It’s a good one. And maybe you’ve already heard, but I’m very thrilled to announce,
On behalf of myself, my husband, and little June Bugs family, I’m happy to tell you,…
It’s a good one. And maybe you’ve already heard, but I’m very thrilled to announce,
On behalf of myself, my husband, and little June Bugs family, I’m happy to tell you,…
Tonight I had a very humbling and eye opening experience. I attended an Anti-Trump protest.
I’ve never attended a protest before. I’ve thought about it lots of times, I cared about causes. I’ve written my pieces on social media. But I’ve never gotten involved, I’ve never thought my voice mattered.
I’m in mourning. Yes, mourning. At first I was in shock, then I was depressed, then I was angry and then I was bargaining to no one for this to be a nightmare. I’ve gone through this cycle a couple times in the past three days. Trying to understand, trying to process, TRYING to accept.
I turn on the news and see people protesting, and I feel the pull. I need to be a part of this. I need to have my voice be heard. But I’m scared. I’m scared that I don’t matter. I’m scared of being attacked and looked down on before of my beliefs, and I’m scared of “the system”. But then I stop. I am a white woman. I am privileged. How do the minorities feel right now? People I love. LGBTQ. Hispanics. African Americans. Muslims. Illegal immigrants. The disabled. I am a woman yes, and my rights are being questioned. Yes I have reason to be afraid. But others have it worse than I do.
Then I look at my children. “No” I tell myself. Not my children. Not my country.
So I looked into rallies. I looked for one in Fort Worth, my own streets where I feel safe. I find what I’m looking for, and I work myself up about it all day long.
At 6;30 I get dressed in my favorite shirt that shows the phrase “Feminism is the radial notion that women are people.” I grab a bandana as I’ve been instructed to do in order to cover my face. I take my ID incase the police ask for it, I tell friends where I will be and I set out the door. My husband decides to follow to protect me and document the event.
When I get downtown a fight is breaking out. A man with a confederate battle flag in hand is screaming at the peaceful protesters. He grabs a sign out of someones hand and throws it to the ground. A protester tries to grab his flag in retaliation. He jabs at them with it. The police come over and break it up before it gets out of hand and instructs the man to cross to the other side of the street. This is before I even join my fellow protesters.
I stand quietly at first, unsure of what to do or say. Curtis is with the media, not with the protesters. I am alone. Maybe I made a mistake? My adrenaline tells me that is not the case.
Standing on the stairs of city hall people are chanting. “Love trumps hate”. “Not my president”. Calls of “Show me what democracy looks like” is met with “This is what democracy looks like”. The chants change every few minutes. “Who’s streets?” is met with “Our streets”. “What do we want?” is met with “Justice”. “When do we want it?” is met with “Now”. The crowd claps in rhythm with every chant.
There are many signs being held up. Many saying things about the electoral college. Love trumps hate signs. I’m standing next to two young men holding hands on one side, and an older Hispanic woman on the other side. I walk around the crowd and introduce myself to a few people, without asking they tell me one by one why they are there. “End the racism! End the hate!” the crowd starts chanting as we leave our place on the steps and move into downtown. Some cars honk and show solidarity. Some by standers applaud and hold their arms up in support. Everyone is recording us on their phones. The media is everywhere. Some people are being interviewed. We chant and clap and walk peacefully on the sidewalks, the police guiding us safely the entire time. I’m thankful they are there.
Some people scream at us “FUCK YOU!” or “TRUMPS AMERICA!” It feels like a setback, but we get louder. “LOVE TRUMPS HATE!” I don’t have a sign, so I hold my hand up with a peace sign.
I meet a woman who looks to be my age. She has a little girl in a stroller. I tap her on the shoulder and say thank you. She says “It’s her future. She needs to know that we show love, and that we fought for better.” I hold back tears as we walk past a family with three children, what must all of the children think of us and our opposites? We get back to city hall and there an angry loud man, telling us to go fuck ourselves. That he voted for Trump and we lost and we were whine asses and we needed to get over it. We again chanted “LOVE TRUMPS HATE” to drowned him out.
Before we left, the organizer stood up and gave a beautiful short speech. And We all convinced them to hold another tomorrow.
My husband asked me, “What do you want to come of this?” and to put it simply,
I just want to be heard, and to not feel alone.
Though my Journey to carry June, and to give Brooke and Joe a daughter ended six months ago, our Journey together is far from over.
No I’m not talking about another baby (although that IS going to happen). No, I’m talking about this time in between new babies, and the relationship we have developed.
This past weekend Brooke and June came to Austin, it’s the first time they’ve been to Texas since June was born. Brooke E-mailed me a couple weeks ago and told me when they would be here and asked if we would like to visit. I was overjoyed! Of course we would love to see them! After replying telling her I would ask for time off of work, I sat back. I ended up being stuck in my own head. What if she was just being nice? What if she was worried that if she came to Texas and didn’t say anything to me I would be upset? What if she didn’t ACTUALLY want to see me?
She’s never given me any indication that any of these things are true. But we have a rare, and abnormal relationship. How many people have someone in their life that gave birth to their child, and isn’t their significant other or blood family? It’s different, and there are no hard or fast rules on how this relationship should be. We are in uncharted lands, wandering around, just figuring it out as we go.
I expressed my concerns to my best friend, who is in her own strange lands. A birth mother who has an open relationship with her daughter and the family raising her. She said that she often felt the same way, that my feelings were normal but that didn’t mean they were right. Her daughters parents loved her and enjoy the time they have together.
So was I being crazy? Does Brooke like to see and spend time with me? Or am I an attachment that’s hard to shake off?
Curtis, the boys and I drove to Austin (Emma got in big trouble in school and stayed with her grandmother for the weekend). I was nervous and excited to see Brooke and June, and also Brookes family. I walked up to the door and of course was met with big hugs from all. Junes grandmother had her when I walked in, and she handed her right off to me. There were many moments during the day when Brooke would have June in her arms and say “Oh look Aunt Chelsea wants to hold you!” and would hand her to me with no warning or without me asking. It was so nice. We talked about my new Doula business and I mentioned needing head shots done for my site. Alex (Brookes sister) pulled out her camera and took pictures of me, and my boys, and June. It was lovely. I met many of her friends who stopped in throughout the day. I was introduced many different ways:
“This is Junes Surrogate.” “This is the woman who gave birth to June.: “This is Chelsea, she birthed June.” It made me giggle how nonchalant she was about it.
We stayed up late eating, drinking wine, talking and playing card games. We talked about babies and how wonderful of a sleeper June Bug is. We talked about her moving to Texas someday and of Curtis’ future in films. We talked about Joe and we talked about my business. Her and her sister gave me the advice that I’ve been hearing a lot lately.
We finally went back to our hotel around 11 and we all slept like rocks. The next morning we got up and met Brooke and her brother for breakfast. Curtis held June (which he hadn’t really done, poor baby was afraid of his voice), and we enjoyed the little Austin Café. I was so sad to say goodbye, but I realized we already had our next TWO visits planned!
Maybe I don’t all the answers on how our relationship should be. Maybe there isn’t “a way”. No matter what, I love seeing June and all of her family. I love them in all the ways you would love your own, even if they are different than you. I love to watch our relationships continue to grow and I look forward to all of the time we have together in the future.
I knew that I was giving someone else a family, I never knew I would get one in return.
“Your story isn’t calm. The road has been chaotic at times, filled with detours and rain and loss so sudden and soon. Sometimes the bliss was so elevated your heart could hardly hold it. Sometime it was maddening to have, and then to lose. You learn soon enough that it hardly ever goes as planned — gentle, easy, and smooth. But that my friend, is what makes you fascinating. You have something to tell. Something you’ve walked through. Something wild. Something courageous. Something true. You’re made of stories within stories within even more stories. Those quiet depths of you.”
June went home three weeks ago today. I have kept in touch with them, we talk every few days and I see pictures of their beautiful family regularly. It makes my heart sing each time I see a smile on their faces holding that baby. I am forever changed by our journey.
I want to talk about a lot of postpartum stuff today. From some tips for all newly postpartum women, to the new emotional journey I’m on now that my part in Junes story is over. I’ll start with the light hearted stuff.
Whether you are a new mom or a surrogate or you’ve gone through a loss, the immediate postpartum period can be overwhelming. You are processing the birth (vaginal or cesarean), bleeding, healing and hormones. Not to mention learning about your new body and navigating your family and friends.
I found some new (to me) products that helped me greatly during my first days at home after giving birth.
As the days have gone by I’ve started feeling a little more like myself every day. For me personally, I got lucky (genetics?) when it came to my postpartum body. I’m already back to my pre-pregnancy weight and fitting in all my normal clothes. I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to deal with those emotions during a surrogate journey. I (personally) feel it’s a little easier to deal with new stretch marks, fat, skin etc. when you’re snuggling your own baby. The emotions/hormones may have been a bit to deal with had I not bounced right back.
My close family and friends have continued to not only be understanding, but great support for me through the past three weeks. I’ve had a couple of hard days for various reasons and they have helped me in every way possible to work through them.
Emotionally how am I? Well, I’ll explain it to you the best I can. When you are pregnant with your own child you do your best to bond with them in the womb. You read to them and sing to them. You day dream about what they will look like and what their life will be like. Who will your child be? What kind of parent will you be?
When you are a surrogate you detach yourself. Instead you imagine your intended parents. You hurt for the losses they have felt. You imagine the look on their faces when they hold their baby for the first time. You spend time getting to know them, their story, their hearts. You become attached to them.
During my journey 99% of the communication was with Brooke. And those last weeks when I went over due, we literally spent every day together. We talked more than we ever had. We dreamed together of the baby growing inside me. I felt loved and important. I was doing something important.
How am I emotionally? I’m okay, but I would be lying if I said I never felt sadness or loss. But to much of your surprise, it is Brooke whom I miss. I find many times grabbing my phone to share news with her and trying to hold back. It’s not that she doesn’t want to talk or doesn’t answer when I do call, but she has a whole new life to navigate. I remember being a new mom, trying to figure everything out and falling in love more and more with my own daughter. They need their space and time to find their routine.
The other unexpected emotion that I am feeling is a little deeper (and mostly hormones). It comes and it goes depending on what’s going on around me, but it’s real. Uselessness.
After being a part of something so big and so important and it coming to an end. It doesn’t help that I can’t go back to work yet, Curtis is gone at work all day, my older two children and at school and my youngest being a very independent child. I’m trying to once again find my place in the world, my meaning. Who am I now? Where do I belong now? I know that I am not useless. I know that my husband needs me. I know my children need me. I know my friends need me. I know that even though my journey is over, I am still important. But in those lonely moments, that’s how I feel, and they are no less valid for me in that moment.
But a lot has happened in the past three weeks. Like, a lot. The first thing I can only give limited details on until we officially announce, but I was recently offered a catering job somewhere very near and dear to my heart. It lets me spend more time with people I care very much about, somewhere I feel at home and do something that I love to do. The second thing, is I got a phone call from the Marriott (where I’ve worked the past two years) and given a pay raise, out of the blue! I now make two dollars more than I did when I first started working there and that is really something! I’ve also done my best to stay involved in the community, in MY community with my people. I had a wonderful learning experience yesterday (that I also can’t officially talk about yet, but there will be a video soon). This was a medical learning opportunity that I never thought I would be a part of. It was truly amazing.
And then today my cup over flowed. A friend very close to my heart asked me why I had yet to get my Doula certification. The truth is, is that getting your certification isn’t cheap and I’ve never had the extra money (and the time at the same time) to go get it… This beautiful heart then offered to pay for my certification. Just wow. To know that someone has so much faith in me, to believe in me so much to offer something like that is beyond anything I ever thought possible. I of course tried to turn her down, but she insisted. I’ve been fighting tears all afternoon.
So what now? Who am I? Where do I go? I’m still not 100% sure what my future holds, but I do know one thing. The future looks so bright. The red threads connected to my life continue to show themselves in places I never expected. The hard work that I’ve put into my life, the love that I’ve given, the pieces of my soul that I have shared for all to see, it all matters. What you put out into the world you get back. This I truly believe. Dreams really do come true.
“Sometimes when making something so precious, beautiful, and unique’ it takes an extra helping heart”
As a surrogate you wait months (sometimes years) for one moment. The moment when you hand a baby to their parents. You imagine and dream of that moment, that one moment when a parent who was told “no” for so long, finally hears “yes”. The moment they see their baby. The moment they fall in love.
Brooke has known most of her life that she wouldn’t be able to carry a child. But about 6 years ago her and Joe decided it was time to find a way to make their dreams of a family come true. She talked to Doctors who told her she may be able to carry, and then said no, she couldn’t. They faced many set backs. When they finally turned to surrogacy, they found a surrogate, who ended up not being able to carry for one reason or another. So they found another surrogate, same situation. Finally they found me.
At 6:55am I was in the tub, feeling the waves, riding the waves, knowing each one brought June just a little closer to shore. I reached down and felt her head. Carla was behind me with a mirror and told Brooke to look. I heard her gasp. “Oh June”! I pushed and I heard her cry and gasp again. Each sound she made gave me more strength. I don’t even remember taking breaks between pushes. Just a nice deep breath.
At 7:06am I reached down and pulled June from the water. I put her on my chest and layed back.
It became a little chaotic. I could still hear Brooke saying Junes name. I started stimulating Junes back so we could hear that first cry. I felt weak so Carla helped. She let out that beautiful cry and I looked to Brooke who just looked,.. in love.
I looked at June and told her hello. She looked so perfect.
Brooke reached in and touched her daughter for the first time. I wanted to hand June to her, but I knew we needed to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. Brooke was so patient, knowing it meant a lot for her baby to get that blood.
Photo by: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree
She put her forehead on mine and thanked me. From there the emotion flowed, and there are no words, in any language that can describe the feeling I had.
I held her up for a minute so Brooke could get a good look at her, and so June could really see her mama.
After about 8 minutes on my chest there was still blood in the cord, but Carla said we needed to cut it.I looked into the pool and saw that I had started bleeding, heavily. Brooke cut the cord herself and I handed June to her mama.
The look on her face! It was magic! They moved Brooke and the baby to a corner with her mother and sister for skin to skin and bonding. I got up out of the tub and hung onto the side to deliver my placenta. Curtis on one side, Dana on the other and Carla behind me.
I delivered the placenta within a couple short minutes, as well as a lot of blood. Way more than you’re supposed to. They rushed me to the bed. I was exhausted, at this point I had only a short hour nap in over a 24 hour period, drank castor oil, had two membrane sweeps and gone through a 7 hour labor, and now I had lost a lot of blood.
I was given a pitocin shot in my shoulder and Carla was checking out my lady parts to see if there was any tearing (there wasn’t), and did a fundal massage (where they push around on your uterus to decrease bleeding).
After a minute I am able to get comfy on the bed and just relax. Dana brought me some snacks and orange juice and I chat with Stephanie (my best friend who showed up while I was in the bath the first time), Curtis and Dana. I watch Brooke and Alex and Cindi coo over the beautiful baby.
Curtis decided that everyone needed caffeine and I finally get to say the words “GET ME A REDBULL!!!!” It tasted better than I remembered.
At 8:15 Brooke moves over to the bed so that Carla can do the newborn exam. Brooke is an active part (add this to the list of things I love about birthing centers). First, they measured.
A perfect and exact 21 inches.
Then Brooke weighed her.
A perfect 8 Pounds exactly.
I was pretty happy, I had promised Brooke a big baby, and June cooked a little longer to make sure I wasn’t a liar.
13 3/4″ head, 140 Heart Rate, 14″ chest. 8/9 Apgar. She’s perfect. Carla swaddles her up good, and then I get to hold her. I can’t believe that this little person has been living in me! She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen (other than my own of course).
I snuggled her and kissed her and just loved on her. I noticed something kind of strange while snuggling up with her. My own kids, I remember smelling their heads and just getting a huge rush of oxytocin, just falling in love harder. I smelled June out of habit and you know something, she didn’t smell like my babies! Not that she smelled bad of course, but isn’t science and nature amazing?! Though she came from my womb, my hormones (and/or hers) knew that she wasn’t my baby. No bonding, in love feelings. Oh I adore her so much and I can’t wait to see her again, but truly no feelings of loss.
I gave her back to her mama so that I could take an herbal bath (a wonderful thing that helps with healing and is so relaxing! Plus it felt nice to wash up a little bit!). I had a nice soak and then was ready to get out and eat something. I stood up and took Curtis and Danas hands. Right away I knew that something was wrong. At first I thought maybe I just stood up too quickly. I felt dizzy and weak. I slowly felt my energy drain, tunnel vision, tunnel hearing. I reached both hands for Curtis. He told me to squeeze his arm, I did the best I could. I heard him talking to the midwives saying that my grip was loosening but I was still trying. I half stepped, half Curtis lifting me out of the tub and was laid on the ground. Someone was holding my legs straight in the air, and Curtis was by my side holding my hand, talking to me. I have really no memory of the conversation going on around me. I heard their voices but not the words. I opened my eyes and Carla is the first face I remember seeing. For some reason my first thought was “Oh no I don’t want to go to the hospital”. Slowly my tunnel vision and tunnel hearing faded. Dana brought me orange juice that I sipped on and seemed to help along with a honey stick.
Finally they got me sitting up and on a stool that they wheeled over to the bed. An IV was placed (I don’t even know where it came from! I love that birthing centers have everything for an emergency, HIDDEN somewhere. No scary medical equipment unless it’s needed). Lissa (another midwife) brought in pancakes and bacon and I sat and ate and drank more orange juice.
Everyone gathered on the bed to take group pictures (I don’t have those yet) and I held June again. Curtis went to go pick up our kids so that they could meet June Bug and Joe had finally landed and was on his way to the Birthing Center. Joe got there first and I got to experience that moment all over again when he got to meet his daughter for the first time.
Magic all over again. It was beautiful to see them together.
My kids arrived and got to meet my belly buddy who they have watched grow over the past 9 months. It was adorable. Emma was the most excited, the boys were just kinda like “yeah, she’s cute but whatever”.
We all hung out at the birthing center for another hour or two. Just kinda enjoying each other, planning what to do from there. Brooke invited me to go to the hotel with them, as tempting as it was to spend more time with them I decided that a nap was what I wanted most.
I left the Birthing Center and went home with my beautiful family. Stephanie came over after my short nap and her and Curtis took good care of me. Later on Brooke and her sister came over, saying they had a gift for me.
They brought me this HUGE basket! Full of wine, snacks, things to help my recovery (like a rice heating wrap, no more milk tea, and peri spray), and things from my favorite shop in Austin (The Herb Bar). A ton of lavender things (which Brooke and I both kind of flocked to this pregnancy), a gift card from Brookes mom to a local restaurant for Curtis and I, and more wine! It was beautiful and so thoughtful!
They went back to their hotel and Stephanie went home. Laney called me and said she would be coming home that night and asked if I wanted her to stop in. We decided it would be nice for her to stay here. She got in late and we stayed up for awhile, me telling her all about my eventful labor and birth. When we turned everything off and went to sleep I passed out, HARD! It had been so long since I had been able to sleep soundly. Laney woke up every couple hours to see if I needed anything, but I slept the whole night.
The next day was my beautiful daughters 9th birthday, and also the day that Brooke, Joe, June, Alex and Cindi were leaving to go back down to Austin. Laney left around 8:30 and Stephanie arrived shortly after that. Cleaning up my house and helping to take care of the kids for me. She was awesome.
The whole crew showed up just after noon to say good-bye. Each of the kids got to hold June for a minute and say good-bye. Stephanie got in some baby snuggles. We laughed and talked about the baby and their first night together. I snuggled her and fed her a bottle and said my good-byes. To be honest it was harder saying good-bye to Brooke than the baby. Though I wish I had been able to get in some more baby snuggles before they left (who doesn’t love baby snuggles!?).
So that’s it… for now. I have a trip planned to NY in June and will be spending a night in NYC with them. I’m excited to see them in their own element, go out with Brooke and Joe and get me some more baby snuggles! She’ll be two months old then! Crazy thought!
So until next June…
Dear June Bug,
I dreampt of you many months ago, before I even met your mommy and daddy. I dreampt of a little girl, and i heard the words June bug over and over. I didn’t know then the significance of that dream.
I met your mommy and daddy in March. They are so wonderful June Bug. Both so smart, both so beautiful. You’re a very lucky little girl and you don’t even know it yet! You are so loved, and so wanted already! I asked your mommy what your name would be, and when she said June, my jaw dropped. I told her of my dream, and we both knew this was meant to be. Something even funnier? It looks like you may be coming to stay in my belly starting in June! It’s funny how these things work out!
June bug, I know you’re so tiny right now, and I know you are locked up tight far away from home, but me, and mommy and daddy and all our friends are working as hard as we can to get your snuggled into my belly as fast as we can. You’re going to like staying with me (you can order womb service any time of night).
So all I ask little June Bug is that you make me one promise! When we go to Austin in June, you snuggle in really good and hang on tight for a long ride. We still have awhile before you can go home with mommy and daddy, but I can make sure that you get big and strong before then. We’ll work together! And I know that my babies are going to love having you with us.
Just know June Bug, you are a miracle, and a dream come true.
Love your Surro mama.