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Archives for April 2012

4. When to try harder and when to walk away.

The sunroof was open shining the early afternoon bight sun onto my newly red hair, my cup holder held the largest Slurpee I could find.
Slurpee’s are the key to my happiness.
In case you were wondering.

The disembodied voice blaring over the radio started talking about a list.

A list of 30 things every woman should have and know by the time they are 30.

Something struck me.
These are REAL, attainable things.
I found myself nodding along.

And while this list was written in 1997, I feel like it was written for me.
YES. I want to have and know these things. Not by tomorrow, not even by 30 but wow. Yes.

Secretly (except not so secretly because I just said it..) I want to write a post about each of these things.
My mind jumps at every one of these situations..

By 30, you should have …
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account — all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. The belief that you deserve it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know …
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
8. Where to go — be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat — when your soul needs soothing.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30


Who she is…

It’s Tuesday. I pull up to the same copy and print shop I use every tuesday.
The staff is young. All my age, maybe younger.

The manager always seems flustered. I give her a sweet smile. She has no idea who I am. She calls me my bosses name. She thinks I’m her. Secretly I hope she’s googled my boss and thinks I’ve accomplished everything she has. I answer my phone with her name every time I see their number on the caller ID. Why do I do that? Gosh that’s going to be awkward one day.

The boy that works there. He’s cute. I never noticed before today. Or maybe I had but didn’t care.

I walk through the door today in an exceptionally good mood. My goofy smile greets his. He’s helping an older gentleman. No doubt in the middle of the transaction,  he steps away to find my order.

I realize in these brief moments how happy I am.

I feel like myself again.
That’s a strange thought.

Who am I?

It’s so foreign to me.

A single mom.
A part time employee.
A brunette.
Someone who birthed another persons baby.

Every one of these things I wasn’t a year ago.
So who am I to say I feel like myself AGAIN?
I guess I feel like the new me.

I walk with a little skip in my step, out of the store.
I like this new me.

But I frown thinking of that first word. A-L-O-N-E.
It’s my least favorite state of being. Well, maybe second to D-E-A-D.
But is dead really a state of being? Or a state of NOT being.
That doesn’t really matter..

I’ve been asked a lot about what my future holds. (if you have a crystal ball, I’d like to know what my future looks like too.)

“I’m ready to be a surrogate again soon,” is my standard answer.
“Will you have any more of your own kids?”
Why does everyone ask that?
“My future is pretty uncertain.” I can recite this speech while doing ten other things.. “WHEN I remarry, I’ll have more children if husband wants them.” ( I hope he does.)

Gosh, there’s that thought that pops up again.

I ADORE being a surrogate. BUT, it’s not the easiest thing to sashay up to an attractive man and announce “Hi, I’m pregnant. But don’t worry. It’s not mine.” (someone suggest I add, “the best part of the situation is that you don’t have to worry about getting me pregnant.” I’ll think about adding that to my pick up line repertoire.)

I’ve actually mentioned it a a few single gentlemen in the past year.

Exactly ONE thought it was fascinating and noble. (did he say noble? If I hadn’t been putty hanging on to the way his lips moved as he spoke and his hands, those hands, I might remember. I remember exactly what he was wearing, does that count? I wondered if the leather jacket he was wearing was soft and supple or that hard stiff leather that somehow makes men feel more manly. And the collar, why was I drawn to the way the color sat on his neck? Do you understand why I can’t remember if noble was the word he used?)

I struggled to keep my knees strong as he gazed. It’s probably just the way he looks at every girl, I try to insure myself. I’m not legally divorced,I’m pregnant with another couples baby. Surely, he doesn’t even know he can pierce through me. He probably just has one of those “looks.” If the way he speaks is any indication. I’m sure his smoldering look is just part of the package. Not something saved for me.

The next time I brought it up, I sat surrounded by people I felt instantly comfortable with, I swallowed the giant lump in my throat and told him (a different “him”) that I was due the week after her. (The girl at the end of the table.) She’s noticeably larger than me. He practically sprays pepsi across the table, turns to me and shouts “YOU’RE PREGNANT.”  the kind of shout that makes the busy restaurant hush quickly.
I’m not just pregnant, I’m REALLY pregnant. After 30 weeks, kinda pregnant. I guess I hid it well.

Well, that didn’t go so well. But better to tell him here than in bed later. (i laugh at my thought. Like it would have gone that far..)

This is no easier than I thought it would be.
I should probably just stop watching the pot.

The me that is here now.
I like her.
I hope she finds what she’s looking for.

(What is she looking for??)

That crystal ball, I’ll take that now, please.

What REALLY happened..

                                                                                   {5 pound babies are REALLY tiny}

There are a lot of unknowns when you’re a surrogate. The only one I worried about CONSTANTLY was what would happen after the birth. I want to give an honest look at what REALLY happened. So I remember and do others know what they might experience.

Because he was born at 36 weeks things didn’t go exactly as we’d planned.

After an incredibly short 2 hours Baby Chuck came barreling into the world. Into a room FILLED with a NICU staff. He was whisked away pretty quickly and I was left alone with my doula and doctor. While Baby Chuck’s family went with him. Immediate breast feeding didn’t happen like I’d hoped. Instead I lay in bed as they tried to prevent me from hemorrhaging, and I worried about Baby Chuck. Eventually (about an hour or more) I was wheeled to my recovery room and the nurse was sweet enough to take me past the nursery so I could see the baby getting his first bath. Everyone ran out to ask how I was doing and to make sure I was ok. It meant so much to me that they cared do much about me still.

It was still awhile before they all came into my room with the baby. But I was so happy to see him well.
I grieved a little that he was drinking formula and too little/sleepy to breast feed well. But we still tried. And I started pumping right away.

The evening approached and the family went to their room beside mine. There was no one with me. I was all alone in my room at the end of the hall. I was exhausted but still had birth endorphins. Before I realized it was 1am. I didn’t sleep much the first night. Maybe sneaking in an hour or two between nurse visits.

The second day was good. I had friends visiting, baby snuggles and good times with everyone. The day FLEW by.
Saturday night it hit. I knew I was going to experience some sadness but I didn’t know when it would come. The second night was it for me. Everyone left my room after dinner and the tears started. Not just small cute tears. The big huge ugly snotty kind. I cried and cried and cried.

It was hard for me to explain (even to myself) but I WASN’T crying because I missed the baby or WANTED the baby. I didn’t. He was right where he belonged. I was sad it was over. I wasn’t ready. (though, frankly, I don’t know if I would have ever been “ready”)

I got out of bed Friday morning, after not sleeping well and went to my doctors appointment. I was only 36 wks. I wasn’t supposed to be in labor.  2 hours later a baby was born. I never had time to process it. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.
I never got to that uncomfortable part of pregnancy. I never got huge. I wasn’t ready for it to be over.

I knew it would happen but the shift of attention was hard for me.

While his family was still so concerned about my well being, their attention was no longer completely on me, like it had been for the 36 weeks before.

I knew their attention was right where it belonged. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard.

As the nurses rotated in Saturday night they all were taken back by the breakdown going on in my room. And surprised as they made their second visit and I was STILL crying. They weren’t really sure what to say or if there was anything they could say to make things better. There wasn’t. It was just something I had to go through. I was mourning the end of this journey and the unknown if what would happen in the morning when we said our goodbyes. They smiled and nodded as I recounted the whole 36 weeks over and over and how happy I was.

I didn’t sleep one minute of Saturday night. I told one nurse that I secretly hoped Sunday just wouldn’t come. She told me it didn’t work that way, but she’d be there for me when it happened.

Of course Sunday came.

And it was such a healing day. I was so worried about crying in front of his family. Worried that they wouldn’t understand why I was crying and it would scare them.

There was not a single tear on Sunday. The sweet nurses gave us time to “check out” instead of making us leave at the normal 11am. As much as I had dreaded the “pity eyes” after delivery, I was actually thankful for them because the pity was giving me more time.

I was able to spend my first alone time with the baby. Time I thought I so desperately needed, but when it came down to it, It was already so evident that he was no part of me. My voice, my smell, it didn’t sooth him like I thought it would. It was like he was never a part of me. Never inside of my body. He was THEIR baby. As I dressed him in his going home outfit I looked at him, told him thank you for choosing me. And for being such a good baby. But that I was so glad he was with his mommy now. I truly was.

My family arrived. We packed up, cleaned up. I put on real clothes for the first time too. I hugged everyone. We posed for pictures then I carried my big boy as we walked down the hall and out of the hospital where I officially became a surrogate mother.

I eagerly texted a few friends from the lobby that I was so happy and didn’t have a single regret.
While I still hadnt come to grips with it being over so quickly I was so happy that I got to be the mom to my own little boy again.

I’ll cherish everyone of those moments that weekend and everyone of those tears because they were all a part of my amazing journey. But I’m thankful to know what to expect for next time. (YES, next time!!)

The day he made me a surrogate mother..

{36 weeks – The day he was born!}

On Wednesday March 7th, My  IM and  I went in for a routine OB check up and my blood pressure was oddly high. I usually have low blood pressure, so they were concerned. I left the appointment and went directly to buy an at home monitor to make sure I could keep an eye on it. IM returned home and planned to come back around the 23rd.
By Saturday afternoon my blood pressure was WAY higher than the doctor considered safe. I was admitted to the hospital for observations and stayed until Sunday. During my stay my OB winced when I told her we had 12 days until I was 37 weeks (full term). I felt fine and was sure we’d make it with no problem. She thought we might have to induce before he was full term.  I was sent home on STRICT bed rest and told to keep monitoring my blood pressure. IM arrived back to Utah after only being home for 15 hours. She checked on me daily and took such good care of me while on bed rest.

We returned for a routine appt on Wednesday the 14th and everything was looking good. We spent over 30 minutes with our favorite ultrasound tech checking the baby out, then another 45 minutes hooked up to monitors during a non stress test. Everything was looking great. I was reassured that we’d easily make it 9 more days to full term. The baby was measuring around 5.1 pounds and I wasn’t ready for him to be born yet. Dr Langer told us we would most likely induce between the 23rd and the 30th. I had other plans and KNEW I’d make it further, I had NO reason to believe I wouldn’t make it all the way to 40 weeks. As long as I was IN BED my blood pressure was normal and great. I wanted  give the baby the best start I could.
I spent Thursday the 15th feeling just kinda yucky. I had been in bed for almost 7 days and just felt blah. My friend Jen (who is also a surrogate and due just 2 days before me) came to visit and I had my first meeting with my Doula, Angie. Jen mentioned how many contractions she was having and I told them I hadn’t felt a single contraction yet. I lamented how emotionally hard it was for me to know I should be preparing my body for labor but had to be stuck in bed. But I knew deep down my body would be ok. I told them how badly I just wanted to go into labor on my own. I told them I wished my water would break early one morning just like it did with Miles. I didn’t want to be induced. I would do whatever I could to not be induced.
I slept HORRIBLY. I was so uncomfortable all night. And just didn’t really feel like sleeping. I couldn’t pin point what was off, I had a little weird pain. But it felt and acted just like gas pain.  I wasn’t concerned; I even spent an hour around 2am just laying awake and feeling the baby move around.
I woke up to my alarm at 7:30am so I could get ready for my doctors appointment. I felt tired, sluggish but had no pain. As we all drove to the doctors appointment I mentioned I was having some kind of weird pain. Maybe just one tiny step up from a Braxton Hicks. But I almost didn’t notice it if I wasnt paying attention.
We arrived at the doctors office and went for our non stress test. We started at the ultrasounds to check his fluid level and got a couple good picture of him then headed to the monitoring part of the NST. 20…30… 40 minutes went by. The nurse finally came in and said she wasn’t getting enough reactions out of him. I joked that we normally wouldn’t even be out of bed yet and that I hadn’t eaten anything today. She brought my juice and a candy bar. My IM’s cousin went to the cafeteria to see what they had to eat. We sat in the NST room and joked and laughed. We talked about restaurants in Utah, visiting park city and most importantly where we wanted to go to lunch. I felt pains, and watched as the babies heart rate reacted to them. I even pointed out to everyone when I felt a pain and saw the babies heart rate react. At one point I even opened up the contraction app on my phone to try to time the pain. But they were so subtle I accidentally skipped over a few, and there was NO duration. Just a short pain that was gone as fast as it came. The machine wasn’t picking up any contractions.  I honestly wasnt sure what the pains were and still chalked it up to braxton hicks. I talked and laughed through each pain.
Thankfully IM’s cousin brought me the yummiest omelet and a giant orange juice, even though we told him I wasn’t hungry and didn’t need anything. I only ate half since we just spent two hours picking the best lunch place to visit when we were done. We FINALLY headed over to the actual doctor’s appointment. I texted my friend Jen that I was having some weird pain but I didn’t want the doctor to check my cervix because I didn’t want to be disappointed. She said she was curious and begged me to have it checked. I told her I’d do it just for her.
When Dr Langer came in I told her I was feeling something weird, but wasn’t concerned. I just didn’t want to be disappointed when I wasn’t dilated. She joked that she was hoping to find me at a 4. Since I was EXACTLY 36 weeks, I was only hoping for a 2! She checked, and looked at me with the biggest eyes. She said “RYLEY, you are a 5 and a half with bulging water!” I shouted at her and told her she was lying. And immediately FREAKED out and started crying. She kept repeating herself and told me I needed to go right now and have this baby. I burst into tears and didn’t know what to think.  She looked at me and said “it’s 11:30am. I have to leave at 2pm, so he will be born by 2.” Hearing that sent me into a tailspin. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I hadn’t packed a bag (even though she told me last week to bring it to every appointment) my IM had NOTHING for the baby. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. It was too early. I wasn’t ready, we weren’t ready.
I texted Jen something to the effect of “HOLY SH!T I’M 5CM”
I called my mom, told her I was going to have the baby, she was at Target getting the things on my hospital bag list. Good timing!  Then I called my doula with a shaky voice, she didn’t answer, and I cried harder, begging her to HURRY.
I walked out of the room as Dr Langer was telling IM that the baby was coming NOW. I looked at her and  we were both in tears and shaking. We hugged and cried and both took a deep breath. The time was NOW, ready or not.
We calmly walked over to L&D. I mentioned how weird it was that I’m walking calmly through the doors, almost 6cm dilated. The babies Uncle (who was also with us), kept commenting how different this was than the movies. Just moments earlier we had joked with him that he could cut the cord at the birth. But we thought that would be in weeks not hours. It hadn’t sank in yet. I was sure she was wrong. There was no baby REALLY coming.
We walked to a room, it was the same room Miles was born in. It was meant to be. I was getting really nervous. Right when I didn’t think I could hold it together, my doula Angie walked through the door and all the weight lifted from my shoulders. I knew it was going to be ok.
Around 12:15 Dr Langer arrived to break my water. I was in virtually no pain, able to talk and laugh through the contractions.  They weren’t even registering on the monitors. I sat beside the bed on a birth ball, and just talked and laughed with everyone. Sometimes I paused the conversation to take a breath through a contraction but they were short. Came, and went. There were breaks in between. Something I didn’t experience with Miles. It was a short burst of slight pain then I was back to talking.
I was SOOO blessed with a great nurse and great staff, they immediately turned down the lights, talked softly and always asked what I wanted, it was everything I had discussed wanting the night before but we didn’t have time to even discuss with the nurse staff.  My nerves shot up a bit as the NICU staff came in to talk to IM and the guys about what they can expect from a 36 week old. But even with that stress, I was finally calm and coming to grips with the fact he would be born SOON.  Nothing could have been better. As  1:00 approached I was a little over 7cm but time was getting close for Dr Langer needing to leave. She asked the nurse to start pitocin, because I was a little too comfortable. (if anyone else told this part of the story, I’d roll my eyes at the doctor. But in my story, I didn’t mind. I REALLY wasnt in pain, or even felt like I was in labor) The nurse didn’t really feel like giving me Pit so she only turned it on to 1 drip per minute. It wasnt much longer until I had to close my eyes and focus a little more on those short bursts of pain. But still, they didn’t really hurt.
It wasn’t much longer before I thought maybe I felt that urge that everyone talks about. Maybe just maybe there was a little bit of pressure? I couldn’t really tell, but that was enough of a reassurance that they needed to get Dr Langer in. I breathed through some intense moments but could still talk. I closed my eyes but sensed the room fill up with NICU nurses and a whole lot of other people.
Suddenly, there was that urge. I was pretty sure he was coming RIGHT then. I closed my eyes, held Angie’s hand and prayed over and over and over again for him to be okay. Begged for him to be breathing well and to cry. PLEASE just let him cry. I was terrified. I didn’t care what I was about to experience. I was worried about the itty bitty 36 week baby coming into this world when I promised to protect him.
The moment I heard them say that Dr Langer was in the room I BEGGED her to hurry. I just kept begging. My eyes were closed but Angie gave me the play by play telling me she had to get ready. But I was ready NOW. She stood beside and said, “ok, let me check you.” I think I said something to the effect of “BUT HE’S RIGHT THERE.” I was holding him in. Thinking about moments on tv when they tell the mom not to push and just breath through that feeling. I was doing just that. Relaxing, trying not to deliver the baby into the nurses hands.
When she finally sat down ready to deliver I actually felt horrible when she told me he wasn’t right there.
But I KNEW I was a good pusher and he’d be here fast. While I remembered I was a good pusher, I had forgotten what it was actually like.
With Miles, I didn’t even know when his head came out. I pushed this baby’s head out and felt it.  I wouldn’t even constitute it as pain, but it was hard. I must kept whispering to Angie “oh my gosh you guys..oh my gosh you guys..” I could hear his heart rate dropping and knew I couldn’t take my time. I heard the panic in the nurses voice as she asked Angie to hold the monitor tighter and told me I needed to push. And in that spilt second I wanted to say out loud, “just get the vacuum and get him out NOW.” Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I was scared for him. I couldn’t say it, but I wanted to. I pushed so hard. So hard. Harder than I did with my 9 pound baby. Not longer, just harder. I felt like I could pass out. I kept saying, “I’m forgetting to breath. I don’t have time.” I was SOOO thankful when the nurse put the oxygen mask on my face. I always imagined when I saw women on tv like that, that they felt claustrophobic with that mask. I thanked her so many times. It was just the boost I needed and I inhaled like it was my first breath. One push later and I felt every ounce of him wiggle out. I never felt that before. I felt so much. I thought in my head how creepy it felt, I wanted to crawl off the bed. It’s amazing how much you have time to think about in spilt seconds. Dr Langer held him up. He was so tiny. But looked great. I looked at the clock. 2pm. WE DID IT. Not even intentionally, but we did it.
I called his uncle over and asked him to cut the cord. He did and the baby was taken over to be cleaned. I watched and heard him cry. I was so thankful. As quick and the intense moments started they were over. We were back to laughing and talking about how INSANE this day was. 2 hours ago I had no clue I was in labor. And here was a baby. He looked great. 36 weeks and he was so healthy. I hoped he wouldn’t be too little and when they put him on the scale he weighed 5 pounds 6.7 ounces. I was relieved. Everything about him was relieving.
The crew left with the baby and left just my doula, her apprentice, my awesome nurse and Dr Langer to clean me up. My LEAST favorite part. It was horrible and painful. I’d give birth to 10 more babies back to back to not have to deal with the afterbirth pains and cleanup.
As soon as it began it was over. Dr Langer was on her way to run her Marathon in St George and me, Angie and her apprentice just sat around in sheer awe of what just happened and how quickly it happened.
The baby was cleaned up and before long they all came into my room and we spent an amazing evening together.
The day seems like a dream. In all honesty the whole journey seems like a dream. I can’t believe how lucky we all were to have each other. It hasn’t even been a year since I read the profile of the family I fell in love with and tonight we kiss the head of their sweet baby.
At 36 weeks he was (IS) completely healthy. He never stepped foot into the NICU, never required oxygen, never needed extra assistance. We were all so lucly.
I am so blessed to have them as a part of my family and to be a part of their family. Even 2700 words isn’t enough to full express how incredibly amazing this has been. No one could have prepared me for the sheer joy and happiness this journey would (selfishly)
bring ME.
                                      {The day we went home. I hadnt slept in 3 days}