Sunday, June 5, 2016


I've put off writing this because maybe if I don't put it on paper, write it down, then maybe, just maybe it never really happened. Maybe I can erase it from my memory and pretend that I have a normal life. But as I sit down staring at this blank page, I realize that I never have really gotten over it. No matter how hard I try and forget, it's constantly staring back at me in the mirror.

It's been over two years since I told you that my doctor told me I couldn't ever be pregnant again. It's been almost four years since I heard him say those words, and not a day has gone by that I haven't been reminded of those words in one way or another.

It's June of 2016. Next month the twins will turn 4 years old, and it still feels like yesterday that I was giving birth. Just yesterday I was injecting myself with hormones in preparation of getting pregnant. Isn't technology lovely these days? Reminding you of all the things that have happened in your past, whether you want to be reminded or not. Earlier today I hesitantly clicked on "on this day" on Facebook to be taken to those posts. It's always a gamble. Will it show me something I want to see? Will it show me something I wish had never happened?

Today's reminder was this post:

June 5, 2011 at 9:55 PM

"Tonight I survived my first injection of the mock cycle. I can't believe things are finally moving along and before I know it I will be pregnant, hopefully with twins!"

Part of me wishes that I could go back and yell at the girl making this post. The me I was then is so naive to the rest of what I could look forward to with this process. What exactly would I say to her, if I could say anything? Would I tell her "No! Don't do it! You don't want to have twins!" Or would I say, "You're going to get through this, just have faith." Would it change anything? Would I have had a different outcome? Would I be sitting where I am today if I hadn't gone through with it?

Truth is, I like where I am right in this moment. If I changed even a single thing, the butterfly effect may take me away from this spot. Sitting in Tucson, AZ on a Sunday evening with Spotify playing an acoustic covers playlist while I finally tackle writing about what happened after I had the twins. Telling the world the rest of the story. I almost typed, "the rest of my story" but there is still so much story out there for me to live, for me to write and to create.

So what happened? Can I really never get pregnant again? I suggest you sit back, get a comfy blanket and perhaps a hot chocolate and definitely a box of tissues to get you through the rest of this section of the story because Lord knows that I'm going to need it to tell you.

Those five words I heard the only smart doctor in the hospital say that night still replay in my head many times over, often on a daily basis. "You can't get pregnant again."

The next few days are a blur. My mom may be able to tell you better what happened next, but I'll do my best to recount what I've been told, and the things I remember.

I was checked into the cardiac wing of the ICU, barely able to stand without my heart rate spiking and causing alarm after alarm to go off and nurses to rush into my room. They tried to tell me that I needed a catheter so that I wouldn't have to get out of bed to use the bathroom, but after her (the nurse) trying to put one in and it being almost more excruciating than labor itself, I refused. Instead, I was given a portable toilet literally next to my bed that I needed more than one person's assistance to sit on every time. This must be what rock bottom felt like. Having to have someone lift me out of bed just to pee, the thing that for the last 22 years or so I had been able to do without assistance.

My body had all but given up at that point. I laid in bed for days, dozing in and out of consciousness to use the "bathroom" and I think eat. I don't remember eating anything, or having an appetite to do so.

The doctors had read my echocardiogram and told me that the left ventricle of my heart was pumping blood at a 10-15% rate, when a normal rate was anywhere from 50-65%. I think they told my mom there was a chance I wouldn't survive, because my mom told my sisters that they needed to come see me... just in case. My dad, who had all but disowned me when he found out that I was going to be a surrogate even came to see me. It's all a daze at this point, I remember opening my eyes and seeing the look on their faces, like maybe it was the last time that they would see me alive.

I had been diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy, and if it didn't kill me I had a long road of recovery ahead. That road including never putting my body through the stress of pregnancy again.

Because my body had an extreme amount of excessive fluid in it, I was put on a diuretic to release the fluid which meant more "trips" to the "bathroom" next to my bed. It was such an ordeal to even go to the bathroom, I ran out of energy quick. I didn't have it in me to fight to get better. I just wanted it all to be over with. I wanted to close my eyes and wake up and realize it was all a dream. Or maybe not even wake up at all.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Haven't I gone through enough?

The day after I was released from the hospital, I found myself struggling. Not because I missed the twins, although that played a big part, but because I couldn't breathe. With all of the issues I'd had, before and after delivery, I was unable to pump my breast milk for the twins. My breasts were extremely enlarged, and at this point, hard as rocks.

I actually tried to pump the day after I delivered, but I had zero energy and my body was still trying to get back to a normal level of functioning. I pumped for a good half hour on each side and got no more than a drop. As frustrated as I was, I had no fight left in me to continue to try. It was something I was going to have to let go.

So I was stuck with breasts that felt like boulders until my body realized I wasn't going to nurse. As if I hadn't had enough pain and suffering, this was just another thing to add to the list.

All day, I tried to lay down to take a nap. I was exhausted and knew that sleep was going to be the best thing to get me back to normal. Every time I tried to lay down, however, I felt like I was gasping for air and it felt as though someone was sitting on my chest making it impossible for me to breathe. That person being what I thought were my giant boobs. So, I tried to sleep sitting up.

After a few minutes of that, I realized my mid-day nap was just not going to happen. I focused on other things and tried to visit with family who had stopped by to check on me.

That night is when I realized something more than enlarged breasts was going on. After my mom had gone to sleep, and Peyton was fast asleep too, I was still struggling. I called the nurse after-hours line and waited to speak to someone. As I was on hold, I kept hoping they would tell me that I just needed to take a hot shower, ibuprofen and that would help. Boy was I wrong.

As soon as I described my symptoms, I was told I needed to go to the emergency room right away to be seen. Not only that, but I needed to go back to where I delivered the twins. That was an hour away.

I woke my mom, who in hopes of a good night's sleep had taken her heavy dose of sleeping pills, and told her we needed to go back to the hospital. I called our babysitter and dropped Peyton off, and realized my mom was in no condition to drive.

I was going to have to drive, an hour away, to the hospital in the awesome condition I was in, while my mom slept in the passenger seat.

That drive was the worst drive I've ever made in my life. Thankfully, it was past midnight and the traffic on the road was basically non-existent. That's the only good thing.

I was weeping by the time I arrived at the emergency room entrance, having just driven an hour in horrendous pain. I didn't want to be back at the hospital, I didn't want to be in pain, and the last person I wanted to see was another nurse with needles and IV equipment.

I checked in and was immediately put in a wheelchair. Apparently they could tell I needed to be there. I was wheeled to a room right away and hooked up to monitors and given warm blankets to "get comfortable." Ha! As if that were remotely possible. Were they not listening when I said I couldn't lay down?

Eventually, a doctor came in and said they wanted to run tests and get an image of my lungs via MRI.
I don't know if you've ever gotten an MRI, or watched House, M.D. Or Grey's Anatomy enough to know what it consists of, but they wanted me to LAY DOWN on this awesomely small "bed" and slide me into a tube for imaging. Lucky for them, I didn't want to make an ass out of myself, but I seriously considered the fact that every person in the hospital that day was an idiot and I was tempted to tell them. How did they expect me to lay flat for longer than 2 seconds when I couldn't breathe when I did that? That was the exact reason I was back here in this awful place to begin with.

I tried, however, to please them, and laid down. For probably a total of 2 seconds before I freaked out and gasped for air. Now they could understand what I meant! Their solution? Let's drug her! So, within minutes I was given a shot of Ativan to calm me down in hopes I could get through the test. It worked, but also caused me to be completely out of it for the rest of the night and well into the next day.

I was admitted due to the fluid they found in my lungs, which explained the inability to breathe when I laid down. Fluid in my lungs I could deal with, because that was easily remedied.

That was until probably the only smart person in that place decided that in addition to the MRI, someone should take a look at my heart to see how it was holding up. Good call, doc.

The only thing I remember from the doctor explaining to me what was wrong with my heart were five words, "You can't get pregnant again."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where am I now?

Sitting outside in the sun and holding my iPad, I realize that it's been almost 2 years since the twins were born and almost as long since I have written anything on here.

Where am I now? Where are the twins? How have I coped with the whole surrogacy?

I realize, also, that there are parts of my story I never got around to writing about. Or maybe I intentionally left those parts out for fear of having to face them head on. It is more likely the latter.

So here I am. Willing to finish my story, and in need of an outlet for the emotions I still carry even after all this time. Will I be able to write it all today? Not likely. But where I'll start will have you wanting to keep reading. And it will give me a reason to keep writing.

If you have read along up until now, you know that I gave birth to the twins on July 24, 2012. Wow. Just typing that date makes it seem like it was an eternity ago. The story didn't end there. In fact, it was only another beginning.

Due to my high blood pressure and need for a blood transfusion prior to delivery, I was kept in the hospital for a few days for monitoring. I was finally able to go home that Friday afternoon.

Leaving the hospital was harder than anything I'd done up to this point. The nurse sent my mom downstairs to pull the car up to the main entrance of the hospital and she would wheel me down to meet her. I was beyond excited to leave the hospital as I had been there far too long, I missed my own bed,and most of all I missed my little boy. This whole journey had taken away a lot of time for the two of us.

As the nurse was wheeling me out of my room, the flood of emotions came and it came so quickly I could barely handle it. I was trying, but failing miserably, at keeping the tears at bay. But the nurse, God love her, was only making it worse. She knew I had been a surrogate, and was asking a million and one questions about how I was feeling. I wanted to tell her to shut up, as now was not the appropriate time for these questions, but I didn't have it in me.

By the time we were to the ground floor and heading towards the doors, I had no more fight in me. My face was soaked from the tears, and I couldn't bring myself to respond to anymore of her questions. I just wanted to go back upstairs, where the twins still were, and cuddle them. I wanted them to be with me as I was leaving. The normal way things worked. I came to this hospital carrying two babies inside of me, and I was leaving empty handed. It didn't feel right.

The drive home was even more difficult. My mom drove, of course, and I sat in the passenger seat sobbing. The sobbing would stop for a few minutes, I'd gain some control, and then it would start all over again. My poor mom, driving and unable to console me, I'm sure she was crying as well. But I couldn't look at her, I could barely stand the glimpse of myself I'd catch in the side mirror as I was staring out the window.

The normally hour long drive home felt like it took an eternity. All I wanted to do was sleep. I didn't want to think, or feel; I just wanted to go home, crawl in my bed and wake up many hours later.

When I got home, it was like walking into a place I hadn't been in years. It felt like so long since I had been somewhere that didn't have the brightest white walls and alarms going off through all hours of the night. My apartment was a disaster, as I hadn't been in any shape to clean or do laundry for nearly my entire pregnancy. Thank goodness for my mom, because she would soon remedy that.

I don't remember much of that night, aside from the hours I spent sleeping. Or the time between my slumbers where I cried. Sobbed. And I remember my mom checking on me often.

I finally mustered up the energy for a shower. Thank God for the bench seats in my master bathroom because I wouldn't have lasted long standing. It was the best feeling in the world. Sitting in the shower, hotter than it probably should have been, and washing away all of the smells of the hospital. All of the uncomfortable gowns, the horribly thin sheets and uncomfortable pillows. All of it down the drain. I just wished I could wash away the pain and feeling off loss I couldn't shake.

Tomorrow I was to face the world again. My sisters were to come visit and get me back into a normal swing of things. Distract me from what I had just gone through. What happened the next day, though, no one could have expected.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What this was all about

I have started, and restarted this post a dozen times. July 25th was a day that it so absolutely hard to put into words, or onto paper computer. How do I describe seeing pure joy in the eyes of two men who had so desperately wanted a family for so long, and now finally had that in their hands, literally?

I could write about all the mundane stuff I have talked about in some previous posts, like how I had breakfast and barely kept that down. Or how I actually felt like I slept for the first time in ages. But that's not what you want to hear read about.

I spent most of the day in my room with 'Baby Boy Loucks' as his ID bracelet (or anklet, rather) still said. The nurse brought him in shortly after I woke up at my request. I'd had enough time without him. 'Baby Girl Loucks' was still in the NICU.

Peyton, my son, came to visit me and meet the babies in the early afternoon. I will talk more about that experience later, as I can't focus on that right now if I'm actually going to get this post out this time around.

E & S had boarded a plane sometime while I was sleeping and would arrive in Seattle around 3pm. They were expecting to arrive at the hospital around 6pm to meet their children.

Whoa. What a concept that is. To MEET THEIR CHILDREN. This was definitely what all of this was about.

At 6pm I was staring at the clock. I have a picture my mom took of the clock in my room of us waiting, and then a picture of the clock when her phone rang. My sister answered the phone, and in fact they were at the hospital.

Holy shit. (Pardon my language.) This was REALLY happening. I don't think I had prepared enough for this moment. There was no way I really could. She ran downstairs to meet them and bring them up to the room.

She said that when she got downstairs and outside they were just pulling up and E jumped out of the car without putting it in park! They were excited, to say the least. That word really doesn't do it justice.

I'm starting to tear up as I'm typing this. At about 6:17pm, if memory serves, E & S met their son for the first time. I was laying in my hospital bed, cuddling him, as they walked in the door. Wow, here comes the waterfall. Now and then, really.

The look on their faces is literally not possible to describe. There is no way I could do it even if I tried my hardest. Even if I looked up every word in the dictionary that related to pure joy, happiness, gratefulness, etc. And added them all together.

They just stared. At me, at him, back at me. Gratefulness was a good word to describe the look I saw in their eyes, although like I said it wouldn't really be an accurate description. They were crying, holding each other, staring at their son. The son they had waited 9 months to meet. Well, a lot longer than 9 months because this was something they had been wanting for years. My mom captured these moments on the camera, and there is one picture that I so wish I could share that would be absolutely enough explanation for you. You could see for yourself just how overjoyed these two men were. Their family was finally complete.

I think I heard them say "thank you" a few dozen times in the first few minutes of arriving. And they hadn't even met their daughter yet.

Shortly after their arrival the NICU nurse wheeled in baby girl and emotions started all over again. They stared at me, stared at her, stared at their son, and back at me. The nurses had all known what was going on, that I wasn't the mom of these beautiful babies, and had anxiously been waiting for E & S to arrive just as I had. I don't think that there was a dry eye in the room.

This moment in time is one I will surely never forget. I have many pictures to look at to remind me, and the memories flash through my head constantly.

Everything I had worked for this past year, all of the pain, all of the struggles I'd had with the pregnancy, they didn't matter. What mattered was this family that I had helped to create. Not many women get to say that they helped create a family for someone else. And not another woman in the world can have such a connection to THIS family.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


August 20, 2012

Today the twins left on a plane to Paris. They are going home. How do I feel about this? If only I could let myself feel, I could tell you. I'm a mess, I think, but I haven't cried since Thursday when I said goodbye in person. And even then, I didn't cry as much as I thought I would.

I think mainly, I feel numb. I don't know how to feel because I've never done this sort of thing before. It's nothing that anyone can prepare for. Even though many people asked me ahead of time, before I even got pregnant, if this was something I could handle, I couldn't really answer them honestly. How was I to know if I could really handle it? I don't even know if I am really handling it now as it is.

The plan is to Skype a LOT with them and be able to watch them grow from afar. I can go to Paris and visit, and they will come back here to visit as well, but no time seems soon enough for me to see them again. Even if they flew back in a month, I still would want it to be sooner.

These beautiful babies, although they are not mine, are a huge part of my life. I feel like their mother, in a sense. I carried them for 35 weeks of my life and theirs and helped them grow to the babies they are now. They don't have a mom. I'm the closest thing they will ever have to that.

As I am typing this, the numbness is fading and I am starting to feel pain. Sadness. I feel so lost without them. I just want to hold them again, feed them, burp them, and watch them squirm as they fall asleep. Next time I see them in person they will be so different. What if it is a year before I see them? They will be walking, and talking. Things I can't even imagine them doing now. I want to be there for those first moments, but I don't have the rights to do that. I'm not their mother, as I have to keep telling myself.

My friends, God love them, keep telling me to focus on spending time with Peyton. The one who is ACTUALLY my child. But seeing him, looking at him, makes me realize just how quickly time goes by. He was a baby just yesterday. He's going to be 5 at the end of this year.

Friday, December 7, 2012

After birth

As soon as baby B was born, and I saw my OB holding her up for me to get a peek, all I wanted was to hear her cry. I knew she had a rough beginning to her life, coming out with her feet being pulled out, and her arm stuck up by her head. She was discolored, and I remember Dr. Kennedy saying that was normal because of the breach delivery. But she wasn't crying. I had heard her brother cry shortly after he was born, but she still wasn't crying.

The NICU nurse was in the room and had whisked her away to a warming table at the back of the OR. I remember begging my sister to go check on her, to tell me why she wasn't crying. I needed to know that she was okay. Someone PLEASE make this baby girl cry!

After what felt like an eternity, I finally heard a squeak coming from where they had taken her. And then, actual newborn cries! I was so relieved. Words cannot express the feeling one gets hearing a newborn cry for the first time. I wish I could have captured that moment for E & S to experience later.

I still had some work to do even though both babies were here. I had two placentas that needed delivered. It was still so weird to me that there were two of them. Two placentas, two sacs of water, two umbilical cords.

When I had Peyton, delivering the placenta was easy as pie. I think I pushed one time and out it came. It was a little bit more difficult with twins. I don't remember pushing them out, and this is the part of my labor that starts to get fuzzy.

Dr. Kennedy had already been "up there" getting baby B out, so having her up there again to deliver the placentas wasn't exactly something new but it was the strangest feeling I've ever had. Even more weird than her up there trying to find baby girl's feet to pull out.

Apparently my uterus wasn't contracting enough to get them out on their own, or to stop the bleeding. My nurse, whose shift had already ended, was still in the OR with me while Dr. Kennedy tried to get control of things. She kept telling me how beautiful the twins were, what an amazing thing I had done, and how amazing I did through the labor and delivery. She was "petting" my hair while I just laid there and worried about what Dr. Kennedy was doing. Why wasn't the bleeding stopping? What would happen if they couldn't get it under control?

Sarah, my sister, in her wonderful hospital OR get-up was holding baby A and I could tell he was just so perfect. I wanted so badly to get out of this horrifying room with what seemed like way more than 4 white walls. This was the time when I really took in my surroundings. I felt like I was in some horror film for awhile, awake during an operation gone wrong. The oddest, scariest feeling I'd yet to experience.

Dr. Kennedy was still working on things, and instructed the nurse to give me more pitocin. This was strange to me, since I had already had the babies. It was to help my uterus contract more to hopefully get the bleeding under control and deliver the placentas.

Finally everything was under control from what I understood, and I was able to go back to my room. I was able to hold that beautiful baby boy I'd delivered what seemed like hours ago. I was able to watch him get his first bath in the sink, get all his measurements, and just stare at him.

But it felt like something was missing. E & S, for one. My sister called and talked to them (who were STILL in Paris), and they were sobbing with joy. So excited for their babies to be here and HEALTHY. And so anxious to get on their plane and head here to meet them. I wanted so badly for them to be there with me, to be experiencing all of this. But baby B was missing, too. This was the first time that brother and sister had been apart. My heart was aching for them, to have gone so long side by side to now not be able to see each other.

And I wanted to see her, too! I wanted to hold them both together. Get to experience them seeing each other on the outside for the first time. I hated that she had to be in the NICU, she was doing fabulously with eating and breathing on her own, she was only stuck in there because she was so tiny. That little girl whose brother took most of the nutrients, it seemed! Almost two pounds smaller!

The hospital so graciously supplied a really nice camera they use for births to take all of the "first" photos of everything. They captured an incredible moment when Sarah handed me baby boy for the first time. And they were able to take pictures of baby girl in the NICU to show me. She was absolutely beautiful, but covered in heart monitors and the pacifier they gave her was almost as big as her face! I wanted to go to the NICU, I wanted to hold her. I hated being separated from her, and hated that baby boy was off with nurses and not in my arms.

I knew that the next couple days would be difficult, because of that exact feeling I was experiencing. I didn't want to let go of them, not yet at least. As miserable as I had been while I was pregnant, I felt like I was robbed of 3 weeks that I was supposed to have with them inside me, time to be ready to say goodbye. I wasn't ready for that, not yet.

My nurse had me hooked up to magnesium after the delivery because of the preeclampsia. I was to be on it for 24 hours (if I remember correctly) and I couldn't drink anything until it finished. It was to help prevent seizures and any other complications that preeclampsia causes. I remember being absolutely insanely thirsty and begging the nurse to bring me something to drink. Something, anything! She said I could have a couple sips of water and some ice chips, but it just wasn't cutting it. I wanted to chug an entire gallon of water. My body was exhausted from everything it had just gone through, and still healing of course.

The nurses took baby boy to the nursery for the night so that we could all rest, and my sister went home to be with my nephew. I was on a lot of pain medication, still, and the magnesium wasn't making me feel the greatest anyway, so I was thankful for peace and quiet but longing to just sleep with a baby in my arms.

They came to take me to my postpartum room in the middle of the night, after monitoring me for awhile in my laboring room. I remember that my mom had taken her sleeping pill once all the commotion was over and my nurse had to shake her awake.

I still hadn't seen baby girl, not since Dr. Kennedy pulled her out of me. I was determined to see her before they took me to my new room, and I got my wish. They wheeled me to the NICU and weaved in between a lot of machines and cabinets to get to her. She was so tiny, smaller than I remembered her being when I saw her for that brief moment. But she was absolutely gorgeous.

They let me hold her for a little bit, but I was so dazed from all the medicine that I was falling asleep holding her. They said she was doing great and hopefully would only have to be in the NICU for a total of 24 hours. That couldn't come soon enough.

I went to my postpartum room and slept probably more than I had in the last two to three months. Thank you to my hot anesthesiologist, Adam, for that one.  

10 lbs 6 oz of perfection

July 24, 2012

It was finally here. After all this time, and all of this pain, the day was here. They started the induction at 6am. I had barely slept for more than an hour the night before, way too anxious for things to get started.

I was exactly 35 weeks along, meaning the babies wouldn't be required to go to the NICU when they arrived, but still there was a good chance of it.

The nurse came in at 6am to start the pitocin. By 9 am my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds each. Surprisingly, I was doing really well with the contractions and pain. Remembering back to my labor with Peyton, I would have already been screaming for pain medication at this point.

I sat in the rocking chair they had in my room with those wonderful hospital socks on, rocking back and forth through each contraction. I was sick of being in bed, since I had spent most of my time in that bed for the last couple weeks.

My wonderful nurse, the same one that had been advocating for me this whole time to be induced, was on shift until 7:30pm and we were determined to have her there for the delivery. She was the one person at the hospital keeping me somewhat sane through all of this, and that I knew cared.

At this particular hospital they have anesthesiologists specifically for the Labor & Delivery floor, because of the high number of births they have there every month. They told me the average number, which I of course can't remember, but it was something ridiculous. They had one of the anesthesiologists from the L&D team come and talk to me about the plan for pain medication once I needed it. They wouldn't let me not get an epidural, or a spinal (whichever I chose), because of the high chance that they would have to do a c-section. It's not like I would opt NOT to get one anyway. I am not that crazy.

I sent a text to Caryn shortly after Adam (my soon to be best friend with the drugs) came in to discuss the epidural and risks associated and told her he was "HOT!" It definitely doesn't hurt having hot doctors helping you out when you're in labor. Not really the best time to flirt, though. "Hey, I know I'm a whale right now and about to deliver twins... but maybe we could grab coffee sometime?" Yeah, RIGHT! If only.

The plan was for the doctor to check my cervix for dilation at 9:30am, but my contractions had slowed down for awhile so they turned up the pitocin and would check me around 10 instead.

Unfortunately, at 10 nothing had really changed with my cervix. I was about 2 cm dilated and that was not going to cut it. They would have to turn up the pitocin even more and hope that it did the trick. The OB (not MY actual doctor) that came in said that there was a chance that I could be stuck at 2 cm for awhile and that the induction (pitocin) might not even work. That was not what I needed to hear!

At around 1pm, what seemed like an eternity later, MY OB came in to check on how things were progressing. I was having "wonderful" contractions, still no medication at this point, but when she checked my cervix I was only about 3-4 cm dilated at that point. So, in 3 hours I had progressed maybe 1 to 2 cm's. We needed to get this thing going, or I wasn't going to have my nurse for delivery.

E & S were still not in the U.S. yet, nor had they even boarded the plane. The whole time difference was making things a little difficult, and it wasn't that easy to find last minute flights from Paris to Seattle. (They were flying to Seattle because it was a direct flight and they couldn't find one to Portland.) It was becoming apparent that they wouldn't be there for the birth of the twins, but I could only have one person with me when I delivered them, anyway.

Because it was twins, because there was a possibility of a breach delivery, and because of the high risk of a c-section, I would deliver the twins in an operating room. All of my laboring was done in my room, and they would wheel me to the operating room when it became time to push. So the plan was for my mom to be with me. As soon as the boys arrived, whenever that happened, they would get arm bands to be able to have the babies in their own room (which I thought was awesome the hospital provided) and be able to go to the NICU, if that's where the twins ended up.

My OB decided that to get things going quicker she would break the water of baby A and hopefully that would speed things up. It was the strangest feeling when she did it, and soon the bed was soaked. My water broke on its own with Peyton, so I never had experienced it this way. I think they probably changed the bedding a few times after that.

Less than an hour after she broke baby A's water, the contractions were getting more and more intense. I asked for my hot doctor friend to come in and start the epidural. It went way more smoothly then when I had gotten one with Peyton, and I started to feel better pretty quickly.

At about 4:30 they checked my cervix again and I was at 5 cm dilated, but I was already starting to feel pressure from baby A. I went from a 5 to a 7 in less than an hour and was certain the twins would be there soon.

Around 6pm or so is when it really started to get intense. The epidural was working wonders on the bottom half of my body, but I suddenly had the worst pain I have ever experienced, ever, in my left arm. I described it as a charley horse multiplied by about 1,000 times worse pain. Adam came back in to try and give me more pain medication, and more, and more, but nothing seemed to help. I was screaming, very loudly, and began to panic. I told my sister I couldn't do it, that I wanted them to just do a c-section and get the babies out.

Another nurse came in to help with everything, to try and get me to stop screaming, I'm sure, but literally nothing at all would make this pain I was having go away. I could feel the affects of all the pain medication they gave me everywhere but where I needed it.

She checked me again and I was at 10cm ready for the babies to be delivered, and it was time for me to be wheeled to the operating room. I was panicing, still in extreme pain, but I knew my mom wouldn't be able to handle what was coming. I was crying, sobbing, really, begging my mom to be okay with my decision to have Sarah come in the room with me instead. I felt terrible, this had been the plan all along for her to be there, but she didn't do well with the kind of pain I was in. Sarah was a CNA, she had to be my rock.

Once I made it to the operating room, they wanted me to push. Once baby A was delivered, they would see what baby B was going to do and either deliver her breach or do a c-section. I didn't want a c-section and would do anything I could to avoid it. As scary as a breach delivery sounded, a c-section seemed so much worse.

Because of the enormous amount of pain medication they had given me to try and help with my "charley horse," I couldn't feel anything that was going on "down there." The doctors and nurses telling me to push did no good because I couldn't tell if what I was doing was the right thing or not, everything was numb.

There were a crazy amount of people in the operating room, two OB's (mine and another), nurses, Adam, my sister, more nurses, etc. They were all "encouraging me" to push and "hard" to get baby A out. I wanted to scream at all of them to shut up! I had no idea what I was doing, and my arm still hurt extremely bad. And of course they wanted me to try and use that arm to pull back on my legs while pushing to make it more effective. Didn't they know that I was in pain and that arm was pretty much useless?

By the time I got angry enough at everyone for not understanding, I finally got a hang of the pushing thing and used all that anger to get baby A out. He was beautiful, absolutely perfect at an even 6 lbs. Such a big baby for being 5 weeks early!

His sister was born only 6 minutes later, even though to me it felt like an eternity in between the two of them. My OB had to reach for her feet while looking at her with an ultrasound machine they brought in the operating room. She wasn't turning, and they wanted her out ASAP. She grabbed onto her feet, and I pushed and pushed continuously for what also seemed like forever until she was out. Feet first and arm up next to her head, but she was out! 4 pounds, 6 oz and she was just as perfect as her brother. A little discolored, but still so perfect.

7:22pm and 7:28pm, finished just two minutes before my nurse was done for the day. I was exhausted, still in pain, but incredibly happy. Seeing them made everything else disappear.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Full up

No one could figure out exactly why the blood was causing all this chest pressure, but as soon as they had stopped the IV I started to feel a lot better. The answer to me was easy, my body had enough of this pregnancy and trying to add more liquid was just making it have to work that much harder. But, no one else (at least the doctors) seemed to care.

The doctor's plan was just to wait a little bit and try to start the IV again. There was a specific amount of time that they had to get the blood into my system, or they would have to get a whole new bag. All that red tape they had to cross, i's dotted and t's crossed sort of thing.

After waiting a "little bit," the nurse started the IV again. She flushed it first to make sure the tubing was clear, and it stung so incredibly bad I almost screamed. OUCH! That could not be normal.

She (the nurse) thought that maybe it was just the saline she used to flush it that stung, which didn't make sense to me, but she started the blood anyway. OUCH! This clearly was not working, and it hurt way too bad to continue. Maybe the IV slipped in the vein so it wasn't in the right spot anymore, or something, but I was not having it. No way I could stand HOURS of time for this blood to pump in me with this pain. Yet, another bump in the road.... what else could go wrong?

The IV had been in for many days at this point, ever since I got admitted again this last time. (At this point I had no idea how long I'd been in the hospital, exactly, it just seemed like FOREVER.) So we decided to just take that IV out and start a whole new one. That meant waiting for the IV team to come in. Tick tock, tick tock. We needed to get this thing going, and SOON! I did not want to have to wait anymore for this and the time for the blood to still be "good" was running out. It took a certain number of hours for each bag to go through my system, too.

Finally, the IV team came, started a new IV and we got the blood going. We were all looking at the clock this time, hoping I made it through the 15 minutes that I was oh so close to last time. I think we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when that time came, and all was still going well.

My mom and sister Sarah were finally up at the hospital with me, and waiting anxiously for all of this to be over with so they could meet the twins. Out of everyone, even E & S, I think I was the most anxious. It had seemed like an eternity since I first decided to do this, since meeting E &S, since the embryo transfer, confirmed pregnancy test and first ultrasound. I couldn't believe that soon, (as soon as possible I hoped), it would all be over.

At 10pm that night (July 23rd) I FINALLY was "full up" on blood. Because it was so late, my OB decided not to induce me until 5am the next day and let me get some rest that night. I knew there was no way I would actually sleep, but didn't have a choice in the matter. 7 more hours until induction... I could wait that. 7 hours was nothing compared to everything else.

A hiccup in the plans

The plan was in place, E & S were figuring out flights and I was sitting in the hospital waiting for the nurses to start the blood transfusion.

There was a little bit of confusion when Sandy called E & S at first, they somehow thought that the twins were already here! They called my mom and were sobbing with excitement over the birth of their babies. She straightened things out and told them that I still had to "start the work" to get them here, first. It is sometimes hard to find the right words to say that will translate to what they understand in French. But, finally we got the message across. They would work on getting flights figured out, and I would work on getting blood in my system so I could get the babies out.

The whole blood transfusion process is a pretty lengthy one. Two nurses have to be present and double check each others work and scan everything in the system, scan my hospital bracelet, etc. Blood isn't something you want to just mess around with! They got two bags of A+ blood and went through all their procedures, and finally it was time to start.

Thankfully I already had my IV in, so they just hooked it up to that. Caryn (my nurse friend from California) told me that I needed to tell them IMMEDIATELY if I felt any kind of chest pressure, since this would just add to the already ridiculous amounts of liquid that my heart was having to pump through my body.

Once they started the first bag of blood, they had to stay with me for 15 minutes to make sure that I didn't have any negative reactions, etc. I was feeling fine for the first 13 minutes, and felt confidence that this was going to work. This was going to happen and I was going to get induced shortly afterward. Things were finally going to go my way.

At about 14 minutes in, though, I felt like someone was sitting on my chest. It was making it rather hard to breathe, and of course the nurse didn't like it when I told her that. She immediately stopped the IV, got another nurse and called the OB on call. Could this really be happening right now? I needed this to work. And the OB said very clearly that if I didn't get this blood transfusion, they wouldn't induce me.

With everyone running around frantically around me, trying to figure out what the problem was, and what the next step would be, I just laid there feeling miserable. Here I was so close to being able to not be pregnant, to start healing and get back to normal, and here comes this bump in the road potentially preventing me from getting induced until weeks from now. When was this going to end?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Telling E & S

We finally had a plan, and it was time to call E & S and tell them that their babies would be here soon!

As soon as I finished talking with my OB, I picked up my phone to find an email from them. What perfect timing! It was a picture of the nursery for the twins, all finished and absolutely adorable. I had no doubt, though. And they had names picked out! It was a good thing, too, because I was about to tell them those babies were going to be here within probably the next 24 hours. (Or at least that's what I was hoping.)

Obviously I wouldn't be able to call France from the hospital phone, and my phone was getting horrible service most of the time. Thankfully I had wi-fi so I could email my mom and get some texts intermittently, but I needed someone to call and share the good news!

I called my mom from the hospital phone and asked her to call for me, or to call Sandy at NWSC and have her try. I wished so badly I could be the one to tell them, but I would see them soon enough.

Mom got ahold of Sandy and she said she would call for us. Thank goodness! One less thing for us to worry about, and I could focus on getting ready for labor. As scared as I was, I was so happy that the time for me to not be pregnant and miserable anymore was right around the corner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blood Transfusion and A PLAN

Early Monday morning (July 23rd) the doctor on rounds had ordered more blood work. I was so used to being poked by needles at this point, I just stuck my arm out and said "Here ya go!" The phlebotomist looked at me funny, but it wasn't really a joke. I had more needle holes in my arms than my 4 1/2 year old could count. And, he was a pretty good counter!

The test came back a little later, and the doctor was convinced he had a solution to my problem. The problem being my constant headache. No one seemed to focus on the swelling, protein in my urine, high blood pressure, or any of the other symptoms I was having. They just wanted to tackle the headache so that I could be "more comfortable" in the last few weeks of pregnancy. They were convinced that my headache, as painful as it was, was causing the heightened blood pressure. I disagreed, but, then again, I disagreed with about 99% of everything they had told me since I was admitted. Until they told me they agreed I needed to be induced, then I really didn't believe anything coming out of their mouths. 

His solution was this: a blood transfusion. My blood count was significantly low and he had in his head that giving me blood was going to release tension on my head, or some nonsense like that. I didn't believe him. And, the thought of putting someone else's blood in my body was not a pleasant one. 

I was all alone at the hospital, and I honestly didn't know much about blood transfusions. I needed some advice. My friend Caryn is a nurse, and I asked her opinion. She agreed that it didn't seem as though the blood transfusion would help with my headache, that only actually delivering the twins via vaginal delivery or c-section would actually cure it. But, based on my blood levels (which I know nothing about, also) she said it was a good idea. Especially if I ended up having a c-section, I would want to make sure I had enough blood in my body in case I lost a lot during surgery. 

After talking to Caryn, I decided that it would probably be a good idea. As scared as I was about it, I trusted Caryn over any doctor I had seen so far. And I wasn't about to die during c-section because I didn't have enough blood. 

Minutes later, MY OB walked in my room. Yes, MINE! Boy was I glad to see her. She came in to talk to me because the other OB, recommending the blood transfusion, told her that I had some concerns. She could tell that I was miserable, she could see just how swollen I had gotten, and she knew that I wanted the babies out and ASAP. 

The best thing I had heard since I got to the hospital, or for a LONG time really, was the next thing she said. "After the blood transfusion, we can start induction." FINALLY!!!!!! A plan!!!!! I couldn't believe my ears. Was this really happening? I needed to call E & S and STAT. Oh, and my mom! And EVERYONE. This was the best news, ever!

I mentioned to her that the other OB, the one who ordered the transfusion, wanted me to have a c-section because baby B was breach. She said that even if baby B was breach we could still do a vaginal delivery, and that if she didn't turn after baby A came out that they could do a breach extraction and pull her out by her feet. This was something we had discussed previously, as well. She reminded me though, that it's not always possible to do a breach extraction because she could be butt down, or some other extremity. And there was still a chance of c-section after baby A was born. As scared as I was to have a c-section, especially after having the first baby vaginally, I still wanted to try vaginal delivery for both. Baby B could still turn! 

So that was the plan, blood transfusion then induction. She said we could start shortly after the transfusion was done. And, it usually took about 4 hours or so to complete. So, that meant I'd be induced around 6 that night! Holy cow, this was really happening! 

Being Selfish

By Sunday afternoon, there was no plan to induce or do a c-section. So, I was back to being at the hospital by myself. My mom had to go home because she had work in the morning.

Nothing had changed, only that I felt worse and worse as the days went on. I was bawling my eyes out from the pain, and even though my AMAZING nurse was advocating for me, the doctors wouldn't budge. None of them wanted to the "the one" to make the decision to induce me early if something went wrong. Or if the twins weren't healthy.

I didn't think I could handle it anymore. Emotionally and physically I was at my breaking point and knowing that I wanted to have a vaginal delivery, I needed to find SOME energy to go through labor. I didn't have any left. I would lay in bed dreading just getting up to go to the bathroom. The ONLY thing that I found to help was the jacuzzi tub they had on the floor. I used it often, but even then, the fix was only temporary.

And I was back to being alone, and it made my emotional state just that much worse. I couldn't sleep to get things off my mind, I couldn't do anything but watch hours and hours of worthless TV. Reading was out of the question because my head hurt too terribly bad.

Talking to my friends, I had to decide if I were going to call E & S or not. Eventually, something would be done and they would induce me. Did I call them now and risk the doctor not actually inducing until weeks later? Or did I wait?

They already had plane tickets purchased for a specific date, what I thought was July 31st or so. If I wasn't going to actually have the babies, and they jumped on a plane, it would cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars to change their flights. I had to make a decision, but I knew many people wouldn't agree. I would wait until the doctor gave me the 100% go ahead that I was being induced, or that they were going to do a c-section. It was the only way that I could feel at ease with it all.

I sent this to a friend on Monday morning. (July 23rd)

Being honest, I'm scared beyond what I imagined about labor. I know I have done it before but it wasn't the best experience last time. (not that any labor really is). I'm scared I won't be able to handle the pain. Scared of what will happen if baby B doesn't turn. Scared of a c-section. And the thought of having the boys here pacing the halls waiting to know if I'm getting induced or not doesn't make it any better. Yes, it is their babies. Yes they deserve to be here. But at the same time, this part is about me. The labor part.

I was being selfish. And I hardly ever am. But, at that point I was just so done with everything that I needed to make it as easy as possible on me. I would tell the boys as soon as I knew anything, but with as many times as I had been told that I was possibly going to be induced, I had zero faith in it. I would believe it when it was ACTUALLY happening. Or when I talked to MY OB about it. I still wanted to see her, but she wasn't on rounds. She wasn't the one who could make the decision. I had to put up with the other doctors, as much as I hated that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Don't Eat Breakfast yet

On Saturday morning, after another sleepless night, I was still feeling miserable. But, I had a new nurse and she started my day out with HIGH hopes.

She came in to weigh me and give me my morning pills. Prenatal vitamin, iron pill and some other pill I don't remember. She told me, "Don't order breakfast yet." Um, okay? Then... here came the high hopes. "You understand why, right? You have to have an empty stomach for a c-section." 

Where was this coming from? Up until this point I had been told, absolutely not, that the babies wouldn't be coming out until 37 weeks or if it got to the point where my life was being threatened by staying pregnant. (I already felt like that, but... the doctors had other viewpoints on it.)

I already loved this nurse, and I had just met her. But, what did she know that I didn't? I listened, though, and waited to order breakfast. I didn't care how hungry I was, if I was going to get these babies out today I would wait all day to eat. 

Although, I'd never talked about a c-section. Up til this point, I had said that I wanted to try and have them both vaginally. I didn't want to have all that extra healing time, nor did I like the idea of being sliced open. I was getting really scared, but as always things didn't go my way anyway. The on-call doctor came in to talk to me, the same female OB that I very much disliked who wasn't even part of the perinatology group I see. She told me that the babies needed to stay in longer. If they were born now, they'd end up in the NICU. I was 34 weeks and 4 days along. Of course they would end up in the NICU, but they would VERY likely be very healthy babies. I, however, was not healthy. More frustration and more feeling like no one was caring about ME. The babies were going to survive. A lot, a LOT, of twins were born way earlier than almost 35 weeks and did perfectly fine. Why was it that they were being so stubborn about the babies staying in longer? Were they worried that because I was a surrogate things would be different with the babies in the NICU? 

None of it made sense to me. I kept hearing different stories from every OB that was on rounds at the hospital, and I hadn't even seen my primary OB since she admitted me on Thursday. Guaranteed she would be willing to induce me. Where the heck was she?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Say Yes to the Dress

What an odd title for this blog post, is what you're probably thinking. But how fitting it truly is. My mother can vouch for that.

July 19th, only a matter of days since I was released from the hospital the last time, I went in for my weekly OB visit and non-stress test. I still had a headache, and this time I had gained another 4 pounds, my blood pressure was even more elevated at 129/92 and the swelling had only gotten worse. To top it all off, I had been throwing up since the night before. I felt like my body was deteriorating every day. I wanted to get these babies out of me, and ASAP. My body surely couldn't handle being pregnant much longer.

I was being admitted to the hospital again, and waiting on blood work to come back to see if I was going to be induced. The protein in my urine was significantly higher than last week, according to my OB. And clearly things weren't getting better with everything else. I waited to be wheeled over to the hospital, yet again, this time hoping I wouldn't be leaving until the babies were here.

A couple hours after being in the L&D wing of the hospital, my BP was only getting worse. And, I was actually having contractions. As much as they hurt, I was glad! Maybe this meant the babies were coming. My nurse and OB said that they wouldn't stop labor if it happened, so I was hoping and praying that this was it. But, it wasn't. My contractions stopped and I was just back to being miserable for what felt like no reason.

They were doing another 24-hour urine test like they had done last time I was here to check the extent of the protein level. The blood work came back "normal" according to them. But, it didn't make sense to me. How could everything else be so extremely abnormal, and my blood work say everything was fine?

I tried sleeping, but was unsuccessful. I'd given up on them trying to get rid of my headache, as clearly nothing had helped up to this point. Why put medicine into my body if it's not doing a damn thing? It could only harm me, or worse, the twins. I wasn't about to let that happen.

The next morning, after spending the night alone in the hospital, the morning nurse came in to check on me. The OB on the floor had ordered for my weight to be checked, and overnight, less than 24 hours, I had gained another 5 pounds! Was this going to be a sign for them to finally do as I'd been asking and induce me? This couldn't be healthy, or normal.

I was told for sure they'd be keeping me at least another night, but at this point they wanted the babies to stay in longer because I wasn't 37 weeks yet and my blood counts were still looking good. How could I possibly stay pregnant and like this, or worse, for another 3 weeks almost?

My mom came up to Portland to stay with me so at least for now I didn't have to be alone. If the babies weren't coming, and there was no plan for induction, she'd have to go back home on Sunday night. Until then, though, we watched more TV than she's watched in probably her whole life. And yes, you may have guessed, a LOT of Say Yes to the Dress. At least now I know what kind of wedding dress I'll want, if I ever get married. There was SOMETHING positive out of all this pain and suffering.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting prepared, as much as possible

After two days at the hospital, a completed 24-hour urine test, and not too bad of hospital food, I was sent home. My OB said that my blood work and urine test came back "normal" and she was ruling out preeclampsia.

If this was the case, why did I still have a headache? Why was my blood pressure still elevated, and why was I still swollen like a cow? I wasn't convinced, but I was glad to be out of the hospital.

I knew that while I still had time, I needed to get myself prepared for when I actually delivered the twins. That meant shopping for some travel size toiletries and getting some comfortable nightgowns to wear at the hospital. I was not about to wear a hospital gown the whole time, like I had to these last couple days.

After that was taken care of, I felt a little bit better. I knew that I surely wasn't going anywhere without that hospital bag, since clearly I didn't know when I would be admitted to the hospital again.

So, I was prepared, or somewhat. At least I had a bag packed and ready for the hospital. Emotionally, though, that was a different story.

I wrote this on my mom group on July 18th:

I am seriously miserable. I'm in tears because I'm so damn uncomfortable. It hurts to walk, to bend down to sit, to stand up from the toilet, to sleep, to do anything.

I feel useless because I can't take care of Peyton, my house is a disaster and all I want are for these babies to come out.

It was one of the worst feelings ever. I could barely take care of myself because everything hurt SO bad. The doctors didn't seem to care that I had a headache that wouldn't go away. While I was at the hospital they threw all sorts of medicine my way to try and relieve the pain, but nothing helped. Morphine every two hours didn't even make a dent in the pain. I could barely sleep because it was uncomfortable, for one, and for two my head was constantly throbbing. What had I gotten myself into? And why didn't anyone seem to care? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hospital, again!

July 12th came and I was ready for my OB visit. I was just over 33 weeks pregnant. If you remember, I'd gained 6 pounds in about a week at my last appointment. I was hoping, just maybe, that I wouldn't have gained any more since then. Boy was I wrong. Up another 8 pounds! 14 pounds in just over two weeks. This was getting ridiculous.

My swelling hadn't decreased by any means, and clearly that was what most of the weight gain was coming from. I was drinking as much water as I could, but it seemed my body was simply holding onto it.

When I got to the appointment they asked me the standard questions I was used to by now. Have you experienced a headache recently? Why yes, for about a week now. Have you noticed any swelling? Um... can't YOU notice it? Have you had any blurred vision? Yes... And your BP seems to be elevated as well. I had a feeling I was answering the questions in all the wrong ways.

My OB came in and was pretty concerned with how I'd answered the questions. All of the symptoms I had were all indications of preeclampsia. From my understanding of preeclampsia at the time, that meant GET THE BABY(IES) OUT! I thought I'd be super excited about that because I was completely miserable. But, when my OB said she wanted me to be admitted to Labor & Delivery ASAP, I got more scared than I thought possible.

I cried, and cried and cried some more waiting for the transport over to the hospital. Thankfully, my OB's office was in the same parking lot as the hospital and the transport simply meant a wheelchair. I was still pretty panicked when they got there, and when I got settled into my room. My OB had ordered a 24-hour urine test to check the level of protein in my urine, as my dipstick test had shown a good amount. Yet another sign of preeclampsia. If the test came back that the level was too high, I could be having the babies tomorrow.

I was all by myself, as I usually was at these appointments, and didn't have my phone charger with me. I had NOTHING with me for that matter. I hadn't packed for the hospital yet, because I assumed I had more time. And I was all the way up in Portland, where the rest of my family was down in Corvallis. I HATE hospitals, as most people do, and being alone made it that much worse. Why had I decided to do this while single? Why, why, why? I couldn't think rationally at this point.

I asked my OB what her thoughts were on calling E & S, because of course they would want to be here if the babies were coming. She suggested not jumping the gun, because the urine test could come back perfectly normal tomorrow. So, I waited... anxiously. But, I waited nonetheless. I had no other choice, really.

Camping and Pregnancy: seemed like a good idea at first

I'd been back to work just about a month, but it was time for a break. My sister and her friends were going camping for the 4th of July and I thought that'd be a good break from the real world.

On the 3rd, I'd scheduled a non-stress test and an office visit with my OB. Up until this point, I had only gained 20 pounds in the pregnancy. Awesome, right? Until I stepped on the scale that day. I was up 6 pounds just from my last visit not much more than a week ago. Yikes!

They did an ultrasound and non-stress test and the babies looked fantastic. Aside from the fact that between the two of them they already weighed a little bit over 9 pounds! WHOA! That's a LOT of baby. More than I'd carried my whole pregnancy with Peyton, since he was only 7 lb 14 oz when he was born at 41 weeks. That might explain all that weight gain.

I was cleared to go camping, although my OB said I was crazy! I'd done it while I was pregnant with Peyton, it wouldn't be too hard! (I hoped.)

First day of camping, and boy was it nice to be away from the "real world." No cell phone service meant no Facebook notifications, no emails, and nothing to worry about. Or so I thought.

After just one day of being there (and I'm positive it was not the cause) I started to swell up a LOT in my feet and ankles. And let me assure you, I was by no means out hiking a mountain or running around. I was CAMPING for goodness sake. For pregnant me, that meant watching the kids run around and sitting by the campfire all day hoping I'd get the sympathy I needed from my sister to not have to do much. It worked, thankfully. But, even the slightest amount of time standing, including walking a little bit to the bathroom, my feet got even worse. I had to prop my feet as often as I could, but this was getting absolutely uncomfortable. I had had swelling with Peyton, but only a few days before I had delivered.

By the time I returned home from camping, I was even more miserable. My toes were so chubby I could barely move them. Thankfully I had another scheduled appointment with the OB to check on things, because I was convinced as "normal" as swelling was, this was not.

Back to the grind

After all the time I had been on bed rest, in and out of the ER, and just feeling downright miserable, my doctor determined that I could actually go back to work. She limited to me 4 hours a day maximum with a 15 minute break in between. And I was to remain seated for most of my scheduled shift. (I knew already that this was not likely.)

Could this really be happening? Was I really going back to work? Although I was glad to finally get some social interaction, May 27th was one of the hardest days in my pregnancy so far. Yes, even with all that I'd been through thus far.

At least I looked cute... somewhat. You can be the judge:

I was going to a new branch, where I knew absolutely no one. As outgoing as I may seem, I was scared to death. No one here knew my story, but it was obvious I was pregnant. Do I tell them I'm a surrogate and open a book of worms? Or do I just go with the fact that these are my twins I'm carrying? That's what I did in public most of the time.

No, they might realize after me coming back from maternity leave that I didn't have all these pictures of babies, and that I wasn't nearly as tired as a new mom with twins would be. Eventually, I would have to tell them the truth. But, to customers, these were my babies. It was hard enough being out in public, clearly pregnant, and not having a wedding ring on my finger. I was not about to go into the lengthy story that I was a part of.

After a week or so back at work, I was starting to get the hang of not laying in bed all day. I had some good interactions with my coworkers, and really started becoming friends with one in particular. I likely wouldn't have gotten through my days without her. Thanks Ashley!

I finally opened up and told the girls at work that I wasn't having the twins for me, but for a couple from France. I left out most of the details, but at least they knew they weren't mine.

The staying seated for the 4 hours thing was NOT working, although like I said I knew it wasn't likely. I was constantly standing and walking around the branch the whole time. The only time I was seated was the short periods of time I was helping a customer. By the end of my 4 hours, I was exhausted and ready to sleep the remainder of the day. If I kept this up, it wouldn't be good for my pregnancy. We'd see how long it would be before my OB took me off again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Am I a good enough surrogate?

Back when I signed up for this whole thing, I imagined the relationship between me and the Intended Parents being absolutely perfect. We would talk all the time throughout the pregnancy, they would come to doctor appointments, and we would share all of the little moments of pregnancy together. The first kicks, ultrasounds, hiccups, etc.

Having Intended Parents that live in Paris makes that a little difficult. They were able to be here to see me at the early stage of pregnancy, but I wouldn't see them again until the babies were born, or shortly before that. Going to doctor appointments alone was fine in the beginning, but I was starting to feel like I was doing this all alone. Even though I knew E & S would give anything to be there with me, it was hard only communicating through email.

Sandy from NWSC called to check on me, and to my surprise E & S had expressed their need for more updates or emails from me. I felt terrible. I wanted to give them the experience they dreamed of. I just didn't know how. Sometimes I would email them and not get a response for weeks, and I didn't want to bombard them with emails.

But, I made it a point to start emailing them weekly. Even though I felt like I was sending them the same type of emails every time, I knew they would appreciate it. At this point in the pregnancy, though, there wasn't much that was changing. I was still not working, still having a hard time sleeping, and the babies were moving around A LOT. What should my emails really include? Ultrasound pictures, of course, but only when I had them to share. Cravings? Did they really want to know that I ate an entire box of oreos to myself? (Ok, maybe not that WHOLE thing... but close!)

It was eating me alive inside thinking that I wasn't the surrogate they had expected. It still eats at me to this day just wondering if this whole thing was what they had dreamed of. This was the only time in their life they would ever experience something like this, and likely mine too. I wanted to make sure we were getting the most out of it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Growing Bump

With all of the hyperemesis, I hadn't gained much weight at all. In fact, April 24 was the first time I had any "documented" weight gain. Up until then it was "down three pounds, down seven pounds, down 10 pounds..." at least now I had officially put on some baby weight.

Here is a collage of my bump up until this point:

I was officially 22 weeks pregnant at this point, and went in for my check-up at Mother Joseph Plaza, where the Perinatology department was located.

First things first, they have me watch this "educational" video about Preterm labor and the signs to look for, etc. First of all, the movie was made in like 1980… and set in the NICU. They show you babies that are SUPER small, barely breathing, and hooked up to all sorts of machines. Stuff I have seen before, yes, but not stuff I want to look at while I'm carrying twins. Especially knowing that twins have a higher risk of being born premature. The Dr in the movie, if he even is a real dr, just throws out there that premature babies can DIE. Yes, another thing I know, but still… hello? You're showing this video to a PREGNANT woman… to pregnant women, in fact, since apparently they show it at all 20 week appointments. (Or close, since I'm 22 weeks.)

After suffering through the 8 minutes of the DVD, Dr Gesteland comes in and talks to me for a bit and decides its probably a good idea to do an ultrasound since Salem Hospital didn't even bother to check on the babies the night before. (I had gone in because I felt like I was leaking fluid.) No heartbeat check, nothing. She wants to make sure there is plenty of fluid in each sac and that my cervix is still nice and long. 

During the ultrasound, this little boy was nice and cooperative and we got a couple cute profile pictures of him. Baby girl, however, stubborn as usual. She was transverse and spine up so it was impossible to see her face. We could however see that her butt was literally right on top of her brother's head. Sibling rivalry at it's best. 

My cervix was nice and long, at like 4.3 CM. Nothing to worry about there, and there was plenty of fluid in each sac. Thank goodness!

Dr said to continue to drink lots of water, rest and no work at least until my next appointment (May 9th). I was beginning to feel like I'd never get sent back to work, because something was always happening with this pregnancy. Leaking of what seemed like fluid, dehydration... weird pain, etc. I felt like by the time they would tell me it was safe to work, it would be too close to delivery anyway and I'd just end up staying off work until the babies were born. We would see I guess!

Friday, June 29, 2012

One boy, one girl... two hearts beating wildly

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, it was confirmed on April 3rd that E & S are officially going to be having one boy and one girl!

As soon as they confirmed it via ultrasound, which took probably 60 seconds total (these two are NOT shy by any means) this song by Collin Raye immediately popped into my head.
"One Boy, One Girl" And I still think of it to this day when I am thinking about the twins. (Which, as you can imagine is pretty often.)

My mom went with me to the ultrasound, it was the first time I'd had anyone with me to any of the appointments aside from the embryo transfer. It was a nice change of pace. Going alone was all fine and dandy, but it got pretty lonely sometimes.

I emailed E & S IMMEDIATELY (I would have called but it was something like 2am over there.) and I couldn't wait for their response. I'm sure they would be ecstatic to know that the predictions were true. They could finally start shopping for blue and pink clothes, instead of the yellow and green clothes they'd been stuck buying.

Now that they knew the gender (or at least they would when they woke up) I couldn't wait to know what the names were. For now, I could call them baby boy and baby girl. It was much better than "baby a" and "baby b" that was for sure!

Putting my foot down!

By March 15, I had been sent to the ER another time, been in the nursing station and then actually admitted to the hospital that day. Dr. Lewis, whom I had actually requested to never see again, decided it would be best to finally admit me and have me on constant fluids for "a few days."

A couple days prior, I had requested to be referred to the Perinatology department up in Portland, who had done my 13 week genetic testing. I loved the OB up there and just the whole environment. They dealt specifically with high-risk pregnancies, and I was pretty sure I qualified. Dr. Lewis, as much as I LOVED him, was not pleased at the request and tried to assure me that "they could give me the same treatment here in Salem as the Perinatologists in Portland." HA! You mean, sending me to the ER every 3 days?

At least being admitted to the hospital meant that I had my own room and I was in the Labor & Delivery section of the hospital. In what they call the antipartum section. (Prior to delivery).

Being as dehydrated as I was, it took them 8 attempts that day to get an IV in me. They even had to call in an "IV therapist" to finally get one to stay. Talk about ouch!

It was the worst night I'd had in a long time, although I was actually hydrated for once. For longer than 5 hours at a time. I couldn't get comfortable with an IV stuck in my wrist, I had to pee more times than I can count and drag along my IV cart with me every time. It was a pain, and not something I wanted to have to keep doing.

I had taken my iPad and my phone with me, and there was a TV in the room, but it still didn't help. I wanted to be home, and STAT!

They gave me round the clock anti nausea medicine, Zofran every 8 hours and Reglan every 6. It was the doctor's hope that the combination of the two medications would finally help with the vomiting. At least for the first afternoon and night, it didn't. Everything I ate at the hospital made me throw up. (It could be that it was because it was disgusting hospital food, but I was still throwing up nonetheless.)

During the middle of the night I woke up with a pretty intense headache that just kept getting worse. They gave me tylenol at first, and when that didn't do anything they gave me percocet. My headache went away, but then I was pretty loopy the rest of the night, and beyond uncomfortable.

The next day, my sister Katie planned to come up and stay with me at the hospital since it was Friday and she didn't have to work the next day. By the time she got there, it was almost 7pm and I was having an anxiety attack. I asked to be sent home, I was clearly hydrated enough and the medicine was SORT of working. I had been throwing up, but not nearly as much as I had been before being admitted. I couldn't stand being there anymore, I wanted to go home and I wanted the IV out of me! The doctor on call gave the OK for me to head home, just warned me that if I had to be admitted again it would likely be for much, much longer of a stay.

I got prescriptions filled for Reglan and more Zofran so I could continue the round the clock of both of them. Fingers were crossed that it helped, I did not want to go back to the hospital until these babies were on their way out!

That following Monday I scheduled my 18-week appointment with the OB up at Perinatology and also the "BIG" ultrasound for the week after. April 3rd was the big day and I couldn't wait to see the twins again and confirm for E & S what "kind" of babies I was carrying.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cooking with E & S

On March 11, I finally got a break from feeling like I was dying and got reminded of why I was doing all of this.

E & S were in town visiting and offered to make dinner for me and my family. A homemade french meal, who could say no to that? I don't care how sick I'd been, I was determined to feel better, suck it up and have a great time with them. I had plenty of other days available to feel miserable.

I was so nervous to see them again, since the last time was before I had the embryo transfer. Although I'd felt like time was crawling, I couldn't believe how far we'd come! I was finally pregnant and actually showing that day. I think the twins wanted to show off to their daddies.

They got to Corvallis around 5 o'clock that day and were the cutest thing ever. Driving a Fiat they rented for their time here, and wearing their normal "French" attire of skinny jeans and sweaters. I still can't get over how adorable they are.

My sister Katie and my nephew Preston joined us for dinner, along with my Mom and Sarah and Jacoby (the nephew she was pregnant with when they met her originally). Where had the time gone? They had yet to meet Katie or Preston, and she was excited to meet the two men I couldn't stop raving about!

They brought all sorts of food with them, appetizers and two things to make for dinner. TWO things? Boy was this pregnant girl excited. (Just secretly hoping I could keep things down long enough to enjoy the French cuisine.)

Smoked salmon was what they had told me they were making, but it appeared to be a lot more elaborate than that! I helped to separate the salmon pieces while they did most of the hard work.

The first course turned out to be this AMAZING smoked salmon and shrimp little cake type thing, that had tabasco sauce and capers in it.

Let me tell you, it LOOKED amazing but tasted 100 times better. The next course was chicken wrapped in bacon. These men knew the way to this pregnant girl's heart! But, by the time I finished the salmon "cake" or whatever it was, I barely had room for the chicken.

Of course they brought what I imagine to be DELICIOUS wine with them from France, two bottles of Merlot that I couldn't stop staring at. My mom enjoyed it with them and I was stuck sipping on apple cider. Thankfully they only drank one bottle and I have the second bottle sitting on my kitchen counter just waiting to be opened! Likely it will be opened shortly after the delivery of the twins in celebration! (How far away is that again?)

After dinner, we sat and chatted about the upcoming events: the "big" ultrasound, the arrival of the babies and when they should arrive in Portland to be here for the birth. As cute as they are, it's hard to explain to them that there isn't really a set date for when they will be born. It could be anywhere between 32 weeks (or even earlier) to 40 weeks. And at this point, my doctor still planned on letting them make their appearance on their own accord.

They had been shopping in Portland the day before and brought some of their purchases to show us. Onesies and baby hats and mittens, and swaddlers! How exciting! I remember shopping being my favorite part in preparing for Peyton's arrival. They bought a super nice diaper bag, as well, that I will definitely have to search for if I ever have another child of my own.

Just in case they aren't able to be here for the birth, they suggested I take the diaper bag full of their purchases home with me and ready for when the babies are born. Even though I told them they won't need much while they are at the hospital, it made them feel more comfortable knowing the babies would have their OWN things.

It was brought up during conversation about how anxious they are to find out the genders of the twins, and my mom suggested they "talk to me about that!" Ah mom! I was trying so hard to not say anything to avoid getting their hopes up. But, I figured why not! It was the last time I was going to see them before the babies were born (or close to their birth) and at least I could share the early predictions with them in person.

E got out his iPhone and asked if we could record a video of me telling them. He recorded my sisters and mom saying who they were and what part they played in this whole adventure, and then they recorded me telling them (and reminding them it wasn't 100%) what the genders MIGHT be.

I wish you could have seen their faces. Even knowing that these predictions could be totally wrong, they were glowing with excitement. I'm pretty sure I saw some tears come out of S's eyes. I think he was most excited at the possibility of a girl. This way, they would have one of each!

After the recording of the predictions, they had presents to share! They had bought Peyton a Captain America car that came with a Captain America and some sort of missile thing that shot off the back. He was pretty excited!

For me, a book! It was called "The Secret" and it looked way fancier than any book I'd ever bought. Apparently when E & S read the book it changed their lives completely, and they hoped it would do the same for me. I couldn't wait to get started!

After taking pictures to document the history of it all, it was time for them to head back to Portland. Their flight home left the next morning and I'm sure they would be exhausted.

Hugs and "French" kisses helped say goodbye, and I was on cloud 9. It didn't matter how terrible I had felt up until that moment, even hours before their arrival, I remembered the exact reason I was going through all of this. E & S glowing with excitement seeing my belly growing, hearing of the gender predictions, and talking about the actual birth of their beautiful babies... it all made sense again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Could this get any worse?

March 2nd came around and I was still throwing up everything. Reglan didn't work, Zofran wasn't working, nothing!

I had a dr. appointment scheduled for that day and was hoping for some answers! When I saw Dr. Lewis and he asked how I was feeling, I was kind of like, really? you don't know how I am feeling? Haven't your nurses told you that I have been in the ER twice in the last couple weeks?

Apparently he wasn't aware. That made me really confident in Kaiser, although as I'm sure you can tell I was already more than irritated with them.

He did a bedside ultrasound to check on the twins, and then asked me, yes ASKED if I thought I should be admitted to the hospital because I'd been so sick and dehydrated. Last time I checked, I wasn't the doctor here. Are you really asking my opinion on what I think my care should be? I have no idea! You're supposed to tell me!

He came to the decision that we should send me upstairs to the nursing station for IV fluids to at least get me rehydrated. That's all they would do if he sent me to the ER or hospital anyway, so I figured why not?

I get to the nursing station, and to my surprise it is EXTREMELY nice in there. They have a leather chair that reclines for all of the patient rooms. WAY better than an uncomfortable ER bed, that's for sure. If I had to keep coming in for IV fluids, I would certainly choose this over the ER any day.

They got the IV all hooked up, after a failed attempt on my left arm. Literally, my left arm is always terrible for getting blood drawn or an IV put in. I even warned the nurse that she likely would have to use my right arm, but she was adamant that she could get it. Boy was she wrong and it HURT! For her to be able to hurt me with an IV is really saying something, because I felt like a pin cushion at this point.

Once the IV was in my RIGHT arm, like I had told her from the beginning, she started a bag of fluids, this time with something called thiamine in it. Apparently it is some sort of vitamin mixture which should help restore all that I'd been losing with the hyperemesis. Being that I was at the Kaiser nursing station, instead of the ER, they actually had an IV pump they were using instead of just letting it drip. Hopefully that meant I would be out of here WAY quicker than I was out of the ER.

The nurse asked me how the IV felt, and leaned my chair back so I could relax. Aside from still being nauseas it all felt fine to me and she said she'd come to check on me later.

Shortly after she walked out of the room, I felt like I was going to throw up. That would be normal for me, but then I felt like I was on fire, literally, and it was getting hard to breathe. I called for the nurse and could tell by her reaction when she walked in something was wrong. Apparently, I was as red as an apple. Her reaction only made me panic more and my breathing was turning into hyperventilation. I heard over the loud speaker in the building "Medical emergency in the nursing station. Medical emergency in the nursing station." Clearly, that was me.

A handful of EMTs rushed in the room, as they were turning off the IV. They gave me oxygen to help with my breathing and flushed the IV site with clear saline. Clearly, I was allergic to this "vitamin mix" they had given me.  As if constant vomiting wasn't bad enough, I got to go through the trauma of learning a new allergy, the hard way.

I was only 14 weeks pregnant and already I was done. This so far had been the worst experience of my life. I felt terrible saying and thinking that, but I was a mess. Emotionally, and physically. I couldn't keep anything down, I was STARVING and my clearly intelligent OB wasn't helping matters. All I wanted was to eat and drink like a NORMAL person. I would be fine throwing up once or twice a day, but to not be able to eat or drink ANYTHING was absolutely not ok.

I was lonely, realizing how terrible it was to be pregnant without a boyfriend/husband or SOMEONE there for me. My friends were MIA and my family lived an hour away. Peyton was with the babysitter all the time and I was home alone, going absolutely insane. It was bad enough feeling sick but to feel like I was living on a desolate island with no one to help me was even worse. I felt like I was never going to make it through the whole pregnancy. Why had I decided to do this again? Oh yes, because pregnancy with Peyton had been SO easy and I wanted to help E & S have a family. It was hard to think of that, though.

Genetic Testing and early gender predictions!

On February 21st, I had an exciting trip up to Portland for the 13 week genetic testing. This was all new to me as I never accepted the offered screening when I was pregnant with Peyton. There was no need! I didn't care one way or another for one, and two I was so young that my risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder was very slim.

The genetic testing consisted of both blood work and an ultrasound. At this point blood work was nothing to me, and I barely felt the prick of the needle. The ultrasound was the exciting part.

The tech was extremely nice and we got a ton of pictures of both babies, even a couple in 3D! I never had a 3D ultrasound with Peyton, so it was very interesting to see with these two. Especially since there were two babies!

My mom says she couldn't really tell what these 3D photos were supposed to show and it was more creepy than anything. I think it's awesome! Look at those two itty babies! 

The ultrasound tech made some early predictions of what they were, too! She said, and even showed me, that she was pretty sure there was one of each in there. One boy, one girl! How perfect is that? 

She told me not to tell the intended parents, E & S, until after the 20 week ultrasound because she didn't want to be wrong. How could I keep this a secret!? It was so exciting and I know they would be thrilled! 

But, what I know about E & S, they would also think it was 100% and start shopping galore! I should probably wait until it was 100% confirmed. 

The Dr. came in to talk to me after the ultrasound was done and said that all signs point to normal babies! She said of course we had to wait for the blood work, but from what was shown on the ultrasound there was a very small chance of any disorder. She also needed to know the age of the egg donor, to which I had no idea. I never was told, and never really needed to know. I guess a call to Carrie at ORM would help get that info!

Carrie was apparently out on leave, but I was told all that they could give me was her year of birth but not her age. Isn't that basically the same thing? Strange rules they have, I swear! Found out, though, that she was born the same year as me. It brought a lot of questions to mind about her, and why she had chosen to be an egg donor. I felt so much older than I am, having gone through all that I have in my life, but I imagined this super young girl that had no strings in her life and was just donating eggs for extra money. My imagination was all that I had, and all that E & S had besides her medical history. What made her decide to do something this big? How could she not wonder about all the babies she had helped create? 

For me, I could never be an egg donor, as I think I've mentioned before. It will be interesting enough to see how things pan out after the babies are born. I couldn't imagine having so many children running around out there that were MINE. Genetically, at least. 

The ER, my new home

On February 16th, I had my first of many trips to the ER for this pregnancy.

At around noon that day, I started feeling like someone was sitting on my chest and was having trouble taking deep breaths. Add that to the constant vomiting and I was a huge mess.

Because my insurance had switched to Kaiser, there were new rules I had to follow when it came to going to the ER or urgent care. I had to call first, and speak with the nurse advice line and be instructed to go to the ER or urgent care, based on what the situation was.

I think I called around 12:30, shortly after I realized the chest pressure wasn't going away. Of course, ALL of the nurses happened to be on lunch. "Really?" I thought. They couldn't stagger their lunches so that they were always available?

So the wonderful receptionist took a message for me of what was going on and said that a nurse would call me back. Awesome.

Literally, two hours later, I finally heard back. Apparently after lunch they have a daily meeting. How effective was that? Have everyone gone at the same time? Ridiculous!

I wasn't surprised when they sent me to the ER, but I was beyond frustrated at this point.

I got to the ER, checked in and was immediately seen. At least these people were efficient! My BP and my heart rate were elevated, and I had lost even more weight since the last time I was weighed. Down 7 pounds now.

They did an EKG and a chest x-ray to make sure it was nothing to do with my heart, and then hooked me up to an IV to get me rehydrated. All of the vomiting, what they referred to as "hyperemesis" or severe morning sickness during pregnancy, had severely dehydrated me.

After they confirmed that the EKG and x-ray were normal, they wanted to try and figure out how to stop the nausea and vomiting. I was already taking 3 Zofran a day, like clockwork, and it clearly wasn't working. They tried Pepcid to try and help with the chest pressure, thinking my esophagus was irritated from all the vomiting. The Pepcid almost immediately gave me blurred vision. I was texting my mom and sisters to let them know how things were going, since no one was able to come with me to the ER, and suddenly I could barely tell it was my phone in my hand. Apparently a common side effect of Pepcid. Not anything I'd ever want to take again!

After there was no change, aside from my vision, they tried Phenergan for the nausea. That didn't help either, and instead made me very restless. My legs would not sit still and I felt very anxious to get up and be active. And I STILL felt sick. This clearly wasn't working.

After being there over 5 hours, my sisters Katie and Sarah came up to sit with me while they figured out what was going on. Sarah, being a CNA, asked the nurse (really good looking one, might I add) if they wouldn't mind doing an ultrasound because up until this point of my visit they hadn't even bothered to check on the status of the babies. I was so out of it from all the medicine that I hadn't realized they were only concerned about me. Clearly it would be important to also make sure the babies were ok!

Per her request, they did an ultrasound and both babies were doing great. Baby "A" kicked baby "B" super hard while we were "watching" and it was literally the cutest thing ever. Already there was sibling rivalry and they had a LOT of time left to spend in there.

Once they confirmed the babies were okay, and that I wasn't experiencing any actual heart issues, they sent me home. I was to follow up with my OB in a couple days.

That night, my sisters and I went to Red Lobster and I was actually able to keep food down for once. Amazing! Apparently the combination of the IV fluids, Pepcid, Phenergan and the Zofran I was taking worked well enough to fight off the nausea for now. I took full advantage and ate like food was going out of style. Lots and lots of crab!

The weekend went by and I called to follow up with my dr that following Wednesday. A little more than a couple days later as instructed, but I finally had the energy to do something other than sleep and throw up. I still wasn't feeling any better and the night at Red Lobster was the only time I'd been able to keep food down, or water for that matter. I knew I was likely dehydrated, yet again.

When I called in, I was hoping just to schedule a follow up appointment but when asked why I ended up speaking with the advice nurse line again! They sent me straight to the ER. Go figure.

When I got to the ER, I was beyond frustrated that I wasn't seen right away. Shouldn't a pregnant woman take precedence over those who were likely there just to get pain meds and be sent home? I literally waited about 45 minutes before I was seen, but only because I finally put my foot down. I was getting worse just sitting in the waiting room and finally felt like I was going to pass out. They took me back to the triage room and checked my BP and it was 136/87. That finally got their attention!

I got hooked up to an IV, what would soon become a routine of mine, and then started to try more medicines to help with the nausea. I made sure to remind them that Pepcid and Phenergan were not good options!

After about 5 or so hours there, I was sent home again. This time with a prescription for a medicine called Reglan. It had seemed to work at the hospital, but they gave it to me with Benedryl and it basically just put me to sleep. We would see how well it worked once I was home!

I was pretty confident I'd be back in the ER soon, as I was there twice in a week in a half already. This pregnancy sure wasn't getting along with my body. And all I kept hearing from the dr's was that it was worse because it was twins. Thanks doc, real helpful!