Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Journey Begins

I think my love of pregnancy stems from my mother. She always talked about her pregnancy with me as the most beautiful time in her life. She was always so positive and uplifting when describing her pregnancies that I think she partially brainwashed me into thinking pregnancy was magical and wonderful. 

My own pregnancies were every bit as amazing as I imagined they would be. I was plagued with morning sickness before I even got my first positive pregnancy test. I had severe backaches and my cankles were glorious. My acne flared up, and my hair got so thick it seemed greasy. People kindly told me I was "all belly", but I think they actually meant that my entire body looked like a swollen gut.

But none of it distracted me from the fascination I felt the first time I took a foot to the ribcage. The entire process of growing a human being inside my body completely blows my mind to this day. 

I was the crazy pregnant lady who knew what day my baby would grow fingernails or when she would be making her fingerprints (which by the way are made by swirling unique patterns into those new little forming fingers with amniotic fluid. It's why identical twins don't have identical fingerprints. Look it up.). 

So I expected to be every bit as obsessive once that baby was out and in the world. But as my ankles swelled and my due date closed in I remember feeling a little sad as I sat in my quiet living room watching my baby roll around and karate chop my bladder. I wanted to keep her in there not because I wasn't excited to meet her, but because I was just that fascinated with pregnancy. It's like when some girls get so wrapped up with the wedding they don't give much thought to the marriage. I wasn't that Bridezilla, but I was Pregzilla.

I went into labor on Father's Day that year, and just two Father's Days later I conceived my second baby in what I can only call an immaculate conception. How do I know what day I conceived? We had a co-sleeping toddler. My hub's birthday is in March. There are basically two days a year that poor guy was guaranteed conception-based activities. I knew.

And although I could not ask for a more beautiful, funny or amazing child as my little Sweet Pea, I was a little sad to be pregnant so soon. I wanted to wait a good 5 years or so before trying again simply because I loved being pregnant so much. I wanted to savor that last time.

See I'm just not a newborn person. Don't get the firing squad. I looooove my children with all my heart and soul. And when they were born I loved them because they were mine. However the reality of newborns for me is that they are just awful people. 

They keep you up all night, poop on you, all but chew your nips off nursing, poop on you again, they won't tell you what the heck they want. They're just rude. And mine aren't these mythical babies you hear about who do that whole "sleeping" thing.

"Feed them. Change them, then put them down in their bed while they're sleepy and let them drift off to sleep," our pediatrician said. 

In what effing world? Mine take to the boob like a leech and will scream bloody murder if so help me Jesus I break the latch once they're asleep so that I can just empty 3 to 6 ounces of pee that my 36 ounce bladder has been holding for five hours. 

I remember when Sweet Pea was a newborn I was sitting in my bath robe, rocking in the recliner and watching my toddler gleefully jump up and down in a pee puddle she made on my couch cushion. 

Flooded with hormones and feelings of inadequacy and jealousy for all my friends with sleeping children I started chanting aloud "Someday she'll be 2. Someday she'll be 2." Because although Sunshine was splashing urine all over my rug, toddlers are better people than newborns to me. They can use the king's English for starters.

I was so busy with Sunshine that I don't even remember my pregnancy with Sweet Pea, and I felt a little robbed. It was my last shot, and it was just a foggy blur.

A few months ago Sweet Pea turned 2. Someday came so much sooner than I thought it would, and as I began to wean her I started thinking about the fact that I got pregnant with her just 2 seconds after weaning Sunshine.

I knew 100% that I was done having babies. The hubs and I have always been on the same page with that. We both wanted two human children. People ask us all the time if we want to "try" for a boy. As if this is 18th century China. And as if we just forgot the right mating dance required to end in a male offspring. Nope. We are so exceptionally pleased with the two beautiful girls we have. 

So pleased in fact... that I thought about how nice it would be to give that to someone else. 

I've experienced for a brief moment the agony that comes with not knowing if you'll ever have a biological child. But that's another blog for another day. 

During that season of my life I made a vow. I swore that if I could have my own biological child I would find a way to show my appreciation and gratitude. My heart is so full because of the two greatest gifts I've ever received. And now it is my turn to give that gift to someone else. 

As Sweet Pea weaned and I closed that chapter in our lives, I opened a new one by applying to be a gestational surrogate.
It's not a decision I made overnight. And it's not one I made alone. I have thought about it for years, and I just finally decided it was the right time.

My application was accepted in April, and last week I met the couple who I intend to help realize their dreams of parenthood. The IM (intended mother) is an incredibly sweet woman with the most beautiful blue eyes, but because of cancer she can't carry her own babies. They did three rounds of egg retrievals, and they came up with 10 embryos. But out of those 10, only one was viable. So they are quite literally putting all their eggs in my basket. 

I am so thrilled to begin this journey, and I am so excited at the thought of bringing this kind of joy to a couple who can't do it on their own. 

For some of my close family members this decision is too hard to understand or accept. And I am so grateful to have people who care so much about me that they wouldn't have me risk my life for someone I don't even know. 

But the IF (intended father) is in the military, so I guess we could ask him the same thing. Why would you put your life on the line for people you don't even know? 

So my answer is that it's something I feel called to do. I don't have too many talents. I'm not saying I'm not a super cool person, but I don't have many natural gifts. I'm a loving mama to my girls, a decent enough writer to get some paid gigs, I'm almost indestructible at Pictionary, and I'm fairly good at birthing babies. I just want to share that gift in a profound way. If there was a way to make the Pictionary thing pan out I would. But so far no luck.

I should be clear that the role of a gestational surrogate is like an embryo nanny. This baby will in no way be genetically related to me. It's their egg, my basket. Their bun, my oven. I'm the kangaroo, but it's their joey. Comprende?

The biggest question I get is how am I going to give this baby up? How could I grow this child in my womb and then give it up without any attachment. Well I'm not really giving it up so much as giving it back. 

They've already made the baby and it's sitting there like a Popsicle waiting for a warm cozy spot to rest in for a while. And I don't intend to part ways without any attachment. I do think I will be very vested in the well-being of this child, just like you would any child you babysat for 9 months. I will love this baby for what it will bring to the IF (Intended Family). 

I kind of equate it with the love you have for a best friend's baby or a niece or nephew. I will absolutely care about this child, but my end goal is to bring this joy to the parents. 

It's like when you buy someone the best Christmas present ever on sale over the summer. The sheer anticipation of giving it to them is almost too much! I just can't wait until Christmas morning when they hold their baby for the first time. I can't wait because I've already had it twice.

I have so much support from my Hubs and my brother and my mom, not to mention a whole group fabulous friends. So I'm just a very lucky lady to be able to do this. It's going to take a ton of support from everyone, and I'm sure we'll hit some bumps, but I am overjoyed to be able to do it. 

So just follow along as I begin my surrogate journey!