Thursday, November 7, 2013

Our Baby Story

In no way am I a good enough writer to compose this post and be able to fully convey the magnitude of my experience over the last few days.  However, it was so powerful and touching to all involved I know I have to write it down. If for no other reason, other than my children are to young to have been there and understand what exactly happened. I feel like them not hearing it while it is fresh on my mind and heart would be doing them a disservice. So here I am ready to share with you today and with them at some point later, when they ask "Mommy, why did you do that?" what will probably be one of the most tender stories of my life.
In the beginning this surrogacy started as a means to an end.  It seemed like a great way to pay off my student loans quickly while being able to stay home with my kids. After all, both of my pregnancies have been uncomplicated and fairly easy. My labor and deliveries also without complications and very quick. This was going to be a great way to help my family and not really impact our way of life too much. It was also a nice gesture for the other family. You know, win, win.
So we began the process and were matched up with what seemed to be a pretty good match. All was well in surrogacy land.  As time went by I really got to know the other mom, we'll call her the intended mother for sake of keeping things straight without using names. She attended all the appointments of mine that she could, which was most of them, and we talked pretty often on the phone or via text. Eventually, the intended parents met my kids and I met the daughter they already had. Chris was still not really involved with the other family because he was at work through most of it. For me though, over time, the intended mom became a friend. The more pregnant you become the more you want to talk about pregnancy and since this was her baby she ate up every little bit of information I was willing to divulge. She and her husband are two of the most caring people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I didn't speak to him much, only a few times at the major appointments, but he was always so gracious. Their compassion toward me was indescribable. They were always respectful of my privacy and always thoughtful of my needs and the needs of my entire family. My sweet Eli came to most of the Dr. appointments with me because he is not in school yet and by the end he would ask if my friend was going to be there. He looked forward to seeing her. All of this, and I still had no idea what I was in for, I'm not sure any of us did.
By this time, what started as a great way to pay off some old debt, had bloomed into something a little more. God was teaching me how to be compassionate to these other people, complete strangers really. He was teaching me to be grateful for my own children and how to be more compassionate to them. To watch a mother who is unable to carry her own child savor every tiny kick she was able to feel or her eyes  fill with tears at the sound of her baby's heartbeat, can sure make treasure some of the truly small moments that you are blessed with in life.
Even so, the lack of sleep there at the end and the foot wedged in your rib can start to really wear you down. Looking back, I was not a very good sport in the final weeks of this pregnancy. I was ready. I was huge, in pain, hungry, tired and hell bent on not carrying this baby for the full 40 weeks (Eli came at 37 so I just knew she was going to be early too.)  I'm sure I wasn't quite pleasant to be around. At my 37  week appointment the Dr. decided that she would go ahead and schedule to induce 3 days shy of 40 weeks (November 6th,) it was a definite end to this all and I was grateful to have it on the books (though still sure the baby would come before then.) The intended mother dutifully checked on me every few day,s but the closer we got the grumpier I got.  She respected my feelings and gave me the space I needed until finally the day came, it was hospital time.
When we arrived, even though we came from different places, it was like a weird act of fate and we ended up at the parking garage elevator all at the same time. Looking back, it was kind of like a premonition that we were going to be crossing the finish line all together.
Our spirits were high, today was the day. We were checked in and all sent up to labor and delivery together. Surrogacy is a unique case and the intended mother was very thorough with the hospital making sure everything was set up. Chris and I would have a labor and delivery room and the intended parents would have one just next door. The plan was to have the baby and the nurse would hand it to the intended parents at which point they would go next door and check all the vitals. This would be a great way to set immediate boundaries and give both parties a little privacy from the other. Neither couple could be prepared for what was in store.
After we got to our room the intended parents said their goodbyes and went next door so that they could hook up all my IVs, the epidural and get started. The process took about two hours. During this time Chris was back and forth a couple times keeping the couple posted and I was occasionally texting the intended mother with little updates. Finally, we hit the "sit and wait" point and the intended parents came in just before I was going to nap.  I previously described them as compassionate and thoughtful and they were true to their nature. They again told Chris and I how grateful they were to us and presented me with a precious locket so that I could always keep my own children close to my heart. After chatting a few min they left so that I could rest. Over the next 4 hours we texted a little and I cat napped a bit, but all and all it was pretty quiet.
Then, just like that it was time.  I called the intended mother while my nurse called the Dr. and everyone arrived. The intended mother was very excited, but we had originally agreed that both intended parents would be present (within respectful distance) and the intended dad came in to say good luck but, headed out. I told him he was welcome to stay because I didn't want him to miss seeing his baby girl for the first time, but he said he had a lifetime to spend with this little girl and wanted to make sure I was comfortable. With that he stepped in the hall and we began. 3 pushes, and 8 min later, the Dr held up a perfectly pink and healthy baby girl. I looked over at the the intended mom and watched tears fall to the floor.  She wrapped her arms around my neck and all she could say was "thank you, thank you, thank you, I cannot believe what you've done for us." They handed her the scissors, she cut the cord, they wrapped the baby and put her in the arms of her mother then sat them together, on the couch. The baby cried while gazing up at her mom for the first time. It was beautiful, she knew that was exactly where she was supposed to be. The mom just held her and kissed her, tears streaming the whole time, each one falling onto that tiny bundle. After a moment she brought her over and hugged me again with baby in arms. Her voice cracking through the tears but full of so much joy she said more thank yous, it was all she could do to peel her gaze away from the baby. While we finished up and they checked the immediate vitals of the baby, Chris went out to update dad and came back with the report that dad was just weeping in the hall, he said he was feeling so overwhelmed with the blessing they just received. The baby's nurse got them to the other room and came back. I asked her what the baby weighed and how long, she replied all I know is she is healthy and pink, there is no way I was taking her from them. So she let them be a few min while the other nurses were still buzzing around my room. As my Dr. finished up some paperwork she looked up and me and Chris over the top of her glasses and said something to the effect - I want you guys to know that I am so proud to be a part of this. I've been involved in several surrogate deliveries but I have never been touched like this. The support that you have for each other is truly something special. And the moment we were all just a part of will be something I never forget.- With that I was in tears as well as the 4 other nurses and the Dr.
Things settled down over the next few hours but even the director of the hospital came in at one point. She has heard about what had taken place in that room that afternoon. She gave us both a hug and told us she was proud to know us. Later we were moved to our post-partum and it was rounding out the end of our nurse's shift. She had been with us all day and was absolutely wonderful. She told me earlier in the day that she was working at the hospital when my Dr. did her residency and they have known each other a long time. She said she was pretty impressed because she'd never seen the Dr. tear up, ever. She was a tough nut to crack, were I believe the exact words. She wheeled us into the room and got us situated then came over and gave me a huge hug and just as she left she said "I will never forget you or what happened today."
That was they best way to sum it up, it was just the tiny moment in time when a tiny miracle came into the world and touched so many people all at the same time. Along the way so many people told me what a wonderful gift I was giving and how selfless it was, but being in our room that day, when a mother saw her child for the first time, it felt like being touched by God. I know, in the end, this baby was actually the blessing, not what I did.  She was a blessing to us all even if she came through our lives for only a moment.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Adventures of Trick or Treating

Well over all last night was a success. I wasn't sure how it was going to go in the new neighborhood, especially since there are no sidewalks for the kids to walk on.  The kids had lots of fun and I enjoyed meeting some of the neighbors. Everybody was very nice and I have to say, way to go Nottingham, they gave out GREAT candy.
So here are a few costume pics (a cat and rainbow fish) and some cool decorations we saw in our adventures...

I had to add this one, the only shot of my DIY Halloween wreath

The first year they have allowed me to put make up on them

This was really super cute in person, I didn't feel like the pictures did it justice

Until I saw this one...
(wait for me!)

Getting the lay of the land

I am not a big fan of decorating for Halloween. I would much rather just do "Fall" but the kids were way into it this year so we made a trip to the dollar store. Pretty good cemetery for a $20 budget.
(Hey Penny, the doggy in the window. Told you terriers are nosy)

Since we weren't sure how the walking was going to go without sidewalks we decided that the wagon was a safe bet. That, and in case I went into labor Chris offered to pull me home. Next year we will have to decorate it too.

Our first street, I loved these little lights.

This house was done up (again my pictures do not do it any kind of justice,) the kids were pretty creeped out. Eli loves scary stuff but even he was unsure. They are definitely the winner for the evening.

This next set up was very cool. The Zombies trapped inside the house were awesome. It was like a video thing so they were moving in front of the window. They were having a big Halloween party, it was a fun house.

This is our neighbor, the witch is actually really high in the tree. I just thought it was cute.

Pointing at the large pumpkin (see next photo)

Checking out their haul...

It was such a fun night. We got dressed in costumes, went to get the kids free kids meals at JCI (and ice cream) then headed home. After trick or treating we did baths and they snuggled up with a couple pieces of candy in their bean bags to watch the Charlie Brown Halloween special. Needless to say they were out almost as soon as their sweet heads hit the pillow. Now they're both at school and its time for me to pick up all things Halloween to make room for Thanksgiving, but first...the trick or treat basket! 

Happy Fall!