Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Anger Stage

I talked to the psychologist yesterday, and even though I still think she could have been more professional, even though I still think the tone of our meetings was not constructive, it seems like maybe we may have dodged a bullet when this arrangement fell apart.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I have arrived at the angry stage of my surrogacy failure.

The psychologist told me some new things about the surrogate, let's call her M, that are troubling. That one of the first things out of M's mouth during their individual meeting was that no agency would accept her because "this is my body and pregnancy, and no one is going to tell me what to do." Suffice it to say, this is not how she presented herself to me. M also told the psychologist that no one would mentor her in her business, because they "don't want to mentor the competition" (I guess the millions of mentors out there are always from different industries from their mentees in her imaginary world). And apparently her choice to home school was not because she deems herself a more suitable teacher for her children, but due to conflict with her school system. All of this, the psychologist said, was conveyed with a certain belligerence. A sense that she is perched on a moral high ground, not only on the termination point, but in life in general.

It explains why the psychologist entered into our group meeting with an assertiveness toward the surrogate that I found in the moment, without this recently acquired knowledge, to be unprofessional. I still think she could have controlled herself a bit and tried to create a meeting of the minds, or construct a new understanding for M on the necessary mindset for a surrogate -- and maybe M could have stretched herself to make it work. But it makes sense why she approached it the way she did. She said she's screened hundreds of surrogates and no one had ever presented herself to her the way M did. Yikes.

What doesn't make sense is why M would try to be a surrogate in the first place. It offends me that, by making this all about her, she is flouting the real pain and angst that couples who arrive at surrogacy are experiencing. We need someone who can put her own agenda aside and make a healthy baby by listening to the parents and the doctors, and then, in turn, get paid for her efforts. It's not like we were going to suggest an experimental treatment on her, or ask her to give birth in a treehouse. She needed to let go of control and trust us too.

The conversation with the psychologist was healing in a way, because after I got the email from M, my first instinct was self-flagellation. Surely, I thought, there must be something wrong with me, because no one -- no one -- has this kind of luck repeatedly. I must be attracting bad luck and bad people, or otherwise f-ing things up with my PTSD-laced behavior and communication. It turns out that it really was just the bad luck of choosing someone who presented herself as a great candidate to me, but let her borderline personality hang out with the psychologist (Which, by the way? Isn't very smart. Did she not get that this person represented our interests and could block the whole thing?).

I still had to pay the psychologist yesterday. Her bill was $699. I couldn't even write the check -- I had to have my husband do it. Do you know what I could have done with $699? This is in addition to the approximately $8k we already invested in this surrogate.

[I had a whole rant here with additional specific and angry points about what went down with M. It made me feel crappy and petty to have it out there. Tearing her down, even if my points are legitimate, is not going to make anything better. So I'm deleting them, but I have to say it made me feel better to write them out.]

But there's still this: gallows humor. While writing the check to the psychologist, my husband offered that he could draw stick figures in the memo line. Perhaps stick figures in compromising positions. He didn't do it, but I love him for suggesting it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Foiled Again.

Have you ever wondered if you're cursed? If you kicked dogs in a past life? If someone is trying to tell you to stop, just stop, for the love of grace, stop?

We got so far this time. So far. She came out with her husband in June. Things looked just ducky with her medically. We liked them both personally. Then the psychologist came in for that screening and fucked everything up.

The main issue was around the possibility of termination. This is such a deeply personal, not to mention politically charged issue, and I cannot handle the possibility of this post turning into a commentary on that, because I deeply respect the nuances of this issue. But here's what I will say. If you're thinking about surrogacy, make sure you know exactly where your potential surrogate stands on this issue. Moreover -- and here's what we didn't know -- make sure that, even if you feel with 100% certainty that you would never, ever terminate, no matter what, even if someone's life depended on it, make sure your surrogate is willing to give you the final word on it in your contract. Even if you agree in theory going in, the final word should optimally be yours, because you can't predict how you might feel in the moment, if a doctor tells you your child might suffer. And also, you need to know that even if she says in her contract that it is completely up to you, that she would terminate at your request for any reason, to choose surrogacy is to revoke the certainty that you can make that decision about your baby. Because even if she gives you the power to decide in your contract, in fact there is no court in this great land that can make someone terminate a pregnancy. In the one devastating case out there in the news, the surrogate said she was open to terminate, but then changed her mind when the fetus was diagnosed with a severe syndrome. And it just gets sadder from there.

I wish I had known all of this. Even though the surrogate and I were on the same page up to 99% of the matter, it turned out there was a gray area where my husband and I were a bit more liberal. Where we wanted the reassurance that ultimately, that would be our own decision to make.

I would have known this if I had used an agency. And I would have used an agency if money were no object. But it is an object.

Basically the psychologist handled this issue very, very badly, and I think that was a greater obstacle than anything else. The beginning of the end. Her unprofessional and glib approach created an air of defensiveness and distrust among the four of us that we never recovered from. And as an aside, I now need somehow handle her $700 invoice when she may have ruined my chances of having another baby.

That wasn't the only thing that happened. The surrogate got nervous after that conversation, but we always felt better when we talked about it openly. Then our financial picture changed a bit. My husband had been doing extra work to fund this operation and that got shut down unexpectedly early. So we were on hold for about a week sorting through that obstacle. And then the surrogate complained that she didn't want to use a lawyer for her contract review that my lawyer recommended, and it felt like maybe she was going to push back on everything. And our communication started to break down. And then last night, she dropped the bomb on me via email at 10 p.m. She is out. I think she is not used to this kind of complication when it comes to making a baby, and it terrified her.

And now I need to figure out how to live in a world where I have embryos that never see the light of day. Because I think I'm finally, finally seeing that this is never going to happen.

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