Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Selfish

I've been bee bopping around in my own self-absorbed whirlwind of PTA meetings, school events, fundraisers, job searching, Girl Scout leading and the day-to-day of motherhood. I've been going to the library more with the kids and sitting out in the sun just watching them play. We've skipped a night of homework just to snuggle up with some popcorn and watch Hercules. It's been deliciously wonderful.
I've been so engrossed in my own parenting world that I almost feel like my part in creating another family was all a wonderful dream.
I almost have to do a double take when I get texts from Baby Mama about little Peanut these days. I come to a screeching halt and go "OMG!! I totally grew a baby a minute ago!"
Baby Mama has been absolutely amazing keeping me posted on all her sweet little milestones. I got to see her learning to crawl and getting her first tooth. And I'm starting to realize that I didn't just help create a baby. I actually brought a person into this world. This little Peanut is growing and changing into this beautiful little human. And I'm starting to feel this sense of pride.
I'm not proud like I am with my own children. When Sunshine's teacher told me that she's one of the best readers in the class I'm proud that I might have had some sort of influence on that. I was the one snuggling her on the couch developing her love of reading. Or when Sweet Pea astounds people by doing addition in her head, I swell a bit because I'm the one who first discovered her love of math.
With my own children I'm proud to have helped them grow as people. But with Peanut I am proud that I had a part in bringing a person into the world who might not be here otherwise.
All her developments and milestones will be credited to her parents. But I think maybe more than anything I'm proud of myself. I had a really strange but strong urge to carry a child for someone. I was led to surrogacy by a force I didn't understand. There were risks and it was a little crazy, but I did it! I guess I'm just proud that I followed my heart. Little Peanut is living proof of my determination and something I accomplished.
I think that's why I'm always confused when people think that what I did was a selfless act. It really wasn't. People who foster children or adopt children are selfless. They open their homes and hearts for life to this child who is a wildcard. They often have a hard road ahead of them, but they are truly making a difference in the life of another person. My work lasted about two years, and the only REALLY tough part lasted about an hour or so.
Their work lasts a lifetime.
With surrogacy I had this desire to help a couple have what I was afraid I'd never have. It feels more like I used one of my skills to help someone. I was decent at growing people. I enjoyed it. So I did it for someone. It's like I'm decent at sewing so I volunteer for projects at Sweet Pea's preschool they need sewed up really quick.
But another part of why I carried her was that I didn't feel done after Sweet Pea. My pregnancies with Sweet Pea and Sunshine were a rollercoaster I couldn't wait to ride again. So there was a selfish aspect of my surrogacy. I wanted to experience pregnancy again, but I wanted the easy way out. No sleepless newborn nights. No potty training this one. I just wanted the fun auntie role. I can send Peanut the noisy toys on her birthday. When she's older I want to be the one bringing her a big bag of gummy worms and letting her eat half the bag before I go home.
People say that I gave such a gift with surrogacy. But Peanut really gave me the gift of closure. I've never before felt so complete with my pregnancy journey. That yearning and longing for the excitement of a positive test. Or chasing that junkie rush I get with a natural delivery. It's all been satisfied.
Just a few months after Peanut was born I decided I was done. I wanted to let Baby Mama and Baby Daddy know in plenty of time so they could find someone else if they wanted another baby. I had such a great experience I was afraid to push my luck with another pregnancy. I'm the person that will walk away from a heater in Vegas. I like to leave on a high note.
But now that she's nearing her 8 month...7 month? 8 month. Yeah I think 8 month birthday (you can tell she's not my keeper. I knew when mine were 8 months 3 days and 12 hours old). I can see this little person I brought earthside and I feel a loyalty to her.
She deserves a sibling just like my sunshine deserved a sibling. And although I feel very very done being pregnant I now feel this confusing responsibility to carry her sibling.
We haven't chatted about it in a while, and I still don't know where I stand. There are so many things I want to do right now without worrying about being pregnant. The Hubs and I have trips to Europe this year, and the kids and I have roller coasters to ride and my friends and I have margaritas to drink.
But still there's this pride and love and nagging piece of me that says "But what about Peanut?" Don't I want to see her snuggling her baby brother or sister?
Sigh...Now I have to decide how selfish I am.
I selfishly wanted to carry her. Now am I going to be too selfish to carry her sibling?
I got an email a few days ago from our agency. A couple who is only a few minutes down the road from me has faced years of miscarriage and infertility and heartache. They'll be ready for transfer in January. They're perfectly amazing. She loves Gilmore Girls and he loves kayaking. They have everything in the world in common with our family. They are seriously amazing. But I can't.
I know in my heart if I ever carried again it would be for Baby Mama and Baby Daddy. Not for me. Not even for Peanut. But it would be for the two people I brought into the Parenting club.
I carried Peanut for me. If I carried again it would be for her parents.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mother's Day

Last night I slept next to a trash can and the little person who almost 7 years ago made me a mother.

Last night that sweet angel laid next to me breathing vomit in my face. Just like when she was an infant, I was jolted awake in the middle of the night by her cries. And when that little creature had to pee I scooped her up and carried her bleary eyed to the potty being careful not to trip over the crutches leaning on the bed. I'd spent my entire Saturday perched on the couch since that sweet cherub picked up a nasty stomach virus in the urgent care waiting room while we were there getting X-rays on her broken foot. It's one thing to have a stomach bug, but it's really upping your game to have a broken foot on top of it so that you can't run to the toilet when you need to barf. I spent 24 hours covered in red Gatorade vomit. And all she wanted in the world was for her mama to hold her. All. Day. And. All. Night. Needless to say I did NOT wake up on Mother's Day feeling rested and refreshed. But with all the truth in the land I truly am grateful.


Today is the first Mother's Day that Baby Mama will hold a child in her arms. She too will probably wake up groggy having been up with her baby all night. Knowing him, Baby Daddy might have taken the night shift as an awesome Mother's Day gesture. But as I understand it little Peanut has turned into quite the mama's girl lately...as they all do at that age. Anyway one night of rest won't make up for almost 9 weeks of newborn life. But I'm sure Baby Daddy has something special planned for her. After all they've been waiting for this day for a long time.

On previous Mother's Days I'll admit I just wanted a day off. I wanted one day with no motherly responsibilities. I didn't want people hanging on my leg or asking for water just as I sat down to lunch. I didn't want to have to take anyone potty or clean up any spills. But this Sunday I'm so grateful to have little souls who need me. I think now that I've helped bring another woman into the club I have a fresh reminder of the Sundays before now when I had no little sticky hands to hold and no little cheeks to kiss. I'm reminded of the Mother's Day after my miscarriage when I sat on the floor of my bedroom sobbing and clutching my empty belly.

This Mother's Day my heart is so full not only because I brought my children into the world, but because I had the privilege and honor to bring little Peanut earthside to her mama.

People ask me if I've heard from them since the birth, and apparently it's a valid question because some surros never hear from their IPs again. But not Baby Mama. I am so happy to report that our relationship has evolved into a beautiful friendship. I get pictures of the little squish snuggled up to her mama and daddy and canine siblings all the time. We still commiserate in the early morning hours sometimes, although I am guilty of sleeping now that I stopped pumping while she trudges on through the newborn nights.

She's starting to reach those first bittersweet milestones where she tears up as little Peanut is growing out of onesies. I remember that. Those moments your heart aches because you see how fast it goes, but it also explodes with excitement for the next milestone because each day they become more fascinating and beautiful. You start to see them emerging from their sleepy cocoons into beautiful little people.

I'm still trying to figure out when our lives will slow down enough to go for a visit. My little ones are keeping me so busy I haven't had time to plan a trip. I can't believe more than two months have flown by already. It seems like I was pregnant just yesterday, but also a lifetime ago. 

So this Mother's Day I'll be pushing fluids and sitting anchored to the couch, but I'm so grateful. Grateful to my babies for making me a mama. Grateful to Baby Mama for letting me be a part of her motherhood journey. Grateful to my own mama for being there cheering me on through my surrogacy and really EVERY OTHER EVENT in my life. And grateful to all of the mamas in my village. The ones who take Sweet Pea to birthday parties when Sunshine is too sick. The ones who respond to my dubsmash texts with laugh/cry emojis then follow up with their own ridiculous rendition of uptown funk. And the ones who are always there at a moment's notice to help me along my own motherhood journey.

So Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful women out there! And welcome to the club Baby Mama! So glad you're here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Milking It

Well it's been almost a week since the little Sweety arrived, and it's been the quickest week ever!

To update on Peanut, she is doing so fabulous. Her family is over the moon in love, and she got to meet one set of grandparents. Baby Mama has been sending me pics and updates, and I absolutely love the turn our friendship has taken. I feel like we're just mom friends now, and it's so freaking great. We've been commiserating together in the wee morning hours via text when she's up feeding and I'm up pumping.

Which leads me to my next topic: Pumping.Oh boy.

As I've said before I'm a little bit of a lactivist. I'm working on courses to become a lactation consultant for crying out loud. I nursed both my babies until they were "old enough to ask for it," and I kept nursing them well past the age that was socially acceptable. So yeah...I believe in the magic of breastmilk. No doubt.

However.

I started pumping a few hours after Peanut was born, and I was pretty darn proud of the amount of liquid gold I was getting. 

I didn't get on a strict pumping schedule like a lot of surrogates do who are trying to bring in a full supply, but I was pumping a few times a day and getting up once a night to pump.

And all was well for a little while. Then on day 4 my boobies really hurt. My milk was in full force and my chest weighed about a thousand pounds. I was getting weary from my 3 a.m. milk call, and I just couldn't shake this weird feeling starting to creep over me. I shrugged it off and continued pumping, but OW it was starting to hurt worse each time.

Then day 5, I started really noticing that I wasn't feeling so great. I was EXTREMELY tired and I dreaded each pumping session. But I really wanted to reap the benefits of the extra 500 calories a day and the whole uterine toning perks. So I kept it up every few hours.

But each time my breasts would fill up I would start to get this exhausted sinking feeling. And each time I felt the pins and needles of my let down I would start to feel...sad? I got to the point that I couldn't even physically keep my eyes open. And I didn't want to go outside or do anything.

Finally one night my milk started to let down and I just burst into tears for no reason. I wasn't sad about anything at all. In fact I'd just been watching the Office and cracking up. But when my milk started let down I completely tanked. I was having a panic attack complete with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, racing heart, tight chest. I couldn't understand it. The only other time I've ever felt like that in my life was when Sunshine was born.

I've made no secrets about me not being a huge fan of the newborn phase. I don't personally have anything against newborns, but I do have a little PTSD from that phase of my children's lives. And now I'm starting to realize that it wasn't my newborns. It was my breastmilk!

This is incredibly hard for me to come to terms with because I'm such a big proponent of breastfeeding. After our initial struggle with nursing, my breastfeeding experience with my children was wonderful. But during those first few weeks I was filled with feelings of sadness and dread each time my babies latched. I always just thought it was typical post partum hormones. But after a little research I'm fairly certain I have a condition called D-MER, Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex.

The way breastfeeding works is that your body produces certain chemicals and hormones that bring milk in, store milk, and let your milk down. In a nutshell most of the time women have a milk "letdown" they get flooded with happy oxytocin hormones. But in order for the prolactin (the milky hormone) to also release, they have to have a drop in dopamine. In most, the oxytocin spike and dopamine drop are coordinated just fine so there's not a major reaction. But in D-MER the levels seem to be off. It's thought to possibly be too much of a drop in dopamine that triggers the feelings of anxiety, anger or sadness.

I tried to power through the next day, but every time I just felt so awful. And it was getting worse.

I texted my doula to talk it through because I just felt so confused. I was so excited to pump for Peanut and a slew of other babies. I'd been offered compensation for my milk, and I'd also looked into donating to local moms through Eats on Feets. But I just had this overwhelming feeling that the breastmilk might be triggering some sort of PPD. If I wanted to feel all the crazy feelings of having a newborn I would've just had another keeper.

Jessica talked it through with me and reminded me to eat enough protein and drink enough water while I'm pumping to try and help. But she also gave me something else I needed. She gave me permission to quit.

Breastmilk is such a huge part of my life, and it's seriously a passion of mine. But as excited as I was to pump this milk, it wasn't worth my mental health. I was more excited to feel normal again.

I decided to really reevaluate what my pumping goals were. Did I want to power through these feelings and bring in enough of a supply for the moms wanting to compensate me? Or for the babies who needed it on the donation page? Or was I happy just getting the physical benefits of expressing milk and giving a small milky gift to my former belly bud?

I knew right away what the answer was.

So last night I made a tough choice not to bring in my full supply. I'm still pumping a few times a day, but those few times are just enough to drain my breasts and get a nice small supply of milk to bring to Peanut next month when we visit. And since I made that decision I have felt WORLDS better. I don't feel tied down to the pump, which has alleviated some anxiety. And the brief dips when my milk lets down have gotten easier simply because there aren't as many of them.

I pumped late last night before bed, and then I slept until 9 a.m. And when I woke up I felt amazing. I pumped when I woke up, but the letdown blues only lasted a split second. Whereas before they were much stronger and lasted at least a few minutes. I felt like a brand new woman today.

The silver lining in all of this is that I've learned something! First of all I learned that I actually loved my newborns very very much. I just had a physical reason for feeling so sad and anxious. The second is that I learned first hand how other mothers who go through this feel, which I feel will be helpful as an IBCLC.

If this was for my own baby I would probably just power through again knowing that it's only a temporary thing. It lasted a few months with my own babies, but after it stopped I loved nursing. However, since I'm just pumping some extra goodies for little Peanut I don't feel like I have to bear through it. Her mama was successful inducing lactation, so she's getting plenty of good stuff. My milk will just be a nice little treat for her parents to have on hand.

So once again I'm feeling great! I put on real clothes today and my brother and AMAZING sister-in-law are here. We're about to take the kids out for some fun, and I'm going to turn in Girl Scout paperwork. I'm having a completely normal day, and I've never been so grateful!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Surrogacy's Dirty Little Secret

Ahh I'm finishing up some French toast room service brought me after a nice afternoon nap. I fell asleep eating chocolate and reading some trash mags a friend brought me yesterday. I had a shower this morning with some doTerra soap that made my whole room smell like a spa. Basically I'm being tortured here. Please send help.

There's a dirty little secret about surrogacy that I'm going to just spill right here. It's hard to talk about but you've been with me on this journey, so it needs to be said.

Recovery from a surrogate birth...is...AWESOME.

After I delivered a human being into the arms of her parents, I was whisked away to a bed all by myself. My only care in the world was if I wanted to wear the hospital gown or my own pajamas. Did I want to shower or wait until later? Here's some water, and can we get you anything to eat?

I just curled up in bed and melted into the pillow.

It was about 2 in the morning when I delivered, and I wasn't asleep until 5 a.m. But only because I was fielding calls and texts and getting all comfy in my room. When I crashed out I just slept. I didn't worry about my baby needing to eat or getting a heel prick or wanting me to snuggle her. My babies were home safe and warm snuggled up to their daddy who was fully capable of taking care of them while I just did whatever the hell I wanted.

I almost felt guilty for the new parents next door who were up with their brand new bundle. The guilt didn't stop me from sleeping like the dead.

The next morning I had floods of texts from friends all congratulating me on a job well done. I mean honestly people I put in maybe 4 hours of hard work. But they acted like I deserved a medal. The ego can only take so much.

I had two friends headed up to the hospital before I'd even had a chance to finish my breakfast that room service delivered so graciously. Room service folks. Room. Service. I look at a list of food I do not have to prepare. I decide what I want. And a nice boy in a bell hop outfit brings it to me with a smile. Torture.

When Jana and Sabrina arrive with a giant bag full of chocolate everything and some People magazines I want to cry. I mean really...the folks next door deserve the gifts! They're having to parent a newborn! But oh man there's a triple layer chocolate mousse cake in my bag. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to dig into that.

Even my instruction chart in my room seemed to think my most important goal was having wine three times a day.


Ok maybe it says urine...but still...

That is the dirty little secret of surrogacy. When I had my girls my room was a revolving door of doctors and nurses coming to poke and prod me and my uterus and my baby and my breasts. With this birth it's a revolving door of friends just coming to hang out and bring gifts and words of love and encouragement. I'm not wracked with nerves about germs being all over my new baby. I don't have to watch the clock for the next feeding or change diapers or be quiet so they don't wake up.

With this birth they come push on my uterus from time to time, check my blood pressure and leave me the hell alone. I'm pumping and I've had babies, so they don't need to constantly check my milk jugs. I can be lazy about pumping because I don't actually have to watch the clock for a feeding schedule. The only person I'm worried about pooping is myself. And I handled that like a boss since this kid didn't rip a darn thing on the way out. That guilt is really creeping in because this is downright magical.

Then last night, just as I thought I had seen all the magic that this journey had to offer, Hubs brought my babies up to see me. They never looked so sweet. I hugged them and shared my curly fries as they told me about their day and asked if I had the baby. I told them I did, and Sunshine wanted to know why my tummy was still so round. And OOMPF!! So squishy...that kid could be a nurse the way she smashed down on my uterus.

I told them the baby was next door with her parents and they squealed because I said "her". They were totally team Baby Girl.

I texted Baby Mama to see if we could pop over with presents. I thought it was important for the kids to see the end game.

We walked into their room and there was little Peanut snuggled in the arms of her mother with her father sitting next to her in bed. The girls were tickled pink.

They saw little Peanut, and they oohed and ahhed over her. Sweet Pea wanted to get in there and hold her, but I told her she's just too new. I remember being a first time mom and not wanting little children's grubby hands all over my new baby. They proudly handed over their gifts for the baby instead, which included a ton of "artwork" that Baby Mama said she was going to frame for her nursery. All. The. Feels.

So there we were. Our two families together at the culmination of our journey. I'm glad we're in a hospital with a cardiologist on staff because my heart could burst at any moment.

My midwife came by today to check in on me. It just so happened that the midwife on call was the one in the practice who had been a surrogate herself. You don't get a much better experience than rehashing your surrogate birth with a midwife who has been there. She could totally relate to every feeling I had.

The funniest feeling was meeting Peanut in person for the first time. I didn't hold her in the delivery room because A) She went to the nursery so quickly for her heart. And B) I honestly didn't even have the desire to.

So yesterday when I went over for my first visit since the birth, Baby Daddy asked if I wanted to hold her. Well of course! Come here you little squish!

He placed her in my arms, and the strangest thing happened. Nothing.

She was so cute and beautiful and adorably perfect, but I can say with 100% honesty it was like meeting any other baby for the first time. There was absolutely no familiarity. It wasn't like "Oh hi old friend! We've spent the past 9 months together!" Nope. It was like "Oh wow! Your baby is super cute! Nice to meet you!"

My midwife totally felt the same way as did my doula. It's so nice to have these women who totally get it. I know there are folks who are worried about how I feel after "giving the baby up." But these chicks get that I just gave her back.

She did ask if I thought I'd do it again. My midwife is actually the only surrogate I know personally who is a one and done. She said there was nothing about her experience that was bad or that made her not want to ever do it again. But like me, it was something to cross off her bucket list. She always wanted to help a family have a baby, and she did it. Then things in her life changed and she just never got back to a place where she wanted to be pregnant and have a baby one more time.

I said the same thing. I honestly think this was so perfect I would be afraid to do it again. This journey has been absolutely amazing. There's been heartbreak and times that really tested our patience. But it has been absolutely incredibly perfect. I do not see how another journey could even compare.

I told her this, and she just smiled. For some reason people don't believe this is my last rodeo. Hubs thinks I would carry a sibling for Peanut. Jessica thinks so too. I swear I'm done. It was just such a good uterine swan song I don't see how I could do any better.

At this stage in the game I'm just focusing on how freaking amazing it is to recover at Hotel L'ospital. My midwife said she could discharge me as soon as now or as late as tomorrow at midnight. I told her book me for the week woman! I'm enjoying this dirty little secret of surrogacy.

The Birth

Sorry I've been a bit quiet. I've been a little busy. ;)

Hmmm..where to start? Well Monday was our midwife appointment, and it was also a very important birthday. My Sweet Pea and Hubs of course!

So we went into the midwife, and really the only info I was interested in was if all my witchcraft and yoga poses had worked. Was the baby's head engaged correctly?

I was running a bit late because I'd taken Sweet Pea to a big giant inflatable indoor playground with her best buddy for her bday. I went in and immediately got my vitals. The nurse weighed me, and lo and behold the scale finally hit 180! That's my magical birthing weight. Weeks ago when I had my first run of prodromal labor I was at 182. Too much. Then the following two weeks I was 178. Too little.

But yesterday I was right at 180. See when I hit 180 lbs, a baby falls out of me. I started my pregnancy with Sunshine at 155. At 180 lbs, she came out. I started my pregnancy with Sweet Pea at 135. When I hit 180, she came out. I took this as a good sign.

The midwife asked if I wanted a cervical check, and I said meh, not really. I just wanted to check head alignment. She felt from the outside and said all felt well, but she went elbow deep to really see if she could feel the sutures on the top of the head. Sure enough. The headstand I did that morning worked! Baby's head was coming down nice and straight.

As the midwife is still up to her elbows in my lady bits she asked if I wanted her to sweep my membranes. You'd think I'd be quick on the decisions with someone spelunking my body, but I sat there for a while contemplating. Baby Mama stepped up and answered for me and said no I didn't want that. I'd expressed to them earlier that it really only increased the chance that my water would break. I knew it was a natural way to "induce" labor, so I thought about doing it just so Baby Mama might be that much closer to holding her sweety. But then again if baby isn't ready it doesn't do much anyway. So we opted out for now.

Sweet Pea was kind enough to document the visit via photo essay 




She said I still felt dilated to about a 2, and I was maybe 70 percent effaced. And all that cervical hocus pocus really helped because I left the office feeling a little contracty. We scheduled our next appointment for a Non Stress Test on Friday. Since little Peanut was baking longer than expected we had to check and make sure the placenta was still doing its job.

We all walked out together, and said "See you Friday!"

Sweet Pea and I headed out, and I called and cancelled my chiropractor appointment. I figured if little Peanut's head was in good shape we could wait a few days for the chiro.

When we got home I had the overwhelming urge to finally clean up the pit masquerading as my house. I got on the living room and finally did the rotting dishes in the sink. I'd just given up the past couple weeks and enough was enough. I also got crackin' on a birthday cake for the Hubs. Hershey's Cocoa cake is his absolute fave, and it was delish.

We had a nice quiet evening, and I told Hubs I had to run to the store while he put the girls to bed because I was sending cupcakes with Sweet Pea in the morning to school for her bday.

As I was walking through WalMart I decided to grab some Evening Primrose Oil. That stuff is supposed to ripen your cervix, and the midwife said mine was only about 70% effaced. We needed it to get a bit more stretchy before I'd go into labor. So I grabbed a bottle and went in search of some raspberry leaf tea. It's supposed to tone your uterus, but as I stood in the aisle looking for it I realized I'd been having some real pelvic pain.

I brushed it off because I'd been in labor for weeks. And I headed over to my mom's house for a quick pedicure. I just knew this baby wasn't going to come with my toes lookin' all ratchet. When I got there I popped an Evening Primrose Oil pill...and I don't mean down the throat. You have to put those bad boys right by the cervical source. Never did find the raspberry leaf tea. I figured I'd look tomorrow, so I popped open a mango pineapple probiotic Naked juice.

When I got to her house, Mom had candles going, a lavender foot soak and some tea made. She's a good mommy.

She was removing the polish when I thought maybe I should start timing these contractions. I was sure it was just prodromal labor again, but I figured I'd better at least get a little idea of what they were doing. I had my foot up on her leg and I started timing. They were all over the place. 6 minutes. 4 minutes. 7 minutes. 6 minutes. But whoo buddy they were getting a little strong.

I texted Jessica, my doula, but also let her know they were just kind of strong-ish and probably nothing. That was around 9 p.m. I also texted Baby Mama just to give her a heads up that I was timing. She was just about to go to bed, and I told her my new plan was for her not to tell me if she was heading in. I didn't want my uterus getting stage fright again just in case. I would send her screen shots of my contractions and updates, but we'd been through this rodeo a number of times now. Don't get all ready and rarin' just yet.

Meanwhile my toes were an adorable shade of pink. Mom swears the baby is a girl.

Still timing the contractions I saw that they were still 6 minutes apart and only about a minute long. I decided to go home and shower and try to get some rest. I was pretty tired, and it was Hubs birthday. There's one sure fire birthday activity that even the midwife suggested to get labor going. I figured I'd better go try that out.

I had a good contraction on the way home, so I put it in my app. When I got home I gave the phone to Hubs and jumped in the shower. I'd stick my head out and say "Ok start!" when I started to feel a wave come on, and he timed contractions with my app while I was in the shower. I got out and they were about 3-4 minutes apart, but still only about a minute long. As a matter of fact some of them were less than a minute. The hallmark of labor is contractions that get longer and stronger and closer together.

Looks like more prodromal labor. I sat on the edge of the bed and started to towel off when I had a contraction that really freaking hurt. I started to cry a little. If this was fake again it really wasn't cool.

11:00- I text a screen shot to Baby Mama showing my contractions closer together. She starts to kind of wonder if they should get up or stay put. I just tell her the contractions hurt, but ya know...been there done that.

11:04-  I text Jessica, and tell her I'm going to lie down and see if these contractions go away. It's usually at the two hour mark they start to stall out, and around three hours they get weaker. It's been about two since I started timing, and I'm not sure but they still seem strong.

She texts back that she thinks I'm in denial.

11:06 - OK That contraction really freaking hurt. I call in Jessica. I don't care if it's prodromal labor. I need her to help me through these.

She's dressed and out the door before my next one hits.

I was hesitant to throw on my labor skirt, lest I tempt the prodromal labor gods. But I threw it on and grabbed my sports bra. I went into the living room, turned the lights down low, got on the birthing ball and huffed my lavender oil until she arrived.

I told her to just come on in since we've done this dance a million times. But typically when she'd arrived I'd been in good spirits, joking and ready for a dance party. This time I was grunting and moaning through contractions when she walked in.

I text Baby Mama.

As Jessica helps me through the contractions I start to wonder if this might be the real thing. Each time labor has started it's been more intense. And this time was definitely more intense. But the difference is that the baby's head was in the right position now. If my suspicions were correct, my prodromal labor had been stopping because her head was asynclitic. Now that it was corrected...

I have a few contractions on the birthing ball and Jessica puts pressure on my lower back with some AMAZING Deep Blue oil rub. It's like icy hot but more magical. My back labor starts to melt away as Sunshine emerges from her bedroom.

"Are you having the baby Mommy?" she asks peeking from behind the chair.

The question makes me pause. Am I? Is this really it? In my gut my first thought is...yeah. I think this is it.

I tell her I think so, and she says "Yay! I get to go to Scarlett's house!" She gives me a quick hug and trots off to go snuggle Daddy in bed.

I move to the couch to get through the next few contractions. They went from ow ow to HOLY MOTHER EFFER OWWW!! pretty quick. I start to think it's time to head to the hospital, and I think maybe my mom needs to drive us. I'm going to need Jessica to help me from jumping out of the window. She has been timing my contractions, and says it's not quite time to go. But I start to worry that these are ramping up quick, and I text my mom to give her a heads up.

I get back on the birthing ball to get ready for the next contraction, and it starts to ramp up just as Sweet Pea emerges and rubs her sleepy eyes. I start to feel the contraction hit HARD, and without saying a word, little Sweet Pea toddles over to me and throws her arms around my neck. She gives me the sweetest hug and I bury my face in her hair. She hugs me tight and I just let myself melt into her sweet little neck.

It was by far the best contraction I would have all night.

When it was over she gave me one last squeeze and toddled into bed with Daddy. Wow that oxytocin really works in labor. I thought about having her stay and love me through these tough ones.

By the time my mom arrives, Jessica has already called the midwives to let them know we are on our way. I have trouble getting to the car, and I flashback to Sweet Pea's birth. I remember my doula, Katie, sitting behind me in our Expedition as Hubs dashed to the hospital avoiding pot holes. I was in transition then, and I could feel every pebble in the road.

Back to reality, I start to feel lots of pressure down below and I tell Jessica I'm fairly sure my water is going to break in her car. She doesn't seem worried. Just leans my seat back and off we go.

The ride to the hospital was a bit longer this time than with Sweet Pea. This hospital was about 20 or 30 minutes away, whereas the one with Sweet Pea was maybe 10 with traffic. Luckily my mom has the magic touch and was able to flip all the lights to green as we raced to the hospital. The urge to bear down was getting strong.

I started to feel like I couldn't do this. There was no doubt in my mind at this point that these were real contractions. We were having this baby tonight.

When we pulled up to the doors of the Women's Center I didn't think I could make the walk to the triage waiting area, and there were no wheelchairs in sight. I also knew for a fact that I wasn't getting into a bed down there just to have to get up and go to the second floor once they determined I was in labor.

I made a mental deal with myself that I could make it to triage, but no bed. So after my next contraction I mustered all the strength I had and walked into triage. I bypassed the chairs and went straight for a wheelchair I saw in the corner as Jessica checked me in. They came to verify information, but I could barely talk.

"She's in very active labor" I heard her tell the nurse.

They wheeled me over to the bed, which was lined so neatly with a little wee wee pad and monitor straps.

"How f*cking adorable" I thought. Nope.

They asked me to get into the bed so the midwife could check my dilation. I'm not sure if I said the words fck off, but I felt them radiating from my soul. I think what I managed to say was something like "She can check me in this wheelchair or not at all."

It was Lexi, the midwife who found Peanut's head was asynclitic on Friday. I hear someone say "Third baby...third baby. She says she can't get up in the bed."

Lexi asks if I can, and I tell her I'm about to start pushing. They immediately wheel me to the elevator to go up to L&D.

"No elevator babies OK?" Lexi asks as we load up.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Jessica is frantically texting Baby Mama to find out where they are. They think about half an hour.

We get to the room, and again I'm pissed at all this walking I'm having to do. They want me to take 4 steps from the wheelchair to the bed, and it is by far the longest 4 steps I've ever seen. As a contraction dies down I once again muster all I have and stumble onto all fours onto the bed. I stay in cat cow, and I tell Lexi if she wants to check my dilation it's going to have to be farm animal style because I can't lay on my back.

She tries to check with my butt in the air but OH MY GOD it feels like she's checking with a Maglite. I decided I can roll over after all.

I get on my side just like when I had Sweet Pea, and she checks my cervix.

7. A MOTHER EFFING 7!?!?! That's it!?!? I thought a 12 for sure!!! I felt so much pressure and wanted to push so bad. I start screaming at the injustice.

Lexi assures me that a 7 is actually good. It means I'm in transition, which is the worst part. It also means it's almost over. But holy shit I still need to dilate 3 centimeters before it's over. 3 centimeters has never seemed so big.

Jessica rubs some lavender in her hand, places it near my face and assures me that I am strong and amazing, and that I am doing this.

I want to simultaneously kiss her and punch her in the face.

Fine. Ok let's do this one at a time.

The next contraction ramps up and I start to scream. It feels good to scream.

With Sweet Pea I was very quiet by the time I got to the hospital. I would take each contraction and focus on a line of wallpaper. I'll never forget the wallpaper in that hospital room. I was so quiet with each contraction with Sweet Pea that the nurses didn't even know I was contracting unless they saw the monitor.

This child however was a different story. I wanted to get up and move, but I also didn't have the strength. So I yelled. And I mean I screamed with each contraction at the top of my lungs. It felt so damn good to scream.

I also pushed. Yeah I know, I'm not supposed to push. So maybe push isn't the right word. But with each contraction I just let my body do what I instinctively wanted to do, which was to bear down. Lexi said my bag of waters was bulging, and I remember that feeling from Sweet Pea. If I could bust that water bag I knew we'd have a baby. So with each contraction I screamed and cursed and grunted and let myself bear down. It was raw and primal, and I felt like a feral animal. But I'd tried being nice. I'd tried visualizing the contractions opening my cervix and helping the baby down. I'd tried riding the waves of contractions just like with Sweet Pea.

But this wasn't Sweet Pea's birth. This was Peanut's birth. And these contractions needed a fighter. I raged against the pain screaming. With each contraction I willed it away screaming "NO! I can't! I don't want to!" And with each one Jessica stayed right in my eyes and told me "Yes. You are. You can. You're doing it."

This is what a doula is for folks. Before I ever went into labor we had several conversations about my birth wishes. I don't say plans because plans fail. I say wishes because it's what I desired for birth. I let Jessica know ahead of time that my favorite word in labor is NO. I tell those contractions Bye Felicia every single time. I'll scream that I can't. I scream that I don't want to. When each contraction ramps up I chant No No No No. And I need a doula who says Yes. Yes you can. You are a rock star and you are doing this.

And that's exactly what she did. She empowered me through each of those contractions reassuring me that not only could I do this, but I WAS doing this. She also reassured me that Baby Mama and Baby Daddy were just minutes away.

Good thing...because with the next contraction I bore down and SPLASH! My water broke and that little Pices baby descended down the birth canal.

I knew from experience with Sweet Pea that it was probably time to push. But I waited for the okay to try and start pushing this baby down. I screamed from my soul with each contraction, and Lexi asked if I wanted her to check and see if I was at a 10.

Sure you can check...if you have a magic mirror. But if you expect me to lift my leg so you can try and get in there you've got another think coming. I didn't care if I was dilated to a negative 2. I felt the baby start to descend with each contraction, and I let them know.

With both of my girls they checked, and when I was a 10 we held my legs back and I pushed. We counted to 10, and they would let me know when to push.

Lexi just stood there and told me to trust my body. If I thought I wanted to push then it was time to push.

I opened my eyes to see Baby Mama and Baby Daddy standing at the other end of the room. In my mind I was overjoyed to see them and grinning from ear to ear. In reality I think I had the look of Linda Blair and the vocals to match because they both looked a little freaked.

No time to fix my face, I could feel a freight train barreling through my birth canal. Jessica saw that Baby Mama and Baby Daddy might need a little push, so she asked if Dad was going to catch if he'd need sterile gloves. Just a little hint that uhhh things were about to get real.

They get him suited up, and I start to push.

No counting, no checking to see if I really was a 10. They trusted my body. I pushed when I felt the urge, which seemed to just come in spasms. Before it was like a crunch. You push and hold for 10 seconds while they count you down. This was me feeling the baby descend and just giving it pushes to ease it down. It was surreal but empowering.

I saw Baby Mama standing at the end of the room and in my mind I said "Come on friend! Come sit next to me and come meet your baby!" But in reality apparently I just growled and scowled.

They told me with my next few contractions to take those screams and turn that energy inward pushing the baby down.

I tried, and I didn't know if I was even doing anything right until the whole room started to get excited. Lexi told me if I lifted my leg and pushed that we'd have a baby.

Two words Lexi. And one of them IS the F word. There was no chance I could lift anything. This kid was going to have to somehow come through my clamped thighs.

I started to hyperventilate and Jessica whiffed lavender in my face. I regulated, and she looked me in the eyes again.

"You're going to hate me for this."

She grabbed my thigh and lifted and I bore down and pushed with everything I had. I didn't hate her at all. She was my strength when I had none left. It felt like forever, but later they said it took maybe three pushes to bring that baby into this world.

I felt the head come, and Baby Daddy rushed over to help deliver the shoulders. I SCREAMED with everything I had and at 1:53 a.m. the little life I'd carefully guarded for well over 40 weeks came beautifully into the world.

The second those little toes left my body every single doubt and fear left my body. I didn't need the primal screams anymore. All I could feel was an insane flood of endorphins and relief. I felt my face melt from a scowling grimace into relief and pure joy. There need to be more studies on the brain chemicals that happen during birth. Because it is absolutely amazing how quickly my feelings went from "I can't do this! I'm dying." to "Ahhhh I feel incredibly happy and that wasn't so bad." It's literally like a switch flip.

And there was Baby Mama to hold my hand.

I've had a baby with an epidural, and I've now had two without. There is no shame in an epidural. I could not have done that Pitocin induction birth without an epidural because it wasn't humanly possible to me. So that epidural saved my life and my sanity. My daughter was born and we are fine. However there was a lot of emotion missing from her birth. I pushed for three hours with Sunshine after a 22 hour labor. So when she came out and they placed her on my chest I was just utterly exhausted. I was excited because she was my first baby, and of course I loved her. But there was an element of raw emotion that was...for lack of a better term...numbed.

Once Peanut was out I immediately asked Baby Daddy the burning question. Boy or girl?

He hadn't even had a chance to look! He was just busy delivering his first born child, and as he did Baby Mama threw her arms around me. I wish I could share this picture. It's the most moving thing to see Jessica holding my hand and Baby Mama embracing me as Baby Daddy delivers his baby into the world. 

I was overcome with emotion. Aside from the birth of my own children, that was the single most beautiful moment in my life. The emotion in the room was palpable. Baby Daddy's face as he delivered his baby earthside, and the gratitude and love that poured from Baby Mama was so intense I thought I would burst.

"It's a girl" he said.

I cried. A girl. That sweet little embryo that we all prayed for. That little spec they placed in my womb on my mother's birthday. That rowdy little monkey that liked to kick and pounce back when Sweet Pea jumped in my lap.

She was a girl.

I'm not sure there was a dry eye in the room. Baby Mama snuggled up next to me, and they placed her daughter on her chest skin to skin. I laid my head on her shoulder and just cried as she held her sweet baby girl for the first time.

All the waiting and heartbreak and patience. None of it compared to that moment. Peanut cried the sweetest cry and her parents fell instantly in love. She screamed as they got her settled onto her mother's chest. And within seconds of being there she snuggled her sweet cheek against her mommy's heart, and she settled in.

As Baby Mama held her and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, Baby Daddy grabbed my hand and held tight. We did it. Their baby was here.

As we waited to cut the cord they strapped bracelets and monitors and all sorts of things on the little nugget. Because I got to the hospital with less than an hour to spare, and because my veins kept blowing I wasn't able to get antibiotics for the Group B Strep.

The midwife didn't seem concerned since my water stayed in tact until right before she was born. But as a precaution they were going to monitor her.

She looked perfect, and she had a healthy set of screaming lungs, but the heart and O2 monitor kept dipping. The nurse started to look concerned, but the midwife kept calm saying she seemed to actually be doing just fine. Still the nurses were a bit worried, so they took her to the warmer, and prepared to take her to the nursery for her wonky heartbeat.

Baby Mama reassured me that they would be back, but I told her to go take care of her baby! I would be perfectly fine. She hugged me again and Baby Daddy gave me a hilarious umm thanks! And they left to follow their baby girl to the nursery.

Everything kind of died down, and I got to see the placenta because I'm a weirdo who thinks that thing is really cool. 


I'm not however crunchy enough to keep it. I let them throw it in the Tupperware and save it for art projects or whatever they felt like using it for.

My midwife checked my lady bits to assess the damages, and lo and behold I didn't get a single stitch! I guess at this point it's like throwing a hot dog down a hallway or something. But she said it's just because the baby came at such a good pace. She didn't fly out of there and blaze a trail. She just naturally descended. It's crazy. Like nature actually knows what to do or something if you let it.

Once I was all cleaned up and the nurse assaulted my uterus a few times I was alone with my mom and Jessica, and we just rehashed the whole scene. My mom never got to be there for the birth of her grandchildren because I lived so far away. This surrogacy allowed me to have my mom with me during delivery, which is something I always wanted. She was in awe and just kept telling me how proud she was of me and how strong I was.

I rested for a bit, and I knew Mom and Jessica were tired. It was about time for me to head up to recovery anyway and get settled in my room. I sent them home with hugs and thanks. I knew I'd see them tomorrow.

The nurse said I just had to get up and try to pee before I could head to recovery, which seemed simple enough. But when I sat up I felt all my innards just slam down on a very very sore uterus. I had to sit on the edge of the bed a minute before I got my sea legs.

I finally made it to the bathroom, but nothing would happen. The nurse said when she'd been kneading my uterus earlier those gushes weren't all blood. Some of them were gushes of pee. Lovely.

So I got credit for trying and I got up to wash my hands. However as I stood at the sink I got that very familiar hot feeling that creeps over you just before you pass out. I stumbled over to the wheelchair and told her I didn't feel so hot. I wasn't sure if I was going to barf or pass out. She handed me a barf bin and we waited for the feeling to pass. It did, but I just didn't feel great.

I told her just to head up to recovery so I could lay down. She asked if I was sure, and off we went. But as we rolled through the hall I started to feel wonky again. I tried my head between my knees and laying it back, but nothing worked. As we got on the elevator to go up to my room I remember feeling hot.

That's all I remember until I woke up in my recovery room with a team of about 10 nurses running around freaking out and telling me to come back to them. I apparently blacked out cold, which truthfully isn't surprising. I'm quite the bleeder, and I used to be quite the fainter when I gave blood. I'm blaming a faulty vagal nerve.

They got the IV ready to pump some fluids into me, and I started to come to. I didn't really get what was going on because to me it felt like I just took a nap. But they were all drama about it, so I guess I wasn't just closing my eyes for a spell.

I climbed into the bed and started to instantly feel better. They elevated my head a little and once the fluids started flowing I started to feel human again.

It has now been 24 hours since that little girl came into the world, and I'm just now sitting down to blog about it. I know you've all been such a loyal part of this journey, so I wanted to update you.

There's so much more to tell about her first day here, but for now I'm going to rest.

Just know that we all appreciate the kind thoughts and prayers. And yes, little missy's heart did stabilize. She's with her parents next door, and we are all still riding the adrenaline high of this journey.

I'll have more for you tomorrow, but for now I am going to kick back and recover from one of the most incredibly surreal and amazing experiences of my life.


We did it. She's here. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Baby Watch 2016: Still Pregs

Yep. Still pregnant! 

I know you'll want that info up front. 

Secondly I need to just shout a big BOOYAH for my instincts! After another really intense bout of prodromal labor I was suspecting that there was a positioning issue preventing us from progressing. 

So I stopped into my midwife for a quick check Friday and lo and behold! Baby is coming down head first but asynclitic! That means Peanut descended on the side of HIS or HER head just like my Sunshine. (I know a lot of folks thought they read a lot of "she"s last post but I can assure you we still know bubkiss about the genitals.)

So my new goal is to get little Nut to get his head in the game. I went to a friggin amazing chiropractor recommended by my doula. He's like a pregnancy wizard. He adjusted the heck out of me and explained every step. He said my right hip was rolled big time. He tested my mobility in each hip and the difference was crazy. 

After he adjusted I could lift both legs equally high, so that was a win. 

He said if I didn't pop by Monday to come back in. So here we are. I have my midwife at 2 and chiro at 4:20. I'm going to have her check baby's position again since nothing's ramped up lately. And we'll go from there!

So yea I'm technically past my "due date" which is a first! But kind of cool! I've never baked one past 40 weeks before. 

But no induction scheduled at this point. Yes that's ok with me. It's more than ok. I'm avoiding that at all costs. No I'm not judging your personal birth experience or choices. 

I'm old fashioned in that I think what you do with your vagina is your business. Likewise, what I do with my vagina is mine. 

I've been induced. My experience was awful. Hence my aversion. 

So to recap, baby is safe and happy. Maybe coming down a little wonky. Not a library book. Not able to actually accrue fines for being late. Not expired like the milk I forgot to freeze! (Waste of colostrum dang it) Not in distress or trouble or at risk. Just not ready! 

I'll update after the midwife with any news! Until then...patience! Little turtles are worth waiting for. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Baby Watch 2016: Night Ninja

Woke up in so much pain I was basically in tears last night. I relaxed my whole body and rode each wave. 

I kept the room dark and visualized the baby coming down. It was a painful 3 hours but it did work. 

Worked so well everything once again stopped cold. 

Went back to bed and woke up to no less than one million texts from people wondering when I'm going to call it and just get the pitocin. 

Sorry kids! I'm too much of a hippie. 

I know some folks are worried about the baby, but I can assure you peanut is letting me know she's ok. She's moving and grooving just fine. Trying to get comfy I'm sure. 

I'm not trying to go for martyrdom. Im not trying to be stubborn. I truly and honestly believe there's a biological reason my labor is starting and stopping. All our Ts need crossed. We just need the perfect storm and there's still a missing element. 

My team is fully supportive and amazing. My midwives trust the process. My IPs have the patience of job. My doula has been through prodromal labor before so she's an angel from above. And Hubs speaks my love language:food. He's taking me for Indian tonight. Love that man. Plus he has been handling the domestics so I can just focus on bringing this baby earth side. 

I'm going to call the chiro again today and try to get in. But Remember today is JUST NOW my "due date". 

So in the mean time...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Baby Watch 2016: Woke up like whoa

1 a.m. - After dreaming repeatedly that I was in labor I woke up having decent contractions. I tried to go back to sleep, but they were just strong enough for me to question what was up.

Timed those bad boys. 8 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. 7. 7.

Five. Five. Five. Five.

Three. Three. OUCH.

2 a.m. - Texted Jessica, my doula, and told her if she wasn't too busy to perhaps come over. Oddly enough her schedule was clear at 2 a.m. She said it was time to let Baby Mama know. I texted her and she was ready to head out the door before I got the words fully typed.

By time Jessica was on her way my contractions ramped up. I couldn't talk through all of them and they were slamming back to back. It seemed to be moving really quickly, and I started to get excited and nervous. I started feeling a little queasy and shaky but so ready.

Jessica arrived with her adorable 22 week pregnant self. I keep forgetting she's pregnant with a surro babe herself! She's an angel for agreeing to doula for me. I honestly don't know how women birth without a doula. It's more crucial to me than an epidural. And I've done both.

Hubs waited up with me until Jessica arrived, then my little Sunshine peeked her sleepy eyes out of the bedroom. She snuggled me a bit, we talked about the game plan for after school, and I sent little Cindy Lou Who back to bed with a pat on the head. Hubs took her in our bed and let her snuggle in.



Meanwhile Baby Mama and Baby Daddy are high tailing it through the night, and I noticed I was able to talk through my contractions. They were still strong, but I wasn't getting worse. Jessica continued to time them and they were 3 minutes apart on the money. Things still looked good.

We decided to go for a walk, since my hood is a bit hilly, to try and make sure things kept going. We hoofed it and I had some good contractions, but I was starting to worry. I figured I should be in serious pain right about now. But I was feeling pretty good.

We talked and I rolled and bounced on the yoga ball. We busted open a box of Tagalongs....ya know..to keep up our strength.

But after another hour I realized although they were still 3 minutes apart, they were definitely getting much weaker. I texted Baby Mama to let her know that things were creeping along. She said they were half way here, so either way we were going to party.

By the time they got here my contractions were totally and completely manageable. It neared 5 a.m., and I knew everyone including me was tired. So we chatted for a bit, and I tried to rock the baby out with squats and sways, but alas it all died down once again. I sent everyone to bed, sent Jessica home, and I crashed out in Sweet Pea's bed feeling a little defeated.

I've heard of labor starting and stopping for people, but never thought I'd experience it. I'm very lucky that Jessica has had prodromal labor with almost all her pregnancies, so she's very sympathetic and reassuring that it's all just work my body is doing to get ready for delivery. Baby Mama and Baby Daddy are extremely patient as well. People keep telling me how patient I am, but truthfully I'm the one that is feeling like we need to get this show on the road for their sake. They're the ones who keep reminding me that it's fine. They'd rather come up a million times than miss the birth. 

I had Hubs take Sunshine to school and I got Sweet Pea off to school with one of my fabulous neighbors so I could sleep a bit. I called the midwife, and she told me what we all knew. If the contractions were weakening it obviously isn't time. She said we could still do this dance for days. So I sent Baby Mama and Baby Daddy home to shower and recoup. And I rested and slept and ate some yogurt and grapefruit and homemade baked spaghetti.

I've got a call into a chiropractor for another alignment, so we shall see if that helps. I'm convinced that something isn't quite right, and that's why everything ramps up so hard and then shuts down. It sounds hippie but I do trust that my body knows what to do. As frustrating as it is to alert the presses every time only to be let down, I think the best things for me and for Peanut is to trust nature for now.

I did talk to my BFF from high school and although she's a week or two behind me in her pregnancy, I was surprised (or not so surprised) to find out that she's dilated to a 5 and in active labor! I'm wondering if I'm just having some BFF sympathy pains or something. We only talk a few times a year, but I guess our uteri are totally still BFFs because we were rockin' and rollin' together and didn't even know.

I also got some extra reassuring words of wisdom from my crunchy midwife pal Nicole. She basically reaffirmed that this is all just a part of this baby's journey earthside. My body is doing work now that it won't have to do later and getting prepared. She kind of wondered if I had some mental blocks because I was so worried about the parents making it to the birth. So she suggested some mental exercises as well as some physical things I can do.

I'm taking everything into consideration at this point. My in-laws decided to reschedule their visit, which is a huge load off since I was stressed about getting the house in order before they came. My mom gets back in town tomorrow, Sweet Pea's birthday party is this weekend, Sunshine's school carnival is Saturday. I think I've got plenty to keep me occupied until this little Peanut decides it's time.

Before Baby Mama left she read a hilarious rendition of a potty book to her little Peanut. The baby had been kicking and tumbling around until I sat next to Baby Mama and she started to read. It's amazing to me the way this little one responds to her. She does have a very calming presence, and I swear this little nugget senses it. She settled right in and listened to the story. After they left it was back to tumbles and my contractions kicked back up a little.

I went and rested a bit, and now we just wait. Little Peanut knows what birthday he or she wants, so I will just be patient. There's no rushing perfection! His or her daddy is a military guy. Maybe he or she is just being very punctual. Tomorrow is our due date, so we shall see!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Baby Watch 2016 Update: Pregnant and I know it

I am officially 39 weeks 2 days, which is when I had both of my own babies. So it is official. This baby is never coming out. It's going to live in my womb forever until it's 18 and can legally be on its own. I'm going to ask the parents to come live with me so that they may watch their child grow up within my body. That's it.

Ugh finnneee it probably will come out. One day. But today is not that day. I honestly have never had a pregnancy where I was trying to get the baby out, but I'm starting to wonder about this one. I'm not particularly "miserable" or "done" although the prodromal labor played with my mind a bit. Then last night I had a super good bloody show, so I knew for sure I'd be in labor within minutes. But heeccckkk no. Not even one good contraction has been had since that little sign. So I don't know what to think.

I did go walking around the outdoor fancy swank swank mall today and no less than 50 people looked at me and CRACKED up at my ridiculous belly. I felt like Santa. Big. Fat. And bringing joy to the masses. 

I think the thing that messes with my mind is that I get these labor signs and I get all excited. Then when nothing happens it's like blue balls for the uterus. So here we are at 39 weeks creeping up on leap year day or whatever in the blazes you call it. And crickets from my uterus. Baby was rocking and rolling around, but acting happy as a clam to stay put for now.

My labor is certainly not as active as my phone! Now that thing is dilated to a 7 at least because holy cow the action on that bad boy is cray. Everyone is quite interested in my cervical status these days. Which I totally get! And appreciate. I love that I have so many folks who care about muh lady bits. I'm just sad to disappoint when I tell them that you could hear a pin drop in my birth canal.

I have had several people also ask me some really funny questions lately. As you probably guessed I'm totally open about this being a surrogate pregnancy. I sometimes feel like I'm oversharing because I'm quick to tell EVERYONE who asks about my belly that it's just a rental.

The principal at Sunshine's school asked "any day huh?" and I blurted out "Yep! Then I'm wild and free!" Quickly realizing she didn't understand I lightheartedly followed up with "This is a surrogate pregnancy, so it's not actually mine for keepsies."

She responded with something to the effect of "Oh my goodness have you prepared yourself to give it up? Do you feel ready!?!? What a gift!"

The only gift I'm giving is of my time and vaginal blowout. I don't think I quite put it that way, but I realized that a lot of people still don't understand what exactly gestational surrogacy is. Sweet Pea's teacher asked if I'd managed to find parents for the baby yet.

Ummm yes....I found the parents before I ever found the baby?

I'm starting to see that my recovery period may be super interesting with all the people who don't really get how this all works. I understand to a degree that they might not understand the emotional part. Truthfully I only assumed I knew what it would be like. Luckily it is 100% what I thought it would be like.

The whole process is so different than getting pregnant with my own. With my babies I just had a few conjugals and waited for a positive test. Hell with Sweet Pea I didn't even know what was going on until I wanted to murder my husband. The only time I want to murder is when I'm 6 weeks pregnant.

With this child I formed a relationship with the parents before it ever existed. We went over contracts. I waited for them to choose an egg donor. We waited for the little beebee to be created in a petri dish. I took rounds of IVF meds for the first transfer. And I watched my own ovulation happen with the second. I saw my own egg follicle mature and drop. I didn't bone anyone when it did. Then I literally watched them suck up the baby in a straw, carry it into the room and inject it into my baby baker. I guess because I witnessed all the science behind it, that might help in the disconnect.

But also I'm not planning to have a baby in my house. All the shit around here is for kid kids. I don't have diapers and burp clothes and teeny little onesies. I have Girl Scout cookies out of my ARSE and Lincoln Logs and random jars of sticks and rocks from the backyard. I'm not trying to come up with baby names. I'm trying to remember the names of Sweet Pea's friend from school who follows the rules. Is it Jack or Jackson? One of those two is a stinker and one is her best bro. I need to know which one to invite to her birthday. I'm not trying to come up with a middle name that goes rhythmically with the only first name the Hubs and I agree on.

Even so, I do see that there are people who are very concerned about my mental state these days. They seem to think the baby's not coming because my body and mind aren't ready to "give it up."

So to remind you that I'm all too happy to give this baby BACK to its parents...I have compiled this video of me trying to wiggle this child out of my body and into the arms of its ACTUAL PARENTS.

Enjoy.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

A treat

So unfortunately because there are all sorts of awful people in the world I won't be able to share pictures of little Peanut when he or she arrives. Which judging by the pressure in my rectum could be any minute....

However since you've all been so patient and loyal and wonderful I bestow upon you the gift of song....

And dance...

And hysterical laughter.



Update Baby Watch 2016

Update:

I woke up with lightning crotch this morning. I was fairly certain the baby was trying to escape out of my actual butt. Contractions came on strong and hard and woke me from a deep sleep. My uterus was going for the gold. 

4 hours later that B acts like nothing ever happened. 

This prodromal labor is insane. It's a total mind game. One minute I swear this is IT. Then an hour later I'm questioning my entire life. What. The. Eff. 

I ran some errands and on the way to get sunshine off the bus I walked out another good bit of baby plug. So that's interesting. 

I've got 3 cookie booths this weekend, and that always seems to get things ramped up. So we shall see! If peanut can hang on until Saturday afternoon that would be great. 

I'll let you know how that plan goes. 

You've all been so patient and supportive I'm toying with the notion of rewarding you with one of the Pregger dance videos I've been sending my friends and family to let them know how pregnant I still am. 

If I don't go tonight I might treat you with one of those beauties tomorrow. 😁

Monday, February 22, 2016

Labor Intensive

First and foremost, Paula go to bed. There's no baby yet.

Yesterday things definitely changed. Baby definitely dropped, which explains the searing pain from yesterday morning. Apparently when he or she dropped down they landed on a nerve. Then they screwed their noggin into my pelvis and have left me with the most delightful ache right in the baby maker.

I also decided to do a Girl Scout cookie booth marathon yesterday, which I'm guessing is what led to the intense contractions I had last night. Honestly I didn't do much at the booths because my rockin' mama friend went into beast mode and loaded and unloaded dozens of cases of cookies and crap from my car like 17 times. That woman was on a mission to sell us out of cookies, and we only came home with 17 boxes. We started with about 350 to 400.

So last night after I got done with cookies I really felt the ache and decided to lay down and time contractions. They progressed like normal labor contractions down to 2 minutes apart and increased in intensity, which is what led my doula and my mom to truly believe this could be it.

I was in denial, but I also tried not to be in denial because I have other people to consider with this birth. With Sweet Pea denial labor worked. It distracted me enough so that I wasn't focusing on contractions. I kept convincing myself that it wasn't real labor, so the pain wasn't real. And that method totally led to a magical birth.

But this time I was teetering on the edge of denial and the fact that I needed to let the parents of this child know if they needed to get in the car.

Apparently while Baby Daddy and I hemmed and hawed about it, Baby Mama was walking around gathering her things. She was heading out.

Unlike her child.

Once I knew they were on their way I decided to sit down and try and slow things down. My doula even rubbed magical hippie oil on my feet and it was insanely amazing. I relaxed immediately....and so did Peanut.

The contractions were still there, and they were still uncomfortable. But they were definitely less painful. Then they were just consistent, but uncomfortable.

I sent my doula home right before Baby Mama and Baby Daddy rolled in from their 3 hour (only took them like 2 because they flew like the wind) drive.

I felt a wave of guilt as they walked in the door. I'd told them I thought it was baby day, and although I was still contracting I knew things were slowing to a crawl.

They were perfectly mellow and amazing, and we all decided to just get some rest and see where things were in the morning.

I tried one last ditch effort to ramp things up by busting out my new breast pump. Almost immediately I remembered why I didn't really enjoy breastfeeding a newborn. That crap hurts.

But I did get a nice little lunch packed for Peanut!

The pump had the contractions back in action, but I decided to get some sleep. It was 1:30 a.m., and it looked like things were just creeping along.

I went to bed and managed to sleep pretty hard. I did wake up a few times from some good contractions. But by 5 a.m. all was quiet. My uterus went to sleep.

I decided to call my midwife and see if we could change our appointment to today. We had one scheduled tomorrow anyway, but I hated for Baby Mama and Baby Daddy to have completely wasted a trip. Luckily they said they could get me in that morning.

Apparently what I've got going is called prodromal labor. It's often called false labor, but in actuality it's real labor. The contractions aren't like Braxton Hicks. They're like real labor pains, but they start and stop. One of the reasons for prodromal labor is often that the baby isn't quite in the right position. This would also explain all the lower back pain I was having.

So I called my mom, who works for a chiropractor to see if they could squeeze me in on my way to the midwife. They got me right back and the chiro got my right side in line right away. That left side though he REALLY had to work for. But whoooo buddy! After he was done my lower back pain was gone and I felt a lot better. Still a lot of pressure in the pelvis, but I'm thinking he might have opened things up for little Peanut to settle in.

I headed to the midwife and they asked if I wanted them to check for dilation. I was on the fence simply because dilation doesn't really tell you anything except "Yes you're in labor at this moment" or "Nope. Not yet." But you can walk out of the appointment and your cervix can open like the Grand Canyon.

Still I was a little curious if I'd dilated at all. With Sunshine I wasn't even dilated to a 1 at my appointment, and I had her three days later. With Sweet Pea I was dilated to a 1 and I had her the next day.

The midwife was an angel with tiny dainty digits, and the check didn't even hurt. Not like Knuckles McGruff who checked me when I was pregnant with Sunshine.

The verdict was that I'm dilated to about a 2 and 50 percent effaced. She could feel the baby's head, which wasn't all that impressive because uhhh so can I when I so much as stand up. I'm fairly certain if I get a mirror I'll see it peeking out.

So basically she said something is starting and my contraction patterns sounded like legit labor, so I wasn't crazy for thinking it was. But it could start and stop like that every day until I deliver. It could still be weeks before Peanut jumps ship. It could also be tonight. No one knows.

What I do know is that I have the best IPs known to man. They were the ones insisting that "Babies come when they're ready" and that "we are on Baby's schedule" and that they know I'm not some sort of baby labor psychic who can just know when exactly the kid will arrive. They totally eased all my guilt, so now I can stop being a freak and go back to my regularly scheduled program.

I just kept feeling like I needed to apologize for having them drive all the way up for nothing. But they were insistent that it wasn't for nothing and that they'd rather come up early than miss the birth entirely. I freaking love these people.

So my plan now is to just continue business as usual. I'm not going to try and get anything going. I won't pump again until maybe this weekend, and only because it was so freaking cool to see milk come out of me again that I'm dying to try and see what I can get. I'm still taking lactation courses, so yeah I'm obsessed with breast milk at the moment anyway.

So Peanut can just settle back in. I'm going to relax and calm down, and just let things happen. This dry run was good in that I realized what kick ass IPs I have. They weren't mad. They weren't annoyed. They were just freaking fabulous about the whole thing, and totally willing to let Peanut decide on his or her birthday.

They did decide on some names on the way down, and I want to cry. They're absolutely perfect.

So sorry for the false alarm! But if Baby Mama is handling it this well, then you can just calm your jugs and settle in too as we continue Baby Watch 2016.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Baby Watch 2016

Hey kids! So let's have a quick recap of the past few days...while I time some contractions.

BEWARE: Do not read on if you are in any way shape or form not prepared for TOO MUCH INFORMATION

Ok

Yesterday morning I went from constipation station to free flowing bowels. - Labor Sign 1

Yesterday evening - I lost a bit of mucus plug - Labor Sign 2

Yesterday afternoon - I found my Gonna Pop shirt that I wore the day I went into labor with Sweet Pea. I've been looking for it for months! Finally found it.

Here's me in labor with Sweet Pea


Got up this morning with a searing pain in my side. Didn't think much of it until it traveled to my lower back and pelvis and camped out there for the rest of the day. - Labor Sign 3

Decided to wear the Gonna Pop shirt. I was going to save it for our appointment Tuesday, but I really love that shirt, and I figured I could wear it twice this pregnancy. I do have a washing machine.

Today I had Girl Scout cookie booths out the ying yang. So I powered through contractions and distracted myself all day. I was probably the grouchiest booth mom ever during the contractions, but after working 4 booths I finally came home and decided to get an idea of how far apart these contractions actually were.

Verdict..12 minutes.

No wait....8 minutes..

Ok hold on I'm downloading a new contraction app...Shit. 5 minutes?! Wait...that can't be right.

Ok ummmm 4 minutes apart. Hmmm I think I should tell Baby Mama and Baby Daddy to pack up and head over...just in case.

So here I am. 2 minutes apart. Chillin' with my doula and my mom and Baby Mama and Baby Daddy are in route!

Stay tuned....you might not see this belly again.  



Sunday, February 7, 2016

Baby watch 2016

So I'm now 36 weeks pregnant, and I'll officially be full term on Friday. We want nugget to stay in as long as possible, but starting Friday he or she can make a grand appearance and they won't do a thing to stop it! Crazy!

In other news I am now defying gravity...



Then on Tuesday last week I started having some consistent Braxton hicks contractions. They continued to be 8 minutes apart for 3 days so I broke down and called the midwife. 

They basically left it up to my judgment since it's my third rodeo and I knew I wasn't really in labor. But I felt like I had to call since this isn't my kid. I've got to be extra vigilant. 

So I told Baby Mama to talk some sense into little Peanut, and she sent a voicemail, which I didn't listen to. But I did hook it up to my belly beats and played it for Peanut. 

And I'll be darned if my contractions stopped! No clue what she said but that's some kind of mama voice. 

And all was quiet for a few days. Today I laid around like a bump until I felt bad for cooping the kids up. We decided to grab lunch at their fave pizza place, but as soon as I got in the car I started having major Braxton hicks. Like straight painful. 

They've since subsided but whoooo boy I'm wondering what's up. 

I've got an appointment with the midwife tomorrow to check and see if baby is locked and loaded head down. My guess is yes, but what do I know. 

I've also got my group B strep test, so cross your fingers it's a neg. I was positive with Sunshine and had to be on antibiotics during labor. I'm trying to avoid that nonsense. I was negative with Sweet Pea so let's hope!

I met with my amazing doula Monday and she gave me some maternity tea and promises of a rub down. So basically I'm crushing hard on this broad right now. 

She's going to also talk to Baby Mama to find out what they'd like for the birth. I've given my two cents, but I want their input since it's like umm the biggest day of their lives. 

It's totally inching closer and we are all getting excited over here! Watch the blog for updates as we approach the red zone. 

Baby day approacheth...

Hoorah! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Birth of a Book

I started my journey to surrogacy two years ago this month, and it's been a life changing process that has been filled with so much knowledge and patience and hope. During the matching process with Baby Mama and Baby Daddy I began to talk about what surrogacy was with my friends, family and my children.

Everyone always asks me what my kids think about all this. Do they understand that this baby isn't a sibling for them? Do I think they'll be sad when we don't bring this baby home? Do they get upset when I can't do things with them because I'm pregnant?

Surrogacy is a complicated subject to discuss with lots of adults. They question the ethics of it. They question my attachment to the baby. A lot of grown ups just can't wrap their minds around why a person would do such a thing. Women tell me they could never "give up the baby". They'd want to keep anything growing in their wombs. And I totally get it! But kids are surprisingly easy to talk to.

Our conversation basically just went "Hey you know how I grew you in my uterus?" They looked up from their cereal and  confirmed, yeah they remember me saying something about that once. (Sunshine asked about a tampon sign in the bathroom of our favorite burger joint once and got a 3 minute description of the menstrual cycle.)

"Well," I told them. "There's a mommy who wants a baby, but she doesn't have a uterus." They asked why and I told them she got it taken out because she had cancer. They wanted to know if they would get cancer. I told them I didn't know.

Then I told them my uterus was still working, but that I only wanted two babies. They asked if I would give them an older brother, and I told them if I had another kid it would be a baby and probably a girl baby since that's what their daddy makes. Then I asked who wanted to ride by themselves at Disney World because if we got another baby that would mean we'd have 5 people, and that's an odd number. They decided the dog we have is all the additional siblings they need. 

Then Sunshine said "Well if your uterus works why don't you grow a baby for Miss (Baby Mama)?" I asked if she'd be okay with that and she looked at me like I was nuts. "Um yeah that would be the nice thing to do," she told me. Jeez don't be an ass. You're not even using that dusty ol' uterus.

And that was that. As far as they were concerned I had a uterus that I wasn't using that was perfectly capable of growing a baby for a mommy who really needed help. Why not?

Still I heard other surrogates asking for tips about talking to their kids about their journey, and it got me thinking that maybe they just needed a story. And wouldn't you know it...story telling is my specialty.

I wanted to write a story that was simply about family. It didn't need to scream surrogacy or IVF or explain what a uterus was. I just wanted it to be a universally sweet story about families helping one another. Kids don't like to be preached to. They like to be entertained.

So I sat down and hammered out a little story about a chicken taking care of a duck egg. But the story fell flat. I couldn't get into the characters, and it seemed forced. I scrapped it and just sat on the idea for a while. In the mean time I was signing contracts and getting ready to cycle for our first transfer.

Then as I got to know Baby Mama the story kept coming back to me. She did work rescuing sea turtles, and I thought it was so cool that she was protecting baby sea turtles while I was working to grow and protect her own baby.

The idea for the book kept sloshing around until one night I woke up from a dead sleep with the entire thing written in my head. I got my phone out and jotted down some extensive notes and crashed back out.

The next day I shaped the story and soon sent it off to P.C. Zick, my editor, for some honest feedback. She'd worked with Florida Fish & Wildlife, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't making any glaring technical errors with my setting or characters. I chose gators as a nod to my alma mater, and of course I chose turtles as a nod to Baby Mama.

I loved the story, but the ending just seemed...off. It was missing something.

I based the story off of our own journey. We started with 10 embryos, much like the turtles started with 10 eggs in their nest. I researched to make sure that 10 eggs was a reasonable clutch for snapping turtles. It was. I used snapping turtles because I couldn't think of a scenario where sea turtles would be hanging out near alligators. Maybe they do, but I couldn't get past it being kind of weird. I also had a really horrible cheesy ending where the Mama Turtle names her baby Ally Gator Snapping Turtle. I'm super glad I killed that darling. After I slept on it I realized that it was constipation-inducing level of cheese.

I had the first draft written right before we transferred the one surviving embryo Baby Mama and Baby Daddy had from her retrieval. When that transfer ended in miscarriage I realized that was the missing piece of the turtle's journey. Surrogacy isn't just about a woman grabbing an embryo, sticking it in there then popping out a baby like it's some kind of easy bake oven. Loss is a big part of infertility, and there are often several bumps in the road. But those bumps shape the ending.

So I changed it up a bit, and I had Mother Gator carrying two eggs back to the turtles. And although both eggs don't make it back, the ending meant that much more because Mama and Papa Turtle were overjoyed just to be parents. They got the baby they were meant to have. 

Rewriting the ending to the story was just the beginning of the real work. I had to now figure out where the heck I was going to find an illustrator. I've got another book I wrote for my kids that I illustrated. It's just a silly story meant just for them, so I really didn't care about having beautiful artwork to accompany it. I haven't even published it because it's just something I pull out for them from time to time.

But the Turtle's Tale needed art. And I just so happened to know a lovely girl who just finished art school at SCAD. I've known Victoria Allen since she was just a wee thing in high school. She's been BFFs with my brother-in-law since my first baby was just a baby.

It also just so happened that she grew up in Louisiana, and my book was set in the swamp. It's like this book was made for her to illustrate. I sent her the manuscript, and the sketches she sent back blew me away. It was almost scary how close to my own ideas they were.

I also didn't realize how lucky I was that she said yes, because not only did she crawl inside my head and pull out the most breathtaking illustrations for this story. But she also did all the design work for the book with only minimal nitpicky feedback from me. (minimal right Vicky?! The hyphens!? The damn trim!)

It was a long road, and at times it seemed to crawl at a turtle's pace. We hit our own snags and hangups with production and printing. But right around Christmas she sent me an email titled FINAL. I couldn't believe it was actually this close.

And so...just about a month before I'm set to bring this sweet little baby into the world and into the loving arms of his parents, we pushed out this amazing story of surrogacy and familial love.

I hope you enjoy A Turtle's Tale as much as I do. I hope it can help surrogates and intended parents to open up communication about what surrogacy is. And at the very least I hope it's just a good read.

Thanks for coming along on this journey. We are just about 6 short weeks away from my due date, so that means we are really headed into the home stretch here! Things should get pretty interesting in the next few weeks as we go on BABY WATCH 2016!