Her Story…

Here is the story from my IM’s point of view:

Joy, Pain, Gratitude and Life!

As most of you have been following this journey, you probably know a little bit about me already.  My life has been filled with so many blessings; an amazing family, a wonderful husband, a successful career, and a son I love more than I could have ever imagined.  But through all of these blessings there have been some setbacks as well.  The day my son was born was a bittersweet day.  Unexpectedly, we had a really difficult delivery.  My placenta had grown into the side of my uterus and after Camden was delivered via a C-section the doctors had to perform an emergency hysterectomy that required me to accept 8 liters of transfused blood to save my life. 

After recovering, we realized how blessed we were that nothing worse had happened.  The doctors told me my uterus was paper-thin and could have burst at any moment, which would have been a terrible disaster for the both of us.  54127-41We knew God was looking out for us that day and were feeling so fortunate to have a healthy baby boy.  But in the back of our minds was the looming fact that we’d likely not be able to grow our family beyond the three of us.  My doctor came in and sat on the hospital bed and told me not to feel discouraged.  There were options out there and since my ovaries had been spared, surrogacy was a very viable and realistic option.

After Camden was older we started pursuing the idea.  We started working with Conceivabilities and it took 18 months for us to be matched with a potential surrogate.  Leslie and Anton were the first couple we met and we literally fell in love with them after only talking with them for a few hours.  We certainly wanted to work with them, but would they want to work with us?  We found out quickly that they did and we were thrilled to have been matched with a couple that seemed so down to earth, caring, and just all around good people. 

We had to go through a few more steps before we could speak with them again and months went by before I received a phone call at work from our caseworker at Coneivabilities.  She sounded so concerned… it turns out that image1Anton is a second or third cousin of mine and would that be a problem for me?  I was shocked more than anything that I didn’t know how I was related to Anton.  After we found out the relation, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized him.  In fact, my aunt Beth sent me a photo from a party 11 years ago and apparently Anton and I had known each other quite well back then! This wasn’t a problem for me at all, and in fact, makes this journey even more special for us.  Ty and I feel like we’d be really fortunate to have a long-term relationship with Anton and Leslie and this experience might actually bring our families closer together. 

It was so great to finally get to talk to Leslie and before we knew it we were being whisked away by a multitude of doctor appointments. During the surrogacy process they will sync Leslie and I’s cycles before they transfer the embryos and we were off and going with a ‘mock cycle’ in January.  Earlier that month, I had felt a suspicious lump in my breast and had talked to my gynecologist about it.  She felt it was likely a cyst but sent me to get a mammogram just in case.  At the end of January, I got the mammogram and knew something wasn’t right when I saw the radiologists reaction.  We did a biopsy the next week and one day after my 35th birthday I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  My first question was if I’d be able to continue the surrogacy process.  I had to get answers quick, as we were just 3 weeks away from our transfer date.  I spoke with my oncologist and surgeon and they both felt like I had caught this early and the type of cancer I have (her2 positive) has very effective treatments.  We also visited our doctor at CCRM (the fertility clinic) and all 3 doctors agreed that if I was up for it, we should continue the process.

There were so many difficult emotions to deal with.  I had been dreaming of a second child for so long.  I was scared to death about the cancer but I think even more terrified that this would put an end to our surrogacy journey.  I just wasn’t sure how Leslie would feel about going through this with someone who was battling cancer.  I was so relieved to find out she wanted to continue.  With everyone on board and the doctors feeling very positive about a treatment plan for the cancer, we went ahead with the embryo transfer in the beginning of March.  It was a day I will never forget.  It was absolutely magical how so many stars could align to make Ty and I’s dreams of extending our family come true. 

Two days later my doctor called and told me the cancer had spread to my liver.  They had done a routine PET scan and weren’t expecting to find anything but saw a 2.5 cm tumor on my liver.  It was biopsied and confirmed to be breast cancer that had spread.  I can’t even tell you how hard that news was to hear.  I can’t even describe the emotional pain I have gone through in the last few months.  But like all things, you have to face the challenges that come your way and a positive and hopeful attitude can make a huge difference. 

After breast cancer has spread, it is extremely hard for doctors to understand your prognosis.  The good news is there are incredible drugs to fight the type of cancer I have and since it is a limited spread the doctors are treating me aggressively with curative intent.  I have gone through six rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, will have liver and breast surgery done over the next month and finish all this out with radiation in September just in time for our precious babies to arrive.

Life is so full of ups and downs.  It is so hard to understand why some of these things happen to us.  But we trust that God has a plan for us and despite these hurdles we have so many wonderful blessings to celebrate.  Leslie and Anton, as youimage2 all know, are incredible people.  We are so lucky to have them in our lives.  Gratitude doesn’t even begin to describe our feelings and in fact it’s hard to really explain in words how grateful we truly are.

Every day I think about the arrival of these two babies.  I think about the amazing way they are being brought into this world.  I think about how fortunate we are to have this opportunity and how much love is going to surround these children.  It brings me so much joy… our family will finally be complete.

aka Basketball Smuggler

Baby Boy
Baby Girl

I had my 20 week appointment Tuesday and boy are these babies growing!! Both babies were measuring 15oz and the boy was measuring 21 weeks 2 days (3 days ahaead) and the little girl was measuring 21 weeks (1 day ahead). They are both growing like a singleton would and are both super healthy! We got to see individual organs and bones on each baby. We saw their brains, spines, leg and arm bones, stomachs (complete with fluid to indicate they are both practicing swallowing), 4 chamber hearts, and bladders (also complete with fluid to indicate their kidneys are functioning properly and they are peeing…yay…and gross!) My IM got to be there, along with my husby, and it’s so exciting to see her excited and talking about getting the nursery ready and trying to pick names.

It’s really strange knowing we are now officially over the halfway point and we only have around 16 weeks left until meeting these adorable little bundles of joy. (Assuming I make it to 37 weeks since it’s twins, but also hoping I don’t have to go all the way to 40 weeks!). I’m working on accepting the fact that these babies will come when and how they please, especially since they are no longer head down…but there is plenty of time to correct that. It’s a really bittersweet feeling as I am so excited for my IPs and I’m really looking forward to seeing them meet the babies for the first time, but it’s also a little sad knowing my journey is coming to an end. I feel like it was yesterday that we had the embryo transfer.

I will now say I am officially over my morning sickness and have regained my appetite. I am constantly eating although it’s mostly small snacks instead of large meals as my stomach seems to be getting smaller by the day. It’s slightly frustrating to be STARVING because you have two humans growing in your belly but you eat half a sandwich and feel like you will pop because you are so full. I’m just glad I can now go back to eating like a normal person without so many food aversions.

I have put on 16 pounds so far, which I think is excellent. I’m staying really aware of my weight gain as I am trying to reduce the number of stretch marks I will get, although I know it’s really a lost cause as they are mostly genetic and I got them with both my girls so they will only be worse with twins.

I still need to invest in some compression stockings as my varicose veins are getting worse from standing at work. I did buy one pair, but I put a run in them just trying to put them on. It was a waste of $20. My veins will usually lessen when I prop my feet up but with two little ones running around and a house to keep clean I don’t get to relax as much as I would like.

As for the rest of life, we have discovered my husby has a pretty severe case of Sleep Apnea and will need to wear a breathing machine at night. He went and picked up the machine this afternoon and it’s actually really quiet and discreet. Nothing like the horrors I was picturing. The doctor kept telling him that he will feel like a completely different person after getting better quality sleep. I will also probably get better sleep as his snoring won’t keep me up at night. (There is actually a diagnosable condition for spouses/partners of those who snore called Spousal Arousal Syndrome. Look it up.)

I’m really looking forward to better sleep as my husby is now working 4 nights a week and sleeping during the day which means I’m having to do more with taking care of the girls and keeping the house looking livable. I become exhausted very quickly and my feet have started to swell (along with my worsening varicose veins) when I stand too long, especially if I have been at work or out in the heat. I keep reminding him it’s only going to get worse as I get bigger and I will soon require a lift to get up the stairs to our condo. I am so winded by the time I reach the top that I can hardly speak for a moment. (WE REALLY NEED AN ELEVATOR!) He is dealing with my emotions like a champ, though, and is helping whenever and however he can. He is even learning to deal with my hormonal breakdowns really well, although I’m trying to maintain my goofy attitude about it all.

21 weeks

I am now 21 weeks 1 day and consider myself an official basketball smuggler. My tummy is exceptionally round this time. I am getting bigger everyday with these babies growing at such a healthy rate. Getting comfortable at night is increasingly more difficult and my poor husby may soon be sleeping on the floor because the pillows I’m using for comfort and support will soon overtake the entire bed. I tend to wake up on my back which is causing some lower back pain in the mornings but my doctor suggested using a wedge pillow so that I won’t be able to roll over. I am now on the hunt for a comfortable and manageable wedge pillow. I’m trying to stay somewhat active and get some exercise to help with sleep as well, so we’ve been going on short hikes to keep me moving. I just have to take little breaks and drink LOTS of water, which makes me have to get up to pee during the night which is totally counter-productive!

I’ve been really surprised by how my journey has effected so many. My husby is so invested and nearly as excited as I am. He LOVES rubbing my tummy and has been able to feel the babies kicking a few times. My girls love talking to my tummy and will tell the babies good morning and good night. My regular customers love checking in on me and asking LOTS of questions about how everything is going. I love that I can help educate people.

I have gotten some of the most incredible Facebook messages and texts from people about their own struggles and how thankful they are that there are people willing to become surrogates. It’s really humbling. It still feels odd to have people tell me what a great thing I’m doing because I think it’s great that my IPs are allowing me to do this for them. I can’t imagine the amount of fear and thought they had to put into deciding to use a surrogate and trust someone with the most precious thing on the planet. I am so grateful to be able to share this journey with such amazing people. I am also so grateful that I get to share my story, so, thank you to all of you who have reached out. I LOVE hearing from those of you following my journey and how my story is helping others.

Finally, I have to say how AMAZING my IM is. She has finished her chemo treatments, like a boss, and is now prepping for two surgeries. One she will have at the end of July and one will be mid August. She has stayed so positive and been such a champion for herself throughout the entire process. I am so proud of her for staying strong and being such an inspiration. We are all really hopeful that her surgeries will go smoothly and she will be healed and ready for these babies to come!! We are trying to make dinner plans in the coming weeks to celebrate her accomplishments!