Sunday, July 12, 2015

Positive Breast Cancer Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with breast cancer July 1, 2015. Here is what I posted on my Facebook today. I will create another blog for this process. I hope I can keep it somewhat updated. Thank you for reading.

Facebook post:

For anyone wondering, my pathology was read to me July 1st. Unfortunately, it is positive. This whole process is just taking a really long time, MD's are always full and appts not given quickly, regardless of my diagnosis. I am doing ok though. I am trying to keep positive. I have my moments, but that is normal, and I welcome the moments. The only thing is I have pain in the affected breast; it comes and goes.

My children, family, and neighbors know. The support is already pouring in. My insurance covers everything, I have low deductibles, and it has authorized a Special Coverage (le dicen "la catastrofica" en espaƱol) for the whole process. Breast reconstruction is covered. So I am ok.

All that I need, is for everyone to either send positive thoughts and prayers, or visualize me healthy and send me love and light. I appreciate it

The rundown of my appointments has looked like this ...

June 2, 2015 - Category 5 mammogram

Was referred to a surgeon. Radiologist advised an excisional biopsy. I started calling various surgeons to see who accepted my insurance.

June 10 - 1st appt w/surgeon

(The earliest appt I could get with a surgeon who accepted my insurance. It was also the surgeon the mammogram tech told me was her #1 choice)

The surgeon is wants to do a biopsy.
He is really full. The earliest he can accomodate me is June 25.

June 25 - Core-Needle Ultrasound Guided Biopsy.

Results in 1 week.

July 1 - 2nd appt w/surgeon (for pathology reading)

Positive. Pathology states:

- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
- Ductal carcinoma in situ
- Perineural invasion identified

Wants me to get an MRI for surgery planning. He told me "this is going to be a marathon", and that there were two options, removal of mass or mastectomy, but that regardless of which was done, he thinks the nipple will go. I knew this might be the case because I have a slightly retracted areola, and I am ok with that! I am ok with losing anything! All I want is to live :-) He briefly explained my insurance covers breast reconstruction, which I knew, but told me that after he has the MRI results, we will discuss how to proceed in detail.

Told me that when I had the MRI results I could go see him with no appt. Amen to that! Had me request a Special Coverage approval from my insurance so I won't need to get any more referrals or authorizations for anything that needs to be done from now on. (En espanol le dicen "la catastrofica".)

July 1 (Same day) - Called Hima Hospital in Caguas to make an appt for the MRI, because my surgeon told me that was his top choice for getting it done. Unfortunately, they need to evaluate people first, before giving out an appt, and it was late already.

July 2 - Went to Hima Hospital in Caguas to get the evaluation.

Appt for July 9 @ 2 pm. An employee told me to call back as soon as I had the MRI authorization from my insurance (it was being processed), to see if they had any cancellations, and could see me sooner.

July 3 - MRI authorization came through, so I called the MRI place to ask, but they were still full.

July 9 - Breast MRI

Appt was @ 2 pm. I arrived at 1:30 pm with my husband, who decided to go with me. Poor dear, he didn't know (and neither did I), what he was in for! Thing is, they failed to inform me, that here, like in most of the MD's I go to, even if you have an appt, you still have to take a turn. I always ask, but I guess I thought, for this, 2 PM meant 2 PM. I made turn # 7. When they attended me, they informed me they were with a patient who had 5 studies in one, and that after that one, the tech had to go and eat at 6 PM, so I could then be attended at 7 PM. So I said fine, I couldn't afford re-scheduling this. Hubby had just gone to visit some family he has nearby, so I called him to come get me. It was 5 PM. We went to the shopping mall. We got back at 6:55 PM, and I was called at 7:30PM! I swear :0

The MRI lady was a trip. I think she was either a surfer, or a hippie in her younger years. I think she still might be :D She's a freckled redhead older woman. She was funny.

She told me that the results usually take 5 days to be out, but that she thinks they will be out by Tuesday. I have to pick them up, and since my surgeon also attends in that hospital (I have been seeing him in Humacao, PR), I think I will just keeping seeing him there so I don't have to wait until Wednesday to see him.

Will keep you posted.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Officially a 3x Gestational Surrogate!

I gave birth, via C-section, to an 8 lb/1oz, 21" baby girl on August, 2013! That was my 3rd surro baby, since on my first surrogacy I carried twins.

It got a VBAC friendly OBGYN for that pregnancy, since the previous C-section had only been my first, and enough time had gone by for an attempt, but I got to 41 weeks, baby never engaged, so no sweeps could be done. Induction was out of the question since I had a previous C-section. And since my blood pressure was high, another cesarean it was.

I loved the couple I did that surrogacy for, so I did a sibling journey for them. Sibling journey is when, as a surrogate, you carry another baby for any previous Intended Parents (IP's) you had.

So on November, 2014, I gave birth, via C-section, to another baby girl (4th surro baby). She weighed 10 lbs., and was 23" long! She definitely had some cheeks on her :D

That pregnancy was my 6th full term pregnancy, so it was certainly my hardest!

Thanks for reading,

GS x 1 to Boy/Girl twins (July 2011)
GS x 2 to a girl (August 2013)
GS x 3 to a girl (November 2014)

Friday, April 12, 2013

How To Go About Doing A Surrogacy in Puerto Rico

Firstly, I am what is known in the online surrogacy community as a Gestational Surrogate x 1 (GSx1). Currently 20 weeks pregnant carrying my 2nd pregnancy as a Gestational Surrogate. First Gestational Surrogacy was twins, this one is a singleton. I have been through 3 IVF’s, 3 IUI’s (one cancelled), a miscarriage previous to conceiving my own last child, another miscarriage after my first IVF (first surrogacy), had my first cesarean with the surro twins, and have birthed 3 children of my own vaginally. Two were home births. So it’s safe to say, I am not only an experienced surrogate, but experienced in general.

This post is in response to an anonymous comment/question left at my blog entry titled:  
Officially An Experienced Gestational Surrogate

The comment says …

"hey :) i live in Puerto Rico have a baby boy and would love to be a surrogate do i do that? my email is … "

As I told the poster, I would post my reply as a separate blog entry because it could help someone else with the same question.

So here is my answer …

First and foremost, you only have one child, and if I am not wrong you now have a profile at SurrogateMother (recently noticed this site does NOT exist anymore) and I can see you are 18, so before doing a surrogacy you have to be sure that in the event you lose your uterus from any sort of complications at birth, you would be ok with not being able to have any more children.

That is why many experienced surrogates advise surrogate hopefuls to wait until their family is complete to do a surrogacy. At least for me that was the case. I had completed mine before I did this.

Doing a Traditional Surrogacy you can also lose a fallopian tube if you suffer an ectopic pregnancy.

Regardless, Traditional Surrogacies are not advised in Puerto Rico, since it is too risky for the Intended Parents because the surrogate can change her mind, and you being as young as you are and only having one child thus far, I wouldn't advise it either.  It can be emotionally confusing if the person has not completed their family. There can always be an unconscious maternal need if the woman is young, and again, hasn't completed her family.

Going the Gestational Surrogacy route ensures it is a more mechanical/medical process for the surrogate, and maybe aid in her feeling less attached to the pregnancy in general. AND, it will ensure that if she changes her mind, she can be taken to court and the baby given to the rightful parents, since she is not the biological mother anyway.

How do you do a surrogacy? You do lots of research first. Ask lots of questions on online forums from experienced surrogates. Don't get into a surrogacy until you understand the medical process you'll go through and until you have a Word Document containing your terms/conditions and your fees. You need to have this handy at all times so you can email it to prospective Intended Parent's (IP's), or be able to take a photocopy with you when you are meeting any couple in person for the first time.

Then, you find Intended Parents (IP's). They mostly take over from there in finding the Reproductive Endocrinologist, lawyers, and Psychologist they want to work with.

You all then draft a contract to give to the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), and both you, maybe your partner, and the IP's, need to get a psychological evaluation (lasts from 4 to 5 hours) to give to the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) as well.

Once both these documents are given to the RE, the fertility drugs and injections can be started by both you and the egg donor/Intended Mother (for Gestational Surrogacy, which is the only one recommended in P.R.).

Might I add that the medication protocol/routine is a mentally and physically challenging one. YOU MUST take these medications/injections as instructed, at the correct times and dates, or YOU will have made the Intended Parents waste thousands of dollars and ruin the whole cycle (a cycle is usually a month or two).

The drugs will then control your hormones, while they will make the egg donor or the Intended Mother (IM) produce more eggs than normal. Once everything is ready, the eggs will be extracted from the donor/Intended Mother and transferred to your uterus 3 to 5 days later. All of this is called an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) cycle.

You then go on a 2 week wait (2ww) until the official pregnancy test, which is ordered by the RE and is not the regular pregnancy test one might get personally at a laboratory. It is a test that measures hCG in numbers. If the results are more than 50, you are considered pregnant. You will not pick up these results yourself. They will be faxed to your RE directly and he/she will contact you/the IP's later in the day.

When it comes to compensation (Comp), you should divide that by 9 or 10 installments, and that should only start AFTER pregnancy has been confirmed by the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Many Surrogates will only take their first comp payment after the heartbeat is first confirmed, which is at about 6 wks gestation, others at the moment pregnancy is confirmed via blood test.

Intended Parents SHOULD NOT give those 9/10 installments before an achieved pregnancy as this is frowned upon. Most surrogates will have added fees in place for procedures/doctor's visits before the embryo transfer, and that is ok. There is nothing wrong, for example, in asking for a "transfer fee" since after transfer you have to rest for 24 hours and that fee can help you pay for child care and take-out food for your family so you can concentrate on getting the rest required. Plus, it can pay for your gas and maybe for you to give something to the person who drives you to/from the RE on the day of the transfer, since you shouldn't drive yourself afterwards anyway.

Also, if your partner needs to take off from work, this can compensate for his missed wages. Many people think some surrogate fees are silly until you break it down for them like this. Then, it makes more sense to them. Many Intended Parents (IP's) are strapped financially because they have maybe already done IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) many times themselves, and they will question any and all of your fees, so you MUST be able to understand and explain why you ask for the things you do in your terms.

Explain to them you need to have for gas, tolls, parking, food on the road, child care, your time, etc.

Surrogacy is an emotionally and physically draining experience. Just because our personal pregnancies were easy does not mean a surrogacy will be the same. This is especially true if it was via In Vitro Fertilization. You can end up carrying twins, triplets, and IVF is known for a higher incidence of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and miscarriage.

You must also research the side effects (short-term, and long term) the drugs you will take can give you. Most women are not prepared for this. I know I wasn't. I still shudder thinking of all the Progesterone in Oil intramuscular injections I had to take. I am 20 weeks pregnant from my 2nd surrogacy right now and I still have pain/tingles/itchiness on my left buttock muscle from all those injections. Those are daily injections that will last 10-12 weeks after pregnancy is achieved. That is the medication that will keep that baby glued to your uterine wall. If you stop using this, the baby will start detaching.

Lupron is another drug used during IVF, it has to be administered daily in the abdomen. It’s most notable side effects are headache, hot flashes and mood swings. During this surrogacy I had to use it for 40+ days. So that in itself is food for thought!!! And I don’t mean to scare anyone. It’s just that the RE might not explain this to you, and when time starts passing, you might get impatient. I know it happened to me every time, and I still can’t believe I got through it! Going into this with some knowledge might help.

Surrogacy is one of the things I am most proud of having done. I have brought a set of boy/girl twins into this world already, and this family is ever so grateful and reminds me all the time. BUT, it will be the hardest thing you'll ever do and YOU MUST BE SURE you are ready to go through it. I went into this because in my heart I knew I could carry a child, and give birth to it, and not get attached. And I knew I could do it for people I had never met before, and that I wouldn’t require any updates from the parents after birth OR any contact whatsoever with the children I carried. You must be too, and you must not be coerced by anyone into doing this for whatever reason. You must want to do this.

Many times you will also have to think about your Intended Parents (IP’s) and the struggles they have gone through trying to become parents, and compromise on terms because you really want to help them. It's just something that'll evolve over time for you. The outcome of your compromise can make you feel very proud afterwards. I know from experience.

After you give birth, you will sign a contract before leaving the hospital. You must not feel bad about this. Even though the IP’s will hopefully hold you in high regard for what you have done for them, they still have fears in place and their lawyer will advice them to do this to protect themselves. Then, the lawyer will start requesting the court hearing for the final relinquishment of custody and parental rights, as this is how this is done in P.R. At least for my first surrogacy, this whole process took 8 months before we finally went to court, and we only had to do that one hearing.

I might have forgotten somethings, so feel free to ask away if you feel so inclined. That's the best thing you can do, make as many questions as necessary.  Mostly ask experienced surrogates though. They know what they are talking about. They have been there, and done that. Even though many are catty and like to put many surrogates down when they find out you have unconventional fees, etc. The surrogacy community is unfortunately filled with lots of drama queens and disrespectful people, so steer clear of that and you’ll be fine.

You can also read this previous post where I talk more about beginning a journey:

Best wishes,


Friday, December 28, 2012

Positive Pregnancy Test!

This update has been long time coming. I found new Intended Parents (IP's) in September 2012. It was kind of an unexpected thing.

We started an October cycle, but it got cancelled due to problems with the egg donor.

I was then on Lupron for 40+ days, and we then had an embryo transfer on December 13, 2012.

We transferred 3 blastocysts.

PGD was done. One was normal, the other two are uncertain, so Chorionic Villi will be done further on.

We then had a positive digital home pregnancy test at 5 days past transfer. Then we did an hCG beta on our own at 7 days past transfer, and got a 37.6.

The official RE ordered beta was yesterday, and on that one we got 433.7!

The IP's are excited to say the least :-)

Now the wait starts for that first ultrasound in two weeks.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

October Transfer Cancelled

I had some prospective Intended Parents (PIP's), so I went to get an ultrasound and a Pap Smear with my RE on August 31, 2012, to see if all was ok to proceed. I also started birth control (BC) pills that day.

The interested IP's hadn't really made contact since first contacting me back in February 2012, and they still had some issues with my terms. I revised/reconsidered things in hopes of being able to proceed.

October would have been a great month to conceive because that would have meant a summer birth.

I got Aunt Flo (my period) on a Monday, so I called my RE to let them know.

The IP's then agreed to move forward one day, but the next day they sent me a text message that they wanted to halt things.

So, onward & upward. In search of IP's again.

I also had a few approaches before that, but all ended up backing out as well.

Oh the rollercoaster ride surrogacy is.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fees, Compensation & Beginning a Journey

I posted this on my SurrogateMother profile, and wanted to share this here ...

This is a link that a surrogate friend shared with me when I started my journey back in 2009, and I was asking about what was reasonable in terms of fees:

I not only post this as a guide for surrogates who are starting their journey, but for any prospective Intended Parents (IP's) so they can get an idea of what is common.

Rebekah Rose posted a bunch of links in that thread, and the first link on there has all the things you should think about broken down, but believe me, there are things that are NOT on there that you will NEVER think will happen to you (Ex: Placenta Accreta. I know 2 surros who have had it, and one of them the doctor was recommending removal of her uterus), so think things through, and read other surrogates diaries/blogs so you can start having an undertanding of what to add in terms of fees.

Nothing worse than being at the beginning of a journey, and have something terrible happen like a miscarriage, or even a stillbirth further along in the pregnancy, and not have included something in your contract that would cover things like bedrest or childcare, etc.

Also, the beginning of a journey should require psychological screenings for everyone involved. At least my doctor asked for it, along with contracts. I had mine done when I did my journey. Took about 4 hours.

Contracts are next. Mind you, here in PR it is done indy. That first medical contract is mainly for the medical aspect of the journey. There will be more contracts after the birth when the legal part comes up.

And of course, the Intended Parent(s) and the surrogate should be checked for ALL types of sexually transmitted diseases!!! Whether you are doing In-Vitro, or home inseminations and Traditional Surrogacy!

And last but not least, surrogates should have NO out of pocket expenses!!! Intended Parents need to cover her mileage/gas, give her a food stipend for the day, something for child care, and cover all co-pays in advance.

This is again for people who do this indy (independent). This is especially important for surrogate mothers who are stay at home moms, because we have no outside job. Last thing an Intended Parent (IP) wants if for his/her surrogate to have family/marital/financial problems being caused by her doing a surrogacy. Her needs need to be covered while she is at doctor's appointments, getting bloodwork done, at a psych screening, and even while resting after a home insemination. If you want her to stay put, and be responsible, then help meet her needs because otherwise she will be forced to still tend to her family/household needs before her own.

I have had my share of learning experiences through the 2 In-Vitro (IVF's), 3 Intrauterine Inseminations (IUI's), and one miscarriage I went through, so I can vouch to how we are never prepared when going indy.

I wish everyone good luck, and if any surrogates can add anything I might have missed, or that you wish you would have thought of when starting out your independent journey, then please do so.

I would also like to add that I like to reach out to people because I either genuinely care, or because I might need some support and someone to lend an ear, and when they open their hearts to me, I give my all to try and stay in touch. But I have in vain tried in the past to reach out to members on here who are local to my island, and the majority have ignored the posts I have left on their walls. I say to you: Don't expect my help when you need it, when you have ignored me all along! Just needed to get that off my chest.

And to prospective Intended Parents, not all surrogates are liers, hackers, or trying to steal your money. Yes, there are a few quacks out there who give surrogacy a bad name, but I have my IP's, doctors, lawyers, other surrogates, neighbors, family and friends who saw me do this surrogacy, and follow through till the end. Who can vouch for me. Who know I am a woman of my word.

Having said that, I wish everyone the best of luck. Remember, sometimes surrogacy is a leap of faith!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Surro Twins Turned One!!!

The twins I gave birth to in July 2011 turned one year old :-) This is what I shared on my Facebook about it ...

Went to my surro twins birthday party. Cried during the photo montage the family presented! Oh my, they recorded me crying and everything, lol. I came out in a bathing suit in all my glory, almost naked while getting my belly cast done, while lying down in the OBGYN's office looking huge, etc, etc :p

It was a very special occasion, and everyone made me feel even more proud of what I did :-) There were many tears of joy indeed. Wish I took more pictures though. Thankfully, a friend helped with that task.

I am very happy to have seen the family all together. The twins are surrounded by lots of love, and I will forever be extremely proud of what I did.

I sometimes forget what I did momentarily, but there are always things that remind me that they indeed came to the light from within my womb. Things like their belly cast, their pictures on my cell phone, the parents keeping in touch, seeing them again, or maybe still being involved in surrogacy. And even if one day I don't have any of these, there is always that annoying cesarean incision :p That always does the trick!

I read that babies stem cells pass to a woman's body when she carries them, so I guess it's safe to say, they will both always stay with me ;-)

No words can explain how proud I am of what I have done, regardless of what anyone might say or think.

I wish I could share pictures of them, but my Intended Parents cherish their privacy. Here is a little memento of their birthday party ...