Friday, January 2, 2015

It is done


A few months ago, I received an email from the owner of the surrogacy company I have worked with three times.  She had received an email from a French journalist asking about me and the twins.  She had found my blog, and wanted to know what happened.  I have let this information percolate in my mind these last months, and have been amazed that a French woman found my blog, and then with the thought that maybe there is someone out there wondering what happened to me and the boys.  The short version is- all is well, we are all well.  More or less.  The long version is longer than anyone cares to read, but here is a mid-length version.

I have been a surrogate mother three times.  Three times I have found a couple who, for various reasons, could not have a child without reproductive assistance.  Three times I have carried another woman’s child inside my womb, loved him/her/them, and delivered them safely into loving arms. 

As I began my third journey, I had planned to keep my blog up better than I had the previous two times.  I had planned to journal and keep track of so much more than I had in the two journeys before.  I had planned to be amazing this time, since I planned on this being my last journey.

And, as usual, life happened in a way I never expected.  During the first months of the pregnancy (twin boys this time), I felt a sorrow and a darkness I had never felt before.  I could no longer write, and I just wanted to sit in my house in the dark and stay away from the world.  This was scary, but I figured it was the hormones (IVF requires about three-four months of fertility hormones and such to ensure a healthy pregnancy).  In great news, within two weeks of going off the last of the hormones, I felt much improved.  I settled into the second trimester feeling much closer to normal and hopeful for a healthy pregnancy.  I didn’t get going too much with my blog because I kept waiting to have time to go back and pick up in the beginning where I had left off.

Well, that obviously didn’t happen during the summer.  Then, I went back to work in August, and all mental hell broke loose.  I struggled through the last trimester, hurting and aching and exhausted for the last several months.  I was in such pain, contracting all the time (which I had never done before) and so worried that these boys would come too early, I practically begged my doctor to let me stay home, but to no avail.  Finally, about four weeks before the boys were due and two weeks before my doctor planned to induce labor, I started having enough contractions and he grew concerned enough that he put me on modified bedrest.  He told me that it “wasn’t just you” I need to worry about and I believe he put me on the bedrest as an extra precaution for the family who had gone through so much heartache to make it to this point. 

I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy home, sitting on the couch in the dark and watching TV to keep my mind off of my discomfort.  Four days before the boys were set to be induced, I went into labor.  Jason and I went to the hospital, called their parents when we knew it was true labor, and prepared for delivery.  As my luck would have it with this pregnancy, when the doctor broke my water, blood and blood and blood came out.  We did not know where it was coming from, but neither baby was in distress.  I was exhausted, afraid, and knew that my run of beautiful vaginal deliveries had come to an end.  I had an emergency C-section while completely unconscious, my mother and husband standing outside of the OR worrying while my husband texted and sent pictures to the boys’ parents- who were driving at lightning speed to get to their boys.

I woke up drugged, cut in half, and miserable.  All the women I know who have had C-sections make it look easy.  I had each leg bound in a squeezy thing (to keep circulation they said), I was drugged and semi-conscious, and the boys’ parents came so they got to their children before I was well.  In my drugged state, the parents brought the boys to me and I was able to hold them both.  I remember them being warm and perfect.  Then they were gone.  The next morning, while I was still drugged, I said goodbye to the boys while they were strapped into their car seats- I never saw them once the drugs wore off.  I was fairly impressed that twins born just over two weeks early were both over seven pounds and able to go home less than 24 hours after birth.

I went home a day later and everything hurt.  I could not even sit up on my own.  My husband had to help me lay down, sit down, stand up, and I could do nothing except sit and heal.  A few days later, the twins’ father sent me a hate email ( have tried to find better wording for this message he sent, but there is none).  He accused me of abusing he and his wife and taking advantage of them because I asked for lost wages (as per our contract) for the two weeks I had been on bedrest- you know, keeping their children safe so they could be born strong and healthy and able to go home the next day.  I responded, defending myself and at the same time telling him and his wife that I love them, and I always will.  I let them know that I would never hurt them and I had done nothing wrong (except trusting them- which I of course didn’t put in the email) and never heard from him again.

I sat in my house for two weeks in the dark, watching comedies to keep my mind off of the physical and emotional pain.  I went back to work after two weeks- a bad idea I later learned.  Time went by, and I didn’t feel any better emotionally.  I felt worse and worse.  I hated everyone and everything and all I wanted to do was sit in my house in the dark.  A few weeks later, I received a text message picture of the boys from their mom, and I broke into tears sobbing that all contact had not been lost.

A few more months went by, and I was not okay.  I literally wanted to kill my dogs, hide in my house in the dark, and I could not think clearly.  It was as if a fog of darkness was drifting through my soul, keeping me from experiencing any joy in my life.  My ob/gyn told me to see how I felt in a few more weeks and let him know.  In the meantime, I had a check up with my family doctor and let him know I was on the verge of darkness.  He made me promise to call if it got any worse.  One Saturday night, I woke up with horrific nightmares that had me curling up to my husband because the fear was so real and so terrifying.  I planned to call my doctor on Monday morning.  Serendipitously, my family doctor called me Sunday morning because he was worried about me, and I told him (through tears) that I needed help.  He gave me some medication for the depression, some medicine to take in case of another panic attack, and encouraged me to see a counselor.  I set up an appointment with the counselor and began seeing him about every two weeks.

The twins were born the beginning of November.  I started getting help for my post partum depression in January.  I felt ashamed and guilty, not so much because this terrible illness had taken over my mind, body, and soul, but because I had done it to help another family, not my own.  I felt like I was robbing my family of me, and they received no benefit for it.  I didn’t talk to people about it because the shame was so high.  As the months went by and I shared with a few people, I realized that so many women suffer from post partum depression, but all are ashamed because our society doesn’ t accept depression as a true medical disorder- which it is- society sees it as a mental weakness.

In July, on a much needed trip with my friend in Portugal, I felt true happiness for the first time in well over a year.   I wept with joy.

It is January now.  I received a picture of the boys on their first birthday and a Christmas card of their beautiful family.  I am much healthier now, but I still have days and weeks where I struggle daily to overcome the depression.  I attend a support group with others who have depression and we find strength in one another and can honestly share how we feel without fear of judgment. 

I find joy in my life, and happiness knowing I live the life I want with three amazing children and a husband who stood by me like a rock through this experience.  I have learned humility and patience.  I have learned that nobody- no matter how stubborn, strong-willed, brave, or smart- can fall victim to depression.  I have learned that doing good does not always end in a reward, but can sometimes leave scars that will never heal.  

I believe that life is all about learning and growing.  We use what we learn to become better and help others.  Through this experience, I have learned what it feels like to lose control of my mind, something I never thought could befall somebody as strong as I believe I am.  I have gained a deep understanding and empathy for those who suffer from mental illness because I can testify that it is real and it is completely debilitating.  I have learned humility, which I have seriously lacked all my life. 

I am changed from this experience.  I have spent the last six years growing other people’s families and I never knew how I would stop because it is such an incredible high.  This last journey let me know- both body and mind- that I am done.  I have given so much of myself for others, and I have been rewarded by bringing five wanted and loved little people into the world.  I know these children are loved, and no matter how things have ended, that is enough.

I cherish my life, my health, my own children, and more than I ever imagined possible, my husband.  There are days I believe I have overcome the depression, and days I feel I will never escape it, but I have learned how to live with it, and I have too much to live for to let it control me.

This is the end of my surrogacy journey.  It is beautiful and tragic to me.  No matter how things have gone, I know it has been part of my path through this life, and I am forever grateful.
My family- Christmas 2014
Me in Douro Valley, Portugal- July 2014