Friday, December 13, 2013

Forever in my heart...

When I decided to become a surrogate I thought about a lot of things. I thought about carrying a baby that was not my own. The sacrifices of pregnancy for a child that did not belong to me. A natural birth in my home where I would lovingly push a baby Earthside into someone else's arms. How I would recover without a squishy newborn nestled on my chest. I also thought about a failed transfer. An embryo that was not strong enough to implant. I thought about the meds and what they would do to my body, my hormones. I thought about how this would affect my husband, my children, my work. I gave it all so much thought. And I knew it was all worth it to help Erin and Jose become parents. For them to experience my greatest blessings. 

What I never thought about stared me in the face this past week. I never thought about miscarriage. I never thought about becoming pregnant and then losing the baby weeks later. I never thought about the grief and pain that I could experience as a baby slipped from my body. A baby that wasn't mine. One that I was entrusted with. The thought hadn't crossed my mind until it happened. Until it ripped at my heart and brought me to my knees. 

From the second "Embie" was placed inside my uterus for me to protect and grow, I fell in love. I talked to s/he every day. We went to births together and witnessed new life. I bonded with this new life growing inside of me. My wombmate that I had been so blessed to carry and love, even if for a short time. 

And then it was gone. So quickly. I will carry the memory of this little life in my heart forever. My heart breaks for Erin and Jose. It's hard to express the sadness I hold. To lose a baby that is not my own is a feeling I cannot explain. 

I have no doubt that a beautiful and healthy baby will come from this journey. Erin and Jose are beyond deserving and I know they will get their baby. A baby that will have love poured over it every day. A lucky, lucky little baby. 

We'll take the holidays to regroup, spend time with our families, heal... 

We've just started this journey. It's not close to over. Keep up with us on
I have a great feeling that 2014 will bring a sweet baby to two very deserving people. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Giving Thanks...

I have received so many calls, texts, messages asking if we had any news yet. Everyone is so excited to find out if Embie found a cozy, warm spot to call home for the next 9-ish months. I'm so thankful for all of you who care enough to ask. It's clear there are so many more people invested in this pregnancy, than just Erin and me. More than just our families. Like I said before, there will never be a baby loved more than this one. 

And because you all care so much and already love this baby.....

We still have our blood test on Monday and will then go back for a sonogram to confirm pregnancy, but I had to share this with you all. There are two more tests with the double pregnant lines, but they appeared even lighter in pictures. I couldn't seem to get a good one where the lines showed well with the "pregnant" test...or vice versa. 

But, I think it's safe to say, there's a bun in the oven! 

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving!! I certainly was filled with love yesterday knowing that life is growing within me and that this baby will have the most amazing parents. ❤

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18... The Transfer

Finally the day we've been waiting for!! I woke up this morning excited, really excited. As the morning went on I started feeling emotional. Good emotions, but definitely emotional.

We dropped the littlest nuggets off with my awesome friend, Marsha. She watched them for a bit and then brought them home to our babysitter, Marissa. Marsha's always there like that. To fill in those gaps when I don't have someone for my nugs... Like, also picking the little lady up from school... Everyone needs, I mean NEEDS, a friend like her. But, she's all mine so find another... ;)

We were finally on our way to Irving. My emotions began to surface through tears.  They were happy tears. Excited tears. Hopeful tears. I get to help bring new life Earthside as "a living". And this is no different. Except it's so much bigger. It's an honor to walk the journey through pregnancy and birth with clients, but to actually grow the baby. To birth the heart couldn't handle that possibility this morning. It was too much....

Our first stop was at my amazing chiropractor and friend's office for an adjustment. (Terry Garcia, for anyone looking for an amaze chiro) She's been adjusting me twice a week for the last few weeks in prep for today. She's also provided so much spiritual guidance through this process and I appreciate her more than she probably realizes. 

Our next stop was the acupuncturist. Erin and I had both read that a session immediately before and after the transfer can increase the embryo's "stickiness". It was my first time having acupuncture done and it was pretty relaxing. (I went back after the transfer for another session)

Then off to Dr E's office! We were greeted by Erin, who had the sweetest "bed rest gift" for me. (I may or may not have already had some of the chocolates...) Natasha, our photog, was there too! We went up stairs, signed in, and then anxiously waited...

Finally, it was time! We were taken back to a more formal room for the transfer. Different from the usual exam rooms. The embryologist came in with a picture of the embryo and explained the thawing process and the quality of the embryo. (It was good!!) 
❤the embryo ❤

Dr E and Nurse N then came in to go over the procedure. Dr E explained that when the embryo actually came in for the transfer that Natasha would have to step out. He said it was because the room was too small and I was only supposed to have two other people in with me. (Chris and Erin were also back with me) So what do I do?? I offer up my hubby in exchange for our photographer. Hey, this is an important moment to be documented. Dr E laughed and said I couldn't really want my husband to go. I smiled sweetly and said, I really wanted the photographer to stay. He agreed to everyone. Not sure if it was my dimples or the fact that he absolutely adores Erin. I'm going to pretend it was me, fully knowing he couldn't resist her.

The moment the embryologist brought the embryo in the room my heart dropped. I felt overwhelmed. I couldn't believe this moment was finally here. And then, there "it" was. There was the embryo on the screen. In my uterus. I just smiled and watched. I didn't know what to say and couldn't fully express any emotion. My heart was full of love and gratitude. Thankful that Erin chose me to walk this journey with her. Thankful that science and medicine can do something this miraculous. 

We go back in two weeks for a blood test and then a sonogram to confirm pregnancy. 

I feel good about it. Erin and Jose are too deserving for "embie" not to stick.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Two more days...

It's Saturday night and I get a text from Erin saying "two more days....".

And, yeah, two more days!!!

I spent Thursday cleaning and doing laundry. Yesterday we ran errands that I needed done before the transfer, and visited with a friend and her new baby. Today I decided to go to a very special VBAC birth...I say "decided", because I'm supposed to be on vacation. But, it's just what I needed this weekend. It was good for my VBAC momma soul. Then Chris and I went on a date tonight. A relaxing evening talking and just enjoying each other. Tomorrow we plan to get the house in order, grocery shop, meal prep.... 

We're just trying to get everything in order for next week. We want to create the most calm and peaceful environment possible for the "embie". We have friends and family lined up for the two days I'm on bed rest. (And I'm really looking forward to laying in bed all of Tuesday, I admit) Chris took off work on Monday night so that he can help with the nuggets. I'm just so lucky to have such supportive family and friends....

My heart races knowing that Monday can be the beginning of a dream realized for a family who has walked a long, hard road. I'm so excited for them. And I'm excited for their future baby. There will never be another baby loved so much. 

Again, please pray for us all. Send positive thoughts. Sticky pregnancy vibes. Light a candle. 

I'll update again. In two more days....

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 12...The date is set!

I went back to the RE yesterday! My final sonogram in the preparation phase. I finally met Dr E, Erin's usual doctor. Just as nice as Dr H, and quite the snazzy dresser! He did a sonogram to check my uterine lining and said my uterus was "beautiful"!! THAT is a compliment I hadn't received before. Haha

Nurse N did a blood draw to see where my estrogen and progesterone levels were. To transfer the embryo my estrogen needs to be high and my progesterone low. My estrogen was in the 400s and my progesterone was 0.5! So, perfect!! 

She explained all the new meds I'd be taking. I stay on the estrogen patch, the aspirin, added in an antibiotic, and lots of progesterone. I started this morning with my newest regimen. I'm also taking fish oil and a whole food prenatal. Hoping to add back in my other usual supplements in the next few weeks.

SO, THE DATE HAS BEEN SET!! November 18th at 3pm. If you're so inclined, we'd love all the prayers, well wishes, positive thoughts, and sticky vibes you're able to send. Think about Erin, their sweet embryo, and me on Monday. Light a candle. Whatever you can do, we'll appreciate it! 

I plan to take it pretty easy over the weekend, leading into the big day. Some house cleaning and meal prep for the following week. I'm to be on bed rest through Tuesday and then taking it easy rest of the week. Currently lining up friends and family to help with my nuggets so that I can relax, rest, and focus on "embie" sticking. 

Chris is coming with me on Monday. As is Erin, Jose, Gina, and our birth photographer, who will be documenting the entire journey through film and photography. (Natasha Hance for all you birthy photog people.) Check her out here....

I'm so thrilled the day is nearing. It makes the meds seem like no big deal to know I may have a squishy, little wombmate soon!! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 9...Girl's Night Out

I decided that before getting "knocked up" I should plan a night out with my girlfriends. Dinner at a yummy Italian restaurant, dancing, a night of letting loose and enjoying the amazing ladies in my life. The ladies who have supported me since I decided to become a surrogate, the ladies that will continue to love and support me as I walk through pregnancy with my sweet surro baby. 

These are ladies you'll probably hear about over the next several months. So, I will add some pictures of their gorgeous faces! 

My gorgeous midwives. Kaitlyn on the left and Gina on the right.
Marsha. One of my favorite friends and neighbor. 

Recognize this face? Yep, it's Jayme! Fellow student midwife.
Alyson. Friend, babysitter, photographer  extraordinaire.
Lynne! Super sweet friend and my favorite makeup artist!
Bethy. One of the sweetest women I know!!
LOL...silliness at the end of the night!! This is my beautiful friend and fellow doula, Pam.
Dancing the night away! My good friend, Jessica, on the end joined us after dinner for all the fun stuff!! 

It was such a fun night and I was so, so, so happy I had this night out. Chances are these girls will show up in my blog again! 

Now!! On to the pregnancy!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4th, Saline Sono and Trial Transfer

It's been a week since I started meds. It's been going well.... Some headaches, nausea, grogginess, and....some other stuff, but it's not *so* bad. I have another week taking what I'm on now and then I start adding in other meds. Not too shabby..

Today, though, I went back to see Dr H for my saline sonogram and trial transfer. This time I dragged Jayme along.


We went back to my "usual" room to wait for Dr H and Nancy. The wait is much easier, I admit, when you have someone to talk to while bare bottomed. Jayme swore she would hold my hand if I returned the favor when she births her first baby. (And, I mean, of course I will!!)

Dr H came in, explained the saline sonogram and trial transfer. And basically, in my very unscientific and unprofessional terms, he inserted a catheter into my uterus, through my cervix. This was to make sure they had a clear path into my uterus when they actually have the embryo to transfer. They injected the saline to check for polyps or fibroids in the endometrium. 

My uterus looked great and overall it was a fairly easy procedure!

^^my uterus filled with the saline. It was pretty neat to actually watch it fill on the screen. Jayme was equally impressed. ;)

So, that was that!! I'm still on the estrogen (pills and patches) and added in baby aspirin. I scheduled my next ultrasound and blood work for next Tuesday!! 

Here's to hoping my uterine lining is thick and my progesterone levels are low!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Today is Day Three of Meds. I'm feeling a bit foggy and tired, but otherwise great! Looking forward to taking my nuggets Trick-or-Treating tonight!!

Happy Halloween!

Hope you and your family have a great night! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 28th, Baseline Sonogram

The baseline sonogram. Day 3 of my cycle I had to see the reproductive endocrinologist (RE) for a baseline sonogram that basically just checked out my ovaries and uterus. I dragged my mom along so I didn't have to go alone. I admit, I was pretty nervous about it. Not because I thought it would be painful. Just more awkward...

I arrived to an always pleasant staff and was escorted to the same room I waited in the last time I was at their office. This time I was asked to undress from waist down and wait on the exam table. My mom calmly flipped through a magazine (not sure what she was reading) while I nervously sat on the table, checking out the sono machine.

Dr H walked in only a few minutes later and I immediately relaxed. I saw him for my initial appointment; he has a calmness and warmth about him. And gorgeous blue eyes. He explained that the ultrasound would be quick and easy. 

He told no lies. It was less than five minutes. He explained everything he was looking for. Said I had ovaries filled with eggs. I quipped, that's the reason I have a baby every year. And, He said my uterus looked great...


And we were done! He explained that a week later I'd come back in for a saline sonogram and trial transfer. After giving me a prescription for all the meds I'd need and a cheat sheet of what and when to take them, I was sent to see the nurse, Nancy. 

She was just as sweet as the last time, walking me through everything. We made an appointment for the following week and then I was off.

Oh! Did I mention she also gave us a transfer date of November 18th??!! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 26th, It's here!

My "menstrual cycle" (<---that's so formal for me) is HERE!! Now we finally get to move ahead! Yay!! Sending texts to Erin and our midwives was the best feeling! We've been waiting for this for well over a month. Of course I also called and sent texts to my closest friends and family. Stay tuned for the latest updates. We have several appointments over the next few weeks to gear up for the transfer! I'm so excited I may pee! Eeeee!

Here we go......

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 7, Meeting our Midwives

So, as a student midwife, doula, and birth junkie in general, picking a birth team often comes before or right after pregnancy. I chose to use my doula from Finn's birth because, well, she's awesome. I hired her the day after Erin and I had dinner. She was also the first person I hired for Finn's birth. Hey, doulas are important!

Hiring a midwife was a bit harder. I LOVE my midwives, Sarah and Gina, from Finn's birth. They walked with me through my HBAC journey with so much love and support. It was hard to think about never birthing with them again. However, I also apprentice with another awesome midwife who I also love. And, really, one of her students, Jayme, is mega awesome. Like, watch out DFW, she's going to rock your socks when she's a CPM! Who do I hire? My amazing midwives from my last birth or the amazing ones I work with and learn from??

Erin made the decision easy. She felt most comfortable using the midwives I had with my last HBAC. I agreed that was a great choice (really, I couldn't go wrong either way). Plus, this provided a more middle ground for us all. And, I love my sweet midwives.

I found out that sadly Sarah would still be on maternity leave with her adorable babies, so Gina alone would be my midwife. I love Gina. She was a doula for years and is now an amazing midwife. Besides being insanely skilled, she's emotionally invested in her mommas, and that's especially important in our case.

Gina works closely with a local doula and student midwife, Kaitlyn. After spending a day texting back and forth about all sorts of stuff, I decided she was best as our birth assistant/second midwife. She's the sort of person who radiates warmth and love. If you ever see a photo from a birth she attended you can feel the love through the pictures. She really, really cares. It was a no brainer that she should also be apart of our journey.

Now that we decided on midwives, it was important that Erin meet them in person and that they get to know her, and her story. I wanted her to feel safe with them, to feel loved. To know that they were also invested in this journey we are on.

We sat and talked with them for about an hour. Erin shared her story. Gina and Kaitlyn shared their backgrounds. It truly felt like we had made the best decision.

We left with lots of hugs and a promise of a group text when my next cycle starts! haha

September 30th, meeting the Reproductive Endocrinologist...

To say I was dreading meeting the RE is an understatement. A very big understatement. I mean, I was beyond thrilled to be starting the journey. I was just less than thrilled to have a doctor in my, ya know, lady parts. It's been years since I've had a male doctor. In fact, since Christian was born, 12 years ago. But I did the necessary tasks when going in for a pap/transvaginal ultrasound/uterine check! Eek! I even put on makeup!

I emailed Erin that I was feeling BLEH about what the RE had in store at that first appointment. Small step and mild sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, this I know. But I was going to hold tight to my girlish ways and bitch in moan the whole morning.

I went alone because Erin couldn't get out of work and Chris was watching the littlest nuggets. On the way I did think I should have dragged, Jayme, a fellow student and good friend, along. She is training to be a midwife, so vaginas are right up her alley. But, I didn't think of it until I was well on my way. *sigh*

Anyway, I finally got called back to see the doctor. They stuck me in a room that had a single gyno table in the center, ultrasound machine beside it (probe latched on the side!!), and several tv screens. The nurse didn't ask me to undress from waist down and so I sat in the lone chair in the room. I debated on and off if I was to remain clothed or not and figured it would be best to do so. Having to shed my skirt and leggings quickly due to failed communication would be far less embarrassing than putting them on.

I flipped through TIME while waiting, debating on the skirt and leggings... something about honey bees? Finally Dr. Haas came in the room and immediately brought me to his office. (thank you all things rainbow colored I did not take off my clothes!!)

We talked about the transfer process, the meds I'd have to take, the time frame, when to call, all the labs Chris and I needed done, the different appointments. Thankfully he made an actual time line/cheat sheet and then sent me on to the nurse, Nancy, who also vomited information that she too wrote down so my mommy brain would not forget.

I was then sent on my way with instructions of what I needed to get back to them and when to call to start the meds! Um, the transfer was going to happen sooner than we had expected. Like, MONTHS sooner! I was giddy and excited and could not wait to go to Wal-Mart and buy another car charger for my almost dead phone so that I could text Erin!

I admit I did feel a pang of WTF when I was walking out and the doctor had not done any cervical/vaginal/uterine checks of any kind. Dude, I shaved my legs....and some other stuff.

Eh, I left unscathed and beyond excited about the road that lies ahead...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

This is our story...

It wasn't long after my fourth baby was born that surrogacy was laid on my heart. It's true that my last pregnancy was easy "ish" and his birth, a home VBAC, was life changing. It was the sort of birth you want to do over and over again. Problem was, our family was complete. We knew we were done growing our own babies when we all sat in bed admiring our newest addition last March.

I spent many months battling my longing uterus and the reality that our family was ready to move on to the next chapter. I desperately wanted to do that day again, the day Baby Finn peacefully and calmly joined our family. The day that my Mom, Mother-in-law, and our three older children watched sweet Finn come Earthside in a birth tub filled with water in the center of our bedroom. I wanted to be in the center of all the love again. Surrounded by my birth team who walked my HBAC journey with me. The women who shed tears with me as his chubby body emerged from the water and I held him tight exclaiming, "I did it!". Ahh....just thinking about that day makes me smile. It makes me cry. It makes my heart full; overflowing. How could I ever not experience that again?

In the months that followed Finn's birth, my life changed. My passion for natural birth and for serving women during pregnancy and birth deepened. The flame in my heart burned brighter than ever before. That day, and really the care I received throughout my pregnancy with him, lead me to midwifery. I wanted to help women believe in their bodies, trust birth, experience that "I did it" moment, just like I had. But there was something else being laid on my heart. Surrogacy. Yes, I wanted to birth again; but not for myself.

I wanted to help another woman become a mom, just like I am. In the same way I had; through natural birth. I wanted to walk the journey through pregnancy and birth with a woman, just like me. Only one who could not bear her own child, one who is far stronger than I could ever hope to be. One who would bless my life and leave me changed.

And so this is how our story goes....

Late last year I contacted a surrogacy agency for information. Finn wasn't even a year yet and we were in the thick of nursing, I knew I wasn't ready. I just needed information. I needed to feel like I was working towards meeting the woman who was waiting for me. The woman I'd be honored to walk this journey with. Surrogacy and this woman, who I didn't know yet, tugged at my heart daily. The agency shut me down at midwifery care. I shrugged it off, held on to faith, and went about enjoying my baby.... I'd come back to this.

Finn turned one earlier this year, in March. I knew I was closer to meeting her. I posted in a local birth networking group, asking for advice. Had anyone known of someone having had a home surrogate birth? Was this even possible? The posts were positive, they gave me hope. And then I got a private message on facebook from a doula. She told me about her wonderful friend, Erin. Erin had experienced loss. Disappointment. Pain. She had experienced cancer in a way that left her unable to bear children. Her loving friend shared their blog with me.

I read Erin and Jose's blog that night. Every single word. I looked at every single picture posted, in tears. It was her. I messaged her friend back and told her I would love to talk with them. I knew that the last blog post, the one filled with happiness as they prepared for a transfer, was never realized. I knew they had just experienced another loss. A family acquaintance had offered to help Erin and Jose discover their dream of parenthood. They were thrilled. Erin's amazing sister donated her eggs! Yes, she donated her eggs to her sister to help her realize her dream of motherhood, before she was yet a mother herself. (that still leaves me with goose bumps) And then the night before the egg retrieval and the transfer, the to-be surrogate left. She left in the middle of the night, without word. She left behind sadness and questions, false hope. She left an almost discovered dream a distant memory.

I didn't hear back from the super sweet friend and I didn't hear from Erin. Months passed. I busied myself with my family and my midwifery apprenticeship, always thinking about her. I watched beautiful, natural, out of hospital births weekly. I loved on beautiful mommas and adorably squishy newborns. I talked about my surrogacy. I talked about how amazing it was going to be. How it would be filled with love. How it would bond two families forever.

During this past Summer my mind could no longer convince my heart (and my uterus) to wait. I started actively "looking". I called another agency and again was shut down at home birth. I didn't really want to use an agency. I hated that it didn't seem warm and personal. I didn't like the fees associated with it. It seemed unfair to charge a couple who has experienced such pain and loss that kind of money. I'm not judging those who do go through an agency. It is a safe and effective way to go about surrogacy. I just wanted something different. Something more. But, at the same time, I didn't know how to do it independently.

I posted once more in the same birth networking group. I was feeling discouraged.... Several doulas commented, giving suggestions, people to talk to. My doula (from Finn's birth), Maria, suggested I join a Texas surrogacy group. And so I did. I immediately posted a bit about myself and what I was hoping to do. I got several responses, one from a woman who worked for an agency. She commented that she had sent me a message. I checked and found nothing. I remembered hearing about an "others" folder on facebook and so I fired up my laptop to check it out. Sure enough it was there. And under it was another message. One that had been sitting in there for weeks and weeks... My heart dropped. It was her.

I messaged Erin back as fast as my fingers would type. Yes! I'm still interested in being a surrogate. No! I haven't found anyone yet. What about you? Where are you at in this journey? It had been over six weeks. I felt a twinge of excitement, but it was layered in disappointment. How could this message be sitting here for so long?? The next day she replied and we decided to talk on the phone that evening. That conversation went on for hours. We talked and laughed and cried. She was on board, even if a bit hesitant, with a home birth. It felt so right.

From there we messaged on facebook, we sent texts back and forth. The following weekend we went to dinner with Jose and Chris, to meet in person. We spent hours talking, getting to know each other. Their story, our story, their expectations and ours. It was one of my favorite dinners ever. It was easy and fun and full of so much hope.

It was clear that I had found her.