Thursday, December 26, 2013

Got My Stitch Fix!

A while ago I posted on there that I had signed up for Stitch Fix, and I'm happy to say I got my first box!  I thought I'd give a little review of my experience and the clothes I got.

For those who don't know, Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service.  You sign up for free and fill out a style profile.  The profile focuses on your sizes, what types of clothes you normally wear (business, casual, fancy, etc.) and what type of style you like (preppy, bohemian, edgy, etc) - it also has pictures of different outfits that you can rate, if, like me, you don't know what any of those words mean.  You can tell them what colors and prints you like to avoid, what parts of your body you like to flaunt or hide, if there are any items you would like to skip (get all your jeans at a particular store?  Don't waste your stitch fix on pants you won't buy).  Once you have filled out your profile, you can order your first fix.  For each fix, you pay $20 for the stylist's time, but if you buy something the $20 is credited toward your purchase.  Then you wait with bated breath for your package to arrive so you can see what 5 things they sent you to try!  You get 3 days to try them on in the comfort of your own home in combination with the things that are already in your closet.  Whatever you want to keep, you buy, and whatever you don't want to keep, you send back in the enclosed prepaid envelope.

My first thought when I got my box was that these clothes were expensive.  Now, to be fair, I'm pretty cheap when it comes to shopping.  The idea of spending more than $30 on just about anything makes me cringe.  But I realize that in this case you are paying for 1) The stylist's time to pick things out for you, 2) shipping the packages both ways, 3) the convenience of getting to try everything on at your pace in your own bedroom, and 4) the excited Christmas morning feeling you get at receiving a package of surprise goodies.  Plus, everything I ended up keeping was made in the USA.

For each order, you can tell them if there is anything in particular you would like them to send you.  This can be a request for a specific item you saw on their blog or something general like clothes to wear on vacation or to the office.  For this box, I told them I was looking for items that would be equally appropriate for my business casual office setting or a date night.  I was also looking for outfits that would go well with knee high boots for winter time.  Here's what I got!

This picture is a 2 for 1: Just Black Adora Skinny Jean ($88) and 41Hawthorn Queensland Dolman Jersey Top ($48)

These were the first two items I tried on.  I was excited but nervous to see a pair of skinny jeans, because it's hard for me to ever find jeans that fit.  They either have too much or not enough room for my thighs, and I am usually too tall for the regular length jeans and too short for the long length.  I was worried that these would not fit, but I think my stylist might have snuck into my house and taken my measurements while I was sleeping...they were a perfect fit!  If anything they were a little too long, which is great because if they shrink a little in the wash they will still be long enough.  Even though these jeans are pretty pricey, when I find jeans that fit I will pay whatever they cost...I would have bought them if they were $188.  (Just kidding...don't get any ideas, Stitch Fix.)

You can't really tell from the picture, but the top is a deep purple...very pretty.  It's also extremely soft, and surprisingly warm for being so lightweight.  I wasn't sure if I was going to like the sleeves, but once I put it on I was sold.  I liked that it was flowy at the top and still tighter around my hips.  This is something I never would have tried on in the store, so I'm glad that Stitch Fix sent it to me.  My husband loved the outfit as well, so both the top and the jeans were an instant yes for me.

Next up, Sweet Rain Beth French Terry Striped Dress ($48):
When I pulled this one out of the box, it seemed sort of shapeless and I thought it would be super baggy on me.  Turns out I had just the opposite problem.  It was almost too tight.  My husband really liked it on me, but I wasn't sold.  I tried dressing it up with jewelry, a belt, and leggings to see if it grew on me, but I thought it hugged me a little too tight on the bottom and made me look too hippy.  Also, the sleeves were a little too short, and I thought that it might be a too short to be work appropriate - it hit about 3 or 4 inches above the knee.  I figured if I wanted everything else in the box, I would keep this one too (you get 25% off the whole box if you keep everything, so it's usually a better deal to get all 5 things than just 4), but I wasn't in love.

41Hawthorn Rockwell Sleeveless Fit & Flare Dress ($78)
This one was just kind of "meh" for me. It was sort of plain, and didn't really flatter me that well.  My husband wasn't thrilled with it either.  Plus it was really expensive.  I didn't even bother trying to accessorize this one, it went straight back into the box.

41Hawthorn Toulouse Collared Wrap Dress ($68)

I really liked this dress when I pulled it out of the box.  It is a wrap dress.  I liked the navy color and the cut, and it looked like it would be great for work.  After it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to put it on, I wasn't sure it was that flattering on me.  I felt like the top might be a little too baggy.  My husband liked it.  I ended up wearing it around the house for a few hours (one of the perks of Stitch Fix!) to see how I felt in it.  As I wore it more, it really grew on me.  I liked that I could wrap it tight to accentuate my waist, and that it was long enough to hit me at the knee.  I felt like it would be a good option for work.  Plus, I discovered it had pockets!  I'm not sure why that was so exciting for me, but there's just something extra fun about a dress with pockets.  In the end, I decided to keep it.

In addition to the 5 items, I received a note from my stylist, which explained why she picked each item for me.  I really liked that touch, and I could tell the stylist really took everything I put in my style profile into consideration.  I also got a style card for each item, which gives you some ideas about how to style each outfit to dress it up or down.  Really nice touch, and helpful for someone like me!

Overall, I was thrilled with my first fix.  I had been reading some other reviews (they link to lots on their website), and had read that the first fix is often a miss.  So I was excited that three out of the five items worked so well!  I kept the jeans, the top, and the wrap dress.  The price was more than I normally would have spent, but I had already paid $20 for the styling fee which I could use toward my purchase, I got a $25 credit from someone signing up for their fix through my link (thank you!) and I had some Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket so I didn't mind.  I logged in and left detailed feedback on my fix, and I will definitely be ordering another one soon!

I was not paid or even asked by Stitch Fix to post this review, and I don't get anything for doing so.  But if you would like to sign up for Stitch Fix yourself, I would be grateful if you would do so via my link so I can get a credit toward a future purchase (once you sign up you will get your own referral credit link to share with others).  Happy shopping!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Share Your Blog!

When I was first researching and beginning my surro journey, I got really into finding and reading blogs to see what others were experiencing on their journeys.  As I got farther into my own, I continued to follow the blogs that I found, but didn't keep adding new blogs.  Now I have noticed that many of the blogs I feature along my sideline have become, like mine, fairly inactive after their owners completed their journeys.

I am looking to start following new journeys and share them on my blog, so that newbies who come here have some active links to follow!  I know this blog is still viewed at least a few times a day (over 7000 views total now, wow!)

Do you have a blog that you would like me to follow and feature?  If so, post the link here!

Hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Is it Hard to "Give Up" the Baby?

I know this is a question lots of people have about surrogacy.  I got this question several times, and it was my mother's main concern when I told her I was going to do surrogacy.  It's also, I'm sure, a very real worry that many potential IPs have when going into this process.

Here is a short article I found, written by a former surrogate to potential IPs who may be worried that their surrogate will want to keep their baby, or at least have a very hard time giving it up once it's born.  I really liked this article because the way she felt is the same as the way I felt, only written more succintly than I would have done it.

Paragraph 6 ("Here's the key...") was me 100%.  That's exactly what I wanted out of my surrogacy journey, and probably part of the reason I didn't feel fulfilled once it was over.  I was hoping to be able to bask in the glow of my IPs' joy, and I didn't really feel like I was able to do that.

Here's to hoping next time turns out better!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Losing Weight and Feeling Great!

It has been 3.5 months since I had the twins, and I feel that my body is now almost back to normal.  I still have another pound to go to hit my pre-pregnancy weight.  Man they weren't lying when they said those last 5 pounds were hard to lose after the second pregnancy.  I don't know if it was the fact that it was twins, the fact that I'm now over 30, the fact that I didn't breastfeed this time, or just the fact that it was the second pregnancy, but even though I had a lot less weight to lose this time, it's taken a lot longer to do it.  But I've been exercising and doing some ab work, and I am finally starting to get to the point where I'm looking in the mirror and liking what I see again.

I recently realized that after spending so much time the last three years either pregnant or planning to be pregnant, my "skinny" wardrobe has been woefully neglected.  Even though I feel like I look good again, a lot of my clothes make me feel out of style, and frumpy, or just plain boring.  I have tried looking in some stores for cute stuff, but since I generally hate shopping, these trips are painful for me.

So I was super excited when I discovered Stitch Fix!  It is an online personal styling service.  You sign up and fill out a "style profile."  This is where you tell them what styles of clothes you normally like, and if you are a dummy like me who doesn't even know what your style is called, they also show a bunch of pictures of outfits and ask you if you like that style.  You can tell them what kind of clothes you need for your lifestyle (business wear?  casual?  date night?), how much you want to spend, what colors/patters/materials you want to avoid, which parts of your body you like to flaunt, and which you prefer to hide, etc.  Then they send you a box of five items - tops, pants, dresses, accessories, etc. - they think you would like.  You can try them on at home.  You pay for what you want, and return the rest for free with feedback on what you liked/didn't and why, so the next time they have a better idea of what you would like.  I paid $20 for the stylist's time, but that is applied as credit toward whatever I decide to keep once I get my box.  For each box, you can tell them if there is anything specific you are looking for in that particular shipment.  For example, I said that I was looking for winter clothes that could I could wear in my business casual workplace as well as out for a girls night or date night.  I also told them I just bought a pair of boots and am looking for something to help show them off.  I should be getting my box in about 6 weeks, and I'm excited to see what they send me!  Sound fun?  Here is the link if you would like to check it out:

Please note, I do not work for Stitch Fix, nor do I get paid to post this.  It's just something I found that I was excited about, and thought other surros (or random readers) might have the same clothes problems and needs as me.  However, if you use my link and sign up for a Stitch Fix box of your own, I do get a $25 credit toward my order.  So, if you want to sign up, I would love it if you would use my link to do so!

Anyway, I don't really have much going on that is surro-related these days that is actually reportable, although I think I have developed a bit of a pregnancy/surrogacy addiction and I still want to stay active in the community.  (Do I browse the classified ads on Surrogate Mothers Online?  Yes.  Do I keep a count down of how much longer until I can get pregnant again?  Yes - 8.5 months).  So I might stop by from time to time and post something that is mildly surrogacy, or at least pregnancy, related.  Hope all my blog friends are doing well!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Choosing IPs

In response to my last post, someone commented with a question.  I'm going to answer it here, because I think it's a good one:

When you state your requirements for the type of IPs you are prepared to work with, are you allowed to say you'd like IPs who would welcome the chance to get to know you and be a big part of the pregnancy?

The short answer is yes.  When choosing the IPs, you can be as picky as you want.  You are, after all, helping them voluntarily.  You are sacrificing your body, risking your fertility and health, and donating a year or longer to the shared goal of making them parents.  So you have a right to choose the IPs that you are most comfortable working with.

There are many things that people care about.  Some of the most common I've seen are: location, family structure (individual v. gay couple v. traditional couple, how many current children, etc.), religion, age, how many embryos they want to transfer, whether they are using their own genetics v. donated eggs, level of communication during and after pregnancy, and "hot button" issues like whether they would want to reduce higher order multiples or terminate pregnancy for certain reasons.

For example, I will tell you what my requirements were for IPs when matching:  I wanted a couple in a long-term committed relationship (gay or straight).  I wanted them to be located close enough to me to be able to attend important appointments and be there for the birth.  And I wanted to feel like I was part of a "team" with my IPs - I did  not want to be treated like I was their employee or a uterus for hire.  I was not interested in manufacturing or forcing a friendship.  If it happened naturally, great, if not, that's OK too.  I also didn't have many requirements for contact after birth, although I asked to receive occasional pictures and updates of the babies.

If, as a surrogate, you want to have a friendship with your IPs and have regular communication after the birth, that is something you can ask for.  However, it's not something you will necessarily get.  For example, when my IPs were telling the agency what they wanted, they told them they wanted regular communication with their surrogate both during the pregnancy and after the birth, including skyping and visits.  In reality, they did not want to do these things.  I will never know if it was something they lied about intentionally from the beginning because they were saying what they thought potential surrogates would like to hear, if they changed their minds during the process, or if they simply didn't feel enough of a connection with me personally to want to do that.  Luckily, close friendship was something I was not counting on, or I could have ended up very devastated by the way things turned out.

I don't say this to condemn my IPs, I really am fine with the way things turned out.  I had some frustration along the way, but it was more to do with the difference in our communication styles rather than one of us doing something wrong.  Were we the best match ever?  Probably not.  Were they everything I asked for?  Yes, they met all the requirements I gave my agency.  If I could go back in time would I still choose to work with them?  Absolutely.  Being able to give them their sons was a priceless experience, and they deserve all the happiness that parenthood brings.  I am hopeful that occasionally in the future they will think of me and send me some pictures of the happy ending that I helped make possible.

My first surrogacy journey was a great experience, and it was also a learning experience.  I have learned when things really matter to me, and which things aren't as important.  If I do another journey, I will have a totally different list of requirements:

- I will work with any IPs, not just couples.  Originally I thought it was important for children to have two parents, but being in the surrogacy community for a couple years now, I've seen that single IPs usually have a great support system of family and friends, and their children will have no shortage of love.  I still would prefer to work with a couple over an individual, but I won't turn down an otherwise perfect IP because they happen to be single.

- I no longer care about location.  Sure, having someone local or semi-local would be a definite perk, but there's no point in being close enough to go out to lunch if the parties involved aren't actually going to want to do it.  The main reason I wanted IPs who lived close to me was so they could come to appointments and the birth.  Well, my IPs who lived a 5 hour drive away did not make the birth.  From belonging to the surrogate message boards, I know that IPs were able to travel across the country, and even across the world, and make it in time for the births of their children, because they planned well in advance.  What's important to me is that the IPs have the ability and desire to attend transfer, big appointments, and birth, and are going to make it a priority.

-I am going to be much more picky about the relationship I have with my IPs.  Going into the last journey, I didn't feel like it would be right to force a friendship on someone.  I still think that's wrong.  However, I have realized it's not about trying to be friends with the people you choose to work with, it's about choosing to work with people who it would be easy to be friends with.  Next time I'm going to look for someone I have more of a natural connection with.  Probably someone more "like me" -- maybe we share more common interests, are closer in age, have the same cultural background, or are in the same place in our lives.  I want it to be easy for us to keep in touch, and care more about each other than just our progress through the pregnancy.

-Communication is HUGE.  I know now that I need to find someone else who is a big emailer.  I am much better at written communication (hence the blogging) than verbal communication, so most of the time I prefer email. And while I am happy to text, I feel that important things should be communicated by actually putting the phone to your ear and calling someone.  Most of my frustrations with my IPs had to do with communication, and it is extremely important to me that communication is great on my next journey.

-Most importantly for me, and probably the thing that will make it the hardest for me to match again, is that going forward I will only do SETs (single embryo transfers).  Carrying twins was easy for me, and we were lucky that we had no complications, bed rest, or extreme preterm delivery.  However, there is not guarantee I would be that lucky again.  Even with a perfectly healthy pregnancy, the monitoring that was involved was irritating at best - I think I probably had about 5 extra appointments and 8 extra ultrasounds, not to mention several internal ultrasounds, simply because it was twins.  Also, I have now had a vaginal delivery and a c-section, and I can say with certainty that I never want to have a c-section again.  There is never any guarantee that a c-section won't be necessary with any birth, but the rate of c-sections in twin deliveries is about 60%, way too high for my comfort level.  Most IPs' doctors tell them that increasing the number of embryos transferred increases their odds of success, and some are even hoping for twins.  I know now that these IPs will not be for me.  I will only work with IPs who are looking for ONE healthy baby at a time.

So there it is, my list of requirements for my (possible) future surrogacy. If I do another one, it will not be for another couple years, so I have plenty of time to revise my wants and needs before the time actually comes.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Looking Back

My surrogate journey ended almost two months ago now, and I feel like I can now go back and take a look at my journey from a "big picture" perspective.

I was terrified when I found out that I was carrying twins.  I was afraid of how it would affect my family and my job.  What if I was put on bed rest for weeks or months?  How would my family get by without me?  Would it make my employers upset to have me out for so long?  I was also afraid for the babies.  The risk of complications is so much higher with twins, and (don't quote me but I read this somewhere) about 50% are born prematurely and spend at least some time in NICU.  My IPs had already been through so much, and my job was to carry their babies until they were big and healthy enough to meet them.  What if I failed to do that?

But we got lucky.  I was able to work up until the day I went into labor, and both babies were born healthy enough to go home with their parents two days later.  My c-section went smoothly, and I had no complications.  I didn't experience any distress over separating with the babies, and I didn't have any baby blues in the days and weeks following delivery.  Within two weeks of delivering, I was feeling back to my old self.
So why is it that when I look back over my surrogacy experience as a whole, I feel kind of, "eh"?  At the beginning of my journey I was so excited and eager.  I already felt pride in what I was about to do, and I felt like maybe this was the reason I was put on the help another couple achieve the gift of parenthood that I had come by so easily.  Don't get me wrong, I am still proud of what I did, and I still believe that I was meant to help my IPs become parents, but somewhere along the way I sort of lost the magic of the experience.
I think the main problem is that the reality of my journey was nothing like the journey I had visualized in my head when I first started.  When I first saw myself going through the experience, I saw myself helping my IPs to experience their pregnancy.  I pictured my IPs coming to appointments, then us going out to lunch or dinner afterward with my family.  My IM would place her hands on my belly and giggle with excitement as her baby kicked in response.  They would be active and interested in what was going on - what I was craving, how much movement I was feeling, when I though the baby might make an appearance. 
In reality, the pregnancy went nothing like that.  My IPs came to the majority of appointments, but were not interested in spending any time together outside of them.  They would drive in and head right back out as soon as they were over.  Toward the end of the pregnancy, they stopped coming to most appointments, as they had too many other things going on at home.  They never felt their babies kick, and sometimes did not even respond to the weekly emails I sent them to update them on the pregnancy.
The delivery also did not go the way I had planned.  I had imagined my husband and my IPs in the delivery room with me as I labored, all of us talking to kill the time.  I imagined me pushing with everyone's encouragement, and once the baby was born, I could see it being placed on its mother's chest.  I pictured the whole room sharing the shock and joy, the laughing and crying, as my IPs met their son or daughter for the first time.
Instead, I delivered the twins by c-section in an operating room.  There were tons of people there, and with the exception of my husband and the anesthesiologist, they all ignored me.  The babies entered the world and were placed on no one's chest - they were whisked out of the room without me or my husband, the only people who cared about them, even being allowed a glance at them first.  My IPs were not there to meet their babies.  They had originally wanted to be at the  birth, but once they found out that I would have to have a c-section and the doctor would not wait for them to make their 5 hour drive before performing it, they decided they wouldn't even bother trying.  They didn't arrive until hours after their boys were born, and they had to go to the nursery to retrieve their children.  At the first meeting there was no laughing or crying, no hugging, or any other extreme outpouring of emotions or joy.  We were all more consumed with the logistics of collecting the babies, transporting them to their recovery room, and getting everyone settled in.
I know it sounds like I'm complaining.  And maybe I am, a little.  But I am not upset.  I do not blame my IPs for the way things went.  I do not fault them for not fitting in with the perfect scenario I pictured in my head.  They were never anything but respectful, caring and kind toward me.  They brought me snacks and gifts for my child almost every time I saw them.  They are wonderful people who deserved to be parents.  But we both went into surrogacy for a purpose - mine was to help a family become parents, and theirs was to become parents.  Aside from that, our expectations for the journey to get there probably just didn't line up.  While having them turn me down for lunch made me a little sad, I understood that they were busy people who traveled a long way for the appointments.  As the pregnancy progressed, they got even busier planning for a baby on top of all their other tasks and commitments.  In addition, there was a big age gap, culture gap, and a difference in communications styles.  We wouldn't have been friends if we just met on the street, we did not have anything in common.  So I was not sad or surprised that our relationship never blossomed into a friendship, and I was not offended that they did not want to spend extra time with me or my family outside of appointments.
I also don't blame them, the hospital staff, or anyone else for my delivery experience.  We had breech babies, and a c-section was necessary.  That's just the way it was.  By the time we all met the babies, I was drugged on morphine, and had gone 34 hours without any sleep.  I was mainly just trying not to nod off in my wheelchair.  My IPs had just had an agonizingly long drive filled with traffic and construction, and had probably gotten almost as little sleep as I had.  They were shocked, stressed, and overwhelmed by the time they finally got a chance to meet their little boys. 
I will admit, I'm still a little miffed about the c-section.  Logically I know there is no reason to be.  I know it was necessary.  It went fine and I recovered easily.  But something about having a major abdominal surgery for something other than an actual medical problem just rubs me the wrong way, and I think it always will.  I also worry about any future deliveries, as I know that from now on, I will be facing an uphill battle to get to deliver vaginally.
Do I wish that things had gone a little differently?  Yes.  Would I go back in time and make any different choices?  No.  In the end, I was able to make two deserving people into parents, and bring two humans into this world who would never have had the chance to exist without my help.  I don't look back on my experience and feel bitterness, or even disappointment.  I guess the best word to describe it would be underwhelmed.  It was not a bad journey.  In fact, it's probably the most amazing thing I will ever have a chance to do in my whole life.  But it wasn't the journey I had idealized in my head.  I was the one who painted the perfect, pretty picture of how I wanted it to go, and it's no one's fault but mine that the reality didn't live up to the expectations.
If I decide to do another surrogacy journey (and yes, I am considering it), I think I will do things a little differently.  First, I will have a few more requirements about the IPs I'm willing to work with, and I will shoot for someone who is willing to only do single embryo transfers.  Most importantly, I will try to temper my expectations so that the beauty of the journey is able to shine through without being clouded by my idealistic expectations.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Long Time No Post!

Hey all, is anyone still out there?

It's been a while since I updated. The twins are 7 weeks old today! The last I heard they were doing well and growing like weeks, but I don't really have much to update on them since I don't hear from their parents very often anymore. I am doing well. I am fully healed from the c-section. My tummy is back to being nice and flat, but it feels weird and soft - I need to start doing some abs work soon! I still have about 6 pounds to lose, but I am able to fit back into my normal clothes...yay!

I thoroughly enjoyed my "maternity" leave, and spent 5 and a half weeks spending extra time with my husband and daughter and doing lots of projects around the house. The icing on the cake was that except for one super hot week at the end of August, the weather was gorgeous! I am now at my second week back to work and starting to get settled in and caught up. It's really nice to be back into the swing of things with my life back to normal. I was worried that after my surrogacy journey was over, I would feel like a part of my life was missing. Surrogacy has consumed my time and energy for the last year and a half, and to know that it was going to end so suddenly was a little scary. Luckily, I haven't had any problems at all adjusting, mainly because I have so much going on. I am the type of person who really likes to have projects and plans, so I made sure that I had a lot waiting on my plate for me as soon as the journey was over. Here is what is next for us:

1) Sell our house - we put our house on the market two weeks ago. The timing worked out perfectly because I was able to use the maternity leave time to really get our house spruced up. My husband took 4 weeks of FMLA time off work to "help" me after my surgery, and together we redid our landscaping (turns out gardening didn't land at the top of my to-do list while pregnant with twins in the summertime), re-grouted our kitchen floor, cleaned out all our closets, cleaned and organized our basement, touched up our pain, and fixed some small maintenance issues here and there. Now we just have to keep our house in pristine condition - not an easy feat with a toddler - until it sells.

2) Go on vacation - we will be taking a vacation to Washington DC in October. It's going to be great. My parents will be watching our daughter back home so my husband and I will get to check out the sights without distractions! We are staying with some friends who moved out there a couple years ago so it will be so nice to see them as well!

3) Move to Denver. Denver is where we are both from, and where all our families live. We do not have jobs lined up out there or a deadline to get out there, but now just seems like the right time for us to go back home. So we aren't desperate to move, and we will wait until we get an offer on our house before making any concrete plans.

4) Get jobs in Denver. This is the part that scares me. I love my job here and the people I work with/for, and the thought of starting over scares me. I refuse to even check out the job market or look at potential opportunities until we get an offer on the house. Not the best career move I know, but we will hopefully have the luxury of me being able to take a few months to get my bearings and apply for jobs that really seem like a good match before we will start getting desperate for the money.

5) Have another baby of our own. Once we get settled into our lives in Denver, it will be time to start thinking about giving our little girl a sibling. I think the timing on this will (hopefully) work out really well, because after my c-section my doctor recommended waiting at least a year (18 months for the best chance at a VBAC) before getting pregnant again. I'm also looking forward to not being pregnant next summer...summer evenings are just so much more enjoyable with a glass or wine or a cocktail!

I'll try to be back soon with an update more related to surrogacy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Update: 1 Week Post Partum

I has been 7 days since I gave birth to L and O!  In some ways it seems like it just happened, and in others it seems like it was a long time ago.  My IPs assure me that everyone is eating and sleeping, including them.  I am happy that they are all adjusting so well.

I have yet to experience the wave of hormone-induced emotions that go along with delivering a baby.  I remember with my daughter they started up about a week after delivery and lasted a couple weeks, where I would just be sitting there minding my own business and suddenly start crying over nothing.  I wonder if these crazy hormones are hiding just around the corner waiting to spring on me, or if all the extra sleep this time around (one of the perks of surrogacy is maternity leave without the round the clock newborn care) is going to keep them at bay.

I still do not miss the babies or wish I was with them.  It overjoys me to hear that they are thriving with their family.  Sometimes it feels like it never even feels more like I'm just recovering from an abdominal surgery and there is no evidence that the babies were ever there.  I'm also not sad that the journey is over.  I think I might have had a harder time adjusting to the change in my relationship with my IPs if I had been closer to them during the journey.  Don't get me wrong they were wonderful people who I adore and they were so deserving of becoming parents, but I don't think we would have become friends if we met under different circumstances.  They treated me wonderfully throughout the journey and I have absolutely no complaints about them, but we just never became emotionally close.  So now that they have their babies and I am no longer an essential part of their world, I have not had to deal with rejection or even a much lessened level of communication.  I have received texts from both of them over the last week, and it warms my heart to know that they are still thinking of me even in their spit-uppy, poopy, sleep deprived states.  I did not expect a lot of communication and everything I get seems like a nice bonus to the satisfaction I got from the journey itself.

Physically I am doing well.  I have been able to move around a little more easily every day.  Yesterday I decided it was time to dump the narcotics and I am surviving just on ibuprofen and acetaminophen now.  Today I ran an errand and met a friend for lunch, and while I was hurting by the end of it, I am happy to say I made it through.  I'm expecting that in another week I should be able to go about my life normally (while still observing the no lifting, no pool, no sex, etc. instructions of course).  I am really enjoying the extra time with my daughter - she is almost two and it's so fun to see her language skills and personality blossom a little more each day. 

I gained a total of 42 pounds during the pregnancy, and I have lost 24 so far.  Only 18 more to go!  The swelling in my feet continued to be terrible for the first several days after surgery, but this morning I looked down and saw my normal ankles!  I am also back in my normal wedding ring as of yesterday, which is something that took me weeks to accomplish after my last pregnancy.  So I'm feeling pretty good about myself.  Other than my scar, my stomach doesn't look too bad, and I only came out of this pregnancy with a couple new stretch marks.  My skin does kind of hang there, and I'm looking forward to being cleared to exercise so I can get my tummy back to the way it was before.

My milk decided to try to come in on Sunday night, and Monday night and Tuesday were spent in a lot of pain, with a lot of ice shoved into my sports bra.  My IPs decided they did not want me to pump for the babies.  I don't blame them, on top of everything else they have going on, the last thing they need to worry about is how to get their babies' food shipped safely to them.  I would have pumped for them if they had asked, but honestly I'm a little relieved that I can move on with my life and work on getting my body back to normal.  My boobs are still feeling uncomfortable today, but definitely better than yesterday so I'm hoping that in a couple more days they will be back to normal.

Next Thursday I have my 2 week post partum check up with my doctor.  If everything looks good, that will be the last time I will have to see him related to this pregnancy.  I asked him in the hospital how long he recommends waiting to get pregnant again (yes, I love pregnancy THAT much - almost as much as eating!), and he said that 18 months would be best to avoid complications that might prevent me from having a successful vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), but in any case I need to wait at least 8-12 months.  So for the next year or so, my adventures will have to revolve around something other than pregnancy.  I have a lot of plans up my sleeve though, so I'm sure I will be just fine!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Birth Story Part III: Recovery

The few hours after delivery were a bit of a blur, as I was in recovery and heavily drugged, and my IPs were still driving to St. Louis.  Unfortunately I called them to start driving right at the beginning of Chicago rush hour, so it took them forever to get out of the city, and then they had to deal with construction and traffic the whole way to St. Louis.  They ended up not arriving at the hospital until about 4:30pm. 

Since they were not going to make it any time soon, shortly after delivery they texted to ask for a picture of the boys.  My husband went up to the nursery and got some cute shots of them getting their baths and getting bundled up.  I was not prepared to get out of bed yet (it took a few hours for the epidural to wear off and for me to be able to move my legs) so I just decided to wait until my IPs arrived to see the babies for the first time.

Once my IPs finally made it, they stopped by my room first so that they could get their wrist bands for access to the babies.  Then we headed up to the recovery floor (the hospital staff had put me in the long-term bedrest unit so that I wouldn't have to deal with hearing newborns in case I had emotional problems after delivery) and to the nursery where the babies were being kept.  My husband and I were able to get some photos of the first moments of my IPs meeting their sons.  IF got emotional, and as he held one of the babies he had tears in his eyes, and IM was just soaking in her babies.  I don't think she took her eyes off of them from the moment we first saw them until we left the hospital two days later.  We were able to take the babies to the recovery room they had prepared for my IPs so they could spend time together and bond.

Throughout the first day, L (Baby A) had a bit of a scare with his blood sugar levels, and the doctors said they might have to move him to the NICU, but he balanced out quickly and both babies were healthy in every other way.  During the hospital stay they made it through their circumcisions (my OB performed the surgery for both of them), their hearing tests, and their 6 hour car seat tests with flying colors.  L was a great eater, and I suspect he will catch up to his brother in weight very soon, and O was a bit more lazy and enjoyed sleeping while being held.  IM refers to L as her "angel baby" because he is so sweet and never complains, and O as her "sour sweet" baby, because he is a bit more grouchy. 

On Thursday and Friday, we had to deal with the attorney and her legal assistant to get all the legal paperwork sorted out.  We signed all the paternity paperwork and our lawyer took them to the judge to get it signed ASAP.  They were also able to convince the hospital to just go ahead and put my IPs' names on the birth certificates, so that my name never appeared on anything related to the babies.  There were some communication issues, but between the lawyer, the hospital social worker, my IPs and I, we managed to get it all done.

Friday afternoon rolled around, and it was time to check out.  I went up to say goodbye to my IPs and their babies one more time.  They were doing great with them and I know they will be fantastic parents.  I didn't ever feel any sort of attachment to the babies.  In fact, when I looked at them or pictures of them, it was hard to believe that they had been inside me for the last 8 months.  They just seemed like any other set of newborns - cute, but I had no desire to keep them, or even to hold them.  I asked my IPs to stay in touch from time to time, and told them I would love to see/hear how the boys are growing and developing.  I know they will be very busy in the coming weeks getting used to two newborns, so I am not counting on lots of communication.  I just know that a lot of my time, effort, and health went into giving my IPs their family, and I just would love to be reminded occasionally of the happy ending I helped create.

This morning (at an ungodly early hour - man how their lives have changed already) I received a very sweet text from my IF, checking in to see how I'm feeling and letting me know that they are doing great.  He thanked me for what I did for them and how I helped them get their "miracle."  The text warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes - I am so happy that I was able to make such deserving people parents!

Birth Story Part II: Delivery!

As soon as my doctor told me he wanted to do a C-section within the hour, I called my husband (who was in a dead sleep) to tell him to drop our daughter off at daycare and get his butt over to the hospital.  While we waited for him to arrive, they prepped me for surgery.  This involved hooking me up to various monitors, hooking me up to fluids via IV, having me sign consent forms, and shaving me "down there."  Then we ho hummed for a while waiting for my husband to show up, then it was off to the OR. 

There were probably about 15 medical people in the room, between the doctors actually doing surgery, their support staff, and the students just observing the procedure.  I asked my doctor which doctors were there for the babies, and he told me they weren't even there all sorts of people there just for me.  The anesthesiologist did the epidural/spinal block thingy so I could remain awake during the procedure.  Then they got me settled on the table, strapped down my arms crucifix style, and I guess started hacking away.  I was completely numb but could feel all sorts of weird pulling sensations that I didn't want to know what they were.  I was scared at the beginning, but I passed the time by joking with my husband and the anesthesiologist.  From time to time I asked the anesthesiologist questions about whether what I was feeling was normal.  For example, I recall asking him if it was normal to feel dizzy, cold, and like my teeth were heavy.  He told me all of it was normal (even the teeth, I guess). 

After several minutes, Baby A was born at 9:01 am.  My husband was ready with the camera to snap a couple pictures of the babies as they came out, but before he had a chance, a doctor had whisked him right out of the room to an observation room across the hall.  We were both a little upset about that as we had promised the IPs we would get pictures for them, so one of the lovely medical students offered to take pictures of Baby B once he was born and before he was taken out of the room.  At 9:03, Baby B was born, and her was NOT happy about it.  He had a very nice strong cry/scream as he followed his brother into the next room.

It took them about another hour to finish closing me back up.  I remember feeling STARVING while they were doing the surgery, and talking about how I could really go for a hamburger, then deciding that it would probably be better to wait at least until they finished putting my stomach back in my body.  I also remember thinking that it was so strange that all of a sudden, the babies were born and the journey was over. 

Once they closed me up, my doctor told me that everything had gone perfectly with the surgery, I had lost very little blood for someone with twins, and that I did great.  He asked if I had any questions, and I asked when I could eat again.  He told me it would probably be 5-6 hours, as they would start me off with fluids and see how I held them down.  Yep, pretty much that whole morning I was focused on food.

I would love to share the babies' names and photos of them with everyone, as they are cute as buttons.  But my IPs have asked me not to share their photos or names on the internet, and I am going to respect their wishes for their children.  So the stats I can share with you are:

"L" (formerly known as Baby A)
Born July 31, 2013 at 9:01am
5lbs, 1oz
18" long

"O" (formerly known as Baby B)
Born July 31, 2013 at 9:03am
5lbs, 8oz
19" long

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Birth Story Part I: Labor

OK, so I really want to type up the boys' birth story before I forget all the details, but I am having such a hard time staying awake whenever I sit down at my computer.  So I'm going to try to get it out there in bits and pieces.

On Tuesday, July 30th, I went to work as normal.  My temp who has been hired to take over my job while I am gone had started the day before, so it was my second day of training her.  I had been averaging about 10 contractions a day for two or three weeks, so I found I was tending to ignore them when they popped up.  So one solution I had for this was just writing down whenever I had one, at least while at work.  I noticed that during work on Tuesday I had contractions that started up at around 11:00 am, and then I had one or two an hour from then on.  Then at around 5:00, while I was driving home from work and picking my daughter up from daycare, I had several - probably about 5 or 6 in the 45 minute period.  So once I got home I tried laying down on my left side and drinking lots of water.  The contractions continued to be about every 7-10 minutes apart for the next hour, so I texted around to some of my friends who had agreed to be "on call" for childcare for my daughter in case I had to go to the hospital.  My lovely friend M agreed to come over right away and help take care of my daughter until my husband got home from work, and stay over at our house with her that night if needed.

By the time my husband got home from work a little after 7:00, my contractions were every 3-5 minutes.  We ate dinner quickly and scrambled around packing things we would need for the hospital (I had not packed a bag yet).  During that time, my contractions stopped.  So, then we weren't sure what to do.  Eventually I had another one, so we decided to go in and get checked out to be safe.  I was afraid to go in too early for fear that they'd just go ahead and do a C-section because I was "far enough" along, but I didn't want to wait too long because my doctor had told me that it would be dangerous to labor too long and get a breech baby stuck in the birth canal.

We decided to go to the hospital just to be on the safe side, and I called my IPs and put them on high alert.  They decided they wanted to wait and make sure the babies were actually on their way before starting their 5 hour drive.  I got to the hospital at around 8:00 pm.  They hooked me up to contraction and heart rate monitors and checked my cervix for dilation.  I was dilated to a 2.  About an hour and a half later they checked me again.  Contractions had been regular, about every 5-10 minutes, but not particularly strong, and I was still dilated to a 2.  They decided to wait another hour and a half and check me again.  During this time, the contractions started petering out, and were more like every 10-20 minutes apart, still not particularly strong.  But when they checked me, they saw that I was now at a 3.  During the whole time they wouldn't even let me have water, because of the risk that I would need a C-section at any given time.

After discussing amongst themselves, they told me that they weren't convinced I was in labor, but they weren't convinced I wasn't.  So they didn't want to deliver the babies premature if they would be able to stay in longer, but they also didn't want to send me home for fear that I would go into active labor and not be able to make it back in time.  So, they decided they wanted to admit me overnight for observation.  They sent my husband home, and moved me out of the observation unit to a room with an actual bed.  I was allowed some snacks and water before I went to bed, which was around 1:00. 

I think I got about half an hour of sleep that night, when the contractions eased up.  Otherwise, I was up all night with fairly regular contractions.  At around 5:00 am, I was having contractions every 7-12 minutes that were definitely feeling stronger and more real. I asked to have my dilation checked again, and was told I was still at a 3.  So, back to more waiting.

At 6:30, room service opened up so I decided to order breakfast before I lost the chance to eat for the day.  As I was waiting for it to arrive, my doctor showed up.  He happened to be the on call doctor at the hospital that day anyway, and the staff let him know as soon as he arrived that his surrogacy patient had been there for about 10 hours.  He reviewed my chart, and then came to tell me that there was no point in waiting.  He wanted me to have a C-section within the next hour.  Right as he was telling me this, they brought my breakfast to my room, and he turned it away...sigh.

So I called my IPs at about 7:15am and told them to hit the road, it was baby day!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Boys!

Baby boys were born at 9:01 and 9:03 this morning via c-section at 35 weeks, 5 days gestation.  Surgery went smoothly and everyone is doing well.  Baby A was 5lbs 1oz and B was 5lbs 8oz.  They are being taken care of in the regular newborn nursery with no indication that they will need NICU time.  Their parents are on the way from Chicago and very anxious to meet their sons!

I will update with a more detailed birth story later, but right now I am drugged up on morphine and severely sleep deprived, so it's time for a nap!

Friday, July 26, 2013

35 Weeks and Appointment Update

I am 35 weeks pregnant today!  I can't believe there are only 3 weeks or less to go!

I had my almost 35 week appointment yesterday.  First was the ultrasound.  Just did a quick check on both babies, and they are still looking good.  I was shocked to find out that Baby B has turned back to head down.  I assumed they were out of room this late in the game.  I also thought for sure that I would feel them (painfully!) in the event they flipped, but he must have done it like a ninja in the night.  Unfortunately his position doesn't really matter, and Baby A is still hanging out nice and comfy with his head in my ribcage.  So a c-section it is.  The tech said he actually looks like he has enough room to move if he wanted to, but he is just stubborn.  We were able to snap a couple cute pictures of each of them this time.  Also the tech said that she can tell Baby B is going to have a lot of hair!

Then it was on to the non-stress test.  Again, fairly uneventful.  Baby A decided he did not enjoy the contraction monitor sitting on top of him, so after   a little while he started punching it.  It was pretty funny because I could see the whole monitor moving, and the monitor readout had all these weird spikes in random places.  Other than that, everything looked great, and it was off to see the doc.

Now that I have resigned myself to the idea of a c-section, my main question for the doctor was what to do if I went into labor on my own, and what would happen once I got to the hospital (they don't really walk you through a c-section scenario on the general hospital tour).  He told me to go ahead and come in right when I was pretty sure I was in labor - no laboring at home is encouraged in this situation.  He said they would do a quick evaluation, but they wouldn't wait around to see if I started dilating more or anything like that.  He said at this point if I come in pregnant with twins and contracting regularly and strongly, they will most likely just go ahead and do the c-section rather than wait around and risk having someone get too far down in the birth canal.

I go to a very large practice with many different doctors (probably about 10-15).  He said in most cases, whoever happens to be on call when I come in will be the one to deliver me.  He said that since we are somewhat of a special case, he has put into my chart to have the medical staff call him when I get to the hospital, and if possible he will come in and deliver me.  He did mention that he is going out of town from August 3-10, so he obviously won't be available those dates.  I told him that in that case I'm pretty sure that's the time frame when the babies will decide to come, and he said yes, that's usually the way it works.

Anyway, I go back in another week for more of the same.  They told me they will probably do a growth check on the babies next time (I'm thinking they should both be over 5lbs by then), and the doctor said we will schedule a c-section date for sometime around 38 weeks.  My IF will be able to come to the next appointment (IM probably won't be able to make it), so I'm excited for him to be able to see his kiddos again and ask any last minute questions he has.

As far as how I'm feeling this week, I seem to have gotten a second wind here at the end!  I think the fact that I got over my cold really helped, because being sick just makes me miserable in general and makes it so much harder for me to deal with anything else.  Also, I broke down and bought some compression socks that I have been wearing with tennis-shoe type shoes, even to work.  They are super sexy - black and knee high, but they help a lot!  The swelling isn't totally gone, but it's much better than it was before, and it doesn't hurt to move my toes or bend my ankles now. 

I am up to probably about 10 contractions a day now, but I haven't had anything strong or regular.  Other than that I feel like my body can probably handle cooking these boys until they are forced out, unless they decide they want to meet their parents sooner than that!

Friday, July 19, 2013

34 Weeks

Well, here I am at 34 weeks pregnant with twins!  I'm happy to have made it this far.

Yesterday I went in for an ultrasound and my first non stress test.  We did the ultrasound first.  It was quick and easy, all she did was look at the fluid levels in the amniotic sacs, the blood flow in the umbilical cords, and the strength of the hearts.  Both babies are still breech position, pretty much exactly where they were a week ago.  We also got to see both boys "practice breathing," and one of the babies had hiccups during the ultrasound, which was kind of fun to see.  She did not do a growth scan, so I didn't get any estimation on the size of the babies, but I'm guessing that Baby A is close to 4.5 pounds and Baby B is over 4.5 now.

Then we did the non stress test (NST).  Basically it's where I sit on a couch for 20-30 minutes with three monitors strapped to my belly.  One monitor was for each baby's heartbeat, and the third was to measure for contractions.  Both babies had fine heart rates for the whole time.  I had one contraction that I could feel, plus a few more that I couldn't feel, during the time I sat there.  The tech said there was nothing strong or regular about them, and that the reading was pretty typical for this stage of the pregnancy.  The whole thing seemed like a bit of a waste of time to me, but what do I know, I'm just the patient.

Anyway, next Thursday I go back for another round of the same - ultrasound, NST, and adding in an appointment with the OB.  That will be what I will do every Thursday until I deliver.  I'm hoping I make it to next Thursday without going into labor, because now that I know I'm having a c-section, I want to ask my doctor what to expect from when I go into labor through the procedure and recovery.  I have never researched a c-section before.

As far as how I'm feeling generally, this has been a pretty miserable week for me.  The swelling and associated pain have extended all the way up to my mid calves.  I had some swelling my last pregnancy too, but definitely nothing this bad.  I'm also having a lot of round ligament and back pain.  I am woken up with contractions at least once or twice a night, and the last few days I've been having them in the daytime as well.  Each boy has his head pressing into one side of my ribcage, so when they move their heads or arms, I feel like I'm about to crack a rib.  On top of everything else, I caught a cold this week, which just makes everything else so much more difficult to deal with.  I'm hoping that once I get over the sickness the rest of it won't seem so bad.  But I would say that I'm definitely ready for this pregnancy to be over.

I'm hoping to make it 2 more weeks, because 36 weeks would give the boys a good chance at no NICU time.  With all these contractions though, I don't know if I can make it that long.  But my body has surprised me before, and it very well might in this situation too!

34 Week pic:

Everyone keeps telling me I'm small for carrying twins.  I tell them I'm making up for it with the size of my ankles:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coordinating with the Hospital

Another one of the many moving parts of surrogacy is the need to coordinate with the delivery hospital.  It turns out you can't just show up, pop out a baby, and then expect the hospital to allow a totally different couple to take it home.

In our situation, it was important to all of us that my IPs be treated like the parents right from the start, and for me to be left alone without being bugged about medical or legal decisions that I had no right to make.  We also wanted to ensure that the medical staff we dealt with understand our unique situation and treat us with respect during our stay.

Our first step was to find out from our lawyer what sort of legal documents we would need to present to the hospital so that they would recognize my IPs as parents.  As I mentioned in my previous post, she said we would need to get a VAP form from the hospital and sign it (to establish IF as the biological and legal parent).  That way, he would be given the full rights to access and make medical decisions for the babies without me or my husband having to act as the middleman.  The form also allows the babies to be discharged with their parents instead of me.  Since there is no PBO in Missouri, this document is the best we can do as far as getting legal backup for our situation.

My IPs decided that if possible, they would like their own recovery room, separate from mine, where they can spend time bonding with their babies before they are discharged.  I am very happy they made this choice, because while I'm sure I will love spending time with my IPs and getting some baby snuggles in, I don't really want to have to "host" them in my room all day long while I'm recovering from delivery.  Since parents aren't allowed in the nursery and babies are generally expected to "room in" with their parents, getting their own room is really my IPs' only option to be able to spend time alone with their babies for long periods of time.

While on the hospital tour a couple weeks ago, we made sure to ask the tour guide who we would need to get in touch with to figure out how to make sure they can get their own room, and can generally be recognized as the parents by the hospital staff.  She pointed us in the direction of the nurse manager for Labor & Delivery. 

So two weeks ago, I called and got in touch with the nurse manager.  She was very nice, and assured us that as long as there were enough rooms, my IPs would be able to get their own room.  However, she was totally unfamiliar with surrogacy and had no idea about the legal forms or anything else we would need.  She seemed to think that treating the situation like an adoption would be fine, and kept on referring to me as the birth mother (um, no).  After a few promises to gather more information and call me back, and me following up after receiving no call, she finally passed me off to the hospital social worker.

The social worker was also very nice.  Unfortunately, after talking to the birth certificate department, she determined that the hospital had no idea what a VAP form was.  (As a side note - even if they've never had a surrogacy before, I find it hard to believe that they've never had a situation where the legal husband isn't the bio father of the baby.)  She said for adoptions you would normally sign a medical power of attorney form to give the adoptive parents the right to make medical decisions for the child.  I explained that that wouldn't work in our situation, because it would require me to sign away rights to a baby that I never had any rights to in the first place.  So she took down a bunch of info, said she would contact the hospital legal department and my attorney if necessary, and promised to call me back.

Amazingly, she did!  And she had good news!  The hospital legal department had contacted the powers that be, found the VAP form, and have secured it for us to sign when we arrive at the hospital to deliver.  She confirmed that IPs will get their own room (space permitting) and will both get their own bracelets to be able to access the babies whenever they want, regardless of whether I'm present.  She also told me that since she understands what's going on with us, she will serve as point person for our delivery, whenever it happens to be.  She gave me her personal pager number and told me to call it when I'm heading for the hospital.  She will then contact the medical team and make sure everyone knows what's going on.

The other thing she encouraged us to do (which my doctor also recommended) was to get a birth plan put into my file that not only states my wishes as far as labor and delivery, but has everyone's contact number and includes my IPs' wishes for what they are hoping for both during and after delivery.  That way the hospital staff can look through it and do their best to accommodate our wishes without having to ask us lots of stupid questions.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Legal Mumbo Jumbo of Surrogacy

Browsing back through my blog, I realized that for the last couple months I've pretty much just been focusing on the pregnancy part of this journey.  In surrogacy, there are so many other moving parts in addition to just gestating and having a baby, so I want to try to do my best to explain everything else that has been going on in the meantime.

One of the most important things to both the surrogates and the IPs is how to go about establishing the legal parentage for the babies.  Once they come out, we both want to make sure that all rights and responsibilities for the children go to the IPs.  This process varies by state.  In many states, you can get a Pre Birth Order (PBO) signed by the judge prior to the babies being born.  You can then present this order at the hospital to make sure that the IPs are treated as the parents right from the start, and their names go straight onto the birth certificate.  Missouri is not one of the states where you get a pre birth order.  Instead, you have to do a parentage action, which takes place post birth.

The ease and process of obtaining the proper parentage work varies from county to county and judge to judge in Missouri.  Since I will be delivering in a different county from the county I live in, we have a choice between the two of where to file our parentage case.  Our attorney decided that since the judge that deals with surrogacy in the county in which I live makes it much easier to get the parentage paperwork done, that is the county we will file in.  This particular judge is very surrogacy friendly, but he asks that the paperwork is not signed and filed until after the babies are born (some will take the paperwork before and then revisit it once the babies are born).  So basically, there is nothing for us to do until the babies decide to come.

Here is how it will go down, as it has been explained to me.  At the hospital once the babies are born, we need to ask for a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form to sign.  This will have to be signed by me, my husband, and my IF (the biological father).  The form basically states that contrary to what is normally assumed, my legal husband is NOT the bio father of the babies, and my IF is the one who needs to be given parental rights to them in the hospital.  That way he and my IM will be able to get the bracelets to access the babies, and the hospital staff will know to go to him rather than my husband with questions for the care of the babies.

As far as filling out the birth certificate info in the hospital, we are to do exactly what the staff tells us to do.  So most likely, I will be listed as the mother, and because of the VAP form, my IF should be able to be listed as the father.  Then the hospital staff will forward that information to the Department of Vital Records.  Usually what happens from there is the info takes several weeks to make it through the system at the Department of Vital Records, and once your baby is a few month old, you finally receive the official original birth certificate.  In our case, we will obtain the court order within a few days of the babies being born, and then our attorney will take the order to the Department of Vital records to have the hospital's information thrown out and replaced with the correct information as dictated in the order.  That way, by the time the official original birth certificate comes out, my name should not be on it.

The attorney started the process when I was around 23 weeks pregnant.  I am now 33 weeks pregnant, and we have not seen a single piece of paper related to this.  We have all been told for the last several weeks that it's done and ready to be signed and filed as soon as the babies are born.  I pointed out that it might be a good idea to have us all review it, even if we can't sign yet, just to make sure there are no mistakes.  Since time will be of the essence once the babies are born to get this doc to Vital Records, it seems like a good idea, no?  I have asked the attorney, as have my IPs, as has the rep from our agency.  Yet, no one has received a copy to review yet.  It really makes me wonder what's going on here.  I've never heard of an attorney being so opposed to letting her own clients review a document that they are going to have to sign.

We went with this law firm because the attorney was supposed to be the best of the best when it came to parentage paperwork.  Unfortunately, she recently seems to have passed the torch to her daughter, who is not getting such rave reviews.  My IPs have said it takes days for her to return phone calls and emails, and even when they are contacted they don't get much info.  Basically the only time the lawyer initiates contact is to ask for more money.  As someone who works in the legal profession myself, I find this to be totally unacceptable.  If my firm did business this way we would be out of jobs in a month.  Once the babies are finally born, how long is it going to take her to give us the paperwork?  If one of our names is spelled wrong (since it's apparently too much to ask to review it in advance), how long will it take her to fix the mistake?  Then, how long is it doing to take her to actually get the document filed with the Court, approved, and then taken to Vital Records?

If I have to adopt out my IPs' own babies to them because this lawyer can't get her act together, I am NOT going to be a happy camper.

Friday, July 12, 2013

33 Weeks and Appointment Update

I'm sure you all have been waiting at the edge of your seats to see how my appointment went. Head down or head up? Vaginal delivery or c-section? Well at the ultrasound yesterday, we learned that I no longer have one, but TWO breech babies. So it's nice to know that all of the chiropractor appointments and spinning babies exercises have made it possible for the other baby to move the WRONG way. Baby B's position really doesn't matter as we could try for vaginal delivery as long as Baby A was head down, but it's just adding a bit of insult to injury. So while the doctor said that there is still a slim chance that A can flip, I am mentally preparing myself for a c-section at this point.

The rest of the ultrasound was good. Both babies still look great, they are growing well and have good fluid levels. Baby A is measuring 4lbs even, and B is measuring 4lbs, 6oz. They were relaxing during the ultrasound, with Baby A smooshing his face into his placenta and Baby B turned face down, so we didn't really get any cute pictures. But at least my IPs were able to make it to this ultrasound and get a look at their little guys.

Then we had our appointment with the doctor and we went over the plan for the rest of the pregnancy. Starting next week I will have an ultrasound (to check growth, fluid levels, and positions) and a non-stress test (where they hook the babies up to monitors for about 20 minutes to make sure they aren't in any sort of distress) once a week. I will meet with the doctor in two weeks, and then every week after that. So starting two weeks from now, I'm going to be spending pretty much a whole afternoon at the doctor's office once a week - non-stress test, ultrasound, and OB appointment all in one. We will not be doing any internal exams to check for dilation unless I request them because I have concerns about lots of contractions or something. The doctor said that they don't really give a good indication of when babies will come, and they can introduce infection and irritate the cervix or even start labor before it should be starting.  Probably in 3 weeks or so if I haven't already had the babies, we will pick a c-section date, which will most likely be sometime the week of the 12th.

We also found out that my doctor will be on vacation the week of August 5th. What a pleasant surprise right at the end of the pregnancy. Who wants to guess the probability that the babies will decide to come that week? 90%? 95%?

As far as how I'm feeling, some days are better than others but I'm definitely getting ready to be done. My ankles have completely disappeared due to swelling, I have round ligament and pubic bone pain that comes and goes, and my boobs sometimes feel like they are engorged with milk already. It's getting harder to sleep, especially because I'm woken up at least once or twice a night with contractions, and then have to stay up while the babies have a dance party for a while. But, we have less than 5 weeks to go, so I can handle it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

32 Weeks

Happy 4th of July to all my U.S. readers out there.  Hope everyone had a fun-filled and safe holiday.

Today I am 32 weeks pregnant with these little guys.  Once again, this feels like a big milestone for me.  The chances of babies being born healthy and strong increase with each passing week.  It's hard to believe that there are only 2-6 more weeks to go!

I don't really have too much to add from my last post.  I am definitely feeling like I'm ready to be done with the pregnancy.  I feel like I did at probably 36 weeks or so with a singleton - tired, big, grumpy, and achy.  I still wouldn't say I'm totally miserable yet, give me a couple more weeks. :)  I have gained about 30 pounds so far, which is less than I gained at this point with my own daughter.  Also, even though I'm experiencing some swelling, I'm still able to fit into my wedding ring at this point (I had already had to give it up by 32 weeks last pregnancy).  I think the relatively mild St. Louis summer is helping with that.

I had another chiropractor appointment today, which will be my last before my ultrasound next Thursday.  So one more shot for the chiro to get that baby turned.  I'm actually not sure where the babies are positioned at this point.  I'm pretty sure Baby A is no longer transverse and is now up and down along the right side of my body.  Whether he's head up or head down, I can't tell.  If I had to guess, I would guess he's still breech.  I think Baby B is now hanging out head down on the left side of my body, but I'm not sure about that either.

During the last week I have been having a lot of anxiety about the birth, mainly worrying about a c-section.  The logical part of me knows that a c-section isn't really that big of a deal - women have them every day and are perfectly fine.  It's not even so much the surgery itself that scares me.  My main worry is that if I have to have a c-section, unless I make it to a scheduled date at 37-38 weeks, my IPs (who have a 5 hour drive) will almost certainly miss the birth.  I asked at the last appointment, and the doctor confirmed, that if I go into labor on my own they will not wait around for my IPs to get there, they will take the babies out immediately to avoid the risk of a breech baby getting too far down in the birth canal.

Even before I was matched, one of the things I really wanted to experience out of this journey was to be able to see my IPs meet their child/ren for the first time.  I wanted to soak up the moment of joy and awe and watch a family be created right as it happened.  Yes, I realize that I am being compensated monetarily for this journey, and I realize that I will have plenty of time to visit with my IPs and their sons later on during the hospital stay, but for the 18 months of my life that I have been working on this surrogacy, that first moment was my ideal reward.

If I have a c-section, I will miss that completely.  Even if my IPs are there, they will not be in the OR with me, and the staff will take their babies out to meet them while they finish putting me back together.  And if they don't make it in time for the birth, I'm sure they will stop in to check on their babies before coming to visit me.

I think I'm just overly hormonal in general right now, but I have really struggled with this fear and anxiety this week.  I have been losing sleep over it, randomly breaking into tears (and those who know me in person know that I am not a crier), and obsessing over every little movement to try and figure out if it's being caused by a hand, foot, butt, or head.  I think the main problem is that I just don't know.  I'm hoping that after the ultrasound next Thursday, even if the results aren't what I want, having a sense of certainty will help me accept what's going to happen.

Until then, I'm really trying to focus on the positives of this pregnancy.  I have made it to 32 weeks without any complications or bed rest (and none in sight), and aside from general last month aches and pains, I really feel pretty good.  Although my first contraction as at 23 weeks, since then they have been few and far between, and I don't get the feeling that I will be going into labor anytime soon.  So here's to at least a few more weeks of baby-growing!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lots of Updates

It seems I've fallen behind on updating what's been happening to me lately.  When I left off, I had just had my 28 week ultrasound and found out that Baby A is still breech.

Since then, I've started seeing a chiropractor.  I have been to see her 3 times so far.  I love her.  I think I'm addicted to seeing her.  Seriously, is there such a thing as a live-in chiropractor?  She is optimistic that she can turn Baby A, and thinks I have plenty of time.  She has been correcting the problems with my hips, which has helped with my pain.  She has also been performing the Webster technique, which is basically just stretching/massaging the muscles and ligaments in my lower abdomen and pelvis.  The idea is that if they are properly aligned and relaxed, there is more room for Baby A to flip if he so chooses.  Since seeing her, I will say the babies' movement has increased a LOT.  I'm not exactly sure where they are at this point, because I don't feel a lot of actual kicks, more like a lot of rolling movements that make it hard for me to determine who is where and doing what.

In addition to stretching and adjusting me at appointments, she gave me a couple exercises to do at home to help open up my pelvis.  She also told me to keep doing the things on the spinningbabies website every day if possible.

Yesterday, my IPs came down for the 30 week OB appointment and hospital tour.  It was great to see them, as they hadn't been able to make it to St. Louis the last couple of appointments.  They are getting very excited about the impending arrival of their sons.  We did not have an ultrasound, just a meeting with the doctor.  Overall it went fine.  My weight gain and blood pressure are good, and doctor had no concerns about my health.  I asked him about the prospect of bed rest (since my manager was asking if I knew when I'd be going out).  He told me that I'm doing great, and as long as nothing with my health changes, he sees no reason why I can't work right up until the babies decide to come.  This makes me happy, since if I have to go out before the babies come I will have to use my short term disability (my time off after delivery comes out of a separate "Parental Leave" bank).  Plus, the less I need to be out of work, the better.

We also asked about a possible induction and when the doctor thought the babies would come.  He said that I am doing really well, so he doesn't think I will be going into labor soon (although you never know!).  But he said that if I go into labor anytime 34 weeks or later, they do not stop labor.  He also said we could pick a induction or c-section date for later on in the pregnancy.  He said normally he would not be willing to set a date before 38 weeks, since we have special circumstances with my IPs needing to drive 5 hours to get here, he is fine with us scheduling anytime after 37 weeks.  He also mentioned that the majority of women don't make it to 37 weeks with twins, so the chances of me going into labor spontaneously are high.  This idea really stressed out my IM, who was apparently under the impression that we would pick a day to have the babies and they would be born that day.  She asked if we could just go ahead and schedule an induction for 34 weeks so they could be there, and he told her that they would absolutely not do it before 37 weeks (full term).

We will be returning in another 2 weeks for THE ultrasound.  The one that determines our birth plan - whether we are going to attempt a vaginal delivery or do a c-section.  So I have two weeks to make sure I get Baby A head down and ready to go.  There is still a chance that he could flip head down after that and we could revise our plan, but I don't think that my IPs or doctor would be very open to changing their minds after that point. 

It also sounds like my pro-vaginal delivery doctor is not particularly pro-vaginal after all, when it comes down to it.  He said that we will talk more in detail after the ultrasound to talk about our birth plan, but he started listing off all sorts of reasons that I might have to have a c-section for Baby B even if I deliver Baby A vaginally.  He also said that because Baby B was bigger than Baby A, he would lean toward doing a c-section because a vaginal delivery is more risky if the second baby is bigger.  I was so flabbergasted about the c-section propaganda as a whole that I forgot to even ask why (maybe because the birth canal wouldn't be big enough?)  I know my IPs will want me to do whatever the doctor recommends, so I am trying to arm myself with research and prepare to go in fighting for my right to attempt a vaginal delivery.  Right now I'm thinking that as long as Baby A is head down and there is no risk to delivering him vaginally, that's what I will do.  If it becomes necessary to have a section for Baby B, I will cross that bridge when I get there.  I figure no matter how much my doctor and IPs try to push me, no one can force me to have a c-section against my will, and I deserve the right to at least try to avoid a major abdominal surgery because of things that could possibly go wrong once Baby A is out.  Of course, Baby A might never get into head down position at all, and we might not even have to worry about it.

As far as how I'm feeling in general, I think I am doing OK.  I definitely would not say I'm feeling good anymore, but I'm not miserable either.  My hands and feet have started to swell a bit, particularly if I spend any amount of time outside in the summer heat.  I have gained about 30 pounds so far, which I'm happy with.  Everyone keeps telling me how tiny I am for carrying twins, and although my belly really doesn't look that huge, the fact that I have baby parts in my ribs all the time makes it very difficult to bend over and pick up after my toddler or put on shoes.  The chiropractor has helped a lot with my hip pain, which is a huge relief.  Nevertheless, at this point I'm getting to be more generally achy and short tempered.  I've gotten angry at my poor husband a few times, mainly because he can't seem to read my mind and know what I want him to be doing.

Oh well, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I can't believe I am 31 weeks tomorrow!  Just 3-7 weeks more to go. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

C-Section Worries

At my last appointment, I was disappointed but not surprised to find out that Baby A was still breech.  After all, I had been experiencing continued direct kicks to my cervix, so I knew his feet had to be down there.  However, I was only at 28 weeks along and I told myself there was still some time for him to turn back to being head down.

Then the more I thought about it, the more the fear started to creep in.

While I am measuring a couple weeks ahead, I am currently measuring about 6 weeks behind what I measured with my daughter when she was at the same weight.  Sure, I'm glad that I'm not measuring 8 weeks ahead, that would be very uncomfortable.  But it also means there is a lot less space in there for these two little guys to move than my daughter had.

Then there are their positions.  Not only is Baby B bigger, but he's taking up about 75% of the space in there, and Baby A is squashed up along my right side.  What if he wants to flip but literally cannot because his brother has him penned in the wrong direction?

I am putting a lot of hope in seeing the chiropractor.  I have my first appointment tomorrow morning, which I scheduled for after I take my glucose tolerance test.  After doing a lot of research online, and after talking to the chiropractor I will be seeing, I have learned that proper alignment is key to making sure the baby has enough space to turn, if it desires to do so.  The chiropractor I'm seeing specializes in pregnant women and children, and is certified in something called the Webster Technique.  Rather than being an invasive attempt to manually turn the babies (which is rarely recommended, especially in the case of twins), it is a method where the chiropractor makes sure your back, stomach, hips, and pelvis are properly aligned so that if the baby chooses to move, it has more room to do so.  This method is highly effective in singleton pregnancies.  It has been known to work for twins too, but from what I can tell it is not quite as much of a guarantee.  I'm really looking forward to my appointment tomorrow to see what the chiro can do for my situation.

Also, I have been doing a lot of exercises at home that I found on the Spinningbabies website (this is a website dedicated to helping people get their babies into optimal birthing position, both during pregnancy and labor).  These exercises are actually more like stretching while staying as relaxed as possible.  A couple of them require a helper to do most of the work.  After looking over the website, I said to my  husband: "I need you to jiggle my belly while I relax."  His first response was, "There will be no belly jiggling."  To which I replied, "Would you rather I have a c-section?"  Needless to say, he has helped me with all of the exercises I have asked him to, without a single complaint.  I have been doing them for almost a week now, and I can tell that they are causing the babies to move around a little more than they were before.  So hopefully that means that they have a little more space in there.  Unfortunately, most of the increased movement is coming from Baby B.  If that little stinker is laying claim to even MORE of the room and keeping his brother squashed up in there, he is going on my naughty list.

I also worry about how much time I have left for Baby A to turn.  If he were a singleton, I would be able to be fairly confident that he would be making it to at least 37 weeks.  With twins, there is no guarantee.  There are just so many more things that can go wrong that lead to an early delivery.  Plus sometimes they just need out earlier because there is simply no space left for them.  This past weekend was the point that I felt my body start to make it's downturn into the third trimester.  It is getting harder to walk or stand, and with the frequent kicks to the cervix, I am having a lot of discomfort and some contractions.  Just a trip to the grocery store on Saturday forced me to nap so I could function for the rest of the day.  In a way I'm happy to know that the end is nearing, but I just wish I had a crystal ball to know exactly how much time I had to get things in order and to get Baby A into the proper position.

Now, I realize that c-sections aren't the end of the world.  Women have them every day and end up just fine.  In fact, some women even prefer them to vaginal deliveries.  However, I have never had a surgery in my life, and would like to keep my record clean if at all possible.  I don't want to have to deal with the physical recovery that comes from having a c-section.  I don't want to make my husband pull my weight and his for even longer than he is already going to have to do it.  I want to be able to hug, hold, and carry my baby normally again without having to worry about pain or injury.  I want to be able to get back to my life and work as soon as possible after the babies are born.  I don't want to have to worry about waiting a certain amount of time before becoming pregnant again (hopefully with another of my own children), and eventually having to make sure I find a doctor/clinic/hospital that is truly VBAC-friendly.

About 6 months ago, I was posting about how much I did not want to carry twins, and here I am.  And really, aside from some annoying doctors and what I have felt to be some over-monitoring, the pregnancy has gone just fine.  If I end up with a dreaded c-section, it will probably be just fine as well.  But in the meantime, I worry.

Friday, June 14, 2013

28 Week Ultrasound/Appointment

I had the 28 week ultrasound and appointment on Wednesday.

The ultrasound was to check the babies' growth, and to make sure Baby B was not getting too much bigger than Baby A.  It was a  pretty quick scan, where they just measured sizes and checked positions.  Both babies are doing great, and had each gained about a pound from 3 weeks ago.  Baby A is currently 2lb, 13 oz (50th percentile) and Baby B is currently 3lb, 6oz (70th percentile).  Baby A is still breech, with his feet right on my cervix and his body squished up the right side of my uterus.  So when I told my husband I felt like someone was jumping right on my cervix, it's because there was!  Baby B is taking up all the other room in the uterus, jackknifed with his head down to the left side, his butt up under my right rib on top of his brother's head, and his feet under my left rib.  Both babies had plenty of amniotic fluid and were looking healthy as can be.

Then they did my last cervical length check - still nice and long at 4cm.  They will not do them after this point because they can irritate the cervix and do more harm than good.  Plus at some point it's going to have to start shortening anyway, or the babies will never be able to come out!

After the ultrasound, I talked with my doctor.  He said the disparity in size between the babies is holding steady at around 16%, so he is not worried that one is stealing nutrients from the other.  He said that he doesn't think any more ultrasounds will be necessary after this point, except for one at around 34 weeks to find out the babies' position so we can start on a birth plan.  That means Baby A has about 6 weeks to flip before I am condemned to a c-section.  He also measured my belly, and I am only measuring about 2 weeks ahead.  How I'm managing to fit over 6 pounds of baby, two placentas, and two amniotic sacs into a 31 week belly is beyond me.  My own daughter was only 6lb, 9oz at birth at 40 weeks - it's going to be interesting to see how much more this uterus can stretch!

I mentioned my hip/pelvic pain and asked about a chiropractor.  I was happy that he was very agreeable to the idea, and told me to go ahead and see a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist as necessary for pain management. 

From here on out I will have appointments every 2 weeks, and then every week starting at 34 weeks.  He also mentioned weekly non-stress tests starting at 4 weeks to make sure the babies are doing OK with the room they have in there, but made it sound like that was more of an option than a command.  So my next appointment is Wednesday, June 26.  I also signed my IPs and I up for the hospital tour again that evening - hopefully they will be able to make it this time because I feel like with twins 30.5 weeks is pushing it.  I'm also hopeful we can knock out a rough draft of our birth plan to give to the hospital.