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.


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

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 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!