Life After Surrogacy

Is anyone out there still reading? I wouldn’t blame you in the least if you weren’t. After all, it has been almost three months since my last blog post. I don’t know how I let that happen. I figured that I am long overdue for an update. So, let me tell you about life after surrogacy!

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The twins are 4.5mos old now, and as happy and healthy as can be. August 25th was our “transferversary,” exactly one year from the embryo transfer that resulted in the birth of these perfect little ones, so I have been feeling a little nostalgic. What a year it has been! We are still in regular communication with J&C, who send us photos and videos of their incredibly cute kids. I can only imagine how busy their lives have been with two new babies, work commitments, and trying to keep in contact with friends and  family; we are very grateful that they still make time for us in the midst of it all.

I have continued pumping for them so that both babies have been able to enjoy breast milk instead of formula, but I will be wrapping that up in the next two weeks. I plan to be completely done pumping on September 21, when the twins are five months old. As much as I have enjoyed being able to help provide them with the best start in life, I am really looking forward to having my body back and not having to lug the pump around with me everywhere!

J, C, and the babies came to visit C’s family at the end of July and our family got to spend a day visiting with them at C’s sister’s house. It was our family, J, C, the babies, M and P (C’s sisters), M’s husband, P’s kids (the twins’ cousins) and Grandma and Grandpa (C’s parents). It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone, and so rewarding to see how this beautiful family has grown. Both of my girls got some snuggles in with each of the babies, and I was able to feed them both a bottle of pumped milk, which made all the time and effort spent pumping it totally worth it! :)

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J&C have adjusted quite well to parenting two babies, and it’s great to see how happy they are with their children! I was able to go visit by myself a couple days later and had the best day. J had already flown back home for work, so it was just me and C with the babies. I got to help feed, cuddle, change, and bathe them. They have quite the bath time routine, complete with a cozy bathroom (thanks to a portable heater), warm oil massages and lots of muscle stretching. It was so fun to help C for the day and get to spend one-on-one time with all of them.

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As I close in on the end of pumping, it’s pretty bittersweet to think that this entire surrogacy experience is coming to an end. Although I delivered nearly five months ago, I have still been the main source of Baby Boy and Baby Girl’s nutrition while pumping breast milk for them. But this, too, will be ending soon. Word has it they are quite fond of zucchini, though. Who needs breast milk anyway? :)

photo(12)I am looking forward to watching their family grow and develop, and forever remembering the incredible journey we all shared together.

If you’re like everyone else in my life, you’re probably wondering if I’d do it again. So, I’ll leave you with the answer to that: In a heartbeat!! :) I offered to carry for J&C again, if they decide that they would like to have a sibling or two for Baby Boy and Baby Girl. I think they feel pretty complete with their family the way it is, but who knows what the future holds! ;)

They’ll be back down here in October and I’m so looking forward to another visit. Stay tuned for more pictures!

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Part 3…

Where was I? Ah yes, the very deep sleep!

I suppose I forgot to mention that the very pleasant nurse upstairs wasn’t too happy with how much I was still bleeding, so before I drifted off to sleep she gave me another dose of methergine. At least this one was in pill form and didn’t require an injection in my thigh! Then… I slept :)

It was probably close to 2:30 when I finally fell asleep, and I was awoken around 6am by someone from the lab who was there to take blood. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fall back asleep after this and was up for the day. On the bright side, my very kind nurse was totally on board with me taking a shower. She asked if I felt ok, or if I needed help, and actually believed me when I said no! Those 30 minutes alone in the shower felt like Heaven. I was still feeling really cold (maybe from the blood loss? The hormones? I don’t know!) and all of me was sore. It felt so good to just stand under the hot water!

I felt so much better after the shower, and my super sweet nurse had located a pump for me, so I was able to get some colostrum to give to the babies.

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She was rather impressed with how much I was able to pump. Apparently some women only get drops for the first few days. My body is rather productive.

I spent the next couple of hours updating friends and family and wondering what the twins were up to. I was so anxious to see and cuddle them, but I figured J&C were exhausted from their first night with two newborns, and I didn’t want to intrude on their bonding time. I held out until just after 9am when I decided that the babies were probably hungry and I’d might as well make my way downstairs with the colostrum. Josh wheeled me downstairs (their room was pretty far from ours and the nurse wasn’t sure about me walking the whole way yet), and we ran into Dr. Cap and our fabulous nurse from the night before, Helene. Dr. Cap asked how I was doing. I told him I was great, and anxious to head home! He said he would be up to check on me in a few hours and see if he couldn’t get me out of here. Helene gave me the biggest hug and told me that she was so proud of me. It was very sweet. She’s still my favorite nurse! I asked if they knew how everyone was doing and Helene said, “I saw them not too long ago, they’re very tired!” with a chuckle. New parents, tired? Nah, couldn’t be!

When we got to J&C’s room, I left the wheelchair outside and we poked our heads in to find C attempting to sleep and J looking rather tired. J greeted us and asked, “You can walk?!” which made me laugh. I’m not sure if it was the epidural, or the fact that I had given birth to two seven pound babies just hours before, but everyone seemed a little unsure of my ability to walk that day. Both babies were sleeping together in a bassinet and they looked so cuddly. I had to resist the urge to pick them up because J&C said they had just fallen asleep, and I knew they were hoping to get some rest themselves. Aside from asking how their night had gone (Well- both babies were perfect! But with very little sleep due to the nurses popping in for tests and checkups every couple of hours) and offering them the colostrum, we didn’t talk much. I could tell they were tired and I wanted to let them rest before visiting hours started and C’s family arrived for some baby snuggles. So we said goodbye and headed back to our room.

At 10am I got a text from C, saying that his sister M was there visiting and was asking about me. He asked if I wanted to come down, but I told him I didn’t want to intrude on their family time. He said I was so welcome there and that everyone wanted to see me. He didn’t have to ask again :) After pumping again we headed down to visit and I finally go to snuggle the babies again.

IMG_0822small IMG_0835editI was also showered with gifts from their friends and family who had come to visit! This time we hung out for awhile and they filled us in on how the babies were doing (perfectly!) and when they were expected to be released (the next day). Just before we headed back to our own room for me to rest, I got to witness the most beautiful thing. Although C’s sisters and a close friend were there visiting, his mom and dad (Grandma and Grandpa) had yet to arrive. When they finally did, it was so special. His mom walked in and immediately started crying as she picked up Baby Boy. She said something in a different language and sobbed while she kissed his head. It was so special to see her reaction, and it was obvious to all that she was absolutely thrilled to be a Grandmother, again! <3 She and Grandpa both hugged and thanked me, and gave me a beautiful dove necklace that has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. During this time everyone was repeatedly thanking me… they were all so thoughtful! But to be honest, I felt like I should be thanking them. For letting me play such a huge part in their lives… in their family. For being so welcoming and allowing me the opportunity to see them become parents, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. It was so special to be a part of. Grandma and Grandpa were each holding a baby and looking so happy as we slipped out the door.

Knowing that I would likely be released soon, I sent Josh home to get our girls so that they could meet the babies. Not long after Josh left, Dr. Cap came to check on me and told me that I was free to go whenever I wanted. I slept for a couple hours and woke up to two rowdy, excited girls jumping on my hospital bed. We packed up the room, signed the discharge papers, and went down to visit with the babies once more. My girls were rather wild from being in the car for so long (and probably being fed way more sugar than usual. Grandpa was babysitting, after all!) so we didn’t stay with the babies for too long. They were so excited to meet them, though! Both girls held both babies and talked to J&C. They gave them little stuffed animals and touched their tiny fingers and toes. Scarlett (2yr old) kept saying, “Those babies come out you tummy!!” They sure did, Scarlett. Over the course of my surrogacy, a lot of people asked how my girls reacted and if they understood the situation. For whatever reason, many were convinced that it would be hard for them to part with the babies, but they had no problems whatsoever. The entire pregnancy we talked about J&C… about the fact that these babies were theirs, and would be going home with them. We talked about how much they wanted these babies, how happy they were to see pictures of the babies growing, what they had decided to name the babies, what the babies’ room looked like, etc. They knew and loved J&C, and they knew that these babies did not belong to us. There was no confusion, no sadness, no reluctance, and no questioning. They were happy to cuddle them, and just as happy that we did not have to take them home with us! (Don’t mind the black on their heads. Their names were on the hats and have been hidden for privacy)

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After we were all done getting our snuggles in, C opened a bottle of champagne and the four of us (J, C, Josh and I) toasted to Baby Boy and Baby Girl. Then, I kissed their heads and left them sleeping happily in their bassinet.

DSC_0075smallM, C’s sister, had the chance to babysit her niece and nephew while J&C, plus our family went across the street for a celebratory farewell dinner- SUSHI, of course!! We talked and laughed, and ate a whole lot of fish before deciding it was time for us to head home, and time for J&C to get back to their babies. We walked out together, gave hugs, and said see you later. It was short, sweet, and anticlimactic. I think the fact that it was in a restaurant parking lot, as opposed to the hospital, helped. But it didn’t really feel like goodbye. And then, we got in the car and settled our girls down. We got on the freeway and started our drive home. And then I got a text from C. It read, “I am so glad we had a normal ‘see you later’ in the parking lot rather than an emotional ceremony at the hospital. That’s how it should be. We WILL see you later again and again and again.” And then, I cried. Oh, I cried. Almost the whole way home. Just when the tears stopped falling, they would start again without warning. They weren’t tears of sadness. I was so, incredibly happy for J&C. I did not regret my decision. I did not miss the babies. But I missed the journey. For the past year surrogacy had been my life. Medical appointments, embryo transfers, ultrasounds, visits with J, C, and their families. I carried it around with me, in the form of an enormous twin belly, and it was something that I was constantly asked about. And then, just like that, it was over.

On Wednesday I went to visit the babies for the first time since we had said, “See you later” just two days before. The plan was to meet at Dr. Cap’s office for a reunion and then grab lunch, but the babies had a rough night and J&C didn’t feel like taking them out. So I went to visit them at C’s mom’s house instead. This ended up being really nice and I think it was a much better idea than lunch. Grandma made lunch for us there, and I spent the whole day cuddling with and feeding the twins. I sat with J and C and we talked for hours. I kept feeling like I should leave, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. J&C told me to stay as long as I wanted, and that I didn’t have to go. Finally, after almost 6 hours, I told them I should be going. I held each baby and kissed their little heads before J&C walked me outside. J was incredible and kept telling me to please tell them what I needed in the weeks to come… if they weren’t texting/calling enough, if they were texting/calling too much. If I wanted more pictures, if I didn’t want pictures, if I needed to FaceTime, etc. I just nodded and tried not to cry. Surprisingly, saying goodbye to the babies wasn’t the hard part. It was saying goodbye to their parents that really got me. We walked to the curb outside and they both thanked me. I apologized for crying, even though I could see the tears in their own eyes. We talked about them coming to visit in July, and our family being welcome to come visit them. We talked about the twins birthday, and how they’d probably have one in San Diego, too. Then we hugged, for quite awhile, before I finally got in my car. And through blurred eyes, I watched them, standing there on the curb, hugging one another as I drove away. I had grown so close to J&C. They had truly become part of our family, and I was going to miss them so much. I had no doubt that we would stay in touch. That we’d see each other again. That we would forever be apart of each others lives, but it  was still hard to say goodbye.

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The next few days were extremely emotional for me. I was hormonal, sleep-deprived, and still looked 6 months pregnant. I was pumping every two hours in order to get a steady supply of milk for the twins, so I was up all through the night. I didn’t want to go anywhere for fear of someone asking me when I was due and having to explain that I had just given birth, but didn’t have a baby to show for it. Honestly, the hardest part for me was that this had been such a huge part of my life, and it was suddenly over. I felt like strangers should see me and just know. How could it be that this incredible, life changing experience had just happened to me, but no one could tell? Shouldn’t I look different? Shouldn’t they just know?! Of course not, but that’s how it felt. I had gone from being extremely pregnant, and the topic of many conversations, to just another person. No one knew what I had just been a part of. And it meant so much to me. It was so incredible, so rewarding… it didn’t feel right that no one even knew.

The first week was the hardest. Josh took a couple days off work to help me with the girls. I refused to go anywhere until I looked less pregnant. I didn’t want to be asked when I was due, or how much longer I had. Of course they wouldn’t know I had already delivered, I still had a chubby, postpartum belly, and I wasn’t carrying a baby around! Recovery was a challenge. I had lost a lot of blood and I was very tired, my back was sore from the epidural, my nipples were cracked and bleeding from pumping every two hours, and I was still bleeding a lot. But J&C texted daily. They sent so many pictures. We FaceTimed. They asked how I was doing, and I asked how they were doing. Knowing that I had made them parents made all of it completely worth it. Every second. Every drop of blood, every tear shed, every hour spent pumping. It was all worth it, because J&C finally had what they had always wanted- two precious babies of their own. And I helped make that happen. It was, it still is, so rewarding. To see them with their babies is just incredible. I am so happy for them. So, so happy.

And after that first week, it wasn’t hard anymore. The bleeding was manageable, I had become accustomed to the lack of sleep, my stomach had shrunk to a less pregnant-looking size. The soreness in my back was gone, I had more energy, and I got to play with my girls in ways that I hadn’t in a long time. I felt good! I continued to talk to J&C regularly, and we got to oooh and ahh at the twins so often. J&C have been so great at sending us pictures- my girls just adore seeing the babies!

I ended up developing mastitis the second week, and that was a pain in the butt, but I had it with both of my girls, so it wasn’t anything new. I got some antibiotics and I was as good as new. After 5 weeks of waking up every couple of hours in the night, I decided that I needed to be sleeping again, so I gave up my middle of the night pumping sessions. I’m still pumping all through the day, though. Both babies have been able to be eating breast milk exclusively, thanks to my efforts, and the incredible determination of their parents to give them the best start in life. Seriously, though! Any idea how much it costs to overnight two 35lb boxes of breast milk and dry ice to another state each week? A LOT!

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Baby Boy and Baby Girl have some incredible parents, who want nothing but the best for them, and are willing to go through a heck of a lot to give it to them. They don’t know it yet, but they could not possibly have ended up with better parents. They are two lucky little ones, who are growing up with so much love.

I can’t believe it has already been eight weeks since I gave birth to those precious little ones. I am finally completely healed! I hit pre-pregnancy weight at my six week checkup. I’m back to my normal self. I’m enjoying every second of life with my girls, and cherishing each and every picture I get of Baby Boy and Baby Girl. They’re both doing extremely well… growing like weeds, and their parents have fallen totally in love with them. The pediatrician says they’re perfect, but we already knew that :)

Since delivering, I have been asked many times what it feels like to have given away two babies that I carried within me for nine months, and my answer is always the same: it feels incredible. I feel blessed. I feel so lucky to have played such a role in the lives of this family. Do I miss them? Of course! But not in an “I gave my babies away” kind of way. I miss their parents more than I miss them, to be honest! I miss them in a way you miss dear friends who you have not seen for a long time. In the way that you would miss your niece and nephew, perhaps. More than a stranger’s baby, but certainly not like they belong to you. From the first moment I decided to do this, it was always my intention to help start another family, not add to my own. But somewhere along the way, I ended up doing both. I will always consider J, C, and their children an extension of our family. Always.

And as I was typing this, C sent more adorable pictures, so I had to include them as well :) These shirts were part of the decor at their Thing 1/Thing 2 themed baby shower! It feels like a lifetime ago…

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They’ll be coming to visit in July, and we simply cannot wait to see them again!

 

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Immediately Following the Birth

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to sit down and finally write this, but life has been all sorts of crazy lately! I apologize to those of you who have been repeatedly checking back in hopes of finding this post. Without further ado, here it is!

Back to my full heart… my very, very full heart. The emotions that I was experiencing immediately after the birth were very overwhelming. Relief…at the fact that both babies were here and healthy, and that my abdomen had not been sliced open in the process! Joy… at the fact that both babies were here, and healthy, with their parents. Love… for the tiny people who I had spent the past 9 months nurturing, and their parents who had been with me every step of the way. Satisfaction… with myself for a job well done. And so much gratefulness towards Dr. Capetanakis!

Before I get all mushy on you, I want to pause and  give a quick shout out to Dr. Cap, one of the people who truly made this experience for me. For those who don’t know me, I feel it necessary to preface this with a little bit of information about myself. I am a pretty crunchy mom. When it comes to my children and myself, I research everything, and tend to do things a little differently than the “norm.” I won’t consent to unnecessary procedures and medical interventions simply because Western Medicine pushes them on me. I’m not, by any means, an all-natural, unassisted home birth in a big pool in my living room with all of my closest friends around kind of birther. But, I believe that my body was made to birth children, and should be allowed to do so on its own.

From the moment we found out that both embryos implanted and I was pregnant with twins, my biggest fear was ending up with a c-section. Many doctors default to c-sections with twins, regardless of the babies’ positions. Other doctors require both babies to be head down for you to even attempt a vaginal delivery. This was something I really wanted to avoid. It was not because a c-section  would have been the end of the world, but because I planned on having more kids of my own, and I knew that a c-section would make it a lot more difficult for me to have the delivery of my dreams. VBACs ( Vaginal birth after a cesarean) are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve, with fewer and fewer providers offering them. C-section rates are on the rise and doctors are very cut-happy. Not to mention it is major surgery, recovery time is a lot longer, and there are more risks involved than with a vaginal delivery. So, as I begun searching for a provider I paid close attention to c-section rates (for both them, and the hospitals they deliver at). I read hundreds of patient reviews, and asked around quite a bit. I did my research, and all of it led me to Dr. Cap. Despite the fact that I would have to drive an hour each way to see him, I chose him to care for me during this pregnancy, and it was by far, the best decision I could have made! His wife, Angie, runs the office and she is absolutely amazing. The medical assistant is the sweetest gal. They are extremely flexible and always manage to get you in when you need it, with very minimal wait times. Most importantly, Dr. Cap really listens to you. He listens to your concerns, and your desires, and remembers them. He pays attention to what is important to you, and respects it, without sacrificing your medical care. He is a phenomenal provider, and had I not chosen him, I have a feeling that my delivery would have ended up drastically different. I am so happy that I made the decision to use Dr. Cap, and if anyone out there is looking for a FABULOUS OB, I highly recommend him. Over and over and over again. Dr. Cap is amazing.

Ok, now that I have that off my chest, back to the OR! Again- this content is graphic. Read at your own risk!

Both babies had been delivered and were getting acquainted with their parents. I had finally delivered the massive placenta (which J, C, Josh, Dr. Cap, and the nurses were all admiring- “It’s SO BIG!!” “Oh my gosh, it’s massive!” “I can’t believe that was inside her!” “Take a picture!” “How much do you think it weighs?” were all overheard. And yes, there are pictures. No, you do not want to see them). After delivering the placenta I started bleeding quite a bit. I have no idea how much, but I do know that I started to feel cold and shaky. Dr. Cap said there were a lot of clots and he kept doing something with his hand (opening my cervix? I don’t know!) that made more and more come out. Thankfully I did not have any tears and did not need stitches. After a few minutes of him making sure the placenta was all out and that the bleeding was ok, they started getting my bed ready to move. I asked the nurse to take out the catheter, epidural, and IV. She took out the first two, but said I was required to have the IV in for a little bit longer. At least most of my cords were gone! J&C, along with some nurses were prepping the babies to be moved back to our room as well, and I was happy that we were all going to the same place. But then I was ready before they were, and they started wheeling my bed out while J, C, and the babies stayed behind. This was the first part of the journey that felt strange. Wait, you’re just going to wheel me out without them? I can’t really explain it… It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be apart from them, or that I felt like they were mine, it just felt so sudden. They were inside me and half hour later I was going back to my room without them. I wanted to ask the nurses to wait until we were all ready to go together, but that seemed silly. So, I closed my eyes and let them push me back to our room.

J, C, and the babies arrived just a minute or two later, and I instantly felt better. They were already so fixated on their son and daughter. It was very special to watch. After we got back to the room, they gave me a little blue box. I opened it up and found a bracelet with an angel charm, and a note that read, “To our Angel, You have made our dream a reality. <Baby Girl> and <Baby Boy> will add a charm each year to celebrate this momentous day.” And then I cried. The bracelet was beautiful, of course, but I can’t tell you how much that note meant to me. The meaning behind it. The fact that they obviously had plans to keep in touch, and for us to remain a part of each others’ lives… it meant the world to me. I still look at that note and smile. It was the most thoughtful gift they could have given me, and I will always cherish it.

They wheeled the bassinet next to my bed and all three of us stared at the babies, who were content sleeping next to one another. They asked how I was feeling, I asked how they were feeling, and we just admired their children. And then they gave me a giant Chipotle burrito and two baskets of strawberries! Knowing that I hadn’t eaten all day, M (C’s sister) had run out to get me food when she was notified that it was close to time. I was starving and when asked what sounded good, it was strawberries and Chipotle, for sure! After delivery, my appetite was virtually gone, but the burrito was appreciated nonetheless. Thank you, M!! :) I only ate about 1/4 of the burrito before I started feeling queasy and wrapped it back up.

At this point, J, C, and Jhaleh were tending to the babies. Because they were technically “preemies” (Baby boy was born two and a half hours before 37 weeks, or “full-term” and his sister was born less than one hour before this silly milestone) the hospital required them to have a few tests done- one of which was a blood sugar draw. Right before Jhaleh started doing this, I started to feel strange. My teeth started chattering and I couldn’t stop shaking. I was suddenly so cold! I wanted to let Jhaleh finish with the babies before mentioning it, because she was the only nurse for the three of us, but when I felt a few big gushes, I thought it was probably time to mention it. So I told her, “Sorry Jhaleh, but I think I’m bleeding, a lot.” Someone was crying from the blood sugar prick. Baby boy? Baby girl? I don’t remember. I don’t think I ever really knew. I started to feel really strange and everything is kind of a blur. Jhaleh came over, lifted the blanket and said, “Oh, wow!” She started grabbing some blankets for me and wrapping me up in them while calling someone on the walkie-talkie thing “I need another nurse in here, now!” Someone responded, “I’m admitting a patient who is 8.5cm dilated, I can’t come!” Jhaleh yelled, “I have two babies and my patient is bleeding profusely I need some help in here, NOW!!” A pause… then, “I can’t leave this patient, she needs to get in a room! Call Dr. Cap, he’s still here! I’ll send Robin.” Jhaleh started massaging my uterus from the outside- ouch!! and I felt a few more gushes. Dr. Cap came in and quickly got to work, doing the hand thing that made all the blood clots come out before. And then, in comes Robin. Who she is or what she does, I will never know. But this lady looked like someone they found outside and asked to help. She wasn’t wearing scrubs, no medical supplies, just regular pants and a blouse. And she comes right in and offers to help like she runs the place. I remember thinking, is she qualified to be doing this?! But I was too cold to care. Dr. Cap kept apologizing as he rubbed my uterus and got the clots out. I wasn’t making much noise but the tears started falling at this point because it was so painful. He asked Robin for something and she came back in with a needle. “We’re going to give you a shot of methergine to help control the bleeding. This is going to hurt a little, I’m sorry!” and then she stabbed me in the thigh. I was still weirded out by her lack of scrubs, but judging by the fact that Dr. Cap let her give me an injection, I figured she must have been a nurse, or something. After five minutes or so of massage and the hand thing they estimated my blood loss- can’t for the life of me remember what it was, and entered it into the computer. Dr. Cap explained that with twins the uterus is so stretched out that it often takes awhile to clamp down and stop bleeding. I had lost more blood than normal, but this wasn’t uncommon for twins and things should be fine now that he got all the clots out. After piling more blankets on me, he and Robin left.

Jhaleh was back to tending to the babies and I remember wanting to ask how they were doing- did they pass the tests? But I was so tired that I could not, for the life of me, muster the words. J came over and asked if I was ok, then C. They were very sweet, still making sure to check on me even though they had their hands full with their new additions. I don’t really remember if I ever answered. I think my eyes slipped closed for awhile. I remember awhile later that they were ready to move to their own room, and they gave me a hug before saying quick goodbyes. C said, “We’ll see Tarynn for breakfast!” to the babies, which made me happy. At this point I wasn’t worried about them leaving, or the fact that we would be apart. I was actually relieved that I would have my own nurse if I started bleeding again, and that I wouldn’t have to interrupt the babies’ care. I was also really looking forward to sleeping. Jhaleh told me that they were getting a room upstairs, in a different section of the hospital ready for me and she would be back to move me shortly. J, C, and the babies left and I drifted off to sleep.

Despite my best efforts, it was extremely difficult to sleep because I was still so cold. Josh was rubbing my arms and legs through the blankets, trying to warm me up, and then I felt extremely queasy. We called a nurse who brought a pail, and I suddenly regretted that 1/4 of Chipotle burrito. After I was finished the nurse took the pail and left us alone. I tried to sleep for awhile but couldn’t manage to get warm. I also didn’t want to fall asleep and have someone come to move me two minutes later. I don’t know if they forgot about us, or what, but no one had come into our room in over an hour and I was beginning to get extremely annoyed. I was bleeding out an hour ago, and haven’t seen a nurse since. Seriously?! They said I was going to be moved, and no one had followed up at all. I just wanted to be warm, and to sleep. So I pushed the button and told them I was going to take a shower. Someone quickly responded, “No! Jhaleh said you can’t because you were feeling weak and vomiting.” I told her that I was feeling fine now and I was tired of waiting, so I was taking a shower! Before I knew it someone came running in and took over for Josh, who was helping me out of bed. She asked, “Do you feel like you have to yawn? Because if you do that means you’re about to pass out and you should stay seated.” Ummm, no. If I have to yawn it’s probably because I have been up for 20 hours, and just pushed two babies out of my vagina. I’m taking a shower! She held my arm as I walked to the bathroom and told me she wasn’t leaving until I was done showering, because I could pass out and hurt myself. I assured her that I was fine, but she wasn’t having it. So she came into the bathroom and stood there, watching me bathe. This was annoying for two reasons: 1. I was naked, bleeding, and trying to shower, with a lady watching my every move. And 2. I mostly wanted to shower because I was FREEZING, but I felt obligated to hurry since she was standing there the whole damn time.  After about 4 minutes in the shower I dried off and let the nurse help me get dressed. Then she said there was no point in getting back in bed because I was supposed to have been moved upstairs hours ago and she would just take me now. Well thanks, lady! I’ve been lying here ready to move this whole time. She made Josh come hold onto me while she ran out to find a wheelchair and made him swear he wouldn’t let go. For whatever reason, she still did not believe that I could stand on my own!

She brought the wheelchair, sat me down, and helped Josh gather our belongings before she wheeled us upstairs. We got to a tiny room where we were greeted by a very polite nurse, and I was happy to finally have a bed that I could sleep in. The nurse from downstairs seemed extremely happy to finally rid herself of me and scooted out the door as quickly as she had come in. (I found out the next day that she was complaining to J&C about me taking a shower! Whatever, lady). I asked for a pump, since I would be pumping breast milk for the twins, and the new nurse told me that a pump wasn’t very effective at getting colostrum out and that I should try to hand express. I told her I was way too tired for that and would take the pump whenever she could find it, please and thank you. Then, I fell into a very, very deep sleep.

Part three to come… this story is just too long! Please be patient with me. I promise it gets better! :)

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Happy Birthday, Sweet Surro Babies!!

In case you hadn’t already guessed by my lack of update on Sunday, the babies have arrived!! Both of them are absolutely adorable, J&C are in love, and we are all three healthy and doing well.

In short, we had our appointment on Sunday morning with the fabulous Dr. Capetanakis (who came and opened his office just to check my blood pressure!), and it was still up there. Too high for his liking. I also gave a urine sample, and for the first time ever there was a small amount of protein in it. Neither one of these is a huge issue. After all, some women have trace protein throughout their entire pregnancies. But, considering I usually have low blood pressure, and have never had protein in my urine, these symptoms pointed to problems being imminent. Given that we were already so far along, Dr. Cap did not feel comfortable letting the pregnancy progress. He told us we could grab some breakfast and should head to the hospital for an induction. After 10.5hrs of labor, baby boy was born at 9:29pm. He weighed 7lbs 2oz and was 20 inches long. His sister was born after just over 12hrs of labor, at 11:01pm weighing 7lbs 4oz and also measuring 20 inches long. They were both born via vaginal delivery, and are perfect in every way!

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If you’d like to hear the detailed birth story, read on! But please realize that the content is graphic. If you won’t be able to look me in the eye after hearing about my uterus, vagina, cervix, urine, or placenta, feel free to skip this part!

Although we had been staying at M(C’s sister)’s beach house during the week, I made the decision on Saturday that we should pack up and head back to our home, just in case our appointment on Sunday ended in an induction. So Saturday mid-day, we did just that. I was able to get the girls settled at home, stock the fridge with groceries, and unpack from our little vacation. I even got a pedicure, just in case!

Sunday morning we left our girls with my sister and Josh drove me back to San Diego for our early morning appointment. J&C were waiting when we arrived, and we were all taking bets on whether we would have babies or brunch (C had made brunch reservations for us with his family, provided the appointment went well). He joked about it being too cold for brunch on the beach, and asked me to plan the birth accordingly. We all laughed, and I honestly thought that everything would go well and we would be enjoying brunch in no time. As luck would have it, that’s not the way things went down.

We said hello to Dr. Cap, and I mentioned that I thought baby girl (Baby B-second baby to come out) had flipped to a head down position the night before. He liked how that sounded and offered to do an ultrasound to confirm. While we waited for the ultrasound machine to boot up I hopped on the scale and left a urine sample. Then we all went in. Surprise, surprise! Little miss Diva had indeed flipped herself and was now head down. Dr. Cap said they couldn’t possibly be in a better position for a vaginal birth, and I was thrilled. He checked my cervix again, and stretched it a bit saying that I was about 3.5cm, or a very tight 4 and 50% effaced. (To be “complete” and allowed to push you need to be 10cm and 100% effaced).

He asked how I was feeling and what I wanted to do. I told him that an induction made me nervous as I knew it increased my chances of ending up with a c-section. I thought that the babies were comfortable and we shouldn’t force them out if they weren’t ready and my body was not ready. He agreed, but stressed that my continually rising blood pressure was something we had to take into consideration. His exact words are “something is definitely brewing.” He told me that the babies would be fine either way, but if this turned into severe high blood pressure, or pre-eclampsia, it could be extremely dangerous for me, and he didn’t want to take that chance. After a little more discussion we agreed that if my blood pressure was the same and there was no protein in my urine, I could go home and have a couple days to let my body go into labor naturally. If it were higher, and any protein was present, that wasn’t an option.

Unfortunately, my blood pressure was higher than it has ever been (I want to say 142/90, but don’t remember entirely). Obviously not the news we had hoped for. Then, he checked my urine and for the first time ever, a small amount of protein was present. At this point, he told me that he did not want this to turn into something more severe (pre-eclampsia, or severe high blood pressure), because it would be very unsafe for me. Given that we were nearly 37 weeks, he wanted to induce right away. Knowing that he was right, and trusting he was doing what was in my best interest, I agreed. But, I quickly made my demands known. I wanted the ability to be walking around and bouncing on the birthing ball. He said this was reasonable, so long as we could keep the babies on the heart rate monitors, and assured me that he didn’t want me confined to a bed either. I told him I was going to keep my pants on, damnit, and those nurses were just going to have to live with it. He laughed, not really sure what my pants had to do with anything, but said that was fine. And I told him I wanted a final meal. He said we should skip brunch, but could grab something quick before heading to the hospital. Then he gave me a hug and said it was going to be great. I wasn’t entirely convinced.

We all left in a frenzy of sorts. What to get for breakfast? I wasn’t hungry yet, so nothing sounded good, but I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to eat at the hospital, so I wanted to get something in my stomach. We opted for Einstein Bagels since it was across the street, and I managed to eat a little less than half of my bagel and egg sandwich. We called in backup for my sister (who was still at our house with our girls), and got Grandma and Grandpa to come stay with them while I delivered. With all that settled, I started to feel a little more calm. There was nothing left to do but head for the hospital! Except for taking one last bump picture, of course. Here is my 36 week 6 day twin belly.

J rode with Josh and me while C went back to his mom’s house to put the car seats and diaper bags in his car. We got to the hospital just before 11am, and admission went fast. We got a room where our seemingly stressed out nurse, Elena, asked me a gazillion questions and told me to change into the hospital gown. I left my sports bra and pants on underneath so that I was not entirely exposed for what was sure to be hours of labor. Immediately after I exited the bathroom and climbed in bed Elena said, “Helene is going to be your nurse and she’s going to want to check your cervix. You need to take your pants off.” I told her that I had just had an internal exam an hour before and would most certainly be leaving my pants on, thankyouverymuch. She replied with, “We’ll see what Helene has to say. It’s hospital policy.” Now you see the significance of the pants discussion with Dr. Cap. Every time anyone ends up in the labor and delivery ward, the nurses become obsessed with making sure they are constantly butt naked. Considering J&C were hanging out for the duration of my labor, I was not cool with this.

Helene (pronounced Helena- she was Norwegian) came in and didn’t even mention my pants. She simply asked if Dr. Cap had checked my cervix, and what he had found. I liked Helene already. She put the monitors on me and babies and put in an IV to start some saline. Around noon she started the pitocin (medication to induce contractions) and then she let us be for a bit. I decided to hop on the birthing ball to help Baby Boy’s head move lower into my pelvis, but as soon as I did we lost the babies’ heart rates on the monitors. It seemed the only way we could continuously keep both of them on the monitors was for me to lie perfectly still in bed. I was feeling discouraged until Helene, who quickly became my favorite nurse of all time, came in with an abdominal binder and wrapped that bad boy around all the monitors. She then fidgeted with them for almost an hour just to get both babies on there while allowing me to bounce on the ball. Finally, she succeeded so I bounced… and bounced… and bounced. Take note of my lovely cankles- apparently the swelling was a result of the blood pressure.

By 1pm (after just an hour on pitocin) I was already contracting every 2-3 minutes. Me and the ball were best friends for the next three hours as we waited for the babies to do their thing. Around 4pm my doctor came in and I had to take my pants off for the first time all day. That’s right, Elena! Hospital policy, my ass. He checked my cervix and I was only 4.5cm dilated(half to one centimeter more than I had been that morning) and still 50% effaced, but Baby Boy’s head had moved down a little bit (thanks, birthing ball) and was now at a -1 station.

Because I was contracting regularly, Dr. Cap decided to break my first bag of water to hopefully put some pressure on my cervix and help it to dilate. I can’t believe how much amniotic fluid Baby Boy had! It just kept coming, and coming, and coming. Helene helped me put a giant diaper/pad thing on so that I could put my pants back on despite the leaking water, and then I went back to bouncing. Helene kept saying that she thought things were going to pick up rather quickly now that my water had been broken and suggested I get the epidural now before it became too late. Dr. Cap said, “Nah! Then we’ll just have a natural twin birth in the delivery room instead of the OR, wouldn’t that be fun? You can wait on the epidural as long as you want!” Helene said something about him being a rule breaker, and we all had a good laugh.

At this point J&C walked out to get some snacks and coffee, and they ran into Dr. Cap’s wife and three kids playing in the grass just outside the hospital. Just hanging out, waiting for daddy to deliver some babies, you know!

By 6pm the contractions were becoming extremely painful and I was seriously hoping that they were actually accomplishing something. I had Helene check me and was disappointed to discover that I was only 5cm dilated and 80% effaced. She told me, “You’re contracting regularly and you’re making progress. There’s no need to torture yourself. If you want the epidural, go ahead and get it.” So, we called for the anesthesiologist, and at 6:20pm J&C stepped out so that he could place my epidural. Helene hugged me and helped me to hold still through contractions as Dr. Leonard stuck a big needle into my spine. After he was finished Helene said, “I think it’s probably time for you to lose the pants.” Since I was going to be numb and confined to the bed, I decided this was no longer a big deal, and off they went! Unfortunately the relief wasn’t instant, and half hour later I was still in pain. Helene called Dr. Leonard back to adjust my dosage, and she repositioned me in the bed. This did the trick, and by 7pm I was finally feeling some relief.

At this point there was a shift change, which meant that Helene- the most fabulous nurse in the world- would be leaving us. She introduced the new nurse, Jhaleh, before hugging us goodbye and wishing us the best. Jhaleh ended up being a great nurse, too, but she was no Helene ;) J&C went out to the lobby where C’s whole family was hanging out with an abundance of food. They enjoyed dinner with them before coming back and continuing to wait.

At 8:30 I was finally feeling a lot of pressure with the contractions and asked Jhaleh to check me again. I was 7.5-8cm dilated and 90% effaced. Finally, some real progress! The epidural had relaxed me and my cervix was close to being ready. Just twenty minutes later I was feeling even more pressure and told Jhaleh that I thought we were close. She checked me, confirming that I was 9.5cm dilated, Baby Boy was at a 0 station, and I had just a very small lip of cervix left. She instructed me to close my legs and not push while she called Dr. Cap to head over. Everything got crazy as she quickly found caps, suits, and booties for J, C, and Josh (twin deliveries happen in the OR, not a normal delivery room. Just in case complications arise that require an immediate c-section. So everyone had to suit up!) Of course J and C decided that they had to use the restroom now, of all times, so this took a little longer. The room filled with people who were grabbing supplies, shoving things at one another, and paging more people to come help. When we were finally ready, they wheeled my bed out of my room, down the hall, and into the operating room.

When we got there they set up the warmers for the babies, continued to call for supplies, and set up the bright white lights. Dr. Cap arrived shortly thereafter and everything was falling into place. He checked me and said that I was 10cm dilated, but I had a small lip of cervix (meaning I was not entirely effaced- still about 90%) so he had me bear down once to see if I could push it away. Sure enough, it was gone and we were ready! I told J&C that they were welcome to stand at my head if they preferred to watch from a little bit of a distance, or that they could stand at my feet if they wanted to see everything. Despite my obsession with keeping my pants on, the birth of one’s child is the most magical thing in the world, and I couldn’t imagine making J&C miss out on it for modesty’s sake. They agreed that they would like to watch, and I’m so glad.

With the next contraction, I was instructed to push! Two pushes later, sweet Baby Boy entered this world and let out a perfect, healthy cry! J cut his cord with teary eyes while C sobbed with elation. Dr. Cap placed him on my stomach and I got to stare into his perfect eyes and meet the little boy who had been growing inside of me for the past nine months. I immediately thought he looked like J.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Josh captured the most beautiful photo of J&C, watching me birth Baby Boy, that sums up exactly why I decided to do this. Out of respect for their privacy, I will not share the photo, but I can at least describe it. Dr. Cap is holding Baby Boy, covered in vernix and blood, cord still attached, just barely out of my womb. J&C are standing right below him and J has the biggest smile! C’s hands are covering his mouth and you can just see the emotion on both of their faces. Amazement, happiness, complete joy. It was so special to watch their faces as I brought their baby boy into this world, and is a vision I will never, ever forget. At 9:29pm, on April 21, 2013, I created a family. I gave birth to a perfect baby boy, and watched as his parents stared in absolute amazement. I can’t even begin to describe how spectacular it felt.

The nurses took Baby Boy over to the warmer and J&C followed to watch as he was cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket. They both stared and smiled and ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the little bundle of perfection that was their son.

At this point things got a little complicated. Dr. Cap pulled out the ultrasound machine to figure out where Baby Girl was positioned, and what our plan of action was for her delivery. She had been head down, but with all the extra room once her brother had come out, she very well could have flipped. He searched and searched, but could not seem to find her head anywhere. Based on how the rest of her was positioned, it made the most sense for her to still be head down, but we couldn’t actually see her head. He said this was probably because it was either so far towards my back, or so low in my pelvis, that it simply wasn’t visible on the ultrasound. After about 5 minutes of searching and palpating my stomach, Dr. Cap confirmed that she was head down and wouldn’t need to be flipped in order for me to deliver. Hallelujah!

Sometime after Baby Boy was born my oxygen saturation must have dropped because I remember them putting the oxygen mask on me and telling me to take deep breaths. I was still on an adrenaline high, and I really think it had more to do with the unknown of delivering Baby Girl than anything else. Baby Boy had been cleaned up and declared healthy, so J brought him over for me to hold. He had his eyes wide open and just blinked and stared at me. At this point I broke down and cried. He was so beautiful and it was so emotional to finally see him. To hold him on the outside and watch his parents as they stood in awe of him was simply amazing.

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I don’t remember when exactly I realized that something was wrong, because I was so fixated on Baby Boy. I wanted to make sure that he was breathing on his own and doing well, and I was not looking forward to giving birth again. But at some point, something gave it away. Dr. Cap was saying, “Come on, baby girl!” and nurses were taking turns moving the heart monitor around, trying to pick up a steady rhythm. The ultrasound machine was put back into use as everyone searched for her heartbeat, and although they tried to remain calm, I could tell that the atmosphere had drastically changed. I asked what was wrong, and Dr. Cap said that Baby Girl’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction, into the low 100s, and we may have to get her out quickly. He asked me to bear down a few times, to see if I could lower her into the birth canal, and when I did her heart rate really dipped, so I was quickly instructed to stop.

At this point I started to panic a bit, fearing the worst. Would I end up with a vaginal birth and a c-section? Was Baby Girl going to be ok? It must have shown because I was again instructed to take deep breaths from the oxygen mask. Dr. Cap did an internal exam to see what he could feel, and as it turned out, Baby Girl had her arm up and above her head. Dr. Cap tried to move it without breaking her water, but was unable to do so. Each time he moved it down, she put it right back up. He said that it might have been tangled in her umbilical cord, and somewhat forced to be above her head, which would also explain the drop in heart rate.

As another contraction begun he quickly pulled his hand out and everyone silently started at the heart rate monitor. Again, her heart dipped incredibly low. He asked me to talk to her. To tell her to move her hand out of the way. And he kept saying, “Come on, baby girl. Come on… I don’t want to section your mama… or surrogate mama.” I was so overcome with emotion that I just stared at him, trying to decipher the thoughts behind his seemingly calm facial expression. It was then that he instructed the nurses and technicians to lower the rail of my bed and to clear off the operating table. Then he told Jhaleh, “Get anesthesia in here.” The nurses fidgeted and the OR tech seemed to have no clue what she was doing. He finally said again, “If we need to get her out, we’re not going to have time to be messing around with beds. Get that down, now.”

Another contraction came and everyone was silent.  I couldn’t see the monitor myself, so I didn’t know what her heart rate was at, but I could make out the distinct “thump, thump, thump, thump” and it was noticeably slower. I asked if everything was ok, and none of the nurses responded. Dr. Cap finally said, “Yes” with authority, but I knew he was just trying to make me feel better. Then he had an idea. “Tarynn, I want to lean you on your side. Let’s see. Her head is off to the left a little, so let’s roll you to your right and see if she doesn’t like that position better.” The nurses scrambled to grab pillows, roll my back, and started shoving them underneath my entire left half so that I was tilted to the right. I remember Josh kissing my head, telling me I was doing great, and asking if I was ok. J walked up, holding Baby Boy and asked the same. Then C. I kept saying yes and trying to smile. I don’t think anyone was buying it.

After I was on my side I realized that this was our last shot, and if Baby Girl’s heart rate didn’t cooperate I would be looking at a c-section in a matter of seconds. So I did the only thing I could think to do, and started talking to her. I said her name, over and over again. I asked her to move her arm, to relax, to move her head down. I told her it was ok, and her brother wanted to meet her. I begged and pleaded with her to come out and meet us all. I still wasn’t sure what was going on with her heart rate, but another contraction came and I could hear the “thump, thump, thump, thump” getting louder. Everyone was still holding their breath, but Dr. Cap said, “That’s better. She likes your voice.” I started to tear up, happy that she was doing ok, and I just kept saying her name for awhile.

At this point, with her heart rate back up, we were ok to wait for a little bit. Nothing was emergent, and I wasn’t about to be sliced open, but the situation was still very fragile. I was afraid to move, not sure if it would cause her heart rate to plummet again. I didn’t want to put her at risk, but I didn’t want to have surgery either. I looked to Dr. Cap, trusting that he would do what was best for the both of us. And he finally said, “I don’t want to do anything. I just want to give her a second to see if she will relax. Don’t push. Just breathe. No one do anything. We’re just going to wait.”

And so, we waited. For the next few contractions, no one did anything. We just listened to the “thump, thump, thump, thump” of her heart, and I stared at Dr. Cap, trying to figure out if things were still ok. When it was obvious that her heart rate was staying normal, Dr. Cap examined me again to see if she had moved her hand. She still hadn’t, and each time he tried to move it, it came right back. It was a very delicate situation as he did not want to break her bag of water and take away the cushion of all the amniotic fluid too soon. If he did, it was likely the pressure would put her in distress and her heart rate would drop again. But if he couldn’t move her arm, I wouldn’t be able to deliver. When I was contracting he said her bag of water was so full of pressure that it felt as if it would go at any second, so he only tried to move her hand in between the contractions. He asked me to bear down a few times, to see if I could get her lower, but he didn’t want me to push hard enough to rupture the water bag, so there was a lot of “Ok, I moved her arm, bear down. No, it’s back. Stop. Don’t push!” After fidgeting with it for awhile he decided to have us wait even longer so that she could gradually move herself down. And so, we waited.

Dr. Cap sat back, put his feet up, and joked about checking his facebook.

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At this point I started to calm down, knowing that a c-section wasn’t imminent, and trusting that Dr. Cap was doing everything he could to make sure I had a fair shot at a vaginal delivery. After the longest 90 minutes of my life, Dr. Cap decided that she was low enough for us to do this. The plan was for him to move her arm in between contractions, and quickly break my water so that her head would engage and she would be unable to get her hand back up. Then, I was to push like hell.

After the next  contraction, we did just that. Dr. Cap moved her hand, held it out of the way and told me to push. With his other hand he was holding up a tarp, or plastic bag of some sort, covering his face. He asked a nurse, “Do you see the pressure in that water bag?! It’s going to be everywhere! Just wait for it.” I couldn’t help but laugh. His face between my legs, trying to shield himself from the shower that was sure to take place at any second. He said she was low, her hand was still out of the way, and everyone could see her head.  Then, before I knew it, he broke her water bag and said, “Push!” The nurses counted for me, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. And breathe! Chin to chest. Again.” I could feel her head, almost out and knew that we were close to done. The hard part was almost over. The nurses started again, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. Good! One more time.” And I pushed like hell through that one contraction.

At 11:01pm, sweet Baby Girl entered this world. She was purple and entangled in her cord, but otherwise perfect. Dr. Cap put her on my belly and the nurses and I started to rub her with the blankets, trying to get her to perk up. I remember saying, “You guys!! She’s here. Look at her. She’s perfect! Oh my gosh. She’s here. You guys. She’s here!” She held her breath for a bit, and let out a very weak cry. We kept rubbing her, and then someone shoved the oxygen mask back at me. I said, “I don’t need that stupid thing!!” and Dr. Cap said, “It’s for her, not you!” before everyone laughed. We put the oxygen mask in front of her face for a bit and she finally started to cry. Phew!

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C came over and cut her cord with tears in his eyes, and then they whisked her off to the warmers to check her out. Despite holding her breath for a few seconds immediately after birth, she was absolutely perfect. Baby Boy weighed in at 7lbs 2oz, and measured 20 inches long. His “little” sister was 7lbs 4oz, and also 20 inches long.

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After they were cleaned up, and while we waited for the placenta to detach I had a chance to hold both babies.

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J&C thanked me repeatedly, and asked how I was doing. I didn’t even have to think about it… great!! Looking down at them, I was amazed by how tiny they seemed, but also couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that they had both been inside of me just minutes before. These perfect, beautiful, little people had been inside of me for the past nine months, and just like that, they were here. I handed them back to their parents so that I could deliver the placenta (which ended up being more of a challenge than I expected- instead of one for each baby, the placentas had fused, forming one massive organ that did not want to leave my body) and instructed Josh to take lots of pictures. I stared at J&C as they stared at their son and daughter, and in that moment, I thought my heart might burst. They smiled, and cried, and touched them, and held them, and talked to them, and snapped pictures of them, and embraced one another. Oh, how beautiful it was.

I have seen and done many things over the course of my life, and I have had some really great experiences, but not one compares to this. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was the best experience of my life. Nine months ago, J&C created two incredible little lives.

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They didn’t look like much, but they were everything to these two people. And J&C decided to take a leap. To trust me to love and nurture these lives like they were my own. To protect them, feed them, and care for them in a way that their parents could not. Nine months later, my job has come to an end. I grew two perfect babies who belong to someone else. I nourished them, and cared for them, and brought them into this world. Then, I handed them over to their parents so that their new lives could begin. I am a surrogate, and on April 21, 2013 I helped create a family. A beautiful, beautiful family. And even though my tummy is now empty, my heart is so full.

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Stay tuned for part 2… immediately following the birth! :)

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The twins are here!

I have been trying to write their very long, emotional birth story since Monday night and I am so sorry it’s taking so long, but I want to make sure it accurately reflects the day’s events! I promise it will be posted just as soon as I have finished it. We are all doing well!

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36 weeks, 4 days.

Well, this isn’t a birth story, if that’s what you were hoping for! But we did spend some time at the hospital, if that counts for anything?

At our OB appointment this morning we learned that I’m now 3.5cm dilated, and my OB stripped my membranes once again. I also found out that I’m now up 41lbs (from pre-pregnancy, but 51lbs from pre-meds. All those hormones for the IVF cycle made my gain 10lbs before even getting pregnant). YIKES! You’re supposed to gain between 37 and 54 pounds while carrying twins, though, so I guess I’m not doing too bad?

My blood pressure was elevated today, so my doctor decided to err on the side of caution by sending us over to the hospital for some monitoring and labs. We spent a couple hours there, hooked up to monitors that measured both babies’ heartbeats, my contractions, and my blood pressure. They also took a bunch of blood to run some labs. After that they determined that things were great, and we were allowed to go home! I snapped a photo of myself in the hospital garb, just in case this ended up being my last bump picture.

Sexy, eh?

The game plan as of now is to try to get these babies to come out on their own sometime in the very near future. If they don’t, we will likely end up having to induce for one thing or another (high blood pressure, or simply reaching 38 weeks). Induction significantly increases my chances of ending up with a c-section, so we are really trying to avoid it. Our fabulous OB (Seriously, if you’re looking for an OB in San Diego, I cannot say enough about how spectacular Dr. Capetenakis is!) will be making a special trip to his office Sunday morning to do another quick check of my blood pressure. If it’s still ok then we’ll probably go home until our next appointment. If not, we will explore other options. Please keep your fingers crossed that these babies decide to come out on their own, and that my blood pressure stays low.

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36 weeks, 3 days

I’m now 36w3d pregnant with the twins… well, in a little over an hour it’ll be 36 weeks 4 days. Wasn’t sure I’d ever get to say that! We had an OB appt Wednesday and learned that both babies are still doing very well. It was extremely difficult to image baby A, though, because his head is in my pelvis and the rest of him is underneath/behind Baby B. poor guy is totally out of space! He has great fluid levels, though, so my OB said it is not cause for concern. Baby B is now transverse, so she seems to have a little more room than her brother as she continues to change positions.

An internal exam revealed I am 3cm dilated, and my OB also stretched my cervix and stripped my membranes in an effort to stir things up. So far I’ve had some cramping, but nothing that would point to labor being imminent. My blood pressure was slightly elevated, and although it was not “high” yet, it has been slowly creeping up over the past few weeks, and it is higher than what is normal for me (I usually have low blood pressure). So, my OB wants to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t become high, or turn into pre-eclampsia. He also measured my fundal height (how long my uterus is from pelvic bone to the very top) for the first time in a very long time and it was 45cm!! Wowza! In a singleton pregnancy the number is supposed to correspond with how far along you are. So, at 36 weeks it should be roughly 36cm. With twins there isn’t a real standard, and fundal height means virtually nothing, but it’s interesting to know that my uterus is already the size of a 5 week overdue singleton uterus! I’m surprised it hasn’t given out yet. Must be super stretchy! We will see the OB again tomorrow to check my blood pressure.

J&C are still here, waiting for delivery, and they’re probably starting to wonder if my uterus is going to hold their children hostage forever! Last weekend we went to Sea World with our girls, my sister, J, C, and their three nieces, and we had so much fun! J was afraid that all the walking would put me into labor prematurely (I was 35w6d, and full-term for twins is 36 weeks), so they rented an “electronic convenience vehicle” for me. You can bet your butt that I rocked that ECV all day long! My girls thought it was pretty funny, and I felt a little silly, but it put J’s mind at ease, and it saved my feet and legs from being sore later, so it was probably a good idea! Ahhhh yeah.

As of yesterday, our family is staying in San Diego to be closer to the hospital. (Our home is about an hour away). M, C’s sister, has a beach home down here that is just minutes from the hospital, and she was kind enough to offer it as a place for our family to stay in order to be close. J, C, and their families have continued to be so thoughtful and generous to our family throughout this whole process. We feel very lucky to have such great intended parents! My womb mates are going to be two very lucky kiddos. C also brought over a homemade meal, compliments of Grandma (C’s mom) for dinner tonight. If they keep feeding the twins such good food they’re really never going to come out!

Here is my 36 week 2 day twin belly!

And just for the heck of it, the beautiful sunset we got to enjoy this evening!

Check back, maybe next time there will be a birth story for you to read!

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35 weeks, 3 days pregnant with the twins.

Well, I’m 35w3d today and still trucking along!

We got dinner with J&C on Monday which was really fun. Our girls introduced them to the “hold my hands and spin me around in circles” game, and without knowing what exactly they were signing up for, they agreed to play. As anyone with small children knows, this game is never-ending, and each round of spinning ends with a little girl saying “One more!” or “I want you to spin me AGAIN!!” They were both extremely sweet, spinning and spinning our girls, but I’m fairly certain they went home queasy! Good prep for what the twins will put them through in a few years :)

I had a lot of steady contractions on Tuesday night, enough that I started timing them and was considering going to the hospital. After a few hours I decided that they weren’t the real deal and went to sleep. Good thing, too! Because at my appointment the next day we found out they had done absolutely nothing to my cervix. Still holding at 2cm dilated! Both babies looked perfect on ultrasound; A is still head down and very low, and B is breech-ish transverse with her butt mostly down, but also kind of sideways. If I’m still pregnant next Wednesday we get to go see our fabulous OB again.

J&C are down here, staying until delivery, and we’re all taking bets on when exactly that will be. C guessed today, so he has about 12hrs left to win. J, on the other hand, is convinced I’ll make it until next Thursday, the 18th. Time will tell! We got lunch after the appointment, and C was able to successfully sign for the bill while holding Scarlett (my 2yr old daughter) on his hip. J was then able to eat an entire meal while holding/feeding Scarlett. More prep for life with babies! I think they’re going to be great :) Oh, and J finally got to feel the babies kicking, too!

Here are some random thoughts on being very pregnant with twins:

  • My stomach now resides underneath my ribcage, and has about enough room to hold half of a sandwich before I start to feel more full than I have ever felt before. When I bend over I hear/feel gurgling under my left boob. Doc says it’s my stomach. Say WHAT?!
  • The twins are so large that when they move, my whole stomach changes shape. There is no cute basketball/watermelon belly. There is a giant lopsided, stretch-marked, lumpy blob attached to the front of me. Proof:
  • My lumpy blob attracts many spectators who want to know just how much longer until I “pop.” So, I will clarify once and for all that I do not pop, thankyouverymuch. Unless of course, you say that to me one more time. Then I very well may pop you in the face!!
  • I have to pee in a cup at every prenatal appointment (to check for protein- which would be indicative of a problem). I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to make insanely pregnant women actually try to urinate into a very small cup, but they should have also invented a funnel of some type. I can’t even SEE where my pee comes out of, and you think I’m going to be able to effortlessly make it go into a cup? Pft.
  • Sleep. Ohhhh, sleep. This is not really something that I get to do much of lately. Rolling over without a forklift or my super strong husband is damn near impossible, so it’s a pretty good thing he sleeps next to me every night and can roll me out of bed each time I have to use the restroom (this is about 4-5 times each night due to the giant babies hanging out on top of my bladder). Also, I usually cannot fall back asleep after I am up, so I end up taking 2 baths in the middle of each night in hopes that the warm water and vanilla-scented bubbles will lull me into a very, very deep sleep. Sometimes they do! Other times, they don’t and I get to yell for my super strong husband to come  lift me up out of the tub. Picture a beached whale, but with more stretch marks and less tail.
  • Nesting. Some people say this is a myth, or a wives tale, and pregnant women do not actually nest. Let me tell you, those people are wrong. I am obsessed with cleanliness and I absolutely lose it when things get dirty. Everything in our home has to be clean, fresh, and smell nice all the time. If it doesn’t, all hell breaks loose. Ask Josh, he’ll tell you all about it. Overheard last night “Babe, there is a tissue in the downstairs bathroom trash and tomorrow is trash day, and I really want to have a fresh start. I know you just emptied it this morning, but there’s a freaking tissue in there and the trash truck is coming in the morning. PLEASE, can you take it out right now?!” I’m beginning to feel a little bit cuckoo, but I can’t help it! When the house cleaner is here on Fridays, and I walk upstairs and catch a whiff of the lemon scented softscrub with bleach that she is using to scrub my bathtubs, my heart skips a beat. CLEAN!! I have also gone from stripping/washing all the beds in our home once a week, to once every two days. This is because they need to smell like our Downy fabric softener, and if they don’t they are probably so dirty that they are not safe to be slept on. It’s craziness, I know. Especially considering how large my belly is and how flippin’ hard it is to strip and then re-make three beds every other day, but is is definitely worth it. Love me some clean sheets.

I am trying to keep things real by being honest, so this post may come off as very whiny. I don’t want that to fool you, though. I am definitely feeling very large, but overall I am still really enjoying this experience, and happy to keep these little ones in as long as they would like to stay. Each day in my tummy is two less in the NICU, and if we make it to 36 weeks, there is a very good chance neither one of them will spend any time in the NICU at all. So really, the longer the better! I also enjoy getting to spend time with their parents, and imagining how wonderful they are going to be at caring for the little blessings that are growing inside of me. Despite the discomfort, I am so happy that I decided to do this. J&C are going to go from being a couple, to a family of four in the very near future, and it has been such an honor to play such a huge role in that transformation. I see their excitement, and the excitement of their families, and can’t help but sigh with happiness. How many people can say that they got to help create a family (other than their own, that is)? It has blessed me and my family in more ways than we thought possible, and opened our hearts so very much. This journey has been amazing! And I’m so looking forward to the best part… J&C will have their son and daughter in their arms very soon! :)

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35 weeks!!

Today marks 35 weeks pregnant with the twins, and I don’t have much to report! Feeling huge, crampy, tired, excited, nervous, and somewhat ready. I have been a total couch potato since the news of dilation last week, but now that we’ve hit week 35, I am a lot less nervous and have resumed my normal daily activities. It’s all up to the twins now.

Tonight we get to grab dinner with J&C (who are both local and anxiously awaiting delivery) and we have our next OB appointment on Wednesday.

35 week twin belly:

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34w2d

34 weeks, 2 days today and feeling great! I had a couple hours of good contractions last night that almost had me calling my OB, but ended up petering out when I took a bath, so they obviously weren’t the real deal. They gave J&C a little scare, though!

C was in town today and came with me to our two appointments, which ended up being really great. He brought his mom, “Grandma,” along as well. She is such a sweet lady!

We started at the perinatologist’s office for our final growth scan, which showed the babies’ estimated weights to be 6lb 5oz and 6lb 3oz. For 34 week twins, those are fabulous weights, and the perinatologist said these are “take home babies” not NICU babies. Hoping he’s right on :) The scan also revealed that they are both head down, which is great news for our vaginal delivery plan! Fluid levels are good, heart rates are good, and everything looks perfect.

After the appointment with the peri we moved on to our OB appointment and that’s where things got a little crazy. J&C are trying to determine when they should come down here to await delivery (their home is a 3hr flight from San Diego and they don’t want to miss the twins’ birth), so they were hoping to get a better idea after today’s appointment. Unfortunately, no amount of info is definitive as things could change at the drop of a hat. I was hoping my cervix would be long and closed so C could go home and come back with J in a week or so to wait for D-day. But, an internal exam revealed my cervix is 2cm dilated. This could mean delivery tomorrow, or in two weeks. There’s really no way of knowing. The only thing we know for sure is that the contractions last night were definitely doing things to my previously closed, 5+cm long cervix. It looks like C is going to stay out here for the night to see if the contractions come back. If they don’t, he’ll head home for a work engagement tomorrow, and then both J&C will come to San Diego on Friday to stay until delivery. I think this is a good plan and am hoping that the babies hold on for another week or so to give them the best shot at being healthy and ready to take on the world!

Here’s my 34 week 2 day twin belly. That bump is housing 12 and a half pounds of baby + fluid and two placentas. Sheesh!

And oh, I almost forgot! C got to feel both of his babies kicking today, which he hasn’t been able to do up until this point. :) I remember that being one of Josh(husband)’s favorite parts of my pregnancies with our girls, so I’m very happy that C was able to experience this as well. Now I am just hoping that J also gets the chance to experience it before these little ones make their debut.

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