13

35 weeks: Crying and other useless acts

Two part post – Thursday 25th August 2016

In the last post I mentioned we were going to be having an amniodrainage. The drainage went well. A whopping 4.1 litres was drained from the swimming pool. Prior to the drainage we had a scan in which Bear didn’t move. I wasn’t concerned, I had felt movement while we were in the waiting room, however the consultant was called into the room and started talking to us about him being concerned that Bear may have congenital myotonic dystrophy in which case it would probably never breathe at birth due to lack of intercostal muscles. This threw us in a spin as he was going off a two minute scan where in all likelihood the baby was probably asleep. He went ahead with the drainage and by the end of the procedure we saw some movements and breathing motions which the consultant was happy with. We nicknamed that consultant Dr Death for putting the fear of God into us and after doing some research I found that congenital myotonic dystrophy is tested for in standard PGD testing and as Bear had PGD testing when it was a tiny embryo we knew that it wasn’t possible for it to have this condition.

After the procedure I did begin contracting but by early evening we were able to stop the labour using nifedipine. During the night I didn’t feel any movements so we had a CTG the next morning which did show Bear was moving. Yay! I’ve never really felt Bear move much. At first I put it down to having an anterior placenta. The placenta is sitting on the front of my uterus so it’s blocking most of the kicks I should have been feeling. Then when I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios this gave me another explanation for the lack of me feeling Bear move. I had always felt movements down low during the evenings but I had never felt any strong kicks. Again, I explained it away due to the placental location and the polyhydramnios. Since we had 4.1ltrs drained however, I figured that I should start feeling Bear move more. Many times during the day I could feel noticeable lumps in my belly where Bear would stick it’s knee out or stretch it’s feet to the top of my uterus, but again – no big movements. I finally put it down to Bear being a quiet baby and thought nothing more of it. We had a follow up scan booked for this Wednesday and I went along by myself this time. Marian and David had come up for the drainage but had gone home to prepare for their long drive up this weekend to stay for the remainder of the pregnancy. The scan seemed to go well but again the sonographer noticed that Bear didn’t move at all during the 20 minute scan. She said to me she had some concerns and she would go and get the consultant to come and have a look and see what he thought. Dr Death wasn’t at work on Tuesday for which I was grateful as I didn’t want another conversation that was all doom and gloom so another consultant I had seen earlier in the pregnancy came in and asked to scan me.

He asked me again about movements and I told him Bear had always been quiet. He asked if anyone had mentioned myotonic dystrophy to us before and I said yes, but Bear had PGD testing which ruled it out. He then inquired whether the PGD testing included Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). I honestly didn’t know. He pointed out a few worrying things he was seeing on the scan that gave him some real concerns. Lack of movement was one, also lack of breathing motions which babies tend to do a lot of at this gestation. Then he showed me how Bear had a thickened layer of subcutaneous fat on it’s legs with next to no differentiation of muscle mass. In short it appears that there is next to no muscle at all on Bear’s legs. He said this paired with the polyhydramnios makes him almost certain that Bear does in fact have a form of muscular dystrophy and in terms of outcomes, it’s very bleak. As Dr Death told us, Bear will likely never breathe on it’s own. He went on to explain that even if it’s not SMA and PGD testing has ruled it out, the signs of some form of muscular dystophy are there and can’t be ignored. Further there are so many forms of muscular dystrophy that they can’t test for them all in PGD testing and it’s likely that Bear has a very rare form that isn’t included in standard testing. He apologised that this hadn’t been picked up already but mentioned that it’s often not diagnosed in pregnancy but because we’ve had repeated scans, the pattern has emerged that shows all is not well with Bear. His next words were like a lance through my chest “I have been wrong before and I hope in this case I am, but if I’m being realistic, the signs are there and I can’t ignore them”.

At that point I really didn’t want to fall apart, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to be that woman you hear sobbing behind a closed curtain that leaves you wondering what bad news has just been delivered but that was me. I wanted to hold out until I was alone or until Simon was with me in private so I could just let go but you find yourself restraining yourself because you’re in a hospital with thousands of people waiting around. In the room next to me I heard a sonographer telling a little girl that she was going to have a baby sister and the excited conversations the parents were having with her and meanwhile I had just been told that Bear probably would not even live a minute, an hour or a day. And at that point the burden was all mine, I was the only one in our team that knew. How was I supposed to tell Marian and David? There was no way I could physically call them but it seems such horrible news to put in a text. The next half an hour was taken up by more appointments being made and waiting for the ultrasound report while quietly shedding a few tears and trying to hold it together. I texted Simon first and he left work to meet me at home. Then I bit the bullet and group texted Marian and David that life as they knew it would be irrecoverably changed from that moment on. Marian’s first reply was that she was sorry that I had to find out on my own. That’s a testament to the type of selfless person Marian is, always concerned about others before herself. I knew no matter what happened we would get through it together.

I managed to make it to the car park before I completely lost it in what I can only explain was utter grief mixed with a panic attack. I felt like I couldn’t get enough air as I sobbed to the unfairness of it all. Up until now, apart from the polyhydramnios we have had the perfect journey. We ticked all the right boxes, we did all the right things and still we have this outcome. Marian and David decided on PGD testing when they found out they would have to do surrogacy because they wanted to make sure only the healthiest embryo was transferred so we were never faced with this type of outcome, and yet despite careful planning here we are. It’s no one’s fault, there are no feelings of guilt on my part and I hope there aren’t any on Marian and David’s part either, it’s just one of those ‘unfortunate things’. One of those unfortunate things that turn your life upside down and leave you feeling like a shell of the person you once were. By the time Simon got home I realised what a wasted effort crying is and wonder why we even do it? It hurts your head, your heart, your eyes and lets face it, the fluid you loose from it could be better used elsewhere in the body. Despite knowing it’s a useless act I can’t seem to stop doing it for any decent length of time despite my best efforts to distract myself. And then there are all the thoughts you just can’t switch off. What the hell do we do now? We know this information but there’s nothing we can do about it. Now instead of preparing for an amazing life event, we’re preparing for the possibility that everything we had hoped and dreamed of will never happen. All the clothes hanging in Bear’s closet will go unused, it’s cot unslept in and worst of all Marian and David won’t have that proud parenting moment of introducing their new bundle of joy to their family and friends. It sounds so juvenile to say, but it’s just not fair. At this point I would like to extend a big fuck you to the universe for putting us in this position.

I know there are various stages to grief but I just want to be at acceptance already. I want to feel like I did this morning when I woke at 3am and in that split second between sleep and consciousness I felt nothing until the events of the day before come flooding back into my mind and left me crying so much I woke up Simon. Whatever happens in the next few months I know we will be well supported and Bear will be showered in more love than anyone has ever felt no matter how short it’s life is. And Marian and David are going to be the best parents ever.

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Saturday 27th August 2016

It’s hard to believe that we have known the news for only a few short days. It feels like time has stood still and years have passed at the same time. I finally got some good solid sleep last night and feel a little stronger for it today. I know some days will be easier than others and some days will seem utterly devastating so I’m just taking each day as it comes. Usually at this part of pregnancy I’m wishing away the days until the birth so I can have my body back. This time I can hear a clock ticking ever so loudly and every second that passes is one second less time we have with Bear. I think it’s cruel that I’ve had Bear to myself all this time and Marian and David will only have a few short precious moments. After doing some research I have found a few personal stories where babies with SMA have lived from anywhere from a few minutes to a few months. No time in the world will ever be enough but as an amazing friend and colleague has said to me, Bear will decide how much time we have with him or her and we will just have to accept that.

Another beautiful surrogate friend of mine has told me that crying is not pointless. Crying is the way your eyes speak, when your mouth cannot explain how broken your heart is. Nothing can sum up how I feel when I cry more than that sentence. I have given up trying to be strong and keep my sadness at bay. I decided it’s ok not to be strong, it’s ok to completely fall apart and scream and swear – though I’ve stopped short of breaking things. Swearing gives me a surprising amount of satisfaction. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck it. Fuck this situation, fuck this shitty feeling and fuck the universe for doing this to Bear.

I have found distractions are also helping. Getting out of the house keeps me busy for a few hours everyday. There are still times I’m out where I break though like yesterday when I went to the shops and I saw everyone around me going about their day without a care in the world and all I could think was tick tock, Bear’s time is running out. I saw a few women with newborn babies and I thought – they have no idea how lucky they are. At that point I nearly turned around and walked back to the car, but I told myself I couldn’t avoid these situations forever, so kept going.

Marian got in touch with Repromed to find out what they actually tested for with the PGD testing done on Bear. PGD testing is touted as a way to make sure only the best genetic embryo is transferred into the uterus by ‘allow(ing) us to look at all chromosomes present in the embryo, meaning we can make a more informed decision about which embryo to transfer’. In reality all it does is make sure the correct number of chromosomes are present and doesn’t actually check those chromosomes for abnormalities like we thought it did. I feel like we’ve been deceived into a false sense of security. Yes PGD testing can check for SMA but only if they know to look for it because there are simply too many genetic abnormalities to check for them all. So I extend another big fuck you to standardised PGD testing.

I have to say a big thank you to everyone who has been in touch over the last few days. You’ve each lent me a little bit of strength to get through the days. You all know who you are. To Simon who has been there in my messiest moments to simply listen to me blubber and dish out the best hugs ever, you’re my rock and I love you more than words. I apologise to anyone whom we haven’t told in person. It simply seems like too much to individually contact those closest to us as I relive the same thoughts and feelings over and over, so we have decided to use this blog as a way to share Bear’s news. Also a thank you to Marian and David’s friends and family who have helped them these last few days with love, flowers and cookies. I feel horrible that Marian and David will be so far away from you all during this difficult time and you may never met Bear, but they reassure me you will all be there through messages and the wonders of technology for which I’m grateful for. Lastly I have to thank Marian and David. When people get this type of news it’s so easy to retreat into yourselves and shut out the outside world. Instead they have included me in all their thoughts and feelings and kept up an incredible amount of communication which has also helped me immensely. We are totally gonna get through this together <3

 

4

Exciting news and Swimming Pool update

I have THE most exciting news!! Next week in my very own city, just 15mins from where I live, the new Thor movie is shooting!! How flippen exciting is that?? Chris Hemsworth is going to be walking around in my hood! This is somewhat serendipitous because Marian and I had planned a Chris-a-thon for our maternity leave. We plan on watching all the Chris movies – that is Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt, cause – you know…yum.

Hello! Look at them arms :)

Hello! Look at them arms :)

While the prospect of going to watch the filming is tempting, the thought of trudging my fat self into the city is less tempting. Monday I had another scan to check fluid levels around Bear. I had a feeling either Bear had a giant growth spurt or Mt Franklin was overflowing yet again, the scan confirmed the latter; once again the amniotic fluid levels are ridiculously excessive, even more than before we had the drainage. After the scan the consultant came to see me to discuss another drainage. I really wasn’t keen on doing one anytime soon. Next week Marian and David arrive to stay until after Bear is born, so I figured that if we could hold off til then it would be for the better. This would also put us another week closer to our due date and I was hoping this would mean it would definitely be the last time the pool needed to be drained. While the consultant understood where I was coming from, he believed there was no benefit in waiting any longer due to the risks of preterm rupture of membranes given the excessive amounts of fluid. We decided that I would make an appointment for the following week but he offered me the choice to call anytime during the week to organise a drainage if I changed my mind. He also organised an appointment with a neonatologist the following day to discuss the investigations they would do on Bear at birth to see if there is a reason for the polyhydramnios.

After going home that afternoon completely deflated and a bit teary and discussing it with Marian, David and hubby we decided that it was best not to wait another week. Hubby was the one who convinced me, he had noticed how much I’d been struggling over the last few days to do anything due to being so uncomfortable and heavy. He didn’t see the benefit in waiting another week or so just so Marian and David could be there and bless his heart he offered to come into hospital with me to support me through it all. After talking to Marian and David they decided there was no way they wouldn’t be here for it, so I made an appointment for this Friday for a drainage and tonight they will fly in to be there for me and Bear. More tears ensued. Given the procedure goes well, they will return home after and drive up the next week to stay.

The appointment with the neonatologist was informative. Basically there could be two causes for the polyhydramnios that they won’t be able to investigate until birth. One is that Bear could have a kidney condition that causes excess weeing which would lead to all the extra fluid since amniotic fluid is pretty much just baby wee. The other is esophageal atresia where the top of the esophagus doesn’t connect to the lower part which means Bear can’t swallow. Since we have seen fluid in Bear’s stomach on ultrasound it is unlikely that this is the cause, however we were told that in rare cases esophageal atresia can be present with fluid in the stomach. At birth Bear with have a tube passed down it’s throat to ensure it is connected and urine output will be monitored closely. Bear is also measuring quiet large due to it having an olympic sized swimming pool to move around in, so it’s blood sugar levels will also be monitored for the first 24hours. The neonatologist was quick to point out however that in most cases of polyhydramios there is no underlying cause, so we may never know why I have it. Maybe Bear is going to be an Olympic swimmer!

Due to my admission tomorrow for the drainage, alas I will not be dragging myself into the city next week to see Chris Hemsworth in the flesh. Instead I’ll be resting at home recovering from another giant needle being shoved into my belly 😛

1

Long time no blog! 33 weeks and pregnancy pics

Well hello there. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. 10 weeks to be exact. Wow how the time goes! After the conference I got busy with work and the growing bump really did drain me. Some days at work the ligament pain I was getting from my rapidly increasing girth would take my breath away. Chronic pain tends to do things to you. You’re tired more, you want to do less, staying in bed or just chilling on the couch sounds like an amazing day and it gets to a point where you just don’t feel like sharing anymore, hence the lack of blogging. It really was no surprise then at 28 weeks when we had a routine scan that polyhydramnios was diagnosed. What is polyhydramnios? It’s a condition where there is too much amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. How is it caused? Usually it’s caused by fetal genetic conditions where the baby either doesn’t swallow or swallows very little, but sometimes as it is in my cause, there is no cause. I’ve had it in other pregnancies, but never to this extreme extent and usually towards the end of the pregnancy. After the diagnosis it was decided by the powers that be that we would have fortnightly scans and if I became symptomatic (started to struggle breathing due to my increased girth – yes I like that word so I will use it often. Girth) then I was to represent and they would make another plan for me. The scan showed that everything else with Bear and myself was peachy. Go Bear!

At 29 weeks we had a really exciting weekend where myself and the whole Kunde family flew to Adelaide to share Bear’s baby shower with Marian and her amazing friends and family. While we were there we did a pregnancy photo shoot which I can happily now share with you!

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The Kundaberg Team

The Kundaberg Team

As the saying goes, babies are so cute you could eat them. We usually wait until they're born though Marian

As the saying goes, babies are so cute you could eat them. We usually wait until they’re born though Marian

Can't you feel the love?

Can’t you feel the love?

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We also got to see a bit of Adelaide’s beautiful but freezing cold beaches. We took advantage of the cold and took the kids ice skating. See amusing pics attached. While David was a pro having grown up in the land of snow and fairytails, Simon was a little more uncoordinated but he found his feet eventually and managed to ice skate while catching pokemon. Marian and I chilled out by the penguins while the guys and kiddies were skating.

Addy

Addy

Ciara loves iceskating

Ciara loves iceskating

Penguin!

Penguin!

A rare sight indeed. A shy Charmander found outside it's natural environment

A rare sight indeed. A shy Charmander found outside it’s natural environment

The baby shower itself was a beautiful day. A huge shout out to Mumma Marian and Aunty Lyn who planned and baked their hearts out to make the day so special. I got to experience the amount of love and support Marian has been given by her family and friends which was extra special since Marian never thought she would become a Mumma. I even got spoiled by a few of Marian’s friends who did the sneaky and gave me a few small bits and pieces which came in handy over the next few days! And of course Bear was totally spoiled! As it should have been 🙂

When We arrived home Sunday I was totally beat and Simon kept commenting on how much my belly had suddenly grown. I could definitely feel it as I was gradually having more and more trouble breathing. I had the next day off work so I decided to head to the pregnancy assessment unit and get checked out. On top of the breathing problems I wasn’t feeling Bear move very much (possibly because of all the fluid surrounding it) and I was becoming ridiculously uncomfortable. When I got there I had a CTG which showed lots of baby movements, even though I wasn’t feeling them. It was decided that the best course of action was to admit me as a patient, have a scan and investigate the shortness of breath. That afternoon I had a scan which did indeed show a sudden increase in amniotic fluid. One of the specialists came to see me after the scan and said he strongly suggested that I have an amnioreduction and stop working immediately. When I asked him how much fluid they would drain he said they could easily drain 3ltrs and Bear would still have plenty! The risks of an amnioreduction included a 5% chance I could go into preterm labour, so I decided it was best to speak to Marian and David before making a decision. An appointment was made tentatively for the next day to have the drainage. Marian and David agreed that it was best to go ahead with the procedure as our risks of preterm labour and preterm rupture of membranes was far higher if we didn’t have the procedure than if we did. Marian decided that she really wanted to be there for it so two hours later she boarded a plane to Brisbane and arrived later that night. At first I didn’t see the need for Marian to be there but by the end of my stay I was so glad she came. I didn’t think I would need support for the time in hospital or the procedure until she arrived and I realised how much I really needed someone with me, so I really need to take this time to say a huge thank you to Marian for going above and beyond to come to Brisbane at such short notice to hold my hand while a really really big needle was inserted into my belly! And likewise a thank you to David for being on standby to come in case I went into labour. In the end the drainage went well enough with nearly 800mls drained before I started contracting and the procedure was stopped. Despite not draining as much as planned I immediately felt better. I could breathe again and all the ligament pain I was having stopped which was incredible.

Since then I have just been pottering along now coming up to 3 weeks since I went on leave. I’ve read 8 books, cleaned the house numerous times and generally felt guilty that I know it’s ridiculously busy at work and I can’t contribute. We had a scan on the 1st Aug which showed the fluid levels were remaining steady. I do feel like I’ve grown a fair bit in the week since though. We have another scan on Monday, so time will tell if it’s baby or fluid. Watch this space!

Girth

 

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13

Inducing lactation: week 1 in review

I have officially made it 1 week on the breast pump! I am following the Newman Goldfarb protocol to induce lactation, in hope of being able to breastfeed our little one.

By my calculations that’s 56 pumping sessions, or around 18 hours attached to the pump. I pump every 2-3 hours, including overnight (where I sometimes stretch it out to more than 3 hours because let’s face it, sleep is important).

Here’s the highlights!

Day 1: Time to pump for the first time! Let’s do this. I am feeling motivated – it is very lovely to think that I can do something to help grow our little one once they meet us on the outside. It takes me around 10 minutes just to figure out how to get the flanges in the right position to gain good suction. After a few minutes, beads of breastmilk start to form. Nothing makes its way in to the flange. Nothing happens for most sessions today. I pump every 3 hours and then hand express until I get sick of it. I remain motivated until the alarm goes off for my 3am pump, when I feel tired, grumpy, and severely question my choice to induce. Where did all that motivation go? I decide that I’ll give myself 48h to decide if I really want to do this, so finish my session, set my alarm for 3h later, and go back to sleep.

pump - 1

The pump suction is a purring-like noise. The cat is in love.

3am pumps without a supply feel like you’re all nice and relaxed and then wake up to a nipple cripple. You do gain tolerance though 🙂

Day 2: I am awake! Plenty of energy – maybe I can do this whole broken sleep thing after all? Motivation is back! Today some breastmilk makes it all the way in to the bottle!! I heard this takes weeks for some women, so I feel very fortunate. I’m not so attached to it, so I wash it down the sink (it’s not much anyway). Today I am high spirited (in part due to the outcome) and try to remember how this feels so I can tell my 3am self that I can do this.

Day 3: I am exhausted. I decide to stay up until midnight, and sleep through my 3am pump session today in hope of getting a little more continuous sleep. It feels like I’ve made less milk today. I investigate the use of herbs (fenugreek and blessed thistle) to increase my supply. I find that fenugreek is reportedly a blood thinner, so need to seek medical advice before adding this to my regime. I email my specialist and talk to my pharmacist. There is an unknown risk, therefore I decide to sleep on it for a few days.

Day 4: Skipping a session last night worked! I have way more energy today. I need to remember to not sacrifice my health too much for this experiment, as it could make my Lupus flare. Gotta be realistic 🙂

Day 5: I think I’ll start measuring what I’m expressing, just to keep me motivated. It varies from session to session – anywhere from nothing to 0.3ml to 1.5ml! I start syringing and then freezing my output. I know it’s not much at all, but there’s something satisfying about having something tangible to look at for all the hard work, rather than just expressing it in to a towel.

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Liquid gold!

I also go to visit a breastfeeding friend and am totes jealous of her tap-like boobies! Squad goals.

Day 6: My mind is still not decided as to whether this will be a sustainable activity. I decide that tomorrow will be the day I start herbs. I am satisfied with taking the risk to my health, and decide that if my supply does not increase then it may not be worth the additional physical exhaustion (which in my case can lead to a Lupus flare if severe enough). I remind myself that I can breastfeed even without a supply (using a feed line).

I feel positive and high-spirited about my ability to continue this experiment for the next while 🙂

Here’s my frozen stash so far – it might not be much (each is in a 1ml syringe), but it feels as though I have accomplished something 🙂

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4

Swimming pool update, team celebrations and breast pumping

This is a post that has been sitting in draft form for a few weeks now – I meant to post it last week until things got crazy!! So please pretend that you are reading it in the past 😀 Oooooh – magic! *ominous music*

You’re probably dying for an update on how things went with the draining of the swimming pool! Long story short- bear is still swimming away happily and Rachel can breathe a little easier after the reduction – and she did not go in to labour! phew! <3 I was so so so glad to be up in Brisbane with Rach. We both needed each other. Only 25 sleeps until we’re in Brisbane for an extended stay. I cannnnn notttttt wait!

We read that there’s a chance that amnioreduction can lead to preterm labour, so I decided to start my breast pumping regime a few weeks early. Usually you start 6 weeks beforehand, but you can start anywhere up to 10 weeks. So this morning I started breast pumping. I’ve been following the Newman Goldfarb protocol since our positive pregnancy test, and now it’s “go time” to properly induce lactation. This means using a hospital grade double electric breast pump every 3 hours (including overnight!) for the rest of my breastfeeding journey (until of course bubs comes along, by which stage hopefully my supply will be large enough to meet their needs, and then I will only pump when necessary to fill in gaps as they arise). So far it’s pretty fun, but oh my god it’s such a weird sensation! Kinda uncomfortable but not painful.

And now for the part that happened a few weeks ago! We had an amazing weekend, with all of the team together! It’s the first time that the whole team has been together in Adelaide, and I’ve got to say that I cherished every minute of it. It felt like a family holiday mixed in with Christmas and New Year’s all at once. It was like having friends over who you hadn’t seen in years, rolled together with friends you have over every weekend and feel you’ve known forever. We’ve had Rach down by herself a handful of times now, but to be able to have everyone living under the same roof at home here for the weekend just felt so perfect.

Rachel has 3 girls, 1 husband, 2 cats, 1 wifey *points at self*. I remember when I first started familiarising myself with surrogacy, and I quickly learned that I wasn’t just looking for a surrogate – I was looking for a surrogate and her family. I love Rachel’s family beyond measure. Not only are they amazing support to her, but they are so supportive of David and I, we really can’t begin to describe just how lovely it was to welcome them all to our home. I love each of her girls for different reasons – they are such beautiful little ladies inside and out, and are pure joy to be around, which isn’t all that surprising considering who they call mum and dad. We also had the opportunity to get to know Rach’s husband more on this trip, which was utterly delightful (and it helps that he’s just as obsessed with Pokemon GO at the moment as I am). I only wish that his Pokemon habits would rub off on David – wishful thinking! Rach’s hubby is the glue that holds our surrogacy operation together, he’s fiercely supportive of Rachel, which in turn is a huge reason why we’ve been able to do what we’re doing. Quite simply, his support of his wife is one of the reasons why I’m going to be a mum, which is pretty huge when you think about it.

The day after they arrived, we had a photographer come over to take some photos of us all to keep as a memory of our surrogacy adventure together. The photographer was under strict instruction to not take any creepy pregnancy photos. At one stage he said “do you guys want to put your hands on Rachel’s belly?” And we were like NO TOO CREEPY, and then proceeded to take an even creepier pic with Rachel in between our husbands. The caption for that one has definitely gotta be “aw yeah, we’ve both knocked her up”. Not awkward at all.

Here’s a few preview shots of our session!

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From the few photo previews we’ve seen, I think they’re going to turn out to be amazing. I’ve been really keen on a surrogacy shoot from the get-go, not only to have record of this moment in time for ourselves, but to have record of this time that has brought our families together. I am feeling very impatient and want the photos back as soon as possible, but our photographer is under the pump at the moment. As soon as we get them back we’ll share them with you all!

The day after our photoshoot, we were blessed to be surrounded by a small group of friends and family for a celebratory morning tea. I may have teared up a little… ok, a lot! My aunty did way too much baking (leftovers for days!!), and mum made her famous sausage rolls. We took the girlies ice skating that afternoon, ate way too much, and wandered around Glenelg foreshore catching Pokemon.

The highlight of the day for me happened when we were sitting at dinner, and Rachel motioned for me to come over and cop a feel of her belly. It was then that I felt the tiniest little muffled “thud” against my palm. Bear was saying hello!!! I squealed with delight, and looked up to see Rach’s husband smiling at me – it’s the most I’d seen him smile all weekend, which really brought home how supportive he has been to all of us.

A full on weekend, full of love, light and laughter!

5

Draining the swimming pool

I’m writing to you from somewhere between Adelaide and Brisbane, on my way to spend the night with Rachel in hospital. Don’t panic – everything is likely ok, I’m just making sure to be around for a procedure that Rachel will undergo to reduce the amount of amniotic fluid in her olympic sized swimming pool. With any luck by this time tomorrow Rach will be more comfortable and have some of her interior real estate back to herself!

The procedure is not without risk though – there’s a small chance that she may go in to preterm labour. It’s small, but it’s still a definite risk – I want to be there regardless of whether things go to plan or not. If we were to not do the procedure, the risks would be greater.

Rachel checked in to the pregnancy assessment unit this morning, and it was around 4 in the afternoon Adelaide time when we got all the tests back, and ultimately decided as a team to accept the doctor’s recommendation of Rach undergoing the procedure to remove fluid. There was no question that I wanted to be there with her, so I threw together a bag of whatever clothes were at the top of the pile (crossing my fingers for undies being in there, haha!) and jumped on the last flight of the day.

Mum was luckily at my place at the time, so she could drive me to the airport right away. Hubby didn’t have enough time to make it to the airport, so he’ll be packing his bags and taking them to work tomorrow morning, to be on call to fly up too. Tonight I’ll spend the night with Rachel <3

So here I am for the next few hours inside this little metal tube in the sky, just me and my blog. Thanks for keeping me occupied, blog! I feel better knowing that I’m on my way to Rachel – I would have felt sick and sleepless had I stayed in Adelaide. The dear love was worried about us having to change plans this week, but there was never any question of her being our priority. Even if things go entirely to plan with the procedure, I know that coming is 100% the right thing to do. We are a team, through and through, regardless of geographical distance. I ain’t having no doctor stick a needle in to my wifey without me in reach.

Anyway, I’ve got a few hours to kill, so how about a poem to explain the situation?

My wifey has a swimming pool,

as deep as deep can be,

full of amniotic stuff,

I hear it’s baby pee.

My wifey has a swimming pool,

she’s a clever surro-mummy,

but when the doctor said “too much!”

they drained it from her tummy.

My wifey has a swimming pool,

So I gave her one big cuddle,

in to her guts a needle went,

and out then came a puddle.

My wifey had a swimming pool,

I love her more than words can say,

And even when that pool is gone,

I’ll love her forever and a day.

Morning update: Rach is all settled in and had a hospital slumber party last night, complete with matching bear slippers <3

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1

Hello out there! :D

Many moons between blog posts!

So much has happened in the last 5 weeks and I’ve definitely let blogging slip by the wayside, dedicating more energy in to real-world activities like nursery preparations and traveling. It feels like we’ve hardly been home! We have had quite a break between visits to Brisbane (5 weeks felt like eternity!), but going back last week makes me realise that even with time between visits, we seem to pick up right where we left off, and slip right back in to the same fun bubbly energy and enjoyment of being in the same room.

Rachel is 29 weeks pregnant! Far out!!

She couldn’t wait to show me how big bear has gotten – and she wasn’t lying! Our clever tummy mummy has been building an olympic sized swimming pool for the little one (which I have affectionately nicknamed “the mansion”), which can’t be at all comfortable. In her own words “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly”. This also means that Bear is quite mobile in there, and sometimes causing a world of discomfort for Rachel. I’d like to be able to give Bear a stern talking to about this sometimes, but at the end of the day I have to accept that this is not in my control. This has been my focus for learning this week 🙂

Rachel always seeks to take it in her stride, but sometimes I wish that just for a few minutes I could take on her discomfort and give her the break she so deserves. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully comprehend the magnitude of sacrifice that Rachel and her family have gone through, and continue to go through for us. I always thought that the pointy end of labour was the worst bit; but Rachel really put it all in perspective for me last week when she said “labour is the easy part!”.

I feel as though we are approaching a time where our ability to work together and communicate as a team is really important. There are increased risks associated with how things are progressing, so we all have our fingers crossed that Bear starts swallowing some more fluid to lighten the load on poor Rach. Having no control over how things will play out just comes with the territory I guess – it’s a really weird feeling not being able to do anything apart from wait it out and see what happens. I think we’re all still coming to terms with what all this might mean in terms of risks over the next few months, and mode of delivery. We’ll have to wait and see what happens 🙂

So our dear love will be having fortnightly scans now to keep an eye on things and take it from there. The whole interstate thing is a bummer with increased appointments – my heart wants to be at everything, especially now that even more are being added, but logistically living interstate is a challenge. Luckily though, we are only a few hours away by plane and consider ourselves to be “on call” at all times, and would never consider jumping on said plane a challenge if the pregnancy deals us those cards.

Roll on September I say! We’ll be up in Brisbane for an extended stay, which I am so so SO looking forward to. Rachel and I will both be on maternity leave together, and our list of plans grows longer by the day. It’s nice to have something to focus on 🙂 It’ll be nice to be able to relax in to things before the whirling tsunami of new parenthood hits.

Well, that’s the plan at least. I hear babies don’t often go to plan, so watch this space!

Our other exciting news is that the whole team will be together in Adelaide this weekend! Up until now it’s just been Rach visiting us or us visiting the family. I can’t wait to have everyone here!

We plan on celebrating bear’s arrival with a morning tea and some commemorative photographs 🙂 I can’t wait!! 🙂

P.S. here’s our little bear!!

bear

4

Surrogacy Conference and 23 weeks

This weekend just gone was the fourth annual Families Through Surrogacy Conference. It’s a two day event where surrogates and intended parents come from all over the Australia to learn and gather and realise that we’re not alone. I have attended the event since the beginning back in 2012 and it’s so great to see the event has more than doubled since it first began. Further it’s so great to see the focus of the conference has shifted from a predominately overseas approach to a good mix of overseas and local surrogacy. My favourite part was catching up with Marian and David and all the amazing people whom I have met online over the years. I absolutely love this community.

The night before the conference we got to have dinner with another amazing surro team who are at the starting gates with the gun poised in the air to signal the start of their journey. Renee is my ‘surro sister from another mister’ and has been an amazing support to me over the last few years and I’ve watched her go from strength to strength as she travelled through her own first journey and then onto this one with the amazing Kelly. Kelly is my ‘could be baby mama’. I say that because in a horrible world if Marian and Renee didn’t exist, I would totally through my womb at Kelly! We had a fabulous dinner with much alcohol consumed (by everyone except Marian and myself) and we even managed to gobble down some monster doughnuts afterwards. Kelly and Renee surprised us with the most hilarious t-shirts made in a dubious asian size (see piccies below). Needless to say I can’t wait until they’re duffed and we can repay all their support. Renee even has a blog you can read here.

My peeps

My peeps

Mmmm doughnuts

Mmmm doughnuts

THE most awesome shirt in existence

THE most awesome shirt in existence

On the first day after the welcome address an American agency explained how surrogacy works over there. Basically the American markets is tried and tested and has been around for over 30 years. American surrogates become surrogates because they love being pregnant (I hate pregnancy), they want to share the joy of being a parent with other people (totally not my motivating factor), they are completely healthy and undergo extensive psychometric testing (I have multiple health issues and am a self confessed loon). This agency gets around 400 potential surrogates approach them every month and out of those potential, only around 40 will be accepted as surrogates. I have no doubt I would be one of the 360 that would be shown the door.

The next session was my favourite session for the weekend, it was a panel called Children and Surrogacy and has three children born through surrogacy on the panel – aged between 17 and 24 and my own daughter Brittany who represented the child of a surrogate mother. This panel was hosted by the wonderful Alice Kirkman who was the first person ever to be born through surrogacy in Australia. I have a lot of love for Alice who takes everything in her stride and puts her own unique spin on life. She is also a freelance journalist, so take the time to google her work. My favourite part of this session was when Alice asked the panel if any of them would be a surrogate or donate gametes, to which Britt replied “yeah – I mean you get to see the smiles on the faces of the people you help and you’re doing something amazing for other people (proud mummy moment! *sniff*)…..and my Mum, she’s had lots of kids; she’s not a slut of anything, but she’s had A LOT of kids”. Que laughing so hard I cried. To Britt’s defense I did tell her to be honest. Needless to say I am super proud of Britt for speaking about her thoughts on surrogacy in such a public forum.

It's true!

It’s true!

Brittany and Marian chilling before Britt's session

Brittany and Marian chilling before Britt’s session

I missed a few of the next sessions however I did manage to sit in on the session on legal issues and eligibility when engaging in surrogacy. It was a session that explored the various legal issues regarding to not only each state of Australia, but international differences as well. It was interesting to note that the Ukranian lawyer was obviously against altruistic surrogacy and couldn’t understand why anyone would even attempt it. Australian state laws can differ greatly so if anyone reading this is just starting to look into surrogacy, definitely do your homework on your own state legsilation! For intended parents looking to go overseas, to me Canada seems to be the most appealing legally.

After lunch the large room was made into two separate rooms and two sessions were run simultaneously for the rest of the day. Marian and Kelly as well as a fab surrogate Britt got to sit on a panel titled ‘matching with surrogates’ and made some very valid points for intended parents looking to match with a surrogate *waves pom poms*. After that a session on the trouble with twin pregnancies was run by Dr Warren DeAmbrosis. He basically pointed out the complexity of a surrogate carrying a twin pregnancy. Renee has carried twins for herself and made some very valid comments at the end of his presentation about how difficult her own twin pregnancy was when she was hospitalised for 6 weeks from 28 weeks gestation. As usual eloquent Renee pointed out that this sacrifice is a given when carrying your own children, but there is absolutely no need to put a surrogate through that process when it can be avoided. At this point I wanted to share my own experience of carrying a twin surrogate pregnancy but I found myself far too emotional to talk about it. When we decided to transfer two embryos for Michael and Jared it was after a lot of disappointment in failed cycles and poor embryo quality. Looking back now I remember how naive I was and thought a twin pregnancy might actually be cool. Of course I was proven wrong when at 18 weeks I could barely walk up my stairs without passing out and then went on to hemorrhage so badly at 27 weeks that the twins had to be born ASAP. The amount of stress the pregnancy put on my relationship with my children and husband Simon was far more than if I had been pregnant with one baby, and in hindsight I would never put myself in that situation again. Brittany also touched on this topic during her panel discussion when the topic of compensation came up. It was suspected that I had a placental abruption and my life, as well as the twins were in grave danger and Brittany felt that compensation could have helped balance the benefits versus risks variance. Personally even if I was compensated in future I would never sign up for a double embryo transfer again. If I wasn’t living in a major city where tertiary care was available, my children may no longer have a mother and Simon may have lost his wife that day. Luckily it all ended well and the twins will be turning 5 just before Bear is born.

Britt, Kelly and Marian keeping it real

Britt, Kelly and Marian keeping it real

Keeping it in the family Simon was then on a panel titled ‘Men in the Middle’. He was joined by David and a good friend of ours who has gone through years and years of IVF with his wife to have his daughter through American surrogacy. I think it’s really important to hear from the husbands as they are often silent sufferers when it comes to infertility and surrogacy. Husbands of surrogates are particularly forgotten about in this situation as so much focus is on the surrogate and intended parents. Simon doesn’t complain but I know me being pregnant isn’t easy on him or our realtionship and as he and David both pointed out, sometimes Marian and I get caught up in our own relationship that we are a little guilty of ignoring them. It’s something that I have been working on for the last few months – to try and include Simon more and not to ignore him for the love affair that I’m having with Marian through my phone. Simon was asked if he had any advice for the husband of surrogates that are just starting the process. He didn’t verbalise this but he did tell me he was going to say ‘you do lose your drinking buddy for a while. Instead of carrying her up the stairs cause she’s black our drunk, you’re carrying her up the stairs because she physically can’t walk up them anymore’. I think if he did say that I would have had to add to my already modified name tag ‘not a slut but had lots of kids…but is an alcoholic’. This was the last session I watched for the day because I was beat! What an exhausting day. A lot of the attendees all went out to dinner but I was far too tired, so went home to get some decent sleep.

Day two seemed to fly by! A session I quiet enjoyed in the morning was ‘Assessing Embryo Quality’ as embryology fascinates me. Who knew that we all started out as two cells being mooshed together?!? This session was followed by surrogate screening processes which covered American, Canadian, Greek and Australian screening processes. The most surprising thing I got from this session was that in Amercia, IP’s aren’t required to undergo any counselling at all. This concerned me as often IP’s have to process the fact they can’t physically carry their own baby and grieve their own infertility before trusting someone else to carry their child. Whereas surrogates in the US undergo extensive psychometric testing to rule out them being psychopaths. The Greek representative seemed very vague about their screening processes and I got the idea that his responses were what he thought the audience wanted to hear. This session was followed by a panel of IP’s and their surrogacy journey’s. This went for over an hour and was absolutely fascinating to hear so many people’s different experiences in creating their families. I loved this panel and could have happily listened to them all talk for the rest of the day. Alas there were other sessions including one by counsellor Michael Condon discussing disputes in surrogacy arrangements – basically if a child is a commodity to you, get a dog. There was more to his presentation than that but that was my favourite line. After lunch I hosted a panel on what to consider when thinking of carrying with three beautiful surrogates on my panel. A massive thank you to Shannon, Amelia and Rhee for navigating my questions. Shameless plug – Shannon has a book about her experience coming out on July first 🙂 . I was then a panelist on the next session called ‘after birth emotions’ which consisted of Renee, myself and Rhee discussing those first few weeks post birth and how we all coped. In short – we didn’t go crazy…for long 😛 .

Most of the amazing surrogates that attended this year <3

Most of the amazing surrogates that attended this year <3

The last session was a bit of a surprise. It was a session just for surrogates run by a Canadian agency called ‘Sacred Surrogacy’ and was an intimate session where we were all encouraged to share our feelings about where we’re at and share our positive experiences as well as our fears. This is something that I’ve never really been into. While I am a believer in positive affirmations and promoting positive energy into the world, that extends only so far. I’m not one to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya. Safe to say there was no signing but there was plenty of crying! I won’t share too much but I will share some of my own fears that have been quietly creeping up on me in recent weeks.

Our healing session

Our healing session

Three weeks ago I had an appointment with a physician who is monitoring my blood pressure throughout the pregnancy. He pointed out all the risks etc and mentioned that because this is a donor embryo I am at increased risk of pre-eclampsia. This of course was something I was already aware of because I’ve now had 6 children to four different fathers and every time you introduce new genetics i.e – sperm; you are at an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, and during the appointment I just nodded my head and said – yep I know the risks. Of course then I went home and it played on my mind and I realised that this is the first time the baby I’m carrying is not from my own egg and what if that is enough to tip me over into full blown pre-eclampsia? That night I dreamt that I was waking from a general anesthetic after an emergency caesarean section and the doctor told me the baby had died “I’m sorry but it was too late”. The dream was so real I was on the verge of tears all day. To top it off the doctor I saw during my appointment suggested I come off my medication because my BP has been good sitting at 120/70 and in the second trimester BP naturally drops and I was on such a low dose anyway it was negligible. I was dubious because I’ve stopped my BP meds in the past when it has stablised and I experienced rebound hypertension as a result. I was worried that would happen again. I put my trust in him though and stopped taking my medication. Three days later I did my BP and it was 168/98. Needless to say I went straight back on my meds and started monitoring my BP closely as I had a suspected placental abruption with the twins and I know pre-eclampsia and high BP can cause it to happen. My BP after that wouldn’t stablise and I continued to have high readings so after a week I doubled my medication and it finally came back down (no self medicating at home peeps…I consulted a Dr at work before doing so). Of course now the fear of pre-eclampsia is ever present in my mind, even though I’ve had high BP since I was 22 years old and it’s never affected any of my pregnancies.

Another thing that has been worrying me is the placenta is anterior and lying on the front of my uterus which means I feel next to no baby movements. This has been extremely hard for a midwife who promotes that an active baby is a happy baby! I’m just starting to feel a few movements at night when I get into bed and I only feel them on the upper right side of my belly. Damn it Bear – why did you have to implant there?!? So you can imagine this has added to my anxiety a little. I’m hoping that as the uterus grows the placenta will shift a little more to the left so I can feel more movements. For now I satisfy myself with the use of a home doppler to make sure there’s still a heart beat in there and the monthly scans we’re having for the rest of the pregnancy. So here are the fears that have been the root of my recent bout of anxiety – that I won’t carry a healthy baby to term and that I am faced with my own mortality and the risk that this pregnancy places on it and my family. The last thing I want is for my children to lose their mother and although I know the risk is minuscule, it really has been playing on my mind lately. Just last month I helped a couple welcome their second child into this world, however that child never took it’s first breath. It had died for no apparent reason at 22 weeks in a pregnancy that had been completely uncomplicated until then. When I look at my own obstetric history I wonder when will the penny drop and the powers that be say – you’ve had it too easy, it’s time for some hardship. Realistically I know this isn’t how the world works, but my increasing anxiety is trying to convince me it’s true. I’ve never experienced pregnancy related anxiety before so this has definitely thrown me for a six. Luckily I am supported by some amazing people who I share my fears with and will be gentle and loving with their responses. At the moment I feel like it’s just something I need to verbalise and get out there to help my own brain process what’s going on in there, when I feel like my brain needs troubleshooting I know who to turn to and they will be there for me no questions asked. I feel I need to thank these people for being a huge support for me and I know there is no way I can ever put into words how much they mean to me. To Marian and David who have been on the same page as me from the beginning and do all in their power to show their support. To Renee for being my surro sister from another mister and just getting how I feel and always seeming to know when I need the virtual hug. To Emma my middie friend listening to me complain about how fat I’m getting and knowing exactly what to say to cheer my up. To Britt my gorgeous daughter who is way too worldly for a 17 year old and is always willing to listen to me or just cheer us on and of course Simon who is my silent warrior standing beside me through everything. Just looking at him calms all the thoughts overcrowding my brain and makes me feel at peace. I could never have survived the last 14 years without him. And mention must be made to Lily who has sat with me through writing this blog but not always in a helpful way….pic attached

Lily picking the warmest spot in the house to help me blog

Lily picking the warmest spot in the house to help me blog

7

20 week happenings :)

We have hit the 20 week mark and there’s so much to talk about!

Last weekend we flew up to Brisbane for Rachel and Bear’s 20 week ultrasound. It had been 2 months between visits, so it was extra awesome to give her 2 months worth of hugs! All was right in the world once more, and we are pleased to report that Bear looks totally normal. All its bits are in the right place and within range of normal measurements (but the poor thing has my big head!). The ultrasound technician asked if we wanted to know the sex, to which we all replied a resounding “no!”. I get more and more excited about it being a surprise the further along we get, so know that we made the right decision.

Prior to the scan, we hung out at the Southbank beach and ate gyoza (yummm!). I was so content, I could have stayed at Southbank with my feet in the water all day! We had to move on though, as I had an appointment with the hospital’s lactation consultant. Hubby, Rach and I piled in to her little office, where we started chatting about all things feeding. Induced lactation is not a usual case for lactation consultants to deal with, so she was very interested in and enthusiastic about supporting me, which is fantastic.

She asked if I wanted a demonstration on how to hand express. I said sure, why not! Rach scuttled out of the office and hubby followed. While Rach and I are great friends, even the greatest of friends don’t need to be mentally scarred with real-life-boob-squeezing demonstrations, especially without the consumption of alcohol prior. What followed was the highlight of the appointment. I made the lactation consultant speechless. That’s right – these babies made her jaw drop! She sat there with mouth gaping, just saying “oh my god, oh my god, do you know how amazing that is?!”. It’s old news to me, but it’s nice to know that the milk tanks are in good working order.

The following day we’d organised to visit our surrogacy counsellor.

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Counselling throughout pregnancy is something that we’d all agreed was important from the start; but as the process got underway and our relationship developed strongly, we questioned whether counselling was still worth it. I eventually decided that I’d still like to do it, because no one ever says “dang, I wish I hadn’t gone to the counsellor”. So off we trotted. I was a little nervous about whether I was dragging everyone along for nothing, but after the session I was convinced it was an excellent thing to do.

This was actually the first counselling session that Rach, hubby and I have had together, as South Australian legislation did not require us to do so prior to forming an agreement (which is a bit weird if you ask me!).

We sat down for an hour of talking about how things are going, and how everyone is feeling. Hubby sat there with his listening face on as he often does, quite content with our chatter filling the air, happily prompted by the counsellor to join in. I watched in admiration as the woman carrying my baby spoke with the same honesty and insight as I first grew to love her for. I still get butterflies in my tummy every time she talks about surrogacy, because it’s such a powerful part of who she is. It was so lovely to have an hour of “right, we’re going to talk about surrogacy now”, because being friends, we are prone to fill our time together these days with pictures of cats, quality shows on foxtel, crochet, or content from questionable subreddits. Affirmation that we are all on the right track surrogacy-wise was valuable.

The hardest counselling question for me to answer was “How will you feel after you leave Brisbane with your baby?”. I could feel my eyes welling up just thinking about it.

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Actual picture of me attempting to answer the question

After going through a hundred adjectives in my head, I eventually settled on “Sad. I’ll feel sad”. In that moment I could see that this is something that I need to work on. Have I become more focused on surrogacy than I have on parenthood? I need to be OK with leaving. I need to be able to embrace this new chapter of our adventure, by celebrating the milestone of moving on, and be content in knowing that leaving is not the end of our surrogacy relationship. Rachel said that us leaving and becoming a family by ourselves out in the big wide world is the reason why she is doing this – so for her it will be exciting. To hear her say that really put everything in perspective. I need to be OK with saying goodbye. Good thing I’ve still got a little while to work on it 🙂

So an issue that I didn’t even have on my radar as something to work on, was presented with great clarity, and for that I give great thanks to our counsellor for facilitating. And that is one of the many reasons why this counselling session was worth it.

My other reason for writing this blog post is to give thanks for it being one year since Rachel offered to be our surrogate. What people may not realise is that in offering to be a surrogate, one is not just offering to carry one’s child. Rachel was offering to hug me so tight that all the puzzle pieces would come back together. She was offering to keep my body alive, safe and well; to carry my child to safety with love and care, to forsake some of her own freedoms to free my soul, to restore bounciness in my step and happiness to my heart, and through her altruism create a desire within me and those around us to pay it forward.

It’s hard to put in to words how I felt on this day one year ago. I knew in my heart that Rachel was somebody who I could trust with all my being, someone who I respected greatly, someone who I aspired to be like, and someone who I would love to share the joy of motherhood with. To commemorate this day, I would love to pass a tiny piece of Rachel’s goodwill on to another family who are on their path of parenthood. So in Rachel’s honour, I give thanks today by donating to a Western Australian family surprised by 5 (Quintuplets). There has been a fundraising campaign for them to be able to have the freedom of a car with capacity to carry their whole family, as they currently need help to get to medical appointments. So today I pass on a donation in Rachel’s name, so that her generosity may live on to help another family facing challenge of a different kind.

I will leave this blog post now with a happy heart and smiley face, wondering what life will be like in another year’s time. One thing is for sure – I’ll have a new name – “mum” – thanks to a very special someone 🙂

 

 

8

Happy Anniversary Rachel!

Yesterday was Rachel and I’s one year anniversary since meeting. This time last year we were put together in a group chat on Facebook by a mutual friend saying that we had to meet one another. Look what we’ve done since then! I totally got her pregnant, aw yeah.

It’s amazing what can be achieved in a year, not only in terms of surrogacy, but I’m also astounded at how I just happened to cross paths with someone who is now such a great friend. I notice that as I grow up I’ve become more complacent to seek new friendships (as my current friends are pretty darn awesome! … and I’m lazy), but being in the surrogacy community has really opened my eyes to all the awesome people out there that are just waiting to be met 🙂 So happy anniversary for yesterday Rachel – let this be the first of many!

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In another year’s time, I expect that we will have learned even more about each other. How we navigate new times of intensity, distance, extreme fatigue, stress, pain and pure joy. I think that surrogacy is probably one of the most involved and intense things you can do to learn about a friend, and so far we seem to be going from strength to strength by acknowledging the good bits and the tough bits. Even in times of conflict (which every friendship eventually faces to some degree), I hope that at the end of the day that we’ll be able to strengthen the solid base we’ve worked on building. There is no denying that surrogacy is tough, things go wrong and to that we are not immune; but going in to it eyes wide open with top priority placed on honesty I think gives us the best chance of success.

Anyway, on an entirely unrelated note, I really want to tell you a little more about the hospital we’re working with, because they are pure awesome so far! Rachel spoke about some of our appointments in her last post, but since then I’ve had more contact with the hospital; in particular the surrogacy coordinator, and a lactation consultant (read more about my plans for inducing lactation here).

I am floored with how helpful everyone at Mater Mother’s Hospital has been. We have been given the option to rent a room in the hospital (hopefully) adjacent to Rachel’s, which we plan on doing so that the option is there if anybody wants or needs some space, or not, as the need arises. This is all through the public system, and so I am floored by their flexibility. I’ve had some really lovely and supportive phone calls with various people too, and so far would recommend the hospital and their lovely staff with flying colours. I’ve also had some emails with a lactation nurse, who has booked me in for my very own appointment when next in Brisbane!

Which brings me to my next exciting piece of news…. I have started to make milk! TMI? You may want to skip reading the next paragraph then! 7 weeks after I commenced a modified Newman Goldfarb protocol (which was coincidentally the day after our 12 week scan), I noticed my boobs felt weird. So I gave them a bit of a prod, and lo and behold out came some milk! I excitedly galloped down the hallway and immediately told everyone I know. My poor friends! It was seriously one of the most exciting things to happen to me in my whole life, on par with the time that a small portion of my arm made an appearance on Eurovision.

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I’m not even joking.

Our other news is that we have officially commenced serious baby shopping! While this might not seem like a big deal to some, to me it’s something I’ve “dreamed” of for years. I never had dreams of the perfect wedding or house or anything like that growing up, but I’ve always had this idea that pram shopping was going to be a special day. I was so set on making it special that I ended up doing it over two days! The first was with hubby, where we narrowed it down to two contenders, and then the second day was spent at a baby expo, where I put in an order for the one we were leaning towards (and it was on sale – bonus!). We’ve also started to think about cots and think we’ll be going with something from IKEA – they seem good quality and are very reasonably priced.

I also promised that I wouldn’t buy any more baby clothes, but that only lasted a week. Oops.

Sorry, not sorry!