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! 

2 comments:

  1. You are having a beautiful family and Chloe is bundle of joy. He look so charming. Thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing your story Chloe
    Find Surrogate Mother is not always easy... you are amazing!

    ReplyDelete