Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ultrasound and Maternity Tour

We had a second "big" ultrasound Friday because our hospital likes to do it twice for twins - once around 18 weeks, once around the beginning of the third trimester. We got to see both babies for a while and interestingly both are measuring quite a bit ahead...Nathan was measuring exactly 2 weeks ahead (holy cow - that's a lot at this stage!) and Kenna was measuring more than a week ahead. Kenna was already 2 pounds 5 oz (didn't get Nathan's weight but I'm sure it's more than that). The books I have say this week they MAY weigh as much 1.5 pounds. lol It's surprising to me that our babies are big like this - I'm short and skinny and B is tall and skinny! I guess weight would be partially driven by J's nutrition to them, so she is feeding them very well! The lengths/measurements would be genetic so maybe they are lengthy like B. In any case, it's a good thing because if they are premature, one of the big factors in how preemies do is how much they weigh.

We had the maternity tour yesterday. It was actually really interesting. They did a presentation first to explain what everything was and then we went on the walking tour. The rooms were very nice - I expected labor and delivery rooms to look a lot more like a hospital, but they looked like bedrooms! It was also a bit freaky to think about the big day and how it will all pan out. I'm not someone who likes to figure things out on the fly, but how all this will work with four people involved (J, R, me and B) instead of the usual two (parents), is just not something we can predict. It will depend on a lot of factors and there is no way to get exact answers in advance because it is so unusual (I think we are the first surrogacy at this hospital). I just had to keep telling myself as we were walking through that "it's OK to not be totally in control of this situation". :) I've had to learn a lot of that through all of this so delivery day will be the final exam!

In other news, the cribs came finally this week! I was very excited to see them show up on Friday because as of Wednesday the company couldn't even tell me where my order was. B's parents are coming over this Friday to help us put the cribs and dressers together. I CAN'T WAIT to have furniture in the room so we can start to decorate and organize. It's driving me a little crazy right now. I HAVE to have control over something right now, and the preparations are perfect for me to focus on! I have also been reading just about every major baby book - I've finished:

The Baby Whisperer
Happiest Baby on the Block
Confident Baby Care (book by the "Supernanny")
I'm a Mom, Now What?
What to Expect in the First Year
Bright from the Start

All the different perspectives have been helpful (I've been sure to read a range of views)!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

OK, now I feel stupid.

I feel like I need to provide proof we are normal people - not crazy - after admitting something so silly we do around the house!

Here's a picture. See? Nice and normal, right? LOL

Our Nine Year Anniversary

Today is our nine year anniversary! What an awesome anniversary it is, knowing we are going to add to our family soon! The last two anniversaries were filled with fear (at least for me) that we would never have a family. Last year was doubly hard because we just finished a failed IVF (our fifth). I felt like there was absolutely no hope. I would have been shocked if you told me that by this anniversary we would be three months away from having two babies! It is an awesome, incredible, unbelievable fact.

The vast majority of couples have kids before they are married nine years. We got married when we were pretty young (23 and 24) and didn't start trying for six years into it. Add to that three years of infertility and here we are nine years later. Infertility nightmares aside, I am so grateful for the nine years we have had before children! It is a unique blessing to have had so much time with just the two of us. We are the absolute best of friends and have had the opportunity to do all kinds of fun things focused just on us and what we wanted to do - camping, backpacking, snowboarding, traveling, scuba diving and hundreds of regular 'ol "dates"! In the last 3 years that I've been working from home (B works from home too), I think we've had the most fun ever because we are literally together all the time (fortunately we really are best friends - I think this would drive a lot of people crazy!). If you could see all the stupid things we do at home for amusement when we need a work break, you would think we are completely crazy. OK, OK, I'll share one. Just to show we are truly insane. We will actually pretend to be video game characters that are chasing after each other in the house. Just like in video games, one of us usually gets stuck running against a wall and the other person has to turn that "character" around to get him/her going again. I told you. We are nuts. But we have SO much fun together. B is going to be so embarrassed that I just talked about this in a blog. :)

Given how much time we have had together, we know that adding two babies to the family will be a huge adjustment. But, because we have a great marital foundation, I'm confident we are 100% ready for it. I will always cherish our nine pre-baby years together, but I can't wait for the rest of our lives as a four-member family now. This is an amazing blessing, and it would never have happened without J.

Happy Anniversary B! I love you!
And thank you J for making this the best anniversary ever - WE LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The "Baby" calendar is getting out of control...

First, let me say thanks for all the comments about the name issues. :) I think we will end up going back to Kenna, but before we make any kind of announcement again we are going to use the name for a few weeks and see how it "feels". :)

There is a lot coming up in preparation for Nathan and "Kenna"! HOLY COW the calendar has a lot of stuff for two babies that aren't even here yet! Here's a look:

Friday Sept 26 - Another big ultrasound (as opposed to the ultrasounds at the regular visits). This will be to look at all the body parts, do measurements, etc.

Sat Sept 27 - Maternity ward tour! We're going to go on the hospital tour where they show you where the baby will be born, etc.

Friday Oct 3 - Crib and dresser building. The dressers are here but in a thousand pieces. The cribs should be here by that day so we are hoping to build everything all at once.

Friday Oct 7 - Next OB appointment (standard check in)

Friday Oct 10 - Professional pictures! We are going to have pictures taken with J, R, B and I. This should be very interesting. :)

Friday Oct 17 - Next peri appointment (standard check up)

Sat Oct 18 - The baby shower!

Wed Oct 29 - Baby CPR class/infant safety

Thu Nov 6 - Baby care basics class part I

Thu Nov 13 - Baby care basics class part II

...Not to mention all the regular doctor appointments after Oct 17 that haven't been scheduled. We start going weekly around the second week in November.

Oh...and then sometime in December they should actually be born. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Name Wavering

Let me just say first that I feel very sheepish about this post. :)

As soon as we found out the twins were boy and girl, we went through the whole systematic process to come up with names that I wrote about before. We are organizers and planners so for us, we had to decide on names right away so we could start referring to these little people more personally.

Some of you may remember that we had a conflict particularly with the name Kenna. When we first starting trying to conceive we had talked about names and we both loved the name Kenna (I thought I had just made it up but later found that it is a name people do use). It just always stood out to us both and from there on we referred generically to our future child as Kenna. But when we sat down to really decide for sure now that we actually have babies on the way we got scared it was too unusual and didn't want to strap her with something too crazy. We loved the name Nathan and since that was biblical we decided to use Sara instead for the girl (and use Makenna as the middle name since Kenna didn't sound right after Sara). Case closed...we thought. Ever since then we have referred to them as Nathan and Sara and told all our family and friends.

But there is a small problem...I still think of her as Kenna! Literally I can't get Kenna out of my head. When I look at clothes I think, "I should get that for Kenna". When I see her on the ultrasound I think, "Ohhhh there's Kenna!" I feel like that's who she is.

I was scared to mention this to B because he is not the kind of person who likes to change big decisions like this. I thought he would FREAK when I was wavering because we set these in "stone". But I "casually" mentioned this to him over dinner the other night and he said he feels like she is more Kenna too! I was very surprised. We sort of tentatively decided we were going to change the name but left it IS a big decision and it was really out of the blue this even came up.

Then we had B's family over yesterday to celebrate his birthday and B told everyone that we might change Sara's name. I was pretty startled by the "announcement" since we hadn't decided for sure and since one of the disuading factors initially was that it's pretty obvious there is no one in B's side of the family or my side of the family who likes the name. I thought as soon as he said it out loud that there would be a table of mental groans with politely enforced semi-smiles (though B's side of the family is much more diplomatic about displeasure than mine - my mom's response to the name originally was "What's that? A Kenna? Isn't that someone's last name?"). It was the kind of thing I would rather send an email about so we didn't have to see/feel all the displeasure. To my shock though my mother in law actually said that she has always thought of her more of a Kenna than a Sara too! My mom absolutely loves the names Nathan and Sara and has told me several times since we picked them. I think she was really relieved we didn't use Kenna. So going back to Kenna means having to hear my mom's strong displeasure about it, I'm sure. UGH.

When we were deciding, I even put a name poll on one of the message boards I go to with "Nathan and Sara", "Nathan and Ella" and "Nathan and Kenna". Nathan and Sara got by far the most votes. Nathan and Kenna...only 15%. This was out of about 80 people or something. So with both of our families not liking the name, with the "public poll" showing people didn't like the name (at least as much as Sara), with us having concerns that the name is too unusual...we chose Sara. But now I feel like we picked a name we both liked that would have the least negative reactions from the world...even though WE love the name Kenna and feel like THAT is her name.

I still don't know the answer to this, if we will change it or not. I'm sure if we stick with Sara that it will be the perfect name for her too. Plus, our plan has always been to have her middle name "Sara Makenna" could always have the nickname "Kenna". We felt like this was the best of both worlds. And it still may be. We're just not sure.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ultrasound Pics

I said I would post them so here you go!



I think in Sara's picture it looks like she has a cat paw for a foot! LOL

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Peri appointment

We had a peri appointment this morning and I'm happy to report there is ... nothing to report! No news is good news at this point. :) The babies both looked great. The Dr. actually measured them this time, which hasn't been done in several weeks. She said they were measuring almost identically, which is a good thing (you don't want one twin to grow significantly smaller or bigger). They are also measuring a few days ahead, so we are on schedule plus some! I have to scan the couple of pictures we got of their faces. I could totally tell the difference since the last ultrasounds. The one 2 weeks ago we really didn't see much of them; it was very quick and we saw mostly heads and legs. So it had been 4 weeks since we really saw the faces and I could totally tell how much they had filled out - they had real baby features! It was sooooo awesome. There was one shot of Sara in particular that looked so newborn like that it brought tears to my eyes. We also saw the bottom of the butt/legs shot that they look at to see gender - I never see what they are looking at to tell, but today we got a shot of Nathan and I was like, "oh my gosh! it's definitely a little boy!!" LOL Clear as day. :) I just can't believe how they look like little babies.

In other news, our baby bedding sets came! They are SO cute! Even cuter than in the pictures. Each of the little animals in the quilt has it's own fur (it's not just fabric). I'm dying to get the cribs now so we can start putting everything together!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I can't wait for Sunday!

On Sunday we will hit a big milestone...24 weeks! It's a big milestone for 2 reasons:

1) Since twins are on average born at 36 weeks, each "twin" trimester is about 12 weeks...meaning Sunday puts us in a pseudo-third trimester already! Holy cow!

2) It's the first viability milestone. While 20 weeks is a milestone because it is half the pregnancy, 24 weeks is considered the entry point into viability should the babies come early. Babies born at this point have a 50% chance of survival like I mentioned in my last post. I can't believe we are getting to the point now where from here on out the babies could actually survive if something did force them to come early. 28 weeks is even bigger though - in just 4 weeks from now they will have a 90% chance of survival! WOW! Our shower will be in the 28th week too so it will be an exciting time!

I know that there are plenty of twin moms who actually have full term twins (37 weeks+) but with half of all twins born before 36 weeks, there is a good chance the babies could even be born in November. In fact, I see people everyday online on the message boards I go to post about twin births and I can only think of a couple ever who had their babies after 36 weeks. It seems really common that twins come before that and require NICU time. A lot of otherwise normal twin pregnancies are known to get complicated after the 24th week. So with all these things floating through my head I'm super excited (can you tell with how frequently I've been posting?!) and getting a bit nervous too. I'm mentally transitioning from "will these babies actually stick around?" to "will these babies come safely?" So far everything has looked so great so hopefully we will be one of the lucky ones making it to the 37 week mark (December 14).

In the meantime, hooray for 24 weeks - I can't wait to see my ticker turn over!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I bought something off my own registry!

OK, this is embarrassing to admit, but I actually bought something off my own registry last night. :) The nursery theme we picked (bedding and all the matching decor) is only available through 3 or 4 places online. We registered for almost everything we needed at Babies R Us, but they didn't have the nursery theme so we had to register at Amazon for the nursery stuff. Well, Amazon only had 2 left of the bedding sets we want - and we need 2! I don't know how many people out there are contemplating using this "Good Night Sleep Tight" theme, but I didn't want to take any chances by waiting to see if we got them for our shower (mid October). There is a lot more inventory of the decorative items like wall art, frame, laundry hamper, etc. so I'm not as worried about those. I actually woke up the other night worried that if I didn't buy the bedding sets myself we might end up getting the decorations and then not be able to find the bedding anywhere! So, yes, I ended up buying 2 bedding sets, complete with sheet, ruffle, bumper, quilt, valance and diaper stacker in each set. :) I feel much more relieved now! Here is a picture of the stock photo of the theme (NOT a picture of our own nursery, which is currently completely empty!!):

We liked that it didn't look too boyish or too girlish, that it was peaceful (for all that sleep we want them to do!), and that it had animals (B and I both love animals). I can't wait for it to get here! The dressers have arrived (have to put them together still) but the cribs won't come for another 3 weeks. October 3 we have set aside the day to do all our building!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Parenting lines in the sand

So, writing that last blog made me think about something else I have been meaning to write about - why are there so many parenting lines in the sand? I suppose I can answer my own question. It's like politics and religion. When there is some big life topic that everyone can chime in on regardless of who you are, where you live, what you look like, etc., people get fierce! Common ground is ground that people will naturally fight over. If I work in marketing, chances are I don't end up engaging in many contentious conversations with regular people over marketing because that would be my expertise and not theirs. If someone else is a professional athlete, chances are they don't end up engaging with many contentious coversations with regular people over their sport because that would be their expertise and not everyone else's. In both cases, you would end up in contentious conversations (at times) with people within marketing or within athletics because they are people on common ground and therefore have had the opportunity to develop what they consider educated opinions. When you take topics that an entire world is on common ground with, and therefore has had the opportunity to form opinions on, watch out! That's why they say to never discuss religion and politics in polite company! I see the same thing with parenting. Everyone comes to a conclusion about how things should be done and most of those people feel compelled to tell you why it should be done their way. If you look at the comments on my last post, you can see that it's a common experience for a new parent - opinions and advice coming constantly, and it never stops!

I've also seen silent awkwardness so many times when one parent disagrees with another. It's like there are certain issues that people see as two-camp issues and as soon as you put yourself in a camp you are forever classified by others as in that camp. Some examples:

No children vs. children
This one goes through an interesting transition with age. Into the early and even mid 20s, if you HAVE children, you are in the ostracized camp of "they can't go out anymore". It's a negative thing. There is a happy middle period somewhere in the late 20s where it is a mix and people have started to have kids and those who haven't are open to it so the camps are happy. But then the shift...most people are having kids and find new common ground, so if you don't have kids, you no longer relate and slowly get pushed away. By the time that you get significantly older, when you say you don't have kids people immediately wonder why - could you not have kids? Do you hate kids? If you hate kids, do you hate my kids? I do this too, I guess it's just natural. I've only known a few older couples without kids and I always wonder, "why?" But that is so obnoxious because it presumes that the children path is naturally what everyone wants. I remember meeting a man once who was probably 50 or so and he said that he and his wife had never wanted kids...but that there weren't many people his age who weren't child centered so they generally hung out with bands and people in their 20s. Children become such a point of relating or not relating that by that time there is one big line in the sand between people (although usually not a contentious one in this case).

Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding
Oh good grief, this is a big one. Honestly? I didn't even know that breastfeeding was something mainstream in 2008 before we were expecting. I had seen people do it in my life and knew that some people did but I never imagined that it was something that most people did now (I always thought of it as something from the past). But then the books, nurses and online message boards were unleashed. They all tell you that breastfeeding is far superior and that it is not a good decision to just formula feed. At the preterm labor class the nurse giving the class said something like, "I hope I don't have to tell any of you that you are GOING to breastfeed!" (while waving her finger in the air). Yes, I could try to induce lactation and try to breastfeed, but it is only about 57% successful and especially hard with twins. The stress of trying to make that work in the middle of stress of everything else is just not worth it for me. But plenty of people would think that I'm a selfish bad mom already because of the statement "not worth it for ME". (I would say, yes, I need to think about me - if I'm five times more stressed out, frazzled and impatient on a daily basis over trying to make that work, or feeling like a failure, it will impact the babies far more than missing the added antibodies from formula.) People feel very strongly about this and it's another one of those two camp things - you are either here or there, and you are labeled immediately.

Child-led parenting vs. parent-led parenting
This is what I was talking about in my last post. I hate to do either approach injustice by simplifying to this degree, but without going into the detail that entire books are written on of these two approaches, let's just call this "those who believe in a strict form of disciplined parenting" and "those who believe in a non-strict, less disciplined form of parenting". This is the BIG line in the sand. If a strict parent sees an out of control child, major judgments about the parents are immediately made. If a non-strict parent sees a child being reprimanded for seemingly small issues, more major judgments are immediately made.

Does anyone watch Wife Swap? You see this all the time on there. A "laid back" mom will see that a family makes their kids do chores and will cry because she feels it is so bad. A strict mom will see that a family has no control of their kids and SHE will cry because she feels they are not learning what kids learn. People (rightfully so) take parenting philosophies seriously. The problem is, the two different camps are SO different in execution that when you know someone is in the "other" camp, you know they probably disagree completely with how you raise your kids and are judging you, which then puts you on the defensive. It's a never ending cycle that goes both ways.

I admit that I'm guilty of this already - I know my own philosophy and by virtue of the fact that I've arrived at a philosophy, I believe it makes more sense than the other side. I know I will have to watch myself so that I do not act in a condescending way to anyone with other beliefs...because I know it will drive me crazy when others act that way to me.

Stay at home moms vs. working moms
This is a HUGE one. People always ask which one you are or are planning to be. Stay at home moms usually view working moms either in a way that they feel sorry for them (if they need to work) or that they are being selfish (if they choose to work). Working moms usually view stay at home moms as having an unintellectual, easy job. Even though all moms have something major in common, I really feel like these two camps separate themselves in a huge way! Stay at home moms can get together during the day with others like them, so they naturally form more bonds. Working moms usually can't participate in those kinds of activities as much. I still don't know what I'm going to do in this particular area, but I am well aware that it has major implications either way, and I don't think there is one perfect solution - either is a sacrifice.

Home school vs. public school vs. private school
I picked up a local family magazine the other day (one of those freebies in the bins at the store). I was blown away by the options for schooling that were advertised! You can enroll your 3 month old baby in music classes at some local conservatory. What?! I grew up in Arizona, where there is a good public school system, and pretty much everyone goes there. There were 2 major private schools that some people went to but it wasn't the norm. In California, where we live now, the schools supposedly aren't good (I say supposedly because I can't conceptualize why exactly an entire school system would be considered bad, but so many people say this I have to assume it is true). A LOT of people go to private school here. My cousin taught at one that costs $24k per year (high school)! Then you have the whole home school option which people generally feel strongly about either way (another big issue on Wife Swap!). From what I think right now, home schooling wouldn't be my choice, and private schooling wouldn't be my choice unless absolutely necessary (if our school district is horrible). But I understand why others pick those options!

Everyone wants to do what is best for their kids. So, everyone comes to a conclusion on what that is. When others come to different conclusions and you know that they too want what is best for their kids, it is natural to become defensive of choices. I just wish that it weren't so obvious so much of the time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This is driving me crazy.

There are two comments that I get frequently from people that are making me jump out of my skin. It just happened again right now and I'm so frustrated that the only thing I can do is come vent on my blog. WARNING: I am sort of angry right now. :)

Comment 1: "You have no idea what you're in for." (negative connotation)

Really? I have no idea? I haven't had long enough to conceptualize over the last few years whether I want to have kids or not have kids? I have an ideal that my babies will never cry, that I will not be sleep deprived and that I will constantly have a smile on my face? NO! Millions and millions of humans have had babies and guess what...they survived! And they chose to have MORE kids! You know why? Because even if it is extremely difficult for a while at first, they find that it is rewarding, meaningful, and a worthwhile life pursuit. The funny thing is, these comments always come from people with older children or adult children. I don't think any parents of young kids have ever made this comment. You would think people with older children would have MORE perspective on this, but instead they feel the need to be negative. I find the comment so condescending, but it gets even worse. Since I am generally put off by it and don't want to be as rude as the person who just said it was, I usually say something in response like, "Well, I do have a little idea. I have a reading stack a mile high and am continually learning as much as possible so I have a general understanding of what happens - feeding schedules, pooping "events", health concerns, burping techniques, etc." This is usually responded to with some version of "oh, you can never learn all that stuff from a book, the books will all go out the window" and a condescending laugh. I KNOW I am not experiencing the actual event and that it is theoretical right now. But I sure am learning a lot that I otherwise would never have known about babies, and I sure do have a general knowledge of what is going to happen. I do not know why anyone would be so negative about someone reading books to prepare. I CAN'T IMAGINE not knowing what I have read in these books and just having a baby. That to me would be insane. That to me would warrant a comment of "You have no idea what you are in for". I guess what irks me is that it seems so personal when someone says it - like that they think something specific to me makes it such that *I* have no idea what I'm in for. Otherwise, why would anyone bother to point this out? Does any new mom have any idea what she is in for? Of course not, so why bother to point it out? WHY do people keep saying this?

Comment 2: "Just wait until you have kids of your own."

It's inevitable that people engage you in conversations about your parenting philosophy when you are expecting. I think I am officially putting a ban on any more of these conversations because people's responses irk me so much. When you start to say your beliefs about how you want to raise your kids, your ideas on discipline, etc., it's sort of your personal ideal. You don't expect that kids will be perfect all the time, but you do plan to work toward that. At least I do. (I don't believe in parenting on the fly.) If I were in the camp of "child-centered parenting" (the buzz word right now), I am positive that no one would say "Just wait until you have kids of your own"...because quite honestly, it's an easier approach to live up to - you do (in general) what will make your child happiest, based on their desires. But as soon as you hint that you plan to do "parent-led parenting", that you will adhere to schedules, routines, focused discipline, a strong set of values, etc., it's over..."just wait until you have kids of your own". Soooo many parents just give up because it IS so hard and exhausting. I think I will get even more frazzled than others and am the first to admit it...but I won't give up on my ideals if it kills me. I will just keep working toward them. In fact, J is my total and complete mommy hero. I'm not saying that because of what she is doing for us - it is pure coincidence that we see eye to eye on how children should be raised. I see her practicing what she preaches all the time. I feel GLEEFUL when I see it because it shows it CAN be done! Her kids aren't perfect, as no kids are. But her kids are truly remarkable for their age in their behavior, manners, attitude, everything. When B and I see crazy kids when we are out somewhere, we often implement the WWJD conversation ... "What would J do?" LOL No one can tell me that parent-led parenting is too difficult...because I see it all the time when I'm with J. And it works. J writes a parenting blog with her takes on things ( and I agree so wholeheartedly with everything she writes that I generally want to shout, "AMEN!" by the time I finish reading a new post!

What I am trying to say is that I am NOT in denial about the difficulty of our desired parenting approach (B and I see 100% eye to eye also), but it is with certainty that I can say I will always work toward our ideals, even when the going gets tough.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fall is here?!

My absolute favorite time of year is September through December! I love summer too, but I love decorating our house for fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, making holiday recipes, and watching college football. It is so awesome to have 3 big holiday months in a row, with September being the start of the football season. So...I'm excited it's September.

I have to say though that when I turned my calendar Monday I was a little shocked. It's September already?! WHERE did summer go? Even looking back through my Outlook calendar to see what all happened over the last 3 months I can't figure it out. We even went on a great vacation to the caribbean in June, but that seems like eons ago! It's really mind boggling to think it was all a blur...and that it was our last summer before kids. Next summer we can take our babies to the pool! I'm really bummed that we only went camping once (Memorial Day, and it snowed) and didn't even manage to go backpacking because there were so many other things going on. But then again, if I were pregnant, we couldn't have done it, so I have to look at it that way - the first stage of having kids. :)

So, the last couple of days I sort of felt sad looking back at a summer I can hardly remember, but now I'm excited for it to turn fall in a couple of weeks...because that is the season Nathan and Sara will probably come! I have to bust out my decorative pumpkins all over the house soon. Last year, the cable guy came over in October and I had all my Halloween decor up. He was like, "oh, you must have kids!" LOL "No, I just like cutesy holiday decorations on my own". :) If you check out you'll see the kind of stuff I mean! Like, how cute are ceramic ghosts?!
I have two sets of those and put one set on my desk every year for October!

I know, it's a bit hoaky, but I just love this stuff. :) I am going to go crazy for Christmas since we'll hopefully be bringing the babies home by then and I want to make it feel like our own little winter wonderland! (Of course B, being the practical person he is, warned me not to go too crazy because I won't feel like taking stuff down when there are 2 newborns and we'll have Christmas up still in March. OK, OK, good point, but I'll deal with that later, for now, CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Small Update

We had an OB appointment this morning and got a look at the babies - this was the first appointment that they didn't give us any pictures though, so I don't have anything to show! :) The babies both looked great and were moving around a lot. I'm always so amazed to see how much activity goes on in there. Sara is still head down but now Nathan is breech. We are all hoping that he will get straightened out the right way by December, because otherwise the doctor wants J to have a c-section (which she really doesn't want!).

The doctor reminded us that we only have a week and a half until viability! At 24 weeks, if the babies were born, they have a 50/50 chance of survival. It's the first big "viability milestone"...even though you don't want them to be born that early it's nice to know they even have a chance. Then, 28 weeks and 32 weeks are the next big ones.

In other news, we had a very productive weekend - finally switched my office with the nursery so we have a big open room to create a nursery in, and ordered cribs and dressers! Hooray! Now, if we could just decide on a theme...

Monday, September 1, 2008

What do we miss out on with surrogacy?

J wrote a really sweet post recently on her blog expressing her wish for us to not feel inadequate as parents because we are using surrogacy to have children rather than a traditional pregnancy (link to the right of the page). She had noted that a lot of "intended parents" (what people in our role are called) feel somewhat inadequate sometimes due to not being the ones carrying the baby. I thought I would respond with a post on the same topic - what do we feel we miss out on with surrogacy vs. a traditional pregnancy?

First and foremost, I have to say that as far as people can be suited for a situation like this, B and I are (luckily for us, given our situation!). I am well aware that a lot of people would be very troubled by "having" to go this route and not carry the pregnancy themselves. Having been on infertility message boards for the last few years, I have seen many women go through miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage while a doctor recommends surrogacy and they would rather keep trying indefinitely themselves (even though in several cases they have had friends offer to help them like J offered for us!). I've seen first hand how important it is for some women to experience pregnancy, and I respect that completely. But unlike a lot of women, I've never had the desire to be pregnant, so that was never something I have "grieved" during this process. To be perfectly honest, it's sort of a relief to me to not be pregnant because I have an issue that would make it very unpleasant: I am extremely claustraphobic...not just in terms of small spaces, but in terms of situations I can't get out of (e.g., when I have to go under anesthesia I completely panic those first few seconds where you can feel the effects of the medicine but have no control to get out of're stuck!). When we were doing IVF early on, I remember asking the doctor if I could get a "note" from a psychologist for the OB saying that I HAD to have a c-section because I simply couldn't deal with the claustrophobia of labor and delivery. It was top of mind for me and I often wondered how scared I would be not being able to "get out of" pregnancy for 9 months. It's hard to explain - not that I would WANT to get out of being pregnant if I were, but I would be terrified to be "stuck" in any situation for nine months. It would actually cause me panic attacks and I'm sure the anxiety could hurt the baby/ies. So, the combination of no overwhelming desire to be pregnant and my claustrophobia issues make it perfectly fine in my head to not be pregnant at the big picture level.

On B's side, I would say he is the most pragmatic person I know. He is all about solutions and not getting emotional about things you can't control (yes, this made things very fun for me during the years of infertility ;) ). Because he is very unemotional, I am pretty sure that he has never even considered what he is missing from me not being pregnant - in his mind, this is just the way it is, so why be sad?

In terms of surrogacy, we couldn't ask for anything better than our situation - we have a close, trusted friend carrying the pregnancy, she has a wonderfully supportive husband and family, we see her every week, she lives 10 minutes away, we get to go to all the appointments, and throughout everything J has done everything imaginable to make us part of it all. We were fortunate enough to have this work on the first try, and we were fortunate enough to have instantly complete family (not that one child wouldn't be, but we always wanted two children). Add to that the fact that her insurance covers this all (the cost would have been prohibitive if we had to buy a separate policy) and it's nothing short of winning the lottery, as far as surrogacy goes.

I realize in retrospect that throughout all the IVFs I had completely lost hope. I did the additional cycles to know that I had done all that was possible but at NO point did I forsee it working and me getting pregnant. I instead spent that time grieving the children I was convinced we would never have. Every failed cycle reiterated that. I had been grieving the loss of biological children for more than a year by the time we got to surrogacy...not grieving failed cycles. I think this is why my reaction at seeing the first positive test was shock rather than elation. No tears, no jumping up and down, not even smiles. Only pure shock, because my mind had counted it out long ago. It's like finding out something terrible has happened and then one day you find out it actually DIDN'T happen and all your dreams come true again. That something terrible for me was always the loss of children, and never involved a loss of being pregnant. So when I gained back the dream, there wasn't a second thought in my head of sadness for not being pregnant!

All of this addresses the conceptual level of accepting that someone else would carry our children. At purely that level, I can truly say I haven't spent a second bemoaning the situation and instead feel the utmost joy at being given a lost dream back. It may be an untraditional 9 months, but we will have a very traditional rest of our lives being parents! I always have that perspective in mind.

Aside from the conceptual level, however, is the more micro level of the day to day. There are a few things that in this realm have crossed my mind as a slight tug on the heart of "missing out" or "inadequacy":

1) The pre term labor class we went to. For some reason, this was by far the biggest feeling of inadequacy for me. We sat down and then woman after pregnant woman came in with their husbands. I suddenly felt really sheepish and uncomfortable around a group of pregnant women at the same time. I am sure if I were in a group environment like that again I would feel the same way. There's something about having it put right in front of you that just about everyone in the world can achieve something you can't that is humbling. I wanted to shout out, "but I have accomplished a lot of other things!" :) I felt REALLY inadequate there.

2) Now that I have thrown myself into the baby world of stores, websites and magazines, there is one image that periodically will pull at my heartstrings: the image of a husband with his hand lovingly on his wife's stomach. There is no doubt in my mind that must be a really special time between husband and wife that we will never share. There is a small part of me that feels I have somehow deprived B of that experience but I know that he would never think that way. It's just sort of the ultimate thing that women for thousands of years have done for the man they love - carry their child - and it's not something I can do for B. I would love for B to feel the babies in my tummy, for him to pamper his pregnant wife lovingly, for him to talk to my tummy. That would be neat. I really don't think of it much until I see an image somewhere and once in a while it bugs me a little. But it's so small to me on the scale of achieving our dreams of a family that I just move on.

3) Feeling the babies move. OK, there is no doubt that I would love to know what it feels like to have babies INSIDE you! That would be really cool. Feeling Sara for the first time from the outside was amazing! And I can't wait to feel Nathan too. But I have to admit...the biggest reason I would want to feel them is the constant reassurance that they are OK! I can't possibly email J every 2 hours to ask if they are OK (I do refrain from it, though I would be capable of it! LOL)...but if I could feel them kick myself, I could constantly analyze. We all know how much I love analysis at this point! :) I would love access to the "data" on a constant many kicks, how often, by whom, what time of day, etc. It would be really fun to follow along like that. I have to say that the first week in my pregnancy book that said you may be feeling them now was the one time I felt a little sad about it. But that's how all these things get confronted with something that sparks a little moment of "hmmm...that sucks" and then you move on because the joy is so much greater.

4) Voice recognition. Last week the book said that the baby now recognizes your voice and gets to know you from here on out...and that in a hospital room you can do experiements where if two people say the baby's name, the mom (carrying mom) will find that the baby will identify her. I think this, of all things, made me the saddest. Like, what if after the babies are born they feel lonely or scared because the "mom" who carried them for 9 months is not around? What if when J comes over, they are much happier being with her because they "know" her? I think if the babies rejected me in the delivery room it would make me REALLY sad.

5) Private time with the babies. I love these little ones so much already and if I were pregnant I would tell them all the time. I do wish from time to time that I could talk to them. I would never in a million years actually talk to J's stomach though - that would be SO embarrassing! LOL I just can't wait to have them and be close to them and finally bring them "home"...and able to share lots and lots of those special moments.

The bottom line is that there are things here and there that can make me a little sad that our situation is different, but I always have the perspective that this is only temporary and that I have the rest of my life to be a "normal" parent. And my joy at having the dream back is so gigantic that everything else absolutely pales in comparison.