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...