Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am just a vehicle

After two surrogacy journeys, one would think I would have a total understanding of my role in this amazing process.  However, tonight, as I looked at a picture of my newest surrobaby, I had a small revelation.
A few weeks ago, I visited my surrotwins.  I am a stranger to them.  Today, I looked at Isabella.  She would not know me from a stranger.  When I was pregnant with the twins, I had this idea that my surrobabies would always hold some kind of subconscious memory of me, that they would always know me.  But I was wrong. 
Today, as I looked at this precious child playing on a blanket, I realize that I played a very specific role in all of their lives, and although I am so very blessed to be able to keep in touch with them as a friend( and I love and appreciate their families beyond words for this), the role as their surrogate mother ended, and I realize exactly what my role was- I was just a vehicle.
Imagine if you will: 
You are at your home in Texas.  You receive a phone call, and find out that your mother in California  is very ill.  You have to go to her- now.  You go to the airport.  You see that there are several planes getting ready to fly to California- but they are all full.  You stop at each check-in counter to see if anyone will take you.  You explain the dire need of getting to your mom today.  Everyone says "no."  Finally, one airplane makes room for you.  That airplane takes you to California- right to your mother's door.  You are safe and sound, with your mother.
How grateful are you for that airplane?  That airplane just took you home.  That airplane just bridged a gap that was unreachable without it.  In that moment, the airplane was your salvation, the only hope you had of reaching home.  But, a month later, it is just an airplane. 
My point:  I am just a vehicle. I am a means to an end.  People always wonder why surrogates can "give up" the babies they carry.  This is the answer.  When I carry my children, I am their home, and after that, I am still their home and they are mine.  When I carry another woman's child, I am just a vehicle.  I am just taking them where they need to be because the plane they were intended to come in on is broken down. 
I am just a vehicle.  And not just any run of the mill economy size sedan either.  I am a top of the line, luxury  model SUV ( I would have liked to be a sports car, but all my passengers wouldn't fit ;)  
And if you think I am demeaning surrogacy or myself, just ask yourself- what would you do without that vehicle?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What a difficult post to write

This post is so hard to write. My eyes fill with tears as I write it. And it is such a silly thing. The moment I write this post, I move on from my journey to bring Isabella here. The moment I post this entry, she moves down the list. The moment I move on, the amazing and beautiful adventure of bringing her here falls into the realm of the surreal, the past, the completed.
Life has gone back to normal. I find joy in my children, in my husband, in my family, and in my home. I can run again. I can bend again. I can lay down with my son on his bed and be able to get back up. I can curl up and snuggle in my husband's lap.

Some days, I don't even think of Isabella. Some days, it seems like a distant dream. Some days though, it is so real I can't believe it's really over.
Some days, someone at work asks me how my baby is.
Some days, someone asks me if I'm pregnant.
Some days, someone asks if I ever see her.
Some days, I realize that three short months ago I delivered a baby.
I am grateful for my life. For my children. My husband. This world that I have worked so hard to build. This is my happiness and my joy. This is the life I always wanted. The life that I have fought for. The life that I thank God for every day.

This is what we all deserve- to live the life we want.

Whenever I say I wish I had made a better choice, or I could have done something differently in my life, my husband tells me that he doesn't. He reminds me that every choice, every happiness, every sorrow, led me to him. And I know this is true. Without every choice I have made, I would never have found him. And I know that with him is where I am meant to be.
Whenever I question the choices that led me to becoming a mother at eighteen, I remind myself that each of my children came from that choice. And I know that with them is where I am meant to be.
When I think about being a surrogate, I feel the same way. It is what I am meant to be. It is in my life plan. Just as I am a wife. Just as I am a mother. I am a surrogate. And no matter what comes in my future, it will still be a part of my soul.

It is the life I want to live.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our birth story- As told by me, the surrogate

I will forewarn you that this is only my perspective on the event.  And while I can tell you better than anyone else the physical aspects of Isabella's arrival, I did not have a good vantage point of the emotions of everyone else involved.  I will tell you this story to the best of my ability, however, please realize that there will be times I stop to cry, times I stop to think, and times I stop to try to remember what exactly happened.  This journey for me will end just as soon as I finish writing this, so realize how costly it is for me to write. 
Last Tuesday, at the end of another uneventful prenatal appointment, my IPs (Isabella's parents) bore a look of desperation and anxiety on their faces.  My doctor and I looked at them, he had pity and offered Friday as an induction date, and I, as opposed to inducing as I had been, looked at their faces and agreed.  I could not stand to see them waiting any longer, and, as a wise friend said, this is their pregnancy and their child, and what I do is for them.  So we set the date, and amidst tears, Isabella's parents and abuelita drove home, yet again, with an empty car seat.

Our last pic 39 weeks
On Friday morning, I woke up and got ready for my short hospital stay.  My husband kissed me as he headed off to work, and I read the "good luck mommy" message from my daughter (and here you will notice I am already tearing up).  I sent her back an "I love you baby" message, and swallowed the fear that comes with the inherent risk of delivering a child and the momentary bit of anxiety at the thought of not being here for my children ever again. 
I picked up my mom (how could she miss my fifth delivery?), and headed to the hospital. 
We arrived just late enough that we missed my doctor's 7:00 am visit, but we settled in and started monitoring the baby and learned that we had dilated to a 3 all on our own.
By 8:00 am my doctor had come back to tell me I was late ;)  We started the pitocin and  he broke my water.  That was fun.  Needless to say, I lost my socks in the flood.  This was the part of the day where I was still in a good mood, talking and joking with my mom and Isabella's mom and abuela (her father only stuck his head in the room periodically- he apparently does not do well with blood, gore, or pain).
By 10:00, we were dilated between a 6 and a 7.  My doctor told me he would be back at noon and he wanted me delivering then (he said this jokingly, but he was serious).  I told him that was my plan as well.  Just as a sidenote:  My doctor knows how quickly I deliver babies and that I have a rockstar uterus.  My husband arrived somewhere around here.
For the next hour, I tried to get as comfortable as I could with two tentacle-like cords (one to monitor contractions and one to monitor baby's heart rate) hanging from me, an IV in my left hand making it completely useless, and a blood pressure cuff that cut circulation off of my right hand every too-many minutes.  This was the part of the day where I was cranky, hurting, and mean.  I held my husband's hand.  I was, for the first time in my life, reaching for my husband to comfort me instead of my mother.  This was my ray of happiness through the dark clouds of my misery.
By 11:00, I was in PAIN.  Every contraction felt like death, and I knew there was no way I was going to survive this level of pain until 12:00.   In the meantime, I heard crying.  My IM was in tears.  She was crying because I was suffering for her- because this should have been her pain.  Had I not been in excrutiating pain, I would have told her that it would be fine, that this was my part, that it was okay (I would have been lying, but I would have said it anyway.  I figure there has to be one upside to not being able to carry your own child). 
When I told my mom, "something is coming out," I do remember looking up out of my pain induced fog to see my IM RUNNING out of the room.  It would have been funny, had I not been in agony. 
The nurse came in and said, "we are complete" (meaning dilated to a 10 and completely effaced- "complete" meaning it is time to push) just as I started pushing.  Um... okay, so the agony had actually been the baby dropping from my ribs all the way down to the exit.  Of course it felt like death!
There was no time to wait for the doctor, seeing as how my body decided it was pushing right away.  I remember the nurses throwing down the groundcovers, leg covers, and making a spectacle.  I just remember thinking, "it will end soon".  I started pushing, well, my body started pushing and I was going to help it along.  I remember the nurse counting with me and I realized that my doctor hadn't quite gotten the message in time.  Two pushes in, I heard my doctor's voice.  He counted with me through the next few pushes.  Then, he told me to stop.  Hahahaha, no.  A few more pushes, and I felt her come out.  I looked up to see her mother standing beside me, Isabella in the doctor's arms, and the pain disappear. 
At that point, I left my isolated world of delivery and let the rest of the room back into focus.  The doctor cut the cord, wrapped Isabella in a blanket, and placed her in her mother's arms.  I looked to my left and my husband kissed my head and said, "good job."  He went to get Isabella's father to come in.  I looked to my right, and I saw a family circled around their newborn daughter.  Her mother turned and brought her over to me.  She held her beside me and I was able to touch her round, chubby cheek.  She was perfect. 
They took her over to the scale and my precious surrobaby weighed in at a whopping 9.8 pounds!  No wonder it hurt so badly to get her out.
Isabella was born at 11:26 am.  Start to finish:  3 hours, 26 minutes.  No pain meds, no tearing, no surgery.  I am amazed and grateful.
We all stayed in the room for a while longer.  I got to touch her gooey black curls, rub her skin under my fingers, hold her long baby fingers in my hand, and feel her warmth.  More importantly, I got to close my eyes and listen as her parents cooed to her, spoke to her softly in Spanish, and cried tears of joy. 
I had kept my promise to her mother- there were only "happy tears."
Later, I learned that they called my doctor to come to the hospital just as I started pushing.  A moment later they called and told him to run.  He did.  And he made it in the nick of time.
Later, I learned that Isabella's father had walked all the way down the hallway because he heard her me yelling, "get her out of me!" and it had scared him.
Later, I learned that the reason the doctor told me to stop pushing was because the cord had wrapped around her neck.
Later, I learned that her mother cried the entire time I was pushing.
Isabella and I both left the hospital the next day.  In the interim, I was able to hold her, to watch my children gaze upon her, to let my daughter rock her, to watch my husband coo to her.  I was able to look at her ten long toes, to run my fingers through her perfect black mohawk, and to watch her parents change her and feed her together because neither one wanted to let her go.  I was able to watch her parents become parents.  I was able to see their hope become their reality.   
Before I left, I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her. 
Before I left, I embraced her parents and told them I would not cry.
Before I left, I did not cry.
Saturday afternoon, when I was home, I received a text message.  It was from Isabella's mother.  It read something like this:  "I left the hospital today in a wheelchair.  This time, with a living child in my arms."
My IM drove home with an occupied car seat.
I cried.
And now, I try to look back on the last few days.  I know I have left out important things.  I know that my memory of events is cloudy and incorrect.  But I know that what happened was a miracle and that my role in this child's life was meant to be. 
I look back over the last year I have known Isabella's family.  We set a goal.  We would replace the sorrow of my IPs losing their first born child with a living child.  We would replace the tears of grief with happy tears.  These were our goals.
My IPs have a living child.
My IPs have only happy tears.
My mission is accomplished.
My goal is reached.
My journey has ended.
But Isabella and her family are just beginning theirs...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Day After

Yesterday, at 8:00 am, we induced labor with Isabella.  At 11:26am, she was born into the arms of my doctor who had run in the door just in time.  Her mother and grandmother watched her arrival, and stood by my side as the doctor cut the cord and wiped her face.  She was placed into the arms of her mother as her father came in the room.  There were mere moments between her exit from the warmth of my womb until her placement into the loving arms of her mother.  I watched her mother and father hold her, somehow together, as the tears flowed down their cheeks.  My heart almost burst with the beauty I had been priveleged to see.  Isabella, their living miracle, is nine pounds, eight ounces of perfect, chubby, pink baby.  She is the answer  to prayer.  She is the doorway to happiness.  She is beautiful and has the awesomest black mohawk I have ever seen ;) 
I held her today, and told her I loved her, and kissed her forehead.  I left her where she belongs, and came home to my children where I belong. 

I am overwrought with emotion today.  My hormones are changing, my uterus is cramping, and my organs are trying to figure out where they should be.  I feel good.  I am waiting for the milk to come in so I can enjoy a few days of smelling like cabbage and stuffing my bra with frozen peas (it is totally fun).

I am as happy as can be.  Isabella is perfect.  She is in the arms of her family

I am home with my family.  Isabella is with her family.  My heart is full of love.  My mind is full of peace.  A living miracle has arrived on the earth- what greater cause to rejoice could there be?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Isabella will be born tomorrow. The only word that comes to mind is:  bittersweet. 

Sweet because my goal to bring her parents' dream to reality will be reached.  Sweet because her parents will hold their living miracle in her arms.  Sweet because I will have fulfilled my promise to her mother that she will only cry "happy tears" from now on.  Sweet because her big sister will be watching down from Heaven and know her parents are finally happy.  Sweet because I will get to see the beauty of a family grow.

Bitter because my part in this journey is over.  Bitter because I have fallen in love with this child and her family.  Bitter because I love, love, love surrogacy and it is ending.

Tomorrow is the day.  I will smile, and I will be brave.  I will complete this journey with a heart full of love, the same way I began it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Isn't it ironic?

I want this baby out, out, out!  My back hurts and I am craaanky and everyone keeps laughing at me walking (or, as they so kindly put it, waddling) and asking how much longer (because I am just soo huge they can't believe she is still in there).  She goes all the way up to the bottom of my bra and I can't even reach the table- I mostly hold my plate under my face.  Her parents are ready and waiting, waiting, waiting...  So what is the irony you may ask?
As soon as she is out, I will have crazy hormones, a pudgy belly (with no baby to stretch it out and make it look cute), and these crazy hormones will tell me that I want to be pregnant again. 
What kind of evil is it to make a woman forget the miseries of pregnancy and child birth so quickly after delivery?  I tell you, God knew we would never produce more than one child if we didn't forget the pain and misery that accompanies it!
In all reality, I will miss the journey, the experience, the miracle, the beauty, and the joy these last ten months have brought me.  I remember the intrigue in meeting my IPs (the baby's parents).  I remember how much I wanted to help them have a child.  I remember the hope we felt at transfer.  I remember the excitement we felt waiting for that first ultrasound.  I remember watching her grow as the weeks went by.  I remember watching her parents' anxiety turn to happiness as she crossed the 30 week mark.  I remember her mother kissing her hand and placing it against my belly at every appointment we have been to.  I remember the teddy bear her parents bought her that speaks to her with their voices.  I remember the love.  I remember the first time I saw her mother have "happy" tears.  And the second.  And the third.  I remember every moment of this miracle we call Isabella. 
Now, I just wait for her birth.  I wait until she is ready to meet her parents and leave my life to fulfill their dreams.  And I will remember every moment we have left. 
For when my journey ends, hers and her parents journey begins... and that, my friends, is why I carry this child. 
I have been blessed to be a mother, and the journey of raising my children is the greatest journey, the greatest experience I will ever know.  To be able to help another woman know that joy and take this journey is the second greatest thing I will ever do in my life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Full term baby!

Here I sit at 37 weeks pregnant.  My back is caved in, my ankles have started to swell, I have weird red bumps on my calves, my skin is dry, and I am tired and uncomfortable.  However, these are all minor details that prove to me that the world is exactly as it should be.  I am pregnant still.  Isabella is healthy and perfect.  She has remained in the safe, warm coccoon of my womb long enough that I have no fear of her being born now.  I know I have taken good care of her.  I know her parents have prepared and are completely ready (beyond ready I think) to welcome her home.  Every day now she is growing fatter and stronger.  Who knows, maybe I will deliver another nine pound baby!
I am ready for her to be here.  I am ready for my body to return to me.  I am ready to be able to snuggle in my husband's lap without feeling like a beached whale that can't get comfortable.  I am ready for the moment when I will see her in her mother's arms for the first time (this is the moment that makes surrogacy beautiful- this is the moment that explains why I do it).    I am ready for her to join her family.  The only thing I am not ready for is to lose the beauty of this journey, the joy and the happiness it has brought to my life, and the wonderful friends I have found in Isabella's family.  But mostly, I want her butt out of my ribs ;)
So, we wait. 
We watch my belly grow and this baby thrive.
We wait on Isabella to decide it is time to be born.
And we wait... tap, tap, tap.....
impatiently, we wait... tap, tap tap...

36 weeks belly

Monday, January 31, 2011

5 weeks left!

It is amazing how fast time flies.  Or maybe it is amazing how time fills up with activities.  Or maybe life just goes by quickly because it is just so darn good. 
Isabella is due in five weeks- well, actually she is due in 4 weeks and 3 days (if my math is right). 
She is growing just like she should.  Her bottom is under the right side of my ribs, and when she pushes, I feel my ribs go "ow" and I have a numb feeling push down on my left leg.  I think she is a little bit diagonal in there, but I am sure she will scoot down in time.  Does that make sense? 
Isabella and me at 34 weeks (I think... it is Jan 22nd)
Everything is wonderful.  My children are healthy.  Isabella is growing like she should.  My husband is moving home in twelve days.  I feel like I am making forward progress at work.  My house, amazingly, is mostly clean.  I have an amazing family.  I am growing a miracle for another amazing family.  What more can I say?

Let me think really hard.... hmm...
I guess I always come back to the same thought.  I am carrying another woman's child.  To me, this is just a normal part of my life.  But when I tell people this, they look at me funny.  I realize somewhere in my mind that this is not "normal" for most people.
I can understand this.
I can understand my friend's husband who thinks it is crazy.
I can understand the child who doesn't understand.
I can understand my sister saying "I could never do that".
I can understand my father not wanting to talk about it.
What I don't understand is the negativity, the judgement, and the rudeness with which so many people view surrogacy.
What I don't understand is the woman with six children telling me she could never "do that to my children".
What I don't understand is the church member who tells me it is wrong, but can't tell me why.
What I don't understand is the childless woman with no sister, no friend, no loved-one who will heal her broken heart.
What I don't understand is people asking, "why don't they just adopt?" (and I think, "well, why didn't YOU just adopt instead of having your own child?)
Surrogacy is a medical miracle.  It is a gift from God. 
Surrogacy is beautiful.  Through surrogacy, I have extended my family to include two more.  I have watched pain turn into joy.  I have watched heartache turn into beauty.  I have seen faith turn into life.  I have seen hope turn into motherhood.
And I have learned- faith, hope, love, compassion, sacrifice, endurance, patience, and humility.
And I hope, somewhere in this journey, I have taught my children something about love.


Monday, January 17, 2011


I rarely remember to read the comments left on my blog until my husband tells me about them, but I just read the comment from my last update, and within minutes this poem by Emily Dickinson started running through my head (yes, I am a geek).

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain
If I can ease one life the aching
or cool one pain

Or help one fainting robin
unto his nest again
I shall not live in vain.

My goal as a teacher, a surrogate, and -most importantly- as a mother is to change for the better just one life in this world.  My fear is that I will fail.  My hope is that I will succeed.  I read this post and know how naive it sounds, but what good would life be if I allowed the cynnicism to cloud my every choice?
This is my dream, my inspiration, and I believe there is so much good in the world that it must be possible for one such as I to do some good work to "pay back" the world for all the blessings I enjoy.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The pineapple and me at 33 weeks

Isabella is doing great!  She is apparently the weight of a pineapple- of course, that is generic and I am sure she is bigger.  She continues to wiggle and move as much as ever- I just feel each and every movement so strong now.  At our appointment last week, my ob asked how things were going.  I said, "well, my legs get tingly, I have to eat tums, I can't bend, and I still have stabbing pains in my sides." 
He said, "you know those are all normal pregnancy symptoms."
I said, "yeah, but you asked ;)"

He reminded my IM that I am a great incubator and there is nothing to worry about. 
I contemplated packing a hospital bag, but why tempt fate?  I am holding out until 34 weeks, and then I will give in and pack.  I definitely don't want to be left without a bag like I was last time.  I also don't want to drive myself to the hospital again either, but we'll see.
I am enjoying this pregnancy so much- I think because it is not twins!  Twins hurt.  Isabella doesn't, usually.  Her favorite times to wake up are at bedtime and 3:00 am.  Jason will wake her up and "play" with her if he can't sleep.  He apparently did this last weekend and I slept right through their playtime!  Her mother has told Jason she will call him when she wakes up at 3, thank you very much for training her to wake up then :)
I dream about Isabella being born very often, I think because I am so ready for her to be born.
I was thinking about her parents.  The last time (and the only time) they had a daughter born, they were unable to enjoy her.  They were faced with her eminent death even as they basked in their newfound parenthood.  I remember how relieved I was when I saw each of my children- their screams, their hair, their toes, their healthy pink skin.  I remember how afraid I was with the twins- that they were too early, that they would not cry.  I remember the relief I felt when L cried, and then her brother.  They were pink, they were breathing, they were whole.
I have never lost a child fresh from the womb.  I have never felt the anguish of loss instead of the miracle of life.  I have only seen the fruit of my labor grow and flourish.  I have never seen one wither and die even as I bleed for my work in bringing them here.

My goal this entire journey has been to give Isabella's parents a LIVING miracle.  Her sister was a miracle, but she was a gift that God wanted back home with him too soon.  For about a month, from 28 weeks to 32 weeks, I had not dreams of her birth, but nightmares of her birth.  I was soo afraid of losing her, so afraid I would fail in bringing her parents their promised gift.  Now, at 33 weeks, I feel safe.  I feel we are in the "clear" and that I will not fail.
I anticipate her birth in a way I never have before.  I want to see her- pink, screaming, chubby, ten-toed, dark-haired, in the arms of her mother.  The moment of my joy will not be the moment when she comes out screaming, but the moment that she is placed in her mother's arms- the moment I see a healthy, whole and perfect child in the arms of love.  Can you imagine the vision of wholeness I will be privvy to?  I cannot wait.

6 weeks, 5 days, and counting...