We are KILLING this Parenting Thing

There are a lot of things I want to write about that are germane to the actual topic of my blog- but it seems that the real world gets in the way.

Case in point- last night. I was gathering things in the kitchen to bring to work the next day when I hear Gianluca’s little feet prancing across the wood floor towards me. He has one of his Muppets plates that he took out of the drawer earlier and he is extending his little arms towards me commanding in a sweet voice, “Momma, eat’. I look down at the plate and it appears to be covered in a viscous substance that looks like cola. I inspect further. The substance appears to be rolling very slowly off the plate, it cannot be soda.

Then is hits me. My olfactory system is overrun with the sickeningly sweet odor of maple syrup.

The plate is covered. His shirt is covered. His hands are stuck to the plate.

HOLY SHIT WHERE ELSE HAS HE BEEN?!

As indicated above, my son prances. He does not walk. He does not run. He enjoys the ease of skipping and hopping while he happily chatters about his internal musings. Therefore the trajectory of syrup is a multitude of twists and turns across the wood floors that eventually culminates in a large puddle on our sofa. I imagine it is how Columbus took hit boat off course and therefore I am rationalizing he simply could not walk in a straight line because he is Italian.

Like a maniac I am grabbing baby wipes to contain the great Canadian spill of 2013 before Brian comes out of the office from working. Within seconds I hear the pantry door open and shut. When I look up I see the child has shut himself in the pantry. I see the light click on under the door frame. DAMNIT HE IS TOUCHING THE WALLS NOW. I run over there and he runs out with a box of Ziploc bags. Now I am chasing prancer while he throws baggies everywhere and our feet are sticking with each step. I muster the bags away. Now he is screaming because I have a child in one hand and cleaning with the other.

After ten minutes of nonstop screaming about how the bags were his, Brian departs from his work, basically to see what the bloody hell is going down. Then he asks what that smell is.

Yeah. It is syrup.

Thank the baby Jesus we have a leather couch.

I get Gianluca upstairs and essentially scrub him of all sugary goodness. As is customary, he gets out of the tub and we dry off and then I tell him to meet Momma in her room. He takes off like a rocket with his little monsters in his hand from his bath.

While I am putting the diaper on the bed to get him prepped for sleep I hear the toilet flush in the other room. Then I hear- ‘YEAAAAAH I DID IT’.

At this point I am essentially saying ‘holy f*ck’, because I know he had little plastic monster that were larger than that hole.

He trods out and says, ‘I pooped!!!’.

Please don’t let him fool you. He isn’t potty trained.

By grace of God there is nothing in the toilet bowl when I get in there. But now Gianluca figured out how to flush and this is a really amazing thing. It must be, because he did it about four more times. In succession.

Albeit extremely annoying, but ultimately it does not bother me. Somewhere in his creative little mind he had a great idea. Imagine if we were all kids again and the simplicity of flushing the toilet brought us copious amounts of joy or sitting in the pantry was like a treasure hunt. I did not get to write about my Oribe product that has changed my life or my new hair place, but the night ended happy and it ended with me getting right in Brian’s face again telling him we are his family and he is so lucky to have us.

giza girl creations

So we are in our tenth week of pregnancy- the little bean is the size of the end of your thumb. The heart rate continues to beat away like crazy, which is an amazing wonderful thing. A memory that sticks with me is one of our little beans that did not make it and the heart rate was dropping. The doctor had called it ‘agonal’. I suppose a better description is that it haunts me. To this day I watch my adjectives with patients because I never want to be the source of an emotional scar.

We continue to write out checks that rival mortgages. I liken it to the Italian Lira.

‘Prego, e cuanto costa??’…. ‘ahhh, 5,000,000’.

Awesome. It is a candy bar. I will take two.

I do not say it to complain, rather just the absurdity of it all. You have to laugh. Somehow the pieces fell together for us to be set on this trajectory. A huge part of that is that Brian supported my decisions. I am sure my parents were jubilant when I said I was going back to school. I remember once working out with my mother one morning when I was pondering deferring my PhD acceptance and she said, ‘So, have you thought about maybe going to work?’.

Brian was all for school. He also once bought me a GRE book when we were dating calling it ‘an investment in my future’. Hmmm. I now identified a pattern….. The only sticking point in our relationship is he never permitted me to do an inguinal hernia check on him for practice while I was in school. Despite numerous attempts and asking as well as sneak attack tactics. Shut. Down.

Needless to say this process has been extremely expensive, as outlined in my last post. The best part is that bills are trickling in from Gianluca now. Stephanie, our wonderful surrogate, called and inquired as to how this is possible and she was told that they have up to four years to bill you.

Brian better change his last name if I die. Can you imagine the bills rolling in for THAT??

I appreciate I will never be wealthy. I will never get to be a lady that lunches. Which for all intents and purposes is fine as I never have time to use the restroom anyway at work. But I do want to some how catch up for the six figures we have been doling out for little babies.

So my sister Susan and started thinking…..we enjoy being creative, we should try and go that route.

Henceforth, ‘giza girl creations’. It was released with more of a fizzle than a bang, but she has three kids and I have a GFR of 24- just google it- you will be amazed I even shower most days. I opened a shop on etsy for us- gizagirlcreations.etsy.com and obviously we are selling elsewhere, too.

Our hope is we can do something we enjoy, exercise a different part of our brain and maybe make enough money to pay for swimming classes and movie nights for the kids.

In brainstorming sessions we discussed making cute things but also items that mean something to us. Soon enough we will have our organ donation pieces completed. If pink ribbons and autism puzzle pieces can go mainstream on so many functional items, so can organ donation, right?

I recognize it isn’t much to look at yet- but please consider following us on etsy and please just spread the word.

We appreciate it. Brian’s hand cramps from all these checks…..how can he get to the next level of Candy Crush?!

Another Range Rover

I write a lot in my head. But the time never seems to exist to put my thoughts to the keyboard. Then I tend to think that a lot of blogging is narcissism at its worst. But I wish there was something out there that I can compare my notes to with surrogacy. Unfortunately infertility is somehow a taboo subject. People can write about their affairs, bankruptcy or social indiscretions, but the fact I cannot maintain a pregnancy is somehow off limits.

Through my process we have met a lot of people that ask about everything that we went through- and I am not shy to share- I am not embarrassed that I cannot bear children from my own womb.  Just like I am not embarrassed my knees do not match, my neck is scarred, and I require 30 pills a day to survive. Shit happens. These are my cards I was dealt. I do not understand why- but I am making the most of what I have. Honestly, I have a lot. Anytime you want to complain, just think harder- you obviously are reading this on a computer, you probably ate, have a car, a roof over your head and at least one person in the world that adores you just as you are. I’d say you are pretty damn lucky.

The one question I get a lot is how much does this process cost. Good Lord, a lot.

Surrogate agency fees- $5,000-10,000

Surrogate fees- $20,000-35,000

My lawyer- $3,500-5,000

Surrogate lawyer- $750-3,000

Medical fees- $10,000-20,000

All the IVF stuff at the clinic BEFORE hand- $2,000-4,000

Life Insurance- $500

Clothing allowance- $100-1,000

Reimbursement fees for mileage, appointments, out of pocket expenses that arise- this list never seems to end. Ancillary costs add up fast as well.

This is where I sometimes get aggravated. Some people can get a $2.50 bottle of Boone Farm and get knocked up. I paid out a Range Rover for the POSSIBILITY of getting a positive pregnancy test.

I try to remain grounded that at least Brian and I are in a position where this process is even possible. Then I think about how we spent $15,000 or more on adoption costs that never happened and I want to puke. Keeping me alive is expensive, too. That makes me slightly ill. But that just may be the kidney disease. Sometimes it just all blends together!

The past few weeks I have been trying to find an insurance policy for Stephanie that will cover surrogacy, but alas, I have found none that will work immediately. With the advent of Obamacare, 2014 may prove that a policy I purchase to become obsolete. There are so many unknowns that sometimes I want to just shut my computer and pretend it will figure a way out on its on.

I then read another policy that had an $11,000 premium and you had to put $15,000 into escrow for a surrogate specific policy. If you are fortunate enough to have twins you are then fortunate enough to put 30k into your escrow. Triplets?? Yeah, you’re screwed. They won’t cover you then. Unless you choose to abort one and then they will cover the two that remain. Oh, the awesome land of cash for critters- where you can interrupt God’s plan so you can make sure you aren’t shelling out more dollars.

Then I think of the concept that it takes a village. Maybe if all of us barren women chipped in together we could afford to fund each other’s offspring. A Union of Uteruses. Or is that Uteri? I just need 25,000 to each give a dollar and then my insurance plan is paid! Hell, the more fortunate can give $2!

Things will be tough. Brian and I will undoubtedly look over each other’s shoulders for each purchase and crinkle our noses in disapproval. The difference is when confronted I will cry. Like a baby. Sob. Complete with boogers. So far I have held it together pretty well. I take that back. There was the one day the kiddie pool was closed for cleaning and I cried and stomped myself to Starbucks, Gianluca in tow, and ordered a brownie and latte with a gift card. We sat in our bathing suits on a park bench and wallowed in self pity. He more or less just ate my brownie and then proceeded to pick smashed gum off the concrete.

Gianluca loves babies. Loves them. He was so excited when his cousin Abigail was born he could not stand it. He talks about her all the time. He points out babies at the mall. He accosts children at the park with hugs. As I am writing this he has meandered over here to give me a multitude of kisses. He is so loving, he deserves a sibling.

I get emails about locums tenens positions and look for odd jobs that I can do with my degree. I also think of other ways that I can secure us more cash flow. I brought up stripping the other night. Brian said he is too hairy. I reminded him there are women that like MEN and not bare boys. Ugh. Like a Siamese cat, or whatever that one was in Austin Powers. Blech. Then I realized I cannot dance seductively. And I am fat. Well, shit, back to the drawing board.

Somewhere out there a plan exists for me. Just like becoming a Physician Assistant helped jump start the bankroll for our little G. I might not be the one running down the mountain with the Ten Commandments, but I do believe there is a higher power. Somehow we have been blessed enough that the pieces seem to fall together for us. I suppose that is ironic since the past three weeks I have seen more specialists that your Grandma has and spent the night on two SEPARATE occasions in the hospital.

Needless to say I hope that this helps someone that thinks this process is too much for them. I did not have a template to base my experiences on or vast knowledge. I just read. A lot. When you want something bad enough you find a way to accomplish it.

And Here We Go Again

It seems not that long ago that Brian and I looked at each other in the hospital room in Toledo and saw this small fleshy blob that cried and pooped and which we had sole responsibility. We named him Gianluca. Brian felt we needed to stay a week to figure out everything we were supposed to do for a baby. I just prayed to get the baby to three months because he would be sturdier by then and less likely to break.

I wish I was kidding.

Then there was when I sat on the couch and cried. And cried. Then I cried. I don’t know how to say this nicely, but, Facebook fucking lied. They make being a new mother sound like the most amazing thing you can do and you are overcome with such magical feelings and inherently gain this skill set that incorporates glitter and laundry and delicious dinners. Instead I cried. I told my mom that motherhood was terrible, you don’t sleep, infants stare back at you with no emotion and as soon as you sit down they will undoubtedly crap themselves again. My mother assured me that it is an adjustment period and likened it to a puppy. You get used to each other.

My God, I was 33 years old. I should be embarrassed to share this. But I think somewhere out there there are other mommies like myself, no one wants to admit it. I have a few tricks up my sleeve. If I put my hand under my couch I guarantee you I can pull some form of a cookie or fruit snack out. That place is a cornucopia of unwanted food bits.

Then fast forward about two years. Gianluca is sitting on the couch surrounded by a pile of mashed cookies and dinosaurs that he takes breaks from watching cartoons to smother with kisses. Now we have fun. He goes everywhere with me. Some days are better than others. There was the one day at Ulta when I was looking for nail polish and he grabbed a hold of a bottle and smashed it in the floor and then walked in it, sat in it, touched everything with it. Or the time we were at Macy’s and he proceeded to poop thru two sets of clothes- it was also February- and I had to bring a naked baby out of the bathroom and buy some new threads. That is what I classify as bad days. Then there are the days that we go to the park and watch ducks, go to the art museum, the Arb, the pool, the park, or just play out in the yard. Those days are awesome.

Because those days are so awesome- we are doing this again. Gianluca is going to be a big brother.

Why I Suck at Business…

…but not more than the internet, apparently. This should never have taken me 45 minutes to get these pictures in here and STILL cannot get the picture to rotate. But alas, I also had help from a 13 month old with pineapple juice fingers and a flatulence problem.

I love creativity. Ever since I was a child I had a certain propensity for the arts. I loved to draw, write, and just use that other part of my brain. I had imaginary friends. According to my mother I was somewhat of a handful because of my inability to follow conventional norms and rules- it was not that I wanted to rebel, I just felt there was a better and nore fulfulling means to an end. I refused to wear a shirt outside because my Dad didn’t have to wear a shirt when working in the yard, I stuffed my shoes wth maxi pads because I wanted to have Dr. Scholl’s comfort (keep in mind these were early 1980s manxi pads which undoubtedly could have doubled for phone books), and the topper was when my Grandfather died when I was in the first grade I drew a picture of him in heaven and my Grandma on earth with her new boyfriend– my Dad’s single friend Greg– I thought I hit the jackpot with this combo- who would have guessed I would be the first Polish yenta. (She is 96 years old and still single, btw). Basically my whole life I have been running away from math and figured with a little panache I could avoid it completely.

The arts are not that much different than social work. You can put your blood, sweat and tears into your vocation and society feels you took a vow of poverty. When you feel passionate about something it seems you should be giving away your wares. I have yet to understand this- but this is why I also suck at business. I give things away far too often. I think this is because my mother always gave things away to people and I inherited this generosity. I don’t know if it is some odd way of paying it forward or just appreciating all the generosity of others I have experienced all my life. I see on facebook people offering to sell things all the time. I feel weird making money off of people. AGAIN. I suck at business. Please do not take this as I am not an asshole. I really am; but if I was a man I would be considered one hell of a mover and shaker.

Not being able to bear my own child from my loins, if I have loins, I am too tired to google this- I guess we never learned this term in school- needless to say it has turned me into a hustler. I work a second job when I can fit it in my schedule. I can only spend so many hours away from my family. I essentially have two children. 😉  I decided to embrace my creative drive and be able to spend more time with Gianluca by making items at home. Since the insurance is no longer an option for our carrier, Stephanie, I have to stock a nice pile of dough.

I love to make wreaths. Below are some of the wreaths that I have made to sell. The profit margin is quite slim- if you have ever been to Michael’s you will see they have wreaths for sale and these are more than half the cost, if not more. These are the only pieces I have. I am in the process of creating paintings as well as other baubles and as soon as these are done I will post them as well.

This keeps me from stripping and getting arrested. The first patron that makes me mad will end up getting beaten with my shoe. Well, that and the eleven screws in my leg keeps me from it. Oh, and my body. Other than that, it is a contender for paying my baby momma in all singles.

Please also do not forget I am selling Grace Adele handbags and accessories— scantamburlo.graceadele.us for your online orders.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you should happen to have any questions.

Holiday/Winter Wreath – $30
(for the life of me I have tried 90x to rotate this image)

Holday Wreath wth Bling - $35

Winter Holiday Wreath with Bling- $35

Fall/Thanksgiving Wreath- $35

I Enjoy Looking at Many Different Shaped Packages.

I cannot believe how infrequently I get to write. At the moment the baby is sleeping and there was a part of me that thought- awesome- I will get a nappy in as well, but how could I leave people hanging for more nuggets of wisdom?

Despite the fact that my father thought the internet would collapse under the weight of itself around 2000 A.D., it is still here and thank the baby Jesus that shopping became more mainstream. It truly is a convenience and I actually end out ahead with coupon deals, not using gas to get anywhere in the car, ebates rewards and some sites not charging tax.

Which I always declare on my taxes.

I’m done coughing now.

Wednesday I was off and took Gianluca to the mall with me to find him a birthday shirt for his party. Somehow we ended up in the shoe department for Mommy. Needless to say his diaper literally weighed as much as he did and I was fairly certain that as he sat on my lap it was getting warm. But I had the woman in the back digging out all the clearance size 10 shoes. WTH WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?!

But the internet is not only for shoes and clothes and the baubles I so love. I purchase a great deal of furniture online as well. This flabergasts people and truly I have yet to have a poor experience.

When we moved into the new house we needed larger pieces to fill the area and I was not impressed with what we saw in the stores, nor the prices. I turned to Overstock, or o.co

I already paid the $19.99 for the year to receive free shipping on all purchases as well as 5% back on said purchases. Somedays there are even specials with up to 25% cash back on certain items.

I knew I wanted a leather couch. A LEATHER couch. Not pleather, not bonded leather, or any other combination. Please don’t judge and give me some hippy dippy response. The cows were old and going to die, I asked. The best part is there are tons of reviews to sift through as well. For sake of a poor memory, let’s say the couch was about $2,000 — well, it shipped free and then I got 5% back to spend within o.co that I used for more furniture. I also went through ebates.com and received 3% back in that account. The only downside for large, expensive pieces that depending where you live you may wait up to six weeks for delivery. But honestly, I would put waiting for quality over schlepping in crap to my house. It was delivered when I was on maternity leave and the guys were so nice that they moved the couch three times until I thought it looked good. That and I probably looked so ugly and unkempt they didn’t want me to bite them if I lost it.

We also purchased our bedroom set from o.co. It was important to me that we get an actual wood set. Once you start reading the materials for what you get and you realize you are paying for majority particle board. Again, same great deals as above. PLUS- I used the bill me later option and had 6 months to pay with no interest. The bedroom set was delivered while we were in Toledo for Gianluca’s delivery and they set up the set as well.

I have ordered ottomans and chairs and they are delivered rather quickly- just like a standard package would. But there is no white glove delivery service like above. Just the regular UPS guy that hates us because we get a lot of packages. By the time it has been all said and done, we probably earned in returns $500 or so in ‘free’ furnture and rugs.

Brian just said today how much he loves our couch as we watched a Bridezillas marathon.

Another website I like for furniture is www.homedecoratorscollection.com. It is a division of Home Depot. I purchased our office furniture and a couple other pieces for the house from there. Just as with o.co, I used coupon codes, ebates and the home depot credit card to extend payments. Office furniture was a huge hassle to lock down. The collections I loved were about $5-10k. I did not exactly ask Brian, I just took liberties to assume this was out of our price range. I have very specific contemporary traditional tastes and was estatic when I saw a complete set and it was not as much as a used car. The only downside is a lot of stuff that comes from Home Decorator’s Collection you must put together. And if in any way you are a moron, do not buy it. The directions are pretty poor and they also sent us a couple wrong pieces, but we liked the collection was much, it was ‘worth’ it. Brian put it together and it took hours for the whole office- but it looks great and it all wood, not MDF. There is no way I would have been able to do it. I came outside late one night to the garage and he was swearing they sent the wrong piece and he was drilling another piece to correct the wrong holes and I said- ‘someone in China right now is laughing his ass off at you’.

The biggest hurdle to overcome with furniture purchases is to gain confidence. Trust what you read and what your gut says. If you read the measurements and you doubt it will work- DON’T BUY IT. The stuff doesn’t grow or shrink on delivery. If I ever read that something looks cheap in a review I tend to pass over it then. I am satisfied with my purchases because I take a lot of time and do a lot of legwork price comparing as well.

Ahh, I feel so accomplished now.

Sarah Sells Grace Adele

A lot can happen in a year.

Gianluca celebrates the big O-N-E next month and looking back I have to wonder how we even did it.

We waited for months waiting to hear about adoption after investing at least $10k and countless hours in social work visits, brag books and paperwork and realized it may take even more time than we anticipated. I had done a rotation in school in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility where I had also happened to be a patient for the past two years. After my 3rd or 4th miscarriage and D&C a fourth year fellow took me aside and asked me why I hadn’t considered surrogacy. He told me that his sister had done it and it was a great step for their family that resulted in twin girls. The other big thing he told me was no matter who gives birth it doesn’t make you less of a mother, being a mom is what makes you a mother.

Well, when I have my mind made up to do something, come hell or high water, it will get done. We were going to do this. I spent hours at the end of PA school researching surrogates, trolling boards, reading Michigan laws (it is illegal in Michigan- I know, crazy), and figuring out how the hell people pay for this. Finally we settled on our agency and then the point came when Stephanie and I chose each other as perfect fits.

Then the fun part came. Contracts, lawyers, medicine, insurance, you name it, I had to figure it out. By this point I was working so I would go to Ann Arbor early in the morning for a 7 am appointment and head into work as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Getting my eggs ready was a feat. I believe it was like 6 injections I gave myself a night to get these little guys to grow so we can have them removed. The medication was delivered to my house and had to be stored in the fridge and reconstituted for each injection. It was very unnerving if I was doing it correctly. One time I used the same needle 3 times to make sure I got out every last drop of the meds because I did not want to mess this up as they were timing Stephanie’s menstrual cycle with mine. One mistake and the whole cycle would have been shot. I later sheepishly told the doctor what I had done and they just laughed. Apparently intelligent people are the worst patients as we tend to go a little overboard with following the rules.

I ended up yielding about 22 eggs. I was so bloated that I could not even get my pants on my legs. I was at the point of hyperstimulation and they were worried about fluid getting on my lungs. I vowed to be chill and relax until the procedure date. The last step was an intramuscular injection in my buttock. I knew I could not do this myself when I saw the girth of the needle and I knew there was no way that Brian could do it…..so I went to my mother. I flopped down on her bed with my booty in the air and said, ok, I am ready. Her last words were as a retired nurse, ‘I haven’t done this in about 30 years’.

<SLAM>

Me: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

My mom: I’M SORRRRRRYYYYYY!!!!

Me: OMG JUST GET IT OUT, HURRY UPPPP

My mom: IT’S DONE, IT’S DONE!

Me: ok. I am going home now.

The procedure. Oh, the procedure. It may have benefited me to read the hand out I was given on this but dealing with my lawyer, the lawyer I hired for Stephanie, by this point I had arranged for Stephanie to have BCBS of Texas thru the Cattle Rancher’s Association and was working on this too, so I was a wee bit busy. I was laying on the table and they said they used a fine needle to go thru the vaginal wall and then to the ovary.

WTF.

All I could think was back to Bio and allowing the little eggs to travel the fallopian tubes. Nope. Not happening. Lucikly they hit me with enough BDZ that I could still breath, but I had to remain awake.

Brian got to leave for ten minutes to leave his deposit. I am still slightly bitter that his contribution was not much different than most men’s regular hobbies.

The rest of the magic was courtesy of test tubes and Stephanie. I like to think you cannot spell uterus without ‘us’.

Needless to say the Cattle Rancher’s Association got smart to all the surrogates using their insurance and now there is a surrogacy clause excluding its use for that. So our next wee one is completely out of pocket, or I should say more so than this guy.

I have learned a lot of lessons along the way and what I am capable of and how to truly make the impossible happen. Even with a year birthday looming I am not sure how we did what we did. When people say money cannot buy you happiness I cannot help to think, ‘well than you clearly never hired a surrogate’ — or adopted. Neither process is cheap- both monetarily and emotionally. I want Gianluca to know that as funny as it is to look back and complain about the process I would do it again for him and I want him to have a sibling to share  his own hopes and dreams with someday.

Which brings me to my new adventure. I want to have a project that I can pour my creativity and energy into and earn money to go towards our family building plans, whether that be surrogacy, adoption or both.

Introducing Grace Adele   ~~~~~~~~~~~~  scantamburlo.graceadele.us

I love fashion. I love baubles. I love accessories, shoes, clothes, winter coats, just all of it. So this naturally seemed like a perfect fit. You can design your own style and tie your whole outfit together to pop. I truly believe that it is not what you wear, it is how you wear it. When you feel confident, you feel beautiful.

I love purses. The beauty of these bags is you switch out a couple pieces to refresh your look and not have to change an entire bag….of course, unless you want to!

If you are interested in having a party and getting your girlies together and having me come in and host an event, please let me know. I would be thrilled. Plus, I am fun. 😉   I have all the swatches and samples so you can develop a look that fits your personality.

You can also go directly to my site and order as well.

The best part is Brian says he will help me with whatever I need along the way. It may not be the conventional way to start a family but there is not a day that goes by that I don’t recognize the miracle we have.

Please visit scantamburlo.graceadele.us — THANK YOU!