Monthly Archives: January 2012

4 days before I had the twins, I looked like this…..

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This is THE most awful picture of me ever!  I can’t believe I’m posting it for all the world to see, but I said I would post a twin belly pic, so here it is.  This was 4 days before I had them and I was MISERABLE!!  I was at a friends house, obviously soaking my ridiculously swollen feet.  It was the last day of September and I vividly remember my friend saying “You’re not going to make it much longer”.  I should’ve had a little over 6 weeks until my due date on the day this picture was taken.  Thank God I had them just 4 days later.  I swear I don’t think I could’ve made it one more day.  I’ve never wanted any of my pregnancies to be over like I wanted this one over with!!

The night my water broke, I soaked in the tub and prayed to God to help me because I felt like I was going to die.  I told God that I’ve never been so miserable and that I just wanted this to be over with NOW.  To PLEASE let it be over soon because I couldn’t do it anymore.  I was HUGE.  I hadn’t slept for a full night in months.  I had horrible heartburn from about 2 months on.  My feet were soooo swollen.  Everything inside me was so squished that I couldn’t eat more than a teeny bit of food without feeling awful.  I remember one evening, a month or so before I had them, pacing outside for literally hours, the whole time crying and begging God to just let me have these babies.  I remember telling my husband to never let me do this ever again….EVER.

After my long soak in the tub, I went to bed.  I was lying there, as uncomfortable as I could be, while my husband laid across the end of the bed watching television.  Then, moments later, I felt it.  The gush of water.  I told my hubby that my water had just broken.  His response was “Are you sure?!”.  Considering I’ve had 5 other babies, yes, I was certain.

From the time I asked God to deliver me from this pregnancy until the time my water broke was a mere 20 minutes.  Yes….my prayer was answered in 20 minutes!!  I am still thankful that I didn’t have to endure it for one more day.  This picture takes me back to how miserable it actually was.  I’m SO glad this pregnancy is just a singleton!!  Thank God!

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It takes how many people to get pregnant?!

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This photo was taken right before my embryo transfer with the twins.  This is only PART of the team of people it took for this particular transfer.  It was by far the most intense of all my transfers, but obviously the precision paid off!  You have to have an extremely full bladder (thats a gross understatement) when the procedure is done and I’ve never had to pee so badly in all my life!  I couldn’t wait until it was over so I could walk the what seemed to be half-mile trek back to my room to pee!

After the transfer, it was back to the hotel for two days of bedrest before heading back home.  Luckily my wonderful friend/midwife accompanied me on this trip and she packed a bag of all things girly to fill our time while I was stuck in bed for those two days.  We read magazines, got fabulous takeout, and tried out all the facial treatments, lotions, and other beauty goods she packed for us.  She made those two days as good as they could’ve been, considering I could only get up to (quickly) shower and go to the bathroom.

While looking for this photo, I came across a picture of the twin embryos, taken right before the transfer.  It is amazing and I will post it for you soon.

25 Weeks

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I’m going to try to post a new belly picture each Sunday, when I go from one week to the next.  I wish I had done this weekly with my other pregnancies, especially the twins.  That was an amazing transformation, but one that I didn’t care to document at the time because I was so miserable….and HUGE.  I do have a picture that was taken a few days before I had them, which I will dig out and post soon.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Happy 5th birthday to our “baby”!!

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Today we are celebrating our youngest son’s 5th birthday.  I seriously can’t believe that 5 years have passed already.  His birth was a whirlwind to say the least.  We were planning another (our 3rd) homebirth, assisted by a midwife.  I was nearly 3 weeks past my due date (typical for me) and my midwife had informed me weeks before that our baby was going to be at least 10 pounds.  At first this was overwhelming to me and I was scared of my impending birth.  My midwife reassured me regularly that I could do it and that I had to trust God that He would help me through it.  I prayed and prayed, agonized about it, lived in fear, and prayed some more.  After a couple weeks of living this way, I came to a place of peace, knowing that God made me for birth and that I would be ok.  I finally rationalized that our first son weighed 9 lb. 3 oz., so basically one more pound was no big deal, especially since it would be spread out over an approximately 20″ baby.  Once I came to grips with his size, I was ok and mentally prepared.

I woke up at 7am, the morning of January 28, 2007 with major contractions.  I knew I hadn’t been having contractions throughout the night because I was awake most of the night, hugely round and unable to rest.  I instantly called my midwife, who lived about 30 minutes away.  My contractions were choppy and not consistent in length, so she told me to take a walk to get things going or to go take a shower to see if that would help.  I was in intense pain, but told her I would try one or the other.  I instantly knew I couldn’t go for a walk, just due to how uncomfortable I was and because it was snowing like crazy outside.  I opted for the shower and headed upstairs.  My hubby was in the bathroom with me and I was quickly growing increasingly more uncomfortable with each passing minute.  I got out of the shower and called my sister, who lived just two streets away to come pick up our other three children and take them to her house.

I asked my husband to call my midwife back and tell her to come immediately.  Although my contractions were irregular in length, they were intense and I could tell it wouldn’t be long now.  I was pacing and moaning with each contraction and when my husband got my midwife on the phone, she could hear me in the background.  She instantly told my husband that she knew those noises meant that baby would be here soon and that due to distance and weather conditions, there was no way she would get there before the baby arrived.  At this point, she hopped in her car and was on the way.  We called my sister and told her to come back to our house because we needed an extra set of hands since the midwife would not be there to help.  Her husband kept our kids and she was there in minutes.

My husband, although we had been through two homebirths before this, was shaken up when he realized that we would not have the midwife to coach us through.  I was so into my labor that this didn’t phase me one bit.  He kept telling me “You have to wait, she will be here soon.”  The baby was coming quickly and I told him it would only be minutes now and that I needed him to keep it together and help me.  I knew what I had to do, and I knew I could do it.  I felt the baby coming and I got on our living room floor, on all fours,  with my head on my sisters lap and my husband behind me ready to catch our baby.  We had a small but complete homebirth kit ready.  My sister was on the phone with our midwife, who was coaching us through what would happen, play by play.  I pushed a couple of times and quickly our son’s head emerged halfway.  He was big and I had to stop to regroup.  My husband was telling me to hurry and push him out because his head was turning blue.  I told him it was ok and that I needed a few seconds to regain my strength.  Another big push and his head was out.  Our son turned his head like the midwife said he would, opened his eyes and looked at his daddy.  To this day, it is still the most touching moment of my husband’s life.  Another big push and our son’s plump, slippery, perfect body slid out and into my husband’s waiting hands.  He laid him on the floor and wrapped him in a towel.  We didn’t find out the sex of any of our children, so I quickly wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.  In my heart I just knew it was a girl, and was shocked when my husband said “It’s a boy!”.  I remember asking if he was sure and then looking through my legs (baby and I were still attached by the cord) at our baby and making sure my husband was right.  Sure enough, another boy!

Less than an hour had passed since my first phone call to my midwife.  It had all happened so fast that I felt “shocky” and weak.  I laid down and held our new son against me as we waited for our midwife.  She arrived within 5 minutes of his birth.  I could not believe that we had just done this without her.   While I was disappointed that she wasn’t there to share this time with us, I felt so strong and empowered that I could birth a baby that weighed over 10 pounds with just the help of my husband and sister.  It was like God allowed me this opportunity to overcome my fears, grow my trust in Him and to trust my body to do what he made it to do.  It was by far my easiest birth, even though he was my biggest baby.

While I wasn’t expecting our birth to go this way, it was one of the most amazing days we’ve ever experienced and one that we will never forget.  It is a day that not only gave us a beautiful son, but one that also taught me to fully trust.

Another reader’s question answered…..

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Jennifer wrote: “I think it would be interesting to know what type of contact(if any) you have with the parents once the baby is delivered, and living with them.”

As you may have read in yesterday’s post, my first intended parents thought of the surrogacy as more of a business deal than a personal relationship.  Honestly, I think they want to believe that the intended mother gave birth to their daughter and no surrogate was ever needed.  It’s like they want to believe that the surrogacy never even happened.  We had some contact when they got back home with the baby, but not much.  They sent a Christmas card that year which included a photo of the baby.  One other time I’ve received an email from them with a photo of her taken in Italy, when they had her baptized.  This couple used an egg donor due to the intended mother’s age and they absolutely swore me to secrecy that I would never tell their families that the baby isn’t genetically hers.  They feel that it would disappoint their families and they would feel differently about the baby than if she were from her mother’s egg.  Anyone who has children, either biological, adopted, or from donor egg or sperm, knows that this is ridiculous.  I guarantee there is no one that would love her less if they knew she wasn’t genetically related to her mother.  They told me when I gave birth to her that they will likely tell their daughter that she was born via surrogate (but have no intention of telling her about the egg donor) when she is 12 and on a family vacation (odd timing I think, but oh well).  Honestly I just feel like they are living a huge lie about how their daughter came to be.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have no bond with this little girl, so not seeing photos of her regularly doesn’t bother me one little bit.  Do I wish it was different?  Yes, but if they feel like they have to distance themselves to keep their secret a secret, I guess thats on them, not me.  Eventually if they do tell her about being born via surrogate, I’m assuming she will have a natural curiosity about me.  I personally think it would be better for her if they were honest from the beginning, but thats for them to decide.

With the twins, we had a lot of contact when they first got back to Australia.  We also had a ton of email contact throughout the pregnancy, sometimes exchanging no less than 10 emails a day.  Oddly enough, other than the night of the birth, we had only spoken on the phone one time and that was when we first got in contact, months prior to the embryo transfer.  Other than that it was all email contact.  In another post, I mentioned that I would share some details about this surrogacy and I guess I can’t properly answer Jennifer’s question if I don’t share a bit of that now.  There were TONS of medical bills associated with this birth (c-section) and the twins 3 week stay in the NICU.  Since the parents were not here to sign any of the paperwork when they were born, my name went on ALL of their bills by default.  There is a contract stating that they have to pay all medical bills associated with the surrogacy, however, my name is on them and they say they don’t have the money to pay them all.  Want to talk about a HUGE frustration?!  This is still an ongoing headache, so naturally I’ve kept our contact to the bare minimum.  They do email photos of the babies here and there, but like my other surrogacy, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to know about them.  Honestly, I want this situation done and behind me, so the less contact I can have with them the better it makes me feel.

For my current surrogacy, the intended parents have asked me to decide on how much contact I want with them when its over.  They prefer regular contact and plan on making the surrogacy known to their son from the beginning.  I’m planning on having periodic contact with them after the birth, but again, I don’t feel like I need continual contact.  Maybe a Christmas card or a note with a photo here and there and that would be enough for me.  I want to respect and honor their desire for ongoing contact and also to quench their son’s curiosity about me when the time comes.  These IP’s would love to visit with us in the future and that may be a possibility down the road.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

I hope I don’t come across as completely insensitive because I do care deeply about the babies I’ve carried.  I feel I have a healthy and necessary distance from them too though.  They are not my childen in any way, shape or form and I don’t feel the ongoing need to foster those relationships.  While I will always fondly remember my pregnancies and births with each of them, they are a part of my past and I prefer to let it be just that.

 

Question from a reader…..

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Lauren wrote: “How do you get connected with the parents?

This is another question that people ask me frequently.  For my first surrogacy, I went through a surrogacy agency.  For a fee, intended parents can sign on with an agency in hopes of finding a suitable surrogate.  Surrogates can apply with as many agencies as they wish in hopes of finding the right intended parents.  I initially signed on with two seperate agencies and was quickly given profiles of two couples that met my list of requirements who were interested in using me as their surrogate.  I had phone conversations with both of them (three way call with the agency worker also on the call to facilitate) and really liked each of them.  They both had heartbreaking circumstances and it was very difficult to choose between the two, mainly because you know that one of them is going to be let down, and you are the one doing it.

For both of my next surrogacies, we got in contact via a personal connection.  For my second surrogacy, I was contacted by the first surrogate of the Australian couple to ask if I would consider carrying for them.  She was in the middle of a second surrogacy for them (she had their older daughter for them), however, she got pregnant with her own baby in the meantime.  There was no agency in this case, which was a HUGE regret of mine later on.  This is a whole story in itself, which is on my list of topics to share on this blog at some point.

My current surrogacy was also a result of a personal connection.  A dear friend of mine knew this couple and that is how we got in touch.  Also no agency this time around, which again, I have regretted in some ways.  Having an agency is the only way to go.  If and when things come up (because trust me, surrogacy isn’t always a bed of roses), you have a third party to consult and they handle it.  When there is no agency involvement, any conflicts or issues that arise are strictly between you and the couple, which can get VERY tense.

I would say that my second surrogacy was the easiest, simply because both myself and the couple had been through it before and we both knew what to expect of each other.  It was easy for both of us.  My first surrogacy was good, but it was new to both of us so there was lots of unchartered territory.  I think that couple treated it as more of a business deal than a personal relationship.  They always scheduled their calls with me.  It was never like “Hey I’m thinking of you and wanted to call and say hi”, which is what I would’ve preferred rather than the “We will call you promptly at 7:30 on Sunday nights, be there”.  This current surrogacy has had its own challenges since this is my third time around and it is the first time for my couple.  I’m completely laid back about it because I’ve done it twice before.  Of course for them, they are completely new to it and have tons of questions, worries and concerns.  It has gotten way better, but for awhile it was pretty tense.

People always think that surrogacy is all lovey-dovey and wonderful.  It is a wonderful thing, but when there are emotions and opinions involved from two completely different couples all revolving around the same pregnancy, that can be rough.  Each is it’s own journey and I have come to appreciate the differences.

In my lifetime, I will…..

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Learn to play the violin.  Playing the violin is something I’ve always wanted to do, but it has become increasingly important to me in the last couple of years.  My elementary school offered orchestra, but at the time I had no interest.  Hindsight is everything, as usual.  My husband keeps encouraging me to pursue violin lessons and I swear, one of these days I will do it.  I even bought a violin last year.  It sits in my closet and taunts me everyday.  Someday I will be able to play it.  Mark my words.

Give in to the craving?!

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Out of the blue this evening, the image of this very cupcake popped into my head and I knew I had to have one.  Sooooo, my wonderful hubby ran to the grocery store and picked up a box of Devil’s Food Cake mix for me and I whipped up a batch, complete with homemade cream cheese frosting and red non-pareils.  Perfection!!

I’ve only had cravings with my first and second pregnancies.  With my daughter, I constantly craved angel food cake batter.  I ate TONS of this stuff throughout my pregnancy with her.  With our first son, all I ever craved was green peppers with blue cheese dressing.  I took them to work with me at the funeral home every single day.  I also forced myself to eat a banana everyday.  One of the old timers I worked with despised both green peppers and bananas and he made no bones about how I thoroughly disgusted him by eating them.

Have you ever heard someone say that if you are pregnant and craving something, you should eat it or the baby will be born with a birthmark in the shape of the food you craved but didn’t give in to?!  If thats the case, I’m glad I kept my kids from being born with a birthmark in the shape of an angel food cake or a green pepper!  I read an article on msn the other day about a pregnant lady that craved roadkill of all things.  In that instance, I hope she doesn’t give in although her poor baby may be born with a birthmark in the shape of a flattened possum.

Best childbirth book EVER!!

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Out of my 6 births, I’ve had 4 homebirths, each attended by a midwife (well, except my youngest son, who decided to arrive BEFORE my midwife could get there…more on that later).  When my husband and I first looked into homebirth, our midwife recommended that we read this book to help us prepare.  This book is not only great for parents who desire a homebirth, but for any parent who desires to be fully educated on birth in general.  This is always on my “must read” list for people who ask me for reading material on birth.

My homebirths were not a result of being afraid of hospitals, but rather the result of being highly educated about the dangers of hospital birth.  I fully support hospital births when they are necessary.  For crying out loud, I had to have a c-section with the twins because baby boy was breech.  I wasn’t at all happy about it, but it was necessary I suppose.  I’m not saying that homebirth is for everyone.  I definitely think it isn’t for everyone.  My personal belief is that God made my body to safely deliver my babies in the most pure and natural form.  I prefer a 100% intervention free birth.  It’s what’s best for me and my babies.  That doesn’t at all mean it is best for other people and I fully respect every woman’s decision to birth the way she feels is best.

No matter what your birthing style might be, I highly recommend this book if you are pregnant, are planning on becoming pregnant, or if you know someone who is pregnant (great gift idea!).  It opened my eyes to so many things I had never thought of before reading it.  I feel confident  you will enjoy it no matter what your stance on birth is.

P.S.  My favorite site to buy books from is half.com.  You can find super great deals on new and used books, sometimes for as little as 75 cents a piece!

6 Months!!

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This pregnancy is flying by!  I’m feeling wonderful, the same as I did with all my other singleton pregnancies.

The baby is kicking like crazy and obviously from the photo, you can tell that he is growing nicely!  According to my favorite pregnancy book, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, the baby is a little over a pound now.  It is amazing that a one pound baby can make your belly look like this!