Monday, January 12, 2015

What a Difference a Year Makes

It was exactly a year today, January 12, 2014, that Chris and I first met Kerri & Jason.  I remember being a ball of nerves on the way to meet them.  Looking back, I knew in my gut that they would be the perfect match.  I knew it from the very first conversations that Kerri and I had through Facebook.  Meeting them solidified those feelings.  And here we are today...we went from strangers to friends to family. 

Kerri posted her thoughts on the birth of Jaden, and I thought I would share some of mine as well.  That same ball of nerves I had on the way to meet Kerri & Jason for the first time was even bigger on the way to the hospital.  We were induced, so I think knowing that this was the day intensified those feelings.  As nervous as I was, I couldn’t help but think about Kerri & Jason and how they must have felt.  Everything they had worked for the last 4 years plus was finally coming to fruition. 

Having your own baby is the best thing in the world.  Or so I thought until I was a surrogate.  Having someone else’s baby for them trumps it a million percent.  Being there, in that moment, is almost indescribable.  Kerri had warned me many times that she gets extra chatty when she’s nervous.  I’m the opposite.  I told her and Jason that they would know when it was getting close to baby time because I would stop talking and get in the zone, so to speak.  My other signs of impending baby crowning (aka holy hell, get this thing out of me!) are me asking for drugs (I don’t really mean it) and saying I can’t do it (like I have a choice at that time).  Disclaimer – I am not anti-epidural or anti pain meds.  I am pro women doing whatever works best for them and their baby.  I am also, according to the nurse and most other women I know stupid crazy.  Needless to say, I did ask for meds (which I didn’t really want or get) and I also said I couldn’t do it, but I did.  And like that, it was go time.  Kerri was holding one leg, Chris the other, and Jason was very diplomatically at my head behind Chris until both he and I basically forced Jason down by Dr. Ramani.  Seeing the birth of your child is a miraculous thing, and no way was Jason going to miss out on that on my watch. 

The mood in the room was excited, nervous, and beyond happy.  It was euphoric.  When Jaden was born and Dr. Ramani placed him on my belly, seeing Kerri see her baby for the first time was breath taking.  The years of anticipation, heart ache, loss, worry, and sadness were replaced in that single second.  This child that she and Jason yearned for so desperately was here, and he was perfect. 

Don’t get me wrong, the birth of my three girls are three of the best days and times of my life, but being lucky enough to help create another family and witness the sheer joy and love that having Jaden brought to Kerri & Jason ranks right up there with my own births. 

Anyone involved with surrogacy will mostly likely claim that there is no such thing as a “perfect journey.” I whole heartedly disagree, because from second one, this journey was.  Not that is was 100% easy and worry free, but it was perfect.  This last year I have heard many people say that Kerri and Jason were lucky to have me, but it’s simply not true.  I’m the lucky one.  Lucky to have a husband, children, family, and friends who support me 100%.  Lucky to have Kerri & Jason as not just IPs, but as friends and family.  Lucky to have their extended families and friends welcome me and my family with open arms.  Lucky to witness the pure love, kindness, caring, generosity, faith, and perseverance of Kerri & Jason.  Yep, I’m the lucky one. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The First 48

Editors note: I really did start writing this post during the first 48 hours after he was born.  However, five weeks later I'm finally getting around to finishing it.  This motherhood thing sure keeps me busy! 

Well, we didn't have to make a decision about whether or not to blow $450 on the four star hotel room hospital room because as it turned out, Labor and Delivery and Mother and Baby floors were both packed beyond capacity.  Thankfully, despite the hospital policy that wouldn't allow us to bunk up with Ellen, no one seemed to mind that Jason and I both slept there.  By slept I mean napped  That's about all you can do the first 24 hours of a newborns life.

Jaden was born at 3:13 PM. Following his birth, after all the visitors left, they took Jaden to the nursery to give him a bath and Jason and I accompanied him.  It was interesting surveying all the other babies in the nursery.  Most of them were a lot bigger than our little guy. And noisier!  One of the babies was crying non-stop.  They told us that would probably start on Day 2.  Thankfully, that non-stop crying hasn't started yet.

After his bath, Jason and I spent some time in a separate room feeding him. It was really surreal and special to have that alone time with him.  The room was dim and it was just us and this sweet baby.  Finally.

After feeding time, we headed back to Ellen's room.  We felt a little bad about crashing with her, but I think she was happy that we joined her.  Come to think of it, I think it was really the best thing for all of us. I know she was exhausted and would have liked to have gotten some sleep, but I bet she was also feeling lonely.  Her husband and kids were at home and I'm sure it would have been hard being alone in that room, not pregnant anymore, and not with the baby she had just carried for nine months.  And it would have been strange for us not to be with the woman who just had just given us this gift.

The night itself went pretty well, except for one minor detail.  You know how they tell you not to bring newborns out in public/around sick people because they have not yet had their vaccinations so are more susceptible to illness? Well, what do you do when that sick person is the baby's mom?!?  That's right folks, I never get sick.  And yet the day my son was born- the son I've been waiting to meet for nearly five years- I started coming down with something.  I knew I wasn't feeling well when they started to induce Ellen so sent my mother-in-law out for some Emergen-C.  By the evening, I was feeling pretty lousy and borrowed one of the thermometers in Jaden's bassinet.  Sure enough, I had a 101.4 fever.  Ugh.     

Jason was very protective of Jaden and didn't want my germ-infested self handling him.  I was so tired that first night that I was okay with Jason taking the late night feedings (every three hours).   What I didn't know until a later date was Jason was so worried/in awe of Jaden that he set his alarm to wake up every hour to check on him! So cute/neurotic!   When day two rolled around I was less pleased with Jason's insistence that I not hold my baby.  We compromised by asking the nurse for some masks.  This is how I spent the next 24 hours with the baby.  Notice my glare.  That's me being really unhappy about the whole mask thing.

The morning after the delivery,  Chris came to pick up Ellen and they headed home while Jason and I waited for the doctor to discharge us.  We had to wait for his blood work to come back to make sure he wasn't jaundiced and were able to leave just shy of 24 hours after his birth.   It was really crazy to think that we would be on our own with this newborn but thankfully, we had hired a post-partum doula, Penny, to come to the house the following day.  A friend of ours recommended her services and we couldn't have been more pleased.  Before we even left the hospital she emailed me a list of instructions including when to feed, nap and do tummy time.  She encouraged us to have him sleep in the crib from night one, claiming we wouldn't sleep if the baby was in our room.  Jason was not on board with that (probably, in part because he has literally slept through our burglar alarm in the past) so we put Jaden in a bassinet next to our bed.  For the first night anyway.

Penny was right- the baby kept me awake.  He would make noises throughout the night and though he was still sleeping, it kept me awake (as suspected Jason slept right through it).   That first sleepless night I used the time wisely.  Penny had also suggested that we watch "The Happiest Baby on the Block" by Harvey Karp, MD.  I had the book and had skimmed it a while back, but around 2AM, I decided to download the video on my Ipad.  Watching the video when I actually had a real live baby was really helpful.  Not only did it provide visual demonstrations for important things like how to swaddle (the DUDU method- Down, Up, Down Up) but it was also really comforting. You see,  Dr. Karp has a theory about the first three months of a newborns life, in which they really do little else but eat, sleep and poop.  He calls the first three months of a babies life the 4th trimester.  He basically suggests that, unlike baby horses, who are able to walk and even run minutes after they are born,  newborns are still quite immature and are really much like fetuses.  They would really benefit from a 4th trimester in the womb in order to continuing developing but there simply isn't enough room in there.  So Dr. Karp encourages parents to essentially recreate the womb for the first three months of the baby's life and gives instructions and examples of the ways to do that (namely the five S's - Shushing, Swaddling,  Side/Stomach, Sucking, and Swinging).  THIS WAS HUGE NEWS FOR ME- and really for any intended or even adoptive parent out there.  You see, since I have a crappy uterus, I had to outsource Jaden's womb.  I never got to provide that nourishment and comfort that Ellen gave him for the first nine months of his life.   But now, I get to be his womb!  

So on this very first night that my new baby was home, I had a wonderful light bulb epiphany.  I couldn't wait to get Jaden into his nursery*, where we had the all important white-noise machine (which recreates the loud slosshing and heartbeat sounds that Jaden heard in Ellen's uterus). I couldn't wait to perfect the swaddle, so he could feel that tight comforting snugness that he felt in the womb.  I couldn't wait to give him his pacifier so he could turn on his calming reflex.  It was my turn to be his womb and I couldn't wait! My new mission to provide the same comfort Jaden experienced in the womb was comforting to me as well.

*he  has slept in the nursery the second night he was home and every night since!