Monday, February 20, 2017

6 Month Update

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a link to the video I made for him:

I love him!!  Morning walk along the beach.

Packet Pickup

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

Lindsey, Me, Alexis, Christina


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.75 years and 6 months

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


                      I love the comparison photos...

Labor Day

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