Legal Clearance

Yesterday we received official legal clearance and are good to set a transfer date. We can now begin the countdown and my IM can start to get genuinely excited! The twins will turn 1 on October 26, and I will be starting a second journey.

Legal took a bit longer than expected, but there was a bit of a delay only because my attorney is very busy and we had to book a consultation a few weeks out. Once we reviewed our contract and had a few questions answered the rest went extremely quickly.

After we received “official” legal clearance, our case manager sent out a congratulatory email to all of us which included our contact info so we can FINALLY communicate directly. We had sent a few emails back and forth through our case manager, but it’s always a relief to be able to ask your IPs a question and just check in with them from time to time, especially when you’re waiting for something to happen.

Shortly after we were cleared, we received a very sweet email from my IM about how excited she is. We are, of course, just as excited. She shared how she’s not normally a “crier” but we may have to bear through some tears with her. I, on the other hand, am most definitely a crier, and will happily share any and all tears with her. We know this is an emotional rollercoaster and expect her to have lots of mixed emotions and questions.

I’m excited for a completely different second journey. I will get to share all the “firsts” with my IM. First ultrasound, first heartbeat, first gender reveal, and the first time she will get to hold her new baby and be a mommy. I’m looking forward to having a whole new experience because it will make this journey just as special as my first surrogacy.

Now we are just hoping the next six weeks fly by. We will be anxiously awaiting my meds (the only time I will EVER be excited about receiving a bunch of needles) and hoping things go smoothly in preparation for transfer!

Six weeks and counting….

 

Medical Workup

Last Friday I had my medical workup for round two! It was much more timely and a much shorter day than I remember from the last time. From start to finish was only about 3 hours this go around.

I had an ultrasound and Doppler first where they checked to make sure my uterus, ovaries, and blood-flow looked normal. I was told everything looked “beautiful”. It’s hard to accept any compliments centered around your uterus, so having a “beautiful” uterus is….good? Um, thanks? Every ultrasound I had during my last surrogacy the techs told me the same thing. I mean, it’s a little awkward, right? Is that just the choice word these ladies use to help make us surrogates feel more comfortable? You’re up there on the table, your butt hanging off the edge, your feet up in stirrups, and the ultrasound tech all up in your business with the internal wand and they tell you “your uterus looks beautiful.” Hey, a compliment’s a compliment and I will gladly accept and say thanks, but maybe next time buy me a drink first? (Non-alcoholic, of course!)

Next, both husby and I had to leave a urine sample and get some blood drawn, although I had to have like 10 millions viles drawn and he only had to do 3. We shared some wonderful “that’s what she said” jokes with the phlebotomist who was quite a good sport. We then sat down and had a condensed consultation with the nurse in charge of my case. She basically just updated us on changes since we have done this before. I was happy to learn there are less suppositories now and a lower does of PIO to begin with!!

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All the wonderful tools and objects that will be used for my exam

We then went right to the hysteroscopy. This, ladies and gentlemen, is AWKWARD in every way you could imagine. We walk in to a cold, sterile room and on the counter on the far side of the room is a tray full of wonderful objects they are going to use during my examination, not to mention the giant scope that is going to go places no scope should go.

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“The Scope”

This time I have to get completely naked and put on the most interesting paper gown you will ever see. It looks like one of those crazy outfits you would see in a fashion show that no one would actually EVER wear in public, except it’s bright pink and made of tissue paper. I was definitely the most sexy person in the room, just sayin’.

The doc came in and introduced himself and got right to work. I had a breast exam, while my husby was present, a PAP, which my husby DID NOT watch, and then the ever wonderful hysteroscopy. He warned me it would make strange bubbling noises and assured me it was the machine, but oh man, I was unprepared for my ridiculous, uncontrollable, and immature giggling that would accompany the noise. Seriously….I was like a teenage boy laughing at a fart joke. It was ridiculous and embarrassing, but at least it kept me distracted. After I got redressed, we had a short chat with the doctor, basically the same as the nurse, where he reminded us of all the risks and made sure we didn’t have any new questions.

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Still smiling, despite knowing what is about to happen.

Next was a meeting with a psychologist to make sure we really wanted to do this again and to make sure there are no red flags, like serious financial or marital problems, and that there is no risk of us developing an attachment or having trouble giving the baby/babies back at the end of the journey. We have been through this all before, so we were not worried. I took one last PAI test, and that was it.

I received a DELICIOUS box of toffee from my IM as a thank you for medical workup. She is far too kind, and after 3 days with no caffeine (including chocolate!) it was hard not to consume the entire box in one sitting! We are now back in the waiting game and are just awaiting test results, but like I said, we’ve done this before and nothing has changed so we are not worried. We are, however, excited to be moving forward and are beginning to count down the days until transfer!

Round 2

Anton and I knew we wanted to go through another surrogacy before we had even left the hospital after delivering the twins. (They are almost 8 months old now, FYI!!!) Seeing my IPs turn into Ps made it that much more easy of a decision. Seeing them hold their twins for the first time, seeing the look of love on their faces, and hearing my IM repeatedly thank me in the delivery room made it all worth it. There is something overwhelmingly addictive about helping others, but helping someone start or grow their family is something I could never adequately put into words. It is truly an indescribable feeling.

That being said, we are happy to announce that we are well on our way to our second journey. I reapplied in November, lol. Right after having the twins. It was not a hard decision for me. I had all my records sent off from my OB, had her sign a release, and got to work with ConceiveAbilities for Round 2!

I had to complete another phone screen in March, which was basically just an update to my profile to include my last surrogacy and update addresses and stuff since we had moved into our new house. I passed, wooohoo!

We then got set up for a match meeting for the end of April. I’m not going to lie, I was way more nervous this time around! I had such an amazing first journey that I was a little nervous about going through the process again. And seriously, match meeting is the absolute worst kind of blind date ever. You are meeting these IPs and wanting them to allow you to carry their child/children for them after only an hour of conversation. And that conversation is mostly horrifyingly personal information that you may not have told your best friend.

Would I find IPs that were just as incredible as my first set? Would the pregnancy be just as easy this time around? Would there be complications? Will my IPs want to be involved or will they be distant? Will they be long lost relatives? (haha!)

I did have one very specific request going into my second journey….no family! LOL!!! Finding out we were related after being matched to my last IPs was amazing! I loved that everyone was involved and it meant so much to know I was really helping my own family grow, but I wanted something different the second time around. Part of me does want the same journey again, because minus a few hiccups in the beginning, it was nearly perfect, but I also want a very different second journey. I requested to be matched with someone who did not have children of their own yet, who were not related to me (we even joked about doing a genealogy tree just in case), and someone local. Obviously I wouldn’t rule anyone out without meeting them, but I just wanted a different second journey because I knew I would have different experiences which can only help me grow as a person.

We have been matched with an amazing woman! She is single, a little older than myself and my last IPs, she is super down to earth and smart, she lives out of state, and she is unable to carry a baby to term safely. She was able to go through an egg retrieval with CCRM, and has 5 embryos plus 1 other embryo she was able to retrieve from a fertility clinic near her. She only wants one baby so I believe her plan is to only transfer one embryo at a time, but she would keep twins if the embryo split.

We are THRILLED! I am a little sad that with transferring only one embryo there is a less likely chance for twins as I would LOVE to carry twins again (….maybe surrogacy round 3…?) and I’m a little bummed she is out of state as she won’t get to come to every appointment, but I know she is planning to fly out for as many as she can, and she will be in the delivery room! Plus, she’s pretty incredible so I am so excited to see her become a mommy!!

We now just play the waiting game. Since my IM is with CCRM , the same fertility clinic used by my last IPs, they require one year between delivery and transfer. The great thing is, I already know the staff, who are all wonderful, and I already know the drill and their requirements. The twins were born October 26, 2015, so we are planning for a transfer around that same time this year. I am currently waiting for my medical workup to get medically cleared again. We did have it scheduled for the end of June, but we have pushed it back to the end of July, just in case the first transfer doesn’t take. That way we have until the end of December before I would have to repeat any tests. Once the medical clearance is complete, we go to legal, and then we will just be waiting for October to arrive.

The countdown for my second journey has officially begun! The waiting is tough, especially because we aren’t able to talk to my IM until after legal is complete, BUT October is only 4 months away. Knowing how fast my last journey went, October will be here before we know it!

The Big Day

This has been, by far, the hardest post to write. I have revised and edited so many times I’ve lost count. I have really struggled to find the right words to accurately describe how incredible the delivery day was. But, here is my best attempt.

We had a crazy weekend leading up to delivery. My husby and I were so busy getting our condo ready to list. We had to finish cleaning, finish organizing, and take a bunch of stuff to storage, but we got it all done without any more contractions.

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My last pregnant picture. 36 weeks, 5 days

Knowing it was my last day pregnant, Sunday, October 25, we went to breakfast, came home and relaxed a little while my husby napped since he had worked the night before, then finished getting everything to storage. Sunday evening, my husby’s mom came to pick up our girls and keep them for a few days while I’d be in the hospital. My husby and I then went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the hopes I would still go into labor on my own. I had started having contractions with both my girls while eating there, but it didn’t work out this time. We had talked about going to a movie, but I was exhausted after dinner and knew I’d need to be rested for the next day so we headed home and snuggled on the couch watching The Walking Dead instead.

I didn’t really sleep much that night. I was so nervous about being induced because I had read that it was longer, more painful, and could lead to a c-section. I had been trying to mentally prepare myself for weeks because I knew I would ultimately do whatever was best for the babies, but a c-section was the one thing I had been dreading since finding out we were expecting twins.

The morning of delivery, October 26, I think I went through every possible emotion. I was nervous, excited, scared, overjoyed, and a little sad to know my journey was coming to an end. The last few weeks had been pretty tough and uncomfortable, but I still couldn’t believe it had gone so quickly. I talked to the babies and told them what an exciting day we had planned, and reminded little boy to be cooperative. I rubbed my tummy a few extra times and said my farewells. I knew I would miss feeling them moving around.

My IPs picked me up about 10am because my husband was staying behind to meet a photographer to take pictures of our condo for the brochures and would meet us at the hospital later. We drove to the doctor’s appointment where I got to meet my IF’s parents for the first time because they were picking up my IP’s son. They were so incredibly sweet and his mom told me she loved me already and gave me a hug. The outpouring of gratitude from my IP’s families has been overwhelming. Starting this journey, you think of how you are helping your IPs, but you really have no idea how many people are truly involved.

Our appointment was at 10:30. The doctor did a quick ultrasound to check the position of the babies and they were both head down! We were thrilled! She also did a physical exam and I was dilated to 4cm! We were officially ready for delivery. We were walked over to labor and delivery and escorted to a room. I was then hooked up to monitors and IVs and the waiting game began. I was still not having any contractions.

The nurses were struggling to keep little boys heartbeat on the monitor so they did another ultrasound to find the best position for the heart rate monitor and he had flipped! He was breech again! We were all in shock because he was head down less than an hour before and I hadn’t felt him flip over. I knew my doctor would still deliver him breech, but I was still really nervous about the potential for a c-section.

We settled into our room and I began the awesome texting game to let everyone know what was going on. My husby and the photographer arrived and we all waited…and waited…and waited. I was still not having any contractions. Finally, we decided to start pitocin to get things moving and it worked, but it was slow and my contractions were not regulating. The doctor decided to break my water, but we had discussed how quickly my girls came after my water breaking (45mins with my first and 30mins with my second….but I was already in active labor with both) so we decided to do an epidural first.

The doctor came back and broke my water at about 3pm. They also increased my pitocin. My contractions started to get stronger and more regular and by 6:30, I was definitely feeling lots of pressure. The doctor came back in to check on me and I was at 8cm but she decided to go ahead and have me transferred to the OR because 7pm is shift change and she wanted to make sure I was set up and ready. My IM and husby put on some really sexy scrubs, booties, and hair nets and followed as I was wheeled to the OR.

The OR was chaos. I was wheeled in and had to lift myself onto the table in the middle of the room. There were so many doctors and nurses in the room I could hardly keep track and on top of that it was shift change for the nurses so all the nurses who introduced themselves and got me set up would leave and new nurses would come in and introduce themselves. I can not remember the name of a single nurse in that room. I was hooked up to more monitors, my IV was adjusted, I still had an epidural going, I was put on oxygen and a blood pressure monitor all while trying to focus on not pushing yet. My doctor wanted me to wait until I was fully 10cm to push because she wanted to be able to deliver little boy breech and knew it would be easier if I was fully dilated.

My doctor was INCREDIBLE. With all the chaos going on in the room, she was still able to maintain control, inform everyone of the plan to deliver baby girl and then reach in and grab baby boy to pull him out breech, all while staring straight at me and watching me react to each contraction. She kept telling me she was just waiting for me to tell her I was ready to push.

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Baby boy

I’m not sure exactly what time I was ready, but I was ready. I think I only pushed through three, maybe four, contractions and baby girl was out and lying on my chest. She was born at 7:26pm. I tried to relax for a minute and catch my breath. I couldn’t see my IM or my husby because they were up behind my head, but I could hear them talking and taking pictures. It was only a second and my doctor was telling them to take baby girl away, hold baby boy in place and she was breaking his water.

The rest was really uncomfortable and indescribable because the doctor literally reached inside of me, grabbed baby boy’s legs and pulled him out. I only had to push to get his head out. It was awkward and painful…and AMAZING. He was born at 7:28pm.

I can not tell you the overwhelming feeling of relief and happiness I felt in that moment. I was so glad I had made it through delivery and I didn’t have to have a c-section. The doctor and the nurses were telling me great job, I could hear my IM in the background almost in tears and thanking me, I could hear the babies crying, and my husby came up, also a little teary, and held my hand and told me he was proud of me. It was such a magical moment. (And I’m totally crying while typing this.)

20151026_193439While we waited for the placentas to deliver, they weighed both babies, baby girl weighed 5lbs 13oz and baby boy weighed 6lbs 7oz, checked all their vitals, got them cleaned up, and wrapped them in blankets. My husby was busy snapping pictures while my IM got to cut the umbilical 20151026_195126cords and meet the babies. She picked them up20151026_200427 and brought them over to me to meet.

Then, just like that, my husby, IM, and the babies were taken back to the labor and delivery room while I was transferred back on to a bed.

The rest of the evening is kind of a blur. I was exhausted. Back in our room, the photographer got some pictures of the babies and my IPs and my husby and I. Some of my IPs family was there and there were tears. We got moved up to the mommy and baby floor and my IPs got a room directly across the hall from us.

20151026_195055I was so tired so I tried to get some much needed rest. My nurse was so incredible and made sure I stayed comfortable and would wake me every time the babies were feeding in the other room so I knew to pump.

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Baby girl on the left and baby boy on the right. They really like being beside each other.
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Holding baby girl shortly after delivery

My two days in the hospital were great. I felt really good besides the expected pain from delivery and my epidural sight was a little sore. I got to see the babies a bunch and cuddle them and spend a lot of time with my IPs and the various family members coming in and out to see the babies. I even got to Skype my mom and dad so they could see the babies. It was nice to just get to spend time relaxing and enjoying all the happiness. My husby’s mom brought my girls by Tuesday afternoon and they both got to hold the babies and see what mommy had worked so hard for. My oldest just kept saying how cute they were.

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Saying goodbye to the babies before heading home from the hospital

Myself, my IPs, and the babies all got to go home Wednesday, October 28, morning. It was so nice to get to relax in my own bed again. Since then, we have been running around doing a million different things and staying so incredibly busy. We listed our condo on Friday and accepted the second offer on Saturday so we are officially under contract. I have met with my IPs on three occasions to give them breast milk as I am now a milk making machine and pumping away. I have invested in Mother’s Milk tea and made a batch of lactation cookies which seem to be helping me keep up my supply. I was so glad my milk came in because I know how beneficial it is to the babies and myself. It’s also so nice to be able to help just a little bit longer.

People keep asking me how I’m doing and I keep telling them how great I am. I had very little pain after delivery and was up walking within an hour of giving birth. Emotionally I am also doing really great. I thought I would be a little more sad to see the babies go, but seeing how happy my IPs are makes it nearly impossible for me to be upset. I do miss being pregnant though. Despite how uncomfortable I was at the end, I still absolutely love being pregnant and think it’s one of the most special things I’ve been able to experience.

Looking back over the past 18 months, I feel like a princess in a fairytale. Despite the chaos and the fear at the beginning of our journey, both with my IM’s diagnosis and the SCH scare, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ending to this journey. This is why we do this. There was so much love and joy in those hospital rooms the two days following delivery that my heart will be forever full. I have definitely been changed for the better and have learned so much about myself.

I couldn’t have done it all without the amazing support from my family and friends, my IPs, my ABSOLUTELY AMAZING HUSBY, and the hardworking team at ConceiveAbilites. I am so grateful to have been a part of something so wonderful and I will remember this journey always. Thank you to everyone involved!

This has been an incredible year for my husby and I, and we are so thankful for all the good happening in our lives right now. We are really looking forward to the next year and new adventures.

Let the Countdown Begin

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35 weeks Still managing to walk around at the dog park

The past two weeks have flown by. At my 35 week appointment, Thursday October 15, babies were doing great but little boy was back to being breech and I was a little sad, but knew my doc would deliver him that way as long as little girl stayed head down. She has been comfy that way the entire pregnancy! He was estimated at 6lbs 3oz and she was at 5lbs 9oz, although that’s probably low because it was hard to get a measurement with as low as she is. She also informed me that I was dilated to 3cm! WOOT! She was certain I would go into labor that weekend.

It was then that she informed me that the hospital I am planning to deliver at is no longer in-network with my insurance. This began a very chaotic afternoon of phone calls, faxes, and another trip back to her office. My IM and I were frantically trying to figure out how to get everything sorted out with the hospital I want to deliver at as there was no way to change hospitals with me so close to delivery. We had done the hospital tour, filed the surrogacy and parentage paperwork with the hospital, and they already have our birthplan on file. With me about to deliver, switching hospitals would be a complete nightmare. My doc does have rights at another hospital, but I know nothing about that hospital and whether or not it is surrogate friendly. Not to mention it’s 45 minutes from my house! So, finally, after about 3 hours of frantically calling insurance and the hospital and the doctor, we were able to file a Continuity of Care form and I received pre-approval to still deliver at my chosen hospital. (After all the chaos, we learned it wasn’t even necessary as I had been approved to deliver there in June, while the hospital was still in network.) Ugh. Whatever. At least we all knew that when I go into labor I have a place to go.

Luckily, despite all the contractions I had that weekend, I did NOT go into labor.

Then, Tuesday comes and I get a phone call from insurance. She informs me they received my Continuity of Care form, but since my doc has rights at another hospital I would most likely need to deliver there, but either way it takes up to 15 days for approval. I was like WTF?? I tried to explain our situation about being a surrogacy and not having any of the paperwork (which took weeks to get filed at the other hospital) filed with the new hospital, plus the drive time from my house. She informed me that according to her maps, it was only a 13 minute drive to the other hospital. I wanted to punch her in the face. I’m pretty sure I know where I live and how long it will take me to get to the hospital and that’s if my husband is home. If he is at work and has to drive home to take me to the hospital that adds an additional 30 minutes to the time. What if it was an emergency and I needed to get there quick? I couldn’t call an ambulance because they would take me to the hospital that is no longer in network (because it’s 10 minutes from my house!) So I asked what happened if I went into labor that night and went to the original hospital. She just said it may not be approved and then we’d be responsible for the bill. She told me she would try to rush the form since we were so close to delivery, but I should plan on going to the other hospital until I had approval. I hung up and instantly started sobbing. I was in shock. I didn’t even know what to do or how to proceed or anything. How can they tell someone who is 36 weeks pregnant to pick a different hospital??

I was trying to catch my breath and calm down to call my case manager when insurance calls me back. She was like oops, just kidding. I read your file and see that it was actually pre-approved back in June. I was so mad hanging up. I knew this was what had happened Thursday as well. If the first person I had called (because I talked to 6 different people between all my calls, not to mention the calls made by my case manager) had just read my file and seen the approval, all the stress could’ve been avoided. I’m lucky all that chaos didn’t put me in labor!

So, the lesson from all of this? DO YOUR RESEARCH! Especially if you are in some sort of customer outreach position. Read the customer’s file. Make sure you know ALL the information BEFORE you call the customer who is 36 weeks pregnant with twins.

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36 weeks

I had another appointment yesterday, October 22. I was 36 weeks 1 day. My doc was surprised I was still pregnant. I was like “you and me both, sister.” I have been waiting and waiting for labor to start as I have been miserable this week. I am so beyond uncomfortable with how low the babies are sitting and I have had a head cold all week. They didn’t do any measurements on the babies, but we did see that little boy is back to being head down with his sister, she really just wanted to check my cervix. It was still at 3cm. I was disappointed. If I get to 4cm, she sends me to the hospital to have babies! I thought for sure it would be at least a 4 because I have been having contractions almost every night but those darn things just won’t get regular. She tried to stretch my cervix a little while doing my physical exam (it’s not a comfortable feeling) but she wasn’t very aggressive with it. She started to tell me that if I made it to my next appointment she could be more aggressive to see if that would help labor, but I must have made a face at her because she immediately revoked her question. She asked “how does Monday sound for a birthday?” My IM and I both agreed it would be perfect. So, if I don’t go into labor on my own this weekend, I will go in for a physical exam on Monday morning and I’ll either be at 4cm and get sent to the hospital or I won’t be 4cm and she will induce me. I am so ready to have these babies though. I have my hospital bag packed (and know which hospital I can go to), I ordered a portable breast pump through insurance, and rented a hospital grade breast pump to keep at home.

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My awesome husby shaving my legs because I can no longer reach

On top of all the pregnancy chaos, we are trying to prep our condo to get listed next week because our new house may be done a little earlier and we need to make sure the condo is sold before we can close on the new house. All the cleaning and organizing we have to get done this weekend may be just the ticket to put me into labor. I’m trying not to think too much about it because we now have an official end date in sight, although I would much prefer to go into labor on my own, but I haven’t had any contractions since my last appointment. T-minus 4 days!

Measuring 42

We got our maternity photos back and they are gorgeous!! I am beyond happy with how well they turned out and I want to give a special thanks to Lora and Ted with Swinson Studios (http://www.swinsonstudios.com/)  for taking them for us. They do such amazing work! We are planning to have them present for the birth to capture all the incredible moments, so hopefully these babies stay cooperative and we have an easy (and photogenic) delivery that we can capture on film.

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This is my absolute favorite from the shoot!

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Last weekend was the baby shower for my IPs and it was beautiful. I got to meet so much (more) of our extended family. It really makes this journey so much more special that we are all related. She got so many cute baby clothes and necessities, and I got to see the ADORABLE nursery they have set up for the twins! It is so incredible how much love will be surrounding these babies!

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My IM and I at the baby shower

It is still a little uncomfortable to me how thankful everyone is. They all tell me what an incredible gift I’m giving and how amazing I am for sacrificing so much, but honestly, it’s not a sacrifice at all. I am so thankful that I am able to help grow another family and I would never think twice about it. I have the ability to help, and I really want to help, so I am. That is the end of the story.

I had another doctor’s appointment on Thursday, October 8. I was 34 weeks, 1 day pregnant with these twins. Both babies are still doing phenomenal and growing so fast! They were both measuring about a week ahead, and little boy was estimated at 5lbs 7oz, and little girl was estimated at 5lbs 9oz. That is 11lbs of baby already! I am going to the doctor weekly now and although little boy was head up at my last appointment, he appears to be making his way back to being head down as his head was right in the center of my belly this time. I’m just so glad that little girl is staying put in a head down position and we are still able to plan on a vaginal delivery!

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34 weeks

I also had the culture done for Strep B and the nice doc measured my cervix. On the ultrasound it was still holding steady around 4cm long with no movement when she pushed on my belly (cervix of steel). She did a physical exam also and said little girl’s head is pushing my cervix back, but if the doc pulled it forward I was measuring about 1cm dilated. That means absolutely nothing, however. I could stay 1cm until I go into actual labor. She kept asking if I’ve been having contractions, but I really haven’t had many Braxton Hicks contractions and she said it is most likely because my uterus is stretched so large that it’s actually difficult for it to produce contractions. She thinks I will just go into one of my appointments and she’ll inform me that I’m dilated to 4cm and send me over to the hospital. She said she could be wrong, but she doesn’t think it will be anything dramatic and she doesn’t like women to “walk into the hospital and have the baby fall out.” She still wants those babies to cook until at least 36 weeks, but then she said she could be a little more “aggressive” with my cervical exams to see if that helps things along as she wants me to go into labor and not have to be induced. She then measured my tummy, with her handy measuring tape, and informed me that I’m measuring 42 weeks. Yep. My belly is measuring nearly 8 weeks ahead.

I have definitely reached the uncomfortable stage of pregnancy. Walking, standing, sitting, lying down, getting dressed (especially tying my shoes), shaving my legs….all of these have become extremely difficult, if not impossible. I’m still having pain in my upper left leg and frontal pelvis area. I can barely lift my left leg to get dressed, get in/out of the bathtub, get into the car, or go up the stairs to our condo. The pain is the worst when I’m lying in bed and have to roll over or change positions. My right rib pain is also near constant now and I walk around with an ice pack most of the time. It has gone from a dull ache to more of a tight muscle that spasms when I move a certain way. The ice helps though, and it’s only a few short weeks until these babies arrive!! My AMAZING husby has been so incredible. He has been doing so much around the house and helping with the girls and cooking. I’m very lucky to have him!

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34 weeks, 1 day with twins

One of the other surrogates posted a picture of her gorgeous belly at 27 weeks pregnant and a lot of the girls were jealous that she doesn’t have any stretch marks, myself included. I have TONS of stretch marks from my girls, but thankfully they haven’t gotten any worse with this pregnancy. They are mostly due to genetics, but I have been using cocoa butter religiously and it seems to be working. If nothing else, I haven’t had any itchiness due to my skin stretching! I used to be really ashamed of them, and I still won’t wear a bikini in public, but I have learned to embrace them like battle wounds. They remind me that I got to grow two beautiful daughters, and I know there are many women out there who would kill to be able to be pregnant and earn some stripes. I am so lucky to have mine. 20151008_194406

Yes, I am HUGE. Thank you for pointing that out.

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30 weeks
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Left: 33.5 weeks with my second Right: 31 weeks with the twins

Today I am 31 weeks, 6 days pregnant, but I look like I’m way past due and everyone, including strangers, friends, and family, has made a point of reminding me just how big I’m getting. It’s now to the point that most people see me and just say, “aww” or “oooooh”  combined with “you must be about ready to pop” or “you poor thing.” I let them know I have about 6 weeks left and just keep smiling. I am not a “poor thing” as I am extremely happy these babies are growing they way they are because it means they are happy and healthy in there. I am waddling with pride and excitement these days, and it is nice to have someone say “you look great” and leave it at that. I see myself in the mirror several times a day. Trust me, I know how HUGE I’m getting. So, thank you to those of you who are choosing your words wisely. 😉

Today, Tuesday September 22, I had another doctor’s appointment and these babies really are doing AMAZING! The ultrasound tech told me I have a “cervix of steel” and the doctor told me I couldn’t make it look any easier on paper! WOOT! The babies were both measuring exactly a week ahead, little boy was estimated at 4lbs 13oz, and little girl was estimated at 4lbs 8oz. (That is over 9lbs of babies already with 6 weeks or so left to go.) I have gained 30 pounds to this point. I really doubt I will make it all the way to November 4th, the 38 week point that my doctor will not make me go past, but there is no way to predict when these babies will decide to enter the real world. I’m predicting mid-October and my doc said she was fine with that. We want to try to make it to at least 36 weeks which is October 21. As long as they are healthy, I will survive until they are ready.

I am having Braxton Hicks contractions almost every night, and my doctor told me to start counting them. If I have 6 or more in an hour for 3 or more hours, I should give her a call. I’m not worried yet as they have not lasted more than an hour. It just means my body is prepping and will be ready to have these babies soon.

Both babies are head down and are unlikely to flip again at this point as there really isn’t much room in there. It is certainly possible, but I’m staying very positive and looking forward to a vaginal delivery. I had such incredible and easy deliveries with both of my own girls that I’m confident these two will allow for the same. I am trying to mentally prepare, just in case, for a c-section, but I will be doing everything in my power to prevent it from happening. I am not sure why it scares me so much, but I really am nervous about having a c-section. I had a nightmare that my doctor wasn’t on call so another doctor had to deliver me, but told the anesthesiologist to put me under and did a c-section, despite both babies being head down, because he had a tee time to make.

I think I’m most nervous about not being able to see my IPs reaction to seeing the babies for the first time. As surrogates, that moment is the reason we do this and to miss out would be really disappointing to me. I have already had to come to terms with delivering in the OR, whether or not I have a c-section, because the labor and delivery rooms are not equipped for twins at the hospital I have chosen. This was disappointing as I have arranged for a photographer to be there and she will now not be able to capture that special moment because she won’t be allowed in the OR. I know she will still get some incredible photos from before and after delivery, but now it’s even more important for me to be able to witness them seeing their babies for the first time. I’m just staying positive about everything and I know it will all work out how it is supposed to.

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Apollo snuggling the babies
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28 weeks 5 days. Taking a rest at the dog park.

As far as symptoms go, I am still having some pretty intense pain in my left leg and pelvis. It’s obvious that they are both head down and that both babies are getting bigger because my pain is getting more intense. My husband now has to help me get dressed because I can’t lift my left leg without getting a shooting pain. He has also taken over responsibility for tying my shoes and shaving my legs as I can’t bend over far enough. I get tired more easily each day, but am trying to still walk as much as I can handle. We still take our dog to the dog park we just have to take the shorter trail now. Our dog, Apollo, does great though. He’s really good about waiting up for me and is very protective. He now also loves to snuggle up to my tummy. I have trouble getting comfortable, especially at night, and have to change positions a lot, but who didn’t see that coming? I knew it was going to be rough at the end with twins, but I signed up anyway. Every ache and pain is SO worth the end result.

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Framed Beauty and the Beast puzzle by Thomas Kinkade

Being home is challenging. I went from working full time and being in school full time while managing the schedule of my two girls to nothing. I get stir crazy very quickly and can tell I’m getting a little grumpy these days. I am bored and frustrated because I get tired so easily which makes it hard for me to get out and do much. I am still reading (I like the crime dramas), and I play a lot of video games (Destiny just came out with a new expansion that is super fun). I have also started working on some Thomas Kinkade Disney puzzles that I have framed and will be hanging in my girls’ bedroom. I do love the fact that I have time to help my girls study (my oldest is memorizing sight words for Kindergarten) and I get to read to them more. We will be starting the Lemony Snicket series soon. My husby is great about making sure I’m not doing too much and he’s being very patient with me. I’m so lucky to have his support. We are just taking it one day at a time and trying to enjoy it all because we know it will be over soon. We make it a point to have the nanny watch the girls one day a week so we can have a date day and I can get out of the house.

PS….we got maternity photos done and they turned out INCREDIBLE! I can not wait to get them back and share!

Hello 3rd trimester!

It has been awhile since my last post, and things are going great! I am happy to report that my IM is recovering fantastically well from both her surgeries that were done in early August. They were unable to detect any new cancer and it seems the chemo did a wonderful job and she is well on her way to being past this monster! She is currently finishing up her treatment with several weeks of radiation, but we are all hopeful that this will be the end of her battle and she will be healthy and ready for these babies to come in the next few months!

I had my 28 week appointment on Tuesday August 25 and I had to drink the awful glucose mixture which tasted like orange soda that had been WAY over-sweetened. It made me a little nauseated and gave me a headache, but I was happy that I was able to keep it down. We now wait for the results to make sure I don’t have gestational diabetes.

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Two heads, side by side

My IM was able to make it to the appointment and was able to see how big the babies have gotten. They were both head down at my appointment so I’m staying very hopeful that the little girl (which is the presenting twin) will remain head down so I can have a vaginal delivery. She has a very limited number of weeks left until she will be unable to flip over so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that she is comfortable and just stays put. (Although my bladder would disagree!)

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Little girl

Both babies are still measuring slightly ahead, one was measuring 28w1d, and the other was 28w3d, when I was actually only 27w6d. They also weighed in at 2lbs 8oz and 2lb 11oz meaning I already have over 5 pounds of baby in me and I can definitely feel the added pressure on my bladder and my spine. I am so happy that they are growing at such a healthy rate!

I have been having some pretty intense nerve pain in my left leg and the front of my pelvis. The doctor said they are most likely positioned on my sciatic nerve, causing the pain down my back, bottom, and the back of my thigh, and they are obviously on another nerve that is causing shooting/burning pain on the front side of my pelvis every time I move my left leg. It wasn’t so bad at first, but it’s getting increasingly more difficult to get dressed or walk as I get the shooting pain whenever I raise my left leg, and it is especially difficult for me to rollover in bed which means I am tired ALL THE TIME. I think I need to be more adamant about taking naps.

Due to the pain I have been having, and my inability to perform all my necessary responsibilities at work, my doctor and I decided it is best for me to not work for the rest of my pregnancy. Standing for prolonged periods of time causes my pain to get worse and my leg went completely numb at work the other night. With me being by myself for my entire shift, it’s not possible for me to sit down or change positions to try to alleviate the pain, and some duties, such as unloading shipments and climbing ladders, are not safe for me to do at all. So, I will not be working for the remainder of my pregnancy. The good news, is that the doctor will not let me go past 38 weeks, so we know these babies will be here by November 4th at the latest. The official countdown can begin and I can just focus on staying active and keeping them head down and prepped for delivery.

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26 weeks, 4 days. Swimming at Chatfield Reservoir (I could definitely use a little more sun!)
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27 weeks, 4 days. Hiking at Garden of the Gods

I am a little concerned about not working and not being as active so I’m trying to do lots of walking and I’ve been riding a stationary bike (which is still really difficult when you bump a belly every time you lift up on the peddle). My husby is super supportive and we’ve been trying to find different places to walk around indoors so that I’m not hot and we don’t get bored with the same places. We also try to still do (EASY) hikes and go swimming around town. The nights that he is not working, we can go for walks when it starts to cool down in the evening. My doctor has also recommended a chiropractor as well as more swimming and massage to help reduce the strain on my back and to alleviate some of the pain.

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28 weeks

Today is day 4 of not working and I can already tell I’m going to be a little bored. I have been reading, walking, playing video games, and hanging out with my girls to try to keep myself entertained, but I tire easily so I’m be very careful not to overdo anything. I also watch a lot of Netflix after the girls go to bed. So please, feel free to drop me a line or swing by or send me an activity to do or recommend a movie to watch to help keep me entertained! At least I’m finding time to relax and finally get the haircut I’ve been needing for six months!

This weekend we have plans to get some maternity photos done with my IPs and we will be attending a family reunion together so I’ll get to meet all my husby and IM’s extended family. It’s fun being related and meeting so many people who know all about our unique and wonderful situation. It has definitely brought our families closer together.

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

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Baby Boy
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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.

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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!