MicroblogMondays: Hysterectomy

No, I am not getting a hysterectomy.  This post is about our gestational carrier.

Annie and I don’t talk much.  I send her pictures of the kiddos every now and then especially for something funny or memorable, such as Bunny looking serious on a swing or the babies playing together peacefully in the play pen.  The other day, I sent her a series of pictures of Bunny climbing on our window like a Spiderman.  (This crazy baby girl held onto the window frame with her hands, propelled her feet up the glass, and pulled her whole body up on the window.  I was right behind her holding onto her body to make sure she didn’t fall down.  The whole action of climbing up was all hers.)  We were joking a bit on FB messenger about the babies and I said with an active child like Bunny, I’d need a lot of prayers.

Annie said that she’d definitely pray for us.  And then she said, she would ask prayers from us.

This is what she told me.  She said that she is going to have a partial hysterectomy end of August or beginning of September.  Remember she had tremendous pain in her pelvic area after the birth of the twins.  The pains subsided a bit after a surgery and physical therapy.  However, she continued to have pains especially during PMS and her cycle which is only 1 to 2 days with intense bleeding.  Her doctor believes that she may have endometriosis (!?!?) and something else that she couldn’t recall.  She said when he touched that area she almost fell off the table.  The doctor suggested a hysterectomy a long time ago, but Annie refused at that time thinking that it would get better with time.  It’s only getting worse.  She told her husband that she’d wait if we (meaning me and Bob) wanted a sibling.  She said she feels scared and nervous, and is mourning not being able to carry again.  However, given her pain, she feels that it is the right choice for her.  Hopefully not having a cycle would mean that her pain will be gone forever.

I was shocked by this news.  I didn’t know that her pain would require such drastic measure. I know how much she wants to help others by carrying for them.  It pains me to learn that she can no longer do that.  My heart has been heavy ever since I learned of this news.  After all, she grew our babies for us and her uterus was the safe home for the twins for 9 months.  It made it possible for us to become parents.  In some strange way, I am also mourning its loss.  I know it is not my uterus that is going to be removed, but I feel that some part of me is also going to disappear.  It is difficult to describe this feeling I have knowing that our gestational carrier who carried our babies for us would lose the organ that held our babies.  Regardless of how I feel, I love her and want the best for her.  I hope and pray that this surgery will be worth it for her in the end.

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MicroblogMondays: Surrogate Update

Bob brings up “the other boy” all the time.  He means the embryo that we have in the freezer.  During these early days of life with twins, it is really hard for me to imagine taking care of another newborn any time soon.  Plus, given how difficult a surrogacy journey is, I have a hard time imagining another round of it in the near future.  Don’t get me wrong.  As far as gestational carriers go, I believe our experience with Annie was/is the most uneventful and pleasant.  Regardless, it was/is still challenging to manage a third party carrying your bab(ies) for you.  So this topic will be put on the back burner until the twins grow older.

Speaking of Annie, she’s been struggling physically after the birth of the twins.  I usually contact her by text every few days asking her how she’s doing as well as to send her the babies’ photos.  She responds with Oohs and Ahhs as she loves them and thinks that they are perfect (which they are, I might say).  She said that people assume that it was difficult for her to hand the twins over to us after the birth.  She often tells people that this aspect of the surrogacy was actually the easiest to deal with, as she can’t think of anything better than carrying babies for their loving family and not having to take care of newborns.  To see them grow and be happy and healthy is the biggest joy for her.  The most difficult aspect is the physical healing after the birth.  Her uterus healed wonderfully.  However, hemorrhoids were still bothering her a great deal.  She had gone to the specialist to band the ones from the pregnancy.  After the procedure, she continued to feel the pain at her pelvic area which to her specialist it wasn’t typical.  She was referred to a pelvis specialist who eventually diagnosed her with pelvic floor myalgia.  The initial course of treatment is taking Val.ium vaginally and 12 weeks of physical therapy.  Emotionally she’s been struggling with how difficult the physical healing is after twin birth.  She has been feeling a bit depressed.  She also came down with a cold that hasn’t healed in two weeks.  She was in so much pain (despite the meds and the physical therapy) on Thanksgiving day that she could not enjoy her favorite holiday to the fullest.

A little while after we texted about her new diagnosis, she told me that she’d give me a call to catch up.  I waited for her phone call but never heard from her.  I didn’t want to bother her so I didn’t follow up, but I did wonder if she had anything specific she wanted to say.  About a week later, I received an email from our surrogacy attorney with an attachment of a letter from Annie’s pelvis specialist stating that her new diagnosis was due to her twin pregnancy.  In other words, we as the parents of the twins are responsible for the cost of treatment for this illness.

Here was my initial reaction: I was a little hurt and mad, but at the same time glad.  The hurt and the mad feelings most likely came from how Annie handled the situation.  Given our close relationship, I thought that she would have informed us first  before taking this matter to our attorney formally.  I also felt a little emotional that we had to be responsible for the cost of her treatment even 2.5 months after the birth.  On the contract, it stated that our financial responsibility for any postpartum complications would end 8 weeks after the birth.  Don’t get me wrong.  We know that this is our responsibility as she suffers from this problem for the sake of our family and we will pay for it.  But it WAS a trigger for me for the fact that it once again reminded me that I wasn’t the one who carried these babies, that we have to shell out more money even weeks beyond the birth.  The cost of not being able to carry is just never ending.  At the same time, I am very glad that 1) Annie finally found the reason for her pain and there is a solution, and 2) having our agency as well as the attorney to be our guide rather than working with a surrogate independently ensures that the appropriate action is taken for various issues.

Like I said, my emotions are complicated.  Surrogacy is just complicated despite how civilized and loving everyone has been with one another.

Annie loves these babies though.  She enjoys seeing their photos.  She has a little display at home that she had shown on social media that shows how much she loves our babies.  It is a wood branch with five baby birds on it and a mama bird below it.  Needless to say, she is the mama bird and her 3 kids plus our twins are her baby birds.  I was so touched when I saw this photo.  I am forever indebted to her for sacrificing herself for our family’s sake. I sincerely hope and pray that the course of treatment is the answer to her physical ailments so she can completely heal and move past this chapter of surrogacy to resume her normal day-to-day life.

As for our “other boy” via surrogacy again, it is a serious topic that warrants serious discussions with my husband.

MicroblogMondays: Never

I had a burst of energy the other day so I decided to clean the drawers of our bathroom.  It must have been a very long time since I emptied out the drawers.  Buried deep inside of one of them were these:

I remember my emotions when I purchased these tests.  Some were purchased during my first IVF cycle, and some other ones were for the joy of seeing two pink lines and the word “pregnant” after my first donor egg transfer.  I remember being so hopeful and so certain that my own pee would produce the magic word on the Clear Blue digital test or the beautiful pink lines on the First Response test.  The expiration dates came and went, and the me in my present day would never use any of these tests or any newly purchased ones on myself.  Although I have crying babies outside to prove that one doesn’t need to be pregnant in order to build a family, my thoughts and feelings at that moment were still a tremendous sense of loss of the ability to grow a baby inside of me.  I thought I had worked through my feelings about that.  I guess grief hits you whenever, especially at unexpected moments.  This is a reminder that I will never be pregnant or feel a life grow in my uterus.  That feeling sucks.

Needless to say, these tests or their new versions no longer belong to my bathroom drawers.

MicroblogMondays: Half Way Point

Today, we are at 19 weeks 5 days of our pregnancy.  Since our OB won’t let Annie go past 38 weeks (C-section scheduled for 38 weeks 2 days), we are over our half way point.

A question I get asked a lot: “Have you bought anything yet?” meaning to prepare for the babies’ arrival.  The answer is, No.

I will be flying over to attend the anatomy scan on Thursday.  Bob has a new job which doesn’t allow him to be off any time during the month of May.  Fortunately he got to witness the mini-anatomy scan at the last ultrasound, so hopefully he isn’t going to miss a whole lot.

I don’t know why, but I have a difficult time letting myself buy anything before the 20-week scan.  In fact, planning anything related to the babies has been hard for me.  Maybe a part of me still doesn’t believe that the babies are coming.  Maybe that part of me thinks that if I prepare for anything, I’d be more devastated if things don’t work out in the end.  But whether or not I am in denial, the babies are growing and in less than 19 weeks, we’ll get to see them face-to-face.

It freaks me out at times that maybe I don’t have time to get ready for them.  Four months will pass very quickly and I will be responsible for these lives.  What if I am not ready by then?  My to-do list in my head was growing longer and longer so I eventually typed it up on my Google tasks.  I want to do window treatment for the whole house especially for the babies’ room.  We need to move all the junk out of our second bedroom so we can set up the nursery.  We need to start looking into a new car.  My sister-in-law asked me about the baby shower so I have to give her a date.  With the baby shower date comes the need to start a baby registry.  And how does one begin to have a baby registry for twins?  And what about classes to learn about how to take care of babies especially twins?  In person classes or online classes?  We also have to decide on how to bring the babies home.  Road trip that will take a few days assuming that we’ll have to stop every two hours?  Or a two-hour plane ride with newborns?  I need to book a photographer soon if I want to do a maternity photo shoot.  And what about birth photography?  Do we do both or just one?  When do we do the maternity shoot and how to do it?  Do we fly home and do newborn photos back home or do we do it there?  We’ll make an announcement on Fac.ebook and I will also announce at work.  Is it going to be scary to let everyone around us know?  Where do I find a person to cover for me for my maternity leave?  Someone who speaks my native language so he/she can see all of my clients?  And how do I tell the parents of my existing clients about surrogacy and maternity leave?  Do we have to find a pediatrician soon?

So many things.  My head spins.

I know not to get ahead of myself, but sometimes my mind just goes and it doesn’t stop.  So I need to focus on one to two things at a time.  So window treatment and photographer it is.  But even with just two things, I feel overwhelmed contacting people while working a full-time job.

The one positive spin of not carrying the babies is that I have all the energy in the world to get ready for them since I don’t have to fight back pain, pelvic pressure, or frequent bathroom visits.   It is still overwhelming but I know I can get all the things done.  I guess I need lots of deep breaths and yoga to get everything done the next few months.  If pregnant women can do it, I can too.

(By the way, my previous post was my 400th post.  It took almost four years to write this many posts but I’m very glad I continue to blog.  I wonder what will happen after the twins are born.  I hope I will still have the time and the drive to blog.)

MicroblogMondays: So Loved

Microblog_Mondays

The pregnancy has been going well as Annie has had symptoms on and off, although it has not been without scares.  I had been kind of holding my breath in case of any spotting, and had been feeling fortunate that Annie had not experienced any.  So I panicked a little bit when she messaged me about a spotting episode a few days ago.  She felt her abdominal area tightening with constant tension, and she spotted with pinkish/brownish discharge.  She contacted Dr. E, my RE, who said that it was probably no worries as it might have been stretching of the uterus.  As a precaution, she asked Annie to be on an extra dose of progesterone.  I emailed Dr. E just to make sure that it was really okay, to which she said that it was from twins, and is very common.  Later today Annie will attend our 8 weeks 5 days ultrasound and I will be video conferencing with her at the appointment.  We hope to see some growing and thriving babies.  It is at times scary to think about anything bad happening to these babies but I have been telling Bob that we have to put our complete trust in the Lord that He is protecting the babies and Annie.

*****

Today, I actually want to write about how loved I have felt from my friends.  I have received quite a few gifts in the past two weeks and most of them were surprises.  The first one was from my dear friend Jane.  She sent us a package a couple of days after our first ultrasound.  In it was a card congratulating us as parents-to-be, and completed with one t-shirt for Annie, two onesies for the twins, and two t-shirts for both me and Bob.  The t-shirt for Annie says “Their Bun, My Oven” with a picture of an oven and a bun below it.  Below the picture it says “Proud Surrogate”.  The onesies say “Worth The Wait”.

 The two t-shirts for us both have the shape of Annie’s state the the words that say “Expecting…. In [Annie’s State]!” (I am not posting Annie’s state because I want to keep it private to protect her identity.)  In the package there were also blue and pink lollipops that say “Team Blue” and “Team Pink”.  This gift was so thoughtful and came so soon after the ultrasound scan that it brought me to tears.  More importantly, it shows the positivity that my friend has in this pregnancy and it touches my heart.

Fast forward a week. I was sick at home and the door bell rang.  It was our mail lady who delivered a tiny package to my door.  I was curious to see what I got since I wasn’t expecting a package.  Inside was a necklace with a pendant that is the shape of Annie’s state and a heart that was stamped on the position where Annie’s town is in that state.  It was from my other very thoughtful friend Maddie who wrote this: “I thought you might like this since your heart will be in [Annie’s state] for the next 8 months”.  This gift is so meaningful and sweet that it made me cry.  I don’t know what I have done to deserve such love but I am just so grateful to have these friends who shower me with their love and share my joy of having these babies growing inside Annie.

One day I was just wondering aloud to Bob if anyone would go with us to attend the birth and bring the babies home.  It would be far away for someone to ride with us or to fly over there.  Literally the next day, my friend Jo asked if she could come to photo-document the birth and to help out with the twins.  I was so touched by her offer!  Only a true friend would make this grand gesture without us even asking!  She also gave us a bunch of gifts such as new outfits and onesies and a few boxes of boy/girl baby clothes, items, books, toys, and maternity clothes for Annie.  These were quality items of her kids that she had set aside for us.  I am just so touched to have friends that are like family, and Jo (and her husband) is definitely one of them.

*****

The babies are only a few weeks in gestation but they are already so loved by their aunties.  I hope that they will show us some very strong heartbeats on the ultrasound today, and in eight months they will experience the love from these aunties face-to-face.