Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted

This has nothing to do with surrogacy; however, this has EVERYTHING to do with the power that surrogacy has brought to our family.  I'm so thankful that I grew up with a feminist as a mother!  She leads by great example.  She is strong, genuine, beautiful, kind, and inspiring.  She was on the forefront of gender equality, and I appreciate all she has done for my generation and beyond.  She is the reason we're seeing the next generation of feminism in our family.  Surrogacy has brought even more 'girl power' into my home.  It has made me feel a strength from deep within, and I think it's the best thing that I could have done to show our kids and the world what kind of woman I am.    
 
Sometime during the week of April 23, 2017, Lydia came downstairs dressed in this 'live in the sunshine' tank top and asked, "Mom, what's wrong with this tank top?  Why can't I wear it to school?"  My response was simple, but it empowered Lydia in a way I wasn't expecting.  I said, "You look stunning in that shirt, Lydia.  I can tell it makes you feel happy, confident, and beautiful.  There is no reason you shouldn't be allowed to wear it to school."  She asked, "What can I do to change the rules?"  I threw the question back to her, "What can you do to change the rules?"  She thought for only a moment and said with a sparkle in her eye, "I can have people sign a petition.  I signed one not that long ago when someone was trying to get recess for 7th and 8th grade students."  I nodded with a smile, "That's a great idea!  What else can you do?"  She put her fingers up to her face, looked down, and thought - "I can set up a meeting with my principal!"  I replied, "That's an excellent idea!  What do you plan on talking about?  What kind of presentation can you put together to convince her to change the rules?"  I believed, without hesitation, that this little girl is going to make a positive change in her school.  She's going to end this quest with a movement that will empower her in ways beyond her years.  This is a pivotal point in her life.  And so the work began... 

The next day she came home with a petition full of signatures.  She also explained, "Some kids were scared to sign it because they did't want to get in trouble."  I questioned, "Did you ask girls and boys from all grade levels to sign your petition?"  Lydia's nose drifted toward the celling while a smile whipped across her face as she said confidently, "Yes I did!"  I didn't even need to suggest this to her.  She's got this!  She started gathering her ideas about what she would like to present to her principal.  She was careful to take time and gather confidence in her statements.  She researched and saved pictures of her suggested acceptable and unacceptable tank tops to add into her PowerPoint presentation.  She worked diligently on making it a very positive persuasive presentation instead of causing an argument and making the 'it's not fair' claims.  She wanted to leave room for discussion and ask her principal how she could help.  She knew that her quest may need to take this issue farther than the principal. She knew she may need to go to the school board and is willing to do it.         

On Tuesday, May 16th, Lydia was sitting by the table playing a board game with her grandparents, who were in town for her band concert, when I noticed writing on her arm (I'm not a distraction, I'm a girl).  I asked, "Lydia, tell me about your arm..."  She looked down, wiped her hand across her forearm, and quietly gave a frustrated laugh, "All the girls are writing this on their arms.  Yesterday, Mr. (lets call him 'Mr. John Doe') came in and went over the dress code with us.  One girl asked, "why we can't wear tank tops?" and he sternly replied, "because they're disgusting and distracting to boys."  The three adults in the room silently looked at one another with jaws dropped.  I looked at Lydia and asked for clarification, "What did he say?"  Said repeated, "Girls can't wear tank tops, because they're disgusting and distracting to boys.  That's why we are writing this on our arms."  I took a deep breath.  We explained that tank tops are not disgusting or distracting, and that this is an adult matter that I will be talking to the principal about. 

As we headed to play tennis with the kids, I quickly sent the principal an email regarding Mr. John Doe's comment.  I didn't share the comment; however, I did tell her that there was a disturbing comment made by Mr. John Doe during his presentation yesterday regarding the dress code.  I was off of work the following day and would happily meet with her at her convenience.  She asked me to touch base with her at the band concert that night.  I did, and I scheduled a meeting the following morning at 8:30.  She was already scheduled to be at another meeting but she said said she would go late.  I think she sensed it was an urgent matter that needed her attention immediately.  I agree.  It was urgent and these girls need to know that they should NEVER be told that what they are wearing is disgusting or a distraction to boys.  She needed to know that these comments were very sexual in nature and totally unacceptable and inappropriate for anyone to talk to kids, or anyone for that matter, about.  In my frustration, I wanted to SCREAM...Mr. John Doe should talk to the boys about having appropriate thoughts!  This is not a girls issue but a man's issue!  The crazy conservative that thinks girls should cover their body to protect boys thoughts!  My daughter is NOT A DISTRACTION!  My daughter is beautiful and should never be shamed from wearing whatever makes her feel pretty, confidant, and happy!  I truly felt that this rivals telling the victim of rape that she was asking for it by what she was wearing or her body language.  Nope, none of this is ok!  He really shouldn't talk to any of the kids about any of this.  It's totally out of line.  And there you have it...I had enough time to calm down and write my thoughts for a positive meeting.  I did a lot of deep breathing while preparing.  I knew I needed to set the tone so Lydia, who was already in the middle of trying to change the dress code before any of this took place, would have a solid foundation.  I also knew that her principal was a very strong woman.  I knew we would have great support.

I asked Lydia several times throughout the night to repeat Mr. John Doe's comment.  I wanted to make sure the story was consistent.  Not that I didn't believe her, but I needed to make sure that the 'disgusting and distracting to boys' comment didn't waver one way or the other.  Did the story grow as she sensed more concern?  When I tucked her into bed that night, I sat next to her, smiled, and made sure to tell her that she is beautiful.  We often talk about how strong her body is and how it's important to take good care of it by exercising, eating nourishing foods, cleaning it, and loving it, etc.  She pointed to her knuckle and asked, "You see my knuckle?" then pointed to her shoulder and said, "My shoulder is just a larger joint than my knuckle.  What's wrong with showing a larger joint?  I have nice shoulders."  You see, the sexual comment isn't understood by 12 and 13 year olds.   She's concerned about making a point about her joints.  These girls are not sexually distracting boys.  Lets keep them innocent as long as possible.  I asked her more questions about the presentation by Mr. John Doe.  How did you feel by the comments?  What friends are in your class?  What is he normally like?  How did he speak?  What was his tone? Tell me again what exactly he said?  She told me that she feels that Mr. John Doe thinks that girls are lesser than boys.  Her story was consistent.  She told me that he's normally a really nice teacher, but he seemed out of character and very stern during the presentation.  She also questioned herself on what he said, "did he really just say that?!"  She asked several girls after class to make sure she heard it right.  Sure enough, they all heard the same thing.  This is when they decided to write, 'I'm not a distraction, I'm a girl' on their arms.  I love these girls!!  They clearly know when it's important to take a stance.  They clearly have great role models in their lives.  They're in 7th grade, and they know right from wrong.  I'm proud of all of them!

In the wee hours of the morning of my meeting with the principal, I sat wide awake thinking about how to carefully discuss the matter at hand, and somehow break the ice about Lydia's quest to change the dress code.  They go hand in hand.  We have an urgent matter and I was also lying the foundation for Lydia.  I felt that it was important for me to let her principal know that Lydia planned on setting up a meeting with her soon.  I didn't think it would be a good idea to just let Lydia take care of it on her own when the comment was so discouraging to her quest.  So, how does one do this...

I'm not a person that thinks Mr. John Doe should be ripped apart, fired, and spit on (metaphorically not literally).  I do think that he needs to be open to having a discussion, admitting his faults, changing his ideas, and apologizing to the girls in Lydia's class.  So I told her principal.  I opened the meeting with a thank you.  I truly appreciated that she rearranged her schedule to meet with me so quickly.  I know her time is valuable.  I also explained that we normally have our kids take care of any kind of matter of disagreement on their own.  We think it's an important life lesson to be able to talk to kids, adults, or teachers, because eventually it will be spouses, friends, siblings, co-workers and bosses.  Therefore, if they want to dispute a grade with a teacher or understand what was wrong, they need to do it on their own.  They need to build that confidence now before they leave the nest.  But this matter was an adult matter.  This was a sexual comment that Lydia doesn't fully understand.  She knows it was wrong, but she doesn't truly understand what Mr. John Doe was talking about.  I needed to step in and take care of this one.  I also told her that I had two discussion points to chat about. 

She politely listened as I basically just read aloud a letter that I wrote to her.  I wanted to make sure I hit all my points and made it a positive conversation instead of telling her what I wanted to scream the day before.  We talked at length about Mr. John Doe's comment.  She was obviously surprised and shocked that this was something Mr. John Doe said.  She explained why she thought the distracting part was linked to fidget spinners, water bottle flipping, and so on.  These are discussions that they had in preparing the dress code presentation.  She was truly more concerned about the disgusting comment.  I'm concerned about both comments.  I'm concerned that these girls heard that they are lesser than boys, I'm concerned about equality, and I'm concerned that this man talked about sexual thoughts that boys might have to a class full of boys and girls.  I'm concerned that my daughter was told that her tank top is disgusting.  The principal reassured me that she would take care of the situation and would follow up with me about it. 

I told her that this was an easy transition into my second point of discussion.  I explained to her that Lydia has been working diligently, before any of this took place, on changing the dress code policy at school.  I brought in Lydia's tank top and held it up and shared with her the questions Lydia had asked me about her tank top.  Her principal agreed.  There is nothing wrong with this tank top.  Lydia should be allowed to wear something like this to school.  She told me that the code is basically, "A tank, is a tank, is a tank."  Perhaps we can find a happy middle ground.  I explained everything Lydia had already been working on and how we hope the change can end with her, but Lydia is prepared to go to the school board if she needs to.  Her principal said, "I would go to the school board with Lydia to support her if we need to."  I felt a million pound lifted off my shoulders.  I knew that I needed her principal to be on board and support Lydia.  I knew that she could potentially be damaged for life if her quest was squashed.  I also knew she would empower Lydia for life if her quest was successful.  This is such a pivotal point for a young lady.

I felt really happy with our meeting.  I left feeling at peace with everything we talked about.  I'm deeply concerned about what was said to Lydia's class, but I felt as though it was almost more important to build a solid foundation for Lydia to be successful on her quest.  I can do the damage control at home regarding the comment, but I can't change the rules at school.  That's something that is totally out of my control.  I genuinely left feeling like her principal will have her back in the coming weeks.  I know Lydia will have to work hard, but I believe this little girl will move mountains. 

Lydia set up a meeting with her principal for May 22, 2017.  She was fully prepared with her PowerPoint presentation and seemed confident when she left that morning.  I anxiously awaited to receive an email all day long to hear how it went.  I waited, and waited, and waited.  Around 2:00 in the afternoon this is what I got..."It went great! :)"  So, I had to wait for all the details until I got home from work.  She was beaming from ear to ear when I got home.  She said that her principal supports her and she is planning on talking to two other staff members regarding the dress code and would get back to Lydia.  She also asked Lydia if she, and maybe some of her friends, would be willing to make an iMovie to introduce the new dress code next year?  Lydia said, "Of course, I would love to do that!".  Later that evening, I received a priceless email from Lydia's Principal:
    
Josie,
Lydia presented her powerpoint to me today; you should be so proud.  She entered my office after prearranging her lunch plans with me (all on her own), asked to display her presentation on my screen via airplay and off she went.  She had great posture, was well spoken/articulate and exuded great confidence.  I look forward to meeting with her later in the week after I view her work with Mr. X (name removed) and Mr. X(name removed).  She is truly an outstanding young lady who will make the change in the world.  I am very proud of her!  Have a great night.
(Signed by Her Principal)

And as the last few weeks of school have unfolded, Lydia was successful in her quest!  She, along with several of her friends, will be getting together with the principal throughout the summer to prepare an iMovie to present the new dress code to the students in the fall.  We are such proud parents who are in awe of our Lydia!  This young lady is going to do some AMAZING things in her life.  Who knows, she may be our first Madam President?!
 
                

              

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spencer's Golden Birthday

Can you believe it's been three years since I gave birth to sweet little Spencer?!  It feels like a lifetime ago.  It's a beautiful memory and such a proud moment of my life, but I still kind of feel like it was just a beautiful dream.  I realized after posting a video about Chloe's birth that a video seems to touch more people, so my birthday blog post is really just a movie from over the last few years.  It seems like the people are still interested in how a surrogate feels emotionally with the baby(ies) she has carried.  Here is a glimpse at what the last three years have been like...


Monday, February 20, 2017

6 Month Update

It's hard to believe that six months have passed since giving birth to Miss Chloe, but at the same time I feel like the last year was a figment of my imagination.  It's so surreal that surrogacy actually happened and that part of my life has come to an end.  Surrogacy defined me for half of a decade.  It is my passion, and it will continue to be a passion as I find a new role in it at some point in my life.  I knew that I needed to have huge goal set to accomplish before having Chloe so my mind could focus on 'what's next' instead of wanting to get pregnant with someone else's baby again.  It's a constant internal conversation convincing myself that I really need to move onto something different. It's something I could do over and over again - notice that I didn't say 'we'.  I'm so lucky I have the most supportive husband in the world!  As much as he respects and supports me, I do the same for him.  Therefore, I knew I needed something in the near future that was attainable, joyful, something we could do together, and something to get my body back into shape so I could really get over wanting to give birth again. 

Training for my next marathon (and Ben's half marathon) kept my mind on the straight and narrow.  I focused on making my body my own again and the transformation has been motivating.  And who wouldn't want to run a marathon along the California coast?!  For some sick reason, I love pushing my body to the limit to see what it can endure.  I'm sure the future will hold somemore unbelievable things.  I really tried to listen to the six week postpartum running restriction, but after five weeks and three days I felt like I needed to get back out on the road.  I couldn't wait any longer, and my uterus didn't feel like it was going to fall out, so I went for it and it felt AMAZING!

Our son, George (who turned 9 just a week ago), discovered he is a gifted runner last summer.  The kid is a machine!  It has been fun to watch his ability unfold over the last six months, and he's in his glory with a stellar physique that he loves to show off.  It's not every day you see a kid with an eight pack.  He took 1st place overall (including adults and high school cross-country runners) in 5k's a few times over the summer.  He also was in The Healthy Kids Running Series with his siblings and cousins this fall.  The series consisted of five consecutive Sunday afternoon races for kids in preschool-middle school.  The kids were broken up into their respective age groups and their distances were according to their age.  George's age group was supposed to run .5 miles.  I knew running half of a mile would be a joke to George and he would probably leave feeling like he was running with babies, so I bumped him in in age groups so he could run with the bigger kids.  Their distance was just 1 mile (the longest of all the races in this series).  George crushed every single race, but his brother and sister weren't too far behind.  It was at these races that George decided that he wanted to be the fastest kid under the age of 10 to run a half marathon.  The problem is, he's too fast for me to run with. 

"So help me God, I'm going to work my ass off so I can keep up with my 8 year old" became my mantra over the last five months (remember, I couldn't run for the first 5 weeks and 3 days after giving birth).  Easing back into running after giving birth wasn't really on my mine; though I did listen to my body.  I jumped in full force and I've never been a faster runner in my entire life!  Having George run beside me, and being my training buddy, has changed me.  He's pushed me to limits I didn't know I had.  My 8 year old inspires me!  He is incredible!  Over the course of the fall and into the winter he has trained so much for his half marathon that he ran a half marathon (training run) with my sister and me on Thanksgiving day.  Two weeks later he ran a 15 mile training run - finishing two miles ahead of us.  The kid is unstoppable!  

January 1, 2017, marked George's first half marathon race.  A few days prior to the race we looked at the weather and realized that it was going to be decent outside (22ish degrees), and George was begging to run in a race while he was still 8 years old, so we signed him up.  Even though my body was in shape to run the distance with him, I knew I still couldn't keep up with him yet.  Ben was really sick and couldn't run, my brother was in Florida, so I decided that I would bike the course and support George as he needed along the way.  I don't know who was more tired at the end of the race.  I would bike ahead of George as fast as I could, get his supplies out of my backpack, cheer at the top of my lungs while jumping up and down, take pictures when I could, text our family, jump back on my bike, and repeat this process over the course of 13.1 miles.  The moment he crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with feelings that I can't put into words.  It was one of the most proud moments of my entire life!  Anyone who knows our family understands the magnitude of this accomplishment.  George, our George, deserves this.  We deserve this.  Looking back on all the years of struggles, this kid found his passion, his love for running, something he excels at, and he deserves it!  This Mama is bursting with pride!  Yes, I am concerned about his body and I do think about his future, but I also know he needs an out.  My role is finding a healthy balance between running and allowing him to escape life's challenges.  He's going to prove to this world that anything is possible!          

Here is a link to the video I made for him:
https://youtu.be/lzGoRzCSs8M

I love him!!  Morning walk along the beach.

Packet Pickup

We are ever so grateful that Ben's parents came to watch our kids for a long weekend while Ben and I flew out to Huntington Beach, California on February 3rd for our Marathon/Half Marathon weekend.  As soon as we got our rental car we bee lined it to the nearest In-N-Out Burger.  There are only a few things that I eat that are more satisfying than In-N-Out, so when I realized just four hours prior to consuming one of my favorite meals that's all I could think about the ENTIRE plane ride.  It was so delicious!
The following morning we had a peaceful walk along the beach, hand in hand with the sand between our toes, while the waves sang us a harmonious song as they crashed along the shore.  I decided at that moment that it would be the perfect way to start and end each day of my whole life!  There is something about the ocean that calms my whole being.  It's my happy place!  We were lucky to have sun that day, although it was cool, the sunshine felt wonderful.  I'm pretty sure I closed my eyes and held out my arms a dozen times throughout the day as I said, "Ahh, I'll take all the vitamin D I can get!" 
Three of my co-workers from Sacramento took a 14+ hour roundtrip road trip to come and see me/run with me for part of the marathon.  We spent several hours the second day with them.  It had been over five years since we'd seen each other, so catching up with them was a real treat.  They're all such great people and inspire me in so many different ways.  There have been many life changes for all of us over the last five years - relationship changes, moves, cancer, babies, etc., but one thing that hasn't changed is we all get along extremely well and love to laugh together.  It didn't feel like that much time had passed since the last time I saw them.  I have less than two handful of friends in my life that I can just pick up where we left off and it doesn't matter how long it's been - One from high school, a few from California, and a handful from the St. Cloud area.  These are true friendships that I cherish.
That same evening we had an early dinner with my brother, sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and my brother-in-law's parents and aunt.  It is always a delight to my sister's in-laws.  I love how we have a mutual desire to know one another because we are connected by a pretty amazing family - which makes us family.  They love my sister like their own daughter.  They're such incredible people!               
Marathon morning wasn't as smooth sailing as I wished.  The road we were going to drive on was closed for the race so we took a detour.  When we were just a mile from the race start, I thought I forgot to bring my prescription sunglasses with me from the hotel and felt super panicked until I realized that Ben carried them to the car for me.  Parking wasn't as easy as Ben had thought.  Megan and I jumped out of the car, as parking attendants yelled at us, so we could get to the bag drop, pee, and get to the start of the race in time.  We literally had three minutes to spare by the time we found our 4:15 pacer.  Anyway, it was a bit more stressful that I would have liked it to be, but all was well - for me anyway. 
Megan got sick a couple days before the marathon.  She was battling a fever and malaise.  We had a great cheering section around mile 8 with Andrew, my nieces, and Andrew's parents.  That kept up Megan's spirits for a while and was a nice boost of energy for me.  She felt pretty good until her Dayquil wore off around mile 12 or so.  We had more cheering around mile 12 and 14, and I even saw Ben a couple times as he was running his half marathon (which started 1 hour and 15 minutes after us).  She started to feel extremely terrible around mile 15ish.  She had told me several times to 'just go' because she wasn't able to run as fast as normal.  Thankfully, at mile 16 my friends were there to cheer for us and Christina joined us.  We were in need of fresh legs and her positive uplifting energy.  Christina joined us along the most beautiful portion of the marathon.  We were right along the coast and could watch the surfers as we ran.  We even ran across a group of people frying bacon and handing bacon and beer out to the runners.  Oh my God, the bacon was AMAZING!!!  They were along an out-and-back, so I hit up the bacon stop two times!  This was an extremely difficult portion for my sick sister.  She probably told me a dozen times to 'just go', but that's not what we're about.  I wanted to stay with her and finish together.  She later told me that if I wasn't with her she would have dropped out at mile 20 when we saw her family again, but she was happy she finished the race.  That's what best friends do for one another.  She did that for me during our first marathon. 
Our brother finished his marathon ahead of us, ran back to meet us, and finished the race with us.  He's training for a crazy seven day ultra in Hawaii this May, so he was able to get in 30 miles that day.  He's been an inspiration to so many people!
After the marathon, Ben, Megan, Shawn, and I went to In-N-Out.  Burgers and fries are the my favorite meal after a race.  After that, we went back to the hotel to shower up and rest for a little while, and then I met my friends at the coffee shop for a little bit before they went back to Sacramento.  It was also super bowl that day, so we finished up the day by having a party in the Shedlock's room with pizza.  It was an amazing whirlwind trip that I would do all over again (except my sick sister part).  I also hit my marathon PR by about 45 minutes.   
Mile 8

Lindsey, Me, Alexis, Christina

Siblings

I had no idea people run for the medal. 
I don't care much about it but apparently a lot of people do. 
It's a nice piece of bling that made me get my bag searched at the airport.

I have two more marathons booked.  Anyone want to join us for Wobegon or Twin Cities?  Ben has a half marathon that he's singed up for each month until October that you're welcome to run, too.  But if you want to run with him in October you better sing up for the Twin Cities Marathon, because Ben is running his first full!  I'm probably the proudest wife ever!!!!    

Other life events, other than running, that have happened in the last six month:

Three weeks after I had Chloe, I hung up my scrubs for a while, took a leap of faith, and gave a shot at marketing for a local orthodontist.  I figured I should try something completely different after 10 years of dental hygiene.  I wanted to see if there was something out there that I was drawn to outside of the dental office.  And different it was.  I realized quickly that I was taken out of my comfort zone, this introvert had to somehow engage with prospective patients out in the community.  I decided that I was going to give my all and work harder than I ever have and I would be very successful.  I was successful.  I worked hard.  I worked more in those five months than I have in a very long time.  It was a blast going to work, and I learned more than I ever would have imagined.  I found an office that I could have worked at forever if nights and weekends weren't involved.  I was drawn to the upbeat and contagious energy that was created, and I loved that they were willing to try any idea, at least once, to see if it might be effective.  Ultimately, I left on good terms.  I've been conditioned over the years that nights and weekend work isn't conducive to our family lifestyle, but I was grateful for the opportunity to try something different.  I jumped back into my scrubs and have been doing temporary dental hygiene for local dental offices.  I gained a new sense of appreciation for the dental world.  Who wants to work nights, weekends, holidays, or Fridays?!  NOT ME! 

We took the kids to Disney World and Universal Studios for a fun filled 10 day trip.  We went to Universal Studios parks for four days and Disney World for three days.  Harry Potter world was one of our highlights.  We have enjoyed that book series together and it was amazing to walk down the street and feel like you were actually in Diagon Alley.  We took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade, where Lydia and Jack were able to try butterbeer.  Ben and George were in love with all of the rides, Lydia was into most of the rides, and Jack and I were happy watching the rides.  We had mixed reviews of people's favorite parks, but everyone had an amazing time.  My parents were able to join us one day at Epcot.  It was so fun to watch my mom find her inner child.  She loves all the rides as much as Ben and George.  I was able to catch 40 minutes of quality one on one time with my dad while everyone else went on a ride we didn't care for.  I treasure one on one time!  We had a bit of serendipity on our trip.  My aunt, Barbara, was actually in Orlando the same time we were.  We were able to spend time with her and my parents one afternoon at our hotel.  It sure was a magical adventure! 

I've spent a fair amount of time at the state capitol over the last several months.  There was a surrogacy commission that met at the capitol during the summer and into the fall.  I sat in on some of the meetings and recently attended the RESOLVE surrogacy advocacy day.  It's appalling to listen to the surrogacy opponents.  People seem to stick their noses into other people's business that has nothing to do with themselves.  After one of the meetings in the hallway, I offered four of the women in the commission to watch the birth video that 2277 people have viewed on the blog.  I literally invited them into my birth room to see the emotions of a real surrogate and THEY TURNED ME DOWN.  These are the people that are supposed to make suggestions on legislation for surrogacy.  SHAME ON YOU SURROGACY COMMISSION LADIES IN THE HALLWAY!!!  I don't think that there are 2277 people that will look at surrogacy as anything other than incredibly beautiful after watching that video.  It's pure joy they could have witnessed to help make an educated decision on behalf of our state.  If you're not into politics, you should find something your passionate about and start watching the few people that are making local decisions about things that matter.  Get involved!  Know your representatives.  You see them in public.  You see them at your kid's schools.  Make sure they know you by name. 

November 8, 2016 was a devastating day.  I stayed up the entire night watching, believing, encouraging strangers to keep up the hope that Hilary would win.  I cried.  I cried a lot.  I didn't know how I was going to break the news to our children the next morning.  I bought our daughter a very special shirt to wear the next day knowing we would have our first Madam President.  Our kids attend a school with a high population of immigrant families.  We love the diversity, and know that we actually have more in common than not.  I knew they would come home the next day with concerns about their friends.  They have every right to be concerned.  I'm concerned, too.  I watched teachers consoling children who are now living in fear.  Children that shouldn't have a care in the world.  It's a heavy time.  I'll never understand why people would think this was a good idea.  Party lines aside, he is a terrible choice!  I actually was never really interested in politics until Hilary was running.  I'll never forget sitting in my 10th grade history class and listening to the words, "Only rich white men will ever be president." (Please note: I really liked this teacher.  I was offended by this comment, but he was one of my favorite teachers in high school)  I was beyond proud when Obama was elected, and I believe in my lifetime I will see our first, of many, Madam President!  I will then touch base with my 10th grade teacher and tell him, "I didn't believe you.  You see, I'm a product of a feminist and I'm thankful she taught me better!"  #imstillwithher

The swimming life of a 7th grader is as much fun to watch as it was to partake.  It's much louder than I remember though.  Lydia enjoyed her swimming season this fall and plans on doing it again next year.  I LOVED being on deck and timing the home meets.  It made me feel like I was a part of the excitement while I was on deck with the kids.  She improved so much over the season, but had no interest in off season training.  She joined gymnastics and found her love for that, too.  She even made the largest purchase of her life when she bought a bar.  Her joyful spirit and bright smile are contagious.  She is the happiest young lady!  I hope this continues through the teenage years. 

Theater life has continued for our family.  Jack was in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever during the holiday season, and all three kids are currently in A Trip to Nerdville.  Theater is so much fun!  I think that theater gives kids the best lifelong lessons.  Auditioning is so much scarier than a job interview.  Being turned down from a show teaches how to cope with disappointment.  Being surrounded by theater people teaches openness and acceptance for everyone.  Singing, dancing, and speaking on stage boosts confidence.  Simply learning how to publicly speak is a skillset that everyone should have.  I just love that the kids love theater. 

"Do you still see the surrogate babies you had?"  This is one of the most common questions I receive post surrogacy.  Yes, we do and we love their family!  We are so lucky that we don't live too far from my IPs.  They had a busy fall and winter getting their house sold and buying a new one, so we didn't see them as much as I would have hoped during that time.  But the reality is, we are all so buys with our own lives.  I look at all the things we have done over the last six months and wonder when we had time to eat and sleep.  Life is busy, but we have made our best efforts to get together several times over the last six months.  And recently we've been getting the sweetest phone calls from Spencer.  He asks to call Lydia and JoJo, so we take the three seconds that his attention lasts and chat.  Lydia is the baby/little kid whisperer.  All the kids love Lydia!  Chloe is rolling and I saw a picture of her sitting up playing with Spencer.  We also just booked a double date with my IPs to go and see Wicked in April.  I'm super excited! 
Whenever you visit JoJo be ready for a photo  :) 5 Weeks

5 Weeks
4 Months
4 months
2.5 years and 4 months
5 months

2.75 years and 6 months





Life continues to be a joyous journey.  You're in the drivers seat for your own journey, so buckle up and decide how you're going to ride! 
   

      

                      I love the comparison photos...

Labor Day


Fully Trained for Marathon.  Last Training Run Finished
You can transform like this if you give up sugar and run 500 miles in less than 6 months!  DO IT!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Drumroll, Please

It's the post you've all been waiting for... 

I've redone this video four different times and contemplated over and over how comfortable I am about posting it.  I've tried really hard to keep my IPs information confidential and did my best at keeping them out of this video.  You miss out on so much of our emotions and feelings when half of the photos (and my favorite ones) are removed, and the video is cut into pieces so my lady bits aren't visible to everyone. You'll have to wait to see the entire movie when Ellen decides she wants to meet us - maybe only in my dreams!  Please note: you will see the baby's head out and the final moments of her birth (do not watch if that makes you uncomfortable).  When I watch this I feel proud, inspired, overjoyed, amazed, impressed, and tear up EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Surrogacy is beyond beautiful!  Grab a tissue and enjoy Brianna's incredible photos and Ben's videographer skills as Jim Brickman's piano accompanies Chloe's birth.
 


        

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Lasting Affects of Jacob's Abduction on a Stranger

I couldn't add this part into my previous 'The Days That Followed' blog post because I'm still in shock, I'm numb, and I'm in disbelief.  We've known that for almost 27 years someone knew something and we've all hoped and prayed we'd have an answer in our lifetime.

I'm angry that in some of the happiest of my days that Jacob's story was unfolded before our eyes and the devastating, gruesome, and dark truth came out.  I actually can't bring myself to read the confession.  Jacob's abduction has haunted my community for nearly 27 years.  I will not let this man, who's name I will never mention because the man deserves no recognition, rob me of more joy in my life!  He took too much from us and I won't allow him to ruin the joy I feel from Chloe's birth just a few weeks ago.  I think this is still why I'm numb. 

I was just a six year old little girl with blonde pigtails running carefree in the neighboring town when Jacob was abducted.  I was free and encouraged to bike or walk to school on beautiful fall and spring days with my older brothers.  I felt safe and had no fear in those six short years.  That all changed the moment my six year old ears learned that an 11 year old boy, who lived less than ten minutes from me, was abducted by a masked gunman while he was riding his bike with his brother and his friend.  I unknowingly welcomed anxiety into my life.  Fear that took years to control!  I was still encouraged to bike to school, but I couldn't bike, walk, run, or rollerblade anywhere without my heart pounding so hard that it felt like it might jump out of my chest.  I'm sure I looked like I was in a race when I was biking down county road 54.  The peddles on my light blue sparkly bike with little colorful plastic flowers that hugged the spokes of my wheels turned so fast that my little legs felt the effect of the lactic acid soon after I started on my one mile trek.  I would peak fearfully behind me for cars every few seconds.  God, I don't want to see a car!  Please don't let there be a car anywhere in sight.  The worst was when I spotted a car parked at the public beach.  I thought I might throw up ever time I biked by a lone car parked at that beach.  I biked into the small town of Avon nearly every single day during all my childhood years for summer rec, swimming lessons, allergy shots, and countless other activities.  EVERY SINGLE DAY I had the same fear.  I was terrified to bike into town.  I still did it, but that man robbed me of being that carefree little girl who was just biking as a mode of transportation to her activities. 
 
I remember wearing a button on my backpack for Jacob for many years and seeing his face plastered all over town and even on milk cartons. Patty Wetterling became a very familiar face as I watched her family in the media over the years.  From that point on, until this week, every time there was a person missing my immediate thought always became Jacob and the Wetterlings.  I shared Jacob's story with our kids from a young age.  When I heard our kids start talking about creepy cars while we're out running is when I realized the lasting affects that Jacob's abduction has had on that six year old little girl.  Again, unknowingly, I instilled fear into our children.  It's something I can't take back and so desperately want to.  It took many years and a couple therapists to figure out how to go for a run without being scared of creepy cars or people I cross along my path.  By years, I mean, I was well into my late twenties.  That man did this to so many of my childhood friends.  I'm sure we all have different ways we have coped with the stress and anxiety, but my whole little town was affected in some way, shape, or form. 

I've struggled with trichotillomania, a hair pulling disorder, for years and I have traced it back to the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.  You may find it unbelievable, but I had a conversation about this with my IPs while I was in labor and walking the halls of the Hudson Hospital on August 18th.  I told them about my trichotillomania and how it became my stress relief that started after Jacob was abducted, and I wish so badly that I could rid myself of this disorder.  Every year my husband and I write down our goals, and every year I have one goal that I can't seem to accomplish: quit pulling my eyelashes.  It's the one I just can't seem to cross off my list!  I remember being in sixth grade and having my school photo come home and my mom wondering why all of my eyelashes were missing.  I did it when I went to bed at night.  I didn't know I was doing it and I didn't know I would still be struggling with it at the age of 33.  Damn that man - that evil man that took so much from us!

Somehow our tiny little towns were hit hard with sexual abuse of young boys when I was growing up.  Not only that evil man, but some sick Catholic priests preyed on these young boys instead of praying for them.  I learned when I was 30 that my friend who committed suicide when we were in 7th grade was a victim of abuse.  The one I wrote about near the beginning of my blog, the one I heard the gunshot that took his life.  Oddly enough, my friend grew up in St. Joe.  The tiny little town Jacob was abducted from.  I'm guessing that his older brothers would have been around Jacob's age.  These are the tragedies we all had to deal with, and I just can't imagine how those boys that were victims and their lasting affects.  My heart goes out to them!  

And yet, somehow, we all pressed forward and all held onto hope and see this world as a beautiful place.  If you ask me about my childhood, I would tell you how amazing it was.  That has to do with my home life and my wonderful parents.  I truly did have the ideal childhood among the awful things I've experience.  These events made me who I am today.  I read 'The Power of Positive Thinking' many years ago and it shaped me into a whole new believer.  A believer in the powers of energy that connects us to everything.  I have a peace that surrounds my entire being.  I've gone from teaching our kids to fear others to teaching them to believe that the world is full of wonderful people.  Yes, we need to teach them safety (I'm a safety MOMster) and The Jacob Wetterling Resource Foundation has it all right.  I listened to them speak recently when we had a sex offender move into or neighborhood.  I took all the information I learned and shared the majority of it with our children.  "Stranger Danger" is a thing of the past.  They are full of great information and wonderful presenters!  You should become familiar with them. 

I'm sure my numbness about the answers we learned this week will wear off at some point.  My love goes out to Jacob's family, friends, our community, and state.  For now, I'm going to still feel all the endorphins from the miraculous birth of my second surrogate baby.  That man can't take that away from me!                         

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Days That Followed

Spencer Kisses to Chloe
THIS PHOTO BRINGS ME SO MUCH JOY!

I asked the nurses to keep me on top of my Tylenol and Ibuprofen throughout the night and stay at the hospital.  I had minimal cramping - my worst pain rating was at a 3.  I didn't have any vaginal pain at all.  The nurse who shined the flashlight on my vag as Liz was checking for any tares after I delivered the placenta the day before said, "It doesn't even look like you just had a baby!"  It didn't feel like I just pushed out a baby!  My only discomfort was the contracting of the uterus.  I learned with George's delivery that the more babies you have the more pain you have post delivery when the uterus contracts back down - I can attest to that!  I had rough first night of sleep, not only because I was up and down and up again to pump, but there was a terrible storm outside and sometime around 1:00 the tornado siren sounded.  I was in such a deep state of sleep that when I partially woke up I couldn't figure out if it was the first Wednesday of the month and why was the test lasting so long. It took me a while to gain whole consciousness, and when I really woke up I called the nurse to see if we needed to move to a different place in the hospital for safety.  She assured me that we were fine where we were at but because I was awake she would check my vitals.  I asked that sweet nurse if my IPs were getting sleep and how Chloe was doing.  She said Chloe was doing amazing and had been in the nursery all night and everyone was fighting over who got to snuggle her.  I'm on the same page as my IPs, get sleep while you can!       
Pumping is a choice a surrogate has weather she would like to invest her time and energy into or not.  With my history of a breast reduction 15 years ago I don't produce a lot of milk, but I have given my best effort with all my other deliveries and the lactation consultant told me years ago that the farther out from the surgery you get the better chance you have to produce milk.  My boobs got extremely huge with Chloe's pregnancy, so I figured I may actually have a chance producing milk this time.  I seemed to be having some success at the hospital.  I was using shields that were too small and rubbed part of my areola raw - that was painful!  Friday morning Erika, the lactation consultant, stopped my room and helped me out.  I love how comfortable she is with people.  She just started touching my breasts to see how things were feeling.  I actually laughed to myself when she did this.  She has such a fun and spunky personality and seems to be perfect for her job.  She got me nipple cream, which is absolutely necessary, and fit me with new shields.  She gave me a bunch of helpful tips and recommended that I start fenugreek as soon as possible.  Not only did she help me an incredible amount, but she has continued to follow up with me at home.  I've never had anyone give me a call after having a baby to follow up with my pumping.  She's like having a cheerleader on the sideline, who clearly has passion for her job, and makes me feel like I can continue this process.  I'm not sure how long I'll commit to pumping but so far I'm sticking with it.  I should have kept track of how much I've given Chloe but I haven't.  Something is better than nothing!

Friday morning, August 19th, after I ate breakfast I snuck over to visit my IPs, Chloe, and family members that were already there visiting.  It was a busy day full of visitors and I enjoyed seeing everyone meet their newest addition to the family.  I'm very much a words of affirmation person, so my bucket was overflowing with all the gratitude and appreciation people spoke of.  Liz came mid-morning to do her rounds at the hospital and spent a long while visiting with me and processing the birth.  It's amazing how everyone witnessing the birth had their tears flow amidst the actual event.  I was able to allow my tears to flow in a very safe environment while recapping the miraculous birth when Liz came to check on me.  The hormonal tears need to flow at some point and Liz seemed to be the person who they flowed freely with.  My soul felt so complete after the birth, but the bittersweet feeling of having successfully accomplished another HUGE goal and it being over is hard to grasp.  I spent the rest of the day in and out of my IPs room visiting and then heading back to my room to rest.  I was able watch the nurse give Chloe her first bath.  Spencer was there most of the day and he was hilarious to watch.  He's a busy little body full of so much love and affection.  Chloe is a lucky little girl to have such wonderful parents and a sweet older brother.  Ben brought the kids that evening for a quick visit.  Embracing my husband's hug after giving birth is one of my favorite things and I never want to let go of him.  It's so nice to be able to touch him without another human between us.  After catching up on their days we went over so they could hold Chloe.  They also helped me move to a new room right across the hall that evening.  It was a quick visit and it made me excited to head home the next day!

I slept so much better that night but I was still up several times to pump.  When I woke up in the morning I started to think about this journey coming to a close and all the people I was thankful for. 

Here is what I wrote as I sobbed a bittersweet 'ugly cry' alone in my room:

As I prepare to leave the hospital today, I have overwhelming emotions of wrapping up two perfect surrogacy journeys. I've watched a beautiful couple become an amazing family, and I can't put into words the joy I feel deep in my soul when I look at these four incredible people! My heart is full!

 I'm not sure that there could be a better man on this planet other than my husband! Ben is one of a kind and he deserves just as much credit as I do for helping create this family. I
'll forever be in awe of his patience, love, and support. I long to be as supportive of others as he is to me. He dove into the unknown with me and let me fulfill my calling. I love him more than words can express! 

 Our children, family, and friends, I'm beyond grateful for your unbelievable amount of support. I know the idea of surrogacy made many of you worry about my overall wellbeing, and I'm thankful you allowed me to trust my instinct on this one. I knew my whole self would be better when this chapter of my life closed, and it is! I'm thankful for your thoughts and prayers, but mostly the silence of your own fears and only positive words to me. Sometimes silence is an important part of support. I'm lucky to have you in my life! I love you all!


 To my IPs family, I never really thought about you as I dreamed this perfect surrogacy story in my head. You have become my HUGE bonus in my life's story. I'm shocked at how many lives this has touched. Never in a million years did I ever anticipate feeling like I have a larger extended family. You are them and I'm thankful to be a part of it. These two kids I helped bring into the world are so lucky to be a part of your families. You are amazing people!


Liz, I don't know where to begin? You are an amazing woman! I'm so grateful you could be my healthcare provider, baby's auntie, and become a great friend! Somehow you balanced all of these things and I could see the distinct differences in each role you were in at the time I was with you. You make our world a better place, and you definitely are the perfect midwife! 


IP-A, IP-B, Spencer, and Chloe, I'll always hold you in a very special place in my heart! I know the pregnancy part of this surrogacy story is over, but the story has just begun. I'm so thankful to be able to be a part of your lives and look forward to watching your family grow up! There couldn't have been a better match out there. I'm so happy you were the family that I got to share my calling with. My soul is full! I love all of you!


When I gave birth to Spencer I felt like I had to prove to everyone how strong I was and that crying wasn't an option.  I didn't want anyone to worry about me because I knew there was nothing to worry about.  Crying is a natural part of childbirth and the hormonal fluctuation afterwards, and this time I allowed myself to feel those emotions and it is good!  And lets be honest, I'm a person who cries while I'm not pregnant just writing a thank you card because it's so genuine and full of my appreciation.  A little crying is healthy, in my case, and this time I just allowed myself freedom to cry, not because I'm sad but because I'm so full of joy!  I'm not ashamed that I can have a smile beaming across my face from ear to ear and tears flowing down like a waterfall.  My mom told me years ago that eventually I won't be so sensitive and cry as easily.  Who know?  I cry when I'm happy and I cry when I'm sad.  I guess only time will tell.

After getting all showered and cleaned up on Saturday morning, I enjoyed a long snuggle with Chloe while we waited for our breakfast to arrive.  We all ate breakfast together in my IPs room.  Chloe was given a good bill of health by the pediatrician and was ready to be discharged from the hospital pretty early in the morning.  IP-A ran to go get Spencer from the hotel he was staying at with his Grandpa.  I knew Liz wasn't going to be there to discharge me until mid-morning.  I was pretty sure that I cried all my tears out earlier in the morning when I was writing down my thoughts, but when Liz came to chat with me for the final time the flood gates opened one last time.  I'm forever grateful that she was able to be there for me as I processed my last surrogacy journey.  I'm sure she is used to women coming to terms with their final pregnancy and childbirth because she knew exactly what to say.  I've had to convince myself for the last forty weeks that this was it, and that's not easy when the last four years my identity has been that of a surrogate.  It's my passion and I've loved every part of it - the good, the bad, and the ugly!  It's hard to grasp the reality of this part of my life coming to a close.  It has been perfect!  And perfect it must remain as I still convince myself this is it!  I completely understand the crazy women who continue to do this over and over again.  We have clearly been put on this earth for a purpose and I can attest that my purpose was to fulfill this calling.  I am really excited to find out what my next HUGE purpose in this life will be.  I have other big goals that I'm excited to fulfill and I'm sure I will have more to come as I grow older.  I also know that this chapter of surrogacy is over, but I this is the beginning of a lifetime of watching these two beautiful souls grow up.  I wish for them much love and happiness wherever life brings them!      

My IPs stayed until I was ready to go so they could drop me off on their way home.  It was extra special to have my IPs, Spencer, and Chloe drop me off from the hospital.  Poor IP-A had to sit in the back of the vehicle squished between two car seats while I sat shotgun.  I mentioned in the car that I would have to look for Dixie Chicks concert tickets now that Chloe was here and I could make it to the concert.  My sister got tickets months ago for the concert and I didn't want to get a ticket and not be able to go, but when I realized I could make the concert I was so excited!  Ben greeted me as I got home and the kids gave me a quick hug and went out to take one more peak at Chloe before they left as a family of four to head home.  The heartfelt hugs from my IPs and 'Thank you' that I heard will resonate with me forever.  I felt so proud as they drove off into the sunset (Ok, it was early afternoon but it made it sound so nice).  I was exhausted but deeply satisfied as they left!  I looked at what Ben had been up to on the house while I was gone, said good-bye to Ben who would be off to the Metallica concert soon, and headed off for a 3 hour nap.      


Soaking Wet After our Walk
As soon as I woke up from my nap I went for a two mile walk with the boys.  We got one and a half miles into the two miles when the scary gray clouds took a dump on us.  We were drenched from head to toe in less than a minute.  I was less than 48 hours after pushing out a baby so I was walking pretty slow and obviously couldn't run at that point.  The only thing we could do was laugh hysterically while the boys splashed through the puddles on their bikes.  I was overdue for a refreshing shower anyway, so I took a really long hot shower once we got home.  We snuggled on the couch that night while Ben was at his concert and Lydia was babysitting her cousins.  I slept so amazing that night other than waking up to pump!  It's so amazing to sleep without being pregnant after nine months of sharing my body. 

The days that followed included lots of walks and I even successfully attempted to ride the kids stair stepper scooter for a few miles.  After getting a couple of concerned phone calls I decided I better take it easy and let my body heal.  It's so hard to just sit around an wait for my body to catch up to where I feel it should already be.  I'm eager to get out and run and move on with starting to work on my next goal.  I feel fantastic!  My bleeding was almost nonexistent until I went to the Dixie Chicks concert on August 27th.  I think the base must have shook everything up my who-ha loose and now I'm paying for the unbloody first week.  The Dixie Chicks concert was AMAZING!  I was able to buy a single ticket off of Craigslist that just so happened to be in the same section and only four rows in front of my sister and her friend.  Fortunately, only being nine days postpartum, I was able to see while sitting for the entire concert.  I sang every song at the top of my lungs and was in my happy place for the second time in nine days.  When they sang 'Good-Bye Earl' they had a picture of Trump pop up on the screen at one point.  I just about died from laughter!  I knew I always loved the Dixie Chicks, but that just solidified my love for them!  At the very end of the show they had a huge rainbow heart shine on their screen.  I kind of felt like it was a sign that the heavens were smiling down on me! 
Dixie Chicks


8 Day Old Milk Delivery
I snuck over for a milk delivery and visit with little miss Chloe when she was four days old.  I brought all the kids with me so we didn't stay long.  Lydia, Jack, and I went to have lunch with my IPs and Chloe when she was eight days old.  This was a very special visit for us.  We had a delicious spaghetti lunch and five hours of snuggles!  Lydia and I fought over who got to hold Chloe the entire time.  The only time she wasn't being snuggled was when we were eating.  We all huddled around the computer to watch both Chloe and Spencer's birth videos.  It's amazing how the pain of childbirth can be forgotten.  I concluded after watching both births that pushing out Chloe was the less painful of the two and very much less stressful.  I think it's a treasure to be able to watch myself give birth after the fact.  Lydia's birth is the only one I don't have recorded of all five of my deliveries.  I could watch them all over and over again!  I had one more two minute milk delivery and snuggle when Chloe was 10 days old, but I had to make it very fast because I was off to get some work done in our house.  We were also invited to a pool party at Serena's, IP-B's sister, house this weekend.  Chloe was 16 days old and she seems to be getting cuter by the minute.  Spencer came into Serena's house and couldn't wait to go swimming with Lydia.  She is the big kid that all the little kids flock to and adore.  It was a lovely afternoon and much needed break from all of our hard work on our house.   

4 Days Old
Feeding Chloe my Fresh Milk


Lydia and Chloe
George and Chloe


Jack and Chloe

Other than my normal motherly duties, Ben and I have been working hard at getting our entryway closet remodeled before school starts.  It has been a fun project that turned into a bit more painting than I was anticipating.  Why not paint the entire kitchen, bathroom, and other entryway while you're at it?!  Maybe we should finishing staining the deck, too?!  We still have a few touch ups to get done in our barn wood living room before we have a big gathering for my family and friends to meet my IPs, Spencer, Chloe, and their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I'm really looking forward to introducing everyone!  These people have played a significant role in our lives for the last three and a half years and will forever, so it's about time for everyone to meet.
Closet demo is done and part of the
bench is in 

We left a special message in a bottle for the
people who open up this wall in the future

Complete with outlets and a school iPad spot
 
Barn wood living room is almost complete

We've also been catching mice in our house.  We've caught a total of four since we opened up the wall in the entryway the day I came home from the hospital.  Ben thinks he might have found were they are getting in so lets cross our fingers that we won't have any more mice issues.  I HATE RODENTS!  One morning I woke up at 1:00 to pump and we had three of them in sticky traps.  I woke up Ben to take them outside before I could even step into the kitchen to gather my pumping supplies.  I HATE RODENTS!  We just caught the other one a few nights ago.  I've spent more time disinfecting our kitchen in the last two weeks than the entire time we've lived here.  Seriously, ever single day I'm disinfecting the kitchen before anyone can eat breakfast.  Yuck, I HATE MICE! 

On an interesting note, gave up sugar again to support our son, George, who is gluten, dairy, and sugar free.  I made a promise to George at the beginning of the pregnancy that I would give up sugar as soon as I left the hospital.  I held my word and I'm going strong over two weeks now.  I went seven months sugar free prior to getting pregnant and I've never felt better in my life.  I know this will have the same effect and it's priceless to hear George say, "Mom can't have that either!"     

I'm itching to run and start working out again.  It's consumes my thoughts.  I'm very much a goal oriented person and it's driving me crazy that I can't already begin on my next adventure.  I'm going to sign up for the Lake Wobegon Marathon which is on May 13, 2017.  Anyone is welcome to join us if you're interested in running with my sister and me.  We have a great time and I highly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and do it with us!  My plan between now, or a few weeks from now, and the marathon is to get in the best shape of my life.  Perhaps you're interested in a 5k instead?  My IPs made a goal to run the PRIDE 5k next summer with us, and we're hoping that we can get a large group to make it an annual tradition to run the PRIDE 5k together.  Grandpa Jerry even said he would like to join us!  How cool is that?!  Let me know if you're interested in one or both of the races. 

Click on the link below to sign up for the marathon in May:

http://www.lakewobegontrailmarathon.org/info.html

I joined our agency, IARC, at the state capital with Lydia last week to attend a surrogacy commission meeting.  Laws need to be made to protect surrogates, intended parents, and children born via surrogacy.  Some people are trying to abolish surrogacy altogether, while others say compensated surrogacy should be outlawed.  So many of these people have nothing to do with surrogacy in any sense and just hold a nasty opinion.  I will never understand people holding negative opinions on topics that have nothing to do with themselves!  Surrogacy has no direct impact on many of these people's lives, so what is the point of having so much anger and negative energy?  I guess it's just something I'll never quite understand.  I'd rather be a positive light in the world.  Anyway, There were some people who testified that made my heart light up and wiped a smile across my face.  These were the people who have directly impacted the surrogacy community, owned different agencies, and work as lawyers on behalf of intended parents and surrogates.  They know surrogacy inside and out and have worked with the surrogacy community for twenty to thirty years.  I felt completely offended by the testifier from the center for bioethics.  This man read off of a sheet of paper what he believed (Or maybe in his defense, what someone else told him to read) a surrogate 'looked' like.  He basically called us poor women who are easily coerced by money.  We are baby sellers who don't have the best interest of the child because it's ripped from it's birth mother and not allowed to bond.  This is the same group that produced the documentary 'Breeders: A Sub-Class of Women?'.  I attended the showing and conversation of that documentary shortly after Spencer was born.  These people have a false sense of surrogacy.  The surrogates that represent this group, who oppose surrogacy, have gone through the process in all the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.  Some of the women in the documentary weren't even surrogates.  If they spoke with the majority of surrogates who have gone through agencies, undergone psychological evaluations, and have legitimate contracts and representation, they would find nearly all positive stories.  Some surrogacy stories do end in tragedy, heartache, and loss.  This is true with any pregnancy that a woman could have regardless if it is her own child or a surrogate babe.  It doesn't mean that it was a terrible choice and most of these women go on to have happy endings.  Little to most peoples knowledge, we have a separate attorney than our intended parents who works on our behalf.  We are a group of women who have a passion for helping other and love being pregnant.  Most of us are done procreating for our own family, but we enjoy pregnancy and childbirth and feel like that part of life doesn't need to be over after completing our own family.  It's a win-win that we get to experience pregnancy and childbirth and deserving people get to take their biological baby home with them.  Most of us find so much satisfaction in surrogacy that we could do it over and over again.  The reward of watching people become parents, who couldn't without the help of our womb and willingness, is so great and a gift that will last a lifetime!  I only see beauty in what we do!  You're welcome to attend any surrogacy commission meeting or write to your legislator.  We need laws written to catch up with the advances in medical technology. 
At the capital supporting surrogacy

Can you believe we've had 699 people view the last blog post in less than two weeks?  I wonder if we can get to 1,000 views?  Maybe Ellen will want to meet us?!  Or Oprah, I like her too!  Ok, really though...I can't believe how many lives we've touched by our surrogacy story!  I'm sure the number extends past the 699 people that have read one blog post.  If you think about all of our family and friends, my IPs family and friends, and all the strangers any one of us has shared the story with, I'm sure the number of people we've touched is well into the thousands.  Keep spreading the good word about surrogacy!  It lights a fire in my soul!  I still want to write a book about our journeys. 

As I conclude this post, I want everyone to know that I'm feeling excellent physically and emotionally.  I think the one major thing people, who couldn't imagine being a surrogate themselves, can't comprehend is how to deal with the emotions after the surrogate baby goes home.  I assure you that I am more complete and fulfilled than I was before having Spencer and Chloe.  I'm so proud of myself and my family, I am happy, and I feel only a sense of gain.  It makes me realize that I can accomplish any goal I set for myself and I hope it inspires others to go after their dreams and goals.  If I turned the clock back four years ago, knowing all I know now, I would relive it all over again in a heartbeat!  Life is AMAZING!  What are your dreams and goals you have tucked away that you've been too afraid to accomplish?  The strength that comes from accomplishing these BIG DREAMS makes us more confident and better people in society.  Start working on your goal today...you'll be happy you did!         
          
Chloe
4 Days Old

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words


The human body never ceases to amaze me.  I'm in
awe that the body can bounce back this fast!


8 Days Old
 *I'm still waiting to get the birth photos from Brianna.  I'm like a little kid waiting for Christmas.  I'll post them when I get them!