Thursday, March 14, 2013
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words:
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Monday, November 21, 2011
Look at that sweet, sweet baby!! Can you believe it's been a month already? Heck, my 2 week wait didn't even fly by that quickly.
Baby L's doing well and E&J have adjusted to their new routine. They had visits from family and baby L's big brother even came to visit her. I know E was so happy to have her family all together.
Life's been busy here. It seems that every type of social event you can think of was planned in the months of October and November. I am very much looking forward to the holidays and some rest.
A lot of people have been asking me how I feel and how the surrogacy went. I know it's kind of boring to hear, "I feel great" and "It went really well" but that's honestly how it is. I went back to my own life and while I enjoy the pictures of their family, there's no sadness or longing to have baby L back with me. I think that's the part people are most surprised about.
In other news, I'm back at the gym and back into pre-pregnancy clothes. That's kind of nice because I really didn't want to have to shop for all new clothes! :) (Unless they're in a smaller size, of course!) I'm pretty sure I got all of my "missed" drinking made up and I realize that maybe I didn't miss it as much as I thought? Okay, maybe just the Patron margaritas and my Moscato.
So, all in all, things are back to normal here. The biggest question that remains is whether I'll do it again. That's not a question I think I can answer right now. I do know that if I do, I won't be ready for another year or so. We have a cruise planned for April of 2012 and my 30th birthday is next August. So, those are two milestones that I don't want to be pregnant for. Additionally, I've never wanted to do surrogacy unless it was right for my family and my life at the time. I can't say I know for sure where I'll be in a year and how I'll feel. I think I'd like to do this again though. I had such an amazing experience that I really feel like it's something I'd want to do 2-3 more times, but only if I can do it safely with minimal effects on my family and body. I've always wanted to help a same-sex couple seeing as it's harder for them to find a local surrogate b/c Texas laws make it tricky. I'm really pulled in that direction though and I think that's on my heart for a reason.
So, who knows where this blog will lead. I'm keeping it up in case other stumble upon it and want to ask questions or keep in touch. The surrogacy world is pretty tight-knit, which can be nice. There are lots of crazy people out there and you'd be surprised what you can learn through the grapevine! :)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Speaking of that little human, here are some long-awaited photos!! I finally remembered to ask IM if I could post them! These are from the hospital so forgive my puffiness. I lost 18 lbs. in 8 days and I'm sure that was almost all fluid from being swollen!
As far as how I am feeling, I will be completely honest and say that I feel pretty amazing. I had a couple of days where I felt a little down. It's so very hard to explain it because people automatically assume you regret "giving the baby up" or that you miss the baby or something. Sure, I miss her tiny kicks but I am so happy that she is where she belongs. I cannot tell you how much I do not want to bring another baby home and how happy I am that she is with her family. Remember, I gave her back, not up! :) The "down" part is just the feeling you get after coming off an emotional high. For 16 months, I had this goal of helping to bring a healthy baby into the world. It wasn't all I was; I was still a mom and wife and friend, etc., but it was a large part of my life and when it's over, it's kind of bittersweet. So, that's the feeling I had for a couple of days, but I was still overwhelmingly happy.
I am lucky to get texts, emails, phone calls, pictures and updates almost daily (even now!) from my IPs. They are so very loving and they share so much with me. I love seeing their faces and hearing about their milestones with her. All of it fills my heart up with joy and a little bit of pride too. It's a good feeling to know you helped. I look at my own children and feel that joy of being a parent and can live knowing that I helped someone else feel that.
Incidentally, it's my oldest's 7th birthday today. Happy birthday, Rach!!! Mommy loves you!!!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
This is the end of our surrogacy pregnancy but just the beginning of our surrogacy journey. October 20th will always be a fun day of memories for me!
Here is a little photo journey of the day for your viewing pleasure!
Arriving at the labor & delivery room!
Last Belly Shot in my oh so fashionable hospital gown!
Sugar-free popsicle, no food allowed after midnight the night before!
Mmmm, ice chips. I'd have a baby all over again just for someone to bring me non-stop ice chips
Trying to get a picture of the contractions but it's blurry
Still smiling even though I'm contracting!
I love to watch "A Baby Story" while laboring!
A beautiful arrangement from fellow blogger and IM to be, A!!! :)
I finally get my rainbow popsicle that I love (even if it's not Blue Bell)
This is what your friends bring you when you are a surrogate!!!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
So, be sweet to me and let's have a smooth birth little girl. :) I can't wait to see you meet your family!
Almost three years ago, while researching surrogacy and reading on a message board, I came across a picture of an IM seeing her baby for the first time. That picture captured the heart of surrogacy for me and in that moment solidified my decision to pursue surrogacy. Today, I get that moment to experience first hand. It's a beautiful thing.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Here are some things I've learned while on bed rest:
1. Forks go on the left and spoons and knives go on the right. The way to remember this is "fork" and "left" are 4-letter words and "spoon," "knife," and "right" all have 5 letters. Thank you, "Most Eligible Dallas"
2. My husband is indeed capable of caring for 3 children, the house, his wife and attending work. He is a great nurse.
3. My almost 7 yr old will sleep by my side to take care of me at night and wake me up with, "Well good morning, Cheesepuff!! Did you sleep well??"
4. My almost 5 year old will begrudgingly get me some water or put up my bowl for me.
5. My 20 mth old loves that I cannot run after her and is taking full advantage of that freedom.
6. "How I Met Your Mother" and "The Big Bang Theory" complete me.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Two hours later, I got sent home on bed rest (after getting permission to stop and pick up some yummy Freebirds). My blood pressure readings were elevated and trace proteins picked up in my urine (look, now we know each other better!) but my blood work was good so I am being allowed to bed rest at home.
I was introduced to this lovely thing called a urine collection container and have to save all my pee for 24 hrs...and I have to refrigerate it. I've never been so glad to have more than one fridge!!
So, Monday, I will check with my doc to see if we need to move up our Tuesday appointment or not. Stay tuned!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
No, not this kind...
A guessing game! Please join us in the online guessing game for baby L's birth stats! We already know it's a girl and that I'm being induced the morning of the 20th (although, she could still come early!). Guess her weight, length, and time of arrival by clicking the link below. Happy guessing!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
My IM and I have this little joke where she calls me her watched pot. I, in turn, told her that I would text her, "The water's boiling! The water's boiling!" when it was time. So, we're in the final days of this pregnancy and the heat is on...I'll let you know when the water's boiled. :)
We had a great visit with my IPs this past weekend. It was just DH and me and my wonderful mommy watched all three of my kiddos. They love it over there and it was nice to have a mini-vacay. That's really what it felt like since my IPs totally spoiled us while we were there. Yummy food, a movie and a comfy chair to put my feet up added to sleeping in late made for a very chillaxin weekend. When we arrived that Friday night, my feet/ankles were pretty puffy.
My DH and IM told me to put my feet up and IM got me some water. I proceeded to chug water all weekend. I started getting headaches Saturday and had mentioned the puffiness to a nurse friend/former surro. She advised me to call the doc if I began having headaches. Sure enough, I had been having them off and on, nothing horrible, but I did notice I had them throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. I called my OB while at a surrogate luncheon (about half a dozen of us surros, some of their kids and my poor DH, the token male, and I had lunch on our way out) and I ended up going in to the hospital on our way back home because my blood pressure reading at a CVS showed 153/99. Either the machine was wonky or my BP settled down on the drive back to Houston because my 3 readings were fine at Labor & Delivery. Still, better to be safe than sorry, so I'm glad I got it checked out. I've been trying to keep my feet up and taking it easy this week and trying to stay on top of the water.
With all of the unknown about whether or not I was developing preeclampsia, my IPs had a talk and decided they would like to have a little bit of a game plan in place and opted for a scheduled induction should Baby L not make her arrival by the 20th. So, there ya have it, folks. If this little girl doesn't come on her own, I'll be delivering 2 Thursdays from now.
How do I feel about this? Honestly, I secretly love having an end date. Not because I'm uncomfortable or ready to end it, but I am just such a planner that I feel a peace with knowing I will be able to take my kids Trick-or-Treating in their super cute costumes (A Bride, an Angry Bird and Little Red Riding Hood...we will be quite the entourage) and I have a Halloween party to go to, a wedding, a Fall Festival, a birthday party to plan...do you see what I'm getting at? I would never push for an induction and especially not just to suit my schedule, but that's only 6 days early and chances are, she'll come on her own before then. But if I'm being honest, it's kind of nice to have a countdown. I would give up all of those events in a heartbeat if I had to, but it's kind of nice that I don't have to.
Everyone always wonders how my kids will feel and I think this answers it:
Rachel (almost 7): My mom's having a baby but we're not keeping her, we're giving it away! (Ummm...okay, not quite, hunny). When asked if she'd be sad about the fact that baby L does not belong to us or will not be coming home with us, she replied that she would not. She has met E&J and knows that Baby L is their daughter and she said she is so happy that we are growing her for them.
Logan (almost 5): There's a baby in there, I'm serious!! (in reference to seeing baby L move) I asked him if he'd be sad that baby L wouldn't be coming home with us and he promptly replied, "Nope. There's no room for her here." That's it. He knows this is not her home or where she will go. They've always understood where she belonged and that her time with us was temporary.
They still love to feel her kick and like to talk to her and hug my belly. I think that's normal, tender behavior but I do not think this will negatively affect them in any way or I wouldn't have done it.
Here is our latest belly picture. It's not my favorite...I look tired and puffy. I AM tired and puffy, but I really like this shirt so I'm posting it. 14 days and counting!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Happy birthday to my best friend, J. She's 30 today and we started her birthday celebration last Saturday and it'll run through the 7th of Oct. That's just how we do it.
We are at 36 weeks today and the baby weighs about 6 lbs. Next week, we'll be full term!! Of course, that doesn't really mean anything in terms of arrival but it does mean she'd be nice and healthy. :)
As our journey draws to a close, I begin to ponder some things. How long before I fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes? Who will I blame the baby weight on when there's no baby around to show for it? Okay, I never said they were important things. :) But seriously folks, I do wonder what it'll all be like. I've had dreams (both daydreams and night dreams) of what I think it'll be like. I've imagined my IPs' faces and the amount of emotion that would be in the room. I've played it all out but I find that reality contains so much more than the imagination allows and I think it's going to be 10 times whatever I've imagined it'll be.
I'm fortunate to have IPs that want me to be in the picture even after the journey. To be honest, I think that it's their right to decide whether there is contact after or not. I do think both parties should try and stick to whatever they mutually agreed upon when matching, but too often, the surrogate falls into a black hole and the IPs are never heard from again. This is heartbreaking for the surrogate as it's often unexpected. My IPs have expressed a desire for me to be Aunt Carmela. I like that. I think it's pretty neat that they'll keep the door to their world open for me. It's not because I want some ownership or entitlement to the baby. Just like I want no ownership or entitlement to my other friends' children (remember, I have 3 of my own) but I will wonder what she'll grow to be like. I think that curiosity is natural. So, again, I count my blessings to be able to stay apart of this family in some form.
Okay baby L, mom and dad are busy packing and mom's just waiting on the call from me to tell her you're on your way!! :)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Head out on the highway, looking for adventure...or maybe just a hospital. We are officially 34 weeks pregnant. While we still have roughly 6 weeks to go, singleton babies are considered term at 37 weeks. It's like the light setting on the toaster though and if the baby popped out now, you'd want to put her back in for another cycle so she gets all nice and evenly baked so we're really shooting for that 40 week mark. :) I have learned that babies can be unpredictable though so with the early window of our 37 week approaching quickly, I thought it best to work out our game plan for getting to the hospital.
Originally, my friend was going to be taking me but life has too many pulls on her right now and she really needs to be available for about 10 other things, so we moved on to plan B. Plan B involves my friends A and J. A is a dear friend of many years and she lives a few blocks down from me. Our kids go to the same school and our boys are super friends. J is a mutual friend of ours, introduced to me by A (thank you!) and is a fellow surrogate and hopeful doula/midwife. What a perfect team, right? So, the plan is when I start to see signs of impending labor, I shoot A&J a text and see which is available. J wants to be along for the ride regardless, so we might just make it a party on the way up. Did I mention the hospital's an hour away? I'm not one of those super quick laborers though, so I'm not worrying about delivering in the car.
I am a wee bit apprehensive about contractions in the car, but given the fact that I've scarfed down a #1 combo from Chick-fil-a between contractions with my son in the hospital parking lot, I think I can handle it. (I know, you're not supposed to eat before you go in, but seriously, CFA had been closed for months and I really wanted some!!) I did not puke, thankyouverymuch.
E&J will, of course, meet us at the hospital when it's time and they are 3 hours away. So, anything that MIGHT be labor-like will prompt a call to them to be on guard (not to be confused with en garde).
In the unlikely event that A&J are simply unavailable, my husband will be driving me. It might seem odd to some that he's not coming with me. One, it's not his baby and I've got this labor thing down so he usually just sits and plays games or hogs the TV anyway. Two, my oldest is in school and our two youngest are across the street with our sitter during the day. I'd rather not interrupt their lives if I can help it and it's so much easier on my husband and the kids if we keep routine at home while mom's away for a couple of days. Three, E&J will be the MVPs there and this day is really about them, but I know E will be there, holding my hand and keeping ice chips within reach as she is so very nurturing and caring. This is just one thing that makes her a good mom. Four, DH is pretty busy at work and it's better than he not miss as he only has a little vacation time and we're going on a super fun cruise in April. Since he works for a school district, his vacation starts over in June. :) I'd rather have him sipping pina coladas by me than eating hospital food while I sleep. :) Plus, our kids will do better with just one of us away. Thankfully, I have a few Houston buddies that will keep me company as well. My best friend has even promised me sushi.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Yesterday was our final ultrasound and my IM was there to see her sweet baby on the screen. Her face was priceless. I hope she does not mind me blogging about her reaction, but I think it's so critical to explaining why surrogacy was for me.
I try to keep her updated through weekly emails with her baby's progress, through pictures, phone calls, emails, texts, anything I can think of to tell her how her baby is growing. Sometimes I get to talk to IF too, but this is all so new to him that I think it feels a bit "make-believe" as it did for my husband with our first. When IF got to feel her move and as he's seen things brought into the house, I think it's being more and more real for him. None of those updates can compare to watching your child on a screen. I think that was such a powerful moment for my IM. She already adores this little girl so much, but I think seeing her sweet puckered lips and her full cheeks on that screen makes it easier for her to imagine bringing her home.
We also ran around the hospital a bit and got her familiar with where I will be delivering and where to go when the big day comes. She will be the petite blonde flying through the halls followed by a tall, dark-headed man yelling, "E, wait!!"
Every ultrasound with this pregnancy has been amazing and special for me, but yesterday, my eyes were locked on my IM's face while hers were focused on that screen, absorbing every detail. We got an estimate that the baby weighs around 4 lbs., 4 oz. right now. She's got full cheeks and likes to suck her thumbs. Her hands stayed around her face almost the entire ultrasound. She also likes to breathe. The tech said not all babies do that at this point and some only do it for spurts, but Baby L is a breather! I hope that means her lungs are getting lots of practice (remember, I am not the one having to wake up to those squeals at night!) E sat there and cried happy tears and thanked me, repeatedly, for my role in this. I thanked her for the privilege and we both had a good moment of it hitting us that we have really done it. We're almost to the end and then their journey can begin.
Here's my latest belly shot. Really starting to fill out these shirts here lately! Oh, the update from my OB appointment: I am measuring at 32 weeks, which is great. (Little tidbit for those that aren't "in the know" but your belly should measure, in cms, according to your week. So, if you're 31 weeks, your belly should measure about 31 cms.) I've lost a pound, which is okay b/c it's due to the changes in my eating habits. We're not trying to put me on a restrictive diet or anything, just changing what's going in and making bites count. :)
Friday, August 12, 2011
Just call me Caroline because I'm a little too sweet for my own good. My glucose test came back with borderline numbers so I've got to take it easy on the carbs, the sugars and up the protein. I also need to start exercising. This would not be such sucky news except that I've been on exercise restriction this whole pregnancy and now, I'm 6 months pregnant and it's super hot in August and I cancelled my gym membership that I wasn't going to be able to use in the forseeable future. Alas, I will not be discouraged. I've got some pregnancy yoga videos and I can walk on the treadmill at home. My family will just have to leave me alone for an hour or so...hey, that might not be so bad! I am also anemic so I'll be adding Iron, twice a day, to my regimen of prenatals and Calcium (my mom has Osteoporosis so I have to take precautions since sweet little babies suck out all your nutrients!) That might be why I've been tired lately. I just chalked it up to working FT, running after 3 little ones and being pregnant in the summer. Who knew there was an excuse to my laziness! :)
Anyway, if you're a long-time lurker, first time commenter, get to it. How sweet it is to be loved by you. (I just had to throw that in!)
Thursday, August 11, 2011
So, that's my update for the week! I'll post a belly shot as soon as I get some make-up on and my hair tamed. This heat has been brutal and I feel like I'm always sweating. Ick!
Monday, August 8, 2011
I'm also excited to see how baby L responds to their voices. We've been doing the Belly Buds for a few weeks now and I love to tell E&J how their baby responds. I think E's voice is soothing to her and she tends to kick and move in a more fluid motion when listening to the books her mom's recorded for her. When J's recording comes on, she gets a little livelier and her jabs are a little more excited. Maybe she already knows it's "fun daddy" time?? Either way, I hope to help reinforce that bond between her parents and her with the sounds of their voices. I have to remind my husband and children that it's "quiet time" when I'm playing the recordings to her so she can just focus on E&J's voices. Secretly, I like this time too b/c it allows me to read or just rest for about an hour without interruption! I ALMOST miss the PIO injections b/c I got an hour to myself on the heating pad after injecting...never thought I would say that.
So, we'll hit the road on Saturday morning and spend the day with my IPs. Sunday, we'll head back sometime around noon. My old co-worker's wife just had a baby so I want to snuggle up on him before we head home. He was 9 lbs., 13 oz. Ouch. The "biggest" baby I've ever had was 7lbs., 15 oz. and although she was my easiest delivery (they all were pretty easy), I can't imagine pushing another 2 lbs. out of there. So, baby L, if you're taking notes, grow nice and big and strong, but I wouldn't mind if you were kind of petite like your mama. ;)
Tomorrow, I have my 3 hour glucose tolerance test. I had some slightly elevated levels with my first daughter and had gestational diabetes. I learned a lot from that pregnancy and haven't had any issues with GD since then, but darn if I don't always fail the 1 hour test. So, I asked my OB if I could just skip right to the 3 hr test and she said that made sense. For those that are unfamiliar, this is a routine test where you drink something like flat orange soda or coke. You chug it within 10 mins., try not to throw it up and then you wait as your body freaks out about the amount of sugar you just scarfed down on an empty belly. Oh yes, you have to fast my dears. They draw your blood at the beginning and then three more times on the hour. I'm loading up on water today b/c it sucks if you're slightly dehyrated and they have to go hunting for veins. I usually pass the time reading a book or something. At the end of the test, I head over and scarf as much protein as I can and go on about my merry way. My IM might be joining me for this appointment if she can get away. She's been busy with the new house and getting some classes out of the way that she needs to take. (I don't think there will be as much time for that after the baby. I think she knows this all too well!) So, I've also made plans to eat lunch with a friend in case IM can't make it.
That's really all that's going on here. It's hot. Like, super hot and humid and I sweat just getting into the car hot. I've gained 20 lbs. and I wasn't Olive Oil to begin with so I feel like I'm in a fat suit, in summer. So, if you see me walking around and I'm huffing and puffing, don't pay me much mind, I'm just gestating a human. :)
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
In just a few months, we'll be meeting baby L. I had a pregnancy dream last night that I had her and E&J never showed up. I was waiting for them and I finally asked Al, my husband, if he had called them and he said, "Oh, whoops! I forgot!" It was a pregnancy nightmare!!! :) Thankfully, that's not how the real delivery will go! In fact, DH won't even be there. My dear friend, Amy, has offered to take me to the hospital so my family can stay on their routine with school, daycare and work. She lives a few blocks over and our girls go to the same school so we'll be all set with bags packed that last month. E&J are about 3.5 hrs away from where I'll be delivering and I'm about an hour away. By the time I get a room and get all checked in and hooked up, they'll likely be driving up to the hospital and listening to elevator music! I can see E taking the stairs though...running through the hospital saying, "My baby's coming!!!!!!!" :) She is so very excited and it's cute to see her looking at baby clothes and gear.
In other "Surrogacy" news...two funny things have happened to me lately. While walking up to Cherry Berry, a local DIY yogurt place, I overhead a conversation about surrogacy that went something like this:
Boy: So, you're going to have twins?
Girl: Well yeah, probably. I mean, with surrogacy, you put like four up there to help the odds and stuff so I'll probably get pregnant with twins or something.
(Insert giant eye roll here) If it hadn't been 9:30PM after a long movie with my daughter and had my child not run off to talk to a friend of hers, I might've stopped to educate a bit. Hopefully, this girl is just in the beginning stages of researching surrogacy and hasn't actually talked to a clinic or RE yet. Otherwise, she would know that is NOT how you do it in surrogacy. Or not how you should, at least.
The second experience I had was at Freebirds in Pearland last night. (Best burrito place, ever. Don't come at me with your Chipotle love because I'm not feeling it) My burrito makers are talking about someone who was going to be doing surrogacy and I had some minutes to spend this time so I said, "It's so funny that you're talking about it surrogacy because I'm a surrogate." One burrito making guy came around the counter and rubbed my belly. It's a good thing that strangers rubbing my belly doesn't bother me but it took me by surprise! He then asked, "How much are they paying you?" which is the question I always get in some form or another. The other girl said, "I hear you can make a lot of money doing that." I spent a little time answering their questions and they both wished me well with my baby-baking. The guy even wanted to know when I was due and asked if it was a girl or boy. :) It's interesting that surrogacy is getting more popular. I wish it was more accurate and positive buzz being spread, but I realized that I have the power to do that.
I've had at least a dozen people tell me, "Oh, I have a friend that's doing that" in the last 6 months and it's almost odd how commonplace it seems! Here I thought that people would be surprised to hear what I was doing, although I do get a lot of, "I've never met one of you!" comments from strangers. I think people don't always know what to say and that's okay. I'm giving them a glimpse into my world and what it's like and I'm happy to answer questions. It's part of being a surrogate.
Until next time, I'll leave you with our latest belly shot. :)
Saturday, July 2, 2011
So, we are now 23 weeks and 3 days! Can you believe this all started with two little embryos?? E&J are so excited and are preparing for their baby girl's arrival. (E, my IM, is busy buying things for her and J is busy thinking about being outnumbered by the ladies!)
I was lucky enough to spend a day with E&J and their family a couple of weeks ago. It was a whirlwind trip as I also had a baby shower and a surrogate dinner to attend (Tnot as formal as it sounds. There aren't any awards or speeches given out, just a bunch of ladies that are either about to be pregnant, are in the midst of a journey or have completed one having dinner and comparing stories. It's always a lunch or dinner because most of us are hungry!)
I dropped some friends off at the airport in Houston for a Vegas bachelorette party for my friend, Haley. I told them to drink one for me and then headed to Austin to my IPs' place for a visit. My IM met me with a huge hug and it was so good to see her. I've only seen her twice since transfer and it had been too long! She was so sweet to stock the house with pickles and snickerdoodles (two of my cravings) and made sure I had lots of fluffly pillows. I felt very spoiled. This trip was kid and husband free and though I missed them, it was nice to slow down and just be able to hang out with my IPs. Despite the hot, hot Texas weather, we ventured out for lunch, manicures and pedicures. This was definitely a treat and I went back to their house for a nap after meeting IF's little sister and her boys. She was a sweetheart and I can see why she and my IM are so close. Her youngest is my boy's age and they share a mutual love of video games so I had a nice visit with him Friday night.
Dinner was served (so yummy!!) after the guests arrived and we sat around visiting. IF's mother, 2 of his sisters and his childhood nanny were all in attendance and it was a great group. Everyone was incredibly nice to me, which was so great b/c I was sweating bullets wondering if they'd like me. Was I smart, funny, pretty, witty, tall, talkative, , and kind enough to carry their precious family member? I so wanted them to like me and instantly felt better once dinner started and it felt like I was amongst friends.
The next morning, the three of us had breakfast and then did a little shopping (Father's Day was the next day so I had some last-minute purchases to make) and then I had to say good-bye and headed out to the baby shower for my friend and his wife. This was followed by an amazing dinner with some great ladies and a drive home to my husband and kids who were glad to have me back. :) The house was in pretty good condition too and only one very minor injury! Great job, Dad!
We are so thankful to have things going so smoothly. I still feel great and besides being a little tired, I have no complaints. (Hey, I don't have to suck in anymore and everyone thinks my belly's cute now!)
I should mention that I am thankful for wonderful IPs. They have been so good to me and for every question and concern about the baby, there's been the same for me and I can't tell you how that makes me feel. I know this journey's intent was to bring a baby into the world for them, but I've watched too many surrogates being treated like a box that the IP's new toy came in. We go into surrogacy with no guarantees and we try not to put too many expectations on the relationship afterwards as no one can predict exactly how they will feel. The concern that my IPs have shown for my family and me shows what wonderful people they are and further confirms what great parents they would be. Every surrogate should be so lucky.
Four more months and they will have their baby L in their arms and I cannnot explain what that day will mean to me. I pick out presents for my husband and children and almost squeal as they open them wondering if they'll like what I've picked out. I plan for months in advance for birthday and Christmas presents because I take such joy in giving something and seeing someone's expression. This will truly be the epitome of giving a gift and the look on their faces will be such a joy to see. Hearing my IM talk about her baby girl with a look of love and wonder on her face after waiting years for her makes me want to push fast forward on the clock! Alas, these last few months are critical so we will fill that time with talking, dreaming and of course, shopping!
One of the most recent purchases my IM made was Belly Buds! I really want the baby to know her mom and dad's voices so they're busy making recordings of books so that I can play them to her. Check them out!
I'll leave you with our latest belly picture. I really need a haircut and some makeup but here I am!
Monday, May 16, 2011
So what is it like this time? Pregnancy and motherhood are filled with many good things. Here are some of those things I don't have to worry or think about this time. I am not knocking parenthood by any means, but the reason I look so carefree and rested is because I do not have the added stress of the following things this time:
Midnight feedings-Guess what!? After I have this baby, I will not have to get up every 3 hours to make sure she has eaten. I will not wonder how many ounces is right and I will not have to stalk the nurses to be sure they don't stick a pacifier in her mouth. :) All of that will be her mommy and daddy's experience to go through. I will sleep through the night, not have the baby monitor on and I will heal more quickly because of it.
Car seat arrangement-Fitting 2 booster seats and car seat in the middle of my mini-van is a tight squeeze, but we fit. However, I am thankful that no one is expected to have to sit in the third row. Can you imagine me trying to pull out the booster and moving the seat everytime, just to get a kid back there? No, thank you! I do not have to research car seats or pick out prints or decide which infant carrier to bring her home in. (I would love to see the car seat my IPs have picked out though!)
The nursery-My husband and I have always agreed on themes so it was quite easy for us to pick this out for our kids. However, the actual painting of the rooms, switching out of cribs for toddler beds and hanging of wall border was tedious. We enjoyed it but it is nice to not have to prepare our home and move it all around to bring another baby home. Adding a guest room to our house so we are ready for when they come visit sounds like fun though! :)
Daycare-Have you looked at the costs of daycare lately? I'm glad I only have 2 in daycare at a time. Our babysitter is AMAZING and she probably doesn't make any money off our kids because she's constantly buying them things. She's just like family, we couldn't be more blessed.
Parenting Decisions-buy babyfood or make it? Cloth or disposable diapers? Breast milk or formula? Dr. Brown's bottles or Avent? Bow or no bow? (The answer is always going to be, "Bow!") Crib or bassinet? Pears or Green Beans? Teething or Ear Infection?
The reason for my post today is not to complain about those parts of pregnancy/expecting. They are fun and exciting and they are the ways we pass 9 mths of anticipation while we wait for our little ones. I simply mean that I have had my turn and am able to pass the torch to another set of parents while I enjoy 9 months of growing a healthy baby. My friends and family keep asking how I'm feeling and I almost always answer with, "Great!" I am thankful for an easy pregnancy, a healthy baby and great IPs.
We had our OB appt. last Thursday and I was able to see my IM for the first time since transfer. It was a wonderful appointment and she and my OB got to visit and get to know one another. IM is going to suit up at delivery and bring baby Lera into the world all by herself. She will literally be able to say, "I brought you into this world, child!" Her heartbeat was nice and strong and she's an active little one. She was moving all over the place! We go back on June 7th for another ultrasound and peek at this little one.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Well, we had our 6th ultrasound of the pregnancy and saw one sweet little healthy baby girl in there yesterday. She was measuring perfectly at 13 weeks, 6 days and had a heart rate of 147.
Naturally, my IPs were so excited to hear that their baby looked great and even more thrilled that we are 90% sure it's a girl. (Because there are always those surprise babies!) My OB had indicated that she thought it was a girl a few weeks ago in her office. It's always so neat to find out the gender. A huge package waiting to be unwrapped on Christmas morning! I found out with two of my three babies. The last baby was a surprise as we had one of each already. She was a girl. ;) Apparently girls like it in there as I am 3 for 4! I'm going to start calling it my loverly, frilly uterus. :)
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
We've reached a milestone! 13 weeks! That's the end of the first trimester. Don't quibble over small details...if you check a dozen books, you'll get a dozen answers as to when the end of the first trimester is, but I say, it's 13 weeks. :)
The baby's major organs are in place, he/she is kicking (and I have been feeling it for the past 2 weeks!) and might even be sucking his/her thumb! Aww, what a cute image. I honestly cannot complain about anything today because it's all going so smoothly. Baby's great, I feel great (if just a little fat, but I'm still blaming it on the fertility meds-carbs?? What, me?? No way!) Our next OB appointment is on the 12th of May. E should be there at that one and I'm so excited. I'll pretty much sit back and let her pepper the OB with questions. I big puffy heart (thanks LOO) my OB!!! She is just the kind of doctor that will grab the phone and give your mom directions around Houston while she checks your progression in labor. She will give her recommendation for the best low-fat crust for making pizza and she stands a little too close to my bubble and I always feel like she's about to hug me. Okay, I don't really love the last part but it does make me want to giggle at the end of every appointment because I keep thinking how inappropriate it would be if she DID hug me! Did I tell y'all the story about the nurse I almost hugged in the ER? When I went in for the bleeding, the triage nurse was trying to comfort me saying if it was a miscarriage, I could try again and all I could do was cry because I was so worried about E&J and their baby/babies and I was a mess. She said, "oh, sweetie, it's going to be alright" and got up out of her chair and came towards me with arms wide open. I really needed that hug so I started to hug her but she was actually reaching for the blood pressure cuff above my head. I think I played it off well, but I'm sure that's not the craziest thing to have happened in the ER.
Anyway, I keep going off on tangents. I'm excited about E&J coming back home. They've had lots of changes in the past couple of months and almost all of them have been great, so I want them to start settling in and getting comfortable in their Texan way of life. It's hard to believe that we're 1/3 of the way to our goal of bringing their baby into the world. Did I mention that my OB will let my IM deliver the baby? How cool is that? She'll be all suited up and will literally bring her child into the world. My husband did this with our last two kiddos and he said it was just beyond words. When we filled out the "delivered by" in their baby books, he put "Daddy." I do believe he was quite proud of that. E was tickled when I told her she'd be able to do it too (barring no complications of course). I respectfully requested that J stay above the border for the birth but I might not care once I get my epidural. Oh sweet, sweet epidural, you will be my labor partner once again and allow me to sleep, chat and eat ice chips in all their glory. Have I told you about my love for ice?
So, other than that, not much is going on. I'm anxiously awaiting a massage as my back has been hurting. It's not from the pregnancy, just poor posture mostly. My drill teach coach would be disappointed...but not surprised. I've always slouched. My middle child does it too. A massage sounds heavenly though and the last time I got one was from my 6 year old walking around on my back. (It's actually a lot more effective than it sounds!)
Here's this week's belly shot. Bear in mind that this is about 3/4 pre-baby bulge, but I love that everyone says, "Awwww, look at that cute belly" instead of "Ewww, pop in an Abs of Steel DVD, lady!" :) Thank you, baby!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My IPs are out of the country right now so we're corresponding through email. It's odd not to hear E's voice everyday!! She and I usually chat away incessantly. They are having a good time though so I am happy for them. When they get back, they will be here in Texas and we are all super excited for this. It means they will be able to come to the appointments more easily and really be in on everything.
So, now that the baby is growing, moving, thriving, people have started asking me how I feel about it all. It's an odd thing to describe because not everyone can put themselves in the shoes of a surrogate. Not everyone was designed to be one so it can be hard for people to imagine not having that maternal connection to a child you are so intimately aware of. I will say that it is always amazing to see a baby on that screen in the doctor's office. I am and will always be awed by it. This time, as opposed to my three babies, it was as if I was looking at someone else's experience from the outside. True, this baby is in me, nurtured by me, but I don't feel any sense of ownership or mothering towards the baby. Do I want him/her to be healthy? Do I watch what I eat, drink, do, etc.? YES. Probably moreso than with MY children. So, while I care for this baby's well-being in the most extreme way, I do not feel that pull that was there with each of my children. The day is not spent dreaming of names, nurseries, baby clothes. As callous as it sounds, I look at my 3 and think, "I am glad you are not coming home with me little one!" As it should be, he/she will be delivered into his/her parents' loving arms and I will never have an ounce of regret for that. It will be one of my greatest accomplishments in life, besides my own children, of course.
Some women have hard, long, trying pregnancies. One of the unofficial pre-requisites for surrogates is easy pregnancies. There are some of us that are real troopers and fight morning sickness and myriad other symptoms, but for some of us, pregnancy really is a fun, easy time. I am one of those lucky ones and I am so glad to be able to use my forces for good. :) I've had minimal nausea, I'm off of meds now so my hiney's recovering and aside from being cranky, I really have no complaints. :) I do dream of ice chips, but that's at least another several months away! :D
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Since this is a surrogacy blog, I will share some of my feelings here so that other surrogates or those pursuing surrogacy can see what this part is like. Laying on the table and watching the sonographer talk about baby A was wonderful. I knew that no matter what, E&J would have a sweet, healthy baby but I could see that baby B's sac was not getting any larger. When she told me that there was no heartbeat, my own heart felt like it had stopped b/c I immediately felt so bad for E&J. We always have them on speakerphone for the ultrasounds and even though we had prepared, mentally, my heart was not ready to ready to hear it. I felt like I had disappointed them, let them down, that my body was somehow at fault or that I had messed up all of their dreams. Logically, I knew that there was nothing I could've done or not done to cause it, but regardless, they had placed their "eggs" in my "basket" and it was my job to grow them. I felt so sad. I gave E&J a little time to take it in and talk and later that morning, E called me back and I asked how she was. When I heard that she was dealing with it okay, I was able to breathe a little easier and start to feel a little less at fault. E assured me that she was so thankful for what I was doing and they knew I had given that baby the best chance and that meant the world to me. This is not something I take lightly and even though this is not my baby, I still feel as protective as ever of his/her well-being and responsible for whatever happens.
So, they are happy and thankful to be expecting a little bundle of joy in October. This will make the pregnancy less risky, the singleton will have a much better chance of being born full-term and without a trip to the NICU and of course, this will be less stress on my body which cannot be overlooked. Surrogates sign up for myriad things and we accept these risks. It is always nice to have a nice "boring" 9 months, however. :)
We have our first OB appointment on April 11th and my last shot is tonight! It is hard to believe that I am already 25% done with this pregnancy! I am eagerly awaiting that gender-revealing ultrasound to see if our suspicions are correct. :) (We are thinking pink!)
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Thursday night, we had a bit of a scare. Don't worry, things are okay, but it was a long night. I had just taken a shower and laid down to read when I felt a gush of fluid. I reached down and my pajamas were soaked in blood. I immediately start to cry, grab a pad and call anyone and everyone I could think of that would help me figure out what to do. Logically, I knew that if I was miscarrying, there was nothing I could do, but trying explaining that to a heart. A million thoughts rushed through my head with the worst being, "How will I tell E&J?" I decided not to call them until I had some sort of news. I didn't know how the night would end and I had nothing but worry to share at that moment, and I thought that I could at least protect them from that. My kids were in bed and I knew I didn't want to expose them to everything up at the ER. I wasn't even sure if they would do anything and I hated for my whole family to have a long night, so I drove myself. I texted a couple of friends and asked for prayers. If you'll recall, I met a local surrogate, Jennifer, for coffee one night where she offered to stab me in the hiney with a large needle even before meeting me face-to-face. Well, on our second meeting, she literally walked into the dismal ER waiting room and gave me a hug that I so badly needed and figuratively held my hand through the next hour or so while I waited to be seen.
I will say that the hospital down here is not known for its swift action. That night, however, a nurse must've taken pity on me because not only did she make the ultrasound tech stick around, she also took such good care of me and got me back quickly, even though it was the end of what was probably a very long shift. I am so thankful for that. The ultrasound tech took me back and started the ultrasound. I was 6 weeks and 1 day pregnant with twins. Yes, you read that right, we are pregnant with twins!! She checked for any signs of miscarriage and found none. What she did find was a heartbeat on baby A, a gestational sac measuring 6 weeks, 3 days and a fetus measuring 6 weeks with a heartbeat of 117 (perfect). As for the other sac, she measured it to be 5 weeks, 5 days and while she couldn't grab the heartbeat on that one (it is still extremely early to see heartbeats at all and this one is a few days behind the other, developmentally, but this is common), she did see a yolk sac and part of the baby, but it was up against the wall of the uterus and the machine was ancient and grainy. We feel confident we'll see the heartbeats on Wednesday.
Thankfully, our bleeding stopped that night and the cramping subsided the next day after I took some time off and rested. I still feel nauseated and tired so my hope is that this was a tiny bump in the road and the rest of the journey will be smooth-sailing.
It was a bittersweet call to make to IM as I knew she would be worried/relieved/excited all in the same breath. I started the phone call with, "Everything's fine but..." and relayed the details. She was thankful that we were all okay and then it hit us all that they're having twins!!!! It is still all surreal. I've been on the net all weekend looking up the differences between singleton and multiples. Information has always been my friend.
So, if you find yourself with a few minutes, please send us a prayer or good thought that these babies, who are so very loved and wanted already, grow big (enough to be healthy!! and then they can stop! haha) and healthy and that we all stay safe.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Here's our latest news...we are pregnant!! Okay, okay, you already knew that, but it's still new to me. :) We had a beta to test for hCG levels on Weds., the 16th. Everyone's levels are different, so there's not really much to tell by them except when you watch them increase. Ideally, you want your levels to double every 48-72 hours. Our 1st beta came back with 197 and our follow up beta was that Friday and it came back at 511. Great numbers!! So, we continue with our estrogen twice a day and one PIO shot every night until 10 weeks. I am 6 weeks today and have had 29 PIO shots. I am tolerating them really well. There are moments in each day where you will find me scratching at my hips because I am itchy and I do have a couple of small lumps, but I really feel like I've gotten off pretty easy with these shots. This was my worst fear and now, I can kick it to the curb! I've got 28 more shots left so I am more than halfway done.
I am getting up to pee at night sometimes, I can't walk by the seafood department without holding my nose now and motion sickness is in full bloom. Other than feeling a little "full" down there and having some achiness in the girls, I'm pretty much normal. I won't start to show for several weeks, but I'll admit, that's my favorite part. :)
In exactly one week, I will go in for an ultrasound. Can you believe we'll be able to see the heartbeat(s) by then? We will also get to see if both of the embryos took or if one decided to stay in there. Unfortunately, E&J cannot make it. It's hard to fly back and forth like that so they're going to wait until the "Big" ultrasound and hope to be able to come then. I am going to film it for them and I hope to be able to stream it live. I think that would be really cool!! My friend, A, is going to go with me that day since they can't be there. I also get to meet up with my surro friend, C. She is having her transfer on the day before and is staying a few miles down the road. I can't pass up an opportunity to see a fellow surro.
So, that is our excitement for now. :) E&J and I Skyped the other night and it was great to see their excitement. This is just an amazing feeling!! According to babycenter, the baby is the size of a sweet pea. Hello little sweet pea(s)!!!! Meet you in October!!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
What a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and did I mention that today I got to tell my IPs that they are going to be parents???
I got this beauty on Saturday morning. Five days past our five-day transfer (5dp5dt)
And these loverlies are from today (8dp5dt). We are preggo!!!!!!!!! More importantly, E&J are preggo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Telling E was amazing. It was beyond anything I'd imagined. It was real and it was genuine joy. It is the reason I am doing this and as I was getting my shot today, I focused on that sound of her celebrating and I smiled.
Later on in the day, I got to talk to J and he was so happy. He actually congratulated me and I thought that was cute. Congratulations to YOU, J!!! :) It's your big day!!
It's a beautiful day, don't let it get away.
Since finding out about the surrogacy, a lot of people have posed questions to me. Some are funny, some are rude and some are down right out there. I think every surro-blogging sister of mine has a Q&A of sorts with the crazy questions she gets. I don't get offended by questions because I try and remember that most people know nothing about surrogacy and it's such a different thing than they've ever encountered. So, I try and answer them as best as I can. If there are any you would like answered, please feel free to post them in the comments section! :) I, or likely any surro that follows this thread, would be happy to answer them.
- If it is twins, do you get to keep one? If the answer to this one was "yes," I would've bowed out before it started. We would never keep someone else's baby just like we would never go into your house and steal your child and we would never babysit for someone and say, "Looks like you got your hands full there; do you just want us to keep this one?" So the answer is no. We don't want to keep the baby(ies) nor are we allowed to, thank God. :)
- Is this how you're going to make a living from now on? I'm going to stick with the "no" answer again for a few reasons. One, I do not make enough from surrogacy to live on (it's like $2.23/hr if you want to look at it that way). Second, a surrogacy "paycheck" is not guaranteed and should not be used to change your lifestyle. At best, it is about a year of your time and please don't mistake this for resentment. I am very appreciative of the compensation and what it means for my family, but it is not the life-changing amount people think it is. You can easily Google how much a first time surrogate can make and get an average, so I won't spell out my comp. amount here. Suffice it to say that although I am good at having babies, it's more of a hobby than a career goal. :)
- What will you tell your kids? We spoke to our 6 yr old about this long before and our 4 year too, but he wasn't too interested. Rach understands that mommy is growing a baby for E&J because E's tummy is sick. Since babies are put into mommies by God (as that is how it goes at our house, feel free to comment but I won't debate that with you) then God is going to put the baby in our tummy to grow and I will take care of it for E. That's what she knows and she is excited about it. So excited that she told someone the other day, "My mommy's having a baby and she's giving it away!" We quickly revisited that topic and set her straight. :)
- Won't it be hard to give up the baby? Won't you get attached? This is a question that either makes me feel like I have no soul or that I'm heartless but I know it crosses everyone's mind, so I will explain my feelings. Going into this, I knew that any baby(ies) created would be no more mine than a best friend leaving their dog with me while they are vacation becomes mine. This baby is not mine. Do I get to feel it grow, care for its health and feel it move? Yes. And those things will be amazing. They will be wonderful and I feel privileged that my IPs picked me to do this for them. It still does not make it my baby. As far as the attachment, I love my nieces and nephews fiercely. I would catch a grenade for them (thank you, Bruno Mars)...but would I ever contemplate keeping them when my sister(in-law) or brother(in-law) drops them off? Never. They are not mine. Just because I may care for this/these child(ren), doesn't mean I would feel like they were mine to keep. I hope that helps explain it a bit. Also, it's super illegal to boot! :) And lastly, our hands are full with OUR three babies! Why would I bring someone else's home?? :)
- Do you know the couple? Well I should hope so! I'm carrying their baby(ies) aren't I? :) But seriously folks...I obviously know them now, but what you're getting at is, did I know them before the surrogacy? No. E and I talked in May of last year and we clicked but we were not aquainted before then. We met through classified ads on a website and "matched." We were looking for the same things, agreed on the "big" issues and decided to start working together. I'm so glad we did.
So, that's it for now. Feel free to send me other questions that pop up. :)
OH!! Their pictures! How did I forget to put this up?? Here are the babies' first pics! :)
Friday, February 11, 2011
Life is pretty plain right now. I'm waiting for Weds. when we go get our bloodwork drawn. E has decided (and I totally agree with her) that we should wait for the bloodwork instead of playing the pee-stick game that we thought would be fun. It's much easier on the nerves this way.
Until then, I leave you with a really good song from my youth. :)
Monday, February 7, 2011
Saturday morning, we got the call that we had 3 excellent embryos, 2 good embryos and 2 average embryos. My IM called and said we would see them in Dallas on Monday! Al and I dropped the kids off and headed to Bryan/College Station for one last hurrah with the gang.
Sunday morning, we woke up and drove to Dallas on Superbowl Sunday. On our way to Dallas, we had to go through Madisonville. This is where Albert and I started our lives together more than six years ago. We drove right by the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed on our wedding night and had the best ribeye I'd ever had! Luckily for us, they were having brunch so we popped in for a peek at the place.
We got to sit at "our" table and ate the most delicious brunch in the world!!
As we were eating, I mentioned to Al that it was the first time I had ever been there without being pregnant. He said, "Well, you're getting pregnant tomorrow!" And he was right! We snuck upstairs real quick to look at the B&B's old game of Scrabble. Al and I still enjoy playing that game together and I thought we might send E&J a quick message.
("Think Positive" was our new motto for the week!)
We arrived at the hospital, which is a couple of streets down from the RE's clinic, and checked into our rooms (they have guest rooms there). E&J got there shortly after and we all just hung out for a bit. We had dinner at Chuy's (mine and Albert's first time) and became immediate fans!
(Here are E&J, Albert and me. We're enjoying our margaritas!! It was a great "last drink" to have!!!)
So, with excitment and nerves, E & painted our nails green (for good luck!) and somehow got to sleep. We were both up pretty early, but she waited until about 10 to knock on my door. We got some breakfast and then headed to the clinic. Unfortunately, I have a cold today. My nose is runny, my throat is scratchy, but no fever!! So, on with the show. I got to wear a real slammin' outfit:
Then, it was time for the transfer!! The embryologist came in and talked to us about the two embryos they were suggesting we transfer. Everyone was in agreement about putting both in so we went for it. They got me up on the bed and then E, J & Al were put at the head of the bed. They had two monitors to watch. One was for the embryos and we all got to see them being put into the catheder and that was just amazing!!! The other screen was an ultrasound image of my uterus. We saw Dr. C thread that in there and one, two, transferred the embryos into their new little home. I shuffled onto another bed and they wheeled me into a room where we all waited for about an hour. I dressed and then we left. Presto!!
Now, I am on bedrest until tomorrow so I'm taking it easy, reading my Kindle and watching some TV. Our beta is not until Weds., the 16th, but E&J have given me the go ahead to start Peeing on a Stick (POAS) whenever I'm ready! I'm going to try and wait until Friday to do so though. Patience is not one of my strengths.
Until Friday, this is Carmela reporting. Think positive and, good day.
Friday, February 4, 2011
The heat is on at our house because it's 26 degrees outside and yes, this is Texas I'm talking about. The heat is on my hiney because I'm sitting on a heating pad after my (count 'em!) 4th (really 5th) PIO shot. And the heat is on for our transfer because ladies and gentleman, we are almost there!! The embryos are 2 days old today and tomorrow morning, the embryologist will take a peek at them to see how they are doing. Let me backtrack a little. Our ED had her retreival on Wednesday (2nd) and had 15 eggs. Then, they unfroze the sperm and took 15 good ones. Embryos were checked at Day 1 and 7 of them were growing nicely. They did not disturb them today. So, tomorrow, we will get the call letting us know if we need to head on in for a 3 day transfer or if we can hold out until Monday. Now, I'm no embryologist, but to share a little with you, here is a picture of a 3 day embryo (8-cell).
And here is a picture of a 5 day blastocyst.
Now, healthy babies have been born from 3 and 5 day embryos (and other days too, but let's not confuse the issue anymore than it already has been). The clinic we're working with tends to lean towards fresh transfers (not frozen) and 5 day embryos. So, that is where we are.
For now, I am enjoying my time with my babies and avoiding packing. I will have to do it eventually though, so I am finishing this up and getting right on it as I can procrastinate no longer! :) (I had hopes that my husband would do it all for me! HAHA One can dream!)
I will check back with our news tomorrow! Sleep well, my friends!
(P.S. A little trivia...I've taken 72 shots, total, so far. Almost all of those have been the Lupron shots though.)