Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Surrogates Unite

I've been lucky to be able to join a surrogate support group with about fifty Midwestern ladies.  It's a group where nothing is off limits and we're allowed to get support from women who completely understand each other.  Saturday, I attended a gathering with six surrogates from Minnesota.  I love being able to connect with these ladies.  Some of these women have/are carrying several times for several different couples.  Most are gestational surrogates and a few have been traditional surrogates.  Some are "retired" and others, like me, are having our first journey.  It's great to be able to listen to each woman's perspective and realize how similar we all are.  I guess we all clearly like being pregnant and have WONDERFUL husbands/partners that are more than supportive of our desire.  I know that this desire of mine is something that I couldn't keep pushing down, for years it would come to the surface with a vengeance...I would have regretted not doing it.  I don't know if you believe in God, The Universe, or some type of Energy source, but this desire is one, of many, of my "callings" in life.  I feel great satisfaction for listening and following through with this calling.        

Each time I meet with a surrogate, I realize that we all have to deal with the reality that there are those people that aren't supportive of our decision.  No matter what life decisions, or sometimes lack there of decision...just the life we were given, there are people who won't be supportive, and that's ok so long as they keep that to themselves.  Some people think that it's ok to share their opinion with us and tell us why it's wrong, or right, and others will just simply ignore the pregnancy and don't want to deal with the fact that we are genuinely happy growing a BEAUTIFUL baby inside our womb.  I've even been told that some people look at surrogacy as some sort of prostitution.  I'M NOT JOKING, I've heard it!  They think we're selling our bodies for money.  I'll just let you stew in that one for only a moment...

With the few negative things we have all heard about surrogacy, there is an overwhelming amount of positive things that we've all heard.  Strangers aren't afraid to wrap their arms around me and give me the greatest hug that anyone could give.  People tear up at the idea of how we could give the greatest gift, life.  Others will share that they had this desire and never lived it out.  More people than I can count have said that they've heard about surrogates on the news but have never met one in real life.  One person even told me that I am now a local celebrity (that made me chuckle)!  The point is, is that I'm just showing people that I'm living who I am and who I was created to be.  These are the people we want to surround ourselves with!  Life in general should be shared with positive people, and those are the people I'm really attracted to.  I enjoy being around happy people and people who enjoy being around me.

 My family is my greatest blessing in this life.  I have really high expectations of what a great family is, because generation after generation has been lead by an amazing example of how people should be treated when they are part of a family.  Both of my Grandmas did a great job of allowing us to see that when you join a family, you simply become another person to love just as equal as all the others.  When I was blessed with my only living Grandpa (Only by looking at a family tree would you know that he is technically my Step-Grandfather), George, he and my Grandma embraced each other's kids and grandkids like their own.  The joining of 10 kids, in-laws, and 27 grandkids couldn't have had a more beautiful ending, or beginning!!!  We were given more awesome people to love and to love us!  This is much like the joining of a surrogate's family with the intended parents and their family, we're gaining more awesome people to love and to love us!  

Speaking of my amazing family, on Sunday I'm going to be heading to my aunt and uncle's house for a photo shoot where five of eight pregnant cousins will be showing off our beautiful baby bellies.  Can you imagine how excited our Grandparents must feel looking down on all of us grandkids?  This might be the only time when 8 of 27 grandkids are pregnant and due between January 2014 and May 2014.  It's going to be so awesome!     

21 weeks

I'm a little over 21 weeks now and this little man is moving all the time.  Lydia and Jack have been able to feel him and if you watch my belly close you can see the kicks.  He kept me awake two nights ago from 3:30 am to when I got out of bed.  My IPs better watch out, he's going to be a little night owl!  We took the kids to production of Beauty and The Beast on Sunday and he moved the entire show.  I think he's going to be a theatre lover, maybe because he started off by listening to The Wizard of Oz just two days after he was put in my uterus.  He listened to The Sound of Music all summer long because Lydia was in that show.  Jack just finished up with The Little Mermaid, and as of yesterday, the kids and Ben started rehearsals for The Wizard of Oz.  I'm get to work the spotlight and watch all their performances!  I think he'll be one happy baby listening to all of this from the cozy warmth of his womb.  LIFE IS GOOD!! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

It's a...

This baby will always have a special place in my heart!  I know he'll grow up and do great things.

Yesterday was the big 20 week ultrasound.  Of course my IPs were both able to attend this amazing event.  Just as I hopped in my car the baby started moving like crazy.  I seriously talked out loud to it, telling it that it had to keep moving so it's parents could feel it kicking when I got to the clinic.  After a quick hug to greet my IPs, I laid in the back seat of their vehicle and both of them were able to feel their baby move for the first time!  That was a pretty magical!  I think all three of us were beaming from ear to ear.

The plan for the ultrasound was that none of us would find out the gender of the baby and the next day (today) would be a family reveal party to learn the gender.  They asked the ultrasound tech if she would be able to e-mail or call the bakery to let them know if it was a boy or girl.  Apparently those of us in the medical field would think that HIPPA would allow this to happen, and of course we were wrong.  IP-A and IP-B both decided that I could find out the gender and call the bakery after the appointment.  Before finding out the gender, I told them that my gut feeling was a girl and that I'll continue to call it a she and at the reveal party I'd vote girl, wear a "GIRL" sticker, and not tell a soul no matter what.  That was not an easy task.  It was pretty obvious when the tech got to the right area that it was CLEARLY a boy!  I winked at the tech and kept my word.  I didn't tell anyone! 

It's a BOY!
We were given two CDs with photos of the ultrasound and she included the gender picture, so IP-B decided that I should take their CD with me and bring it to them today so that IP-A wouldn't cheat.  I started getting texts this morning begging me to tell IP-A, but I played along and couldn't ruin the surprise! 

Ben, the kids, and I were we were lucky enough to bring the guest of honor to the gender reveal party that my IPs had with both their families.  It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me that I would be greeted with overwhelming love and gratitude.  I wasn't expecting to hear every single person say "Thank you!"  I've never thought of the impact this child would have outside of my IPs.  To be able to hug the grandparents, aunts, and uncles of this baby gave me a whole new perspective on being a surrogate, much like discovering the the amazing impact it's having on our children and community.  I can't believe that I never thought in depth about how my IPs families must feel.  It was a room filled with so much love for the baby in my womb.  And this is one lucky baby!  I always say how fortunate I feel to be matched with such an amazing couple, but now I feel even more lucky to be matched with these amazing families!  They are truly awesome people.      

As each person came into the party they were to pick a gender and wear a sticker with their guess.  One uncle came in and asked what I thought it was and pulled a Ben, he picked the opposite because he remembered that I've never been right with guessing any of our kids genders.  After we had a lovely pizza lunch it was time for a fun game of "What do the Old Wives Tales tell us about the gender?"  I answered a bunch of old wives tale questions and came to the conclusion that we were split right down the middle on if it's a boy or girl. 

My IPs cut into the cake right after the game.  The cake was to have blueberry filling for a boy or raspberry filling for a girl.  The fruit layer was so thin that it was really difficult to tell if it was raspberry or blueberry.  I let them look hard and waited to see if they could figure it out, I heard them say "I think it's a girl"...then they looked at me and I had to tell them that IT'S A BOY!  They tasted the fruit filling and it was blueberry!  Sometimes things happen for reasons, and it was a good thing that I secretly knew the gender.  Everyone seems to be really excited about this new baby boy  :)      

The Cake
Blueberry Filling = Boy

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Things You Didn't Know

Surrogacy has so many hidden aspects that many people don't think about or simply never knew.  I received a thick envelope from IARC, our agency, a couple weeks ago, and it was filled with more paperwork and a ton of questions for me to fill out for our court hearing after the baby is born. Most of you aren't aware that in the state of Minnesota, I actually have to give up my "parental rights" over the baby and a formal adoption will happen shortly after the birth.  You've gathered it, I end up on the birth certificate for a short time after the birth and have "rights" over a child that doesn't even have an ounce of genetic attachment to me.  This seems silly to me, but we do have to do a bunch of legal paperwork and then go in front of a judge to have everything finalized.  I'm kind of bummed that we need to do this in the cities instead of St. Cloud, because my mom, who's a court reporter, would have asked to be with our judge for the day and she could have recorded the whole court hearing. 

Ben and I recently meet with an attorney to have our wills done.  This is another piece of surrogacy that needs to be completed.  If something were to happen to me during the pregnancy, we've made sure that it's written to keep my body alive and to let the baby grow to full term.  These are very morbid conversations to have but we've known about this since contract time.  It's just something that most people wouldn't think would be a part of this process. 

I can finally feel the baby from the outside!  This is very exciting news because I get to see my IPs tomorrow and hopefully they'll be able to feel their baby kick!!!!!  Our 5 year old son, George, was the first to feel the movement last weekend.  He's not one to sit still very long, however he laid next to me and giggled every time he felt movement for at least 30 minutes.  I had one night where I actually felt a very hard body part slide across my hand.  It's such a neat feeling and this is totally the reason I love being a surrogate, so far!  I'm sure that the actual birth and watching my IPs in the delivery room will be the very best part!!!

I need to brag on our kids for a moment.  Lydia, our 9 year old, and I were having a conversation last week about different things that people do to help others out in this world.  We were specifically discussing Red Cross, volunteer work, and natural disaster clean up.  Lydia told me that helping clean up after a natural disaster is something that she really wouldn't ever be interested in doing, and I agree with her, I don't think it's something that I really would feel like I'm "called" to do either.  So we went on discussing other ways we could help people out and really enjoy it.  Lydia didn't hesitate when she said that our family is doing something great for someone, and she told me that she thinks when she is older that she might be a surrogate herself.  She has such a big heart and loves what our family is doing for our IPs! 

Jack, our 7 year old, is a very deep thinker.  He loves to go above and beyond what he needs to do in school and gets really excited to excel at everything he tries.  We recently had parent teacher conferences and one of his assignments at school was to answer a bunch of questions from a story, of his choice, that he had to read.  He asked if he could write a story and then answer the questions, and of course any teacher would say, yes.  He spent three days writing his story, and his teacher said he worked very very hard on it.  She wanted us to read his story right there in front of her during the conference, and she had a HUGE smile on her face the whole time!  Jack's story was about a little girl who lived with just her mother, had no neighbor kids, and she was very lonely.  Eventually she got new neighbors that had a bunch of kids and this made the little girl happy, but she really wanted a sibling terribly bad.  The story ends by the little girl suggesting to her mom that they should get a sperm donor so she could have a brother or sister.  Ben, Jack's teacher, and I were all giggling.  Clearly, our kids are very accepting of any method people use to bear a child.  I feel like they are learning such valuable lessons at such a young age and can only hope that it will continue into adulthood.

Tomorrow is our 20 week ultrasound!  I can't imagine how giddy our IPs feel.  I'm really excited to see baby again and know that everything looks nice and healthy.  They do want to find out the gender of the baby, so I'll be sending a private message to my family after we learn, however I'm going to wait to post anything on here until I get the "go ahead" from our IPs.  I want them to be the ones to share their news with their family and friends and will wait a few days until I know the news has spread.  I can't take that joy of sharing their news away from them!  I'll eventually post photos and let you know if it's a boy or girl.  I still think it's a girl!