Monday, March 10, 2014

The Birth of Brantley

Here is the final chapter in my surrogacy journey.  The birth of Brantley.  This could be triggering for some and I'm not leaving out any details so it is a bit raw.  If you are looking for a short version, everyone is ok, Brantley is a gorgeous little guy, the fathers are over the moon, and I'm recovering.Now on to the details.  On Saturday, June 22nd (38 weeks 2 days), I was asleep in the bed.  I hadn't been asleep that long.  Around 20 minutes.  A feeling woke me up and I thought I had peed myself so I barrel rolled off the bed.  At that point, there was a pop, and my waters broke everywhere.  I had never had my waters break before labor had started so this was a new one on me.  I stood for a couple of seconds gushing all over the place and then called Michael in.  We laughed a bit over the gushing and put a call in to D&E (using initials for the fathers privacy).  I asked them if they were ready to have a baby and I could hear their adrenaline spike.  E whoo hooed into the phone and said they were on their way.  I put a call into Amy our doula to let her know that my waters had broken but I didn't need her quite yet.  Michael packed our bags because even though I had talked about doing it, it just never happened.   We stayed home for a while letting the contractions start.  D&E went straight to the hospital to get me checked in.  Around 4am (June 23rd) things started to pick up and we decided to head on over.  We called Amy to tell her our plans, and then called the fathers to let them know we were on our way.  We got our girls up and ready because they wanted to be at the birth.  We got all checked in and into our room.  Contractions were coming every 5 minutes or so but were still pretty tolerable.  I had a vaginal exam and I was 4cm dilated upon check in.  I labored freely, moving around the room, sitting on the birth ball.  Labor seemed to be going very slowly.  3 hours later I had another exam and in that time I had only dilated to a 5.  The contractions started spacing further apart.  I tried to lay down for a while, but I couldn't get comfortable.  I dozed off and on while sitting on the birth ball.  I continued to labor for a while, but while the contractions were getting more intense, they weren't getting any closer together and had spaced out to about 10 minutes.  Fatigue started to hit pretty hard.  They checked me again that afternoon about 3pm.  I hadn't dilated any further and the baby was still high up.  At that point, I was tired and frustrated.   I went to the bathroom with Michael and cried a bit.  I didn't know what was wrong.  After 3 vaginal births that weren't that long or complicated, I felt like my body was failing me.  On top of that, I had two fathers who were counting on me and I felt like I was disappointing them.  At 6pm, I was checked again and I had made it to a 7 but the baby was still high up.  The baby's heartrate started to dip during contractions.  We thought it was just cord compression so I kept switching positions to see what worked best. We tried all of the techniques to get him to move down and engage but nothing seemed to work.  He just would not move down.  Around 6:30pm, I gave out.  I had been laboring almost 20 hours at that point, the contractions were intense, and I was completely exhausted.  I broke down and cried.  Hard.  I didn't know what else to do.  I felt like I had failed.  We all wanted this to go as naturally as possible, but I had reached my breaking point.  The OB on call suggested pitocin to see if that could get things moving a bit more.  I caved and agreed.  I just wanted it over.  I cried the entire time.  The fathers kept reassuring me that they would support any choice that I made.  I was hooked up to the pitocin and the contractions cranked up.  I continued to breathe through them.   The decels in the baby's heart rate started to get larger and more concerning.  They started to take some huge dips.  The OB came in and said she wanted to turn the pitocin off because of the decels.   She checked me again and after 2 1/2 hours on pit, I hadn't had any change and the baby was still high.   Around 9pm, we had a choice to make.  Continue trying to labor the baby down or cesarean.  The one thing I wanted to avoid the most.  We talked, I cried.  Michael cried.  The fathers cried.  I didn't feel like I had anything left to give.  I felt like a complete failure.  I agreed to the cesarean.  I labored some more while they got me prepped.  I was completely scared.  I hadn't ever mentally prepped for a cesarean and now that it was becoming a reality, I didn't know what to think.  I saw my peaceful natural birth going down the drain and I hated my body for it.  I knew that I couldn't go on anymore though.  They rolled me away to the OR.  I was still laboring with intense contractions but now I didn't have the luxury of getting up and moving around.  I was pinned flat on my back.  They got me up on the table and pinned my arms straight out to the sides.  I had lost all control.  I went under general anesthesia and was knocked out.  I awoke a little while later.  Some people were talking to me, but I don't remember what they said or what I said to them.  I was taken to the recovery room.  It is kind of foggy at this point.  I know that someone told me that the baby was ok, that I was ok, and something about drinking some water.  I passed out for a bit.  When I woke up, the fathers brought Brantley over to show him to me.  He was an absolute doll.  He weighed in at 6lbs 14oz and 19 inches long.  The doctor came in with another story though.  Somehow, Brantley had managed to tie a knot (also known as true knot) in his umbilical cord.  His cord was already short but the knot was preventing him from descending any further.  Every time he would move down, the knot would get tighter cutting off his oxygen supply.  So while I thought I was a failure, in reality, we made a very good call by going on with the cesarean.  Things could have gotten ugly very quickly and I'm very grateful that they didn't.  The fathers got a picture of the knot and I'm hoping to get a copy of it.  It has taken me a couple of days to process what happened, but I'm at peace with the turn of events.  I'm still a little disappointed that the birth didn't go as smoothly as I had hoped, but the end results were worth it.  The fathers are absolutely ecstatic and over the moon.  Watching their faces light up around their child makes all of the pain and disappointment worth it.  Words can't describe how awesome of a feeling that is.  They are going to be fantastic parents.  Welcome to the world baby Brantley!I've gotten a few questions that I'll try to answer now.  I've been asked how I feel about giving a baby up.  I don't feel that I have given a baby up.  This was never my child to begin with.  This was always their child.  I was just a long term babysitter.  I feel good though.  When I look at Brantley, I don't feel the emotional attachment that I did with my girls.  I see him with D&E and know that that is where he belongs.  I've also been asked if I knew what was going to happen in regards to the cesarean, would I have done it.  Hell yes, I would have.  Watching D&E with Brantley, the pure joy and happiness in their eyes, and knowing that I helped create that family is all well worth it.  What does a cesarean mean for future surrogacies?  I can't answer that one at this time.  I need to focus on recovering and healing before making any permanent decisions.  Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this journey.  I've been amazed and overjoyed at the love and support that I've gotten.  Thank you to Amy our doula for sticking around for the whole process.  Thank you to Richard and Bev for arriving just in time to help out with the girls.  I know it wasn't planned that way but your help was greatly appreciated.  Thank you to my awesome husband who was my fount of strength, even when I felt like giving up.  I couldn't have asked for a better partner in life.  He even spent his birthday in the hospital with me. Finally, thanks to my girls who have had to put up with their mommy being occupied over these last few months and not up to full mommy strength.  We'll go get ice cream soon! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wow! An update

I have completely neglected this blog and have been posting short updates on Facebook.  Bad me.  So, I'll post a brief summary of what has been going on over the last 5 months.

***I'm pregnant!***

The contract was signed.  I started my medications in September.  We did the embryo transfer on October 17th.  Two embryos were transferred but only one took.  I've had a fairly smooth and easy pregnancy so far.  I'm currently 16 weeks and my worst symptom has been fatigue and even that hasn't been that bad.  My estimated due date is early Julyish.  The baby is now referred to as Bubble.  We've gotten to hear Bubble's heartbeat, and had an early ultrasound done for dating.  In February, we will have our big anatomy scan.  The intended parents wish to find out the gender so we'll be finding out then.

I've started midwifery school, have volunteered to help out with the Human Milk 4 Human Babies - Georgia page, started a wet nursing group on Facebook, started a group for surrogates and those interested in becoming surrogates, am working on some FAQs about surrogacy and working on a birth planning template that incorporates surrogates and intended parents. I'm definitely staying busy but all is well!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Whoo Boy! The Contract

Well, it is finally done.  The contract has been signed and completed.  What I thought was going to be a fairly simple check off the list of things to do before embryo transfer ended up being a long drawn out process.  It took us several months to hammer out all of the details of the contract.  That is because it was 54 pages long!  That is right.  54 pages of long boring cover your ass legal crap.  It had to be read though so all parties got down to business.  The contract brought up a couple of good points that I hadn't thought about.  What happens with the child in case the intended parents die?  What happens if something happens to me?  What happens if the child develops a life threatening complication and won't survive the womb?  Most of it was grim and morbid and left me wondering what the hell I'm getting myself into. A lot of what ifs that I hope we never have to worry about.  We did decide that I would not carry any more than two embryos.  We felt this was the best thing for my health and the health of the baby(ies).  So no worry folks!  I won't become the next octosurromom.  The contract was passed back and forth between both parties and our lawyers until everyone was happy.  Now that the contract is signed, I'm getting a little nervous.  Things are progressing and soon I will get my medications to start injections.  I got an email from one of my intended fathers saying "OMG!  It is really happening!  We're going to have a baby!"  This right here is making it all worth it.  I'm nervous but it is such a wonderful feeling to be able to make someone's dream come true.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

50 Things To Do During the Last Month of Pregnancy

For a lot of moms, the last month of pregnancy seems to drag on endlessly.  We're tired, our back hurts, we can't breathe, we have to get up  954.2 times to go pee.  It's hard to concentrate on anything that isn't baby and our impending labor.  We've compiled a list to help time pass a little more quickly during that last month.

  1. Get a massage - Nothing eases those aching back muscles like a good rub down by a professional
  2. Go to the chiropractor - This is perfect for those with a lot of lower back pain, hip pain, or pelvic pain.  Be sure to find a chiropractor that is trained to work with pregnant women.
  3. Spend alone time with your partner - After the baby arrives, alone time will be hard to come by.
  4. Spend alone time with your older children - After the baby is born, your older children will look so big and grown up.  Enjoy the time when they are still your "baby".  
  5. Go swimming - Great exercise and great to take the weight off of your back.  
  6. Get a manicure/pedicure - Its hard to stress when you are getting pampered.
  7. Go to the movies - Take a pillow to make the chairs more comfortable
  8. Read your favorite book
  9. Organize the baby room - Put on some upbeat music, open the blinds and let your nesting instincts take over
  10. Shop - Do I need to say more?
  11. Make a belly cast 
  12. Paint your belly - Invite your friends over and let them get creative on your belly canvas!  Please be sure to use non toxic paints.
  13. Belly henna - Real henna (not the chemical filled black stuff) makes great belly art.  See a professional or if you are really brave, have your friends do it.  
  14. Girls Night Out (or In) - Virgin daiquiris, chocolate covered strawberries, and gossip with good friends  
  15. Go out for ice cream - Probably don't have to twist your arm too hard on this one do we?
  16. Take a breastfeeding/cloth diapering/babywearing class 
  17. Learn to sew, crochet, or knit 
  18. Host a game night 
  19. Join Pinterest - Just like that, 4 days have gone by
  20. Write a letter to your baby - Write a letter about yourself to your baby before they are born.  Write a letter each year on his/her birthday describing your life.  Keep the letters for them when they grow up.
  21. Take lots of pregnancy pictures
  22. Join a moms group
  23. Go for a walk - Sometimes a little sunshine is all we need
  24. Go on a picnic
  25. Go geocaching -
  26. Play video games
  27. Start a scrapbook
  28. Have a blessingway -
  29. Acupuncture - Another great way to relieve stress and pain
  30. Prepare meals to freeze - Cook meals that can be stored and easily reheated.  This will make grabbing a bite to eat between feedings and diaper changes much easier.
  31. Volunteer - Find a local charity or organization and give back
  32. Watch birth videos - You can never be too prepared.  Watch videos of natural childbirth and find ways to help you relax during birth.
  33. Dance - Dance away your stress!
  34. Meditate
  35. Do prenatal yoga - Great for working out and preparing for birth
  36. Attend a festival
  37. Go fishing
  38. Go camping
  39. Visit a museum
  40. Write up a birth plan
  41. Play mini golf
  42. Visit a bookstore with a cafe
  43. Make a list of places that you want to take your child to when they grow up - Tape it to the inside of your cabinet and mark off places once visited.
  44. Eat at a local diner
  45. Make your own natural cleaning products
  46. Host a poker night
  47. Start a journal
  48. Get your hair done
  49. Try reflexology
  50. Relax! 
What would you add to the list?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Update June 2012

Hello everyone!   I wanted to post an update.  We have known for a while now that we were going to have to move.  My husband has been working on getting his degree in education for the last three years.  We live in a smaller community so teaching positions are hard to come by.  He graduated in May (yay!).   After a discussion about our situation with our IFs, we all agreed that it was best to put the surrogacy on hold until we had settled down.  We did not want the stress of the move to potentially harm the baby(ies).  We've been in limbo for a while but my husband accepted a teaching position a few counties away.  We are in the midst of moving and hope to be settled by July 1st.  With that date in mind, we are moving forward with the surrogacy and we are shooting for a late July/early August transfer.  I've had this holding pattern mindset for so long that it still seems surreal that things are actually moving forward.  I'm excited and nervous at the same time.  I should be posting soon when I start the medications so keep an eye out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Psych Eval Take 2

After the initial psych eval, some things happened that I can't get into details yet.  I will have to wait until everything plays out for the protection of my IFs, but we decided it was best to get a second opinion.  This time, we chose a psychologist who specializes in gay surrogacy.  What an AMAZING difference.  We reviewed and discussed my previous experience.  This psychologist was so warm and friendly and just so awesome.  I felt so welcome in her office and didn't feel like my entire life was under fire.  It turned into a 4 hour session with almost 2 hours talking with just myself, half an hour talking with myself and my husband and then the remaining time talking to all four of us.  She reassured me that my parenting and lifestyle choices had nothing to do with the surrogacy and she didn't agree with the original psych's eval.  At the end, she "strongly recommended me without hesitation" as a carrier.  We all came away feeling very happy and relieved!

We did discuss a lot of issues that I hadn't even taken into consideration.  It actually makes me angry that its even an issue but in the end I have to acknowledge it as reality.  The psych gave us quite a few scenarios that we are likely to encounter especially given that I live in a smaller community.  She told me that I needed to make sure that everyone that I deal with (lawyer, doctors, hospital staff) are aware that I am a carrier for a gay male couple.  I need to make sure that they don't have an issue with this because past couples have run into problems.  Some examples were, the IFs weren't allowed to come to the ultrasound appointments, IFs being denied entry to the delivery room during the birth, judges refusing to issue birth certificates.  I guess I expected to run into some closed minded people but I thought it would be more on a personal level than interfering with the ability for the IFs to become parents.  Its sad that they being such the good couple that they are, have to jump through so many hoops to have a child solely because of their orientation.  She also brought up the issue of how I would deal with my children.  She said that my children may be confronted by other children who say bad things and we have to be ready to deal with that.  I think in our case, since we homeschool it won't be such a big deal since my kids are always around me, but damn its something I never thought about!  We have talked to our kids about why mommy is having a baby that we aren't keeping but it was a good reminder that I need to KEEP talking to them and give them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.  This was a very good session and a real eye opener on just how emotional this journey can get.

So the next step is to finalize our contract and then we will start talking about dates to start the transfer process!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Psychological Evaluation

When we met with the reproductive specialist, we were told that we all had to pass a psychological evaluation before we could continue with the process.  The IFs had to go through it and my husband and I had to go through it and then we had to meet together as a group.  I was pretty sure that I wouldn't have any issues with this.  My husband and IFs were 100% sure that everything would be fine too so we went in thinking it would be a fun formality.  When my husband and I met with the psychologist, things started going downhill.  Everything seemed to be going fine until the doctor asked me when I was going to vaccinate my teen for HPV.  I told her that I wasn't.  She looked shocked.  She went on to tell me that I would have to get the flu shot or else I would be risking someone else's baby.  I told her that was something that I would have to discuss with my IFs.  She started asking about my lifestyle.  We don't vaccinate, we aren't religious, I have a tattoo, I used to have piercings, I homeschool, I love homebirths and I drink raw milk.  At this point, the conversation just wasn't going well.  Instead of asking me about how I felt about surrogacy or how we would deal with certain situations, it became an attack on our lifestyle.  Now, I should mention that we've already talked about most of these things with the IFs and they have been 100% supportive of us the entire time.  Part of the reason they loved us is because we were willing to research things to make the best choices for our family.  We've also discussed the possibility of homebirths or a birth center as long as everything is normal.  When the psychologist brought us in together, she made the statement that she thought that my lifestyle choices were too rebellious.  She said that I was TOO brutally honest.  I was shocked.  I thought that was the whole point to this meeting?  She then started telling us that we needed to get our children vaccinated, get myself vaccinated, stop drinking raw milk and start touring hospitals because THAT was how things needed to go.  She even went so far as to try to make an appointment with the local hospital so that we could go tour it.  Fortunately, the same traits that she didn't like, were the very reasons that my IFs chose me.  They told her that there were things that *we* needed to discuss and that this wasn't the time for it.  They also told her that they were still going to use me as their surrogate.  She finally resigned and gave us all the green light and passed us.  Even though I'm extremely happy over that, I left the building feeling very shaken up and disheartened.  I was completely exhausted and drained from that experience.  My IFs and husband gave me huge hugs in support which made it better but that is something I definitely don't want to have to go through again.