Third Trimester Starts Tomorrow

The ultrasound scan yesterday marked another milestone for us, although we did it two days before we reach 28 weeks.  Annie’s local hospital has a level 3 neonatal intensive care unit and can take babies that are born at 28 weeks and weigh as little as 2 pounds.  Any time before that, we risk having to go to a hospital with level 4 NICU in the neighboring state an hour away where surrogacy is illegal.  Needless to say, Bob and I have been waiting for this day when we can breathe a sigh of relief.  This day is almost here.

At the ultrasound yesterday, Annie was there with Kenneth and the boys.  It was very unusual for them but they were 15 minutes late.  I was patiently and not so patiently waiting at home for Annie’s video call as my mind was going to bad places, like accident or something.  But I also knew that it was going to be fine.  After a long time, Kenneth finally Facetimed me outside of the building as the reception was so bad in the ultrasound room that he wanted to work his way back into it.  The video was going in and out with a message telling me that the connection was poor and the video would resume.  I could still hear what was going on there but I could barely see the grainy black and white on the screen.

So here are the stats.  Baby A had a heart rate of 141 and weighed 2 lb 10 oz.  He/she was measuring 28 weeks 1 day.  Baby B had a heart rate of 159 and weighed also 2 lb 10 oz.  He/she was measuring 28 weeks 3 days.  Considering that yesterday was 27 weeks 5 days, both of them were measuring ahead.  Apparently since they are so much bigger now, the ultrasound tech had a difficult time measuring their length.  Kenneth said that the babies’ foreheads were touching, with one lying on the side to the right and one lying on the side to the left.  It sounds like there isn’t much room in there for them.  Kenneth said that the babies seem to be resting but he said, “Trust me, they have been very active.”

I still think that Baby A is a girl and Baby B is a boy.  But again, who knows, right?  I could be all wrong.  ūüôā

After a little while, Annie called me in the exam room with Dr. OB so we could talk about the scan and the delivery date.  Dr. OB is against moving the C-section date any earlier than 38 weeks.  He really wants to give the babies a chance to grow and be mostly fully developed before we take them out.  He told me that we could stick with 38 weeks 2 days like we have planned for all along, or he could call to reschedule for 38 weeks exactly.  He didn’t know if it was a possibility because the hospital only allows three scheduled C-sections a day.  I made a decision to just stick with September 15th since we have all been used to that date.  I just like the sound of September 15th if the babies allow us to wait until that point.

Dr. OB told me that Bob and I need to get the vaccine for whooping cough in the next couple of weeks for it to be effective at the time of the birth.  I’m thinking we should get my mom to do it as well.  

Since I won’t be doing a tour at the labor and delivery at the hospital, I asked Dr. OB if I should call the hospital to speak with someone about the arrangement for me and Bob as intended parents on the day of the birth.  He said that it would be a good idea and gave me the name and phone number of the director of that department.  I will be calling the lady tomorrow to speak with her about the room available for us and the arrangement during the C-section.

In terms of the scan, Dr. OB said both babies are doing well.  They are at 57th percentile, which to me is perfect.  I don’t want them to be too small or too big.  Right about the middle is great for Annie to carry them.  Their breathing score (that’s what I call it) is good too, just like last time.  They are basically very healthy and right on track.

Annie did her glucose test a couple of weeks ago.  She passed this test with flying colors.  She had no anemia, no protein in her urine, and no contractions.  Her blood pressure was great.  Basically, she is rocking this twin pregnancy so far with a clean bill of health.

I am just so grateful.

The next appointment will be two weeks from yesterday where Dr. OB will check on the babies’ heart rates and Annie’s general health.  In four weeks, we’ll have another ultrasound to check on the growth.  Bob and I will be there in 5 weeks to visit, and I will stay on that Monday to attend an appointment.  Dr. OB and I discussed whether to postpone the ultrasound to 5 weeks from now so that I can see the scan, but he feels better to have the scan in four weeks.  When I attend the appointment, he will do the nonstress test and maybe a bit of scan to show me the babies.  He said that from 32 weeks on, Annie will have 2 nonstress tests each week, on Monday and Thursday.  I like the sound of that.  Basically, Annie will be monitored closely and regularly until the babies come to this world.

Tomorrow is 28 weeks when the 3rd trimester starts.  We basically have 10 weeks left.  Can you imagine?  In 2 1/2 months, we’ll have Bunny and Okra in our arms….. It just sounds so crazy and amazing!

MicroblogMondays: Almost 28 weeks, and Things Are Looking Up

Almost 28 weeks here. ¬†Today, at 27 weeks 5 days, we will have our ultrasound at 10am. ¬†We were all supposed to be there with Annie this weekend for this appointment. ¬†Ever since Annie’s anxiety and hemorrhoid problems, we canceled this trip that was also supposed to be for our maternity photo shoot not knowing if she was going to up for moving around and smiling in front of the camera. I was bummed about not being able to go or to have my photo shoot but didn’t want to force things on anybody. ¬†So I was okay with canceling. ¬†As usual, I will be attending today’s appointment virtually by video conferencing Annie in the ultrasound room. ¬†I hope that we will continue to have good news all around.

Speaking of Annie, she seems to be doing so much better these days. ¬†Interactions with her remind me of the Annie pre-anxiety attack. ¬†She is slowly going back to being her old self. ¬†I am so psyched to see that we can freely contact her without feeling as if we are walking on eggshell. ¬†I felt that Bob had become a little guarded with his feelings after the whole thing with the anxiety attack. ¬†We talked a few times about going to visit Annie one weekend and spend time with her as well as to feel the babies’ movements, but nothing really materialized. ¬†Two weeks ago, Bob and Annie were exchanging emails with regard to something computer related that he was helping her with. ¬†Annie mentioned that the babies were saying hello by moving around a lot while she was writing the email. ¬†This must have touched Bob’s heart somehow because after that he told me that we should really find a time to go visit in July or August. ¬†We can’t go in July as all the weekends have been booked. ¬†Plus the plane tickets are pricey. ¬†The first weekend of August seems to be a good choice. ¬†We finally booked the tickets to arrive at Annie’s town the first Friday in August late evening. ¬†Bob will come home that Sunday so he doesn’t have to miss work. ¬†I have arranged for myself to fly home a day later so hopefully I can attend an OB appointment with Annie that Monday as we will reach 32 weeks then and Dr. OB wants to see her twice a week for non-stress test.

Remember that maternity photo shoot I have always wanted to do? ¬†Annie is totally up for it. ¬†So I contacted the photographer that we have booked for the birth photography and she can do a session for us the Sunday morning of our August trip! ¬†I know that the light before sunset is the best, but we don’t have that kind of time as the photographer is already booked that Saturday. ¬†But it doesn’t matter. ¬†I am just so grateful that we still have a chance to do this barring the babies deciding to come any time before that. ¬†(My hope is that they will stay put until much later.)

Getting my hair colored and cut was one of the items on my to-do list called “Before Twins”. ¬†White hair has sprouted all over my head the last six months. ¬†I had never highlighted or dyed her hair, so getting it colored was a bit scary. ¬†But, I would like to look more youthful for my babies, so I finally made an appointment with my usual hair stylist and got my hair colored dark brown for the first time in my life. ¬†I love the new hair color! ¬†It looks very natural on me, and it does make me look a lot younger as it covers up all my white hair.

This new hair color and cut is totally photo shoot ready.  Now I just have to figure out what clothes to coordinate with everyone and the style of photography I want.

Our C-section was originally scheduled for September 15th, at 38 weeks 2 days. ¬†Annie picked out a Friday because her husband was originally going to attend a 3-month training 9 hours away starting in late August so she thought that a Friday might be easier for him to take time off. ¬†Apparently, her husband’s supervisor decided to postpone his training to January 2018 because he does not want Kenneth to be distracted by the birth and what’s happening at home. ¬†I know that Kenneth is a bit bummed about it, but right now at least he’ll be around during the last few weeks of the pregnancy to help out so Annie doesn’t feel stressed about single-parenting anymore. ¬†Annie asked us if we could move the C-section date to a Sunday or Monday so that Kenneth could stay home with the kids on his days off while she recuperates in the hospital. ¬†Originally we were okay with moving it earlier to that Monday prior, which will be 37 weeks 5 days. ¬†However, Bob doesn’t want the babies to be associated with a birthday on September 11th. ¬†Today, we will ask Dr. OB if 37 weeks 4 days (Sunday) will be too early or 38 weeks 4 days (the following Sunday) will be too late. ¬†You know, we can plan all we want, but the babies may decide to come earlier.

On the home front, we have made a ton of progress. ¬†All the furniture that needed to be moved out of the babies’ room got moved. ¬†We put one of the book cases in our bedroom, which has made our room look so much nicer somehow. ¬†The shades that we ordered should arrive any time and we’ll have them installed. ¬†We have kept all the books that we want and put away the ones that we don’t need anymore. ¬†The house is looking better each weekend. ¬†The car seats and the extra bases that my mom bought for us are waiting in the garage. ¬†We even have the cribs! ¬†A church friend totally surprised us and bought the cribs on our registry for us. ¬†I never expected anyone to buy them for us let alone a friend. ¬†Having these baby items in our house makes it all very real that we will have some new members who will occupy (invade?!?) our otherwise very tidy and clean space very soon.

Can you believe that we are almost done with the second trimester? ¬†If all goes well (and the twins stay put for as long as possible), we’ll meet our babies in about 10 weeks. ¬†It is still so surreal but at the same time so real. ¬†It is a little scary to not know how things will all unfold, but I can hardly wait to have the babies in my arms! ¬†In a matter of weeks, our lives will forever change.

Chinese Parents’ Reactions

We are 27 weeks today.  Woohoo!

In order to best prepare for my maternity leave, I have started to tell the parents of the kiddos that I work with about the gestational surrogacy and the twins’ scheduled arrival in September. ¬†Majority of the kids on my caseload are Chinese, so majority of the parents with whom I share the news are Chinese. ¬† The dads are more practical. ¬†Most of them didn’t say congratulations and just took whatever I said as facts. ¬†They were more concerned about the schedules in my absence and whether their kiddos can be seen by me again when I return from maternity leave. ¬†One of the dads has boy/girl twins. ¬†With a nervous smile on his face (I don’t know why), he just said, “You will be super busy”. ¬†I just have to take his word for it because he is the one with the experience of twins (and one with disability). ¬†Most Chinese moms were more typical. ¬†They were a little surprised at first, and they usually congratulated me, especially after I confirmed that we are indeed expecting a boy and a girl. ¬†They all said, “You are so lucky!” ¬†I get bugged at times by this reaction. ¬†To me, a person who has been longing for a baby, I would feel blessed if God gives me a boy, a girl, two boys, or two girls. ¬†I just want a baby. ¬†It really doesn’t matter to me if it’s a boy or a girl. ¬†But I can understand why many people feel that this is a lucky thing because I will have an “instant” family in one shot.

And then there were these two Chinese moms. ¬†Chinese Mom Number One’s reaction was the most peculiar. ¬†This is how it went down:

Me: [My blurb about having a surrogate carrying twins for us]

Mom: Have you given birth before?

Me: No.  These are going to be my first children.

Mom: Beware of breast cancer.

Me: ……

Who in the world would respond to another person sharing baby news by warning that person of the risks of breast cancer??!?

She went on and on about her sister who had never given birth and got breast cancer. ¬†She truly believes that her sister’s sickness was due to never having given birth. ¬†I mean, I had heard that before, and it could be true(??), but this is not a normal reaction to another person announcing baby news. ¬†What about a simple congratulations? ¬†And how can someone be “careful” about getting breast cancer? ¬†Regardless of me telling her about my annual checkup and mammogram, this mom still insisted that my chances are higher as her sister also did annual check up and still got it. ¬†And if I said that I don’t have family history, she responded by saying you don’t have to have family history to get breast cancer. ¬†At that point, I gave up.

Chinese Mom Number Two was a bit more normal. ¬†After I told her the news, she congratulated me. ¬†However, as we discussed the schedule, she blurted out, “How nice for you that you don’t have to carry the babies!” ¬†Wow. ¬†Just wow. ¬†I was speechless for a few seconds. ¬†Who in the right mind would say such a thing? ¬†How could she not think even for one second the reason why we needed to pursue surrogacy for a baby? ¬†Who would go to this extreme measure to have a baby just so that she doesn’t have to carry the babies? ¬†She didn’t consider for one second that I would feel that it’s my loss not to be able to carry my own children. ¬†It just blows my mind. ¬†I simply answered, “If I could carry, I would, but since I can’t, this is the path we have taken” and left it at that.

The parents’ reactions have been my entertainment/drama for the past few days. ¬†I haven’t told all the parents yet, so we will see what else I will be told. ¬†But I guess I won’t be surprised by what anyone says anymore. ¬†Who can top these two Chinese moms, right?

MicroblogMondays: Grandma’s Love

About a year ago, I wrote this post about my mom showing me sweaters that she knitted for other people’s babies. ¬†I described the sense of loss that I had, and how I just endured her showcasing her work of art for other people. ¬† I ended that post with this:

“I don‚Äôt now how and when my baby will come, but I believe that when he/she comes, my mother will go crazy with her baby clothes sewing and knitting. ¬†I am very sure of that. ¬†For now, I‚Äôll hold onto that vision of me and my mom choosing yarn and fabric for my baby until it becomes a reality.”

Here we are one year later.  Instead of one baby, now this second-time grandmother-to-be has the task of knitting for her grandson and granddaughter.  What a joy to see her show me the yarn that she has picked out, the patterns that she is considering, and the finished products that are ready to be worn by her grand-babies when the time comes.


I cannot begin to describe the feeling of seeing my mom make these beautiful sweaters for our precious babies.  Finally.

Knowing my mom, I am sure there are many more to come. ūüėÜ

MicroblogMondays: Making More Progress

Some of you will be proud of me, that I did a whole lot this past week preparing for the babies.

My friend A. was so right. ¬†(Man, she is ALWAYS the wise one.) ¬†When I talked to her about my fear of starting the baby registry last week, she said that I seemed like a college kid looking at a blank screen who couldn’t get through the first sentence. ¬†That was such a great description. ¬†I felt exactly that way. ¬†She made a great suggestion. ¬†She told me to go with a girlfriend to a store and do the point and shoot scanner thing and just have fun. ¬†And she added, grab lunch beforehand and have some rose too. ūüėÄ

I took her advice. ¬†Lunch and rose didn’t happen, but my Dear Colleague met up with me one afternoon at Babies R Us (because Buy Buy Baby’s opening in our area won’t be until September). ¬†The staff member who helped me was super helpful and nice (unlike what I read on some reviews of that particular store location). ¬†With the scanner in hand, Dear Colleague and I walked around the shop feeling overwhelmed. ¬†Well, I don’t know about her, but I was overwhelmed. ¬†We walked around looking at many things. ¬†The bottles section was particularly dizzying. ¬†After about 15 minutes, we decided that we needed to just scan something symbolically as the beginning of this process. ¬†So we stood in front of the health section, picked up a thermometer, and pointed the scanner at the barcode. ¬†Done. ¬†First item registered. ¬†This process officially started.

I actually didn’t like the selections at BRU. ¬†I mean, it has more things than Tar.get probably, but there were still many things that it didn’t have. ¬†After my Dear Colleague left for her dinner date, I walked around by myself still feeling a bit overwhelmed, wondering how many of each thing to buy and wishing that I had my laptop there to check reviews and tips/lists given by my friends who are moms of twins. ¬†It was nice to touch and lift certain things that I had done research on, like car seats and playards. ¬†The infant car seat was the first thing that I ever looked at because I knew we needed one (now two) to bring our baby(ies) home. ¬†Seeing a variety in person helped me make a decision. ¬†What surprised me was the size of all these playards. ¬†They are so so big! ¬†I just don’t see how one can fit nicely in our bedroom as bassinets for the initial few months with the babies. ¬† I still need to find a sleep solution for the twins before we transfer them to cribs. ¬†Another helpful thing was touching and lifting some of the diaper bags out there. ¬†Some of them are so heavy! ¬†This experience definitely helped me eliminate some of the choices out there.

I finally scanned about eight things before I walked out of the store exhausted.  This is definitely a work in progress.  I am proud of myself for finally getting it started.

Over the weekend, I was also agonizing over the guest list for the baby shower. ¬†Space was a concern of mine, as I didn’t want to burden the hosts with so many people. ¬†However, this is not going to be a traditional baby shower. ¬†It is going to be more like a celebration of our journey to our babies. ¬†Including Bob and our guy friends is very important to me. ¬†My sister-in-law and I had a talk. ¬†She said the most important thing was for me to give her and our pastor’s wife (who is the co-host) the list of people I would like to invite and they’d figure out the rest. ¬†After working hard on it one evening, I submitted a list of people we would invite, people we would love to invite, and people who are out of town or know that they won’t be available. ¬†Bless my pastor’s wife’s heart. ¬†This is her email:

“I say we invite them all :). ¬†We can totally be like sardines and it will be great. I think people may or may not bring kids. ¬†If I were invited to a baby shower I would naturally not want to bring my kids, haha! ¬†If all 80 people showed up it could get crazy, but that just means you get more presents. ¬†Am I being a little too ambitious, ha?”

To clarify, I am not inviting 80 people.  But the list does look big.  I am sure that not everyone would come.  I am thankful for someone who is willing to accommodate all of our friends and family.  But yeah!  This was something that I struggled to get done, and I am so relieved that they have the list now!  One more thing to cross off the list.

Bob and I continued to clean out the garage to a point where we could move some of the stuff from the second bedroom to downstairs.  Now that these miscellaneous things are out of the second bedroom, we can better visualize it as our nursery and think about where the cribs and dresser will go.

Not only did we make progress, Annie did also. ¬†She seemed to be doing better these past couple of days. ¬†For the first time in a long time, she answered “I’m good” when I asked her how she was doing. ¬†She had been saying “I’m okay” for the longest time. ¬†And she asked me about me more so than the last couple of weeks. ¬†I feel like she is slowly coming out of her shell of the agony over the last few weeks with the physical and emotional ailments. ¬†I am so thankful that she is doing better.

As we are approaching mid-June, all of us seem to be making good progress. ¬†Only three more months before babies arrive. ¬†Or as Bob puts it, we have gone from triple-digit in days (over 100) to double-digit in days before our scheduled C-section. ¬†Things are getting exciting over here. ūüôā

Viability

Our 24 weeks scan was today.  My gut feeling told me that everything was going to be fine, but I was still nervous waiting for it to happen.

Last night I was chatting with Annie online about the logistics of today. ¬†We talked about the babies’ movements. ¬†Apparently they move around and kick a lot when she stops doing something. ¬†They are very active in the morning and after dinner, and they start quieting down at bed time. ¬† Her husband could even see the kicks a couple of days ago. ¬†Somehow reading this moved me to tears. ¬†It was mostly happy tears as I was imagining how they were moving inside of her. ¬†Of course I also felt a sense of loss as our distance prevents me from being there and feeling the movements on her belly when I want to. ¬†Maybe we’ll find a time to go there on a weekend and hang out with her, so we can sit next to her and experience the kicks and the movements as well.

Knowing that they are moving around and are active, I felt pretty good going into today’s scan. ¬†But right before the appointment time, my heart was still pounding. ¬†Annie connected me on the video. ¬†She had the boys with her so she had to hold the phone pointing at the big TV on the wall because no one else could hold it close to the screen. ¬†Because of the distance, I couldn’t really make out what we were seeing and had to rely on her to report to me what the ultrasound technician was saying behind her. ¬†The tech measured the spines of the babies first. ¬†She said at the last scan they were still very little so she wanted to take a better look this time. ¬†Plus both babies were on their tummy so it was easier to visualize the spines today. ¬†Then she measured the heads, the tummies, and the hearts. Baby A has a heart rate of 153, is measuring at 24 weeks 1 day, and weighs 1 lb 7 oz. ¬†Baby B has a heart rate of 151, is measuring at 24 weeks 3 days, and weighs 1 lbs 9 oz. ¬†To me, they seemed to be measuring right on time, but I still needed to talk to the doctor before I could feel totally relieved.

Dr. OB made us wait forever. ¬†Annie must have waited over 45 minutes after the scan to see the doc. ¬†She put me on speaker phone so he could talk to me. ¬†He went over everything with me. ¬†Babies are doing well. ¬†They are 48%ile and 55%ile, which is right on target. ¬†He was joking that this is not like grades at school, where 100 is the best. ¬†The percentile for both babies is great. ¬†He mentioned that they also measured the babies’ breathing. ¬†I forgot what the test was called, but he said something about how well they are breathing and muscle tone. ¬†He said the measurement is from zero to eight, with zero being bad. ¬†Our babies both measured at 8 out of 8.

Dr. OB went on to say that Annie is doing well. There was no protein in her urine and her blood pressure was good. ¬†Cervix was normal and placentas¬†looked great. ¬†All in all, everyone is healthy. ¬†He measured her belly. ¬†She is measuring at 33 weeks if she were carrying one baby. ¬†So with twins, her measurement is normal. ¬†Annie is going to repeat the glucose test for gestational diabetes in a couple of weeks to replicate the normal results from 8 weeks ago. ¬†Dr. OB said that in terms of monitoring, there is no set rules. ¬†The guideline is more strict for expectant moms who show complications such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. ¬† If Annie continues to do well, maybe we don’t need to follow the strict guidelines. ¬†But he still likes to be cautious. ¬†So from here on, we’d get a scan every four weeks until 32 weeks. ¬†After 32 weeks, he may have Annie return once a week or twice a week for a non-stress test. ¬†We can revisit this when the time gets closer. ¬†I asked him about the signs of preeclampsia mainly for Annie to hear it so she would note anything that is out of the ordinary in the future. ¬†He explained to me a few things. ¬†I asked him about the aspirin that she’s been taking and how long she needs to continue on. ¬†Since he usually talks a mile a minute, I didn’t catch everything he was saying. ¬†He was basically saying that with such a low dose, we’ll just continue on until the week before the birth.

I have to say, I like Dr. OB much much better than our last substitute OB.  I am so glad that we have picked him as our OB.

Saying that I was relieved after the phone call was an understatement.  I was so excited and totally felt like celebrating.  It is a huge milestone and one that is worth jumping up and down for.  Praise the Lord for watching over Annie and the babies!

I was so glad to be able to share good news with my therapist today. ¬†I happened to have scheduled an appointment with her today after work. ¬†I contacted her a few weeks ago when things were very tough. ¬†She didn’t have time for me until today. ¬†I told her about the whole anxiety attack saga and other things, my feelings and Bob’s feelings, and how I’ve been handling all these things. ¬†It was great to get help from her. ¬†My take home today is, I should set aside time on a regular basis to process my feelings, think about my feelings, and name my feelings. ¬†The surrogacy process is complicated and it requires care for me to take good care of myself emotionally and mentally. ¬†The other take home is, go enjoy ourselves as much as we can before the babies come.

Bob and I celebrated by having our usual deep dish pizza.   During dinner, Annie sent me the 24 weeks bump photo.  She was wearing a long dress that my friend Jo gave her and she had a huge smile on her face.  It was so great to see her smile again.  She even posted this picture on FB and was saying how happy she was for us.

Today I feel super good. I am so grateful for getting to viability. ¬†Praise God for growing these lives inside Annie and allowing her to feel better with her anxiety and her ailments. ¬†I just can’t wait to meet our babies face-to-face on the day of the scheduled C-section. Hopefully they stay put until then. ¬†‚̧

MicroblogMondays: Crossing Things off the List

I have a huge task list staring at my face whenever I look at my Gmail.

There seems to be ten thousand things to do before our babies arrive.  Although I am not the one carrying so my fatigue has nothing to do with pregnancy, looking at the list is still overwhelming to me and makes me want to hide under the cover and take a nap.

But then, I realize I have to put on my big girl panties and get to the tasks.  I am proud to say that I am slowly tackling the list.

First up was booking a photographer.  My original idea was a maternity photo shoot around 28 weeks with Annie, her family, me, and Bob.  My first choice would have been my pastor’s wife who is a professional photographer.  However, she will not be available around our preferred time plus the cost would skyrocket with flying her there.  She helped me look at the work of photographers local to Annie and we did a lot of back and forth on FB Messenger.  We finally settled on one who was super excited about capturing these moments for us…. until the whole hemorrhoid incident and anxiety attack took place.  If Annie continues to be so uncomfortable, taking pictures of her might not be the best idea.  I really didn’t want to spend so much money on plane tickets, accommodations, session fees for the photography, and other expenses to risk her not feeling well enough for it.  Right after her anxiety attack, we decided to hold off on booking a photographer.  Honestly, I was a little bummed about it because maternity photo shoot had been something that I really wanted to do.  But it’s okay.  I’ll live.  I also had an idea of doing one here just me and Bob and two pairs of baby booties.  Since there is no time limit on it, we can do it anytime, so there is no pressure in booking a session any time soon.  We are going to book that particular photographer for a photo shoot for our C-section though.  So at least I can document it.

Last Friday I checked in with Annie.  She had been feeling a bit better as her symptoms of both hemorrhoids and anxiety were now mild.  She reported that our babies have been very active in the morning and the evening, kicking and moving around.  I told her that I wished I could feel the movements by touching her tummy, but I don’t know when I would make it there.  If I go early to help her out before birth, then I’d spend time with her prior to the babies’ arrival.  She was surprised that we weren’t going to the 28 weeks ultrasound anymore.  She said that if things continue to be better, she should be okay with the maternity photo shoot.  This conversation reignited my hope of getting the maternity photo shoot done.  However, after chatting with Bob, it seems wiser to just stay put and put the money towards other things as it is very expensive to fly the both of us over each time.  I am so glad that Annie is feeling better though.  I hope that her hemorrhoids don’t come back so she’ll continue to be more comfortable.  Poor girl, she can’t sit on her bottom and has to sit on her thighs.

The baby shower was next on the list.  My sister-in-law and my pastor’s wife are hosting.  They live across from each other so they’ll see who will host depending on the size of the party.  After a lot of thinking, we decided on a shower at around 31 weeks.  That will be right after our Hawaii “babymoon”.  I hope that our babies stay put until after that.  I owe my SIL a list of guest and a baby registry.  She can’t send out an invitation without these two things.  I don’t know why but I find the guest list difficult to put together.  Should it be girls only or co-ed?  How many people is too many people?  If we make it girls only, will Bob’s and my guy friends feel left out?  Should we include kids?  Babies?  I don’t plan on having games, so maybe co-ed is okay.  I was told that guys hate baby showers, but this is hardly a conventional baby shower.  So maybe it’s okay to have the guys around?

And then there is this whole thing about where to register.  Like I said before, we don’t have a Buy Buy Baby around us.  We have a Target and Babies R Us close by.  I am tempted to just do Amazon and one of the two brick and mortar stores, but I don’t know what is better.  My friend Jo said that Bed, Bath, and Beyond (and Buy Buy Baby) has the best return policy, which is 365 days.  She buys her big ticket items there and returns them at the store.  That, to me, beats returning things online.  So I have been very indecisive on which site to register at.  And then I also have to decide on what to register.  There are just too many choices out there and I feel overwhelmed every single time I look at the list.  Isn’t registering for baby items supposed to be the fun part of this process?  All I feel is stress, which is not good.  But yeah, I will have to get something started very soon so we can send out the invitation for the shower.

Next up on the list was window treatments.  After our house remodel 4.5 years ago, I lost steam and never did our window treatments.  Our babies’ arrival is a good motivator for me to get my act together.  A few weeks ago, a local company that has very good reviews never returned my call.  So I contacted another company whose owner promptly showed up at my door at the appointed time.  Within an hour, she showed me what might work for the windows in our various rooms and had me choose the styles, colors, pleat size, and light control options.  I was kind of forced into picking the colors and styles, which might be good for me, as I am so indecisive about these things.  Roller shades vs. roman shades vs. cellular shades.  Beige vs. brighter vs. grey.  Room-darkening vs. blackout vs. light filtering.  Bottom up only vs. top down as well.  Again.  So many choices.  My mom quickly made her decision, which helped me in choosing mine.  Without choosing the colors/style, I’d never be able to get an accurate estimate.  I just received the quote for the shades, which is within my expectation.  Window dressing the whole house is an expensive endeavor, so that kind of seals the deal for not traveling to Annie’s town for the 28 week ultrasound.

Clearing our the spare bedroom that will become our “nursery” is the next thing we need to do.  This room has become the dumping ground for miscellaneous, and it also houses our book cases, leftover fertility meds and full sharps containers, toilet papers and paper towels, and a twin mattress.  In order to fix this room, we had to first clear out the garage.  Since we remodeled 4.5 years ago and moved back in, we have put all the things that we didn’t need in the garage.  Over the years, the pile had gotten bigger and bigger, and it all felt like a big black hole.  Without cleaning this mess, I couldn’t possibly allow myself to add the content of the spare bedroom to the mix.  Last Saturday, we got to work and started moving things into piles: donate, sell, electronic waste, recycle, and trash.  We also moved all of the baby stuff that my friend gave me into the living room.  These boxes have been hiding in this garage for the last 4.5 years.  I am so glad that they get to see the light of day.  I also finally cleaned out my 200000 pairs of shoes and only kept those that I will really wear. It was a monumental task to part with my shoes but I was proud of myself for making the cut. I will not get into details, but let me just say that Bob and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on the method of cleaning things out.  This difference in opinion led to a huge fight, and the exhaustion from cleaning made it worse.  Despite this unnecessary fight, we made headway in the garage and cleaned out more than half of the stuff in there.  It is not totally done but we are both proud of the work that we have done so far.  Hopefully after we’re completely done with the garage, we can start packing up the things in the spare bedroom and make ways for baby stuff.

On the list, there is also choosing a pediatrician, registering/attending baby classes, buying a car, and on and on and on.  When I get overwhelmed, Bob always says that he is confident that we will get everything done.  So there is no need to panic.   I will have to remember to take it one day at a time.  Hopefully we’ll be ready by the time the babies make their way into this world.

Blogoversary or Blogiversary??? Whatever It Is, It’s Here!

Regardless of how it is said, today is mine!

On my third anniversary of my blog last year, we were trying to figure out the whole surrogacy thing.  We were so lost.

Ever since then, we went through more roller coaster rides.¬† But all of that doesn’t matter anymore.¬† We cherish where we are at today.

Today, I am struggling with how to deal with our gestational carrier’s emotions and discomfort.¬† Today, I am waiting for our 24 weeks ultrasound A.K.A. viability.¬† Today, I am having a difficult time settling on where to do our baby registry.

Whatever I am going through right now is heck of a lot better than what could have been or where we were at my blogoversary/blogiversary last year, two years ago, three years ago, or when the blog started.

We have babies coming. They are baking.¬† They are thriving.¬† Although I don’t get to carry them.¬† Although I don’t have genetic connections with them.¬† They are mine.¬† I am their mom.¬† There is nothing better than being in this position (until they are safely in my arms).

For that, I am grateful.

And I am also thankful for all the support, whether quietly through reading or actively via commenting.

Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart:  Thank you.

Help Us Out: Tell Us About Your Pregnancy

In light of our recent development, Bob and I are asking for your help.

Since I have frequent contact with Annie, I get a more detailed description of what she is going through.  Bob is more far removed from it all as it is not his wife who is carrying his babies for him.  He does not see first-hand the struggles that she has.  He does not get to witness her day-to-day moments in order to appreciate how difficult a pregnancy can be at times.  This is where you can help.

Could you share with us the physical and emotional struggles that you had or currently have during your pregnancy(ies)?  Turtle (Torthuil) described in her comment to my last post that pregnancy was a great time of emotional vulnerability for her.  Did you all experience that?  How will you describe your experience?

Hopefully your input will help us relate to our surrogate more.

Thanks in advance.

MicroblogMondays: Challenges of Surrogacy – Anxiety Attack

 

(Warning: Another very long post)

After months of honeymoon, we have entered into a difficult phase of this pregnancy with our gestational surrogate.

Everything had been going well up until our 20 weeks ultrasound. ¬†My trip was good. ¬†Physically Annie felt great. ¬†The babies were well. ¬†The OB (not our regular one) who was seeing her for the first time said, “You are pretty darn healthy.” And it was exactly it. ¬†She is very healthy. ¬†She commented that the only thing that she was afraid of was the hemorrhoids¬†coming back as she suffered so much from them at the end of her last pregnancy. ¬†She was out of commission for seven weeks and could not even take care of her newborn. ¬†She was traumatized by the anxiety of having hemorrhoids. ¬†She said as long as they stay away, she’d be fine. ¬†I remember standing in her kitchen hanging out with her and asking her if this pregnancy felt any different from her last three. ¬†She shook her head and said she felt good. ¬†I was feeling blessed that this pregnancy, other than the headaches that she had for a period of time, was going well.

Everything came crashing down two days later¬†on a Saturday. ¬†She messaged me several times asking for prayers as she was emotionally weak and super anxious because she could feel an internal hemorrhoid forming. ¬†In the mean time, I continued to plan for things that we discussed about, such as asking for an ultrasound scan for the 24 weeks visit as well as to plan for a maternity shoot to coincide with the 28 weeks ultrasound. ¬†Let me back up a little bit. The OB we saw the last visit wasn’t the regular OB. ¬†I don’t know what he was smoking, but he told us that an ultrasound wasn’t needed at either 24 or 28 weeks as long as Annie feels good. ¬†I distinctively remember our OB mentioning 24 and 28 weeks ultrasounds especially because this is a twin pregnancy. But I wasn’t going to argue with this substitute OB. ¬†I messaged our regular OB and the response was to schedule the ultrasound. ¬†I then wrote Annie telling her that we’d schedule an ultrasound the day we had scheduled for the 24 weeks appointment. ¬†I also mentioned about the possibility of doing a maternity photo shoot plus the 28 week ultrasound. ¬† The response from her shocked me. ¬†She asked why I needed an ultrasound at 24 weeks, and said she wouldn’t do one because it would be on a day she would have her children with her, and that’d stress her out too much.

When I read that message, I was shocked that she said No to me, as well as feeling turned off by her. ¬†The Annie that I knew had always been agreeable to what is the best for the babies. ¬†And we have been doing ultrasound scans at every single visit. ¬†I know that she does not like to leave her kids with babysitters and often prefers to schedule appointments on the days her husband has off. ¬†But her monthly allowance is exactly what this is for: to pay for babysitting when necessary. ¬†And this is necessary. ¬†We need to check the growth of the babies to make sure that they are fine. ¬†I sensed that it wasn’t a good day to speak with her. ¬†She must have had a very very difficult day on that day. ¬†So I told her that I would talk to her later about it, but I was so turned off that I didn’t even want to fly over at 28 weeks for the ultrasound or to pay for the maternity photo shoot.

Later that afternoon, Annie sent me the saddest bump photo ever. ¬†I haven’t posted it on the page yet, and probably won’t because I don’t want to be reminded of how sad she was. ¬†I know that you guys don’t get to see her face anyways, but in this one, she looked away from the camera with a very disturbed, sad look on her face. ¬†I messaged her back saying, “You are really struggling there, aren’t you?” ¬†She responded, “Yes.” ¬†I really needed to understand what exactly she was going through, so I connected with¬†the person closest to her: her husband.

I just have to say, I adore Kenneth. ¬†He is¬†even-keeled and very clear on how he expresses himself. ¬†We spoke on the phone for about 15 minutes for me to understand what exactly Annie was going through, why she seemed to be a changed person suddenly, and what we could do to help her. ¬†Kenneth said that this is basically Annie’s biggest fear in life, even bigger than the possibility of him losing his job. ¬†She was hospitalized twice in the past with the pain of hemorrhoids, and like I said, couldn’t even take care of her newborn for weeks when she suffered from it last. ¬†The fact that she started having them so early in the pregnancy rather than when they usually show up in the 3rd trimester means that she is anticipating the pain and suffering for many weeks to come. ¬†This is something that just comes at any time, and there is no prevention if one is forming. ¬†The pain is sometimes so excruciating that she can’t even bend down to pick up a toy without it hurting like crazy. ¬†It diminishes her quality of life and prevents her from doing her job as a mom, a teacher (she homeschools her kiddos), and a wife. ¬†Hence her anxiety of the pains and suffering that may come is extremely high. ¬†Annie is proactive about it and had gone to the specialist but there is nothing much he could do because of the pregnancy. ¬†So he banded the ones that she had on that day but couldn’t treat the ones that may or may not be coming. ¬†Kenneth was very nice about it. ¬†He acknowledged how hard it must have had been for me because I had been feeling so helpless living so many miles away. ¬†He said that there is nothing anyone can do but to pray that the hemorrhoids stay away and do not come back. ¬†He told me that Winnie, our surrogacy agent, had the same issues during her last couple of pregnancies and would be a good person to talk to.

Winnie, bless her heart, picked up the phone right away. She explained to me how debilitating this condition could be and how much Annie had been proactively treating it: drinking lots and lots of water and taking fibers. But it is what it is. ¬†We need to give her a lot of grace, time, and space. ¬†She told Annie to take it one day at a time, celebrating the good days and give herself grace on the bad days. ¬†I am so thankful that Winnie is there to support Annie. ¬†And for her to give me the perspective that pregnancies are very hard, and I can’t expect zero drama during this pregnancy. ¬†Again, we celebrate when things are good, and hang in there with each other when things aren’t. ¬†She did confirm with me that 24 and 28 weeks ultrasounds are standard so I could just send Annie a friendly email asking her to reschedule it at a time when her husband can watch the kids.

This is one of the moments when I think that having an agency as a third party in a surrogacy situation is so important.

But at the same time, I have been feeling down about it. ¬†That was exactly the moment that I just wished that I’d be like a normal person with a normal uterus so I could just dictate my own body and my own life rather than relying on another person’s help completely. ¬†It is a very vulnerable feeling. ¬†I am not going to lie. ¬†It has been extremely difficult for me.

Things went way downhill the next day. ¬†I didn’t sleep well the night before. ¬†I drafted a very nice email to Annie asking her to schedule an ultrasound on a day her husband is available because it is very important to me and Bob. ¬†I didn’t send it until noon time. ¬†Shortly after, Annie wrote me back telling me that she called but the doctor’s office didn’t even have us down on the original date. ¬†And she would go see our OB on the following Monday (today) to discuss about her anxiety, so she could reschedule then. ¬†Not even five minutes after I got her email, she wrote me a FB message with one word: “Pray”. ¬†I didn’t understand as I had been praying for her. ¬†She wrote another word “Now”. ¬†Then she typed up a message that I didn’t understand, which had her husband’s name and the word “hospital” in it. ¬†It alarmed me so much that I called her.

On the phone, Annie was sobbing and a bit incoherent. ¬†She said she was feeling good all morning, making phone calls to doctor’s. ¬†Suddenly, she felt like she couldn’t breathe. ¬†The more she wanted to breathe, the more she panicked. ¬†She said she wasn’t thinking about anything. ¬†It just came. ¬†I was calm but at the same time freaking out. ¬†I didn’t know what was going on. ¬†So I spoke to her as calmly as possible and told her to call an ambulance. ¬†Her 6-year-old had run over to grab her neighbor who rushed over and took over the phone. ¬†I instructed her to call the emergency medical services in town. ¬†She hung up and did that, and called me back to let me know that the EMS would be there any minute. ¬†I told her to give me an update when there was one.

I hung up and called Bob to let him know what went down. ¬†I also wrote a few texts to people who would pray for us. ¬†In these moments of uncertainty, I still had to do my job as a therapist and took my kiddo in for his session. ¬†During the next 1.5 hours, I got a few updates. ¬†The first one was Annie’s 19-year-old who rushed home from work to be with his mom. ¬†He said that Annie by then had calmed down and he was going to drive her to town 35 minutes away to the hospital to our OB. ¬†A little later, Annie’s husband called and told me what happened. ¬†He rushed home in time to be with her before her trip to the hospital. ¬†She didn’t end up going to the hospital. ¬†Kenneth knew exactly what was going on with her. ¬†She basically had an anxiety attack and her body was reacting to the accumulated stress and anxiety the previous few days by shutting down. ¬†When she had that attack, her body was going into a panic mode, and because of the feeling of shortness of breath, her hands and feet were tinkling. ¬†He called it a seizure which scared me half to death. ¬†Later, he said that it wasn’t a real seizure but something called carpop.edal spasm. ¬†He said that she had it once two years ago. ¬†She was prescribed with a low dose of Ati.van back then. ¬†He then complained a little saying that if he had given her a small dose of that when her anxiety started coming back, this whole incident could have been avoided. ¬†But everyone (and I don’t know who he was referring to) was afraid that the meds was going to affect the babies so he didn’t give it to her. ¬†Kenneth said that he had spoken to Dr. OB on the phone who was okay with her staying home that evening as long as she was calm and was breathing fine. ¬†The EMS confirmed that her vitals were all back to normal. ¬†She was scheduled to see our OB the next day to figure out the short term plan (for the duration of this pregnancy) and long term care (after the pregnancy) of this issue. ¬†Kenneth had taken the next few days off to be with her.

I am not going to lie. ¬†I was concerned about the babies. ¬†So I asked if she had felt anything. ¬†She doesn’t usually feel them much, but that evening she texted me saying that she felt movement. ¬†She didn’t know if it was just moving or kicking but she did feel movements. ¬†If I were the one carrying, I would probably have made my way to the hospital just to make sure that the babies were fine. ¬†But I am not the one carrying, so I had to resort to trusting her for taking care of my babies. ¬†But it was super difficult¬†for me as the intended mother to completely trust this process¬†and to completely trust God.

At the appointment time the next day, I was sitting there at lunch on pins and needles. ¬†I mean, again, deep down, I wasn’t that concerned about the babies as I felt and continue to feel that they will be fine at the end. ¬†But I am just not good with the uncertainty and new challenges and for things all of a sudden to go¬†downhill. ¬†With my new App.le Watch, I could see that my heart rate was over 100 the whole time waiting for an update. ¬†Finally, Annie wrote me a message simply just saying that the babies were good and the appointment times for the 24 and 28 weeks ultrasound scans. ¬†I asked to speak with her on the phone if she felt up for it. ¬†A few minutes later, her husband called to give me an update. ¬†He said that the babies looked good with great heart beats on the ultrasound. ¬†They looked fine. ¬†Annie’s vitals were good. ¬†Our OB had put her on a low dose of Zo.loft so to take the edge off of her anxiety and heightened emotions. ¬†I asked how Annie was doing. ¬†He said, “Horrible.” ¬†So he would drive her home and have her rest for the rest of the day.

I was feeling relieved but at the same time a bit worried. ¬†I remember Dr. E said that the biggest indicator of preterm labor is stress. ¬†And our surrogate is currently under a lot of stress. ¬†I know that she can’t control how she thinks and what she feels, so I want to be as compassionate and empathetic as possible and to give her a lot of time and space. ¬†So how does one balance that while still getting information from her about the pregnancy. ¬†I don’t want to bother her too much and bombard her with asking her about how she is doing and how she is feeling. ¬†At the same time, I’d want to know, because her emotions may or may not directly affect our babies. ¬†I simply don’t know how to navigate this new and uncharted territory. ¬†I just feel that Satan is using the one thing that she’s fearful of to get to her weakness and attack us. ¬†On Saturday I decided to just write her a message telling her that we were thinking of her. ¬†I didn’t expect an answer from her. ¬†This sudden change in the direction of this pregnancy has thrown my mind into chaos, and it takes a lot of effort to live my life normally and to carry on a loving and trusting relationship with Annie. ¬†I just can’t wait for the next milestone (24 weeks) and the next next milestone (28 weeks) to arrive. ¬†I have to remember to:

  1. trust God
  2. trust Annie
  3. take it one day at a time
  4. pray for peace and strength
  5. breathe

Having a baby (or two) via surrogacy is a very difficult thing.  But I know that the reward will be worth it.  I just hope that Annie will be able to enjoy the rest of this pregnancy, and our joy will not be marred by any of these setbacks.  The challenge is to learn how to best support her without feeling negative or threatened by this situation.  When the babies finally come, Bob and I will be able to finally breathe more easily.