Sunday, December 16, 2012

4 Weeks Postpartum Update

I seriously can't believe it has already been four weeks since the delivery of Peanut. I've had a lot of questions from friends and family about how I am feeling since the birth and if I still talk with A and M. My answers are, "I'm feeling fantastic!" and "Of course I still talk with A and M!" I enjoy seeing their picture updates of Peanut via Facebook and text messages, too. Every time I see a new picture of him I get lost in his big beautiful eyes and my heart melts all over again. He is truly one of the most beautiful babies ever.

I am happy to report that life is completely back to normal here. I have healed well from the C-section and I'm feeling great both physically and emotionally, to which I have my placenta capsules to thank. Let me explain....

I had my placenta encapsulated after the birth of Peanut. Placenta encapsulation is a process in which your placenta is dehydrated and then ground into powder form, which is then placed into small capsules. Mothers then consume these capsules on a daily basis to help them rebound from birth, balance their hormones, avoid postpartum blues, increase their energy, and enhance their milk supply. I am SO GLAD that I did this. The benefits have been so great and I've seen a noticeable difference in my postpartum recovery. This recovery has probably been the easiest and the quickest out of all my postpartum recoveries.

The great thing is that any unused placenta pills will last indefinitely so long as you keep them in the freezer. So, ten to twenty years from now when I'm going through menopause I can break out my left over pills and start taking them again to help balance out my hormones - naturally! I'm sure my husband will greatly appreciate it. I'll call them my "bitch calming pills".

So, do you wanna see pictures of the encapsulation process of my placenta? If your stomach doesn't get too queasy from viewing graphic pictures, please continue on. Otherwise, avert your eyes now.....


My placenta

The "super sac" that held Peanut for 42 weeks
"Surrogacy Love"
Peanut's cord in the shape of a heart

Placenta after being steamed

Steamed placenta chopped up and ready to go into the dehydrator

It takes 6-8 hours to complete this step
Placenta after being dehydrated is then ground up into a powder form
(Placenta jerky anyone?)

All ground up and ready to make the capsules

Capsules added

The end result - 237 capsules and Peanut's cord in the shape of a heart
A big THANK YOU to April at Confident Beginnings for introducing me to the idea of Placenta Encapsulation, educating me on the benefits, and for encapsulating my placenta!! Check out April's website at WWW.CONFIDENTBEGINNINGS.COM. She has tons of resources and services like childbirth education, hypnobabies education, and holistic health coaching. She even has an online shop for birthing kits, midwifery/birthing supplies, and herbs and other natural remedies for Mom and Baby. And here's the kicker...April was a surrogate too!! She delivered twins in 2006.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2 Week Postpartum Update

It's been two weeks since the birth of Peanut and things are going great! My life and my family is back in order and i'm feeling fantastic both physically and emotionally. I'm getting around well and healing nicely from the C-section.  The nasty rash that I had is pretty much gone except for some skin discoloration now.

2 week postpartum belly pic

I've been pumping since delivery day and although I had a rough start things are finally coming together nicely. The original "plan" was to pump in the hospital for Peanut, but since my supply didn't start coming in until after my surro-family departed for home, we ended up shipping about a weeks worth of colostrum and breast milk after I returned home from the hospital. It felt good knowing Peanut was getting "the good stuff", even if it was just a weeks worth.

The first of my colostrum. Day 2 postpartum.
All this for my Peanut! 

I plan to continue and pump for as long as I can maintain it. I found a local woman to donate my breast milk to. She is due with her first child (a little girl!) in a few weeks and is a breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy. Today we met for the first time when she collected our first round of breast milk. I am really excited about this arrangement and hopefully I can help supply her baby with at least a few months worth of breast milk. (That's my goal, anyway)

One week worth of breast milk donated..
Many more weeks to go!

Enough about me...on to Peanut!! He's doing fantastic! A and M have reported that Peanut is a true angel and a really easy long as he's fed on time and not a minute too late! They are loving every minute in their new roles as Daddy and Dada. Even Peanut's furry brothers have adjusted well and enjoy watching over him while he sleeps. So precious! Over these next few weeks A and M are expecting out-of-town family to meet Peanut for the first time. The first moments of Peanut meeting his Nana, Susu, Papa, Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins - PRICELESS!

I've really enjoyed seeing pictures of Peanut over these last few weeks. Every time I see a new picture my heart melts all over again. What a beautiful family indeed.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Peanut's Birth Story - The Recovery

To read the Labor and Delivery Story first, CLICK HERE.

Peanut's Birth Story continued....The Recovery.

Peanut, A, M, and Amy headed off to the recovery room while I stayed back to get stitched up. I joined them shortly after.

Peanut hanging out while taking in his new world.
I am so thankful that I was able to join my surro family in the recovery room. M got to do skin-to-skin first, followed by A. Watching the first moments of the new family together and bonding was a very special and rewarding moment for me.  This is what it was all about right here. This is why I became a surrogate. Witnessing the instant connection and love between Peanut and his Daddies was priceless.

Dada "M" doing skin-to-skin bonding with his new son.

Daddy "A" doing skin-to-skin while feeding Peanut his first bottle

Peanut's first bath.

Me holding Peanut for the first time.
After an hour or so, Peanut and his daddies headed to their own room and Amy switched out with my husband so that he could come back to see me. I stayed in recovery for a while longer while the anesthesia wore off and then I was wheeled into my own private room.

Later that afternoon Peanut and his daddies stopped by for a visit. They brought along a little blue bag that caught my eye right away. The kind of little blue bag that every girl loves – A Tiffany’s bag! A and M bought me a beautiful charm bracelet with the letter “A” for Ari on it. Every time I wear it I will be reminded of the family that I helped to create and the amazing experience that we went through, together, to bring little Peanut into this world.

I also had a few gifts for my Peanut. The t-shirts I had made from etsy. The blanket, lovey, and burp cloths were made by me. 

How perfect are these!

A and M love their pups, so I found this fabric fitting. 

It's a tradition in my family to receive handmade burp cloths for a new baby.
My mother taught me years ago how to make these - they are the perfect shape to lay over your shoulder.
I was honored to be able to continue the family tradition and make these for my Peanut and his Daddies.

The following morning (Sunday, November 18th) Amy set up a mini photo shoot in my room for lil’ Peanut. Oh my goodness, the photos turned out SO CUTE! I can’t get over how perfect and beautiful this child is. I wish I could take credit for the beautiful part, but they aren't my genes. I did grow him perfectly though!

Pure perfection.

The remainder of our hospital stay was a pleasant one. All of the nurses at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center were awesome (There's your shout out, Nurse Tiffany!). They truly made our stay a memorable one. We enjoyed visits from family and friends and everyone loved meeting Peanut and some even meeting A and M for the first time.

My daughter meeting and holding Peanut for the first time.

My family saying "Hello" to lil' Peanut
all bundled up on the pillow in front of me.

Flowers and a sweet note
received from my surrogacy agency.

Monday, November 19th:
My surro family's departure was a bitter-sweet one. A and M asked if I would like some alone time to spend with Peanut before they head out. I excitedly said, "Yes, of course!" They didn't have to do this, but they did and I love them for it.  I will treasure that time with my Surro Babe forever. It was truly a special moment between a Surro Momma and her Surro Baby. It allowed me private time to say goodbye to the child that I carried for 42 weeks and also signified the end of my journey as A and M's Gestational Surrogate. My "job" is now complete and their new life and family is just beginning. I was so proud of my accomplishment and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to watch my Surro Family grow for many, many years to come. We are family now and they are stuck with me. 

Saying my goodbyes to Peanut.
The Daddies, Peanut, and Me.
I stayed another two days in the hospital. I probably could have pushed to go leave sooner, but with a C-section you are allowed 4 full days in the hospital so I took advantage of it. I am so glad that I did. It gave me time alone to process what we all just went through. It gave me time to heal (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and time to reflect on our amazing journey. It also gave me time to cry and sort through my emotions without feeling judged. What we all just experienced was BIG, so naturally there were many emotions that came along with it.

Staying those few extra days in the hospital really made a difference with my recovery. I was having a hard time managing the pain from my C-section. We went through a few different pain medications before one finally worked - Percocet is a life saver! I also ended up breaking out in a rash all over my stomach. Apparently I had an allergic reaction to the glue that was used to hold down the tape strips over my incision.


Three days postpartum belly shot
On Wednesday, November 21st, my family arrived to take me home. It was weird being wheeled out of the hospital without a baby to show for it. The drive home felt odd to me. A few tears ran down my face. When we arrived at home I felt lost and out of place. Life was continuing on around me and I didn't know how to jump back in, nor did I feel ready to. I went to my room and cried. I didn't know why I was crying, but I was crying. It felt good to cry. I felt like I needed to find myself again. Surrogacy had taken up so much of my life for the past 2 years and now that it was over I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I didn't have a newborn to care for, but I was pumping every two hours and struggling to get around with my C-section pain. I needed to figure out how my life was going to continue now that I am home and no longer pregnant.

I was aware of the “blues” that surrogates go through after the delivery of their surrogate baby - It's a natural and normal process that we all go through - I just didn't expect it to hit me the second I arrived home. I confided in my amazing surro-sisters for support during this emotional transition. Each and every one of them reconfirmed how normal it was to experience what I was going through. I took comfort in knowing that I was going to be OK and that this too shall pass...

I laid myself up on the couch for the remainder of the day. Eric and the kids waited on me so that I didn't have to struggle getting up off the couch. As the hours passed I started to feel much better. Then the door bell rang. Eric had stepped out so I was forced to get up and answer the door. Much to my surprise, it was a flower delivery. 

"Welcome home. We love you. M, A, and Ari"

Tears poured down my face again as I walked the flowers into my kitchen. I sat there, crying, staring at these beautiful flowers and reading the card over and over again. I am so lucky. So blessed. So in love with my new Surro Family. This was just the pick-me-up that I needed to get me through the rest of my first day back home. 

The following day was Thanksgiving. I was nervous about getting out of the house so soon and being overwhelmed by questions and "how are yous". I wasn't ready for all of that just yet as I was still sensitive to the birth and afraid I would break out into tears in front of everyone. Our day ended up being the exact opposite of what I was so nervous about. My in-laws welcomed my family into their home with loving arms (as always) and they knew that I needed my space to just be. I wasn't bombarded with questions and "how are yous", and in fact they knew just the right things to make me feel good - like offer me my first glass of wine with dinner. This Thanksgiving was a memorable one and it definitely helped to ease my way back into "Life". 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Peanut's Birth Story - Labor and Delivery

Last belly shot 11/15/12
42 weeks pregnant

Saturday morning, November 17th at 2:00am - the morning of my scheduled cesarean section - contractions awake me from my sleep. 

Could this be it? Am I really in labor? No, I can't be. But how freaking amazing will it be if I really am in labor!?! I've never gone into labor on my own, so I wasn't sure if this was the real deal or not.

I lay in bed counting how many contractions I’m having, how far apart they are, and how long they are lasting. Man, these are close together; 3 to 5 minutes apart but manageable. I get out of bed and head to the bathroom. More mucus plug on the toilet paper. (I started losing my plug the day before.) I keep moving and walk laps around my upstairs to see if the contractions continue. They do and I am ecstatic! 

Keeping track of contractions
It’s now 3:00am. I start writing down each contraction on the first thing I could get my hands on - a box of breast milk storage bags. They are still 3 to 5 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds to one minute long. I start squatting through each contraction to see if I can make some progress in helping Peanut descend into my pelvis. After a few more contractions in the squatting position I feel a small, warm gush between my legs. I jump up and run to the bathroom to check it out. Not sure if it's more mucus plug or a small water leak? I wipe and notice a small pink tinge on the toilet paper. Bloody show maybe? I don’t know, but it’s looking like progress to me! I get into a squatting position in the bathroom with my underwear off. I bear through a few more contractions in that position and look down to notice more watery slimy stuff on the floor. Crap, things are happening! I’m so excited but don’t want to wake anyone just yet. I wanted to enjoy this moment all to myself. I’m in labor, people! I've never gone into labor on my own, so this was awesome and I was so proud of my body.

I continue to walk around and breathe through the contractions. It’s just after 4:00am now. I hop into the shower for some relief and to shave my legs and other areas. I've heard that if you take a shower and contractions subside that it could be false labor. Well, my contractions kept on coming! Getting a bit stronger now where I have to stop what I'm doing and really concentrate and breathe through each contraction.  I’m out of the shower and I get dressed. From all the commotion and moving around my husband awakes. I tell him I think it's time. "No way, are you serious?", he says. I give him a kiss and tell him I think I'm headed to the hospital soon and that I will call him as soon as I have an update. The kids were home and still sound asleep and I didn't want to disrupt anyone with childcare so early in the morning so I let my husband sleep.

 Down stairs I went to wake my friend Amy who had arrived back into town late the night before. She wasn't going to miss this birth and I wasn't going to allow it, so we flew her back out for the weekend since we had the C-section date scheduled. I told Amy I think it's time - contractions are 3 to 5 minutes apart. "No way, really?", she said as she jumped up off the couch. I sit down and breathe through a few more contractions. Amy realizes I wasn't kidding and heads upstairs to take a quick shower. I called my Doula to let her know what was going on.

It’s now 5:00am and things are continuing on, steady at 3 to 5 minutes apart, but still only lasting 45’ish seconds or so. By this time I was hoping to see the contractions lasting longer, especially since I was staying active, but they weren't.  As I’m bouncing around on my exercise ball I call A and M to let them know what was up. “You aren't going to believe this, but I’m in labor!” In the middle of our conversation I had to pause and breathe through another contraction.  We all decided since I was to be at the hospital at 9:00am anyways for my scheduled C-section, we might as well pack up and head there a little early so Peanut and I could be monitored. Just after 6:00am we were out the door.

At my last OB appointment my doctor mentioned that if I went into labor on my own that she would allow me to try and labor successfully. I was so excited to put the surgery on hold to see if I could attempt this VBA2C after all. Amy and I arrived at the hospital and met A and M out front. We all exchanged hugs and headed inside for the labor and delivery unit. I couldn't believe this was happening. Nothing like the threat of a C-section to throw you into labor! I was so proud.

Checking out Peanut on the monitor. He's doing great!
Once checked in, they hooked me up to monitors and checked me for progress. I was 80-90% effaced with no dilation and baby still very high, -3 station, and cervix tiled way back. Not really what I wanted to hear after being in early labor since 2am. My doctor finally arrived around 7:30am. She said I can continue to try and labor on my own, but that we need a game plan if things do not progress (like my past history of laboring with my son that ended in my first C-section due to no progression). I wasn't ready to talk games plans yet; I just wanted to see what my body was going to do over the next few hours first. My doctor respected my wishes and told me to get up and walk, walk, walk. Finally, we were assigned a room of our own to put our things down and off to walking we went.

Breathing through a contraction
as my Doula massages my back
Around and around the labor and delivery floor we walked, stopping every so often so I could concentrate and breathe through each contraction. My Doula was by my side massaging my back each time I stopped. Contractions were still 3 to 5 minutes apart and only lasting 45 seconds to one minute long.

It is now 8:00am and I was told to go back into my room so I could be monitored for 30 minutes. Peanut was doing great and hanging in there during each contraction. My doctor came back in the room and told me I had one more hour to walk, walk, walk, and then she was going to check me for progress. Back to walking we went. Around and around the labor and delivery floor, pausing and breathing slowly and deeply through each contraction. 

My entourage as we walked around L & D.
Breathing through a contraction as my
Doula comforts me with her magic touch.
A and M looking over me as I'm being checked
for progress by my doctor.
9:30am rolls around quickly and I’m back in bed to get checked by my doctor.

No progress; nothing at all.

I am devastated. Tears roll down my face. I have been defeated - again. My body is not meant to birth babies vaginally. I gave it my best shot. At least I can say that I tried. We chatted about my options - I can continue on all day with my contractions still the same and no progress being made, or we can move forward with the C-section. My Doula, whom I love and trust immensely, tells me that if I haven’t made any progress by now, I most likely won’t make any more progress if I choose to continue on, but that whatever I decide she supports me 100%.

The loving embrace of my amazing doctor.
I am 42 weeks pregnant. I've been laboring since 2:00am with no progression what so ever. It’s time to make a decision - my decision. I did not feel pressured at all. I knew in my heart what the right decision was, even if it tore my heart into a million pieces. It’s time for the C-section. My doctor hugged me and through her tears said how proud she was of me for all that I have accomplished. My Doula laid her comforting hands on my body and my IPs both embraced me with their support and love.

Accepting the reality of a C-section and "The Team" standing
by my side to comfort and support me.
I then asked for the nurse to give me something to stop the contractions. If I was headed back for a C-section, I didn't want to deal with these damn contractions any longer! That seemed to break the ice and we were all able to smile again.

M cooling me off with a wet paper towel
as I power through the last of my contractions.
I called my husband and told him to get down here because I’m going into surgery soon. He wasn't going to be in the delivery room, but I wanted to kiss him goodbye before they took me back and I wanted him to be there at the hospital just in case anything were to happen to me. The nurse continued to hook up my IV and my blood was drawn for Peanut’s cord blood kit. Amy, A and M got suited up in blue paper scrubs. Amy took the place of my husband in the delivery room so that she could take all of the birth photos.

M, Amy, and A ready and waiting for Peanut's arrival!
It’s minutes now before we have to head back into the OR. My husband is nowhere to be found and all of my calls are going straight to voice mail. The nurse sees that I really want to see my husband before we head back so she very slowly takes care of last minute preparations and paperwork. I can’t thank her enough for that.

It’s time to go and still no husband to be found. We slowly walk out of my room and past the elevators as we’re walking towards the OR. It sounds like someone is coming up. We pause to see if my husband steps off the elevator. It’s not him. I take a deep breath as we walk through the doors leading into the operating room. It’s go time.

Walking back to the operating room.
A, M, and Amy wait just outside the doors as I head back to get prepped with a spinal and laid out on the table. The anesthesiologist had a hard time with the spinal. I have scoliosis, so that wasn't a surprise. A few cuss words from me and it was done. They laid me back on the table, raised the curtain and got started. A, M, and Amy are now allowed into the room. A and M stayed near the baby warmer while Amy came over to sit by my head. I start giggling. For what reason, I don’t know. I think the anesthesiologist slipped me something to take the edge off. Whatever it was, it helped.

A and M sharing one last moment before the birth of their son.
Lots of tugging and pulling and pressure was felt. Peanut was in there good. They ended up having to use the suction thingy on his head to help pull him down and out. I remember they had to do the same thing with my daughter, as well.

At 11:48am my Peanut, Ari Isaac, was brought into this world!

He weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds, 5 ounces and he was 21 inches long.

Well hello there, beautiful. Welcome to the world.
There are so many people who already love you dearly...
As soon as I heard Peanut’s first cry, tears poured down my face. I did it. I created a family. I successfully grew this beautiful child in my womb for 42 weeks and now he is placed into the loving arms of his amazing daddies whom I love so very much. I am so proud. What an incredible experience! I may not have gotten the vaginal birth that I so badly wanted and planned for, but Ari’s birth was beautiful just the same.



 I am so thankful for my friend, Amy, who took so much time away from her own family to be here with me (twice!) and to take pictures of this incredible birth. I will never forget this moment and I now have so many beautiful pictures to remind me of this amazing, life changing experience.

To be continued......

For Peanut's Birth Story - The Recovery, CLICK HERE.