting calories and exercising are necessary 'evils' that I must do in order to be healthy. Motivation to do it this time was forced upon me so I could accomplish the goal of being a gestational carrier. Once I'm done with that phase of life, I will have no more excuses.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Have you ever noticed those bumper stickers on the back of people's cars that say things like 3.1, 13.2 or 26.4?  For awhile I didn't know what those meant.  Now I'm aware that people who have those bumper stickers on their cars have run a 5K, half or full marathon, and those numbers represent how far they ran in miles.  This past week has been monumental in my weight loss journey.  It seemed like every day last week I either lost a significant amount or maintained my current weight.  The climax happened yesterday when I reached my goal of 193 lbs!  Well, 193.2 to be exact, but it's close enough for me and I'll take it (and run with it...literally).  I immediately thought of those running race bumper stickers and figured I needed one that said 193.2 to advertise my accomplishment.  Then I quickly came to the conclusion that while this is a huge accomplishment for me, it's probably not something I want to advertise on the back of my minivan.  In addition, I actually have to be down to 190, so I'm not done yet.  But the representative at the reproductive assistance company I'm going through to be a carrier told me that once I get 3 pounds away to let her know and we can continue the process.  So as soon as I weighed myself I emailed her to let her know.  Of course, she doesn't really work on the weekends, but she did respond to let me know she would contact me on Monday. 

Last night I attended a social get together for my adult Life Group through my church.  It was so fun and there was tons of delicious food.  To celebrate my weight loss victory, what did I do?  Eat, of course!  (It seemed rational at the time, but writing it down  makes it seem very wrong).  I didn't count a single calorie.  Even though I still have a few pounds to go, I rationalized that it's good to have a "cheat" day from time to time, but I fully realize it can only be an occasional thing and I must get right back on the proverbial weight loss wagon immediately.  Let me just state, for the record, that, although I did not specifically count every calorie I put in my mouth, I don't feel as though I went totally crazy.  For one thing, now that I am 30 lbs lighter, I honestly can't eat as much as I used to.  I know my stomach has shrunk some because it seems to take a lot less to make me feel full.  In addition, since I've been counting calories for the past 4 1/2 months, I pretty much know what a serving size and calorie count is of most any food.  I ate one plate of food, which was mostly made up of a very yummy salad, and I had a scoop of the most delicious banana pudding I've ever eaten.  This little jaunt down eat-whatever-you-like-lane resulted in a 2.6 lb weight GAIN when I woke up this morning.  WHAT?  The one pattern I have noticed about my body when it comes to weight loss is once I've achieved a certain weight, even if I have a set back it doesn't usually take long to get back to that if I keep doing what I know to do.  Here's hoping!       

In other news, I've reached new heights on the running front too.  On Friday, Paula and I ran at least a mile and a half...without stopping...and without dying.  Seriously?  A mile and a half?  Me?  If I wasn't there I wouldn't believe it either.  We usually run at this awesome local park called Voice Of America.  It's beautiful!  There's a really pretty lake (or maybe it's a pond -- I don't know) with a running/walking path around it.  There are ducks and trees.  The landscape is very ideal for running, but it all looks about the same the whole way around.  We know the running path around the lake is 1.4 miles.  We start our run with a 5 minute warm up walk.  Then when the app tells us to run, we run until it tells us to stop.  Because we just started running when we were told, we didn't pay super close attention to at what point on the path we actually started running.  We know about where we were and we're confident we ran all the way around once and went a little past where we started running. 

I am starting to get the feeling that runners are made, not born.  Although I still don't love it, in some strange way I do look forward to it.  And I am starting to feel that I might miss it if I stop, or at least wish I was still doing it if I didn't do it anymore.  Weird!

We'll see what this week brings... 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Is It Worth It?

So I'm still running.  Once again, no one is more shocked about this than me.  Tomorrow I will finish week 5 of the 9 week Couch To 5K.  I've faithfully (even on vacation) run 3 times a week for the past 5 weeks.  Yesterday the C25K app took us to a new level -- we ran 8 whole a row...twice!  This doesn't sound like a lot, and to anyone who is a runner, it really isn't.  But to me I felt like I had given birth to a new child or completed some amazing super-human feat.  It wasn't even that bad.  I realized during my time spent running yesterday that I'm actually getting better.  I'm not as out of breath and it doesn't take me nearly as long to recover when I stop running as it used to.  However, my knees, ankles and feet hurt the whole time as I am running.  I finally broke down and bought some real running shoes today.  This was inevitable, and I've been warning Scott for weeks that it needed to happen.  I haven't bought new tennis shoes since before I birthed my 1st child (who is almost 6 1/2).  The shoes I've been running in are not only old, but they're the best Target had to offer when I bought them.  They've been great tennis shoes and, for the most part, are very comfortable, but not really meant to run in.  We'll see if new, proper shoes add any assistance to the cause.  Tomorrow we're supposed to run for 20 minutes...without stopping.  Seriously?  We'll see how it goes, but I'm kind of up for the challenge and anxious to see if I can do it.  On the C25K app, when you finish a run it asks you if you want to log in through Facebook and share the results of your run there.  I'm always so tempted to do this because I'm so stinkin' proud of myself, but I never do because I realize no one else probably cares that I ran 16 minutes yesterday. 

On another, related note, I'm still hanging tough at anywhere between 197-199 lbs.  I have seen 197 lbs twice, but it was fleeting.  It would be so easy to be discouraged.  I really thought when I started running and consistently exercising that these last few pounds would fly off me.  I feel like I'm doing everything right.  I count my calories every day, watch portion sizes, don't snack, try to make healthy choices, and I work out 7 days a week (if I don't run, I do the eliptical for 30 minutes).  Believe me, I have to work hard not to let myself become totally discouraged.  I'm sure if I was just doing this for myself, I would totally convince myself that just barely under 200 lbs is good enough and I can live with that.  In reality, that's exactly how I feel.  But I have a bigger goal to achieve.  On the days I've been 197 lbs I only have 4 pounds to go before I can continue to move forward with the process to becoming a gestational carrier.  I've come so far and the end is in sight!  That really isn't that much, but as most people find when trying to lose weight, the last little bit seems to be the hardest.  I have created this fantasy in my mind that the couple who God has chosen for me to carry for is not ready yet, or there is some hold up on their end.  That's why these last few pounds won't come off.  It's God's way of not allowing me to get linked up with the wrong people.  I pray for the couple I will carry for so often.  They are heavy on my heart.  I know God has placed this on my heart and has, and continues to, prepare me to do this.  I just have to keep doing what I'm doing.  When His timing is right, that 4 (or 6) lbs will melt off. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Run, run, as fast as you can...

So on Monday I started running.  No one is more shocked about that as I am.  I've always said the only reason I will ever run is if someone is chasing me with the intention to harm me.  I hate running!  I have lots of friends who are runners -- 5K's, mini and whole marathons, triathalons.  I could never identify with them.  I've heard of a "runner's high" -- I can't EVEN imagine!  Nothing about it to me seems enjoyable.  I can't even believe it's come to this.  I just never thought of myself as a runner.  But the other day, my friend, Paula, came over to drop something off.  I invited her to come in.  She and I had gone walking together a few times, and it's so much easier to do any form of exercise when you have someone to do it with you, so I asked her if she was free to walk this week.  She explained that she was going to take up running again.  She had run a 5K a time or 2 before and felt like she wanted to do that again.  Paula's not a runner either.  She hates every second of it.  She says she doesn't become more energetic, but conversly feels completely zapped of energy when she runs.  But she wants to be healthy and lose weight, so she's going to try it again.  Paula is a little older than me.  Her kids are in college and high school.  She and I have similar body types and activity levels.  All my other friends who run are crazy, psycho runners who love it and are skinny and live for the next race, blah, blah, blah.  Paula was the first person I'd come across who actually made me feel like maybe I could do it.  And we could do it together.  She had run in the past but had stopped and it was going to be like starting all over for her, so I decided to go along for the ride...or run.

She uses a C25K app on her phone (which stands for couch to 5K).  It's a really cool app and totally free!  On day one, which for me was Monday, you start out doing a 5 minute walking warm up.  Then you alternate between running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for a total of 20 minutes.  Then you do a 5 minute walking cool down.  The app allows you to listen to music on your phone at the same time and will interupt your music to tell you when it's time to walk or run.  So...I did it and I survived.  It actually wasn't that bad.  There were a few times that I was surprised the 60 second run was over and I could have gone longer.  It's set up for you to work out 3 days a week, gradually progressing to more running each week, with the being able to run a 5K in 9 weeks.  I'm still not totally convinced, but we shall see.   

What now?

So once a person decides she wants to become a surrogate, how does she go about doing that?  As I've shared with people that I am pursuing becoming a gestational carrier, I get asked that question a lot.  I found a reproductive assistance company in Cincinnati that helps place surrogates and gestational carriers with families who are wanting that service.  Shortly after I delivered my third child, my desire to become a gestational carrier had not wained and I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.  Even though I wasn't ready to start the process yet, I filled out the 15 page carrier application and submitted it, just to see if they would even consider me.  If the door was going to be closed, I wanted to know so I could stop thinking about it.  Very shortly after submitting my application, I got a call and was told that I would be a great candidate.  Just to give a little insight, there are several factors that could have easily precluding me from being able or even wanting to do this.  First of all, they will only accept someone as a carrier who has only had 1 c-section.  I have very large babies...9 lbs 7 oz, 9 lbs 11 oz, and 8 lbs 15 oz.  Had they known my first was going to be that big, I probably would have been told I had to have a c-section, which would have set me up for that for the rest of my pregnancies.  I did have one c-section with my last, and ironically, my smallest (she was posterior, AKA sunny side up).  Scott and I always knew we wanted 3 kids.  We were going to stop after 3 regardless.  Even though 3 boys would have been fun and I would have gotten along just fine with that outcome, of course I did really long to have at least one of each gender.  After having 2 boys, I remember saying to Scott when I was pregnant with Sawyer, before we knew she was a girl, that if that baby was a boy I don't know if I could be a gestational carrier because if I carried a girl for someone else and didn't have one myself, that might be too hard.  So Sawyer being a girl (her name was going to be Sawyer even if she'd been a boy), confirmed that this was something I am supposed to do.

So I'd been accepted.  The next step was to have stopped breast-feeding for 2 months.  By the beginning of April of 2012, that goal had been accomplished.  I was ready to actually start the process.  There were OB/GYN records and a letter from my doctor (stating no known reason why I can't be a carrier) to be obtained and submitted, a home visit from the president of Reproductive Assistance Inc, and lengthy psychological evaluations and screenings for both Scott and me.  Check, check, check.  Everything has gone pretty smoothly and moving in the right direction.  The most difficult part of the whole process is losing weight.  I have to be down to 190 before I can be matched with a family and start on fertility drugs.  I started out at 225 and I've lost 25 lbs, so I'm doing really well (by the grace of God alone), but I still have 10 lbs to go.  I recently decided that I probably won't be able to lose much more just with diet alone.  I'll have to, dun, dun, dun...EXERCISE!  Say it isn't so! 

I've gone through phases in my life when I've exercised regularly.  I really don't mind it all that much, and feel good when I do it.  But as a mom with 3 small children, it's not a priority for me and hard to fit into my schedule.  I feel like I'm running after children all day -- isn't that exercise enough?  When I first started trying to lose weight to become a carrier, I started wearing a pedometer.  I decided if I didn't naturally throughout the course of the day walk 10,000 steps (5 miles), I would go for a walk in the evening.  I was not shocked to learn that most days I walk 10,000 steps without even trying.  This plan helped me get 25 lbs off, but I'm kind of stuck with 10 more lbs to go.  The problem with this plan is, when you naturally walk 10,000 steps a day by not even trying, that's not doing anything your body's not used to doing.  I wasn't any kind of skinny so 10,000 steps a day was no great accomplishment, and something my body was used to.

I don't think losing weight is easy for anyone.  But this is why it has been difficult for me.  I've never been very insecure about my weight or body (especially as an adult).  Although I want to be healthy and I feel better when I exercise, the goal for me has never been to be a certain weight on the scale or fit into a particular size of clothes.  Right or wrong, I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin.  I enjoy cooking and eating and don't want to be a glutton, but really enjoy food and don't associate a lot of guilt with eating what I want.  I am naturally active enough that, even though I am overweight, I don't think of myself as sloppy or lazy.  Because I've never really tried to lose weight before, I didn't know how hard it would be.  My husband had great success with counting calories with a free iPhone app.  So that was my first strategy.  That didn't turn out to be as easy for me as it was for him.  I have always been against diets.  I just know I can't make a diet that cuts out entire food groups or types of foods as a lifestyle, so I'd never dieted before.  I decided I would try a diet since this was for a specific purpose and not something I would plan to adhere to forever.  I did a low carb diet and had pretty good success with that.  It was almost like my body needed that to get a jump start and realize what I was trying to do.  I did that for as long as I could, and now I'm back to counting calories again, which I've had better success with this time.  As of this morning, I was 200 lbs exactly.  I have to be at 193 before I can "get the ball rolling" any further as a carrier.  Tomorrow I'll talk about my recent venture to help further that goal.