Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
J has been doing so incredibly well that everyone, even the OB, is excited right now. :) First off, J is a tough cookie to begin with, so she makes it all look easy. I know if I were pregnant I would be a big pain in the butt, constantly freaking out about everything. J is so laid back, it's amazing. She isn't even nervous about the birth! I think even if I had given birth 22 times, I would be nervous! Her attitude about everything is just incredible. She couldn't be a more perfect balance to my type A, freak-out-over-everything personality. I have promised myself, her and B that I will be good and only mentally freak out at the delivery. :)
Aside from J's overall attitude, we have been so blessed and fortunate to have had a medically straight forward pregnancy. With the exception of the one little bleeding scare back around 14 weeks, we simply have not had any problems. As I've mentioned before, I am part of a couple of different message boards for pregnant women. One in particular has a group of women due within a couple of weeks of us with twins. Almost all of them have been to the hospital more than a few times already for various issues - pre term labor, placenta issues, gestational diabetes, growth discordance, etc. Twin pregnancies are generally more complicated. Knock on wood, but we haven't had any of these problems, and J hasn't even been put on bedrest! Our OB told us in the beginning she would probably have to go on bed rest around the third trimester. So far, there has been no need for it.
And the last thing is that the twins are still head down. J really wants a vaginal birth and we really want whatever she wants...so we all really want a vaginal birth. :) The doctor will only recommend it if both twins are head down so we are all watching this closely. They can still flip, but so far they have remained this way for a few weeks.
We are on a great track in all ways and I just pray that everything continues like this for at least 4 more weeks...the doctor said if we hit 35 weeks, we will be in great shape, and there is nothing to suggest at this point that we won't. I know things can change at any moment, but for right now I'm feeling great about our chances of the babies staying in until 35 weeks plus.
J, you are doing amazing!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tonight - Baby CPR/Safety class
Tomorrow - Regular OB appointment
Monday Nov 3 - Growth ultrasound
Thurs Nov 6 - Baby Care Basics class part I
Thurs Nov 13 - Baby Care Basics class part II
Fri Nov 14 - Regular Peri appointment
Ongoing - Tons and tons of excitement at how close we are!!!! :)
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Most husbands are thanking their wives for doing the most amazing thing possible for them...bringing new life into the world. Technically, I don't qualify for any kind of thank you gift for our twins. I'm not pushing them out. I didn't carry them for nine months. I didn't weather aches, pains, morning sickness and bleeding scares. Thinking about this left me feeling like a pretty inadequate wife. I've not really felt inadequate during the pregnancy because I always thought in terms of myself as a person in general, and I don't feel inadequate in terms of a person in general. But, I had never really considered how I felt as a wife being inadequate with respect to her husband. I know with absolute certainty that B doesn't see it that way, but reading about all this push gift stuff suddenly stung me a little.
And then my thought process turned into a little pride...because deep down I *know* how much I have gone through for us - even if I never carried the babies. For the record I:
--Gave myself over 400 shots in the course of 6 grueling IVF cycles and two years
--Underwent a painful laparoscopy surgery
--Underwent anesthesia for 5 egg retrievals
--Underwent 5 miserable embryo transfers (unlike everyone else, mine are painful because I have a crooked cervix)
--Went to countless doctor appointments for monitoring and consultations
--Went through so many ultrasounds that as long as someone is wearing a stethoscope I don't even think twice before putting my feet in stirrups
--Researched hours upon hours upon hours to learn about treatment options and diagnoses
--Handled every logistical detail of all our cycles - not a small feat
--Took on 98% of the emotional burden related to all of the above simply because I was the one going through it all.
Had I not had the tenacity to go through the insanity of the above, we wouldn't have gotten to the point of surrogacy and we wouldn't have gotten to the point of our babies. I don't know where we would be, but it wouldn't be here. I have been driving this infertility bus, and although I have driven like a maniac at times, I have driven. It has been my life for three years and I have put my heart and soul into figuring out how to bring these babies into existence, even if I am not carrying.
So there, I DO have something to proud of!! I don't think anything could possibly stand up to actually going through pregnancy and delivery, but I'm proud of what I *was* able to do.
B, I will gladly accept a thank-you-for-everything-you-did-to-even-get-us-to-this-point-I-acknowledge-and-love-you-for-all-you-have-done gift. :)
Incidentally, I asked B the other day if he had heard of push gifts.
B: "Oh yeah!"
N: "REALLY? YOU have heard of this?"
B: "Yeah, like on that website where you push something you didn't want to someone else who really wants it."
LOL, LOL, LOL I guess our babies are a "push gift" from J to us!
Monday, October 27, 2008
In honor of grandpa's birthday, I want to take the time to list some ways that he and grandma will have impacted Nathan and Kenna's lives, through their impact on me. Grandpa and grandma may not be here physically anymore, but their memory and legacy will live on even through two little people they will never have met.
- We will raise Nathan and Kenna to love and embrace the outdoors. Hiking, camping, backpacking and snowboarding have been a special part of our marriage, and I credit that directly to my grandparents. They took me on many RV trips to lakes, mountains and rivers and gave me so many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. I have to say most women don't love these things, and I feel lucky that my grandparents gave me this joy. B liked the outdoors but didn't have a super outdoorsy family so when we got together it became a special part of us. Here is my all time favorite picture of me and grandpa. It just summarizes my memories so well. Grandpa was concentrating on getting the fish to bite (hence the stern look) and I was just thrilled to be on the boat. I have that fishing pole still and it is my most prized possession from grandpa:
- We will raise Nathan and Kenna to have a strong appreciation for hard work. Both of my grandparents grew up extremely poor and worked very hard their whole lives. Grandma worked multiple jobs while grandpa worked very long days as a machinest. There were times that even food was scarce. Times were so much more difficult then. My grandpa once said that rich people either inherited it or stole it. I don't agree with that, but I understand where he was coming from; he had worked so hard his whole life and never had the chance to make more than enough to sustain his family given the circumstances. When grandpa and grandma would tell certain stories of their lives and childhoods, even grandpa would get a little teary eyed (that is saying a lot, he was a very strong man). I will never let our kids grow up without an understanding of hard work and that they must earn their way in life. Here is a picture of my grandma as a baby (she is the one being held). She literally grew up in a log cabin and this is the only picture of her before she was a teenager. There was a wealthy man who came through rural Missouri that day and offered to take pictures of the people who had no means. What an amazing gift he gave to our family. I wish I knew who it was. Isn't this picture incredible? (1925)
- Grandpa and grandma exuded generosity, despite not having a lot of means. No matter how much they had or didn't have, they would open their home to anyone. They helped me many times. They bought me my first car. They knew that I was working hard at my first job but that I could never have saved enough to buy transportation, so one day grandpa pulled up with a car they had found for me. When I was taking violin lessons, grandpa and grandma bought me a violin to use as long as I was still practicing on the right schedule. When I would come home from college (a 7 hour drive), grandpa would tuck a $20 bill into my pocket on my way out to help with gas money. Grandpa and grandma tought me the value of generosity and that it isn't about monetary value, it is about the heart. This is an important value that I want to pass to our children.
- Grandpa and grandma loved animals. B and I both love animals too. I want to pass down that appreciation to our children. My grandparents did a lot of farming and raised lots of animals. Here is another favorite picture of grandpa from their farm in Kansas. Doesn't it look like a picture from a 1950s calendar?
- Grandpa was practical, smart, and quick witted. Grandma was a woman of tremendous faith, strength and compassion. These are all traits I wish for our children.
- Grandma taught me how to make homemade noodles and they have been my favorite since I was a child. I can't wait to pass this on to Kenna!
There aren't enough hours in the day to recount all of the values and experiences that my grandparents gave me which I hope to pass on to our children. Their legacy is a rich one. Since it is grandpa's birthday, I will end with a story showing one special trait of his - a complete selflessness. In grandpa's last 3-4 years, he was quite ill. He had lung troubles and heart troubles. He was in and out of the hospital. It was very scary and every time the phone rang I was afraid of the worst during that time. But toward the end it became especially apparent that he did not have much longer to live. We drove out to Arizona to see him. My mom warned me he was in bad shape, but I will never forget my shock in walking into his bedroom and seeing him in a hospital bed they had rented, unable to sit up. He may have been weak in the past but nothing like that. I knew I had to be strong for grandpa and fought the tears as I walked over to him with a forced joyful "hi grandpa!" He looked so feable and I knew he didn't have much time left. Later that day I was in the room sitting next to grandpa's bed, holding his hand as we talked. I think we both knew it would be one of the last times. Though I managed to fight the tears back, I'm sure he knew how much I was hurting, but he didn't want me to hurt for him. He didn't want anyone to hurt for him. I will never forget what he said at the end of that conversation: "One of these days soon you and I are going to have to go fishing. We'll go up to the lake and take some poles and..." He and I both knew that we would never go fishing again. But he didn't want me to be sad and think that whole time that this was the end. He wanted for me to believe he was going to be OK so it wouldn't hurt so much. He didn't want me to worry about him, he just wanted me to think about fishing as we had done so many times before.
Happy birthday grandpa. You and I didn't get to go fishing again, but I know that when B and I take our children fishing, you will be right there with us.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
When twins come, it can be very fast and unexpected. So far, we have had no indication that we are at "risk" for a significantly pre-term delivery. J has been having a picture perfect pregnancy for the most part and we haven't had any trips to labor and delivery yet for pre-term labor or anything of the sort. In some of the groups I follow on pregnancy message boards for twins, just about everyone at this point has been to the hospital for one reason or another. J has regular braxton hicks (contractions that don't lead to pre-term labor), but every time we go to the doctor they check her out and her cervix remains perfectly fine. So far, we have every reason to believe that the babies will stay in there another few weeks. But, I know that can change on a dime with twins. So now that we are at 30 weeks, I'm very, very nervous!
Actually, I've been nervous for the last couple of weeks because when we hit 28 weeks, I realized we were two weeks from the 30 week turning point, and I felt the same. :) Ever since that point I wake up every single morning with butterflies in my stomach, at 7-7:15. I can't go back to sleep. I wake up, feel that sensation of nerves and lie there unable to do anything but think through the remaining nursery items to get, remaining nursery tasks, analyzing how many weeks before I think they will come, etc. To put it simply, I am a basket of nerves right now! I've also started worrying about whether or not the babies will be healthy and if they have any problems that didn't show up on the ultrasound. I haven't worried much about that along the way but now that they are so close to coming, I worry that we are so close to finding out that something is wrong. My head feels like it is in a whirlwind constantly. When I get out of bed into the shower I have so many thoughts spinning that I have felt like my head is going to explode! I have to consciously tell myself to stop and think about something different. Or pray instead.
Being an "intended mother" waiting for a baby via surrogacy I do think lends itself to particular nerves in this way. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am a worrier by nature and worry more than the average person. But I bet on top of that, that intended mothers feel a heightened level of stress in the final weeks, more so than others. You are always "out of control" during the pregnancy, so it is a feeling you become accustomed to. But in the final weeks you really feel more in the dark. For all I know, J could have woken up this morning and found that her contractions have doubled and she is counting them as I type this for another hour before deciding we need to go to the ER. For all I know, J could have woken up this morning and felt just a bit different than the day before without really knowing why but not something specific enough to warrant a doctor's visit yet...and it could mean pre term labor is coming soon. Don't get me wrong, if something were happening for sure, J would let me know. But pregnancy is filled with aches, pains, inconsistent sensations, etc., and I would never expect J to tell me every little thing. She would go crazy having to do that and I would go crazy with worry over it. So, when you are an intended mother, you basically put your surro in the driver's seat with respect to making those decisions. And I trust J 100%. No question. What I'm saying is that I never know if I am 5 minutes away from a call or email letting me know that something IS happening. J will always know first, and I will always know second (or third), and that's just the nature of the situation. I'm constantly wondering if something just happened that I am about to find out about. Technically, a pregnant woman would be in the same situation because she never knows what is about to happen, but it is worse being two people removed from it!
This was the case a lot earlier on when I was really worried about losing the pregnancy too. After the first trimester and up until now I didn't worry so much. But that is returning now because I'm just so nervous that everything will go fine and we will actually end up with two healthy babies. One of the things I mentioned in an earlier post about what we miss out on with surrogacy is the "constant access to 'data'"...if I were pregnant right now, I could be more at peace because every morning I could wake up and know immediately, at any given time, how I was feeling, if the babies were active, if everything seems normal, etc. Sure, by default, I have to assume all is well when I'm not hearing things are not well, but like I said, I'm always wondering if I'm a call or email away from getting some not-so-good news.
There's really no remedy for this, it's the nature of pregnancy and the nature of being an intended mom. It's nothing J is or isn't doing. It's just my reaction to the situation. Ironically, that's the only thing I do have control over - my reaction to the situation. I have been trying to calm down but it's very hard right now. Truth be told, I'm actually looking forward to being exhausted after they come because it will mean that these constant nerves will give way to excitement and fatigue. No matter how tired I am, it has to be better than the constant butterfly feelings in my stomach right now. :)
Friday, October 24, 2008
"Paid surrogacy is immoral"
"Those from the US (and similarly in western Europe) utilizing these services are turning their back on more than a hundred thousand children in foster care in order to create a child "of their own."
Where do you even start with educating a person on issues like this? While it is tempting, I will not engage in debate here. I found the blog of this person and she is a very angry anti-adoptionist who believes she has "lost her child due to to the multi-billion dollar adoption industry". That pretty much explains it.
This is a joyful place for me to celebrate our babies, to talk about our surrogacy, and occasionally some things off topic. I do not desire to engage in debates. But it sure does make me want to write a book...:)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Two amazing diaper cakes my sister in law made! They are filled with diapers and wash cloths, and hats, and rattles, and all kinds of sweet little things!
B and I at the end of the day:
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
So the last couple of weeks we have been exchanging a flurry of emails about how to make it all work logistically. We are going to give it a try for 4 weeks to start and see how it works out. If it is going well on both ends then we will give it a try for another few weeks, etc. It will be more complicated logistically than only using formula, but since J is willing to do it and since I know breast milk IS best, I decided we should go for it. I'm sure it won't seem too complicated once we start doing it and getting used to it. Basically, we are going to keep as much fresh milk as possible so B will pick it up from J's house twice per week (she only lives about 15 minutes away) to avoid freezing as much as we can (frozen milk is still better than formula, but it loses some of the good benefits). Since we don't know how much J will be producing, we can't exactly plan at this point for what percent will be breast milk vs. formula. We'll just have to play it by ear and basically split however much breast milk we have between babies and feedings and then mix in formula to make the feeding requirements. I'm not very good with ambiguity but it seems everything about babies is a bit ambigous so I'm hanging up the control towel for a while!
I'm actually excited that the babies will have the opportunity for breast milk. I don't think that breast milk is a make it or break it issue, but it's awesome that J has given us this choice. I never felt bad about only formula feeding given our situation, but I do feel good about giving breast milk now, if that makes sense!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Something women talk a lot about when they have babies after infertility is the fact that you feel you have lost the right to have "normal" emotions about pregnancy or having children. Pregnant women feel that if they complain about aches and pains that they are being ungrateful for what they finally have and what many women are still struggling to have. Women with babies feel that if they get frustrated or downright mad at their babies they are being ungrateful too and remind themselves of how they felt for so long. That can be a blessing, actually - when you have worked so hard for something that you are driven to appreciate it much more, it can be a good thing. But a lot of times it brings pressure and guilt when women aren't allowing themselves (or others don't allow them) to have normal emotions that any mom would have.
I guess I have felt subconsciously like that - like *I* should not be allowed to have fears about this and when they creep up I tell myself that. I mean, we certainly have been through enough to get here. Wouldn't I have worked through this before? Well, no, because I was spending all my mental capacity to get pregnant somehow because I knew that's what I wanted, regardless of any latent fears. But the time is moving fast now and I am looking at all the things I want and need to do before the babies come and I am thinking of how little I know about babies first-hand and I'm thinking of having no sleep...and I'm *scared*! Fear of how I will do something new is not something I am used to. I am sort of the stereotypical "go getter". I embrace new things! I go after new things! I excel at new things! But this has always been in the academic and professional realm. I am starting to realize that babies are not even coming close to my realm of experiences in the past. I am scared that...
...I will be completely overwhelmed by the lack of sleep (if I get less than 10 hours, I typically am grumpy...seriously...this is the top of my list and I'm scared - to - death - of - what - this - will - be - like!)
...I will feel like I'm on a gerbil running mill that never stops for me to regroup (eat, play, sleep, eat, play sleep, etc.)
...I will have two babies with difficult temperaments (the books all talk about "those" babies)
...Having twins will be even more overwhelming than moms say having a newborn is to begin with
...It will not come naturally to me as everyone says it will
...There will be times when the babies are inconsolable at the same time and I won't know what to do
...There will be something wrong with one or both of the babies but I won't realize it in time because I know nothing about babies
...They won't like me. Is this a normal mom-to-be emotion? I would guess that any expectant mom without baby experience would feel the preceding things, but this one is a little strange. I think it's possibly normal, but I think it is driven for me by the fact that I have guilt I couldn't "be there" for them to carry them. Now that I know that our embryos have always been good and it's my uterus that has some kind of problem I periodically have thoughts of the embryos rejecting ME. I know this is logically ridiculous, but emotionally it feels like 18 children were given the chance to come into our lives and they turned me down. 18 embryos over 5 cycles did not attach to me for even one day. Yes, I know and understand they do not have the mental capacity to make decisions. But it messes with your head. In reality, it was my body rejecting THEM, which creates a whole other level of guilt. Either way I look at it, it makes me wonder, when two babies are actually here, will they like me? Will they love me? Will they take to me? Will they take to my arms when they wouldn't take to my uterus?
None of this takes away from my excitement. None of this takes away from my intense gratitude to God and to J for these blessings. None of this makes me wish there were even one more day between now and their births for me to prepare. But it feels good to "say it out loud"...that yes, I too have mommy-to-be fears, even when I had to fight like a warrior to get here.
I've spent so much time preparing my head but haven't really had the opportunity to prepare my heart for their arrival. I think when you are physically pregnant that the heart preparation comes along with it; you feel constantly close to them. I feel "heart preparation" when we see them on the ultrasounds or feel J's tummy. When we see them moving on the ultrasound monitor, my heart actually leaps. I *feel* the babies inside my heart; I feel them deeply. My heart actually pounds harder with the intense love I already feel. The couple of times when we have been able to feel the babies from the outside of J's tummy I had that same feeling. It's not that I don't love them outside of those times, it's just that I'm not having that constant interaction which keeps your heart melting over...and over. I instead get glimpses of the heart melt. The rest of the time I am preparing my head, filling it with facts and philosophies and such. That is valuable too, but at this point I need to do more "heart prep". I think this will come from lovingly preparing the nursery and being able to better visualize them here with us (hard to imagine sometimes!). Right now there are only boxes in there holding the cribs and dressers (and then a closet with some miscellaneous things I have bought). In about 1 hour, B's parents will be here to help us put together the furniture. I'm so grateful for their help and that we are going to do this today. I *need* this. I *need* the nursery at this point and wish I had ordered everything sooner (I didn't for fear something would go wrong). The shower is in two weeks, which will add more to the nursery, and then I can shop for anything else and really focus on preparing our babies' home. I think that that "heart time" will be really valuable and treasured for me. I think putting the love and the nurturing into that sweet place is the one thing right now that will make me more confident they will take to my arms when they wouldn't take to my uterus.