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Home, Information, Surrogacy
For the Brits doing Overseas Surrogacy - First Step in Our Parental Order Application
Blog, Home, Information, Surrogacy
Our Boys' British Passport Applications are in! Countdown to leaving Kiev...
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Vinny & Bianca's first 10 Days with their newborn sons!
Blog, Information, Surrogacy
Day 2 in Kiev, Ukraine - Prepping for our Surrogate Twin Boys
Blog, Information, Inspiration, Interviews, Surrogacy
An honest chat with USA Surrogate, Cheryl Ketron (Part 1)
Blog, Guest Bloggers, Home, Surrogacy

Vinny & Bianca’s first 10 Days with their newborn sons!Featured

Hello…..

My name is Candice Schwegmann. I am 31-year-old, wife, entrepreneur, and mom to 2 amazing boys. I whole heartedly believe that you are the master of your own destiny and hold the key to your success.

I have recently had the privilege of meeting this phenomenal family and joining them on this journey.

Bianca has allowed me to share on their behalf some highlights of their last few weeks. So, sit, grab some coffee, definitely some tissues and happy reading: –

  • Monday 17 July- was Vinny’s birthday and they were hoping that the boys would share his birthday. Their surrogate let them know that she was having contractions. After trying to translate her words into something that made sense in English, they came to the conclusion that she had Braxton hicks (pre-labor contractions). They tried to do some sightseeing in Kiev but couldn’t focus.
  • Tuesday 18 July- they tried unsuccessfully to busy themselves while they waited for the news that would change their whole lives. Bianca wishes she could say that they were calm and peaceful but they couldn’t stop themselves from checking if their surrogate was ok and if she needed anything and mostly how long she thought it would be until delivery. She had said all was good and not to worry, that babies would definitely be here that week.
  • Wednesday 19 July-more watching and waiting and making sure that they didn’t miss a message. They harassed their surrogate some more to find out how she was and whether they could do anything more to help. At 9.30pm that night they received a long awaited WhatsApp message from their coordinator to say that their surrogate was in labor and they needed to be on standby. To say They felt a mixture of emotions ranging from excitement to fear and nail biting nerves, is, to put it mildly. Yaryna their clinic co-ordinator who understood just how important it was for Bianca to be at the birth, kept vigil with them, ensuring that they did not miss the call from the nurses. However, no call came that night. Their nerves must have been shattered and even all the way back in sunny South Africa a certain person could have been seen pacing the floors.
  • Thursday 20 July- still no news….at 9 am Vinny decided to take a chance and walk to the shop. Of course, shortly afterward they received a call and Vinny ran at record speed all the way home nearly breaking his ankle! Murphy’s Law…. the poor bloke… Their driver safely but speedily drove them to the hospital. Once they were at the hospital, Oksana their super translator rushed them around to ensure that they were dressed in the appropriate gear – face masks and all! They were then whisked into the pre-delivery room where their surrogate was writhing in pain. Bianca felt so sorry for the poor girl – a tiny person carrying these giant boys! Soon some nurses started shouting instructions in Ukrainian that basically related to Bianca as the intended mother was the only one allowed  in the pre-delivery room and at the birth – Vinny’s relief to miss all the gooey stuff of childbirth should be mentioned here! One could just picture this scene – if it was me I would have been shouting back in my version of Ukrainian. Bianca tried to be of some support for their surrogate who “was in definite pain” but she felt so helpless and the language barrier made it even more difficult. She constantly had to use google translate, which by the way was actually no help at all- so they had to keep phoning Oksana to translate.

“It was a strange few hours for all of us but thankfully only a few hours before our beautiful boys arrived.”

All be it a few hours when in labor actually translates into a few days… According to Bianca, the birth was an incredible experience. Their surrogate was amazing, no screaming or crying just pushing their boys gently into the world.  WOW, what a surreal experience this must have been! Bianca is so happy that she got to be there. It’s something that I am sure she will cherish for her entire life!

“Our surrogate was amazing. What an angel! We will always have a special kind of love for her!” 

After the birth, they left their boys to get checked out by the doctors and nurses, making sure all the bits and bobs were in place… Vinny had a short glimpse of his little creations (check out this little video clip of Vinny’s first encounter here) according to Bianca, and then they left the hospital in total wonder, disbelief and giddy with happiness. Years of disappointments, every failed treatment, every heartache and today they had finally become parents of twin boys! What a moment…

They wanted to go out and celebrate but were just too tired, instead, they cracked open a bottle of sweet bubbly at home. They are saving a huge bottle of the real thing, a gift from good friends of theirs, for when they are back in Florida celebrating their homecoming. Celebrities I tell you…so instead they then fell off into a delightful mix of sleep and a dream…basically a feeling of “what the eff just happened?” I am tempted to tell Bianca and Vinny that they will spend the next couple of years choosing their PJs over going out.

  • Friday 21 July- they found out that the boys had to spend a few days in the hospital. This is apparently a standard procedure for twins in Ukraine even though they were perfectly healthy. Vinny & Bianca setup camp in the hospital on the surrogate floor (A perk of their VIP package) and they brought their boys to them for bonding time. Check out their video blog here!

“The bonding experience was a strange kind of wonderful, frightening and exciting all at once!”

Maximus Vincent Smith                                                                Alexei Felix Smith

Born 20 July 14.05 weighing in at 3.430 kg                                Born 20 July 14.20 weighing in at 3.150 kg

(7.56 pounds) and 54 cm                                                               (6.94 pounds) and 50 cm

 

The first time they changed a nappy (diaper for the Americans) it took them about 10 minutes- Now I am happy to report that according to Bianca they can do it in 10 seconds. That night they both didn’t sleep more than an hour- they spent most of their time staring at their boys and making sure that were still breathing!

That is the miracle of parenthood…

  • Monday afternoon was “home day”- the boys were discharged and it was an emotional goodbye with their surrogate, they will see her again in about 6 weeks for parental order paperwork. She was taken home and they were taken to the clinic for DNA tests which is needed for the birth certificates and UK parental order. After all of that, they finally got home and set up camp in the lounge/dining room…

They are getting to be … a little wiser – a little more experienced – a lot more tired – and filled with ever-increasing love for their boys.

“It’s still difficult not to sob from happiness and gratitude (mixed in with a few tears of exhaustion) when I look at these precious miracles in my arms and our new reality as parents.”

They have finally achieved their dream and made a way for their miracle babies and they so look forward to a lifetime of happiness with these two! (Now I am sobbing…) I feel really privileged to have been able to share their moments with you and I hope I have relayed their message in the best possible way. Congratulations to this amazing family!!!

I hope you enjoyed the blog and do keep a look out for some future posts soon.

All my love

Candice

XO

 “That Friday to Monday was a complete haze!!!”

 

PHOTOS BY: 

Sovetoff. Photo

https://www.facebook.com/sovetoff.photo

Instagram:  Sovetoff.Photo

 

Thanks, from Bianca & Vinny: –

“Thank you so much to every single person that has supported us, stood by us, sent us messages, just been there in some way and helped us to carry on when times were tough and days and nights were too dark to deal with alone. We could not have done it without all of you and you will never know just how grateful we are for having you all in our lives. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul. And thank you to everyone for sharing in our joy and celebration and for all your happy dances on our behalf. It is so wonderful to have a tribe of amazing people like yourselves in all the really bad times as well as the awesome times – makes everything even more special!! Thank you thank you thank you xxxxx

Oceans of love to you!

 

Here are some additional shout outs from Bianca:

 

p.s. Shout out to my hubby, Vinny who has been an absolute mode of a perfect dad! I always knew that he would be the best dad but he has even exceeded my expectations and it makes me beyond happy to see him interact and love our boys the way he does!

 p.p.s. Shout out to all of you have taken so much of your time to give us tips, suggestions and/or be on the other end of the line (thank you Siobhan!) when I needed someone to sooth my own tears of helplessness and inexperience.

p.p.s.s. Shout out to Candice, my admin assistant who I will never be able to live without again! She has taken control over my work and social media life and done an even better job than me 😊. Thank you so much!! Aaaah that’s me, it’s an absolute pleasure- I am so grateful to have virtually met you and I hope to one day meet you in person.

Thank you to Biotexcom for providing the best surrogate for us, no waiting time from the moment They signed our contracts, to Yaryna for ensuring that we did not miss the birth and to our awesome translators Anna and Oksana for looking after us so well while we were in the hospital with our newborns…and beyond.

 

 

 

What they have learned in the 10 first days of being parents:  

 

  • It might not be chocolate balls on the floor – don’t pick up it up with bare hands
  • Babies love AC/DC (but who doesn’t?!)
  • Little boys pee a lot when the cool air hits their twinkies
  • Day/night/mealtimes/showers/brushing teeth/conversations with friends/sleep…..all become a big jumbled mess of not enough
  • Coffee, red bull and chocolate become your best friends
  • Another best friend is the baby sounds app….right now the sssshhhh sound is doing wonders (thank you to Vita and Galyna – our phenomenal newborn photographers – you ladies are amazing!!)
  • They also taught us the benefit of swaddling them into a little ball with hands and feet touching p they love it
  • newborn clothes are actually made inside out – we thought it was shoddy workmanship at first until we realized that labels and seams can actually hurt their sensitive skin
  • you can never have too many clothes – sometimes they have 3 outfit changes all within one nappy change – little boys!
  • The best outfits are the ones with the built-in mittens – who would have thought that newborns have such sharp razor blade claws!?! And cutting their miniscule nails is challenging!
  • They really do grow and change so fast!!!! (Is it crazy that I already feel sad that my little newborns are growing into little infants before my eyes at only 10 days old!?)
  • Gripe water is another good friend of parents.
  • What works today to soothe a screaming baby won’t necessarily work tomorrow
  • You can “watch” a TV program 5 times and still only see 5 seconds of it
  • An email can take a week to finish
  • Baby poos are exciting – it means that your newborn will be in less pain from gas
  • Their personalities are already so distinct from birth!! Our Max has so much character in his eyes and a million different facial expressions. Alex is a little stoner – loves his sleep!
  • Life is now divided into nappy (diaper) changes, feeding, soothing, washing clothes, washing and preparing bottles/baby baths and every now and then a stolen few minutes of sleep
  • Newborns hiccup and fart a lot ha ha
  • Everything one reads in preparation for the arrival of newborns is completely forgotten!
  • Google is filled with so much contradicting information!! And everyone has a different opinion.
  • It’s insane how many nappies, wet wipes, tissues and formula two babies go through in just a few days!! (our babies strangely only like the pampers wet wipes – all the others make them cry but not pampers – no idea why)
  • Nappies (at least our brands) have a yellow stripe down the middle that goes blue when wet and need changing!
  • It really was love at first sight and no matter how much they scream and cry for hours, one little look makes your heart melt all over again!
  • Every day is a baby learning day for both baby and parents!

 

 

Updated notes about Biotexcom for current and future Biotexcom clients:

 Although it was a shaky start between us and Biotexcom when we first arrived in Kiev, Biotexcom has exceeded our expectations so far in turning around their service to us. Over the last week, they have been totally attentive to every request and comment we have made and have gone out of their way to right any wrong immediately. Currently, we are certainly being treated like VIP’s and I am grateful and happy with all the staff concerned.

We think it proves that when people have a problem, they need to keep discussing it with the people concerned so that they have an opportunity to fix things – which is exactly what Biotexcom have done in our case. Currently we are very happy with the service and have no complaints. We feel that this is a good sign for other current and future Biotexcom clients.

 

 

 

 

Blog, Information, Surrogacy

One Week Down in Kiev, Ukraine (about 16 weeks to go) – with new updatesFeatured

UPDATE TUES 18 JULY 2017

This is what has happened since writing the original post:

Biotexcom sent another cleaner around late Monday afternoon. When we got back home she had done an excellent job with the kitchen – it was sparkling clean! Unfortunately the state of this place requires either a full day with one person cleaning or a cleaning crew, so she did not manage to get to the other rooms in the apartment due to time restrictions. She was a really nice lady and her English was good. I would be happy to have her around again. Vinny and I have cleaned ours and the babies room but there are no cleaning products for the bathroom. We have let Biotexcom know this and waiting for a definite response as to when they will arrange further cleaning services.

They have sent us a WhatsApp and email apology – no phone call.

My husband has sent them an email with his concerns as well as suggestions on how to improve things and a request to meet with them in person to discuss further. They have noted these and will consider taking most of them on board.

Here are some clips from his email and their answers:

Issue:  We did not feel comfortable with the housekeeper living with us from the beginning. It was more like us living with her as we felt confined to our room only coming out for meals and not given a key or key fob to come and go as we please. It was apparent from early on that no cleaning was getting done but we only visited the kitchen at meal times as we needed our space from her while she sat there watching TV all day and night- so we did not see the extent of the filth until she left.

Biotexcom’s answer:  I am truly and absolutely sorry for that incident – I discussed that already with the Housing Department. It was very unexpected for them because as a rule all are happy with our housekeeping staff. Anyway it was as it was – and the fault is completely ours here. 

As to the housekeeper staying in the apartment – taking into account preferences of our clients (like coffee in the night or late dinner or cleaning after the baby) the Housing Department decided to make the services of a housekeeper available 24/7 – and actually the housekeeper is the person who can help in a lot of matters, it’s just your housekeeper was not of the appropriate level, unfortunately. But the housekeeper can be removed from the apartment very easy and switch to the “coming housemaid” mode.
Issue: Apartment cleanliness/Housekeeper. A member of Biotexcom should check apartments before arrival of customers. Biotexcom should ask customers if they would like a housekeeper living with them.
Biotexcom’s answer:  This is a very good point – we will for sure use it. 
Issue:  No communications from Biotrexcom about our surrogate mother. She went into the maternity house last week and we have received absolutely no update from Biotexcom. A member of staff should send a quick daily update via any communications method.
Biotexcom’s answer:  We estimate our physical possibilities (I mean number of staff members versus number of programs) and we promise to update once a week, if nothing changes – if anything changes we notify immediately. But we will think about it.
Issue:  Member of staff on call to answer questions or even at least acknowledge receipt of a question. You are dealing with lives and new lives, normal office hours should not apply.
Biotexcom’s answer:  If we knew on Friday about that disaster in the apartment – we would have fixed that. And I really believe that me and Yaryna deserve to have our free time borders respected, I believe every person deserves that. Our experience shows that all of the questions can be solved during the working time, except those associated with newborns – and for that there is a special phone number with 24/7 availibility – we really didn’t expect that you might need it on that early stage, even before the delivery. In this particular case you were addressing my and Yaryna’s cell phones and we have it fixed even in the documents that we have our working time. But it is a new experience and we will consider that in our programs.  
Issue:  Lack of information about everything. Put together a pack giving clients information about where they are living, where to get things, where to go baby shopping, where and how to get ohone credit. We were given a SIM card with no credit on it and no explanation on how to get credit, No information about pediatricians, the 24-hour number and lots of other things mentioned in the package.
Biotexcom’s Answer:  This is also a very good point – I will give the task to fix it, as sometimes personal guidelines is more trustworthy than phone guide.

 

** So at this moment, I’m feeling more positive about Biotexcom and their willingness to assist and change things for the better. ***

 

Hi Friends!

Thank you to everyone who has been following our surrogacy journey – on this blog, You Tube and Facebook and all those who have sent me messages on WhatsApp or Instagram. It’s wonderful having you all cheering us on and your excitement for us increases our own excitement! Our little boys are so blessed to already have such amazing people as yourselves in their lives even before they are born! Imagine how loved they will feel when they are old enough to look back and read and understand all your messages and comments. They will never be without love. Thank you all! And so much love back to you!

Well, it’s been a week since we arrived in Kiev and what a week it’s been! We have had awesome moments mixed with a few not so happy bits that have not yet been attended to, so unfortunately for Biotexcom, I will be complaining in this blog post.

But first, the good…

The most obvious and the most important part of this week was meeting our gorgeous surrogate, getting to know more about our boys through her and feeling them kick!

For those of you who missed my Facebook post on Tuesday, I’ll fill you in here:

She is absolutely divine – stunningly beautiful, glowing with health, the same sense of humor as Vinny and I (if it wasn’t for the difficulty of the language barrier, I’m sure we would talk every day and become great friends), she has a happiness & joy that shines from within – such a perfect environment for our boys to develop in. We could not have chosen anyone better for us. We are extremely grateful and happy to have her. A big plus point for Biotexcom for matching us so perfectly.

To respect her privacy, we cannot post any pictures of her publically which is fully understandable. You’ll just have to use your imagination :).

We hear from her, that our boys love healthy food, especially watermelon. They are very active and love to box each other (how very typical of Vinny’s boys!) but they also love dancing (like their mama :)), and when they sleep they like to cuddle each other.

She went to start preparations at the maternity hospital this weekend and we can expect the boys to be born either Monday or Tuesday. Of course, they could also be stubborn (Vinny is the most stubborn I’ve ever met) and decide to keep us waiting for a few weeks still! Either way, the doc said that they are fully developed and ready to meet us :). Monday is Vinny’s birthday so of course we are hoping for the best birthday present ever! I have managed to convince the hubster to join me in the delivery room. He’s worried about being there, but I need him to be there for me and stop my own heart from shooting to the moon with a mix of angst and excitement. I’m in danger of hyperventilating right now just thinking about it!

In other news, we met two lovely couples this week also going through surrogacy in Kiev. One couple (from the UK), we met on Wednesday night for a civilized dinner….well….it was civilized for 3 of us. I won’t mention who knocked back a ship load of vodkas. We went to a traditional Ukranian restaurant where a shot of vodka was less than $1.50 – so how could he resist right?! ha ha. We had a super time with our new friends and look forward to seeing them again.

Friday night we met another couple (from Australia this time) at the Buddha Bar – a popular lounge/nightclub apparently well known for their classy ladies of the night – we saw and were entertained. The ladies danced in a harem while an amazing bloke hit his drum non-stop for possibly an hour – he was really good. The sushi was tasty and our Ozzy company was awesome. Finally when the Buddha Bar got too smoky for me to handle, we moved on to Vinny’s favorite playground – a Karaoke Bar – they have hundreds of them in Kiev, at least 5 on every street, all claiming to be 24 hours – Vinny’s heaven ha ha! It took a while using Google translate, but he eventually managed to get on the singing list and wasn’t too bad – he certainly impressed the ladies ;). The next day even my eye-balls hurt! We all felt rough, but it was fun!

   

In spite of the way we felt, I still made us get up in the afternoon as walk for an hour or so into town for food and more baby stuff. We hit a bargain with a changing station, complete with drawers and a bath which can be wheeled around the house for convenience. It was discounted from $350 to under $100. I’m really chuffed with it! It cost about $12 in a taxi to get it home – not bad. The same price as the taxi was at 4am from the Karaoke Bar.

   

  

Some other positive points for the week:

  • Tuesday we met with a new Biotexcom English coordinator, Svetlana who took us to the hospital for our chest x-rays. We passed with flying colors of course (this is to make sure we don’t have anything contagious that can pass onto the babies on the maternity ward). Svetlana is awesome! She is full of smiles, humor, information and great help!
  • It was nice to see smiling Yaryna and Anastasia from Biotexcom on Tuesday who listened to our requests and kindly arranged a microwave and coffee machine delivered to our apartment the next day.
  • Biotexcom also kindly delivered a brand new double stroller, another crib (although we do need some tools to adjust the railing) and another big armful of baby clothes – thank you Biotexcom!
  • We are orientating ourselves and getting to know Kiev better each day, doing a lot of walking and discovering new places – especially baby shops. We found another floor of baby and kids shops in a mall called Globus, which is underground of Maiden Square – including Mothercare, which is where we bought our changing station. Globus is an upmarket mall with many designer shops.
  • We realized that we had thought the Metro was around 77 Cents for a trip, but we were mistaken – it is actually 77 Cents for 5 trips – 15 Cents per trip on the Metro – wow! Although, during the week it is so busy that we chose to walk over an hour a few times instead of dealing with the crowds of sweaty armpits and sweltering heat in there! 

Now sadly our NEGATIVE points for the week

I don’t even know where to being with this. After a week of having a “housekeeper” live in with us (on the couch not even her own room) and who sits all day and night watching her Ukranian shows on TV in the lounge while we felt confined to our room for privacy, we asked Biotexcom to remove her and give us our space back. I requested that the clinic give us a food allowance for us to shop for groceries and cook ourselves and perhaps come in a few times a week to clean after the babies have arrived.

This was on Friday. It was great to get home after our night our and have our own space….until Saturday morning came around, and in she walks again asking if I want breakfast. I sent our coordinator a WhatsApp message asking why she was there again. Yaryna replied that she would leave….she finally did about 2 hours later!

Once she had left and we were finally on our own, we then discovered how disgustingly filthy she and this apartment was. We hadn’t fully noticed before, because we have been out most of the time and when home, we were confined to our room while she sat on the couch watching her shows.

  • Filthy, disgusting, full ashtray. Firstly, I am a non-smoker so don’t want anyone that smokes living with me and my babies. Secondly, surely as a smoker, she could still have emptied the ashtray!? The entire balcony off the lounge reeks!
  • None of the kitchen counters or the stove look like they have ever been wiped.
  • Old, moldy bread in the breadbin with toast that hadn’t been eaten thrown back in there – makes us think she was just serving the same uneaten pieces of toast every day!
  • The fridge is filthy with bits of old and bad food in it. Opened food had just been chucked back in the fridge, not even covered. There were three different bottles of milk in there going off. A dirty pot of cream that had completely turned. No fresh food! Nothing for us to eat!
  • The sink was filthy with bits of food still in it.
  • Her dirty tissues lying about on the counter.
  • The dishcloth was dirty with crusty food.
  • The taps had bits of dried and greasy food on it.
  • The glasses she was putting on the table for us with our meals had never been washed – just reused over and over.
  • The fruit was all going bad in the fruit bowl.
  • There have been a bowl of opened biscuits on the table since we arrived – stale then and even more stale now, Then she opened another pack of biscuits and put them on top to get stale and full of dust.
  • There has been bowls of open jam on the table since we arrived – never put in the fridge and never covered.
  • The pots of sugar and salt look like she has continuously put her grubby hands in them – the white of the sugar and salt have become grey with dirt! Basic hygiene is completely non existent!!!
  • Dust absolutely everywhere throughout the apartment.
  • The kitchen walls behind the stove have never been wiped.
  • Rubbish lying everywhere throughout the apartment.
  • The bin cupboard (trash cupboard) has never been swept or wiped.
  • The floors are so dirty then when we walk the short distance from the shower to our room, our feet are black are covered in dirt and we need to wash them again!
  • The cupboards have never been wiped down.
  • The shower was filthy and has never been cleaned – not the shower wall, door or floor!

With all of this to do, why the hell did she sit watching TV all day and night?!!??? Speaking of TV, we only now discovered that we have many English channels, as she watched Ukranian TV all the time! This is the first time we can actually spend time in the lounge even.

I am disgusted, shocked, outraged and really upset about this. We are supposed to be VIP customers! We paid the top package price which means that we should get VIP treatment throughout our dealings with Biotexcom. If this is how the VIP customers get treated, I hate to think of how customers with cheaper packages get treated!!

I have to say- the most important thing is that our surrogacy process went quick and smooth right from day one and we will be getting our boys soon born via a wonderful surrogate as mentioned. I have had very little complaints until now. I cannot fault Biotexcom on our experience until now – I am very grateful for our excellent journey with regards to our surrogacy and when the boys get here, all of this won’t mean as much – but at this stage, I really don’t want my newborn babies in this dirt!!!

So what do we do now? Do Vinny and I – paying VIP customers, spend a day blitzing this apartment? Or do we wait for Biotexcom to actually do something about this? Yesterday (Saturday), I sent both Yaryna and Anastasia (Head of the English Department and our English coordinator) a WhatsApp message explaining the situation and how upset we are, with photos to prove it. Neither one has bothered to contact me with any word – not even an apology! Not letting us know what they are going to do about it. Just nothing! Anastasia has made it quite clear in the past that they only work during office hours – but certain occasions like this call for after hours work – that’s what we pay the big money for! I spent last night in tears about this. We should be as happy and stress free as possible in the days leading up to the birth of our boys.

Biotexcom should make sure that ALL apartments are inspected for cleanliness BEFORE clients move in. I’m perfectly happy to keep my household clean from then on but why should I live and clean other people’s dirt?! We were also told the day before we left the UK that we would be staying in a different building (and area) to the one they actually put us in – so maybe we not in the VIP apartment at all?

I wonder if Biotexcom will have any comment on this? When they will reply and if they actually plan to fix this for us before the boys come!?

Apologies for putting a damper on things, but I have been so upset about it that I needed to vent and get it off my chest.

Okay, back to excitement……. the hubby’s birthday tomorrow! Could it be Max & Alex’s birthday too?! 🙂

Thank you for listening, reading, following and all your good wishes.

Love to you all! xxxx

B & V

 

Information, Surrogacy

My Surrogacy Story…Featured

UPDATE:  Our beautiful boys, Maximus Vincent Smith and Alexei Felix Smith were born 20 July 2017 in perfect health and with fantastic weights!

They were fully developed and we only spent 4 days in the hospital – no NICU, we all stayed together in a room just for observation.

 

At time of writing (10 May 2017) ,our surrogate is currently 28 weeks pregnant with our twin boys. If all goes according to plan, they will be born around 7 August 2017.

This is the closest that my husband and I have come to getting our dream family and holding our babies in our arms.

First, a little background on my surrogacy discoveries …

In April 2016, our 8th round of IVF produced another negative pregnancy test and we decided that my body has had enough of being pumped with drugs that don’t seem to be working. After months of careful consideration, we decided that we were ready to explore creating our family through the gift of surrogacy.

I set about researching and making phone calls all around the USA, where we currently live and I was in total shock to discover how expensive and risky surrogacy in the USA was. The average starting cost was in the region of $100,000, without extras, such as medical insurance for the surrogate and a long list of other items. In addition to this, miscarriage or failed implantation meant even more money to try again. I also found in my research that the risk of a surrogate changing her mind about going through with the surrogacy at the last minute was a common problem, as well as the risk of the surrogate choosing to keep the baby – this is less common but still happens more often than expected.

We then had a look at the UK, as we are both British Citizens with our permanent home being, the UK. Here the cost was not as much because the UK only deals with altruistic surrogacy, meaning that the Intended Parents only pay the surrogate for expenses. This is all good, however, firstly this means that there are very few surrogates available and secondly, the risk with surrogacy in the UK is huge as the surrogacy laws do not protect the Intended Parents. The law states, that the woman who gives birth to a baby, regardless of whether she is genetically linked to the baby or not, is considered the mother in the eyes of the law. Furthermore, her husband or boyfriend even, can have claim to the baby without being genetically linked too. There are no protections for the biological parents claiming the baby if the surrogate decides to keep him or her at any time during the pregnancy and after the birth.

After many years of battling infertility, miscarriage and multiple rounds of failed IVF that led to heartbreak and oceans of tears and shattered dreams, there was no way that I could risk doing surrogacy through the UK and there was no way that we could afford the cost of surrogacy in the USA. So we had to search elsewhere and we are blessed to have found our clinic in Ukraine.

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Home, Information, Surrogacy

For the Brits doing Overseas Surrogacy – First Step in Our Parental Order Application

Hi Guys,

This is just a quick update on where we are at with our legal proceedings and paperwork – specifically for British Nationals doing Surrogacy in Ukraine (or overseas in general):

  1. Complete and sign the C51 Court Form and have it translated for the surrogate and notarised
  2. Section 54 of the A101 Form – which is the Agreement to the Making of a Parental Order – which cannot be signed by the surrogate less than 6 weeks before the birth of your baby – this must also be translated and notarised
  3. Copy of each child’s birth certificate and translation
  4. Copy of our marriage certificate
  • This took about a few weeks for Biotexcom to obtain for us and then they kindly assisted in sending the document pack by express mail to the Central Family Court in London at the following address:

First Avenue House

42-49 High Holburn

London

WC1V 6NP

  • 5 days later, the hubby called the High Court to confirm that they had received our application pack and to give card payment over the phone – which was £235 in total.

Now we wait for the court to get back to us and official serve our surrogate. Will update as we know more…

For further info on the parental order process visit this page

 

That’s it for now folks

B xxx

Blog, Home, Information, Surrogacy

Our Boys’ British Passport Applications are in! Countdown to leaving Kiev…

Hi Friends!

Can you believe our boys are 7 weeks old already on Thursday?!

We are loving them more than ever! Every day is a new adventure which brings new laughs, smiles and total wonder. It’s crazy how much they change and grow daily! They now weigh over four and a half kilos, cry real tears, are trying to play with some of their toys and growing out most of their clothes!

We are still in a state of exhaustion but it’s improving now that the boys are on a 4-hour feeding schedule rather than 3 hours.

So yesterday we made application for our boys’ British passports. Many of you have been asking whether they will get Ukranian citizenship as they were born in Ukraine. There aren’t that many countries in which people get citizenship simply by virtue of being born in that country – citizenship is usually passed down by the parents and Ukraine is the same. Our boys are British citizens and therefore need to await their British passports before being able to exit Ukraine. Unfortunately for us, this process takes around 10 weeks for a first time British passport and 16 weeks for a first British passport issued to children born via surrogacy. This is a UK (NOT Ukraine) law. After checking the calendar yesterday, I discovered that 16 weeks exactly takes us to Christmas Day!!!

Kiev is already preparing for autumn. Within 2 weeks it has changed from a very hot and sunny 36 degrees C to a grey, misty and somewhat chilly 18 degrees C. The days are getting shorter and the air is getting drier. Soon Florida is going to feel even further away… Please put all those fingers, toes and whiskers together for some speedy passport processing for us – we want the sun and the fresh sea air and to get back to my kitty cats who are missing us so much!

For British Nationals doing surrogacy in Kiev, here is our experience so far…

  • Our babies’ Ukranian birth certificates were issued about 2 weeks after their birth. Our clinic took them for translation and apostille and required final payment before they would release them to us 2 weeks later.
  • I emailed the passport application centre with preferred dates and times for our passport application interview (in our case, this had to be a few weeks later as Vinny was in America). I received a confirmation email of our date and time the following day.
  • We (or rather my husband) spent the next few weeks chasing the clinic for all the required documents. This can get rather time consuming and frustrating but it won’t be done without you constantly on their backs. He put together document files – an originals file and a coloured copies file for each baby with an index and tabs for ease of reference.
  • The driver took us (with babies) and our surrogate (with her original identity documents) to our appointment.
  • Me and our surrogate looked after the babies while Vinny went through all the documentation with the official.
  • Total time spent their was around 1.5 hours.

These were the documents the clerk asked for:

  • Completed application form for each baby.
  • Completed payment authorisation.
  • Both our original passports plus coloured photo copies of each page of each passport (we didn’t realise we needed to copy each page, so they offered to copy for us at a rate of 10 Ukranian per page).
  • Proof of British nationality for both of us (Vinny’s birth certificate and my naturalization certificate).
  • Proof of residency in the UK (3 different documents) – this requirement does not appear on the government website. It’s just by chance that we had 3 random proof of the same address with us!)
  • 2 passport photos of each baby – one signed at the back (see this page http://www.wheresmystork.com/passport-requirements-for-british-nationals/)
  • Surrogacy agreement.
  • Babies’ birth certificates.
  • All medical records we had to hand – antenatal as well as after care.
  • Copies of identity documents of surrogate.

The following documents we insisted on the clerk taking, as they are on the UK government website, so they reluctantly did:

  • DNA tests.
  • Document where surrogate relinquishes parental rights and agrees to commissioning parents applying for the babies’ passports.
  • Document stating the surrogate was never married.
  • Letter from the head doctor at the clinic confirming us as surrogacy clients.
  • Photographs of us with the babies since their birth.

*** We are hoping that the more documents we can give them in support of our application, the smoother and therefore quicker the process will be. ***

Please cross-reference with this page http://www.wheresmystork.com/passport-requirements-for-british-nationals/

So that’s it folks…now we wait and hope that we leave Kiev long before Christmas!

Bye for now!

B xxx

 

Blog, Information, Surrogacy

Day 2 in Kiev, Ukraine – Prepping for our Surrogate Twin Boys

Sunday 9 July 2017

 

Today started with a healthy breakfast of fruit and yogurt. It could easily be 3 cooked meals a day prepared by our housekeeper, but that would be dangerous! So instead we went for the light fare and then mapped out our route to find all the baby shops in the area. Soon armed with the phone’s GPS for comfort, we set off full of adventurous spirits.

It was a beautiful, sunny day with just the right temperature for shorts and a summery T. Not far from our apartment, we walked through a gorgeously green park with pathways, children’s play area and a little skyway obstacle course of zip lines and rope bridges. There are a number of parks connected via pedestrian tunnels and this is where we saw something that neither of us had seen before – a young (little) lady pushed a baby stroller down these sleeper type contraptions with the wheels balancing on either side. Once through the tunnel, she reversed herself and her stroller up the sleepers again! After this we noticed these everywhere around the city. Quite an ingenious idea, but I’m not so sure if I would trust myself not to go tumbling and crumbling into a heap at the bottom, babies and all! Hubby says I’m just going to have to practice – good to know he has so much faith in my balancing abilities!

The first baby shop we came to was Antoshka (Антошка). It was a two-story with children’s clothes and toys upstairs and baby stuff at the bottom. We found that it is probably one of the best places to buy things such as nappies (or diapers if you’re American), wipes, creams, formula and other disposable items rather than equipment. The sales lady spoke a few English words while she followed us around the store in a slightly unnerving manner – but they were full of smiles and had a friendly energy.

We continued following the GPS and soon came to the apartments we stayed at October last year (about a 45 minute walk away from our current apartment). We recognized the mall we had visited Ukraina Shopping Mall (Украуна) which we remember had boutique style shops including a tiny baby shop (as in the shop not babies that are tiny :). We decided not to stop in this time as our goal destination was the Department Store – a land of milk and honey for those wanting anything for babies and children of all ages – from equipment to clothes to toys and I believe even a children’s museum and cosmic golf (neither of which we visited). What we did do, was purchase another carry cot as the clinic only provided one which is only half handy when having twins (1200 Hryvnia  / $46/ £35) from a small discount store that sold a bunch of baby equipment, and also a fun activity playmat that can be adjusted and used right up to 18 months, a musical, mobile night light show and a couple of cute crib toys – these were all Fisher Price brand, so the cost was on par with what we would pay in the UK or USA.

Lunch was in the town square at the Karaoke Bar. Vegetarians skip the next sentence…………Continue reading

Blog, Information, Inspiration, Interviews, Surrogacy

An honest chat with USA Surrogate, Cheryl Ketron (Part 1)

Hi Friends!

If you’ve been curious to know what goes on in surrogacy from the SURROGATE’S point of view, then click on my new (very amateur) You Tube video, which is an interview with the gorgeous and very pregnant, Cheryl Ketron.

This is my first interview I have done on camera and I know there are a lot of hiccups for me to work on, but these things come with practice, don’t they?! I am extremely camera shy and so I noticed afterwards that I pull funny faces, wave my arms about, forget my English grammar and seem to be married to the word “fantastic”. I will work to improve these next time 🙂

Cheryl herself was simply perfect though!

This is part 1 and I hope to bring you part 2 with additional questions soon. If there is anything you are screaming to know, then please leave a comment or email me :).

Lots of love,

B

Blog, Information, Inspiration, Mind-Body-Spirit

Music Therapy – Afia Walking Tree – Mama Souljourn

Afia Walking Tree is one for the feminine soul.

Raw, powerful and back to the roots of mother earth.

It is drumming therapy at its best.

 

What is Drumming Therapy?

In a nutshell, we are made up of energy fields which are in and all around us. These energy fields vibrate on varying frequencies. High frequencies create a natural state of bliss, and we should ideally be engaged in activities that constantly keep our vibrations high. If you vibrate at a high frequency in one area, then you create a positive charge, that will effect other areas – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

Sound has been used as a way to higher the frequencies that you are operating from and has been used in many cultures for therapy and calming the mind and spirit. These include chanting, using Tibetan singing bowls, singing at specific pitches and tones and using various instruments such as drumming.

Listening to or taking part in drumming also becomes a form of meditation (and mindfulness) – your breathing will become focused, your mind will become peaceful and your brainwaves will start to connect in a positive way.

Music also helps us connect to our deeper selves in a way that words cannot – this makes us more open to heal ourselves.

Research has found that music boosts the immune system, helps blood flow, facilitates a natural state of joy, releases tension and anxiety and promotes the body’s own ability to release endorphins.

There are fantastic resources on You Tube and other music promotional media and if you are able, try to join a drumming circle in your area – you will get additional sense of community and connection.

Blog, Information, Mind-Body-Spirit, Natural Living

Intro to Essential Oils

 

With so much hype surrounding essential oils and practically every retailer selling bottles of the sweet smelling nectar, where do we start? Which oils do we start with? Which oils can be consumed and which would be toxic, and for whom?

It is a subject that is gaining in popularity everywhere we turn, and for good reason. These plant extracts have been used by cultures for over 5000 years to heal all parts of not only the human body as a whole, but our animal friends too.

So what are they?

Essential oils are oil extracts from the bark, flower, fruit, leaf, seed or root of plants. They contain potent aromatic compounds ‘essential’ oil contains the ‘essence’ of a plant’s fragrance, as well as complete holistic properties to treat an almost unlimited array of ailments. They are so highly concentrated that just one drop can have powerful healing effects on body, mind, emotions and spirit. The oils are composed of molecules so tiny that they can penetrate your skin and sometimes your blood – which is the reason why pregnant women are advised against handling essential oils.

Brief History of Essential Oils

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Blog, Information, Inspiration, Mind-Body-Spirit, Natural Living

Get started with Crystals -Red Jasper

What are crystals?

Scientifically, crystals are solids whose atoms are organised in highly ordered repeating patterns. The atomic structure of the object is what determines whether it is a crystal. Most crystals have natural origins. They can form through inorganic means, such as geological processes within the earth, or organic means within living creatures.

The repeated chemical structure of crystals mean that they hold memory and energy.

Holistically, crystals are tools that hold and transmit energies in order to assist healing, focus, balance and transformation. Every crystal has its own energy, healing properties and vibrations. They work well in conjunction with essential oils and meditation.

Each time we will look at a different crystal and discover its many benefits.

We will start with Red Jasper, which is associated with our

Root (base or first) Chakra.

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Blog, Information, Inspiration, Mind-Body-Spirit, Natural Living

Chakras for Beginners – the Root Chakra

The chakras are our energy points within our bodies. The word chakra comes from the sanskrit and means wheel. In Hindi it is directly translated as wheel of spinning energy. These energy points vibrate at their own frequencies and are responsible for different sections of the body and it’s well-being and good functioning. As part of the wheel of life, chakras are also closely associated with the elements and your own feelings and thoughts.

There are 7 main chakras in the body, which need to be balanced and flow together for optimum performance. We do this through a number of ways, including meditation, sound therapy, crystals, essential oils, movement, connecting to the elements and various other ways that raise the frequency in which we operate from. Chakras can be unhealthy in that they are overactive or that they are underactive.

We will investigate these 7 chakras one by one over time and how we can balance them, beginning today with the first chakra, which is called the Root or Base Chakra.

The Root or Base Chakra (Muladhara in Sanskrit)

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