There came a time during my hospital stay stay where the nurses started telling me they hoped they would be the one to be there when Baby A was born. I hoped it was because they liked me and not because they all wanted the chance to see me in pain. My favorite nurse told me she was going to try to switch shifts so that she could be there when I was induced.
When I first got to the hospital after my water broke the doctors who would see me on their daily rounds would throw statistics at me about how likely I was to go into labor. My odds of making it to the 34 weeks goal were only about 5%. Then the odds changed. We were doing so well. "You're going to make it!" they told me. "You're going to get to 34 weeks!"
I looked at each day as a victory. Every 24 hours I could get through without going into labor was a victory. I hated bedrest and I hated being away from home but I was so thankful that I was doing well and giving Baby A more time to grow. I never had contractions or any labor signs and at 30 weeks I really started to think that yeah, I could make it to 34 weeks.
A few days short of 31 weeks I had a day where I was cranky. Really, really cranky. I didn't want to be in bed but I didn't want any of the distractions that the nurses offered me. No, I didn't want a wheelchair ride or an extra shower and no, I didn't want someone to make a trip to the kitchen for a huge bowl of mashes potatoes or a plate of chocolate chip cookies and no I didn't want a visit from the occupational therapist or the physical therapist and if a priest came to my room I would probably cry. I should have known then that trouble was brewing.
The next day I did my best to put on a happy face. Literally. I smiled at everyone and did my best to act happy. It started to work. I could to this! 34 weeks! Go team!
Late that night I got up to go to the bathroom. I felt fine. No pain, no unusual sensations. When you're in the hospital with a pPROM you get in the habit of checking your pads and toilet paper when you go to the bathroom. Gross, I know, but it's true. This time I checked the pad and was pleased to see that it was clear. Then I checked the toilet paper. Red. Bright red.
I just sat and stared for a minute. Then I wiped again. More red. A lot more red. I didn't feel anything at all. I calmly washed my hands and walked back to my bed. I called my husband and said "Get to the hospital. I'm bleeding and I don't know what that means so get here quickly. I'll call you if things change". I got off the phone and pressed my call light. I waited for the familiar voice to come over the intercom. "Can I help you?"
"I need my nurse please."
"I will let her know. Is there anything you need her to bring you?"
And the dam broke. "I'm bleeding! I need her to come right now! Please!"
I think it only took about 30 seconds for my nurse to get to my room but it felt like an hour. Should I stay sitting? Lay down? Stand on my head? Should I try to call my IPs or my agency? I couldn't make a decision because it took all my concentration not to pass out. When the nurse got into the room I told her what happened and directed her to look at the unflushed toilet. She came out of the bathroom on her phone calling for the doctor.
Within minutes there was a crowd in my room. My favorite nurse had heard what was happening and even though I wasn't her patient that night she came in and held my hand. The on call doctor came in to examine me. Someone rolled in an ultrasound machine. Someone else took my temp and slapped a blood pressure cuff on me. Off to the side someone was setting up a tray with various medical instruments on it. Someone else brought in a huge spotlight to shine right on my crotch. A nurse I was not fond of turned the blood pressure machine and when my bp was through the roof she barked at me "Your blood pressure is really high! You need to relax!" She started the machine again and my favorite nurse reached over to turn it off. (I will love her forever for that act of compassion.)
There was an ultrasound done and we could see Baby A looking happy and healthy as could be. Her heart rate was normal and we could see her sucking her thumb. The doctor decided she needed to do an internal exam with a speculum. The giant spotlight was turned on me and the exam started. I know the doctor was being as gentle as she could be but the exam was intensely painful. There was a nurse on either side of my holding my hands and rubbing my legs and I was suddenly so thankful for the good relationships that I had cultivated with these kind and caring women.
In the end the exam didn't yield any new information. The doctor was unable to determine where the bleeding was coming from. As soon as she told me that I knew that my hopes for a VBAC were being thrown right out the window. I will never forget when the doctor looked at me and gently said "I think we need to do a c-section. How do you feel about that?" It only took her two seconds to ask me that but it meant the world to me. For a minute I didn't feel so out of control, I felt like a person who had an opinion that mattered and that I had an active role in my care. (My regular ob could learn a lot from that doctor.)
Of course I knew a c-section was the only option at that point. She barely even had the question all the way out before I said "Yes! Now? We're doing it right now right? Can we go right now?"
We had to wait a bit since the operating room on that floor was already being used for another c-section. As we waited I called everyone I needed to and listened to the baby's heartbeat on the monitor. She got hiccups and that made me smile. I tried to enjoy the last few minutes of the pregnancy. Jesse arrived. I lectured him and reminded him that he was not allowed to pass out during the c-section and that he wasn't allowed to look at anything that would make him woozy.
During this conversation we stopped hearing the baby's heartbeat on the monitor. I wasn't overly worried at first. I had felt her moving around and I figured she had just moved into a spot where the monitor wasn't picking her up. One of the nurses started trying to find the heartbeat again but she couldn't. The room got very quiet as everyone strained to hear the heartbeat. Everyone started to look very tense as we searched and searched for the heartbeat. I heard one of the nurses whisper to the doctor that the operating room was still being used but that the the one the next floor up was open and should they move me now? I don't know how long we looked for that heartbeat but it felt like an eternity. I started to cry. I was so scared that we had made it this far only to have lost her right at the end.
And then .. thump thump thump thump. They had been able to pick up the baby's heartbeat with the monitor practically up on my chest. We would later learn that the baby (who had been low and head down my entire hospitalization) had flipped breach and backed up under my ribs.
At last it was time to go the OR. Jesse stayed behind and got put on scrubs while I was wheeled into the OR. They helped me move from my bed onto the surgical table. I got a good look at my hospital bed as it was wheeled out of the room and the sheets were covered with blood. I hadn't realized until that point how much I was bleeding. I might have yelped a little bit.
As I was getting the spinal block and being prepped for surgery I started to panic a little bit. I kept asking for Jesse to be brought in. Everyone kept reassuring me he would be there before the baby came out but I didn't care about that. I needed him with me to keep me from totally losing it. The surgery had already started before someone at last brought Jesse in. I unleashed on him. "I can't believe this is happening. Why did I do this again? Why am I so selfish? I shouldn't have taken a risk like this. What if I die and leave the kids without a mother? I can't believe this is happening." (By the way, once I vented all these thoughts they went away and don't feel this way any longer.)
Jesse reassured me and I started focusing on trying not to vomit. I had eaten dinner not that long before and I could feel it trying to work it's way up my throat. I got several doses of medication in my IV to keep the nausea at bay but each one only worked for a few minutes.
At some point I noticed an unusual feeling. I had a c-section with the twins but with that one no one had leaned all their body weight onto me. I asked if someone was leaning on me and from the other side of the curtain someone answered yes and that I might feel a little pressure. A little pressure in that I felt like a bus was driving over my abdomen. I also started to feel like I was being yanked around the table. My whole body was shaking back and forth as I was worked on. I felt like I was on a roller coaster.
All of the sudden the OR erupted with with activity and noise. The baby was out. She was taken to the warmer and a small team started checking her out and working on her. I could only catch little glimpses of her as the people moved around. A little arm waving in the air, the profile of a tiny face covered by an oxygen mask. I could hear her cry though. It was a high, thin cry that sounded more like a mew but she was crying. She was only 30 weeks, 5 days but she could cry and wave her arms and kick her legs.
I didn't get to see her up close at all because she was hurried out of the OR and down to the NICU. I told Jesse to go with her so that she would hear a familiar voice. I started to cry as I told him "Tell them her name. Make sure they know her name." The fact is I didn't know for sure what her parents were going to name her but I knew the name that they had been considering and I wanted her called that. I thought she deserved that.
After they all left the ER I started to feel a strange combination of emotions. Happy, sad, lonely, proud, scared, relieved, hungry. I expressed all these emotions by vomiting all over myself. As a nurse cleaned me up she asked "Chicken noodle soup?" I shook my head and felt some vomit pool in my ear. "Baked ziti with a side of mixed veggies." Then I threw up five more times.
It seemed to take forever to sew me up. I started to drift off. I don't even remember how I got into the recovery room. When I was wheeled in Jesse was there waiting from me to give me an update on the baby. She was doing well but needed a little help from a cpap machine to help her breath. I called everyone to update them on the situation including a rather awkward call to my international IPs. "Hi, this is Jen. I don't know if you got my last message but um... your baby is, um, born. So... call me back!"
While I was in the recovery room I chatted with one of the nurses who had been in the OR. She said "I've seen a lot of c-sections and that one was brutal. They really had to lean on you and push and pull to get her out. You're going to have a tough recovery." She wasn't lying. At the hospital I deliver in they don't let you go to the NICU until you're able to get into a wheelchair under your own power so you have to wait for your spinal block to wear off. Of course after that you're in pain so it's not exactly fun. I got up as soon as I was able to so that I could get to the NICU to see the baby.
She was so little, only 3 pounds, 9 ounces. Her arms and legs were long though as were her fingers and toes. Her body was covered in soft black hair and her skin looked loose on her body. After asking if I could touch her I put my hand on her back. "Hey monkey" I whispered to her.
It's a nickname that has stuck with her. She's lost all that body hair and she's plumped up a lot. At 38 days old she's nearly six and a half pounds. Her cheeks are pink and round and she has a dimple in right one. She has a loud cry when she is hungry or just wants some attention. She smiles all the time (I don't care that it's just gas.) She has black hair and eyes and sweet little cupid bows lips. She's still in the NICU because she's a lazy eater who prefers sleeping to the hard work of sucking on a bottle but she's making progress.
Her parents cried the first time they saw her. They did in fact give her the name I had asked the nurses to call her when she was born.
I visit her almost every day. Her parents are not always able to be here (it's a long and complicated story that I'm not able to share) so I step in for snuggle duty when they're gone. I bring her the breastmilk that I'm pumping and then I hold her for hours at a time. A few people have expressed concern that this will make it hard for me to separate from her but I'm not worried about that. I look forward to the day she goes home because that's what's supposed to happen. In the meantime I'm just enjoying giving her a little extra love. Our time together ended way too soon so now I'm making it up to her by giving her the extra attention she needs. It's been a unique experience that I didn't get with any of my other surrobabes and I'm taking advantage of it.
Baby A beat all the odds to make it here. She started out as a triplet pregnancy that went to twins and then just to her. We were told she would probably not survive after the other two stopped growing. She hung in there and surprised us all. When my water broke at a day short of 28 weeks she surprised us all again by staying put till almost 31 weeks. The bleeding I had was caused by a cord problem totally unrelated to the rupture of membranes. If I had not been in the hospital already when it happened there's a good chance she would not have survived.
I'm not a big believer in fate but I do think that this baby wanted to be here. I think there must be something very special in store for her.
I am so incredibly lucky that I got to be there are the start of it all.
Monday, July 23, 2012
There came a time during my hospital stay stay where the nurses started telling me they hoped they would be the one to be there when Baby A was born. I hoped it was because they liked me and not because they all wanted the chance to see me in pain. My favorite nurse told me she was going to try to switch shifts so that she could be there when I was induced.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Since I have arrived at the hospital 16 (or is it 17?) days ago every doctor and nurse I've seen has given me the same three pieces of advice.
1. Drink a lot of water.
2. Rest a lot.
3. Keep your perineum clean.
I'm fine with the first two pieces of advice but the last one always makes me a little uncomfortable. First off because the word is awkward and always evokes and image that I am not really at ease with. Secondly because it makes me wonder if they're saying that because I look like the sort of woman who would neglect her hygiene in that one very particular area. It makes me feel very defensive and I want to say "Oh, believe me! I keep my perineum clean! There is no slacking in that department!" but I have a sneaking suspicion that would only make things worse.
So I try to look very serious and interested and totally unoffended when I get The Perineum Talk. I'm an adult. I am completely at ease discussing the area between my you-know-what and my whoo-ha. I've even developed what I call Perineum Face which is similar to Poker Face in that it doesn't give away what I am really thinking. ("Shut up shut up shut up oh my god shut up!")
Then! Last night the humiliation reached a new high. Or low. Whatever humiliation reaches. A nurse who I do not like came walking into my room. (Back story - I love 99% of the nurses here but this one in particular really gets under my skin. In fact I have asked for her to not be assigned to me which created a lot of Uncomfortable Feelings for me and made me be a lot more assertive than I usually like to be but it had to be done. The first time I met this nurse was when she barged into my room without knocking, called me by the wrong name and ignored my protests that I was not, in fact, Cecily and started to give me discharge instructions.) So the fact that this nurse was even in my room (again without knocking) annoyed me. The fact without any preface she handed me a small water bottle confused me. I was horrified by what she said next.
"You can use this to clean up after you go to the bathroom. It will help keep all the bugs off your vagina."
I made a noise like this "Uhhhhg... bu....va.....gah!"
The nurse smiled and left the room.
Now I've been here two weeks and no one has given me any advice like this up to this point. I would kind of think that if I needed Vagina Bug Repellent someone would have mentioned it already. So I am choosing to believe that the water bottle was actually meant for someone else, Cecily perhaps, and this afternoon I used it to water my plants.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Elle is hovering around my bed and eying the food on my tray. "What's that taste like Mama?" she asks about the cheesy noodle casserole I've been served for dinner. I give her a taste and she smiles and hops back and forth from one foot to another. Before you know it she's eaten half of my dinner. Casserole, broccoli and a dinner roll served on a tray in bed are fun when you're six. After I let her finish my butterscotch pudding she climbs up onto my bed and curls up around me.
Joseph has no interest in my dinner but he sits in the chair next to my bed and keeps up an endless stream of chatter about cartoons and Big Nate books and this girl in his class who tries to boss him around. In the middle of his speech he pauses and says "I like being around you" and then goes right back to what he was saying.
It is breaking my heart to be away from the kids. I know that they're ok, that they're taken care of. Jesse and my parents are taking care of everything they need. It's not the same though. They need me. I need to be there for them. I'm missing end of school year events. As I type this Joseph is doing a stand up routine in his school talent show and I have to be here in bed. If I was there I could cheer him on and wave to Elle when she searched the auditorium for me.
In theory I could be in this room for another five weeks. That's the best case scenario. I give Baby A plenty of time to grow big and strong and then I deliver when I'm 34 weeks pregnant. I can't help but hate it a little bit that in order to give this baby the best I have to be away from my babies. Of course I do the best I can from this bed. My parents and Jesse had brought the kids to visit several times. We talk on the phone. We've skyped. It's not the same though. I want to be home. I want to be the one to brush Elle's hair in the morning. I want to be the one to remind Joseph that it's 80 degrees out and that he doesn't need a long sleeved shirt on. I want to be the one to make dinner and then hear the whines about the weird new vegetable I'm serving. I want to smell Elle when she comes inside from playing in the garden and she smells like dirt and chives. I want to hear Joseph when he finds a funny Harry Potter mash up video on youtube that makes him do his crazy falling down giggle.
I want to go home to my children,
Monday, May 28, 2012
I am in the hospital. Blargh.
On Saturday, just a day short of 28 weeks pregnant I noticed that I seemed to be well, leaking. I chalked it up to the fact that I have had a lot of babies and I probably don't have a lot of bladder control left. I went to bed that night and at some point I rolled over in my sleep and woke up when a rather large puddle formed under me. I woke Jesse up and made him sniff it (because I'm nice like that) and we both agreed it wasn't pee so off to the hospital we went. (We woke the poor kids up and put them in the car and each of them rode to the hospital with a blanket over their heads.) Jesse dropped me off and left to take the kids back home. I joked that I would call him in ten minutes when I was being sent home and laughed at for peeing my pants.
Oh so funny! Within ten minutes I had been given two tests that confirmed the liquid leaking out of me was not pee, but amniotic fluid. Just a day short of 28 weeks pregnant and I was diagnosed with PROM or preterm rupture or membranes.
Freaking A right?
It's not a great situation. Every doctor and nurse I see reassures me that this wasn't caused by anything I did or didn't do. It's just a freak thing that happens. Maybe there's a defect in the amniotic sac. Maybe there was an infection of some kind. Maybe one of the two embryos that passed caused some dysfunction in the system. It's nice to hear that it's not my fault but when you're the one charged with growing and protecting a child and it's your body that's leaking amniotic fluid it's hard not to feel like you're failing. I'm trying not to focus on that right now. The great news is that we have a lot of reasons to feel really positive about this is all turning out.
Most women who have PROM will go into labor within 24-48 hours. I'm past both those check points and I haven't had a single contraction. Not one. Of course that can change in an instant and there's really no way to predict what will happen but this is a great sign. I was able to get two doses of steroids to help Baby A's lungs develop and I'm now on massive doses of antibiotics to keep infections away.
Baby A is doing so, so well. I had an ultrasound the day I got here and although her fluid levels were low they were still within the normal range. When they do an ultrasound they score the babies in four areas and give them a score of 0-2 in each category. Baby A scored a perfect 8! She's still very active, moving a lot and getting hiccups and being her usual busy self. I have to be on monitors for an hour four times a day and each time she tries to wiggle away from the monitor but when we manage to catch her when she's quiet her heart rate is always perfect. As long as she continues to do well and I continue to do well we'll keep trucking along.
The goal is to get to 34 weeks pregnant. That seems both way too soon and unimaginably far away. If we succeed it will mean I'm here in the hospital on bedrest for 6 weeks. It will be a small price to pay though if it means giving this little fighter the best chance at being healthy and strong. Right now I'm looking at each day as a victory. Reaching 28 weeks is a HUGE developmental milestone. Babies born at 28 weeks have a much better chance of surviving and being healthy than babies born just a couple of weeks earlier. Every day we can give her just helps her all the more. This baby is a fighter and a drama queen. She's going to make sure all eyes are on her and then she's gonna kick ass and take names.
The down side is that I miss Jesse and the kids like crazy. I'm sure Jesse doesn't miss me as much since I send him texts all day long with instructions like "Put a new filter in the fish tank!" and "Bring me a clean pillow case when you come!". Elle misses me because I am her best buddy. When she comes to see me she crawls on my bed and gently rests her head on me and tells me about 100 times that she loves me. Joseph seems to miss having me home to cook and run the house and keep the routine that he's used to. It's hard for him to visit because he doesn't like the sights, sounds and smells of the hospital. I want to be with them and they want me with them so while I'm thinking "Come on! We can do this! Six more weeks!" I'm also thinking "Oh no! Six more weeks? I can't do this."
My IPs are being wonderful about this. I was worried they might be upset with me over this but they're supportive and so, so great. They want me to focus on resting and giving Baby A the best chance I can. We've decided that they won't jump on a plane just yet but that we'll keep in close contact and re-evaluate when the situation changes. Obviously this means delivering in CA is out and that's a huge pain in the butt because now we have to do a lot of scrambling to get all the legal stuff done here in MN and that's a lot more difficult. It will all be worth it in the end.
So please, if you're a good wisher, a prayer, a vibe sender, a mojo believer, whatever, send some of that good stuff to Baby A. Let her keep growing and getting stronger and give her the patience to stick with me for a while longer. Send some to my IPs so they can know that their baby girl is safe and they'll be holding her soon (but not too soon!). Send some to my family so that they can all get along and get through this without too many hard times. Send some to me so that I can get through the day without leaking too much fluid or climbing the hospital walls.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
So here's the situation - I am going to deliver this baby in California. That's my big news.
This was something that has been talked about since before I got pregnant but nothing was for sure and in fact I was kind of assured it probably wouldn't happen. But, as this whole pregnancy has shown anything that can happen will. There are a lot of reasons we're going this direction. Some of them make sense to me and are good reasons. Some of them are ... maybe not as valid (in my eyes) but whatever. (For the record, I would like everyone to know that it is possible to have a baby in Minnesota and NOT have it be delivered by a toothless, grizzled veterinarian named Goober. We don't all live in the middle of a giant farm.)
This is kind of an unusual situation but I think it's going to work out ok. I have to go to California around 34 weeks and stay until the baby is born. The kids will be with me for all but the first part of it because they have other fabulous vacation plans this summer. I'm due August 14th so they won't have to miss any school and they'll get to spend part of their summer running around California having a grand old time. My parents are going to switch back and forth spending time with us in California so they can help keep an eye on the kids and keep them entertained. Jesse will be able to come visit too although not as much as we would maybe like because of his work schedule. My IPs are putting us up in a furnished apartment and really taking care of everything we'll need to be comfortable.
It's going to be strange to be away from home for that long but I'm also kind of looking forward to it. When else am I going to be able to give the kids a month long vacation? And with my parents there I won't have to worry about a thing as far as the kids are concerned.
A side benefit is that I get to tell my ob here that he won't be delivering the baby. I was more than a little irritated at the way he did things with my last pregnancy and I wasn't too happy with how he was acting this pregnancy but I was stuck with him for various reasons. But now I'm not! So ha! Petty annoyances, the best reason to travel across the country to give birth.
Oh, and I'm really hoping that after baby is born someone will say "Jennifer, you just gave birth to your fourth surro-baby! What are you going to do next?" and I can say "I'm going to Disneyland!" although I really won't because I can't think of anything less fun than walking around Disneyland in August right after giving birth. But it would still be fun to say.
Friday, March 16, 2012
I keep forgetting how pregnant I am. This morning I was thinking it was about 16 weeks but then I counted it out and I'm 18 and a half weeks. This pregnancy has been weird.
Elle brought home a menu she made in school when they were playing restaurant. On the regular menu was "ledduce", "carrotts", "salid" and "food". On the dessert and drink menu were beer and Oreos.
Joseph is going to have a solo in the upcoming school concert. He's going to be doing the rap portion of "Everybody Dance Now". I plan to tape it and play it to myself every day for the rest of my life.
Our family took a three day trip to Duluth to see the sights and eat at some Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives places. I cannot say enough good things about The Duluth Grill. It was so good we went twice in two days. If you go for breakfast order the scotch eggs. They look funky but they are AMAZING. I also can't say enough bad things about Grandma's. Bad service, loooooong wait times and crappy food. If you go order whatever you want and then feel bad about it because you could be eating at The Duluth Grill.
If you ever go to Duluth try to take Joseph with you because he will want to visit the Maritime Museum and he will keep talking about it and calling it the "Merry Time Museum" and you will find it so cute that you will be forced to buy him whatever he wants at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
I'm going to be going on another eating road trip this weekend. My dad and I are going to Kansas City where we will have BBQ and other assorted bad for you foods. I haven't gained any weight so far this pregnancy but my plan is to shatter that record with smoked meat and other sauced foods. Shut up. It's good for the baby.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
What's new with me? A few things. Someone needs to invent a thing that takes the blog posts out of your head and types them out. If I had that I would update my blog a dozen times a day. Since there is no such thing you get this list of news items instead.
1. Baby A continues to be awesome. I had another ultrasound and she is bouncing and behaving. I will have another ultrasound in a few weeks to find out if she really is a she.
2. Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the day we adopted Joseph. That's pretty cool. When he headed downstairs to go to bed last night he said "Good night! I love you! I'm glad you adopted me! I like being part of this family!" He might have said that because we had pizza for dinner and gave him some money to buy music on his ipod. I'll take it though because that's just darned cute.
3. Elle had a couple of scary days of bad stomach pain. I ended up spending two days in the ER with her as doctors tried to figure out what was wrong. At one point she had to have a procedure done that was really uncomfortable and the whole time it was going on I was holding her hand and the nurse was telling her "It's almost done! After this you'll be all done!" and then we had to re-do the procedure and Elle looked at me with big, sad eyes and said "But you told me there wouldn't be any more uncomfortable things!" and then my heart fell on the floor and broke into a million pieces.
I think future teenage Elle will appreciate me not sharing all the details of her ER visit so I will keep some of it private. The long and the short of it is that sometimes shit happens. And when it doesn't happen you might need to stay in the ER for a while. And sometimes there are bladder infections. (Sorry future Elle.)
4. My first surrogate baby turned 4 the other day. Nothing really else to add to that.
5. I got a Vitamix blender. It's the best thing in my house. I even like it better than my family. My family can't make fancy coffee drinks and the blender doesn't leave it's shoes randomly scattered all over the floor. I'm not being paid to say this or getting anything in return for mentioning it. I just want you to know that you need one of these blenders. They're a little expensive (unless perhaps you have a very generous intended mother who buys it for you) but it's worth every penny and then some. Fair warning though, if you get one you're going to want to spend all day making smoothies.
Friday, February 03, 2012
I've been thinking a lot about what will happen when this baby is born. Now that there's just one now I figure I have a pretty good shot at a VBAC. That makes me pretty darn happy. Since this will probably be my last birth* I want to try and make it as good as I can.
I'm thinking I want the kind of birth I had with Little A. (Not to be confused with Baby A. Or A, one of my IFs from last time or A, my IM from this time. I wish people had considered using other letters of the alphabet when naming all these people.) The parents were there, Jesse was there, my doula/best friend was there. I felt so happy and supported and when I did the whole thing without an epidural I felt like Super Woman. I would like all that again. And maybe with one more little addition.
I think I would like Elle to be at the birth too. Joseph is out of the question. He could never handle seeing me in pain and he hates the sound of babies crying. But Elle is different. She loves the surrogacy process. She goes to ultrasounds and lab appointments with me. She watches when I gets shots and puts a band aid on me after each of them. She likes to lay her head on my tummy and talk to the baby. I think she would really like to see the whole thing all the way through.
I asked her today if she thought she would like to be there when the baby is born. The answer was a very enthusiastic "YES!" Of course I explained that nothing was for sure and we would have to see how things went but that if she was interested we could talk about it more. Then I told her that she would need to know that sometimes when the baby comes out it hurts the woman but that the woman is ok and will feel better after the baby comes out. Elle rolled her eyes and said "I know that! I saw a show on PBS Kids and there was a woman having a baby and she said it really hurt."
So apparently she's all ready to be there at the birth. PBS Kids has taught her well. Or something.
*Probably. Maybe. Perhaps. I don't know. I really do love doing what I do. This pregnancy has not been easy or smooth but damn, I love having babies.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
All last week I felt like I was on a death watch. Just waiting for my next ultrasound so I could see that the last baby had stopped growing, waiting for the next step, waiting for it to be over.
I was 99% certain that Baby A was not going to make it. I prepared myself emotionally for the worst. I felt a black cloud hanging over me. I felt like when people looked at me they knew what was going on and I wanted to defend myself. "It's not my fault! I did everything I could! I followed all the rules! I didn't want this to happen!"
When I went to the ultrasound on Wednesday I was ready to hear the bad news that I was 99% certain I was going to hear. I tried to shut out that little voice that said "But maybe? What if? Could there still be hope?"
The ultrasound started and right away I thought I saw a little flicker of movement. Then nothing. I must have imagined it. The technician worked for a while without saying anything. I watched the screen closely. There it was again! Movement! And suddenly a lot of movement! The technician laughed and said "That one is letting us know its still ok."
And oh, she's so ok. She moved and wiggled and bounced around for the rest of the ultrasound. Her heartbeat is good and her gestational sac, while a little on the small side, is still in the normal range. She's a little fighter and I feel like she's going to beat the odds. She blew away that 99% of uncertainty and sadness. Every time she wiggled I felt a little happier and a little lighter.
You guys? I think she's gonna make it. I think in 30 weeks or so my IPs are going to have the baby they've been wanting for the last 15 years. Eeeeeeeeee!
Friday, January 20, 2012
Sadness hurts. It physically hurts. It settles into you bones and weighs you down. It stiffens your muscles and makes your joints ache. I am hurting right now.
We are facing the fact that this pregnancy is not going to last much longer. Baby A is not going to make it. People are being very kind and saying there's still hope and that miracles happen but I know that's not going to be the case here. There are issues with these embryos that make it almost unbelievable that all three implanted. The fact that I've made it to almost 10 weeks pregnant with one of them is statistically nearly impossible.
Obviously that doesn't make things any easier. I'm angry with the doctor who made the choice to transfer these embryos. I can't go into a lot of detail out of respect for the privacy of my intended parents but I will say that I feel like we were all led into a bad situation by a doctor who was either careless or incompetent or ... something I don't have a word for.
So now we wait. I'm still pregnant and as far as I know Baby A still has a heartbeat but we'll have more ultrasounds to see when that changes. I'm not going to lie. This sucks. This a million times harder than a failed transfer. I can't even imagine how my Intended Parents must be feeling right now. My heart breaks for them. I wish I could do something to ease their pain. I'm very emotionally invested in the pregnancy but they are having to deal with the loss one, two and then all three of their babies.
I will be ok. Yesterday was hard. Today will be hard. This next week will be hard but I have the support of an amazing network of family and friends and fellow surrogate sisters. If you're the praying kind or the good vibe kind or the well wishing kind please direct all of that to my IPs who I know are going to need to heal from this.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
If there is one thing I have learned as I have gone through three surrogacy journeys it's that nothing is simple. You never move forward in a straight line. It's one step forward and two steps back.
This pregnancy started out with a one in a million shot of triplets. That was scary but there was relief at the next ultrasound when we found out only two babies still had heartbeats.
Today I had another ultrasound and we discovered that only one of the babies still has has a heartbeat. The other one looks like it stopped growing a week ago. Pretty much right after my last ultrasound.
The good news: I saw the heartbeat and saw the little baby wiggling around. It's measuring right at nine and a half weeks like it should. The bad news: The gestational sac is only measuring about seven weeks. Of course it's too early to tell what's going to happen and if there's something wrong. If there is nothing can be done so we just have to sit back and watch and wait.
I don't have a good feeling about this. I'm scared that this last little one will not hang in there. My heart is broken for my IPs. I never wanted to carry a litter of babies, one is enough. If I can just hang on to this one little baby I can be happy.
So for now I wait and I rest and think good thoughts and I look forward to/fear what the next ultrasound brings. Please think good thoughts too. Not for me but for my IPs who have so many hopes pinned on this last little heartbeat.
Friday, January 06, 2012
One of the benefits of my best friend working at the clinic where I get my prenatal care is that she gets to do some of my prenatal care. Another benefit is that if if I text her to tell her that I'm about to get an ultrasound she might text back to tell me her patient for that time slot didn't show up and do I want some company? And I can tell her that I do and then she can come to my ultrasound with me.
So that's how we came to find ourselves (plus Elle) in a little dark room staring at an ultrasound screen together and waiting for the tech to tell me what we were looking at.
Baby A looked great. Measuring right on track with a good heartbeat. Baby C looked great too. Everything was it was supposed to be.
I knew as soon as he skipped measuring baby B that there was something going on. I looked closer and I couldn't see a heartbeat but I thought maybe it was just the angle and that perhaps I wasn't seeing it. As the tech finished up with Baby C my friend whispered "Jen, there's no heartbeat there." The tech nodded.
I don't remember exactly what my reaction was but I burst into tears and started shaking. I'm going to be honest here and say something that might surprise you. I was crying from relief. I wasn't sad or upset, just relieved.
There are a lot of risks associated with carrying triplets and my IPs were facing some hard decisions. We were facing a long, scary pregnancy and it was not something that I was completely overjoyed with.
Now I feel like everything has fallen into place. I can DO twins. I know I can carry twins for a long time and deliver them as big, healthy babies. When I saw that ultrasound I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I slept better last night than I have since the first ultrasound.
That's why I was so glad to have my best friend there. Not everyone will understand why I was ok with seeing that empty dark spot on the ultrasound but she gets it. I think most other people will understand too sooner or later but not everyone could stood there in that dark room, hugged a pantsless, lubed up me and said "I love you. I'm so glad it worked out this way."
Now I get to focus on growing a perfect set of twins for some very excited parents. As I said on facebook, this is probably the last time time I'm going to be pregnant (unless a certain set of dads ask me to have more babies for them (hint, HINT)) and I want to enjoy every moment of it. And right now I'm going to enjoy eating homemade mac and cheese for three.
Monday, January 02, 2012
So I'm pregnant with triplets. That's still a thing that is happening in my life. Things have gotten interesting since I found out how many babies I've got on board.
The nearly universal reaction to this news has been "Holy shit!". I myself go back and forth between "What's the big deal? It's not like I'm the octomom." and "Holy shit!". My mood swings, let me show you them.
The other reaction I get a lot is "Since you carried one the first time and two the second and three this time are you going to do four next time?" If you know me in real life and have not yet said this to me, I beg you, please don't say it. It kind of pisses me off. It's really not funny. If I have to explain why then that's just going to annoy me more.
That said, it's not all Serious Business. There's also a lot of sleeping involved. I sleep ALL THE TIME. Most days I get the kids off to school and then go back to bed. I get up around lunch time when I try to eat and get a little done around the house. After I pick up the kids I spend a little time with them until around 5 when I crash again. Even when I'm awake I'm still tired as heck and if I miss a nap, watch out!
Then there's the food. By some miracle of miracles I have not really had bad morning sickness. I have yet to throw up and a lot of the time I have a pretty good appetite. Cooking smells sometimes bother me but mostly I'm ok. I eat a lot. A lot. I mean, a whole lot. I can finish off a regular sized dinner and then have a bagel and then a handful of nuts and then a cheese stick and then a spinach salad and then a Christmas cookie and then a spoonful of peanut butter and then a spoonful of nutella and then a handful or pretzels and then maybe a piece of steak. I don't believe in having shame or guilt about what you eat but even I am kind of embarrassed by how much I eat some days.
In (what I'm certain is unrelated news) my pants are already getting tight. I've made a goal of not switching to maternity pants until 9 weeks (no, I don't know why so shut up) so now I just wear my "fat jeans" or yoga pants. My breasts have also grown like the mighty oak. Only they're not tall. Just big. So not so much like the mighty oak I guess.
So I'm getting by. Life is good. Christmas was good and I managed to stay awake for most of it. My children continue to be the most delightful people on the planet. Joseph had some friends over for a sleepover (his first ever!) and they were adorable and fun and the loudest of all the possible things. Today Elle was looking at me through a cardboard tube and she said "Mama, your head is really small. Go look in the mirror to see how small your head is. You won't even believe it."
See? Life is good.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
"Since you had one with the first surrogacy and two with the second are you going to have three with the third?"
I lost count of how many people asked me that. Friends, family, casual acquaintances, my ob. Hell, I even joked about it myself a few times. Oh, it's a funny joke, carrying triplets. Ha ha HA.
When I went to California for my embryo transfer I was well armed with statistics and facts and percentages. I knew we were going to be aggressive and transfer three embryos. I knew what could happen. I was willing to take the risk. I knew that in the room next to me there was another woman, a second surrogate my IPs were were working with, who was taking the same risk. My IPs, frustrated with their 15 year cycle of trying and failing to have a child had decided to take a big risk. Two surrogates, six embryos. An unusual situation to be sure but one everyone involved with was comfortable being a part of.
Right before the transfer the doctor squeezed my hand and said "Now triplets are possible you know, but not likely at all. You just keep taking your prenatal vitamins and everything will be fine."
After the transfer came the wait. Almost right away I knew it had worked. I just felt pregnant. Less than four full days after the transfer I got my first positive urine test. Nine days after the transfer I had my first blood test. My beta came back as 62. Now that might not mean anything to most of you but for those of us in "the biz" that number is kind of low. Two days later I had another beta and that one was just a hair shy of doubling. A good sign but I still wasn't real happy with the low number. Two days later I had my third and final beta and the number had almost tripled.
I found out that the other surrogate had not gotten pregnant. Not one of the three embryos transferred had "stuck" for her.
So yesterday was the big day for me. I got to go to my first ultrasound and see how many embryos had "stuck" with me. Based on my low numbers I felt like it was probably one. (In fact, I had compared my numbers to when I was pregnant with the twins and they were a good deal lower this time around.) I also have had almost not morning sickness and certainly you can't have a multiple pregnancy without morning sickness, right? On the other hand, I knew that I had been really tired. Well, tired doesn't even start to describe it. I was utterly exhausted. So maybe it was twins.
When I went for my ultrasound the technician recognized me from when I was in all the time with the twins. She was friendly and we chatted for a bit before getting started. As she started the ultrasound she asked "Any chance there's more than one in here?" I laughed and said there could be as many as three but I didn't think that was really possible.
She started probing me and the room got very quiet. I couldn't see the screen but I could see her face and she looked... confused? Worried? Amused? I started to get worried myself. What if she was seeing a gestational sec with no fetus in it? What if this was a chemical pregnancy? "What are you seeing there?" I asked at last.
"I'm seeing a lot of activity" she said slowly and then she turned the screen towards me. And there it was.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Woot! I'm pregnant! The transfer was successful much to my great relief. To be honest, I was getting positive pregnancy tests just four days after the embryo transfer but I wanted to hold off on sharing until it had been confirmed by blood test.
Three blood tests later my hgc numbers just keep going up so we're really, truly pregnant. My IM is starting to get cautiously optimistic. This has been a long road for her and I know we still have a long way to but she's getting excited.
As for me I feel pretty good right now. I have decided that this will be the pregnancy where I do not get morning sickness. I'm determined not to throw up a single time. I have had a couple of times where I felt a little urpy but I think that was caused less by morning sickness and more by a pretty wicked case of heartburn. Mostly I'm hungry all the time and really, really sleepy. I forgot how tired I get during early pregnancy! I keep thinking "I should really get the Christmas decorations out ...zzzzzzzz." or "I suppose I should get dinner started and clean the ..... zzzzzz."
Oh well. This too shall pass and before you know it I'll be on to my favorite part of pregnancy - the part where I switch to maternity pants!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Last night I had a dream that I was holding a fat baby girl with black hair and dark eyes. I knew it was my job to watch her but I kept setting her down and then wandering away from her. I was in a big building with lots of stairs and winding hallways and every time I would set the baby down I would find myself lost and I would have to run all over trying to get back to her. At one point in my dream I fell asleep holding the baby only to wake up and find her across the room in her mother's arms. In my dream I cried with happiness and relief.
Last week I was on a plane to California and I met a man and woman who were fascinated with my experience as a surrogate mother. We talked for nearly two hours and as the plane was about to land they gave me their business cards. It turns out that the man is involved with producing reality shows and documentaries for channels like A&E and Discovery. The woman is the vice president of programming for a major network. They talked to me about getting more of my story and asked if I would be interested in getting some of it, as they put it, "on the record". The second I got off the plane I googled them and they really were who they claimed to be. We've been emailing a few times since then.
In California I met my new intended parents face to face for the first time. My intended mother brought me a pair of earrings that were in the shape of a Chinese symbol for good luck in pregnancy. They took me out for sushi and I tried almost everything they put in front of me. I tried octopus and it was good but the more I chewed it the tougher it got. I ended up sort of swallowing it whole. It will probably be in my stomach for the next seven years. I also had barracuda which I didn't even know you could eat. A barracuda can kill a person right? And I ate one so I think that makes me like, a beast slayer or something. The only thing I couldn't bring myself to try was the sea urchin because it looked like a piece of tongue. I'm adventurous but not that adventurous.
On Thursday I went to my embryo transfer. There was good news regarding the number and stage of the embryos we were able to transfer. The doctor seemed hopeful about our chances. When you have an embryo transfer you have to do it with a full bladder. Afterwards you have to lay on the table with your head down low and your feet up in the air for half an hour. A nurse offered to bring me a bedpan but I pictured myself trying to pee in it and having the pee run up (down?) my back. I chose to hold it. After my half hour was up and ran (gently) to the bathroom and peed like crazy (but gently).
After my transfer I was stuck in my hotel room for a few days on bedrest. The hotel was nice but it was in a sketchy neighborhood. If I looked out the window and down the block a bit there was a strip club. If I looked the other way there was a pot shop. Next door to me was a business that installed car stereo systems and spinning rims and, judging by the blaring and beeping and honking that went on all day long, car alarms. But otherwise than the ... interesting neighborhood the hotel was nice and it was quiet at night. Well, mostly. There was one night where a couple came crashing out of the elevators at 3 AM and then went to the room next to me and had loud, enthusiastic sex. For 45 seconds. I was embarrassed for all of us.
Being on bedrest means lots of room service. The food at my hotel was really good and I ate a lot of it. I always had a twinge of anxiety when ordering room service though because a good third of the time the room service people brought food to my room they called me "sir". I guess I should have taken part in a little more waxing before I went to California. Or answered my door topless.
I came home on Monday and started doing pregnancy tests. All negative. I kept hoping because I've been having pregnancy symptoms. My breasts are large and sore. I've been feeling nauseated in the morning and evening. I'm craving pasta and bloody marys. (Of course I don't drink bloody marys, I just crave them.) Everything looked so good at the transfer. Everything was "right". I felt like this was going to work.
Then last night I had the dream and I woke up certain that it was a sign that I was pregnant so I took another test.
So now we wait until Monday when I get the official results from a blood test. We'll see I guess.
Three years ago today I didn't understand Dooce.
Five years ago today Joseph was dramatic.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
When I was pregnant with Elle and then with Little A I craved pickles all the time. I could not get enough pickles. Then I got pregnant with the twins right around pickle making season. I made and canned pickles while I had ferocious morning sickness and by the time I was done the very thought of pickles made me nauseated. I have not been able to eat a pickle ever since then. Even the smell bothers me sometimes.
I was thinking about this last night as I was putting away the pickles that I've canned this summer. Am I ever going to be able to eat pickles again? Or is this just one more reminder that I was pregnant, something that I'll carry with me forever even though the babies are long gone? It's not the only reminder I have of course. This latest pregnancy (especially) has left lasting marks on me.
Four months after the c-section there's still a large numb area between the incision site and my belly button. There's another spot below the incision without feeling as well. Then there's the incision scar itself. It's not a terrible looking scar but it's not exactly what I would call pretty either. It's six and a half inches across my abdomen and it's going to be with me for the rest of my life. Luckily I can't see it very well. You know, on account of the flap of excess of skin I have after having had my tummy stretched out so much.
I remember how big I got at the end. I remember a week before the babies were born I was waddling out of the hospital after getting an amnio and a group of people walking in stopped me and said "I don't think you should be leaving! You're gonna pop any second!"
I remember how uncomfortable I was, how I couldn't sleep at night or take a deep breath. I remember how I had to sit sideways at the diner table and how shaving my legs became a major aerobic workout. I remember the morning sickness, the hormone shots, the endless dildo-cam ultrasounds, the way I told Jesse at least a dozen times "This is it! Never again!"
And then last night I stood in my kitchen holding a jar of pickles and I started to wonder. What if...
I told myself "I am not going to start looking at surrogacy web sites. Ok, I'll look at web sites but I won't look at the want ads. Ok, I'll look at the want ads but I won't read the closely to see if there's a good match out there for me. Ok, I'll read them closely but I won't let myself think that anyone is perfect for me. Ok, I'll think they're perfect for me but I won't bookmark their ad. Ok, I'll bookmark their ad but I won't email them later. Oh crap."
I blame the pickles.
One year ago today I was hit on by a shoe-shine guy while on my way to get pregnant.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
One day last summer in a fit of hormone induced insanity I decided that I wanted to take the kids to South Dakota. I planned it all out. We would drive and see all the major landmarks of South Dakota. We would bring a cooler full of food and picnic across the state. We would bond as a family and have wonderful memories that would last forever. When Jesse came home from work I filled him in our spur-of-the-moment vacation. He said "Are you crazy?"
It was a valid question. I was newly pregnant and still taking hormone shots to help me remain so. I was crabby and nauseated most of time. We didn't really have the money for a week long drive across South Dakota. I hate eating outside. Those were all good reasons to nix the entire plan.
I'm not one to listen to reason. We took that trip. We saw the sights. We made memories. We ate outside. I took a lot of pictures. This is the story of this trip. This is...
As we were nearing the end of our Badlands tour I spotted a small brown lump in the road. It was a dead prairie dog. I love prairie dogs so that made me sad but it did make me notice that we were right in the middle of a prairie dog town. Hurray!
There were signs all over the place instructing people not to feed the animals but since most people think the rules were written for other people and not them, a family right by us decided to throw corn flakes to the prairie dogs. Jesse and I yelled at them. They were embarrassed and got in their car and drove away. Between that and the litter incident I decided the theme of the vacation would be Correcting Assholes with a secondary theme of Being Assholes.
I hope you enjoyed our trip through the Badlands. Stay tuned for the next installment in the "I must be crazy" Chronicles - Wall Drug! And if you enjoyed my pictures you can see more on my flickr page.
Five years ago today Joseph was concerned with colon health.
Monday, March 29, 2010
If we're not Facebook friends then you might not know this but the babies are here and I'm home from the hospital. I'm slowly working my way back to to my usual sunny state. I'll write up a birth story later but for now here are some of the boring post-partum details.
The Boy and The Girl arrived via scheduled c-section on March 23rd. The boy was born at 11:52, weighed a hefty 6 pounds 13 ounces and was 17.5 inches long. The Girl was born at 11:54, weighed a teeny 5 pounds 9 ounces and was 17 inches long. The boy had some breathing issues (probably brought on by inhaling something or other at birth) and had to spend some time in the NICU but he's getting better and stronger every day. In spite of her tiny size The Girl had no issues at all and is 100% healthy.
The Agony and the Ecstasy (but not really)
The c-section was not as terrible as I expected it to be. I mean, it sucked and I hated it but I didn't like, die or anything so I guess it could have been worse. One really neat part of the whole thing was after the babies were out and I could hear them both crying. The guys were hurrying back and forth between the warmers then coming over to me to squeeze my hand or rub my arm. It was a really happy, emotional time and I got to enjoy it without feeling any pain.
That said, c-sections are not the way I hope to go in the future (assuming I ever lose my mind and want to do this again). I'm nearly a week out from surgery and I still want to do nothing more than curl up in bed with a bottle of pain killers.
Pump It Up
I'm pumping breast milk. The main reason I do it is because I think it's good for the babies. I feel like I gave them the best I could for nine months and if I've got the resources and the ability to give them the best for a little bit longer then I should do that. It's like a parting gift.
I also have selfish motivations. I know pumping will help me take the baby weight off quicker and help to keep the post-partum hormones in check. I have to remind myself of those things several times a day. Every time I go to pump I have the urge to throw the whole contraption in the closet and never look at it again. Pumping is not my favorite thing. It's a hassle, it's uncomfortable and it involves the use of obscene looking plastic cones that I have to hide away whenever someone comes to the house because I don't want people seeing them and thinking "Her boobs were just in there!"
The babies are sucking down about 2 ounces a feeding now so I'm keeping it up. For now.
I'm tired, I'm crabby and I occasionally burst into tears for absolutely no reason at all. Seriously. The other day I cried because my mom made me a pan of my favorite kind of brownies. The day before that I cried because Jesse told me a joke that I didn't think was funny and I felt guilty for not laughing. I'm slowly feeling a little bit better but everyone around me is praying for a quick end to the baby blues.
I'm a little sad that this surrogacy is over. It was neat carrying two babies. There's a tiny part of me that wasn't ready to be done.
Mostly though I'm very happy. When I see the babies with their dads I am thrilled with the little part I had in helping to build their family. I'm proud of myself for making it to 37 weeks without any major problems. I'm happy to be back with my delightfully weird children. I'm excited to spend the summer in the garden and in my craft room. I'm looking forward to walking without pain and taking a deep breath without having to struggle.
Small post-partum complaints aside, life is good. I have nothing to complain about. (I just started crying as I typed that. *eye roll*)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
"You've gained a pound!" the nurse reported cheerfully. "The babies are growing nicely."
"Yes..." I responded as I wiped a stray Thin Mint crumb from my shirt. "The babies..."
One year ago today I locked my family out.
Two years ago it was St Patrick's Day.
Three years ago today I did a meme.
Four years ago today I was a boring mommy-blogger.