Thursday, March 25, 2021

Surrogacy Birth Story

I don't know how my words here can accurately convey the emotions that I felt during the birth and even now. My journey as a Gestational Carrier has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I'm fighting back the tears just thinking about what we've been through the last year and a half and now a sweet baby girl is home safely with her loving & devoted family.  God gave us first the gift of adoption then embryo adoption and it feels so good to be able to give back just a little bit of me as a gestational carrier. 

I had a few mildly elevated blood pressures at home around 39 1/2 weeks.  I had no symptoms of pre-eclampsia and when I checked my blood pressure at the office to confirm it was elevated one day and normal the next.  The up and down bought us a little more time as the intended parents (and intended big brother) recovered from a stomach bug.   We finally made the decision to proceed with induction before the blood pressure caused more problems. I had my membranes swept a few times that week (an attempt to naturally encourage labor) and worked with 2 incredible doulas to try to encouraged baby butterfly to get into a good position for labor. My awesome chiropractor worked me in for some Webster technique and pressure points to encourage labor as well. Ultimately we made the decision to induce at 39.6.

The morning we finally made this decision was very emotional for me. I really didn't want an induction but knew that my desire for natural labor wasn't as important as the health and well being of the baby... and myself. We showed up to the hospital some time after lunch to get things started.  Having an amazing care team helped to ease my anxiety. I couldn't have asked for a better midwife, nurse or doula. We got the pitocin started around 2 pm. I was already contracting pretty often when I arrived but nothing painful or meaningful. Fortunately my blood pressure was stone cold normal the entire labor.

My doula arrived just before 3 pm to start some baby positioning boot camp with me.  We did this for a few hours then relaxed until the intended mom arrived.  Once she arrived I requested that my midwife break my water to get the contractions more effective. I was in a good pattern at that point but the contractions were still very mild. 

I was 4 cm and comfortable when my water was broken.  From that point forward each and every contraction increased in intensity.  It didn't take long for things to really take off.  I got checked not long after rupture and was already 6 cm. I spent what felt like an eternity contracting in the bathroom while the tub was being filled. I planned to get in the shower but transition was coming quickly. I remember being too hot for the shower and feeling like I was going to faint, puke and poop all at the same time. I felt like I was starting to lose control of the pain.  Contractions were on top of each other and I could barely move between.  My doula didn't leave my side and for that I am so grateful.  I don't think I could have done it without her.

At that point I asked to be checked again and was 7 cm.  I asked for an epidural and they knew I was serious.  Around that time someone recommended we turn off the pitocin.  I wish we had thought of that sooner and feel like I could have stuck with my plan for a natural birth if we had but I feel like things happened the way they did for a reason.  The midwife could tell I was going to change quickly and started opening the delivery table and they called the intended dad to the hospital for the birth.  

Soon after I asked for it the CRNA came to the room to prep me for the epidural. When he started to explain the procedure in detail I yelled "I'm a midwife, just put it in!".  Unfortunately the anesthesiologist had a hard time placing the epidural. I remember feeling like I literally could not survive one more contraction without it.  My husband held me up and kept me from falling off the bed during what felt like the longest epidural placement of all time.  3 attempts later he finally got it in. I must have scared the CRNA because he dosed me to my eye-balls and I felt absolutely nothing even hours after the birth. 

The intended dad came in right after the epidural was done and I felt completely at peace with my decision.  I think if I would have continued without the epidural it would have been a very different experience for everyone, not just me.  And not in a good way.  The birth was calm and exciting and I think my comfort helped everyone to enjoy it more.  Granted I was 9 cm right after the epidural so things truly were happening fast but the epidural gave us all a minute to breathe. 

30 minutes later I could tell it was time. The intended mom changed into a gown to get ready for skin to skin and threw on a pair gloves to help catch the baby.  I only pushed for 2 or 3 contractions.  At the last second I asked for a mirror so I could experience the birth as well... as a midwife giving birth with a very dense epidural I felt left out not knowing what was going on.  I could see her crowning and as soon as her head came out I could tell she looked exactly like her big brother.  Born into her mother's hands at 9:54 pm.  

She came skin to skin with me and we were all amazed with how much she really did look like her brother. After several minutes the intended dad cut the cord and I was able to hand her to the intended mom.  THIS was the moment I looked forward to the most.  I did something for this couple that not many people would or could do.  I wasn't in this for the bond to the baby. I wasn't in this for the adventure of raising another child.  I was in this for them.  I was in this for the joy that I could give to the parents when I handed them their baby.  I'm crying as I write this because I am just so grateful that I was given this opportunity to change someone else's life in this way. The intended mom wheeled a chair up to be closer to me while she held the baby skin to skin.  She looked me in the eyes and said "I can't believe you did this for us".  THAT was every bit of justification that I needed.  That 1 little sentence made it all worth while. 

We spent the next 2 hours of recovery together.  We took turns holding her and just enjoyed being together.  When we moved to postpartum the intended parents were in the room beside us.  It was midnight and I was ready to get some sleep.  The next morning they came to our room to visit and we spent another few hours just hanging out. I am so grateful for the time we got to spend all together.  

As we rehashed the birth experience everyone shared the same feeling... the doula was amazing!!  No one really knew anything about doulas when I suggested prenatally that I wanted to hire one.  Not just any doula. THE doula.  Julie Byers was a doula I had worked with many times over the last 2 years.  I tell my patients that she is made of lavender.  Just her presence in a room can change the entire atmosphere.  I could not imagine birth without her by my side.  My husband said his favorite thing about the labor was the doula.  When the baby's grandparents came to my house they had even heard about the amazing doula.  Moral of the story - get a doula!!

The baby ending up spending the next 4 days in the hospital due to jaundice.  When she was finally released the intended parents and one set of grandparents brought the baby to my house to meet my girls.  It was so incredible to see the joy in their eyes when they finally got to meet her.  We spent several hours just hanging out. The grandparents played with my girls while everyone got a chance to hold the baby.  The intended parents Facetimed their 2 year old so the girls could say hi.  My 7 year old decided to read a book to the baby while her Mimi got to meet the baby as well.  I am so proud of how my girls handled every bit of this journey.  

I've dreaded even writing this blog post because that means this journey is over.  I know our friendship will continue and really believe we will always be in each other's lives.  It has been the most rewarding experience and I hope that I will get a chance to do it again.  I could have never made it through this journey without the love and support of my husband.  I can't even begin to express what it means to me to have such a supportive and encouraging partner by my side.  I truly couldn't have done it without him and the sacrifices that he made for me. 

Baby Butterfly Born 3/10/21 at 9:54 PM

Weight: 7 lb 13 oz

Height: 21 in 

After Blake's 31 hour labor I'm grateful for my 8 hour induction with only 4 hours of actual labor.

If you've read all of this thank you for sticking with me.  Now for picture overload. 

Dad in the background is THE BEST!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

She's here!!

Has it really been 10 weeks since I updated?  Time had flown by. The rest of pregnancy was pretty uneventful. I had maternity photos done with the incredibly talented Emily Moncus Photography

But... baby girl is here!! Safe and healthy and home with her parents and big brother. The end of our journey was absolutely incredible. I wouldn't change a thing about the birth.  Even without a baby to care for the physical recovery is exhausting.  I will share the whole birth story soon. 


Baby girl born 3/10/21 at 9:54 PM weighing 7lbs 13 oz, 21 inches long. More to come!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

30 weeks and a new year!

Surely no one is sad to say goodbye to 2020. I know I’m not. Welcome 2021, we’re glad you’re here. This will be the year I help another family bring a precious life into the world. With all of the changes and uncertainty that 2020 brought we decided to end the year right. Christmas morning we surprised the kids with a box of Mickey ear balloons and a card saying “Pack your bags, we leave for Disney World in the morning!” We packed that afternoon and left first thing the next day (starting the day with a dead car battery of course). 

We spent the next 7 days in the beautiful Florida sun. We did 4 days in the parks with some down time between. I somehow survived 30 miles of walking (60,000 steps) at 30 weeks pregnant with very little complaining or contracting. My husband and I hadn’t been to Disney since we were kids. Experiencing it through the eyes of our 4 & 6 year olds was nothing short of magical. 

As we head home I am grateful for a safe trip, healthy pregnancy and happy children. 

Putting this here because years from now when I look back I want to remember the crazy start to our journey home. Keys locked in the car, dead car battery, forgotten bag and 30 min detour to retrieve it). My husband the trooper taking it all in stride (more or less). 

Pregnancy update: I feel huge but measure on track (1cm behind I believe). I failed my 1 hour glucose tolerance test and had to do the 3 hour test. I was really dreading it and cried a little when I found out. The intended mom failed hers as well which made me feel a little better. 

Fortunately the test itself wasn’t bad at all. I felt totally fine (even with 16 hours of fasting and a whole lot of sugar) until the last 30 mins when my blood sugar dropped. I passed and was so very grateful. A diabetes diagnosis right before the holidays and Disney would have crushed me. 

I can’t believe this journey is coming to an end so quickly but am looking forward to the moment when the intended parents meet their baby girl and we all get to celebrate an incredible blessing after the strangest year ever. 

Wishing you all a VERY Happy & Healthy 2021.

26 weeks

I was so excited to start feeling Baby Girl move much earlier than Blake. I started feeling her move at 18 weeks. She is now almost 26 weeks now and was measuring 1 lb 9 oz at 24 weeks (42%). We had a normal level II u/s and fetal echocardiogram. Her placenta was initially low lying but that has already resolved and she's already head down!  She had the hiccups during the entire 24 week ultrasound and the intended mom was able to feel her move for the first time. It was so precious!!  I can definitely tell she is getting more excited as time goes on and this gets more real for her.

My girls have decided to call her baby butterfly (fitting as I sit here feeling her flutter away in there).  Blake (4) was sitting beside me on the couch the other day and pushing her belly out. She said "mommy can you put your belly down?"  I said no ma'am I cannot lol. Aside from some mild shortness of breath I don't feel pregnant most of the time until my belly bumps into something or I feel her kick. 2nd trimester has been great. 

We've completed the pre-birth order for the state of SC which declares the intended parents as the legal guardians/parents of this baby. Because it's only done for this state I can't travel out of the state past 30 weeks. We are going to take advantage of our last window to travel and are taking the kids on a surprise trip to Disney World the week after Christmas!  We are SO excited.  They are going to lose their minds. I can't wait. 

Last week I had the pleasure of catching the baby of another gestational carrier. I got to spend time with the Intended Mom as well and was able to help facilitate their birth plan. The intended mom helped catch the baby and her reaction was absolutely priceless. It was a magical experience!!!  

Here are a few pics from the last few weeks. 

Polar Express!

24 week ultrasound

25 weeks

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

16 week update

So grateful to be through the first trimester.  With my first pregnancy I had like 2 weeks of daily nausea then occasional (rare) random dry heaving.  This girl, however, does not like me.  From 4 weeks 4 days until 15 1/2 weeks I had daily nausea. Initially like 8 hours day then down to 3-4 hours a day with Bonjesta (prescription unisom & B6). It was rough!  I've probably vomited 6 times total but the nausea was frequent and relentless. I feel like I was living in a pepto commercial (nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea). I think I can finally say I've made it to the other side!

I did my (apparently) usual 1st trimester bleeding around 6 1/2 weeks. Fortunately my subchorionic hemorrhage was small and I only had one episode of bleeding.  Otherwise this pregnancy has been uneventful. Life however has not. 2020 has continue to act all 2020 and my mom had a heart attack on July 4th back in Ohio. I was there the next day and able to be with her in the hospital. Then back a month later to help her through a quintuple bypass. Seeing my mom intubated and sedated then struggling to breathe or move was tough. Fortunately she's got 6 amazing daughters who helped nurse her back to health. We are so blessed she has made it through like a champ and is well on her way to recovery.  

I've finally come to terms with the bump (willing to admit it's baby and not just extra mom). I haven't gained any weight yet and for that I want to thank the nausea and my hate for all food. Don't worry, baby girl is growing just fine!  Pretty sure I caught her sucking her thumb on ultrasound yesterday!  So cute!!


Kids thoughts on surrogacy: 
Brennan (6 yo) - just wants to hold the baby when she comes
Blake (3 yo) - wants to babysit - She also asked if we could name the baby Beesia. No idea where she came up with that but she likes to pretend to be a dog and wants us to call her that too. Little creative silly minds.

Looking forward to our anatomy ultrasound in 4 weeks. And so excited the outpatient visitor policy has changed and the intended mom can come with me!!!!

edited to add:  spoke too soon. wrote this post then 5 hours later had to pull over while driving home from work to puke for 15 minutes on the side of 385. yuck.

Monday, July 27, 2020

March 3rd we got the protocol for transfer number 3 in April. 

March 18th we got an email from the RE that all cycles were being suspended due to COVID 19. We were so sad but also realized it was for the best.

We decided to take advantage of the break and started a monthly Lupron injection in case my endometriosis history was a factor in our first two transfers failing.

Daily Lupron was no big deal. Monthly Lupron, OMG! The menopause symptoms were crazy. Hot flashes and night sweats like you wouldn’t believe.

Then May 20th we got some good news. Cycles were back on! We were scheduled for a June 23rd transfer.

Prenatal vitamins, DHA, vitamin D, baby aspirin, steroids, antibiotics, Estradiol Valerate injections, Estrace suppositories, Crinone suppositories, lovenox injections, an endometrial “scratch” and..... WE ARE FINALLY PREGNANT!!!  

Surro baby due March 11th - the IP's (Intended Parents) are so excited!! I'm so grateful to be on this journey with them.
It's still super early but we've had a few very reassuring ultrasounds. Now please help us pray this little bean keeps growing!!

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Transfer #2 outcome

Exactly 4 years ago today I was celebrating my rising Beta HCG and anticipating an ultrasound to see my little ones heart beating for the first time. Today while snuggling my little girl and feeling that same heart beat against my hand my mind started drifting off. I started wondering if I will ever get to see a little baby growing inside of me again. Despite a beautiful lining, great hormone levels and what we all thought was perfect cycle timing another perfect little girl embryo decided not to stick. My HCG was negative and we are all devastated. We have a call with the IPs reproductive endocrinologist (RE) on Monday to figure out next steps. We planned from the beginning to give it 3 tries so we will give it another go in the coming months. Please pray for strength and peace for everyone involved. This has been a roller coaster of emotions and at times has been really hard to remain hopeful.

My sister sent me her daily devotional the morning of our confirmed negative. While it’s a lot easier to pray for God to grant my heart’s desires I intimately know that He is running the show. Praying for trust and faith in His plan.