Goodbye, Hello!

May 28, 2012

Where has the time gone? Baby “C” is now a year and a half old and a darling little girl. I have missed blogging so much but have nothing new to write about in regards to surrogacy.

My life has been busy taking care of my two children, now six and almost four years old and enjoying all that life in Santa Barbara has to offer. Since I’ve been missing blogging so much and wanted a creative outlet using my passion for cooking, photography and adventures with my kiddos, I’ve started a new blog, www.happysbmom.com. Please come visit!

 

Wow, Time Flies!

October 4, 2011

Children are an excellent gauge for measuring time. We breakdown the years by seasons, the months by holidays and birthdays, the weeks by what’s going on at school and in our lives, and the days by breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between. Lately, I’ve lost track of it all.

Has it really been almost a year since our journey ended so beautifully? It was a happy ending but a happier beginning; as we have made such dear friends in the process and my family feels more complete having them in our lives.

We are rapidly approaching baby “C’s” first birthday (11-27) and I couldn’t be happier about the experience we’ve had. Their entire family has grown to be such a wonderful part of our lives.

The strangest part about having been a surrogate is knowing that I’ve gone through IVF. Carrying another baby and giving birth for the third time have faded into my distant memory, while seeing her happy and thriving with her family makes me feel like I’ve been able to give what I wanted and will always be thankful I did!

I feel like what I did for them pales in comparison to the friendship and acceptance their family has given to mine. I know I gave them a wonderful gift but hope they realize what a gift they have been!

Better Safe than Sorry?

May 5, 2011

After a day and a half of no puking, I thought we were on the upside of the sickness. I started both kids on Probiotics and was ready to embrace healthiness. Just after awaking on Tuesday morning, it was back. K (who’s 5) was sick again. I called work, her school and E’s daycare to let them know we wouldn’t be there and waited for 8:30 am to roll around to call the pediatrician. Our doctor doesn’t work on Tuesdays so we were scheduled with another doctor in the office and headed over after two long hours of waiting for our appointment and another two episodes of upset stomach. Her inner ear was red and swollen (after being diagnosed 3 weeks prior with an ear infection and completed antibiotic regimen) so he prescribed antibiotic injections (since she was repeatedly vomiting) with the instructions to go to the ER if her stomach continued to hurt. In rare instances her symptoms have indicated appendicitis. He gave us anti-nausea medication and scheduled a follow up for the next morning.

A team of two nurses came in with a tray of needles and Band-Aids ready to inject. K was a little freaked out but handled it like a champ. She is such a brave girl and has a seemingly high pain tolerance which makes judging her symptoms even harder for me. She yelled “Ouch” at the nurses with intent as her brother looked on wide eyed. Once it was over, she was happy again and ready for her lollipop (they look forward to doctor’s appointments for this reason).

After a long afternoon nap, she was acting very lethargic and complaining of stomach pain. She wouldn’t let me touch her belly, didn’t want to get out of bed and declined a short walk to the garden to look for ladybugs (this was my ultimate test since she LOVES looking for lady bugs and their larvae). Worried about the possibility of appendicitis, I took her to the ER. Wonderful friends of ours took my little boy and we headed over around 7:30 pm. After checking in and giving her brief history, we waited. And we waited. Then we had a cup of peppermint tea. And played with the stickers and coloring sheet they provided. Finally, she was called back. We were lead throughout the ER, back onto the “patio” where makeshift stations were made with rolling beds and small dividers. They had gotten really busy as ambulances continued to roll in. The little girl to the right of us got staples in her head after falling onto a shopping cart at home. They didn’t speak English but the nurse translated so we got to hear the story followed by the little girl’s wails. Hearing a child cry is painful. When it is your own, it is heartbreaking. Some tears don’t faze me. I know my kid’s cries and the real ones hurt. The elderly lady to the left was admitted and taken upstairs to a room. K looked up to the rooms across the courtyard that were lit up and said, “I wish I could have a coffee. And a room with a TV.” Then she started singing about the Tweety bird Band-Aids she was removing from her earlier injections. I wondered if I really should have brought her in. The nurse warned us it would be awhile. Thankfully she wasn’t throwing up and not writhing in pain.

A long time later, the doctor came over and I recapped her symptoms and history. He ordered blood work and an ultrasound. As Kaila was verbally freaking out about the thought of having her blood drawn, a lady with salt and pepper braids rolled up in her wheel chair with one leg bandaged up and started up a conversation with K. She had tubes going into a contraption in the back of her wheel chair which apparently drained her blood and then replenished it. She’d been there since November and had multiple surgeries. They talked about Nascar, tattoos, dogs, and dreams she had of a boy she used to take care of who passed away and came to send her messages. A little heavy conversation to have with a five year old, but she said talking to K her made her night and she hadn’t smiled in a long time. I guess we were there for a reason.

Time passed by and we were finally rolled to ultrasound. Everyone was kind, gentle and friendly making our experience bearable if not entertaining at times. The ultrasound tech, Lindsay looked all through K’s belly and couldn’t find the appendix (good sign- they usually only see it if it’s inflamed) and answered my questions about what we were seeing. Her stomach looked like an underwater seascape with gushes and movements like currents through seaweed. She came upon an area that looked like pebbles (or boulders based on perspective) on the ocean floor and took a few images. Once she thoroughly examined her entire abdomen, she said she wanted to have the radiologist come in to take a look. I don’t have a vast medical background but I know when a radiologist is called in to take a look it isn’t a good thing. She was very sweet and reassuring and said that what appeared to be stones were swollen lymph nodes. She didn’t have great concern but they took multiple images and then sent us back for blood work. As we were waiting for the nurse to come “pick us up” and roll K back to the ER, her tummy was hurting and she dramatically said, “I want my life back!” We’d been there for three and a half hours and she wanted to go home.

Back in the ER, she went pee to give a urine sample, and then the nurses came to draw blood. Armed with stickers and a playful male nurse, she was hesitant but allowed the needle without any major restraint. They left an IV in after drawing blood which was later used for a bag of fluids. The fluid dosage was a 40 minute procedure, enough time for the blood work to be processed. It was about ten minutes to midnight when it began. About ¾ of the way through the IV injection, the doctor returned to review K’s lab work and discuss the ultrasound. Other than signs of dehydration, slightly low iron, and decreased liver function everything was okay. Her white blood cell count was fine and there were no obvious signs of major infection. He said the swollen lymph nodes could be a result of viral infection and related to the vomiting. We were given the okay to be released with a prescription for Zofran once her fluids were complete and to follow up with our pediatrician in the morning. K finally fell asleep just after midnight with the glaring lights over head, only to be woken up an hour later to go home. I am thankful it wasn’t appendicitis (we watched Madeline on Netflix before leaving to be prepared just in case) and now we have a baseline to work from. I’m hoping this was the worst and we can go back to embracing healthiness. I’m not one to rush to the doctor, especially the ER but when it could be something big, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Staving off the Sickies

May 1, 2011

One of the hardest parts of being a parent is having a sick child. This is my daughter’s first year in school (Pre-K) and she has come down with just about everything in the book. Two weeks ago it was a double ear infection followed by pink eye and this weekend she has been unable to keep anything down. There’s no fever, she wants to eat and drink but whatever goes in comes right back up. She is such a strong girl and it’s so hard to see her miserable. Though neither of us slept much last night, to make things easier, I covered the top of the bed and her pillow with towels so anything that didn’t make it into the bowl could be rolled up and removed without having to change the sheets thirty times at night.

The best way to handle sick kids is preparedness. Once we get through this bout of infection, I’m focusing entirely on prevention. Being prepared makes life a lot easier, especially being a single parent where you can’t just run to the store. When we do end up needing a prescription (which has been a total of three times in the past five years with two kids) I have them filled at the grocery store pharmacy so I can stock up on food, drinks and a movie for the sick kiddo from Redbox all in one stop. I have cold pillows in the freezer (rice filled bags that can be thrown into the microwave when heat therapy is needed) that come in handy for all sorts of ailments. They are very easy to make and I love giving these as gifts for mommies to be. I’ve made mini square ones for bumps and bruises too.

I try to keep Pedialyte Pops, Gatorade, Vitamin water, saltines and soup on hand and have a thermometer, Vick’s Vapor Rub, Children’s Tylenol, diaper rash ointment and eardrops in my medicine bag at all times. Thankfully, my kids rebound quickly but all of this sickness is wearing me out. It’s time to build up their immune systems and fight off these bugs before they bring them down! I’m looking into probiotics but any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Weaning, Weight and Wine!

February 1, 2011

My goal was to pump for 6 weeks and go from there. I made it to eight, going with the flow (pun intended). My milk production naturally decreased as I slowly cut out pumping sessions. From weeks six to eight I was averaging about 8 ounces a day pumping for 15 minutes in the morning and again at night. Once I hit eight weeks, I was ready to be finished and my body cooperated wonderfully. Although I occasionally have the feeling of letdown and my breasts still feel full, I didn’t have any engorgement or leaking after stopping. It’s been a week now and I feel great. I was wondering if I’d miss the “happy hormones” from milk production but I haven’t noticed any difference in my mood- I’m still happy! Baby “C” was getting a combination of breast milk and formula since birth so they still have a nice supply of frozen milk to continue giving her for the next couple of months. I’m so glad she’s gotten the benefits of breast milk and that it was such an easy process for me as well. I had multiple bouts with mastitis when nursing both of my children and am so thankful I didn’t have it this time around! The lochia finally stopped at seven weeks. I’d always thought how wonderful it was to not have a period for 9 months while pregnant but after bleeding for seven weeks straight, it kind of cancels that benefit out.

While the weight dropped off quickly after the birth, I have hit a plateau and think I’m now going to have to work at dropping the final pounds. I’ve heard your body stores some fat for milk production, but now that I’m finished I was hoping all of the extra baby weight would disappear overnight. Thankfully, summer is still several months away.

I love wine. I added it to the title because I wanted one more word that started with “W” to make it sound catchy but I could get a second (or fifth) job writing about wine. I love the complexity, differing characteristics, flavors and feeling I get from sitting down with a nice glass of wine. Living on the central coast of California, we are surrounded by many wonderful wineries and are spoiled with our beautiful weather and fabulous wine to accompany it! Cheers to getting to enjoy it once again after a year of growing a baby! Maybe this year I’ll grow grapes.

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2011

I had my check up yesterday at 5 weeks postpartum. Our OB asked if the delivery was really as easy as I made it seem and I replied, “It was really painful at the end but overall, yes.” She jokingly asked (again) if I’d carry a baby for her next. The entire surrogacy was such a wonderful experience and I have the family that is now complete with their little girl to thank. They will forever be friends and this past year they have been like family to us. I have to admit I was very spoiled throughout the pregnancy and greatly appreciated every bit of it. I can’t believe how quickly the last year went and all that it encompassed.

I have lost 27 out of the nearly 40 pounds I gained and am pretty much back to normal other than a little bleeding and the side effects of producing milk. I’ve slowly spaced out pumping sessions and am now only pumping twice a day and will probably finish in the next couple of weeks if my supply continues to decrease as it has. I went from getting around 8 ounces in a session to now averaging 4. I attribute my rapid weight loss, happy hormones and general health to the benefits of pumping and part of me isn’t quite ready to stop completely just yet.

2010 was a fabulous year and I’ve already begun to manifest an amazing 2011. It started off on a good note, with an invitation to use a friend’s beach house for New Year’s weekend. My sister was visiting with her three children and it was such a treat to spend the weekend with the beach as our backyard. Wrapping up 2010 and embracing 2011 in such comfort and beauty was the perfect ending and beginning.

1/1/11

Happy Hormones

December 21, 2010

I can’t believe three weeks have passed since the birth! Other than the abundant supply of milk I am producing and passing along I don’t feel like I just gave birth or remotely wish I had a baby right now. I’ve read that nursing/pumping produces happy hormones and I’m pleased to say I haven’t had any emotional downs. There is a lot of talk about postpartum depression and the baby blues, but some women experience the opposite. I have felt really good since the birth and while I was prescribed Motrin and Vicodin for pain, all I ever needed was the Motrin. I suppose after going through a drug free delivery, pain is all relative. I started pumping every three hours the day she was born and have slowly stretched it out to five or six so I can work, sleep a bit more, and have more freedom throughout the day. I am now getting between 5 to 8 ounces per 15 minute session. Other than having to use heat compresses on a couple of clogged ducts early on, it has been going well and I’m planning on continuing into the new year. I have lost more than 25 pounds and have about 15 to go to get back to my ideal weight.

It was wonderful having my mom and grandma here following the birth. While I wasn’t lying around being doted upon, we did have a lot of fun and managed to get a lot accomplished over the course of a week. It was wonderful having someone to take my daughter to school and my little boy got to spend a lot of quality time with his grandma and great-grandma while I worked a bit. We all went to dinner at baby “C’s” grandparent’s house while they were here and had a great time with our two families (three generations of theirs and four of mine) together.

I am just about ready for Christmas and looking forward to what is in store for 2011. All of last year seemed to revolve around the surrogacy- from doctor’s appointments to medications, pregnancy and finally the delivery. It was an incredible experience and I’m so happy it ended with the birth of a healthy, beautiful little girl. I hope 2011 brings joy and love for all!

Our Hospital Stay

December 10, 2010

Our doctor has been fabulous from the beginning and our hospital experience with her was no different. We brought up getting a room that mom to be could stay in as well at one of our checkups and she recommended waiting until we were there at the hospital to make the request based on her past experiences with those in charge. After the delivery, we spoke to the nurses about the mom getting to room in with her new baby. They said they’d recently had a similar situation and it wasn’t approved so they suggested our OB make the request. She came back once to give us the options and we were soon all resting up in a huge ward room with four beds and plenty of space for all of us. Mom, baby and I shared a room, which worked out nicely as we had nurses coming in throughout the night to check temperatures, blood pressure and the baby’s eating and wet diapers. I started pumping and did so every three hours and managed to get a bit of colostrum which was bottle fed to “C”.

My kids came to visit around 7:30 pm and were so nonchalant about the entire experience. They awed over the baby and said how cute she was but were more interested in seeing me and checking out my wristbands and IV. They had been playing with the presents they opened up after nap time and were fine with having me away for the night as they were in good hands with a close family friend. They had picked out their gifts months ago, a big Tonka helicopter for my little boy and a huge set of Littlest Pet Shop animals for my daughter. We wrapped them up together, decorated the packages and they had been excitedly awaiting the birth ever since so they could open them up. My grandma had left Idaho early that morning, before I even started having contractions. We figured she’d be here with plenty of time to spare and we’d be waiting around for labor to start since I was still two weeks from our due date. She was just outside of Portland when the baby was born and had another day and a half of driving to go.

It was so sweet seeing the little girl that I carried finally with her parents. Holding her when she was just hours old didn’t feel like she was in any way “my” baby. It was weird to think that I had just gone from pregnant to not pregnant but I wasn’t missing having a baby. The next morning, the doctor on call who delivered my daughter five years prior came in to check me and okay my release, followed by the lactation consultant, nurse for a final check and lastly the hospital social worker. He was so kind and thanked us all for allowing the hospital to be a part of such a wonderful experience. I was packed and ready to go around one o’clock and “C’s” dad offered to drop me off at home as he was on his way out to pick up a few things they needed. We stopped at the grocery store on our way so I could pick up my prescription for pain medication and he stocked up on diapers and formula. It was a bit surreal as I was there at the same store the day before grocery shopping with my kids and had since had a baby and was already heading home. The girl that rang us up at the pharmacy counter asked if someone just had a baby. I smiled and said, “He did”.

Welcome to the World Miss “C”!

November 29, 2010

*This post contains details of labor and birth.

On Saturday morning, I woke up and didn’t think “today is the day”. I made breakfast and started a load of laundry and was getting things in order for the week ahead. When I went to the bathroom, I noticed my mucus plug was starting to come out and there was even a slight tinge of blood in it. This is a sign that the cervix is ripening but this is a process that can happen over days or even weeks. I called the mom to be and let her know we’re getting close and I thought she’d be here early in the week. I took the kids grocery shopping around 11 am to stock up the fridge and starting having contractions (they felt like painful pressure on my cervix). I had a couple at the store and still didn’t think much of it. When we got home, I made lunch for the kids and did another load of laundry. The contractions kept up though I wasn’t timing them because I couldn’t REALLY be in labor.

I made “just in case” arrangements with one of my friends to be on standby for the weekend to help with the kids since my grandma wasn’t arriving until Monday. I finished packing my hospital bag and sterilized the breast pump accessories. The contractions kept coming and were getting more painful. I sent a text to mom to be at 1:45 pm saying, “This could be the first of many false alarms but I’m having lots of painful pressure/contractions! I’m lying down and going to time them for a bit .” I got a big glass of ice water, laid down on my left side on the couch and within ten minutes had another. Because of my history of fast labors, I thought I should check in with the doctor. I called her on her cell, let her know what was happening and she said to go in and the hospital would her call if she was needed. I called my friend and asked her to come over so I could go in to get checked and called the parents to be just after 2 pm. They were doing the finishing touches on the nursery and said they’d be right over. Mom, dad, grandma and grandpa to be of baby girl picked me up and we headed to the hospital, which is only five minutes away. The contractions kept coming but I was able to talk through them and still wasn’t convinced this was really it.

We checked into labor and delivery at 2:40 pm and I let them know my history of fast labors. The nurse asked if I was this relaxed during my other two, which I was. They got us into a room right away; I put on a gown and left a urine sample. The nurse came right in and hooked me up to the monitors and checked my cervix to see if I’d been progressing. By the expression on her face, I knew I was far along and was in shock. Active labor begins at 4cm and 10 cm is fully dilated. It was now 3:00 pm and I was already at 8 cm. The contractions were minutes apart and very strong. They called my doctor right away and got busy preparing for the delivery. They put in an IV and I sent a couple quick text messages. Mom, dad and grandma to be were all in the room this entire time and were busy sending updates as well and making sure I was taken care of. Our doctor arrived at 3:20 and checked me again and I was complete at 10 cm. She was very relaxed and telling stories and I said, “Are you going to change?” She had me push with the next contraction then got herself ready for the delivery. The bed got broken down, mom to be put on a gown and the doctor asked her if she wanted to help deliver. She said “Sure!”, put on a gown and booties and was next to the doctor for the delivery. Dad and Grandma to be stayed up by my right side and kept me cooled off with a damp washcloth. I was incredibly hot and the ice chips and cold towel felt wonderful. I breathed slowly through the pain and kept reminding myself that the pain would be over soon and the harder I worked the quicker it would be. Within 5 contractions and some cord untangling, baby girl was born right into the arms of her mother at 3:47 pm. Dad cut the cord and she was wrapped and cleaned in her mom’s arms where she happily remained for the next hour.

The placenta was delivered and I finally felt relief. Seeing the immediate love and adoration for the newest addition to their family was incredible to witness. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better delivery experience- the team of nurses and our doctor were amazing. Having the parents and grandma there to welcome their daughter and granddaughter into the world and see her take her first breaths was a moment I will never forget.

Happy Birthday “C”! She was born Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 3:47 p.m. At exactly 38 weeks gestation, she weighed in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces and is 20 inches long.

Miss “C” is here!

November 28, 2010

Miss “C” arrived yesterday at exactly 38 weeks. It was a fast, easy delivery. She weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz and is 20 inches long. Everyone is doing well and she is a beautiful, mellow little girl. A more detailed birth story coming soon!


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