Friday, April 26, 2013

22 weeks and Appointment Recap

I am 22 weeks pregnant today!  I'm still feeling pretty great overall.  My belly is definitely getting bigger and more in the way, but I don't have any other major complaints.  The babies are incredibly active, especially Baby A.  Sometimes I can't tell if they are just moving a lot of if I'm starting to have tightening/braxton hicks contractions.

About the appointment.  It was a bit of a mixed bag.  I have already vented about it to my IPs, my husband, my agency, my mom, and my online surrogacy forum support group.  I'm going to recap it one more time on this blog, and then let it go.  It's not good to have all the bad energy hanging over me while I'm growing these little beauties.

The most important thing we learned at the appointment was that the babies are still looking great.  They are growing just as they should, and all their organs look perfect.  After some prodding from the tech, we were finally able to get Baby B to move into a position where we could get the measurements we needed for his heart.  Baby A was a wild thing in there, and Baby B was much more laid back.  It will be interesting to see if those personalities hold once they are out in the real world!  I forget what the exact estimated weights were, but Baby A was in the 50th percentile and Baby B was in the 60th percentile.  They were able to get some really cute 3D facial shots of both babies for my IPs.

Unfortunately, my cervix check didn't go as well as I was hoping.  It measured in at 2.9 cm (down from over 4 just three weeks ago).  My doctor said that they normally don't start worrying about pre-term labor until it gets down below 2.5, but since it was such a drastic decrease in length from the last measurement they want to increase my monitoring to every two weeks.  So I have a quick transvaginal ultrasound appointment for two weeks from now just to check on the length.  I'm hoping it will hold steady for a while.  Logically I know that there is nothing that I did to decrease my cervical length, but I can't help but worry a little bit that my body is going to let these babies down or that I'm going to get stuck on bed rest for months.  It's not like I've been doing any weight lifting or intense exercise up to this point, and the doctor did not give me any activity restrictions, but I'm going to make sure that I take extra time to relax and put my feet up from here on out.

Other than the cervical length issue, the rest of my checkup went fine.  Normal weight gain and blood pressure, and my belly is currently measuring one week ahead at about 23 weeks (not as bad as I was fearing).

The bad part came at the end of the appointment, when a high-risk Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor basically barged in at the end and demanded that he supervise a re-scan of the babies.  I'm not sure how he managed to wiggle his way onto my case, since my OB did not invite him and was clearly annoyed that he was there.  So we had to go back and do another ultrasound while he watched what the tech did.  He started rattling off all sorts of defects/complications that we were at an elevated risk for since we not only had an IVF pregnancy, or twins, but BOTH.  After mentioning a life-threatening complication, he would say, "there's about a 1% chance of that."  Um, ok then why are we worrying about it, especially since the scan was not showing any indication that either baby had these problems.  He told us we needed to get an echo on the hearts of the babies with him in 4 weeks (a lowly ultrasound tech is apparently not good enough to spot the heart defects that our IVF babies clearly have despite the fact that everything looks perfect).  Needless to say, my IPs went from being happy and excited to freaked out in 5 minutes flat.

Even worse was the fact that he was completely unprofessional throughout the scan.  He said things like, "Thanks, for being skinny, unlike all my other patients.  It makes it much easier to see things on the ultrasound."  and "well if you can keep Baby A head down you should be on track for a vaginal delivery.  Unless of course your uterus is screwed up some other way."  Since this doctor apparently only works on Thursday afternoons, he made us schedule an ultrasound for four weeks out.  Our OB unfortunately isn't working that afternoon, so then we had to schedule a regular OB appointment with a stranger, which my IPs were extremely unhappy about.

If this were my own pregnancy, I would have told this guy where he could stick his ultrasound wand and called it a day, never thinking about him again.  But I have tried so hard to to find good doctors and give my IPs the most positive pregnancy experience possible, and having this guy waltz in and treat us in such an appalling manner really brought out my mama bear instincts and I have been on a slow burn ever since.  After talking with my IPs we decided that they still would really like to have an echo done just to be on the safe side, but we all agree we should find someone else to do it and make sure we can get an OB appointment with our usual doctor.  In the future, I'm going to try to avoid scheduling any more appointments for Thursdays so we never come across this jerk again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Halfway Point Check-In: How am I Doing?

Up to now, I've only been talking about my physical pregnancy symptoms as the weeks go by.  I thought I'd change it up, and talk about a subject more people considering surrogacy might actually care about.

Now that there is no more disguising that I am pregnant, I have been telling a lot more people about the surrogacy.  In addition to friends and family (most of whom knew when I was way back in the planning stages), I have let coworkers, my daycare teachers, and casual acquaintances in on the scoop.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that people's reactions have been overwhelmingly positive.  I have had some inappropriate questions, but only because people are curious and sometimes excited to meet a "real" surrogate for the first time.  It's really interesting to see some people's reactions because they are trying to fit what they know of me into their existing mental picture of what a surrogate is (which, thanks to the media, is not always the most positive image).  Even with people who blurt out totally inappropriate questions, I haven't had to deal with any condescension or negativity, and for that I'm thankful.  I don't mind answering questions that come from the place of genuine curiosity or caring.  And it also makes me grateful that I am surrounded by such positive and accepting people, because I know that not everyone is like that.

Even though people have been positive, there are people who have had concerns - mainly about my feelings through the process.  People have showed concern in this area in various ways: asking how I feel about the babies this time, asking if it will be sad to come home alone this time, asking what I plan to do after the babies are born.  Another recurring question is, how does my  husband feel about the whole process?  Basically, people just want to make sure that emotionally, we are both doing OK. 

I can't answer for my husband (although maybe I can talk him into doing a guest post later???), but I will say that it takes a very special man to be able to support his wife through something like this.  He has been there for me every step of the way, from being a sounding board during my screening/contract phase frustrations, to picking up my slack when I was too tired to do anything the first trimester, to dealing with my pregnancy symptoms without complaining (in addition to the expected, apparently I snore while pregnant - I found him sleeping in the other room the other night).  I could never make it through this without him as my partner, and I'm so grateful to him for all he does for me.

And now I'm finally getting to the point of my post:  how am I doing?  The answer is, I'm doing great!  I haven't had any second thoughts about how I would feel during my entire journey.  This pregnancy continues to be completely different emotionally for me than my last pregnancy.  I love seeing the ultrasounds because I think it's such a miracle to see those tiny little blobs turning into people before our eyes.  But I don't feel any sort of emotional attachment to the babies.  Instead, I revel in the fact that I get to see those emotions on the faces of my IPs when look at their children on the screen.  Now that I'm feeling them kick, I feel like I'm getting to the fun part of the pregnancy.  The part where you get to stop worrying that something is wrong, because the babies periodically remind you that they are in there moving around.  But those little kicks haven't changed my feelings towards the babies.  Every time I'm able to feel a kick on the outside, I think about how exciting it's going to be when my IPs get to feel that for the first time.

And as far as leaving the hospital empty handed?  I'll be perfectly honest.  There is not a single day that goes by that I don't think to myself how glad I am that these two babies are not coming home with me at the end of this journey.  There are times when I am so happy that one toddler is all I have to deal with.  As I attempt to buckle my little bucking bronco into her car seat against her will, I think to myself, "what if I had to do this THREE times?"  Or when she tears through the house like a tornado, leaving nothing but destruction in her wake, I wonder how I could possibly contain her if I had to stop and feed/change two newborns.

But it's not just the harder times that make me glad I'm going to remain a mother of one, it's also the best times.  Like yesterday afternoon, when my daughter and I were laying in the hammock, celebrating the arrival (finally) of spring.  We were just relaxing, with her cuddled up against me, and I was thinking, "I love that it's just the two of us."  And now that she is learning and growing every day, learning to say things like "I loo" (I love you) and "Goo Giwl!" (if she manages to get her shoes on her feet), I think of how fast she is changing and that I don't want to miss a minute of it.  Maybe it's because I'm a working mother and don't get to be with her all day every day, but I feel selfish with my time with her.  I don't want to share her with anyone else because I just want to soak in her wonderful baby-ness before she grows out of it.  If I were planning a nursery, picking out names, and generally obsessing over another impending arrival, I feel like my brain would be too cluttered to notice the little things she does every day that make being her mother such a joy.  And if I were to become a mother of 3 kids under 2 years old?  I would totally be in survival mode and would miss out on the best part of being a mother to all three of them. Although I would like to have another child eventually, I am so happy that she is going to be my only "baby" for a little while longer.
Giving the gift of of being a mother is the primary reason why I went into surrogacy in the first place.  Watching my IM become a mother after so many years of waiting is what I am looking forward to most about this journey.  I can't wait until my IPs get to experience all the joys and frustrations that I get to experience on a daily basis.  I'm not going to bury my head in the sand and think that I'll be 100% fine in the days and weeks immediately after giving birth.  I will be at the mercy of my hormones as they try to rebalance, just like I was last time.  (I spent a lot of time just randomly crying after the birth of my last child for no particular reason, other than I just needed a good cry).  It will also mark the end of my role in something that has consumed a large part of my thoughts and time for over a year now.  I'm sure it will take some time for me to adjust back to my life as "just" me, before this crazy journey started.  But I'm also not even a little bit afraid that I will have trouble saying goodbye to the babies when it comes time.  I just can't wait for them to meet their parents.

Friday, April 12, 2013

20 Weeks!

I am 20 weeks pregnant today!  I can't believe I'm more than halfway done with this pregnancy!  Just about 4 more months until my IPs get to meet their little boys.

Things have been going really well the last few weeks.  I'm happy to report that the second trimester "honeymoon" phase even applies to me while pregnant with twins.  I am feeling really good at this point.  I'm making a point of appreciating each day, because I know it won't be too much longer before I start to feel huge, achy, and cranky.  I am definitely starting to notice my belly in the way when I bend down to put on my shoes or pick up things that I drop [side note: why is it that the harder it gets to pick up dropped items, the more often I drop things???].  I am also feeling movement more regularly, especially from Baby A.  I've even been able to feel him kicking a few times on the outside of my belly.

Here is my 20 week belly:

I think my belly is much bigger this time than last time, but I actually haven't gained any more weight than I had at this point during my singleton pregnancy.  My total weight gain at this point is 13 pounds, which I'm pretty happy with.  I'm hoping I can keep the weight gain slow and steady so that I don't end up with extra aches and pains later on.

My IPs are currently in Europe.  I haven't talked to them very frequently since they left, but they will be back in plenty of time for our next doctor appointment and ultrasound, which is April 25.  I hope they are enjoying their last pre-kid vacation!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Surrogate Girls' Weekend!

Last weekend my agency sponsored their first annual surrogate get together weekend!  It was a lot of fun.  We met up in Chicago for the weekend.  Unfortunately, it was bad timing for my IPs as they were out of town, so I missed them.  But it was the first time I got to meet and talk to other surrogates in person.  I really enjoyed meeting others who had the same calling I have.

Since it was my agency's first attempt at hosting the get together, only the girls who participate in the Facebook group were invited to keep it small.  Out of about 20 girls in the Facebook group, 10 of us showed up for girls weekend.  There were people in all different stages of their journeys, from just matching, to cycling, to pregnant, to already having been through the experience and delivered their surrobabies.  It was really fun to hear about the different stories that people had about how their journeys went and about their relationships with their IPs.  I also got to meet my agency rep for the first time, and she was just as wonderful in person as she is over the phone.  I felt like even though I had never met any of the girls before, we all had a bit of a special bond because of our same desire to help build families.  It's one of those things that just any old person isn't cut out for.  There are so many ways a person can make a difference in the world and make it just a little bit better - and we have chosen (or been created for?) this particular path.

So after a bit of sight seeing and some delicious food (umm, I gained 3 pounds in 3 days.  I know I'm pregnant with twins, but geez!), I returned home to St. Louis with a feeling like I'm part of a select club of sorts.  I'm already looking forward to next year's get together!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

18 Week Anatomy Scan

We had a fantastic appointment today! 

First up was the anatomy scan ultrasound, where they looked at each baby's organs and bones in detail to make sure everything looked the way it should.  Both babies look perfect and healthy!  They both weighed about 10 oz, and were measuring about a week ahead.  And, turns out the tech at the 12 week appointment was correct - they are both definitely BOYS!

My IPs were so thrilled that everything looked great and that they can eagerly await the arrival of two perfect blue bundles in the next 4 months or so.  They were able to get a nice 4D picture of Baby B's face, but they couldn't get one of Baby A because Baby B was in the way.

The only downside was that because of Baby B's position, the tech was not able to get all of the measurements she needed of his heart.  She said from what she could see it looked great and she was sure there would be no problems, but they always like to be able to make sure with measurements.  So we will have another ultrasound at our next regular OB appointment to check up on it and make sure everything is looking good.

They also used the ultrasound to measure the length of my cervix.  This is something they will do routinely throughout the pregnancy with twins, since there is such an increased risk of preterm labor.  If my cervix gets too short, I will likely be put on activity restrictions or even bedrest.  So the longer the better!  The tech said that anything over 4cm is great, and at around 2.5 they start to get concerned about preterm labor.  My cervix was measuring closer to 5cm, so nothing to worry about at this point!  That made me very happy, it was something I was a little worried about.  I haven't had any contractions or anything, but from reading other blogs of surros carrying twins, I know it can be a cause for bedrest very early in the pregnancy and I want to avoid that.

Then we met with the new OB that I saw for the first time a couple weeks ago.  I was a little nervous about it because my IPs had felt so left out with the last doctor we saw.  But this new one was fantastic!  He really took the time to make my IPs feel included and that all of their questions were answered.  If anything, he paid more attention to them than to me, which is fine by me.  As long as everything is going fine with my body, I'm happy...they are the expectant first time parents and should be treated as such!

This doctor is very pro-vaginal delivery, as long as Baby A is head down at delivery.  He also seems a little more laid back than the other doctor.  Instead of doing an ultrasound at every appointment, he just wants us to have the one next appointment so they can be sure about Baby B's heart, and then one closer to delivery to determine the babies' positions and to give the IPs a sneak peek of what their babies will look like.  Otherwise (assuming all is well), the appointment schedule will proceed just the same as my previous singleton pregnancy.  He also assured me that he is not planning on taking any vacation between now and when the babies come, which makes me happy.

Since I will be out of town 4 weeks from now (I had to squeeze my "summer" vacation in before we get to viability), our next appointment is in 3 weeks, on April 25.  I'm looking forward to seeing my IPs and their SONS(!) again at that time.  I might even go out and do a teensy bit of baby shopping between now and then as well!