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

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:

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'll be happy you did!         
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! 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chloe's Birth Story - My Perspective

Wednesday night I got a call from my IPs to confirm pickup time and they wanted my final guess at the baby's gender.  I believed for the first 30 weeks that it was a girl.  I've been wrong with every single pregnancy that I've had so I felt doubtful, of course!  For the last 10 weeks I had a hunch that it was a boy, and I'll explain that hunch in a bit.  My final guess was girl based on the fact that was my feelings the first 30 weeks of the pregnancy, however, I would be VERY surprised if it was a girl.  I know is sounds strange but we'll get to that...

We received a message from Liz right away Thursday morning, August 18th, that we didn't need to call to confirm our scheduled induction and we could come on in.  She was already at the hospital and they were ready and waiting for us.  My IPs dropped off Spencer at daycare at 7:00 and picked me up along the way to the hospital.  I gave myself enough time to eat a nice breakfast and get my hair and makeup done before heading off to push out a baby!  Come on, who doesn't want to look nice while having a baby?!  (It's kind of an outstanding joke around our house that I get all done up to push out a baby so you're very welcome to laugh if you'd like, but just wait until you see the birth photos...I'm sure my hair looks awesome!)  ;)

Ben and I chatted at length about all the people attending the birth and his and Lydia's length of stay for an induced labor.  I thought it would be best for people to give me some time to get things moving in the right direction before they made their way to the hospital.  Lydia had swimming practice in the morning that I thought she should go to, and it made the most sense for Ben to go to work for a while before picking up Lydia.  Then they could head to the hospital when I thought things were getting far enough along so they didn't have to spend their entire day just waiting around.  It can get boring and add unnecessary stress to the laboring mama, or surrogate in my case.  I made my entire fan club aware that I would let them know when they were welcome to join us at the hospital. 

When we arrived at the hospital we were directed from the emergency room entrance down to labor and delivery.  I was pretty nervous and excited as we made our way into our room about how the day was going to unfold.  My whole being just believed that Liz would be able to open the bag of water and we would end up in the water birth room by the end of the day!  Liz greeted us and explained that I'd get hooked up to my IV and we would start the antibiotics started right away.  Our nurse, Polly, was amazing!  She has a lovely presence about her and was a perfect fit for me with her sweet and calm demeanor.  I changed quickly into the hospital gown and then Polly got me all hooked up to the fetal monitor, placed the IV, and we started the antibiotics.  Liz checked my cervix shortly thereafter.  I was dilated to 3 cm and baby had moved up a bit since the night before.  She wanted us to start walking around the hospital right away to see if we could get baby to move down, and once I had the full dose of antibiotics in I could get taken off the IV and we would start walking stairs. 

Liz had been at the hospital for quite some time already, so she went home to get all freshened up and eat some breakfast.  She would let us know when she got back and she would check out where things were at that point.  I pushed the IV pole while my IPs walked along side of me as we started to explore the hospital halls.  Once we came to the first set of stairs IP-B said that IP-B would carry the IV pole for me if we wanted to start stairs right away.  There were a few women sitting at their desk across the set of stairs and said as they pointed, "There is an elevator right around the corner."  We all laughed and said, "We're actually wanting to run up and down these stairs.  You might be seeing a lot of us today!"  IP-B and I ran up and down the stairs several times while IP-A joined us for a few flights but then stopped to look at some artwork as we continued running up and down the stairs.  As soon as the dose of antibiotics was complete we made our way back to our laboring room to get all unhooked.  I got back into my street cloths so we could hit the halls and stairs hard to try to move baby down.  We walked a lot and we walked hard!  We walked all over the hospital halls and found every staircase they have.  IP-B ran into one of his aunts in the hospital so they stopped to chat with her for a while and I continued to book it through the halls.  At one point I told my IPs they were going to have to run to keep up with me.  I was on a mission to get this baby to move down so we could avoid Pitocin at all cost! 

Liz arrived back at the hospital around 10:15ish so we quickly made our way back to the labor room (it is actually a labor and delivery room but I viewed it as my labor room because I planned on going to the water birth room for the delivery).  I was anxious to see if all our efforts had made baby move down a bit.  I got back into my hospital gown and Polly hooked me back up to the fetal monitor again.  Liz checked my cervix again.  I was dilated to 4 cm and baby was low enough that she was able to open the bag of water (10:30 am)!  Normally when my water is broken I can almost hear the pop and feel a huge gush of water flow out - that was not the case this time.  Liz had a very hard time telling if she even broke the water and said she felt like she snagged it about 20 times.  Her gloves barley had fluid on them and I felt a tiny amount of fluid flow out when I stood up and went to the bathroom.  Normally I would have a trail of water following me and I would be surrounded by water until the baby was born.  Again, this wasn't the case this time.  Clearly the fluid was very low!   I hung out on the fetal monitor a little while and Polly helped me get hooked up to the breast pump to do some nipple stimulation.  We Chatted a while and then all of the sudden Polly said, "Look, you have colostrum already!"  Polly got a syringe and sucked up every last drop of the colostrum so the baby could have it after it was born.  We walked around the hospital halls again for a while until I was due for my second dose of antibiotics at noon.  Liz still questioned if she actually broke my water even a couple hours after she did.  I felt the dancing, or almost bouncing from side to side, made the biggest progress in terms of getting contractions.  We spent a very long time visiting as I danced and tried my best to make progress on moving this baby down and out.  I still believed this was all going to work out, but I was getting doubtful as the afternoon progressed.  At 12:30 I sent out a mass text that my contractions were starting to get a little stronger (but not really that strong) and they were still pretty far apart.  I think I asked Liz a few times about when she thought we might have to start Pitocin if things weren't moving.  She said typically three to four hours after breaking the water she sees things progressing.  If, at that point, we hadn't started seeing progress then we would talk about Pitocin.  She did a very lovely job diverting my brain away from the worry of Pitocin!

I couldn't get my brain off the fact that I had people waiting to be notified to come to the hospital.  At 12:45 I suggested that people could make their way to the hospital but I thought it was still going to be a while.  Ben and Lydia were first to arrive around 1:30 and my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and my dad arrived shortly thereafter.  Dad surprised me by coming.  I asked him several months ago if he would like to watch the birth and he never gave me a definitive answer.  My mom told me that he wasn't planning on coming, but I'm so happy he was at the hospital even if he didn't watch the birth!  Brianna, our photographer, got there shortly after 2:00.  I enjoyed the greeting from everyone and quickly invited them to wait in the waiting room as labor progressed.  I noticed that when I was left in a quiet room with few people that I was working harder at focusing on labor.  I felt so much more at ease having everyone at the hospital but in the waiting room.  Brianna stayed with me most of the time she was there so she could photograph everything.  We had quite a bit of fun posing for photo ops between contractions.  I had a fan blowing on me ever since my water was broke because I was extremely hot, so we had quite a bit of fun with the fan blowing my hair in some pictures!

In the waiting room our big secret broke loose.  At our first monitoring appointment with the Perinatologist my IPs and Lydia accidentally learned the gender of the baby.  We told the tech, who has been in the business for 30 some years, that we didn't know the gender and didn't want to know.  We all looked away when she was in the buttocks region.  She took a photo, as requested, of the gender and wrote boy or girl on the photo and printed it out and put it in an envelope for us.  At some point in the appointment, while I was lying on my side, she put up four pictures on the screen and the upper right photo was the gender of the baby.  Lydia saw it and immediately said she needed to go to the bathroom.  She didn't know what to do other than leave the room.  When the appointment was over, IP-A left to go to the bathroom, and Lydia told IP-B and I that she accidentally saw the gender and bolted it out of the room.  IP-B said time stood still for many minutes while eyes were glued on the screen, although it was only on the screen for moments they told me.  I felt sad and ill!  I didn't see it and I really didn't want to know the gender.  We met IP-A in the waiting room and IP-B and Lydia didn't say a word. IP-A was talking about the baby in the waiting room and said something like, "You know it's going to be a girl!" (at this time we didn't know that IP-A saw the same picture too).  Someone called the baby a "she" while we were still chatting and Lydia quickly said, "or he!".  I found myself consumed by over-listening to what they were calling the baby (I concluded within the last 10 weeks that the baby was a boy by what people had been calling it).  IP-A sent me a text some hours after we left the appointment and told me that IP-A indeed saw the same picture too.  Ben had been anxious to know the gender since I got pregnant, so I thought it would be safe to have Lydia share her secret with her dad and then be sworn to secrecy.  I was sure that by the end of the day I would decide to find out.  I felt like it was a day from hell - I was tormented by making a decision weather or not to find out the gender.  It took all day, but I finally decided I didn't want to know!  My IPs decided that we just wouldn't tell anyone that they knew the gender for simplicity reasons.  I heard that the waiting room at the hospital, while I was in labor, was on fire with everyone trying to coerce Lydia to spill the beans.  She's the BEST secret keeper I know!

Meanwhile, back in the laboring room, my contractions were starting to get a little stronger, but they still were not as strong as I thought they should be.  IP-B downloaded a contraction app to start timing the contractions to give us something to do.  I wasn't experiencing my normal "gush" while staying relaxed through the contractions.  I always had considered the "gush" as my reward, but I didn't need it yet, my contractions weren't that terrible.  Around 3:00 I asked Polly how long she was working that day and she responded, "I'm done really soon.  I only work until 3:30!"  Liz about fell out of her chair.  Polly said she wished she could stay but had an important meeting to attend at 5:30.  Liz didn't have to say anymore, I could tell she was devastated.  Polly got me an exercise ball, one of my favorite laboring tools, to see if a different position might help.  Ben started trying to massage my back, but he was quickly fired for being too aggressive.  Liz took over and that's when I realized my back was having more discomfort than I have ever experienced during labor.  Her massage felt AMAMZING - She has a gift!  The baby had hiccups during labor.  I've never had a baby have hiccups during contractions before.  It was kind of an odd feeling, but it was the first time since labor began that I paid any attention to the baby's movement inside me.  I spent some time feeling the baby's hiccups and rubbing my belly one last time.  It was another bittersweet moment!  I honestly didn't have much pain at all but I was starting to feel rectal pressure.  I told Liz I was having rectal pressure, but feeling a little disbelief myself, and then she asked if I felt like I needed to poop.  I had a slight feeling I needed to poop and never said anything because I still wasn't in pain.  Liz asked if I wanted her to check where I as at, and I really did want her to check me but I didn't want to lie down in the bed, instead we started to devise a game plan on how to get across and down the hall to the water birth room.  I was contracting pretty close together but it was still not super painful, and it was at this moment that I realized I didn't think I would need Pitocin.  I needed to go to the bathroom, so my plan was after the next contraction that I would pee and then make my way down the hall.  I went pee and then decided, while still in the bathroom, that I should have another contraction while standing next to the bed before going down the hall.  Polly took a turn at my back massage for that contraction.  I think someone helped cover up my backside as we quickly made our way into the water birth room.  Someone else must have carried the exercise ball for me (things I can't remember). 

I got all situated back on the birthing ball in the water birth room and suggested that people come in one at a time to labor with me.  I wanted Lydia to experience labor so she was in and out of the room with me throughout the afternoon, but she had more fun in the waiting room where people were chatting and she didn't have to be quiet.  My mom joined me for a few contractions and then said she was going to get my sister.  Megan may have gotten to witness one contraction and then I sent her to gather the whole group in the hallway because the rectal pressure was getting very strong and I had an urge to push.  The only problem was I wasn't in as much pain as I thought I should be.  I had been very calm and relaxed, without my gush, but still waiting for the intense pain to start to know I was transitioning.  While Megan was gathering the group of people in the hall, I got into the tub.  I remember stepping in and sitting down and saying, "OHHHH, that feels so good!"  And then it began!...

Everyone quietly filed into the room and basically surrounded the bathtub.  I remember searching for Lydia and I didn't see her so I asked, "Where is Lydia?"  Someone told me, "She went to the bathroom quickly."  I replied, "Tell her to hurry because she's going to miss it!" I went into a zone after that, and I was ready to push right away!  Not too long after being in the tub the pain was intolerable and I said, "Liz, tell me again why I thought this was a good idea?!"  Liz responded with something like - Because you are helping a family have this beautiful baby that otherwise couldn't.  She encouraged me to relax and take a nice deep breath.  She also said we had to get to this point and baby would be here soon.  I guess that's when the entire room broke into tears.  The pain was excruciating as I started to push the baby out.  I felt like the baby was coming so I said, "Here comes the baby..." and only bubbles surfaced to the top of the water as I said, "Oh, it was just a fart!"  I opened my eyes to see everyone laughing while tears were flowing down every single persons face, even the nurse in the corner who I hadn't met yet.  I ended up farting twice while pushing out the baby.  The pain was so unbelievable that I decided at that moment that Ben was right, this had to be the last baby to exit my body.  I had Lydia dab my tears in-between contractions.  I knew as the baby was crowing that I was done with this chapter of my life.  The baby was crowning and apparently they could see the head when I asked if the head was already out.  Liz instructed me to put my chin to my chest instead of my natural instinct to put my head up and back.  That was just the ticket I needed.  I think I got the head out with the next push.  Then Liz said, "Ok Josie, listen carefully.  The head is out and I need you to give me one more push."  I took a deep breath and knew the shoulders were coming, I gave out a yelp, and with that out slid the baby (4:57 pm).  Once the shoulders are out the baby slips out so fast.  It's a weird and quick sensation.  I can't remember for sure, but I think I said, "Oh, THANK GOD!"  I was so glad that pain was over and that there was a healthy baby that was placed into IP-A's hands.  IP-A and IP-B knelt down beside the tub and held their little baby.  That's such an indescribable moment to witness these two wonderful people become parents again.  They wanted baby's cord to stay connected until it was done pulsating, so they peacefully sat there holding their baby next to me. 

When I first opened my eyes I spotted Polly standing near the baby warmer in the right corner.  Polly was still there?!  I thought she had to leave?  I'm not sure what had happened but she apparently stayed for the birth and I'll forever be grateful for that!  I remember looking at the baby while it was still connected to me and rubbing its tiny little foot.  It seemed like forever until I heard someone to my left ask if it was a boy or girl.  I heard this calm sweet voice come from IP-B, "Yes, It's a girl! You got your bookends, Josie!"  I was shocked - I couldn't believe it was a girl!  Liz asked if I wanted to feel the cord pulsating so I reached and touched the slippery firm cord and felt the last connection I had to this sweet little girl.  All of the sudden a rush of energy came into the delivery room when Spencer came in.  I couldn't figure out why or how Spencer came into the room, but I heard my mom ask if that was ok.  I really didn't have a care in the world at that moment so it didn't bother me.  I was completely overtaken by the magical moment that just happened.  I did ask if I could have an ibuprofen right after they cut the cord.  After five or so minutes I felt like I had an urge to push again but we continued to let the cord pulsate.  Soon after I felt the urge again and Liz asked if I was ready to have the cord cut so I could get out and deliver the placenta.  She said the cord wasn't pulsating much anyway.  I was very much ready to deliver the placenta so IP-B cut the cord.  I heard them joke that there wouldn't be blood that would splatter this time.  When they cut the cord I said, "Ouch!...Just kidding!"  I thought it was pretty funny!

Making my way to a standing position and stepping out of the tub was incredibly difficult!  I stood up with the help of Ben and Liz and I thought the placenta was falling out of me, but instead a huge clot fell into the tub.  It took a lot of courage to lift my leg over the side of the tub and step down.  I think my legs were already shaking by then and my husband helped me strip off my wet tank top and bra.  Liz directed me on how to maneuver onto the bed.  I was given a couple nice warm blankets to cover up with as I got into the bed.  Lickety-split, the placenta delivery was a piece of cake!  Liz asked me to give a gentle push and it was out within a minute or two of lying down.  Spencer was watching as Liz pushed on my stomach a few times and blood flowed out.  I felt bad he had to witness that.  IP-B did a nice job of redirecting his attention to his new sister.  There was such relief at that moment that the birth was completely over and their baby girl was here and healthy!  I watched them snuggle her and it warmed my heart to watch Spencer who was in awe of this precious life that entered his world.  I witnessed perfection!  A perfect family that was formed in a miraculous way.  I loved that my husband and our daughter watched along side of me as we saw this family become complete in that moment.  It was such an honor to be a part of!

I requested a hot bath as soon as we wrapped in the delivery room.  I got some ibuprofen and some ice for my vag and was finally able to see this tiny miracle that I carried for the last 40 weeks.  IP-B brought her over for me to see and I asked if I could hold her.  She was breathtakingly beautiful!  I enjoyed a few minutes holding her and passed her back to her parents so they could continue to enjoy snuggles.  We gathered everyone for a big group photo, my family congratulated me and told me how proud they were, and they said their farewells so my IPs could have family time.  I asked Ben to run home and get the boys so they could meet their newest wombmate.  When the room got a little more quiet the nurse came in to weigh the baby and take all of her measurements.  She weighed in at 6 pounds 10 ounces and was 18 1/2 inches long.  We took a few more photos and everyone left to go to my IPs room.  The sweet nurse asked if I wanted to walk to my room or ride in a wheelchair.  I wanted to walk of course!  I stood up and the bleeding was so heavy that I made a huge mess on the floor.  We both decided that it would be best if I rode in the wheelchair so I didn't make a trail of blood as I walked down the hall.  She took me directly to my bathroom and had a hot bath waiting for me. 

Right as I got into the bathtub Ben arrived with the kids.  Lydia joined me in the bathroom as I cleaned up and I had a chance to visit with her about her thoughts on what she just witnessed.  She seemed to be on cloud nine!  I think it was hard for her to watch her mom in so much pain as I pushed the baby out, but she was so happy to be a part of this miraculous moment.  She had a lot of questions and felt my doughy stomach while I was in the tub.  She had a hard time with seeing all the bleeding that I had.  I didn't spend more than 10 minutes in the tub, I got dressed, and was most anxious to give my husband a hug.  I spent the last few months dreaming about really hugging my husband, and it was as lovely as I imagined.  Our kids were excited to go next door to meet the baby.  My IPs room was full of guests already.  The kids patiently waited their turn to hold the baby for a very short time and then they took off.  My IPs room was a bit too busy for me and I was feeling kind of dizzy, so I had IP-B walk with me back to my room.  I drank a lot of water and sat down to rest for a while.  Once my IPs room cleared out they had some alone time with the baby to decide on a name for her.  They came over to my room to share the news that they named the baby, Chloe Elizabeth.  I was able to snuggle Chloe for a while before I got extremely exhausted and knew I needed to go to bed.  I called my amazing husband to thank him for everything and got all tucked into bed feeling proud and complete!                          

*Many of you have asked if you can share this blog with others.  You're encouraged to share the love and beauty of surrogacy!

*I'll add pictures once we get them back from Brianna.  You're welcome to check back on this blog post in the near future to see Chloe's entrance into the world!              


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Always Something New

This baby has done nothing but kept our stress levels up the second half of this whole pregnancy.  Just when everything came into place the week prior, the baby it didn't give us two practice breaths on the monitoring ultrasound on Monday, and we got the news that my amniotic fluids have dropped into the very low end of normal.  They went from just about 11 to 5.68 in one week.  The perinatologist came in and we all discussed what we desired in our birth plan.  He explained that the fluids had dropped a significant amount, to the point where he would recommend an induction so baby could make the most healthy entrance into the world.  He fully supported us if we wanted to have another monitoring appointment on Wednesday or Thursday to double check on baby, but if the fluid levels had dropped more then we may be talking about a C-section instead of an induction.  That was all I needed to hear to burst into tears!  We were supposed to have a perfect water birth.  Just a week ago all of the things on baby's list were checked off and we were given the go that baby was large enough and head down so that we could have this water birth that I've dreamed of since giving birth to Spencer.  Do we chance it and have the appointment on Wednesday and hope, by the grace of God, that the levels would rise?  I feel like we have already used every power of God's grace to get us to the point where we are.  We decided to schedule a monitoring appointment for Wednesday and really make our final decision after our appointment with Liz on Monday afternoon.    

I'm thankful that my day on Monday was packed with appointments, activities, and middle school open house so I didn't even have time to think too much about making a decision without talking to Liz first.  My hope was that baby would be low enough and my body ready so that Liz would strip my membranes and/or pop the bag of water so we could get labor going on it's own.  I brought my hospital bag just in case she could break my water right then.  I had no idea what we would hear from Liz and I still longed to have this perfect water birth.

Liz came into the exam room and I could just feel heavy energy from all of us as we started discussing baby's exit plan.  My stomach was in my throat as we started talking about different options.  I believe I asked if she could just check and see where I was at before we really started trying to make decisions.  She had mentioned right before checking my cervix that she hoped she could open the bag of water and we could try to do this without Pitocin.  Those were the words I really wanted to hear, but baby was still pretty high and I was only dilated 2 cm still.  She said she wouldn't even be able to open the bag of water where I was at then.  My heart sank again!  Liz suggested we cancel our monitoring appointment (which already had me terrified that we were going to hear that we needed a C-section) and we schedule the induction for Thursday, with the hope that baby would be low enough by then that she could open the bag of water and hopefully not have to use Pitocin.  We wouldn't know until Thursday what the day might look like for us.  She also said that there may be a possibility that if we needed to start labor with Pitocin that we could eventually turn it off and still have a water birth.  Liz did strip my membranes before she left and gave me a list of things to do to try to start labor on its own.  There was a glimmer of hope, and deep down I still had peace that everything would turn out ok.  

My IPs and I sat in the exam room after Liz left and we had a deep discussion about our game plan.  Liz presented us with many options and we needed to come together and make a final decision.  It's tough when we're talking about their baby in my body.  We all were on the same page that in the end we just needed to have a healthy me and a healthy baby.  That was our top priority!  IP-B had a gut feeling that we should schedule the induction for Wednesday.  I'm sure I looked like a deer in headlights, because we were talking about a Thursday induction with Liz not Wednesday.  I think I took a deep breath and said, "I think I might need some time to think about that one!"  I looked into IP-B's eyes and realized that the difference between Wednesday and Thursday wasn't that great, so I told them I respected the gut instinct and would agree to a Wednesday induction.  I just knew we needed to avoid another monitoring appointment at all cost, because I didn't want the fluid to be too low and end up with a C-section.  We had Liz come in and we asked about a Wednesday induction and she had many reasons why Thursday would be a better choice.  It was the only moment that I heard Liz go from "professional" to "sister" while talking to us ... She looked at IP-B and said, "You have to trust me on this one!"  She was a breath of fresh air for me at that moment!  I knew 24 hours could give me a little more time to get things moving.

On my way home from the appointment I stopped by Walgreens to pick up the recommended Castor Oil and Evening Primrose Oil and try really hard to start things moving along.  I immediately took a shot of Castor Oil when I got home and almost puked it up instantly.  There isn't really a flavor but it's so thick and oily that it's hard to get it down.  Castor Oil is a laxative and a mighty gentile one on my stomach.  I was cleared out within 45 minutes of taking it and didn't end up with any kind of terrible stomach cramps.  Maybe that was the idea of how it induces labor?  It didn't work other than making my colon really clean!  Ben and I walked 3 fast miles while the kids rode their rip sticks along with us.  We were working so hard to induce labor that I think I may have pushed myself too hard.  I had to stop and take a small break after about 2.5 miles.

On Tuesday morning I started getting quite a bit of bloody show.  This was different than the mucus plug that I lost a week prior.  It was bright red and constantly coming out all day long.  Liz called me on Tuesday to see if I wanted to meet her the next day for her to strip my membranes again.  I only needed to know where and when and I was totally on board!  Wednesday at 4:30 we would meet at Serena's (her sister who lives half way between us) and she would strip my membranes again.  Ben, the kids, and I went for another 3 mile walk on Tuesday.  I contracted quite a bit on Tuesday night and all day at work on Wednesday, so I was very hopeful that she would feel improvement on my cervix when I got to Serena's.  I was dilated to 3 cm and baby was lower than on Monday.  Liz thought that if baby was that low the next morning that she would most likely be able to open the bag of water and get things moving.  I was pretty much a bloody mess on Wednesday night after Liz did an amazing (very painful) job stripping my membranes.  We both were determined that this was going to end the way we wanted!  I was contracting so much Wednesday night that I thought at about 10:30 pm that I should call and get our boys settled at Jack's friend's house where they could stay the night.  At some point I fell asleep and when I woke up I was quite disappointed that I was having minimal contractions.  I knew we would make it to the morning and we would see what the future holds when we got to the hospital for our scheduled induction.   


Last Belly Photo!

Just about to be a big brother

Birth story to follow...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's Been a Wild Ride

For the week following us learning that baby was breech, I spent all my free time doing handstands (ok - not really, but I had my knees up on the couch and my elbows on the floor), placing ice on top of my belly with a flashlight on the bottom, I would do squats, lunges, and tell baby all the reasons why it should flip back.  I had an appointment with a chiropractor in Hudson who did the Webster Technique to encourage baby to flip back.  It was such a gentle appointment until she loosened my ligaments - which was quite painful.  I imagine that the OB manually flipping the baby would have been worse, so I tried my best to relax, closed my eyes, and did some deep breathing.  I also practiced my power of positive thinking.
The evening prior to our next ultrasound, I was woke up from a deep sleep with an explosive movement from the baby.  It startled me so much that said, "HOLY SHIT!" out loud.  On my way to the ultrasound the next morning I noticed that the baby's hiccups had moved back down where they were before it flipped into the breech position.  I was feeling hopeful that we would find out that the head was down again.  My hopes of having this perfect water birth had all of the sudden had gone from feeling sad about possibly not having this dream childbirth that I wanted to fear that I couldn't even push the baby out vaginally.  The ultrasound tech placed the probe on my belly and told us that the head was down right away.  I burst into tears!  I'm sure this lady who delivers terrible news about babies every day to expecting parents must have thought it was strange for her to have someone crying because we learned that the baby wasn't breech anymore, but I was so relieved that I didn't have to imagine this baby being brought into the world through a hole that was cut into me that I cried tears of joy.  I still long to have my dream water birth, but we're all extremely thankful that I can have this baby vaginally.
On August 1st we had a full scan to measure the baby's weight again.  IP-B guessed that the weight would be in the 12th percentile, so I had been thinking the same so that we were on the same page with our energy being sent out into the universe.  We just needed to have the baby measure in the 10th percentile in order for us to qualify for a water birth.  Baby looks so great on the ultrasound and everything tells us that it's a healthy but small baby.  The Perinatiologist came into the room after the ultrasound and gave us the best news we've heard in 10 weeks - Baby is in the 15th percentile!!!!  This news was HUGE for us all.  Baby is head down and big enough for us to have the water birth of our dreams!
Every step of this pregnancy has been interesting and new.  We learned the very same day that the baby was big enough to have the water birth that my group strep B swab came back positive.  I find it interesting that I have had three pregnancies where it was negative and this is the second positive one that I've had and in no particular order.  I guess it can come and go.  This means that I will have to have a dose of IV antibiotics every four hours while I'm in active labor.  The good news is, is that I can still be in the tub while I get the IV.  Whew, I think we can handle that news!  I'm already over it.

We went camping with my brother's family and sister's family at a nearby campground last weekend.  I was a little over 37 weeks pregnant and it went fantastic.  The worst part was having to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and being eaten alive by mosquitos.  My nieces had a lot of time to love on my belly and asked all weekend to feel the baby.  They were all so adorable!
We Tented it at 37 Weeks
My Sister said it perfect:
Feeling this sweet miracle move in auntie's tummy. ‪#‎nottheircousin‬ ‪#‎notconfused‬ ‪#‎surrogacy‬

My brother and sister-in-law left on a quick getaway this past week to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. My parents did the majority of the babysitting for them, but crazy Auntie JoJo volunteered to take just one night with their 5 year old and 2 year old girls.  First off, they were extremely easy to take care of.  Second, they both had a lot of love toward the baby in Auntie JoJo's belly.  My two year old niece would ask once every five minutes, "I feel your baby!"  I finally thought it would be best to show her my IP's and Spencer's picture and tell her how this is their baby and not ours.  She didn't skip a beat when she instantly put her hand on my belly and said, "I feel your present!"  She absolutely melted my heart!

Tomorrow Ben and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary and Lydia turns 12 on Tuesday, so I hope baby waits until the end of this week or after to make his/her grand debut.  Next update will hopefully include a photo with a perfect little bundle of joy!  My body is feeling like it's starting to make progress toward delivering a baby.  My birth plan is written and sent to all eight spectators (This includes Ben, my IPs, Lydia, and others, but doesn't include Liz and all the other medical professionals.  I believe we counted 13 people that will be in the room).  Ben jokes that we need to have stadium seating, so I sent out an email to explain the "rules of the game" and encouraged our "fans" to make custom shirts.  It's probably time to get that bag packed for the hospital! 
Lydia's Birthday

Rainbow for my IPs and blue and pink for boy or girl
I joke that people who don't understand the meaning must think I'm a lady in my 30's trying to be 15 again!  Hahaha