MicroblogMondays: Cribs!

When I started putting the baby registries together, I decided that we wouldn’t order fancy cribs.  Just something with simple design and a nice color.  I didn’t want to buy those convertible cribs that would turn into a twin bed.  Who knows what we would like to do in the future with the twins’ sleeping situation, right?  I didn’t want to commit ourselves to 4-in-1 expensive cribs.  One of the websites that is devoted to baby stuff recommended this particular crib.  I liked its color and its simplicity.  So I just added the cribs on the registry fully expecting ourselves to be buying them after the baby shower with the completion discount.  Little did I know that my brother and sister-in-law considered buying the cribs for us.  They looked one night and became tired, so they decided to look the next day again before they ordered them for us.  When they went back to look, it was too late!  Someone else already bought them for us!  This lady from our church is super nice and love babies.  She wasn’t originally on the guest list for the baby shower.  She hunted down my sister-in-law at church one day and asked about our baby shower.  She expressed her desire to come and offered to bring food.  She was so excited about being able to babysit for us in the future!  (She lives five minutes away from us.)  Of course we added her on the list because she was just super sweet about it.  She bought us the cribs the next day.  It was such a surprise that she was so generous with us and bought us these big ticket items.  A dear friend of ours offered a long time ago to help us put together furniture and do any childproof/home improvement projects before the babies arrive.  This past weekend, he came by and helped Bob put together these for the babies:

They are now lying on the floor sideways to save room.  My dear blog friend Maddie is going to come all the way from another state to attend our baby shower in a couple of weeks. (Can’t wait to meet her!  Exciting!)  After her stay in the babies’ room, we will set up the cribs and purchase an 8-drawer dresser from Ik.ea.

I can’t wait to see the babies sleep in their cribs!

Pediatrician

I’ve been really busy the past few days but I feel I should write an update on this topic.

Finding a good pediatrician for the twins has been on my list.  I just don’t want to wait until the last minute to scramble when we return home with the babies.  So I took some time to think about what I would like in a pediatrician.  My work place is about half an hour from home.  I don’t know my childcare plan after my maternity leave, but I would probably prefer a daycare close to home.  So then I’d prefer a pediatrician close to home rather than close to work.  All my coworkers with kids live in the city so no one can give me a good recommendation for a pediatrician in my hood in the suburbs.  I searched for all the pediatricians within 10 minutes of my house and looked each one of them up online to find reviews about them.  There is one particular practice that is 8 minutes from home and it belongs to one of the biggest hospital systems in the area that is non-Kaiser.  One of the doctors there has the most 5-star reviews.  But that kind of turns me off because it means he is very busy and he doesn’t look exactly young, so he may retire some time soon.  He is also the only one who does not accept new patients except for newborns.  And he is the only one in that practice who does not have an option to make an appointment online.  So given his popularity, I would pass.  The reviews on another doctor in that same practice attracted me.  He seems experienced and has very positive reviews from parents.  They all praise him for being compassionate, caring, willing to listen, quick but not rushed, and being responsive to emails.  I had been putting off contacting anyone but on my birthday on Monday I just felt like it was the right time to call.  The representative who answered was going to schedule a meet and greet appointment for me.  When she heard that I wanted to schedule with this particular doctor, she said she’d have to talk to his team and have someone call me back.  I left her with my contact information and patiently waited.

Bob and I were taking an online class to learn about taking care of twins Monday evening when my phone rang.  I don’t usually pick up the phone from an unfamiliar number anymore.  But I quickly did an online search on the phone number and found that it was associated with the pediatrician that I was trying to schedule!  It was indeed the doctor himself who was calling me back after hours to try to schedule a time with me for meet and greet.  I mean, that is enough to impress me.  What doctor would call you back himself these days?  His voice message was nice and welcoming.  He said that schedule wise it has been a busy month for him for meet and greet but since we are expecting twins, he’d accommodate me any way we need. After the online class, I called his number back and he promptly picked up the phone.  It sounded like he was driving home from work.  We had a nice chat.  He asked me for my schedule so he could accommodate me. I asked him what he had available.  He then mentioned about the next day at 5pm he had a cancellation as the woman who was scheduled at that time just gave birth so she could no longer come to that appointment.  I was happy that he could see me so soon, but I couldn’t make it at 5pm.  He was so accommodating.  We scheduled a time at 5:30pm so I could just leave work at the regular time to meet him there.

The next day I was super busy at work.  Right before I left, I printed out a list of questions online to ask the doctor.  The clinic’s location is convenient enough for us.  It is exactly 8 minutes from home.  The building looks very new.  I walked into the waiting room and saw on the left side that there was an area for newborn only.  First impression was good.  The front desk lady was very friendly.  I was led to an exam room by the pediatrician’s nurse who took down some information from me.  And the the doctor came in.

Let’s call him Dr. Easygoing.  He is truly friendly.  He introduced himself to me by his first name.  The whole time, he looked me in my eyes and chatted with me about everything, just like a new friend trying to get to know me.  He asked me questions about me, my background, and Bob’s upbringing.  He told me a bit about himself.  He joked that he is the “newbie” in that practice as he was the last hire.  But he has been there for 21 years, so doctors there stay for a long time.  He said I might wonder if my babies would be able to stay under his care for a while.  He is in his early 50s and started a family in his 40s.  He joked that his kids are still young and he is not going anywhere.  He still needs to take care of them.  Dr. Easygoing has many twins under his care.  He said it was by accident.  About six years ago, some twins were referred to him.  After that, he started to see a steady stream of twins.  Later on he met a fellow pediatrician whose last time resembled his.  This pediatrician said he used to have a lot of twin patients, but the referrals started dwindling at the same time Dr. Easygoing started getting the twin referrals.  So it seems like the nurses who made the referrals mixed up the two doctors’ names!

We talked about bit about the practice.  This is a brand new clinic that has been there for a couple of years.  It’s about 10,000 square foot big.  There are 7 doctors in the practice.  The doctor who started the practice is the super popular one.  He’s probably not taking new patients because he’s in his 70s now.  The clinic’s hours are from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, there are clinic hours from 8am to 5pm at another location that is about 15 minutes away from home.  He said that if we choose him as a pediatrician, the twins will most likely see him at every visit even at sick visits.  They provide same day visits for sick kids.  All I will have to do is to write him an email and he will respond promptly and get us in.  This is unlike my friends’ experience at bigger practices where they’d see different doctors every time.  When the babies are born, we will schedule an appointment with him for them to be seen at around 5 to 6 days old provided that we go home right away.  He told me that one of us can check in while the other person stays with the babies outside.  Once checked in, we can take the babies in the exam room directly to avoid being in the waiting room.  This is a practice with 99% of the patients getting vaccinated on scheduled, which is important to me.

Dr. Easygoing is really easygoing.  He said that he hopes we consider choosing his practice.  But if we decide to go somewhere else, he will have no hard feelings. And in the future if we choose to go with another pediatrician in the same practice after seeing him for a while, no hard feelings either.  He is just very friendly and nice.

He asked me about the donor egg and surrogacy experience.  So I told him briefly about what happened.  At one point, he mentioned about Annie by saying “the mom”, and he caught himself and self-corrected right away, saying that “I shouldn’t call her the mom because you are the mom.  She is the surrogate.”  Thank you doctor for catching yourself!

I asked him about the whole question about colostrum at birth vs. going directly to formula.  He told me that he’s seen so many babies in his life. It really makes no difference.  So if Annie is willing to pump the colostrum, let her do it. But if I feel better going directly to formula, no problem either.  As long as the babies are fed and loved, that’s all that matters.  I asked him about skin-to-skin right after the C-section before the babies get cleaned up.  He said it doesn’t make a huge difference either.  If we would like to bond with the babies immediately after birth, by all means ask for skin-to-skin before clean up.  But the other way is great as well.  The key is to consider what I want and not to feel bad or guilty about not choosing the other option.  The babies will be loved no matter what.  When the babies come home, he said that we will forget what they ate at the hospital as we will be focusing on their life at home.  Then the most important thing would be to have them on the same schedule to sleep well and be fed well.  Other things that did or didn’t happen at the hospital won’t matter much anymore.

After we chatted, Dr. Easygoing showed me around this huge clinic.  He showed me all the exam rooms and where he stores the vaccines.  He told me that he does all the shots himself because he wants the continuity and consistency.  There was an x-ray room and a room for doing stitches and stuff.  They also do in-house lab as well.  I asked him about formula and he gave me a bunch of samples so we can try with the babies once we get home.  When we said goodbye, he gave me his business card and told me to give him a call on his cell phone any time from now until the babies are born if I have any questions.  I looked at my watch when I got out of the building.  Dr. Easygoing spent a whole hour with me.  I didn’t expect that at all because I have read that pediatricians usually spend about 10 minutes at meet and greet.  I was thoroughly impressed.

So it seems like we’ve found the winner!  Dr. Easygoing will be our twins’ pediatrician.  I firmly believe that the babies will be well taken care of under his care.  I am so happy to be able to cross one more thing off my to-do list!

MicroblogMondays: Breast Milk

Today is my birthday.  The fact that we are finally expecting our two babies makes this year’s birthday super special.

But, this is not what I want to talk about.  Today, I want to talk about breast milk.

One of the topics that was discussed during our interviews with surrogates was pumping breast milk for the babies.  At the time, Annie said yes to pumping, although she has never pumped before for her children and breastfeeding wasn’t that successful for her.  She said she would try her best to pump and was also quite insistent on me trying to induce lactation.

I did my research on induced lactation and talked to my friend who used a surrogate and nursed her twins for two months following induced lactation.  After reading a book on this topic and serious consideration, I made a decision not to breastfeed.  I believe that I will bond with my babies without nursing them and feel that this is the right path for me.  It is a very personal decision that one has to make for themselves.  I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic.  Recently I have received my fair share of mean comments regarding my surrogacy journey so I want to make it clear that this is my decision to make and I would appreciate readers to keep their negative comments or opinions to themselves.

Throughout the pregnancy, it had been my understanding that Annie would not breastfeed the twins at birth but she’d pump for them as long as she could.  After our 28 week ultrasound last week, she wanted to chat with me on the phone about breast milk.  One night last week we finally found the time to do so.  She told me that after praying about it for the last two months, she decided not to pump for the twins.  Given how difficult this pregnancy has been for her, she would like to heal as soon as possible after birth and go back to being a mom to her kids.  Since she has never pumped before, the thought of pumping every few hours, storing the milk, packing, and mailing it sounds very daunting to her.  She had felt very guilty about it because she wanted to do what is the best for the twins, but she also needed to do what is best for her and her family as well.

My initial reaction was disappointment because this new development wasn’t what I expected.  At the same time, I could understand where she was coming from.  I know that breastfeeding is not easy.  Many women live a guilt ridden life because of difficulty breastfeeding their children.  Pumping for someone else’s babies is a lot of work and can be stressful.  I know some people take the position that breast is best.  Breast milk is wonderful.  But I also believe that it’s perfectly good to give our babies formula.  I don’t want me or Annie to feel guilty for not being able to provide breast milk for the babies.  After my initial disappointment, I feel fine about it now.  I did request for Annie to pump or hand-express colostrum after birth.  She said that she would do whatever we ask her to do during her stay in the hospital.  She mentioned that a fellow surrogate in her support group offered to pump for us.  I know that I have to be careful with unscreened donor breast milk so I need to do more research on that.

I wrote Dr. E about the situation and asked how many days Annie should try to give us colostrum.  Dr. E said if it were her, she’d skip the colostrum and get skin to skin with the babies and bottle-feed them.   She said that she bottle fed two babies and breastfed two babies.  And to her, there was no difference whatsoever.  She didn’t want me to feel even an ounce of guilt at all.  She said that if we want, we could always buy from a bank.  She also has a local carrier who is 12 weeks pregnant now.  This carrier doesn’t want to pump for the family for personal reasons but she plans on donating her breast milk to a bank anyways.  Dr. E said that she could always ask this carrier to pump for us if we would like.   We would have to find an alternative way before this carrier gives birth to her surro-baby.  But it is an option for us.

So this is where we stand.  I will explore the possibility of getting breast milk from a bank or from a known or screened donor.  We will also try formula with the babies and see how they do.  I am glad that Annie told me this far in advance so I can get myself mentally ready for what to do when the twins are born.

Again, I know this is a controversial and sensitive topic that many feel strongly about.  So, I would appreciate your support for us as this is not the place to assert your position on this topic.  Kindness goes a long way and it is welcome here. 

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.  🙂

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!

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’t 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’ll 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. 😆

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. 😀

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. 🙂