Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Perfect Moment Monday - One Day Late

Darn it. I'm always late. Like, always. In this case, however, I think it's ok. It really is the thought that counts. Or rather, the recognition of a thought, specifically a moment within the last month where you have thought, now gosh, it doesn't get much more perfect than this.

Every month, Lori shares her perfect moment and moments from friends across the blogosphere in what she calls Perfect Moment Monday. Even when I don't play along, I'm always thinking about what might constitute a perfect moment. And that is truly one of the greatest gifts my friend Lori has given me.

This month, I'm lucky enough to have several to choose from: a great road trip with my road dog, M which included a stop in South Bend on Game Day and several running routes in and around Madison, WI. I might have pointed to the night at a Buffalo Wild Wings somewhere in Indiana where we revisited one of our old obsessions: NTN Trivia. Might have...if we had won instead of gone down in an "I'm all in!!!" blaze of (non)glory. Who chooses WWII as the final subject? Gah. I blame others.

Are my tenses all mixed up in this post? I feel like my tenses are all off. Past, present? Past imperfect? present perfect?

Perhaps its because I am resting in a present that feels simply perfect. Right now. This moment. Feels perfect to me. Because I am going to be a mom. We are going to have a son. A big baby boy. Wow. F*cking wow.

 It blows my mind every day. Over and over again. And I'm sorry if I can't stop sounding incredulous. But I am. Last night I read about cradle cap and colic like they were the most fascinating subjects in the world. Because they are. This morning, I ordered a ridiculously (I mean ridiculously)overpriced onesie from M's beloved football team. Because I can. So I did.

the ubiquitous boxes
I guess if I had to choose one specific moment that embodies this feeling. This overriding hope that is just here hanging out among us, it's this:

Opening up and breaking down the boxes filled with the beautiful crib sheets and bumpers (you remember - the First Big Purchase) that have lingered in the spare bedroom as cruel reminders of the day our daughters died (final sale! no returns! of course!). Opening them up, breaking them down, pulling out the contents, saving one for a friend who is newly pregnant (YAY),

And getting one ready to use. For big baby boy.

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. What's yours?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Step Beyond

Are you sure some of you didn't vote twice? Because I really wasn't sure I had that many readers these days. But JP is right. the "tells" have it. So, I am here to tell you that as of today, our SON is one day older than his big sisters, I and J.


One day shy of 22 weeks.
One step closer to viability.
One squeak closer to talking about this freely in real life.
Thankful. Grateful. Quietly ecstatic, if that is such a thing. 

But today is a windy, grey day of some mixed emotions. Yesterday, M and I both were on a cleaning spree. I finally dug into my boxes of hidden baby items and maternity clothes that were tucked into a space closet and decided what to keep (the baby stuff) and what I will never need (items with expanding waist-lines and A-line cuts).  I was surprised at how things were so tightly, neatly, perfectly packed. How many things still have the price tags on. How many baby books I purchased and never even cracked. I have only a vague recollection of packing these things away. Zero recollection of some of those purchases.Selective memory.

It felt good to itemize the items that will find their way to the local YWCA. The saying farewell and moving forward was liberating and cleansing. Freeing. I'm glad I waited until I was in a place to say goodbye gladly before venturing into these boxes. It felt even better to find some onesies and socks that will actually be put to use.

Today is day two of the cleaning frenzy. We have a huge apartment. Big rooms. Tiny closets. Its the storage space that is presenting some challenges today. So we're shifting and shuffling and throwing out and giving away, all in the hopes of finding some order and some more livable comfy spaces here. Re-purposing some nooks and crannies that could fit a rocking chair and soothing light, as opposed to just stacks of kitchen appliances and unused canning jars.

In the midst of all of this, I may have accused M of hiding "my" books and CDs in order to give his own top billing in our shelves and cabinets. I might have gotten a little proprietary over certain portions of our living space.

You know when someone just kind of stands and looks at you with that "what the fuck is wrong with you???!" look and at that same moment you're kind of overcome with that "what the fuck is wrong with me??" realization?  Yeah. Cue the mixed emotions.

All of this. This is exciting. And terrifying. We've never made it to 21 weeks and 6 days before. And here we are. And we have a sense that everything is going to be ok. Our surrogate - rock solid. Awesome. Confident. Assured. And meeting the people who will care for her (and us) in a few months - was nothing short of amazing. M and I are at risk of bursting into tears talking about how kind and caring our future caregivers seem. How readily they welcomed us and how open they are to being a part of this experience with us. Our trip truly was one of giving thanks.

But there is still that feeling of walking into the unknown. Going one step beyond where we've even gone before. Exciting. Terrifying. Exhilarating. Exhausting.

So, I think I just need to turn the music up. Roll with it. Roll with me, people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wanna Know?

Mega road trip recap coming soon, once we're actually no longer on the road.

In the meantime, did you want to know if Baby2B is a he or a she?

I know. But I won't tell you if you don't want to know. Majority wins.

Do you want to know?
pollcode.com free polls 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Road Trip!

So many times we (meaning me) turn to the keyboard when we need to process something hard. Something difficult. Something that we can't get our head around. And yeah, my drafts folder is filled right now with those.....

But today, today I just want to share with you the fabulous feelings that I'm feeling right now. Nothing to process. All visceral. All good.

We are on the road. In a rental. With a sun roof.

En route to our baby mama and our baby2B who has gestated for 21 weeks tomorrow.

We'll stop along the way. When and where we feel like it. I bet we're going to have a kick ass meal tonight. Someplace we've never been. We'll figure it out. When we get there. We always do.

Being in a car with M feels like home. Maybe because it was for us for more than a year. But wow! If we had then what we have now.....Semi-reliable data connections. Social media. The twitter! Happy cow! Google maps! If we had then what we have now....

Well, it wouldn't have been the same trip, would it?

But this trip. Man, we are psyched. We'll be driving through some cities we have yet to see. We'll play a ridiculous amount of name that tune with the radio. We'll quiz each other on random things. We'll do what we do. Now, I'd be lying if we said we weren't worried at all. The timing is tough. the girls' birthday is just around the corner. I think we're both conscious of some potential triggers that await us. Some things that might bring back memories of other scans and other days in hospitals and.

And. And. And.

But the road soothes. It does for us, anyway. And this: my conference and all of its madness if ov-ah. We both have the week off and have purposefully not committed to any holiday gatherings. But if we do get back in time, I've got my eyes on a local 5K Turkey Trot and a personal best. After that, there is a vegan roast in my fridge just waiting to be slathered in gravy. There is TV to be watched. There are pj's to be worn. G*d I love Thanksgiving.

Right now, in this moment, everything is so, so good. And I just wanted to share.*

*Here. Because I'm not quite ready to say these things out loud yet. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Absolute Beginners - A Crib Sheet to the Crib Sheet on Surrogacy

There seems to be no shortage of advice for visibly expectant moms. But what about those of us approaching parenthood from different places? As an expectant mom via gestational surrogacy, the tried and true pregnancy tomes are helpful (kinda, sorta, I guess) but there’s often no room to get to my questions, the ones specific to our situation. Having a baby that’s gestating several states away from you brings with it its own set of questions, worries and concerns that you, as a soon-to-be-mom, are doing everything right, or as right as can be. Which is why I am totally digging BlogHer’s Absolute Beginners crib sheets. Particularly the one written by Kymberly from The Smartness, dedicated to expectant moms via surrogacy. Finally! Kymberly takes some of those questions, worries and concerns and speaks to them.

Read and print out the entire crib sheet for surrogacy now.

Here’s me, halfway through our surrogacy journey, adding my two cents:
1. She’s pregnant! I’m excited, but I thought I’d be able to relax more than I have by now.

Kymberly advises: “Each new milestone in the pregnancy will bring with it a modicum of relief, but it is perfectly normal not to feel completely at ease until your little one is finally in your arms.  Celebrate each step forward and share your joys – and your fears – with your surrogate.”

Given our track record and the length of time it took to get to this point, my husband and I had zero expectations that the first frozen embryo transfer would be the last one. You can never completely squeeze out hope, but we had braced ourselves for an early negative. A test run, if you will. So when our surrogate emailed us a photo of her positive pregnancy test, and confirmed it a few days later with beta results, we felt like we had won the lottery. Huge hurdle #1, over.

Now, are we relaxed? Uh no. Have we told the world? Hardly. Our pregnancy right now is still on a need-to-know basis and will be until we pass a few more milestones. But not because it’s via surrogacy.

I think the “I want to relax but I can’t” curse is one that any expectant mother that has lived through any previous loss will face. I can say, however, that I would be worlds less relaxed, if I were trying to carry my own baby to term. Knowing that our child is in a safer environment than one my womb can provide brings with it a certain kind of peace.  

2. How might communication with my surrogate change during the pregnancy?

Kym says, “The matching and cycling phases likely involved a frenzy of almost-daily communication.  Once pregnancy is achieved, your rate of communication with your surrogate might shift to become more frequent or sometimes less frequent, especially if your surrogate is having a difficult time with first trimester exhaustion and morning sickness.  If your communication needs fall out-of-sync with your surrogate’s, don’t hesitate to have a conversation about it with her to get the reassurance that you need as an expectant mom.”

Early on in our pregnancy, our surrogate asked frankly, “how much or how little do you want to know?” She knew of the loss of our twin daughters. She also knew how long we’ve been trying to grow our family. And she wanted to be sure she was keeping us informed without oversharing, if that wasn’t what we wanted.

And I needed to think a bit before I answered. Would I be a little envious hearing about baby kicks and movements? Would I want to know when she was experiencing the inconveniences of pregnancy that I couldn’t? Still, would I want all of these things happening outside of my knowledge? We decided that we wouldn’t know until we tried it out. We decided that when she felt like she wanted to tell me something to go ahead and do it. If it ever veered into discomfort for me, I would say so.

We’re in the habit of emailing each other at least once a week. And we usually have emails that overlap in transit. We keep each other up to date on daily events. She sends pics, not only of ultrasounds of our growing baby, but also of her own family, which I really appreciate.

3. How can I find the right balance between having valid concerns about my surrogate’s habits and me being overly worried?

Says Kym: “Keep in mind that there is a range of what is considered “safe” during pregnancy. Within the realm of what is considered safe by medical standards, your surrogate’s decisions during pregnancy might be different from the ones you would choose if you were pregnant. Find compromise and acceptance with habits that are within safe parameters and don’t violate any terms of your mutually agreed upon contract. Have faith in the trust that you’ve instilled in her ability to carry a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you’re still uncomfortable, definitely discuss it with your surrogate and if necessary, agree together to have her obstetrician weigh in on the issue.”

This is an issue I think that’s best handled before the surrogacy even begins. Lifestyles and habits and daily obligations of potential surrogates were huge components in our selection process. Not that there were any sky divers presented to us. But I think one of the reasons we gravitated so easily towards our baby mama and she to us was that we are all fairly laid back. We saw in her a parenting style and a set of values and behaviors that we hope are similar to our own (once we have a chance to try them out).

I can honestly say I have had zero concerns about our surrogate’s habits. And seeing her and her family in action in the weekly emails affirms this. I do worry when her family is hit with a seasonal bug or it seems as if all of her kids are down with strep or ear infections or any of those other illnesses that you cannot avoid. But as I’ve mentioned, we chose her because we trust her.

If you have concerns, Kym’s advice is sound. Communication is critical. If you want additional assurances, your contract can be as specific as you want it to be. No sky diving? Spell it out. Just know that the more prescriptive you are in a contract, the more space there is for interpretation outside of those forbidden activities (it doesn’t say I couldn’t bungee jump….) Work through the language with your attorney to ensure your concerns are addressed. Talk honestly with your surrogate (and the surrogacy agency, if you are using one) about your expectations.

Dear surrogate, please don't do this.

4. What special considerations should I make for delivery?

I so agree with Kym: The birth of every baby is a “special delivery,” but the deliveries of babies born via surrogacy definitely take some extra advanced planning.

Some of the logistics that Kymberly points out here are addressed in our contract. Others aren’t, so we’ll need to have that conversation when we travel out to see our baby-to-be and our surrogate in a few weeks. We’re planning to be at the delivery, and that’s our surrogate’s wishes as well. But we never talked about the moments immediately following the birth. Who goes where? Where does the baby sleep? And what about breastfeeding…  

5. What options do I have for feeding my baby?

How cool is it that, as Kymberly points out, “You have as many options as any expectant mother does!”

While the option to breastfeed is there, I do wish the healthcare professionals around me were a little more knowledgeable about it. I broached this subject with my gynecologist last month and was met with a “Really? Wow! That’s so cool!” response.  It's encouraging that he’s so open-minded, but instead of the guidance I was seeking, I got an “awesome! Let me know how that goes,” response. So thank you so much, Kym, for pointing out AskLenore.com, and I'm bookmarking it right now. Our goal is to try to breastfeed. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, formula it is.

Kymberly adds, “In some cases, the surrogate will nurse the baby while still in the hospital after delivery.” This is an area we have yet to discuss with ours. And I’m not sure where I am here. There is an active discussion about this in places like SurroMomsOnline, with strong feelings for and against, from both intended parents and surrogates themselves. While I appreciate those perspectives, as Kym says, “As with any new mom, how you choose to feed your baby is a deeply personal decision.”  

6. My baby is here! I’m not physically recovering from pregnancy and delivery, but why am I so tired?  

“Well, it’s because you’re a new mom! Your pregnancy and delivery may not have been “typical,” but your newborn phase of parenthood surely will be! As a new mom, you’re entitled to the same elation, exhaustion, joy, nervousness, and excitement that many new moms typically feel.”

Sometimes it is very important to state the obvious. And I was heartened to read Kym’s guidance here.

Unfortunately, while we are entitled to the same elation, exhaustion, joy, nervousness, and excitement that many new moms typically feel, I’m NOT entitled to the same work leave options that I would be if I were physically recovering from pregnancy and delivery.

If I were to add to the crib sheet, I would add this recommendation: Speak with your employer and/or HR department NOW about the types of leave you are entitled to and what they would be willing to offer you. In my case, my office is too small to fall under any Family Medical Leave mandates, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work with me if I needed some additional time to get back to work. Again, communication is key and don’t be surprised if you need to do some education around surrogacy along the way.
Hurray for the home office - will you be able to use yours?

Moms via surrogacy: What questions, worries and concerns are missing? What tips/advice would you add here? What do you wish you had known during your own surrogacy journey?  

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Reminder

Last night after dinner I was propped in front of my computer, busy working and feeling bitter about it, and this popped into my email and completely changed my mood:

I just came across you blog since I am very new to blogging. I would like to thank you for all of the support I get from reading your blog. I am 28 years old and currently receiving cancer treatments. I did not have any children yet and the cancer was spreading too fast to harvest any eggs. My sister is going to be my surrogate and we are currently using an egg donor also. Please stop by my blog to read up on our journey so far. Thanks again! I love feeling like I am not alone. Astorkformysister.blogspot.com

Thank YOU, Brenna! Thank you for reminding me to be thankful. Thank you for putting things back into perspective. Thank you for reminding me why I started blogging (because I was feeling sooooo alone, too). Thank you for reaching out and sharing your own journey. Your comment means a lot (and I hope you're not mad that I highlighted it here).

I am so cheering you on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where I say "oh sh*t." A lot.

A few days ago, I seriously contemplated joining the NaBloPoMo party.

A post a day for 30 days, how hard could it be? I mean, I run every day. This wouldn't even require sitting upright. And would be over in 30. Hell, Keiko's doing it times three (ps. you HAVE lost your mind, girl). I spent most of Friday drafting a few posts in my mind. And then I regained my senses.

And this morning, as I'm overcome with a pile of "oh shit oh shit oh shit" thoughts about the things I need to do, like yesterday, I'm feeling pretty thankful I didn't add one more thing to my list.

We are one week away from my work's annual conference, where we are down more than a couple staff and deadlines are looming and anxiety is rising among those of us that remain. (I thought) I was trying to keep a "don't worry! Everything will be fine! demeanor in the office, but I've been told I'm not doing a very good job of it. As in, my boss told me to take a cold shower in the middle of a staff meeting last week because I was getting so overheated about a particular item. Sorry, sorry.

Not really. But whatever.


Earlier this week, our baby mama sent us a picture of her 18-week belly. And that hit me like a ton.

Holy shit. This shit is real. Our baby2B. Right there. In there. 

"Yeah, good thing she wasn't faking it," texts M.

Hardy har (asshole). Of course. But seeing it is something different, isn't it? It was for me.

And with that pic, I'm suddenly overwhelmed with an, oh shit we should really start to like, do something, to get ready, shouldn't we? Should we?

Baby gear - we have very little. Other than a few things we bought for I and J that never made it out of their wrappers. A few onesies. A few socks. A gorgeous (and nonreturnable) crib set. No crib. No car seat. No nothing.

But the week we bought the crib sets was the week things took a terrible turn. The week I bought paint for the would-be-nursery was the week we no longer needed a nursery. (and I really can't even link back to those posts. You know where they are).

I am torn between wanting to nest in a big and wonderful autumnal way, and not wanting to count on my little chicken until its hatched.

A friend asked me about future childcare plans the other night. Holy shit. I am so not there yet. I'm still trying to think about where to put baby2B once he/she joins us. My mom was talking about buying diapers the other night and I was like, huhhh? And don't misread this. I don't have a sense of foreboding, or any reason to believe baby2B won't be here in four months. All is well, but I don't want to do anything that appears presumptuous.

Or over-confident.
Or cocky.

And if you think I'm bad, M is worse. We still haven't told the vast majority of the people we interact with daily. We think his mom knows, but we're not sure? M is begging for no public announcement until at least after I and J's day next month. And I can completely understand that.

But I'm not crazy about this feeling of being completely unprepared, when we have had such ample time to prepare. Months. Years, really.

I think I just need to get through the next few weeks, and then revisit.

In ten more days, this conference will be over. For better or for worse. In twelve more days, we set out west to go meet baby2B in person (via ultrasound) and we shall know whether we are expecting a he or a she. In one month and one day from today, we will honor the day that Isa and Jovi came to be, and then left. Four years ago. Four. They would be four.

phhhhhhhshhhhhhh. That's me. Remembering to breathe.

I think this is my cue to go run.

baby2B - 19 weeks today
the streak - 16 weeks today