Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary (and a love letter to my spouse)

Today my husband and I celebrate our 5 year anniversary.  Since I didn't feel comfortable being too far away from home at 26 weeks with twins, we decided to celebrate by spending a couple nights at a Bed & Breakfast just outside the city in the countryside.  Our friends kindly offered to watch the kiddo for us, so we will get 2 days and nights all to exciting!

It's funny how life works sometimes.  If you had told me on my wedding day that on my 5th anniversary, I would be pregnant with another man's children, I would have politely (or not so politely) suggested that you check yourself into the nearest mental institution.  At that point I was still ambivalent about having my own children, and it never would have crossed my mind that I would want to be pregnant for someone else.  I had no idea how much five years would change me. 

In those five years, I met many people who changed my perspective completely.  I met my beautiful daughter and was able to experience the love of a mother - an indescribable emotion that you can't possibly understand until you feel it yourself.  I crossed paths with many wonderful people, both in person and online, who yearned and deserved to become parents, and were held back by nothing more that their biology.  These last five years opened my eyes to the epidemic of infertility in this country, and made me feel desperate to help.  I don't know how many times over the last few years I discussed another couple's struggles to have children with my husband and told him, "I wish I just had a baby to give to them."  One day I realized, I can!

I have always been my own person and done what I wanted.  My husband knew that going into this marriage.  Becoming a surrogate was not the first crazy scheme I've come up with.  Through everything, my husband has not only gone with the flow and let me be myself and follow my dreams, but he has been there to support and encourage me every step of the way.  He has talked me off the ledge when I've felt like a failure, picked up my slack when the everyday tasks got lost in the shuffle, and shown me that he loves me for who I am no matter what I do.

People constantly tell me how wonderful they think I am for doing this, what a big heart I have, how strong I must be.  Even though these comments make me uncomfortable, I'm going to shift the spotlight onto someone else.  I think my husband is the unsung hero in this process.  No, he didn't have to pump himself full of crazy meds for three months.  He doesn't have to watch his stomach grow daily, or feel the aches and pains that go along with pregnancy.  He will not have to push two babies out of his body (or undergo abdominal surgery if it ends up being needed).  But you know what?  He has to deal with his wife doing all these things, which might even be worse.  He had to go through the same medical and psychological screening that I did, to ensure that he's not crazy or riddled with STDs.  He had to listen to me vent and whine about the lawyers and the clinic personnel.  He had to come home from his 12 hour shifts and do laundry and make dinner when I just couldn't do it in the first trimester.  He was the one who had to go out at 10:00pm the other night when I saw a commercial for and demanded a frosty in a waffle cone.

It's true that not every woman could be a surrogate.  Besides the physical aspects, I'm sure the emotional side of the process would be more than some women could handle.  But I also think that it takes a very strong, secure man be a partner to a woman in this process.  Not just anyone could deal with all the emotions a man goes through during his wife's pregnancy, knowing the whole while that the child/ren she was carrying were not his.

If you know my husband and me in real life, you know we are not normally the mushy, lovey-dovey types.  So I just thought I would take our anniversary as an opportunity to gush about how much I really do appreciate everything he does for me and our daughter every single day, and what a wonderful man he is.  He truly is my partner, both on this surrogacy journey and on our journey together through this life.  I love you, Pookie!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

25 Weeks, Cardiac Echo Appointment

Yesterday was the cardiac echo with the MFM.  Unfortunately, my IPs weren't able to make it to this one due to a scheduling conflict.  So we ended up cancelling the hospital tour and will hopefully be doing that sometime in June.

The echo was performed by my favorite tech under the supervision of the MFM doctor.  As the tech explained, they were able to get every single heart measurement known to man on both babies, and everything looked perfect!  They were also able to get a few cute pictures that they gave to me to pass on to my IPs.  Baby B is on the left and A is on the right.

Their overall growth looked good.  Baby A has flipped and is now breech (BAD BABY!).  He is estimated at 1 pound, 14 oz.  Baby B is laying head down-ish across the top of Baby A, and is currently  hanging out at the bottom of my rib cage making it hard for me to bend over.  He is about 2 pounds, 5 oz.  That's over four pounds of baby in there!

Then they did another cervical length measurement.  It was measuring 4.3 cm today, which is awesome for 25 weeks.  They told me that I no longer have to get checks every two weeks on that.  They will only check again if there is a concern, like I start to feel pressure again or I start having a lot of contractions.

 My next appointment is in 3 weeks, which will be another ultrasound to check on the babies growth.  They want to make sure that Baby B doesn't get TOO much bigger than Baby A because that can indicate that he is stealing all of the nutrients.  Then I will have another regular OB appointment.  After this next appointment they I will have the screening test for gestational diabetes, and I will start having appointments with my OB every 2 weeks.  He didn't mention either way, but we will probably continue to have ultrasounds every 4 weeks just to keep an eye on the babies' growth and position.

Friday, May 10, 2013

24 Weeks...Viability Day!

Hooray, today marks the official Viability Day for the babies!  This means that if they were born today, the would have a chance of surviving.  Technically, babies have survived born even earlier than this, but my understanding is that at 24 weeks, the medical community considers the chances of survival to be great enough to warrant resuscitation and other intensive care measures to keep the babies alive.

Obviously, just because the babies could survive at this this point, doesn't mean there is a good chance of it (still less than 50% survival rate), and there is a high chance that even if they did survive, they would have lifelong health problems or disabilities due to premature birth.  So I plan to keep baking them another 3 months or so if my body will let me.  But it is nice to have that reassurance that we have passed the 24 week mark.  Over the next few weeks, the babies' chances of survival increase by about 2-3% per day, so we are in a very critical period of growth and development.

I am still feeling much improved from several days ago, when Baby A's head was putting pressure on my cervix and bladder.  Now my only real problems are caused by my increased size.  My skin already feels so stretched out, I don't even want to think about how I'll feel in a couple more months!  I'm noticing my size more as it gets harder and harder to bend over, turn over in bed, etc.  I have only gained 19 pounds so far, but I'm pretty sure almost all of it is in my midsection.  Other than that though, I feel really good!  Here is my 24 week belly shot.  As you can see, I've really popped out over the last 4 weeks:

In other news, I got word from my IPs yesterday that our parentage paperwork is close to being finalized!  The state of Missouri does not have any set laws regarding surrogacy, so how judges deal with the parentage paperwork varies from county to county and judge to judge.  Apparently the county I live in is our attorney's favorite for filing parentage paperwork because the judge who handles the cases is so efficient and accommodating.  In most cases, we would normally file our papers before the babies are born and the judge would sign once he receives notification of their birth.  However, this particular judge requests that we hold off on even filing the paperwork until the babies are born.  That way he can look everything over and sign on the same day.  Our attorney says that since the judge has been so quick to get the paperwork signed in the past, she makes sure to accommodate his requests.  So, once our papers are done the attorney will just hang onto them until delivery day!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cervical Length Check

This morning was my cervical length check.  I was hoping that it was holding steady from it's sharp decrease in length two weeks ago.  The check went way better than I could have planned!

First the tech checked the babies' heartbeats.  Baby A's was about 180.  The tech commented that he must be very excited this morning, and I told her that his heart rate was always that high.  I think my IPs are going to have a wild one on their hands!  Baby B's was about 155.  Both nice and strong and steady.

Then we got to my cervical length.  It measured 4.2!  That's up from 2.9 two weeks ago!  I was so excited to hear it.  I asked the tech if the difference could have been different measuring techniques between the two techs (both times this tech measured me I was over 4, and a different tech measured me last time at 2.9).  She said she couldn't see any way that there could have been that big of a difference just based on measurement styles. 

I have been trying to relax and keep my feet up as much as possible since my last check.  It helped that we went on vacation to visit our family for a week, and there was no lack of doting grandparents ready to jump in and take care of my toddler while I laid on the couch. :)  So I'm sure that helped.  But my personal theory is that Baby A's head was putting pressure on my cervix before, and a couple of days ago he moved farther away.  There were times over the last couple weeks where I would stand up and feel like if I didn't sit down again immediately, someone was going to fall out.  I have never felt so much pressure before, even when I walked around dilated to a 2 for three straight weeks my last pregnancy.  But as of yesterday, I haven't felt any pressure at all.  The tech confirmed that Baby A is still head down, but must have decided to find higher ground in there somewhere because I can feel a huge difference...I am so much more comfortable now!  I told the tech about my guess and she said it was plausible, and there are lots of explanations for why there was such a big jump back up.

She recommended that I still be monitored every two weeks just to be on the safe side.  So I will have another cervical check when I have my echo on May 22.

Speaking of my echo, after sending my OB a strongly worded email about how much I disliked the MFM we saw and that I wanted nothing to do with him ever again, he was able to get me an appointment with another MFM.  The best part is, because it required a date change, we will now get our regular appointment with our OB rather that some random person, and my IPs will be able to attend!  So all around great news!

Next up is the cardiac echo and a regular OB appointment on May 22.  My IPs and I will also be taking a tour of the delivery hospital that day.  I am excited that we are getting to the stage where it's time to start planning for the birth!