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!