Saturday, December 29, 2012

Old wives' tales

Having gone through 3 pregnancies now, I have had the privilege of hearing lots and lots of pregnancy myths and old wives tales. A lot of them have cracked me up, a few have pissed me off :) I was confronted with a classic one today, one of the most pervasive, so I just had to blog about this topic. As I was in line at the grocery store, the checkout girl (who was very sweet) had me stand back so she could see my belly and said very confidently, "Oh, you are totally having a boy!" Imagine her surprise (and my pleasure) at telling her it was actually TWO girls :) She was really nice but genuinely shocked that her prediction was wrong. It was a pleasant exchange and made me smile and remember some of the myths that people take as fact regarding pregnancy.

1. You can tell the gender by how the mom is carrying
-as we have seen, this is obviously not true. Many people think if you are carrying "high" it is a girl, "low" and it is a boy. The fact is that a woman's body and uterus shape play the major role in how she is carrying.

2. If you have morning sickness it is a girl.
-nope, sorry. Each pregnancy is different. Some women get sick, some don't. I have never had morning sickness (sorry, don't hate me!) so that one for sure is not the case :)

3. Cocoa butter prevents stretch marks or makes them go away.
-sorry ladies, no scientific basis. You will either get them or not. But it sure does feel good to have someone else rub it on your belly!

4. You can't color your hair while pregnant.
-as a stylist I say "Hush your mouth!!!" I always tell people to follow their care provider's advice, but today most of them say their is no reason to worry. Hair color doesn't get into your blood stream.

5. No sex while pregnant
-now that is just plain silly.

And my very favorite one, from my dear sweet grandmother who gave birth to four girls:

6. You can't lift your arms above your head while pregnant because the cord will wrap around the baby's neck.
-I laughed out loud at this one, and once I did, my grandmother laughed too. She realized how silly it sounded when I asked her how I was supposed to wash my hair for 9 months :)

So what were your favorite myths you heard while preggers???

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mental preparedness

Snuggling with my man last night, I was musing about how on Christmas day, I will be 32 weeks into this pregnancy. Time flies! Without a doubt, this has been my fastest pregnancy. Russell asked "Are you ready?", meaning ready for labor. And my answer was no, I'm not. I'm not "over being pregnant" and I am also not mentally ready to give birth. Which means it is time to get ready! At this point, my goal is to make it to 37 weeks, since that would be full term for these little ones. The best start I can give them in life, the better. I could easily go that long since things are going so well, but the babies could just as easily decide they are done and ready to come out before then. It is important that I trust the babies, trust my body to know when it is time. There are many people out there who think of labor as something that happens to women instead of something that we actively rejoice and revel in. Each woman's labor is different, but as a doula I strongly desire every woman to feel as though she is an active participant in her own labor. There are many things out of our hands during childbirth, but labor is about walking that fine line between control and surrender. Surrender to the biological, intuitive processes and control over the decisions we make.
So it is time for me to mentally prepare for this birth. What a freaking awesome thing to get to experience the birth of twins!! I am really excited about it, and I'm sure some of you think I'm crazy for it :) How do I mentally prepare? I envision my "perfect" birth, how things would go if I could control the whole scenario. What would make me happiest, what would be best for the babies, what would make the parents happy. I frequently hear people say that all that matters is that mom and babies are safe and healthy, bottom line. And while it is true that is the ultimate goal, that is a given. Who DOESN'T want that to be the end result?? Envisioning how I want this go involves more than that because I truly believe that how a child is brought into this world influences that child and the mother for the rest of their lives. I truly do. I don't say this to say that one way is better than another, that one woman's choice or birth experience is superior to another; the last thing I want to do is judge anyone who has been through any form of childbirth. Those experiences should unite us, not be one more platform by which to judge. We deal with enough mommy guilt as it is. My point is that it is important to know that I am not having something "done" to me, I am in charge of making decisions and joyously
participating in childbirth.
My "perfect" birth would be a calm, spiritual experience. A vaginal birth without medication. A birth in which I feel empowered. I want the babies to be lined up in the proper position, or if they aren't, I want my doctor and midwife to be able to turn them. I want each of the babies' cords kept intact while they rest on my chest. I want the mother there to be a part of it and to cut each of her babies' cords herself. I want my labor and delivery mix playing in the background. I want my amazing husband there as my coach, looking at me with love and awe in his eyes. I want the babies to be big and strong and healthy. I want their mother to be able to nurse them as soon as possible. And I KNOW, I feel it in my soul, that the babies want this too. The parents are totally on board with all of this, and together our families believe that this is what will happen. I'm not delusional, I know that there can be circumstances that prevent this from happening. But in my experience having a clear vision of what you WANT to happen is the best way to make it happen. I have never said I'm going to "try to go natural and vaginal"  but that I will go natural and vaginal.  If for whatever reason that doesn't happen, so be it, I will surrender to whatever the safest way for these babies to be born is. But I am not going into it with trepidation or doubts. I am going into this with pure love, pure faith, pure trust.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cry baby

I am a crier. I cry when I'm sad, I cry when I'm really happy. I am a sappy, sentimental person. I cried at Stella's dance recital, cried when they went to the dentist for the first time, cry in celebration of both children's birthdays every year. I cry when I look at pictures, when I reminisce, when I think of them growing up. I cried when Russell and I got married and again when we renewed our vows. I cry when I'm a jerk to my kids or my husband. I cry when I think of all the sacrifices my mom made for me. Sweet commercial on T.V.? Yep, I'm a sucker for those. My mom used to give me a hard time as a kid because there were two songs that made me cry EVERY time I heard them- and I mean just the first few notes.  (Me and Little Andy by Dolly Parton and Smoky Mountain Rain by Ronnie Milsap, in case you're curious). The thing is, I HATE crying in front of people. Despite my soft gooey inside, it is vitally important to me that I keep my hard candy shell. I prefer to deal with my shit on my own. But I feel things deeply and I always have. Its one of the many reasons I feel super connected to Stella; I sense the same thing in her. If she gets upset, her immediate response is to leave the room and go deal with it on her own. Roy is no less sensitive, he just lets it all out :)
So this time of year will find me carrying tissues around without fail. I LOVE the holiday season! Which means I'll be really happy and sappy, so I'll cry a lot :) Always have, always will. My mom once told me that when you stop believing in Santa, you stop getting presents. That struck a chord as a kid, as you can imagine. But as I've gotten older, the meaning of that statement, while still very significant, has shifted for me. Obviously it is easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the season, but for me the tangible gifts are not the important thing. I have always been blessed with a giving, loving family. Of course I loved the presents as a kid, but I loved the traditions more. Waking up at the crack of dawn (sorry mom), spending the day in my pj's at my grandmother's house, eating oyster stew, listening to Christmas music, putting up the tree; all of it was so full of joy and excitement. For me, the "believing in Santa" is about the magic of childhood, the joy of family, the love of something bigger than unwrapping presents.
Now that I'm a mom and I'm married to a man who gets just as giddy about Christmas as I do (almost), this time of year is even better. It is true that seeing the magic of the season through the eyes of a child is amazingly sweet and exciting. I have plenty of friends who are not Christian, or don't celebrate Christmas and obviously, to each her own. I'm not the person who gets offended by someone saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I'm also not the type to quote scripture to someone else or proclaim indignantly that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!" Everyone's beliefs are equally important; this is not the time for judgement.  My wish for everyone this season is that we all take the time to find whatever it is that is magical for us and try and pass that on to someone else. Put the cynicism on the shelf for a little while. Open your hearts, let the tears flow freely, let the love out to those around you.

P.S. Yes mom, I still cry when I hear those songs :)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Birth Plan

So it is time for me to write my birth plan. For those of you not familiar with the concept, the idea is that you write out your needs, wishes, desires and preferences for how your birth will go. Granted, no one can predict exactly how labor and delivery will go, but if you have a clear idea in your head of what you want and don't want, what you will and will not accept or settle for, things can go a lot more smoothly. I always have doula clients write one and it helps us have a framework with which to work. It can cover things like music, aromatherapy, laboring positions, religious considerations and interventions.
My last labor and delivery was about as smooth as they go, so I am basing a lot of my plan on that birth. But there are other people I have to think about in this one! The mom and dad add a whole new element to consider. And since they have never experienced a birth, I am absolutely in the role of educator for them. The mom will be in the delivery room with me (dad will be in the waiting room since neither of us are comfortable with him seeing my naked booty laboring all over the room), so she and I have to coordinate our visions. Granted, I am the one in labor, but they are her children, so I want her to be as involved as possible.
One of the big things I've discussed with the parents is delayed cord cutting. There are many benefits to not snipping the cord right away so that the babies can continue to get the nutrient rich blood from the cord in the first few minutes of their life on the outside. So while the idea that each baby will come out and go right to the mom's waiting arms is a great one, the reality is that won't really be possible with  cord still attached. That is a bit of a sensitive issue because mom and I both want babies to go to her ASAP, but we also want them to get those benefits of delayed cord cutting, which puts them on my chest before they go to her.
Also, even though mom will be in the room, my primary support person is my hubby. He is an amazing birth coach and instinctively knows what I need and want in labor. We are truly a team in life, and no where is that more apparent than in labor. He is focused, sweet and nurturing, with complete and total confidence in me and my body and what I can do. It is empowering and humbling at the same time to see how he views me in labor. (Damn I got a good one!!!) So my vision of the mom's role is more on the outside with her support and encouragement.
Lastly, the mom plans on taking hormones so that she can induce lactation. She really wants to nurse the babies and I am so glad she does. I think its amazing. Hopefully that will work out for her (it doesn't always) which means she can start nursing right away. Meanwhile, I will have to deal with a milk supply coming in that won't be used...ah well, that is a topic for another blog post.
My ideal birth will be one that is calm and focused, unmedicated. One that results in a natural, vaginal birth with little or no intervention. I am terrified of a c-section and am thinking positive thoughts that there will be no need for one. As long as one of these girls lines up properly, we will be good to go. (There are ways to help turn the babies if both are in the breech position as we get closer to the due date) To those that are shocked that I want an unmedicated birth with twins, let me remind you: they come out sequentially, not simultaneously :)
In a related issue, I was honored to be a part of a local crew of ladies that host a podcast called The Tribecast, which focuses on all things birth related. They asked me to be interviewed to tell my surrogate story and I jumped at the chance. It was an awesome experience and I am really stoked for the episode to air this week. Talking with other moms about this whole journey really brought my birth plan even more into focus for me. Shameless plug: check our their Facebook page and be ready for the episode to air Monday or Tuesday!

Monday, December 3, 2012


Yesterday was my Blessingway, which I've been looking forward to for a while now. I'm not having a baby shower, since these aren't my babies :)  and I won't need any baby supplies. The Blessingway is a way for me to be surrounded by my good friends and receive their love, support and good wishes and blessings for my labor. As my friend Kelsey put it, labor is about letting go, especially for a surrogate. So my focus for this labor is to be strong physically and mentally.
Yesterday was everything I wanted it to be, minus the presence of a few ladies who were unable to make it. It was a gathering of women I love and respect, all of them wise in their own ways, sharing their hopes and wishes for me for labor. It was a sisterhood (thanks Mahri, for pointing that out). We laughed a lot, cried a little, shared funny birth stories and not-so-funny birth memories too. Each friend brought me a bead (or a few) to make a necklace for me to wear from now through labor. That necklace ties us all together so I can feel their power and presence with me during birth. What a powerful thing! A circle of women coming together for a common purpose is an amazing thing. I felt honored by the words they spoke about me and I'll be carrying those notes from them with me into the delivery room. I'm sure seeing those wishes written out will be motivating, empowering and comforting. And a few of them will make me laugh too, which is ALWAYS welcome in labor :)
I am truly blessed. I am so fortunate to have so many amazing women in my life. I felt their strength become a part of me as I made my necklace and bracelets today. The beads were so unique and diverse that one piece of jewelry couldn't possible suffice. Which is how I feel about my friends too; how incredible diverse they are!! I love them, with all my heart and soul. Thanks ladies, for making me feel loved and supported and so totally part of a sisterhood.

Monday, November 26, 2012

3rd Trimester

So here we are on the eve of Week 28 for this pregnancy. I cannot believe it. It doesn't seem like that long ago that I was waiting and wondering if the embryo transfer was going to take root :) Well take root they did, and I am so happy to be carrying two healthy, active baby girls. It is kinda crazy to feel two distinct beings moving around and kicking in there! At this point I am beginning to think more and more about the labor and delivery since it is pretty doubtful that I will carry to 40 weeks. On average twins are born at 35 weeks. Of course I am hoping and praying and doing everything I can to keep these girls in there as long as possible; 37 weeks is my personal goal :) If I go that long, that only gives me about 9 weeks left. Holy frijoles!!! With that in mind, there have been a couple of things recently that have given me pause for reflection on how blessed I have been.

Thanksgiving: This has always been a great day in our family. This year was even more so. It was such a lovely, relaxing day filled with good food and awesome memories with family and friends. My family  is really close and we find every excuse we can to spend time together. It makes me sad when I hear people complaining about the holidays and having to spend time with family. I am so fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family that I love with all my heart; I wouldn't be the person I am today without them. Family time is never an obligation for me, it is a pleasure. Sure things can get crazy and of course we aren't perfect, but I'd be a whole helluva lot worse off without them!

Good health: Pregnancy agrees with me. My biggest complaint throughout this pregnancy has been heartburn, which does suck but is absolutely manageable. That's it. I know so many woman who struggle during pregnancy with one issue or another and I've always been thankful that I didn't have those issues. I had my gestational diabetes test today which came back negative (yay!) so I can cross that one off the list too. The other health related blessing has been the health of my children and of the babies I'm carrying. Seriously, nothing scares me more than the thought of my babies being seriously ill. I know some strong mamas who have dealt with premature babies or babies with special needs. My respect and love for them knows no bounds. Being a mom is tough enough, then these amazing moms have the added pressure of  constant worry over the health of their children. Health is one of those things a lot of us take for granted and I never want to do that. I am thankful every day of my life for my strong little monkeys.

Thank you to all of those people who have been following this journey. I appreciate your feedback and the experiences you have all shared with me. Hang on, we are in the last leg of the journey!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Two days ago I got some terrible news. One of my dear friends from high school passed away unexpectedly, apparently from a massive heart attack at the age of 38. She is survived by two young children, a boy and a girl. Needless to say those who know and love her are all shocked and heartbroken. Christy and I met in 8th grade and bonded over sarcasm and softball and a friendship was born. We shared everything from sports to clothes to family vacations. She had the best self-deprecating sense of humor and taught me how to laugh at myself :) The past two days have been filled with memories, the kind that only girls who bond during adolescence can share. There is just something about that time in a girl's life that you never forget, and the friends you make then hold a special place in your heart forever. Christy was a smart-ass, never afraid to speak her mind. She was a goofball in the school hallway who turned into an athlete on the field. She was the person you could always count on for backup. She was the person I got busted with when I broke curfew, she was with me when I "borrowed" the car without permission. She went through the yearbook with me and circled all the pictures of the guys we thought were cute. She was a true friend, and though we haven't seen each other in person in a while, we still kept in touch, we still loved each other.

The thought that I'll never see my friend again breaks my heart. The thought that her children will never see her again destroys me. Knowing someone since the age of 13 and seeing them grow to love and marry and become a parent is an amazing thing. And I cannot wrap my brain around the idea that she is gone. Perhaps my being pregnant makes me extra sensitive to the whole circle of life theme, but I'm having a really hard time believing that as I'm pregnant and about to bring two new lives into the world, two young lives who are already here will never be the same. I'm so fortunate to have my mother in my life and I know many friends who have lost parents, including my husband. I can't begin to imagine what that feels like and how difficult it is at any age, let alone for a young child. So hold those you love close this holiday season, be thankful for them, tell them you love them, for none of us is guaranteed tomorrow.

I'll miss you Christy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Meet the parents

So last night was a big night for us: Stella and Roy meeting the twins' parents for the first time! In retrospect, I would have changed the super busy day leading up to the meeting. Stella was very sweet and excited, but Roy's excitement translated into super hyperactivity :)  We met at the doctor's office for our monthly ultrasound and Stella went right to them and gave them big hugs. Roy wouldn't hug, but he talked them to death about the T-Rex he brought with him. It was a lot to ask of them to be quiet and still during the ultrasound (they did try!) so Russell took them outside to play. We found out a lot of good info during this visit. BOTH babies are now presenting breech, but they are super active so I'm not too worried about them turning to the proper position; we have plenty of time left. We also found out that each baby is just about 2 lbs already, which is fantastic. The parents also shared the names of the little ones: Charlise and Nora, which I love! Super classy and elegant.
We followed up the appointment with dinner at Comfort, to introduce our new friends to a place that is a huge part of our lives. Needless to say, they loved it ;) I did have to dip out a little early with the munchkins because they had reached their limit and I had totally reached my limit with them :) Oh well, the parents got a little preview of what life will be like in the future with two kiddos. I have to say, it was a challenging night as a parent, dealing with overstimulated little ones out in two different public places; but at the same time, thats what parenting is: a challenge. Constantly. Some days are easier than others, some make you want to scream. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I love my kids more than anything. I wouldn't trade their craziness for anything. These are the children WE made, so like it or not, they have some of our best and worst traits :) But they are MINE and I treasure them. Sometimes you need reminders of how fortunate you are, and while my kids may have been a challenge last night, all I had to do is look at those parents awaiting the birth of their children to put that in perspective.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ina May

Whenever the subject of natural childbirth comes up, you can bet there will be some controversy. Unless every single woman you associate with is of the same mindset, there are bound to be differing opinions on the topic. Most of you know I am a huge proponent of midwives, doulas and natural birth (meaning vaginally, no drugs).  But you may not know the woman who inspired me and indeed has inspired women all across the world. Ina May Gaskins is known as the most famous midwife in the world, and she is one of my heroes.
Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that in the 1970's, Ina May and her husband Stephen helped found a commune in Tennessee called "The Farm". Among other things, The Farm became a refuge for women who wanted to have their babies on their own terms, at home, without unnecessary medical interventions. There had been an increasingly alarming rise in c-sections (which still continues to be the case today) and in fact it was considered standard practice for ALL first time mothers to have a forceps delivery. ALL first time mothers, who were basically told that their children would without a doubt have brain damage if forceps were not used. I don't know if you've ever seen forceps, but they are giant metal salad tongs used to pull a baby out by the head. So women were told that practice was safer than letting nature take its course and the mother pushing the baby out on her own. Also, men were not allowed in the delivery rooms, so the fathers were not able to be there to give support to their wives and partners when they needed them the most.  Ina May and her fellow Farm members rebelled against this standard of care and together they formed a group of loving, caring midwives who listened to women and delivered their babies at home in a natural setting. They continue to do so to this day. This group of women has become so respected that mothers travel from around the country, indeed, around the world, to give birth in the most loving and respectful environment that could possible be imagined to welcome children.
I know that there are times when interventions are needed in childbirth, times when those interventions help mom and baby and even save their lives. Medical science can be an amazing thing and I do NOT discount its importance. However, the USA ranks 42nd in the WORLD in terms of how often our mothers and babies survive childbirth. Other countries that we consider inferior in terms of scientific advancement consistently have better survival rates in childbirth. It goes way beyond whether labor hurts or not (it is called labor for a reason!). It goes into awful, terribly shameful losses of lives due to many factors, one of which is unnecessary interventions that snowball into dangerous scenarios for mom and baby. If you are one of the many mothers who has had a c-section, please do not think I am placing any judgement on you or saying that the birth you experienced is any less significant or miraculous than someone elses. What I am saying is that our culture has effectively brainwashed women into being afraid of labor, into not trusting their bodies, into thinking that they cannot do it without drugs and interventions and even surgery. The phrases "failure to progress", "baby too big for your pelvis", " labor has stalled", "taking too long", etc. have become words we hear and accept as scientific reasons for interventions and surgery. In response to those phrases I say "every labor has its own time frame", "my body is made to birth this baby" and "your bright lights and beeping machines have stalled my labor".
I urge you, whether you have children or not, to become educated about the culture of birth in our society. After all, as Ina May says, we were all born of women. The health and well-being of our moms and children should be of concern to everyone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Not mine

By far, the most frequently asked question I get about the surrogacy is "Won't it be hard for you to give them up??"  I get it. I really do. Seems like a logical assumption and it is perfectly normal for someone not involved in this situation to wonder about that. We hear so much about mothers bonding with the babies in utero, how fierce the love of a mother is. And these things are true. As a mother of two, I can absolutely attest to the "mama bear" syndrome that enables most mothers to fight any and everything for the sake of their babies. That fierce protective streak seems to be an innate part of motherhood for most moms. I LOVE feeling these babies grow inside of me. I love it when they move, when they hiccup, when I get to see them in the ultrasounds. Every time I hear the heartbeats I cry. I am bonding with these babies and I love it.
There is, however, a big big difference between these babies and my Stella and Roy. They aren't mine. Let me repeat that: they aren't MINE. I didn't make them. I didn't plan with my husband to create these lives. I didn't dream and hope and pray that God would bless us with these children. They are not equal parts Chas and Russell. While they are amazing miracles, they aren't mine. I firmly believe that in order to "give them up", they would have had to have been mine in the first place. And they aren't. This couple has struggled, hoped, prayed, dreamed and suffered for these children. They are 100% NOT my children. So no, I am not going to have a hard time when they are born and don't come home with me because they will be going to the parents who have worked so hard to have them. They will be exactly where they belong. I am honored to be the "sacred vessel" (sorry, silly Juno quote :) ) that is housing these little ones, but I am looking forward to the day when I can place them in the arms of their parents. So while I appreciate the concern from clients, strangers and most importantly, family members,  I'm ok with this decision I made. I didn't enter into this lightly or unaware that I wouldn't be raising these children. I'm not "giving them up", I'm giving them their start in life.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Size does matter

I'm sure some of you mamas remember the part in pregnancy when they start measuring your belly, from top to bottom. Today was the first day that the actual tape measure was used- up til now my midwife and doctor had just been eyeballing and estimating. My midwife told me a while ago that with twins one can expect to be about 4 weeks ahead with things, including appearance. Today I read that at this stage with twins the belly measurement can be 6-8 weeks ahead of a singleton pregnancy. I'll be 24 weeks tomorrow and today I measured at 31!!! Holy frijoles Batman! I had a helluva growth spurt since  last month as evidenced by that measurement and the weight gain (which I will NOT divulge :) )  But unlike my previous pregnancies where I stressed over every pound I gained, I'm not sweating it with this one. Both my midwife and my doctor say I'm growing just as I should and I really have seen a difference in this pregnancy in where I am carrying the majority of the weight. The babies seem to be taking everything that I'm ingesting! I've already blogged about the special diet for multiples that I am doing my best to follow, and despite all of the calories I'm taking in I'm actually wearing a smaller size pants than I did with Stella or Roy. I don't have the round pumpkin face yet either :) I know I have a long way to go, and I'm sure things will shift at some point, but the multiples diet really appears to be working. Only a few more weeks of taking in that many calories and then I'll be scaling back for the last trimester. Size does matter in this case- the size of the babies! We want them as fat and happy as possible!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Since I decided to become a surrogate I've been waiting for a negative response from someone out there. Didn't know who it would be, but I was pretty sure SOMEONE would have something less than supportive to say. Fortunately (for them) if anyone has wanted to say something pessimistic, no one has said it to my face :) I am not speaking of genuine curiosity, sincere questions from people who just don't know the answers; I mean statements that immediately come off as negative.  I have been so happy and pleasantly surprised with all of the outpouring of love and support I have received. And then today it happened! Not to my face, but almost as bad: to my mother. I don't think statements were actually said today, just that she told me about it today. For those of you who have not met my mom, let me just say that my feistiness came directly from her, to put it mildly. Anyone making negative comments about her only daughter is going to get an earful. That woman is 5'2" of attitude when provoked :) Damn I love her! Long story short, apparently someone has made comments to the effect that Russell and I would be "rolling in the money now" because of the surrogacy, and that some women just do this over and over again for the money. I am not sure where this person got their information from, but they are sorely mistaken. Yes, I am being compensated for this; no, we will not be wealthy. The vast majority of the money the parents are paying for this goes towards things they would be paying for if the mother were pregnant herself: lab work, medical tests, insurance, maternity clothes, doctor/hospital fees. The money I am receiving outside of those expenses mostly covers lost time from work and reimbursements for time spent doing pregnancy related appointments. In addition, we are using every penny that we are given for compensation to pay off old debt. We are not taking vacations, buying new cars, shopping or spending recklessly. Any person who thinks that this is "easy money" is completely wrong. While things have been really great for me, there is a huge level of dedication from myself and my family to make this happen. It has affected every aspect of my life. The hours spent being interviewed, analyzed, poked and prodded, quarts of blood given, shots in my ass every day for 3 months, pills taken, schedules sacrificed, uncomfortable medical procedures, hours of travel etc. truly can't be translated into a dollar amount. I am not ashamed to be receiving money for this, but let me be very clear in saying that I cannot possibly imagine anyone who would do all of this simply for the money. Will my family benefit? Absolutely. Does the couple feel like they get the better deal out of this? You bet they do. I have never claimed to be an altruistic saint; I truly believe this is a win-win situation. And no, I will not be doing this again. I believe that God prompted me to undertake this journey specifically for the couple I am working with, not to make money. Anyone who has questions is free to ask me whatever they wish, but you might want to avoid implying anything less than favorable to my mom. She will hurt you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Honoring yourself

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am a nurturer. I am a caregiver at heart; always have been. It is a trait I seem to have inherited from my mother, as she is the most giving and caring, unselfish person I have ever known. I aspire to be like her, and while I don't believe I am there yet, there is just a part of me that cannot help taking care of others. While I do see this as a strength, it can also be a weakness. I have been known to put myself on the back burner and ignore my own needs, knowing that I can always take care of myself later :) This isn't a plea for sympathy, just a statement of fact. Ask my husband, my mother, my best friend: they know that I tend to be the one who tells myself to "suck it up Buttercup" and just deal.
The one time that I deviate from this practice is when I'm pregnant. Since my first pregnancy, I became awe-inspired by the power and capacity of a pregnant woman. Not all of us are crunchy-granola-earth mamas, but I have yet to meet a pregnant woman who wasn't at least at little amazed by what her body could do. Even during my first pregnancy when I was woefully under educated about the birth process, I felt powerful. My favorite t-shirt was "I can make humans; what is YOUR Superpower?" It was transformative. So I knew I needed to be good to myself, to honor my body during this time. I started a prenatal yoga class with Leslie Lytle at OmMama. Wow, what an education that was!!! I learned so much about my body and how to be good to it not only during pregnancy but during labor as well. Out of everything that I did while pregnant with Stella (and again with Roy) I feel like that class was the most helpful and good for me. Sure, diet, nutrition and rest are all super important, but I believe that nurturing my soul was more so.
Here I am in pregnancy #3 and where do I find myself on Monday nights?? You got it, prenatal yoga! Leslie's class didn't work with my schedule this go round because she is quite busy with her endeavors to improve the birth community in general, so I am attending 4025 Yoga with a lovely new teacher. I am the old pro in the class; all the other moms are first timers :) I get to share wisdom that was shared with me, I get to pass on experience. I get to relax and stretch out the kinks in my body and my mind. I get some "me" time. The one bit of advice I consistently give my clients and friends when they become pregnant is to find a prenatal yoga class and MAKE the time to honor themselves. I know that this class will help me to be fulfilled and prepared for the rest of this journey.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Rock

So I have had lots of people ask me throughout this journey what my husband thinks of all of this. That is completely understandable, considering how much this affects him as well as me. I've told everyone that this is a family experience, not just my personal experience. Anything this monumental affects each member of my family.
My husband could complain about plenty of things in this journey: having to give me shots in my backside every day for 3 months (especially since he is terrified of needles), driving me to Northern Virginia and Maryland several times, laying out his entire personal history for a psychologist, being interviewed by the agency and the prospective parents, dealing with a pregnant wife and taking over even more than his normal share of household responsibilities the further I progress in this pregnancy. But to be perfectly honest, he has not complained once. Not once. The closest he has gotten to griping about anything is after the first shot he gave me when he said "Whew, I almost passed out." The man is my rock. He has been nothing but supportive from the first time I mentioned my desire to be a surrogate. He suggested I do my research, but if it was something I wanted to do he was on board. I think there are a lot of men who would have a difficult time with the idea of their wives carrying someone else's child. But all he has said when anyone asks is how proud he is of me and how happy he is that we get to help someone else become parents. I just have to brag about him a bit because he continues to amaze me with his love, patience and dedication to our family. The last few months have been crazy busy for all of us, especially him. We are trying to put our house on the market so we can move to a better school district before Stella starts school next Fall, which means in addition to his full time job and side jobs, Russell has been working on house repairs every spare minute of the day. After work, on weekends, in between jobs. He also has the kids by himself 2 nights a week (last week 4!) on the days that I work late. He may not be the anal-retentive homemaker that I am, but our kids have been  well-taken care of and our house is almost finished. I cannot thank him enough for keeping up with all of these responsibilities AND making sure he pampers me as much as possible. Whether he is making me take time to go get a massage, indulging cravings, cooking my favorite foods or bringing me flowers, that man takes great care of his family. He is my rock and I love him to pieces. I absolutely could not be doing this without him.

Monday, October 8, 2012


As a doula, I have heard a lot about Blessingways, or Mother's Blessings, but never attended one. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it is a tradition that originated with the Navajo. It is a gathering of women for a mother to be as she is about to embark upon her journey as a mother. Unlike modern baby showers which focus on the baby and getting lots of goodies and necessities for the little one, blessingways focus on the mother and preparing her spiritually and emotionally for labor and childbirth. A few people had asked me if I would be having a modified baby shower since I won't actually be keeping these little nuggets, and my mother has already stated that she wants to throw me a "me" shower as a celebration of this journey. Obviously, there is no need for a baby shower, but I am not opposed to my family being nice to me and buying me presents :) But that really got me thinking about preparing myself for this labor. With my own children, my mindset was totally different and I felt as though I were preparing for childbirth the whole 9 months. This situation is different and I really feel like I can benefit from a gathering of the important friends in my life, moms and non-moms, whom I admire and respect. Any woman with close girlfriends knows the support and love and good vibes that comes from a gathering of the ladies. What better way to prepare me for this journey of birthing twins than to gather some love and power from my girls?? I am so blessed to have amazing women in my life who have seen me through so many trials and adventures in my life and I really want to bring some of them together in this event. There are new friends and old, some I've met through work, some I've helped in their births, some who have simply inspired me. There are women who live too far away to be with me in person, but I know they will be there in spirit. In a time and society when I believe our sisters are so focused on Mommy Wars, judgement and tearing each other down instead of supporting us all in our individual choices and lives, what better way to show solidarity for womanhood and the miracle of childbirth than to gather amazing women together to support a sister? I am sure it will be a beautiful experience that I will remember forever.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tiddles the Turtle

About 3 weeks ago, my husband found an orange box turtle in the road and decided we could foster it for the weekend and then release it in a safe location. The kids were thrilled, especially Stella who adores any and all animals. She couldn't get enough of him, and though his name changed a few times, they decided on Tiddles. That Sunday afternoon we took him to Bryant Park near the lake to find him a good home. The kids were excited, but as we were about to let him go, Stella had a meltdown. Full on sobbing, tears streaming down her face. She did NOT want to let him go. She kept saying she was so sad and that she would miss him so much. We explained to her that he would be happier in this environment, that he needed to be outside. She understood, but that did not help the heartbreak. For about 45 mins after we left, she still sobbed. It broke my heart. I couldn't stand seeing my baby girl like that, and a part of me was pissed at Russell for even bringing the turtle home in the first place. (I'm really funny about pets, and I knew the kids would have a hard time letting go) But after the tears calmed down a bit, we could really talk to her about the whole experience. She decided to draw a picture of Tiddles so she could always remember him. That girl, much like her mama, feels things so deeply that I worry for her. She is brimming over with life and emotion; has been since she was born. I get it- I see myself in her so much. I see that one of my responsibilities with my daughter is to teach her to honor those emotions, to harness them, to accept them, to never apologize for them; just as my mother did for me. While those deep emotions can leave her vulnerable, they are also a source of strength and power and loveliness.
I cannot help but wonder how she will deal with the fact that these babies are not coming home with us. She knows this, we have talked about it a lot. She and Roy each ask about the babies every day, but Stella is the one who kisses my belly twice, once for each baby. She is connecting with them. Our plan is to have her and Roy come visit at the hospital when the babies are born so that they can meet the parents and see them with the babies. I want them to have some closure and to understand that the babies are going to be with their parents. But will it be another Tiddles episode?? I don't know. What I do know is that we see this as a teachable moment for our children, a real life learning experience that they will remember forever. And if I know my baby girl, she will amaze and impress me as she always does.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Yesterday was a big day in this surrogate journey: THE BIG ultrasound. 5:00pm found me waiting in the doctor's office both for my appointment and for the parents to arrive. They live about 2 hours away. Right before the nurse called me back, I got a call from them saying they had been stuck in traffic and were about 30 miles away. I explained the situation to the nurse who was super excited about our situation and agreed to do all the preliminary stuff until the couple could get here. For those who have never had this experience, this midpoint ultrasound measures everything on the baby; arms, legs, heartbeats, amniotic fluid, weight. That takes a while with one baby, let alone two! So the whole time she was taking measurements, we were chit chatting about this journey. She was fascinated and we had a great talk. But when she was done except for all of the good stuff (the sex of the babies), the parents still weren't there. I didn't want to know without them being there.
At that point, her next appointment arrived early, so she offered to take them and finish up with them quickly so we could kill some more time. Perfect!! I had been in the waiting room again for about 5 mins when the parents finally walked in the door, tired and apologetic and excited. As we waited, the second family in the ultrasound room walked out: a husband and wife and their 5 children. The mom is expecting her 6th child. Yep, 6th. Their youngest looked to be about 2, their oldest maybe 9. Only one girl, the rest boys. Now I know plenty of people think it is crazy to have that many kids. I myself marvel at the organization and financial planning that must take. But the parents that were waiting with me had nothing but smiles and love on their faces. Imagine what they must have been feeling to see this beautiful happy family; nothing but appreciation for their dedication to family as far as I could tell. Perhaps deep down there was some envy or longing, but I couldn't see it.
So now it was our turn! The nurse asked if anyone had any ideas or feelings as to what the sexes were. The mom said her mother (who STILL doesn't know that I am pregnant!) had a dream where the father was walking and holding the hands of two little girls. The father said he was sure it was two girls. And he was right. It is two beautiful, big, perfectly healthy girls! What a joyous feeling it was that filled that room! I just can't put into words how it feels to experience pregnancy this way, very much a part of it but still a bit of an observer of the emotions that these parents are feeling. It is amazing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mas que mi vida

After each of my kids were born, I got tattoos representing them. For Stella, I have a cameo of a mother and child. For Roy, I have the phrase "mas que mi vida" arranged in a heart. It means "more than my life"in Spanish. I quite literally take the phrase to heart. Most mothers I know would truly sacrifice anything for their children (I am fortunate enough to know some awesome moms!) Motherhood takes some adjustment, but most moms I know, from the moment they know they are carrying a child, put that child above anything else.  We change what we eat, what we drink, how we exercise, recreational activities we engage in, etc. We change career plans, travel plans, party plans. As I wrote about previously, we don't see these things as sacrifices; rather, it is just that our own needs quickly take second place to those of our child. I have heard so many times, over and over, how carrying a child changes you forever. How unless you have carried a child and given birth, you can't possibly imagine the love and life-changing devotion you feel towards your child. Its almost like a club, the Mom Club, that only those who are fortunate enough to have given birth are allowed access to.

Recently however, I've had a new perspective on the Mom Club. Through this surrogate journey of mine, I have been introduced to moms who go through an entirely different set of circumstances and life changes. Those moms who are UN-able to conceive or carry, or those who choose to adopt. Wow, talk about dedication! I was so blessed to have conception, pregnancy and delivery be relatively easy for me. My life changed once I knew I was pregnant. But what about those moms who can't get pregnant? What about the moms who go through failed test after failed test, those who go through fertility treatments over and over, those who spend their life savings to pay for the hope that they can get pregnant? The moms who simply cannot carry a child to term, so they seek the help of someone like me? Those who choose adoption and wait on pins and needles for the call saying they are good enough to be given a child? Those moms who aren't in "traditional" heterosexual relationships who are told that their wives or life partners cannot adopt the child they worked so hard to get?  Those moms know sacrifice. Those moms give everything too, they put the POSSIBILITY of a child above their own needs. I now know of women who have struggled for 15 years, moms who have been told their religion eliminates them from the process of adoption with certain agencies, moms who have suffered multiple miscarriages, moms who have had to go out of the country to adopt a child. These moms personify the dedication, love and devotion that we associate with good mothers. I applaud them, I bow before them, I respect and admire them tremendously for their courage and sacrifice and examples. These are the moms that our society needs to recognize for the amazing women that they are.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Time is flying by

Last Friday I had an appointment to have bloodwork done to screen for genetic markers that could indicate a problem with the twins. Standard testing only, we are not doing any of the "extra" testing that is optional. The parents believe (as do I) that a) the children they are blessed with are theirs no matter what b) no sense worrying unnecessarily over tests results that may or may not mean anything c) they don't want any testing that could be risky for me or the babies, like amnios. The big news that I found out that day has nothing to do with genetics, but rather with my due date. I am actually a week further along than we thought :) Now my due date is Feb 19th, which puts me at 17 weeks tomorrow! Woohoo! I don't think there is a mother out there who hasn't wished her pregnancy would speed up by a week. I am so excited for this news, as are the parents.

So the way that my brain works, I immediately start thinking that I'm only a few weeks away from being 20 weeks. And that is the halfway point. And that means I've gotta start thinking (like I haven't already) about the actual birth. That doesn't freak me out, it is just super exciting. Simply by being one week further along, my brain has gone into overdrive!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


A friend of mine recently posted an article that brought up a hot topic: women who choose NOT to have children and the stigma that is attached to that choice. We all know the "choice" debate covers lots of areas, including whether to keep a pregnancy, whether one wants to have children at all, how many children to have, etc etc. Women are constantly bombarded with the baby question, starting at (in my opinion) way too early of an age. My basic answer to all of those questions, in all of their forms, is that it is no one's damn business but mine. I'm not going to get into a big political/social issue/moral issue debate here because that could go on forever. Suffice it to say that I am firmly in the "mind your own business" camp. But it is interesting to me that so many people, mainly women, get up in arms when a grown, intelligent woman makes the conscious choice to not produce children. Is it that they feel the decision is an indirect judgement against their own decision to HAVE children? Do they feel it is a woman's primary job to produce offspring? Is it a religious thing? Regardless, it fascinates me.

As a mom, I know that having my children is the most important and rewarding thing I have ever done.  It has changed me in many ways, most of them for the better :) And while it doesn't work this way for every mom, my decision to become a mother was a VERY planned and conscious choice, both times. I would cheerfully rip the head off of anyone who threatened my babies or questioned my rationale in deciding to have them, just as I would do the same for anyone who questioned my choice had I decided not to try to produce children. As a woman, I wish we would support each other's decisions more. As a feminist (yeah, I said Feminist! If you have beef with that one, we can talk about it another time) I yearn for our society to treat all women as equally and fairly as we deserve. As a mother, I revel in my motherhood, and I plead for all women to keep their judgements to themselves. Whether you are a mom or not, we are all sisters.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Keeping Secrets

I had an ultrasound Friday and the parents were there to witness it :) As always, ultrasounds are super exciting and rewarding: seeing the little babies move all around and hearing their heartbeats is simply amazing. As we were waiting and chit chatting, the parents told me that they have not told ANYONE that they are expecting. No one. They even have Mom's mother (soon to be grandmother) living with them currently and she has no idea. Holy crap!!!! The grandmother knows that they have a surrogate and that things are on the right path, but no clue that there were embryos, a transfer, twins, nothing!! I cannot begin to imagine how tough that would be for me to keep my big mouth closed in that situation. But I have never been in that situation, not even close. Both times when we found out I was pregnant, I couldn't keep it a secret. With Stella, I called my mom right away. With Roy, I told my mom at Thanksgiving when I was only about 4 weeks in. Not news I could possibly keep my mom. I know a lot of people keep it a secret until the end of the first trimester "just in case", and that totally makes sense. My thought process was that if I were to suffer a miscarriage, I would want my loved ones to know what I was dealing with so I would immediately have their support. There is no right or wrong way to do it, its just whatever works for you.
This couple however, has been down this road before. Not with a surrogate, but the mother herself has suffered through countless failed attempts. Each time thinking "This is it!" and then being heartbroken when the pregnancy ended, time and time again. To be honest, I don't even know how many times because when we talked about it all she would say was that she had been through it "so many, many times." Jeeze, that breaks my heart. So when I asked if it was hard to keep this pregnancy a secret from her mother, she said "nope, not at all." Only that when they do decide to share it with her mother (who by the way has already picked out her outfit for her future grandchild's christening and planned the menu for the party) she will make her husband tell her, since she is pretty sure her mother is going to kill her :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Motherhood is full of possibilities and unknowns. Starting with pregnancy: Will it be a boy or girl? Will she look like me? When will I go into labor? Will it be hard? Then after the precious bundle is here: Am I going to be a good mom? Is breastfeeding supposed to hurt? What school will he go to? Is he going to like sports or be a musician? All of those possibilities can instill panic in even the most stable mommy. But most of us just assume that those will be the unknowns we will have to deal with and never even consider that we may not have the opportunity. The parents of the children I am carrying have been facing much more intense questions for the last 15 years: Can I get pregnant? Why can't I? Why is this so hard? Is it my fault? Is it his fault? How much is this going to cost? What if this never works for us? Can we trust someone else to carry our baby? How will I handle a pregnancy that isn't in MY body? It is totally overwhelming to think about. Now, finally, they get to experience all the joy and mystery and wonderment that comes from being expectant parents, and I am so happy for them :) The mom and I were talking this morning about the nursery and cribs and clothes and the sheer thrill and joy of baby shopping. What a miraculous transformation their lives have taken and how much more miracles of parenthood they have in store for them!!

This made me think of a friend of mine who went through a huge transformation through her pregnancy. My dear friend Jenny used to speak about the day she would have kids and how she wanted nothing more than to just be knocked out during labor and to wake up to a perfect bundle in her arms. None of that pain and laboring and ickiness; yuck!!! Once she became pregnant, her inner earth-mama came out. She learned sooooo much about pregnancy and childbirth, doulas and midwives and actually had a completely natural experience. She then was so inspired that she became a doula. I gotta say, I was so proud. To each her own, but everyone knows I am a big proponent of natural birth and midwives, so I was ecstatic that I had helped convert someone :) Honestly, I want each mama to simply be in charge of her birth experience, whatever that means for her. Epidural in the parking lot? So be it. Homebirth in a tub? Awesome. Not sure-I'm gonna play it by ear? Cool. Each woman should know her options and the possibilities of each. But Jenny??? Jenny makes me proud.

Now here I am, immersed in possibilities. Will I be able to have a vaginal, natural birth?? I'm damn sure doing everything I can to make that happen. Will my kids love soccer and be jocks like their mom was? Will they (please oh please oh please) have the musical abilities of their father? Will we find the perfect new home for our family?? So many opportunities and unknowns, and finally I have reached a point in my life where I'm ok not knowing all the answers yet. I'm willing to let the possibilities and paths unfold.

Monday, August 13, 2012


This weekend has been a hard one for a lady almost 12 weeks pregnant. We have painted the entire inside of our house, including 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, living room, dining room and kitchen. Walls, trim, doors, everything. Overwhelming! Thankfully we had help from a few friends and church members which really made it go by faster- I cannot thank them enough. I made sure to take breaks, but looking back on it, I did push myself too hard and didn't eat enough. Big no-no's for preggers. But I just wanted to get it done! Halfway through painting Stella's room, I thought about why we are doing this; to sell our house. Why are we selling our house? To move to a better school district for when baby girl goes to  kindergarten next fall. I love our house, but honestly our neighborhood is in a crappy school district, so we need to move. Once we realized that we weren't comfortable with our kids playing with the other kids in the neighborhood or riding their bikes, we realized that it was time to go. We had NEVER planned on moving, but suddenly, we wanted to go like NOW. Hence all the house projects my husband is busting his ass to complete and all the cleaning, planning, organizing I am doing so we can trade up.
Some might say all of our hard work is a sacrifice for our kids. One of the many sacrifices parents make for their kids. I have honestly never thought of the changes we make in our life for our children as "sacrifices".  We just do them because it feels like the best choice for our family as a whole. I cut back hours at work so I could be with my family more. Russell doesn't do a lot of side jobs on weekends so we can have family time. We miss social events (not too many :) ) not because we can't get a sitter, but because we want to hang out with our family instead. No, we cannot be as spontaneous as we used to be, no I cannot stay up past 10 anymore, no I can't sleep in till whenever, no I cannot drink wine when I'm pregnant. I don't care. None of these things feel like I'm losing anything because it was just a shift in priorities. I am not missing being out in a bar until 2am. Yes, I will totally enjoy having a big glass of wine and a rare steak after the twins are born, but I don't feel upset about not having them. I guess I just view things differently now, through the eyes of a mommy.
True sacrifice is what the parents of these twins have gone through. And they aren't even parents yet. They are going to be amazing!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birthday Boy Blog

3 years ago today I woke up at 5:00am with contractions. My first thought was "I knew it! I KNEW he was going to be born today!" My second thought was "I'd better let Russell sleep a little, he will be no good to me at this time of day." So I waited until 6 and then woke him up. Every year since, I have woken up at 5am on August 4th, without fail, today included. And I do let my hubby sleep until 6ish.  My birth with Roy was so amazing and beautiful, and I relive it each year and bawl my eyes out. I am such a sentimental sap like that.
So now here I am, pregnant with twins for someone else. What will this birth be like??? For me AND for them?? There will be a day that will forever change these parents, a day that they will remember for the rest of their lives. What will it be like to have your children brought into the world through someone else's efforts? Will there be jealousy or envy to some degree? Or will there just be pure love and joy? I'm not entirely sure, but after getting to know these parents over the last several months, I do know that the positive will outweigh the negative. They are such generous, loving people and I know that they are so thrilled that after years of heartache their family is that much closer to being completed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Several months ago, my friend Jaime wrote a blog about her own personal truths as a mom, and how judgemental other parents can be. (I'm paraphrasing Jaime, that really doesn't do your writing justice).
That blog really touched me, for several reasons. One, because I am very sensitive to moms judging each other when we should be supportive. Second, because I too can get on my high horse and make snap judgements. I tell myself it is because I am passionate about certain causes; while that may be true,  I have also been working REALLY hard to be less judgemental. This journey I am on has taught me so much about aspects of parenthood that were previously unknown to me. I was told when I was pregnant with Stella that every child you have teaches you one big lesson, you just have to be prepared to hear it. Stella taught me to loosen up and let go of some of my control, Roy taught me to laugh at life. I think that these babies are teaching me to embrace all moms and respect their journey; for there, but for the grace of God, go I.
So in the spirit of truth telling and acceptance, here are my truths:

*Both of our children co-slept with us for the first several months of their lives
*We did not circumcise our son and I am a big proponent of boys staying "intact"
*Breastfeeding was amazingly hard and gratifying; I feel like a failure for not doing it longer
*My kids watch too much tv, and I don't care

So there you go, my truths, like 'em or not. The point is, every good parent makes the best decisions they can based on the info they have and what feels right to them. I try to remind myself of that every day so that I can be a more supportive friend, doula and mother.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Let them eat ice cream

I knew that carrying twins would be different than a singleton, but it didn't know HOW it would be different. Like most people, I knew that twins are usually born early, but I didn't know why. I also knew that multiple pregnancies are considered more "high risk" than singletons, but really didn't get why that was the case. I asked around and was referred to the book "When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets or Quads" by Dr. Barbara Luke. Awesome, I love reading just as much as I love being pregnant! Right away, this book had me realizing just what I was in for.

There are several reasons why multiples are born earlier. First, the growth rate for twins is much faster than for one baby, but then it slows down much earlier in a pregnancy. Instead of continuing to develop all the way up to 40 weeks, twins slow down before then. Twins are generally more mature developmentally than a singleton at the same gestational age, and are therefore ready to be born sooner. Second, the placentas tend to age more quickly and start to become less efficient. Finally, the uterus can only stretch so far! By the time a mom of twins is 32 weeks, her uterus is the same size as a singleton mom at 40 weeks. Wow. So the goal is to get those babies all the nutrients and weight gain they need as soon as possible so when they are done cooking, they are as big and healthy as they can be.

Twins, on average, are born around 35 weeks. There are other factors involved with this, including the mom's obstetrical history. Those that have given birth at least once have an advantage and better chance of keeping those babies in longer. Yay!! Also, women over age 30 are significantly more likely to carry twins at least 35 weeks. Hooray!!

So how does this change this pregnancy for me? It hits close to my heart: EATING! You guys know I have a voracious appetite, so this is good news for me. However, the sheer amount of calories I am supposed to consume in order to get these babies nice and fat and happy is pretty staggering. 3500 calories a day. Yep, thats right. But this does not mean just pigging out on anything. This recommended diet is based on a diabetic diet, so there are rules. Here are the guidelines:
*10 servings of low fat or non-fat dairy
*12 servings of lean protein
*6 servings each of fruits and veggies
*12 servings of grains and starchy vegetables
*14 servings of fats, nuts and oils
*8 16oz glasses of water )128 oz a day!!!!
Good news: I love protein and ice cream/milkshakes are highly suggested
Bad news: I am eating constantly and peeing constantly

The goal is to gain the vast majority of my weight before 28 weeks, whereas with a singleton, moms should follow the "slow and steady" approach. Holy cow, it is not easy. But it is worth it. The moms who follow these guidelines have significantly longer pregnancies and bigger, healthier babies. That is the best thing I can do for these babies, so that is the plan I am following. I do love a plan.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Well today was the big day, the day the intended parents and my family have been waiting for: the first ultrasound. I am so glad they were able to make the trip to be there with me so we could hear the news together! This is how it went down:

The doctor began the ultrasound and as soon as it appeared on the screen, I noticed there were 2 embryonic sacs. So did the parents. We looked at each other, but didn't say anything because "what if..." Dr. Miller says, " many embryos did they put in?" "Two"  "Oh good, my guess is that both of them took!" Woohoo!!! Tears and prayers from everyone around! He then found the little flickering heartbeats in both sacs and confirmed that it was twins. They are too small at this point to get any accurate measurements, so I will be going back in 4 weeks for another ultrasound. The parents, the nurse and I were all crying and laughing, and Mom even dropped to her knees and said a prayer right there on the floor. It was amazing to see their faces, to see those two heartbeats, to see my doctor grinning from ear to ear. (This was his first surrogacy too :) ) Holy crap, TWINS! What a blessing that a couple who has wanted a child for 15 years is now looking an an ultrasound picture with two beating heartbeats.

I cannot even believe that this is happening, our most hopeful hopes are actually coming to fruition. All we can do now is pray that this remains a strong healthy pregnancy. And there is no reason why it shouldn't. I firmly believe that everything in this journey so far has gone so smoothly because it is meant to be. I believe that God has put us in each others' lives for this very reason. And I believe this will be a great pregnancy; I am confient in that. I am the eternal optimist, for sure, but I am not naive. I know that this will be different because there are two babies. But that doesn't worry me, doesn't scare me, doesn't make me feel any more at risk. I am still going to work with my midwives and barring some crazy complication, I am having my natural vaginal birth. I will not be intimidated by having two; if I can push one out, I can push two out. This is not to downplay the hard work and difficulties that mothers of multiples face; this is just the beginning of my experience and there are things I have yet to experience. I am THRILLED to be doing this. I know some of my family is worried about this being "hard" on me, but I know myself. My mother told me when I informed her I was having an unmedicated birth with Roy and wanted her to be there: "I know you. You always do whatever you set your mind to. You never try something without knowing you can do it. If you say you can, I believe you." And yes, I am aware that with pregnancy and childbirth, you have to roll with the punches, that there are unforeseen circumstances. But I also know that for me and for a lot of women, labor is hugely mental. I always encourage my doula clients who want one to PLAN on a natural birth, not to TRY for one. If something changes, so be it. But "There is no try. Only do." I hope this doesn't come off as arrogant, that is not my intention. I just feel happy and confidant and strong. Thank you all for the love and support!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The results are in

Finally, after beginning this process back in September, I am pregnant! So excited, so happy, so thrilled to be able to help this couple. They have suffered so much heartache and are such deserving parents. Bloodwork on Monday confirmed that my Hcg levels (the hormone that indicates pregnancy) are through the roof, which means this is a good strong start to this pregnancy. I go back Wednesday for more bloodwork to check those levels again, at which point they should have doubled. Prayers being said that they will. I feel fantastic, not sick, just a little tired. According to the nurse, I am considered 5 weeks pregnant as of Wednesday; calculating the due date is a little weird since already fertilized embryos are transfered.

I got to deliver the good news to the parents and obviously they were thrilled, almost in tears. I couldn't stop smiling and jumping around while I was talking to them :) Thank you all so much for following my journey and for all the love and support you have given me. This is such an amazing experience and I am truly blessed to be having it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hurry up and wait

In exactly one week I get to go have a pregnancy test (yep, more bloodwork) to determine if the embryo(s) have taken root. I am DYING of curiosity. I really really am tempted to buy a home pregnancy test just to see what it will say, but I don't want to be disappointed. It could be positive, which would be great, but what if that changes in the next week? Or it could be a false negative if enough of the pregnancy hormone didn't show up in my urine. This is why the doctor said to wait 2 weeks, so we have an accurate answer. But, as I have stated before, patience is not my strong suit. I've been behaving this week as if I know that I am pregnant: no alcohol, no caffeine, taking it easy. My best friend says she KNOWS I'm pregnant because I was extra snippy with her this week :) Could be; but I think it is more a combination of exhaustion and emotional overload. I'm excited and nervous and preoccupied. So it isn't so much the pregnancy as it is the THOUGHT of pregnancy and all it entails.  Plus my hubby and I have decided to sell our house to move to a better school district, which we never thought we'd do. Yep, we decided this the night before the embryo transfer, so I've got a lot on my mind. I tend to do better when I have about a million things going on in my life, so this isn't unusual. But combine the possibility of 2 life changing events in such a short span of time and I'm pretty sure I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve these days :) I'm a tough chick though, and I'm ready to handle it.

So Charlene, I promise, I'll be nicer to you :) I love you tons and besides my hubby, you have been my major supporter and cheerleader (ha!) this past year. When push comes to shove, we've always got each other's backs. Now if I can just make it through this week of waiting!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Transfer Complete

Today was a big day. For those who are interested, here is a step by step explanation of the process.

I was told to arrive with a "moderately full" bladder because it helps with the procedure. As I have to pee every 30 minutes anyway, that was not a problem. After taking my blood pressure, the doctor placed the image of my uterus on a screen so we could watch the procedure. On a second screen, there was a picture of the two embryos, just for inspiration sake :) Next, a catheter was inserted into my uterus and the nurse brought in the actual embryos in a tiny syringe. They were then injected into the catheter tip (ha! just the tip) and implanted into the uterine wall. That part was super cool, because although the embryos are too small to see on the screen, you could see the actual liquid they were resting in at the exact moment of implantation. Soooo cool! Then I just had to rest for 5 minutes and then go pee (finally). That was it. The mom and dad were in the room with me for the transfer; Russell had to wait outside :( The parents were also given a picture of the embryos, which I thought was amazingly sweet and thoughtful. For the next 24 hours, I have to rest and take it easy. After about 4 days, I can return to normal activity. I feel great, just a little tired. And in 2 weeks, I go in for bloodwork to determine if I'm actually pregnant. Eeeee!!!! Thank you for all of your support and prayers and love; I think that sort of thing helps. I'll keep posting...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Embryo transfer eve...

I am all aflutter with nerves and anticipation and excitement for the embryo transfer tomorrow.  Sometimes I felt like this moment would never get here! Now as I'm about to go through with it, it is a little surreal. But amazing. I'm feeling a little emotional as my babies are crawling all over me and giving me kisses and snuggles; because it makes me happy when they do that and also because I'm thinking of the mom and dad whose journey into parenthood could truly begin tomorrow. What a crazy thing to KNOW the exact moment that pregnancy begins! When Russell and I were trying to have our babies, we were super lucky and got pregnant the first month we started-both times. And we have a pretty good idea of when each of those pregnancies happened :) But to know that tomorrow at 9:15am two embryos will be implanted with very high hopes is a little trippy. I am feeling really confident and feel certain that my prayers will be answered, but there is a bit of pressure as well. This couple has had so much heartbreak, so many losses that I am really hoping that this works the first time. I'll post tomorrow about how it goes...

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Final Countdown

Well, here we are, one week away from the proposed embryo transfer date. I can't believe it! This next week is really pivotal. I have had my final clearance to be ready to receive the embryos, but we are waiting (quite anxiously I might add) to make sure the eggs are ready to be retrieved. This depends on the egg donor's response to the latest round of hormones. If all goes well and her hormone levels check out, the eggs will be retrieved on Friday and fertilized. Then they gestate and if they do what they are supposed to do, Monday they will be transferred to my uterus. Once the eggs are taken from the donor, I will be notified so I can start the last of the hormones I have to take, Progesterone. This one I have to take via intramuscular injection (in the booty) every day in addition to the Delestrogen I currently take every 3rd day. (By the way, I am starting to get tiny little bruises at the injection site each time I get a shot. Oh well, at least no one except the hubby is seeing them :) ) Hoping everything goes according to schedule! Weird and exciting to think that Monday I could be pregnant; I mean, I've never known the exact day I was going to be pregnant before.

I have a big night out planned for Saturday as a last hurrah before I am unable to enjoy my wine :) I want to go out with my friends in celebration of the momentous change that is about to occur in our lives. It is a celebration of hope and friends and love, of relationships that already exist and of those to come. Feel free to join us :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012


So tomorrow is Memorial Day, and that always makes me think of my father-in-law, whom I have never met. He passed away when Russell was in high school. And Father's Day is coming up, which of course makes me think of my amazing husband and what an awesome father he is. So those things coupled together, make me super appreciative of my blessings. I am so, so, so fortunate to have my husband. He has been greatly influenced by his father and I remember when we were dating he told me that as a kid, one of his dreams was to be a dad, because his dad was so great. Seriously, how cool is that??!! As a kid, he dreamed of being a dad; boy did I luck out. He has completely embraced fatherhood like he was born to do it. He will take on challenges that I shy away from with the kids, taking them places that I avoid. He will be endlessly patient. He loves things like looking at the kids ears and how cute they are. He teaches the kids to make "metal face" when they listen to heavy metal music. He cooks with them. He cuddles, he disciplines, he wants to take road trips. I am blessed.
Thinking of the embryo transfer coming up in 2 weeks (yay!!!) I am so happy that I have my husband to support me. He is TERRIFIED of needles, yet he has been skillfully injecting me with hormones throughout this process. He is very protective and territorial with me ( hehehehee) and yet he is completely comfortable with me carrying someone else's child. How amazing is this man? Yes, at this point, I am just bragging, but holy crap, not every man would be cool with this scenario.
I just wanted to give a shout out to my best friend, my love, my support system, my amazing man. Memorial day makes me yearn for the relationship with the father-in-law I never met, simply because I know how much of an influence he had on Russell's life. I know that he would be proud, supremely proud of his son. As am I.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birth Stories: How Stella and Roy came to be

Since my talk the other night at Expecting 101, I've been thinking so much about my birth stories. I had a request to share them, so here we go...

Stella Elayne
My entire pregnancy with Stella was amazing. I never got sick and felt great pretty much the whole time. Other than heartburn, which I had never had before in my life, I was really blessed to have an "uneventful" pregnancy. I was under the care of the same ob/gyn I had been seeing for 10 years and felt really comfortable with her. I didn't take any birthing classes; instead, I focused on what to do with the baby once she got here. Newborn care, breastfeeding, baby safety- all over that stuff. Labor? Delivery? Totally uneducated. I was under the assumption that labor will hurt, I'll take it as long as possible and then I'll get an epidural. The only thing I was scared of was an episiotomy. I discussed this with my doctor and she said what I now know is standard doctor B.S. "I'd rather have a controlled cut than an uncontrolled tear". Eek, that sounded like it made sense (oh woefully ignorant me!!!)
At my 39 week checkup, I was 3cm dilated and almost 100% effaced. My doctor suggested we induce next week, since my body was obviously ready. Great! Sounds good to me! I want to see my baby! I had no idea what that entailed or that since there was no medical reason for induction that it could cause complications. So I agreed and one week later, the day before my due date, I arrived at the hospital at 7:00am. I was so excited!!! A doctor I didn't know came in and broke my water. I was hooked up to a pitocin drip, which meant I couldn't get out of bed. I started feeling contractions and pretty quickly they really started to hurt. I was 5cm at this point and I was offered and accepted an epidural. That meant I needed a catheter too, because once the drugs kicked in, I felt nothing from the waist down. Nothing. They had to roll me from side to side every so often so the epidural would distribute evenly through my body. At 3:00pm, I was 10 cm and ready to push. Finally saw my doctor for the first time just as I was starting to push. She pulled over a tray of medical instruments, including a scalpel, and said she wanted to go ahead and do a "small incision". I freaked out and asked why, what was wrong?? She told me nothing, we just wanted to go ahead and "help this big baby out". I looked and Russell and he reminded me that I said I didn't want it, but now I was scared and feeling very vulnerable, so I agreed.
Stella was born at 3:42, 8lbs 1oz, 21inches long.
She stopped breathing the first night she was alive, while she was in the nursery away from me. I wasn't told until the next morning. The nurses did not honor my wishes to bring her to me every 2 hours to breastfeed. We had to spend an extra day in the hospital because of her breathing issue that first night. I never saw my doctor again the entire time we were there; I only saw her at my 6 week checkup. My healing from the cut was awful and I couldn't sit comfortably for 6 weeks. I told myself that if I had another child, it would be totally different. I would be more in control, more educated and I would NOT have any drugs in my system that might make my baby stop breathing. I learned about my options and I became a doula so that I could help other women learn about theirs.

James Roy:
With Roy, I also had a great pregnancy, just like Stella's. But this time I was working with a midwife and was planning a natural childbirth. I went into labor 2 days after my due date, at 5:00am. We had a normal couple of hours at home, calling people and taking Stella to daycare. By 8:00, I my contractions were 5 mins apart and coming on strong. I called the midwife and we got to the hospital at 9:00. I was contracting strongly, but in really good spirits. In fact, the nurse checking me in didn't think I was really in labor because I wasn't freaking out. My midwife checked my progress and I was 8cm!! (Told ya so Miss Nurse!) I labored in several positions, moving around and finding what worked best for me. My husband and mother were my "doulas" and were amazingly supportive. Around 10:30, I was laboring in the tub and it was amazingly helpful. I felt the really strong urge to push, so Nicole checked me again and I was 10cm, ready to go. I got out of the tub and pushed in several different positions until I found the right one (lying on my side, propped up). My water broke on its own with a really strong push. My support team had stopped laughing and joking, and the mood was really intense at this point, which is NOT what I wanted. After a big push, I asked Nicole if it was too late for the epidural, just to ease the tension. She said "You are NOT telling jokes in the middle of pushing!!!" Why yes, yes I was. (See, natural doesn't have to be excrutiating and no fun!) 10 minutes later, at 12:01pm, I reached down and helped pull out my son. He went straight to my chest, and never left my side. He didn't go to the nursery for anything; everything was done right there in the room with me. He started nursing 15 mins after he was born, and about an hour after giving birth I was up and moving around, feeling no pain. Absolutely none. It was amazing and powerful and so, so right. Roy was 8lbs, 13 oz, 21inches long. And no, I did not tear nor did I need a "cut". My midwife had this amazing new technological intervention called "olive oil" that she massaged me with to prevent that tear from happening. Much better than a tray of surgical instruments.

So there you go; the two different stories of my babies births. Neither better in terms of importance, but absolutely different in terms of who was in charge of my birth experiences.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birth Stories

I was honored and privileged tonight to speak at a event sponsored by Birth Matters called "Expecting 101". It was a workshop for expecting moms and I was invited to share my birth stories because they are so different from one another. Those of you who know these stories know that the reason I became a doula is that my first birth, while amazing and beautiful, was full of interventions that I did not necessarily want. My trust in my doctor was shattered and my path as a doula and childbirth educator was set into motion. I do not regret anything about that birth, because not only did it bring me my beautiful daughter, it educated me. It was only in hindsight that I realized how much I learned from her birth. The fact that Stella and I have a soulful connection cannot be disputed. My birth with Roy was a completely natural experience, with no drugs, no intervention. It was powerful and spiritual and beautiful and awe- inspiring.

As I was sharing these stories tonight with complete strangers (and a few friends), I was struck by how true my own words were. How absolutely transformative birth is. Regardless of how your labor and birth plays out, it is transformative. You will never be the same. You are traveling an amazingly brave, honorable tradition that our mothers before us for thousands of years have traveled. You are becoming a goddess, a life giver, a teacher, a best friend, a mentor, a fool, a big sloppy mess; you are becoming perfection and folly all woven in together. You will forever walk around with your heart on the outside of your body. You cannot explain it or put in into words in any way that will do justice to the depth of the emotions you will feel.

Knowing that I am about to be pregnant again, I cannot stand how excited I am. I am soooo happy to be able to experience this again. What an amazing birth story this will be! How will it change me? How will it color the interactions with my own children? How will it affect the mother? How will my labor go? Will it be fast like my previous births? Will the mother experience what I am feeling as she watches me in labor? Time will tell.

I love my children so much that at times it is a visceral, physical ache. I want to hold them and never let them go. I relive their births over and over again, every detail still clear and fresh in my mind. I thank my Heavenly father that he blessed me so much with amazing, healthy, strong, vivacious, funny little monkeys. And I am damn proud that another family chose me to help them experience all of these emotions.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day

Mother's Day has always been very special to me because of the amazingly close relationship that I share with my mom. She has been my inspiration my entire life. Since my parents divorced when I was around 8, it was just the two of us. I had a very strained relationship with my father and only recently reunited with him after Stella was born. My mom did the work of two parents and did a damn fine job of it.
After becoming a mom myself, it put a whole new spin on things :) There has been nothing more powerful in my life than giving birth to my children. So I find myself extra reflective this Mother's Day as I am preparing to help someone else become a mom. I cannot possibly think of a better gift to give someone. It seems especially symbolic to me that I am beginning the last leg of this journey to become pregnant during this weekend.
I started hormone shots in my tummy today. I will do this every day for the next week and then have bloodwork and an ultrasound done to ensure that I have the right level of hormones in my system. If so, I discontinue that hormone (Lupron) and begin Delestrogen every 3rd day. That shot goes in the booty. I will continue that routine for 2 weeks and have more bloodwork and another ultrasound, once again, to assess my hormone levels. At the same time, the egg donor is undergoing her own hormone treatments and assessments. When they harvest her eggs and fertilize them, the fertility clinic will assess the embryos to determine if they are ready for transfer. If so, we do the transfer and I then begin taking Progesterone in addition to the delestrogen (another shot in the booty) every day, for several weeks. Hopefully the pregnancy takes and I stay pregnant :)
Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there, all mothers to be, all caregivers who help us with our children, and all the partners that support us.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fingers crossed

So we have a tentative date for the embryo transfer. Tentative because it could change if the egg donor does not respond as she should to the hormone shots she will be taking. I have debated whether to share this info at all; what if it falls through? Worse, what if it doesn't, but I don't get pregnant? Worst case scenario, I get pregnant and lose the pregnancy. Eek. In the end, I decided to do the same thing we did with our own pregnancies. I know a lot of people wait until 12 weeks to ensure they have made it through the shaky first trimester before they share the news. I get that. It would be tough to have to go back and tell people that you lost a pregnancy after sharing the joyous news in the first place. However, our thought was that if we lost a baby, we would need all the love and support from our family and friends that we could get. Hence, the sharing of this date: June 11. About a month away. I REALLY hope that date sticks and I REALLY hope I get pregnant. It takes less than 2 weeks to find out if I am pregnant after the transfer and that will be a really long wait. But no longer than the almost 15 years that the intended parents have been waiting to complete their family :) I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Surrogacy for a different reason

Some of you may know who Guiliana and Bill Rancic are because of their reality T.V. show; some of you may not. I'm a fan, and I've watched their show for a while now. They have struggled with fertility issues for a long time and recently discovered in addition to fertility problems, Guiliana has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She elected to have a double mastectomy. Due to all of her health issues, they decided to use a gestational carrier and have announced that they are indeed, finally, pregnant through a surrogate :) I am sooooo happy for them and so astounded at their very public sharing of these deeply personal struggles. I'm hoping that putting a "celebrity face" on this issue will increase awareness and sensitivity to the fertility issues that so many people deal with on a daily basis.
Watching the implantation on their show brought tears to my eyes, and seeing the reaction of each of them when they found out the gestational carrier was pregnant was incredible. I just received notice that I have been synced up with the egg donor's cycle and that I will be receiving a schedule soon as to how the implantation phase will proceed. I will start on hormones again and very soon, will be going to the fertility clinic for the embryo transfer. Holy crap, I get to (hopefully) help make this couple's dream come true.

Monday, April 9, 2012


So while we are in this holding pattern, waiting for my cycle to be synced up with the egg donor, I thought I would reflect back on some of the questions I've been getting from people about this whole surrogacy thing. Some have been funny, some personal, some I don't know the answer to. These are the ones I've had most frequently.

1. Won't it be hard to give up the baby?
Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question. Also very understandable. And yes, I am sure that there will be sadness when I'm done with a pregnancy and won't bring a baby home from the hospital. However, the absolute joy I will feel at seeing the parents with the child they have struggled for almost 15 years to have will eclipse any wistfulness on my part. There is just no comparison. Also, every step along the way of this process it is very clear and obvious that it is NOT my baby. When I was pregnant with Stella and Roy, every waking moment was occupied with the thought of how Russell and I had created a child that was 1/2 him and 1/2 me. This scenario is totally different. I am carrying a child for someone else, so while of course there will be attachment, it just is not the same.

2. What do your kids think/What have you told your kids?
At their ages, our kids' level of understanding blows me away. We really talk to our kids, have open discussions about everything. We don't use silly words for their genitals, we don't baby talk, we don't lie (Santa and the Easter Bunny being the exceptions :) ) and we try not to avoid questions. They know what is happening and understand that mommy will carry a baby in her belly for another mommy and daddy who can't have kids. Stella has already asked where the baby will come out; and truly empathized when I explained it would come out of my vagina. "No!!!! That will hurt your vagina! I don't want your vagina to hurt!!" Roy is only 2 1/2, so he isn't asking the same questions, but I'm ready for him to do so as the pregnancy progresses.

3. Why??? Why would you "go through" pregnancy for someone else?
First, because I truly believe God put me on this path specifically to meet these parents. I believe that it is a calling for me, that our lives have come together to help them have a child. Also, I don't "go through" pregnancy, I LOVE it :)

4. Do you get paid?
Yep. There is compensation involved, but it is a total secondary reason for being a surrogate. I don't feel like I'm "selling" a child or my body. I feel as though I am blessed to handle pregnancy really well; the intended mom is not. The parents want to help my family for the sacrifices we are making in order to help them, because no matter how much I love growing a life inside me, it is still a sacrifice of time, health, social life, work life, family life.

5. Would you do this again?
I have signed on for three attempts at embryo transfer. If it doesn't work the first time, I will try twice more. Will I do this for another couple? Nope. I'm not getting any younger! Also, as I stated earlier, I really believe I was meant to meet this particular couple. My uterus will officially retire after this one :)

I'm sure there will be lots and lots more questions through the pregnancy, and thats fine with me. I'm not shy, I'm not too reserved, and I like to talk. I'm hoping I can help educate people to the issues of infertility and surrogacy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Final Countdown

Finally, the last medical test has been completed. Had to go for one last round of bloodwork Monday and the results came back in our favor. Which means, according to the fertility doctor, that we are cleared for takeoff whenever my cycle is synced up with the egg donor. The earliest would be in one month, but more than likely it will take a couple of months of hormones (oral and injectable) to get us on the same groove. I have to be at the correct point in my cycle for my body to accept the egg from the donor, and that is a very small window of opportunity.
The 38 page contract has been signed and notarized.
I am working out like crazy to get in the best shape possible for this 37 year old body to be prepared for a third pregnancy.
My kids have decided that they want to name the baby "Giggles". I told them it was really up to the parents, but we could call the baby Giggles while it is in my tummy.
I've been taking prenatal vitamins since January so I would have the right amount of folic acid in my system for whenever I get preggers.
I find myself looking at maternity clothes and deciding where I want to take prenatal yoga, which is a must.
I am ready.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hormones and needles and ice packs, oh my...

Just about to wrap up my two weeks of trial hormone shots, and so far, so good. Having my needle-phobic husband only get nauseous once during this whole time has been a major accomplishment. Let me walk you through the process.
First, hubby has to draw up the correct amount of Delestrogen with one needle, cap it off, then put a MUCH bigger needle on the syringe. While he is doing this, I'm laying on my tummy with an Elmo ice pack on my bum to numb the area up a bit. After about 3 minutes, he counts down, I turn my toes inward, and he injects me. Much to my surprise, the Elmo ice pack really works. I haven't felt any of the shots, despite the size of the giant needle. The only effects have been tiny bruises at the injection site. We switch cheeks each time to give each side a break, but I still look like I have a polka-dotted booty.
The very first time we did this, I'm pretty sure Russell was terrified. After I told him I truly didn't feel a thing, he confessed that he almost passed out. Really glad he didn't do that while poking me with a needle. So we only have one more shot to go before I go in to the doctor to have an ultrasound and bloodwork. We have to check to make sure my uterus has responded properly and thickened up the appropriate amount. The whole point is to make sure that my body does what it would do if my own egg was about to implant itself in the uterine wall. So once again, my uterus is in the spotlight :) I'll keep you posted...

Monday, March 5, 2012


Those close to me know that I am a total sentimental basketcase. I get weepy over my children's accomplishments, sweet moments, even dental appointments. Outside of sentimentality, I don't cry. My default reaction if something is painful or bothersome is "suck it up, Buttercup". Today was an exception to that rule.
I had an HSG screening today, which is another test to make sure my lady parts are working the way they should before we implant the embryo. Since I had a similar screening a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't too concerned. I'll spare you the graphic details, but basically it involves filling my uterus with dye and taking x-rays after administering a numbing medication via needle. Yep, a needle near the lady parts. Not a good thing, but not the worst part of the procedure, which is mercifully short. Before the procedure, the doctor explained everything and told me I would experience cramping and bleeding off and on all day. No biggie, I thought. They said that with the last procedure and it was a piece of cake. Not so this time. Everyone experiences this in a different way, but for me, it was extremely uncomfortable. More cramping than I have ever experienced in my life, 10 times worse than any period. It brought tears to my eyes. And at that moment, a question the nurse had asked me before the procedure began popped back into my head. "Have you ever had this done before?" My answer was no, but at the moment I started crying I remembered that the intended Mother has been through this SEVERAL times. Each time in the hopes that this would be the time she would get pregnant and stay pregnant. So yes, I cried because it hurt like hell, but I also cried for her. I cried for the blessing that is my healthy body, the blessings that are my children, the unexpected blessing that allowed my husband to be there with me last minute.
The test went perfectly. My uterus, once again, passed with flying colors. All of you moms reading this, however your motherhood status was achieved, bless you. And if you know anyone who has been through struggles with fertility issues, give them a high five and a chest bump. They deserve it.