Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas Happy Hannukah Joyous Kwanzaa and Blessed Yule

For a few moments there, things were just about perfect.

The chestnuts were roasting (we called it hot chocolate)

The children were nestled (watching movies on the couch)

And visions of sugarplums danced in our heads (more like in front of my eyes as I struggled to get those last few presents wrapped)

Christmas was, and is, magical.

Family, friends, loved ones near and far. We visited everyone we possibly could, and loved on the pretty Miss S for an entire day. We had joy, laughter, and presents galore!!

And then we got hit with a stomach bug.
But.. in the end we did ok :) Christmas was wonderful, unlike many years past. Our hearts are full, and our spirits are renewed.

And so, even though I"m a day or two late.. we wish you all the same joy of the holidays. Whatever holiday that may be.

**just a little reminder that the Kickstarter campaign is still going too! Visit the page HERE**

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No 'Easy Sell'

SO.. how is life for all the rest of the world?
For us, it's never easy.

I've become accustomed to having to work harder for an accomplishment than most of my peers. So it was no big shock when the publishing company that I'd contracted with to publish the Baby S Story went bankrupt and took my work off the shelves.

Not a big shock, but still very disappointing.

You see... the beginning of sales was very easy and fun! I talked to a lot of great people; had lots of great ideas, and got some serious work done within the first few weeks of the book being published. With guest bloggers and promo readers lined up and a big ad in a national magazine all lined up, I thought there was a good chance that something good would come of sharing S's story.

After all, her story isn't just one of a disabled child coming into the world. Her story is much more than that.

It's a cautionary tale of surrogacy for others to learn about
It's a tale of strength to help struggling pregnant mothers remain true to themselves.
It's testament to the power of love and  belief in the positive.

It is, in short, what has made ME.

It's changed my life, my health, and my perspective.

All of that can't possibly be fit into one (slightly) fictionalized memoir. And so a second manuscript is being drafted. I can't wait to share it with you all.

Yesterday, a Kickstarter campaign was launched.

What did I learn, how did I grow?
How did being the surrogate to this incredibly complex and yet incredibly resilient and amazing child change me?
How will surrogacy change as a result of my experiences?
How do I want it to change?

There are several different prizes I'm offering for contributing to this project. Baby S is a big part of my life and journey.. come make her a part of yours too!

As of right now, Kickstarter is the launching point.
So take a look HERE

And many blessings to you during these holiday days.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What's it like to BE Happy?

I remember the feeling.. the warm sunshine on my face, the little kicks in my belly. My girls nearby, playing tag on the campus green or the stretch of grass alongside our favorite ice cream spot. For as much turmoil surrounded my stay in Michigan, I can say that the time that I spent there was one of the few times in my past that I can remember being truly happy.

I was doing something good. I was being the type of person that I've wanted to be my whole life; someone who made a difference.

Chaos swirled around me, and most of the time I woke up each morning with another phone message from a lawyer or healthcare provider, but even with the threat of litigation, the medical complications that we were finding more and more information on every day, I was still HAPPY! 

My family was HAPPY. My girls were HAPPY! Even when my daughter was overwhelming me with food stealing and 'toddler' behaviors, and I needed some relief from her constant energy, I was still HAPPY! 

That sounds crazy to me. To be overwhelmed and stressed and at the same time to be so exuberantly happy. Many times I would look at myself in the mirror and think that I must have finally lost my  mind, to be so happy when everything facing me had the potential to bring very bad things my way. 

But somehow I never lost the faith. It wasn't until after S was born, my personal internal struggle with giving her up, and after the whirlwind of legal paperwork and the finality of court where I gave up my parental rights that the situation really overcame me. 

How was life when I was happy? 
I can't lie. I loved it. I was happy, and so were my children. We were able to work together, and enjoy our adventures together. We were a cohesive family unit, working together to get to the other side of our situation. 
Living that way gave me a great insight on how my life could be if I chose to be happy always. I was able to see that being happy was more of a mindset and a mentality than it was simply a set of favorable circumstances to keep me from spiraling into depression and despair as I had done in the past. 

But inevitably the stress and grief of giving up a child for adoption was too much for my psyche to deal with. Leaving Michigan was one of the hardest things that I ever did; driving away from the hospital where the child that I carried for so long was sleeping peacefully within the walls of, knowing nothing of what I was doing and where I was going. 
Coming home to nothing was just as hard. My family went through a very difficult year after we returned to New England. We have been back for almost 2 years now, and are just starting to realize again that 'normal' is something that happens to us too, not just everyone we know. 

One thing that has happened over the last two years as a result of the hardships that we've had is that our once very healthy lifestyle has been compromised. It's hard to do yoga in a hotel room, and eating out doesn't exactly allow for an organic diet. But this was our reality, and it's how we've managed to stay afloat during this transition. Now we are living in a stable home again, and I have a brand new baby niece who's mommy is excited about learning how to make her family more healthy. I want this for us; for all of us. I want us to be healthy and happy, like we were way back when. The situations are different, but that's even better of a reason to be happy this year! 

During the next 3 months my sister and I will be transitioning our household back to the healthy place that gives my heart hope for a healthy future for my children. I hope that you will follow along as I research and explain, implement and experiment with different health choices. My goal is once again have an organic diet (on a budget!) as well as utilizing my most essential healthy oils and supplements for internal and emergency health aids. *I am not a doctor and do not advise on health conditions or make recommendations for treatments of any ailment* I will be starting to practice yoga again, and offering my favorite YouTube videos. I will be meditating for joy and peace and sharing some free meditation resources as I come across them as well! 

In September 2014 I will be releasing BEHappy 2014 as a transformational program for others who want to harness the power of meditation, holistic health and good nutrition to BE Happy in 2014!

If you are interested in following along with the program in it's beta testing phase, please let me know! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The big release!

After 3 days of watching, the book has made its Amazon debut! Kindle is available now, paperback in a few days I'm told.

I apologize for the short and sweet post, I've been sick.. no rest for the weary!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Surrogate Musings

Have you ever thought about how every single thing in your life really does lead you exactly where you are supposed to go?

Some people have asked me why I want to build my dream off of the dramatics of a surrogacy gone haywire? Why not start over and build it all from the ground up like I was planning to do after the surrogacy.

The answer that I have for them is that I believe that one small life can impact the world in a huge way. I want to be a part of that impact. If S had not been born, I may not have found the strength to push forward and build the life that I want for my family. I was stuck in a mediocre existence before she came along, and her influence has pushed me to be a stronger and more corageous woman. I am no longer afraid to voice my opinions and make them known. I believe in choice as intensely as I believe in breastfeeding and carseat safety.

S made me who I am today. Everything that I believe has been reinforced or defined by her existence. I know so many others who are inspired by her. I have been contacted by individuals around the world who tell me that S has touched their hearts and that they are better individuals for her life being in this world. THAT is powerful. THAT is motivating. That a single child can have such a positive energy in the world before she even enters it captivates me. It reminds me that we all have the ability to be inspirational. We all have the ability to spread joy and happiness.

For we are all surrogates. We are surrogates to the ideas and inspiration of others as we spread awareness, promote our passions, work to change the world and inspire others to do the same. We carry the ideas, methods, and inspiration of others in our everyday life, as if they were our own. We all are surrogates.

I am a surrogate to S. I am also a surrogate to the ideas of natural pregnancy advocates, breastfeeding advocates, holistic practitioners and teachers, philosophers and psychologists. I compile my surrogate knowledge in an attempt to help families of all different shapes and sizes to live the way that will benefit their family, their life, and their resources the best way that they can. Through education they can learn what exactly that is.

My birth daughter gave me that gift. That is her legacy. I want to share this idea with the world. So, although I have many projects in the works, I hope to release, in about a year, another book called Surrogate Musings. It's still a work in progres, but I'm excited about getting it started.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

End of life when it's your baby.

I came across this today: 

Baby Blick Only Made a 10-Day Stop on Planet Earth but His Very Presence Spoke Words That Will Last Lifetimes

It was something that hit me in an unexpected way. This entire journey for me has always been about life. But there was a point where I wasn't even sure that S would have one. I remember coming to this realization days after the big ultrasound that had started our whole mess. There was still so much that was unknown, and I didn't have any way of knowing for sure if S would survive. Even with an amnio, I wouldn't have known for weeks if she had some genetic anomaly that would have meant she wouldn't survive the pregnancy. I had no way of knowing that her medical issues didn't include something that would mean she wasn't going to live past the pregnancy. It was a very difficult reality to come to terms with, especially in light of the pressure that I was under. 

I've maintained for quite some time that knowing what I know now, I would never have gone forward with a contract with the intended family. However, I can't say that at the time when I signed the contract I was necessarily in the same mindset as I am now. At one point I didn't know for sure what I would do if I was to find out that my child, or a child that I carried was diagnosed with a fatal or life threatening condition. As a doula and birth advocate, I had read stories of women faced with this particular circumstance, but I had never been in those shoes myself. I would love to say that I knew that I would be able to make a decision in favor of what the contract read, but to this day I have not had that experience. 

Experience is a tricky phenomenon. Given knowledge, we can estimate what we believe would be the 'right' thing to do, or even fathom to project what we would do in any given situation. But when the time comes for us to experience such, often the route we take is not what we believed we would. I've seen this now firsthand, although I don't know that I would have believed it if my situation had never occurred. I've said that I would have gone forward with pregnancy termination if I knew for sure the baby would die, such as in the case of anencephaly or Trisomy 18. But when it came down to it, and I was faced with the prospect of carrying a child that I knew would die.. I don't know that I could have. 

It is heartbreaking to think about the prospect of burying your own child; even moreso when you feel as though you are the only one who wants him or her to survive. A call to perinatal hospice and a trip to a funeral home will leave even the strongest of individuals in a place crippled with grief over the potential outcome of such a sad situation. Even stronger is the challenge of 'what if they are wrong' and 'what if my baby is strong, and survives'. 

Little Zion reminds me so much of my S in the picture that his parents shared with The Blaze. For the first year of her life, I called her my little rhesus monkey because she was so tiny and bald. 

Zion survived. He fought for 10 days and passed peacefully with his family in a loving and supportive environment. 

If S had been handed a similar fate, would I have made a different choice? If her holoprosencephaly had been diagnosed before birth, would I have made a different choice? I can't say for sure, but my heart tells me no. Even if it meant putting myself under the emotional distress of carrying, caring for, and saying goodbye to her, I would like to say that I would have the same decorum and respect for life as these parents did. They gave their son the best possible, knowing that his life would be shorter than anyone hoped for. That is love. That is faith. That is what I strive for. 

S is still surviving. 20 months so far, and getting bigger and better every day. Sometimes they surprise us :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fire Within- A Surrogate's Journey

Writing has always been soothing to me. It seems like I say things better in writing than I ever could hope to in real life.When I was younger I would write notes to my parents, telling them how mad I was about some teenage injustice. When I broke up with my first boyfriend I wrote a 5 page letter and burned it in my back yard. I have always loved to write.

It was suggested to me many times that I should write S's story, to remind myself, and tell her about what happened before she was born. Everyone I met on my journey would tell me that it sounded like something out of a Lifetime channel movie. Heck, I thought that myself.

So when I was pregnant, I started writing little notes. I dedicated a notebook to the baby, and saved everything that I could get. Medical charts, social work notes from the hospitals, my records and hers. I would write in my notebook what happened, not usually very specific, but enough so that I remembered the big events. It turned into a box, and now that she's no longer with me, that box helps me to remember my little angel.

When I was first introduced in the eye of the media, I spent a lot of time explaining things, and trying to make people understand my feelings on the matter of surrogacy and my personal feelings about my situation. There were some misconceptions made, incorrect data reported in the media, and of course we all know that once something is put on the internet there is no taking it back. Of course, stating that you did something for money isn't just a little 'something'.

So when I was approached about writing a book to tell the whole story, I said yes.

Fire Within: A Surrogate's Journey is the insider edition of the Baby S story. If you want to know about what I was doing before I got pregnant, it's in there. If you want to know what the date was that I moved to Michigan, it's in there. If you want to know how I feel about this entire escapade, do I need to tell you where to look?

My Facebook page is here: Fire Within

I'm not here to tell you what to think of me. I'm not even here to beg you not to think that what I did was wrong. I am asking you to take a good read into my side, and think about yourself and what you really think about your morals. If you would have made a different choice than I did, well as much as it doesn't give me much faith in humanity as a whole, I won't hate you for that. I just ask that you embrace on thing..

We're all human.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Forever a helper

I've always been the type of person to help people. Right now, it's my sister. She's really more like my best friend, but we have had a very special bond since very very early in life, and I see her, as well as a few others in my inner circle, as family as opposed to just being friends.

The point though, is that I'm known within my own circle to be the helper. I'm the one who people turn to when they need help. If I can help them, they know that I will.

Right now it's my sister. She came to me a few months ago, pregnant and in a bad housing situation. Even though I have been struggling myself, I couldn't turn her away. Currently she and her boyfriend live with me, as do my 11 year old nephew and the baby who is 3 weeks old.

A couple years ago it was another very close friend. She has two children who were living in another part of the country while she tried to get her life together, and she was having a hard time. Today her children are home with her and she moved into her own place just a few months ago. She tells me all the time that if it hadn't been for my constant barrage of inspirational texts, memes on Facebook, and conversations we had when she felt like giving up she might not have gotten this far.

My desire to help people is not something that has come with age. In elementary school I was best friends with a student with Spina-Bifida. I volunteered for a long time with a wheelchair sports team in my local area. I've had to use food pantries, and donate whatever food I don't use back so that others can eat too. I was the annoying kid who didn't ask for candy on Halloween but donations for charity. I have always looked for whatever little way I can help. Perhaps it is that desire to help others that led me into childcare. I love teaching people, and I love watching little minds grow. I love nurturing life; it's what I've done for as long as I can remember.

What I want to do is help people. It's been what has driven all of my career work in childcare, as well as the motivating force behind my surrogacy dreams. Helping others is what keeps my heart and my soul  happy and allows me to move forward with my own sometimes seemingly meaningless existence.

I have this huge vision.. a life's yearning that I can't pull myself away from. The details are so vast and scattered that at times it seems like an impossible dream.And yet every corner I take and every new situation that comes to me seems to be directing me towards at least trying to make this vision into a reality. I see creation in every step along the way; a path leading me towards everything that I"ve ever hoped for in my personal and professional life.

You may ask what is stopping me. I"m not entirely sure of the answer. I know that many of my feelings are controversial, and I also know that the path that I am currently headed down is not entirely the path that I am hoping to find myself on. Special needs children hold a special place in my heart, that's for sure. But they are not who I have yearned to help since the moment I realized how profoundly  my children had changed my life.

Young, fresh, vulnerable babies.
They are the ones who I feel need the most protection.

As they enter the world, they are so helpless, and yet they carry with them the future of our entire world. Special needs families go through an identical transition as their small charges enter the world. A new experience opens where a brand new life entrusts everything to their caregivers. The child cannot survive without the assistance of the parent, and the parent is biologically attuned to the needs of the child. However not all beginnings start well, and tragedy surrounding childbirth is far too common. Emotional neglect of children as a result of improper postpartum support is running rampant. You can see it in the eyes of children who grow up with emotionally distant parents and never learn empathy or compassion.  The world is lacking in these things these days, and they don't give our children a very good chance of growing up to be mentally stable and have the ability to sustain healthy relationships with each other. How is the world supposed to survive from the brink of destruction as we are seeing today without the solid framework of a good support system?

I want to be that support. I want to build that system for people who don't have it anywhere else. One day I will say to those people "come, let me help you to be the best parent that you can be and give your child the best chance of a successful life; regardless of their ability level."

My friends have become my family, and through my own personal development I have come to believe that the support of friends and family is the only thing that will help the postpartum family unit to survive. This is what my dream is all about. After all, our children are worth it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Surprise! I'm not..

I often get confused for a conservative Catholic wrapped up in delusion. The thing is, I've never been conservative, or Christian, and I certainly took a dive away from the direction of delusion when I realized exactly how much legal hoopla I was going to have to deal with in order to stand my ground.

The truth is that I am a pagan. Unspecified, undecided, but following the pagan ways for as long as I can remember having a religious preference. I believe that karma is real, and I believe that you get back what you put into the universe. These are the few things about my spiritual beliefs that are different than most people who I speak to who are Christians.

With all of our differences, one of the things that I have in common with many Christians is that we have similar respect and honor for life. Religious views, that is the way that we see the outside world in relation to our own existence, vary amongst many. However it seems as though the old earth based religions have one very pronounced similarity with the spirituality that Jesus preached: they urge you to be a good person.

Could I have been a Christian with the feelings that I have? In some regards yes. I believe many of the same things about morality, integrity, and right from wrong. We have our differences when talking about life after death and the presence of magic (like karma, energy, etc) in the world, but those are things that I can see past. But the point is that I didn't become a Christian. Many people I know who work in holistic health are Christian, because our energies mesh well. I believe that we, as poeple, are at our best when we are in harmony with nature. I also believe in having good morals. These are both things that my spiritual beliefs reinforce in me. These things give me the passion for holistic living that I have.

The fact that my means for capturing interest in the eye of the public is due to my spiritual beliefs and not my holistic ways honestly makes things rather difficult for me. Because the issues surrounding surrogacy and right to life, I thought for a while that I should try to keep the two separate. Over time I'm realizing that not only is there a connection between the two, (and my interesting twist on that) but they can work together to help people. My personal feelings on these spiritual topics led me to my experience as a surrogate. They also led me to my spiritual association as a Pagan. My spiritual beliefs lead me to the desire to be in harmony with nature. This brings me to my holistic path. My kids are just an extention of that; the search for harmony as well as my extensive research into child development, brain development, and experience as both a caregiver and parent.

You see, there is much much more to me than meets the eyes. More than you could ever hope to discern just by reading a few blogs and poking around at my life story from what you can find online.I hope that at least some of the people who read my posts and judge me as 'that pro-life religious freak' will take a moment to understand the chain of events that has brought me to where I am. You may be surprised at what you find.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spring will come again!

'I saw robins today..
     ..spring is on it's way'

There is something about the rebirth of the world/ the transformation from winter to spring that brings about hope. I don't know exactly what it is, but the timing for this year's rebirth is perfect. In the past week I've seen two babies brought into the world, watched my sister transform into a breastfeeding mom, and seen signs of the earth's constant cycle of life. I feel good about this..

Two years ago things were not this bright. Then I faced this time of year with a very different perspective. At twenty-something weeks pregnant I was being presented with the prospect that the happy ending I'd been hoping for and looking forward to was coming to an end. The path that laid in front of me was one that I believed would bring about only bad things, and I was partially right. It was one of the darkest hours of my existence, the days riddled with thoughts back and forth. Which choice was the 'right' choice? Which was going to hurt me and my family more? Should I give in to the legal demands and suffer silently with the knowledge of what I had done? Or would it be less devastating to lose the financial benefits and face possible legal devastation of refusing to go through with a procedure I couldn't make myself accept? How do you make that choice?

There are a few things I remember clearly about that time. One of them was right after I'd realized what the date was that year; what it is today. I had put the girls for a nap, and come outside to sit on the steps of my apartment in the middle of the woods and just cry. As I sat there, the light from the sun began to warm my face for the first time I could remember since the last time it had snowed; a few days earlier. My head was pounding in pain, and the warmth of the sun traveled down my face, onto my chest and on my stomach. With my eyes closed, I just sat there, feeling peace wash over me. S's little movements turned into bigger movements as the sun warmed us both up, and I felt good. I opened my eyes, and the sight of the yard was teeming with movement of the animals that lived in the woods behind the house. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks were scattered around the yard, all running in plain sight through the snow. I got up and started to walk towards the tree line, and was soon stopped by a bird who tried to fly straight into me. As I looked down I saw what all the activity in the yard was about. A small little egg sat in the snow, cradled by the indent it had made when it fell. It looked to be intact, and the birds above me were very upset that I had come close to it.

As I stared at that egg, so small and fragile, I couldn't help but feel some sort of connection. It would have been so easy to just say 'that egg will never survive, it's cold and it has been on the ground'. Surely the parents would have gotten over the loss, and moved on to hatch others. I could have stepped on it, returning it to the earth, or I could have just picked it up and put it in the garbage. I could have left it there, prey for the animals of the forest. The egg was not mine, and I had no obligation to try and save it. All of these things played through my head. They all sounded logical, and yet they all just felt so wrong. Who steps on a baby bird? Who disposes of an egg, and halts any chance it may have of becoming a bird? Certainly not someone who has reverence and respect for life. Not someone like me.

Some of you may realize that today is an anniversary. Thirteen years ago I gave birth for the first time. Scared ad alone, my daughter was too small to survive. The absence of her presence in my life has haunted me for years. Today, for only the second time since the day of her birth, I am not facing this day with a heart full of pain and sadness. Today, thanks to a beautiful sweet little girl, my heart is full of hope. S has brought me so many things; opportunities and passion that I could never have imagined. Big things are on the way and I'm excited to see where all of this will take me.

**My book is being published! Join my page on Facebook for details! Fire Within**

**I am writing more! Little Sparks is a book about special needs kid heros!**

Someone once said to me that my daughter's life meant nothing, and that I should just forget about her and move on, and I never really knew how to refute that until now. One of the things that I've come to realize over the last year is that is truly is the experiences that a person endures that makes them who they are. S is alive because of the experience that I had with my first baby. If the reason for my baby's loss was so that I would have the strength to stand up for another child's life, then I guess I'm ok with that. Doesn't make me any less sad that I don't have a 13 year old today, but I can now say I don't regret the experience.

On a lighter note, I've lit my own fire under my passion, and I'm coming on strong. I'm too busy for crying, and I have a lifetime of work to accomplish :)

Are you ready?