Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My doula's version of the birth story

I am not the same person I was when I first wanted to be a surrogate in 2002. I'm not even the same as when I first became a surrogate in 2005. Each journey has been unique and I've learned different things along the way. Even people I've met throughout the surrogacy community have helped shape me and opened me up to new things. 

One of those new things was a doula.  At one point I almost said forget it, do I really need one? Well, I'm glad I decided that whether I "needed" one or not, I certainly wanted one. And just like with surrogacy, I found my match. 

Terra was certainly nice and came across as knowing what she was doing. But as we met more often, I looked forward to our next meeting and I felt a friendship growing. She became a great support and someone I could talk to about personal things with the pregnancy. She helped me prepare for my natural VBAC and helped me achieve it! I can't imagine it any other way.
At one point I told her she was going to have it easy with me.

This is her beautiful version of my birth story. It absolutely moved me to tears. I am so grateful to have found her.

The Story of a Stork

Usually these stories are easy for me to write....they are filled with LONG labors where everything one person can think of was attempted. They are filled with stories of calm before storms and roaring babies earthside. This story is one of complete peace and acceptance...it is quick and beautiful...something I am not as used to seeing.

When I met Jill she was instantly someone I wanted to know more...Her story was AH-mazing! She has 3 beautiful children and has devoted the years after her own children to giving the gift of life to babies that would not have had the chance without her. She has given her time and her body to families all over the country so that they can have the gift of family. How many women are willing to do so much for someone they did not know?

As we got to know each other over the course of what seemed like only a week to me but months to an expanding woman who was so busy growing a baby and running a business while also being a wife and mother to 3 remarkable children I was astounded by the strength Jill had. As labor came and went, so did the temptation to give baby a little push to come. Jill remained calm and strong, she knew what she wanted for this baby and this family that she gracefully continued being pregnant and enjoying the exciting things she was experiencing. 

At her last Doctors appointment her Doctor pretty clearly laid down the law. She needed to have this baby and relatively soon. Jill knew what was best for this child so she set a date for her induction...she did not want it to end that way but again was happy to give this baby the safest and best outcome...no questions asked. Jill had a previous C-section and through lots of research and education she was planning a VBAC. She knew she could do it...she just needed one last piece to the puzzle...LABOR.

Jill went home that day and resigned to the fact that Monday she would help this baby with the final steps and be induced.....but of course there were bigger hands at play and her resignation meant something bigger had to take over. Sure enough at 4:28 AM on Saturday December 20th I got “the text” I just knew...this was it. We talked a little back and forth, I tried for one last cat nap. At 6:30 I was getting dressed and headed out. There was a misunderstanding and I met Jill and her family at the hospital...although I should have met them at a local gas station...I am sure they loved arriving at that gas station in labor...to realize I was 15 miles away sitting in the hospital parking lot. But all the same they made it and we got them upstairs and into triage. Jill seemed to me that she was in early labor but nothing major....I only saw 1 contraction and she curled her toes and said it was strong...but hey....if she could vocalize that....it HAD to be early? The nurse got her all checked in and checked her cervix she had what is called a bulging bag of waters and was a 4 or 5 cm. The nurse was positive...as was everyone else...this was it...so on we moved to a labor room. Jill got to the room just in time and crashed into the bed to have a contraction. As I scoped things out....I realized...there was no tub...Jill wanted a tub...so we waited that contraction out and moved to a HUGE corner room with a beautiful bathroom and a nice big tub! Now this was the place to labor! I asked for a birth ball and sprayed the room with some yummy citrus spray and began my set up for a LONG day of laboring beautifully and peacefully.

Soon enough her doctor came in and explained that he only felt comfortable with things moving rather quickly and that he would like to break Jills water. This was not what we wanted and Jill pleaded to have some time. She explained things were moving quickly and would happen soon....just a little more time. Her doctor reluctantly agreed but explained contractions were far apart so labor was likely to move very slow and an hour would not make a difference....but he would give her some time. So we began hoping things would progress at least a little in that hour. 

Jill was so calm and peaceful during her contractions and they were about every 5 minutes so we all assumed again that things were moving slow and steady and we would have a baby in the afternoon. But about 45 minutes later baby had a very large heart deceleration...all at once, without any indications. Nurses rushed in and paged Dr. Twede...he came in and they decided it was in fact probably a change in her cervix. They checked her and we were left amazed! She was and 8+! It was now 9:00 AM and we knew this was going to happen quickly. Dr. Twede then broke Jills water and told her she could just do what she needs to and he would be back when she felt “pushy”

From here things went quickly. Jill obviously felt things more intensely but continued to stay calm and peaceful. She listened to her playlist and when one of her kids would turn it down of off she immediately noticed and asked to have turned back up. She would smile and laugh as different songs came on. She would explain to us why different songs spoke to her. I would tell the story of Under Pressure...but it has been told a few times...and Jills version is the best...But I will say this. We watched a HUGE contraction build and take over the monitor...we expected Jill to become agitated but she just smiled and laughed as those lyrics were sang.

Shortly after that things felt different to Jill so Dr. Twede came up...it was time. Who knows how Jill did it...but transition: the time commonly depicted as moms screaming and hitting their husbands was so calm with Jill...she never made as much as squeak to let us on to the intensity she was feeling....she just sat and swayed and smiled...what a way to bring a baby into this world!

Pushing was intense and quick but she had her husband by her side and before you know it...a baby was laid on her chest and a pair of scissors was handed to Jill...that is right...she got to cut the cord! How symbolic that moment was....A woman severing the last tie before she places that baby into her parents arms. It was lovely. Jill was able to nurse and pass the baby to her children to say hello. It was amazing to see her strength and willingness. 

The following day was a whirlwind and I was not around to witness much....but I can say it was beautiful. CiCi's parents were amazing and wonderful! Their son was a ROCKSTAR celebrating his birthday via Skype. I doubt any of us will ever forget those moments and the beauty of what Jill has done. It was an honor serving those families:)

With that...I guess that concludes Jills Birth Story...It was amazing....I cant think of a better describing word. Such a wonderful day and moment in history.

Love to the Reeder family!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The birth story!

Contractions started around 3:30 Saturday morning. (12/20/14) I hadn't gotten much sleep. For some reason I was tossing and turning before contractions even began. I had also started wiping pink the night before. 

I had never gone past 39 weeks before and on Saturday I was 40w3d.  I was scheduled to be induced on Monday the 22nd. My Dr. wasn't going to let me go past 41 weeks, which was Christmas Day. I was so happy to be going into labor on my own. (This would be my 3rd spontaneous labor, I was induced with my girls just because my doctor offered at 39 weeks)

 I pretty much knew it was time to go to the hospital around 4:30. I texted and called my IPs. 
They had also been up tossing and turning all night. Unfortunately, their plane wasn't leaving until noon, which meant they were probably going to miss the birth.
I filled in my doula and my birth photographer/friend. 
I showered, shaved my legs, ate and started waking up my husband and kids. This was it! It was baby day.
Everyone was excited.

My 15 year old helped me tie my shoes.

I sat on my birthing ball, waiting for my family to get ready to go. Contractions were getting stronger.

We arrived at the hospital at 7:30. Contractions were pretty intense on the ride to the hospital. (30 minute drive) I was squeezing hubby's hand and the grip bar.
Strangely they weren't so bad when we got to the hospital. I was 4-5 cm when we checked in. I was given a room and told they were keeping me around 8:30.
I kept having contractions, but they weren't that bad. They did start getting intense again towards the end.
At times I was in a good amount of pain, and yet I was laughing through some contractions and explaining the songs on my playlist.

The nurses said my room was the place to hang out with my awesome music.
(Mainly Beatles)

Baby had some decels and I was given oxygen. They broke my water when I was at an 8.

My daughter and husband were in contact with my IPs while they were on their way.

At one point IM was talking to me on the phone through an intense contraction. I wasn't able to talk, but it was awesome to know she was there for me and to listen to her encouraging words.

Baby was posterior (face up) and turned as I pushed. 
So crazy! 
I tore because her head was so big. 

Catalina Jane (I've called her Baby CiCi this whole time because I only knew her initials) was born at 10:34 AM. She weighed 8 pounds, 11 ounces and was 21 inches long. That's the biggest baby I have carried and delivered.  I had figured she would be about 9 pounds. 

It was quite amazing to physically feel myself pushing her out. I was so in the moment and I didn't feel the ring of fire like I did with my first surrogate baby who was 3 pounds smaller. So crazy!

They put her on my belly and I got to cut the cord. She nursed pretty good right away! She looked all around when she was born and had a good, healthy cry.

My doula, Terra handed her to me. 

 My family 

 got to meet her.

My mom, Connie was there when she was born, so we're my girls.

We had plenty of cuddle time with the cute, sweet girl while waiting for her mom and dad to arrive.

My husband didn't want to get "attached", but he couldn't help picking her up and calming her when she cried. He thought she was pretty darn cute and special!



He's an awesome, supportive husband!

At one point, I really don't remember if it was right after she was born, my husband gave me an early Christmas present-

So perfect, because storks are my thing!



I tore and had to get stitches.
The first day I had been bleeding a lot and lots of blood clots. They were concerned and gave me some Pitocin and a shot to help.

Feeing pretty good, but stitches are starting to hurt. Back is getting sure too. So far I'm functioning on 2 hours of sleep and Ibuprofen. (As of 5:30 PM)

Today  (Saturday, December 20) is my best friends' birthday. My IM has the exact same birthday as my other best friend. We have lots of birthdays in common between us.

Friends and family came to visit-

This is Mallory, who was also my birth photographer. I'll probably have to have another post just with those pictures when I get them.

This is Veronica who is my friend and co-owns the agency with me. She is pregnant as a 2nd time surrogate.

My dad, Don and step mom, Kathie.

Lovely Rita and Sgt. Pepper arrived around 7:00 PM.  It was amazing to introduce them to the cutest baby ever!  Lots of good emotions.

My 15 year old daughter made this hat and matching scarf for Lovely Rita and Baby CiCi.

Sgt. Pepper changing a diaper.

Lovely Rita and Lady Madonna (LR's mom) gave me this awesome necklace as a push present. It has charms for all my babies, including my surrobabies. 

Not everything went as planned and my Dr was very cautious and particular about how I could VBAC. However, I am happy with how it all went. I got to wear my birthing gown.  :-)
My playlist helped. My music puts me in a zone and certain songs played at just the right time and made me laugh or at least smile through the pain. Under Pressure was pretty much dead on. Lol

This baby is so big and strong she is picking her head up already. 

I got lots of snuggle time with Catalina. It was super sweet to nurse her. It's amazing what the body knows to do with the whole birth and then contractions stopping after and her knowing how to nurse.
It's also amazing that once that baby's out, the nausea, heartburn, etc. is gone. 

It got a little emotional when it was time to say goodbye. (first time that has happened with my surrogacy journeys)
It had been such a wonderful journey and I felt so blessed. 
IM was thanking me and I started crying. It was bittersweet.

We all got to hold her one last time. (Hopefully not the last!) This was important to have closure and to say goodbye. (For now)

I'm so grateful for the experience. It really was almost picture perfect. We had a great relationship with IPs and that sweet baby treated me well throughout the pregnancy and even went easy on me with the delivery.

I'm starting to feel a little "now what?"
This has been my life the past 10 months.  (13 months really, start to finish)

Looks like I've dropped about 16 pounds already. (Day after)
There are advantages to having big babies.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Headed for the Light/ The Final Stretch

Please join me over at All Things Surrogacy to see what it's like to be nearing the end of a surrogacy pregnancy.  This was written last week. 
I'm kind of surprised I'm still pregnant.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving 2014!

Last Thanksgiving, I was choosing between two couples. I made my decision that night, and sent the couple a video to let them know that I chose them.

Now, one year later, I am 37 weeks/full term with their baby. So much to be thankful for.

I am also thankful for my friends and family and all my support throughout this pregnancy. 

I am thankful for my health and for a healthy pregnancy. 

I hope that you have lots to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

36 week update journey#5

Not much longer...

I've had a few contractions here and there the past week. Today she was pushing down pretty good and I decided to add this song to my birthing playlist-

Also, my Dr told me not to go into labor over Thanksgiving since he'll be gone next week. Fine by me. I'm not ready to have her until at least December.

I need to pack! And then it's probably best to keep my bag in the car at all times. I was thinking about it today. We live 45 minutes from the hospital. But if we have to go home and get my bag, that's an hour and a half at least. And I've got a party in my bag (once it's packed, ha ha) so we don't want to labor without it.

I hope my IPs will make it in time. Because we aren't being induced, they'll just (hopefully) hop on a plane when I call them. I'm excited for my kids to meet them. 

My awesome friend wants to be there when Baby CeCe is born, do does my mom. I'm telling you, it's going to be a birthing party! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Meet the parents, and friends and relatives (journey #5)

Wow, what an amazing weekend!

My IPs flew my husband and I to their hometown to meet IF, Big Brother, friends and relatives. We had already met IM and I was excited to see her again and meet the rest of the gang.

Lovely Rita (IM) picked us up from the airport with Hey Jude in the backseat. He kept saying hurry up Jill and John, let's go while we were still inside waiting for our luggage. He was a little shy at first with us though. 

Driving through their neighborhood was amazing. We saw some of the neatest houses. Their house was great too. I liked so many things about it inside and out. 

I finally got to meet Sgt. Pepper. He came down the stairs and straight to me. He even pushed aside a friend to hug me first. I believe at that point he told me they weren't going to let me leave, that I wasn't going anywhere.  And then he touched my belly. He jokingly said, I don't have to ask, right? And I said, nope!
I believe he then asked John, my husband if it was okay. Lol

They had some close friends over for dinner including the surrogacy counselor who helped facilitate things on their end and an awesome actor who had twins through surrogacy. (Not NPH)  Everyone was dressed up, so I went upstairs to put on my dress that I had brought "just in case".

Talking intently about something, must be surrogacy. Sgt. Pepper (IF) is to my right.

With the surrogacy counselor.

We ate Indian food which was a new experience for John and I. One of Lovely Rita's friends asked if she could feel my belly and I said of course. Everyone there was so nice and welcoming.

Cool fertility goddess IM had on their table.

After dinner and I believe after ice cream, we were chatting and baby was moving as Lovely Rita was talking, so I went to sit by her so she could feel baby move. It took a bit, but eventually she could feel her.

I brought the stork I had bought for IM. I originally was going to give it to her at Baby CeCe's birth, but I felt I should bring it now for her to put in baby's room. She loved it and eventually Hey Jude saw it and became interested in it. He ended up taking it to bed with him. 

Lovely Rita asked if I had seen my daughter Jessica's picture on the fridge. She had drawn her a stork when we mailed the ultrasound pictures to them. So sweet that it was on their fridge.

We stayed the first night in a hotel nearby. When we checked into the hotel right before bed, we had gifts waiting for us- a hoodie/jacket for me and a hat for John. I could actually use a jacket that fits right now and it fits great, plus it's cute!

Doesn't Lovely Rita have lovely handwriting?

We ate breakfast at a lovely bakery across the street from the hotel and then Lovely Rita picked us up and took us back to their house.
When Hey Jude woke up that morning he asked where we were. So sweet.
Back at their house, I got introduced to another awesome friend.

Lovely Rita and I

After awhile, we were headed out on a 3 hour drive to Lady Madonna's house (Lovely Rita's mom). It was great to talk and chat on the way.

We stopped to get pedicures and at that point I got to meet Lady Madonna. She took me to get a sandwich while Lovely Rita got started on her pedicure. Soon, it was my turn. I hadn't decided what color of polish I was going to do. When I saw the color Lovely Rita brought, I decided we should match. She said she'd be honored. I got to sit in a massage chair which was nice. My feet are sensitive and at some points, it tickled.

Then, we were off to Lady Madonna's house for dinner and to stay the night. What a beautiful house! We got to check out where we'd be sleeping. Lovely Rita told us we'd have some personal space in the basement with our own bedroom and bathroom. She didn't mention the theater room!
Oh my gosh! Their basement was amazing! It was pretty much everything I want to do to our basement, only on a much larger scale. 

Dinner was lovely and yummy and it was great chatting with more family. Lovely Rita's dad is awesome too. We'll call him Dr. Maxwell.
I have interacted with Lady Madonna since the beginning of our journey and already knew she was great. It was nice to finally meet her.

We also met Lovely Rita's brother whose birthday is just a day after mine. There are so many birthday coincidences (and other coincidences) between our families that I wouldn't be surprised if Baby shared a birthday with someone. She could easily share a birthday with my daughter, my twin uncles, my grandma or even Hey Jude.

We went for a ride in this awesome vehicle, the Jeepster.

Who can turn down ice cream? Then we rented a movie to watch in the theater room. John fell asleep early on and then I fell asleep and he woke up and finished the movie.

When I woke up on Sunday morning, Baby CeCe was moving and I just took some time to take it all in. I wanted to stay in the moment of it all.

Then we got up and went to brunch at Lovely Rita's aunts' house. We got to meet more family and eat more good food. John was loving the country atmosphere! Again, everyone was friendly and welcoming.

Lady Madonna is to Lovely Rita's right and then to her right is LR's brother. Dr. Maxwell is to the left on the front row. We have 2 aunties in the pic, one next to my husband, left top row, and one in the bottom middle. And then a cousin to the far left and nieces on the bottom row. You should know everybody else by now.

I absolutely love this picture!

My husband John with Hey Jude. 

Next stop, was back to Lady Madonna's for a quick break.
I got to sit down with Lovely Rita and have some belly time together. Sgt. Pepper joined us. They both got to feel baby move. So did Lady Madonna. I got to meet more family.

Finally, Hey Jude sat on my lap and cuddled with me and baby sister. Yay! I got lots of loving in. Him and dad talked to her and dad kissed her through my belly, but big brother wasn't too sure about that.

I love his smile here.

We needed to get going. Sgt. Pepper was staying behind with Hey Jude, so it was time to say goodbye to them. I got a hug from them both. I even got an extra hug from Sgt. Pepper as he got a little choked up and thanked me. I can't even begin to explain the love I have for this family and I got choked up later as I told John and our kids.

We were running out of time and needed to stop for a quick visit to Lovely Rita's grandma. I decided she needed a nickname too. Lady Madonna suggested Eleanor Rigby- perfect.

We needed to eat before heading to the airport. Since we don't have a sit down Pizza Hut in Utah anymore, we thought that would be pretty cool. 

An hour later we were at the airport. John didn't have a seat and needed to check in with an agent. Anxiety was setting in. We were running behind and might not get to sit together or even get on the plane. We checked in and they had put us in the same row, but not next to each other. Luckily, someone offered to switch. 

Our next flight home was delayed getting luggage on. Ugh!

And then somehow our luggage didn't make it to SLC.
It finally arrived the next night.

We had a blast! Such an awesome weekend. I am so grateful to be a part of this journey. I will treasure these memories forever!