Wednesday, 2 November 2011
We just heard that we now have a UK passport for Hope - and so we can go home. That is such good news. We've been here four weeks and we always knew that the legal paperwork would take at least that long. But I was beginning to get really worried that we might be stuck here for much longer. My husband and son have already gone back. They left on Friday and yesterday my son was crying on the phone. It isn't great to have one child on one side of the Atlantic and one on the other. And this Minneapolis Hotel room was wearing pretty thin as well. But now we are going! The journey is quite daunting. And I won't really feel safe until we get through passport control at Heathrow. There is no reason at all why we should be detained. Everything we have done is within the law and Hope has both a US and a UK passport - but still I'm worried. The other problem is that her face is covered in those harmless spots which babies do get at about three weeks. I'm just going to go for the Big-Hat and Lid-Of-The-Maxi-Cosy-Up Otion and trust to good fortune. I can't believe that we are one day closer to the moment when Hope will just be a regular baby and we'll just be a regular Mum and Dad. We have never kept the circumstances of her birth a secret and we never will - but soon I think there just won't ever be much reason to talk about it.
Monday, 24 October 2011
There are so many profoud things I could say right now. But instead I'll say something silly which is ....... now that Hope is born people find it easy to know what to say. They can just say 'congratulations.' Just as they would when any other baby is born. When we told people in England about the pregnancy, they didn't really know quite what to say. In particular, they didn't seem to want to ask anything about our surrogate Mum. I suspect that they thought that she was some semi-literate woman who has been impregnated against her will and locked in a cellar ...... Obviously people in America are a bit better informed. I'm particularly touched that people reading this blog have mentioned her and sent their love. I want that thanks and recognition for her because she did something extra-ordinary. But I don't blame people in England for their confusion and reticence. As my husband rightly says, 'Of course, people don't know what to say. After all, there isn't a Hallmark card which says Congratulations On Your Surrogacy And Donor Egg Pregnancy, is there?' He's right. There's a gap in the market there. But I think we'll probably have to wait a while before Hallmark make that card.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
Here are pictures of Hope. Not particularly good pictures but I have had a computer problem and can't upload the better ones. She is doing fine - and we are doing fine. We have moved from Marshall now to Minneapolis where we have to get a birth certificated, US passport and UK passport. Our time in Marshall was wonderful. It's a really small-town place but amazingly friendly. We spent a lot of time there with our amazing surrogate Mum and her partner. We will see them again on Saturday as they are coming to Minneapolis for the day. It is so strange. Throughout this whole processs the Agency just kept saying to me, 'It'll work. You'll see. It'll work.' And I never really believed them - but they were right. I spent so much time worrying about our surrogate Mum and it wasn't until I was leaving the hospital that I finally got it. I finally really understood it. The truth is that their are woman who are born to be surrogate Mums. That is their vocation, their destiny. They can carry a baby in love and hand it over to another woman and still feel love - but also let go without grief or difficulty. I think you have to see that happen in order to believe it. God bless our surrogate Mum and all the other surrogate Mums as well. They are extra-ordinary women.
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Our daughter, Hope Kinsella, was born at 17.17 on Sunday. She is alive and well. And we are all doing fine. The last two days have been an extra-ordinary experience. I'm too tired to write more now but we are so, so happy. And we have no words to express our thanks to our amazing surrogate Mum and her partner. We are so very, very blessed.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
We got here! The journey was 24 hours and when we arrived we were all exhausted and disorientated. But we all had some sleep and now we are doing fine. In one hour we go to meet our surrogate Mum who we have never met before. I usually consider myself reasonably good at coping with most social situations. But having lunch with the woman who is carrying my husband's child may be a stretch! We are in a foreign country in so many different ways. But everything is actually going fine. I think that our day at the hospital will start at 6 am tomorrow morning. I'm scared of the birth. Very scared. And I'm scared about what I will feel when I see Hope. Except actually I'm not because I know that women have a hundred different reactions to the arrival of the baby - not all of them positive. And although birth is a big moment actually it isn't the birth that matters. It is the next eighteen or more years. And in the long term I know we'll be fine. I have never held a baby or been anywhere near one since Laura died. And I have had doctors tell me that I have PSTD and all that stuff. But actually I don't really accept that. And I have my husband and son with me and an amazing friend called Lin. And if I can't cope then they will. And once we get through this we have the rest of our lives to look forward to. And I will have a daughter - something that I thought I could never have.
Monday, 26 September 2011
I'm OK now - partly thanks to those two lovely messages. And actually what has happened does have its value. I remember that something like this happened to me once before in relation to my writing. A really horrible woman said to me. 'You have to realise that this is just a business, that's all it is. And you just have to write the book that the market requires. And nobody cares less about your creativity or what you want to write etc etc.' I was just so upset. But then after a while I felt really good because I realised how totally and completely I disagreed with her. So the fact that she said all of that actually confirmed and strengthened my position. After that I felt strong and sure of myself and my work in a way I never had done before. And it is a bit like that this time. This woman's unkindness has made me think, 'Actually I've spent far too much time worrying if what I'm doing upsets or offends some other person. And now I need to stop thinking about that.' And what I'm seeing now is our family - the four of us - and we're really together and strong and happy and no one can touch us. And I'm thinking, 'Actually this is our moment of happiness and, my God, we've waited a long time for it. But now it's here I'm going to take it and enjoy every moment of it.' And if there is anyone who doesn't want to share then they can pack their bags and go ..... Because I know that there are plenty of kind people - on the internet and in the wider world - who are prepared to share it and they are proper friends.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
I've been doing really well. It's hard but I've been managing. Until today. The story goes like this. A few months ago I was asked by someone in the local area if I could offer support to a woman who has recently lost a baby. Of course, I said yes. So I spent two or three evenings with this woman and her husband. For the sake of argument, let's call her Sarah and the lost baby (her fourth) Katie. During those evenings I didn't say anything much about myself. Instead I just let her talk. I think I was helpful to her. I certainly tried to be. I didn't tell her about the surrogacy because we weren't telling anyone at that time. But recently I decided I ought to let her know as I didn't want her to find out from someone else. So I sent a card telling her that I had some pregnancy related news and saying - if you don't want to know, that's absolutely fine. But she said she did want to know. So I sent a mail telling her as tactfully as possible. But then today I received a mail from her. She's accused me of not being direct with her, of failing to reply to her texts and e-mails (although she didn't send any). The mail finishes, 'Why isn't Katie interesting enough for you?' No mention of Laura, of course. I'm just so, so upset. It's so clear that this woman has never even seen me. I obviously simply don't exist for her. Of course, she is mad, mad with grief. But I've been mad with grief. We've many of us been mad with grief. And really it is no excuse. How much would it have cost her just to send a cheerful e-mail saying 'congratulations?' Even if she was just pretending. Couldn't she have just looked at my husband and me and thought, 'Those people deserve their baby, they deserve a little bit of luck?' So many other people have been really supportive. But there was always going to be one ...... But I find it particularly hurtful that it should be a bereaved Mum. And did she have to do this when I'm effectively eight months pregnant? I know I just have to lay it aside. It is her stuff not mine. I offered her something beautiful and she took it but afterwards she spat on me. It happens. But nevertheless I am devastated. It's horrible, really horrible.
Saturday, 17 September 2011
We fly to the States on 7 October. Hope will be induced on 9 October if she hasn't arrived before. I have our bags packed - or nearly packed - in the hall. I'm wandering around the place feeling panicky, tearful and excited. I wish I could enjoy all this more. Everyone keeps saying to me, 'Isn't this so exciting?' But I just can't enter into the whole thing as I should. I suppose the truth is that this is a pregnancy which follows a stillbirth and so excitement and joy perhaps just aren't really possible. I'm scared. I'm really scared. But we're getting through the days. Last night Thomas and I started making a big album of photographs and messages which is for our amazing surrogate Mum. We're decorating it with pretty papers and stickers and flowers. I'm pretty pleased with the way that it looks. Although in reality, I think that this whole album / scrap book business is really more for the under tens, right now it is the level of activity that my brain can manage.
Monday, 12 September 2011
A couple of weeks ago I was in my Mum's tiny local town (Upton on Severn, Worcestershire) and it happens that there is a specialist map shop there. And you can go into that map shop and they will give you a map of anywhere in the world. And so I went in and asked for a map of Minnesota - which is where Hope will be born. I don't know why I've never done that before. I did once look at a map of Minnesota on line but I couldn't find Marshall - where Hope is - on the map. That made me feel a little panicky but it was also typical of this whole process. I didn't look any further in case it turned out that Marshall didn't exist. But now I've got a proper map and I managed to find Marshall. It certainly does look like an out of the way kind of place. While I was looking at the map Thomas was sitting on the sofa nearby and then my Mum came into the room. 'What is Mummy doing?' she said. 'She's looking for our baby,' Thomas said, without raising his eyes from his book. But then he came to kneel by me and looked at the map as well. It turns out that Marshall is near a place called Springfield. Thomas was thrilled by that. I don't watch the Simpsons but he does. 'Oh no,' he said. 'Oh no. My sister is going to be small and yellow and she's going to have a thing on her head which looks like a star or maybe like a rubber glove.' Well, surrogacy does have its lighter moments.
Sunday, 11 September 2011
For a while I have felt uncomfortable with this blog. I felt that it was a blog about Laura and about miscarriages and that, therefore, I didn't want to write about our new baby on it. I felt that there should be a cut off point, a new beginning. A moment when I said, 'All that difficult stuff in the past is done with now and I'm moving on.' But I didn't want to move on. I didn't want to leave Laura behind. And so I hesitated, uncertain what to do. But now I've realised that I don't need to do anything really. I don't need to start again by setting up a new blog. So all I've done is to updated the heading and the summary. There really is no big new beginning, just a seamless shift. Laura and Hope can exist together. I can feel sad about Laura and happy about Hope. Family and friends are beginning to ask for news of the surrogacy so I might even tell them about this blog. It's never been a secret, I just never told them before as I didn't think they would be interested. Now they might look at the blog and be shocked by some of the stuff I wrote in the past. But actually that's fine because if they want to understand what we are doing now, then they need to know what happened before. It's all the same story.
Friday, 9 September 2011
Our friend Honey died at around 4.30 on Tuesday. Apparently she was with three friends and was, briefly, conscious. One of the friends was remembering something in the past, telling a story, and everyone laughed, including Honey. Then she just took three short breaths and died. That seems about as good a way to go as any. She had seen the children recently and they have had much good support from bereavement counsellors at the hospice. Her ex-husband's sister has courageously agreed to make the two older children her own. She already has two older children so I'm sure she'll be an amazing Mum to Honey's two. Joslin's younger child is being cared for with great tenderness by Mr Man and his friend. Everyone involved agrees that many opportunties must be created for the three children to be together. I don't know what else to say. She was an extra-ordinary person. I will miss her always - but I will also always be encouraged and inspired by her, as will everyone who knew her.
Tuesday, 6 September 2011
I think that Honey will die soon now. A friend saw her yesterday and she was in a very profound sleep. I could go to the hospice to see her but I've decided against it. I may go tomorrow. I don't feel great and I'm not sure I want to see her lying motionless on a bed - that isn't how she is to me and so I don't think it would help me to see that. Also I don't think I can help her. I realise that I've felt for a long time that everything is resolved between her and me. She knows how completely I love her and how much she means to me. The rest doesn't matter. But over the last couple of weeks a strange thing has been happening. Many people involved in this situation have thought a lot of Honey's grandmother. She died quite a while ago so we none of us knew her. But we all know how much Honey loved her. In particular, for me, I always picture Honey in a certain coat she wears - black velvet, embossed with faded coloured flowers and with a fur collar - and I know that that coat belonged to her grandmother. And now I find myself imagining this unknown grandmother vividly. Others have also felt her presence or dreamed of her. And Honey herself had seen her several times - but has been confused as to whether her grandmother was telling her to stay or to go. And now particularly today I'm imagining Joslin's grandmother on the shore, close to the waves as they come up the beach. And she's holding Laura in her arms and she's waving to Joslin and then Joslin walks up the beach towards her ...... I know that this is really all sentimental rubbish but right now it is helpful sentimental rubbish. I don't know. I know that there is really no reason to beleive in the after life but, actually, illogically, I do. Mainly because I just think that if someone burns so brightly in this life then they can't be totally extinguished. Some how I feel sure of that.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
Thanks to all those who posted messages about Honey. I spoke to her on Monday and she sounded quite well then. She said that she had had some really bad times and had felt that she had been very close to death but then she said, 'But then again, I'm still here.' And I could really hear her - the essence of her - in the way she said that. But then I went to see her in the hospice on Tuesday and I would have to say that the situation was really dire. She was incredibly distressed and upset. Her legal situation - and particularly the custody of her two oldest children - really isn't sorted out. The solicitor was there and we got a will signed which should help. But it is awful that she's still fighting with all that stuff when she should just be enjoying a bit of peace and quiet and love. Some people around her are saying, 'She needs to let go ... etc.' But realistically, if you have three small children, how can you let go? Last night I got a text saying that her condition has worsened and that the children are coming to see her again. I think that perhaps what everyone has hoped for is some moments of peace and acceptance at the end. But I myself have let go of that one. I think that she may go out raging and there are worse ways to go. She always lived with a great passion so perhaps it is right that she should die that way too. I know for sure that I've never seen courage like hers before and I don't expect to see it again. There is a lovely photograph of her which someone in the hospice took - she's there with her youngest daughter. Obviously very sick but some how radiant and full of love. I'm going to try and get that photograph and maybe post it up on line. It isn't actually reflective of how things have really been for the last two years. But I suppose it is a reminder that even in the very worst of times, there are still those moments of grace.
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
I'm just posting this up here in case there is anyone out there who used to read Honey's blog. If you did, and you find this, please pass this information on to anyone else who might want to know. I am afraid that Honey is very, very ill. I went to see her in the hospice yesterday. She was really very poorly. She doesn't want to die. This has come so much too soon for her and for everyone who loves her. She has fought so bravely over the last couple of years. I've never seen anything like it and I don't expect to see such courage ever again. I saw her just two weeks ago and she walked two miles then. The room in the hospice has a balcony which looks out over fields. There is also a bird table there and she was able to enjoy a robin which came and a fat pigeon. I am going to see her again tomorrow, I hope. It would be so good if she could have some peace at the end but I'm not sure she will. The pain is just so much. Selfishly, I had hoped that she would live to see our new baby but I don't think she will now. I wish so much that she hadn't had to give up her blog because she really needed that to keep in touch. Of course, the worst thing is that she had three young children. I can't even bear to think what this is doing to them. I keep thinking of Dylan Thomas. 'Do not go gentle into that long good night but rage, rage, against the dying of the light.'
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
I just bought a pram on-line. A pram is only a few metal struts, some canvas, wheels. That's all. It's important for me to remind myself that a pram is not Shakespearean tragedy or a Wagner Opera. It has certainly felt a bit like both over the last few weeks. First there was the trip to the pram shop (John Lewis, Oxford Street, London, to be specific). It was pretty hard to get myself there but I did it. And when I got there - what happened? Mainly I remembered that, leaving aside all that has happened over the last six years, I really hate those shops. I hated them when I was pregnant with Thomas and I hate them just the same now. Inevitably there was this ghastly woman who was having a melt down with the shop assistant. She was quite sure that the pram she bought could have one of those cup holders for carrying your coffee - but now it turns out that her model of pram can't take one of those. National scandal, apocalypse, blah blah. Of course, the reason why I hate that woman so much is because I'm frightened I'll turn into her. After that I look at prams on-line and it becomes one of those late night internet obsessions when you really can't stop yourself looking at page after page, comparing reviews and prices, matching up dimensions, on and on, late into the night. And I am turning into the nightmare cup holder woman ...... Then I measure the car and find out that only two models of pram will fit in our tiny car anyway so most of the research was wasted. And I start to question the whole pram project. Every other woman I know who has lost a baby has avoided buying anything even slightly baby related until after the birth. So shouldn't I do that as well? Am I not tempting fate by buying a pram? Maybe - but after Laura died it really killed me to see a beautiful pram. And now I have a reason to buy one. So I want a pram anyway. If no baby ever finishes up in that pram then so be it. I'll have enjoyed the pram. The pram maybe all I'm going to get so I might as well make the best of it. And once I've got it, I'm going to put it in the hall, just so I can enjoy it. And also so it's there and ready to go if we get a call far earlier than expected. In fact, I'm going to pack everything we need soon. Just in case. Repeat after me. A pram is only a few metal struts, some canvas, wheels.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
I have taken care not to count the weeks of this surrogate pregnancy too carefully. Last week I sort of knew that it was the twenty fourth week - but I was careful not to know. Or at least until Thursday. Then on Thursday I suddenly felt the urge to get the calendar out and check exactly. Twenty four weeks. Laura was twenty four weeks when she died. It's OK - but I just want to type that here. Twenty four weeks. I know that because Laura died at twenty four weeks that doesn't mean that Hope will die now - or any other time. But still - twenty four weeks. I just need to register the fact. I said that to my husband and then I said, 'So we really start to know what we have to lose now.' And he agreed. It's sad in a way that, for us, Hope is measured by what her loss would mean. Or maybe it's not sad. Maybe everything should be measured in that way.
Tuesday, 7 June 2011
Our surrogate Mum had her twenty week scan and everything seems to be fine. Or more or less. Apparently they couldn't scan her heart properly as she wasn't positioned at the right angle. So our surrogate Mum has to go back for another scan. I'm assured that this isn't a problem and I'm managing to believe that most the time! We have also been sent scan photos. My husband has looked at them and he could definitely see a face, a nose, a chin. He was thrilled. I have to say that I haven't looked yet. I just can't. I promised myself after the second miscarriage that I'd never look at one of those scan photos again. I know that it is time to ditch that promise but I just can't do it for the moment. The time will come, I'm sure. The problem is that once I see Hope then I'll know just how much I have to lose. That makes it sound as though I'm in a really morbid frame of mind - but I'm not. I'm generally fine. But I just find scan photos difficult.
Monday, 2 May 2011
Hope is now fifteen weeks. We had news at the end of last week that our amazing surrogage Mum had been for a scan. She didn't actually see Hope but she heard her heart beat. Our surrogate Mum e-mailed that she had tried to make a video of the heart beat. I'm not quite sure what that means! But, anyway, apparently it didn't work properly because when our surrogate Mum tried to tranfer it to her computer the sound didn't come through. As a result, she decided not to send it to us. I thought she was properly right about that - a video of a heart beat without the sound is probably not a meaningful experience. As you may guess by the tone of the post, I'm not in the least upset about this. In fact, I'm strangely amused. Some how it seems symptomatic of this whole weird world we are in. This now-you-see-it, now-you-don't kind of world where everything is ridiculously abstract. Actually the truth is that I was pretty glad not to hear the heart beat. I've heard too many heart beats which have subsequently stopped. And, had I heard it, I would probably have spent the whole weekend in tears - and as it is I've had a lovely time at my Mum's farm in the gorgeous spring weather with my mum, my sister and my little boy.
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
We are up to twelve weeks and all seems to be going well. But I am beset by worries. Strangely these worries aren't about the obvious things - like will Hope die? Instead they're about the whole surrogacy process. Obviously my husband and I thought very long and hard before we chose the surrogacy route. And actually there is now no point in considering whether our decision was right or wrong. But some how the reality of the decision we've taken is only just hitting home now. My main worry is that surrogacy is just too big an ask. It's too much to expect another woman to have a baby for you. And it isn't just that woman. It's her family. Our surrogate had her own six year old daughter. I know that it has been explained fully to that six year old that the baby won't be staying. But how can you explain that to a six year old? I don't know. Of course, I should have thought more before we decided. And I did think. But I'm a woman who wants a child and I am not rational. Not at all. But equally that isn't an adequate excuse.
Monday, 7 March 2011
We have discovered that our baby has a heart beat - always a good thing. And we've decided to give her a temporary name. This decision was not without its difficulties. Our lovely surrogate Mum suggested we should find a name and I was broadly in favour but my husband was nervous. He is, understandably, very cautious. I think he just can't bear to be disappointed again - and he can't bear to see me disappointed either. But I'm strangely full of confidence. I wasn't confident with the last two pregnancies. I knew they would fail. And I knew the IVF wouldn't work. But now I just feel sure that this will work. And so we have settled on a temporary name for our baby. She is called Hope because that's what she represents to us. I feel rather teary typing that. Of course, the Black Humour Department of my brain has pointed out that, should she die, then that will The Death Of Hope. But then that is what it will be - literally and metaphorically - so that at least satisfies the writerly part of me which exists that things must be called by their proper names. Anyway, for the moment, we have Hope. And that's just fantastic! Actually totally, completely, wonderfully amazing.
Monday, 14 February 2011
Our fantastic surrogate mum is pregnant! We found out 10 days ago and I've just been in a total spin ever since. I thought I'd been on some emotional roller coasters in the past but this is the wildest ride yet. I am thrilled - but so much of the past has suddenly come rushing back and that has been a huge shock. I have also been furiously researching surrogacy. Of course, I should have done that before. But I just couldn't invest in the process because I was sure it could never work. In fact, the truth is that I only ever started the whole surrogacy thing because my husband was so, so low and I was frightened for our marriage .... And I just thought it might give him a bit of hope. And all the time I've been waiting for the Huge Great Big Obstacle that would make the whole thing impossible. And there certainly have been a few Huge Obstacles - largely because the law in this country is ridiculously dated and complicated. But now suddenly we are there and it's happened. How extra-ordinary! How totally extra-ordinary! I've had such a poor level of support from family and friends through all these difficulties - and now two ladies in America (an egg donor and surrogate) have taken my problem on and solved it. My head is just spinning.
Monday, 10 January 2011
Suddenly I'm back to this blog again. I'm making myself type a post in order to make something which seems unreal into something real. For the last eighteen months my husband and I have been planning to do gestational surrogacy in the United States - and now it's happening. At the end of this week. Everything is sorted - finding the agency, the surrogate, the egg donor, the clinic, the lawyers. But the truth is that I never believed that any of this would actually happen. I just couldn't allow myself to believe. But now it is happening and I'm in a total panic. I realise that I have no idea what I'm meant to be saying or doing in this situation. I feel that I'm in totally uncharted terretory. Elton John has done this but not many other people in England have. I realise that I'm going to have to find some sources of support and I'm also realising that (as in the stillbirth world) the internet is more likely to be of help than those around me. In particular I just want to give our wonderful surrogate the best support I can. Very few people in my real world know what I'm doing. That's because I don't want to raise expectations but also because I just don't feel robust enough to deal with any criticism - although I now I need to get over that pretty quickly now.