Thursday, April 21, 2016

2 years ago

Two years ago about this time I was just getting checked into the hospital and preparing for the biggest day that forever changed my life.  I was earning my wings as a first time carrier and although things didn't end the way I had hoped it will hold a special place in my heart.  It was the start of many firsts for me in this world of surrogacy.

I hope that you are well and that you are given the most love today.
I hope that they think of me when they see your chubby cheeks and remember how special our journey still was.
I am sure that you are adorable and that your family dotes all over you.
I am sure that they are preparing today for the birthday boy to be treated like the little prince that you are.  Today is your special day!

Today is my special day.  Today was my birthing day.  Two years ago I was anxiously waiting for your arrival.  Today they were anxiously waiting after several false alarms.  Today I am thinking of you and wishing you many happiest of birthdays!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The awaited date...

I have been feeling extra sentimental about the final bits and pieces of my journey of carrying sweet TJ.  I realized I hadn't written down anything about the birth and I like to have that for my keep sake and remembrance.  Birth is by far my favorite part about pregnancy; I feel the closest to heaven in those final seconds of carrying and bringing these sweet spirits earth side.

At my final OB appointment I decided that I would set an induction date, the parents didn't pressure me to feel this way but I'm sure they appreciated it.  Knowing exactly what day their little guy would arrive and not having to wait a minute longer to be holding him in their arms.  The final week or so I was walking daily and doing anything I could think of to help him come on his own, but by my appointment I was done.  I was ready to not feel like a blown up balloon and in pain from baby grinding into my hips and back.  Constantly having to get up a billion times in the night to pee is no picnic when you can barely roll over to get out of bed.

During the pregnancy I have wanted to have as little intervention as possible and had been seeing with a doula on top of my OB, plus took a hypnobirthing class.  On January 4th I decided that I was close to our due date that I would have my OB check to see if I was dilated any.  I didn't want to get checked mostly because it doesn't determine that the baby will come any sooner and I get in my head too much about it.  I told myself if I am dilated to a 1 I would be happy but honestly I was so nervous that nothing would be going on.  I was happily surprised to find out that I was dilated to a 4!  I reassured J that this didn't mean much other than that my body is at least working and these contractions I've been feeling haven't been for nothing.  I also had my OB strip my membranes in hopes that would jump start things as well as what I'd already been doing.

My OB appointment was on Monday and we set the induction date for Saturday the 9th in hopes that we wouldn't need it but at least I had an end in sight.  I was dancing the baby out, nesting like crazy aka cleaning the house top to bottom, walking and more walking.  I was a little worried that nothing was going to work to get things moving.  By Wednesday or Thursday I finally started losing the mucous plug and every day I would lose quite a bit of it.  I think by Friday I had lost a ton and had a bit of red tinge to it.  I was getting hopeful that we would be going in any minute or I'd be calling J to tell her to come pick me up.  This entire week was torture because I would have steady contractions and then they would die down by morning.  If I could lay down and finally fall asleep then it wasn't it.  I didn't want to go in a ton of times and have them say sorry it isn't happening tonight.  Thursday night I had been contracting a lot, to the point that I even messaged my doula, the amazing Carleigh, to let her know something was going on.  I had been messaging a couple surros and was distracting myself as much as possible.  J ended up texting me and asked if anything was going on.  I wasn't going to say anything yet but then told her that I had been contracting steadily for a bit but nothing too painful.  I told her that I would let her know if things got more intense, which they didn't.  I don't know what is better; knowing that Saturday was coming or the pitocin you'd have to be on to help him out.

I don't think any of us slept Friday night at all knowing that just the next day we'd be preparing for this sweet boy to arrive.  I knew I needed the sleep if I was going to do this without medication; I knew it was going to be exhausting.  It was like Christmas morning though and took a while to fall asleep, long enough to be woken by my alarms the next morning.

Those that know me know that I hate getting up early but Saturday morning came and my alarms went off and I was ready.  Didn't hit snooze a billion times and was so excited!  I called the hospital at 5:30 am to find out they wanted us there at 7 am to get things started.  I called J and told her what time we needed to be there and she said she would be at my place by 6:30 am to drive us to the hospital.  She was at my place on the dot at 6:30 and I was trying to eat a little bit of food before we went in and to hopefully calm some of my nerves.

This was my first attempt at a birth and delivery without an epidural and I was beyond full of nerves and internally freaking out.  There is only so much you can do to prepare for this but not knowing really throws me off.  I wasn't the nicest to my nurse because I was kind of freaking out and wanted things to go a certain way and it was the only control over this that I had.  J was amazing though and was great at mediating and telling the nurses that we were sorry.  Thankfully the nurses know that pregnant women can be a bit on the cranky side and they were more than great during the process besides the several times trying to check baby mid contraction.  It should be a rule that you wait til I'm through a contraction before touching or pestering a laboring women. ;)

We were officially admitted to the hospital at 8:40am and started on pitocin.  I was at a stretchy 4 still from my previous appointment on Monday.  I wanted to wait to break the bag of water and try and see if things would progress without doing that and just being on the pit.  I did that in hopes that I would start to progress with just the pitocin.  At this point I was maybe at an 8-10 on the pitocin and contractions were doable and I felt like I was managing things pretty good.  I had my OB check me and break my water around 10:20am and I still felt okay and was at a 5+ about this time.  At some point I had called my doula and asked that she come to the hospital now.  She said she was about an hour away and I was still feeling good and that it wasn't an emergent rush for her to get there yet.  As I was laboring J and T were there the entire time and T's mom was there.  She sat in the hall at first and I said she should come hang out since nothing exciting was going on.  One of my surro friends Jen had text me and asked when she could come after baby was born.  I was honestly kind of freaking out internally about not having anyone other than Carleigh there for me and asked her to come and hang out.  So we had grandma, Jen, Carleigh, J and T and later the photographer in the hospital.  It was a crazy party!
Dad, myself and Mom

In lucky number 7!!

Grandma, Dad, myself, Mom, Doula and Friend
Once she broke my water I went and sat on the toilet for a while to not leak everywhere and make a huge mess.  She also said there was meconium when she broke my water too which means TJ had gone poop.  She didn't seem super concerned about it but it just meant that they would have to hurry and suction him and have the doctors ready for him once he was born.  My contractions were still doable and I was starting to have to concentrate more during them but I was managing.  My doula was a freaking saint and amazing through all of this.  My "Auntie" Meigan called me during these contractions and I was able to talk to her in between and listen to her.  She was encouraging and so sweet to me from the hundreds of miles away, I appreciated her call and loved hearing from her.  I did finally have to get off the phone because I was not focused so much when she was talking and I was in the midst of contracting.  Once I felt like I wasn't gushing liquid anymore I had Carleigh (she was the kick butt doula) come help me to sit on the ball.  The ball was my go to place to rock and roll.  I would sit on the ball and lean over on the side of the bed.  It was the most comfortable spot and if I was hunched over I didn't feel so much pain in my stomach, but this intensity in my bottom.  Still very manageable though, he wasn't quite engaged just yet.

My doula was doing counter pressure during contractions and during one she put enough pressure on my right side that it pushed him enough that he engaged.  After that things got real and I was feeling so much pressure and the intensity I felt before was just kicked up a billion notches.  Oh my gosh that feeling was unreal.  I labored on the ball for a while and then leaning over the bed.  I don't know if you've ever seen a dog labor but they start paising the floor; although I was in one spot in my mind I kept thinking I couldn't get comfortable through these contractions.  My doula urged me to go try and pee a little and see if that helped.  I sat there and had several contractions and started getting sweaty, feeling nauseated and just feeling like I was going to pass out.  I was really contemplating laying on the bathroom floor.  You know when you feel so sick and even though the bathroom floor is NASTY you lay on the tile and it makes you feel better.  My irrational self was really thinking that this would have made me feel better.  I started crying to Carleigh and begging for the epidural.  She said we could get me checked and then see what I wanted after that.  I agreed and once I didn't have a contraction we made our way back to the bed.

In the meantime of Carleigh and I in the bathroom everyone was rushing around the room getting everything ready.  I was showing signs of transition and so this gave me a little bit of a boost and honestly got me really excited and ready.  I told myself if I was a 7-8 I would keep doing this without the epidural.  I needed to know that this hell I was feeling was working and I had moved past the stalling I usually hit.  I had told Carleigh that I usually stall about a 5-6 for hours and hours.  I knew that and she knew that.  Once I finished with another contraction we made it to the bed I had Dr. Langer check me.  I was so freaking hopeful that I was at a 7 or something; I could tell from the look on her face it wasn't there.  I was still at a 5+ and my heart literally sank.  I am sure I cried about it, if I didn't I was for sure crying on the inside.  I called for the epidural.  I think he was in a c-section so it was going to be a little bit longer til he got there.  I think I asked for the nurse to turn pitocin down a little bit just to ease off a little.  I was at about a 12 on pitocin at this point and it was maybe around 1:30ish at this point, or maybe it was 2:30 no one really kept track of the time.

The amazing Dr. Rideout came in to give me my epidural and I don't think I've ever been more annoyed at how talkative someone was then in that very moment.  I had about 4-5 contractions while he placed the epidural and I held perfectly still.  I was amazing myself but it actually felt decent to lay on my side and not have some pressure on my cervix so much.  I didn't feel like doing the dance anymore.  Once he finished I could still wiggle my toes and feel a bit which was actually perfect.  It took enough of the pain away, yes it is pain, that I was able to truly relax and not over think on trying to relax him down.  Dr. Langer came in about 20 minutes after my epidural was placed and I was dilated to a 7.  I had to laugh because if I had just waited a little bit longer.  If I had waited a little bit longer I would have done it and I would have checked it off my bucket list of amazing things I've done before.  Next time I will do it and I will make it without the epidural, I really kick myself now because I really wanted to do it without an epidural so badly.

At around 3:45 I started feeling some intense pressure, pressure and urges like I needed to start pushing.  You have to remember that even with the epidural I could still feel very much what was going on, it just didn't hurt as much.  This pressure was starting to cause me to breathe through contractions again though.  I knew it was time.  Things shifted in the room.  Everyone was getting excited!  I think I started crying because it was time; my time was coming to an end of this journey.  My attachment to this sweet Spirit was going to be final and he was going to start his journey with his amazing family.  I tried to feel if I could feel a head or something but everything was numb enough that I could feel something but wasn't sure since I was numb just enough.  I had Carleigh come check and she said that he was definitely coming.  We paged for the nurse to come in and she checked me and said she could feel his head but that Dr. Langer was in with another delivery right now.  She was in there for about 20 more minutes before she came to deliver this sweet baby for his parents.

Once Dr. Langer arrived we all got to business.  She checked me and said it was time.  When she said it was time I wasn't freaking out but really just sad it was ending.  I was really struggling insde that my journey would end the way it did with the last couple.

J got gowned up because she would be delivered her sweet boy.  I love Dr. Langer so much for making this experience amazing for the parents.  Langer was right by her side the entire time if she needed her.  I asked for a mirror this time so I could see how my pushing was, it honestly helps me feel like I'm pushing effectively.  In about 3 contractions J and I delivered his head.  He had sooo much hair!  Langer was telling J something and then they switched sides and Langer delivered the rest of TJ.  Since there was meconium they cut the cord and placed him in moms arms, as far as I can remember.  It was a whirlwind at this point so they may have taken him to the warmer first.

Holding sweet TJ for the first time

Many hugs and tears
He was a BIG boy!  I was guessing maybe a big 7 to 8 pound baby.  I just didn't feel so much weight like I did with the previous baby.  I was surprisingly shocked to hear that this little butter ball was a healthy 9 lbs, 9 oz and 20 1/2 inches long and born at 4:44.  I joked that these double numbers were going to be his baseball numbers growing up.

While they were loving on their new bundle of joy I was having the doctor work on me.  I hemorrhaged a little bit and they were trying to get it under control, after I delivered the placenta.  We were also shocked by how HUGE the placenta was too.  Probably weighed as much as TJ himself.  I had several shots plus a full bag of pitocin and etc.  Not fun at all but it eventually stopped.  I felt like I was freezing still and was requesting lots of warm blankets while we waited for my daughter to get there.  It felt like eons before her dad finally brought her to me.  I needed my baby in that moment.  When she walked in and hopped on the bed with me I just held her and kept kissing her.  It was just what I needed.

J & T and baby were wheeled over to recovery before I was even ready to head over.  Of course my daughter wanted to go with them.  She loves them and adores them so much, plus they had the baby.  When they left it was when I started to panic and start to sob.  Carleigh stayed with me and I told her I was so worried they would up and leave and disappear from my life forever.  Even though this journey had been leaps and bounds better and amazing in the back of my mind I was so worried that they would do the same thing the last couple did.  It was hard to not put this giant wall up and protect my heart.  I should have been enjoying and relishing in this thing I just did and the amazing journey we all just had.  She helped me feel at ease and it is honestly what I needed to hear at that moment.  That moment when you see them with their baby.  That is the moment you wait this entire journey for.  To see the tears of pure joy and excitement are what makes this journey worth everything.  I had all of this though.

Before they would allow me to go to recovery I needed to be able to get up and go to the bathroom and get my fever down.  I was covered in warm blankets but they didn't want to chance me having an infection on the off chance, which is understandable with the excessively bleeding I had earlier.  I was probably in there for a good hour before I was able to stand and go potty and then move to the new bed to be moved to recovery.  They put J & T next to my room in recovery.  It was perfect!

Carleigh stayed with me until my surro friend was able to get to the hospital.  She was staying with me at the hospital because that first night by yourself is rough and kind of sucks.  I appreciated these amazing people for being there for me and making sure I wasn't alone.  I think I would have been okay but I am so glad they didn't give me the option to try that theory out.

J came over shortly after we all got settled to chit chat and then we were off to bed for the night.  I seriously lucked out with this family and how much they had made this journey a special one and a healing one.

From our transfer we wore lucky socks and we didn't plan it but we totally all brought our lucky sucks for the delivery too!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Doula version of birth

This is the birth story for TJ. He was brought into the world through the body of his surrogate, Sarah, to his parents, T and J.  This was a new experience for Sarah’s Doula, Carleigh-Jo, this is the birth story from her perspective and she is so excited to share the story of your birth!

On January 9th, 2016, around 7:00 am, Sarah, J and T entered the Labor and Delivery area of Riverton Hospital to begin the birth of their son.  Sarah was started on a drug called pitocin to help escalate her contractions and get sweet little TJ down and ready for birth.  In a status posted to Facebook, Sarah mentioned that TJ was “posterior” and that she was at a level 8 of pitocin, so I decided to reach out to Sarah immediately.  I informed her that posterior means TJ is facing backwards, and we really want him to turn forward for the best birthing position.  I gave her a few tips and tricks to help turn him, then asked if she needed me there.  Things were a little more hectic than Sarah had hoped for, but she was doing her best to stay in her hypnosis state, as she was trained to do in her Hypnobabies classes, and be in a place of calm and quiet.  This was the first time her nurse, Jana, had experienced a surrogacy birth and was questioning everything she had requested.  Luckily, Sarah and J had picked out an amazing OB/GYN named Kathleen Langer, who was much more willing to sit an listen to Sarah and her needs.  

Sarah and I continued to text one another. We discussed things that were going on, the feelings she was having, and I offered continuous encouragement through it all.  At 10:10am, with pitocin turned up to a level 10, Sarah  decided it was time for me to be at the hospital with her to help her get through contractions and for additional support through them all.  I let her know I would drop my kids off, and be at the hospital in 20 min… As long as I didn’t get pulled over for speeding!  She wished me luck on that, and I was on my way!

When I got to the hospital, Sarah, T, and J were in room 7 (which is my personal lucky number!) I gave the nurses the code to let me in, and there was Sarah sitting on a birthing ball, concentrating and breathing beautifully through a contraction.  I waited for her to finish. When she looked up and saw me, there was a great big smile on her face. She was glowing, and so ready to have this baby!  I wanted to get her up and to the bathroom in order to keep her bladder empty, that way contractions could be more effective in getting TJ down into the birth path properly. Sarah had another friend there, who had recently been a surrogate for twins, to help distract her, her name was Jennifer too!

Sarah was doing the most incredible job of staying in a very focused zone while going through each contraction.  She was breathing and staying calm, though I know in her mind she was going wild and felt very out of control! We were pretty sure that TJ was still posterior, so we wanted to try and get him into a better position.  I tried a technique where I rocked Sarah’s hips, then I would pop one to try to get the baby to turn.  I tried that a few times on her. When we changed position she said there was a lot of fluid coming out all of a sudden, and the contractions abruptly became  much more intense. We kept making sure Sarah’s bladder was empty, and just let her labor on the toilet; sometimes that’s the most relaxing place to be during labor… Without warning, Sarah began feeling very lightheaded, and slightly nauseous.  She thought she was going to throw up, but she never did. We contemplated getting an epidural, but I asked her to just give me a few more contractions without one, before making a final decision. Again, we made our way to the bathroom, and this time I went in with Sarah.  She was crying.  She was hurting, things were extremely intense.  She was hitting a mental block.  I tickled her arms and rubbed her legs.  I informed her that it’s okay to be scared, that birth can be scary, but she has done this before and she knows she can do it.  I reminded her that she WAS doing it.  Her body was working and it was birthing this amazing baby for some incredible parents waiting on the other side of the door!  She gained back some strength and we went back to the bed.  Sarah labored over the bed for a while, as I provided counter pressure on her hips. Sarah’s friend, Jennifer, was taking pictures, and things were feeling very intense.  Sarah was showing many signs of hitting transition.  The room buzzed with electricity, we were all anticipating things happening very fast from here.  We had T and J reach out to the birth photographer, Ginger.  We decided that Sarah should have her cervix checked and see how much progress had been made. Dr. Langer made her way in and proceeded to check Sarah, and I could tell by her expression that the news was not something we wanted to hear.  She looked at Sarah, and informed her she was still at a stretchy 5+, but she was now fully effaced.  

Hearing this news was not encouraging to Sarah. The pitocin was making her body work extra hard, and she had been doing so well to remain in a relaxed state.  It was exhausting.  She was exhausted.  Her body was stuck, it had stalled out.  We anticipated this, we discussed this, we knew this could happen, yet we were all at a loss when it did.  Sarah called it; she had been laboring, hard laboring, and her body just needed rest.  Her mind needed a break.  We informed the nurse that we were ready for the anesthesiologist, and she called him in.  There were hugs and tears all around.  There were words of encouragement and praise given all over.  We were all truly amazed with everything that Sarah had just done for this little boy to be brought Earthside!

Within moments, Benji Rideout, the on call anesthesiologist,  was in the room and ready to set up.  He was a boisterous man, with a voice you could probably hear in the next room! Everyone cleared the room out so only Sarah and I were together.  I held her hand as he rolled her body to one side, scooted her to the side of the bed and asked her to stay very still.  He explained the whole procedure very well, and made sure she was aware of how to use the epidural.  In no time at all, the pain had subsided, the intensity was gone, and Sarah was now at ease.  

We were then ready to have everyone come back into the room with us.  I was rubbing Sarah’s feet to keep the blood flowing, and making sure she was feeling relaxed.  Though J and T have two other children, this was the first biological child for T. Sarah knew it would be special for his mother to be apart of the birth.  As everyone entered, we realized the room was really hot!   With many bodies in a small space, and having her body working so hard the last several hours, had caused Sarah to start over heating.  I turned the heat way down and tried to get the temperature to drop.  But then Sarah was freezing.  I pushed the thermometer back up pretty high, but Sarah was still shivering.  I went and got her MANY heated blankets.  We had her bundled up in a blanket cocoon, and she finally seemed much better.  Until she could feel lots of pressure building up between her legs, that is.  She knew, I knew, we all knew, that now that her body had relaxed TJ was ready to make his debut!  

This was when excitement built among all of us!  We were waiting for the nurse to come to decide if we should do another cervical check.  Sarah swore she could feel TJ already coming out, there was so much pressure!  I pulled the blankets away, and while I couldn’t see TJ there, Sarah’s vaginal lips were parting and opening up for a little baby head!  Once the nurse arrived, we informed her of Sarah’s feelings, and decided to wait for Dr. Langer to come as it was most likely time to push. We felt it was much better for  the doctor to do a cervical check than the nurse.  The only problem was that Dr. Langer was in another delivery room receiving that baby!!  We were told to just wait, and Sarah was told not to act on the sensation of pushing until Dr. Langer arrived.  We all just stared at each other, some of us holding our breath waiting in anticipation for the doctor to appear.  Approximately 20 minutes later, she was finally here!  She did a quick check, and sure enough, it was time for pushing.  We got J in scrubs, Sarah was moved upright in the birthing bed, and a mirror was brought to the side of the bed so Sarah could see how well her pushing was going.  

Dr. Langer was so amazing to work with. She placed J on the stool in front of Sarah to help her receive her baby.  Sarah was still able to feel the pressure building with contractions, and when she was ready she would push!  J helped guide TJ’s head out, and when Dr. Langer informed her to grab his shoulders and turn him around she exclaimed, “I don’t wanna pop his head off!”  With a little giggle, Dr. Langer stepped in rotated TJ around and guided him the remaining way out!  That was it!  He was here! TJ had been born into this world at 16:44, or 4:44pm.  He was HUGE!!   The placenta that came out after TJ was born was one of the largest anyone had seen.  His cheeks were chubby and his legs had rolls.  He was so sweet, and he went to J for immediate skin to skin.  Sarah was crying, J was crying, I was crying.  The entire moment was magic!  Everyone was thanking Sarah, informing her of how incredible she was, and she just lay there beaming.  It was done; she had done this incredible thing for incredible people!  TJ was weighed and he was 9lbs 9oz!  20.5 inches long, and had an APGAR of 1 min-8, 5 min-8;which is a really good score for a big baby!  We all agreed that double numbers were going to be his lucky numbers from now on.  TJ was cleaned up, bundled into a burrito blanket and handed over to Todd for some face to face bonding time.  Tears streaks stained his cheeks, as fresh tears started to well up again.  J was placed in a wheelchair, and the new family that had just been created were taken upstairs to their recovery room.  

Then there was silence.  There was a calmness that settled into the room.  Dr. Langer continued to assist Sarah with immediate postpartum procedures.  She was cleaned up, but her bleeding was still worrisome.  Sarah had past issues of hemorrhaging after birth, and they were keeping a very close eye on it this time.  Things weren’t finishing up as quickly as the doctor would have liked.  We took our time in recovery, I hugged Sarah, I comforted her.  I ensured her she was not alone, and that I would stay as long as she needed.  What she needed though, was her own daughter.  She needed to take all this oxytocin her body created, and be able to transfer it to her own child.

After what seemed like hours, Sarah’s daughter, M, was finally there!  She hopped up on the bed and Sarah smothered her in hugs and kisses.  Sarah had a slight fever, and the nurses and doctors were wary to send her to recovery in case she had developed an infection.  That was when we reminded them that she was covered in about a dozen warm blankets, and that was most likely the cause of the rise in temperature!  Reluctantly we removed the blankets slowly from Sarah to get her body temp to a more reasonable level.   As soon as Dr. Langer felt satisfied with her temp and her bleeding, she was sent to recovery.  We were given a room right next to J, T, and baby TJ.  M was sent over to say hello to the baby while Sarah was checked for her bleeding again.  I stayed with Sarah until her friend was able to be off work and stay the night with her.  She even brought Sarah Cafe Rio for dinner!!  

The night was done, the hard work over with.  Everyone worked together, and supported one another through it all.  A magical moment was created with all these families coming together.  A child was born!  A life was created, and he is loved by so many.  The journey of a surrogate is not always an easy one, but it is so rewarding in the end!

“Little souls find their way to you, whether they're from your womb or someone else's’”
~Sheryl Crow