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Until Next June…

“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.

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Photo by: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

At 7:06am I reached down and pulled June from the water. I put her on my chest and layed back.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree
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Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

A perfect and exact 21 inches.

Then Brooke weighed her.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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).

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Photo By: Stephanie Wright

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.

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Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

Magic all over again. It was beautiful to see them together.

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Photo By: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree

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.

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This picture really does the basket no justice!

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!?).

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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

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.

Welcome to Blossoming From Birth: Emma’s Story

This is (another) new blog from me! Thanks for stopping by!

When I first decided to start this, it was because I wanted to document my newest journey. But after getting some advice from a close friend/advisor, she recommended something BIGGER! And the first thing you should know about me is, I take the term “Go big or go home” VERY seriously! So here’s the low down.

A big part of my life revolves around giving birth… okay, I may be SLIGHTLY under-exaggerating. I guess the beginning would be my three kids. Emma (7), Collin (5), and Lex (3). They have been, and will always be, my most epic and exciting journeys!

This is where I will start my journey with all of you! I want you to be able to understand my stance on all things pregnancy and birth. And I want to help all of you with your journeys!

So even though I have been up since 3 a.m. (yikes), I am determined to get out page one of this new blog!

Emma’s story

When I found out I was pregnant with Emma, I wasn’t surprised.  I was scared out of my mind. I was 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. My then boyfriend had just turned 17 and was a high school dropout working as an overnight stock boy at a local gas station.

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I had known I was pregnant before I even peed on that stick. We weren’t exactly trying to prevent it, and we had had “scares” before. But this, this was real life. Curtis and I were REALLY going to have a baby. Adoption and abortion weren’t even an option. Dropping out of school wasn’t an option. The only option was up to Curtis:  Was he going to be a dad or walk away? The very first thing I did with that test was took it to him, handed it to him, and told him to walk away now or forever hold his peace. He told me he loved me and wanted to be a family (spoiler alert, we’ve now been happily married for 7 years, together for 9)!

My pregnancy was pretty normal. I was lucky to only throw up twice. No back pain or feet pain. I did experience some anxiety attacks and ended up being home schooled through most of my pregnancy. I didn’t eat all that healthy, I almost NEVER took my prenatals (those horse pills are huge), and I was under stress constantly. I was scared, I didn’t have a lot of support, and I was so, very young.

At about 38 weeks I lost my mucus plug while at a friend’s house, and just about lost my shit freaking out. Luckily it was an older friend who had also had a baby young. She kept me calm and taught me how to count contractions. The next two weeks we were obsessed with sending me into labor via walking. But it was the beginning of March in New York and it was freezing. So we did what any sane person would do in that situation, we walked around Wal-Mart for hours (Funny story:   One time an employee asked me if I was trying to steal something under my shirt.  I was HUGE and looked WAY too young to be pregnant). On my due date I got a non-stress test at my OB’s like normal, and their machine said that something was wrong with Emma’s heart beat. So they sent me to the hospital where I was told that nothing was wrong, that the machines at that office had been giving false readings for day and hadn’t been fixed yet, but as a precaution were monitoring women at the hospital. That same day they gave me a sonogram to check on little miss. Which is really where my labor story starts.

15 year old me, 35 weeks pregnant with Emma
15-year-old me, 35 weeks pregnant with Emma

Now let me just back up a little bit so you can see this perfectly. When I got pregnant I weighed 90lbs, on a good day.  And at a very short 5’3″, there wasn’t much to me. So it was a shock to me when my sonogram tech told me that they estimated my daughter to weigh about 8lbs 5oz. “WHAT!? How is that even possible?” I was just in shock. Next, I was told that if I hoped to give birth naturally at all, I would have to be induced because she was just going to get bigger, and they were afraid that my hips might be too small.

This was not the news I wanted to hear or that anyone wants to hear. I was scared already. And with so little support from friends and family, I didn’t know what to do. Three days later I went in to be induced (March 15th) with Curtis and his mother (BJ) by my side.

When I got to the hospital, I was only 50% effaced, 2cm dilated and still very high. They started me on Pitocin (most often referred to as “The P word” or “Pit”… it is the devil). After a little while laying on my back in and doing nothing to help, BJ insisted I get up and walk, and so I did. I walked and I walked for hours. By 9 p.m., after over 24 hours, I was at 4cm and 70% dilated. That’s it. So they gave me something to sleep, sent BJ home, and called it a night. The next morning I had gone from 4cm to 5cm (yay?), so they decided to break my water. The next thing I remember is being in an unbearable amount of pain, and crying for BJ. After asking for “Anything! For the love of God, give me something for the pain!” and getting something in my IV that made my arm hurt, I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave in and got the epidural.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone is “weak” for getting an epidural, but it wasn’t what I wanted and it proved later that my original judgment not to want one was for good reason.  But more on that later.

Once the epidural was administered, I remember feeling really cold, shaking uncontrollably (Curtis later told me that I looked as though I was having a seizure), and passed out. When I woke up a couple of hours later, they checked me again. This time I was at 10cm and ready to push, but there was one problem. I was numb from the belly down. And when I say numb, I mean I couldn’t feel my toes or contractions. If I didn’t look down I wouldn’t even know I was pregnant, let alone in labor. It scared me.  I thought maybe I had been paralyzed. They told me to watch the monitor and push when I had a contraction ( “Push like you’re taking a giant poop!”).  After 20 minutes of “pushing” (I guess I had to have been pushing since my baby came out) Emma Claire was born!

Curtis, Emma and I.
Curtis, Emma and I.

4 days late and 36 hours after my first dose of Pit, she was finally here! My little girl. Weighing in at 8lbs 4oz (just 1oz off from what the sonogram has said) and 19 3/4″ long. She had a touch of jaundice (just like her father when we was born), and looked just like her daddy. Her cry was louder than any other baby in the nursery and I didn’t bond with her at all.

Yeah, you read that right. I didn’t have that moment of “total bliss” or “Oh my God! I’m a mom! This is my daughter!”. Now don’t get me wrong.  I felt the love but it wasn’t what everyone told me would happen. Then again, I still felt loopy from my epidural. I was still numb and less than half an hour after I had her, all of those people who didn’t support me showed up at the hospital to see the beautiful baby I had grown (yeah, I grow people).

After Emma was born I suffered with postpartum depression. My mother moved away and I ended up moving in with Curtis and his family. I couldn’t go back to school for the rest of that year. Emma wasn’t interested in breast-feeding or burping or sleeping. And I  was clueless, had no idea what I was doing, was scared out of my mind, was trying to learn as I went.

emThis is Emma now. She’ll be 8 in March. She’s an artist and still looks just like her daddy. She’s beautiful and smart and funny. She’s a drama queen and a smart ass. And she is my little girl. Even when we think that things will never get better, and that we may not be cut out for something.. we can prove ourselves wrong. I might have had Emma when I was 15, but we’re doing wonderfully and I wouldn’t trade her for the entire world.  

Having her young just means I get to love her longer.