Thursday, July 19, 2018

You're doing what?!

Hi Everybody,

First I want to say a big thank you for even reading this post, and for reading any of my previous posts about my surrogacy journeys. Your love, support, and prayers have been felt with all of them, and I am so thankful! I just re-read my last birth story, mostly because I wanted to update from where I left off, but it also brought me right back to that day. What a crazy experience it was, and even 8 months later, I am still processing it here and there. I should start this post with an update on what the last 6 months or so have looked like for me. 

My last post was written a few days after the birth, and then I wrote that post about what it feels like to be postpartum as a surrogate. I am happy to say I am not in that state of mind anymore, and am thankful that I won't have to be again! I did go to my six week check-up, and the doctor said that my uterus, and area were healing up nicely, and that I could resume normal exercise. I was thrilled to be told I could exercise again, but also worried, because something just didn't feel right, and felt different from my last four experiences before. I know that every recovery from a birth can be different, but I still felt like something was a little more off than normal. So after my check up, and the doctor's clearance, I went to see my chiropractor that had seen me during the pregnancy. Thank God for her! She helped me get through the awful carpal tunnel I had experienced for most of the pregnancy, and just overall made me feel better for a few days after I would see her. I asked her if she could recognize a hernia or diastasis recti (split in stomach muscles usually caused my a number of pregnancies, amongst other things). She said she could so she did a formal evaluation on my stomach. She said that she could see a small hernia next to my belly button, and then she started measuring the stomach muscles width apart. Her face was not good. Her eyes got big, and she said: "Oh you've definitely got one, and it is pretty significant". Great! What do I do about it? She said I could try physical therapy but in some cases, it doesn't help especially if the split is too large. Then she said that in some cases, the only true fix is sometimes surgery. Oh hey, that's great! Insert sarcasm here. She suggested I follow up with my OB, and so even though I had just seen her, I made another appointment to see my OB.

My appointment was a few days later with my OB, and she was able to confirm that I did have a small hernia, but it was definitely there and would need to be repaired, or it would get worse and cause major complications. I think the hernia developed at 22 weeks and 3 days with this last pregnancy. My belly button was extremely painful, I couldn't touch it, and even my shirt rubbing against it hurt tremendously. While she could confirm the split in the stomach muscles to be significant, she couldn't make an official diagnosis since it is mostly out of her scope of practice. She referred me to a general surgeon. I made an appt as soon as she had available while was a few weeks out. In the meantime, I started doing research on hernias and diastasis recti and their implications when you have them together. From what I could research, hernias are repaired by general surgeons and diastasis recti are repaired by plastic surgeons. More of this later in the post.

It came time to see my general surgeon and she was definitely able to confirm the diagnosis of a hernia, and also confirmed that if it did not get fixed, that I would have a higher likelihood of developing another hernia. I then started asking her questions about my diastasis and she said that I definitely had a pretty severe one and that I should consider fixing the diastasis at the same time as the hernia repair because if I didn't, I would have a higher risk of the hernia repair coming undone, or developing another hernia which would need to be repaired. Uh, no thank you to repeat hernia surgeries! So she referred me to a plastic surgeon here in our area, and was able to get an appointment with him a month away, so more research for me in the meantime!

When it came time for my plastic surgeon appt, I was able to go to that appointment knowing the questions to ask, what risks I could expect, and what happens if I do nothing to fix the diastasis recti. But terrified was an under statement when I walked into that room with the plastic surgeon. Not only do I have to get undressed and let him stare at my naked body, I had to listed to all of the things that can happen when you don't fix a severe diastasis recti. Nothing had really gotten better since giving birth, the hernia was painful, I had absolutely no core strength, I wasn't able to work out the way I needed to, and I couldn't even play or sit on the floor with my kids without being in pain, heck I couldn't even get out of bed without pain. I had to roll to my side, and push myself up with my arms because my core strength was gone.!

So on to the surgeries. The hernia repair is a hernia repair surgery, but the procedure to fix a severe diastasis recti is called an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Terrifying! I was only 5 months post baby, but nothing would fix the pain if I didn't do something. So, a hernia repair with abdominoplasty is what was in the cards for me. I had surgery on April 16th. Mini panic attacks for weeks leading up to surgery day, and more research to try to make sure I was making the right decision had led me to this day. We made arrangements for the kids, thankfully they were in school during the day, and my parents came to help out for the hours after school and bedtime. It is a major abdominal surgery, and the doctor suspected there would be a pretty large gap to repair with lots of stitches internally, and a very large incision from my hip to my hip. The last thing I remember before being put out was my nurse friend telling me it was going to be okay, and to try to relax. I woke up to the nurses talking at the foot of my bed, and a very swollen tummy. They called Troy from waiting room, and he helped me get dressed and in the car. I remember bits and pieces of the drive home, and I remember pulling into my driveway, and my dad greeting us at the door. The look on his face was horrifed! lol I imagine I looked pretty bad! I got into bed, and passed out as soon as the kids were able to say goodnight to me! The anesthesia was still decently working at that point, but by morning, it had completely worn off! I was hurting and hurting bad! I did have to get out of the door for my post op appt at the plastic surgeon's office, and so Troy and my mom came with to help me. I had filled my pain prescriptions ahead of time and boy am I glad I did. I don't typically like to take medication in general, unless I'm in pretty bad shape, but with this surgery, there wasn't even a question! They would make me pretty sleepy, and loopy, which was to be expected with that type of pain medicine. The first three weeks were extremely rough. The pain of my incision was very intense, and the drains that I had stayed in for two weeks, and my husband had to help me empty them. He is a saint for helping me through this, and also taking care of the kids, and everything that they and I needed. I did take about a week off of work, and returned the follow week after surgery. I did make myself wean off of my pain pills because there was no way I could have put a sentence together much less type that sentence out, so probably earlier than I should have, I made myself stop the meds cold turkey. I wouldn't say that was the best option, but I didn't see another one! I was able to work from my couch though, so it wasn't super uncomfortable unless I moved! lol 

So, I am now 3 months post surgery for hernia repair and tummy tuck. I just saw my plastic surgeon for a check up and he told me that my split in my stomach muscles was 10 inches apart. He had to stitch my stomach muscles back together using multiple packages of permanent sutures, and four layers of them. Had I not done anything to fix this repair, he said no amount of physical therapy or exercise or weight loss would have helped my situation. It did make me feel like I made the right decision in moving forward with the surgery. My incision is healing slowly, but he said it looks good, and that it will continue to heal with time. I am still pretty swollen throughout the day, some days more swollen than others. He said that is to expected still and that I can expect several more months of swelling. The worse the repair, the longer it takes to recover he said. He has released me to do some light working out, and so I have enjoyed being able to do something towards my health! The pain that I was experiencing after this birth has definitely gotten better, and so for that, I am thankful! This was certainly not the way I thought I would spend the first year after my last baby, and my last surrogacy. I would be dishonest if I said that it hasn't been extremely hard mentally and physically. Just processing some things since birth have been difficult, but I do think that it has made me a stronger person with a better understanding of who I am as a person. That being said, I wouldn't wish this surgery and its recovery on my worst enemy! :(

So, on to my news! After each one of my births, my keepers and surrogacies, I have felt this need to help other women who are going through the same thing. While it can be a small portion of our lives after baby, it is often the time that is engrained in our minds forever, and it is what we look back on when thinking about our babies and their first few weeks. I didn't have babies to take care of after my surrogacies, but going through my postpartum period, emotionally and physically has really been extremely difficult. I'm not saying this for sympathy, but to give a better understanding of where I am coming from! 

I still work for my agency as an Outreach Coordinator, and I absolutely still love my job! I am trying to advocate for our surrogates as well in their postpartum period as they navigate through life without the baby they have carried, and try to find their normal again! My birth doula has mentioned many times to me that she thinks I would be great at offering support to women, not just surrogates. What a coincidence, because I agree with her! I think I can now safely say that I have found my passion in life besides my children and husband. 

I have decided to start my own business as a postpartum doula! Did you know there was even such a thing? Me either! Last weekend, I completed my training as a postpartum doula! I am now ready to take clients, and help mothers in the unique way from the insight I have with my own children but also as a surrogate. I know first hand what a good night's sleep can do for our healing bodies, and state of mind! I am finishing up with designing my website, and then will officially launch hopefully by the end of next week! 

I'm sorry if some of you are disappointed that I am not announcing another surrogacy pregnancy! The oven rental has closed permanently! The door is locked tightly, and stuck in the off position! It is a weird feeling to put something so incredible behind me, but let's be real, I cannot push out babies indefinitely! Having these surgeries sure made me realize the toll that pregnancy can take on your body, and while I don't want it to define why I'm not going to be a surrogate again, I want it to be a reminder of what I have done to make difference in the lives of others. My intended parents and belly buddies are often on my mind, and seeing updates and pictures of where they are and how their parents are enjoying is brings me more joy that I can probably put into words! 

If you have gotten to this point in the blog, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING! I am going to try to keep this blog going in some way, it just may take on a different form as I venture out into the world of being a postpartum doula! If you know of anyone that may benefit from this type of service, please keep me in mind! The name of my business is Sharing Journeys Doula, and I will post a link and invite to follow my business page once that is all done! 

Love you all, and thank you for following along on my journeys! It truly has been some of the most amazing experiences of my life! 

Sarah Harris 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Post partum life of a Surrogate

I wrote this about 6 weeks ago, now that some time has passed, I thought I would share!

I have been a surrogate three times. I am three weeks post-partum from my third and final surrogacy. I applied for my first journey when I was six months pregnant with my daughter, so it has been a large part of my life for the last 6 1/2 years. Aside from being a wife and mother to my two children, surrogacy has been my life for that time. This last journey was very hard on me physically, but it was also hard on me mentally. For a few reasons: this was my fifth pregnancy, and third surrogacy, and my body was just done being pregnant so I was very uncomfortable early on in the pregnancy and it just progressively got worse as I got further along. But the other factor that made it hard on me mentally was that I knew this was going to be my last journey. While I wanted it that way, and no one is saying I couldn't do another journey other than me, at some point I would have to be done, and I feel like three journeys is enough and I have made an impact on three different families that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

That being said, I'm done? Just like that? Something that has been a serious part of my life for the last 6 1/2 years is just over. No more excitement over getting an Intended Parent's profile. No more medical screening trips, or transfer trips, and time spent meeting the parents and getting to know them, and falling in love with the idea of them finally becoming parents. No more anticipation after the transfer, and relief and excitement, and worry when the pregnancy test is positive. No more blood draws and ultrasounds to check on the peanuts, no more happy reports to send to the parents. No more 20 weeks ultrasounds with the parents visiting, often the first time they've gotten to see their baby in person. No more huge anticipation of the big day, where these parents who have tried, longed, and cried thinking this day would never come. And just like, in what seems like the snap of two fingers, it's just over.

Please don't misunderstand where I am coming from. I am not sad I do not have the baby I carried. I am not depressed, nor do I have post partum depression. I am completely happy with my own family, with my children and husband, and the other things in life that I have found enjoyment and happiness in. I am also not an attention getter. I like to keep things to myself when I don't feel well, and only complain when it becomes too much for me, and I feel like I'm going to lose it if I don't say something! lol A surrogate pregnancy often times comes with a little more attention than a pregnancy where I was carrying my own child. I had a lot more appointments especially in the first trimester, than a regular pregnancy would have had. I was usually in constant contact with my IP's, keeping them updated with the latest, and being asked how I was doing, and feeling, and if I needed anything. And then just like that, it is over.

I don't know if I am making any sense! It's totally okay that it is over! I did what I set out to do. Three separate families have been made complete by my ability and willingness to carry their child. But still, it's just over? One day I'm pregnant, the next day I am not.

But....I still look pregnant. There is no one carrying a car seat to explain the way I look. I walk into a grocery store, or starbucks, or my kids' extra curricular activity, but don't they know I just delivered a baby? Yeah, I'm buying overnight, extra long pads because I'm recovering from pushing a baby out! Yep, my breasts are rock hard because my body thinks it just had a baby and needs to provide nourishment for him or her. Sure am walking slow, and am tiring out easily, it's a process and I am slowly recovering.

Was the birth of your children life changing and something you will never forget?  Yep, mine too! But what I have found out, especially after this third and final time, is that it's still life changing and unforgettable even when the baby we are carrying isn't ours. That part doesn't change! My body will eventually recover. I will once and for all, lose the baby weight, the swelling will go down, I will no longer look pregnant, and people won't be asking me when I'm due anymore. But then what?

So how to reconcile that? How do we got from having such an impact on people's lives and doing something so great and fulfilling and rewarding, to just being done? How do I make that okay in my head? How do I got about life and leave this chapter of it where it is? To be honest, I am finding it to be a struggle. I am sure the post-partum hormones don't help one bit! One minute I want to cry for no reason at all, and the other, I'm so happy and grateful for my life and the people I have in it, including the parents of the babies I have carried, it feels like cloud 9! My hormones will eventually settle down and go back to normal, but what will always stay with me are my three journeys. I learned a lot about myself in these journeys. I've had wonderful support around me from family and friends, and I have even gained family members that were once strangers to me, but because of the child they have that shared my body at one time, they will always be extra special to me.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Last Birth Story

Hi there,
Here I am, about a week since my last post, and I am updating it with my birth story. If you are not one for details, this post may not be the best for you, but this is my way of processing everything, so there will be details involved.

Wednesday was my 37 week checkup. I messaged my boss right before I left to tell her I was headed out for my appointment and that I would check in later that evening. I drove to the doctor's office, it was 2:30 pm. I had to pause walking a few times in the parking lot because of the pelvic pressure. There was another pregnant woman coming out walking with her daughter, and she looked at me and we shared a moment as she said: "we can do this!" I looked back and said:"I'm not sure I can right now!" laugh laugh laugh, and kept walking. Made it to my OB office, and the receptionist checks me in. She asks how I was doing, and I told her that it was the most painful walk I have had in a long time. She shared her condolences and I sat down waiting for the nurse to call me in. I made sure my bladder was full since they would be having me pee, and sat down for a few minutes before the nurse called me in.

The nurse opens the door, looks at me, and just apologizes in general at me. She weighed me, and told me to pee, and that she would meet me in room 1. I did all of that, and waddled into room 1. The nurse follow me in shortly, and she could tell I was out of breath from peeing, so she just chatted with me for a little bit before she took my blood pressure. When she finally took it, it was 158/90. This whole pregnancy, I had been running in the 120's/70-80's range. She looked at me and said: "girl, what's going on with you?!" I said: "Is there protein in my urine?" and she replied so quickly with a yes, that I asked her again, to which she confirmed the protein. She gave my arm a rest for a few, and took my blood pressure again. Still high. She leaves the room to report my blood pressure to my doctor. My doctor comes in and says: "Are you swollen, cuz the scale says you've gained 5 pounds in a week!" I told her that I was wearing the same thing I wore last week, and had kept my shoes and jacket on just like my last weigh in. She looks at my feet, ankles, and legs, and was very surprised to see how swollen they were. She measured my uterus from the outside, and said she thought she could feel the baby's head down, but mentioned getting a sonogram to confirm. I could tell she was worried a little, so I just asked her what was going on, and what was she thinking of doing? She said: "Well, i'm thinking we are going to induce you early, but before I make the final decision, I want to make sure that the baby is head down." Alright then. So she brought a small sono machine in, and checked, and she confirmed the baby was head down. Just to be sure, we had the ultrasound tech that was there that day, with the better ultrasound machine check as well. She said yes, baby is head down, fluid was at a 12, instead of a 14 like it was a week prior, and baby's heartbeat looked great!

I went back to Room 1, and waited for the doctor. She comes in to tell me that she is probably going to induce, and that she is calling over to labor and delivery to tell them I am being brought over there. She decides to check me to see if I have made any change since my last appointment. Was very painful, and I wanted to scream, but I managed to keep it together. She said she couldn't really tell what I was dilated to, if at all, and that she was probably going to do Cervidil tonight to help ripen the cervix before we started actual induction. At this point, it is 3:07 pm. I called Troy since the kids were going to need picked up from school at 3:40, and I didn't think I was going to be making that pickup. I told him what was going on, and he was shocked, but man, he's great in a pinch! I then called my doula, Monica, and let her know what was going on, just so she was ready. I then called the mother. She was still at school, but no students. I usually text first, but this time I just straight called. She answered pretty quickly, and asked if everything was okay, and I said: "I am at the doctor's office. Just had my 37 week checkup. I think doc is going to induce tomorrow morning. Don't book a flight just yet, but start looking at flights and let me know what you can find." We hung up, and doc confirms that I'm going to labor and delivery directly from the room I'm in. There's a wheelchair waiting outside of my room, and so I sit and get wheeled up to hospital labor floor. I called my mom since she would be helping with the kids, and she drove up from Topeka that night. My mind was going a mile a minute. I kept thinking about the kids, work and how I wouldn't be checking in that night, and I was also worrying about who my nurse would be, and just trying to overall psych myself up for what we were going to be doing. I got wheeled into the labor room, and got changed into a gown, and settled into the bed. The nurse came in and started going through the admission process. Sign this form, answer this question, leave her a urine sample, take my blood pressure, and start an IV-only took 2 pokes! Doctor came in to check on me and just let me know what the plan was, and that she would see me in the morning once the cervidil had had time to work.

My mom and my sister, Laura came up to the hospital room, as did my doula, Monica. The Cervidil was placed around 6:00 pm, and so I was just supposed to lay down and let the medicine work. I could have something to eat after two hours of the cervidil in, and that would probably be it before labor started in the morning. My doula was so sweet, and brought me a burger from Red Robin as my last meal lol. It was delicious! Everyone left around 9:30 ish or so, and I got settled into bed closer to 11:00. I slept from 11:00-12:51 and had to get up to pee. As I peed, and wiped, I felt the Cervidil come out onto the toilet paper. I saved it and waddled to the bed, and called the nurse. She came in, and I showed her what had come out, and she said confirmed that it was in fact the Cervidil, and that she was going to have to go call the doctor to see what she would want to do. So I sat tight.

Nurse comes back in, to tell me that the doctor has ordered another Cervidil to be placed, and that it'll just be a few minutes while the pharmacy is getting it ready. I was trying to get comfortable in the bed, but I was miserable. The new Cervidil comes in, and the nurse places it again. This was around 2 ish. From that point on, I started contracting every 5 minutes, sometimes every 3. I was able to rest in between the contractions, but some of them would wake me up and I would just have to breath through them until they passed. I got up to pee once or twice after that, and just tried to get as much rest as I could. I woke up at 6:50 to use the restroom, and knew that my doctor might be popping in anytime after that to check on me and make a game plan for the day. Monica, my doula came up around 7:30 ish, and Troy and my mom were gonna get kids to school and then would be over. My doctor came in, checked me...that was very painful. The Cervidil can make the area raw and very tender, and man did it do that. She declared that I was 4 cm, and that the bag was bulging, and so she wanted to break it. Our thoughts were that she could break my water, I could get up and take a shower, and then we would come back to the bed and she could start pitocin for the induction. So that's what we did. Once she broke my water, I just had to sit on the monitor for 20 minutes, and then I got up to shower. The contractions were still coming at this point, they were bearable, some of them I could talk through, some of them not so much! The shower helped, I at least got to wash my hair! Got out of the shower, was still contracting, and they started getting a little stronger at that point, but I just thought it was because I had been up and moving around, and that once I sat back down, they would stop and we would start the pitocin. That was never the case...while I was in the shower, my mom and Troy arrived. I didn't want to get in the bed just yet, so I just hung out closer to the bed, and would lean against it during a contraction. It seemed to help for those contractions. At around 10:45, the baby's mother and grandmother arrived. They had gotten on a very early flight that morning, landed at 9:45 am, and were brought to the hospital. Perfect timing! We hugged between contractions, and I just tried to focus on getting through each contraction one at a time. After I got tired of standing, I laid down for a bit in the bed. The contractions changed while I was in the bed. They got much much stronger, closer together, and I felt this very weird sensation for the first time was in my lower belly, during the peak of the contraction, and it was as if my belly was vibrating or quivering on its own. I could feel the baby moving, but didn't really know what that feeling was. It happened a few more times during labor, and I still don't know what that was about or what was causing it.

I started wanting to see if I was dilating, but I was afraid of two things: 1. Being told I wasn't any more dilated than a 4. 2. The pain of being checked. I knew it would cause more contractions too, and they were getting really hard at that point, so I was trying to brace myself. At 11:50, the nurse checked me. I was at 7 cm. Was kind of shocked that I had made progress like that, but contractions were unbearable at that point, there was no where to go to help the pain, and I was just trying to make it through. After I got checked, I asked if I could get in the tub. Folks, I had been really looking forward to this moment for my whole pregnancy. I love hot hot baths, but since those are not safe for pregnancy, I haven't taken one since getting pregnant. And I have heard before that getting in the tub during labor helps tremendously with the pain, and I was getting desperate for some type of relief. Contractions were right on top of each other at this point, I was cramping in the middle of them, and so there never really felt like there was a break in them. I went very internal, my eyes were closed most of the time, but my mind was screaming! Right before I got in the tub, I started panicking, and said out loud that I can't do this, and Monica was great at reeling me back in. I tried to listen to what she was saying, but man it was hard. I got in the tub, sitting on my legs, and felt a little bit of soothing  once my bottom hit the water. Contractions on top of each other, no break, constant cramping in between the peaks of contractions, and when the peak would hit, I would feel this weird but uncontrollable urge to push. This was my first birth without an epidural, and while I can say now with confidence that the epidural didn't help with pain management for contractions, it did numb the urge to push. So this sensation was new to me. So, I'm in the tub, at the peak of the really strong contractions, I was pushing, but not really registering what was happening. The nurse started saying I need to get out because she needed to check me. I flat out refused, and said: "no". She kept saying she needed to check me, so I finally just said: "can you check me in the tub?" She said: "Yep absolutely I can check up in the tub!" Thank you!!! I just kept thinking, I'm not going to be dilated anymore than a 7, and the effort it took to get into this tub was overwhelming, and now you want me to get out of it, when all I'm going to want to do is get back in, but then the effort to do that again was too much to bear, so I changed positions in the tub, and let her check me. Eyes closed, of course, having contractions on top of each other, and no way to escape! lol I didn't hear what the nurse said, so my doula said: "Did you hear that? You're complete. After this next contraction you need to get up and out of the tub". Again, I refused. I just kept thinking, I've still got hours of pushing left per my previous experiences, even if I am complete, doesn't matter, it is still going to be hours, and I wanted to stay in the tub. That wasn't happening apparently. Monica said:"Once this contraction is over, open your eyes, and we will help you out!" I managed to flutter my eyes open for a sec, and between Monica, the nurse, and Troy, I somehow got out of the tub. They toweled me off, huge contractions were hitting, they slipped a gown on me and they helped me walk to the bed. Troy had gotten to the other side of the bed, thank GOD! I got onto the bed, standing on my knees, and had a huge contraction against Troy. If he had not been there, I don't know what I would have done! After that contraction, they had brought the head of the hospital bed up all the way, so I just pivoted and leaned against it. I knew there were people in the room, I did not know their placements, or who all was there, but I was so very internal at this point, I couldn't even talk. With the next contraction, I got this overwhelming intense pressure in my butt like I needed to go number 2. I didn't even care, I just thought, screw it, i'm going to take the poop of my life in this bed, everyone is going to see, and couldn't care less-all thoughts in my head. So I'm pushing and pushing uncontrollably thinking the whole time that I am pooping, and then all of a sudden, the pain and pressure shifts directly to my vagina. And then I realize that the pressure I was feeling to poop was the baby's head. Pushing again, and I feel her head start to crown. I panicked, and screamed: "she's crowning, oh my gosh, she's crowning!" 1. I wasn't in the position I knew I should be in for the baby to come out. 2. I was in complete denial that I was that close to getting this baby out of me. 3. It hurt like hell! 4. What in the world was happening!" So when I said that baby was crowning, the nurse lifted the sheet that had been draped over my back and said: "yep!" and so Monica ran out to the hall to tell the other staff that my nurse needed help, and then ran back in to my bedside. I don't remember how much longer after she crowned did the rest of baby come out, but I don't think it was that long. The nurse caught her.

I opened my eyes for the first time in quite a while, I heard the baby cry, but I was very unaware of what was happening at my feet, behind me. The mother cut the umbilical cord, and they took her over to the warmer. They told me I could turn around, and the first face I saw was Troy's. I just looked at him and said: "That was the craziest thing in the world, and that will never happen again!" lol Then I saw my doctor taking off her jacket, and I then realized that she wasn't in the room when the baby was born. Apparently, she had been waiting for someone to let her know that I was out of the tub, but since there were just minutes between my exit of the tub, and the baby being delivered, that never happened! She then got me all ready to deliver the placenta. I had a tiny tear, so she numbed me really quick, and stitched me up. And then the inevitable pushing on my uterus and belly to get the placenta to come out. It was so tender, I just tried to breath through it, but mostly protesting the pain! It took quite a while for placental to come out. We tried putting the baby on my chest, as sometimes the oxytocin that comes with that, can help release the placenta. I got to check her out, and say hi to my belly buddy! I want to say it was about 30-40 minutes after birth that my placenta came out. Good news is, doctor didn't have to go in and manually scrape it out! She did inject pitocin into the umbilical cord to help the whole process, so that did cause some intense cramping and contractions. I was able to pick the baby up off of my chest, and hand her back over to her mother. They got me somewhat cleaned up, and I was just able to sit in the bed. I did ask for the pain meds as the cramping was pretty intense still, and at that point, I was over being in pain! Give me the juice! lol

I got to order something to eat, and mother and baby and everybody else in the room was able to hang out with all of us as we enjoyed the time together! I was in complete shock that this had happened the way it had, but super grateful for the pain to be over, and to not be pregnant anymore!!!

So my doctor called it gestational hypertension and mild pre-eclampsia, which is why we induced at 37 weeks 1 day. Was in labor for 4 1/2 hours if you just count from water breaking to delivery. Shortest labor I have ever had, but the most painful, intense, and rewarding thing I have done! The mother and baby got moved to a post partum room, I got my room, and we saw each other frequently. My kids got to hold the baby, Kynlee even got to feed her a bottle, and Brae just kept commenting on how cute and littler her fingers were. He loves babies, just like his daddy.

I am home now, trying to rest and recover from the pregnancy itself, and the birth! I'm super engorged at the moment, but I'm prepared for this part, and just going to make it through! The mother and baby arrived home in New York late last night! Everyone is doing really well! I will be back to update after my 6 week checkup. Thank you all for reading this post! I am trying to process the finality of what this journey means for me. It is the end of an era almost for me and surrogacy has been my life for years now. I applied for my first journey when I was 6 months pregnant with my daughter. She is turning 6 years old in 2 months! I have been pregnant for most of her life. Just gotta make that shift as it comes! I am super grateful for the people around me, my friends, my family, my coworkers who have experienced surrogacy before, and who have advocated for me when I said I could return to work right after delivery. They were right, I need a little bit of time to just recover overall! I also want to give a special shout out to my husband. As most of you know, pregnancy is not easy. He has been patient with me, but also gotten frustrated at times, throughout this process when the hormones have overtaken his wife. I don't blame him one bit! He is an amazing husband and father, he loves me and supports me in everything I do, and I don't know where I would be without him. I love you babe!

Thank you all so much for reading!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

36 weeks and counting!

Hey all,
I am officially 36 weeks and 3 days currently! I cannot begin to describe the level of exhaustion, excitement, and just overall "doneness" that I feel. I know that's not a word, but I'm exercising my right to make up whatever words I want to at this point! Since my last post, I have had a few growth scans to check on the baby's weight and overall health. So far, everything has been right on track with just a few measurements marking her ahead. She has long limbs so we think that could be contributing to the larger measurements sometimes.

At my 28 week growth scan, everything was looking great, she was moving around with fluid levels looking great as well! She wasn't head down yet, but still early in the game at that point, so no need to worry yet.

I always have gotten carpal tunnel pain with every pregnancy I have had except for my very first one. With every pregnancy, the symptoms show up earlier and earlier, and get a lot more intense as the pregnancy progresses and my belly gets bigger. This time, by far, has been the absolute worst. Troy got me some wrist splints/braces to wear at night, and thank GOD for those, as they make it to where I can sleep and not wake up in major pain in the middle of the night. But then, I have to take them off when I wake up and shower, and it is like the floodgates of pain have been unleashed, and it gets very painful, very quickly. I am definitely looking forward to these symptoms getting better after the swelling and overall fluid retention I have experienced with this pregnancy subsides. Will probably be about a month after delivery if it's anything like last time. I am also over being anywhere in public. Thank goodness I work from home. Everywhere I go, people ask me when I'm due, and when they find out I still have as long as I do left, they just look at me with their eyes wide. Do a pregnant lady a favor, and never ask her when she's due. Just tell her she looks great, to hang in there, and this won't be a permanent thing. In some ways, I feel like I have been pregnant for the last 6 years. My body is most definitely done, and now my mental state is done as well. I needed this last pregnancy to solidify that for me, as crazy as that may sound. As a surrogate, it's easy to mentally convince ourselves to do another pregnancy, especially because we know that there are other intended parents out there waiting for their baby, and here we are, perfectly capable of helping them! But three surrogacies is what I'm going to go out with, and hopefully it will be with a bang!

At my 32 weeks growth scan, everything was also looking great! Baby was measuring at 4 lbs and a few ounces, fluid levels were great, and she had moved to the general head down position. Yay! Nothing concerning, and right on track.

I had my 36 week growth scan on Tuesday morning. At this appointment, she was measuring at 7lbs 4 oz, with a margin of error of +/- 17 oz. So she could either be 6 lbs 3 oz, or 8lbs, 5 oz. Insert whatever face you want here! I thought for sure my doctor would want to move the induction day up, as she has been pretty adamant throughout this whole pregnancy that I try to not have another big baby, and to try and avoid the shoulder dystocia we had last time. My doula came with me to this appointment, and we chatted with the doctor about the plans for induction, and what we all envision for the day this baby will make her appearance. My doctor did the Group B strep test as well, and should have the results back from that at my next appointment. Since she was down there, she also checked me. To my surprise, I am currently 1.5 cm dilated, and 60% effaced. So at this point, I will not need to go to the hospital the night before induction for Cervadil. I have been having what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions, but it seems there are real contractions mixed in there too! We will see if I dilate anymore between now and induction day.

So, as of now, the plan is to have one last growth scan at 38 weeks, which will also check on fluid levels. As i'm sure we will just see that baby has gained a little more weight since the last appointment, everything will stay the same. We are planning to induce on November 30th. Since I won't need to go in the night before, I think we will start the induction process a little earlier, so I will need to be at the hospital possibly by 4 or 5 am. My guess is that the actual induction process won't actually begin until closer to 6 or 6:30, since they will be doing the admission process, starting an IV, and getting everything else ready that is needed. It will be nice to be able to shower that morning, and grab a bite to eat so I have some fuel to get me through the labor and delivery.

I have gained a total of 18 pounds so far, and between the swelling, actual baby, and fluid and placenta, hopefully it won't be too hard to get back to pre pregnancy weight.

I am hoping to update before induction, but this may not happen since it could literally be any day now, or at the very most, 19 days and counting! If I don't update before induction, I will definitely update afterwards and recount the birth story! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers, and keep them coming as I near the end! Thank you for reading as well!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Over half way there-25 weeks!

Oh my goodness, you guys, I cannot believe that the last time I updated my blog was after the transfer and results, knowing I was pregnant! The summer kind of got away from me. I've been working full time from home, and being full time mom as well! The kids started school last week, which is fantastic, and my summer work schedule is back to me working when kids are in school, and no late night hours! Yay! I had pretty horrible morning sickness that would last all day long, and thanks to a medicine called Diclegis, I was able to keep it under control. It made me even more sleepy than first trimester pregnancy already does, but I would do anything it takes not to throw up, so I was very thankful for this medication!

First, I just want to give an update on my job. I freaking love it! I work with some of the best people! We all have been surrogates before, we all know what it takes, and we all care deeply about our jobs and the impact it has on others that it's just a true blessing to be a part of something so great! I still wake up and wonder sometimes how I got so lucky to have an opportunity like this fall into my lap!

Okay, onto pregnancy stuff. I am currently 25 weeks and 3 days pregnant! After it was confirmed that I was pregnant, the same protocol as I have undergone with previous pregnancies was to be expected. Recheck after a few days to make sure levels are going up, and then confirm the heartbeat at around 6 weeks pregnant. Then after that, a few more ultrasounds at 8 and 10 weeks, to track the growth of the embryo and fetus, and then I was released to see my own OB at 10 weeks. I love my OB. She is on top of it, I trust her wholeheartedly with my care, and she truly understands the delicate situation of being pregnant as a surrogate with Intended Parents involved. Once I was released to see her at 10 weeks, we did a little more blood testing at 12 weeks, which came back normal!

As of Monday, which was my last appointment, I have gained a total of 5 pounds, which my doctor is very pleased with, and so far baby is not measuring crazy big. My intended mother came into town for the 20 week ultrasound, and we also got to tour the new birth place that Olathe Medical Center has built. It's beautiful. The rooms are very spacious, there are air circulating tubs in almost every room so that women can still get it the tub if their water has broken, and we labor and delivery in one room, and then once baby is out, we are moved to a different floor where they have post partum rooms that look like hotel rooms. Very comfortable accommodations for sure! They have been very busy since opening the new birth place, and so we were told that there is a possibility that my intended mother may not have a room at the hospital to be in after baby is born. They will work with her to accommodate the situation as best as possible if that is the case.

The ultrasound went great! We just went to my OB office this time around instead of to a special place with a level two ultrasound machine. My OB's office was able to provide all the information we needed, and did not find any reason for further testing or anything! This little baby girl was only measuring a week ahead at the time which is completely normal for this time frame of pregnancy, all of her organs were present, her kidneys and stomach were functioning well, which means she's getting good practice swallowing and peeing, and it was found that she has very long arms and legs. Her uncle is a tall guy, and there are other people in the family that are tall, so she may just fit right in! We are going to keep track of her growth as closely as possibly as my OB is very adamant that I not have another big baby to push out. She doesn't want to risk the shoulder dystocia that I had last time, and just thinks that overall, a smaller baby is what is best. Since we really cannot control this aspect of things, just going to have growth scans starting here in a few weeks to track the baby's growth, and this will hopefully give us a good idea of what we are working with when it comes to delivery day.

My due date is December 6th, however, we have an induction day set for November 30th. We are inducing for several reasons, a couple of them being so that we can make sure her Mom is there, but also to try to help the big baby situation. I will be 39 weeks on the 30th of November, so hopefully she won't be too big at this point. I am also planning to do no epidural this time around. If you have read my last two delivery posts from my two previous surrogacy journeys, you would know that I have had a terrible time with this! They either kept wearing off, or just didn't work at all! My plan, this time around, is to be induced, but with no epidural or other pain medications (have had experience with those as well, and they are not effective). Yeah, yeah, I'm crazy, I know! I just am really trying to avoid an experience like I have had in the past where I go into the induction thinking: "oh no biggie, I will have an epidural when it gets bad", and then I get the epidural and am confined to the bed because I can't move my legs, but am still in major pain because the epidural hasn't worked. I have also hired a doula for this birth, and I think that with her experience and knowledge about different positions, and strategies to manage the pain, I will get through it just fine! Is it going suck? Most definitely! But I would rather be in control of that suckyness, than be stuck in the bed with no end in sight!

So from here on out, it's just going to be tracking baby's growth, have a glucose test coming up to check for gestational diabetes, and just trucking along. I'm not nearly as uncomfortable as I was with my last surro babe at this point, so I am thankful for that! I started my heartburn medicine a few weeks ago and that has helped tremendously! The carpal tunnel pain that I always experience during pregnancy started a lot earlier this time around, but Troy got me some wrist splints that I wear at night, and they are also helping a great deal! I hope they continue to do so when I get further along! I have also started seeing a chiropractor, which is a first for me, but my doctor seemed to think that it could only help my situation, so I am hopeful and optimistic that with having the best doctor, chiropractic care leading up to delivery, and a doula, I will have a much better experience! This is my last journey, I know I know, I've said that before, but I realized something at about the 15 week mark with this one. Last pregnancy, I was physically done. This pregnancy, I am both mentally and physically done! My brain needed to be the one saying: "no more, Sarah!" and finally that has happened!

My first surro babe will be turning three in two days! Sometimes, I can't believe it has only been three years, but then I also think, man it feels like she should be 18 by now! I should be facetiming with her parents soon, but with the time difference in France, it can be difficult sometimes! My second surro baby just turned 16 months, and he is walking and learning to talk, and is just such a joy for his parents and big sister!

Thank you so much for reading, and while I would love to promise that I will update soon, I'm just going to say that there will be at least one or two more posts before the labor and delivery post.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Transfer Trip and Results!

Hi All!

I told you all I would update at the end of March, and with a few hours to spare, here I am! I left off with my last post about to leave for my trip to Boston for training for my new job with Circle Surrogacy! It was a great trip, once the travel was over, of course! I was able to meet people I have emailed back and forth with a lot, and put faces to names, and train for my new job! Everyone was so nice, welcoming, and helpful! Since I was in town, the marketing department set up for me to have my picture taken for the new website we are working on. We had to take an Uber to a different part of the city and head to the photographer's studio. The photographer was a cool dude. He was quirky, kind, made me feel comfortable, and took about 500 shots! lol. He's photographed people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Joe Biden, and a few other famous people I did not know. Cool right?! :)  My job is going great! I am learning new things every day, and am so thankful for the opportunity I have been given to help other surrogates who want to help others in the same way!

So I got back from my trip to Boston on February 24th! I was very happy to be home, see the kids, and get my office set up! I went to my first monitoring appointment for the new cycle the day after I got back into town. Hey, it was better than going while I was in Boston! Results came back from that, and turns out the Lupron shots I had kept doing the whole time I was waiting for my period worked, and I started on the regular protocol from there. On day two of my cycle, I started estrogen injections in my hip, and went for another monitoring ultrasound and blood work appointment shortly after that. Everything was going just as it should, and was definitely nice to hear, instead of the opposite like the month before this! The transfer day was set for March 20th, in Connecticut, and I would get to meet my intended mother, some of her family, and get to just spend some time together getting to know each other more! My mom flew with me, and it was nice to have her with me!

After some confirmation from the clinic about a week before the transfer date, my lining was at an 18mm and triple striped! PERFECT for transfer! My mom and I flew out to New York City on Saturday the 18th. We landed in La Guardia after a quick stop in Washington D.C. I was very glad to touch down...HATE FLYING!!! Okay, okay...strongly dislike flying! Once we landed, my intended mother's neighbor picked us up at the airport, and dropped us off in Times Square. Our plan was to see a Broadway show, have some dinner, and then head back to a suburb of New York where my intended mother lives. My mom and I got in line for half price tickets to Broadway show, and we decided to see Cirques Du Soleil Paramour. It was a great show! Love story with acrobatics, singing, and dancing! Those shows never disappoint! My intended mother and I formally met in person, while in line waiting for tickets. She arrived shortly after we had arrived to Times Square, and we hugged in line, and made small talk as we were waiting for the ticket booth to actually open up. Once we had tickets in hand, we decided to do a little shopping for the kids at the M&M store in Times Square. We  had time to take the subway to the New York Public Library. It was beautiful! I had never been so I'm glad that we were able to see that! So much absolutely beautiful architecture. The history of the city really gets me sometimes! After the museum, we decided to grab a bite to eat before the show! We talked a lot through dinner, got to know each other some more, and just discussed some logistics for the next day and transfer day. I was exhausted, I know my mom was too, and we were supposed to come back to the city the next day and go to the natural history museum. The thought of that exhausted me even more, so I asked my Intended Mother (IM), if she would be heartbroken if we skipped coming to the city again, and maybe did something a little more local to her. With it being the day before transfer, I didn't want to completely exhaust myself! After all, transfer day was what we were there for. So we saw the show, and then took the train back to my IM's car in the suburb, and then she dropped us off at our hotel around midnight. We had gotten up around 4 am that morning, so it was a super long day. Was ready for bed for sure!

We slept in a little the next morning, and then headed to brunch with my IM. It was a good meal, more talking, and sharing our thoughts and fears about the situation. She took us to the a mall that was very cool! It had a skating rink in it, all the restaurants were on the first floor of the mall itself. There was go-kart track in the mall, and an obstacle course that was suspended from the kids would've completely gone crazy for it! We spent a few hours, just browsing. They didn't really have any stores that we don't have, but it was nice to just chill and relax! We had dinner at a great little Italian restaurant close to our hotel, and then went back to the hotel after dinner and just sat around and talked.

Transfer was at 2:00 pm the next day. I had to be there for blood work at 12:45, and acupuncture at 1:00. We slept in, and had breakfast at the hotel, and then my IM picked us up and drove us to Connecticut for transfer! No traffic and we made it there on time! Got blood work done, acupuncture done, and transfer was done at 2:00. I FINALLY got to empty my bladder and then had last treatment of acupuncture, then we were on our way! Stopped at McDonald's for a large french fry. Us surrogates swear by them for an after transfer aide to get embryo to stick! There is something called Bromine in them, and bromine is supposed to be really great for embryos sticking, so I ate the whole thing...not gonna lie, it was pretty delicious as they were fresh ones, too! After transfer, my IM drove us to her place, she gave us the tour of her home, and we relaxed on the couch and I ate some pineapple, which also has lots of Bromine in it, but just the core does. It was chewy but I got through it lol.

My IM had planned a meet and greet for her family and friends to stop by and meet me. It was nice to see her support system, and talk to people who care about her, and be able to ease their minds a little about me. I answered questions about my life, about why I want to do something like this, and it was all met with endless thank yous and gratitude!

Our flight was at 9:30 am the next morning, and I was ready to get home! I woke up at 4:30 am with the most intense cramps, so I was walking a little slow that morning and taking it easy at the airport! My IM's neighbor picked us up at the hotel at 6:00 am, and he drove us to La Guardia. We had plenty of time before the flight, but because of how traffic can be in the city, better early than late! Straight flight home, and then touched down in KC! Got home in enough time to pick up my daughter at 2:00 from school! Was exhausted, but so glad to be home, and wait for the blood test on March 29th!

I told myself I wouldn't take a home pregnancy test, and my IM and I had even talked about it, saying that she didn't want to know if I did. By Day 7, I couldn't handle it anymore. On March 29th, I got the official word. Beta HCG came back 115!!! Anything above a 50 is considered great at this point and definitely pregnant! Was told to go back for another blood draw today, and the number needed to at least double. It went from 115 to 240!Yay, more than doubled! So, the 6 week ultrasound is set for the 13th, and we will hopefully be able to see a little heartbeat on the screen, even if we can't hear it! In the meantime, I stay on the morning and night shots, and suppositories until I will be 10 weeks. My butt is bruised and very sore, but 6 more weeks! The end is in sight!

For those of you praying, and sending good thoughts and sticky vibes my way, thank you!!! I will update after my ultrasound on the 13th! Keep all those thoughts, prayers and vibes coming!


Friday, February 17, 2017

I did what?

Hi guys!

So, since my last update, life has gotten a little crazy, with lots of changes, but awesome opportunities.

Shortly after my last entry, I got an email from the IVF clinic saying that because I had already been there for a medical screening with my last intended parents, I wouldn't need to travel this time, and that I could have the blood work and ultrasound done at a local monitoring clinic! I was very excited about that! I don't particularly like flying so I was thankful for that news! Once the medical aspect was done, I would meet with the doctor at the IVF clinic via video conference, chat with him, and then move on to start a cycle!

So in early January, I had the ultrasound and blood work done, video conferenced with the doctor a week later, and then got approved for another journey with my new intended parent. This time around, I will be carrying for a single mother. She is great! She has been through a lot, and while life has happened to her, she knew that being a mother was not something she would be able to let go of, and so she has turned to surrogacy! She appreciates my experience in this process as well, as a lot this whole journey is foreign to her, so it is nice to help ease her mind with some things as much as I can!

So at the end of January, I was approved to start a transfer cycle, and so I started birth control on the 29th of January, then started Lupron shots about a week later.  I got to my first base line ultrasound and blood work on the 6th of February and was told that I ovulated through birth control and Lupron ( a drug that is supposed to suppress my natural cycle). After a recheck a few days later, the clinic sent me a drug called Ovadrel (basically it's a trigger shot to get my ovaries to release all the follicles that were in there) and I am currently waiting for my menstrual cycle to start. The wait is the worst! Once I get my period, I will go into another cycle with slightly different protocol and now instead of transferring on March 3rd, we will probably transfer either the 3rd or 4th week of March.

Remember that research project that my agency, Circle, asked me to do? Turns out, those hundreds of hours of research paid off! A few weeks ago, I was offered a position with Circle as a Surrogate Outreach Coordinator. People, this is sort of like my dream job! I have been begging them to hire me since my first journey, so the fact that this has finally happened isn't all that surprising but totally awesome! I will be one of the first faces a surrogate talks to when she applies with Circle. I will answer questions, help her through the application process and then move her on to the next step after applications. SO excited for this opportunity and am eager to get started!

I fly to Boston, Circle's headquarters, on Sunday for a week of training! Troy is going to be taking the reigns with the kids, doing drop offs, pick ups, packing lunches and anything else my role as mom has required! Pray for him! He has stayed with the kids by himself before but not for this long, nor when the kids had school schedules and places to be! I am confident he will do great, and that the kids will be just as different for him as they are any other time, than when they're with me! :/ lol. When I get back, I will get to work from home, Monday through Friday, while the kids are in school! It's pretty perfect and just the right timing for me to go back to work! I'm excited, stressed, and eager all at the same time!

So, I am currently packing for Boston, waiting for my period any day now, and gearing up for transfer at the end of March! For those of you who have been praying, thank you! Pray that my body cooperates with the medicine and with the cycle, and that I'm where I'm supposed to be for transfer! Also, pray for my flight and trip to Boston, and my flight home! I will update after my transfer, so probably at the end of March!

Thanks for reading!

Sarah Harris
Surrogate Outreach Coordinator (HEHE!!!!!)