Sunday, November 30, 2008

35 Weeks!!

Look at that ticker! We made it to 35 weeks after all! I'm really excited this morning that we made it to a new week. Everyone has been telling me that 35 weeks is much better than 34 weeks for the health of the babies, so this is great news! One of the doctors even said they consider twins full term at 35 weeks. (I've never heard that before she said it, but I'll just take it as a good indication that we have reached a pretty stable point.)

Now, just one more day to hit December 1 for insurance reasons and we have reached our goal!

I am so grateful to have gotten to this point. As of last night, there were no changes on the contractions, and (unfortunately) no changes to Kenna's position. Tomorrow morning we have a regular OB appointment, then a little later in the morning we have another routine non-stress test. It will have been a week since the last cervix check so it will be interesting to see if anything has changed. Tuesday is a growth ultrasound, and I'm guessing Thursday will be another non-stress test. B really thinks the babies are coming on December 2. I'm guessing later this week. If you have a revised birthday prediction given all that has transpired, please post in the comments. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Thanksgiving List

What would Thanksgiving be without a Thanksgiving list? :) There are some very special things I am thankful for this year, as you can imagine. Here we go:


1. J. J tops the list because without J, there would simply be no babies. If I had a dollar for every time someone has commented how amazing J is for doing what she is doing, I would have a million dollars! We are so thankful that J's compassion led her to understand and pray about our suffering and that she took the next step to offer something so incredible, so life changing. She has literally devoted a year of her life to this journey. I am humbled that anyone would step forward to want to ease our pain in such a miraculous way. I pray that she is blessed over and over by this experience throughout her life...because I know we will be.

2. R (J's husband). Without a supportive husband, there would also be no babies! R is an equally amazing person - how many men are willing to support a wife going through a year of pregnancy preparations and pregnancy when it is not for his own family? J and R are truly selfless people. He has probably explained countless times that his wife is pregnant with another man's baby. LOL In addition to that, he has stepped forward many times to be late to work, or leave early from work, or work from home to watch the kids and allow us all to go to appointments. Now that J is on bed rest, he has had to step up to run the house at times when J can't. Even if J alone were willing to carry two babies for us, without R's support, it just wouldn't be possible. We are so grateful for him.

3. D (J's mom). J's mom has been an absolutely amazing help as well! She came and babysat for many appointments so that B and I could both go and see our babies. She has come at late notice and been so flexible with her help watching the kids. It gave us so many wonderful memories of the pregnancy to be able to experience the ultrasounds together, and that is courtesy of J's mom. She is a wonderful lady and we are so grateful that she was willing to help in this way.

4. E & O (J's kids). Technically, E & O had no choice in the matter. BUT if they had been different kids that couldn't have adjusted well to all the changes, it probably wouldn't have been possible for J to do all this. I think they have done as well as anyone possibly could at ages 2 and 3 with all that has gone on. I know it would have been even harder on J if they seemed like they were constantly suffering, so I am grateful that they have done so well.

5. Wait for it...THE BABIES! I can't be thankful for the babies before being thankful for all the people who made their very existence possible (J and her family). I just can't believe we will get to meet them soon. I can't wait to touch their little hands and kiss their little cheeks. I'm even looking forward to a poopy diaper or two (but only one or two :). A year ago, I didn't even know if we would ever have kids. My heart was filled with tears for what might never be for us. All the dreams that you have growing up of a family and what it will be like seemed to have been shattered for us and I felt like I was swimming in a sea of disbelief, bitterness, anger, and sadness. Even though we had started talking about surrogacy at this point last year, I certainly didn't assume it would work. It seemed like just another thing to try. That was only one year ago. Today we are on the verge of being blessed with TWO babies and for that we couldn't possibly be more grateful. THANK YOU GOD!

6. B. My husband is the BEST! As cliche as it sounds, we really are best friends. We have certainly had our share of difficulties when struggling through infertility (ahem, after failed cycles) but there was never any doubt that if we had nothing else, we would have each other forever. As much as I tease B about being a brick wall without emotion sometimes, I am grateful that he has been such a rock through all this. One of us had to be. It wasn't me! Even now, as I'm feeling a bit mentally and emotionally spent, he just keeps reminding me of the end goal and telling me, "I can't wait to be parents with you." :)

7. Our families. We are very lucky to have wonderful families on both sides! Our families are both small, but there is a lot of love and support. Nathan and Kenna will be very cherished by everyone and are lucky to be surrounded by so much love.

8. Our friends. I'm so thankful for our wonderful friends, many of whom have been keeping up on the blog, sending emails of encouragement, checking in on the status of J and the babies, etc. Our friends have put the cherry on top of our journey. :)

9. My online friends. This is such an interesting phenomenon with the internet, that you can actually have friends whom you have never met. I have made friends with a lot of ladies over the last couple of years from infertility message boards and we still regularly keep up with each other. They can understand in a way that "regular" friends cannot, and that is a life saver when you are suffering. I can't even imagine going through all those IVFs without the virtual hand holding of all those other ladies in the same situation. And now, with the blog, I have had the opportunity to get to know fellow bloggers in the surrogacy world and it has been a true pleasure. It's not like you meet others involved in surrogacy very easily...if ever. What an awesome opportunity, to meet others in this unique situation online!

10. Our cats. I know, if you're not an animal person, you just don't get it. But our cats are SO important and special to us. When people come over, they just see two cats. We see our fur-babies. We spend so much time loving them, petting them, admiring how cute they are. We love them so much and they are 100% a part of the family and not just pets.


11. People from J's church who have offered to bring over food to J while she is on bedrest.

12. Our church

13. Ample food to eat

14. A home to live in

15. Living in a country where we feel safe and have daily freedom

16. The fact that I don't think I've ever experienced boredom in my life because I have so many interests, hobbies and passions

17. The opportunities I have had to start my own business and work from home

18. The fact that J's insurance covered our surrogacy

19. The fact that B works from home and owns his own business too, so he has had a flexibility that many men don't to attend all the appointments, etc.

20. The opportunity to have visited several locations throughout the world

21. Backpacking

22. Camping

23. Hiking

24. Fishing

25. Mammoth Mountain (that's for you J and C!)

26. The rest of the Sierras

27. The fact that I experienced SCUBA diving a few times before it freaked me out and I decided I probably can't go again

28. The legacy of my grandparents, whom I loved dearly

29. My favorite restaurants: Wahoo's, Souplantation, and Cold Stone Creamery

30. The chance to put Christmas lights outside our house this year

31. Lazy days when B and I get to snuggle and read books with the fireplace on and the cats by our sides

32. Good health...OK, that doesn't belong at 32, but this is in no particular order :)

33. My love of holidays...I literally can get excited at any given time about the next upcoming holiday! I have fun with it!

34. Email...I'm not a phone person at all and email is so much more efficient

35. Our small group that meets weekly from church

36. Animals of all kinds - they make me so happy!

37. Disneyland

38. Big grassy parks

39. Living in a place that is still 80 degrees in November

40. Getting rain this week - a nice change

41. Reese's peanut butter cups, my absolute favorite combination of peanut butter and chocolate

42. The really cute nursery we have set up :)

43. Days when I can take an afternoon nap - I feel so happy when that happens!

44. Being done with Christmas shopping early this year

45. Being ready for the babies so early that I don't have to stress about what is left on the list!

46. B's sweet face in the morning when he is still waking up :)

47. Not working in an office anymore - I love working from home

48. My God-given extreme level of motivation that has carried me in life

49. Enthusiasm to write a book on what to expect for intended mothers...I have the outline already :)

50. A Thanksgiving where I can be thankful for the gift of a double sized family to come soon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We passed this time!

For the first time since last Tuesday, we passed the non stress test this morning! There were only a couple of contractions so we didn't need to go for more monitoring. Kenna unfortunately is still head up. J hasn't been feeling any differently, so it seems we are in a holding pattern. I think we might actually make it to 35 weeks (Sunday)! For insurance/financial reasons, we would LOVE to make it to December 1, so hold your breath with us that we get to Monday. It seems like forever away right now, but it's only a few days. I'm getting really anxious for Monday to come because then I can officially hope the babies show up any time. :) Now that the initial shock of pre-term labor has worn off, I feel much more mentally prepared for it to happen at any time. We are READY! I want it to turn Monday and then I want them to come ASAP so J can get off bed rest, which is very tough on her and her family.

Our next appointment isn't until Monday, if we make it that far! We have a regular OB appointment and a separate non-stress test that day. Then Tuesday we have a growth ultrasound. We are so close to hitting our Dec 1 goal...come on Monday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Very small update

Since it seemed a couple of days ago that the birth might be imminent, I know a lot of people are probably checking in for updates so I thought I should post. :) Basically, J is holding steady on bed rest. She hasn't had any changes (based on how she is feeling) and is taking it easy. I feel like it might actually be a few days now. It's so weird that you can go from thinking you are having two babies one day to thinking it could be a week or even more a couple of days later! I'm definitely grateful that the babies are getting more time with J, though I hate to see her trapped on bedrest.

I spent the morning watching J's kids and then R (J's husband) came home to work and watched the kids in the afternoon. Watching young kids (2 and 3) makes me realize how little I know about kids and how to play with them. lol It doesn't really come naturally to me like it does for some people (I think B is a natural though!). J was upstairs in bed and I kept thinking that she was probably laughing at it all. :) I know it's different when you raise them from birth though so hopefully I will be a pro like J by that point!

Tomorrow morning is another NST. Hopefully they will just send us home this time so we're not stuck and L&D for monitoring for so long again! (Unless it's the real deal, of course!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another trip to labor and delivery

Well, today was basically a repeat from Friday, so if you would like an update, just go back and re-read that post. :)

We went for the non-stress test again and J was having regular contractions. They weren't consistent, however, like they were Friday. The nurse took the print out of all the contractions to the doctor to review when we were done based on her criteria and she came back and surprisingly said, "OK, the doctor says you are good to go!" I think we both expected they would say we needed to go to labor and delivery again so we asked her some questions about it. She gave us an explanation of why they were going to send us home that ended in "...since you're 36 weeks tomorrow, you just can wait to go into labor." We just turned 34 weeks yesterday! We pointed out the error and she went back to the doctor who THEN said, yes we need to be monitored in that case. So on we went again to labor and delivery.

J was hooked up to the monitors there from 10:30 to about 5. The contractions were pretty frequent, big and consistent, though J wasn't in any pain. Doctors/nurses kept asking if she was in pain given the size of the contractions on the print out and she surprised them every time saying no. They hooked her up to an IV this time but the ongoing fluids really didn't make a difference. They gave her a shot of the medicine to keep the contractions at bay, but that didn't make much of a difference either. Kenna was breech today, so if J really went into active labor, it would have meant a c-section. Given the consistency and size of the contractions we all thought for sure that she would be more dilated when they checked and that would mean heading in for a c-section tonight. Well, they checked her 2 (3?) times today and she hadn't changed at all! She is still at 2-3 cm. So, the contractions are pretty strong, but they are just that - contractions that aren't causing active labor. Because of that, there is no need for an immediate c-section. They also didn't need to keep her there any longer because she wasn't progressing yet. The doctor sent her home with pills to keep contractions down if they get intense. If, after she takes them, the contractions are still painful and intense, then she is to call. So at this point, they are more conservative with when to call since they have monitored her so much already. Even if she hits 6 contractions in an hour, she doesn't need to call unless they FEEL different, since we know that this current level isn't changing her cervix.

One nice thing about today is that our OB was the doctor on call at triage! It was sort of comforting to see her there because she is super nice and I like her a lot. If we were going to have a c-section, it would have been great to have her there to do it. We also figured that since she knows us well at this point, she would be the most likely candidate of anyone to let an extra person in the delivery room. Our OB said she would have J on bedrest to 36 weeks instead of 35 weeks like the other doctor told us. If J is still pregnant when we hit 35 weeks we'll have to figure out whose advice we are to follow. The OB said different doctors have different opinions.

I guess at this point we could realistically go another week or maybe even two. I think there is a decent possibility of making it to next Monday but I can't imagine much more than that given all these contractions. I actually think that J's water will break soon, but that's just a hunch.

Thanks so much for all the kind comments and "hugs" from my last post. It is so nice to know people do understand out there! Today was not as scary because I knew the drill and wasn't in shock. These L&D trips make for long days, but now that I know what to expect and a little more about how labor works, I feel better. My personal hope is to make it to Dec 1 so we are 35 weeks and then not much longer so that J's life doesn't have to be turned upside down much more. It's really a burden to her and her family for her to be on bedrest since she has two small kids to be concerned about. 35 weeks would be a great compromise between the babies being healthier and J not being stuck in bed forever. :) In the meantime, please pray Kenna heads back down again!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

We made it to 34 weeks!

Well, here we are, we made it to 34 weeks and we haven't been back to labor & delivery this weekend. J is having 1-5 contractions per hour still and has not hit the 6 contractions per hour threshold necessary to call and see about going in. So what does this mean? How soon will the babies come? No clue.

We have another routing non-stress test tomorrow and I'm feeling about 90% sure we'll be in the hospital most of the day after. J only felt a small percentage of the contractions she was actually having when she was hooked up to the monitor Friday, so if she is still feeling up to 5 per hour, that means she is likely having more than that. And if she is, they will again send us from the testing area to labor & delivery to be monitored again, check for dilation, etc. I'm holding my breath for what happens from there. If she is dilating more, they will try to stop it most likely by admitting her and giving her stronger medications than the shots they give in the triage. From there, who knows how long she will be in? They may just keep her on hospital bedrest. That would be so hard on J and her family and I dread that outcome. Or, perhaps they will stabilize her and send her home. The next routine test is on Wednesday, and then we would start the process over. I'm not sure why they didn't send her home with pills to relax the contractions, like our fellow blogger Marika has right now. That seems to make the most sense but when J asked about it Friday they just said no, they weren't sending her home with any. I guess I just feel like it's a lot to put J through with all these hours being monitored at L&D, possibly even being admitted, and if that can be mitigated at all with pills at home, why not? I'm not a doctor of course, so maybe there is some obvious reason I just don't know about.

So here we are, sort of in a world of ambiguity. As you all know by now, I don't do well in this world. In fact, if I'm being completely honest, I'm absolutely dreading this week. NOT the actual birth of course, but what I anticipate to be a constant roller coaster. It is SO STRESSFUL. What is more stressful is that I think a lot of people (non-IMs) think, "Why are YOU stressed? You don't even have to give birth! J is the one who should be stressed!" And knowing that people think that stresses me out MORE because it feels like no one understands that it can be really hard to be on this side too, even if you are not giving birth. And OF COURSE J has a lot to be concerned about - good grief, I can't even imagine going through this ambiguity AND having to give birth at the end! That's not my point at all. It's just that it's a unique stress to be on this side that few people can understand. To give you a glimpse (here comes a list!):

1. Because I am very stressed but at the same time feel guilty/embarrassed for being stressed when J is the one who has to give birth, I can't even show completely how I am feeling at any given time because I have to be concerned with not freaking J out, not freaking B out, not freaking the doctors out (in the case that they might let B in the delivery room if we look calm enough), not freaking J's family out when we are at her house, etc. It's SO hard to be feeling this stressed and nervous and have to do your best to keep it on lockdown. The worst part? My version of "lockdown" is still pretty transparent. So as hard as I'm trying, I know everyone around me still thinks I'm a stress case. That's nowhere NEAR what I'm feeling! Which then just leads to more stress and embarrassment. :(

2. Being an IM always means that you don't have the "latest" information on the pregnancy per se because you are not living it. But that takes on a whole new meaning here at the end when your babies could be coming at any time. When people ask for updates now, it's more often than I get them myself, which causes more stress! It would be no big deal if I were the one who was pregnant because I could just, well, update them! But poor J is trying to rest up and she doesn't need to worry about constantly updating me that this hour she had 1 contraction, the next hour was 3, etc. At the end of the day it doesn't much matter until she hits the "magic 6", so our update in most cases is the assumption that nothing has changed because we haven't heard from her. There is absolutely nothing different that J should be doing, it's just the nature of being on this side of the surrogacy. It's just something I have to deal with. But that doesn't mean it isn't stressful. J is doing absolutely everything she can, updating periodically, being on bedrest, following doctors' instructions, etc.

3. I'm really stressed about making sure J is taken care of while on bedrest. She has an amazing family and church family that are all helping out too. People have offered to bring her dinners this week, her husband has offered to work from home part of the time, and we are definitely not "on our own" to care of her and the family. But I still of course feel it is our primary responsibility and it's hard to know exactly what to do! We would of course do anything to make sure J has all she needs and is comfortable. But we also know that it can be difficult to have other people in your house all the time, so I've been looking to J to give us direction on what we can and should do for her. That's hard though, because J is somewhat soft spoken and doesn't want to ask for much, so I'm constantly wondering if we should just jump in and do more because she probably doesn't want to ask, or if we should accept that she is drawing the line for us between her privacy and what she really needs/wants us to do. And then I wonder if there are things we haven't offered/said/done that we should have and just didn't think to because we are thinking about so much at once right now! This is all VERY stressful to me because the last thing in the world that I want is for J to feel like we are not appropriately caring for her needs during this critical time.

4. The babies' health. We are at 34 weeks now and in ALL likelihood they will do just fine. But that is still 6 weeks early. I'm concerned that there will be problems. Even more so than that, I'm concerned that there are problems that we don't even know about (birth defects, etc., unrelated to prematurity) and are days from finding out about. Problems that could flip our lives upside down. Problems that could quickly turn this from a journey of joy to despair. A friend of mine from college had a full term baby a few years back that they had no indication had any problem until the birth. Then they found out about a heart problem and the baby died a week later. The end of the pregnancy could mean the beginning of something horrible. I KNOW, I know, I know, you are all saying, why focus on that rather than that it will likely mean only something wonderful? I guess it's just my personality. I would rather fear the worst, stress about it and be relieved when it doesn't happen than be completely shocked. It's not a conscious decision, it's just what goes on in my head.

5. I worry about the babies turning around, forcing J into a c-section. She knows it could happen and isn't going crazy over it, but we all know it would really, really suck. I know she'll be recovering from birth no matter what, and that is not fun, but it's worse with a c-section. I worry about being in a state of joy and excitement with two new babies and feeling guilt that poor J is at home in pain. I worry about how we can take care of her when we are taking care of two newborns too.

6. You'll all like this one...I worry that I will still worry after the babies are here. :) lol Not about the babies themselves, I know that's natural, but about J and always wondering if we did everything "right" to make this as positive as possible. I worry that there is something that she'll always think back on, like "I still can't believe that they...(something negative)" As you read this post, you can see that 99.9% of my worries are about J. I have to emphasize that that has nothing to do with J herself or what she is doing/saying or not doing/saying. It's the nature of being an IM, and especially an IM who is a type A by nature. Some of it probably has to do specifically with the nature of having a surro who is also a friend, because I care so much about our ongoing relationship.

So there you have it. I know that the actual delivery will be very exciting and a day I will never forget. But I would love to hit fast forward to that time. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy cow! Trip to Labor and Delivery...

Things have gone from 0 to 100 really fast! Quick post because my head is spinning...

We went for another non stress test. Last week it was simple, fast and perfect. Today...we ended up in the labor and delivery triage for 6 hours.

J was having contractions frequently and couldn't even feel them. So we had to be moved to labor and delivery. She said last night she woke up and felt a little funny but didn't know what it was. The doctor came and checked her in L&D and she was 2 cm dilated! She has NEVER dilated before water breaking in her past 2 pregnancies. So this was a shock to all of us. We have had no issues at all in this pregnancy and no warning signals lately that we were getting close...AT ALL. (I think those of you reading this agreed since everyone's delivery prediction was mid-December!) To find this out was shocking to say the least. They gave her a shot of the terbutiline (sp?) and it helped but she still had contractions when it wore off. The FFN then came back positive. They said if it was negative they could tell us with 99% certainty they wouldn't be born this week. But if it was positive they said that really didn't mean anything.

They really want us to make it to 35 weeks and will stop labor until then as much as possible. She is on bedrest now for a week and one day to reach that point. I really thought we would easily make it to 36 weeks since all has been so smooth. We'll only be 34 weeks on Sunday (if we get that far!). I'm 1) freaking out that this is actually happening, 2) worried about the babies' health this early, 3) excited. Mostly just in a state of shock. I feel like someone hit me with a stun gun. I can't believe we could be having babies this week. I'm pretty sure we'll hit 34 weeks since that's just the day after tomorrow, but I don't know how much longer after that.

J is doing great. If you can sense my franticness in this post, just know that she is as calm as a snail and is NOT like this. LOL B is a little nervous about the babies' health this early, but is pretty calm too. So, if you're looking for me, I'll just be over here in this little corner freaking out alone. :) But seriously, how can I not freak out and feel emotional about it all? It's been a LONG journey. We could be arriving. It IS emotional. It IS crazy. It IS, it IS, it IS...OMG, I don't know what it IS, but it's a whirlwind!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Feeling Better Today

Thanks for the comments and emails - I do feel better today. :) Aside from the kind words, two things happened that made me feel better.

First, I was reminded of our pastor's sermon this Sunday, where he emphasized the beliefs-attitudes-behavior chain. If you are not familiar with it, it's something you learn in psychology and marketing classes. Behavior is driven by attitudes, which are driven by beliefs. There is no point in just changing behavior or attitudes, because everything comes from beliefs. I was lying in bed this morning thinking about what that chain looked like for me in the last day. I identified:

Belief - The delivery is probably not going to be exactly how I wish it could be.
Attitude - This really sucks and there will be a black mark forever on what should be the most wonderful possible day.
Behavior - Me sulking and being mentally exhausted stressing about delivery.

While the belief is true in this case, I realized I need to focus on a more positive (and still true) belief that will lead to different behavior:

New Belief - No matter what happens logistically on the delivery day, having two beautiful babies is going to be the most amazing day ever.
New Attitude - Excitement!
Behavior - A new spring in my step this afternoon. :)

I know, I know, I'm overly analytical. But this is the kind of thing that helps me. I have to disect, analyze, and respond. I'm all about frameworks.

So the second thing that happened was kind of weird. I had been taping the show "Bringing Home Baby" (where they track a couple with their newborn in the first 36 hours). I watched several of them but was starting to get tired of it bringing on more feelings of worry or stress, so I canceled the series recording earlier this week. I went to take a break and watch some TV this afternoon (yes, this is rare) and was annoyed to see that my DVR had recorded the show again. As I was about to erase it I noted the title on the one it strangely taped: "A woman's sister is her surrogate." Creepy, huh? I felt compelled to watch right then because of the weirdness. It was amazing. The couple even had twins! I was so gleeful to see this show in a "version" that was mine! They talked some in the episode about using her sister as a surrogate, but once the babies came home the show was pretty much the same as all the others. I started to wonder why they weren't talking more about the surrogacy aspect and then I realized that was exactly the point - once those babies came home, there was no difference in their experience compared to others'. They were "normal parents". And that just emphasized that everything is going to be OK regardless of the delivery logistics.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Dentist

On a more positive note, something funny happened this morning.

B and I always go to the dentist together. (That's not the funny part!) We have an appointment scheduled for the first Friday in December and I just don't think we should be an hour away at any time that close to delivery. So, I called to cancel and requested an appointment for the end of January.

Receptionist: "OK, so do you want to come at the same time as usual?"

Me: "Sure, that would be fine."

Receptionist: "OK, I have you down for..."

Me: "Oh wait! We are having twins next month. I guess when we have kids it won't work like that anymore?"

Receptionist (laughing): "No, it is definitely different!"

Me: "OK, better book us separately so someone is at home watching the babies." :)

What a WEIRD thing to get used to thinking about...we can't just leave the house together anymore without taking babies!

Being Different

(As an aside to this post, we had our first non-stress test today and the babies were...non-stressed! We go back on Friday for the next one. They are twice a week until delivery. The only bad thing is that Kenna has flipped and is no longer head down. Please pray that she will turn over again so we can have a vaginal delivery!)

Today I talked to the social worker at our hospital to "make sure she has received all our legal paperwork". By "make sure she has received all our legal paperwork" I mean "ask yet another person if we will be allowed in the delivery room". :) I didn't want to seem like I was calling just to ask about the delivery so first and foremost I expressed concern that all our paperwork is in order. In the paperwork is the legal judgment that we are the parents of the babies, with instructions on how the birth certificate needs to be filled out. There is a cover letter from our attorney to the social work department requesting that we be allowed in the delivery room, get hospital bands, and generally any other priviledge that a parent would have. Even if we have a vaginal delivery, it will happen in the operating room just in case J has to have a c-section anyway (for one or both). Therein lies the issue - in the OR, there can only be one support person. Our doctors have told us that that is the policy and whether or not policy is bent will depend on the doctor who delivers (whoever is on call at the time). Since I thought that our legal paperwork might make a difference - it's not like J just has a bunch of friends she wants to come in - I decided to call the people who have the paperwork and "gently" bring it up.

I had actually left a message for the person yesterday, so she was calling me back. When I answered she almost immediately let me know she had talked to multiple nurses in labor and delivery and all adamantly said "one person only" - hospital policy. I said, "Oh, OK, that's what our doctor had said, but I thought it might be different once you had our legal paperwork and everything since we are a special situation." She said no, it is hospital policy. I then asked if we would get additional bands (if they are in the NICU) and she said no (this is something else the attorney asked for). She said J would be given two bands and she will decide who to give them to. I sort of felt my heart thud at that moment. I mean, yes, that is factual, and that is what will happen. But I felt so small at that point, hearing through what she was telling me that "you'll get bands if the real mom decides she wants you to have bands". She then proceeded to say that it's not an issue (bands) if the babies aren't in the NICU because the babies will be "in her room and then you will just have to work it out with her"! Heart thud #2. Translation: "It's not up to us if you have access to the babies, if the real mom wants you to see them, she'll work something out with you." I felt 2 inches tall.

Anyone who knows me well knows that in a normal situation I would start up to 120 MPH and tell them exactly how they needed to handle this. But I know I'm on the outside in this situation and I don't want to ruin any small chance that remains by making them hate me. So I politely said, "OK, I understand, we're still excited. Thank you for your time." But rather than hang up, she seemed to feel bad at that point and asked me a couple of questions about them being twins, and commented how exciting that must be. Then we ended the conversation and I have felt sad ever since.

Of course I'm sad about the delivery issue, but honestly I'm more sad about how I was treated, and how I was perceived as almost a burden in the situation. She made me feel like a baby grabber wanting to get my dirty little hands all over our surrogate's babies. It reinforced that I am "different" than most moms. I've always been a pretty normal person (whatever that means). But the last 3 years I have had the experience of being very different. I was different not conceiving naturally, I was different doing fertility treatments, I was different doing surrogacy. Throughout the pregnancy I have embraced the difference. I have told all of our friends and family about it, I have blogged about it, I opened up to strangers about it - all because I want to help educate people about infertility, surrogacy and related issues. I have actually enjoyed this. I feel like a spokesperson for surrogacy sometimes because I have rarely come across anyone who has had any exposure to surrogacy before! But as we get closer to the end, I feel myself longing more and more to be "normal". I've had 3 years of being different, and I have embraced that difference on this journey as much as possible. I'm ready to "just" be a mom now though. I'm ready to be on the other side of delivery, past legal papers, hospital policies, and people who may not get it, to being in the car on the way home for the first time as plain old normal parents. I desperately want that.

This whole thing has made me realize how difficult being different - in any way - is. I am fortunate in that this point of difference does not impact the end goal; my rainbow is different, but my pot of gold is the same as everyone else's. I can hold on to the thought that I am almost to that pot of gold and then will go on with my life. But it makes my heart go out to all those who have "permanent" differences; those who have to fight every day against the world and its perceptions due to disabilities, sexual orientation, or any number of other things. I had two heart thuds in one conversation due to my "difference". Other people have a lifetime of heart thuds from people who don't understand. I support gay marriage in part because I have some very close gay friends and understand the challenges they face. I was talking to someone the other day who said they support gay "unions" but don't want them to use the same definition of marriage ("all the same rights though"). They just want them to be classified differently. That's the problem - they are already classified differently every day of their life. Maybe for once they just want to be classified the same.

It is good to experience "being different" - if more people had that experience, the world would be a far less judgmental place. That said, I still can't wait to be a "normal" mom. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hospital Bag

Our hospital bag is all packed. I actually had packed one for the babies a couple of weeks back, but I hadn't packed one for us yet, so I did that today. Then, I decided to go back and recheck the babies' bag to make sure there wasn't anything I was forgetting. The hospital basically says that you hardly need anything at all, and to only pack something to take a baby home in; they provide everything else. But if feels very sparse to just pack a couple of outfits! So, I ended up adding more things to the babies' bag today that I probably won't need, but that made it feel more complete - things like cute burp cloths, blankets and pacifiers.

When I originally packed the bag, it was just another task on my list that I completed and marked off. But when I went back to it today it seemed like a more personal experience because we are so close to the reality of the babies using these things. I had a strange first time feeling of being a mom! Perhaps if you are pregnant you feel like a mom earlier because you are constantly with your baby. Even though I have seen and felt our babies many times, it just doesn't connect with me that I'm a mom. I don't *feel* like a mom. But there was something about preparing the bag with these little personal items today - picking out the perfect first things for our babies - that struck me as mom-ish more so than anything else in the last 8 months. It felt more personal even than preparing the nursery. Maybe it's because it felt more like an every day mom duty (packing a bag of what the babies will need that day) as opposed to one monumental task of a whole "standing" nursery.

The funny thing is, despite this fleeting experience, I am dreading walking into the hospital with the bag! I don't even know how to explain this, but I get really embarrassed in strange ways. In this case, I know I will feel like a fraud carrying a big baby bag into the hospital; I feel like everyone will be looking at me thinking, "That girl doesn't look natural with that bag! She doesn't have a baby!" And how will they know this? They won't. But it's my imagination. I never, ever, ever want to look like I don't know what I am doing. It reminds me of earlier this year when B convinced me to join the gym with him for a couple of months. We went to the gym the first time and all the treadmills were on the upper floor surrounding the lower weight floor, looking down. I was mortified because I didn't know how to use the weights and literally started crying at the gym. This would have never happened if there weren't people around. But I perceived that everyone was looking at me from the upper floor and I called the next day to cancel my membership! When it comes to anything academic or career, I have the confidence to conquer the world. That's just my realm of comfort. The gym and babies - not so much. Even sitting here thinking about it, I am turning red picturing myself walking in with the bag! I'm even embarrassed to have it in front of J & R or our family! What is wrong with me?! LOL It just seems so unnatural that *I* would have a baby bag. I think I'll feel the same the first time I roll out of the house with a stroller. Come to think of it, I think I felt this way the first time I wore a cheerleading outfit to school. I guess any time in life you go "public" in a new role, you feel a bit like this. The hospital bag has come to represent the sign of my new role as a mom. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Peri Appointment Update

We had a great appointment with the peri this morning!

-There are no cervical changes to indicate that we are getting close to labor.

-Our growth ultrasound last Monday (not this week, last week) showed that the babies are 4 lbs 4 oz (Kenna) and 4 lbs 9 oz (Nathan)! I was so excited to hear that because they should be close to 5 pounds already now. The average weight at that point from my books is 3.75 pounds. So they are doing great!

-We saw Nathan breathing again! I asked if it was a problem that we haven't seen Kenna breathe yet and she said that it's not consistent. We've just happened to see Nathan breathe twice.

-I asked what our induction date would be if J doesn't go into labor. Previously they said 38.5 weeks but when I got home and looked at the calendar I realized that was Christmas Eve. So I had been meaning to ask if they would really induce that day or if we could do it a few days prior so J wouldn't be in the hospital. She said that unless there was a medical reason, they would actually induce AFTER Christmas, since induction increases the chance of c-section and we wouldn't want her in the hospital recovering from a c-section on Christmas. It's a good thing that I left all the tags on the various "baby's first Christmas" items we have bought. LOL I guess there is still a chance that the babies' first Christmas will be NEXT year! That said, J had both of her kids a couple of weeks before the due date so we all think they will come naturally, and before Christmas. My guess is 36 weeks 3 days. That is December 10. I don't know why. :) I would love to see your guess if you are a reader! Please comment to this post with your guess of the due date. Even if you don't normally comment, you can post anonymously...just drop in your date guess!

-We start non-stress tests next week, on Tuesday. They are twice per week until the birth (!). On top of that, we still have regular doctor appointments and another growth ultrasound. So we will be at appointments a lot, but it won't be too much longer!

-J looks fantastic! She really is a perfect pregnant person and truly "glows". She looks exactly the same, with no weight gain except in the belly! Check out her blog for a belly pic soon (link to the right)...J, now you have to post it! lol

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A year ago this week, and some pictures

I am sitting here thinking about how fast this pregnancy and surrogacy journey has really gone. I realize that with a singleton pregnancy, the baby might not come for another 8 weeks, but turning 33 weeks this coming Sunday with twins means really something could happen at any time. It doesn't seem sudden, but it does seem amazing to me that it has gone by this fast. That is funny to say at this point, because there was a time between 16-20 weeks where I was having a melt down because I felt like we couldn't possibly ever get to the delivery because time was moving so slowly. But really, after 24 weeks it has just been like lightening. Out of curiosity I looked at my email from a year ago this week - we had just found out that J's insurance would cover the surrogacy! That was a HUGE turning point because I don't think we would have been able to go down this past otherwise; it just would have been cost prohibitive. The doors of possibility were opened just one year ago this week, and here we are now a few weeks out from having two babies. I know there are some people reading this blog who are just starting their surrogacy journies, so I hope that inspires you!

I wanted to share a couple of pictures from our picture session (I have J's permission :).

I really love the following picture because it captures so much of the emotion and spirit of this pregnancy. J looks incredibly peaceful, just as she always does. She has the most gentle and confident spirit as a person and she just exudes that in this picture. She also looks so open with her body language, and that has been a major positive aspect of all this. She has treated the pregnancy all along as though it is completely ours and has never kept it a private thing. No matter how many appointments you go to and how many ultrasounds you see, though, as an "intended mother" you are still "looking on" as I am in this picture. It was actually a little bitter sweet taking this picture at the time because I felt like a forced extension to what was beautiful alone. Looking at the resulting image, though, it is now my favorite one. I think it is a wonderful picture of surrogacy and the surrogate-intended mother relationship!

I love this picture because it shows all of us involved, and at the same time, the focus is on the babies. Oh what work four people can do for that one precious pregnant belly!

Lastly, I love this picture of us with J smooshed in the middle because she is truly the center of the journey. And that heart is not just for the babies, it is for her too. We love J and her family more than words can express.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Baby Care Basics Class

Last night B and I attended part I of a two part hospital class on "Baby Care Basics". Part I was just sort of an introduction to what your baby goes through in transitioning from the womb to the room (the class teacher absolutely loved saying that rhyme over and over and thought it was very clever). Then we saw a slideshow with pictures from delivery rooms so we could see what babies look like right after birth. It finished with a movie about all the natural instincts newborns have, their various reflexes, abilities, etc.

Although the content was all stuff I had read, it was particularly helpful for me to just have the visuals. I have a LOT of trouble comprehending what it will feel like to have a baby. I don't mean logistically - I know we will figure all that out. I just mean emotionally. I have no idea what to expect to feel like when they hand us two babies!

I think I have mentioned this before, but I am an only child, my mom is an only child and my dad is an only child; I have no siblings, aunts, uncles, or cousins. When I babysat as a teenager, it was for kids 2 and up. I was never around family with babies or friends with babies. By the time we started trying, and then had trouble, our friends started having babies, and I avoided those babies. There could be babies everywhere around me but I would look right between them or above them. And I never held them. I really don't think I have held a baby more than 4 or 5 times in my life. So I can't *conceptualize* what holding my own would be like. I think it is so much easier for most people to think about their baby because they have been around babies a lot and can easily picture what swapping out someone else's for their own would be like. I don't have a "place holder" baby in my head to swap with!

When I think of having a baby, I really think of having a family with kids age 2+! LOL The best way I can think of to explain it is this: Say you really love butterflies. You have seen them quite a bit and think they are beautiful. You can't wait to have one. You envision yourself chasing it around the yard as it flies and looks beautiful. But in reality, you are about to have a caterpillar first...a completely different creature that you know nothing about. Someone is going to hand you a caterpillar to take care of for two years in about 4-5 weeks from now. You aren't really daydreaming about the caterpillar, you daydream about the butterfly. You just don't know WHAT to make of the caterpillar because it is like a foreign creature. That's how I feel right now. :) (Of course I know we will adore our caterpillars, it's just a big unknown territory for both of us right now!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

God, Infertility, Faith, and Prayer

Wow, I think I just undertook a big post with a title like that. :)

I have been a Christian my whole life. I was raised in a Christian home, later accepted Christ and got baptized by my choice, married a Christian man, and actively work to grow as a Christian woman through reading the Bible, going to church and praying. That said, faith has never come easily for me. On a spectrum from completely right brained to completely left brained, I am about as far on the left brain analytical end as humanly possible. I want things to line up perfectly. I want logic to work everything out. I love intellectual pursuits for the purpose of a more perfect understanding of the things that interest me. No matter how much I study over the course of my life, however, I will never figure out with 100% certainty how God works, or understand the answers to many questions I have about my own faith. There is simply a lot we do not know, and for whatever reason that must have been how it was intended or we would have been given more instruction on the fine details of this world. Honestly, I really hate that! I WANT all the answers, and my analytical nature is a stumbling block to my faith. Over the course of the battle with infertility I had reason to really question things even more. It was a trying time for my faith, for sure, pushing my questioning to the farthest boundaries. I can unequivocally say that I am more solid in my faith now than ever before, thanks to the struggles I have been through. For that, I am grateful. But I certainly still have plenty of questions. Here are some of the things I have pondered especially, some of the things I have learned, and some of the things I still struggle with. There is no particular order.

Why Me?/Life is Unfair
I don't know if an infertile person has ever walked the earth who didn't at any point in the battle ask, "why me?" Rarely does someone start to try to conceive thinking, "man, I really think it is going to take years for this to happen, thousands of dollars, and many procedures". So, when it happens to you, the first thought is WHY? For Christians, this can take on even more painful implications, depending on your view of God and His sovereignty. Without getting into a deep theology here, let me just say that people have varying views on God's level of involvement in the world. There are Christians who think that God is responsible for everything that happens on earth - that even when terrible things happen, it is all part of His plan and for a reason. This is the "everything happens for a reason" philosophy. On the other end of the spectrum, there are Christians who think that God set the world in motion and still has relationship with people, but rarely intervenes; this is the "bad things happen in the world due to the presence of sin, but God didn't necessarily cause them" philosophy. Then you have everything in the middle.

If you believe that there is truly a reason for everything, the why me question looms like a mountain burden. Every time you see someone who is pregnant, you think, "why did God bless her with a baby and not me?" Or worse, when you see someone who is pregnant and really shouldn't be having kids for various reasons, you think, "what is God finding so wrong with me that even THAT person is able to have a baby?" It feels as though God is singling you out to miss out on one of life's most precious gifts. It can completely lead you to feel like a worthless person; you must be such a terrible person that God would rather have just about everyone else out there reproduce than you. Reproduction is at the core of female desire; to feel like God is actively deciding that you should not have a baby is a life-shattering feeling. Thought of purely in this view, the outcome is extreme sadness and grief. Extending it a little further, it becomes extreme anger at the unfairness. I have seen many discussion on message boards over the years about the "why me" question and it is the number one thing that leads so many women battling infertility to give up on their faith. It seems too impossible to imagine that God would not grant you something you so desperately want when there seem to be people all around you who should not have it but do.

For me personally, I have never been an "everything happens for a reason" person. I believe that God is active in the world, intervening in various ways (see below on a discussion of prayer), but I do not believe that He is guiding every thing that happens. I was born with endometriosis. I don't think God singled me out for that. It's just the nature of this existence that there is sickness and imperfection, and we all suffer in our own ways - some to a greater degree than others. Because of this view, I never thought God had singled me out for infertility. But because I believe in prayer, I thought God was actively turning away from me when I didn't get pregnant. The other view of God's sovereignty I described above leads to a sad response - why would God do this to me in the first place? This view of God's sovereignty leads to bitterness - why won't God change this, even though he didn't do it in the first place? It's sort of an interesting analysis if you think about it. You can almost always look at the emotion someone has toward God during infertility and guess what their view of God's sovereignty is. Different emotions come from different theological premises.

My bitterness completely consumed me while I was going through all the IVFs. While crying and crying over failed cycles, I just kept sobbing to B, "but why does so and so get to have a baby? and what about so and so?" etc. I was very much focused on comparing myself to others because I just couldn't believe that God wouldn't "lift me to their level" of having a baby. I was a good person. I was a Christian. I prayed. I helped others. Why wouldn't he give me a baby too?

I came away with two major insights/learnings on this issue. First, to ever think "why me" on any issue is quite arrogant. Totally natural, totally understandable, but totally arrogant. Who was I to think that I somehow HAD to be given what other people were given? God loves everyone equally, and there is no reason at all that we all need to have equal situations for Him to do so. He loves us the same no matter our situation, so he doesn't need to take any particular action to "make us more equal". The second thing is the flip side to the question: "Why NOT me?" When bad things happen, we are quick to ask, why me? But when we see the hurt and suffering in the world around us, we are not quick to ask, "why is that NOT happening to me?" It's just as unfair that people are starving and I'm not as it is that I could not have a baby and others can. We just like to be on the positive side of the equation.

God's Timing
There are plenty of Christians who don't believe in fertility treatments because they believe you should just wait on God's timing. This is a really difficult thing for people going through infertility to hear. It is usually said when the person doesn't understand the medical issues involved. Interestingly, this one comes back to one's view of God's sovereignty as well. If you believe that God directs every aspect of your life, then it would make sense to wait on God's timing for your pregnancy. I have read SO many frustrated message board posts on this topic - Christians waiting on God's timing and refusing to do any form of treatment. I respect people who make this decision because it takes an enormous amount of faith and can lead to a lot of pain in questioning God as well.

I personally didn't struggle much on this particular issue, given my view on God's sovereignty. I believe that God gave us the tools in this world to do the best we can, as long as it is in a moral and ethical way. When we have a cut that gets infected, we do something about it...we generally don't wait on God's timing for the infection to go away. We go to the doctor. When I had a laparoscopy, the doctor said that my ovaries were literally attached to the back of my uterus with my tubes wrapped around them. While I believe that God is capable of anything, and could have fixed that simply by prayer if He chose, I believe He works just as much through the capable hands of doctors to fix this kind of thing. No matter how long I would have been waiting for God's timing, it was physically impossible for me to get pregnant naturally. Again, miracles are always possible, but I believe they are the exception rather than the rule, and that we have been giving tools on earth to be proactive with. I have a cousin who died of cancer because she refused treatment, saying that she was going to wait for God to heal her. I just don't think that is what He intended.

When people mention God's timing, I give them this analogy: if I have an amputated leg, no amount of waiting longer is going to make that leg grow back. God created the laws of the universe and we live within them. Infertility is no different in that it is a medical problem and some things need to be fixed. God is capable of working miracles at any time, but it is His choice when that will happen and in the meantime we need to work with what He has given us. At the end of the day, if you really ARE scooping God's timing, God is more powerful than you and can stop anything from going forward at any time. If you went ahead of God's timing and did a treatment that He doesn't want to work yet, He is entirely capable of ensuring it doesn't work!

Trust in God

It is a standard Christian phrase to tell people "just trust in the Lord". This is one I really struggle with. When I hear people say that they are waiting to get pregnant and they trust in the Lord that they will, to be honest I'm not sure what to think. People on message boards have blinkies that say "The Lord keeps his promises". Yes, the Lord keeps his promises, but he never promised that Christians (or anyone else) will have a perfect life, that he will answer every prayer in the way you think it should be answered, or that every person will have biological children. That just isn't Biblical. When people say they trust in the Lord that they will get pregnant, it leaves me confused. I know the Bible tells us to make our desires known to God and to believe that He will answer prayers, but at the same time He doesn't guarantee that his answer to prayer is the one you want - for whatever reason. People used to tell me to trust in the Lord that everything will work out. But what does that mean? That everything will work out the way I desperately desire? That everything will work out one way or another (that's not very inspiring)? That everything will work out according to his plan, which must be perfect by definition (that only works if you have a micro-view of God's sovereignty, which I do not, as discussed above)? If you do not believe that God orchestrates everything that happens in the world, and you do not believe that God answers every prayer the way people want, what does that leave that you are trusting in? I have pondered this a lot given how frequenty it comes up. I've come to the conclusion that either 1) the person saying it does believe that everything happens according to God's plan and that whatever happens is for the best because that is how God planned it (so you theoretically are trusting in the best outcome even if it's not what you want) or 2) the person saying it isn't really thinking about what they are saying or 3) the person is saying that no matter what happens in this life, trust that God has a master plan and in eternity this will all make sense. This manifests itself in many different ways, but I now interpret it personally as number 3. Trusting in God to me means exactly that. We need to trust God for the big picture, but it isn't necessarily Biblical to "trust in God" for specific outcomes. I think that connotation is used in far too many contexts without people really thinking through the implications of it.

This macro view has actually helped me have a different outlook on the world; one more focused on eternity as a whole rather than just this life. We do not have reasons or explanations for most of the sheer "crap" that happens on earth. But the Bible tells us of a perfect eternity after this life and if you are led to believe in God and in the Bible, we can trust very specifically in that.


We go to a "mega church" as they are called now - about 12,000 people attend one of 5 services (here is our church if you are curious: Our church has periodic healing services. To be honest, I didn't know what to think of that when they said we would be having one. The church I grew up in didn't do anything like that, and was just sort of a "laid back" non-demoninational congregation. Quite honestly, the idea of even seeing a healing service intimidated me because I thought of the big tents that a church in my hometown used to put up every year and I always had a negative view of that. I pictured people on TV throwing the palms of their hands against someone's forehead and then that person tumbling to the ground shaking. (I don't want to judge the authenticity of that, but I'm just saying I have always been uncomfortable with the notion.)

When the first healing service Sunday came, I almost felt nauseated walking in. First, because I was uncomfortable with the idea, second, because I knew we had a legitimate reason to go forward and I didn't know what we would do. When that part of the service started, it was much less dramatic than what I expected. They just had several groups of people at the front of the church, and if you needed/wanted prayer for healing, you could join the line up and when you got to the front, you would be directed to someone to pray with you. Really, it was just a time for the church body as a whole to be invited for healing prayer. Now, don't get me wrong, I was still terrified to go forward, but as the streams of people started going down, I knew we belonged there too. B is just as reserved as I am about this kind of thing, so when I say it was a huge deal that we got up and joined the line, it was a HUGE DEAL. It was such an emotional moment that we both cried and held each other as we stood in line and waited to get to the front. I was so nervous to tell someone what was going on. We were just about to start our first IVF. I prayed the whole time in line that we would be called up to one specific pastor because he was the only person up there I was familiar with (though we hadn't met). I felt like God answered that prayer because, of all the many people at the front, when we got there, they directed us straight to him. We cried as we recounted what brought us there and he prayed with us. It was a difficult but special moment. It was the most humbling thing I have ever done in my entire life. To admit that something is so wrong, so troubling that you need someone to pray over you in the hope that God will bring healing is very, very humbling...and also very freeing.

I felt that because we had done something so significant at the service, and we were doing our first IVF, God was going to answer our prayers and give me a "healing service miracle" I would never forget. I thought that this was what God was going to use to "prove" to me He was there and that my faith in Him was correct. I'll admit, when the IVF failed, one of the first things that came to mind is that we were NOT healed at that service. I felt stupid.

A few months later, there was another service. More nausea because this time I didn't even know if it made sense for us to go up. We went before. We asked for healing. We were not healed. But then they played a video about someone who went up for multiple healing services and we decided to go again. It was less scary that time, knowing what to expect. But I also wasn't sure what to ask for at that point. I again prayed in the line, this time that we would just get someone who would truly, truly understand our situation. I just wanted someone to relate to us. When we got to the front, we were directed to a middle-aged couple. We started telling our story and why we were there and tears came to both of their eyes...they shared that they had gone through the same thing years before and had 12 year old triplets through infertility treatments. It sent chills through my body, as it does right now thinking about it, given my prayer in line. It was so comforting to know that of ALL the many people praying in the front, God wanted me to know that He was there, and He knew what we needed at that point in time.

An atheist would read this and say, "God never healed you! How can you believe?" Here is what I would say based on what I have learned. There are many ways a person can be healed. I have no idea why God did not want to heal me directly. I have no doubt in my mind that J and I were put together in this surrogacy as God's answer to our prayers. Why would He choose to heal our situation in this way and not just heal me directly? I really don't know. Perhaps being pregnant would have been life threatening to me - just as one possible reason of many. But God did heal us - he healed our hearts by answering our prayers through J. Why doesn't God heal everyone then? Why doesn't he answer all prayers? That's my last topic.

Unanswered Prayers

This is, by far, the most difficult thing for me. I know that God doesn't answer every prayer. Sometimes there are obvious reasons. If someone complains that God didn't give them a million dollars as they prayed for it, I understand why. If I pray that God help me find my misplaced camera and I never find it, I understand that maybe it's just a trivial thing that is not meant for prayer. But why God chooses to answer some prayers and not others, when all else is equal, is baffling. It's hard. It challenges me.

I still get wrapped up in reading other people's IVF journies. My heart is pained for people who are still in the midst of the battle. I know that some will ultimately be successful and others will not. I know that people on both sides of that outcome are currently praying about it. But I don't know why God will answer some and not others.

Here is what I do know about our answered prayer: I did not deserve it. I did nothing, absolutely nothing, that made me more deserving of an answered prayer than anyone else. I did not pray better, trust better, give to charity better, live better than many of those who will not have an answered prayer in this matter. Talk about the question, "why me?"...I really wonder, "why me?" in this case. I know it wasn't for my gold star faith; the night before we found out we were pregnant I wrote the most scathing and angry personal journal entry directed at God, thinking that the cycle didn't work. I certainly didn't "deserve" to get a positive test the next day through J. This I know for certain: it is only through God's grace and not through anything which I deserve that this prayer was answered. He answered my prayers in spite of me, not because of me. That may be the biggest lesson of all for my life. Prayer is not about what you deserve. You may deserve something you never receive, and you may receive something you never deserved. God chooses to answer some prayers and not others, but it is by HIS choice and His reasons are not our reasons. We simply will not know in this life the whys behind all of His answers. It will be baffling at times, devastating at times, joyful at times.

When I found out that J had gotten a positive test for the first time, it was via email at about 6:30 in the morning, in a very silent living room. But in that quiet moment I felt God's presence more than any time in my life. I literally felt surrounded by a joyful presence in the room, as if He was standing there smiling; as if he was celebrating the answered prayer with me. I almost expected to see something, the feeling was so strong. God must delight in answered prayers.

Based on this whole experience, I will never have any doubt that this pregnancy was an answered prayer. I will just never know, "why me?"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November 1!

I'm so excited this morning that it is November 1! That means we can now say (God willing) we'll have two babies next month!

I am proud, happy and relieved to say that I have also scratched the absolute last thing off my baby to do list as of October 31 so I could enter November much more relaxed. I have been working down the task list for about 2 months and never thought it would end. Yesterday I hung the last thing on the nursery wall, put the batteries in all the toys/bouncers/etc., and voila! These two little babies can arrive any time now and I would feel ready. (Ready with the things I felt needed to be done before they came...not ready for what comes after. :)

B actually still needs to put car seats in, but I don't count that because it wasn't on MY list. In November I will be focused on wrapping up some last items for work, Christmas shopping/wrapping and helping J with what she needs. It feels grrrr-eat to know that my list is complete. There were many things I had hoped to finish before they came that won't get done for me personally but I have finished everything that needed to be done for THEM and that's what is of highest importance right now.

I feel a LOT less anxiety now, which has given way to a lot more excitement. I can hardly contain myself this morning!!!! Nursery pictures to come soon!