Sunday, June 4, 2017

Journey Two....Baby Joel

Surrogacy was laid on my heart not long after our fourth, and last, baby was born in 2012. After nearly two years nursing him, I started my first journey in October 2014. I delivered a beautiful baby boy for my IPs in January 2015. By the end of 2015 I knew I wanted to pursue a second journey, which leads us here....

A fellow surrogate told me about Family Source Consultants. I emailed Zara with FSC and was immediately impressed with her sincerity and level of communication. We spoke on the phone a few days after my initial contact and applying with FSC and it was obvious she cared about a solid match, which was really important to me. As a Licensed Homebirth Midwife, who has birthed half of my children outside of the hospital, I knew I wanted to have a homebirth with this journey as well. Zara was open to learning about my birth desires and finding IPs who would also embrace this "different" kind of journey.

In March 2016 Zara sent me P&E's profile, Intended Fathers from Spain. They had recently applied with FSC and their profile had just become active. Immediately I knew it was them. They were my IPs. I can't remember exactly what is was that drew me to them. I know that I loved the flow of their responses to questions asked on the profile. They were funny and endearing. They seemed to have a sweet relationship with each other with a big, loving family and support system. Their sense of humor seemed to match that of mine and my husband's. They seemed like they could be friends. I also loved that they wanted an open relationship with their surrogate and the possibility of a friendship and relationship after baby was born. You can never guarantee how the journey will unfold and what your relationship will end up being, but I wanted the possibility of gaining lifelong friends, extended family even, from this journey.

I emailed Zara that I loved their profile and then sat on pins and needles waiting to hear back. Would they like mine? Would they be open to an out of hospital birth? I was open to a birth center birth if that made my potential IPs more comfortable, but I much preferred to stay at home for the birth. The next day I heard back that they too were interested in a Skype meeting! And the rest, as they say, is history!

Once we were officially matched I became friends with P&E on Facebook. Social media is the easiest way for me to keep in touch. In addition to learning about each other through daily Facebook posts, we had a private message group. That's how we really got to know each other. Lots and lots of laughs in that group message!!

June 2016...medically cleared for the journey!

August 2016...in Chicago for the transfer!


We transferred one little boy embryo on August 18, 2016 in Chicago. Three days later I got our first positive on a home pregnancy test. It was a faint line, so I decided to wait to see if it got darker before telling the dads. By day five post transfer there were two solid lines. I took a digital test and "pregnant" popped up right away! That's when I let P&E know, we were pregnant!

Telling the dads we were pregnant 

First beta...confirms pregnancy!


From there we did several blood tests to check hcg levels (beta) to confirm pregnancy and be sure baby was growing well. We then got to start seeing my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) here to check on baby via sonogram. We went weekly to see baby and my IFs always Skyped in to see baby.  At 10 weeks pregnant we finally graduated from the RE and got to move on to regular prenatal care with our midwife!


September 2016...watching Baby J grow


P&E came to the States to visit in October. We had a great time visiting with them. They met my family and some of our birth team. Meeting in person made the journey even sweeter.

October...lunch with some of our birth team 


Months went by and Baby J grew. My friendship with P&E grew as well. We talked a lot and discussed their travel plans here for the birth as well as the actual birth. We had planned for a homebirth at my house. We planned on my family being there and E's parents, who also were flying in from Spain. We were nearing the end of the journey, which I always find bittersweet. You envision the moment they meet their baby, all the while knowing it also means the journey is coming to an end.

                              



Bump photos from along the way... 

At the end of April, when I was 38 weeks, P&E flew to the States. E's parents flew in the following week. There were lots of dinners with them, with my family, with our birth team. When I was 39 weeks we hosted a pre-Baby J celebration at our house. We invited the dads and their parents, my mom and mother-in-law, and our birth team and their families. We had traditional Texas BBQ and spent the day hanging out, eating, and gearing up to meet Baby J. E's parents, E&M, gifted my whole family with personalized Barcelona jerseys, that we love!! It was the perfect day for everyone to get to know each other. 

Cookies I had made to celebrate Baby J

Our littles in their jerseys


From there we waited! Finally on May 9th it appeared to be go time! I had some early labor stuff going on that morning and wasn't sure if it was the real deal, so I held off on telling P&E. I worried about getting their hopes up only to have to say, "oops, it's not actually time yet". Instead I asked our midwives to come over to check on me and baby. As the morning went on it appeared I was definitely in labor, but it was slow going. I went ahead and messaged the dads that today was the day! I told them we were heading out for a walk in hopes of getting contractions to become more regular and I'd update them when we got back to the house. I later saw a video of them telling E's mom that today was the day and she was so excited! They decided to go ahead and get ready and head my way since they were staying about an hour from my home. About 20 minutes after contacting them my labor went into high gear and I was suddenly thrown into active labor that very quickly shifted to transition. One of my midwives updated them, our doula, and our photographers that they all needed to come quickly. I knew none of them would make the birth. I tried breathing instead of pushing to buy time, but eventually Baby J was ready!! Thankfully my mom lives close by and was able to fill in as videographer and my hubby served as my doula, offering lots of love and support. One of our midwives hurriedly set up the birth pool and with about a foot of water in it, they let me get in just in time for Baby J to come Earthside. After about 25 minutes of active labor, I delivered sweet Baby J into my hands, in the water, in our bedroom. I have caught (delivered) a lot of babies as a midwife and Baby J is by far the most special catch I've had. 


Some stills from the video my mom took of the birth


Over the next 20 minutes or so everyone began to arrive. Our doula and one of our photogs were first and the dads and grandparents arrived shortly after, the same time as our second photog walked in. I'm so thankful the photographers were able to capture the first moment they met their long awaited baby. 





The next few hours were spent with our two families hanging out in our home getting to know Baby J. My mom picked up our youngest three from school so they could meet him as well. My youngest especially loved talking to him when I was growing him. It was a celebration and the sweetest kind, one that was centered around new life. I nursed Baby J whenever needed and E took and herbal bath with him. Eventually I performed his newborn exam and his grandma got him dressed. Our midwives went over discharge instructions while I got yummy baby cuddles. And about three hours after he came into this world, there were hugs and kisses and then they all left for home. 

                  

Our littles meeting him on the outside for the first time 

The dads watching the birth video my mom captured 


The herbal bath 

A champagne toast we all did to Baby J, new friends, and extended family 

    
Listening to discharge instructions  






Our birth team: my mom, E's mom and dad, P&E, me and Baby J, our midwives, our doula, and my hubby. 


After the birth we continued to visit with P&E and Baby J while they were here. We did postpartum home visits with them to check on baby. I got lots of cuddles and nursed him when we were together at the first home visit. I had an amazing photographer do a newborn session with them at the apartment they were staying at. I also brought more breastmilk for Baby J that I had pumped at that visit. 




  

Some of my favorite photos from that session



The weekend before they were heading back to Spain we planned a dinner with them, our midwives, and their husbands. After dinner we went out for drinks (grandma babysat). We had a fun night talking about the journey and the birth and how we all met so many amazing people along the way. From our agency to our RE to their family and friends and my family and friends. We were all in amazement of how many people followed our journey and how loved Baby J is. 

Me and our midwives, Amanda and Jamie

Drinks out with my IFs, midwives, and hubbies 


 The day before they were leaving we took our kids to say goodbye to P&E and Baby J...



Grandmas, surro grandma and bio grandma



And then with lots of hugs and kisses (and plenty of tears from me), we said our final goodbye. They flew back to Spain the following day. We've messaged almost daily since. We check in on each other and I get the cutest pics of my sweet belly buddy. Our midwives and I have started planning a trip to see them in Spain next summer! Words cannot describe this journey. It was truly the most amazing experience and I'd do a million times over. 

Baby Joel: Born May 9, 2017 12:51pm
7pounds 4ounces, 21inches 



                                                                       

                                                                         About me

My name is Susan Taylor and my husband, Chris, and I have four children. Christian (16), Kadyn (9), Rylie (7), Finley (5). We live in Fort Worth, Texas where I'm a Licensed Midwife, serving women in homebirth and birth center settings. I have completed two surrogacies. I've had 5 completely natural births, one c-section, 3 VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), and 2 waterbirths.




Photo credit: www.birthunscripted.com and www.alyrenee.com

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