From tattoo needles to hypodermic needles…

14 weeks…

Right before I officially signed on the dotted line to carry again last June, I got several new tattoos- and two in as many days, to be exact. See, I knew what I was up against in the coming year- a long process- from Zika and communicable disease testing and quarantine for 6 months, to up to 3 cycles of shots and embryo transfers, to the actual pregnancy itself…And I carry babies forEVER (I even carried the twins to 38 weeks, 3 days, and could have gone longer). A few days after my second tattoo that week, I left for 10 days and traveled Haiti, Puerto Rico, and St Maarten for one last hurrah with MY family before we officially started growing another. And with that, I temporarily traded in my love affair with tattoo needles for a new (and much less artistic) relationship with hypodermic needles…

FIFTY-ONE of them, to be exact. Plus birth control, antibiotics, steroids, daily baby aspirin, 172 suppositories (you don’t even want to know), 127 abdominal patches, and countless blood draws (for the aforementioned communicable disease testing, hormone level checks, and pregnancy confirmation)…All just for ONE cycle, ONE attempt. And we were very lucky because we had a successful embryo transfer on the first try!

Getting pregnant with a baby that is not genetically yours (and sustaining that pregnancy) is not magic, but it is damn close. It is science, it is fascinating, and it is exact. The medicine protocol must be followed to the letter, so attention to detail is crucial, and can feel overwhelming, intimidating, and even suffocating at times (travel and vacation are particularly interesting).

With this process, cycle, and pregnancy, I included my kids from minute one. As a matter of fact, I asked them for their input and go-ahead before signing on to carry again. With them being in-the-know, I was able to freely excuse myself to take/inject whatever medicine I needed at the time…and occasionally my intense med schedule interrupted time at the pool, meals, movies, etc. Because I did not tell them about the twins until I was further along, I did not have this luxury, which was an added stress in my days. And in one terrifying moment, my son- Julian- walked in on me doing my progesterone shot. Thank goodness he was only 8 and not overly curious about what I was doing. Plus, I certainly came up with a super reasonable explanation for the needle in my back.

To manage the med schedule, I created an interactive spreadsheet that allowed me to see- at a glance- what I needed to do at what time of day, as well as track my weight. This system also made my life easier when traveling, because I could quickly count out the number of needles/patches/suppositories/pills I would need for the duration I would be gone. I also continue to use a traditional daily pill sorter/organizer to hold my oral meds- pre-nates, pro-biotic, aspirin, and now my thyroid meds.

If a day in the life of a carrier is intense when it comes to the medicine protocol, the toll those meds and that process take on your body and mind is just as much so. To begin, with daily morning and afternoon shots, you cannot have aversion to needles, a low pain tolerance, or a weak stomach. Finding creative ways to ease the pain of the injections is a must (the needle is large and the progesterone can hurt because it is in peanut oil and is subsequently thick). I found that massaging the area immediately after, alternating sides of my body, and going to the gym or practicing yoga all helped. Even today, 14 weeks in, I still have a pea-sized lump on the lower right side of my back, and a bit of numbness on each hip. And of course, the increase of progesterone and estrogen in your body can cause mood swings, so be nice and warn your family, friends, and colleagues. All of these efforts are well worth it- and eternally rewarding- when you see your intended parents hold their shiny new baby, or two. So if you can handle the medicine protocol- and all that comes with it- stay tuned while my family grows another…


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