Journey 4

The past 5 months have flown by, like always. I feel like I blink and it has been another 3 months. We have gotten settled into our new house and have begun another journey!!

We were re-matched in January to a wonderful couple from New York. They are just the sweetest couple and we are so excited to be working with them. They have 2 little boys, a 5 year old and an 8 month old. The 8 month old was born with Prader-Willi and was still in the hospital at the time of our match meeting. It, obviously, is a very hard subject for them so we didn’t ask very many questions about him.

We are well on our way through the process and have already started meds for a tentative transfer date of May 8. We flew through medical workup and legal. I really only had to do a few things for medical since I had gone through workup last July for my last IPs. ConceiveAbilites has revamped their compensation packages for surrogates which made legal a lot quicker as their was no need to negotiate compensation for childcare, maid services, etc. I started meds on April 12.

I feel like there always seems to be some curve ball life insists on throwing at you when you’re trying to celebrate. My husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had been having a little bit of pain in one of his testicles that began when we were at the gym so he thought he had maybe pulled a muscle or gotten some other minor gym injury. After about a week the pain had not subsided and his testicle was very swollen so he went to see his PCP who prescribed him a round of antibiotics. After 2 weeks of no improvements she sent him in for an ultrasound where they found several masses surrounding his testicle. We followed up with a Urologist on Wednesday, April 17, who informed him he had testicular cancer and needed to go in for surgery the following Monday, April 22. We were both in shock as you’re never really expecting to get a cancer diagnosis when you go to a doctor. I feel like no matter how sick you are, or what symptoms you have, cancer is always the last thing you think you’re going to hear from a doctor. Then, on top of it all, he needed surgery the following Monday! We were worried because we both have jobs and kids to figure out, but luckily we were both able to get the week off of work and the surgery was a quick out-patient procedure that took less than an hour to complete. We were home right before the kids got home from school.

He has been recovering very well from his surgery. He was up and walking around the next day. We were able to run a few errands and take lots of naps this past week. We even got to go see a movie while the kids were in school yesterday. Today he felt so great that he returned to work.

The hardest part, after all the rush of diagnosis and surgery, is waiting for pathology results to see what, if any, further treatments he will need. At this point I have already been on meds for a few weeks and we discussed the surrogacy and whether or not we needed to push the pause button, but both agree to move forward as, not only am I on meds, but it gives us something positive to look forward to and it’s something we are both so passionate about. We did call and inform our IPs, who at this time, were still willing to move forward. I think we’re all a little nervous and sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for pathology. Even if my husband does have to do chemo, we would still want to move forward with the surrogacy as I’m in good health and having something wonderful to focus on would make his treatments that much easier to deal with. Ultimately, the decision belongs to our IPs, and we will respect whatever they decide going forward. For now, we’re hoping for good news from the doctor next week and I will continue my meds with fingers crossed for a transfer date of May 8.

I had my first monitoring appointment yesterday. My lining was at 8.2 (should be over 6) and my estradiol was at 78 (should be over 50) so things are perfect for transfer. I have another monitoring appointment scheduled for May 2. Fingers and toes crossed for good news from both my husband’s doctor and my monitoring appointment.

Grieving as a surrogate

This post has been, by far, the hardest to write. I thought the delivery posts were hard because it was always difficult to capture the amount of joy and happiness that is experienced, but writing about loss is far more challenging.

It has been just over 2 months since we found out we lost the pregnancy and I am still sad. We had a great transfer, SEVERAL positive pregnancy tests with darkening lines, and then 2 positive and increasing betas. We were all excited and celebrating a pregnancy when we got the results from the 3rd beta and my levels had decreased. I stayed on meds for a few more days and had to go in for several more betas that continued to show decreasing numbers. They call this a biochemical pregnancy which is when the embryo tries to implant but, for whatever unknown reason, it doesn’t continue to grow and this all occurs before it is developed enough to be seen on an ultrasound. I made it to about 5 weeks of pregnancy.

That week was beyond traumatic for us. Monday, September 24, we received news that our 3rd beta had decreased and it was no longer a viable pregnancy, after numerous hiccups and complications we finally managed to close on our new house on Wednesday September 26 at the very last possible moment, Friday September 28 my husband’s grandmother passed away, and that weekend I miscarried after stopping all of my meds.

Having had two miscarriages of my own, I thought I was mentally prepared for the grief that was to come, but I was not. At only 5 weeks of pregnancy, I didn’t experience much physical pain, it was a little more intense than normal menstrual cramps, but it was definitely the emotional side that was hard to manage. Losing a child for someone else is indescribable. I cried for days straight. I was thankful for closing on our house and moving to give me a slight distraction, but it was still difficult and then losing my husband’s grandmother added a whole other level of sadness. We felt like we couldn’t catch our breath. It was just one thing after another and we felt like we didn’t even get to enjoy moving into our dream house because we were so overcome by grief. Two weeks later we attended the funeral for my husband’s grandmother on the day of our 10th wedding anniversary.

After the funeral we really took some time to just process all of the sadness and try to get our heads back on straight. We started unpacking and tried to move forward. Honestly, the hardest and most unexpected part was the guilt. I work with sadness every day, I’m on the peer support team at work, I know what proper and healthy coping mechanisms are…and I couldn’t handle it myself. The guilt was overwhelming. I kept telling myself that I had taken my IPs only chance for a girl. It was my fault that they weren’t going to have another baby. It must have been something I did because I didn’t have any complications with my previous two journeys. I beat myself up for days and weeks. I talked about it a lot, like you are supposed to do, but it was still so difficult for me to accept that some things are beyond our control.

I knew it wasn’t really my fault. I knew there was a chance of things not working, especially because my IPs only had one embryo. I knew several other surrogates who had unsuccessful transfers, some had several unsuccessful transfers. I knew the entire thing was really out of my control, but I still felt guilty.

My IPs, my case manager, and my husband were incredibly supportive, not to mention the AMAZING family I have at work and the other surrogates that I get to call surrosisters. My IPs grieved on their own, but made sure to check on me daily. My IM sent me pictures of her boys and my IF playing together saying “We’re not sad, so you should’t be sad.” And little by little, I climbed out of my hole and caught my breath again. The old saying “when it rains, it pours” rang so true through this experience. We are so lucky to have had such amazing IPs for this journey and I think we will stay friends for a long time, despite the loss. It was a very unexpected and unfortunate end to our 3rd journey.

I struggled to write this post, but I think it’s important to realize that things don’t always go as planned. Things happen for unknown reasons, and no matter how amazing science gets, some things will always, ultimately, be out of our control. We just try our best to give these little embryos the best fighting chance we can. And when things don’t go as expected, it’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to be sad and feel pain over a loss, even if that loss is for someone else. Empathy is what makes so many of us such great surrogates.

So what now? We have decided to be re-matched and are waiting patiently in hopes that we will get to have a 4th journey. We are in no hurry and are actually really enjoying having some time for us and not having to focus on surrogacy or pregnancy for a little while. It has been nearly 4 years since I started my first journey and we really haven’t stopped focusing on that since the beginning. It has been nice to just have some time for us. We are looking forward to our first Christmas in our new home and will wait to see what news we get after the holidays.

 

What It’s Like to be “Maybe” Pregnant

The past month has flown by, as does most of my life. Can you believe we were matched at the end of June? Where did summer go? I started meds the day of my last post and things have been going smoothly since. My first lining check was August 30 and everything was perfect, lining was 7.5, triple pattern, and estrogen was 57. Second lining check was September 6 and again, things were great. Lining was now 10.6, estrogen was 235 (a little low so I had to add back in the infamous little blue pills from last journey, although this time orally) and progesterone was 0.16.

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I also got to meet my IM for brunch after my lining check on the 6th. She brought me a little gift which consisted of a travel coffee mug with a picture of a unicorn on it, see picture, (she already knows me!!), some caffeine free orange tea, and a whole lotta pregnancy tests. Under any other circumstances one could view this as a little strange, but I thought it was really sweet of her. I do love to pee on sticks.

September 7 I started the butt shots. Just as bad as I remember, but still SO MUCH BETTER than the vaginal suppositories. I always seem to forget how big the needle is. I have to remind my husband every time…”like a dart!” If you put the needle in too slowly it is so much more painful!! This time, though, I am not using ice before injections and no heat after. So far no knots…yet.

I also got to spend an afternoon with the twins from my first surrogacy. They are SO. STINKING. CUTE. I can not believe they are going to be 3 next month! They are absolutely adorable and so sweet and were so excited to let me take a picture with them.

I did almost have a mini-heart-attack when, the night before transfer, I realized I had forgotten pineapple. We are building a new house, we close the end of the month, my girls had dance auditions, we have surrogacy and so much going on that I completely forgot. I was devastated!! Luckily for me, I have some incredible co-workers, and one of them offered to bring me a pineapple. He dropped it off saying, “If I can help a girl get pregnant for $3, I’m golden.”

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Doesn’t look super terrible, except every item was FREEZING cold

Before I knew it, it was transfer day! I had to arrive at CCRM at 10:30 for a transfer scheduled at noon. I worked the night before, went home and slept for about an hour, then went to breakfast with my husby before heading over to the clinic.

I was excited and terrified and all the normal emotions one experiences prior to having someone else’s baby put into you via a straw, basically. I couldn’t help thinking that this is their only shot at a girl and I ain’t gonna lie…I am happy for the opportunity but scared about it not working.

My IM and husby both came for transfer and it all went great. I had to do more labs and an ultrasound, lining was now exactly 12. I got acupuncture before and after, only fell asleep after, we transferred one beautiful little embryo, got to chat and laugh and . We think she looks like a diamond ring. They make you have a partially full bladder to help lift your uterus for transfer, but then you have to serioulsy pee afterwards but they won’t let you get up so you have to go in a bedpan, while laying down. Yeah. That’s a thing they make you do. It is not easy, folks. Not easy at all.

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I was VERY excited for transfer day

I, sort of, enjoyed bed rest for the remainder of the day September 11 and all of the following day. I had all these big plans to binge watch a whole lot of tv, but in reality I just slept a lot. (Thank you, Valium and night shift sleep deprivation!) I don’t like to sit still, so bed rest is always hard for me. I was just glad I got to spend it in my own bed this time and with my family.

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Look at all the needles stuck in my head.

Now I am enduring the dreaded 9 day wait until my beta to confirm if we are pregnant. This is the “maybe” pregnant stage. I am very open about my journeys and experiences so a lot of my friends and co-workers know what’s going on and are checking in with me. They ask, “so, are you pregnant yet?” To which I can only reply, “Maybe? I can’t say yes, because it’s not confirmed, but I can’t say no because I mean…technically I am pregnant until we know otherwise. Being “maybe” pregnant is tough. You will LITERALLY over analyze every single little possible pregnancy symptom you experience to the nth degree.

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I think the Valium was kicking in for me at this point.

I have a cramp, oooh maybe I’m pregnant? I smell something funny, oooh maybe I’m pregnant. I’m overly tired, oooh maybe I’m pregnant. I’m exceptionally clumsy, oooh maybe I’m pregnant. It goes on and on and one, for 9 LONG DAYS. Some women have to wait a full 2 weeks.

So here I am, trying to not lose my mind and stay distracted by preparing for the new house. I have plenty of sticks to pee on, but it’s still early. The day of beta is kind of the day you would have a missed period on a normal cycle, so testing before can  be hit or miss. If you get a positive it’s so wonderful and exciting, but if you get a negative it can really be upsetting even though it may not mean you are not pregnant. A lot of IPs request the surrogates not tell them if they test, my IM wanted to know about every single one. Now just 3 more days of “maybe”…

Fingers crossed. Grow baby, grow!

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Our little “diamond ring” baby girl embryo

Here we go….AGAIN!

After the last baby, husby and I briefly talked about doing another journey but had planned on waiting a few years. We sold our house, put everything in storage, and have been staying with friends while we build a new house. We figured we would get into the house, get settled and adjusted to new schools and new parts of town and then start talking about another journey. Then, as we started approaching the one year mark I got that itch. I missed being pregnant and I REALLY want another baby but my husband is a definite NO on having any more of our own so we decided to do another surrogacy a little earlier than planned. Ya know, we crazy like that.

We have had some very mixed reviews from friends and family, but we are beyond excited to be able to do this all again. The couple we have been matched with are SO BEYOND AMAZING! We only had two requests when getting re-matched. We wanted them to be local, and I wanted the opportunity to carry twins again. This couple is local, but only have one embryo left to transfer so they odds of twins are like, I mean, impossible. (I’m not gonna lie though, my fingers and toes are crossed for identical twins!!) I was bummed about the one embryo thing but then we met them and it was like the most non-romantic “love at first sight” blind date/match meeting ever. They are the coolest, most laid back couple. They have two little boys and have been through IVF themselves. Due to complications with her last pregnancy, my IM can not carry again and they have one embryo left, which is a little girl. They want to give her a shot, and have asked me to be the one to do so.

Guys, I mean, come on….how could I say no to that?? It is a little different for me this time knowing this will be a “one and done” deal, but I am so grateful for the opportunity and both of my last journeys the first transfer took, so?  My IPs are so chill and say that if it works great, they can’t wait to have a girl, but if it doesn’t no big deal, it wasn’t meant to be.

…I am not that chill about it not working. I know it will be hard on me if anything goes wrong. How could I not feel responsible? But, we have been very lucky so far and nothing medically has changed with me so those fingers, and toes, and soon to be legs, will be crossed to get this little girl to grow! It’s also a little different knowing it’s a girl before I’m even pregnant. Science is so cool!

And WOW…I am starting meds TODAY! I reapplied in May, we got matched the end of June, we were legally cleared mid July (legal took a record-breaking week!!) and got medical clearance the following week at the end of July. It was so fast I don’t think I had time to blink! My hysteroscopy took like 30 seconds. WHAAAAT? We couldn’t be happier and are thrilled it moved so quickly. We have been through it twice before and were expecting months to go by but here we are, doing shots!

We had a minor hiccup already. We took my youngest for her yearly checkup where the doc informed us she had 5th disease (yeah…that’s literally the name. Google it…or maybe don’t. It’s never a good idea to Google diseases or symptoms. Did you know scurvy is making a comeback?) We thought her eczema had been flaring up because she just had a rash on her arms and legs but it was in spots that she gets eczema a lot. She had no other symptoms so we didn’t have a clue. The pediatrician assured us she was beyond the contagious stage and there’s really no treatment, I should be fine to start surrogacy, but the fertility clinic (I’m with CCRM again) was not so sure. They had me do a blood test to make sure I didn’t have an active infection because better safe than sorry. 5th disease can cause Anemia in fetuses. I was bummed because the test pushed our calendar back a few days but I am happy to announce I am IMMUNE! I sort of feel like a pregnancy superwoman at this point. I have been so incredibly lucky for all things medical with my pregnancies and surrogacies.  Maybe I should make myself a cape? Preferably pink with glitter and unicorns. (side note: I recently read an article that described redheads as the “unicorns of the human race” that also stated we basically have genetic superpowers. We can handle more pain, require more anesthesia, can sense temperature changes more easily than others, and more. I am totally embracing that.)

I’ll leave you with the imaginary image of my redhead self, wearing a pink and glitter covered cape, armed with syringes and estrogen suppositories, riding a unicorn, coming to populate the world one (or maybe two) surrobabies at a time.

Here’s hoping we have a successful transfer on September 11!

13 weeks later…

Wow, time flies, even when I’m not pregnant anymore!!

Baby girl is now 13 weeks old and growing so fast! The past 13 weeks have flown by, even without having a baby around to distract me. I have been pumping and will continue to do so for one more week, but I think people forget how ridiculously time consuming pumping is. I was pumping every 3 hours up until a few weeks ago and I just couldn’t handle the sleep deprivation anymore and switched to every 4 hours, but it’s still hard, especially working nights. I have such an insane schedule and I have two kids with their own insane schedules so it’s becoming hard to stay consistent with my pumping routine.

It’s not just the actual pumping that is time consuming, you also have to factor in cleaning and sanitizing pumping parts, organizing and shipping milk, and finding time to go out to buy all the supplies like nipple cream, storage bags, nursing pads, etc. There is also a lot of time that goes into increasing and maintaining a good milk supply. You have to consider how many added calories you need and how much water to drink. It’s not as easy as just nursing a baby and moving on to the next task. For me, I pump for 30 mins every 4 hours and then I have to pour my milk into storage bags and freeze it, then thoroughly clean my pumping parts for the next time. Each pumping sessions takes me about 45 mins from start to finish. And that doesn’t include the time needed to organize all the bags for shipping and get it to UPS to be shipped.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I knew what I was getting into and was willing to do the work to a certain point, I’ve just reached that point. When all is said and done, I will have pumped for baby girl for 14 weeks. Ideally I would’ve liked to pump longer, but life happened and I’m trying to accept that.

I went back to work 6 weeks after delivery. My team is very supportive of my pumping, I mean they have no choice so… I have an alarm set and every time it goes off they all yell “titty time” like it’s a game. I bought some freemie attachments for my pump so I can pump as my desk and I don’t feel guilty about having to get up and disappear for 30 mins every 4 hours (we work 12 hour shifts so I pump 1.5 hours each shift.) That would be a lot of time away from my desk and a lot of added work for my team. Plus, we work overnights and the pump makes a very rhythmic noise that doesn’t bother anyone too much. It’s not obnoxiously loud. It has been working out better than I expected.

I spent a lot of time eating lactation cookies this go around. I have found a recipe that I really like and seems to have worked great. I was up to 48oz/day at one point. I liked them so much and felt they worked so great that I even started an Etsy shop to sell them to other nursing moms. (https://www.etsy.com/shop/BakedForBoobies?ref=seller-platform-mcnav). It’s just getting up and started but I’m hoping it will start getting some interest in the coming months.

With all the added stress of life, my supply has begun to decrease. I was down to 30oz yesterday. 18oz/day drop is a lot and it’s hard to see that when I’m pumping. I try not to get discouraged, but it’s a sign to me that life is taking over and my supply is suffering so it’s time for me to move on. I can not tell you how much I struggled with guilt over the decision. It’s hard knowing I won’t be able to provide it when I know my IM was counting on it. It’s also hard because pumping is really the last connection I have to this journey so ending my pumping phase means the final end to this journey and that is always hard to absorb.

I will enjoy my last week pumping for baby girl and move on to life, again. I’m hoping to have a fun and stress-free holiday season with my family. Who knows what I’ll be doing this time next year, but my husband and I have decided on a third journey and are looking forward to starting the process over in a few months.

Until then, thank you for your continued interest and support. I can’t wait to be writing again!

 

The End

20170630_075923The delivery post is always the hardest to write. I feel like I can never find words strong enough to convey how incredible a day it is, but here is my best shot.

The last few weeks of pregnancy were tough. I was exhausted and huge and getting increasingly more uncomfortable. I wasn’t sleeping more than an hour at a time because I either couldn’t get comfortable or had to roll over or had to get up to pee, again. I was emotional and just ready to have this baby.

June 25 I started having some contractions at work. They were nothing exciting and not regular at all but I texted my IM to let her know just to make sure she was packed and ready for sometime that week. I was 37 weeks 2 days pregnant at the time.  I told my IM not to get too excited as they would probably stop once I told her (which they did) but she got worried about missing the big show and jumped on a plane. My IM and her mom arrived June 26 at around 2am.

I worked another two days and then called out for my final shift as I was in so much pain I knew I would be useless at work. It hurt to walk, sit, stand, breathe…I was miserable. I had dinner with my IM and her mom that night. It was so nice to get to catch up and talk about all the excitement that was heading her way. I thought we would have a baby soon as I was approaching 38 weeks and had never made it to 39 weeks in my previous pregnancies.

38 weeks came and went and still no baby. My doctor went out of town and I went from trying to go into labor to trying to delay it. I went from walking a lot to relaxing a lot. It was nice to relax, but it was also very lonely and boring. Pregnancy, for me, has always been very lonely as most of my friends disappear when I’m pregnant. No one came to visit. No one wanted to go do anything with me. It was a very long and lonely nine months.

My doctor came back in town July 3 and we still hadn’t had a baby so it was game time. It was the holiday week and we had a lot of plans with family and neighbors. We got to watch fireworks at the baseball stadium from my brother’s incredible downtown apartment. It was such a great view and my IM and her mom were able to join us for the show. We then had a big neighborhood block party for the 4th and it was so great to hang out with the kids and my husby, but still no baby. I had been hoping all the excitement from the fireworks would cause me to go into labor, but we always forget that these babies have a mind, and plan, all their own. It was looking more and more like I would make it to my induction date of July 7.

I continued to try anything and everything to get labor started naturally as I was a little fearful of having an induction. My IM and her mom kept very busy being tourists and taking in all the sights of Colorado so I didn’t see her much. She would text me in the mornings with where they were going and where I could reach them and then again at night to let me know they were turning off their phones and to call her at the hotel if anything started happening. I walked and walked, had sex, ate spicy food, but all it did was exhaust me further. Finally, the night before induction I gave up and had a massage where she worked some of my pressure points in a final attempt to start labor, but it still did nothing. Baby was happy to stay put. I was just glad to get to relax a little and knew, either way, baby was getting evicted the next day as we had instructions to be at the hospital at 5am for a 7am induction. My husby’s mom had already picked up my kids so my husby and I enjoyed our last night together with the baby. He brought home some Cheesecake Factory for dinner and we enjoyed an at home date night.

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39 weeks. The morning of induction and my last pregnant picture.

The next day I received a phone call from the hospital at 3am. My induction had to be pushed back as they were too busy and I was supposed to call back at 8am. I called my IM to let her know she could sleep a little longer and I attempted to go back to sleep, but it was nearly impossible. I think I finally fell back asleep around 6:30 and then woke up at 7:30 to get ready, just in case. I got up, got dressed, made sure my bag was all packed and then called the hospital back at 8. They were still too busy and I was instructed to call back at 10am. I texted my IM to let her know. She decided to call the doctor to see if there was anything we could do to get things started, but the doctor told her the same thing I did, we were a scheduled induction and emergencies would always bump us from the line. There was nothing we could do but wait. The doctor did, however, call a second hospital to get us on the waiting list there as well. They couldn’t get me in until 2pm so it became a waiting game to see which hospital would open up first. I just had to keep calling back and forth until one told me to come on in.

My husby and I took advantage of the added time and went to breakfast. When I called at 10am they still didn’t have an opening but thought they may be able to get us in around noon so to call back at 11am.  My husby and I started walking around different places just waiting to go get induced. We even picked up some card games at Target so we could keep ourselves entertained as we knew induction might be a long process.

At 11am I called the hospital and they said they could get me in at 1:30. I called the doctor and texted my IM. We finally had the official “go ahead.” I was actually a little relieved to be delivering at our originally planned hospital as they were knowledgeable of my being a surrogate, they had the birth orders, they knew my birth plan, and we knew my doctor would be there. My husby and I walked around a few more stores to pass the time and then headed to the hospital.

We got checked into our room and I got all hooked up to monitors. My IM and her mom arrived around 2pm and had their own room in labor and delivery to hang out in. The doctor arrived around 3:15 to try to break my water and get things started. Unfortunately, baby still had plans of its own and kept reaching a hand up every time my doctor tried to break my water. She didn’t want the baby’s arm to get stuck in the birth canal so she decided to start me on pitocin instead. The hope was that pitocin would start my contractions and push baby’s head into the canal so then my doctor would be able to break my water. The unfortunate part was that I would be hooked up to a pump and that meant I would have to stay in bed. I wouldn’t be able to walk or move around to help labor progress like I had wanted. I was really bummed because I had wanted to try to labor on my own more this time than with my previous pregnancies. It just goes to show that when planning for labor, you should always be willing to change your birth plan because really there is a whole other person involved.

I decided to go ahead and get an epidural as I knew pitocin would bring on contractions fast and hard so I figured I would avoid as much pain as possible. The anesthesiologist was AMAZING! She was so kind and bubbly and did a great job with my epidural!!

We then just waited….and waited. My IM and her mom spent a lot of time in their own room and we hung out in my room with our photographer. We played some card games and caught up. Our photographer had recently had twins of her own and it was fun to get to talk babies and life with her. She is truly amazing!!

Time seemed to go so slowly but I was making progress. I was starting to feel more and more of the contractions, but they weren’t really painful, I could just feel the pressure building. My doc came back around 10pm and was finally able to break my water shortly after. My contractions started getting stronger and stronger and it seemed like breaking my water had really gotten things moving. The pain was increasing with each contraction and I was so glad to have my husband there to hold my hand and help me breathe through each one.

By 11:40, or so, I was really starting to feel some pressure and called the nurse in to check me. We were ready to have a baby! From then on it is all kind of a blur. My contractions continued to increase in intensity and pain and I struggled to roll onto my back to prepare for labor as my epidural had made my legs completely numb and they were basically dead weight. I began pushing sometime around 11:55 and baby came quick. I pushed through 3, maybe 4, contractions and baby was born at midnight on July 8. My IM and her mom were able to watch the whole birth and my IM even got to help deliver the baby and set it on my chest while she cut the cord. We were all so shocked to learn it was a GIRL! I couldn’t believe it. I had been so sure I was carrying a boy. There were tears and hugs and incredible photographs taken by our photographer.

My IM and her mom were overwhelmed with joy and love for their beautiful baby girl. She was a very healthy 8lbs 8oz, 20.5in long and she had a full head of very dark hair. It was, by far, my easiest delivery. I could never explain the feelings you have when giving someone else a child. The entire journey is worth every ache and pain in that single moment. You have such an overwhelming sense of pride in yourself and your family, you are overjoyed and elated. I was also so grateful in that moment. I consider myself so lucky to have been a part of a second journey.

That night I was able to spend a lot of time with baby girl. I nursed her for the first 12 hours to help her get the very important colostrum. I enjoyed every second of snuggles I got as I knew my IM was only planning to stay in town for a few days. I went home 19 hours after delivery as I just wanted to sleep in my own bed. I was exhausted from delivery and sleep deprivation from having my vitals checked and feeding the baby. Baby girl went home to the hotel the next afternoon.

Sunday we went up to Fort Collins for a baby shower, which I probably should have skipped because I was so tired, but we picked up our girls from my husby’s mom and got to spend some time with his family. We then headed to my IM’s hotel as they were leaving early the next morning and I knew it was important for my girls to meet the baby. It was nice to get to hold her one last time and say our goodbyes. I also gave her the little bit of milk I had produced.

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Getting ready for my first shipment

It was a little surreal to head home without a newborn, but it was nice to have some time with my family and I knew baby girl was being loved. I get updates almost daily on how she is doing now that she has returned home. I am pumping and shipping my breastmilk and am so glad I’m able to still help out for a bit. So far I have shipped nearly 400oz and hope I am able to pump for another few months.

The end to any journey is bittersweet. The emotions you experience during labor and delivery are what make everything worth it. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending for my second journey but I’m already missing being pregnant. Carrying a child inside of you is also such an amazing experience. I’ll admit I got a little bit of baby fever this time around and have had the conversation with my husby about whether or not we want more of our own. He’s not too keen on the idea, but he would be willing to go through another surrogacy so that may be an option in the future as well. It’s very addicting to help people, especially when you’re helping them have families.

I will continue to pump for the next several weeks and await pictures of baby girl growing up. We have discussed a trip out to see her, possibly for spring break next year, so I have that to look forward to. Now I just readjust to my normal life (as normal as it can be while pumping every 3 hours) and try to get back into a regular routine.

The end is always the hardest

I am now almost 37 weeks pregnant. It still blows my mind how fast this all goes once you are pregnant. I remember all the “hurry up and wait” feelings from the beginning while you’re getting through medical clearance and legal and then, BOOM! You’re 37 weeks pregnant just waiting to go into labor at the end of your second journey.

IMG_20170602_231242_434The end is definitely the hardest part of any pregnancy, surrogacy included. Recently one of the other surrogates posted on Facebook “Can I whine for a moment?” She then went into the pains/struggles of being at the end of a twin pregnancy. I think it’s important to point out that just because we are surrogates and yes, we did sign up for this, the difficulties experienced at the end of pregnancy are HARD.

Our bodies still go through extreme changes. Stretch marks, varicose veins, frequent peeing, fatigue, aches, pains, swelling, and being constantly uncomfortable are just a few of the EASY complications of pregnancy. Some women go through far worse such as preterm labor, preeclampsia, back pain, bed rest, complications during delivery…the list goes on. Again, yes, we did sign up for this, but we still need the same support as any other pregnant women.

I, myself, am experiencing all the fun end of pregnancy aches and pains. This is the part of pregnancy where you are a mix of emotions. You’re exhausted and uncomfortable and ready to get on to delivery so you can tie your shoes and shave your legs again, but knowing it’s all coming to an end is sad. I am so ready to go into labor and I keep telling this baby we are ready whenever he/she decides to make their grand appearance (especially because we don’t know the gender) but I know I will miss being pregnant the day after delivery.

FB_IMG_1497629135748I am rocking a hardcore pregnancy waddle that will only get more exaggerated as the baby begins to drop.  I am exhausted all the time, even after getting a full 7-8 hours of sleep. I have pain on my upper right side in my ribs (as I do with every pregnancy) which is caused by my growing belly pressing on my ribs and causing the cartilage to swell. I find it almost impossible to get comfortable laying down and forget trying to roll over gracefully. I get winded walking up the stairs. I can’t bend over to shave my legs or tie my shoes or take off my compression socks. I have to pee almost every hour, and I’m ALWAYS hot to the point my dear, devoted husband installed a ceiling fan at midnight so I could sleep.

All that being said, though, I am going to enjoy every bittersweet second of these last two weeks (or less) because I know I will be so sad when it’s over. I’m very lucky in that I have had four relatively easy and uncomplicated pregnancies. My IM comes in one week, I have one week left of work, and we will just wait for baby. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a boring and normal delivery, in a hospital and not in the car on the side of the highway, where my IM is planning to help deliver the baby, with my doctor present and not an on call doc while she is on vacation, and we will have a phenomenal photographer to capture every magical moment.

Third Trimester

Well, we are officially counting down with only 6 weeks (or less) until this baby arrives. I am 33 weeks pregnant and really starting to show and feel it all. The nice, and rather boring, part of me being a surrogate is that I have very uneventful and uncomplicated pregnancies so there really isn’t much to report over the last 11 weeks.

We did our final ultrasound at 29 weeks to make sure my placenta had moved far enough away from my cervix, and of course it had! My IM was able to fly out for the appointment and got to see the baby sucking its thumb and moving all around. We were able to spend a little time together and had breakfast before my appointment and got to chat a little. I have taken to calling it a “he” even though no one knows the gender except my doctor and the ultrasound tech. My husby and I keep joking about how shocked we will be if this baby winds up being a girl.

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There really isn’t much going on at all…

My doctor’s appointments are all really boring now. They ask how I’m feeling (like a beached whale, thank you very much), measure my belly, listen to the heartbeat with a doppler and say so long until next time. I’m going every other week for two more visits and then we go every week until this baby arrives!! I have gained 30 lbs, which is a little more than I wanted, but baby is healthy and my doctor is not concerned. I am seeing a chiropractor every week for low back and hip pain from the pregnancy. She is AMAZING! She also does muscle work on my back. She can just push on a pressure point and the tension will just melt away.

Working nights is a lot more difficult being pregnant than I anticipated and I have definitely been choosing to nap instead of exercise lately, and I’m totally good with that. IMG_20170505_120453_598I haven’t had any swelling and I can (barely) still reach to shave my own legs. My latest craving is sweets (SHOCKER) so I share some ice cream with the baby almost every night before bed. I’m also a big fan of Linda’s Fudge Cake from The Cheesecake Factory. I try to spread it out over a few days if I do get a slice but sometimes that is harder than others. I literally think that is the best chocolate cake in the world!

I am 33 weeks and 1 day pregnant today. The baby is roughly the size of honeydew weighing it at around 4.5lbs and about 19in. long. I have started having the occasional Braxton Hicks contractions which I am oddly excited about because it

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A friend told me I looked tiny at 30 weeks so I took a photo from another angle to prove her wrong!

means we are getting closer! I get up to pee about 3 times a night. I REALLY miss sleeping on my stomach and will sometimes fold my pillow up so I can lay on my tummy for a bit. (Apparently this is comfortable because I almost always fall asleep and my husby claims I snore). I am planning to work up until almost 38 weeks pregnant. My doctor will induce me at 39 weeks so hopefully with time off I will be able to get labor started on my own.20170520_073537 My IM and her mom are planning to come out the end of June and hang out until baby arrives. With me being off work and the girls being out of school I see lots of opportunity to walk myself into labor at the zoo, the aquarium, parks, etc. Once I hit 37 weeks I will be happy with whatever day this baby decides to make its official grand entrance.

I have been staying SOOOOO busy with the kids and work and omg….it’s summer vacation. When did that happen? The girls have a dance recital coming up, they are starting swim lessons next week, and oh yeah….we got a puppy. He is seriously the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, I forgot how much work a puppy could be, but he’s super cuddly and that makes up for all the accidents and constantly monitoring what he is chewing on. He also has a fondness for snuggling up to my belly like Apollo.

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Apollo giving the baby some snuggles

Now, we wait. We have six more weeks to enjoy this pregnancy and I know it will fly by. It’s bittersweet because I’m getting uncomfortable but I know I will miss being pregnant the day after delivery. I can not wait to meet this baby and see my IM become a mommy, but I’m kind of sad knowing this pregnancy is coming to an end.

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Archimedes (Archie) snuggling up the the baby

I’m not giving it away!!

Let me start off by saying people have word vomit issues. This is especially true when you are sporting a growing baby bump. Everyone, and their mothers, will take it upon themselves to ask your business and then proceed to ask even more questions or offer their unwanted (and usually outrageous) advice. As a surrogate, it’s so much worse. Most of them are just curious about the process, and I know they mean well, but most of them forget they are talking to an actual person…with feelings, and HORMONES.

Here are some of the more…frequent….questions and statements I have received as a surrogate.

Isn’t it hard to give the baby away?

This is probably the MOST common question I get, in several different forms. The only fair response I can give is “NO.” It’s not hard, because I’m not giving the baby away, I’m giving it back. I think a lot of people misunderstand this whole process. This baby was NEVER mine. I have known from the very start that I am only a temporary home and I am absolutely on board with that. This baby is 100% genetically related to my IM and her donor, not me. I am a gestational surrogate in that I have no genetic relationship to the baby, which differs from traditional surrogacy were the surrogate may use her own eggs. This baby is not mine, so I can not, in any way, shape, or form, give it away.

But seriously, don’t you get attached?

But seriously….no. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being pregnant. I think it is, by far, the most amazing thing a woman can experience ( I mean besides mind blowing orgasms) in her lifetime. Growing a life inside of you is an indescribable feeling. Yes, there is a feeling of protection over this life inside you, but it’s different. My family and I still treat my belly the same as we would if it was my child. We still all talk to the baby, my kids read the baby stories, my husby likes to rub my belly, and my dog likes to snuggle my belly, but it’s just different. We all know this baby isn’t coming home with us after delivery. Yes, there are emotions involved, but it’s not a “maternal” feeling, it’s more like a fostering feeling. I’m helping grow this baby strong and keep it safe so when it’s time, the baby can go off to a better life and home with its mom.

Doesn’t your husband mind that you’re carrying someone else’s baby?

I’m very lucky in that my husband seems to have a thing for me pregnant. I don’t know if it’s just me or maybe a fetish, I don’t ask and I don’t judge. He likes the caretaker role and is very willing to help out more when I’m pregnant. He doesn’t mind having to deal with the mood swings, the vomiting, the cravings, the crying at every single ASPCA commercial, shaving my legs, or tying my shoes. He is very supportive of the decision to become a surrogate. It is a choice we made together. I can not stress enough how important it is to make sure your family is on board with your decision to become a surrogate. Your spouse and your kids are just as big a part of this process as you. Do not underestimate the sacrifices of your family to make this a possibility.

You must get paid a lot to do that.

This is my least favorite question/statement to get. Yes, there is money involved when becoming a surrogate, but if that is your deciding factor you’re doing it for the wrong reason. “A lot” of money is relative. A homeless person may think $5 is a lot because it will buy them a meal, where as a billionaire can spend $100,000 on a bottle of champagne and not bat an eye. It’s relative. Money is not a motivating factor for me, end of discussion. If you’re really curious about the compensations involved with surrogacy, Google it.

Why don’t they just adopt?

Why didn’t you? You could’ve adopted instead of having biological children of your own, but you made the decision that you thought was best for your family. Some intended parents have considered adoption, as well as every other option available to them in order to have a family. It’s not my business, nor my right, to judge them for their decision to utilize surrogacy. I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to be involved in surrogacy and help provide intended parents with the chance to start a family of their own. That goes for those families trying to have siblings through surrogacy as well.

Are you excited to be a big sister?

My favorite encounter in public is when I have my girls with me and someone will ask my girls if they are excited to be big sisters. This is my second surrogacy so my girls understand the process well, and my oldest, without missing a beat, will respond, “It’s not our baby.” I wish I had a camera every time this happened because people’s reactions are hilarious. Most are confused, some are shocked, some think she’s joking and start laughing, and some are disgusted and give me a judgmental stare-down. I always have to follow up her response with an explanation, but I do enjoy watching people react.

I LOVE talking about surrogacy, when I’m prepared. I love getting emails, texts, Facebook messages, interviewing for other blogs, and comments on my own blog with questions and stories. I love being able to provide insight to those who may not know much about surrogacy. I love hearing how people have overcome their infertility issues through surrogacy. I love talking to people and helping them with anything I can. If I could make a career out of it, I would. I am a surrogacy advocate and will shout it from the rooftops whenever possible. That being said, there are certainly days where someone will notice the bump and make a comment or congratulate me and I will simply say thank you and move on with life. When I have no make up on, I’m in yoga pants, rushing to get my grocery shopping done before I get the kids from school and then take them to dance class, I just don’t have the energy to answer all the follow up questions that come when I explain I am a surrogate. It doesn’t mean I am any less proud of myself, or my fellow surro-sisters, for what we’re helping to do.

Superpower