Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unintentional insults

It's taken me a while to write this post, but I"m coming out of my deep dark hole and finally really processing how I am feeling and what I can do about it. So please, bare with me.

It's been three weeks since the day Baby S had surgery, and I'm still processing exactly what happened that day and how I feel about it. There were a few moments that still threaten to make me break down, no matter how hard I try to shove them into the back corner of my head and not let them bother me.

The first was the way everyone looked at me. The doctors know her adoptive parents well. They have seen them every week, or every other week, for the last 5 months, and their relationship is solid and unchanging. I'm the stranger. I don't like feeling like the outcast in an already tense and uncomfortable situation, like my beautiful baby having to have open heart surgery. I hate the way they look at me; I can just see the questions on their face "who is this girl and what is she doing here?"

But mostly, there's the things that people say. The little things, things that wouldn't bother any other parent, but that bother me because I"m not the same. I'm not the mom who didn't give up her baby because of a medical defect. I'm the mom who gave her baby to someone else to raise so that she could move past this pregnancy like I was supposed to from the beginning.

When I was sitting in the waiting room, while R and T were in the room with Baby S right after surgery, there were two other women there. Now, it was a small room, so there was no way to not hear what they were saying. I came to understand that each of them had a baby that was in the hospital, and had been for a while. One was a little baby girl, maybe about 3-4 weeks old, the other an older infant. The two women had obviously seen each other in the unit before, because they talked easily, they knew who each other were. This I expected; families with children that are having long-term stays in ICU usually bond with each other. What I didn't expect was to hear part of a conversation that would crush my heart and bring back all the guilt and indecision of the last few days before Baby S's adoption went through.

"Our doctors strongly encouraged us to terminate" out of the mouth of one mother.
"So did ours" from the other.
"How could I give up on my baby?"
"I don't understand how anybody could say they would do anything other than have and take care of their child".

And there I am, the mother who 'gave up' my baby. The one who fought past the talk of termination just to give her to another family to raise.. because she was too complicated and too difficult to do it myself.

I know, I know, how were they to know? They didn't know Who I am, why I was sitting there waiting for someone to tell me I could go see my Baby S. But there they were.. and how those words really really hurt. They're right. How could I? How could I give up on her and give her away so easily?

That conversation still haunts me. I see those women in my dreams, I hear their voices in my head all the time. And no matter how many times I justify to others, and to myself, that I did the right thing.. this thought of 'how could I?' still hangs over my head.

I know logically I did what was right.. and I know that nobody in the world would dare think that I gave up on Baby S after all all the fighting I did for her, but the battle in my head is bigger and stronger than I really know how to handle. I feel myself slipping down that slippery slope, and I am fighting so hard to stay afloat. I just hope I find a foothold soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You may notice things are changing. And I'm sorry to do it so suddenly, but it seems as though something needs to be done.

Baby S's family needs their privacy. I respect that. I respect that as much as I want to write about every little thing that happens, and share every picture of her with the world, she is not mine to do that with.

It makes me sad, but I have to let Baby S's family have her. I have to let go of that desire to share her with everyone, and let her family make those decisions. She's not my child anymore, and so the decisions are no longer mine. This blog is public, and at any point some random creeper could find it. The links to the blog have been shared in many different public forums, on Facebook, and will probably be shared a lot more in the future as others learn of her and our story.

But she's just a baby. She's a person, and like every other person she has a right to her own anonymity. Her family has the right to live their own life without the risk of some crazy finding them and harassing them. So things are changing.

I have my own family blog at the original link.
The link and name of this blog have been changed.
and many of the references have been changed in past posts.

Please do me a favor and show me that you can respect my baby girl and her new family.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What's it all about?

People have asked me, "what's the point of all of this?" "Why are you going public?" "Are you just trying to drum up pity (or money)?" ...the answer to that is NO. I know it's hard for some people to understand, but this isn't about money. Yeah, it would be nice to have some, but I'm not about exploiting people.. especially not newborn babies.. and I'm not about trying to drum up pity. Trust me, for as much as I am self conscious, and nervous about putting it all out there for fear of criticism, I really feel there are some hard-core issues that my experience sheds light on. Experiences that are too often swept under the proverbial rug, or hushed by court ordered (client demanded) non-disclosure agreements. Well all that stops here. There are three main issues that come into play in a scenario such as mine. This is not only a pro-life issue; as much as I have envisioned and portrayed it to be such, it is also a surrogacy issue, and a special needs advocacy issue. The three areas are very different, and yet they all share this common thread when it comes to the unborn child. Each of these is probably worthy of it's own individual post, but I'm going to go through my thoughts quickly here. Surrogacy The world of surrogacy is dark and mysterious. It's hidden behind nondisclosure agreements and contract language that doesn't allow surrogates to expose their situations, or complications with those situations, to the world. That is the very reason my blog had to be closed for so long; because of contract language. So there is noone out there telling the story of all these surrogacy's gone wrong. People looking into surrogacy cannot possibly fathom all the different 'bad' scenarios that can happen. I was 'lucky' enough to experience just about all of them at once. Lucky me. There is also a lack of consistency in laws when it comes to surrogacy. Many states have absolutely no laws on the books regarding it, while others have outlawed it, and still others have a law or two, but nothing substantial. I give a lot of credit to my amazing lawyer in CT who found the information on surrogacy law in different states, even though he is not/was not a surrogacy or reproductive rights lawyer! There seriously needs to be something done about that, for the safety and well being of all current and future surrogates, their intended parents, and the children brought into the world as a result of these arrangements. Pro-Life There is obviously the pro-life issue here of aborting a fetus. The bigger issue here is the coercion of people to try and persuade another to abort. The hiring of lawyers, the 'ganging up' against surrogates, and others who are not surrogates, by perceived authority figures and experts to try and coerce the individual into feeling she has no choice but to abort. I'm not even one of those die-hard pro-life advocates is the funny part. For me, myself, yes. I am very pro-life and everyone who knows me knows it. But I have friends who have had abortions, and I have friends who have chosen adoption. I have offered to take custody of children that were the result of unintended pregnancies, and I have been there for many of my friends as they came to terms with the decisions they had made or were faced with. I pride myself in being non-judgemental. However, as previously stated, for myself I am very strongly pro-life. I live it, I believe it, it is a part of my inner soul and I cannot deny it. I have lost a child at 19 weeks, I have lost a child at 8 weeks. I have been there, and I've known the pain that comes with losing a child that is inside of your body and does not become your flesh and blood growing before you. That I cannot do again. I sure as hell won't do it voluntarily. In my eyes every child deserves a chance at life. My children; those born of my body, are given every opportunity that I can afford them, and the first of these is the right to live. I make no apologies for that view, and I made that as clear as I could have made it to the IPs as well. The oversight in my contract; well, that goes back to the surrogacy issue. My agent should be fired.. but I digress. Special Needs Advocacy This is where things get a little tricky. Not everyone is going to agree with me, and a lot of people are probably not going to like this viewpoint, but it is a valid argument and something that needs to be addressed. We are killing off special needs children. It's a soapbox that many people stand on, and I stand with them. The attitudes of the doctors, the specialists, the 'experts' that so many willingly follow and believe without question is that it's ok to abort these babies. Their language suggests abortion as a viable and acceptable option. I can't put into words exactly how they do it, but it takes a strong person to go against the doctors and say 'my child deserves the right to live.' I understand all about preparing the parents for the worst, but half the time those tests are wrong! A geneticist told me after one ultrasound that Baby S. would never be able to breathe on her own because she didn't open her hands. Well, she came out screaming so I guess that woman was wrong. Based on what she said, someone less devoted to preserving her life might have aborted. Based on what a lot of people said a lot of children HAVE been aborted! It's not right, and it's not fair for the doctors to abuse their power in this way. I won't go as far as to liken their behaviors to that of Hitler with the Jews, but it has a certain familiarity to it. It's an issue very closely related to the Pro-Life movement, but it strikes a very strong chord with me. Having worked with special needs kids, and having my own, I weep for a world that doesn't know the joy these children can bring. I really want all of this to get out. I want people to see my story, and talk about it. I want things to happen so that these situations are far less prevalent. The way to institute change is to make people aware, and right now most of these issues (obviously not the pro-life movement, but the others) are kept quiet. Let's get them talking. At least my horrible situation will be able to be used to bring awareness of and hopefully it will get things moving in the right direction for some positive change. Please, share your stories with me. I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Today's the day!!

Today is... the first day of the rest of my life! The conclusion to months; well spent months, but long and torturous months; months where I was held captive by fear. What fear you ask? Fear of people miles away.. Fear of the problems they could cause for me and for this sweet baby girl I called S.... The potential for problems was great. These people had already shown their desire to 'make me pay' by using their attorney to demand the abortion and threatening me with litigation to make me repay all the expenses accrued by the surrogacy. They had shown a desire to create difficulty with their actions during the last weeks of my pregnancy, the refusal to cooperate with the adoption plan, lawsuit filed in CT, and their refusal to tell anybody what their intentions were! They showed their inability to respect boundaries by trying to manipulate hospital personnel to get what they wanted. They showed that they didn't really care about the baby's best interests, only their illusion of control. I spent a lot of time during the last weeks of my pregnancy and the first few weeks of Baby S's life stressed about the possibilities that existed for someone to come and screw everything up. There were so many variables; so many ways that someone could come in and delay the adoption process, make it so that I couldn't ethically give up my rights, make me fight even more to ensure that Baby S was in a good place with people who clearly had her best intentions in mind. After July 11th, there was only one thing left. The courts have in place a 21 day appeal period during which an appeal can be filed to contest the relinquishment of parental rights. My lawyers advised me not to release any information to the public (i.e. blog, newspapers, even my facebook page) during this period simply to alleviate the slim chance that anyone would come and suggest that the publicity was of detriment to the welfare of the child and therefore be able to reinstate their rights. So it has been my steadfast duty over the last 3 weeks to keep it quiet still; to make sure everything was finalized before opening everything up for the world to read. So.. here we are.. it's all open, and there's nothing left for anyone to do. The story is public, we're talking about writing a book, maybe turning this into a movie. We'll see where it goes, but one thing is for sure. Baby S is safe with her adoptive family, and I am free to go about my life as I wish. Best part? Unlike most surrogacy legal matters, this was not filed in a confidential hearing, and there is NO non-disclosure agreement. Anyone can go to Tolland Family court and request the court documents for the Kelley case filed in May. And I can talk freely about the entire thing. (Although I have been advised not to name names of the IPs and asked not to release the last name of the adoptive family)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Carrying on and moving back to 'normal'

The time has come. Time for moving on.

I would have thought I would have some stronger feelings about this. But I don't. I'm ready.

I'm ready to not struggle anymore.
I'm ready to get back to what my life was before all this happened.
I'm ready to be around my friends again.
I'm ready to work on the things that matter; the things that have had to go by the wayside while everything here worked itself out.

As much as I hate to admit it; as much as I never thought I could say it about Connecticut... I'm ready to go home.

I did my job. Baby S has a loving family who will stand by her and support her.
I saved her life.. and now they will help her to live it. And while I am still sad that I won't be the one holding her hand as she goes forward, I am happy and confident that I will get to watch the beautiful life I brought into the world to flourish and blossom.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Feelings of a relinquishing mother

They say I'm not your mother
But what do they know.

What makes a mother?
Is it the blood that runs through our veins?
Surely our blood has crossed while you were nestled in the depths of my womb.
So surely I am your mother.

Is it the genetic link that we do not share?
Science has shown that your genes now run through my veins.
They are shared between us and us alone.
So surely I am your mother.

Is it love?
For love is the reason I stayed.
Love is the reason I ran.
Love is the reason I fought.
And love is what I still feel.

Is it because I signed a paper that states you are no longer mine?
I wonder at times why I did sign that paper.

Then I remember the wonderful people that I signed that paper for.
The people who want to love you and care for you in ways I don't know how to.
That paper allowed you to have the best future I could possibly give you.
So surely I am your mother.

For a mother is not who is biologically 'yours'
A mother is not only the one who's genetics make your own.
A mother doesn't yearn merely for control,
No, a mother is so much more.

A mother holds you close and loves you with all her heart.
A mother makes choices and sacrifices so that you can have everything.
A mother loves, and hates; laughs and cries; rejoices and despairs; for everything that her child endures.
And if that is a mother.
Then surely, I am your mother.

Weeks have passed, and yet I am still not sure that I am through the woods as far as my own feelings go. Most days I feel alright, as though I can continue with my day to day, taking care of the girls, acting as though I was not missing anything. But in the quiet of the night, things are very different. My heart is no longer complete; something pulls at me like a string on my finger, reminding me that there is something that I do not have. There are many nights that have been spent pacing the apartment, tears streaming down my face. I know my hormones are still out of whack, but not all of this can be attributed to postpartum emotions. People have said that I am in mourning, and I guess this is partially true.

My daughter lays in a hospital room, with people surrounding her that she does not know; those that know nothing of our journey. The person who stays with her, night and day, is not me. I walk into her room, and the nurses ask who I am; I am a stranger.
In some strange way I feel as though I'm abandoning her. I love Baby S dearly, and of course I want what is best for her. Through my entire pregnancy and the early days of her birth I have asserted that I believe that the best place for her is with her adoptive family. There are many reasons that I believe this to be so, and my opinion has not changed in that regard. Maybe it's just the postpartum hormones, but even though my head tells me I"m right, my heart is still aching with feelings of having abandoned my baby.
These feelings are exacerbated by the facts that I have been unable to go to the hospital as much as I'd like, not being able to provide her with breastmilk, and the day quickly approaching where she is going to go to Boston and I will still be here.

Part of me is jealous that others will be the ones who will get to experience her growing up. The first steps, first words, all those are going to be something that I will have to experience second-hand. All these things that I had prepared myself, at one time, to experience as her mother, now I must experience as an onlooker.

And the worst thing of all; my own two children. Little girls who have become accustomed to going to the hospital to see this little baby. They remember me pregnant with her; they know she was in my belly. They have been by my side as I have taken care of her, and they have come to think of her as 'our baby'. I look at them, and I see how much they love her, and my heart breaks for them. I am not the only one who has gotten used to the idea of having this baby around.

But long nights become busy days, the memories and the awkwardness will fade, and in time all of this will be just another story in the neverending saga of my life and the lives of my children. We will all be better for our experiences, and Baby S will be in the best position I could possibly have put her in. After all, that's what I've been working for all along.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 11, 2012.

The day had arrived. What would forever be remembered in my mind as one of the top 10 worst days in my life. Worst part? Up until the morning of, I still didn't know it was going to happen. After getting confirmation from the IPs lawyer on Tuesday that they were signing the paperwork declaring a denial of interest in custody of Baby S, it was a matter of if the papers would arrive to MI in time for court at 10:30am. With all the shady dealings from the lawyer up until that point, I had serious doubts that it would happen, so I was completely in shock when on Wednesday morning I received an email stating that the paperwork had been received and the court proceedings could happen as scheduled. I was in complete shock, all of a sudden everything clicked into place and it all became very, very real. I was going to court to give up my rights to this child; the child that I had sacrificed everything for. I had to tell a judge that I wanted nothing to do with my sweet Baby S, when nothing could actually be further from the truth. I don't think I stopped crying for more than a few moments that entire day. Driving to the court house, in court, driving home, going to the hospital, and for many hours as I sat there holding Baby S and not wanting to let her go. I wanted to go back and tell that judge I had changed my mind so badly, but I couldn't. I felt like I was giving up. I felt like all that sacrifice meant nothing, because I wasn't fighting anymore. I was passing the 'problem' (it feels horrible to refer to her like that) along to someone else. I had gotten so accustomed to fighting for this child' being one of the few people advocating for her welfare, that relinquishing control tore at my heart. To do it, especially with the change in plans that had so suddenly occurred, was torture. I had been preparing myself to bring this baby home, even if only for a short time. That was what we had expected to happen upon initial discharge, which had now been postponed twice. I had already lost out on my week, even my last few days, of baby time, and I felt a bit cheated. I felt like the hospital was possibly keeping us there because of the legal issues; out of concern for the situation and not really concern for the baby. My head was spinning and my emotions were out of control. It took a few days, but I did finally remember all the reasons that I knew this was the best decision. When I got to the hospital after signing the papers in court, I spent the next few hours sitting with Baby S alone and crying to her to forgive me. She was very agitated, and I know that she could feel the tension, distress and upset that I carried and it upset her. I fought to regain my control for the sake of my daughter. MY daughter. As I calmed down I recounted all the reasons that the choice I had made was the best for all of us. Baby S's adoptive parents are wonderful, fabulous people, and I know that they understand the unique bond that she and I share. I have a very good trusting relationship with them and I truly believe that they will keep me aprised of her progress and important events. I will still get to be a part of her life, in whatever facet we are all comfortable with, and I feel as though I have gained a new extension of my family in them. They are much better equipped to handle all the special care she will require as she grows, and they are ready, willing, and able to do this. The one thing that gives me the most peace is knowing that as Baby S grows and develops, I will still be able to do the two things that I have promised her from the moment I decided to continue the pregnancy against the IPs wishes: I will always be there for you and I will never give up on you

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moving forward!!

As of today, when I visited in the hospital, Baby S has been moved back to the floor! Yay!!! We are all so happy that she is on her way back up the ladder. Yesterday was the PCTU, today is the Moderate Care Unit.. next will be the general care floor before she can go home!! With the move to MCU we have gained: A private room again :) Our old team of doctors and residents <3 and="" br="" her="" know="" love="" who=""> A renewed sense of hope that, yes, eventually we WILL leave the hospital! The team stopped by to say hi as soon as we got there and let us know that they missed us! So sweet! We love you guys!!
Ms. S is more content than she has been in days, and ready to keep moving up in the world! We even got some content awake time to stare into her eyes and play with her sock monkey (which she LOVES!)
We're not out of the woods yet, and there are still a few things that need to be figured out, but this is a good step forward.. and we're all about moving forward!

1 Month Old!!

Today is July 25th, 2012. Nobody will see this post today, but it is important that I post it nonetheless. Baby S is one month old today!
Never before have I been so happy and excited to see my baby reach the one month mark. She did it! She survived! For all the months of uncertainty; the worrying, the waiting, the tests and talks, everything that could have gone horribly wrong and the challenges that still lay ahead... She's here! She's surviving! She's proving everyone wrong! I could not be more proud  She may still be in the hospital, and she may be having some issues at the current moment, but she is still here, and she is still fighting. She is my beautiful warrior princess. She has truly earned her name! firewings She is the fiery one. She is my Sweet S!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Baby S .. birth story part 2

So to pick up where we left off:
Friday- Cervadil induction scheduled. 11pm insertion, scheduled for 11am removal and start of Pitocin if necessary at 12pm.
Saturday- induction cancelled. Sent home

As stated in the previous post, I was determined to go into the hospital in labor on Sunday. So we spent Sunday doing all the things that are suggested to put a woman into labor. Lots of sex, nipple stimulation with my pump, walking, and I even ate some spicy salsa (eww btw). As a last resort I tried an enema, which did absolutely nothing but produce ONE really long good contraction.

I was done.
We went in to the hospital at 8:30, as instructed. Immediately upon getting into the hospital waiting room my contractions (which had subsided the entire time we were at home) picked up to their previous rate of 5-7 minutes apart. We were told that because of the cardiac situation and staffing concerns they would not be starting my induction process until midnight. I was contracting anyways, and there was nothing we could do about it, so we settled in and took our time setting up the room and getting ready for the night. We had the same ditzy nurse, but she was a little bit more prepared for us this time and had the tub room ready and knew not to ask me to change into the stupid hospital gown.

And at midnight, true to their word, they started the pitocin! I wasn't chancing it with the cervadil again, I was going straight for the good stuff. I spent the first couple of hours in bed, watching a movie with Jeremy while hooked up to the monitors. I had brought my body markers and wrote the cue words of 'peace' 'release' 'love' and 'let go' on my arms and hands. When I felt like things were picking up a bit I asked for the nurse to go find the telemetry monitors so that I could get up and move around. I got a ball also and sat on that for a while while she looked for the wireless pieces for the monitors, and totally lost myself in the zone of labor.

When I finally got hooked up to the telemetry it was time to move the birth ball away from the side of the bed. I was irritated with being so enclosed and wanted to be in the middle of the floor. I rocked during my contractions, and rested squatting on the floor in between. I remember that they were about 3 minutes apart and Jeremy told me they were peaking at about 120 on the monitors. My pitocin was on 4. I had no idea how long it was going to take, but I figured it would be better to call my doula and photographer then and have them there then to have things start moving really quickly and have them miss it. I'm glad I called when I did. I believe it was about 2:30am when I called Amber and Kristen. Amber got there in about 20 minutes, Kristen took a bit longer. At that point the pitocin was on 6 and I was ready to try the tub. At that point I was breathing through fairly intense contractions, reminding myself of my cue word 'release' (which was written on my right arm and thank goodness because it was a great reminder)

The tub was amazing! I immediately felt like the contractions were less intense. A feeling of relaxation washed over me and while it took a few contractions to get into a good position, I felt comfortable there. My doula was wonderful reminding me to drink water, and Jeremy got me a Sprite because I needed to burp a lot. I had a lot of gas as well, and in between contractions we laughed at my gas bubbles and other little things. I kept expecting the contractions to pick up in intensity, but they never did. I completely lost track of time in the tub, which was heavenly.

During one fairly long contraction, I felt the telltale 'pop and gush' of my water breaking. From there labor became very intense and I was consumed with staying on top of the contractions. They came fast and furious from that point on, sometimes two or three at a time, with little break between. I don't remember exactly when, but I know that shortly after my water broke Baby S adjusted herself into position. She did this in the middle of contractions that were coming on strong, and I do remember looking at my doula and asking 'what the heck is she doing in there?' and talking to my belly 'stop it.. that's not comfortable!' My nurse came in and asked if I felt 'pushy' which I didn't. She turned the pitocin down (thank goodness) and it stayed at a 4 until I delivered (or at least I think so hahaha I wasn't really paying attention at that point). After a short time in the tub with the more intense contractions I really felt like I had to use the toilet. My doula and Jeremy helped me out of the tub, and I realized just how hot I had been in there. The cool breeze felt good. I sat on the toilet and pooped, which felt great. I had a few contractions on the toilet also and decided I didn't know what people were talking about when they said it felt good to sit on the toilet during labor. I did not enjoy it at all!

After my potty break, Kristen asked me if I wanted to get back in the tub, or do something else. I was in a state of dazed.. not sure what I wanted. Part of me wanted to get back in the tub, but I'd been so hot I felt like I needed the fresh air of being in the room. I wanted so bad to go lay down for a few minutes and recoup, so that's what I decided I wanted to do. After about 5 contractions on the bed, one laying down and 4 trying to find a good position sitting and leaning against the back, I decided the bed wasn't working and moved back to the birth ball on the floor. My telemetry wasn't functioning properly anymore, so the charge nurse came in and helped me get back onto the wired monitors. This meant that I had to be right next to the bed again, which made me a bit anxious because there was very little room and people kept walking around me. I soon forgot about that though, and was back into my own little world.

One of my biggest issues during this part of my labor was that I didn't feel like I could completely relax and release my hips. I was trying hard to release, as I knew this would help the baby descend, but every time I released my hips I would sink to the ground which was not working for me. I ended up having Jeremy pushing against my butt/hips as I was on my hands and knees so that when I would have a contraction he could support my weight and I could get the deep release I needed in my hips. That was so much better, and I think it helped things to progress as fast as they did. I did threaten to fart on him, but I didn't find his reaction very funny. He definitely got yelled at and told not to move like that again.

My nurse had come in and asked several times if I felt pushy yet. I had no inclination to push, so I always told her no. She would disappear, and we would do our own thing again. I honestly had no idea that Baby S was so close to being born. My doula, however, had a better idea. She suggested we move to the bed, and I agreed, but after the contraction that was just starting. Moving, however, never happened. At the end of that contraction my body involuntarily pushed, and the head was halfway born. I remember reaching down to feel her, and knowing that her head was mostly out. Kristen went for the call button and everyone else went into 'oh shit' mode. The nurse on the other end was all calm 'I'll page your nurse', and Kristen had to buzz her a second time and tell her 'the baby's coming NOW!' while I was yelling on the floor that I didn't want to do it anymore and I wanted some Stadol.

This is where I go fuzzy. I was very consumed in delivery, yelling that I couldn't do it, give me some f**ing meds, etc. Baby S was halfway out, and I was doing everything possible not to push any more because I was so afraid I was going to tear. From what I"m told the door to my room is cracked open, maybe 6 inches, and people are just pouring into the room, bewildered that the baby is almost here and they are not ready. The doctor who caught her had her glove halfway on, no fingers, just pretty much draped it over her hand and hoped for the best. I'm sure it was a funny sight to see; if only I'd been on the other end. 2, maybe 3 pushes later this beautiful baby girl was ejected from my body and flung into the world, screaming her head off. I collapsed in tears; I couldn't stop repeating, she's crying! I had hoped she would, but never really expected that my wish would come true. I was practically picked up off the floor and placed on the bed for delivery of the placenta while she was looked over and evaluated on the other side of the room. Delayed cord clamping didn't happen :(

Delivering the placenta didn't take very long. I was impatient, so I gave a push every few minutes, and in about 10 minutes I had a good long contraction that pushed it out. I insisted that they bring her over to me before rushing her away, and I spent about 5 minutes staring at her and crying over her before she went off to the NICU. I really don't remember when the doctors and nurses who were taking care of me left, but within an hour my mother came back and told me they were bringing Baby S up to the PCTU (Pediatric Cardio-Thoracic Unit) and if I wanted to see her before she went I had to go now. We went and spent about a half hour looking at her, soothing her, stroking her before they came to take her up and I went back to my empty, baby-less room.

And that was it.
Baby S was born on June 25th, her due date, at 6:51am. She weighed 6lb, 9oz, 19 inches long. Almost a month later, she is still hospitalized. More on that to come:

Baby S.. birth story part 1

She's here! Forgive me for waiting almost a month to write this post, but the last few weeks have been so crazy that I can't even wrap my head around it. Now that things have settled down a little, I'll write out the birth story of my precious babe:

I was reaching the 40 week mark. This was something I had not expected, not by a long shot. I had been told by so many doctors that I would not make it to 40 weeks, that IVF babies came around 37 weeks, that heart babies tended to come early. There was no way I was going to make it to my due date of June 25th. No way.

I had it in my head that she would be here before the 18th. On June 11th my mom and I joked that she would share a birthday with the baby. That I was 'forbidden' to have her on that day. It was ok though, I was convinced she was coming somewhere between the 14th and the 18th. I was severely disappointed when it was revealed to me that Jeremy and my father would not be able to come until the following week. They arrived on the 21st, and I was still not in labor.

I'd had all of my 'final' tests, and since I was nearing my due date, all that was left were the weekly non-stress tests that they recommend for all heart babies. I was a little worried that I hadn't gone into labor yet, so I kept my appointment on June 22nd and we went in to see how the little punk was doing. She was very happy in her little world, sleeping through most of the test (except the end when she decided to wake up and make the machines happy finally) and I had a chat with the social worker and the geneticist about procedures, ongoing legal stuff, and my concerns with carrying much further into the future. I had been having contractions that were more intense than braxton hicks, but not very strong and about 20 minutes apart during the day that day, and I was finally starting to feel like maybe labor was coming. I had an appointment scheduled with the OB's office later that day, and after speaking with the on-call doctor it was decided that they would do a membrane sweep to try and get labor moving before I left that day. If that didn't work I was to report for induction at 7pm. The doctors were comfortable with my dates, labor was starting on it's own, and with the time restraints of having my family in town for a short period of time, we felt it was best to give the little lady a little 'push' to come into the world.

After my appointment Jeremy, the kids, and I did some serious walking. We walked all over campus in an attempt to get things moving. I was having contractions, they were a bit more intense and as close as 10 minutes apart, but not very strong and not progressing. So, at 7pm we gathered our overnight bags and headed to the hospital. I was determined to give my body as much of a chance to pick things up on it's own, so I opted for an application of Cervadil before starting pitocin in the morning; hoping things would pick up on their own and we could avoid the full induction. However, getting into the hospital and ready took forever. Our nurse was a little bit ditzy (she really should have been blonde) and had to find us a room with a tub as I had requested, and was generally just very slow. The Cervadil went in at 11pm. Jeremy and I tried to relax. Watched a movie, tried to sleep. Contractions continued through the night, woke me up a few times, but I still managed to get some decent rest in between. In the morning I got up and they were still coming. Still not as strong as I'd expected, but 5-6 minutes apart. We walked the halls, sat on the ball, etc.

And then it happened. Around 11am I buzzed the nurse to see when the Cervadil would be coming out. She came in and said they were just waiting for the doctors. So we waited. And waited.. And waited some more. Finally around 12:30 I just took it out myself. We waited until 2pm before anybody came into the room. When they came in, it was as a group, and there was no talk of pitocin, no planning, nothing. I was so ready to have the baby, and they completely shut me down. They had a cardiac baby who had been born the night before, and the weekend cardiac team was not ready for us. If at all possible they wanted to keep the baby from being born while the weekend staff was on, and wait for the normal weekday shift people to be back in-house. So the induction was off, and I was going home. They also refused to check and see if I'd dialated any further than the 2-3cm and 60% I'd been when I went in Friday night.

I was devastated. Immediately my contractions slowed, and by the time we walked out of the hospital they were only coming every 15-20 minutes again. I cried the whole way home, and for a while afterwards. We'd been re-scheduled to come in Sunday night, and by the end of the day Saturday I was determined to go in there IN LABOR.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How do you sleep at night?

Quite some time ago, I received a lot of negative feedback about my decision not to follow through with the IPs wishes and abort the little soul that we have come to know as Baby S. At that time I was still relatively unknown in the surrogate community, only having posted a few little updates here and there. At one point, one of my critics asked me 'How do you sleep at night knowing that you are forcing a child to be born who isn't wanted?
That comment has always stuck with me. It haunted me for weeks, and in quiet moments I can still hear it in my head. But the answer is:
I sleep very well!
I sleep well knowing that the child that I am carrying has a chance.
I sleep well knowing that I can look back on my life and my actions without regrets.
I sleep well knowing that I can be a positive role model for people everywhere who feel pressured to 'get rid of the problem' when faced with a less than ideal pregnancy.
My question is, how do YOU sleep at night?
better yet.. how do the IPs sleep at night?
I'm betting it's not very well..

Monday, May 21, 2012

The thing I"m most proud of:

A certain wonderful person in one of my due date groups today posted something that really got me thinking. I've been struggling with what to say after the latest move by the IPs.. how do you follow something like that?? But I think I've got it now.

The posting was something like this: Since people are getting itchy to deliver, I thought we could take a moment to share something we are proud of about how we handled this pregnancy. What are you proud of yourself for? My answer was quick, to the point, and a little bit off-humored: 'I'm proud that I didn't cave to the pressure, and that I haven't sent any hate mail.... Oh and that I'm still here and not in an asylum ;)' but after I posted, I did start thinking a little more about the question and how much I really have accomplished during this pregnancy.

For starters, I really am proud of myself for standing my ground. There were plenty of times where I had shadows and doubt cast upon my very existence because of the situation. The bullying from not only the IPs, but also from my agent and the lawyer; those were all things that could have at any point made me give up. People say I am strong, but I don't see myself that way at all. I am usually a person who avoids confrontation, not a leader but a follower, one who goes with what others want because it's easier than fighting for what I want. I tend to make decisions on a whim, without really considering the long term consequences. I like to go with the flow instead of fighting against the tide.

I am proud of myself for asking for help and reaching out to others, something that has always been hard for me to do. Especially after the initial act of refusing to abort, when I was met with a lot of negativity from the surrogacy community, a lot of personal doubt, and even suggestions from people who I thought would be supportive that I wasn't doing what was 'right' or 'best' but only what was in my own best interests. After hearing that so many times, it was even more difficult to put my personal struggle out there to a public that I didn't know personally. Asking for help isn't something that comes naturally to me; I'd much rather work my tail off and show everyone that I can do it on my own. I have always been very proud of my independent nature and my ability to rise to the challenge when it comes to my own needs and those of my children.

I am proud of the positive attitude that I have managed to maintain. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the 'forever optimist'. My positive mentality has been something that I have worked very hard to incorporate into my life. It's been difficult, and there have been plenty of times where I have faltered. Even during this experience I did have my moments of doubt, my episodes where I simply could not see any positive outcome. But I have managed to keep those thoughts and episodes to a minimum, and I am very proud that the majority of the emotions that I have experienced during this pregnancy are not those of despair, hate, or anger; but of hope, love, promise, and pride. Even faith, in the sense of a greater spirituality and belief in karma and fate.

I guess everything changes when it's all about something you care very deeply about.

Miss S has given me a great new outlook in the short time that I have been blessed to know her. She has helped me grown and change into a better person, and that is something that I will always remember about this experience. There are many things that could have happened during my pregnancy that probably would have had an equally negative effect as the positive one that I have experienced. That I have not had those experiences, for that I am grateful. The way that everything has happened, the people that I have found who support me and us; all of this enforces my belief that this was the right path to take, as treacherous and difficult as it has been. I will venture forth from this experience a better and more whole person. Because the alternative simply no longer applies

And.. to add.. after looking back and thinking for a few more moments. I'm proud of myself for not developing a deep sense of hate for Baby S's biological parents. There have been plenty of instances where I could have grown to hate them. Plenty of reasons that I would have to detest their existence. But I don't. I can't say that I agree with them (or we all know how that would have turned out) but I don't hate them for what they feel, or what they did. I do wish they had gone about things differently, but I can't say that I hate them for it. I actually feel really sorry for them; for the kind of people who see the only solution to a difficult situation as getting out and washing their hands. It can't be easy to live in those shoes..

Friday, May 18, 2012

The NERVE...

I'm still trying to put my feelings on this one into concrete thoughts so forgive me if this is a bit jumbly...
Basically we finally got some activity from the IPs over the last couple of days. Right before I left their lawyer sent a letter to my lawyer demanding all my medical records up until that point. My lawyer simply told them that I had retained new counsel and gave the address of where to forward any further requests.
Fast forward 3 weeks. We heard nothing from them during that time. Suddenly I get a phone call that the IPs lawyer has called my Michigan lawyer, and not very nicely demanded that I be presented so that they can serve me with papers to 'pursue their legal and contractual rights'in the state of CT, and that I turn over the medical records that they requested. They also state that they do not consent to any adoptive placement of 'the fetus'.
Seriously?? What the hell!?
They have stated time and time again that they do not intend to take custody of this baby. For Gd's sake they wanted her life terminated after allowing her to develop for 21 weeks! They proposed signing over custody to the state.. putting her in foster care where she is pretty much guaranteed to spend her life as a ward of the state, or even better, become a pawn for some foster family who seeks out special needs kids to leech off of. Yeah.. ok!
What the hell do they think they are going to do!? Are they thinking of keeping her? Because let me tell you if they are.. well I don't really know how I feel about that. I understand that biologically she is their child, but I can't tell you how much it bothers me that they have been adamant up until this point that they do not want any responsibility for her. Even if they are seeking out the records so that they can see what the 'experts' say about her condition, what kind of people are going to base the decision of whether or not to keep their child based on 'how bad' the diagnosis is!? Oh, right, the kind of people who didn't want her to continue to exist.
So what is this!? Is this some sort of game to them? Let's see how far we can push this girl. Let's stress her out and watch and see what happens!? Cuz let me tell you.. I'm a little stressed by this. I have no idea how this can or will play out. I do know that the IF is the biological father of this child. I can't deny that, and even my lawyer says that having someone else stand in and claim to be her father is a bad idea because they can come after me for false representation that way (which I totally get and wasn't considering). But that means that he can make this really really freaking difficult. If he refuses to give up his parental rights for whatever reason.. that leaves me with a really tough choice. I have already made the decision that I can't keep this child. I love her and I want what is best for her; but I realize that what is best for her is not for me to keep her. In the state of Michigan I have parental rights to her.. that is something that no court is going to take from me because she will be born in Michigan. However if I give up my rights and he does not.. that puts the ball in their court as to what happens to her. They can then very easily turn over custody to the state, just as they intended to do in CT. I will have no recourse to stop them. If I don't terminate my own rights, then I have responsibility for this child! Don't get me wrong.. I'd love to be able to say 'yes, I will take her and care for her and love her as if she was my own'.. but this is not the time, nor the place for me to be able to do that. I have much more at stake right now. Keeping her would mean losing everything that I already have in place, as well as everything that I've been working so hard to accomplish. I became a surrogate to give joy to another couple, not add to my own family. As much as I love this child, I love her enough to know that the best place for her is with a family that can handle her physically, emotionally, financially, etc. A family that is in a good place to accept the challenges that having a special needs child brings. That family is not mine.. no matter how much I may wish it was.
Part of me thinks that this is just their way of punishing me. Keeping me tied down.. like a game of revenge in a way. If I cave, they get what they want. A child who is in no way connected to them, put in a place where she can just be forgotten. And the woman who carried her is forced to go the rest of my life wondering what happened to her and if she is ok, with no way of finding that information out. That's what happens if she goes into the state's custody. I"m sure that's what will happen if she goes into the IP's custody. They certainly aren't going to be too keen on keeping me involved in their lives after all this has transpired. If I don't give in to what they want.. then I"m the one that has to live with the responsibility of the child, the situation, the medical bills, etc. I don't think they see that there is another life that is going to be severely affected by their quest for revenge. A beautiful little girl who is going to suffer at their hands. For being people who wanted so badly to 'avoid her suffering'.. they're doing a pretty good job of ensuring it right now.
So currently the lawyer is trying to negotiate. He has asked their lawyer what their intentions are. He has made a proposal for carrying forward which includes me turning over the medical records that have accumulated in Michigan, that I allow them access to speak with the doctors here in Michigan, that they sign over their rights before the baby is born and allow the adoption to take place, and that we all sign releases saying we will not sue each other. He doesn't think that the last item is going to go over well, but he says it's worth a try. And at this point, once again, it's a waiting game. We will see what they say when they decide to get back to us. In the meantime, as worried as I am, I am trying my best not to stress. Everything works out just as it is supposed to... Right????

Quick medical update

OK. So Facebook has been updated, but the blog has not in quite a while. I guess with everything going on (and switching between two barely working computers) the blog got lost in the shuffle. So here's a quick update:
We moved! We are in Michigan now, the trip here was beautiful and long and tiring. But we're here, safe and sound, with medical coverage and a great network of doulas and midwives supporting us.
We have met with the new doctors at the University of Michigan. The first appointment was oh.. so.. long.. and my poor babysitter was called last minute and stayed for so much longer than I anticipated. Thank you thank you thank you Toni!
There are a few differences between what Yale and U of M believe as far as Baby S.' heart goes. Some of this I believe has just come with her growth and the fact that the heart has continued to develop, and some could just be a matter of what they were able to see on each scan. U of M believes that the heart, instead of being anatomically isomeric (both sides being anatomically the same) that they are simply inverted. They also see enough of a septum between the right and left sides to believe that a bi-ventricle repair is possible! They don't believe her pulmonary arteries are narrow enough that she will need that initial surgery in the first few days either. If everything goes well after birth she could be cleared by the cardiologist within the first week!
Of course, that's never the extent of what they see, nor the extent of the 'new news' that I recieve. The good news is that after hearing a 'death sentence' diagnosis by the last geneticist that I saw at Yale (the day before we left for Michigan), I became a little paranoid and made the u/s tech spend some time looking at both her brain and her hands. The (now)former geneticist had said that they didn't see her hands opening and closing which was an indicator of severe neurological dysfunction. I'm pleased to say that I saw her open her hands on more than one occasion. But the doctors are still concerned. The more in-depth scan of her brain shows that there is a possibility she is missing a big structure of the brain called the corpus callosum. This is where the nerve bundles are located that allow the right and left hemispheres to communicate. The implications of this vary from case to case and can be very mild, or moderate. Either way it's better than severe neurological dysfunction, so it's better news than what I was being told.
See!! Open Hands!!
I like the hospital, I like the doctors there. Nobody is a huge alarmist, everyone has been really nice. It's not like Yale where I am the 'one in a million' mom with a very complex baby that everyone wants to get a chance to look at. At U of M I'm just another mom; they see plenty of sick babies. After all you don't get to be the #3 hospital in the country for pediatric cardiac surgery without having a good number of heart babies come through your doors. So I feel less like a freak show and more like someone who's concerns are being addressed and they actually aren't being really pushy about how when where and all the specifics of how I give birth! I have a wonderful volunteer doula who is a former nurse, and a great system of people ready to help me out when the time comes.
Don't get me wrong.. it's hard being away from everyone I know and love. It's hard being the only one day in and day out dealing with the kids especially since they've been adjusting and then sick and all the other stuff that comes with being 2 and almost 4.. but we're doing ok. I just really hope all the adoption stuff gets finalized quickly, cuz I have this horrible feeling way down deep inside that we're running out of time!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Medical mumbo jumbo

SO it has been a little while since I updated this blog. Many of you (ok probably all of you) have been following on the Facebook page, so I don't feel like you all are too far behind in knowing what is going on thus far, but I would like to document, and I haven't done that in a while.

Two weeks ago we had a fetal echo and an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist at Yale. They gave us (my mother and I) a lot of information, most of which was way over my head, hard to remember, and flew in one ear and out the other. Thank goodness my wonderful mother, the nurse, had her pen and notebook handy to write down everything that the doctors said.

Here, briefly (or as briefly as I can) I will go over the medical terms that made up the in-utero diagnosis:

1- The first piece of good news is that they found her stomach!! It is on the wrong side of her body, but it is there, it had fluid in it which indicates no atresia (missing segment)
However it does mean that there is something very wrong. She has what is called heterotaxy, otherwise known as situs inversus or Ivemark Syndrome. If it was totally opposite (heart also) it could possibly be fine, but her heart is in the correct place and her abdominal organs are switched. This has the potential to cause other problems with the organs within her abdomen. They won't know the extent to which her organs are deformed or dysfunctional until she is born, but there is a good possibility she may have malrotation of the intestines and require an additional surgery to fix that.

2- Her heart has many different problems. The pediatric cardiologist gave us two diagrams to look at. One was of a normal heart, the other of what they see on fetal echo to be true about Baby S's heart.




There are a total of 8 different anomalies with Baby S's heart. If you can zoom on the picture, you can see that they are all labeled, but here they are

a- complete atrioventricular septal defect (AV canal): the wall separating the bottom two chambers of her heart never developed. She has a functional common atrium.

b-right SVC (superior vena cava) basically it faces the wrong way

c- interrupted IVC (inferior vena cava): this is supposed to connect to the bottom part of her heart but never developed. Instead an alternate vein attaches the IVC to the SVC. There are some smaller veins (hepatics)that connect to the heart but the IVC does not.

d- total anomalous pulmonary venous return: Her pulmonary veins do not enter the heart where they should. With this defect there is the possibility that the veins are deformed also but they cannot tell that on ultrasound or echo until after the baby is born.

e- Malposition of the great arteries: The great arteries (being the aortic artery and the pulmonary artery) are not quite where they should be.

f- left atrial isomerism: both of the upper chambers of her heart developed as left atriums. She has one on the left and one on the right, but anatomically they are both classified as left atriums. This is important because the node that provides the electrical stimulus to keep the heart pumping is typically located in the right atrium. Other cells can do the job temporarily, but this increases the chance that she will need a pacemaker early in life.

g-pulmonary stenosis: The pulmonary vein going out of the heart (from the heart to the lungs) is narrow and may not be able to provide enough blood flow.

h- right sided aortic arch: the arch of the aortic artery bringing blood from the heart to the body faces the wrong way. This is the least of their concerns.

Of course they made sure to say that this is only what they can tell from fetal echo. Echo's are most accurate between 18 and 22 weeks, but since I am so skinny (they said they knew I was gonna be skinny by how clear the echo footage was) the picture was likely pretty accurate. They won't know more until baby is born. Obviously we still also have to deal with the cleft lip/palette and she has a small cyst in her brain but they are unsure as to what that is because it is in a spot where they normally don't see anything. Kinda makes me wish I'd taken that 'physiology and basic functions of the brain' course this session.

Friday, March 2, 2012

my soul just keeps breaking.. little by little

I feel broken down and defeated today.

After meeting with the lawyer, I have more questions than answers.. and I've been told that I can't share the most intimate details of what is going on with anyone. Not the media, not my friends. We have to keep within the spirit of the surrogacy agreement so that the opposition's lawyer can't find me further in breach of the contract.

This means, that even after all of this has transpired, the IPs still have the opportunity to change their mind. The court has the opportunity to declare that I can have nothing to do with the care of Baby S after she is born. I have to allow the very people who have given me nothing but grief, anxiety, and despair over this whole situation, access to medical files concerning test results that they didn't want, and access to attend appointments for a child that they wrote off and wanted to destroy. AND after all of this, they can decide that they want to keep her and raise her; even after they decided that her life wasn't worth saving or even trying for.

In the meantime I simply have to wait for them to make a move. There is nothing I can do until 10 days have passed from the date when we sent the response letter declaring that the IPs were in breach of contract by failing to pay their contracted amount at my last doctors appointment.

I have to sell my car to be able to pay my rent this month. I am putting up an online tag sale to sell as much of the girls' old stuff as I can so that I can pay the car insurance, the electric, and the cable. I'm hoping that my student aid loan money goes in soon so that I will have a little extra money to cover the 'incidentals' like diapers, paper towels, toilet paper, and my daughter's birthday present.
All because they can't accept that the child that has their genetics isn't perfect. They don't see value in her life because she may need medical supervision and care.

This child isn't dead. She is very much alive, and she makes her presence very well known an awful lot for a disabled baby. But to them, she doesn't matter. And to tell you the truth, I feel the same way about myself. I don't matter.. not enough for them (or some other people) to take me into consideration. This world is full of a lot of very selfish people.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another day in the life..

Not much to update today.. just a couple little things.

#1- I got a call from the Allied Defense League. We went over the case and they are discussing it with their team and will hopefully get back to me today about whether or not they think they can help me.

Apparently the IPs went to the only surrogacy lawyer in the state (or, one of two I guess since she referred me to someone else) and met with someone in her office for a consult in between the time when I emailed with her and yesterday. So the bad news is that I can't use her.. but the good news is neither can they; it's now a conflict of interests. Lets hope I get good news from the Defense League today.

#2- I found out that I am too late to take a session off from school. Which majorly sucks. However, they were able to drop me down to taking one class instead of two, and they were able to switch my classes around so that now I am taking a dumb nothing 'Careers in Psychology' class instead of the more difficult and thought-intensive classes of 'Organizational Psychology' or 'Foundations of Psychology-the Brain'

Even though I was just complaining a week ago that my classes were mindless and boring, I think this is going to work out well for me. By going this route even though I think this class in general is stupid; I don't need to learn about careers in psychology.. I already know what I want to do with my degree that's why I got into the program in the first place; it will be an easy class that will take up the session and allow me a bit less stress in the school-related field, so I can focus on taking care of what needs to be done in the legal and medical arenas.

Baby is doing well.. She's been more active in the last 24 hours than I can remember during this whole pregnancy. It's very reassuring.

So that's it for now. I have a paper that seriously needs to get finished so that I don't flunk the class that I talked the instructor into giving me an incomplete for so that I'd have an extra week to finish.. It's due tonight. Wish me luck.. 15 pages.. eesh!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Resolution.. kinda

When I say resolution.. I only mean my own.

I've made my final decision. Baby S was given to me for a reason. There is no way I can dispose of her.

I've made my peace with the fact that the future is uncertain.

It's not something I enjoy feeling; that I don't have a plan and I don't have a clue what is going to happen. Hopefully some miracles come through for us and I can pay the rent, utilities, cell phone and car insurance this coming month.

I've been hit very hard with the possibility that Baby S may not make it to term. This is something I do not currently know for sure, and I probably won't find out for at least another month. But I do know that if she isn't to make it; it won't be because I wasn't strong enough to fight for her. I will not have her blood on my hands; my own blood as it is right now.

So- here goes nothing! Calling the lawyer tomorrow, Birthright on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My darkest hour..

You all have been fantastic. I can't thank everyone enough for everything that they have done for me and Baby S.

I am having, what I believe is a mental crossroads; a brick wall experience of sorts.

Don't get me wrong.. this baby- she has influenced me in ways that I can't even explain. But this stuff has been weighing so heavily on my mind and heart that I feel like I'm losing my mind. My anxiety is out of control, I don't think I"ve stopped crying for more than a few moments in the last two days.

What if I'm not doing what's right?

What if she dies anyways?

What if my family ends up in a worse situation because of this?

Are these things I can really live with myself if they happen? Are these chances that I am willing to make for a child who really isn't mine? A child who's parents believe that her best chance at peace is not to ever be born?

I don't think I"m strong enough for this!

I know what I believe.. I know how I feel. But I also know that if I don't take the offer that the intended parents have made; I am going to put myself, my children, and everyone around me in a terrible situation. I'm going to lose my house. I'm not going to have the resources to keep my family together, safe, clothed, or properly cared for. Can I really put my family in that position?

I wish I knew. I wish I had a crystal ball and I could see into the future. I wish I knew if this little baby is strong enough to survive everything that is being hurtled at her and make it through to be a happy person.

It isn't fair for people to have to go through this. I didn't become a surrogate to put people's lives in my own hands. I didn't do this so that I could be the one to make the life and death choices for others. I did this for LIFE. I did this for JOY.

But all I feel is pain.

I have to live with the choice that I make. I have to live with putting my family in harm's way if I choose to continue this pregnancy against the wishes of the IPs. And I have to live with the thought of letting someone end a human life if I don't continue it. How does one go about making that choice?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Overwhelmed with support for baby and I

I want to say thank you to everyone who has shown their support for both myself and Baby S during this incredibly difficult time. I have no idea still where this is going to go, but I have never felt so much love and support.

At the urging of a lot of my Facebook friends I have decided to go forth and create a chip-in account just for Baby S.

At this point the contributions will go towards hopefully getting an amnio done and obtaining legal counsel. I am not sure exactly how much this is going to cost so I have set the goal at $5,000. The doctors at the specialist office speculated that the amnio would cost at least $2,500 if not more. The retainer for the lawyer that I am looking to hire is $2,000. Anything extra will go towards paying the bills so that my family and I will be able to continue to live in our home.

Please contribute if/what you can. No obligation, and no hard feelings if you can't offer anything

We are also thinking of doing an online benefit auction. If you are interested in donating please use the comments and I will try to get in contact with you.

Baby S is in trouble...

My hands are shaking and my stomach is upset as I sit down to write this update.

Things did not go well yesterday. I'll try to be as brief as I can, but this may get lengthy and I apologize.

SO I had the level 2 u/s yesterday. It wasn't pretty. The IPs were there. The u/s tech was very sweet, but the doctors definitely dealth the worst blow I could imagine in this situation:

"We're seeing multiple problems".. first thing she said directly to us.

To make a very long discussion fairly short.. the cleft that I saw on the u/s on Monday was verified. The baby has a mal-formed heart... but they couldn't tell us exactly what the malformation was, just that it was a significant heart problem. There was still no stomach bubble, so they said that it could be a structural problem, it could be a blockage, or it could just be that the cleft is preventing the baby from swallowing the amniotic fluid. They suspect a chromosomal problem or a genetic mutation. They did rule out Down's Syndrome though as none of the combined problems are indicative of DS.

*On another related note I got my Quad Screen back today also and it was negative for DS, Trisomy 18 and Neural Tube Defect*

We had a long discussion afterwards. The IPs wanted to know what percentage this child had for having a 'normal' life. They wanted to know how the child would fare without surgery. They wanted to know how many surgeries the baby would need. I know the doctor did her best to answer, but her answers were clearly based on 'worst case scenario'. We talked about how to go about getting more information; doing an amnio, etc. And I heard from behind my head "but what would be the point."

My worst nightmare. What would be the point!? How about knowing what is going on with this child that we all know you were so excited about; that you wanted so much. How about giving your daughter a fighting chance!? How about knowing what her real problems are so that you can better evaluate the situation!?

They've given up. They've decided that they want to terminate and that is the only outcome they are going to accept. We sat in the office of the genetic counselor for almost an hour. They told me I was unmerciful; I told them I was being the most merciful I could be by allowing the child the chance at life. They told me that the child would experience nothing but pain and suffering. I told them that with the information we had we couldn't be certain of that. I asked for the amnio, they said there was no point. I said I on't do it without knowing that her situation is an absolute confirmed death sentence. They said 'there is no point'. They tried to tell me that God gives you things, but even God is merciful so please be merciful and that was the last straw. I told them 'This is not God.. this is you. This is you making a choice and putting God's name on it." ... and I walked out.

The amount of anger that I still have about that meeting.. about the tactics they used to try and 'convince' me that getting more information was impertinent.. I can't even begin to tell you how upset and angry this makes me. If you know me at all you know that I am very pro-life. With this situation, if the baby was clearly not going to survive I would probably emplore the parents to allow me to carry until birth and then stay with the baby as she passed. However, they will not allow me to get enough information to make an educated decision about the likelihood of the child to survive. I might even consider terminating if the child was going to live a life endured in pain.. but how can I tell when they won't let the testing occur that would tell me so.

I know what some people are going to say. 'You are the patient, you can be the one to ask for the testing' but let's remember that I am uninsured at this point. As long as I am under contract, I have no way of obtaining that testing without paying for it out of pocket. That's anywhere from $2,000-5,000. I lost my job just before transfer. I am a single mom with two small children. Even with my surrogacy compensation I'm not rolling in money here. To be honest with this happening I don't know how I"m going to pay my rent in March. But regardless of all of that; it just isn't feasible for me to pay for the procedure out of my own pocket. People have suggested a fund-raiser or a donation service.. but I don't know how much I can trust that people aren't going to say that I'm just doing this for money, or that I'm scamming people. Lord knows I've already gotten that one.

So basically I"m still in the same holding pattern I was in the other day. I have more information, but not what I need to be comfortable making a decision. I've been through the experience of losing a child; having a baby born too early to survive. I can't voluntarily end the life of a child that could very easily have a fighting chance at life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Surrogacy.. where we are right now.

So up until now this pregnancy has been uneventful. Baby girl S is happy, moving, with a good heartbeat and loves to kick the bejeezus out of anyone who dares lay their head or body on 'her' belly. Things have been nice..

The day of my 21 week anatomy scan everything changed. I went in for the ultrasound by myself; the IPs could not make it down for the appointment. I saw flickers of concern on the tech's face as she did the scan, but of course she didn't say anything to me. I thought I saw a couple of 'things' but I kept my questions to myself, knowing that if anything was perceived to be wrong the midwives office would call me and let me know what was going on. My IPs had asked to receive a copy of the report, so before heading home I stopped by the office and signed a medical release so that the midwives could contact them about the pregnancy. Little did I know that telling the midwives to call them first would prove to have been a big mistake.

On my way home I started receiving ominous texts from the mother. 'This is not good, this is a problem' 'We have to do something right away' I had no idea what this all meant until she called me. I couldn't make out a lot of what she was saying but the impression that I got was something was wrong with the baby. The midwives office called while I was on the phone with her, but I couldn't answer it in time. So I called them back.

The baby definitely has a cleft palette. She also has a cyst on her brain, which will likely resolve itself before birth. The ultrasound was unable to detect a stomach bubble, which is indicative of some problems which may require surgery immediately after birth. And (this is the 'big' one) they suspect the baby has Down's Syndrome.

They requested I get the Quad Screen done, which I immediately went and got done. And then came the kicker. The mother called me, still in a state of hysteria I would say, and tells me that 'we do not intend to bring a child into the world that has a significant disability and will require several surgeries to survive'.

WHAT!? What happened to 'this is my child I can't just throw him/her away'?? Where is this coming from! As I try to explain that nothing they are saying is 'wrong' is a death sentence for the baby. The physical problems are fixable, and Down's Syndrome is a socially accepted condition that has the potential for the child to be a thriving part of society. She is still talking termination. I remind her that this does NOT qualify under the terms of our contract and she states that she disagrees. I start to question what we put in the contract. I was so sure that they were not the 'baby's not perfect, let's terminate' type.. I didn't stress over the language regarding abortion/reduction. Even as it is, looking at my contract later it states that there must be 'severe fetal abnormality' which to me means life-threatening condition where the baby most likely will not survive outside of the womb. This does not qualify!

I'm appalled. I'm disgusted. I'm in a state of shock. I'm contacting a lawyer to see what my options are. But altogether.. I'm really just stuck once again.

And so here I am: sitting in my living room the night before the big peri-natologist appointment that will give us some much needed answers, unable to sleep for the fear and anxiety that is building up every moment that I have to realize that the time to see the IPs and the time to have the ultrasound is getting closer. I can't even fathom what I"m going to say to them or how I"m going to react given the runaround that has happened since Monday. I really wish I wasn't going to this appointment alone.

Wish me luck you guys.. I'll have more info tomorrow. And either I'll be posting in elationn that the u/s was wrong and Baby S's fate has been spared.. or I might be posting in anger and plotting what my next step will be. Who knows.. only time will tell.

Surrogacy as it goes.. How it's been..

Hello all!
It's been quite a while since I wrote anything.. and I'm sure what has been happening over the last couple of months most of you already know from following me on Facebook. But I feel that the time has come that I have to write it all down; as a record for posterity, and as an act of respect for the little life that I'm so blessed to be holding.

On October 8th 2011 I drove down to PA for an embryo transfer. The couple that I decided to carry for is an established family with three other children in NY. Their mom carried the older child and then twins, but doctors decided it was unsafe for her to carry again because all of her children were born premature and her pregnancies were very difficult. The couple had two embryo's still frozen, and the thing I remember her saying that made me believe that they were the type of people I could be confident carrying for was when she told me 'they're my babies, I can't just throw them away'.

Two embryo's were transferred.. and then we waited. and waited and waited. Impatient me of course went out and bought a box of 3 home pregnancy tests. The first one (5 days after transfer) was negative. The second (7 days after transfer) was also negative. I became quite discouraged. I had a scheduled blood test on the 9th day post-transfer.. but I also had one home test left. I contemplated not using it and just waiting.. but I really couldn't just let it be. 8 days post transfer I got a very faint positive on the HPT. I was thrilled. My IPs wanted to wait for the official blood work before getting excited, but sure enough the next day it came back positive and they were absolutely thrilled.

The next couple of months were a little rough. I didn't have a lot of morning sickness because of the medications that the clinic had me on to maintain the pregnancy. I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks to measure the baby and make sure everything was growing well. Everything measured perfectly. We worked on getting insurance set up, however because of the regulations with insurance in the state of Connecticut, we were not able to get private insurance, and I was not able to use my state insurance for any of the pregnancy costs. We were stuck.

Luckily we found the wonderful Childbirth Connections Birth Center and midwives in Danbury. My first appointment I was 14 weeks. I lost 4lbs between the initial ultrasound and that date. However shortly afterwards I regained my appetite and I gained 7lbs in the next 4 weeks. Things looked good, baby's heartbeat was strong, and I was starting to feel movement.

We had an anatomy ultrasound scheduled during my 18th week. The tech was not happy about doing the scan at that gestation and wasn't able to clearly see the heart and the head as she wanted to; so I was scheduled to come back in 3 weeks, when I was 21 weeks. We did, however, find out that the baby is a girl!