Hello to you all, my faithful readers! As always, thank you for your interest, and more importantly, thank you for your support. I find myself in the thick of things lately, not just with surrogacy, but with motherhood as well. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my life experiences! Please feel free to share, provide feedback, or ask any questions you may have in the comment section.
The end of an era.
On February 8th, I nursed Charlie for the very last time. Truthfully, I saw the writing on the wall long before I found myself willing to accept it. I started to notice Charlie getting frustrated with me while he was waiting anywhere from 1-5 minutes for my milk to let down. I became overcome with exhaustion from being woken up anywhere from 3-6 times a night with a ravenous baby. I knew in my head that it was a sign from my baby that we needed to be done nursing, and switch to formula for the remaining month before his first birthday. Almost immediately, I had a baby that was sleeping 10-12 hours a night, a baby that never had to get completely frustrated before his food was delivered, and a baby that finally seemed content after eating. I knew in my heart that because of my choice to stop nursing, I would be sad, disappointed, and feel the longing ache deep within myself to just go back a few months so I could appreciate it “better.” I always did appreciate it though, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I told myself in the hospital when I was in the throws of having a newborn once again, “enjoy these sleepless hours, for they will soon be something you long for.” Oh, were they ever. I could look back with fondness in my heart remembering the second night Charlie was alive, a night where I got not even fifteen minutes of sleep because I was being used as a straw by my chunky, hungry, boy. The next morning when the nurses came in to weigh him before we were discharged, they all marveled at the fact that he had actually gained an ounce after birth, something I guess is not all too common. I could remember laughing with my family when Charlie would choke from the flood of milk filling him faster than he could swallow, he never would let go, instead, “choke and rally, kitty!” was a phrase heard daily within my house. I could appreciate the hard moments, too, through the eyes of experience. I can recall telling the nurse that came to do an in home visit “I only have 7 weeks and 3 days until it doesn’t make me wince anymore.” when she inquired about any pain or tenderness I was having from nursing. People that tell you “it shouldn’t hurt at all” are liars, probably math test cheaters, and bad to have in your circle. Cracked, bleeding, raw, new momma nipples are by no means a picnic in the park. Maybe if I use the world “unfamiliar” to describe what newly nursing nipples feel like, I will appease even the liars. The point is, perspective has a funny way of influencing your experience, and because Charlie was my second baby, I found myself enjoying every second of this part of our journey.
If you love and appreciate something with all of your heart, it becomes much harder to “let it go.” I felt no pain when I stopped nursing Charlie. I never became engorged, hot, or uncomfortable, which is often the case when you decide to stop cold turkey. I never felt anything. It was as if my body was validating my choice, and not punishing me physically because my heart was doing enough of that. Charlie took to formula seamlessly, but we both had to learn to adjust to our new normal gradually. I had to remind myself in my sleepy daze not to go in and nurse him when he awoke at 4 or 5 am. Charlie had to learn that despite his best efforts to get what he wanted when I came home from work or being away for a couple of hours, the kitchen was closed permanently. Even a month later, we both are still adjusting to this new normal. I am very glad that his first birthday is upon us, because soon the bottle chapter can be buried along with any of the remaining sadness I have left about not making it a full year. I accomplished a lot, though. Charlie is a beautiful, healthy, emotionally engaging, sweetheart, 29 pound baby boy. I have nursing to thank for that. My son has always been a momma’s boy, from day one. I could feel the gratitude oozing from every fiber of his being when he would have a great feeding. I could feel his love, need, and want for me the second his eyes would meet mine after a long day of work. Nursing was a great support beam in the early days of our new relationship, and I am eternally grateful for every day we made it.
My cup no longer runneth over
To celebrate the end of my nursing days, I decided to treat myself to some new clip free, maybe even cute? new bras. I went into the store with all the confidence of my sixteen year old self, eager to take something home that would heal my hurt feelings. I got a measure, and a handful of some modest, and some ridiculous bras and eagerly ran to the fitting room. Overshare, maybe? to my shock, and horror, my confidence was instantly deflated. WHERE DID MY GIRLS GO? I was left there, feeling like the weird girl that sat by herself at lunch. The one thing I always “had” before I had kids, was a cute figure. A far cry from the woman that stood before me, in jeans that had a diaper butt from being too saggy, peanut butter in her hair, and a bra that could’ve been stuffed with twenty socks and still wouldn’t be filled out. Surely, that lady misread the measuring tape. After I let things sink in, I decided to accept my fate, and proceeded to the register to pay for my grandma bras, because after all, isn’t that what you wear when you no longer have aforementioned “cute figure?” The moment that sealed the deal was when the cashier announced “that’ll be $160.” Um, NO! I immediately handed them back saying ” that’s a weeks worth of groceries if we eat cheap! I’m not about to spend that kind of money to feel frumpy.” I went home, wrote a letter to the company expressing my frustration about the lack of availability in my cup size, (it was a damn good, collegiate educated type of letter). Guess what? A MAN wrote me back the most uncompassionate, didn’t read a damn thing I wrote email, and told me “shop online.” Of course he could give this response, he was still sitting at the cool kid table, not the newly castaway from all of your friends table. It is because of this experience, and the sagely advice from a man that knows all too well about being large chested, that I begrudgingly went back and bought two bras that I don’t love, and additionally, decided to work on my personality, since I could no longer rely on my girls to make me appealing… those bitches!
I know I just referred to my breasts as “those bitches” but I’m not crazy… I think.
This psychological evaluation has been eating at me since I made the appointment. I know I’m not crazy, but I know all too well, that I can be too honest. I have learned over the last few years to filter out some of the mean and even, outlandish, things my brain concocts before it ever reaches my lips. I usually reserve those horrible things for my time with Stephanie, because she always laughs and lights up with excitement when I start a sentence with “okay, so don’t judge me BUT…” I am a strong personality, a bit like a double espresso, or even a shot of ever clear. I wrote my email to schedule the appointment, and was then instructed to call the woman who will be conducting my evaluation. “Arrive at my office by 1pm, when you get inside, there will be a clipboard with 550 true or false questions in the waiting room. Once you’ve filled that out, and it will be at least an hour, I will come out to get you and Casey to further our discussion.” I laughed a little and said “oh, only 550 questions?” Not picking up on my perhaps inappropriate sarcasm, she proceeded to explain that I was not to spend “more than 30 seconds on each question.” and the importance of the questionnaire itself. I find it a little strange that I will be walking into an unfamiliar business, sitting in an uncomfortable waiting room, and filling out questions that analyze my psyche, only to turn it in to a woman I’ve never met face to face. I can see the reason behind the evaluation, but I hope that if I answer “are you overcome with anxiety daily?” truthfully, I will not be disqualified. I mean really, if you are a parent can you honestly say that you ARE NOT overcome with some type of nerves on a daily basis? If I hear my kids wake up at 5, AXIETY. If one of my kids gets sick with something, ANXIETY. When bedtime rolls around and the fear of the unknown, my sleep-fate for the night, sets in… ANXIETY. I am not June Cleaver, I am a mid twenty something, exhausted, doing the best I fricken can, mom. I feel every range of my emotions when I go grocery shopping with the kids and Lucy insists she’s “gotta walk, no cart, momma.” I go from 0-60 in about two seconds, and I think a lot of exhausted parents everywhere can relate to that. I’m nervous for Casey, too. Obviously because he is going, they are going to go for the gold with him, too. Although Casey will not have to go through the 550 getting to know you questions like I will, they are going to be analyzing his psyche, too. Casey is pretty damn level headed. Casey has ALWAYS been my soft place to land… he is thoughtful, kind hearted, and not at all quick to anger or frustration. Casey must be crazy though, after all, he is willingly subjecting himself to this process all because his partner wants it. Crazy, or selfless, I guess we shall let our evaluator decide.
It was really 567 questions, not 550.
Our day for the evaluation came, and Casey and I found ourselves driving down I25 arguing about traffic, and role playing questions… a completely healthy combo. I asked Casey, “so what if she asks you what my weakness is as a person? What are you going to say.” I felt his nervous side eye take a glance at me, and heard the deep swallow of a smart ass remark being sucked back down. “I don’t know, you really don’t have any.” Commence uproar of laughter from us both. You see, when you’ve been with someone as long as we have been together, you have to look past weakness and simply be strong when and where it is present. I can tell you right now, my biggest weakness/poor character quality is that I do not like to take help from people because I am a bit of a perfectionist-control freak-psycho. I’d love for Casey to do things I often bitch about him not doing, but I am guilty of being critical instead of just accepting that he does them differently than I do. No Casey, that does NOT give you a hall pass on cleaning up the bomb that goes off approximately 1,000 times a day in this house while I am at work, sorry. Casey works his ass off for our family. I wanted another baby, Casey immediately found a better paying job to accommodate an increase in our budget. I wanted a new car to fit the needs of our growing family, Casey signed the dotted line and never threw an ounce of grief my way over it. Casey is good man, a great father, and I am lucky to have found him at a young age, because I know it will just get better to be his as our stresses become fewer on this journey of life.
We arrived early, and I marveled at his ability to parallel park in the most ridiculously impossible of spaces. We walked inside and held hands tightly as we walked the halls to suite 512 where our afternoon awaited us. Once inside, our evaluator handed me a booklet with a questionnaire, three pencils, and a portable table. A tiny waiting room with three chairs is where I was to sit and complete this task, while Casey was set free for the next hour. My hands were already sweating after the first five questions. It started out innocent enough “I enjoy mechanics magazines, true or false”, but after the first fifty or so questions, I was met with “I hear voices” and “I have thought about killing myself.” The content of this assessment is bizarre to say the least, and I honestly feel like it does little to tell you about the person being assessed. One question read, “I like to use swear words”, well if you know me, you know that when I read that I laughed and said to myself SO f**king TRUE! It is strange though, to have to answer things honestly that could perhaps put you in a negative light. True I love swear words, True I have done things I’m NOT proud of, True I laugh at sexually explicit jokes. Some of the questions were worded so poorly, I found myself reading them out loud multiple times, wondering if perhaps a comma would’ve made a difference in the way that I answered.
After I finished the 550 questions, I noticed that there were still 17 more that needed answering. I asked our evaluator, she said “oh, I didn’t know there were 567, but yes, answer all of them.” It took me but 2 minutes to complete, but made me a little uneasy that she didn’t know there were that many questions. I felt like “well how important can this really be? If she doesn’t know the number of questions, how invested in this test is she?” Definitely overthinking things, but that’s what I do… I mean FALSE… I am not an overthinker. Once the test was complete, we were invited into her office and gestured to sit on a couch. I’ve never been in any type of therapy or counseling, but her office was exactly what I thought it would be. It was comfortable, there was a bookcase filled with various books about this and that, and a sculpture? I don’t know what you’d call it, of a man holding onto a rope, scaling the pillar in the west corner of her office. Cool, Over coming obstacles, I dig it.
Once we were settled, there was zero mention of the test, instead she turned her attention to basic, getting to know you, type of stuff. “Where did you grow up?” “how much schooling have you completed?” Everything was great until she asked Casey, “Are you the father of both of her children?” It was off-putting, but so damn funny, I had to will myself to look away from Casey. I knew if we looked at each other we’d of both yelled “That’s what I’ve been told, SO I HOPE SO!” We got through the getting to know you stuff, and she began asking how our friends and family were taking the news. We explained that we’ve not been met with a single negative reaction, told her about this blog, and expressed our own excitement. Again, having never been in this type of situation, I don’t know if saying “okay”is customary every few moments into an answer, but she did this anytime we answered more than a few sentences… think the Oscar music playing over an acceptance speech. I really didn’t know how to feel, or what to think, so I listened more and spoke less. I was asked the basic, yet profound question of “why do you want to be a surrogate?” I answered eagerly, telling her that many pre children years ago, I met a friend of a friend for drinks. We had a great, lighthearted evening the three of us, when the conversation suddenly shifted to marriage and children. Jenny (the friend of a friend) shared her own struggles with infertility so freely and honestly with me that it struck a cord deep within me. I remember leaving the bar that night and telling my friend Ashley, “I’ve never been pregnant, but I would without hesitation, carry a baby for her… she wants it so bad, even though I just met her, it kills me to see someone struggle for something like a child.” The “okay, okay, okay” music didn’t play once during my story this time, not once. I had a hard time stifling my “are you freakin kidding me” face when she asked about appropriate contact between my intended parents and I. “Are the intended parents welcome at OB appointments? What about in the delivery room? Can they touch your belly? What is an appropriate level of communication via phone? If they attend an OB appointment would you prefer their placement be at your head?” Of Course they can attend any and all appointments. Absolutely they are welcome to the birth of their child. Sure they can touch my belly. I’d say three or four texts per week, maybe a phone call, and always updates after appointments of major “I just felt a kick” moments. The face came with that last question… “if they attend an OB appointment, would you prefer their placement be at your head?” I answered “Yes, I would prefer that” immediately, and I was surprised my mouth didn’t throw away this whole opportunity for me before my brain managed to think through a polite response. I felt myself choking down the urge to expand on my response when she replied, “some people are just more modest than others.” I wouldn’t say I’m modest, I would tell anyone anything about my birth experiences if they asked… the good the bad and the ugly. However, just because I’ve had two children does NOT mean I run enthusiastically to the gynecologist, throw my feet in stir ups, and welcome anyone who is curious to come see my show. Unless the baby is coming out, its a private show, only. “You will get negative reactions, be sure of that. If you approach things too enthusiastically when people inquire or prod, it will appear as if you are telling people you don’t want to hear ANY negative commentary, and that it is simply not open for discussion.” I didn’t know how to take that, either. Truthfully, I don’t give a damn if people think this is weird, or if they have anything negative to say. My decisions DO NOT make a difference in anyone’s lives EXCEPT the people in the front row (me, the baby, the intended family, and my family). I am happy to answer questions, but I am not willing to subject myself to any length of negative commentary, PERIOD.
We did learn some effective tools for speaking to our daughter and son about the pregnancy. Not that I would have ever referred to the baby as “mommy’s baby” or your “little brother/sister”, we learned that instead we should say, “do you want to feel Bill and Larry’s baby move?” The use of that type of language is supposed to be more effective when dealing with children, and frankly I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt for me to say those things, too. Of course, Lucy will only be three, and Charlie will only be one, so the comprehension end of things will likely not be all there when this pregnancy takes place. I know Lucy will be excited about “the baby”, she was thrilled when I was pregnant with Charlie! I am sure that post delivery, our conversations will have to continue about where the baby went, and why the baby isn’t here with us, but these are all things I am prepared to address when the time comes.
Match maker, match maker, make me a match!
I will hear more about my results in the coming weeks, then after that, the matching game begins! I will get to meet the people my heart already loves so profoundly. I will get to wish and dream for the happiness of two people, and be a part of creating that magic for them. I also have a home visit, and contract negotiation to look forward to as well. I think that if we have successfully passed the psychological evaluation, the rest will be a walk in the park. I will have to go get some non gmo, dye free goldfish, and rent someone’s nice dogs on the day of the home visit. I hope that when my home check happens, our evaluator doesn’t leave covered in dog hair, doesn’t linger for an excessive amount of time, and doesn’t judge me if my two year old opens the door and exclaims “lets do this shit!” like she once did upon entrance to a Target a few weeks ago. I think its safe to say that not even a major two year old meltdown over watching Minnie-rella for the 9,034th time will get us disqualified… but just incase, I wont delete it from the DVR just yet.
Up, Up, and Away.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about what has been taking place on this journey. As I have said, things are in hyper speed now, and it wont be long before I am announcing that we (my intended family) and I, have found each other. Stay tuned, ask questions if you have them, share this story if you feel compelled, and finally, THANK YOU. Until next time…