Office Loyalty | Tripp’in | Surrogacy 101

Office Loyalty

Dear Micah,

I spent nearly 8 years working for a certain company. During that time I made several friends with my co-workers, including our boss. The company was nice to work for but it did have the usual amount of inner office drama. Nothing too bad. It wasn’t much of an issue for me. About 5 months ago I started working for myself in a non-related business. Because there were no animosities with my departure from the company, I kept all of these friendships. Some, in fact, have grown closer. Therein lies my dilemma. My ex-boss and I have grown to become pretty good friends. He’s a good guy and I think he was a good boss. What he doesn’t know is that on several occasions a couple of his other employees, who are also friends, have told me about the latest in-house grumblings and drama. Now I have been told by one of the ex-coworkers that another guy in that company has plans in the works to move to a competitor, laying groundwork to lure a couple more people with him. I feel stuck. I think that I should tell my friend, the ex-boss, but this was also information told to me in confidence by another friend. I don’t know who should get the loyalty. Or should I say nothing at all? But what if my friend finds out I knew this was going to happen? Again, stuck here and need some guidance.



Dear Doug,

I don’t believe that you are as stuck as you think you are. You referenced your ex-boss as your friend more than once in your email and never even individualized the other ex-co-workers you have talked to. Your email reads as if you are primarily concerned for your ex-boss. So, there’s where your loyalty is. I also do think that you should tell him what you have heard, especially if you could do it in a way that keeps identities protected, but if not, tell him anyway.

It sounds like this friendship with the ex-boss is the stronger of any of these work friendships and it could be the lasting one anyway. So, warn your friend that his company is about to undergo a big shakeup. You also owe it to your other friends who work there, even if they don’t understand that fact. I am a business owner myself, and I know that in the past whenever someone leaves who was a top producer or who held an important position that is hard to fill, it can cause temporary chaos. Knowing beforehand what is about to happen so that there is time to plan for it, possibly counteract it, or have replacements ready to step in can save a business.

I am always astounded by the number of people who “knew” a person was leaving and never gave their bosses any warning. I realize in our culture nobody wants to be the stool pigeon, but you would think people would be smart enough to understand that if the company takes a hit, everyone takes a hit. If the company loses revenue or productivity, then some people may have to have their jobs cut. I have learned in my 18 years of business ownership that people are generally shortsighted and a little stupid when it comes to stuff like this. A lot of trouble could be brought to a halt if management only had a little warning before something happens.

Everybody wants a better opportunity. There is nothing wrong with that. If this ex-co-worker is being offered a better opportunity from a competitor, then he should consider it and perhaps take it. But he should be doing it honestly and not trying to sabotage his home company. Obviously this ex-boss is a good person, otherwise you wouldn’t have sparked such a good friendship with him. Maybe he doesn’t deserve this mess that’s on the horizon, and I think you should tell him it’s coming.



Dear Micah,

I have one week vacation time coming this summer. I have the choice to go to Costa Rica with some really good friends from college that I haven’t seen in a while, or I can go to France with two of my sisters. Both trips would be amazing! But I can’t decide and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Where should I go?



Dear Beth,

This year I may get to go to the bowels of Panama City where they have a bunch of kid attractions and Gatlinburg, home of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, if I’m lucky. So basically Beth, I don’t care. Costa Rica? France? Who gives a damn? But to answer your question, go to France with your sisters. You haven’t seen those friends in a while, so a while longer won’t hurt, and you’ll make lots of fun memories with your sisters.


Surrogacy 101


I am a woman in my early thirties, and I am having fertility issues. My husband and I really want to exhaust every option of having a kid of our own before we begin an adoption process. I only say this because everyone’s answer to me is always “adopt.” We will adopt if this way doesn’t work out for us. I want to try this first. I think I read in an old article that you used a surrogate to have your child. Was that very complicated? We are leaning that route. Can you tell me some about what it’s like?



Dear CJ,

It was the most complicated thing I have ever experienced in my life. I take that back–acquiring an SBA loan for my business was the most complicated thing I have ever been through in my life. Having a baby through surrogacy was the second.

If you decide to go that route, it’ll be a complicated and expensive endeavor, but well worth it in the end if it results in a baby. It was obviously the only route I had to take because I have no girl parts to create any eggs and house and nurture an embryo. I had to hire out for that. If you are leaning towards surrogacy, it sounds like you aren’t able to carry a baby to term on your own, but you also said you have fertility issues–so I don’t know if you are having egg difficulties too. You may be able to use your own eggs. If so, then things will be a little easier for you, because you can do that part yourself.

However, if you need an egg donor, your doctor or an agency will provide a list of available egg donors to choose from. You will see photographs of them and any children they might already have—so you will know what your child might look like. You will know their background, education, medical histories, and even info on how tall their parents were.

After you make a selection, you will pay for her psych evaluation and medical appointments and medications, which will get her body amped up to produce multiple eggs. Then, after a few weeks, there will be a surgical procedure where they remove the eggs and fertilize them with your husband’s sperm. If I remember correctly, you then have to wait a few days to see what that turns into. There should be several creations made, and you are just waiting to see which turn into the most viable option. I want to say they call them blastocysts. You may have twelve blastocysts, but only eight of them have the potential to turn into embryos, and maybe only three of those are really great.

Once you have a few good embryos, the next step is implantation. For women lucky enough to be able to carry their baby themselves, it’s pretty smooth sailing after implantation. They have WAAAYYY less expense and hassle. All the real worry and stress comes when your baby is inside someone else and you aren’t able to control the actions of that vessel. Since it sounds like you are not able to carry a baby, you will have already hired a surrogate back when you hired the egg donor. Usually the doctor’s office has a list of willing surrogates—or they refer to an agency that handles that. The surrogate backgrounds are important, but the most important selection you’ve made will be the egg donor. The surrogate is just an oven. Keep that in mind. Everything will line up in a way that once the eggs are taken and turned into blastocysts, the healthiest will be implanted in the surrogate.

This whole process so far sounds straightforward–complicated, but straight forward. I am purposefully telling you everything in the simplest order where everything goes correctly. In a minute I will give you the concerns to look out for—but it is important that you understand the process first. Okay, so now your blastocysts (which had turned into embryos) are inside the surrogate. She will have to go to the doctor quite a lot at the beginning to make sure that everything is going well. She will also have to give herself injections at home every day. Think of it almost like a person who has had an organ transplant; they have to take medicine every day to make sure that their body doesn’t reject it. This is ultimately what she is doing–making sure her body does not reject the foreign object inside her. After all, she isn’t related to the baby; it wasn’t her egg.

This is very important to remember: make sure it wasn’t her egg. Some surrogates will also provide the egg for you. Although these women are generous beyond words, that **it freaks me out right there. You will be going through enough emotion and fear already. Please do not add the worry that this woman could be bonding with your child while she’s carrying it because of a biological connection. It’s just simpler for your emotions if you have a separate egg donor and surrogate.

Once implanted, you will talk to your surrogate often. If you live in the same town, you might see her often and go to appointments with her (I encourage that. Be at EVERY appointment with her if you live nearby). This woman will become like a friend to you and almost a member of the family for the next nine months. You both need that relationship. She needs it to be reminded why she chose to do this, and you need it to help make yourself feel part of the whole process and connected to it. It’ll also be important to tell your child one day about the first time you heard the heartbeat and found out its sex.

In nine months when your child is born, there will be a few awkward moments where you don’t know how to act. You will be very grateful to this woman who just birthed your child for you, but at the same time, you are ready for her to fade away so that all the moments can now become about you and your child and your life together. Trust me, the weird moments don’t last long, and then the kid is all yours and the surrogate fades away back to her life. She’s a professional, she knows what to do.

Okay that was the perfect scenario. Let me share my story with you. It serves to demonstrate how wrong things can go and how you need to be prepared for anything. We were told that the cost of a surrogacy would be around $60,000. We had chosen California to have our baby in because Alabama law does not give gay people any protections in these cases (or any at all). In California, my partner and I were both able to go on the birth certificate and other states had to accept it. So that’s why we chose there.

You probably will not have to go out of state for your baby making, but if you do, just research the state’s laws on surrogacy. And you might actually want to do yours in another city nearby, like Atlanta or something, just so that your egg donor and surrogate do not live in your town. You may not want to run into your surrogate at Slice Pizza one night; that could be awkward.

Likewise, you don’t want the egg donor and her children living in a possible “dating pool” for your child. Getting back to my story, we were originally told the cost for surrogacy would be about $60,000, including the implantation costs for the doctor. So when we originally decided to go through with this, we thought we’d need 60k–possibly 80K–to cover anything that popped up. We were so wrong.

Maybe other people’s journeys are that easy, but ours was not. The 60K was a misleading number, because it didn’t include the egg donation cost, which was around $8000. There were also medical exams and psych exams and various clinic appointments that we had to pay for. That added up to a few more thousand. Oh, and I should mention the agency fees, because our doctor referred us to an agency they preferred to work with to acquire the egg donor and surrogate. That was another 10K.

When it was all said and done, we had a surrogate ready to go and an egg donor ready to go. Then came the day of the appointment for the egg donor to get her first injection of meds to kick start her egg production. She didn’t show up and wouldn’t return anyone’s calls. She had changed her mind and hadn’t bothered to tell any of us. We had already spent probably $3000 on her exams, psych evals, and deposit.

We were then in a mad dash to choose another egg donor, and that took some time because everyone we chose had something go wrong. One got pregnant on her own, which took her out of the running. Another failed the medical exam because she had a disease. Another one flaked out again. These were women who were supposed to have been carefully screened by the agency we paid so much money to. It was infuriating and heartbreaking because at every turn, we felt like we were not going to ever have a baby, and all of the forces of nature were throwing every obstacle in our path.

You need to be prepared for that, CJ. Finally, we got a surrogate, and she was implanted with our embryos. Then everything started to get crazy. Our surrogate started freaking out at the doctor’s office, saying that the staff were disrespectful to her. She would call me every time she had any interactions with the medical team because she felt slighted and mistreated in some way. She had numerous appointments at the clinic in the beginning, and every one ended with her in a snit and a fire I had to put out to reassure her.

I don’t know what the staff treated her like. I think she was too sensitive, but I do think the staff were probably dismissive towards her. The head nurse told me that the surrogate was a very volatile and irrational woman; that didn’t inspire me with any confidence. She was carrying my baby! Again, wasn’t this person screened by someone? I paid $10,000 for that! I even had a nurse challenge me with that question one day. I had called to talk to her to discover why my surrogate was so upset again, and the nurse told me that it wasn’t right that I was getting bothered by all of this every day and that it was the duty of the agency to handle and counsel the surrogate.

My response to the nurse was that their clinic were the ones who referred me to that very agency. I’m getting off track here. Back to the point. That particular surrogate stopped giving herself the injections at home that she was supposed to give herself every day, and she stopped taking all medication once she was told that she was pregnant. Her reasoning was that she felt like her body knew how to be pregnant without medicine. I tried to explain to her that she needed those medications in order to keep her body from rejecting the baby. She told me she understood and that she’d start the medications back.

Two weeks later, the nurse called me to tell me that there was no baby anymore and the surrogate had no medication in her bloodstream at all. So basically, she just let our baby die. This was, as you can imagine, a low point. We were on the other side of the country, nothing was in our control, and we were just having to ride on hope and trust that the people in control of everything were doing what they were supposed to be doing—and clearly they weren’t always doing that.

People have always asked us, why didn’t we sue and get our money back? The reason we didn’t was because this surrogate had already spent the amounts of money she had been paid (surrogates are paid in staggered amounts), and she didn’t have the funds to reimburse us for our time and expense and all the medical stuff. Taking time out to sue her, or the agency, would have just taken our focus away as well as the tiny amount of money we had left. We still wanted to have a baby. We had a few embryos left from the first try. These embryos were frozen, so we got a new surrogate through the doctor’s office this time—no more using the agency—and we had them implanted. This was several more thousand. No pregnancy resulted. I was told only AFTER the fact, that there was only a 15% chance that those embryos would have worked in the first place. It would have been nice had someone at the clinic given me that info first. Anyway, we waited a while, thinking. We had decided to give up. But something kept nagging at us inside, and we decided to try it again with new, fresh embryos.

We started all over with a new egg donor and new fertilization. Finally, after all that time and money, we got pregnant. We implanted three embryos in the surrogate. They had only wanted to do one, ONE! I insisted on three, and if it resulted in six babies, I’d take them all. I am so glad I stood my ground, because we only ended up with one child, and I don’t know which of those three embryos he derived from, but had we just placed one in there he may not be here today.

So we were pregnant finally! Then all the real stress began. I thought it was bad trying to get pregnant, but now we actually had a baby growing inside of someone and I had absolutely no control over what was happening to her body. What was she eating? What was she doing? Was she stressed out? What all was my baby picking up from her through the course of a day? Would he be connected to me when he was born? Would there be a bond between him and the surrogate just because she carried him?

Thoughts assailed me all the time. Plus, there were a bevy of medical issues along the way. She almost miscarried a couple of times. We spent a couple of weekends in fear because on the previous Friday, her body was possibly miscarrying and the clinic sent her home and told her to come back Monday and they’d check to see if the baby was still there. The surrogate also developed placenta previa at the end. Our son ended up being born two months too soon, but he had no real problems or lasting issues. He was home in two months and perfectly healthy. He is a regular rambunctious, Spider-Man-loving 5 year old today.

I tell you all of this CJ, not to scare you off from using fertility and surrogacy. It was a living hell for me. The whole process was fraught with challenges and obstacles and stress at every turn. And I’d do it all again to get my son. Every laugh, every funny word that comes out of his mouth, all of the holidays, and just the quiet cuddle time on the couch makes every penny spent and every stress felt worth it.

Just remember my story going in. Try to use egg donors and surrogates that your doctor has worked with before, and try not to use agencies unless you have to. Not that all agencies are like mine was. I just think you should eliminate the middle man and get someone the doctor’s office has a working history with.

You need to go into it expecting that it will cost a great deal more than they say. And you need to figure out what happens if the first time or two end in failure. Do you have enough money (or in my case equity) to try again? It is going to be very emotionally and financially draining. But if it works out, and it usually does, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.

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