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

Feeling 22…

I am 22 weeks pregnant. Wow! When did that happen?? Time is going by so fast and I have so much going on that I feel like I have very little time to enjoy it all. Baby is moving a LOT and kicks are getting stronger and easier to feel from the outside each day.

20170227_154640Since my last post, I had my 20 week appointment, Thursday February 23, and hospital tour the next day. My IM was able to fly out to be there for both and it was so wonderful to get to spend so much time with her. I had very little sleep (like always…#nightshiftproblems) and it was snowing, of course. We had had beautiful seventy degree days leading up to a blizzard the morning she flew in from California. Guys….my IM drove in the snow for the first time!! Like a CHAMP! I, on the other hand, slid in my new jeep with her in the car, lol. At least it convinced my husband to finally get me new tires!

Anyway, the appointment went wonderfully. My IM got to be there for the ultrasound and see baby moving around. She took a video to send to her family and they were all very excited for her. I’m so glad she is feeling confident enough now to tell her family and allow everyone to celebrate and be happy for her! She also got to meet my OB in person, although they’ve talked on the phone several times. My OB is so awesome. She is just very honest and straight forward. My IM was asking about next steps and the process of preparing for baby and asked when we could expect baby to arrive. I had to laugh because it’s such a cute reminder that she is a first time parent. I forget how much you don’t know the first time around and how much I’ve forgotten. It doesn’t help that my IM is very organized and a planner so not being able to even provide a week we can expect baby is probably torture for her. My doctor was very kind in explaining there is no real way to plan. It will happen when it happens and if I start to dilate slowly we will have more of an indication, but seeing as this is my fourth pregnancy I could just start having contractions and have a baby that day. Who knows? She will just need to be prepared to get on a plane when I call. I’m pretty confident I won’t make it to my due date, because I never have in the past, but each pregnancy is completely different. Wouldn’t it be funny (but NOT REALLY) if I go past my due date!!! (…omg I should delete that and totally throw out the idea….that is NOT HAPPENING!!)

After the appointment we let my IM ride home with us to get the girls from the bus. She got to meet our dog, Apollo, and see the house. I kept reminding her that we have room for her to stay when baby arrives so I will get to spend a little time with her, her mom, and baby before she returns to California. Plus I’m planning to pump so milk would be easily accessible. 🙂 I will keep reminding her.

We got the girls from the bus and headed out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, the girls choice. It was so nice to have the time to just hang out and chat. I got to know a lot more about her and the baby’s father. We talked a little bit more about her disease and why she can’t carry a baby of her own because my youngest asked why she couldn’t carry her own baby. Kids can be quite charming with their lack of filter, but it’s nice for the girls to have a full understanding of why I do what I do. I would love for my girls to grow up and have families of their own and maybe become surrogates and help other families as well. Or if one of them has infertility struggles I want them to know everything about ALL of their options to have a family.

The next morning was the hospital tour. I was excited as this is the first time I will be delivering at a new hospital. All three of my previous deliveries were at Sky Ridge. This time I’m delivering at a smaller, older hospital that is a little further from my house. My doctor likes this hospital and I trust her so I will go where she goes unless some emergency has me going to a closer hospital. I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if my doctor weren’t able to deliver and some random doctor that I or my IM don’t know has to become involved. So, we will go where my doctor is. Our match manager from ConceiveAbilites was with us. We met with a coordinator, of sorts, and had an hour long conversation of the intake process and paper work needed from both sides prior to delivery. It was very informative and between the coordinator and our match manager, all questions were asked and answered.We then got to do a tour!

It is definitely an older hospital, but it’s nice that it’s smaller because the one thing I noticed was how quiet it was the entire time we were there. It will be a great environment to labor and recover in. They also offer Nitrous Oxide as a pain reliever during labor. I have been reading up on it and tossing around the idea of giving it a try. I’m pretty sure I’m still going to do an epidural so I’m not writhing in pain and will be able to enjoy the experience with my IM, especially because we will have a photographer present, but it would be nice

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21w6d. Baby waving

to be able to allow labor to progress a little more and be more mobile in the beginning stages of labor. I have no set plan, because it’s not a good idea and things happen, but I am open to seeing how things go. I did toss around the idea of having an unmedicated delivery, but I am not a nice person when I am in pain, and I have no problem admitting I am not that strong. The women who deliver naturally with no pain medications are SUPERHEROS in my book. Seriously….those women are BADASSES! But who knows what will happen on the day. We will have a tentative plan, but I will go with the flow.

I was sad to see my IM leave after the tour, but it was nice to have some time with her and get to know her more. I am so so excited to see her at delivery and meet her mom and hear all the questions and finally be able to meet this little baby!!!

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21w6d. THOSE LIPS!! There is a wave a fluid right in front of baby’s face distorting the cheeks and nose, but seriously…those lips!

This past Thursday, March 9, I had my follow up appointment with the doctor who did my amniocentesis. He is so nice and allowed us to take another video for my IM. This appointment was to check the baby’s heart and I am happy to say that baby’s heart looked perfect. It took a bit longer than expected because baby was moving around and laying in a folded over position that made it harder to get a good view, but after a bit and the ultrasound tech repeatedly shaking me up, baby decided to cooperate and we were able to get some pretty amazing views of baby and baby’s little heart. Baby was measuring exactly on track at 21w6d and weighed in at 1lb 2oz.

I have no more scheduled ultrasounds until delivery, unless my IM comes out for another appointment in which case my OB will do one to make the trip worth it. The remainder of appointments will be pretty boring as I’ve been through all of this before and they really

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21 weeks!!

just monitor my belly growth. Now we begin the waiting and growing game. This is the part where I start to get HUGE and waddle and hear comments about looking like a beached whale. Baby will get stronger and hopefully will allow me to get some good videos of baby moving around to send my IM.

We are planning a vacation for spring break with my girls in two weeks. We are meeting my parents and will get to relax and just enjoy the last week of my 2nd trimester and then we will officially be in the home stretch!!

Amniocentesis

I am 17 weeks pregnant with this little nugget, and it is really starting to fly by! I can not believe I am already almost halfway through this surrogacy. You wait and wait as a surrogate for things to progress from match meeting to medical workup to legal to transfer and then you’re pregnant and boom, it’s over. I mean, halfway over, but this is when it really starts to get fun! 20170129_130703

We got genetic results from my 12 week appointment back and everything looked great and well within normal ranges. I thought my IM had been waiting for me to hit second trimester and to get those results back to tell her family and I was so excited for her to do so, but she threw me a curve ball. She had spoken to my OB and a specialist and had decided to pursue Amniocentesis. Honetsly, I wasn’t REALLY surprised. I was hopeful that she wouldn’t want to do it, but I think I knew, in the back of my mind, that it was a real possibility. My IM is “of advanced maternal age” which is a ridiculous saying because she’s only 43 which is not any kind of advanced age …at all…, but in terms of having babies, there are much higher risks for genetic birth defects as we women age.

I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for IPs to go through so much to get pregnant and then still have to stress about the “what ifs.” I never had to really worry much about even the possibility of birth defects as there is nothing in my family history and I had my girls in my early twenties. I did get a little emotional when I found out she wanted to do Amnio because that made me think about all the possibilities and what would happen if something does come back abnormal, but I caught my breath and put myself in her shoes. She’s a first time mom, she has everyone from fertility clinics to nurses to doctors reminding her of increased risks as a mom of her age, she’s out of state and out of control for most of this process. I can’t blame her for wanting to do everything in her power to prepare for anything and everything. I wasn’t excited about it, but I was absolutely on board and supportive. I reminded her that I am just a temporary shelter for this baby. This is her baby and her decision. I will support her always. That’s what I’m here for!

My IM also informed me that she was going to Africa and wouldn’t return until mid February, which meant she’ll be out of town for the Amnio. She made sure I had ALL her contact info and every possible way to get ahold of her should I need anything before she returned. I know it’s hard for her to be away for such an important appointment, but I think she’s going to have the time of her life.

I had my 16 week appointment with my OB on Tuesday January 31. It was the fastest and easiest appointment yet. I peed in a cup, the doctor did a doppler of the baby’s heartbeat (high 140s), I had no questions and she said see you at 20 weeks. It took all of five minutes.

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16w5d

Wednesday was my Amniocentesis. I had worked the night before so I only had three hours of sleep before my appointment and since I didn’t know how I would react to it all, my husby took the day off work to come to the appointment and take care of me for the afternoon. I felt pretty prepared, mentally, as my case manager had talked to me about it a bunch and had put me in touch with another surrogate who had done an Amnio.

Let me tell you, I was stressed about nothing. My IM and I were in contact via text before, during, and after my appointment. We had a wonderful ultrasound tech do a very long and thorough ultrasound taking all sorts of measurements and chatting about the surrogacy. She had spoken to my IM on the phone and was curious about the process. We were very

adamant that we did NOT want to know gender as my IM has decided not to find out and there is no way I can keep that kind of secret. I would crack under the pressure in one text message. She was kind enough to warn us when she got to the gender part of the ultrasound so we could look away and boy was that difficult!

Next, the doctor came in and introduced himself. He double checked that we for sure wanted to do the Amnio, and we said yes. He repeated a lot of the ultrasound but took the time to explain everything he was checking and he was kind enough to let us record the entire thing so we could upload it for my IM. I knew she would have questions that I would have forgotten the answers to so it was much easier to record it so she could hear it straight from the doctor. He said everything looked great on the ultrasound, we even got to see the four separate chambers of baby’s heart, and he explained I will have to go back for a f0llow-up appointment for them to check the baby’s heart more thoroughly as it is too small right now for them to have definitive information. It is totally normal for the age of the baby, but to make sure the heart is perfect I will go back at around 22 weeks. He was also kind enough to let us know to look away when he was looking at baby’s gender, although it was just as difficult not to look the second time.

The Amnio itself was super fast! The doctor explained everything prior to beginning and told me it would all take less than a minute, they would have the ultrasound on the entire time to ensure they were no where near the baby, and that there are some slight added risks associated with Amnio. There is a 1% higher chance of miscarriage, there is also a risk of amniotic fluid leaking, bleeding, and cramping. When he was sure we knew what we were in for and still on board he began the procedure.

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Iodine getting painted on. I’m still smiling.

He first rubbed iodine all over my belly to clean it, put the ultrasound on my tummy to find a good spot, jabbed in the needle, which I didn’t feel at all, then jabbed a second time to get through the uterus, felt it that time as my uterus contracted and I had a cramp the entire time the needle was in my uterus, he then attached a syringe to draw out the amniotic fluid. When he was done he pulled the needle out and the tech helped clean off the iodine and that was it.

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Removing some amniotic fluid

Seriously, it took less than a minute. I wish I could tell you the needle was or wasn’t scary, but I didn’t look at it just to make sure I didn’t freak myself out and my husband did not get a good picture. (He’s fired as a photographer.) The end product was two little vials of amniotic fluid, which totally looks like urine, but it kind of is.

I had instructions to rest the remainder of the day, no lifting, no exercise, no sex, no strenuous activity of any kind, but could resume normal life the following day as long as I felt ok. He said we’d have results in about two weeks and he’d make sure to notify my IM whatever way he could.

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The final product: Amniotic Fluid.

The remainder of the day I slept. I was exhausted from only having had three hours of sleep and working nights in general so I slept away the afternoon snuggling my husby on the couch. It was wonderful. He is a pretty amazing caretaker (terrible photographer), just saying. I literally laid on the couch the rest of the day just watching tv and playing video games.

Now, I feel great. I haven’t had any side effects from the Amnio whatsoever and I’m confident the results will be fine. I have even started feeling the occasional kick from this little baby! This is my favorite part of pregnancy. I’m starting to get a bigger belly so it’s becoming more and more obvious that I’m pregnant and I’m starting to feel movement which is the absolute best part of pregnancy. I am so excited for my IM to become a mom and can’t wait for her to meet her little baby, especially because I’m excited to find out the gender, but I’m going to try to really enjoy the second half of my pregnancy because it’s such an incredible experience.

Now we wait for the Amnio results, 20 week appointment and hospital tour. My IM is going to fly in for those appointments so she will get to be present for an ultrasound and experience it in real life and not via Skype, and hopefully the baby will be nice and active so she can even feel a kick or two!

13 Going On 14

The end of December and beginning of January were a crazy few weeks. This little baby has now been to a funeral, celebrated Christmas (several times), celebrated a new year, been to a wedding, and the symphony.

Some days are easy and I feel fantastic and some days I am exhausted and feel like I can’t get out of bed or function. Some days I am happy and excited and some days I am emotional and cry at stupid commercials or when my husband accidentally says something that I misinterpret and take offense to. Some days I eat super healthy and enjoy lots of fruits and veggies and some days all I want is donuts and chocolate cake. Luckily for me, my husby loves the chaos of pregnancy.

The thing I have been struggling with most is exhaustion. I work graveyard shift and switch back to day shift each week on my off days so I can take care of my kids while my husband works. This means I lose almost an entire night of sleep each week. I try to make up for it when I can or rather my body forces me to make up for it by falling asleep every time I sit down for longer than 10 minutes. I knew it would be a little more challenging this time around with my new job, but my husby is INCREDIBLY supportive and if I need a nap he will make it happen. My exhaustion also means I haven’t been working out like I had originally planned. Between getting a workout in or sleeping an extra hour I have been opting for the sleep, but I will officially be in my second trimester on Friday and am already starting to get a little bit of my energy back. WHAT A RELIEF! Producing a placenta is hard work for your body, fyi. I ordered some workout videos and have done a few the past few weeks, but not with any sort of consistency. I ordered a new workout video and a prenatal yoga video so hopefully in the next few days I will regain my motivation and get back into it. I have only gained 2lbs so I’m not concerned. I feel like sleep is far more important to my sanity in the beginning and I know I will get back into a routine as I start to feel more normal again in my 2nd trimester.

Last Thursday, January 5, I had a genetic screening which included blood work and an ultrasound. My IM is a little bit older, in her early 40s, so there is an increased risk of some

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12w6d measuring 13w0d, 6.87cm

genetic or chromosomal defects. It was not a regular appointment, just the blood draw and the ultrasound, but we got to Skype with my IM so she was able to see the ultrasound. It was a wonderful ultrasound as the baby was SUPER active. My IM even got a little wave from the baby and got to see it sucking its thumb. The measurement for down syndrome, the space on the back of the baby’s neck, appeared normal on the ultrasound which is great news!

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Hi Mom!

It always amazes me how quickly the babies grow. This little baby was measuring 1 day ahead at 13w0d and 6.87cm! It was all very exciting for my IM. Now we just have the stressful waiting period to get blood work back and find out the rest of the results.

Today I am 13w5d. I have a very obvious baby bump which I KNOW IS EARLY yet EVERYONE keeps reminding me how fast I started showing. At Christmas, a member of my husband’s family looked at me and said “wow, aren’t you only 11 weeks?” To which I had to smile and laugh it off and convince myself not to cry. I think the hardest part of pregnancy is the constant scrutiny of your appearance by every single person you talk to. You’re always either too skinny or too fat, not gaining enough weight or putting it on too quickly, or not showing fast enough or showing too soon. You hear it from family, friends, 20161230_155959co-workers, and even strangers. This is my fourth pregnancy and my last pregnancy I had twins. I got pregnant again exactly a year after the twins were born and my body’s got this. It knows what it’s doing, the baby is healthy and growing perfectly, I have had ZERO complications, and I may be carrying around a few extra pounds that make me appear slightly more pregnant than I am, but I don’t care. I LOVE showing off my pregnancy and talking about surrogacy to people. I just wish everyone respected the fact that every pregnancy and every pregnant woman is different. There is no right or wrong as long as the baby is healthy.

9 1/2 weeks

These past few weeks have been a blur! I had my birthday, my mom in town, work, Christmas shopping, surprise parties, ugly sweater parties, and support group. I have barely had time to breathe, let alone sleep or blog!

I had my second (and final) ultrasound at CCRM Tuesday December 6. My mom was in

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8w4d, baby measured 2.09cm and right on track

town and was able to come along. The baby looked perfect and was measuring right on track at 8w4d. We didn’t get to hear the heartbeat, but I was able to Skype my IM so she could see the flicker on the screen again. She seems really excited and I am so excited for

her! They did labs again and all my hormone levels came back perfectly which means I am weaning off meds!!!! I will be off meds completely December  21st which, drum roll please…., means I get to have chocolate for Christmas! I can handle no caffeine, despite working graveyards, but no chocolate has been nearly impossible.

I have officially been released to my OB. I had my first appointment with a nurse practitioner Friday December 9. I haven’t gained any weight yet, which is awesome considering I’ve been too exhausted to do any exercise. We went over all the fun dos and donts of eating and exercising. She kind of laughed at the strict rules CCRM has, but they also have a very high success rate so it was worth the added caution to get where I’m at today. I only have another week on meds and then I get to be a normal pregnant woman. She also gave me TONS of info on all the screening tests available. The bombshell was when she informed me my doctor no longer delivers at my hospital of choice. I was like….uh….WHAT???!?!?! I was a little shocked to learn this as she now mainly delivers at a hospital that is 45 minutes to 1 hour away from my house, depending on traffic, and which I know nothing about. I was a little panicked, but I knew I could discuss it at my next appointment and I had some research to do!

Tuesday, December 13, I finally got to see my doctor! She asked if it was just one this time, while giggling, and asked if I was ready to do it again. I told her I better be ready because I’m almost 10 weeks! My first question was about her not delivering at my hospital anymore. She said, for me, she would deliver there, but only if she didn’t have a patient in labor at her primary hospital. She also explained that the other hospital is her primary choice because most of the nurses have 15-20 years experience on staff and it’s more like a family where as the hospital I used on all 3 of my previous pregnancies is more like a factory. It was nice to hear her explain it that way and it made me a little more open to using the other hospital. I still have to do some research and have a backup plan for any emergencies, just in case, but I’m open to the idea. She is pretty amazing, and after delivering twin B breech to avoid a c-section with my last pregnancy, I really value her opinion and know she’s on my side.

She then started my ultrasound and although we couldn’t get Skype to function properly (I am not a big fan of its unreliability) we were able to record the ultrasound and put my IM on speaker so she could FINALLY hear the heart beat! Baby sounded perfect with a heart rate of 164 and measured 9w3d. We even got to see the baby squirming around a bit. My

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9w4d, baby measured 2.74cm and one day behind

doctor did recommend the screening tests due to my IM’s age but stated she could talk to my IM directly via telephone so as not to do the awkward speaker phone thing and that way she would have time to answer any and all questions. It was the fastest appointment I have ever had.

There’s not much to talk about when things are going smoothly, and I would like to keep it that way. Now I get to finish meds, enjoy the holidays, and I will go in for my next appointment after the new year!

 

The first ultrasound

I was wrong…those 9 days waiting for Beta were NOTHING compared to the two weeks waiting for an ultrasound! I tried to stay distracted and not think about it, but when you are, hopefully, carrying someone else’s child, it’s all you can think about.

I was mostly nervous because I wasn’t having a lot of common early pregnancy symptoms. I was exhausted, but I work 12 hour graveyard shifts, so I’m always tired. I have have little to no morning sickness, I really only feel nauseated if I overeat, I have had no breast tenderness, no spotting, no nothing…just exhaustion.

I actually started getting really nervous about a week before my ultrasound was scheduled. I didn’t think anything was wrong because I hadn’t had any cramping or bleeding, but I was worried that I hadn’t had any morning sickness because I had with all my other pregnancies. I don’t know if it was because of my crazy schedule or maybe I was just going to be lucky this time, or maybe, worst case scenario, there was no baby. Chemical Pregnancy is a real concern. I had a chemical pregnancy of my own, and another surrogate had recently had one. It was definitely at the back of my mind. I just kept counting down the days and telling myself “in (blank) days, you’ll know for sure.”  I kept focusing on not wanting to break my IM’s heart. She is absolutely amazing and I really want her to be able to have this baby!

Tuesday, November 22, finally rolled around. My IM had asked about trying to Skype during my appointment and I was worried. I was worried that if something was wrong she would need to hear from our nurse, not from me, not from my husband, and not from the ultrasound tech. I think I didn’t want to do it for me as well. I was a little selfish because I didn’t want to hear or see her heart breaking, but I downloaded the app on my phone anyway, and we went on our way to CCRM.

My husby went with my for support, especially because I was so nervous. We got into the room and asked the tech about Skype or video taping the ultrasound. CCRM doesn’t allow you to video record, which I found a little strange, but she said we could Skype after we checked things out first, just to be safe. I thought she was a genius!

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Measuring 6 weeks, 5 days, 7mm long

My heart felt like it was beating a million miles a minute as she started the ultrasound. I almost held my breath as she started moving the wand around looking for a gestational sac and finally, she found one! I took a HUGE sigh of relief and was so overjoyed for my IM!! She is going to be a mommy! There is one, healthy, happy, perfect, little baby growing inside me. The ultrasound tech did a few measurements, baby was measuring 6w5d, 1 day ahead of schedule, and the heart rate was 119, they want to see something over 100.

We did get to Skype with my IM and my husby held the phone up close to the monitor so she could see the heart flickering. It’s too early to hear anything yet, but she could see it, and all she kept saying was, “whoa.” We shared our congratulations and went to get blood20161122_144612 work and meet with our nurse. She said everything looked perfect as well and as long as labs came back normal, which they did, we would keep all med protocols the same and be back in two weeks on December 6. I was so relieved and beyond excited! (Although I was a little sad it wasn’t twins again…maybe next journey.)

I took the ultrasound pictures to work to show off. I had told all my fellow dispatchers, and a select few officers, but I was so excited to share with everyone. I had gone to briefing Sunday night and my Sergeant teased me about having nothing to contribute and I had told him I would have something soon, because I was hoping I would have good news to share. When it came to my turn at briefing I was excited to announce I had something important, but not work related to share, and my Sergeant was intrigued. It happened to be a rather full briefing as we had the swings sergeant, an officer from the power shift and a rider in the room in addition to my usual team, but I wanted to share anyway. I held up the ultrasound picture and let everyone absorb it for a second and then announced “yes, I am pregnant and it’s not my husband’s.” They all kind of laughed uncomfortably and then just looked at me. One of the officers who knew what was going on said I probably shouldn’t lead with that because it makes me sound like a …you know. Anyway, I laughed about it and explained I was a surrogate for the second time and the twins had just turned one. They were all super supportive and the swings sergeant said, “Man. It’s one thing to make someone’s banana bread, but this…good for you.” It made my night.

Today, I am 7 weeks pregnant with one happy little baby. I had a fantastic Thanksgiving and my birthday is next week. I have much to celebrate this holiday season, as does my IM.

 

The longest 9 days

Patience is a virtue….right? Unless you’re waiting the LONG 9 days between transfer and a blood test to find out if the transfer took and you are pregnant, then it’s Mount Everest and you’re standing at the bottom with two broken legs. There is a LOT of waiting in surrogacy, it’s kind of a theme.

I knew I wanted to take a home pregnancy test (hpt) because I am NOT a patient person. I asked my IM if she wanted to know and she said no, and then to let her think about it and she would let me know… she never let me know, so I assumed she didn’t want to know.

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5dp5dt

I took 4 pregnancy tests! (Impatient, I told you!) I started Monday, 5 days after transfer. I knew it was early, but I did it anyway because I was curious and I had been so exhausted. It was positive, a very faint positive, but nonetheless positive! We call it a “squinter.” I was ecstatic! I wanted to tell my IM so so so badly, but I resisted and tried to respect her wishes. It was difficult! I am not good with secrets.

I waited 2 days to retest and again got a very faint positive. I was, honestly, a little disappointed. I was hoping the results would be a little more obvious like they were in my first journey, but I had to remind myself that I had two babies in there the first time, and that EVERY JOURNEY IS DIFFERENT!

I think we forget that very important fact as surrogates. We forget that each of our own pregnancies were different. We forget that these are IVF babies and our bodies had to be prepared with a magic concoction of hormones provided by the fertility clinics. We forget how much time and effort goes into making us the best little baby growing machines out there. We forge

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7dp5dt

t that in normal life most of us wouldn’t have a clue we were pregnant yet. We get so excited for ourselves to be pregnant again and for our IPs to become parents. Mostly, it’s just hard to have no control.

I was discouraged and impatient, but it was there, I was pregnant, according to my pee on a stick. I had used up the box (only bought a two pack because I was in complete denial of my impatience). I thought I would be able to wait 2 more days until Beta with no problems, but I was WRONG!

The next day my husby and I were driving around and I decided I wanted more pregnancy tests. Some of the other surrogates had mentioned pink dye tests showing up a little darker and I wanted to test that idea! We went to the dollar store and I bought

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8dp5dt

two more tests. (I mean they were only a dollar!)

I retested again on Thursday, twice, and still got faint positives. I decided that was enough and I would wait one more day until Beta. It was still so difficult not to tell my IM!

Friday morning I went in around 8:30. My IM had texted that she was with me in spirit and I know she was more nervous than me because she didn’t know about the pregnancy tests! We didn’t have to wait long for results and before noon we knew we were pregnant with a Beta of 120.3! My IM was so thrilled, as was I. The nurse let me know my hormone levels, as well, and asked me to come in on Sunday for my second beta to make sure my hcg levels were rising. I get to increase my PIO to one full unit and my suppositories to 3x a day. I Am obviously thrilled about those. I confessed my impatience to my IM and she confessed her mom had been stalking my blog for hints, we

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8dp5dt

agreed to chat again on Sunday after results.

Sunday morning I again went in around 8:30 and had another blood draw. We again got the results quickly. They were hoping for a rise of at least 53%, my second beta was 279.5 which is 132% increase! I got to call and tell my IM the good news! She was, again, thrilled and told me congratulations and I told her congratulations back!

We received the official pregnancy letter from CCRM with an expected due date of July 14, my youngest daughter’s birthday, and the next steps. I will have my first ultrasound November 22 at 6.5 weeks pregnant  and another December 6 at 8.5 weeks pregnant.

Now we wait for my pregnancy symptoms to get worse, or better depending on how you look at it. I’ve definitely been exhausted lately, but I work graveyards so I’m always tired. I also have morning sickness, increased sense of smell, breast tenderness, and more exhaustion to look forward to, but I can honestly say I am looking forward to every single one of those symptoms.