Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here and Now

No baby news - yes, I will repeat it again as I do every day - this is good news. We are nearing the end of the first trimester.

One thing that has been on my mind recently is how often we 'wish our lives away' - watching the minutes tick off in a difficult meeting or, as in our case, wishing the next six months would pass more quickly so our baby would be in our arms. It is a great challenge to slow down and live in the 'now' - a great one indeed. I ran across this article today that really illustrates how much we could all benefit by slowing down a bit and appreciating the 'here and the now'. Take notice of something special today that you might otherwise be inclined to let pass you by - it might surprise you. Enjoy.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007…

A man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds – then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 Minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw the money into the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 Minutes later: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pulled him along and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for any significant amount of time. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common-place environment, at an inconvenient hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made....

How many other things are we missing?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Worry No More, At Least for Now

Things here are oddly normal. It feels like we've been moving at warp speed for a few months now and all of a sudden we are both, um, well, calm. I am a worrier. Got it from my mother's side of the family - all a bunch of crazy worriers. I worry about everything. Suddenly, I am not worried - about anything. That doesn't mean, however, that my brain is not on overdrive, because I can assure everyone, it is.

I am always on the road - have been my entire career - but I have been home since returning from Chicago in mid-June. I can honestly say this is probably the longest I've gone without traveling, ever. I think I really needed the time with Steve to process what is happening. What is happening? Well, lots of reflection...here's a short list of things that fall into the category of 'things you consider after conceiving'...

  • Your own mortality
  • Your relationship with your parents
  • Things you said and/or did to your parents growing up - good, bad and indifferent
  • Your savings account
  • Your healthcare plan
And lots of subsets of topics relating back to the five above. It's really strange to shift, at 41 years of age, from considering only yourself and your partner, to suddenly considering an entire other person - who will be around (God willing) the rest of your life - and will be reliant on you! Not an earth shattering concept as we didn't go into this with blinders on, but holy crap! Which takes me to a short list of things that you 'consider less and less after conceiving'...

  • Planning a globe trotting holiday (a few examples might include Mardi Gras in Sydney, Halloween in New Orleans or Gay Pride in San Diego - which we are missing this weekend I might add)
  • Monthly trips to Barney's in Beverly Hills to buy a new frock or boots
  • The impending end of car lease and the excitement of picking out the next version convertible to sport around West Hollywood
No, these things, although entertaining activities for the past several years have become less and less so and now, with much joy, have been replaced by, respectively...

  • A family vacation - driving with my parents in their RV (as they do in their new found retirement) to some place like, say, Montana or Wyoming or Maine - or, perhaps, Euro Disney
  • Monthly trips to Bel Bambini (cool store with anything and everything for babies) in West Hollywood where all the stars shop and we can basically afford nothing, but love to look and pretend - we have selected a very cool, daddy diaper bag from there though
  • An obsession with 'gently used' SUV's and Wagons - currently entertaining an Audi wagon, but it has become a nice past time to surf the net in search of the most utilitarian choice for a new born
Life is good - not worry free - but certainly the most peaceful place I've been in years. The joy that accompanies the conception and continued growth of an unborn child, our unborn child, is the most intense joy imaginable. My goal is to attempt to be as 'worry free' as possible for the next 30 or so weeks because I know my mother's genes kick in shortly thereafter and I will, officially, be in worry mode from then on!

We have had no news on the pregnancy which is just fine with me - 'no news is, after all, good news'. I know the monsoons in Mumbai have made it very difficult for the Indian residents to move about, so I just pray our surrogate and her family are safe and taking care of one another through the challenges this weather brings to Mumbai each summer.

Finally, I find myself thinking a great deal about all of those Intended Parents who have not yet conceived or who have lost their babies before they were 'full term'. It is a core prayer at mass each Sunday for me. There is a level of guilt that accompanies our 'celebration' when so many others' journies are not yet celebratory. I pray for understanding and acceptance for each of them and continued thanks for the positive things we've been blessed with thus far.

To all who are expecting or still attempting to conceive - thoughts, prayers and warm wishes are sent your way. Four babies (that I know of) were born in India this week to Intended Parents from North America. Congrats to the twin boys heading home to NYC and the two little girls who are headed home to NY and Canada. It is so cool to read these people's stories, day after day, and then see the happy ending. Amazing, and hopefully inspiring to those who are still trying, to keep trying and never give up on their dream. I know we won't, no matter the outcome of this pregnancy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Circle of Life

Well, we woke up to very good news today - ultrasound results - 'there is a single, well defined gestational sac in the uterus, a fetal pole is noted in this sac, fetal heart activity is present'. (Smile, sigh, cry, smile). For the first time, we are allowing ourselves to celebrate the reality that this now appears to be.

As I mentioned in my last post, we traveled to Las Vegas with Steve's mom for the weekend. While we were there we saw the stage production, musical version of Disney's 'The Lion King'. None of the three of us had seen the stage version - only the movie. There is a beautiful theme song - 'Circle of Life'. I'm sure most all are familiar as it was made quite famous by Elton John. The musical was terrific and I couldn't stop thinking about how much fun it would have been to have our child there with us. The whole 'circle of life' concept resonated with me after having visited the Krishna temple in Mumbai so I found myself very introspective about the whole concept.

One thing I haven't written about is something that brings on tears even as I type this. Steve and I lost the love of our life this past February - over four months ago now - our precious yorkie, Maxwell. This dog was super special - human-like, really - there was a connection with this little guy that cannot be explained. Both Steve and I have had other dogs and, in fact, lost a Maltese, Phoebe, a little over two years ago, but nothing has ever hurt either of us like the loss of Max. He was like a part of us. Maxwell passed away on February 27, 2009. It was about this time that we accelerated the process of pursuing surrogacy.

So, given how special Max was to us and how much we sought to fill this void, it shouldn't surprise us that the estimated due date (window), as per the ultrasound is February 23-28, 2010.

We are feeling very blessed this morning - a door closes and a window opens.

Maxwell (12.13.96 - 2.27.09)

Oh, and yes, we do have two new puppies for our baby to grow with, play with and love. A maltese/yorkie mix that just turned one and a yorkie (from Max's breeder) that will be one year old this October. Both are boys...so, a house full of boys, at least for now. Can't wait to see if we continue the male dominated theme or, perhaps, add a girl to the mix?!? Both sides of our family are all boys - no girl grandchildren on either side of the family - so, there is no doubt that all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and nephews would love a girl - but we will all just have to wait and see about that...I, personally, love surprises.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Well it is a 3 day holiday weekend here in the US and boy am I looking forward to a break from the daily grind. Steve's mom is visiting from Atlanta and she's never been to Vegas so we are taking her there for a couple of days. Certainly not a destination of choice for me - first of all, it is 102 degrees there at the moment and the drive (about 300 miles) can take 4-5 hours with traffic build up on a holiday weekend. I was just there for a trade show last month. Two months, back to back, in Vegas, sends shivers down my spine. I am, however, happy to see Steve's mom and she will love seeing all the lights and action for the first time - it is like nothing else you will ever see. So, off we go to the land of trashy people who spend too much, smoke too much and drink too much - Ugh. Every time I visit I wonder where the people come from - it is nothing short of bizarre.

Baby update:
We received the fourth, and final, beta results today. At 27 days past 3 day transfer (30 days past ovulation) we are only at 1860.

14 days past ovulation = 31
17 days past ovulation = 61
21 days past ovulation = 392
30 days past ovulation = 1860

We only doubled every four days since the last test. Maybe reason for concern, maybe not. The numbers have consistently been 'low', but also within the 'normal' range for the gestational age of the embryo. For example, for 3-4 weeks gestation, the 'normal range' according to Rotunda's laboratory is 1110-31500. We are at 1860 - 3.7 weeks since embryo transfer - within normal range.

The first ultrasound is scheduled for Monday. The ultrasound will show whether or not there is a yolk sac in the uterus and, if yes, whether or not there is an embryo present within the sac. They will also be testing to see if cardiac activity is present - and it should be at this stage. We expect the results when we awake on Monday morning. Anything is possible - people with high beta levels miscarry at this stage and people with low beta levels do as well. Only time will tell. All we know is that our levels have consistently fallen within the 'normal range' - albeit the low end of normal, but normal. At times we doubled every 1.5 days and at others every 4 days. Who knows?!?!

I will post on Monday once we get the ultrasound results. The docs say the surrogate is doing fine and has reported no problems or bleeding. This is good.

In the end, we want a healthy baby and we are willing to stay the course until we have just that - God willing the money holds out! We hope and pray this little one is growing and healthy, but if that is not the case, we fully embrace that God is at the wheel and whatever will be, will be. We both live a very faith based life and have prayed all along - not that we would have a baby, but that 'God's will' would be for us to have a baby and that we would be comforted in the fact that 'God's will be done'. Everything happens for a reason - we believe that whole heartedly and that is what keeps us going every day. If you say a prayer for us - we ask that you pray for our understanding and acceptance of the outcome rather than praying for a specific outcome. Understanding and acceptance is a wonderful gift. Thanks as always for all the warm wishes, thoughts and prayers.

Much love to our friends and family,
Terry and Steve