Monday, October 24, 2011

Diary of a New 4am (aka The Witching Hour)

It's 4:20 am and my husband has not yet come up to the bedroom to tap me it's my turn. I better get up anyway and see what's happening at baby headquarters. I'm surprised to hear nothing as I sneak down to the basement. Husband's eyes are half open watching some terrible action movie, while two babies sleep soundly. He mumbles something about them just being fed. I feel a tiny surge of excitement that all may be calm as I shoo husband upstairs and quickly get settled on the couch, ready to put my head down and continue sleeping. Could this really be happening? Could I be so lucky?

It's now 4:25 and #2 stirs. I open one eye, but I don't move, I don't breath. I say a little "god please" prayer in my head as I lay in wait. I hear "eh. eh. eh." I continue to be still...not making a sound. The struggle continues, but there is nothing too alarming...nothing that warrants lifting my head off the pillow. I close my eye and feel myself falling softly into a deep sleep.

It's 4:26. The house must be on fire because there is an alarming scream coming from the basinet. I bolt off the couch which makes my head hurt. I approach the basinet and first try Binky, but this just makes #2 madder. In an effort to make amends, I pick him up. Silence. Hm... Annoying. We rock for a few minutes, his eyes fighting to stay open, but he is weak. He is 2 weeks old. I win, smile, and carefully and fluidly place him back in the bassinet. I quickly walk away with a smirk on my face - pat on back for being Mother of the Year. I quickly situate myself on the couch, ready for a few more hours of much needed sleep.

It's now 4:32. It's not like there's anything but liquid poo in there...what on EARTH is he trying to squeeze out with such vigor? A watermelon? I wait patiently for the fruit to pass, but the pushing and squeezing and grunting is getting louder and his frustration growing. One quick screech I'm sure dogs throughout the neighborhood hear, and I get up. I pick up, sooth and bounce again. Silence. Again, annoying. Mummy needs her sleep too. Why does the pushing, squeezing and grunting become silenced when I am there? We have a cuddle on the couch, a sure thing to calm him down, but not this time and the grunting turns into full on crying. We're now up again...walking and pacing, soothing and stroking. Calm... Calm... zzzzzz He's out. Wait...don't push your luck. Keep walking for a few more minutes. Still calm. Attempt to put down in one inch/sec increments. Success! Race back to couch, jump in and throw blanket over body in one quick motion.

It's 4:45 and the grunting begins. Maybe he hates being swaddled!?? Maybe grunting isn't about pushing a watermelon, but about freeing arms. Yes! That must be it! Jump up and help free arms from swaddle... aaaah, bingo! Silence... calm.

It's 4:46 and apparently freeing limbs is not the issue. I get up much more slowly, feeling more and more resigned, grunting as I stand. I approach #2. Sigh. Pick him up and sooth... hear a big fart and realize that nappy might be wet. I do a diaper change and as suspected it's squash soup down there. Figure this has to be the reason for such fussiness...I mean who wants to sit in their own sh*t? Feel patience and mother earth-ness slipping away...shake it off and return to soft calming mummy. I fly upstairs to get his new sleep sack. It's time to try it because swaddling might be frustrating. He's dry, he's comfy cozy...I try a change of venue and place him into his bouncy chair which is the equivalent of a huge fuzzy papasan. THAT goes down like a lead balloon. Up we get. We go upstairs together where I prepare a bottle from frozen with one hand. It's warm, it's nutritious, it's delicious, but he's not interested. He screams. Again, we pace...back and forth...back and forth. All is once again calm.

It's now 5:15 and he's dead asleep in my arms. I cannot feel my hands, and my neck muscles are completely fried. I hear a quick high pitched squeak from basinet #1 and I whisper snap, "don't you even THINK about it!" She goes back to sleep. I am grateful. I turn my attention back to #2 and ever so carefully lie him down in his basinet. The transfer appears to be a success. I veeeery sloooooowly tip toooooooe awaaaaay...throw myself back onto the couch, curl up and pray.

It's now 6am and after repeating steps 1 through 6, I decide to give in and just get up. I prop #2 up in the boppy pillow, turn on the TV, brew a pot of coffee, I have some cereal.

I come downstairs and what do I find? This.

And as long as it's taken me to write this post...he hasn't stirred an inch.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Breast Milk Debate

NO! I'm not inviting one...merely giving my opinion on a topic that came to light the other day. Nickole, like any of us who seek info/support/advice for whatever we happen to be going through at the time, joined an online forum for surrogates -- and as one does, became quite good friends with some of them as they went through the surrogacy journey together. Well she got into a "message fight". She mentioned she was pumping for the twins and someone asked her how much she was charging for it and went on to say that SHE charges $1.25 per ounce. WOWZA. That is ALOTTA money...and I am no stranger to forking out ALLOTTA money, but that seems a pretty steep premium. And from a IP perspective it feels a little more ouch because WE would LOOOVE to be breast feeding our babies...for the amazing health benefits, but also for the bonding experience. And I guess what it comes down to for ME, is that despite those great benefits, we could not afford to pay that kind of premium for breast milk. With the amount that Nickole is pumping for us, at that rate, it would cost us $40/day. Formula costs $4/day, and that's the convenient (read more expensive) stuff. I know breast milk is the best, no question, but formulas are amazing these days. Bottom line it would most definitely force us to have to choose formula over breast milk and I guess it just feels a little like, "if you want it, you're gonna have to pay for it." Or, ok charge a little less for god's sake!! It's extortionate! $1,200 a month, in our case.

I don't know - maybe my perspective is completely off the norm...after all everyone in the world seemed shocked that we had not had a single problem, and I think it came down to the fact that we respected each other and became friends. We did not nickel and dime Nickole and she was never greedy. She accepted everything graciously, but no matter what we did for her, her gift to us was worth much much more. We had a running joke where she would say, "thanks for lunch!" and I would follow that with, "thanks for having our babies!" lol

Back to Nickole and the forum. The fight ensued and someone said she was "stupid" for not charging. I can just see them (as with all forums) sitting behind their keyboards having fun attempting to bring her down a notch. They probably don't like her because our arrangement was rosy. I think I know a few things about Nickole now... most of them fall in the above and beyond the call of duty category, but one other thing I know about Nickole is that you WILL NOT take advantage of her. I dare you to try it and you just see what happens.

The "woman" said she charged $1.25 per oz. and Nickole argued that if it were not for the baby she had given birth to she would not even have it so charging any amount was stupid and ..."wow the pumping for 15 minutes every 4 hours must kill you." The surrogates then ganged up on her and said she was stupid for not charging and so she told them all what she thought of them and left the board.

I feel badly that she was attacked on the boards - we've all been there and it's definitely no fun - especially when people suggest we are being taken for a ride... Regardless of anyone's opinion, or their arrangement, or what's in contracts, or what the "going thing" is, Nickole OFFERED to pump for the twins she cared for for 9 months. She knows the benefits of breast milk and wants our babies to take hers. Yes, she's a saint for doing this. Full stop. She is awesome and those girls are assholes for saying anything other than, "wow, you are doing that for those people? You truly are exactly what a surrogate mother should be."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Introducing Elliot and Alexander!

Our little Princess Elliot Rose

And our little man Alexander James

Moments after the C-Sec

The twins are finally home and OMG are they adorable or WHAT! I just cannot believe how perfect and gorgeous their little bodies are, and more than that, I can't even begin to understand how someone can love another being so instantly and completely, right from the moment they come into your life. I know a lot of people have said they didn't get that instant love connection thing, but I think that had everything to do with the plummeting "happy" hormone that goes along with pregnancy, and also healing their own body in the process, feeling the pain of labor, or healing from a C-sec. I had to go to great lengths not to have any of those things to deal with!!! so we'll call it one of the upsides to surrogacy.

We arrived at the hospital for our "scheduled" C-sec for 9am... but were quickly informed we were delayed due to the unexpected high volume of women who came in throughout the night. We were taken to a very large birthing room, and Nickole, Jon, Chris and I got comfy in some fancy hospital recliners. Jon and Chris chatted about driving over Zombies and something about angry birds, while Nickole and I chatted about aches and kicks and the excitement of it all. The nurses were amazing, and assured Nickole that the doctor performing the C (Dr. Corby) was an excellent doc (female) and not to worry at all she would be well taken care of.

At about 11:15 they started an IV on Nickole, which WASN'T fun, but they got it the 2nd time around - what is it about getting an IV that is so horribly awful and never a success on the first attempt? The nurse didn't make a connection with a vein, although she thought she may have, so the saline started dripping, but it shattered the vein and Nickole's arm started to swell up and BURN. Not at all fun for Nickole. But we finally managed to get a good one in and she got taken away to be prepped for surgery. A few minutes later they brought me in, only to find a jam packed delivery room, and a very upset Nickole who after having the injection into her spine, took one whiff of the oxygen and threw up. She was NOT happy, but I think seeing me there put her at ease a little. I held her hand as they announced Baby A - it's a girl!... and then I promptly burst into tears (obviously). Nickole looked at me so happy to give this gift...she is truly an amazing person. Then as I was bawling over the birth of my baby girl, Nickole squeezed my hand and said, "hey! Baby B is coming!" and then they announced Baby is a Boy!! It all happened so fast but I try to go back to that 15 minutes and relive it in my head... it chokes me up every time. Nickole knew all along what the babies were going to be and knew we would be so happy with that. I'm sure she was relieved that the long-held secret was finally out! She said it was no easy feat keeping it all mum for 6 months!

The swarm of nurses then ensued as they did all of their preliminary testing and probing. The babies were so good and responsive... they did not need to be taken to NICU because they were PERFECT. They still are.

We then were all taken to a large room so that we could all sit and marvel at what we'd accomplished. We were happy to be there with Nickole and Jon - I could not have imagined sending Nickole off after all she had done for us. I think it also helped ease the transition of her letting go of the babies, which cannot be easy, even for Nickole who said she'd be a-ok. She got to hold them both and finally say hello to the little ones she'd held so safe and sound in her body for so long. Honestly, I want everyone to know just how wonderful that woman is...and her supportive husband. They are truly amazing people with hearts of gold. When I think about what she sacrificed (her body, her time, her family's time, her life) to be able to give us... I just can't wrap my head around exactly WHAT kind of person it takes to do that. She is so awesome and our time together could not have gone better. There is not one thing to complain about...and apparently that is a RARE thing in the world of surrogacy. Add to that she has 10 bags of frozen breast milk just waiting for us. I know right?!!!

We then were separated so that Nickole could heal her body and see her kids, and we could have some alone time with our new family. We spent 2 nights in the hospital getting to know our little ones, and learning so much from the nurses who were absolutely fantastic. They were not worried about us though... said we were doing amazingly well. Funny how that thing kicks in and you just go to it.

So there you go - one amazing birth story.

We are completely and utterly head over heals in love.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's all been about this moment...

It's Friday night, October 6th, and our babies will be born tomorrow. How nuts is that??? This whole crazy blog, if you've been reading, has been about the struggle to have a family, whatever way possible, and here we are (albeit still in denial) about to be parents. Us! Parents!! The word of the year is "craaaazy."

I can't believe the overwhelming excitement from all of our friends and family - you are all truly amazing people. Someone said to me today, "what does it feel like to know that people all over Canada, the US and Europe are cheering for you?" I mean WOW! feels absolutely amazing! It truly does...and I don't think I can adequately thank you for just how much you've cared, and how kind your emails and posts have been. You never gave up on us, you never got tired of hearing the broken record.

And without my little world of support would we be here? I know without a doubt that I had a goal and I wasn't going to stop until I had a baby...but I can't deny there were dark times when the hope was fading rapidly... and that's when you would swoop in and not take no for an answer.

How do I feel right now? Physically...well unfortunately I'm PMSing which doesn't help the emotional roller coaster I'm on. I slept terribly last night because I either have a bad cold, or terrible allergies. I have that awful exhausted run down feeling and today I felt like I hit a brick wall. I got the shivers and had to wrap myself in a blanket and lie down. lololol!! This is NOT how I want to feel on the eve of never sleeping again (which I believe every.single.person has said). I was going to write "what every.single.person has "joked about"", but I don't think anyone is really joking about it, despite the laughs that go with that statement! I think it's more of a "oh just you wait little miss do whatever you want, cook all day with a glass of wine and sleep until 10" laugh. is still (the other word of the year) "surreal" that we are collecting two babies tomorrow. 9am Nickole will have a C-section and we will welcome our babies into the world. I'm excited, and nervous, and scared. But beyond everything, I just want to get to the holding our babies part. The part where they place them in your arms and it hits you in the back of your throat...

We have waited so long for these babies to come into our lives, and now here they are.

I just can't wait to bring you home.