Monday, April 30, 2012

Ultra Sound Results, Our Blog Needs A New Name!

This blog post written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

So I guess we need to change our blog name to "A Belly For Me, BABIES For You."   James and Natalie are having twins!

Last night I did not sleep a wink.  I kept thinking, there must be more than one baby in there, right?  No, I just have really high HCG levels.  It has to be one big healthy baby.  Then of course I was up for over three hours on a fertility site reading other women's HCG levels and comparing them to mine.  I was right in the norm of having twins or even triplets.    There were a few that showed I could have been still having one baby.  By the time I was so sleepy and could no longer count ovulation dates and beta numbers (I am going to do this now instead of counting sheep at night), I was able to drift off around 2.A.M.

This morning, we made it to Seattle Reproductive Medicine to see some of our favorites people from our team.  When the nurse first started the scan, she knew right away there were two sacs.   We were able to see the little heart beats of each one and we were all instantly crying.  My favorite part was watching James and Natalie's faces as they got to see their babies' hearts beat for the first time ever.  What a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.  I am excited and nervous to carry twins.  I really just cannot wait to feel the movement of a baby,  now babies, inside my belly.  What a beautiful joy I am a part of.

Here are some photos from the day.   I have had pretty bad morning sickness since my last blog last week.  I spent the car trip with a bag in my hand and my bean breakfast making an entrance into it. I did attempt to put makeup on, but had sweated and cried it off during my puking.  So the washed out look is what's in this week, feel free to copy the look!  :)

I just want to say how amazing my husband is. I think often times he gets forgotten in our situation.  He is seriously so wonderful.  This past week I have been in bed or on the bathroom floor.  He has been taking care of me, both our boys, the house, working and of course, filming the documentary for this movie.  Someone buy this guy a bottle of wine, I really big bottle, in the shape of a winery.   Thank you to my husband, you are a wonderful strong man and I appreciate all you do, I genuinely do.  I could not do this without you.

Thank you everyone for reading and all your support.  We appreciate you all.  Thank you for reading and sharing our story.

James and Natalie seeing a heart beat!

James and Natalie seeing TWO heartbeats!

Both are healthy and beautiful, we all start crying.

This blog post written by Natalie, Intended Mother

Where do I begin...WOW. So excited to see a healthy little heartbeat, but OVERWHELMED with joy to see TWO!! Two Healthy heartbeats, two healthy babies. Baby A with a heartbeat of 116 and Baby B with a heart beat of 119!!  Both measuring perfectly at 6 weeks and 1 day. I cannot seem to fathom the fact that we are being so overly blessed right now. We are having TWO BABIES!!! A year ago if someone told me this what was in store for us, I would have never believed it. They always say God has a greater plan than you could ever imagine, well He has far surpassed that. James and I couldnt be happier....well maybe if you could fast forward the next 8 months :) We are so excited for Hunter to be a big brother, so excited to start planning the babies' we can officially say BABIES!!! yahoo!
Looking over and seeing the excitement on Tiffan'y face just confirmed how incredibly blessed and greatful we are. Knowing how how excited she is and how badly she wants to bring these babies to our family is such a blessing. Being greatful for her would be the largest understatement.

Thank you for reading, please share our story with other women (and men too!).

Natalie, Intended Mother

The one of the right looks empty from this photo but it's not!


Laughing so hard we were crying over something, can't remember, probably my hair. Hahahaha

My husband has been AMAZING taking care of me! 

Don't forget to like our movie on Facebook and stay up with all our updates!

Today's photos were taken by the amazing Rachel Vos Photography

Monday, April 23, 2012

From Fit to Fat

This Blog post was written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother
Currently 6 weeks pregnant

This is my fourth attempt in the last month to talk about my pre pregnancy weight gain. This is really hard for me to write.  I have typed this out for several weeks and then stopped, erased, restarted. Every sentance I type I think how much people will judge me, remark on what I have done wrong, or remark on my current looks. If you are reading this post, it means I got enough courage to not care what bad things others say or think about me and to just post the truth.  I have been wanting to write about the reality of the situation, that this is a challenge I am currently facing and have been for a while.

I have always been a slender person.  Not necessarily "fit," as the word "fit" to me, would describe someone who could compete in a physical challenge in Survivor, winning individual immunity.  Ya, that is not me.  However, I still always felt fit.  Being "overweight" has never been a challenge with me.   I have packed on a few lbs here and there  as I have gotten older and always been able to lose weight with simple diet and exercise fairly quickly. Standing at a lovely 5'9 (okay fine, 5'8) I was a healthy 135 lbs when I met my husband in 2007.  I had already had my first baby by then and bounced back perfectly to pre-baby weight and body.  Before we had our second baby in 2009, I had gained a little "pre pregnancy weight" and pregnancy weight, therefore, had a little more to lose this second time around.  By the time our baby had turned two years old,  last August, I was 150 lbs and pleased as punch.   Being 30 years old, two children and a size 8 seemed lovely and healthy to me.   Of course I would have loved to shed a little more, maybe hit 140, but I was fine the way I was and I was all into myself "heeeeeeey!"

Then came the medication for the surrogacy.   I am the type of person who gains an instant 10 lbs from birth control (and an instant 30 lbs from NO birth control hahahaha).  So when my IUD came out, I gained 10 lbs very quickly after going on the nuva ring in November.  In December we started new medications and I have been on hormone medicine ever since with the exception of having a natural cycle after the last embryos did not take. The Lupron, Estrace, Progesterone, and Vivelle patches all had a side effect of weight gain or bloating or water retention.  I got up to 187lbs.   I am a healthy eater, my husband is an organic, vegan, health conscious and he does all the cooking in the house.  I eat normal portions currently, and even more currently I am not too hungry.  However, my drive to work out completely vanished so I know that is a poor mix with the medication.  Now that I am still currently on three of these medications and of course, pregnant, I don't anticipate a huge drop in weight anytime soon. Although I finally got down to 179/180 lbs and stayed there, it just is not the same. I am stuck.

I have suddenly become that person who does not want her photo taken, who positions herself slightly behind another person in pictures to hide some of my body.  Why?  I wish so much it did not bother me that I have gained such a large amount so quickly.  It affects me in every area. I feel more tired and less motivated, I don't feel like attending large social events, I don't feel as in love with myself when I look in the mirror.  God forbid I see a picture of myself!   I always think I look skinnier than I am until a photo pops up and holy cow (no pun intended) my day is shot after that.  I do not feel as confident, especially around my skinny friends. I feel whenever I see someone that has not seen me in a while, I have to quickly justify why I look so different, as if to tell them I am aware, before they can think it or go tell their friends how big I got. It really is like being in a new body. No clothes fit anymore, I have to fill the bathtub with a little less water than before (don't laugh it's true! Okay fine laugh, it's funny).    Here is what my biggest problem is; my biggest problem is that I HAVE a problem with it.   I wish I could just think I am fabulous while being chunky and rock the crap out of it and know that in one year my body will be back.  Funny thing is, I don't mind gaining weight while pregnant and getting bigger at all.  I always think I am "all belly" and look like Heidi Klum when she is pregnant.  When in reality, towards the end of my pregnancies, I am so pudgy from ankles to cheeks (face cheeks people.  Okay, let's be honest, butt cheeks too) it looks like a thousand bees stung me!  Also, I have friends who are my weight and I think they are just beautiful.  which makes me realize how mad I am at myself for not loving myself the way I used to.  I love my friends so much and it breaks my heart when they don't love themselves the same.  Now I am in their shoes, not loving myself enough.

Here is my "fit to fat" photo.  This photo on the left is my body before medications at 150 lbs, and then second photo was taken the day of the second transfer, just a few weeks ago at around 180 lbs (give or take an embryo).

Now I know some of you will look at this photo and not see the weight gain, or say nice things to me still. Or say how silly this all
sounds.  Or try to convince me that I still look good.  However, I am the one living with it and I think most of us can relate when we are not happy with our bodies and what kind of affect that has on us.

With all of this being said, I want it to be known that I would do this again in a heart beat if the outcome meant a baby for my brother and his wife.  In hindsight, does it really matter that I packed on a few pounds (especially during winter, most likely resulting in a nice money saving tactic for our heating bill) in order to produce the greatest miracle out there?   I don't think it matters, and I don't think the world will judge me harshly that I look this way currently.  I don't think any of you will think of me as a lesser person because I gained this weight.  Now if only I could convince myself, all would be as it should.  In all other areas of my life, I accept who I am.  I accept I talk too much, I laugh too loud, I crack inappropriate jokes too much, I pee my pants every few years, I think farts are funny, I cry when no one is looking, I am disorganized, I am motivated, I am a great mother, I am an imperfect mother, I am a loving wife, I make mistakes, I am imperfect and I love who I am because I am constantly growing and trying to be better.  I need to love what I am, all that I
am and that includes this body.  

This is not a solicitation for compliments.  There are times I still think I am fabulous, and I have the best friends and family and husband who feed me till I am full with compliments. This is simply a share, an honest share about the struggles I am facing and perhaps other women, not just on fertility drugs, can relate to weight gain, body changes and adjustments.  I hope maybe we can all ease up on each other, but mostly on ourselves.  Eat healthy, exercise, take care of our bodies and if we are slightly imperfect, find out how to be okay with that. To genuinely love our bodies, our shapes, our sizes.

Overall I am doing well with the pregnancy so far.  No morning sickness yet (knock on wood).  I don't "feel" pregnant because the hormones have made me feel pregnant for so long.  I do feel REALLY tired in mid afternoon, I would love to take a lovely spring nap every day if possible.  I cannot wait for my belly to start growing and to feel some movement in there!   The ultra sound is next week and I know I am going to cry when I see that tiny flutter of life, that tiny white spec, that little baby heart beating swiftly. And soon, this weight issue will be a thing of the past.  Soon as in... not really any time soon, but know what I mean.

As always, thank you so much for reading and supporting our journey.  We have some exciting news coming soon, so stay tuned. 

Don't forget to like our movie on Facebook to stay up with all the news about the documentary.

"Accept yourself as you are. Otherwise, you will never see opportunity. You will not feel free to move toward it - you will feel you are not deserving." Maxwell Maltz


Monday, April 16, 2012

More Results Have Come In

This blog post was written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

Today was the blood results of our second beta test.  They are testing the HCG levels to make sure the pregnancy is growing at a healthy rate.   By today, the numbers should have doubled.  Our nurse called and said she would be happy with a number around 500 or 600 since our number on Friday was 234.   When she told me what my level was, I actually was not registering it properly.... she said it was 1,618...  what!?   It was like she was speaking a foreign language to me.  1,618!?   That seemed astronomical to me!  Now I could sit here and google diagnose my levels until the cows come home, where one woman had triplets with that number and another had a level 8,000 and had just one baby, and wonder if it is twins but it is just too early to tell.  Our ultrasound is May 1st and we will be able to see how many little baby heart beats are floating around in there. 

Natalie and James are of course thrilled!  Multiples or not, this is a healthy (fast) growing number that they have been praying for and I am so excited for them and for all the positive news that just keeps coming in.

I wanted my two little boys, Blake and Holland, to showcase the beta number today.  After the first picture, Holland wanted to make his own - in his drawing he drew in what he calls "the baby embryos."   

FYI  while you are reading this blog, I am going to go google diagnose my HCG levels until the cows come home :)

Thank you so much for reading, don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and of course share our story and blog with those around you.  We are still in awe of all the support and receiving over 15,000 blog hits since three days ago.   


"The purpose of life is to discover your gift.  The meaning of life is is to give your gift away."  ~ David Viscott

Friday, April 13, 2012

Officially Pregnant With My Brother's Baby

This blog post written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

As you may have guess by the title of this post, I am in fact pregnant!!!   Okay, crying a little as I write this... now crying a lot!    Pull it together!  Our nurse called us today with the great news from the blood test today!  The reason we do a blood test is to see the HCG levels (the pregnancy hormone which stands for Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, which is a naturally occurring hormone found in both men and women, but is produced in large amounts in pregnant females).  Our nurse said that 50 is good, and over 100 is great.  Our HCG level is 234!       I seem to be ending everything in exclamations right now!   Obviously I am very excited.  Just hearing that those numbers were high and good was enough to make me cry right away on the phone.

I am still in a daze that this worked, that after the last time, the last loss... this actually worked (so far).   We are really doing this.   There is a baby in my belly right now.  Maybe more?   Oh my gosh, there could be more.   

I am just so very happy right now for James and Natalie as they will get to start to plan for their new little one to arrive.   The next blood draw in on Monday to make sure levels are rising, and we will update you more then.  We had a film crew and on set photographers today with both of us.  Natalie and James were in Tacoma when they received the news, and I was in Bellingham.  Our crew filmed our genuine reactions for when the nurse called and we cannot wait to add it to our documentary.   

Thank you so much for your continued support with reading our blog.  We would love if you would take a moment and share this link with a few people that might want to hear our story. 

Now, where can I can some pickles and ice-cream?

Surrogate (pregnant) Mother

Photos of Tiffany taken by Rachel Vos Photography

This post written by Natalie, Intended Mother

Praise the Lord our day has finally come!!!! Truth be told I am pretty speechless, all I can seem to do is scream, smile and jump up and down. Does this really ever sink in that someone else is carrying your baby?
I could not have asked for anything more and am so thankful for such amazing friends and family!! Now, prayers for a healthy baby!!



Photography of Natalie's reaction by Latasha Haynes Photography

If you are new here, we recommend you reading "How We Got Here" tab to find out what led up to this day.  

Also don't forget to like our movie on Facebook to stay updated with all the latest events: 

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Think Happy Thoughts!

This blog post written by Tiffany Burke, Surrogate Mother 
This blog post is from April, click the HOME button to be brought to our most recent updated blog.

Today is five days after the transfer and I have been really enjoying my down time at home.  My husband and oldest son, Holland, flew to LA this weekend to The 3 Stooges movie premiere.  Holland was laughing the entire time!  I heard it is hilarious for kids, I will take him again this weekend.

In the meantime it has been little Blakey and myself at home.  Playing cars, building legos, maybe drinking and eating snacks out of legos as well.  Bubble baths, snuggle fests and when Blakey is asleep I have been wildly reading the Hunger Games books.   I'm a quarter way through book three.

I have felt different this time around, last time I was cramping right away for three to four days, this time not as much.  I have been eating my pineapple core each day, making my fruit/spinach smoothie and for good (sticky) measure, eating my organic peanut butter (straight out of the jar since no one's looking!).  The blood draw will be on Friday the 13th.  I feel like we may turn that into a very lucky day, I hope.

I feel positive and hopeful this will work, but still a little hesitant after last time of course.   I really just cannot wait to be pregnant, and take care of a baby in my belly so that my brother and sister in law can have their baby for life.

Here are some fun photos that were left out of last weeks post....   first of all, James and Natalie's embryos! They are so beautiful and what a cool thing to see how life starts.  These embryos are five days old in this photo.

          Little Lucich Embryos!

  Yes, I wrote that on my thigh!   A little humor for the doctor to see when we started the transfer. I feel a little humor goes a long way!   He started laughing and said, "In all of my 16 years.... I have never...."  

As always, please take a moment to share our story so other women can connect and not feel so alone.  It also helps us. I know Natalie and I received several emails after last week's post, and comments, that brought us to full blown sobbing fests.   We really appreciate all the readers and all the support.

Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and keep up with all the latest news of the movie and the journey.

"Live your life so your children can tell their children that you not only stood for something wonderful you acted on it" ~ Dan Zadra

Sticky Thoughts!
Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

Friday, April 6, 2012

Here We Go Again

This Blog Post written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother AND Natalie, Intended Mother

From Tiffany, Surrogate Mother:

So many emotions happening.  It is very true when they say the journey of infertility is an emotional roller coaster.  I have experienced feelings I never knew existed, heard stories that have broken my heart, experienced parts of my life that have broken my heart and felt on top of the world at times.   This journey so far as been a roller coaster.  Wednesday, the day of the transfer, we were on top and still remain there.    

The transfer day is always a nervous, exciting one.  Will the embryos be good?  How many will be left?  How many will they recommend to transfer?  Will the transfer hurt? Have they found a new science where they can just inject the embryos with a  needle into my stomach instead of going through my lady parts and up in my cervix? Nope,  not yet.  This second time around felt different, we knew more, we knew what to expect but I also were not as giddy.   I think last time I thought 100% it would work. I was healthy and followed all my medications perfectly, same with Natalie.  We were all perfect candidates for this, never had fertility issues in the past.  All we were missing was Natalie's uterus, surely it would work the first time!    As heart breaking as it was that it did not work, I have a feeling it will all work out in the end.  I am still so hopeful this time, but I am prepared if it does not work.   The transfer went better then last time, we were blessed to have our regular team with us, my amazing doctor, Dr. Paul Lin and our spectacular Nurse Practitioner Lindsay Wood and an amazing embryologist, Jocelyn.  We felt like their only patients that day, they took such great care of us, and were so willing to answer our billion question, make the procedure flawless and of course, laugh at my jokes.  Perfection.  We transferred two beautiful embryos recommended by the embryologist.  It did not hurt this time, just really uncomfortable and I am happy for that as last time it was painful for me and I felt everything!  This time, the only reason I knew the catheter was in my cervix was because I could see it on the big screen above me. I did acupuncture before and after the transfer and felt very relaxed.  I have been eating pineapple like it is going out of style. I wonder if you can OD on pineapples?  I am currently bed resting and hopefully growing some amazing embryos!

I have to admit, one of the hardest parts so far is the weight gain.  I knew I would gain weight on the hormones, but I gained about 30 lbs in just a few months and then almost 40!   I have had a hard time adjusting to my rapid weight gain, my new body.   I didn't mind gaining weight while pregnant with my two children and I don't mind my postpartum body, I bounce back rather quickly.  This is different and hard.  Seeing pictures of myself is hard.  I don't even look like me.  I feel swollen in the face and body, like I was stung by a thousand bees. I know I am smaller than some, and bigger than others, and my friends are so sweet saying how "cute" I still am, but I just want to be honest that it has been hard. I do feel a little down at times for not having my healthy slender body and I wonder if affects how people view me.  Those thoughts are fleeting, but they are there.  I wonder if other woman on hormones go through the same thing?  I wish I did not care.  I see other women my size and think are just fabulous. I wish I didn't care that my body was bigger now.  

Filming went amazing, we have been getting some really great interviews, and we were able to film the entire embryo transfer.  It is a really cool experience and I am excited to share it with everyone in the documentary.  We had an amazing film crew that day and a spectacular on set photographer, Rachel Vos Photography.   Here are some photos from the transfer day, and then Natalie's words to follow:

Doctor Paul Lin and Tiffany reviewing questions from readers to use for interview in documentary

Interview with Doctor Paul Lin

Heading to embryo transfer, filming and talking about what is about to happen

Tiffany getting Acupuncture Treatment right before embryo Transfer with James and Natalie

Learning about the new embryos with our amazing embryologist
Wait, I have to take my pants off for this?  haha.  Our amazing nurse, Lindsay! 

From Natalie, Intended Mother

I feel like going into this a second time around is like driving back from a long road trip. Everything seems more familiar and a little less stressful. Yes, this whole process is very stressful in so many ways, but you can chose to try and control it and worry yourself sick or you can let the Lord take the drivers seat and have faith with work out.

This experience has been entirely different for James and I. Everything seems smoother. We are not worrying about every little detail, every cent we need to come up with and everything in between. We have learned so much more this time about this entire process.
When we arrived at SRM last Friday for my egg retrieval, I was a little nervous because of all the discomfort I had last time, but it went AMAZING! They took me back, retrieved all 18 of my eggs and I didn't even need to take any pain meds. My stomach has been sore to the touch since then but healing everyday. 5 days later when we came back up to Seattle for the transfer, I was super nervous about the quality of the embryos, because of our last experience but when our amazing embryologist came in and gave us our update I felt a wave of relief. They chose to transfer two fair quality embryos, and there were 6 embryos left to develop for one more day (3 made it to day 6 and were frozen) I had learned so much more about quality and the different stages of the embryos, they rarely ever  rate them higher than fair unless they are pretty much perfect , she said ours looked healthy but hadn't grown quite enough for them to transfer just one embryo..which was FINE with me!! :)
I was a little nervous about the transfer as well, I hated the fact that Tiffany had to go through so much pain to do this for us. I remember last time she was dripping sweat and had tears rolling down her face the entire time. This time I remember her say, "that was it?" She is such a trooper. Our Dr was amazing, he explained everything step by step and was so comforting and optimistic. We had such an amazing team of drs and nurses we were so lucky.

We did some filming for the documentary shortly after Tiffany finished her acupuncture which was amazing. I just love to hear my husband talk about things that are close to his heart. I am often asked to explain our story and have such a hard time, everything gets so foggy. James was there to explain everything and had Tiffany and I balling.

I step back and just realize how blessed we are with all of this. it has been a crazy journey, but has shaped all of our lives so much. All of the little blessings that have come from this and all of the outpouring of love is overwhelming. I have recently had a few other women connect with me that have gone through the same exact situations, it almost like reading my own story. It help s not to feel so alone and be able to ask someone else how they are able to deal with certain feeling, situations and emotions.

I appreciate everyone who has reached out to us during this time, shared their intimate stories,, struggles, faith, and hope with us.  I was very unsure about sharing my private world with everyone, and found myself very surprised how much all this support has meant to me and helped me along the way of this journey.  Thank you to all our friends, family and readers for being there for us.  Thank to our amazing husbands, James and Sean for being our biggest supporters.

Please, if you can take a moment and email our blog out to a few friends, share our story in hopes it reaches more women and men who are feeling a lone during their infertility issues.  We have loved connecting with everyone from all over the country and even have some readers from different parts of the world now.  We read every letter and one of us will write back to you.  Thank you for helping us share our story.

Here are the rest of the pictures from our day.... also, don't forget to "like" us on Facebook!

Lucky green socks on, ready for transfer to begin! 

James held his sister's hand during the transfer

The embryos are in!  Natalie is a happy Mama!  

Interviewing for documentary, James, Natalie and Tiffany discussing Natalie's traumatic loss of her uterus. 

"Sister Wives"  Tiffany and Natalie were crying while reliving story

From left to right: Sean (Tiffany's Husband and Director of Documentary), Tiffany (Surrogate), Natalie (Intended Mother) and James Natalie's husband, Tiffany's brother and Intended Father). 

There are embryos in there right now! 

Love makes a family, Tiffany and her brother, James after the embryo transfer with proud mama, Natalie.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today We Try Again

Just a quick note to say today is the second try, we will be transferring the embryos this afternoon. So nervous, so excited.  REALLY want it work this time.    We will write more after the transfer, just wanted to get the updated out there now.  We will be filming with the production crew all day as well, including filming the transfer.  Our on set photographer will give us some photos to use today so we can put up on the blog for later.  Thanks for following, and thank you for all your sticky thoughts today!

Surrogate Mother