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.