3 Questions to Ask If You’re Pregnant

April 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Healthy

By Rachel Sarnoff

healthy tips for your pregnancy

Pregnant? Get ready for the god complex. Every mom I know talks about the saint that delivered her baby. The doctor’s word is taken as law, and heaven forbid your birth partner suggest otherwise. But are you and your doctor truly in sync?

In 2012, a University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, most doctors do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy.

 

If you’re pregnant, make sure your doctor knows the answers to these important questions that can protect your children’s health.

Yet studies link low levels of toxic chemicals in pregnancy to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development, as well as increased risks of birth defects, cancer, immune problems, asthma and other problems later in life.

 

In fact, in 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a joint statement that said: “toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies and are associated with numerous long-term health problems.”

Common sense, right? Apparently, not to the American Chemistry Council, which released a response through the Associated Press stating that the report would create “confusion and alarm among expectant mothers.”

I would say pregnant women would be alarmed by the ACOG/ASRM statement. But confused? There’s nothing confusing about these reproductive experts’ statement, nor is their anything unclear about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ position, as stated in 2011, which recognized that pesticides are associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems, and recommended that pediatricians work with parents to help reduce the use of pesticides in homes and yards.

It’s pretty clear to me that the gynecologists, obstetricians and pediatricians who are primarily responsible for our children’s health are unified with the common goal of reducing exposure to toxic chemicals—especially in pregnancy.

Writing off pregnant women as “confused” by the truth that low doses of toxic chemicals can be dangerous, especially to children, is misguided logic. As parents, we need to get empowered about the decisions that can affect the health of our children. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about it, here are a few questions to ask the doctor you’re considering having deliver your baby:

  1. Should I be concerned about mercury in fish?
  2. Is organic food important during pregnancy?
  3. How can I reduce the amount of VOCs in my environment?

IMHO, the answers I’d want to hear are:

  1. Yes, avoid fish during pregnancy and supplement with omega-3 oils.
  2. Since studies have shown links between pesticides in pregnancy and lower birth weight babies with shorter term pregnancies; you should eat organic as much as you can.
  3. Use no VOC paints and avoid new synthetic carpets and furniture, especially those which are made with formaldehyde.

If your doctor doesn’t have answers or want to research these issues, consider whether or not he or she is the right doctor for you. Because if you’re going to choose a god for nine (ten) months, it should be someone you can trust to be as current—or more so—than you are about information that’s crucial to your baby’s health.

Portions of this story originally appeared on Rachel’s Huffington Post column.You can read more from Rachel on her site, Mommy Greenest

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A Practice Drill

August 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Trey Darnell

By-Trey Darnell

We could be weeks or merely days away from making the trip from Johnson City, Tennessee to Abilene, Texas for the birth of Baby T-Rex. The distance between these two cities is 1,128 miles and when you are on “baby time”, there are no easy planning and travel solutions. Blogs, books, lists, parenting forums and workshops do not prepare you for getting a phone call saying the expecting mom is at the hospital with contractions, and you are over a thousand miles away.

1,128 miles between Johnson City and Abilene

1,128 miles between Johnson City and Abilene

 

Thursday afternoon, we received a phone call signaling labor could be imminent. It seemed as if clothes, baby clothes, diapers, cameras and cats were flying in every direction. The car was packed full with what felt like half our house and a car seat securely in place. Everything was happening extremely quickly. Anxiety and excitement was in complete control.

As we entered the last five weeks of pregnancy, Matthew and I had worked through options that were available that would allow us to get to the hospital as quick as possible. We had tentative travel plans that would put us into Abilene a week before the due date. If the baby decided to make an appearance sooner?  There was an alternative plan in place for that. One of us would be on the first available flight, and the other would drive. A plan for the cats, mowing the lawn and anything else we could think of had been thought of. We would have everything packed and ready to go in a moments notice, well we would in mid-August. We were behind the curve.

This past Thursday, travel by air wasn’t an option, so we both buckled in and began the 17-hour drive to Texas. We received text updates throughout the evening. An extreme effort was being made to make it there as quick as possible. I would swear that the odometer was not working correctly. The miles were slowly ticking off. Our late night turned into the early morning. As we reached Memphis, Tennessee we decided to stop and get some needed sleep.

Crossing the Mississippi River heading home

Crossing the Mississippi River heading home

As the sun rose on a hot and humid Friday morning in west Tennessee, we all had experienced a false alarm. The expecting mom had what was referenced as a stalled labor and received medication designed to stop contractions. Everyone was grateful that she was resting comfortably and getting some much needed sleep. Matthew and I took a deep breath, smiled, and buckled in for our trip home.

Preparing for trip to Abilene, Texas

Preparing for trip to Abilene, Texas

After arriving back in Johnson City and unpacking the car, we began to make lists of things that we needed and created a staging area in our guest room for everything that will make the trip with us. Bags and containers were unpacked and repacked more efficiently. The false alarm was a little drill that we were able to learn from. Without question, it was an exhausting 24 hours, but we were able to make sure that we are better prepared for the next call. Matthew and I are ready to leave at any given moment.

Follow Matthew and Trey on Facebook and Twitter or visit their website mattandtreyadopt.com

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Fertilized Egg for Adoption

July 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Adoptive Families, Family, Meika Rouda

By Meika Rouda

egg for adoption
I have a good friend who is single and in her early forties and wants to be a mom….now. She is divorced, just moved to the Bay Area leaving her comfortable apartment and lucrative career in New York. For two years she has tried to conceive both the natural way with different partners and with IVF so now it is time to move to the next phase which is adoption, just not the typical kind.
She would like to adopt a child but is worried she won’t qualify since she just moved cities and has no job currently. So she is going to adopt an embryo. The clinic she found near Sacramento will give you three tries for the price of one IVF cycle so it is a good deal. When she first told me about it I had trouble understanding why anyone would do this.
“Just go adopt a baby.” I said.
“I won’t qualify. Besides who will pick me, I am a single mom in my forties?”
“You will be picked, it might take time but you never know what resonates a birth mom. Or do the closed adoption route and get matched.”
“I still don’t think the state will approve my home study. I am living in a studio apartment the size of a closet and have no income.”
“You can get a job.”
“I will. But I also want to be pregnant, it is nice to have some control over how my child is growing in utero even if I have no biological connection.”
“So it is the same as adoption except you are giving birth.”
“Yes but I can bond with the baby while pregnant and make sure I am eating well and taking my pre-natals. You can’t make sure a birth mom is doing everything you might do if you were pregnant.”
This is a good point. A birth mom may not make the same choices you would if you were pregnant and giving birth is an amazing experience to share with your child.
Yet is also confounds me in many ways, how medicine has totally changed how we create families. It used to be adoption was the only other way to have children if you couldn’t conceive naturally, then IVF, then donor eggs and donor sperm and surrogacy and now both donor eggs and sperm and even then sometimes a surrogacy..
“Do you tell the child that you aren’t their biological parent?”
“I don’t know.”
When she went to the clinic the first time for her interview, she was given a questionnaire on profile characteristics for eggs and sperm; for her baby. She chose a very tall sperm donor because she is short and likes tall men and was open for her egg donor as long as she was healthy.
She was just matched yesterday with an embryo that has a 6’4 college student sperm and a 22 year old mixed Latina and white egg donor. This embryo is fertilized and is ready to go, just waiting to be placed into her uterus.
I was with her when she got the email describing her baby, “Mom is 5’3, dad is German and Irish 6’4…”. It felt a lot like reading a profile of a prospective adoption.
“Should I get two eggs implanted or one?” she asked.
“Do one and then if it doesn’t work, do two next time. You get three tries for the same price right.”
“Yea.”
So that is the plan. Next month, this embryo will be implanted into my friend and hopefully by Mother’s day next year she will be a mom. And if it doesn’t work she still has two more tries for the price of one. You don’t get that in adoption.

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Finding Family

June 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Lisa Regula Meyer

By Lisa Regula Meyer

stork

It’s a crazy world, that of IVF.  It’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, and it does one heck of a job on your body, not to mention the toll it takes on your mental and emotional health.  But it’s a useful means to a great end- that of building a family.  Friends of mine are taking up the IVF journey soon, and are figuring out how much they have to learn.  The process of becoming a family could be really easy for them, two women with a known donor chosen and agreed to the process, but they want to go the extra step to involve both moms- one as egg donor, one as egg recipient.  They’ve recently passed the first hurdle in this whole process, getting one of them a job in a company that provides domestic partner benefits to same sex couples.  I’ve been assigned the role of “surrogate worry-wart” in winding their way through this maze, in an effort to let them relax a bit.  :)

Another of my friends are finally pregnant after years of intermittently trying (when they had funds available) while fostering children in hopes of the chance to foster-to-adopt.  Still others finally had a surrogate give birth to beautiful little boy.  Another is recently pregnant with an unexpected (and unwanted) sixth child, one recently lost a pregnancy at 11 weeks, and one is dealing with pre-eclampsia and an early birth.  Lots of babies happening around here.

In biology, I teach my students about the seven classic requirements for an organism to be considered alive:

  • Homeostasis
  • Organization
  • Metabolism
  • Growth
  • Adaptation
  • Response to stimuli
  • Reproduction

Most of these are really automatic for humans, we maintain our body temperature and water balance without thinking about it, except when something goes wrong.  It’s the same with our cellular organization, use of energy to fuel body processes, increasing our size (we’re maybe a little too good at that now, says my belly pudge), and so on.  But that last characteristic- reproduction- can cause enough headache to make up for all the easy parts of being a living organism.

In the larger sense, family building is also the thing that makes all the rest of it worth doing.  We’ll put ourselves on diets, through hormone therapies, have surgeries, and try to give and respond all the right signals to bring the next generation about.  It’s really quite impressive, that desire for a family.

Obviously, “family” means something a little different to humans than it does to, say, a slug, even if our own family may have members that more resemble a slug than a human some days.  But the drive is still there to have others like you in the world, either by choice or by blood, and to have that opportunity to influence the future of the world in some minor way.  That influence on the world is one way of making ourselves “live” a little longer, and maybe be immortal in a sense, and it’s an extremely fulfilling endeavor in and of itself.  Given all that, is it any wonder we go through so much to create a family?

A given all the hurdles that couples or individuals have to face on the road to parenthood already, why on earth would we want to make it harder for families to be created and supported, through the means that most fit their needs.  We don’t tell groups of people that they can not grow past five feet tall, and enact legislation to prevent them from growing to that height.  None of the other traits are subject to such regulations as making a family.  How about we stop acting like there’s a good reason to do so?

 

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Tick Tock Goes the Clock

February 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Family

By Lisa Regula Meyer

biological_clock_m

 

This past Friday was my birthday. My mom had come up to visit and was staying with us for a few days, and that night she and Kenny had quality “Grandma-time” while Dwight and I went out. Just us, together. It’s not something that happens often, and this was special because we were going out to see a friend of his from high school as the featured poet celebrating her new chapbook. It was a real live adults’ night out!

Alexis’ poetry was great, and it was amazing meeting her and her boyfriend. The open mic poetry and slam poetry were also quite interesting, and the venue, Karma Café, served a mean chai. One poem especially spoke to me, a poem about Alexis’ children that she doesn’t and won’t have. I can’t say I understand how it feels to know you’ll never be a mom, because I don’t know that feeling, but I do understand the feeling of loss knowing you can’t have something you want.

And I kind of understand wanting to be pregnant. Maybe it was the birthday blues. Maybe it was the talk with my doc about “as we age” crap. Maybe it’s the fact that all my friends seem to be doing baby stuff. Whatever it is, there’s a part of me that has delusions of pregnancy. It’s kind of odd, I’m not sure why I feel like this, and I’m not sure how this plays out.

The one thing I do know for sure is that I still do not want another kid. So I did what any reasonable person would do- I went and shopped for some of my baby-laden friends simply to look at cute clothes and accessories. I watched cute baby animal videos on Teh Interwebz. I looked through my son’s baby books and photos of our early months as a family. I signed up to sponsor a child on Plan USA a la “About Schmidt.” I talked baby-talk to the cat. I met a new-mama friend for coffee and tried playing with her baby, only for it to look at me as if I were a complete and utter moron (and my friend claimed I had a similar expression on my own face). That experience, followed quickly by a stench of a dirty diaper and tears, reassured me that my heart most certainly was not melting, and I was still my usual curmudgeonly self.

I don’t want another baby. I just want to be pregnant again. Or at least a little part of me does. I want to feel the joy of creating a family again. I want to feel that creative energy again. And the little internal kicks. Of course, an excuse for the extra slice of birthday cake wouldn’t hurt, either.

I’ve heard stories of similar feelings from other surrogates before, and I went through something like this during my second surrogacy. I’m off to think on the topic, do lots of soul searching, and figure out where to go from here.

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A Long and Winding Road for a Gay Dad

November 12, 2012 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By John Jericiau

It’s just before the 39-week mark, and as we make our way to the now weekly OB appointment, our friend/surrogate tells us that she has hardly felt the baby move at all during her day at work. This is concerning because a) the baby has been really thrashing around in there up until now, and b) I’ve read too much on the internet about how late-pregnancy stillbirths DO happen. The OB had warned us to “get in here as soon as possible” after noticing the reduced movements, so we were happy that we had a previously scheduled appointment. He quickly rushed us off to a non-stress test; happily, baby and surrogate were fine. There was plenty of amniotic fluid for our son to swim around in for a couple more weeks, and he was perfectly posed high in the uterus in a head down attitude. It was only a matter of time.

It was our friend/surrogate’s last day of work, and we felt relieved that she would no longer have to endure the bus ride to and from work, as well as the standing and lifting and walking that her particular job demands. Alen and I decided to make the weekend a double feature at the movie theater (one on Friday night and one on our usual Saturday night), because it was quite possible we would not make it another weekend before our boy arrived.

Saturday rolls around, and our friend/surrogate tags along as we go through the activities of the day – mainly the boys’ activities at an indoor gym and the YMCA pool. Late in the day our friend mentions how little our son was moving again. I did not want to throw caution to the wind. As much as I didn’t want to drive back to the hospital, I wanted to enjoy date night (possibly our last one for a while) without worrying about a distressed baby.

We arrived to Labor & Delivery ready to hear the same song and dance and that everything was just fine, but were surprised when the exam showed that we were in labor and already dilated to 4 centimeters! They moved us to a room, gave our friend a bag of IV fluids and then an epidural.

Alen was with the boys finishing up their swim when he got the news. Things shifted into high gear as to the disposition of our two boys. Where will they sleep? How will they get there? Family stepped up and arrangements were made.

I had two issues. One was returning our reserved tickets for date night watching the brand new James Bond movie. I drove over to the box office and they happily refunded the tickets to the sold out show. The other issue was a dying iPhone earlier in the day. Out of the blue there was no power. Nada. Zilch. So I did what anyone in my position would do. I drove to the Apple store and bought the newest generation iPhone 5. A new daddy just has to have a phone!

I drove back home and folded some laundry, put the infant car seat in the car, packed some extra clothes for Alen and me, grabbed some food and my laptop and headed back to the hospital. I stopped and mailed some bills and got some gasoline on the way.

Our friend was fairly comfortable at this point, epidural medication coursing through her veins. Alen was very comfortable, stretched out on the only sofa in the room, camped out until morning or until dilation or pain or something woke us up. I took my place on a wicker chair I found hidden in the corner of the room.

After sleeping on the floor for a while I switched with Alen and got a really good two-hour power nap. Renewed and refreshed, I woke up to the sound of the doctor saying that he was going to break the water and see if things progressed faster. At this point Alen decided he would drive the 10 minutes home and try to grab a few quality hours of sleep in our own bed, but to call him if things changed.

Boy, did they change! It was only 9 minutes later that our friend/surrogate was screaming in agony, complaining of severe left shoulder, arm, and elbow pain, while starting to shiver as if the air in the room had become like the Arctic Circle. Before I knew it 7 or 8 physicians and nurses were scanning over her and the monitors, scratching their heads as to the cause of this sudden emergency. Left arm pain brings out the fear of heart attack in almost any healthcare worker. Our baby was hanging in there but starting to show signs of stress, so our MD put up the white flag and called it a day. Time for a C section. And quick!

I dressed in my battle gear (scrubs) and watched in the OR as my son entered the world at 8 lb 8 oz and 20 ½ inches on 11-11-12. The date is significant since his Daddy and Papa and two brothers were all born on the 22nd of a month. Our new son still got the 22 done! He just did it his own way. And I’m just so glad he did.

Welcome to the world, our beautiful son, Dustin John Jericiau. We’ve been waiting for you.

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Gay Dad Listens As Doctor Doles Out Some Advice

October 1, 2012 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

For the first time this entire pregnancy, Alen – Papa of Baby Boy #3 – was able to attend a doctor’s appointment, albeit in his doctor’s scrubs. It’s a crucial time, so I was happy about it. Happily we have not had any spotting or bleeding lately, but just one day before the appointment, our friend/surrogate felt the baby squirming and pushing and stretching, but not nearly as vigorously as usual. On top of that she was having some unusual back pain. Since we already had an appointment set for the next day, we decided that the baby would be fine for 24 hours. Bad decision! It’s important to get in to the doctor as soon as you notice a reduction in movement – things can go downhill extremely fast if there is something wrong. The doctor insisted that for the rest of the pregnancy, we should call for an appointment ASAP if we notice any change in movement or intense back pain. Here I was thinking that our youngest son was just having an off day!

So after being urgently transferred from his office to Labor & Delivery for a non-stress test (a misnomer since I for one definitely felt stress), we found out that all was well. The baby’s heart rate was strong and steady, he had plenty of fluid to swim around in, and the ultrasound showed a healthy happy boy. He even waved at us, and Alen remarked that he thought our son had my nose (which arguably is not my best feature). The appearance of “my” nose may or may not be true, but the fact is that, just as with our son Dylan, we will probably never know whose nose it really is since we allowed randomness of natural selection to pick our sons’ paternal DNA – as natural as it could be considering the petri dish.

After the stress test we were given the okay to go back to the doctor’s office so that we could have further consultation with him. Our two boys, Papa, our very pregnant friend/surrogate, and I all squeezed into the exam room with a Kaiser doctor that has seen (most) of us only once before. Since we were 33 weeks pregnant, he advised “Mom” to take it easy so as not to break her water prematurely. (Her water broke at 35 weeks while carrying Dylan.) She was cleared to continue working her day job, and she should continue her ½ hour per day of walking. However, and this he was adamant about as illustrated by the fact that he repeated this three times, there should be NO SEX. The doctor’s eyes darted quickly from me to my friend and back to me and then to Papa as he said this, completely unsure of who in the exam room was having sex with whom, and therefore making him unsure as to whom to direct his statement. I give him a butch “Awww, shucks!” while my friend meekly says “Okay” and Alen says “We got the message”, further adding to his confusion.

Our son is now over the four-pound mark, about the size of a pineapple. I briefly considered naming him Dole to go along with our other “D” sons Devin and Dylan, but just as quickly scrapped the idea. More than likely he’ll end up with a “D” name that ends in the letter “n” (since the rest of the family members’ names end in “n”), and we will do whatever we can possibly do to make his birthday October 22nd (which is the 36 week mark) or November 22nd (which is 6 days past due) since all of his family members’ birthdays fall on the 22nd. To outsiders these things might appear frivolous and downright silly to care about, but for a family like ours it is just another way to help us feel connected as a family in a world that tries to constantly disconnect us.

So now we wait two more weeks for the next appointment, barring any warning signs. I continue my “mesting”, a name I use to describe my male nesting. Everything’s getting washed in Dreft to reduce the irritants in our new sons’ clothes. All previously used paraphernalia is getting pulled out of the storage shed and the garage, hosed off and evaluated for worthiness. I was surprised at all the national treasures I have found: stroller, double stroller, snap-n-go, double snap-n-go, swing, mini-bathtub, bassinette, pack-n-play, highchair, vibrating baby recliner, Boppy, and more toys than any single child could ever play with. After counting the said toys I calculated that if our D son plays with a different toy each and every day, we’ve got him stimulated until he is approximately 12 ½ years old.

It’s an extremely exciting and nerve-wracking time for all of us, but I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. For the best, please. For the best.

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Our Surrogate: One of the Family

September 3, 2012 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By: John Jericiau

It’s hard for me to believe that almost a decade has passed since I started trying to make my family. As a single gay man who nearly gave up on the hope of finding true love, focusing instead on having kids, the fact that I’m on the cusp of having a third son with my incredible husband is nothing short of a miracle to me.

Not that there hasn’t been some heartache. I’ve written before about losing my first real chance at fatherhood when the newborn I had in my home for 24 hours was unceremoniously returned to her mother because of her heartache. I can’t be mad at her – it’s got to be extremely difficult to give your child to someone else – but it was devastating nonetheless. Luckily I had supportive friends that helped me through that dark period. I also had the fortune of having my future husband enter my life at that time.

It took over a year for him to get on board about becoming parents together, and together we made it through more tough times. One year a woman changed her mind a week before our baby daughter was due, and the next year a woman from Las Vegas tested positive for meth halfway through the pregnancy. A few other near misses and we were thinking that adopting a child just wasn’t in the cards for us.

Enter an angel who I will call Elle (not her real name), because she is a very private person and I respect that. Elle and I had worked together for years, and she was one of the supportive friends I mentioned earlier, albeit in a very quiet and unassuming way. She was someone you could always count on. One day out of the blue we were at work and she proceeded to tell me how she had a dream that she had a baby for Alen and me.

Elle is not from the USA, and I’m not even sure that she knew that surrogates actually existed and could be found in a number of agencies around town. I had not even mentioned going the surrogacy route to fatherhood since I had invested so much time with the adoption. But there was Elle, describing a plan she had hatched to “get us that child we have been dreaming about for so long.”

We both decided to sleep on it. Alen and I couldn’t sleep that night. We lay awake wondering what type of person would be willing to do this for us. By 4 am we came to the conclusion that Elle was an angel, and we should go for it. When I saw Elle at work the next morning, we both yelled “YES” at the very same time. I made an appointment with the fertility clinic that day.

Elle is unmarried and has never been married. She has been through her own heartache with love, and simply has never found the right man. She also has never been interested in having children of her own. Elle speaks of Alzheimer’s and cancer in her family medical history, and for this reason insisted that we not use her eggs for the procedure. (We wouldn’t have used them anyway, for several reasons.) She was very interested in the chance to experience pregnancy however, so she saw this as a win-win situation, and so did we.

It took three tries before the IVF procedure worked, using a very young egg donor and a random mix of our DNA. Elle and I continued to work together as we made doctors’ visits, toured the hospital, and attended Lamaze class. During the workweek I could talk to my future son, feel his kicks, and watch Elle’s tummy grow. On the weekend I could check in by phone and make sure all was well. Her water prematurely broke at 35 weeks, and our big 6-½ pound healthy boy finally arrived.

I left my job to be home with my boys, and Elle left her position and relocated to another one. We invited her to come over whenever she was able, mostly because we enjoy her company, but also because we wanted the boys to get to know her better.

Over the subsequent months after our son’s birth, our relationship naturally evolved. Elle would take the bus to our home each Saturday afternoon, watch the boys during our weekly Saturday date night, stay through Sunday enjoying any and all activities that we as a family would partake in, and then I would drop her off at work on the way to my early Monday morning Master’s swim workout. She’s come with us to weddings, family get-togethers, birthday parties, and more, introduced simply as our close friend Elle. It was not as Alen and I ever imagined our family would be, but it works for us.

Flash forward to our son’s first birthday, and we’re sitting at the dining room table listening to Elle discuss the fact that she has no residual issues from the pregnancy, that she cannot even tell that she was ever pregnant, and if we were ever inclined to try for a third child, she is on board for that!

A month later we were repeating the IVF procedure with the few frozen embryos we had remaining (just in case we ever felt inclined to have a third child). When that procedure didn’t work, we shelved the idea for several years until we were ready for the procedure again with a brand new egg donor and another random mix of our DNA.

We were successful on the first try, and now we are 29 weeks pregnant and expecting our third son! And while we won’t, after son Number 3, be adding to our brood again (Elle is ageing out and Alen has reached his maximum limit), we feel so lucky to call Elle one of the family. And a family it is.

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It’s All About Me: Gay Dad’s Pregnancy Woes

August 27, 2012 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By: John Jericiau

I’m not really an attention-seeker. Okay, that’s a lie; I like getting double takes just as much as the next gay. Anyway, here we are at 28 weeks pregnant. My focus should be on my surrogate – our very close friend who is doing this for the second time for us – since she is waddling and panting and grunting her way into the third and final trimester, bless her heart.

But what about me? For the last two weeks I’ve inexplicably bounced between constipation and what seems like a wide-open faucet. If you’ve ever prepped for a colonoscopy you know exactly what I’m talking about. Enough said.

I’ve had nausea so bad that I cannot sleep despite being unreasonably fatigued. Even without the nausea I’m suffering from insomnia, watching the clock tick past midnight and 1 am and 2 am most nights before I finally get taken away to sleepland. My appetite has been up and down, mostly down. Even so, my weight has reached an all-time high of 166 pounds, despite substituting a Slim Fast shake for my normal breakfast cereal while maintaining or even upping my normal excessive exercising habits.

I’m having back pain and some never-before knee joint pain. Headaches are making me grouchy. I’m over-the-top excited in one moment, and then down in the dumps the next. What’s going on?

I got right on the internet to google my ailments, and I come to find out I am not alone. I can put a name on my list of problems: Couvade syndrome, which is also known as sympathetic pregnancy, male pregnancy experience, or pregnant dad syndrome. Expectant fathers can have pregnancy symptoms too, and except for the absence of enlarging breasts, I have a mild case as is discussed in various papers and studies on the topic. In extreme cases, daddies can grow a belly similar to a 7-month pregnant woman and gain weight up to 30 pounds!

Now that I learned what, I needed to learn why. I have not heard many of my expectant father friends complaining about these issues. It turns out, as I read a few studies of this otherwise poorly understood syndrome, that a huge percentage of men (at least 92% that is) experiencing some Couvade symptoms report a deep emotional involvement with the pregnancy. Two likely suspects of my ailments are stress and empathy. Stress releases chemicals in the body, such as cortisol, that can wreak havoc. Do I have stress with a third son arriving in the next 12 weeks? What do you think?

My empathy is strong as well, after hormone injections and sperm donations and doctor’s appointments, worrying constantly about how my friend is doing throughout this entire ordeal, how my husband is holding up, and how the boys are going to adjust to the addition to our family. Fortunately, it sounds like in almost every case all symptoms seem to disappear immediately after birth.

So will my Slim Fast and sweat pants.

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27 Weeks Pregnant … How Many Weeks to Go?

August 20, 2012 by  
Filed under John Jericiau, Same Sex Parent

By: John Jericiau

One sentence that I read today has eased my mind as we hit our 27th week of pregnancy: “While his lungs are still immature, they would be capable of functioning — with a lot of medical help — if he were to be born now.” I’ve lost sleep this week worrying about our new son, since we’ve hit a few bumps in the road on our way to his birth.

We’ve visited urgent care a couple of times recently due to bleeding (spotting, actually). We were told to go directly to urgent care with any signs of blood, so we’re doing what we have been told. Luckily there’s very little pain involved, with no signs of contractions or preterm labor. A few weeks ago we had marginal placenta previa, where the placenta appears to be migrating over the cervix and could subsequently complicate or even completely block a vaginal birth. Most recent exams show that the previa is resolving, which is good news, but some blood still leaks from the placenta, which is not good. Our surrogate/friend has some anemia to boot, which has left her feeling short on energy.

I’m a little nervous since our youngest son Dylan was 5 weeks early after our friend’s water broke while reaching for the milk in the refrigerator, so I assume that the likelihood of an early birth is greater with this pregnancy. Plus we’ve now developed a common but bothersome vaginal infection, which I found on the list of “Things That Could Cause Preterm Labor.” And all the things we’re going through one can find on the “Symptoms You Should Never Ignore” list.

Throughout this ordeal (I mean pregnancy) our new son’s heart rate has been perfect (mine is all over the place), and his size is exactly to be expected for his age, which is about 2 pounds today! Our head of cauliflower is already 14 ½ inches long from head to toe. He is supposed to be sleeping and waking at regular intervals now, but according to my friend he spends 95% of the day swimming and doing gymnastics, probably motivated from the recent Olympics.

On the cusp of the third trimester, we’re dealing with intermittent leg cramps, some back pain, a suddenly bulging tummy, and HUNGER, along with an attempt to start house remodeling, train for an October 10K running race, and gather up all the newborn boy stuff we have accumulated in storage. Oh and introduce our oldest son to the joy of kindergarten this week!

Right now it feels like when you are refilling a soap dispenser in your bathroom. You’re pouring the soap from the big bottle under the sink, and at first it’s very very slow, but as you near the top suddenly there is a rush of soap that overflows down the sides of the dispenser and onto the counter, and you wonder how you let that happen yet again. I thought I would be more prepared by now, since this is our third boy, but time is getting away from me. Hopefully now that the boys are returning to school this week I will have more time on my hands. Or soap.

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