Thursday, December 31, 2009

A new year and the end of my journey

It is amazing that it has been six weeks since the twins were born. In a way, it seems as though they just arrived, and in another way, it seems as though the pregnancy and this incredible experience never even happened. But I know it did.
I am "back to normal" and recovered from the pregnancy. The twins are home with their family and thriving. But there are little reminders every day that this experience was very real. My stomach, of course, still looks like it just had babies. When I hear a baby cry, or even see one, I get the strange sensation of a let down that never comes. When I see a mother with her newborn child, there is a weird moment where I realize how recently I just gave birth. But always, always, I am amazed that it happened, amazed at the miracle of life and of love, amazed at the beauty of hope.
I didn't realize that when I had the twins, I would be sending pieces of me home with them. But, as a friend pointed out, they filled my heart with new pieces, and I think, stronger pieces.
This time last year, the twins' parents and I were working on contracts. Now, after 12 months, they are holding their children in their arms. What a difference a year makes!
People still ask me if I miss the twins, if I am sad to have "given them up", and if I am "doing okay". Well, I don't miss the twins as much as I miss the experience of surrogacy and the relationship I had with their family. I am not at all sad to have "given them up"; I am overjoyed that their parents have their children back with them. I am "doing okay", in fact, I am doing pretty darn fabulous. Example:
I received a call this morning from the hospital. The man calling said he was verifying information and he needed the birthdate of my"son". I stopped to think, and thought, "none of my boys have been in the hospital." I questioned him as to why he was calling and what he was talking about. Then I realized- and said, "oh, the twins!" It was confusing at first, but then very reassuring to me that I don't consider the twins to be my children at all, not in any way shape or form. It makes me more confident when I answer the questions of others to know that even in my heart and my own mind, I don't connect the twins to me in that way. They are two of my favorite people in this world, and I would do anything for them, but that is all.
Every time my children start to drive me nuts, I think of what people have to go through just to have children, and I appreciate my children and the simple miracle that each of them is.
Every time I think of the twins, I still just think of love.
This experience has changed my life. It has made me appreciate the blessings I have. It has made me appreciate the strengths of others. It has made me feel love in such a way that I have never known.
I have so many emotions about this journey. I have so many feelings I want to share and so many thoughts about everything that has transpired. I feel as though this entire entry is just jumping around from one idea to the next. Maybe one day this will all be sorted out in my head and I will be more coherent. Until then, I will focus on the new year, and the new adventures and experiences that life holds in store for me:
I will focus on loving my children and helping them to achieve their goals; whether riding horses, learning to tumble, earning Scout badges, or succeeding in school.
I will enjoy every moment I get to spend with Jason and the happiness he brings into my world.
I will surprise my students with my amazing skills at walking fast and moving around the classroom without waddling.
I will enjoy my family and friends, for they are my strength and my support.
I will look forward to the summer when I will hopefully see my beautiful surro twins once more.
Until then, I will accept that this journey is finally, after 13 months, a hundred shots, a dozen trips to Houston, twenty-ish doctor's appts, numerous phone calls, and countless days of love and sacrifice on the parts of all involved, complete.
Now, I take the bittersweet step forward, and on with the rest of my journey, my life...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Surprise- they're here!

Week 34 of twin pregnancy began as normal. I was swollen and miserable, yet full of happiness. I went to the ob on Monday and we were between 2 and 3 centimeters dilated (which means that my body is getting ready to deliver- but can stay that way for a long time). I felt SO full and ready to pop though, I measured 41 weeks- bigger than I had ever been before.

On Tuesday morning, I went to work early for a meeting. I was walking very, very slowly, and felt a little odd. I was leaking a bit of fluid, so I called the nurse and she told me to come in. I told our secretary that I would probably be back by lunch, that I just needed to check on this. Well, I made it to the doctor's office where he determined that one of the bags had ruptured and amniotic fluid was coming out. As we headed to do an ultrasound check, he started talking about the hospital. I said, "you mean, we are delivering today?" And he said, "yes." I called the twins' mom, asked her pull over, and told her she would have babies today!

I drove across the parking lot to the hospital, and by 11:30 I was hooked up and my doctor broke the bag completely on twin A (the one that was closest to the exit). My mom came to the hospital to be with me during this labor and the twins' parents were on their way. I guess since I have had so many babies everything went very quickly. At some point, the anesthesiologist came and gave me an epidural although I wasn't really in pain, just in labor. The epidural was the most painful part of my labor and delivery. It felt like I was being electrocuted down my whole left side. The epidural worked for a while, but then it quit working and I felt my labor the rest of the time. By 3:30, I was ready to deliver. They pushed my whole bed down to the OR (operating room), which is standard protocol for delivering twins. Somehow, they got me onto the evil operating table, made it sit up, and I was able to get myself situated.
When my doctor arrived and realized that the epidural had worn off, he sent for the anesthesiologist. He said that the current epidural wouldn't work and I let them all know that there would be no new epidural!
The doctor told me to push when I had the next contraction. I was so confused, I was not in pain and my contractions didn't seem like they were strong enough yet. However, I said, "okay" and we pushed. Three pushes later, twin A came out. She was making this wonderful grumpy face that made the nurses all smile. They layed her across my chest and wiped her up as she started to whimper. I had two thoughts while they did this: "cry, baby, cry" and "she should be in her mother's arms- not mine". She was beautiful. They took her to the little baby bed to clean her up, and it wasn't until she screamed at them in protest that I cried tears of joy that she was well.
After she was born, I had been told we would take a rest and use the ultrasound machine to see what her brother was doing. Ha, ha, ha! He was anxious to follow his sister into this world, and 7 minutes and four pushes later, twin B was born. He was angry and screaming, and I was overjoyed. He was beautiful. I rested.

The twins were both crying, pink, and healthy. We spent 50 minutes in the OR. The first 20 was setting up. The next 10 were the twins being born. The final 20 was the clean up. Amazing.
The twins were here! I had just had the easiest labor and delivery of my entire life, and I had brought two children into the world. How miraculous!
I spent the next four hours recovering. The twins spent the next four hours being tested, watched, and carefully looked after by the nursery staff. The twins were premature and required extra attention. Their parents spent the next four hours driving to their children.

Finally, that evening, I was able to go into the nursery with their parents. I was able to watch them, for a few minutes, look in wonder at the children their love, sacrifice, and patience had brought to them. I went back to my room completely fulfilled knowing they had their dream before them.

Their parents missed the delivery, and weren't able to hold them that first night in the nursery. I had anticipated the moment of their first meeting of the twins so differently and had planned on that being my beautiful memory of helping them become parents. Life doesn't work out that way- it works out better.
The next afternoon, when the twins were allowed to leave the nursery, C and A brought them to my room- not to theirs- and I was delighted. I was able to sit in my hospital bed and watch them sit on the couch holding their newborn son and daughter. This little girl I had delivered was in the arms of her father, who rocked her and sang to her in French. This little boy that I had delivered nestled in the arms of his mother as she rocked him and smiled the smile of a new mother. I had my moment. I will keep that moment alive in my heart forever, and I will never think of it without tears of joy.

The twins stayed in the hospital for four days. They are not only blessings, but miracles. What a short stay for babies born at only 34 weeks. I was so scared that I would not be giving C and A the healthy children they had longed for, but we did! While they were in the hospital, I was able to see them every day. My children were all able to hold them and kiss them. It was a beautiful gift from their parents to us to allow us to be part of their bonding time.

Ever since the twins' birth, all I have thought when I think of them, surrogacy, this journey, life in general, is- LOVE. Love. Nothing more. Everything good in this world comes from love. These children are love in its purest form.
I have expected sorrow, or grief, or loss since coming home. I have experienced love, and peace, and joy. My heart is simply full of love.
I know I am terrible at getting pictures to organize on here, but....
the reason you have actually opened this blog, PICTURES!!!








Little man- white hat
Little princess- yellow hat

Twins with parents and me
Twins with my kids

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blessed

I am feeling so blessed today. I know with Thansgiving coming, everyone is thinking about what they are thankful for. I have so many things that I am thankful for, it takes me all year to think about them- I never have time to stop.
The top of my list includes:
Being a mom
Having whole, healthy, intelligent, amazing children
Having a huge and loving family (Knowing that I will never be alone)
Having a wonderful man who puts up with all my crankiness and still thinks I am wonderful
and
Carrying these two lovely surro twins as long as I have.

Since I have been pregnant with the twins, I have known three people who have lost twins due to early delivery. I feel so terrible for every complaint I have uttered when I am still carrying healthy and strong children. I am so thankful that I have been blessed to have the ability to carry them this far, keep them strong, and stay healthy myself.

On another note, we had a great conversation in our car on the way to school last week, and I jotted it down. I thought (well, was told by Jason!) that I should post it here since it pertains to this surrogacy journey:

They ask me all the time, "Why are you doing this?" "They" would include perfect strangers, doctors, coworkers, students, my family, and my children. "This" would be the fact that I am a gestational surrogate- I am carrying another couple's children in my womb.

I have thought of and given many answers to this question, but none seem to be sufficient. I have tried to explain this feeling I have that compels me to carry someone else's child under my heart for nine months. I have explained, shared, and pondered this question a million times, yet I never seem to have a clear and understandable answer for anyone other than myself.

Until one day last week, my son asked me for the fourth of fifth time why I wanted to do this. And, finally, the answer that came from my lips seemed to satisfy him. I started like this...
"When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mommy. There were other things I wanted to be too, but I knew that if I could only have one of those things, I would want to have children. I wanted to be just like my mom and have babies to play with, make cookies for, and snuggle in my arms. As I grew older, this feeling never changed. Even when I talked about going to college and having a career, I always knew I wanted to have you children more than anything else.

"When I had your big sister, I knew that being her mommy was what I was meant to be. It was the best feeling I had ever had to hold my baby in my arms and kiss her soft head. And when you and your brother were born, I had the same feeling. I knew I was very blessed to have all of you."
And then I told my son,
"What would have happened if I couldn't have had babies? That was all I ever wanted. That was my most important dream for this life. I would never have been happy if I hadn't been able to have you.
So, when I see your aunt and uncle, good friends, or perfect strangers who can't have a baby, I think of that feeling I had when I was a little girl- and I know that the woman or man that can't have a baby has the same feeling, the same dream. It makes mommy hurt in her heart to think about not having you as my child. And for me to see somebody else so sad inside makes me want to help mend their broken heart. And I know that a family that wants a baby will never have complete happiness without a baby of their own to love."
And then my son said to me,
"So that's why you're a surrogate?"
And I said,
"Yes."

I hope this helps someone's understanding of why surrogate mothers do what they do. For me, it is a gift of love, the helping of a soul reaching for their dreams be able to achieve them. And isn't that what life is all about? To serve, to aid, to lift one another as high as we are able?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

33 weeks and growing...

This last week has been very exciting. Every single day my belly has grown bigger. It has gone up, over my ribs, and is now sitting at my bra line (this has never happened before). It is peeping over the sides as the twins are running out of room just in front. When one of the kiddos moves, my entire belly moves with it. I am amazed that the twins are thriving and seem to be so content in such a squished up place!
The swelling in my legs seems to be permanent. Every couple days my left ankle will be almost down to normal when I wake up, but mostly I just walk around on my elephant legs. I am so glad this is my biggest complaint. The only other truly distressing event
is when the twins get to shoving
their feet up under my ribs and I can't breathe, move,
and all I feel is "ow"!
Here are pictures of my 33 week belly and me with my son (for comparison of how big the belly is:


My children decided it would be fun to paint my belly for Halloween. We missed Halloween, but yesterday we started to get ready for the upcoming holidays. Here they are:





An Angel turkey A fat Christmas tree Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
by Katie by Triston by Braden
We are enjoying our last 5 (or less) weeks with the twins. We can't wait to be able to send them home to mom and dad and big brother!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

32 weeks!!!

I am so excited that we have made 32 weeks. I no longer have any fear of the twins being born too early because we have passed the "danger" zone. It makes me feel soooo calm.
Our 32 week doctor's visit was well attended. The twins' mom came with me (as she does to all our ultrasounds to see her little ones and I love her for it!), as well as my mom and Jason.
The twins are getting so big now that it is difficult to see which parts go to which baby- so I didn't see too much from my perspective. What we learned is this: Baby A (boy) is about 4 lb 14 oz, head down, facing my back so we still haven't seen his face, and has finally given his sister some room in there. Baby B (girl) is about 4 1/2 lb, head down, still turned in profile, pulled her thumb out of her mouth and swallowed while we were watching, and is taking up more of the room now. We were able to see healthy pulsating umbilical cord and lots of fluid pockets around them. They still have their heads smooshed right together, then come apart, and their feet come together under my right ribs. So, they are kind of in a diamond shape, with my bladder and right side ribs taking the full brunt of their movements. The doctor says everything looks great and that he thinks it is very possible they will come around 36 weeks (Thanksgiving). If they are not out by 38 weeks (Dec 13 ish), we will talk about inducing. They are already measuring big for their gestation, and I don't want 8 or 9 pounds per baby!
Super fun pregnant lady things: I am swollen up to my knees and my right leg NEVER unswells, my stomach muscles feel like they are ripping apart, I can hardly get in and out of the car, if I sit too long my legs go kind of numb, and, of course, I am super cranky and emotional. My belly has grown immensely since 30 weeks (scroll down to compare), and my clothes are ceasing to fit. My back started to hurt (I was expecting it to start a month ago), and I am still on my super fun diabetic diet. I can't go grocery shopping anymore, so Jason, bless him, goes for me or with me when I can. I just don't love it when they start kicking- four feet in one side of the ribs is a bit more than my body can handle- and I think this and the swelling of my feet is what will finally make me stop working.

Super fun surrogate things: I am so excited to see my IPs with their babies. I feel that the further this journey progresses, the more people seem to be supportive of it. I am enjoying this journey so very much, and I love to see my belly bumping and jumping around and know that I have successfully kept these children safe and strong for so long.

All is well, I am just tired and have no energy past the necessary tasks of life, and even those tend to fall by the wayside.
Here is 32 week pic: And 32 week cankles with cankles:




30 weeks and a baby shower

Well, I know I am not 30 weeks anymore, but I wanted to share some of the fun from 30 weeks. At 30 weeks I took my last road trip- a three hour trip to the twins' grandma's house for their baby shower. I was surprised at how much the trip exhausted me, but was so happy to be there.

The baby shower was lovely and I was able to meet some more of the twins' relatives and close family friends. It was wonderful to be invited to share in such an intimate moment that is reserved for families and dear friends. I enjoyed immensely the smiles and joy I saw in the faces of the twins' grandparents, great aunt, cousins, aunts and uncles, and everyone else who was there. The greatest joy of all was watching their parents open their gifts and see their reactions to all the little baby things that they have never had before.
Here is me with two little onesies:
I had been at the mall the week before the shower and found this shirt with the "Special Delivery" message- and knew it would be perfect for the shower.
I wish I could share the pictures of me with the twins' family, of their huge stack of baby supplies and diapers, and of theirbrother in my lap the next morning while we tried to get him to pat or kiss my belly (he wasn't very agreeable).
I think the moment I will always remember is their great aunt racing up to me at putting her hands on my belly before I even knew who she was. I think that her actions just made me feel that she realized my purpose there was to provide "the belly" holding the children that were being celebrated.

Our 30 week appointment: I gained about 2 or 3 pounds (can't remember now), and measured 35 weeks- 5 weeks bigger than I actually am (hmm, I guess it's that extra baby in there). I think I didn't gain as much weight since I began my super fun gestational diabetes diet. So, for the first time in my life, I am on a diet-grr!
Here is my 30 week belly: And my 30 week feet and cankles:






Thursday, October 8, 2009

The third trimester- wow!

Apparently it has been a long time since I have updated! After a bout with bronchitis and the total exhaustion these twins bring about every night, I am falling asleep with the kids and barely making it to my own bed!

Everything is going fantastically well. We were 28 weeks on Saturday, which means we are officially in the third trimester. The twins' mom and brother were able to come spend the night on Sunday and go with my to our 28 week ultrasound on Monday morning. The best news: The twins are looking very healthy. The doctor estimated the boy's weight to be 2 lb. 15 oz. and the girl's to be 2 lb. 10 oz. That is a very good and healthy weight for this week of pregnancy- and it made me feel so good to know that they are strong! The second best news: They are both head down, which means that as long as they stay this way we can try for a vaginal delivery (hoping and praying and telling them to 'stay'!). The little girl is tucked away deep in my right side with her head in profile to the front and she is still sucking her thumb. Her feet are in my ribs, and she is very active. Her stinkery brother has his head right next to her (about the middle of my abdomen) and is turned toward my back. His feet are up by my left side, so he is basically taking up about 2/3 of the space in there. He is a little bit sluggish and doesn't move around as much. However, they are both moving enough to keep me, the kids, and my students entertained! I have gained 24 pounds- which is about how much I gained in total with my own pregnancies. I am hoping to hit 40 pounds ;)
Their mom and I took a tour of the hospital and were able to see the nursery, the labor and delivery room, and the door that leads to the OR (there was a c-section taking place so we couldn't go in). That made it all seem so real and wonderful.
The bad news: I failed the glucose tolerance test and had to take the super-fun 3 hour glucose tolerance test this morning. Hopefully we will have results soon.
The terrible news: We found out that hospital policy only lets one person into the OR for delivery. I am having fits about this, because BOTH parents deserve to watch their children be born, and it is not their fault that I have to be there taking up the 'mom spot'! I am going to see what can be done about this ridiculous rule.
All in all, things are going well. I am getting big enough that my maternity clothes are snug, I have new vericose veins in my legs that look like bruises, my ankles never cease to be swollen, and my heels hurt incessantly. If I lay down flat, I can't breathe, and if I eat too much, I get reflux. All of these things are perfectly normal and just show that everything is going the way it should be.
I have been invited to the baby shower and that means so much to me. I have also been banned from bringing them gifts- but we will sneak some in anyways. How could I not buy anything for these little loves that I have been carrying around the last six months?
My children are anxious to see the twins, sad they missed the visit with their mom and brother, and can't wait to help make a basket of "necessities" to send their parents. It amazes me that my children can understand so completely how this works. They care about the twins, the twins' family, and talk about all of it with such clarity- I am amazed that they use words like "surrogacy" freely when explaining why mommy is pregnant. I am so proud of them and their loving hearts.
As we enter into the third trimester, I feel anxious and excited and so many other emotions. There will be a sense of sadness when this is over and this amazing journey ends. There will be such a sense of relief that we made it and successfully got these two babies here. There will be such a sense of pure joy to know that another family has been blessed by children to love.
Mother Theresa said to "give until it hurts." I don't know if I just haven't given enough, but giving is the greatest gift to myself I have ever found. For when I can think of others instead of myself, I find myself full of purpose, happiness, and find that not only am I happier, but my children are as well.


My pictures just won't go where I want them to, but these are 28 weeks- and I think this is getting pretty close to my "normal" full term size. The next few months will be interesting...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Two ears of corn

We are 24 weeks today. I love this milestone in pregnancy. This is the week where the twins are now viable children- if they were born, they would have a fighting chance at survival. Of course, they are not going to be; I am holding them hostage at least until Thanksgiving (that is the plan anyways).
According to Babycenter.com, they are each the length of an ear of corn today and over a pound. They are scrawny and haven't filled out yet, but they are working on it. Oh, how they are working on it. I look seven months pregnant already! As I sit here typing, I am having body parts bump into the top of my belly and slide around. It is great to be able to feel them moving; it brings me peace of mind to know that they are thriving. And now a big bump to the front- boy they are feeling wiggly now!
Things my body is doing: My fingernails are long, I have new spider veins popping up on my legs every day, my bladder is squished- I am not sure where it has gone because I feel them move against my pubic bone, if I lay down flat on my back I cannot breathe, when I try to get up from lying down I can't, and I can't reach my feet without sitting down and maneuvering correctly. I am eating like a starved pig and going to the bathroom every hour. The two new and exciting things: Stabbing pains in the sides of my adbomen and my sciatic nerve going numb. Yay! And I mean Yay! I am having normal pregnancy related problems- nothing dangerous to me or the babies. I have seen such horrible things happen during pregnancy that I am thankful every day for what I am going through.
The twins have names now. I don't think I will post them here, since they aren't my children's names to release, but I am excited about it. I can talk to them now and call them by name. Braden will come rub my tummy, kiss it, or talk to the twins. This morning he listened to my belly and said, "I hear them talking to each other". It was so cute. I told him that was just my tummy being hungry- which it always is.
Their parents are preparing everything at home for them, and getting their big brother as prepared as a two year old can be. I enjoy hearing about their plans and their joy at their upcoming arrivals. I can not describe how incredibly happy it makes me to hear their excitement in making plans for these children.
My greatest fear in going into surrogacy was that I would grow too attached to the babies. I had no idea that the fulfillment and happiness of helping someone else's dream come true would be complete. I never knew how easy it would be to envision these children in their parents' arms. I have no fear of that now. My greatest concern now is that I get them here safely.
Life is full of grief and sorrow. I could spend an entire blog just complaining about the things that are sad or frustrating in my life. But, life is also full of joy and peace. I have learned that through the grief and sorrow we find the joy and peace. We truly could not have one without the other. I will gladly take the pain that comes my way if it means I can know the happiness I feel on a daily basis.


My babies are growing in so many ways

"Thousands of candles can be lighted by a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." Buddha

I sit here, after a week of trying to find time to blog, and my thoughts have all left my head. Life is full these days, with the children, school, work, their extra activities, and all that we try to do. My children are growing up so fast. Katie is now playing the clarinet in band and talks about it every day after school. She is wearing mascara and lip gloss, wearing clothes from the Junior's department, and having sleepovers. Triston is doing Boy Scouts and helped our principal fold the U.S. and Texas flags after school on Friday. I was so proud! He is working with his aunt to show a horse in a competition next month. Braden just turned 6, and is growing so fast I can't believe how quickly it has happened. He is a big boy now and makes his own dinner plates and picks out his own clothes. I am overjoyed to see the people they are growing into and the goodness that radiates from them. However, I am also sad to see their little hands grow so large and their feet grow bigger than mine (well, Katie's already have) Next thing I know, they will all be taller than me! First day of school picture:


We have adjusted to school time and the school routine. We try to fit in fun things to do whenever we can and I try to let the kids have time to play with their friends, ride their bikes, and enjoy being kids. We seem to be successful with this, and they love to have free time.

I have never enjoyed anything more than I enjoy being a mom. When I was a little girl, I always said I wanted to grow up to be a mommy. Well, I did, and it is the only job I will never retire from. There is no other love on this earth that is as pure as the love between mother and child. I live for their hugs, thrive on their kisses, and rejoice in every success they meet. And when they fall, I lift them up, and we keep on going. The miraculous thing about them growing up is that they don't let me fall either. Wherever I am, whatever happens, no matter what, I know with my children that I am home.

They are the candles I was born to light. They are the light that I will leave the world. They are the best thing I have ever done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The last (gasp) day of (gasp) summer!

Well, it is official. School starts tomorrow. Aaahhhhh! I am as ready as I ever will be. The kids have their new wardrobes and shoes, the kitchen is stocked with school food, and their new school supplies are labeled and waiting to be scooped up at 6:30 tomorrow morning as we head out the door. They are excited for school to start- I told them to tell me that on Friday when they are waking up for the fifth time at 5:45 am!
I am excited to get back into a routine and have work to occupy my mind. I am anxious to see how my students are doing and be a useful citizen of Earth again. I am worried though that the normal stresses of working will make the pregnancy more uncomfortable. I am so anal about everything being done a certain way (my way of course) that I always do everything myself and I know that I won't be able to this year. One of my surro friends is already on bedrest at this stage in pregnancy, and I am just so thankful that I am healthy, the babies are healthy, and I am able to carry on with mostly normal levels of activity.
Speaking of surro friends, I belong to an online community called surromomsonline.com. It is a fantastic place for surrogates, intended parents, and anybody who wants to learn more about surrogacy to find tons of information. It is also a place where I receive lots of support from other people who understand what I am going through. I was able to meet my surro friend Denise in person when I went to Houston two weeks ago for lunch. We are due within days of each other and it was really fun to talk about surrogacy, teaching, kids, and many other things we have in common! Off my advertising plug now...

The twins are growing in great leaps and bounds. The last few days have brought about a lot more movement from this little girl. So now, both sides of my tummy are moving and it is fun when they both move at the same time. I have never had this big of a party in my belly at once! I am still shocked every time I look in the mirror and realize how big I actually am. I tried on some work clothes yesterday, and there is a maternity work shirt that doesn't fit already- how bizarre!


My back hurts sometimes, but not too much yet. I just need to make sure I lay, sit, and stand in correct amounts or I get to aching. I feel really good most of the time, but have been feeling a bit cranky lately. Hopefully this leaves and I can feel like a nice sweet person for a while before I become whale-sized. My new and favorite solution to pregnancy sleeping is the fabulous Walmart candy cane pillow, as modeled by my daughter. It is actually much more comfortable the way I use it, but she wanted to be in the picture, so she is.

The twins parents have been thinking of names, and have told me the two they are currently thinking of using. They are names I would never have considered for my children, which is just another unique part of surrogacy. We are testing them out and will see what their parents decide.

The journey is going well so far. I have had many people question how I will emotionally handle this. I have had many people question these children not being mine. Well, today I had someone say something I am having a hard time abosrbing, so I am going to explain one little side note on how I view this surrogacy: I had someone today tell me I was the "birth mother" of these children. Well, I am NOT. Just because I have been caring for and carrying them for the first part of their lives, does not make me their mother. The fact that I am going to suffer physical pain to bring them into the world does not make me their mother- for the life of a child, any child, I would suffer pain. Who wouldn't?
I would challenge anyone to look into the eyes of these childrens' mother and tell her that she is not their mother. If I were to be taken away from my children for a year and someone else cared for them, would they belong to that woman? NO. These children that I am caring for have a mother and a father. It is a chance of fate that their mother cannot carry them. For this brief time, I am their host, their home, their protector, their nurturer, but never for a single moment have I been their mother. I am honored to be able to bring them into the world. I am humbled that God chose to give me a body that allows me to grow the miracles He creates. And I will be happy to see these children in the arms of their mother. I am a mother. I am a surrogate. They are two different things.

My mother always used to tell me when I complained about my life that "you choose your life every day. If you don't like it, do something about it." The awesome thing about that saying now is that I am choosing this life, and I like it. I am striving to be happy and raise happy children. We set goals and then we reach for them. My kids have no cavities, they can't think of a single thing they 'need' that they don't have, and every day they tell me they love me. What could be better than that?


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

21 Weeks and growing like weeds!

This past week has been very hectic with getting ready to go back to work, mom's surprise 50th birthday party, and the kids (surprisingly) not spending the week with their father. Whew!
The twins have been busy growing. According to BabyCenter, they are the length of carrots and each weighs 3/4 pound. I look at my belly and can't believe I have two carrot size babies living in there!
I can tell they have been growing a lot this week because my belly seems so much bigger. It also extends all the way up to my ribs now so I can't slouch. I guess they will start popping out faster now since I am full from the ribs, all the way down, and even into my sides. This little boy is a wiggle worm and moves constantly. I have been at inservice the last two days and he keeps me entertained while I listen to the speakers and do my work. His sister is either much more peaceful, or she is aimed in such a way that her movements are all internal.
I have told everyone that works on my campus that I am carrying twins and that it is a gestational surrogacy (and then I explain that means that they are not mine!). My superintendent made a comment during our big district-wide meeting about teachers being an example for our students and something about our morals. I sat there thinking, "Hmm, and here I am, single and knocked up." Thus, the revelation to my coworkers on my campus. I guess it will trickle through the other two campuses pretty soon. Worst case scenario, when I don't have the baby in the next two months and just keep getting fatter and fatter, maybe they will ask.
Well, the kids are home, full of energy and needing me. Off I go...

20 weeks!


Yes, I know I am a bit late for 20 weeks, but we have been super busy! We spent the weekend at the lake house Jason's family owns at Lake LBJ. The kids were able to go on the wave runner swim in the lake, jump off the dock, swing in these cool "wind chairs", and play with Whisper- Jason's border collie. I go to spend the weekend watching all of this! On Friday we went to Longhorn Cavern, where we went on the "hour" long tour underground. Well, funny thing about the "hour" long tour, it was actually about 2 hours long and my bladder was sooo full by halfway through I thought I would have to hang back from the group and pee in the caves! Luckily, I made it out and all the way to the restroom before any accidents...

On Saturday, the twins' family was able to come spend the day with us. What a perfect event for hitting 2o weeks, the traditional halfway-through-pregnancy milestone. We were able to swim, barbeque, and visit for several hours. I love watching my IPs with their son and the way they interact with my children too. It reassures me every time that these children will be going to a loving home with capable parents. And, their big brother likes me now and will let me hold his hand when we walk places *smile*.

On Sunday, I decided to put a little sun on my belly while I floated in the lake. Of course, I lost track of time and fried the sucker. I am still putting aloe on it multiple times a day and it is about 10 days later... I am so glad I haven't had to go to the doctor this week- that would have been so embarrassing!

Nothing exciting at 20 weeks. The babies are growing and moving. I can feel them really well, but they get very still whenever anyone tries to feel them move.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Drumroll please...

Well, we are 19 weeks, 3 days into this pregnancy. We just had the most fantatic weekend. On Sunday morning, my IPs and their son came into town. We were able to spend the day with them and took them to my parents' house for dinner. There they were hopefully not too overwhelmed by the size of my family- there were 16 of us at the dinner table! It was terribly humid on Sunday (I guess like most days!), but we were able to go out on the ranch and see the horses. Their son was able to hold a chicken, a frog, and see countless other "farm" animals. It was so much fun. I also think it was important for them and my family to meet. I knew it would be good for my kids, but hadn't realized the import to the rest of my family as well. Now my family has the faces to go with the names, and a family to fill the void they had seen me sending these children to.
Yesterday, we went to our ob appointment and our ultrasound! I have gained 6 pounds- I was hoping for more since my belly looks so big- and I have normal blood pressure, yada yada...
We put the u/s thing (can't think of the right work) on my belly, and the first thing we saw were two little heads, side by side. So, as of now, both babies are breach- which explains why my guts feel like they are being danced upon- they are! I love that their little heads were side by side! We were able to see perfectly beating hearts, complete spines, bladders, very wiggly limbs, alien-looking eyes, and profiles of both faces. And then we saw... drumroll please...
A very proud little BOY (Baby B) and a very sweet little GIRL (Baby A). So, my wonderful IPs are going to be parents of a boy and a girl in 4 1/2 short months! This little boy showed us his "boyness" at every angle we turned to look at him with. This little girl is a thumbsucker- just like her mom- and is the wiggly reason my right side gets sore- I think her feet are lodged into the side of me.
Seeing these children in their so healthy and active was absolutely beautiful. It amazed me that so much life was going on inside of me that I still don't feel too much. However, the most beautiful, touching, and heart-filling part of the whole day was the love and joy I saw in their parents' faces. To see their tears of joy as they embraced at the sight of their children is the memory I will keep forever in my heart. I can't imagine seeing anyone more full of love than these parents yesterday. I only imagine it will be stronger when these children are finally here- but I don't know how that will be possible.
Through all of their words of appreciation, I just keep thinking how happy their happiness makes me. I knew I would love these children. I didn't realize that I would love their family so very much.
I will be able to see my IPs again next weekend. I am hoping and hoping that these two kiddos will cooperate so that their parents will be able to feel them bumping around in there!

Life is good. Sometimes, it is so good that I forget to see how absolutely great it is. I see it today, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

18 1/2 weeks- we are home!



It has been an intense 3 1/2 weeks. I left home on July 3rd and returned on July 29th. I went from Salt Lake City, to Lake Tahoe, to Pacific Grove, to San Diego, to Houston, and home again. It feels so good to be in my house, in my chair typing, in my car driving, or in the grocery store just buying groceries!
The kids and I had fun and wore ourselves out. Both Triston and Katie ended up with swimmer's ear leading to ear infections on the trip. All three of the kids got too much sun. Braden learned to swim. We walked on the beach. We saw dearly loved friends and family, and met the newest members of our world (twin cousins, an niece, and a best friend's baby).
The surrogacy is going really well. At the end of week 17, I felt one episode of absolutely fabulous movement from one of the twins. I was so excited that they were finally moving enough to feel on the outside! Well, that was apparently a one time deal. Since then, it is back to subtle movements from within. I feel great and just eat, sleep, eat, sleep, repeat. I am sleeping about 10 hours a night and eating about 6 times a day. I feel no sickness anymore! I do get muscle aches in my belly and have to lay down sometimes to take the pressure off.
The really fun news is that my belly has tripled in size in the last two weeks. I went from barely showing when I left on vacation, to very visibly pregnant when I got home. Clothes I took on my trip quit fitting midtrip- oops!
I had a box of maternity clothes waiting when I got home though, so now I have clothes that fit!
I am really, really, really looking forward to this Sunday, and especially Monday. My IPs (The twins' parents) and their soon-to-be big brother are coming to visit on Sunday and stay in town for the ultrasound on Monday. I am looking forward to them being able to see where we live, meet the family, and - most importantly- meet the kids. I have talked to the children about them and have tried to make them seem very real so the kids will understand where the babies are going. They have talked on the webcam, but not in person. I feel that it is so important for my kids to know who these children belong to. I think it will help with closure when the babies are born, and with the understanding that we are helping create a family. I often tell them that we are making "N" a big brother. My children, although they think they don't, love each other so much and think everyone should have a brother or sister. So, I am so excited for this.
And, on Monday... the BIG ultrasound! We will get to look at all the little organs and body parts of the babies to make sure they are developing properly. We will get to see how they are arranging themselves in there and watch them move. We will also get to- if they cooperate- see if we have boys/girls/boy and girl playing in my tummy. I just can't wait to see them. Mostly, I can't wait to watch their parents see them. That is the moment I am waiting for.
There are many dangers to pregnancy, there are so many life changes that must be made to properly care for these babies in utero, and there are so many things that would be easier to do. However, with each day of this pregnancy, with each call to their parents, with each movement I feel, with each moment of this journey, I feel a surety that this is exactly what I should be doing, when I should be doing it. I know that prayers are answered, and I know that this surrogacy, for my family and the family waiting for these children, is an answer to prayer.
I have been told what a wonderful gift I am giving, how selfless I am, and many other undeserved compliments. But I have found this to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I am awed by the miracle of life, and incredibly blessed to be participating in the creation of it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

16 Weeks!!!


I am so excited! We are 16 weeks pregnant, my belly is finally starting to pop out and look pregnant instead of pudgy, and I feel- GREAT!
I don't know if it is from being on vacation, being out of the vile heat of an East Texas summer (Jason's car thermometer read 113 this afternoon!), or finally hitting a "good" point of a twin pregnancy, but I just feel good, healthy, and normal. The babies aren't really moving yet, I feel a bump here and there, but that is all. I figure I am actually feeling them since I seem to know where they are located- but I may just be delusional. My dr told me I should be able to feel them move this week... but he may have just been placating me.
The kids and I are here in PG. We spent almost a week in Tahoe with dad at the house there and enjoyed the lake and the beach most every day. The kids even got to go to the arcade at the casino- they loved it! We had fun and came here yesterday. I don't understand why, I thought I was happy in Tahoe, but as soon as we got out of the car here, I felt elated! It is like everything just clicked into focus and I remembered everything I wanted to do, what needs to be done, and I felt so lighthearted and happy!
Last night we saw Megan's family and got to meet their newest addition, Maya. She is beautiful and so quiet compared to all the other kids. The boys were so sweet to her; they just melt my heart when they take such good care of little ones. I saw my grandma and - finally- told her about the surrogacy. As I knew deep down she would be, she was fine and didn't die of a stroke! I feel so much peace now that she knows, I didn't realize how much it bothered me not to tell her.
We are looking forward to a great week here, the kids getting to visit with our family and friends, and I am looking forward to these durn babies moving!!!
I will have pictures soon- of our fabulous trip and my rockin' baby bump!
I still can't believe that we are four months pregnant already- it is going by so fast now...
Profound thoughts on life: Whoever said you can't go home again was wrong. I come home again every summer. It feels like home every time. And it fills me with a peace and joy I know nowhere else. So, you can go home again. Or, at least I can...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

14 weeks and counting


This week is going much better than last week. I think knowing that I will get to see the kids in a few days and that I will be in PG where it isn't over 100 degrees is making me excited!

Fortunately, I have been feeling good for the most part this week.

The bad: I still get headaches off and on, but they haven't been bad enough lately to warrant taking medicine. I am really tired in the mornings and have to sit down between things like brush teeth, sit down and brush hair, makeup, sit down and rest, get dressed, sit down and rest. Then, mid morning I have been feeling nauseated. I seem to have energy in the afternoon, and then crash by dinner time. My guts are still a mess and I hate eating out. Home cooked food makes my tummy so much happier.

The good: I have a little baby bump now! The twins are each the size of a lemon this week and they can make faces, have fingerprints, and their bodies are catching up in proportion to their heads. I have been buying maternity clothes as my regular clothes are becoming uncomfortable at this point. I am still small enough that some people don't notice, but some do. I can't exactly feel the babies moving, but I can tell when they are moving around because everything inside seems to shift around and the pressure changes.
The humorous: I have to pee sooo often! I can go an hour and a half or so, but then I will go like three times in the next hour. I have no idea how I will survive the plane and car trips I will soon be taking! Also, one of my friends told her neighbor that I was pregnant and I said, "don't worry, it's not mine." Oh, the look on his face was hilarious. Some people get it and it is simple, but some people don't get it at all. I think I am erring on the side of not explaining- way too much for most people to deal with.
The Doctor: I had my monthly ob visit on Monday. I got to hear both heartbeats- one at 150 and one at 160. The cool thing was that the nurse found the heartbeats right where I thought each baby was. One is right in the middle, and one is over on the right. This really makes me feel more confident about my ability to understand and read what is going on in my body.
I have been really worried about not gaining weight, but I gained 2 pounds! Doctor was happy. He said I am very "entertaining". I am not sure why... maybe my strange sense of humor?... my sarcasm?... Either way, he leaves laughing every time and tells me I am doing great- which is all I want to know anyway.
Profound thought for the day: I have told my IPs that I want to have a picture up of them and their son in our home so that the kids and I remember why we are doing this. I was thinking about this this morning, and realized that there was a different picture I needed to put up to remind us why we are doing this. And I already have. They are the pictures of my kids. My blessings.
So, everything is going great. I get my kids in a few days, I am feeling better **hoping and praying** that I won't be the vacation party-pooper, and we are headed to the beach. My kids, me, and the beach... perfection.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I think I am cranky

My students laugh at me because I try to be cheerful and positive. One of my boys takes his hands in a welcoming, circling gesture and, in his best imitation of me, says, "this is a happy place" to show that I am happy, or I am a dork, or something like that. It doesn't look very cute here in print, and probably doesn't make any sense, but it actually makes me happy to know that they realize that I want happiness in my life and for everyone to have somewhere that makes them feel happy.
As I sit here in my house, it is completely silent except for the sound of my fingers on the keyboard. I think about how, for me, happiness is not a place, it is the people I love. It really doesn't matter where I am, as long as I am with the people that make any place a "happy place."
With that in mind, I have decided that I am probably cranky now that I am completely alone!
Jason and I just returned today from our weeklong trip to South Padre, San Antonio, Marble Falls, and Austin. It was a great trip, relaxing on the beach, apartment hunting with my sister, taking a boat on the Riverwalk, floating on the lake and reading books, and getting to visit friends in Austin. He has gone home, and I am alone- I used to like this, now, it just seems quiet.
As far as the surrogacy goes, this has been an odd week! I spent 7 days (from Thursday to Thursday) with headaches that made me hurt and eventually made me nauseated. I finally called the doctor and got a pill to take that is safe for pregnancy and effective. Yay- no more headaches! Hopefully I remember this next time I have a problem instead of suffering! The other bummer is that I can't eat fried food, spicy (even mildly) food, greasy food, and I can only eat if I eat at the exact right time, or I won't be hungry. I don't think my kids ever caused this much disruption of my digestive system.
The entertaining news is that my chest has grown- enough that my 5 year old even noticed. Braden said, "Mom, your boobs are taller" when he came in and I was still laying in bed one morning a couple weeks ago. My belly is still small, but it is definitely there. I am pretty sure I was nowhere near showing yet with my other pregnancies. I finally gave in and went into Gap Maternity and bought a few pairs of shorts. Maternity clothes have come a long way from when I was last pregnant. Instead of a huge balloon to go over your entire belly, there is just a stretchy band a few inches wide- who knew? The pants are great, they don't fall down even though I am still tiny, but (in theory) will stretch to accomodate my soon-to-be gigantic belly.

The kids are on vacation with their Nana. I miss them so very much. They have only been gone a week, but knowing they will be gone for two more weeks just makes me so sad. It is not in a mother's heart to be without her children this long. The only joy I feel from this agony is the joy that I will have them again soon. And then maybe it will be a while before they drive me bonkers again...lol...
And for Father's Day/my profound thoughts on life: I am so grateful to have a father who loves me and has taken care of me and supported me no matter what my entire life. I am so grateful to have a stepfather who loves me and has helped me grow up to be independent. I have thought today of them, and of my grandpa, and of Alfred, the father of one of my dear friends who recently passed away, and I am comforted in knowing that it is not sad that they are missed, it is because they are missed that they will be remembered, and because they will be remembered, they will live forever in those whose lives they shaped. The power of a father's influence is great and never ends.

Friday, June 12, 2009

On an amazing journey


I sat down a bit ago and decided to read through my blog. I actually teared up looking at our journey so far. All the frustrations, the minor setbacks, and the roller coaster of my life have not prevented us from getting to this point.

We will be 12 weeks pregnant on Sunday! I can't believe we are here finishing the first trimester already. There isn't much going on since my last post, other than that I will be out of town on Sunday and wanted to share my excitement about being in the 2nd trimester and off the last "drug" for IVF. I will just be a "normal" pregnant lady in a few days- well, as normal as a twin pregnancy allows you to be.

I guess it will be time to tell the people I haven't told yet...

And, I wanted to try to post a picture of my belly, so here goes:

Okay, so it didn't work. I am going to figure this out and be back!
I think it worked... SMILE!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

And I feel great today!

Well, things seem to be on an upswing. I have felt like a normal human being for the last two days. Yay me! I have actually stayed awake all day, not taken tylenol for a headache, not been in bed sick, and not wanted to cry. That doesn't mean I have accomplished too much though. The house is still a mess, but the kids and I have been out and about doing things.
Triston is having a blast at Cub Scout Camp and comes home every day excited to tell me about what he did that day. Today they went on waterslides (cool ones that they had to climb up), they have shot beebee guns, bow and arrows, and made monkey bread among other things. Katie and Braden and I did the summer clothes shopping today with Grandma and cousin Asia and Aunt Julie along. Grandma bought us pretzel sandwiches- oh, they are so good! Then, we all went swimming at the city pool. I love swimming in the summer, it is the only activity where we live that is actually nice to do outside.
The twins seem to be doing great. I am off of all the insertables and only have to take the baby aspirin through Sunday. I have been released to my ob/gyn, so no more clinic or driving to Houston anymore. All I have for the time being is my monthly ob visit, which is great. The only downside is that I don't get more ultrasounds to see the twins. I am very glad though that this pregnancy is so low-risk that my doctor is treating it just like all my other pregnancies. I am sure that will change at some point, but, as I have heard people say, a boring pregnancy is a good pregnancy. So, the surrogacy is going great and I am hoping to visit with my IPs next weekend so they can see the baby bump :)
The kids are leaving on Saturday to go to visit their Nana and spend time with their dad. I am already dreading the thought of them leaving. I enjoy the first few days, survive the first 10 or so, but by that third week, I am always a mess. I don't think it is part of a mother's soul to be away from her children for so long and I already hurt knowing how difficult it is. I am trying to stay busy though. Jason and I are going on a road trip next week to get my niece and sister down to their new home and take my first trip to South Padre. It will be great to be on the beach!!!
I continue to be amazed at the blessings I have. Even though my kids will be gone for three weeks, I will get them back. Even though I won't see their faces, I will be able to hear their voices. Even though I won't hold their hands, I will be able to feel their love. I can't imagine life without them, and I realize again and again that this is exactly the joy/the pain/ the beauty that we are helping to create for the twins' family.

Monday, June 1, 2009

We are ten weeks along!


I am so excited with my latest surrogacy news. I am no longer taking the PIO (progesterone in oil)- otherwise known as the evil butt-shot. We added it up the other night, and between the Lupron and the PIO, I have given myself over 90 shots in the last three months!!!!
My butt is in the healing process now and it is so very nice to see the bruises and lumps healing. I am hoping it will quit hurting within the next week or so.
Friday was the last day of school, the last day of shots, and the last day of my estrogen insertable. What a rewarding day! I am now only using the progesterone insertable, what a relief. I went in for lab work this morning (another thing I am tired of) and hopefully I will get high progesterone levels and start weaning off of this too. In theory, I should be off the insertables by week 11, which is next week. At week 12, I should be solely under the care of my ob and be able to stop taking the baby aspirin too. What will I even do with myself with only a vitamin to take every day?
As far as the morning sickness, it seems to be abating finally. I was really sick on Friday and Saturday with some kind of horrible headache that eventually caused vomiting as well. Ever since then, I haven't felt too nauseated. I am tired though, and even doing laundry or the dishes seems to be pretty daunting.
In fun news, I have a little baby bump now. It is not very noticeable, but I notice it and my kids do too. Katie laughed at me when we went swimming yesterday because she can see it. The boys have started talking, well yelling, to the babies too!
I found out my sister is due with her second child three weeks before the surro twins are born, so that will be an adventure. I have always wanted to be pregnant with a friend or sibling, and now I get to! I think it will be especially wonderful to have a baby around to love on once I send the twins home with C and A.
I am feeling much more confident about the babies' health now. I guess since I can visibly "see" how much they are growing I feel that they are in good and snug. I go to the ob again on Thursday for all the "normal" ob first visit stuff. Joy of joys. I don't think we will be getting anymore ultrasounds for awhile, which is a bummer.
I feel so different with this pregnancy than with the others. I guess with this one, I am focused on being pregnant and taking good care of C and A's babies. I am not focused on once they are here, or taking care of newborns. There are so many things about this that I like. I love these babies and care about them very, very much. But it is not the overwhelming feeling I felt with my own. I don't know how to adequately describe it, but I know that it is meant to be this way. Their mother already has these feelings for them and is so excited about "her little tadpoles"!
In "regular life", I have two weeks with the kids before they go with their dad for three weeks, so we are going to go swimming and to grandma's house, as well as get all the doctor's appointments and stuff out of the way. I love summer. I am so excited that I get to enjoy the second trimester in two short weeks and that I will be able to share it with my children. I love the peace we are able to find when we have no work or school to hurry us along each day. I keep trying to remind myself when I am tired or frustrated that I have the life I want. I am doing what I want with the people that I want to be with. Life is such a blessing. I am going to go enjoy it, along with the laundry, now...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Holy cow!

Apparently I don't blog very often. We have been so busy with school winding down, the boys' baseball games, and everything else that I don't seem to have much time!
We had our first ultrasound on May 7. IM and I were there together, awaiting the "revelation" of one or two or none, and... there were TWO!!!!
After that moment, I lost all logical thought and I don't think another coherent thought went through my mind for the rest of the day!
I have spent the last two weeks so worried that we would end up with a "vanishing twin" or that the baby or babies would die and I would just be carrying around dead tissue (gross I know, but it has been my fear). Also, in the last two weeks, I have experienced the joyous/awful feeling of morning, afternoon, and night sickness along with plenty of exhaustion. It is joyous because I that is how I know the babies are growing. It is awful because it doesn't feel good. In addition, I have stopped almost all of the estrogen. For the first time in about two months, I don't have four little sticky patches stuck all over my abdomen- my skin is so happy!
Today, we had a repeat ultrasound here with my ob/gyn. IPs couldn't come, so I brought my mom with me. Both little babies have strong heartbeats and are growing right on track. Baby A is still measuring 2 days ahead of Baby B. I am very happy that they are thriving and can't wait to see them again in a few weeks.
We are off to Boy Scouts for T, visiting grandma's chickens for B, and missing K who is having a sleepover with a friend so her friend's mom can have the joy of dropping them off at school at 6:00 am for a super fun field trip to Moody Gardens.
Hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later,
Emily

Friday, April 24, 2009

BFP and BETA




In surrogacy talk, these are two phrases that linger in our minds when we know that we are "supposed" to be pregnant. A few days after transfer, I started peeing on a stick every morning as part of my morning routinie. Ridiculous I know, but all too tempting. I know some ladies pee multiple times a day. That, I think, is too expensive and time consuming.
On day four after transfer (4dp5dt = 4 days past a 5 day (how many days since fertilization) transfer) I had a super, super faint positive. They kept getting darker, and darker, until I sent C and A a picture of one on day 7.


Then, last Saturday, I sent them a picture of the digital, "pregnant". It was so exciting! All of our efforts, time, pain, and suffering had worked. But, there is always a chance that it isn't viable, and that is where the pregnancy test comes in.


In IVF land/surrospeak, and apparently the medical community, a Beta is a number given to the exact level of HcG in a pregnancy test. High numbers are good, and numbers are supposed to double or triple every two days. So, on Monday, April 20, I went in for Beta number 1.
Beta number 1: 270- this is very solid and good.
On Wednesday, April 22, I went in for Beta number 2.
Beta number 2: 550- this is very nice. It more than doubled!

Good news- I am very pregnant!
Now, I just have to wait until May 7 for my ultrasound to see if there is one little bean or two little beans baking in my belly.
C and A are happy. They laugh every time I talk to them and I can feel the joy through the phone- it is that real.
Now, I feel like crap and am nauseated all day. The shots I give myself in my butt have created raised red marks, bruises, and huge knots under my skin. They get worse every day and I still have 4 1/2 weeks left of them. These are the downside. They upside: We are on the way!
I will be 5 weeks pregnant on Sunday. BIG SMILE! Only 35 weeks until I make N a big brother!!!

And we shot them in!!!

Transfer weekend was so incredible. Jason and I went down to Houston the night before so I wouldn't have to have the stress of the long (3 hour) drive to the clinic Friday morning. Luckily, we had no school that day and the kids' dad ended up being in town so he could take them for the weekend.
We went out to breakfast Friday morning with Angela (Jason's mom) and then began the transfer journey...
I had to drink an entire water bottle (20 oz) on the way there so my bladder would be full. Well, we got there and my lovely IPs were there. They were so nervous and excited, my heart was just so nervous for them! I had my labwork (yes, they sucked more blood) done, then we met with Dr. H, who went over the state of each embryo/blastocyst. Two were fully developed blastocysts that were rated at the highest rating possible. These are the two he chose to transfer. I drank more water to get my valium down- I was so excited for the valium!!! Sadly, I overfilled my bladder and the valium didn't kick in, so I went into transfer in abject misery.
The transfer itself was not painful; however, the lack of valium, the overfull bladder, the speculum pushing on the overfull bladder from below, and the ultrasound pushing (not so gently) on it from above, drove me to the point of actual pain. I was so, I mean completely, terrified that I would pee all over the good doctor. I think that he, the nurses, and my IPs thought I was joking. About midway through the procedure, I think I was actually begging them to "suck some of the pee out". I think they realized my pain then....
On a serious and beautiful note, the transfer itself was awesome. My IPs sat behind me (Heaven forbid they see my girl parts!), the nurse smashed my bladder from the side, and the poor doctor sat in the seat of honor! They insert this long tube, this man walks in with an incubator-but-cooler looking thing, and from it he did something I was in too much misery to notice. Then, as I am focusing all my power on the ultrasound monitor, I see this little blast shoot into my uterus. And again. The pain left in that moment as I could see this little burst of future-children shooting into my womb. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
Somehow, through the pain, I could focus completely on that monitor. I saw this miracle occur inside of me, and I was so awed and humble, that for a moment, nothing else existed.
Then, they were done, the embryos were both in, and they let me pee!!!! I peed right past the catheter bag, into the whatever they had under it, and on my gown. I have never had so much pee in me before. (I know this is gross, but it is just the truth!).
Afterwards, I laid there in the "recovery room" with my IPs and C went to get Jason so he could hang out with us for the hour I had to lay still. I was perfectly happy with my empty bladder, but sadly, the valium never really did anything for me.
For brevity's sake, we spent the rest of Friday through Sunday morning with my IPs in a hotel. They fed me, helped me with my meds, A got to give me a shot in the butt!, and we truly got to visit and just get to know each other. It was a wonderful weekend. I would not trade it for anything in the world. They loved being able to watch the transfer and have a pictue of the babies blasting in there.
After transfer weekend, I am more sure than ever that helping C and A create a family is what I need to do. I am so excited for them and can't wait to see if we are pregnant!!!!

Hello, where have I been?

Life has been so incredibly busy lately. I haven't had time to open mail, reply to emails, or sit down. Seriously, one of my students gave me a movie to watch over Spring Break- which was about 4 (oh, heavens, maybe 5) weeks ago. I haven't even gotten it into the living room yet! I really want to have separate posts for each stage of my surrogacy so I can write a decent amount and not turn it into the longest blog ever. So, I am going to start with transfer weekend- since that is where I left off...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It Is Tomorrow!

So, life has been completely crazy lately; I haven't even looked to see when I last wrote since I am about to leave again.
The One-Act Play went well, my students did a fantastic job, we didn't advance in competition, but are still hoping to do it for the school.
Triston and Braden are doing baseball and T-ball respectively now. It is completely time consuming and we go to about 4 or 5 games a week. Then practice. The only days we aren't baseball-ing are Sunday and Wednesday, and Wednesday is church and Sunday is church, so we have been running constantly.
In super fabulous wonderful blessed news, we are transfering tomorrow!!!!!! The egg donor apparently had a really hard time reacting to the meds, so the cycle just kept getting pushed back two days, two more days, two more days, until last Sunday when they finally were able to do the egg retrieval. They were able to get 16 eggs, and 10 fertilized, which was wonderful. I was able to meet and have lunch with the egg donor, and she is such a wonderful and sweet lady who is doing her best to help her cousin out!
The 10 little embies (embryos) were looking very strong on Wednesday, so we will do a 5 day transfer tomorrow at 12:15 pm. It is finally the moment we have been waiting for.
I have been feeling like a drug addict lately. Not only have I been taking my baby aspirin and vitamin every day, but I have been taking a steroid pill every night and an antibiotic four times a day since Sunday. That is finally over! I am used to the sticky estrogen patches by now, I don't think there are any little hairs left on my abdomen to pull off, but somehow there always are!
The worst thing I have done so far is the PIO (progesterone in oil). I take a 1 inch needle full of 1 cc of sesame oil (imagine the oil you use to cook with- looks and feels exactly the same), pierce my poor butt-flesh, and squirt it into my muscle. I was so scared the first time I started shaking and had to have someone else do it! At this point, the shot itself is nothing, but my butt is soooo sore. It feels like I worked out really hard, never goes away, hurts if I sit too long, stand too long, lay down on it, and I have huge knots already. The joyous part of this is that I have to do it until 9 weeks of pregnancy (or longer I think).
Aside from all of this medical nonsense, we will be transfering tomorrow!!! (Did I say that already?) Then C and A (the fabulous parents) and I will be staying at a hotel for the two days I am on bedrest. I am glad it has ended up being this weekend because now Jason will be able to go down with me, do the driving, and otherwise deal with everything for me.
Our IVF nurse says that they will have "two beauties" to transfer to me- so I am beaming with anticipation and joy. I am so excited to begin this journey with them and help them to become parents.
I have been so emotional lately (I am sure all the pregnancy inducing drugs) and when I look at my kids, I can't imagine someone not being able to have that same fullness of joy. I hope to have joyful tidings soon. As far as I understand thus far, we will be taking the official pregnancy test a week from Sunday- April 19.
I can't wait for the BFP (big fat positive)!!!!
Wish me sticky vibes tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

So close, yet not close enough

Today has been a wonderful, wonderful day. I say this because for the first time all week, I feel like I have everything done that needs to be done. That doesn't mean I don't have tons to do, but I feel in control finally. I don't know if it is the hormones I am on, or if life is just very complicated right now, but I have been so overwhelmed every day this week. Until today...
The play is good to go, I have a pair of shoes to buy and a costume to pick up, and two rehearsals to go, and then we will be off... It doesn't feel like the play has all come together yet, but it always seems to right at the tippy end. It is amazing how the kids all of a sudden figure out what their character should be like when it comes down to the wire!
As far as the surrogacy project goes, everything is right on track. I am drugged up on my lupron, estrogen, vitamins, aspirin and will soon begin taking a new round of antibiotics and progesterone in oil (very evil butt shots), but then I will get to go off the lupron shots. I am trading shots for more shots, but at least the progesterone indicates the baby will be there within days! We are planning to transfer next weekend, but are still unsure of the date. The ED won't be triggering this weekend, so I think next Friday is ruled out. That leaves some time between Saturday and Monday I think, I don't really know though and nobody seems to tell me until the last minute. It is amazing how much is left unknown until the last minute. I also wish that there was some kind of explanation of the whole process that I could have read before I started this thing. It wouldn't change my decision to do it, but I would feel more prepared. I am sooo excited for transfer, I can't wait to get this journey going (well, the fun part. Shots and weenie wands are not very interesting).
As far as the kids go, we have had a wild week. I don't know what happened to them, but they are bouncing off the walls, not going to sleep, and being noisier than ever. I think we will go to the park- despite the rain- and run, run, run! Just kidding... maybe...
Well, children call. Hopefully I will be back soon with a TRANSFER DATE!!!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finally!

I am so happy today. I found out yesterday that the egg donor's cyst is gone and we are proceeding with our cycle. Wahoo! I went down for my first visit this cycle and everything looks great. I have been on lupron (an insulin type shot that shoots hormone blocking drugs into my body) for 4 weeks and have just doubled up my estrogen patches, so I will be insanely hormone-filled by morning. We are TWO WEEKS to transfer and counting. I am excited and nervous and anxious for my IPs (intended parents).
I was thinking this week that I met them in November and we decided to work together then. If I had decided to have my own pregnancy in November, I would be 4 or 5 months pregnant already. That just seemed to boggle my mind.
I am also very touched by my IM (Intended mother). She sent an email today saying that she wanted me to meet the egg donor who is her very dear cousin. I had hoped to see a picture, but now I will actually get to meet her. It touches my heart that she wants me to meet someone so dear to her, and that she sees us as all working together to bring them a child. I am so full of joy to be helping bring my IPs another child. I feel like my soul is just radiating light every time I think of their joy.
On to super fun (uh, hum) things. My (I mean, my school's) play goes to competition on 3/31. Yeah, it is in like 10 days, and I am soooo not ready. With planning the surro project, the kids, and just keeping my classes going, I somehow totally missed how soon the play performance will be here. My actors/students are wonderful though and are finally starting to pull it all together. I am sure it will be great.
My dad just left after visiting for a week. It was so lovely. I feel like he and the children were really able to do some good bonding, and he helped out with so much at the house. He even helped me get some new couches- black leather. A vast improvement from the old hand-me down couch with room for 3. We can all sit down together in the living room now. Thank heaven for small favors!
Life is good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grr!

So, I know I am crazy impatient and I am trying to work on it. But seriously, I waited so patiently to get a calendar (for the surro transfer), worked out a schedule with work and the kids, and have been doing everything I am supposed to for two and a half weeks. Every night, I use my blue highlighter and cross off each day. Every night, I count how much longer we have until transfer. Totally anal, but it makes me happy.
And then, today, I get home from work and there is an email saying that the cycle has been pushed back a week. Aaahhhh! I cannot handle this. Worse than a phone call where I can ask questions and get new dates set in my head, it is an email that I cannot respond to. I have to wait all the way until tomorrow to figure out if the IVF nurse meant we are exactly one week later, or into the next week which will be like two weeks later. I also don't know if my appointment on Friday is a go or if it is cancelled!
I know these are ridiculous worries, and in the grand scheme of things it is much better to wait until everything is perfect before proceeding, but I hate it when my schedule is totally obliterated. Maybe this is God's way of teaching me that I do not actually control the schedule.
I will be fine and patient, but it is so frustrating because I am so excited for the transfer to be here!
I also don't love the hot flashes, headaches, tiredness, and overall crazy feeling that the drugs are giving me (not all at the same time, but still there)! I want so badly to reach our goal of giving C and A a beautiful baby.
I feel better now that I have vented this all out. Hopefully tomorrow I will get new dates, but I guess we may just be on hold until we find out if the evil little cyst the egg donor has is going away or still rearing its ugly little head.
I will try to remember how blessed I am that I did not have to go through all this boloney to have my babies and know that the mild irritation this causes now will be forgotten soon when we have healthy little embies growing.
I am going to work on my patience now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life is a crazy thing

Life is so busy. It seems I am running non-stop between work, play practice, t-ball, baseball, church activities, and keeping the kids involved with their friends. It seems though, that the busier I get, the happier I am. I love to do things for my kids. I sewed some patches on Triston's cub scout shirt last night, and despite the many pokes to my fingers, I was so happy. I love serving my children and helping them become better and stronger people.
I was talking to my dad a few nights ago, and it seems we have both had the same epiphany. The quote, "life is not a destination; it is a journey" basically sums it up. My dad said that he tries to do things every day that make him happy. If he feels like spending time with the grandkids, he buys a ticket to come out. He doesn't say, "oh, I will have to plan a trip." In the same vein, I have realized that waiting to achieve the goal of buying a house, or making it to summer vacation are not going to make me happy. I have found that happiness is found in the moments. They can be stolen moments in the middle of a busy day or precious moments snuggling my kids into bed. My mom always told me that I choose my life every day, and if I don't like it, change it. Today, I know that I would not change it. And that makes my heart full to bursting.
I think about my life and I am so blessed. I am so happy and have so many opportunities for joy. Even every other weekend without the children is a blessing because it makes me realize how empty my life is without them. I see that even though it is peaceful, it is not what I want.

On a super exciting note, my aunt and uncle became the proud parents of twins yesterday!!! I have new first cousins- Carson and Gracie. I never thought my uncle would become a father, and I am so glad that he has. He and his lovely wife are the reason I began to look into surrogacy, and now, a year later, they have their beautiful miracle babies in their arms.

My surrogacy journey is motoring right along. I am taking my meds like I have been directed and am just counting down until transfer day. Three weeks from yesterday!!! Well, really, it could be three weeks from Sunday- we will see. I have the greatest feeling about this surrogacy. My heart is so full of excitement for this journey. I feel like it will be so good for my family to learn and grow through this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The people I love

I realize that I have the greatest gift in the world. I have a very large and ever growing family. I have the security of knowing that I will never walk alone and that my children will never walk alone if/when I am gone one day.
Even better, I have a family that loves me and supports me no matter what I do, no matter what dumb mistakes I have made (over, and over, and over). So, it seems only logical that they will support me in this journey to give a dear boy a sibling.
Which makes me wonder why I am so afraid to tell them. I think I have had so many negative reactions when I have brought up the subject of surrogacy that I am afraid to tell anyone. I have blurted it out right out of the blue and nearly caused a car accident (sorry Dad!). I have explained it carefully and from the beginning (I would like to talk to you about something very important). I have brought it up in a casual conversation (Speaking of...).
It doesn't seem to matter how I bring it up, very few people seem to support it. Well, that is not exactly true. What I have noticed is that people seem to support surrogacy in general and like to say how it is a beautiful gift. BUT, they don't actually want their child/sister/friend to do it.
Is it out of concern for my health? My sanity? My children? Do they know that this child is not related to me in any way? Do they know the pain in the eyes of the woman who can not bear her own child? Do they know of the joy I feel when I have a child growing inside me? Do they know that I feel so good and right about doing this? Do they know that I have never felt more strongly about anything as I do about doing this?
I hope and pray that these people I love will support me in this choice. I hope that I handle myself well. I hope that they see the love in my heart. Obviously, they know I am strong-willed and will carry on anyways, but it is not to be stubborn; it is to follow the calling of my heart.
This is my life. It was given to me to live the best way I can. My heart is full of the joy and hope I see and feel from my children every day. And this choice, as all the choices I make are, is made for us.

I am on drugs!

So, I have been trying to write on my blog for several days. I have my calendar, my drugs came on Monday, and I took my first ever self-injected shot last night!
I was so terrified to stab myself with a needle, but Braden came in with me to give me moral support (and to keep him from tormenting his siblings!) We sat down, prepared the syringe, stared at my leg, and presto, I did it.
I feel like we are finally making progress in this journey now that I am actually doing something to physically prepare for it. There is so much work to be done to create a child using IVF; I realize how truly blessed I was to have my own children so easily.
In other exciting news, I have received a webcam from my fabulous IPs so that we can visit and chat while actually looking at each other. Our goal with this is mostly so that the children will be able to see each other and that mine will get to know the family we are helping to grow.
My thoughts have been so full and jumbled lately as I begin this journey.
I have realized that life is the greatest paradox of them all. Life is so strong and yet so fragile. It is amazing that a life can form from such small, easily destructable parts, only to grow and thrive and become a strong and vigorous child. What is even more amazing to me is the strength of the human spirit. No matter what the odds are, no matter how great the mountain, with the inspiration of God and the amazing human mind, we have found a way to scale the most distant ridges and arrive at the top of the world- able to see our dreams realized and our hopes alive.
Life is a gift- cherish it!