Tag Archives: Family

The best is yet to come: 2017

“I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
-Vincent Van Gogh

The new year is really just an arbitrary construct of time. But non the less, it’s easy to keep track of when things happen in your life based on the new year. It’s easy (for some) to say, “I’m going to start doing *insert goal here* on the first of the year”.

I’ve never been a resolution type of person, I set goals for myself often without time limits, and without major events being my start (like the new year).

I’ve been working on goals steadily the past few months, and been talking to Curtis about new goals. Here is what I hope for in 2017:

  1. To succeed in my transition to my new job. I just started at Central Market. I’m nervous, I’m excited, and I’m ready to work my ass off to succeed. They offer so many opportunities including leadership training, and chances to transfer to other stores in major cities (including Austin).
  2. To make plans, one way or another, to have another surrogacy journey, or not. I currently feel like this is a bit up in the air. There are really only two couples I’m interested in carrying for. One couple has expressed that they are not in a place to have a baby right now, and the other feels a little reluctant to talk about it right now. I’m okay with this either way. I’d love to experience another journey, but I’m cool with just living my life too. Whatever the way the wind blows, I’ll follow.
  3. I want to get more involved in the community. At Central Market there is a multitude of opportunities to volunteer for the community, I plan on volunteering a lot. And I plan to continue to be involved in politics, on both the state and federal levels.
  4. Curtis and I have been talking about becoming ‘minimalists’. It’s a long process, it’ll be hard, but we are making plans, and are going to take steps one day at a time. Downsizing, not ‘consuming’ so much, being happier with less. We’re also talking about finding alternate transportation, lowering our carbon footprint, and continuing on our path of healthy/clean eating. They will all take time, and they are all things we’ve already been working on, but the journey continues.
  5. I have another trip planned in August to go home! This time Curtis and the kids will be coming with me. For about a week to go to my family reunion and I’m trying to plan to be there for the fair! The kids haven’t been home since 2013.
  6. Yoga, yoga, yoga. Curtis and I both started doing yoga this year. We are so into it. It makes us feel amazing and we enjoy doing it together. I’d really like to step this up, and also start jogging again, god I actually REALLY love jogging!
  7. Get my business up and running. I finished my Doula Certification this year, but with my job at the Marriott, I haven’t felt ready to actually start my business and live my dream. But I am ready, and I am motivated.

So who knows what 2017 will hold for me. Who knows what it will hold for the world. Whatever the future holds, I embrace it with open arms and an open mind. In the past year I learned how to LIVE instead of just being alive. I hope to keep that momentum going in the coming year.

I wish you and your families health, happiness, hope and love in 2017.

2016: A year to remember

I remember coming into 2016 and thinking, ‘wow, this year is going to be such an amazing year’, and I wasn’t completely wrong. I met almost every personal goal I set for myself a year ago.

Curtis and I celebrated our 10 year “anniversary” in January, and our 9 year wedding anniversary in December. We also made a few steps toward being debt free! Yay!
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In March, almost two weeks “overdue”, I gave birth to little June bug. The day before my own daughters 9th birthday, Brooke and Joe finally got to hold their daughter. My pregnancy, labor and post-partum were all amazing. I ended up with another family that I never expected going into this, and I love them all so much.
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I told myself last January “up or out”. That I would move up in my career or find a new job. Well, I got a raise in April, and then after some stagnation I decided it was time for something new. I started my new job at Central Market right before the new year.
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Not only that, but I also completed my Doula Certification this year! Zen Mama Doula at your service!
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I went home in June and got to see NYC, June bug, and my mom get married. It was amazing.
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A friend took me to see one of my heros. Bill Nye The Science Guy!
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I got involved in politics and made my voice heard. I stood up for things I believe in.
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I said yes to things I was afraid of, and I catered the birthing center for a short time. I made new friends, I saw new things, I went new places. I lived. I spent more time with my family, I laughed more, I loved more.

2016 was hard for a lot of reasons. People died, people suffered, and human rights were questioned. But in my personal life, 2016 will be a year I will always look back on with a smile. With no regrets.

So here is to 2017. May it bring my family and I just as much joy and adventure.

What Makes A Family?

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.

Be Confident.

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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!

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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.

It Takes A Village, To Raise A Woman

“Be a woman other women can trust. Have the courage to tell another woman direct when she has offended, hurt or disappointed you. Successful women have a tribe of loyal and honest women behind them. Not haters. Not backstabbers or women who whisper behind their back. Be a woman who lifts other women.”
-Sophia A. Nelson

I had a long few years, like 22 of them. Some of that is my fault, some a series of unfortunate events or circumstances out of my control. The past two years have also been long, but magic. I’m happy in my life right now, and I don’t think it’ll go away anytime soon. I’ve learned the true meaning of love. I’ve learned what it means to work hard and go after your dreams. I’ve learned how to take better care of myself, mentally and emotionally. I’ve learned that the only one in charge of my life, is me.
And some really amazing women taught me all that.

We don’t always have a positive influence or role models in our lives. But over the past couple years some really very special women have come into my life and taught me more than I thought there was to learn! They continue to amaze me every day. This post, is to talk about those women, their influence on my life, and to show them the love they so deserve.

Laney Sweet. I met Laney about a year ago. We met on a surrogate group and hit it off right away. She was my mirror, my long lost sister. She loved everything birth. A doula. A surrogate. A young mother. A wife. It was a perfect fit. I have enjoyed so many conversations with her about all aspects of life. There have been many days when I called her and she kept me sane, helped me work through a problem, encouraged me. Laney has always been encouraging in my journey to become a doula. Helping me find my place in the birth community. Overall just being a great friend (and my own personal doula)! She invited me to the birth of her surrobabe (who was born this past Wednesday the 27th). As I watched Laneys life, and the life of her intended parents change, it changed mine too. Because of Laney allowing me to be there when that beautiful little girl was born, I have never been so sure in my life that I want/need/am destined to be a doula. Thank you Laney, for taking me under your wing. For always encouraging me and helping me find my way. You are a wonderful friend and I will always love you for all you have done.

Carla Morrow. The very first time I saw Carla, it was at a Tarrant County Birth Network workshop about the different types of midwives and the life of a midwife. Carla looked radiant, happy and full of life. I saw her once in awhile at the birthing center while I was there for appointments but it wasn’t until close to the end of my pregnancy when I actually sat down with her for the first time. I already knew so much about her. Her birthing center, her awesome midwife skills, countless people adore this woman. As many people before me (I’m sure) I felt instantly connected to this amazing women. As my pregnancy progressed I enjoyed her more and more. After one appointment she asked if I was a doula. I answered that I was not, but hoped very much to be one someday. She asked what I did for a living and I told her that I was a chef. She said I should come cater the birthing center, and I laughed it off. Carla was on call when I had June bug. She was awesome. She trusts birth, she trusts women. She was kind of in the background through a lot of my labor, but you could feel her there. I trusted her with my life. When June went home her comment on catering was singing in the back of my head. I’m letting the cat of the bag on this “new job” now. Carla was serious, and now I get to be a part of her wonderful team, this team of fierce and wonderful women. She believes in me. She trusts me. She is such an inspiration to me. She lets me know that it’s okay to struggle sometimes, and that the best people in your life come when you least expect it. Thank you Carla, for being a part of my village. For believing in me and helping me follow my dreams. You have forever touched my heart.

Brooke Moreland. Brooke is so much more than my Intended Mother. Our relationship has grown so much over the past few months. As I learned more and more about who she really is, I felt closer and closer to her. She has become not only a friend but family. Every time I call her with exciting news about my life, she shares in my joy. She continues to encourage me to go after my dreams. She understands my need for a career, to find my place in the world. Thank you Brooke, for making sure that my family was always taken care of while I helped you build yours, even when you didn’t have to. For encouraging me and trusting me and for just being there.

Stephanie Wright. I met Stephanie while seeking employment with her through the Marriott. Within minutes of speaking to her I had already embarrassed myself beyond belief. She hired me right away. I felt a connection to her. When I first started working, I thought she hated me. She pushed me unlike I had ever been pushed. She kicked my ass. Looking back I couldn’t be more grateful for that. She made me the Chef I am today. Without her I never would have been able to go home to say good-bye to my grandmother when she passed away. She fought for me. When I told her about my impending surrogacy she opened herself to me and shared her past with me. She listened to me cry when things got hard and always encouraged me not to give up. When I had personal problems she was there. When times got tough she was there. She gives the best advice and doesn’t bullshit me. I can literally talk to her about anything. She was there when I was depressed. She was there when I was happy. She was there to share my joy when June was born and took care of me after the fact. And even now, even though she thinks I’m crazy for riding that roller coaster again, she’s by my side until the end. I will never, ever be able to thank you enough. For being my best friend, for being my mentor, for being my heterosexual life partner. For always listening and always loving me no matter how crazy I am. For teaching me and encouraging me. For being understanding. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life and sharing in mine. I love you forever.

Emma Claire Kimball. Though she will probably never read this, Emma is the most important woman in my life. She is the reason I am who I am. She has given me the strength that I need every single day to be a better person. She reminds me of where I came from and where I want to go. She is the reason I work so hard, why I continue to push myself even when I want to give up. I am determined to give her a better life, a happier life. I want her to never question if she is loved. I want her to know that not once in my life have I regretted having that beautiful baby girl at 15. I will give her the life she deserves, the mother she deserves. She will never question her beauty or her worth. She will never want for anything. She is strong and beautiful and smart. She is my daughter. My whole world.

The point in all of this is, I wasn’t always the woman I am today. And tomorrow I will be different still. I am always learning, always growing. And at least in some part, it’s because of these women. They are all amazing. They are all teaching me and loving me.
They are my village.

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…