Hello again! I have to start by saying how flattering, and admittedly, a bit shocking it is to have people acknowledge this blog to me in person. A few of you, my readers, have even reached out and shared your own stories with me. A young lady I work with shared that because of this, she had set up an appointment with an egg donation service. An old schoolmate shared with me that she had gone through the egg donation process. I cant tell you how valuable your stories are to me, it makes me feel less alone in this process. Lately, I have received more “What’s going on?!” I know it has been because I haven’t posted in awhile, but I have enough to talk about to keep your attention, so get comfortable!
In my last post, I wrote about the three questions I had to answer as a part of my surrogate profile. The questions I initially thought would be a breeze to answer became seemingly more challenging once the weight of what they were to represent settled on my chest. My surrogate profile is supposed to make me appealing to a prospective family, I wanted to keep it real, and be short enough to make me appear to be the someone you would want to know more about.
Three interesting things about me:
1.I have a huge fear of water and horses. Both of these fears are completely irrational, as I have never had a negative experience with either one of them. I used to ride horses often as a kid, I absolutely loved it! The older I got, the more I realized just how powerful a horse is. I know they are gentle giants, but they are capable of so much. (Think the old bombs Gru uses as beds for the little girls in Despicable Me. Awesome, but still a bomb.) My fear of water is along those same lines. I can swim, pretty well even, but I don’t like vast bodies of water, or even dark water. The peace that the open sea brings some people does just the opposite for me… I get crippling anxiety even thinking about it.
2. I only attended one full year of high school before I was physically unable to attend due to an unexplained illness. I gained tons of weight and watched my grades plummet before doctors finally figured out my gall bladder was bad, really bad! I dropped out to avoid failure, and ended up getting my GED which felt like an even bigger failure. Despite only attending one year of high school, I passed my GED in 3 hours and I went on to attend college where I maintained a 4.0 GPA and was invited to be a member of National Honor Society.
3. About a week after I found out I was pregnant with my son, I had a surprisingly realistic dream about his delivery. I brushed it off, but throughout my pregnancy I continued to have the same dream, at least 4 more times. In this dream, Charlie was born at 3:46pm on a snowy day. My water broke on Charlie’s due date, March 18th. It was snowy and cold, not usual for March in Colorado, but what was unusual, was that Charlie was born at 3:45 and 38 seconds… I was literally 22 seconds off! Throughout the wonderful photos our birth photographer captured that day, there are several pictures of the clock in the room. I had told everyone I could about the dream, I probably seemed crazy. Looking back on that day I feel such a connection to my birth because of what I thought was just a silly dream. My heart knew all along the very moment it would be stolen by my son.
The answer for the answers.
I had a really hard time coming up with even one interesting thing about myself. At this point in my life, I haven’t done anything I would consider “interesting.” Of course, “I am a stay at home mom that waits tables two days a week” doesn’t really grab anyone’s attention. I genuinely felt like my answers showcased big parts of my personality, even if they seem silly. I shared the first answer about the water and the horses to be funny (even though its true, NO horseback riding, please!) and relatable. How many of you have a silly fear or compulsion? All of you, we’re human after all. I, of course, left out the part where I attempted to “bond with the ocean”… I paid $60 and spent three hours sharing a giant trash can with the most hilarious seven year old narrating our every stomach churning second together. Deep sea fishing was in fact, deep sea puking. I shared the second point to illustrate my ability to overcome obstacles. The Claire pre dropout, had a hunger for learning, and a desire to have a profession where I would be helping someone else. I wanted to teach, I wanted to be a nurse, hell for awhile I wanted to be a police officer. The day I got my GED I was devastated. I spent about a year feeling sorry for myself before enrolling in community college, a choice that I think was the best one I have ever made. College was challenging largely because I hadn’t been in an academic environment for so many years, and on top of that, I was now an adult with a full time job and bills to pay. Once I saw how great I could preform academically in my new surroundings, I found myself again. The dropout stigma is something that will bother me for the rest of my life, but the college experience proved me wrong, to even myself; it was redemption at last. I shared the third answer because while it may not be relatable to everyone, it is relevant to the circumstance. I am not some psychic, or weirdo that thinks dreams are some kind of “what’s to come” message, but I think my particular experience was pretty damn cool!
What’s the plan, Stan?
Many people have asked me what the next steps are, and where I am currently at in the process. As of today, everything is on a temporary hold. I am still nursing Charlie, something neither he, nor I, are ready to be through with. I don’t plan on nursing Charlie past a year, and frankly every day we add to our “nursing record” feels like success to me. Charlie lights up when I come home from work, his whole body oozes with delight until I scoop him up. Charlie has never missed a meal, or even snack opportunity, even if he has just eaten a bottle a mere hour before my return home, he whines and nuzzles me until I cave and feed him again. Its not for the caloric intake, its purely for the closeness. If I so much as look at him for once second during these “snack feedings” milk pours from the sides of his mouth, and laughter erupts from his burgeoning belly. It melts my heart every time, and for that reason alone, we’re not ready to be done yet. “When are you going to be done?” is often a question I get asked, and while I don’t give that answer every time, the answer in short is “when he decides we’re done.”
Another great part of this process being on hold is that it gives me plenty of time to do things I really want to do… like eat egg whites and quinoa, or getting up at 4am to go run with the dog. The realization that I probably need to lose a little weight before I start this process is a truth that is almost comical. “I gotta lose some pounds before I gain some pounds.” I am within the BMI requirements to be a surrogate, but its close, too close for me to be comfortable with. I have struggled really hard with body image issues after having Charlie, its a demon that greets me every morning… like the faithful sun rising in the east. I have never been a girl that does the starving thing. I like food, a lot. I love to bake, I love to cook, I love to go out. That said, my body just doesn’t handle my love with such ease anymore. I have lost all of the weight I gained with Charlie, a lousy 18 pounds, but I look somewhat like a deflated balloon. The body I ridiculed and bitched about freely years ago is a body I would kill to have today. To be what is considered healthy, I would need to weigh the number I convincingly lied about on my drivers license. I haven’t been that number since I was probably sixteen, and really don’t have a desire to be that ever again. I would like to be healthy without being extreme. I’m not giving up cheese, all chocolate, and I damn sure am not giving up my one, chemically loaded, 12 ounces of bliss, Diet Coke, either. I could probably cut down the carbs, and I dunno, maybe once in a while lift the 5 pound arm weights I HAD to have, or do sit-ups AFTER I eat an entire bag of baked (hey, its healthier, right?) lays. I also have to consider what the hell I am going to do about a certain tattoo on my left hip. It doesn’t have the lettering, but it definitely says “I was a shithead seventeen year old that should’ve listened to my mom.” Its a hello kitty, or well, it used to be. I’m more self conscious about a set of unfamiliar people laying eyes on that then I am about anything else. God willing, my intended family wont attend an ultra sound until I’m so big that the feral f**king cat mistake is hidden under a new set of hideous stretch marks. The tattoo, the diet, all things I have to start working on, not just for the surrogacy, but for myself, too.
After I am done nursing Charlie, and once I’ve hit a more acceptable weight for myself, I will then go through a psychological evaluation. I could very well screw this part up all on my own, but to add to the ship sinking factor, Casey will also go through this with me. Casey has been honest about the way he feels, as have I, but none of our feelings have ever been picked apart with a knife and fork in an effort to seek some mystery ingredient. I do worry. I worry that when they ask about selective reduction, that I’ll be viewed as an undesirable candidate if I answer honestly. I worry that Casey and I won’t be such a convincing team once we are separately questioned. I worry a lot about things that are entirely out of my control, and its because I want this so badly.
I wonder what people will think when they look at me when I’m a week postpartum, sporting bags under my eyes, an even larger deflated balloon like belly, and a panty line you could see from New York as I casually stroll through the aisles of Target with my children. My children who will likely be 18 months, and just shy of 3. Will they think, “God she doesn’t know when to say no!” Will they pity me for having clearly become another person who blames their body on “the baby” (even if that baby is speaking full sentences) Will I still cut off 10 inches of my flowing locks and claim that I “just don’t have the energy to fool with it” like I have in the past with my own babies? Will people that know me, my co-workers and family members, grow irritated or perhaps be less considerate if I decide to incorporate pumping breast milk into my already jam packed routine, all for a baby or babies that aren’t even mine?
When I go out with my kids and see an adorably well rested couple, lovingly browsing the baby section, not an ounce of fatigue or battle scar from the nitty gritty days (and nights) of trying to survive with an infant, I picture in my brain a very large freight train. A freight train that is hauling ass, doesn’t have breaks, and will crash into you with such a force that you simply become one with it. I always tell my mom, Casey, or my soul mate sister in law, “They don’t know!” We laugh, and exchange a quick thank god we’re past THAT stage smile. Inside, I hear the train whistle scream out loud once more! Children and babies are such a gift, my above illustration aside. Everyone loves a pregnant woman in our society, but not everyone shows the same kindness to a newly postpartum woman. I have made that my goal, to be a tool and beacon of light for my friends that have just hopped aboard the crazy train. I try to be honest, share my experiences, both good and bad, and just be a listener. I worry that there wont be anyone that can understand how I will feel once this process is over. I don’t believe there is anyway to NOT get a little attached to the baby or family that I will be a centerpiece of for about a year, I think its impossible.
Everyone experiences some degree of postpartum depression (I hate that word, it feels so heavy), in my experience it usually comes on day 3 or 4, the first day home with baby. My mom warned me, so did the hospital nurses, it completely blindsides you. On Lucy’s fourth day of life when my milk came in, so did the hormones. God it was awful, I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t even eat, much less form a sentence without tears. My mom was my angel through those tough days. My favorite moment with my mom throughout both of my labor/delivery postpartum moments was when she helped me wash my hair the day after Lucy was born. My body ached in ways I never knew possible, the tears washed over me, almost drowning me as they fell, my mom never faltered. As she rubbed conditioner into my hair she told me through tears and a broken smile “I haven’t washed your hair since you were a little girl!” I wont ever forget that moment, it was the lifesaver being thrown to save me from the hormone tide. After Charlie was born I knew a bit better what to expect. Even though I knew better, I still went through the uncontrollable crying every time Casey left for work, or when my mom told me she had to go back to work. I spent hours in the morning separating clementines and cubing cheese into perfect sandwich bag portions for Lucy to snack on throughout the day. I would be damned if I was going to be smothered by those hormones! I went on like this mad woman, determined to be the best mom I could be to my duo, then eventually things fell into place, it became easy once more. My fear with this situation is what will be my new normal? I am okay with everything in this process, but if you’ve ever had a child, you know that all that build up during pregnancy seems so small once the baby finally arrives. Life has a funny way of beginning again several times, despite how difficult it feels sometimes. I want to be honest about my emotions throughout this process, perhaps that’s why I’m writing this blog… as a timecapsule. Just like when I look back on the clementine days, or at newly expecting parents and laugh to myself, maybe once I’m past this whole thing I will read this and think “you damn crybaby, look at you, you’ve done it!” Be kind to me world, my heart is made of glass.
My non plan-birth plan.
In my previous two births, I never made a birth plan. Please don’t take offense if this strikes a cord with you, but I found them to be so silly. I didn’t want to get my heart set on a birth that may not happen. I’m a control freak, if you know me at all, you know that. I didn’t want to build a wall of perfection around a situation that has more force than a category five hurricane. I thought, “if I need an epidural, I’ll get one. This isn’t a strong woman contest.” I made it pretty far with Lucy before my amazing L&D nurse talked to me about my options and we decided together an epidural would be great if for no other reason, other then for me to relax a bit. With Charlie I made it further, the nurse told me to quit being so polite through contractions, and assured me it was okay if I cried or said bad words, because its hard, unfamiliar, and yes… painful work. I got an epidural with Charlie, too. Both of my birth stories are perfect to me in every way, but I want so desperately for this one to be different. I want to deliver this baby at Baby and CO in Wheat Ridge, or somewhere of the like. I want to have a peaceful, homebirth setting, without it actually being in my house. I mean, nothing says peaceful and serene like a German shepherd jumping into a birth tub, right? EW! I want to experience labor and delivery completely drug free, I want to find peace within the chaos. I want to connect with my body and this baby in a way I didn’t do with my own children. I know this sounds crazy, I want a boutique birth for a baby that isn’t mine, but I just want it to be something I never forget, even if what I don’t forget is hard for me to get through. I want this experience to be special for me, and extremely special for the parents of this baby. I want them to feel like they are connected through the whole process, my body is no longer some private property with a keep out sign. I feel like if you are willing to go through this process, you are also willing to lose that embarrassment/privacy factor. I have contacted a couple of places, I have been invited to have this child there, to attend classes, and even to share my experience as I go through it. The great part about the surrogacy center is that they really try their best to make this entire situation as comfortable for me as they do the intended family. I think having the choice of where I deliver is huge, its an option you don’t even have with health insurance you pay for, what a huge opportunity to experience the same story a different way.
Stamp of approval
After I pass the psych evaluation, matching begins! I am so excited for this process, it doesn’t yet feel real, and I know once I’m meeting families everything will fall into place so quickly. Casey and I will have to spend a few days away from our babies and travel to Oregon for the implantation of the embryos, and from there I become a resident (not really, but may as well be) at the fertility clinic throughout the first trimester of my pregnancy. Once the pregnancy is confirmed, and we are past the first trimester, I can begin seeing my own physician for prenatal care. I know this season of the process will likely leave me feeling very worn out, I remember being tired when I was pregnant with Charlie and running after Lucy. I imagine this form of tired will be amplified by about a million. I am chemically forcing my body to do something it has done with ease twice before, in addition to chasing after my own two monkey children. I will still continue to wait tables throughout this pregnancy, it keeps my weight down, and it keeps my sanity strong… even when I hate it. Casey and I have talked about what we want to do with the money, and because we haven’t yet, and probably should eventually ( ;] ) I think we will get married. Casey wants the wedding we never had, and while I’m not quite on the same page with that, I feel like I owe it to him. After all of this is through, I will still have him standing faithfully at my deflated balloon side. Casey’s acceptance of this has been monumental to our relationship, I think the man deserves a wedding.
Wait for me.
Even if I take a few month hiatus, please don’t think I’m through here. I intend to see this dream through, I hope to be pregnant by mid year of 2017, which means lots more writing is to come. Please leave your questions in the comments, they help me write, they help me think. As always, thanks for reading and being apart of this journey with me. Share it, comment on it, drink it in. This is not a journey that is done alone.