Originally published January 4, 2014 by Greg
So, I am discovering that there are a lot of social rules around the pregnancy process.
One of the biggest ones, is that you’re not supposed to tell anyone you’re pregnant until you’ve passed that magical 3-4 month period, had your 20-24 week scan, and then safely passed the highest risk period of all human pregnancy – the first trimester. There are good reasons for this, as once you’ve told the world that you’re pregnant, it’s an awfully difficult conversation to have to tell them that you’re no longer pregnant should something go wrong. There aren’t even words for how that feels, it’s always going to be painful to have to revisit it again and again. The rule of thumb is say nothing until you’re 110% sure, then even then, wait a few weeks longer. Better to be cautious and safe, than sorry.
Having now started with that, here’s the first unsurprising reveal for you all: We’re undergoing the surrogacy process.
I think anyone who has had a conversation with us in the last 12 months knows that. We’re fairly well advanced in the process, we’ve had an agency working for us for months, and friends and relatives have helped us sift, screen and select from the large numbers of profiles to work out who we’re going to undertake this process with. I guess that’s the surrogacy equivalent of saying “we’re trying for a baby” when you’re a straight couple.
It’s really hard to stay in the closet as pregnant men when half your social circle on Facebook, and at work, and in the family know what we’re doing and keep asking questions. In this age of social media, what are the rules about when you make a more public statement? Do you still wait for the 24 week scan? Or, since nature really has nothing to do with it anymore, it is okay to say something earlier? The risks are still there for surrogate-based pregnancy. All we’ve really done is stack the odds as much as we can with the best possible situations, the best possible participants and inputs, and a truck load of modern science.
We’ve been talking to our friends about this for months. They know that every time we go to Los Angeles, it’s got something to do with the surrogacy process. They know something is in the works, they’ve seen me turn up late to work due to “Doctor’s appointments” and heard my jokes about “making a healthy contribution to the process”. Any attempt by me to dissemble clearly isn’t doing much to dispel their idea that we’re at least a good way along. At least far enough along to have started what my friends have affectionally termed “the swishy-swoshy bit”.
Keeping secrets is not a feeling that sits well with me. Or many gay men, I imagine (except my husband). We spend altogether too much of our lives NOT saying something when we should, and I personally have developed a staunch determination to live my life in as open a way as possible. I don’t have secrets. I don’t have taboos. I don’t have parts of my life that I won’t instantly talk about if someone just asks me. You can imagine this annoys the living daylights out of Matt (he says it’s just being polite, I maintain he has unresolved privacy issues), and you’d be absolutely right. So when you tell an openly gay man that he shouldn’t say something, the chances are good that it’s going to burn a hole in his tongue until he actually says it. I know I’ve been more indiscrete than my husband would prefer. I’ve basically been unable to lie when asked a direct question. So that brings us to today.
I’m sitting here in our favourite hotel in Los Angeles. That I’m in LA means something surrogacy related happened today. This morning, actually.
The lovely Natasha has just left to head back to her lovely family. Before that we all just had a lovely lunch together. All very normal. But before that we shared a fairly unique situation, where we were all clustered together in a slightly too small Doctor’s examination room. The absolutely excellent Dr. Guy Ringler, of California Fertility Partners was maybe a little bit smug when he conducted the examination and announced the news to us all, gathered together.
Initially it was very warm, catching up with Natasha (our first real chance to just chat and spend time with her since we met), and meeting her friend who had accompanied her for the ride down to LA. Then we filed into the examination room and Matt and I politely waited outside for Natasha to arrange herself demurely in the position appropriate to the task at hand.
After a few moments in which it became increasingly clear that we were all getting a bit nervous, Dr. Ringler appeared and greeted us all. He was, as always, the epitome of professionalism. Once we were all in appropriate positions to ensure Natasha’s modesty, he professionally and politely coated an ultrasound probe with a domestic condom and a generous dollop of lubricant and with just the tiniest of surprised gasps from Natasha, he turned on the Ultrasound machine and began the examination.
About 10 seconds in the examination, I began to laugh quietly but hysterically.
It wasn’t that I found it funny. I had caught sight of something on the screen, and I was pretty certain I knew what it was.
This comes mostly from the fact that I cope with my anxiety and nerves by over-educating myself. When I am nervous or uptight, my hands fly immediately to Google and I proceed to reassure myself by over-educating myself in all aspects of the unknown. So in the past week or two, I had seen many, many screenshots of early ultrasounds, gestational sacs, and many slightly too graphic ‘representations’ of what the early developmental foetus looks like.
So as soon as Dr. Ringler’s magic wand passed over the part of the Uterus on his way to finding a clear picture, I knew I was looking at gestational sacs. Plural.
Two of them. There. I said it. I broke the taboo and said the “T Word”. Twins.
The examination continued. We got to listen to two foetal heartbeats. The first one was loud and strong due to it’s position in the uterus, while the other one is clearly a sneaky little f_cker and was hiding way up the other end. It took quite a bit of manoeuvring in the third dimension to do it, but Dr. Ringler was ultimately able to give us a clear heartbeat from that one too. Everything looks good, everything looks healthy, they are exactly the size that the textbook says they should be, and being able to see the pixelated flickering of their hearts was oddly reassuring.
But through all of this, I kept laughing to myself. A bit hysterical, a bit crazy.