Surrogacy, The Beginning

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

I woke up sweaty and sticky, startled and happy all at once. I had just talked to my darling grandma, she was actually drinking a cocktail with her friend Thom in what seemed like the evening. They were sitting at a table with this sweet baby girl, in an infant carrier, both shushing me and they were giggling, laughing, and making faces at each other as they often did.  Who’s baby is this? Why do you two have her? Don’t worry they said, we are taking care of her till she can come to you. I knew this was true.

“Why don’t you adopt,” or “why don’t you find a surrogate,” floated around amongst well meaning people whom I love, but to me the statements annoyed me. They kind of still do to be honest, I am not sure why, but what I have learned is I will never tell a mom or someone who wants a child these things. Some things people have to figure out on their own, this is one of them. Yes, we worried about my pain I experienced, the medications I had to be put on, my liver issues from the reorganization of my body after pancreas, the health of the baby. Something worse happening, all of it, fear. 

We called two agencies for adoption, I wanted to figure out time frames and costs. I called two agencies for surrogacy for the same. What I learned is that surrogacy was unattainable for us, and for most people, due to the cost, and that adoption was also another costly and emotional ride. I even signed us up for a foster care orientation, thinking we would only accept infants and if nothing else we could help a baby for a while, or we could get the chance to adopt the baby, which by the way is free but also not promised, so your heart and mind have to be on helping rather than adopting. 

In my heart and in my mind I knew I wanted the other embryo we had stored. Since we did IVF to have Michael, we had two embryos total from our cycle. One is Mikey, and the other was in a freezer in Scottsdale waiting for me. I did not know what God wanted, some days I felt like all he was telling me was to adopt a baby, because I would look online at families blessed by adoption and think maybe it was sign that I was drawn to their beautiful stories. My best friend is adopted, so many of my friends have been touched by adoption, but every night I thought about this baby of mine. It was something that I could not shake. 

My grandma died in 2015 and Thom passed away in 2018. This dream was shortly after he passed. I wanted to chalk it up to a crazy dream, my mom was close with Thom, I really wasn’t, but I swear it was real. I knew it then and I know it now. They kept my little baby’s soul until someone could keep her here on Earth for me. 

Spirit of Change

Monday, November 26, 2018

“The Soup of the Day” is getting a makeover, which is desperately needed, but the feelings I have about the change are bittersweet. My talented friend designed my original blog, back when blogs were just starting to be a thing in 2010, B.I. (before Instagram). It was so beautiful and the words that filled the pages were raw, emotional, and all exposing, but most of all healing to me. I started the blog in 2010 on a word document as a way to vent my frustrations and emotions, but then I found an actual home to share my words with my friends, family, and fellow pancreatic disease sufferers. Over time, my life evolved into much more than a girl recovering from a medical misfortune, and I had less and less time to sit and write. 

In the spirit of change, I present the new blog face, the new name, and an ever evolving person that I want to share with the world again. I’ve faced illness, IVF, motherhood, a surrogacy journey, and much more life throughout the years of this blog’s existence and can’t wait to share things I have learned. I am not the same person I was in 2010, writing all of my deepest thoughts in a word document to one day share. I am whole, and I am thankful for every event that has lead me to where I stand today. Next up on I will be sharing my journey to motherhood, my pregnancy, and my current experience of navigating the world of surrogacy. When the time is right I will post a blog post about what I have learned and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

Recently I was asked to do a podcast segment for a friend of mine who did not know me during my illness. She said she read this blog and cried, not knowing the details of the story. She asked me to give one piece of advice to someone going through something life changing, my response was “every storm runs out of rain.” Turns out that is a Gary Allen song, but is so true. I remember the first time I heard the lyrics, I had tears streaming down my face relating it to my life. Moments of every battle seemed to have times that stood still, days and years where it felt like nothing would ever get better, but in time everything always does. It may not get better the way we want it to, but it will change, and it will soften. And sometimes, when one storm runs out, the next round of rain starts, so we have to be ready and open. Thanks for coming along on this journey of change with me. 

I’d be honored if you tuned in to my friend Katie’s podcast, The Purposed Platform, I am episode 006, which comes out 11/27/18. 

And as always for my pancreas friends who may google this blog looking for hope, some updated life photos:-)

Quiet Moments

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Life used to be full of quiet moments. When I started this blog I lived with one roommate, in a quiet condo in Phoenix, and I was often home alone. I had my work, my blog, and my family. And my illness. That was the part of me that fueled my creative writing, I would lay in bed and write in my head, jump out to jot it down, and create a masterpiece the next day. Today life looks different, quiet moments only happen early in the morning before my precious child is awake, or late at night when he is sound asleep. Yesterday a friend who has been with me since the beginning of my new normal, text asking for my blog address for someone who was experiencing pancreatic issues, and I laid in bed and got a much needed renewed desire to share again, even writing this passage in my head, except this time I was too tired to jump out and take notes, so I am winging it!

If you came here on a random google search about hereditary pancreatitis, or like me, searched for people who had recovered from a total pancreatectomy and were thriving, you've come to the right place. I have made this unfulfilled promise a few times in this space, but I am going to start writing again. When I look back at how far this one life has come as a result of doing very hard things, I am so happy I have this blog and these memories. So I am doing it for those looking for hope, but also for myself as a journal of the moments in life.

If you are new here, start here: 

A recap of the 2 years lost in this space:

1.) I made a really cool video for Dr. Grussner. I had wanted to go speak at his conference in person, but NYC was far and I was newly pregnant and nervous, so we had a video made instead.

2.) I survived a crazy pregnancy, one that I wish I had blogged and shared, but was too consumed with it to do much. I will share a post on it later. Yes, it is possible to carry a child after TP-AIT, but it may look different, and every story turns out differently. There are a few of us who have had babies, I am going to ask all of the TP-AIT girls who are moms now to write a little something for the blog, and we can all share our stories for those who might be afraid or about to embark on pregnancy post total pancreatectomy.

3.) I had a BABY, and he is the best person ever. He is our pride and joy and being a mom is everything to me. I used to write a lot here about my desire to be a mom, and my fear that it would not be fulfilled due to my illness. But it was, and it was worth the entire journey here.

4.) I posted this on my social media:
Posting something out of my comfort zone, but figured this would be the best way to reach a lot of people. Wondering if anyone out there on my Facebook has info on surrogacy, is a surrogate, or knows of someone who is a surrogate. If so and you are comfortable sharing, please message me privately. I haven’t blogged in over a year, but soon will share the story of how Mikey came to be, and how we need to proceed in order to expand our family for anyone who is interested! I enjoy sharing my story to try to help people in similar places❤️

👇this guy needs a sibling.
(Update: We found someone AMAZING to help us become parents to our second child, and I am again so thankful for the power of Facebook for reconnecting us about this need and desire, no one is pregnant yet, but we are working on the plans!)

5.) I continue my work as a Mom, Wife, Real Estate Agent, and Type 1 Diabetic.

6.) Aside from hospital stays during my pregnancy, I have not been in the hospital! I have not had any long lasting complications (Except Type 1 Diabetes, but I knew that was a real possibility, and some nausea with meals (manageable)). Life is good, I take 2 medications: Creon and Insulin, a lot less than “regular” people! Thanks for coming along on this journey. I started this blog in 2011, but now blogging is so popular and has changed a bunch, I am out of the loop. Today I fill my free time reading more superficial blogs, mostly about moms and babies, what baby gear is the best for the stage of life my son is in, or what beauty products will CHANGE.YOUR.LIFE. and I get sucked in to the rabbit hole! All in good fun, but I am bringing “The Soup” back.

She Holds on to Hope

Monday, February 15, 2016


She holds on to hope, for He is forever faithful.

As I go to bed tonight I am reminded of this night 4 years ago. I was terrified and wanted to live. I was facing a far from routine experience from a medical perspective, so much so that doctors are still fascinated with my history. At the time I was told my surgery had been performed 400 times, which is very little, and I know that number has grown. I asked my friend if I was going to die, and I made her promise me I was going to be okay. She reminded me of that today, she said she was equally as terrified and worried, good thing she didn’t tell me that then. I was 26, about to embark on a 14 hour surgery to remove a vital organ, reroute my entire internal system, and transplant my own cells to the liver to hopefully avoid brittle diabetes. 

Blogging for me was therapy, and my life depended on it. I was unable to go out with friends, unable to eat, unable to drive (because of all the medications) you get the picture. I weighed under 90 pounds and all I could dream about was one day getting married and having a baby. I thought those things wouldn’t be able to happen. I would curl up with my laptop and write for hours, many of the posts are still sitting in my log and never made it to the public. Today I tell people about my journey, but I think it seems unbelievable or maybe even exaggerated to people because of what I am like today. It was like a different life, with many different people in it than today, and I am fine with that. 

What could be even better than being 4 years out from a life of pain? 10/3/15 marked Coty and I’s commitment before God to spend eternity together, and that is the most hopeful and wonderful thing I have done in life to date. Our wedding was beautiful, but most importantly our love for each other is honest, kind, and true. I knew Coty was the one I should spend my life with when I was telling him, after knowing him for a week, that I needed to get my 2 year post op blood work done and how I was dreading more needles. He was a hunky professional baseball player who drove me to the lab before his practice, sat with me while I panicked and perspired so much my shoes fell off, and took me to a pancake breakfast after. I told him about my genetics, something that haunted me, because I was certain no man would want to sign up for that. He asked about what this meant for having children, we talked about it, and he said we could do whatever we had to do to have the family we both dreamed of, it was never an issue. I remember thinking this was what my mom must have meant when I felt so alone, God hasn’t let me meet the right person yet, it wasn’t the right time. 

Reflection on my former blog posts brings me renewed hope, my words were full of pain but full of hope for the future. I prayed more than I had ever prayed when I was sick. I cried more than I had ever cried when I was sick. I loved people more than I had ever loved people when I was sick. It really is true, my heart changed forever, my priorities changed forever. I found out that God would never leave me when I was sick, and I am not saying this because I am better. I am saying this because when I was in that dark place, I was never alone and I became certain of that over and over again. There have been many days of bumps in the road, it is tiring missing many organs, being a type 1 diabetic, and dealing with chronic issues that come from not having most of the digestive system, and God never leaves me hopeless. Thanks for the countless prayers, kind words along the way, and support! 
This prayer has been hanging inside my cross in my bedroom since I left for Tucson. 

The Lord never left me hopeless. 

ICU, just a few machines 

Getting stronger

She holds on to hope. 

The best day.

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Above, remembering the past...but so thankful for the present!

February is the greatest time of the year! It marks my birthday, Valentine's Day, the start of Spring Training, and all the other greatness that happens in Arizona, including those sunny 75 degree days. It is really the most beautiful time of the year for me. Three years ago it marked pain, anguish, fear, sickness, and a complete upheaval of my entire life. 

Time flies when you are having fun. After spending the evening reflecting back on my blog, and trying to settle down enough to sit in one place and think up some words of creativity, I realized writing is a lot harder to do when you are healthy! Sadly, I vowed to always update the patients of the world on my blog, to write everyone who messaged with their medical journey questions, and to be there for people who were in my position, and although I have failed on some of those promises, here is a proud update of what three years looks like to me. 

February (2/16/12) marks THREE years since my TP-AIT (Total pancreatectomy with auto islet cell transplant) and I can hardly believe I have been lucky enough to be living and thriving. I have not spent one single day in the hospital since I was discharged from my transplant surgery. NOT. ONE. SINGLE. DAY. IN. THREE. YEARS. Dreams really do come true! 

The first year of recovery was understatedly an “adjustment.” Getting used to living without a pancreas, getting used to be being a diabetic, getting used to taking 4 pills every time I want to eat, getting used to lacking several important organs, and just getting used to life in general was a challenge. Weaning off the pain medicine that had kept me sane for 3 years of pancreatic disease was a nightmare to say the least. I had set backs, pain, tears, and also a greater sense of appreciation for myself and those around me. Year two was much better, the road to recovery had been paved, and life was starting to turn around. I spent a lot of time with friends and doing things I would not have done pre-sickness. No sky diving here, but enjoying life. 

And year three deserves its own paragraph entirely. Year three started off with meeting the man I will be spending the rest of my life with, roaming around Fargo, North Dakota watching him throw his fast ball, going to 101 of our friends weddings, getting engaged on Christmas day, and adopting our sweet dog daughter Murfy Lou. Life doesn’t get much sweeter than this! I knew he was the one when, after dating for 3 weeks, I told him I needed my 2 year blood work and explained how even after countless operations, and stabbings, daily injections yada yada, I was deathly afraid of blood work. He came with, held my sweaty hand, and drove me to breakfast after. A KEEPER. Forever. And Ever.

Thank you GOD, thank you GOD for blessing me with Dr. Gruessner and Dr. Rilo, thank you for saving my life, and thank you for sending me Coty. 

P.S. Please pray for Jamie and Betty. 

Cheers to three years,


Another New Year...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Another New Year...

Soon I will mark my SECOND year without the organ that threatened to ruin my life. Crazy to think it has been almost two years. I remember thinking the one year mark would be a huge celebration, and now it is almost two. I have not posted in a while, mostly because I have nothing profound to write and usually don’t feel the emotions I used to feel when I would write. They say the best time to write things down is when you are feeling those moments of extreme happiness or sadness. I guess most of my writing came from times of sadness and fear, and now I am plain Jane, and I am really happy being her! Perhaps I have lost my writing passion, hope not. 

I would say recovery took an entire year looking back on it, and this year was the year to just live life. I can do whatever I want, go where ever I want, and be whoever I want to be because nothing is holding me back. Year one was still a year of recovery and I still needed to be very careful. I think I finally have "thinking like a pancreas" down, and just when I think I have diabetes dialed in, it usually throws some type of curve ball my way, but that is okay. I know that will be a lifelong ride, one that I gladly welcome in lieu of the alternative. Every once in a while I have flashbacks of the old way of life, where eating one egg all day seemed like I was doing really well with food, or when I would sleep for 2 to 3 days and wake up feeling like I could not get out of bed. In those moments, I remember why I need to write things down for people who are just beginning their journey. How helpful a blog of a person doing well would have been at that time! 

Being grateful and happy was something I promised myself I would do every single day once I got better. For a while I couldn’t stand to even be friends with some of my old friends, who used to complain or talk about things that I felt had no importance. I really went through a stage where I felt that all that was important in life was health and life itself and it pained me to see people who took that for granted. Now, I am sure I have my moments when I don’t hold true to my own promise to myself (actually I KNOW I have moments) and I have loosened up. As time goes on, you forget those feelings, but you never forget to thank God and be grateful. 

What’s New?

UMC in Tucson did shut down its islet cell transplant program, which made me so very upset. Not for myself, I am fine, but for those patients who had transplant dates, appointments, or the very worst, just had the surgery. I can’t imagine how alone they feel and how scary that must be. The UMC is turning previous patients away for follow up, and everyone is on their own, which is even a scary thought for a patient who is doing well, like myself. I know Dr. Grussner filed a lawsuit against the UMC for his job back, and I pray everything works out in his favor. He is an amazing, talented, and absolutely dedicated surgeon, and I cringe at the thought of that talent being wasted over silliness and politics. Now when I speak to patients I recommend they call Baylor, University of Minnesota or MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), even though that makes me sad too! I had the best doctors around, and now others won’t get to experience that type of care, or Dr. Rilo's humor, can't decide which is worse. 

As always, if you stumble across this in a Google search and you are like I was, praying for information and an answer that would help you, please email me! I try to write back to all of them right away and would love to tell you my story of success. Life is precious! 

Help me be LOUD!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This letter explains it all, but sadly the center at the UofA that saved my life is closing. We are currently working on getting a very loud and clear message across to the CEO of the hospital, Dr. Waldrum, that this decision is a poor one that will affect many lives. Patients that are one, two or even three months out NEED follow up care. At this time they are only allowing the program to stay open for 90 more days. Please help me in being loud!
What can you do?
Call and ask for the office of CEO Waldrum at (520)694-0111 Be vocal and positive on why this program needs to stay open! 

Fax letters of support (example, mine below) to (520)6940170

Dr. Waldrum,

I am sure that as a hospital you receive many complaints. Health is something that is serious, sensitive, and every case is less than uniform. That seems to be the nature of most things, we hear the negative first, the hardships, the misdeeds, the unfair of all the world. I am writing you today with an opposite intention. I am writing you to rave about a specific program that you have at the UMC that is such a world renowned asset to your hospital. My job today is to explain why this is program needs to be funded, kept, and valued by all of your staff members.

For three long years I battled hereditary pancreatitis, starting at the age of 23. My pancreas was auto-digesting itself, which means the enzymes used to digest food were digesting the organ itself, causing horrific pain and scarring. I worked my way through a broken medical system, was labeled as a drug seeker, was told I was too young to have pancreas issues, was misdiagnosed with everything from gallstones to a virus. In reality,  my 87 pound, 5’9” frame was dying, and my pancreas was on its way to developing pancreatic cancer.

I found the Comprehensive Pancreatitis Center at the UMC. I called that very day and was and led through the approval process. My case was reviewed, I was accepted, and I began my journey through a total pancreatectomy with an auto-islet cell transplant. Through my process, I blogged, and with that blog I have reached 40,000 people, many who are afflicted with the same disease and are hopeless.

I am active in support groups for my disease and in those groups there are few centers that are so highly revered, your center being one of them. Several centers have popped up, but it is common knowledge that if you want a great outcome and world class surgeons, you need to go to the UMC. Dr. Grussner and Dr. Rilo are those surgeons, and they have saved my life as well as many of my now beloved friends lives. 

When a center such as yours saves your life, makes you whole again, and gives you hope that you will turn 30, get married, and have a family of your own, all things that were impossible prior, news that it may be closing its doors feels almost like a death in the family. I cried when I heard this news, and I panicked. I panicked because I only trust these two physicians with all things related to the pancreas.  These men have done something for me that every other physician said was impossible, and they succeeded.

Your center needs to stay, and if anything be expanded. There are far more pancreatitis patients out there that are being mistreated, misdiagnosed, and misguided by medical professionals, but not at the UMC. At the UMC, you are loved, treated respectfully, and given the hope and help that is needed to make a full recovery. Thank you for your time. Please keep the center as a valuable part of your hospital for years to come.

Whitney Yates
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