It has been almost exactly a year since we started this journey. Being asked to carry someone’s last embryo in the hope to give them the child they so desperately wanted was a lot of pressure. I knew I would require the help of the rest of my family to get through the pregnancy and rest of the process, little did I know how much help I would need.

The last year involved lots of medical things. Including the shots. Oh the shots. The stomach shots to get the body prepped weren’t too bad, small needles and a smooth solution.

But when we got to right before the implantation, the shots in the butt were much more difficult. The father’s mom came over nightly to do them until I took a business trip to Chicago and we started performances for the play I was stage managing for. I learned how to do them myself at that point, which was definitely interesting. It all wasn’t too difficult, but the thick layer that developed made it more and more painful as the time went on. I was very happy to be done with them!

There were a couple hiccups in the journey. The first time we grew my lining to implant, there was fluid in my uterus. The main fertility doctor said that I was then infertile….but we decided to give it another try because it could also have been just the fact that I had so recently gotten my IUD removed.

Turns out, the doctor was wrong and we were correct. Next time, it was perfect. The implantation went flawlessly.

Even better was when we received the confirmation that we were pregnant and got to have the ultrasound to confirm that the little embryo had nestled into the perfect location. The joy of seeing the little heartbeat fluttering was indescribable.

We then got to share the announcement. We didn’t want to wait the traditional 12 weeks, mainly because I knew that if anything was going to happen, I would want to have the support of the community to be with me. The sadness would have radiated everywhere…but also, we had our tribe that was rooting for us. The heartbreak of losing this gift would have reached so many people. Thankfully, we didn’t have to worry about it!

The next several weeks and months were rough. I had similar nausea that I had with my daughter, which I was not looking forward to. With her, I had sick the whole time, Zofran just kept me from actively vomiting and I couldn’t drink plain water. With this little guy, I lost 15 pounds between two doctors appointments. That’s what triggered the need for the Zofran this time, after weeks of trying everything else. Being able to actually eat food again made such a difference.

I kept hoping that as soon as the shots stopped, the nausea would too but alas, it wasn’t to be so. It wasn’t until a couple weeks before I gave birth that I stopped needing the Zofran.

The halfway point arrived and we had our anatomy scan. This is traditionally the time that parents learn the sex of the baby, but we knew that before hand thanks to all of the tests that had been run on the embryo before implantation. The fact that we had those tests done too, meant that we weren’t as concerned about the ultrasound either. It was going to be looking for things that could have happened during the actual growth.

We did find out that the placenta had lifted a little bit and that the location of the umbilical cord was not centered. Both of these things meant we had to do followup ultrasounds, to check on his growth.

Which ended up being perfect. Little man was growing perfectly!

The next months became more and more exciting, and more and more exhausting. Mornings became harder but thankfully, my daughter would walk the dog and my husband took on more and more of his morning things.

The entire pregnancy, he was very low and I stayed small. We had an ultrasound at about 32 weeks to check on growth again, and realized that the amniotic fluids were low. This was concerning, and meant that we could need to induce. Thankfully, the next week came back perfect and it was just a fluke.

We got to visit the beach for maternity photos too. Even though it was windy and cold, it was so much fun!

My due date was coming up closer and closer. After a difficult time finding a doula, I connected with a friend who was doula trained and had been a surrogate herself! It was a match made in heaven and meant that I was much more calm about the upcoming birth. I knew having both parents in the room, plus my mom, meant that I’d have support but none of them had the experience to help me through the steps that I would need. It was something that was making me nervous and the relief of having a doula helped me become ready for the birth to come.

I was concerned, however, with a particular doctor in my clinic. We did not hit it off very well. Her bedside manner did not mesh with mine, and certain comments meant that I didn’t trust her. Including the push to go for an induction at 40 weeks because I was “Advanced Maternal Age” at 36. I did not agree that that was a reason to push it, especially knowing how fast my labor was with my daughter. She tried to guilt me into it, but then pushed to need twice weekly checks instead. I agreed, knowing that testing is fine but I wasn’t going to induce if he was still showing off as being perfectly happy.

First post-40 week appointment came and my blood pressure was high. It could have been high because I had been talking to the doctor about the previous doctor I didn’t like, so we did some resting and it was still high. I was about 3.5 cm dilated and fully effaced so we talked about the options and decided to get admitted to the hospital and break my waters to see if we could trigger labor, to make sure that everyone was going to be safe.

Managing the people involved could have been a full time job, but I was so thankful that it worked out the way it did. We were able to have the parents start the 90 minute drive early enough and then wait to break the amniotic sack until they arrived. This way, they would be there for the entire birth of their baby!

I drove home, my pulse and BP still high, to grab my bags and give hubby a kiss. Then my mom took me to the hospital, so that I wouldn’t have to leave a car there, knowing I’d not be able to drive home anyways. I was having fairly consistent contractions every 15 minutes or so, but they weren’t bad. We walked in and got settled into our room, which was cozy and perfectly located. There was only one other room occupied, they would check out soon which meant we had the entire floor to ourselves.

My delivery doctor ended up being a Certified Nurse Midwife and Monica was a Godsend. She was seriously the best person to have been a part of the entire journey and we were so lucky to have her!

The next couple hours seemed to take forever and also fly by. Labor progressed well, once the waters were broken at 3pm. She went back to the clinic and we worked with the fabulous nurse to keep an eye on my progression. At about 5, we were at 6 cms but contractions were getting closer together. I had to go to the bathroom and needed to poop, the nurses were concerned that I was feeling the need to push, but no…I really just needed to poop!

Contractions got bad enough at about 6:30 that I asked for some pain medicine. It was getting difficult for me to breathe in between the contractions, which were coming with barely a break in between. Add this into the fact that I had developed allergy induced asthma, breathing was kind of important.

Monica’s clinic was over at 7, she arrived around 7:20 to check on things. Labor was progressing nicely, but I was definitely having a hard time with the back labor. To help, we moved me to my side. Well, I tried to move and instead had many hands manipulate me to my side. This meant that I could have some knuckles push deep into my back and help relieve the pressure. It also helped Jackson move down and trigger the need to push.

Monica was going to leave and asked me if I felt the need to push. Somehow, I said yes. Which meant that everyone leaped into action. Tables and gowns and people showed up because a baby was coming!

Obviously, I was a little bit distracted, but according to the other people in the room, his head started coming and they got concerned when it looked like there was some sort of growth or something in his head. Turns out, it was his hand. The hand that had been constantly by his head in every ultrasound and made it difficult to get a good photo…it also made the delivery extra difficult.

Through some very careful perenial stretching and massage, the birth happened and he came out beautifully. Tears and emotions hit everyone. There were also giggles when we saw the size of the umbilical cord. It was huge! Skin to skin time was done first on my skin while we waited for the blood to finish pumping through the cord, and then they transferred him to the parents.

We had to carefully deliver the placenta, knowing that the cord had been attached so far to the side. It was so nice for it to be delivered, because it meant the contractions were done!

Except I wasn’t finished. As I was working on nursing Jackson (the plan was to have me nurse him while we were both in the hospital to make sure that he got as much of the colostrum as possible but also help my milk come in as quickly as it could), the bleeding wasn’t stopping. This is definitely a bad thing. It was discovered that there were two blood clots, both of which had to be grabbed out. By hand. Out of the uterus. Which is just as painful as it sounds.

Finally things cleared up, bleeding stopped, and we got to have the visitors. Including my daughter, who got to hold her almost brother!

She also FINALLY got to give me the gift that she had been planning for about 3 months. This girl definitely has gift giving as one of her major love languages: and she is really good at the giving part of things. It was a basket full of things that I couldn’t have while I was pregnant, plus things that made her think of me: wine and brie cheese, a gift card for Subway (because of not being able to eat lunch meats), a candle that looked like a unicorn made it and butterflies and some sparkly star standings. She is so thoughtful and I really lucked out with her!

It’s been 4 weeks since he was born. I’m finally back up to somewhat normalness, the first week after birth was rough. I was so weak from all of the bloodloss. The second week was mentally draining. My body was getting back on track, but the brain hadn’t fully caught up. But now, now I’m feeling good.

It was hard to say goodbye, when they left the hospital. I had a very good full body emotionally cleansing cry when I was alone. Monica and the nursing staff were so amazing, listening to me as I lost it. But after that cry, it’s been smooth sailing. Not wanting any more babies in my house means it’s easy to let go, especially since I still do get to enjoy the snuggles. We just got back this weekend from visiting and that was so wonderful to have that time together.

We are so blessed that everything went as smoothly as it did. Any hiccups ended up turning out okay. Now, we have this beautiful little man in the world. He is so loved, it’s kind of crazy to think about. To realize just how many people are happy he exists!

I’m so glad that it worked out how it did and that I got to be involved. I’m thankful for the journey, for the things we learned (science is so incredible!). I am even more thankful that it’s over and now we just are on the pumping journey. I won’t be a surrogate again but am glad that I have done it.

Now back to real life!

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