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.