Monday, March 31, 2014

So Close, Yet So Far

It is exactly 13,165 kilometres, or 8,181 miles, between Melbourne and Seattle.  At least 20 hours of flying. And it’s never felt so far away as in these last few weeks of our pregnancy.

With just over three weeks before we are scheduled leave, my body has decided to deal with this massive distance by kindly supplying me with a different dream each night, a stark reminder of just how far away we are.  To be clear, I’m not worried about an early arrival – as much as we want to be in the delivery room, at the end of the day, we know that between Mandy and the lovely hospital staff we met back in December, our baby will be in good hands.  But the lack of control is still killing me.

It started a few nights ago, with a dream about Mandy calling in a panic saying she is in labour.  I woke up in a cold sweat.

The next night, I dreamt we received a call from the hospital calling to saying our little girl had arrived, but after calling the airline we found out we weren’t able to get on a flight for an entire week.

Last night’s dream was even more ridiculous. We were told to rush to Seattle and made it as far as LAX, before realising we had left out baby’s suitcase at home.  What’s more, all flights to Seattle were full so after a 16 hour flight, we jumped in a car and drove an additional 17 hours to the hospital in Seattle.

Mandy assures us we’re not even close – baby is still moving, she hasn’t “dropped’ and there have been no other indicators of early labour, so we’re in a good place. But these dreams are really starting to get on my nerves!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Favorite Place In The World

What's yours? We all have them. 

For me, it is precisely here: 

West Bay, Isla Roatan Honduras

Home to the second largest barrier reef in the world (And yes, someday I will hit the mac daddy of them all...) this beach features intense coral formations and incredible amounts of fish and marine species just a 20 foot paddle from the soft sandy shores.

The last time I was here the island itself was till impoverished and realativly undiscovered by tourism, which made it a real gem. Mountains crashing into the sea... This is my happy place.

Baby 'Roos Favorite place on Earth
This baby 'roo has a favorite place in the world as well. Her's looks a little different. Her favorite place in the world is the inside cavity of my left hip. (Yes, I know the pic shows the right hip. You try to find a better one.)

Everyday, without fail she is all up in that bee-yotch. She kicks it, and pushes it, and hangs things on the walls, sometimes she does a little more Twerking... it's dependable. Even as I write she's handing out sucker punches. She doesn't like to travel it would seem. Sorry, guys.

Neither of my girls ever found this happy place. For that I must thank them for the rest of their lives. I can't really describe how this sensation feels, which might be for the best. It isn't pleasant, at times it outright hurts. Because her pressure is so based to one side, it can even give me cause to stop moving so as to not lose my balance.

I know it sounds like I am complaining. I guess that's because I am. I want to be clear though; I love this part of pregnancy. I love all parts of being pregnant, well save PIO shots, those just suck. I love cravings and aversions to food. I find nausea and exhaustion fun to track. I love the science of labor, even when it hurts. I love delivery, even when I'm begging for it to be over.  These painful movements at the end of pregnancy are no different. I love it all. I can't wait to do it again. Doesn't mean it's all pretty.

So listen here, you little hip kicker... you have a little less than 3 weeks left inside that hip before I serve you your formal eviction notice. At which time you will have no more than 2 weeks and 5 days to vacate your favorite place on Earth. So go ahead and enjoy it now... But would you mind discontinuing the redecorating?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Gettin' Inked

No, not now. 

But yes, soon. 

I have one tattoo already. A little tramp stamp circa 2003. Or was it 2004? Somewhere in that era. Ah, college.

I've wanted a second bit of ink ever since then. The fall out my first tattoo caused between my grandma and I caused me to put the idea on ice for a decade. It was such a bad situation between my best friend and I that I promised myself I wouldn't even consider more body art until both she an my grandfather had passed.

As the chronology of my life would have it, Grandma passed just a couple of months before I began screening for this surrogacy journey. Well, any ink a lady gets puts her on hold for consideration by the agency for anywhere between 6-12 months. This is simply to ensure that you didn't contract any blood borne diseases as a result of the tattooing, and it is a solid rule. One that I am glad exists.

But I was so ready to be a surrogate (at this point I'd already been waiting 3 years) to wait another 6-12 months. So I decided to put the ink off a bit longer. It was a good choice. One I'm glad that I made.

But now the time draws near to where I am going to be free to get the tattoo. And, unlike my first bit of inking, it's really cool to know precisely what I want and where I want it. I've had the location picked our for a decade and the art for probably 2 solid years. It's so exciting to be so secure in that resolve and decision.

So now it's time to decide who does it. And when. I want to make sure that I don't come off as an unstable lady who has a kid for someone else and then runs off in an emotional whirlwind to get a tattoo. That consideration is part of the reason for this post, HA! Here it is on record, 6 weeks out from the birth, that I will do this sometime after the birth and that I've wanted to have it done for a decade prior.

I've asked my case worker if there are time limits I should stick to so far as waiting so as to not look like a flighty choice maker. We'll see what she says. I probably also need to wait till I'm done expressing breastmilk for the baby as well. Though I haven't read up on that either.

It's exciting to be so close to something I've waited on for so long. Just another sign that this ride is coming to a close very, very soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What's Next for My Uterus and I

The guys will be state side soon to wait on the birth of their daughter. T likes to tell M and I that they're coming in 5 weeks, 1 day. M likes to count it as 2 weeks and 22 days. Either way, it's soon.

I'm finding it difficult to focus on simply enjoying the last couple of weeks of this pregnancy as my brain floods with questions of, "what's next?" What can I say? It's just how I operate.

The most pressing "What's Next?" is how I will feel immediately following the birth.
I don't have a maternal bond and I feel very emotionally stable, so I'm not expecting to have a weepy depressive episode. But that fact that I don't "KNOW" precisely how I will feel is driving the control freak in me NUTSO.

Luckily I get a span of precious of time with the guys state side to "wean off" of this experience and them. At first I was afraid of this time for fear it would facilitate a deeper connection, but let's be honest, that connection is already there. Now I'm just grateful for that extended "see you soon" experience. We're even planning a trip out to the Coast to show the guys our beautiful shores. Wonder what they'll think of them in comparison to AUSTRALIA???

The next big "What's Next" is this summer. 
Freedom! Freedom to travel again and to run again and to have a beer again and to squat without wobbling.... oh the freedom that's coming!! As for the summer planning though, that's all been pretty decided so it's just excitement. We have lots of camping planned, a cruise or two, I'm going to Vegas with my surro bestie, the Wayne Brady Experience (EEEEEEEK) and that's all between May and September. I'll be a busy gal.

Long term, I've also decided that I'm going to start marathon training again. My goal was always to run the ALS half in memory of my Grandpa. I had targeted the Chicago run previously but I am now closer to the San Diego event. So now It'll depend on where I can build my team I guess. If I recall correctly I need at least three runners on my team and a fundraising minimum of $2,000 to enter. I've always known all along I'd front our fundraising goal (well, when last I was training grandma had promised to do it. Now I'll just fulfill her promise myself) it's just finding the runners. So, if you're interested... Either way, I miss the run and it's time to do it again.

The elephant in the room... the biggest "What's Next?" What will my uterus do after this? 
I get asked this a lot. I think about it probably even more. I get solicited occasionally. I have a fairly good idea of what I'd like my uterus to do next, and I know for certain what it won't be doing.

It won't be popping out another little Storer. And hopefully it won't be retiring either. Outside of that, there is still a lot that is left to fate between here and there. Another thing I have decided though, is that it's not open to man on the street solicitation. But that's another post for another time.

For now, I'm just trying to enjoy being pregnant just in case it is the last time I get to do this. Roughly 7 weeks left... but whose counting? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm Kind of Fired Up

As this blog continues to gain in readership and popularity, I find that I censor some of my subjects or topics from time to time. That was never my intention, in fact quite the opposite of it, but it is the mature thing to do. But I've been biting my tongue so hard these past couple of weeks that I'm going to start bleeding soon if I don't get this off my chest.

Sometimes the negative stereotypes that circle surrogacy have nothing to do with the surrogate, and everything to do with the Intended Parents.

To be clear, this has positively NOTHING to do with my IFs. M&T hung the moon in my eyes, I can't imagine them ever doing anything (on purpose or not) that would really make me mad. We mesh well. They've got the perfect blend of not putting me on a pedestal that I don't need and not making me feel like an employee. 

But some of these other IPs.... whew...

It seems like in the past several weeks so many of the gals I've come to call my surro sisters are needing support... because it has been sorely lacking from the folks they're putting their lives and waistlines on hold for.

I just can not fathom wanting a family so badly as to front the cost of surrogacy (because while I'll admit I have no idea what it costs to IPs, I know that it can't be cheap) and then not giving a hoot about the pregnancy, the surrogate or the birth.

For me it comes down to this one simple truth: This is not MY pregnancy. It's YOURS. I expect IPs to sit up and pay attention. Be an active part of it. And when they don't, it just gets all 5 foot 2 inches of me fired up!

Further, don't treat a surrogate as a minimum wage employee. While it may be true that you sign a check that somehow finds its way to her account.. it's not really Earth moving amounts, most of us don't need it, and even fewer of us are doing this for the money. To treat a surrogate as a baseline employee and not family, or at a bare minimum as a respected colleague, really just gets under my skin.

I wish I could give examples of certain stories I've heard lately. But, those stories aren't my story and it's not my place to share them. It's just been too many examples of people who don't seem to realize that their surrogate has feelings, or is a person with needs. Or of people who haven't seemed to find a way to grab onto the fact that very soon, it does't matter what you do or do not WANT to do, you're a parent and you now have obligations and responsibilities.

So if you're an IP reading this -- I know I have a handful of you that follow-- here are some very basic guidelines that will go a LONG way.

Be present. Take an interest in YOUR child. What he/she does in womb. Do they like music? Certain foods? What was the heartrate? Ask.
Remember your surrogate is more than a uterus. Ask how SHE'S feeling. Especially in the days and weeks post birth, when she's likely to feel very un-needed. Bonus? If you're OK with her holding the baby, offer it... don't make her ask (seems like lots of gals have a hard time with asking)
Finally, if possible, be her friend. Remember the golden rule. Pay attention. M&T sent me hydrangeas a couple of weeks ago. Blue hydrangea to be exact. My wedding flowers. My favorite flowers. I cried. It meant so much more to me than some of these super gifts I hear about from time to time. They're my friends. They care about what I love. They paid attention, and the impact it had is more than I can express.

OK- I actually do feel better. Sorry for the long rant.

I now return you to the world of M,T, Mandy and baby Joey Girl... where everything is sunshine, rainbows love and respect.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

See You Soon, Chubby Cheeks

One of the most brilliant things about this journey so far has been the very generous gift Chris and Mandy gave us of a series of 3D scans.  We were fortunate to be present for the first one when we visited Seattle in December, and Skyped into the second, 'near-fully cooked' scan today at just over 30 weeks.

I would recommend this for any intended parents, it has really allowed us to start bonding with our daughter by making her seem so real - which isn't always an easy thing when you're not carrying your own child.

We were so excited to see our little girl who we will meet in just a few short weeks, and despite  internet connection issues, we managed to see most of the scan thanks to our super surrogate who multitasked by holding her phone to the screen while her stomach was being poked and prodded. Seriously, what a star!

Please indulge us proud dads to list some highlights:

The cheeks

Those are some chubby cheeks and, sorry baby, I predict much pinching from aunts, uncles and friends. I mean, look at them!

The nose

She has an adorable button nose... we may be biased but it is pretty much perfect and oh so cute.

The hair

I am fascinated they could see hair when there is still 2 months to go, but we saw many, many white strands and seem pretty much guaranteed to have a full head of hair from day one. Now taking bets on the color of said hair.

The snuggling

Since I was a child, I have always slept with the blankets over my head, and I think she will be the same... she had her face squished right up between the placenta and the umbilical cord and seemed to be quite happy there.  Hopefully this also means she enjoys copious cuddling with her dads and extended family as she won't have a choice, at least for the first 14 or so years of her life!

The twerking

This baby knows how to shake her booty and we had a taste of how much she loves dancing. We have already started saving for ballet lessons.
It was quite an emotional feeling to 'meet' our little girl, albeit watching her on a screen, via a phone, on another screen, from the other side of the world.  Although it still feels a little like a dream, this scan made us seem so much closer, and only added to the anticipation of holding her in our arms and pinching those cheeks for real.