Thursday, February 27, 2014

Choices I Don't Get to Make

So we're marching into the end zone here. And I'm kind of ready for it. I'm not sick of being pregnant nor am I ready to serve eviction papers (yet), but if we're being truthful... I'm ready to not need to pee every 5 minutes, sleep on my belly and damnit, I'm ready for a beer.

We are a bit passed 29 weeks ,and knowing that we have an induction date in mind somewhere in week 39 (should this baby not come on her own by then), we are also into the single digits of this pregnancy.

Man, this is weird. The last time I was talking single digits we were on PIO, in pain and praying nothing went wrong.

What else is weird is that this is about the time in my own pregnancy when my nesting just starts getting warmed up. Not the mad crazy cleaning nesting, but the picking out of the what baby will wear in the hospital vs. what baby will wear for homecoming outfit. The packing and repacking of my hospital bags. The organizing of who to call and when with the good news.

Only this time, these are decisions I don't get to make.

I know that I am substituting these nesting urges with talking T's ear off about labor plans and dates and likelihoods of natural vs induced births etc. He's probably so sick of me and like, "Mandy seriously, shut up!!! Just push when it's time. We'll be there." But he plays interested very well, and as a result of my displaced nesting, we have a very solid plan on nearly every angle of the birth. Because we all know how well babies like to follow solid birth plans....

Anyway, it's just so strange to be on the verge of HAVING a baby that I have no say over.  It's like the connection thing. There is one there, no doubt, but not the one most people expect a surrogate to struggle with having. The control freak in me DEMANDS to have control over SOMETHING. But the surrogate in me is so happy that I don't have to make those decisions and doesn't even really care what they are.

It's an odd internal struggle, this surrogacy thing. Nothing at all like I expected, actually easier than I expected, but kin of odd none the less.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm Going To Eat My Placenta

T&M are giving me the placenta that is currently keeping their child alive. 

And I'm going to eat it. 

You're probably thinking:
1- Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
3- Didn't Tom Cruise do that? 
4- How?
5- Does this make Mandy a cannibal? 
6-How much does THAT cost?

Patience friends, just as Clarissa did in the 1990's,  I'm going to explain it all.

Yes, I feel it too. I don't blame you at all for feeling that way. Truth is, I feel it too. Believe me, I'm not looking forward to this the way I look forward to a great big bloody rare steak. Although, I will be consuming at least part of this vital HUMAN ORGAN bloody and very rare. More on that later. For now, know you're not alone. This is a foreign idea and you're allowed to join me in being kind of grossed out by it.

#2- WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY would you do that?
Also a reaction I had every in the thought forming process of this venture. After listening to to other surrogates rave about the benefits of placenta consumption (most commonly in pill form) I decided to do my own research on the subject. Here's what I found.

While no scientific evidence yet exists,  users often report widespread benefits including:
Increased energy

  • Quicker weight loss
  • Quicker recovery from delivery- specifically in the instance of C-Section deliveries
  • Better mood
  • Fewer instances of "baby blues" or post pardum depression
  • Better ability to sleep
  • Quicker stoppage of postpartum bleeding 
  • Milk comes in much more quickly. 

As a surrogate, I won't get the benefit of endorphins created by skin to skin contact with a newborn, or the additional good juju constantly created by latch on nursing.  For those reasons most specifically, I decided that as much as it (still kind of) grosses me out, this was something I couldn't afford to not try.

Let's face it folks, surrogacy isn't natural. If it were, it wouln't take so many doctors and needles to make it happen. To assume my emotions can handle my body doing something that would be physically impossible without science, is just ignorant. I'm not superwoman. While I feel fairly certain I'll be just fine emotionally after the birth, to not arm myself for success in every way possible just seems foolish to me.

Here is a link to more information and research on palcenta encapsulation benefits.

#3- Didn't Tom Cruise do that? 
Apparently it depends on which interview you read. In some he boasts of it, in others he claims it was just a statement made in mockery. While I don't think it really matters who has and has not done this, here is a list of celebs who admit to eating their placenta (and liking it)
1-Kim Kardashian
2- January Jones
3- Alicia Silverstone
4- Mayim Bialik
5- Twins Tia &Tamara Lowrey
I also know plenty of real world mothers who have done this within the surrogacy community.

#4- How???
OK, here comes the meat and potatoes (hehehe) of this discussion. How does one consume an organ created by pregnancy and carried within the body for 9 months? Or, perhaps more interestingly, how does MANDY intend to consume her own organ?

Turns out there are a variety of ways to consume one's self. Some were worth considering, some wern't... at least not for me.

Placenta Pills, Not So Scary
Some people are said to fry them up in a pan with a little oil and a lot of garlic. Liver and Onions, anyone? This one is not for me and was thrown out the window immediately. Another option I threw out was to use the organ to create a body cream which I would then slather on my stretch marks. Not for me either.

Perhaps the least unsettling way to consume your own organs is in a pill. I will be doing this. I have a specialist who will come to the hospital to collect the organ as soon after birth as possible in order to dehydrate it, grind it up, put it into pill capsules and deliver back to me. In this form, it's really no more than a new type of vitamin. And considering all the other meds I've put into my body during this process... what's one more?

OK, Now hold onto your pants. 
I will also be consuming at least a portion of my placenta raw, and within hours of delivering it from my body. 

Do you need a pail? I kind of did when the idea was first presented to me.

So why am I going ahead with this and allowing a woman to slice and dice my placenta in my hospital recovery room? Here's the fact folks; I'VE COMMITTED TO CONSUMING A HUMAN PLACENTA. If we're going that far, we might as well do it in a manner that will deliver the highest level of benefit for my body. The hormone and nutrient levels are highest in the raw form. So if I'm doing this, I'm DOING this. That means our placenta chef will bring a blender to the hospital and mix approx. 1 oz raw placenta with 15 oz. berries and other smoothie ingredients to make a healthy momma placenta smoothie. Mmmmmm.

#5- Does This Make Mandy A Cannibal? 
According to Merrium Webster, Cannibalism is defined as:    
1: the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being
2:  the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind

And flesh is defined as:
the soft parts of the body of an animal or person; the skin of a person
So, by those standards, the answer would be...maybe? I'm not eating any skin, but the defining of "soft parts" is ambiguous and leaves room for speculation.

How do I feel about it though? Am I any better than Jeffery Dommer? I think I am.

I am not consuming human parts for enjoyment or satisfaction. In fact I remain kind of grossed out by it. I will not be doing this on a regular basis nor do I plan to seek it out for an purpose other than medicinal. I am looking at this as a post natal multi vitamin. I do not consider myself a cannibal.

#6- How much does this COST? 
If you're a follower of this blog, you know I don't talk numbers. Really at all. I think doing so cheapens what I'm doing by monetizing it. So I'm not going to talk about what this costs here either. I do recognize that there is an interest in this, and I also believe in full disclosure. So, if you're REALLY interested, follow this link to Puget Sound Placenta's pricing page. The cost is fully disclosed. You could also learn a lot more about this process there.

So, there you have it. I've committed to eat my own placenta. Details to follow once bubs is here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Humility Aside; I AM Special.

Many of you know my Aunt Becky. The best part about "AUNT" Becky, is that our relationship is just about as far from aunt/niece as I've ever seen.

Through my life she's been my stand in mother, my big sister, my best friend and my worst enemy. She's been there for each of my births, and was the natural choice to be there for the transfer of this pregnancy. She's expected to be present for this birth as well. Because how could I ever expect to do something so BIG with my life without her being right there for me?

Today Becky sent me this  link to this story about a baby born on Valentine's day via surrogacy. I read it. I cried. I realized I had forgotten just how special what I am doing here is.

I'm lucky to have found a network of other surrogates to share this experience with. I'm lucky my friends and family accept my choice so openly and totally. I'm just lucky.

But all this luck and easy pregnancy have lead me to be very comfortable with and close to surrogacy. The end result is that I tend to think of surrogacy as something everyone does. Everyday. In every state.

That's not the reality though. What is happening here is unique. It is special. It's life changing and Earth moving. It's a beautiful example of science in action. It's a textbook lesson in love.

I tend to not think myself anything or anyone special for what I'm doing. I like being pregnant. I love having babies. This just made sense for me to do. But, this is special. Humility aside, I think I should try to remember that.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Didn't Expect To Feel This Way

Going into this I knew there might be times that emotions would sneak up on me. I worried that I might end up feeling attachment to the baby after all, or that I'd wind up really not liking the IPs, or that I'd feel let down over something.

Well, I don't feel any of that. I absolutely love M&T, I've never been let down, and the connection I feel to this baby is probably closer to how my nanny feels about my girls than to how I feel about my girls. So, that's a score.

But there is a feeling I'm having now that I did not expect to have. In reality it's kind of comical. When you consider that I'm carrying someone else's child and that I plan to hand her over in 87 days (more or less) that the issue I'm having revolves around ... of all things... travel restriction.

Note: In research for my blog here I came across some great quotes on travel. So I've shared some images with them attached. Hope you're not overwhelmed.

During the contracting phase of surrogacy you agree to all sorts of rules. No cheating on your medically cleared husband, no new tattoos at dodgy ink shops, no drugs or alcohol... and no extended travel beyond the point of viability.

My contract states that post 24 weeks I am not to travel more than one hours distance (which in Seattle could mean no further than the market down the street) or 50 miles from our pre-approved hospital. This is a GREAT rule. I actually agree with it a lot. I'm not mad about the rule. It ensures that in any scenario I can get to a great hospital on time and give this little Aussie the best shot at a great start as possible. And isn't that the whole goal here?

So, to sum it up, I am not mad about the rule. 
At all. 

There are exceptions to the rule as well. If I ask the guys permission and they consent, I could (theoretically) travel to Tibet next week. Don't worry guys, I won't ask that.

M&T have already given me consent to step a few miles outside of the boundaries for Super Bowl weekend. It was a non issue. They are great to me and I know if I really wanted to travel somewhere, they're down to Earth enough and trust me enough that no reasonable request would be denied.

So, to sum it up, I've never been told no.
 I'm not mad at the guys. 
At all. 

Yet I still feel like a caged bird with clipped wings. 
Truth is, I don't even feel deprived. There is nowhere specific I want to be right now that this surrogacy is keeping me from being. 

Here's the thing about me. I LOVE to travel. Like I could have been born a gypsy and found it AH-mazing. If I sit still in one place too long I start to twitch. And I get restless. And itchy.I just have to get on a plane and go SOMEWHERE.  I'm like an addict to a needle, I just have to GO. Apparently I'm not alone in this unquenchable thirst, and many call my condition Wanderlust.

Luckily, I'm also very talented at finding incredible deals, so my habit hasn't forced Chris and I into bankruptcy... yet...

The fact that if I wanted to travel right now I would have to jump through hoops to do it is making me twitch. Frankly, it's driving my husband bonkers too. Because the end result is that I spend (way) too much time on my travel networks planning upcoming trips.

I'm even planning theoretical trips that I know won't happen. Looking at destinations that aren't anywhere near my travel plans for the next 5 years. Yes, I sometimes plan that far out. (Australia and Africa are on the extended list.) You should have SEEN Chris's face last night when I mentioned safari...

During contracting the guys offered to extend my travel radius so that our favorite state park would still be an option. (74 miles from home). We camp there a lot, and I do miss tide pooling with Adelia quite a bit. I declined, and I don't regret it. It was the right choice for me as I learn to be a surrogate.

So, to sum it up, Not mad about the rule. 
Not mad at the guys. 
No regrets about not extending my radius. 

But... I'm still twitchy. I did NOT expect this. 

I've always known that God and body willing I'd do this surrogacy thing at least twice. I guess what I also now know is that next time... my contract will have to address travel in a way that doesn't make me feel so claustrophobic.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The First Time I Gave Birth

Today my little Valentine turns 4. I just can not believe it. Where, oh where, has the time gone? 

The story of Adelia's birth is a fun one, intertwined with a blizzard and people driving 90 miles per hour through it. So I invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the story of Adelia Paige. 


Finally admitted....
So there I was, 39 weeks pregnant and ready to get this kid out. Sensing my heightening anxiety my doctor decided to do a full membrane sweep on me. Without telling me. (Which is an ENTIRE other story...) Just imagine sitting up off the table and seeing a decent sized puddle of blood on the floor coming from your womb. Uh, thanks for the heads up, doc?

After we freaked out a bit he did explain what had happened and that 'd likely be in labor within 48 hours. I was convinced that, despite being served legal and formal eviction papers, Adelia was determined to never be born. So I rolled my eyes and
 we left.

Well wouldn't you know it? 48 hours later I was pretty sure I was in labor.

Funny thing that happened #1 
Didi at 1
I knew that once we checked into the hospital I'd be put on a diet of clear fluids only. So I asked Chris to stop at Frisch's Big Boy for breakfast buffet on our way to the hospital.

Yes, really.

Note: If you're able to stop for breakfast... at a buffet... it's not yet time to go to the hospital. 

But we went anyway. The contractions didn't progress and they suggested I walk around the hospital to get them going.

Note: If you can still walk AROUND the ENTIRE hospital... it's not yet time to be at the hospital. 

We were discharged. Surprise, surprise.

So back home I went with an Ambien to help me rest and the promise that if this was real labor, they suspected it was not, I would wake up ready to go. I slept a LONG time, and woke up feeling some pressure but pretty great. But, it was now bedtime, so back to bed I went.

The contractions didn't stop though. And about 3:30 a.m. Chris sat right up in bed and said, "That's IT! I can't listen to you like this anymore. We're going back to the hospital!"

So we loaded up and headed out.

Funny thing that happened #2
Didi at 2
A blizzard (quite literally, not just snow but a full fledged blizzard) had blown in while we slept. Our car was stuck in the snow. Going nowhere. 22 some phone calls later (not an exaggeration) to our buddies down the street for help... we finally decided Chris would shove the car and I, in active labor, would steer. Oh what a sight we must have been.

This time we did not stop at Big Boy. And I didn't walk into L&D. I rolled in a wheelchair.

Even so, false labor they said. But instead of sending me home, they put me into a room no one was monitoring to "wait it out."

I was in misery, folks. And Chris thought I was loosing my mind. He told the nurses as much. I remained just 1cm and in increasing distress. Since it was deemed false labor, of course no meds were offered.

Funny thing that happened #3
Didi at 3
If you know me, you know I have some stomach issues. So, hours later with no nurse checks, when I felt the urge to poop ... let's just say I was livid. I remember thinking, "Now? NOW? Really, body? NOW?" I yelled some curse word at the top of my lungs and punched the tile bathroom wall so hard I could have broken my hand. I refused to poop. I just told my body no, and wobbled back to bed.

Hearing the scream... and wall punch... Chris decided to go tell a nurse his wife had officially gone crazy. Finally, the nurse decided to do an internal exam.

Well, what do you know? I was 9.5 cm and didn't need to poop... but rather to push. IT WAS TIME.

Here I was, at a hospital, and I almost had a toilet baby anyway. Now that would have been a real, "You gotta see this before I flush this!" moment, eh? Wonder if they would have still charged me hospital and delivery fees? 

Anyhow, I called my aunt in Tennessee to come quickly. Hence the 90 miles per hour in a blizzard story.

Chris became a dad on Valnetines Day
Back at the hospital I had to be give an "epi light" which is like an epidural, but lasts only 4 hours. The intended purpose was to give me a rest and let Adelias head roll into a better position for delivery.

4 hours later the meds were gone and it was time to have a baby. Luckily, my aunt made the 5.5 hour drive in just under 4 hours and was ready to help.

So I pushed...

And I pushed... 

And then for fun, I pushed some more. 

My forever Valentine

After nearly 2 HOURS of pushing the doc suggested a C Section to, "Just be done with this."

It was like he was asking me to translate Arabic into French. After a natural labor, and working on a natural delivery, the idea of gutting me like a fish for no reason other than convenience was as foreign to me as surrogacy must seem to many of you. My answer was no freaking way.

We pushed some more. He got forcepts.

Then, about 40 minutes later my little baby Didi was born.