4 Tips for Surrogates: Reviewing Your Contract

Contracts for surrogacy are crucial!  However, when you initially receive your contract, it can be very overwhelming.  Thankfully, you’ll have your own legal counsel—read about why that’s important here—so you should definitely go over every page of the contract verbatim with them before signing off.

1. Be wary of caps.

I was fortunate enough to not be bit in the ass after agreeing to caps during my first surrogacy journey.  Agencies, lawyers, and/or intended parents might try and convince you that your only option is to agree to capped bed rest, wages, post-partum recovery, etc.  You might be made to feel guilty for resisting caps or you might feel a sense of obligation to agree because of how costly surrogacy is for IPs.

However, caps can leave your vulnerable.  Pregnancies are unpredictable.  Surrogates who have done SETs and are only carrying one baby have ended up on weeks or months of bed rest.  I was fortunate enough to have had a relatively uneventful pregnancy but some surrogates are not as fortunate.

Think very long and hard about whether you’re willing to accept a cap of any kind.  Some alternatives I’ve seen surrogates present are:
  • A max weekly dollar amount, rather than an overall dollar cap or cap on the length of time you’ll be reimbursed.
  • A cap that equals out to 48 weeks of full reimbursement for lost wages and necessary child care/housekeeping (or whatever is applicable in your situation)
  • That intended parents can request a second opinion from a doctor independent of the current situation

2. Protect yourself and your family.

This might seem obvious, but don’t forget about yourself and your family.  Make sure you have a good life insurance policy (IPs usually purchase an additional one for you) because death is a risk you’re facing as a surrogate.

For example, if your income is critical to your family’s well being then you can absolutely not afford to “skimp” on wage reimbursements (also see previous point about caps).

Make sure you have an independent lawyer (separate from and not affiliated with your IPs lawyer) reviewing your contract with you and representing your best interests.  You should be using an Assistive Reproductive Technology lawyer.  You can find a list of ART lawyers here.

3. Be 100% comfortable prior to signing.

Don’t sign your contract until you’re happy/comfortable/satisfied with what it says.  Every single time you get an amended contract back to you, read it again verbatim.  Don’t just look at the areas where you requested and negotiated changes.  You want to make sure no new clauses/requirements/etc. snuck in there while you weren’t looking.

Walk away if it feels wrong or fishy.  Yes, it sucks that you’ve come that far and now have to “start over” but don’t compromise yourself.  It will feel yucky, and you’ll regret it later.

4. Everything is negotiable.

Finally, you should remember that pretty much everything in your contract is negotiable.  Both surrogates and IPs have asked for things that to other surrogates and IPs might sound off the wall.  However, contracts are unique to each situation.

If you don’t like the way something sounds/reads or flat out don’t agree with something then have it changed, taken out, or otherwise negotiated.  Nothing is set in stone, and don’t let an agency or lawyer tell you otherwise.  If you don’t like it, refer to point #3.

Bonus Tip! Pin this for future reference!

surrogacy legal contracts

14 Must Try Margarita Recipes #NationalMargaritaDay

Margarita Recipes
February 22nd is National Margarita Day, so if you wanted an excuse to try a delicious alcoholic beverage then I just gave you one.  If it’s not a margarita, just put it in a margarita glass and fake it.
I, for one, seem to be the only mom on the planet that doesn’t drink wine.  But I also basically never consume alcohol.  Yep.  No fun zone right here.  However, I have daiquiris and margaritas on my must-try list for 2017.  I really want to try one of these watermelon recipes, because who doesn’t love some delicious watermelon?

What is your favorite way to have margarita?

Watermelon Margaritas from I Was Born to Cook
Watermelon Margarita
Frozen Watermelon Margaritas from Cooking with Curls
frozen margarita
Frozen Tropical Margaritas from Cooking with Curls
No Mix Margarita from Dinner with the Rollos
Sunburned Strawberry Margaritas from Ann’s Entitled Life
Hibiscus Margaritas from Letty’s Kitchen
Champagne Margaritas from The Kitchen is My Playground
Champagne Margarita 4
Classic Margarita from Cooking with Curls
Margarita Jello Shots from Ann’s Entitled Life
Blood Orange Margaritas from Sidewalk Shoes
Strawberry Margarita from Grey is the New Black
Mango Orange Margarita from Ann’s Entitled Life

The Importance of Proper Legal Counsel for Surrogates

Legal Representation Surrogates
Surrogacy is an expensive undertaking for intended parents (IPs), regardless of the method they choose—traditional surrogate or gestational surrogate; egg donor or using own eggs; working with an agency or going independent—so some IPs may think it makes sense to only pay one lawyer in order to cut costs.  However, surrogates and IPs need to have separate legal representation.

Surrogates who are tempted to forgo their own independent legal counsel should remind themselves of the huge task that they are undertaking, which comes with its own set of risks.  They should also prioritize protecting themselves and their families, should these risks become a reality during the surrogacy process.

Both parties using the same lawyer is a huge conflict of interest.  That lawyer cannot look out for the best interests of the IPs and the surrogate.  Believe it or not the two are not always equal.  Should there be a disagreement, then each party needs to have someone representing them—the same can be said when each party sees a different meaning in a certain clause or part of the contract.
Surrogacy Lawyers
While this move might present to opportunity for the IPs to save thousands of dollars; it presents the opportunity for the surrogate to be taken advantage of—intentionally or unintentionally.  Also, in some areas the contract might not be considered valid unless each party has had their own legal representation prior to agreement.

Obtaining your own legal counsel—which IPs should still be paying for—means that you have someone offering you advice and looking out for your best interests.  Your lawyer can point out clauses that need to be modified or removed altogether, or she can suggest things you should ask to be added to your contract with the IPs.

Lawyers are always going to have the best interest of the primary client in mind, so using the same lawyer means  you come second to your IPs, regardless of any claims the lawyer or IPs make about equality.

This is not mutually exclusive to surrogacy.  A single lawyer cannot properly represent two different parties in the same case.  You need your own lawyer.

Finally, both your lawyer and your IPs lawyer should be an Assistive Reproductive Technology lawyer, preferably experienced with surrogacy.  You can find a list of ART lawyers here.
Do not settle.  Protect yourself.  Protect your IPs.  Protect the integrity of surrogacy.

Pin for future reference.

Surrogates and Lawyers

7 DIY Kids’ Valentines Mailboxes

DIY Valentines Mailboxes
So, if you’re feeling like an over achiever and want to do something fun with your kids over the weekend… Why not help them make the coolest Valentine’s Day mailbox ever?  However, if you just send them to school with a shoebox, tissue box, cereal box, or paper bag then that’s okay, too.  I’m not going to tell, and we can just pretend you never even saw this post.

Follow my Valentine's Pinterest Board!

Because that’s the kind of mom I am.  I would totally be committed to doing one of these cool mailboxes and then BAM! It’d be Valentine’s Day and we’d be lucky if we even had Valentines ready to hand out at school.

However, if you miss the Valentine’s Day train then you can still make a cool mailbox for your home where you kiddo can receive their very own mail.  Studies show that exchanging letters with family members strengthens literacy skills and family ties!

DIY Kids’ Mailboxes

Robot Mailbox via Making of a Mom
Milk Container Penguin Mailbox via Dollar Store Crafts
Hot Air Balloon Mailbox via Making of a Mom
Glitter Coffee Can Mailbox via The Idea Box
Kitty Cat Mailbox via Pretty Plain Janes
Unicorn Mailbox via Artsy Fartsy Mama
Princess Castle Mailbox via Making of a Mom

Love it? Pin it!

DIY Kids Valentine Mailboxes

Easy Last Minute Kids’ Valentines

Raise your hand if you’re a procrastinator? Oh.  You, too?!  They start putting Valentine’s Day decorations, candy, and cards out before they’ve even had time to clear out the Christmas decorations from the shelves. 

However, I’m that person who didn’t take her Christmas tree down until the middle (or endish) of January and not because I was still feeling the holiday spirit still, either.

I’m usually running around like a mad woman before any holiday where it might be somewhat expected for my kids to participate at school through food, gifts, etc.  I always feel like Valentine’s Day just creeps up on me, though one year I tried to super mom it and did an okay job making homemade fortune cookies.

So, if Valentine’s Day has snuck up on you, then here’s some easy kids’ Valentines you and your little one can whip up together without losing your mind.

Easy, Last Minute Valentines for Kids

Valentines Scratch Offs via Dollar Store Crafts
Crazy Straw Printable via Momma Lew
Minecraft Valentines via Atta Girl Says
Monkey Valentines via Beauty Through Imperfection
Ninja Valentines via Merry About Town
Owl Valentine’s Cards via A Spectacled Owl
Cute Animal Valentine’s Day Cards via Food Fun Family
Monster Jokes Valentines via Two Kids & a Coupon
Fortune Teller (Cootie Catcher) Valentines via Atta Girl Says
Out of this World Valentines via The Joys of Boys
Monster Valentines via Food Fun Family
Three Printable Valentine’s Cards via A Spectacled Owl
Valentine’s Day Puzzle Cards via Food Fun Family

Love it? Pin it!

easy last minute valentines

How to Paint Crisp Designs on Textured Walls

Paint Designs on Textured Wall
Today I'm sharing with you how to get crisp lines for designs/stencils on textured walls. All of the walls in my house are textured. The ones in these images are like a popcorn ceiling…except it’s my wall. None of my walls are just a little textured. They're all obnoxiously textured, of course, which is a real pain to paint.

So for everyone out there with a home that had previous owners who embraced the textured phase… Well, this one is for you.  Painting these walls can be a real pain in the butt.  Glad to be here to help!

Step 1. Tape

I advise getting good quality tape, first. Then tape off your design, your lines, or whatever it is you're taping.

Step 2. Caulk

To prevent running paint and leaks, etc., purchase a paintable silicone caulk and smooth a small amount over all paint edges.

Step 3. Paint Roller

Use a paint roller, not a paintbrush, to paint over your tape.

Step 4. Remove

Remove for crisp, beautiful lines/designs! See images below for examples of the difference these steps can make.

Love it? Pin it!

Thanks to Creative Ramblings for inspiring me to try this!

How to Prepare for a C-Section Delivery

Both my biological children were born vaginally.  I had anticipated that would probably be the case when I carried a baby for another couple, too, but I was wrong.  Baby A was breech and we elected for a planned cesarean, even though there are instances where breech babies can and are born safely without a c-section.
However, even though I felt it was the best and correct choice, I was so nervous!  The unknown is a scary place.  I took to Google searches and my favorite mom and surrogate support groups for help.  I was mostly overthinking the whole ordeal, I think, but I did learn a few things about preparing for a c-section that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Take a Stool Softener

The most common advice that I received was to take a stool softener and to take it sooner rather than later.  Now, by “sooner” we’re talking a day or two before your scheduled c-section.  You should also receive something in the hospital post-op—I was given Miralax—but, if not, then go ahead and request something.
Now, I want to emphasize a stool softener not a laxative.
The stool softener is to help assist in an easy post partum poop, which can be unpleasant regardless of your delivery type.  However, the meds used during a c-section and the recovery overall can leave you more prone to constipation.  Being proactive helps a ton!

Get Some Fiber Rich Snacks

I opted to load up on fiber rich snacks and even bought some fiber gummy vitamins to take.  Fiber is great for pooping and having yummy snacks is great for your soul when you’re at the hospital with a less-than-stellar food selection.  See previous point (above) about pooping.  Look for snacks with 4 grams or more of fiber.

Shave or Be Shaved

You’ll want to shave your lower abdomen area, above your vulva, unless you don’t mind the medical staff doing it for you pre-op.  I know you probably can’t see that area at this point in your pregnancy, so feel free to enlist a friend to help.  Or just do it blind.  That’s what I did.  This is where your incision will be, so it needs to be hair free.

Have a Belly Binder Available

Ask your midwife or OB and wherever you’ll be delivering if a belly binder (also called an abdominal binder) will be available to you.  I called my OB's office and they told me that belly binders weren’t provided by the hospital where I’d be delivering, but they actually were provided.  Most hospitals do provide them, but you can also buy your own, if you prefer.  Trust me.  You want one.

Pack Comfy & Appropriate Clothing

Really think about the clothes you’re packing.  Your incision is going to be very low on your abdomen, just above your vulva.  I ended up buying some silk, high rise underwear and didn’t pack any bottoms that would sit right on my incision site.  Some mid to high waist leggings are perfect. 

After my c-section is when I fell in love with wearing a robe, which I still do all the time.  Get a robe.  They’re amazing, wearable blankets.

Was this post helpful to you?  If so, you might also benefit from my C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist for Moms

Love it? Pin it!

prep for a csection

4 Things You Need to Know Before Painting

Painting Tips
I was so excited to finally get the ball rolling on making our house truly ours. We'd lived in our home for about 18 months and the people who lived in the house before us picked some treacherous (and very dark) paint colors. The living room was the first room we ever painted in our home and I definitely learned a lot of lessons from that experience, which I’m sharing with you!

Remove the Trim

Any seasoned painter (or anyone who listens when their husband says we need to take off the trim) knows that you need to remove all the trim in the room before painting. Even if that trim is going to be painted the same color as either the base/primer color or the other color.

It's easier to paint it separately. Trust me! It can't be any more difficult than the way we did it. Plus, the wall under the trim will get painted properly this way, too.

So, if in the future, you want to update your trim (which I do) you won't have to worry about the possibility have needing to paint again. I'm still not sure why my husband listened to me when I told him we didn't need to take off the trim. I secretly think he was waiting to soak up that "I told you so" moment.
4 Things You Need to Know Before You Paint

Use the Wider Painter's Tape

We used the Duck Brand 1" Clean Release Painter's Tape. I actually bought a three pack from Wal Mart. The tape worked great! However, I should have known better than to think that the smaller tape would be enough to wholly protect everything.

Based on my experiences, you’re better off buying the wider tape! I'll definitely be using the 1" tape in the boys room for some detailing work I'll need to do. As far as protecting the ceiling and any trim/molding I can't remove, I'll be using the wider tape. I also plan on taping down a plastic sheet on the floor with the wide tape, which brings me to my next tip.

Protect the Floor and Do It Well

We had a tarp in our garage that was left by the previous inhabitants of this house. I was sure it'd be a great way to protect our wood floors during painting. However, I didn't tape it down or anything and it was really no help at all since it didn't cover the whole floor.

If there was only one person painting, that would be okay. However, typically there was my husband and me or my husband and a helper. So, paint drips happened. Oh, and my cat decided to jump onto a freshly painted window sill and then prance across the living room floor. Probably some new age way of marking his territory, I guess.

Anyway, next time I want to buy plastic sheeting or a drop cloth and secure it to the floor. However, eHow has some other suggestions, so I might look into those too.

Buy Extra Paint

Unless you've painted a particular room a time or two before, chances are that you're guesstimating how much paint it will take. Well, this guesstimating left me having to do two extra trips to buy paint for our living room.

My advice is to think about how much paint you'll need and buy at least one extra can. You don't want to get down to the last wall you need to paint and be fully motivated to do so, only to realize you're out of paint.

Some stores will let you return or exchange unopened paint, so you can check on that if you're worried. Personally, I don't think it's a terrible idea to have extra paint lying around.

Before & After

Before and After Painting the Living Room
The lighting is horrible in the before picture, but you should be able to see what an ugly pea-green the room was! I know it looks very minimalistic right now, but I was trying to avoid shoving crap back into the room that I don't want in there long term.

Of course, much of that crap has now accumulated in the extra space in the dining room. Anyway, I'm super happy with how it turned out. It's so much brighter. I can't wait to get new curtains (and furniture and other stuff, but I'm getting ahead of myself there). So, it's not designer living, but it’s definitely an improvement!
That collage is  from The Coffee Shop Blog!

Love it? Pin it!

4 Things You Need to Know Before Painting

7 Days to a Deep Cleaned House with Printable Checklist


Just before I delivered surro baby, I was agonizing over my dirty house.  After all, I was about to have my first c-section ever and was probably not going to be able to do anything at all for a while after, right?  Well, that turned out to be a little bit of an extreme assumption on my part, but nonetheless, it’s what I believed.

<< Just want to skip to the printable?  Click here! >>

So, as a push present to myself I created a deep clean list check list and paid someone—AKA my mom—to come clean my house while I was at the hospital delivering.  I’d never done this before but I remembered from delivering my own kids dreading going home to a potentially dismantled house from the days I’d spent at the hospital.

I kept this checklist for myself and am currently working through it to deep clean the house after several weeks of my kids and husband being home for Christmas break/shutdown.  The chaotic holiday break left the house dismantled and I’m always more relaxed and happy when the house is organized and clean.

Related Post: Organize Your Shower with a Shoe Organizer

To get your house deep cleaned in 7 days or less, work through at least one section of the checklist a day.

I like to start by going through the house and doing general pick up of clothes, trash, toys, dishes and clutter.  I sometimes take the time to sweep the entire downstairs—we have all wood flooring—at this point, too.

After that, I go room by room and complete the check list.  If you have other stuff to add, I’ve included some blank lines at the end.

Deep Clean Printable

If you’re exceptionally motivated, with plenty of “spare” time, and the kids will be gone basically all day…you might be able to complete this awesome checklist in one day!  If you’re super lucky, you can’t just hire someone to clean your house for you and have them use this list for reference.

You might also notice that there’s a reference to laundry in every section.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate the reminder to change over the laundry or the do laundry in every room.  Otherwise, I might just forget about the laundry while I’m cleaning the house and don’t remember until bed time that I didn’t even get one load washed, dried, and put away.

Happy house cleaning!  What tools do you use to help stay organized and get your home clean?

Love it? Pin it!

deep clean printable list

5 Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Surrogate

Things to Know Before Being a Surrogate

Becoming a surrogate is a huge responsibility, whether you’re a traditional or gestational surrogate.  It might be easy enough to assume you’re “informed” after researching surrogacy and understanding the basic process. 

However, there’s actually an overwhelming amount of things that could potentially be overlooked altogether or disregarded as not important if potential surrogates aren’t looking in the right places.  I’ve put together five things potential surrogates should know before committing to a journey.

1. Surrogacy can be a long process.

Sometimes surrogates are surprised at the length of time from finding the perfect intended parents to the birth of a baby.  Patience is important and you, honestly, don’t want anything in this process to be rushed. 

Every part of the surrogacy process is a process in itself and might take weeks or months or longer.  Some surrogates have reported their journey taking 2 years or more from start to finish.  Statistically speaking, the first transfer isn’t likely to take.  It can, of course, but be prepared that it might take more than one shot to get pregnant.  Be ready for the reality that this might not be quick.

Surrogacy Time

2. Surrogacy might have an upfront financial cost.

Surrogacy related expenses should all be reimbursed to you, of course, but the key word here is “reimbursed.”  Some expenses cannot or are not paid ahead of time or up front by intended parents or surrogacy agencies.  Rental cars, for example, have to be put on your credit card and then reimbursed later.

Sometimes it’s because of policies companies have—such as the case with rental cars—or because costs are often variable and intended parents should only have to reimburse you exactly what you needed.  This might not be the case with every journey, but it’s better to be prepared to cover these costs with your own cash or credit and then be reimbursed.

If you’re not in a financial place to do that, then you might not be financially secure enough to be a surrogate, anyway.  If you’re hesitant to cover costs up front and be reimbursed, you could avoid some of those issues by matching with local intended parents.

3. Surrogacy has real health risks.

Whether you realized it or not, even your pregnancies for your keeper babies had risks. Pregnancy causes major body changes, and potential surrogates shouldn’t take this lightly, even if they’ve had easy, relatively uncomplicated pregnancies in the past.

Prior pregnancy ease or success does not guarantee a smooth surrogate pregnancy!

Prospective surrogates should consider that there are risks up to and including death.  Thinking “it won’t happen to me” is a great way to be unprepared if it does, indeed, happen to you.  This is why you should have appropriate plans in place for possible bed rest, hospitalization, and even death.

Pregnancy Risks

4. This is not a way to get rich quick.

This shouldn’t have to be stated, but I’m going to put it out there anyway.  It’s not a get rich quick—or at all—deal.  If that’s what you’re after then, please, leave now.  This is a long, often difficult, process for intended parents and surrogates.  It’s an emotional and physical investment and there’s even a chance that your journey will end without you ever giving the intended parents the baby they wanted.

It could be months or longer before you ever receive any compensation.  You may need to pay for some expenses up front before being reimbursed.  Basically, you need to be financially stable.

5. You may not end up being friends with the intended parents after birth.

Many surrogates and intended parents go into the journey planning to be friends and keep in touch afterward.  However, relationships between surrogates and intended parents can change for a variety of reasons.  Be prepared for that because unfortunately not everyone finishes their journey feeling like best buds.

For whatever reason, your relationship may not be ideal and you might not see the baby after birth or after the parents and baby leave the hospital.  Even under good circumstances, you may lose touch or simply not be all that close with the baby and intended parents.

It’s irresponsible to be a surrogate without being informed.  Your team of people can only be expected to do so much.  It’s important to take responsibility and research surrogacy thoroughly before entering into any kind of legal agreement.

Love it?  Pin it!

5 Things You Need to Know Before