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Monday, August 4, 2014


I am sure that many of you (certainly if you are in Australia) have heard what has happened to 'Gammy'.  For those that don't - Gammy was born to a Thai surrogate, using Australian eggs and sperm to create the embryo.  Four months into the pregnancy it was discovered that the boy twin had down's syndrome.  The Australian couple asked the surrogate to abort the child but she refused on religious grounds.  The Australian couple took the healthy girl but left the little down's syndrome boy, Gammy, with the Thai surrogate who is looking after him.  It hit the news media last week what had happened because Gammy is sick with a lung infection and is in desperate need of heart surgery.  In response, the Thai government has basically locked down all surrogacy for internationals - leaving in limbo many couples that have a surrogate baby in progress.  A charity campaign was also set up and at latest count, they have raised AU$210K for Gammy.

There is not much about this story that doesn't make me sick.  For one, I don't know how any parent could leave their own baby - full stop.  However, to leave their own critically ill child to a woman who is very poor and cannot afford to medically or financially support the child is beyond belief.  We have some of the best medical care in Australia and yet your leave your biological child in an extremely poor country with a woman who has no responsibility to care for your child (there are some that suggest that the surrogate assumed responsibility when she refused the abortion but at the end of the day, isn't this still your biological child?).

I have a hard time understanding how it is okay to leave a down's syndrome baby and take the healthy twin with you - how do you justify this in your mind?  Also, how short sighted is this?  Didn't they realise that it would mean that they are lying to their child for their whole life, that they will be afraid constantly of the child finding out, that they have deprived their daughter of a sibling, that they have deprived themselves of another child?  Many people have commented that this situation is just the same as the 95% (not verified) of down's syndrome babies that are aborted in Australia but I find both situations an anathema to me.  We did have the blood tests for down's syndrome for both babies (at the request of our OB and not us) but we had already agreed that we wouldn't abort the baby - they were our babies, full stop.

There is an element of selfishness here that is abhorrent.  Basically, they have put their own needs ahead of their daughters.  Anyone who has seen siblings together know how precious the bond is, I can't comment on twins because I don't have them but I imagine this bond is much, much greater.  Will this child grow up feeling like something is missing?  Will she find out and how will she feel towards her parents?  These questions are haunting to me.  I am haunted about the questions that my boys may have for us one day too.

Unfortunately, some of the comments that these articles have been getting have been disturbing to me and made me assess our own situation again.  There were the usual 'this just goes to show that if you can't have kids, it is meant to be' - discounting the many, many, many biological kids that are abused by their parents but whatever.  I also know that I was meant to be a mother - since having JBB, I have felt at peace with who I am and what I mean to them.  Many people have been very harsh on the Australian couple for taking advantage of the Thai surrogate and it has made me think - did we take advantage of a poorer woman for our own gain?  I hope not.  She had told us originally that the first cycle would paid for her university education and the second cycle helped her with a deposit for a house.  I hope that this is true but I cannot put a price on what she gave us - it is priceless.  I still remember her walking towards me in the clinic, I had wondered previously whether I remembered what she looked like but when I saw her, she looked like JBB and she walked into my arms and we both cried.  I cried with gratitude for the enormous gift that she had given us - I thank her in my mind every day.  

In a post I wrote a couple of months before we went to Thailand for the first cycle - I wrote:

"I didn’t bring up the donor eggs in Thailand proposition with JourneyMan until after our fifth failed IVF cycle because I didn’t think that he would be willing to consider this option. He totally surprised me and was supportive right from the word go. I found a ex-pat Aussie woman who had had the procedure done and went back and forth with her about all of my questions. I have asked myself many times why I would rather go to Thailand and pay for the donor cycle rather than advertise in Australia. I am strangely comforted by the fact that it is a business transaction (but also disturbed that this comforts me). When thinking of my sister-in-law being the donor, my thoughts went to a situation where one of her children needed a kidney transplant and because my child would be a match, they would have to do it because ‘they owed’ my sister-in-law’s child. Very complicated. I know that there are complications this way as the child will have little opportunity to find anything out about their biological mother, morally – I feel it is in a strange zone but if the Thai woman is willing to donate her eggs, then I am willing to give her money for it. I once asked JourneyMan what he thought about the moral issues of us paying to use someone else’s egg and he said ‘the child is going to be completely loved – isn’t that the most important thing?’ – I say YES!"

A pretty simplistic view in hindsight and I guess that you could say that we took advantage of the Thai donor.  I hope that we haven't.  I hope that she is living a wonderful life because we helped provide that opportunity for her.  I hope that she thinks well of us and does not resent us.  I take some comfort in the fact that she came back for a second cycle - she knew what she was getting herself into that time and she still came back, surely you wouldn't if you had a terrible experience.

The Australian government has some culpability here.  Why is there not commercial surrogacy in Australia?  Why is there not commerical donor egg agreements in this country?  Then there could be proper regulatory requirements to protect the donor, the surrogate, the parents and most especially, the children.

The piece of hope that I have gained from this story is that people have been so generous.  The target for Gammy was originally $50K but they have exceeded that 4 times over.  Gammy is now in a private clinic in Bangkok hopefully getting the best medical care possible.  I would adopt Gammy in a heartbeat, as so many others have stated but I know that even though Gammy's mum is not hers biologically, she loves her son with all her heart.  I know this, because I am in exactly the same situation. I couldn't love my boys any more, end of the story - they are my life, my light, my reason for every day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A New Bathmat

JourneyMan has a job that means he doesn’t get home until after the kids have had their dinner, bath and are tucked up in bed.   So, he gets up in the morning and does the morning routine and spends time with them then.  I find doing all of the night time routine on my own taxing sometimes.   Not so much physically but more so because I have the same conversations over and over again.  JBB, eat your dinner (and repeat 5-7 times), Boo2 sit down in the high chair (and repeat 5-7 times), JBB hop out of the bath, please (and repeat 5-7 times), Boo2, don’t take your nappy off (and repeat 5-7 times), JBB, put on your pj’s (and repeat 5-7 times).

I was with some girlfriends last week and we were discussing our routines.  One of them does the morning getting the kids ready and they employ a nanny in the afternoons a couple of times a week to pick the kids up from school / daycare, play with them, give them their dinner and get them ready for bed.  Another friend (who is an entrepreneur and has started up her own very successful business since her kids were born) was intrigued and thought that she could that most nights a week.  The group of girlfriends are all very successful women.  Most have careers, beautiful children, loving husbands and beautiful houses.  Every one of them has their own struggles though – whether big or small, they all struggle.

I was genuinely intrigued by the thought of having some help to get the kids ready for bed but then I thought of some other things.  Like when I taught JBB how to peel carrots (previous to this, he didn’t like to eat them) and he said to me at the dinner table ‘Thank you for teaching me to peeling the carrots, Mum, I really like it’. Or the time when I bought a new bathmat and the excitement that it brought to the bath time routine was crazy.  Boo2 felt it with his feet and started flashdancing on it like no tomorrow, laughing delightedly (while nude of course).  JBB immediately started running every part of his body over the bathmat and saying ‘I love it, Mum’.  For days afterwards, every person that came through the house was treated to being told about our new bath mat and how great it is (the best $10 ever spent!!).  I also thought about the time, I accidentally put Boo2 in the bath with his socks on – JBB laughed till he cried and Boo2 started to scream and clap because of all the laughing - the memory of their happy faces still brings a smile to my face.  Or when we read a book that ends with ‘I love you Mum’ and JBB puts his arms around me and says ‘I love YOU Mum’.  Or even last night when I was reading JBB his bedtime story, I dropped the book on to my face and he laughed and laughed (and then had to tell JourneyMan about it with the first opportunity that he had).

I don’t judge or begrudge any woman who is trying to make her life easier through getting help.  I have stacks of help and still struggle to take care of the kids, work, keep a nice house, cook nutritious meals, stay to a budget, exercise, eat right and do all of the millions of things that a woman is expected to do these days.  Life can be super exhausting and there is so much going on all the time that sometimes the drudgery of the night time routine seems to be something I would like to escape from.  Then we get a new bath mat and I remember the mantra that I loved in my IF days – ‘take the happiness where you can get it’.  And I wonder, what if I missed those laughing, touching moments?  There are plenty of moments when you are a parent that can be tough and even mind numbingly repetitive but to take away those, I might also also take away those times when you get a new bath mat and all hell breaks loose.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A 1st Birthday Wish

It’s been a long time between posts – and it is a very, very busy life here. 

First things first – my beautiful Boo2 has turned 1.  My goodness where did that year go.  When I think back to the days before he was born – I was so fearful, Boo2 had stopped moving as much and I was constantly worried.  I remember Anzac day last year was horrible, I was cramping badly all day, I felt super sick and he wasn’t moving very much – I was desperately worried.  Fast forward a year later and our Anzac Day was spent on a family holiday to the Gold Coast where Boo2 took his first steps. Our lives have changed immeasurably since he came into it.

To My Darling Boo2:

Happy Birthday my big 1 year old.  You were tiny when you came into our lives but you have gone from strength to strength.  You smiled so early – months earlier than you were supposed to and you haven’t stopped smiling since.  You are a happy and engaging fellow, who loves to laugh and play games.  You started walking on our Easter holiday to the Gold Coast and there has been no stopping you ever since.  You call your Dad and I both ‘Da’ and there is no greater joy in my day when I see you and your face lights up and you say ‘Da’ and crawl (now walk) to me as fast as you can.  You gave me a beautiful present for Mother’s Day yesterday, you said ‘Mum’ super clearly for the first time – well the smile still hasn’t left my face.  You are super cheeky, you love to climb up on things and when I notice and say ‘Tiny!!!! ‘ (one of your nicknames), you give me a big grin and a hearty laugh!!

You have had your challenges over your first year.  Firstly, there was the bout of bronchiolitis, then there were the ultrasounds because your hips weren’t developing properly, then we found out that you had pretty bad eczema and there were more trips to the doctor.  Then there was the trip in the ambulance to hospital when we found out that you were allergic to egg and, of course, now we know that you are also allergic to peanuts.  It has been a massive learning curve for all of   Apart from that

Exploring is your favourite thing to do, along with just being able to do what everyone else does.  Indeed within a couple of weeks of taking your first steps, you are now running.  You are super social and love people, especially all of our immediate family.  You love your Nanna’s especially as they both take such beautiful care of you each week.  You love music and singing and you can’t contain your delight when we sing songs. 

Your brother is super special to you and the feeling is reciprocated in spades.  You love to mimic what he is doing and after you walked to me, you were the person that you wanted to walk to the most.  You have a special laugh of joy when you first see him when you wake up in the morning or from a nap.  He loves you so much and is a super great brother to you.  Sometimes he gets a little jealous but for the most part, you are his favourite person.  You are a bit of a Daddy’s boy and for a bit you only wanted to go to Daddy

The day you came into our lives, Tiny, was like when the sun hits your body for the first time after a long winter – and you have been shining for us ever since.  You make me laugh, you are a joy and you are so special to me.  I love you my darling – thank you for coming into our lives.  Love Mummy.

In other news – I have to give a bit of a bullet list because so much has happened:

  • We sold our old two bedroom unit for a good price
  • We bought a new amazing family home that we hope we will never have to move from – it is a gorgeous two storey house with a lovely outdoor area and most beautiful garden 
  •  We spent our Christmas holidays at my Bestie’s new house by the beach while they were in Las Vegas getting married
  • We celebrated my Bestie’s Australian wedding with her – it was a lovely day
  • We moved into our new house in February – it was a hard move but thankfully we hope we won’t have to move again.  We are just now really only starting to settle in to the house – though there is still heaps to do!!
  • My sister is pregnant with her 2nd baby (a girl – yay!!) and she is due in July
  • We had Boo2's 1st birthday party at the new house on the weekend - it was immediate family only but there was still around 26people - it was a really nice party
  • We are hoping to travel to Thailand in October for our first trip there (since our honeymoon) that we won’t be having a cycle

That’s about it for the moment but it has been soooooo hectic – I have many, many posts in my head – I hope to start posting regularly again soon.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Weight of Responsibility...

I have a 3 year old and a six month old now – I have to pinch myself to believe that we made it through the wilderness and now have the two most gorgeous kids on the planet.  I am not exaggerating either – let me tell you, the Thai people are a beautiful looking people and mix up the Thai genes with my husbands anglo genes and you get some divinely gorgeous looking kids.  Not only are they beautiful on the outside, they are lovely on the inside.  JBB is a wonderful kid and a fabulous big brother.  He takes his time to warm into a situation but once he knows you, you feel like you are standing in the sunshine of his smile and that is an awesome place to be.  Boo2 is a happy little fellow, even in the middle of the night, his ear splitting smile of greeting is enough to melt away any tired grumpiness that you might have.  He loves to give strangers a smile and I tell you, this kid never stops moving, it is a work out just to hold him – his legs and arms are going ninety to the dozen!

That being said, I am very conscious that we very deliberately brought these two boys into the world.  I know that any parent (barring an accident, of course) has deliberately brought their children into the world and I am sure that they feel the weight of responsibility too, I am not saying that they don’t, I am just saying that for me, it is generally in the forefront of my mind.  For the most part, I think that this is a great thing.  The feeling of responsibility makes me look at everything, weigh things up to see what the best option is for the boys and then make a decision with this in the front of my mind.  This is good because usually I am a very ‘bull at a gate’ kind of person.

Sometimes the weight of responsibility to honour these boys’ existence weighs very heavily on me.  I feel like I am a terrible parent if I impatient or short with them or even if things haven’t turned out right, then I feel like I am failing them.  This is all about my perfection stuff though and I have to talk myself down quite a bit of the time.  I try to keep in mind that these can be teaching opportunities.  If I am short with JBB, I try to make sure that I sit down and explain to him what has happened and of course, apologise.  None of us go through life with everything going exactly as plan to, staying on an even keel emotionally and everyone being super nice to us.  I am hoping that I am helping to teach JBB how to cope with his emotions as best as possible.   Very early on, JourneyMan and I instituted a ‘hitty bag’ – if JBB gets angry or frustrated, we encourage him to pound on the hitty bag to channel his emotions into it (we both try to do the same thing!!).  Generally, it helps to get him laughing again after awhile and all the frustrations out too which is great!!

It is also easy to become ‘mummy bear’ whenever something happens that upsets JBB.  His language skill is excellent now and he can tell me what’s going on at day care which can be really great but also can make my blood boil.  A few weekends ago, I was joking that JourneyMan had been ‘mean’ to me and JBB asked what ‘mean’ meant.  I told him that ‘mean’ was when someone said or did something that made you feel bad.  The next week at day care, he told me that there was a ‘meanie car boy’ there.  I asked what he meant and he said that there was a boy who didn’t want to play with him (and then he pointed him out to me).  The ‘mummy bear’ in mean wanted to go up to that little boy and shout at him for hurting my JBB but thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I said to JBB ‘I really love the fact that you want to play with everyone but some people aren’t like that and they just want to play with certain people, that’s okay because you have heaps of other friends that you can play with’.  We talked about his feelings and I think I was able to make him feel better.  The issue with Boo2 too that I have are about whether I am giving him all the attention that he needs or am I more apt to let him cry a bit longer than I did JBB because of everything I know more now.  Sometimes, it is beyond my control (ie. pooh is spreading from one place to another and JBB needs a change ASAP, Boo2 is crying and I have to leave him until the pooh is changed).  Sometimes I worry that I am stuffing him up because he doesn't get attention straight away.

The hardest thing that I find is that I am forever unsure of what I am telling or doing to them ie. I am always asking myself ‘am I helping or f&*%ing him up?’ – I really hope I am helping!!

How do you guys feel about the responsibility, have you got any good techniques to pass on?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Supernanny to the rescue....

Firstly, I would like to thank Tireegal, Silver and Reagan and Trevor’s Mummy for your kind words of support and help to my last post.  Things have improved marginally (ie.  Boo2’s naps during the day are slightly longer) – he is still waking up at the same times at night and I am back at work (and got sick with a stomach bug straight away if you can believe it) so the exhaustion is compounding right now.  That’s not what I want to talk about this post though.

I was watching a ‘Supernanny Family SOS’ episode last night and there was a family on that had gone through many cycles of IVF and had then had adopted 3 daughters.  In essence, the Mum felt guilty because the kids were adopted and decided to parent with ‘no consequences’ the result of which they were very disrespectful and running wild.  They also shouted to her quite often ‘you’re not my Mum’.

My guess is, that the ‘you’re not my Mum’ is a fear for all of us who are going down the donor egg or adoption route.  I wrote a post about this here but this show brought it all back to me again and made me wonder if the boys will ever be so angry at me that they want to hurt me so much that they would say this to me – probably in their teenage years, I would imagine though I hope not.  It doesn’t hold the fear for me that it once did – I know that I am their Mum, I know that there is no-one else who could lay the claim of ‘Mum’ to them, I have certainty in myself.  That being said, I think it will still hurt if they say that to me but also ‘I hate you’ which I am sure hurts any parent when said, mostly I think because the intention behind it is to hurt.
The other thing that was happening was that because of guilt, the mother didn’t want to discipline any bad behaviour in the kids – that, to me, is crazy.  My parenting style is to deal with misbehaviour straight away so that there are immediate consequences to their actions (though I also think that you need to pick your battles).  JBB is definitely pushing his boundaries at the moment and has gone from sticking right by my side when we go anywhere to running off willy nilly.  This is a total deal breaker because of the danger so he has had the consequences of some of his toys being taken away, not being able to watch some shows that he likes etc.  Everyone parents differently and I can see how bad behaviour can breed – the easier road is to let it go at the time and give them what they want but I think in the long run, you pay for that in spades.  I am absolutely exhausted right now but I still try to discipline any behaviour that comes up because I know it will be worse later.  That is not to say that I am perfect, I am not even close to that, I am constantly worried that I am f*&^ing up the kids – though that is a post for another day.

JBB is now at the stage where he vaguely understands the concept of his birth.  I tell him his story about once a day (once upon a time Mummy and Daddy wanted to have a baby very much….) and he can now distinguish between ‘Mummy’ and ‘The Donor’ (who helped Mummy out with a part that is working) though of course just on the level of naming various players in the story and not philosophically understanding that his story is different from others.  My main goal at this time is for him to always know his story, so that it isn’t a surprise to him at some point in his life.  The Supernanny episode also had a great idea.  The girls were able to write out their questions and about adoption (or anything in their life) and put it into a box, the Mum then wrote the answers to their questions on the back of the card.  It allowed them to ask anything that they wanted without the confrontation of having to talk about it – they really took to it.  I think that this is a great technique – one I will adopt later on so that the boys can have answers to any of their questions.