Baby growth / chaos / mental love

I wrote the second part a few weeks ago, and then hesitated to post because I might sound crazy. But I am slightly crazy, so...here you go. 

We are now 23 weeks, and baby is doing great! All the diagnostics are looking just fine, so now it's autopilot for 17 more weeks. I mean...I'm struggling to stay awake lately, so I might need an actual autopilot function. 

......

We are 20 weeks now! The big half way-mark, and it really does feel like something to celebrate. I'm so happy to feel kicks, squirms, and jiggles. I'm happy to grow bigger every day (although I'd like to just sit and wear a snuggie, if possible). I can't wait until the anatomy scan this week. I think that being the surro-body makes me even more anxious for him to get here - since I don't have to worry about having a nursery ready or dealing with the joys (never-ending hell) of maternity leave paperwork.

The past month has been hard emotionally, and I feel like I've made something of a life breakthrough, so I'm going to share a couple pieces here. This comes from a place of honesty, please don't judge me for trying to know everything or pretending that I have anything about life figured out. If anything, I'm falling in love with life again - trying to learn how to enjoy every piece and the great wonders of why we're here.

I've always been busy and stressed. I faked myself into this calm demeanor because otherwise I would have panicked myself into a hole. Still calmly, I spend excessive amounts of time working, because it makes me feel worthwhile, and it helps distance myself from feelings of failure. (heavy, sorry)

After a lot of years of this...I'm ready for change.

From a further perspective, calm and purposeful is so much more valuable to me than busy and angry. Happy is more important than skinny. Wise is more important than successful. I know that this is in direct conflict with the way that business is supposed to work, and employees are supposed to act. But I can feel a shift around all of us - taking time to become better at life creates more value than simply churning out the same old shit. It's difficult to manage because we're all afraid of failure or feelings.

So. I want to go even further from stressed human. I want to be the person I say I am. I am calm, I take time for mindfulness, and I can handle hard things.

A few weeks ago, after crying an awful lot and almost giving up, I came across this podcast and fell in love. http://alanis.com/podcasts/ If you have lots of time at a desk or in a car, please give it a listen. There is wisdom from therapists and doctors that unlock a lot of hard, wonderful things. I also heard this on my way home - http://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/357846020/quiet . And it spoke at the right time.

After that shitty week, and making some strides to start making open space inside me, I felt a lot of better things happening to my marriage and parenting. It's the beginning, but it is good movement.

My first goal: stop saying yes to everything.
My second goal: make space for meditation, learning, and enlightenment.

A few months ago, my good friend Alex recommended Shauna Niequist's Present over Perfect and I love it. Self care is prayer and strength...it doesn't have to be pedicures. We shouldn't feel bad about becoming our best selves.

from Shauna Niequist:
I believe that if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within us and between us, dreams and stories and memories spilling over. The nuances and shades and secrets and intimations of love and friendship and marriage an parenting are action-packed and multicolored, if you know where to look.

You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today.”
― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

I'm so lucky to have wise parents, friends, and family. I'm glad to get a second (third, fourth, millionth) chance to slow down and be better at life. I'm so thankful for the village that props me up when I need help. 

If you have even more time, I love this- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkiqozeTkcs

THAT PROGESTERONE GLOW

I'm finally publishing the surrogacy writings, because we're at 12 weeks and it's time to start celebrating. 

If this is confusing, skip a few posts back. Short story : I'm baking my best friend's baby. 

I'm so happy to be carrying this baby. He is something so positive and pure amidst the chaos that is being a working mom / alive in this weird time. When I get wrapped up in all the projects that I need to start and finish, I can mentally escape to baby island, where I'm doing all the right things, and the streets are paved with cheese. 

Since my first baby post, we've had 2 ultrasounds. I'm OFF meds!! No more progesterone butt shots, no more butt lumps. It's all going super well, and the emotions that flow from 2 new parents seeing their baby on a screen could make my heart explode. The amount of effort that Marissa and Johnathon have gone through to get here is astounding. I think the patience they've gathered is like zen master buddha mother of 12 level. So many years of waiting, and waiting, and surgeries, and needles, and paying. I hope my contribution, in addition to a womb, is appreciating the effort that IVF requires. And hopefully sharing the story will help someone who's struggling with it see that there's a light at the end of this tunnel. 

My husband Ben has been getting more excited, which is so helpful when I'm feeling shitty and tired. I'm generalizing, but I think it's hard for husbands to feel connected to pregnancy. Surrogacy is even more removed, except for the fact that baby-dude belongs to our very close friends, who he loves dearly. Ben always expressed that he wanted us to do this for them, I think a sentiment very foreign to even himself. He's practical. I'm more unicorns. But the closeness that parenting and baking a baby can create between partners is probably better than therapy. As long as we're able to get away to date night and laugh about it. 

I'm extra narcoleptic this week, so I'm keeping this post short. More to come, we'd love you to follow along. 

ADVENTURES IN SURROGACY - MARISSA'S SIDE OF THE STORY

7/11/17

Today we “graduated” from our fertility specialist now that sugar is 10 weeks in utero. Dr. Frederick is over the moon excited for us and it makes me feel really special. I think she appreciates Ally and what she is doing for us so much, even as much as we do. We’ve been seeing her for almost 2 years now and it will feel strange to not be popping into that office and having them poke one of us for blood, or put wants in our undercarriage. We got a cute little “proud to be an HRC baby” onesie and took a group photo with Dr. Frederick.

I really feel like Ally was meant to be the home for sugar, it’s unbelievable how smoothly things go when your body is built for a baby. It’s made it very clear that mine definitely isn’t. I do get jealous that I won’t get these 9 months to feel him grow and have him hear my voice in the womb and that I will never know what it is like to be pregnant or give birth, but I am so grateful that this is even an option for us. Plus now Johnathon and I are on a completely even playing field as far as bonding goes. We are a determined couple, with a fantastic doctor and are lucky enough to have a selfless friend who is probably the only human we would ever trust to carry our child, AND she was willing. Hashtag blessed is all I can say.

There are so many things that had to come together to make this baby happen. Like, SO many. Pregnancy that happens naturally is already a miracle, but this pregnancy took a literal team of scientists, two entire families, a tribe of friends, a bajillion medications (and a bajillion dollars), crazy strict timing PLUS all the usual miracles of life.

I want to do everything for Ally, but also not suffocate her. I want to buy all the maternity clothes and feed her homemade cake and clean her house and build her a soundproof nap pod.  It is just so hard to show how appreciative we are with words or gifts and I can only hug her so hard. It’s completely overwhelming. I am so proud of her and proud of our story and I cannot wait to share it. It’s so beautiful to have such a huge group of people all coming together to make something happen with the only motivation being love. Although I’m sure Dr. Frederick also depends on the money, but she really is genuinely happy for us and I can see how much she loves making these things happen for people like us.

I want sugar to know how hard we all worked for him and how much he was loved and wanted even before we met him.

30 more weeks!

 

Adventures in Surrogacy

My womb is once again home to a teeny baby soul. I'm writing this long before I publish, because it's still so early on, and we have been very cautious up to this point.

A year ago, my best friend had an embryo placed into her own womb. Her cervix had been uncooperative, so her and her husband patiently proceeded with all the IVF steps, and then the doctor implanted. We all waited with held breath, and convinced her it would take. Baby dreams, baby vibes, all the things hopeful friends say to each other. This was their second try. 

Infertility had never crossed my mind much, aside from distant friends causally mentioning it, or reading articles about it, likely never past the first paragraph. I spent so much of my adult life trying NOT to get pregnant, as I am a carrier for a rare genetic disease, and kids are expensive and scary! My first baby happened as a beautiful accident, and a surprise that years of birth control didn't render me infertile. But with the struggle of a close friend, I became more aware of infertility. It hurt me that this very attainable dream of theirs was stuck in limbo. Soon after Marissa found out that the second round of IVF didn't take, I talked to my husband about possibly becoming a surrogate. And then, after a month of thinking, I offered my thoughts to her and Johnathon. She cried, and we both cried. There is a lot of crying in IVF. 

So today I am 5 weeks pregnant with their baby. We started shots and medication on April 24th. I learned how to do the Lupron injections into my own stomach and congratulated myself fore being THE MOST bad-ass. Two weeks later, I would find that those are nothing compared to the Progesterone injections. Marissa still comes over to do those, I'm way too weak. You have to insert, make sure you didn't hit a vein, then insert thick oil into butt. I'm glad she lives so close. My veins hurt when I type the word 'vein.' 

On May 23rd, we transferred 'Sugar' --as Luna calls him-- into my uterus. It was quick and painless. The doctor thanked us for being part of a team, and we all cried. Marissa and Johnathon babysat me and the kids during 3 days of bedrest, which was actually nice and relaxing. Super Tribe Mom Abby took Luna on trips and ran my booth at a farmer's market. The village that comes together for this sort of thing is amazing. I am so in love with all of my friends and family. I'm so proud of them for being so selfless and interested in growing this baby. 

5 days after we transferred, I started peeing on sticks. I told Marissa I wasn't going to tell her the results, and it was so damn hard. There was a definite line, and the line darkened every day. I told a bunch of our friends, I was so excited for them. Monday, we got the call that my beta was 1503 and I'm definitely pregnant! Marissa and Johnathon are beyond thrilled. Everyone is crying their heads off. 

Now we wait for second beta test tomorrow, and ultrasound next week. I'm trying not to eat everything, and my body SHUTS THE EFF DOWN every day, which usually means I have to nap. I forgot about the narcoleptic part of pregnancy. 

The most common question I am asked is 'won't it be hard to give up your baby?'...followed by 'wow isn't pregnancy hard?' I still haven't perfected my answers, so I usually say this: 'Marissa is my best friend, I've known her since we were 5, and she is like a mother to my children. I know that she would do this for me, were our situation reversed. Plus I like being pregnant, and I like having something that I can contribute to our tribe of friends.' It's a lot more than that, of course. It's a lot of emotional thoughts all day...I want them to be parents. It's hardly a year of my life. It's good for me to be healthy, rested, sober, productive, mindful. My kids will understand sacrifice in a deeper way, I hope. And to the constant 'give up your baby' question -- it's not mine. It's all their DNA, I'm just the oven. I'm hoping to be like a favorite aunt. 

I skipped the part where we spent forever signing contracts and signing paperwork, getting insurance, etc. It's long and boring. 

More to come after appointments. 

Love, Ally

 

 

Thoughts on motherhood, again.

 

Having two children has not been easy for me. I think I pray to the God of selfish mothers at least twice a day to PLEASE SEND ME A MASSAGE AND A MARGARITA. I'm not sure if spirited, strong willed children were born before mine. Surely not. 

It's taken me three months with this new being to realize she's picking up my anxiety. And so I've thrown myself into calm. It will all happen. It will all get done. Don't walk in circles, don't fret your face into wrinkles. Stop eating the effing Halloween candy. 

When Luna was born, I selfishly wished she had some sort of deformity or problem: hoping that she would be mine forever. That's a mother's prayer, wanting your children to need you forever. I don't think I would take back these thoughts. 

I know that I can't wish my children into submission. They will grow and bloom, they will hate me, they will lie to me, and hopefully they will come back to me. They will hold me when I need it too. They will teach me in the ways of life. Rhythm above all else. Submit to the rhythm of the earth. The gentle clicking of time is all we know to be true. Love everything as hard as you can. 

I always loved that my own mother is such a passionate giver. I want to be like her. 

To Juni, my baby gnome: Your little hand reaches for my breast and grabs onto my skin. I know now why people say they want to be wanted. You want me and it feels good. It feels natural. It's easier than anything else I know. You want me and I want you. Nothing is as easy as this. We sleep together and your gentle snoring rocks my impatient thoughts to sleep. I wake often to check your breathing, but I'm not tired. I want to remember this feeling until the day I die. That if I do nothing else, I slept with you very well. 

 

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