Tag Archives: Life

Dear 15 year old me.

Dear Chelsea 2006,

Can I start by saying, get your shit together! I know you hurt, I know you’re struggling. I know that you feel all alone, that you cry yourself to sleep (when you do sleep) and you feel like all hope is lost. I know that 2005 was a hard year. I know you feel like it was the hardest year. For you, so far in your young life, it was. Even ten years later I often think about 2005 and all of the happiness and pain it brought. But Chelsea, you have no idea what’s in store. I have no regrets. So don’t worry about the little mistakes, don’t stress over the things out of your control, it all shapes who you will be.

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June 2006

 

This month you will get the biggest news of your entire life. It will rock your entire world. It will set your heart on fire. It will test your strength. But please my darling, know that you pass every test. You already know her name, this child you’re not yet aware of, growing inside of you. I promise you that she is worth the morning sickness, worth the cramps. She’s worth the stress and worry. I know that some people are going to do everything in their power to talk you out of having her, they’ll tell you that your life is over. They’ll tell you that you will never amount to anything and they’ll tell you that you won’t be a good mom. It’ll hurt, a lot, because it’ll be people you expected to support you, to love you. I am here to tell you:

I AM PROUD OF YOU! You are strong, so strong beyond your years.

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Pregnant with Emma, December 2006

 

You will be strong from the moment you see that blue line. You’ll march over to Curtis and tell him you are going to keep your baby. You’ll tell him that he can run and never look back. You won’t let him stay with you just because you’re pregnant. You won’t rely on anyone. But Chelsea, he loves you. He loves you so much more than you know. You’ll break his heart a couple times, and I hate you for that. I know that you don’t feel worthy of such love, I know that you don’t know how to love someone the way he loves you, but try. Try every single day, because he’s worth it. And guess what? Ten years later, he’s still here.

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You can do this. March 2007

 

Pregnancy is hard babe. Like, really freakin’ hard. But I know you’ll fight as hard as you can to be healthy for that baby girl. You won’t know it for many, many years but this pregnancy doesn’t just make you a mother. Someday, you’ll be obsessed with the thing you’re so scared of. Watch the damn birthing video! Stop being so stubborn! Ignorance is NOT bliss!

I know it’s your least favorite thing in the entire world when people say to you “babies having babies”. It pisses you off. ‘You are so not a baby, you’re like, so mature for your age.’ And yeah, although this is true to an extent you really are just a baby, having a baby. Don’t be mad, this too shall pass.

But not too quickly. Don’t rush. Slow down. You will miss these days. The days of baby Emma. Of fresh faced Curtis before the military. Sometimes, you’ll miss home. I don’t want to give away your entire future, but I’ll tell you this. You will see the world and all of it’s beautiful wonder. You will meet amazing people who change your life and shape the woman you become. You will have more babies. You will marry Curtis and fall madly in love with him more each day. You will change peoples lives. Yeah, you. You have made a difference in the world. And at 25, I promise you, we’re just getting started.

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The future. January 2016

 

I know you feel helpless right now. I know you cry yourself to sleep. I wish I could just wrap my arms around you and tell you how wonderful the future is. How all of the tears and sweat and blood and hard work pays off. It pays off more than your wildest dreams could have imagined. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are going to have an amazing life. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. I promise that it doesn’t matter. All that matters is your family, and yourself. Believe in yourself.

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You still have all this to come.

 

XOXO
Chelsea 2016

There’s no place like home

“Home is not where you are from, it is where you belong.
Some of us travel the whole world to find it. Others, find it in a person.”
-Beau Taplin

 

As many of you know, I recently took a trip home. By home, I mean New York. The place where I was born and raised.

I want to start at the very beginning, as I find that is the best place to start;
Manhattan New York.

I saw June bug for the first time since the day after she was born, and it was more than I could have dreamt of. I arrived at Brooke and Joes home and was already in awe of the city. I lived in New York state for 16+ years and never once made it to the city. I always dreamt of this place. I don’t remember when I first learned about the city, but growing up, I talked about moving there, working there, running away from home and going there. It was all I’ve ever wanted. My feelings were so validated.

I had received my birth video from our birth photographer the day before I left and held out on watching it. I wanted to experience it with Brooke and June. It was worth the wait. Brooke and I sat with June in between us. We were laughing and pointing out funny things we were so glad that Eva had captured. I teared up a bit, I can’t speak for Brooke.

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Aunt Chelsea loves you  June Bug.

 

Seeing June was awesome, and I felt like she really recognized my voice. She is such a happy, loved baby. She laughed when I blew raspberries on her belly, she smiled almost every time I talked to her. It was amazing. Brooke took me around her neighborhood, we got coffee and ice cream and sat at a park to feed June.

 

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She may kill me for this action shot.

 

After walking around for a couple hours we went back to the apartment and got dressed to go meet Joe for dinner some where called “Dirty French”. It was so good to see Joe, and strange in my world to see him all dressed up (he came straight from work). The menu was in all French and I am embarrassed to say, that I only understood one word, thanks to ‘The Little Mermaid’. But J&B are experts, so I let them order for me. It’s refreshing to not be picky at all and trust someone else to order food for you. Check that off of my “experiences everyone should have” list. By the way, the food was Delicious!

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After dinner Brooke handed me a little bag (it was two days before my birthday). Inside was a BEAUTIFUL Alex & Ani tree of life bracelet. I’ve worn it pretty much everyday since then.

We walked back to the apartment to put Joe and June to bed (it was about 9:30, remember that) and Brooke and I went out to hit the town! Our first stop was a bar called Mace. It was all fresh drink with real herbs and fruit and it was totally our scene. We joked that in order to be a bartender there you had to have tattoos and a man bun. Then we hit a couple other bars that were.. “younger”. I think we both felt a little out of place. Bright lights, loud music, crowded, just not our scene anymore. But we had a drink at each one and talked and talked and talked. It’s funny how far our relationship has come over the past 18 months. I remember a lot of conversations with long lulls where we didn’t know what to talk about or how to respond to each other. When we were still trying to figure each other out. We talked about our lives and our husbands. Our children and the future. We talked about our journey to June bug and our future journey to have a little boy. When we walked back to the apartment, we sat outside for a good half hour because just weren’t ready to stop talking.

I slept in June bugs room and volunteered to wake up with her in the morning. I had to be up at 6am anyway to catch my flight to Syracuse. Most of the time when I stay at someone else’s house it’s weird. You’re not used to their surroundings, their noises, their bed. But I slept sound and felt so comfortable. June bug didn’t wake up until 5am!!! Such a great baby. I changed her and fed her and snuggled with her for an hour while I waited for Brooke to wake up. It was so nice to have that time with her.

When Brooke woke up it was time to say goodbye. Our visit was short but oh so sweet. I knew that I would miss my second “family” but I will see them again soon I’m sure. (p.s. check off ‘take an uber’ from my list too!)

My next stop was Syracuse to see my mother and be with her for her wedding. I don’t want to write too much about this visit as it was a long time coming, and it was also two weeks long, but I do want to talk about “home”.

For many, many years I lived in a city named “Fulton”. It’s not where my mother lives, or where I spent a lot of time during my visit, but I did go there a few times as it’s where my sister, sister in law and many friends live. It was strange going there. I haven’t been there in over two years. The last time I was there, it wasn’t good memories being made. I went and saw Will, went to my spot by the river, visited a few friends, and just drove around looking at how the city has changed, and it’s changed a lot. So many things that were once there are gone, the city looked dirty and I saw a few people who looked homeless walking around.

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My favorite spot in Fulton.

 

As I sat and thought about the city that I once called home, a city that I sometimes long for, a realization came over me.
This is not home.

I have found my home, my forever place. The place that I want to raise my kids,  where I have a career that I love. A place that I’m comfortable and miss when I’m gone. Fort Worth. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I would some day come to love Texas as much as I do. So I enjoyed my visit to New York in so many ways. I loved seeing my friends and family and I so loved being able to spend time with my mother. It’s been a long time coming, but at the end, I was more than ready to come home. To my real home…..
But maybe, someday… NYC…

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.

When a Good Man Goes To War

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
-Art Williams

No one is perfect, we all know this to be true. But sometimes it’s even harder for us to see our shortcomings in a relationship. Most of the time we feel that all our problems are the fault of our significant other (SO) and surely we didn’t do anything wrong.

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Over the past few months I have talked to my husband more than I have in the past ten years. And I am listening, REALLY listening for the first time too. Three years ago we split up. It only last a short month before we found our way back and were dedicated to really put in all of our effort to fix our marriage. A lot of things were said and done during that time that we both wish we could take back, but we never understood why the other felt the ways that we did.

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It was years and years worth of built up mistakes that had never been talked about. There was so much animosity and resentment it’s no wonder that we had fallen apart. We talked, and we listened, for hours and hours as we both finally got out our feelings. We let go of each other shortcomings and began to recognize our own. It was amazing.

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Why am I writing this? Because I had very little example in my life of what a marriage should look like. What a healthy relationship looks like. How to be a good wife. What a good husband looks like. Let me say, that Curtis and I have been together longer than any relationship either of my parents have been in. So yes, I had very little example of how to make it even this far. I’m not an “advice columnist” type of person, but if I can help anyone in their relationship, help someone fight for love, well I will gladly help. Here is a few things I’ve learned in ten years with my husband:

  1. A teenager will never be a good spouse. I thought I was so grown up when I had Emma at 15. And even more grown up when Curtis and I got married when I was 16 and he was 18. No. No matter how much you go through as a child or teenager, it’s just impossible. You’re still going through puberty, you still think about what you want and trying to find out who you are. My advise is hold off. If you truly love each other there is no rush to get married, save it for when you’re really ready.
  2. Talk about everything, when you AREN’T fighting. Don’t try to make amends or tell your SO about issues while you’re fighting. When you’re fighting your defenses go up, you aren’t receptive. I’ve found that making yourself MORE vulnerable to your SO really helps. I like to have our disagreements sitting in a shower. Your naked, water is calming, and you have nothing holding you back, no distractions. When you aren’t fighting and you think of something that has been bothering you, talk about it. Let them know you aren’t looking for a fight but you need resolution.
  3. Put yourself first, but never forget about them. We all need “me” time. It’s good to have things just for yourself, friends, activities, work. But don’t ever make a decision that effects your “family unit” without thinking about them or talking to them first. And don’t get jealous when they need some time away. It’s not that they don’t want to spend time with you, but we ALL need that time away. It’s good for you both and at the end of the day, it gives you something to talk about. If you spend all of your time together, there is nothing new to talk about.
  4. Own up to your shortcomings. Don’t get offended when something that you did upset your SO. Put yourself in their shoes. Would this specific situation upset you if it were the other way around? Be honest with yourself. Stop and really think about it. Don’t ever be too stubborn to say you’re sorry.
  5. Stop keeping track of the past, let it go. Don’t keep having the same fight over and over again. Have it once, get all your feelings out on the table and make sure you’re being heard, don’t walk away until it is resolved and you can put it to rest, and don’t bring it into the next fight. Let. It. Go.
  6. Say I love you, and mean it. Get out of the habit, of saying it out of habit. When you say it, feel it. Know that it’s true. Let them know it’s true. Kiss them, hold them, feel your warmth and love. Don’t ever stop.
  7. Keep it OFF social media. Don’t ever complain about your relationship on facebook (or any other outlet). It’s okay to need to complain about your SO sometimes. Call your mom, call your best friend. Get it off your chest, get some insight and then let it go! When you complain on social media you belittle your SO for all to see, you give people a skewed perception of your relationship and SO. Remember that there are three sides to every story. Yours, his (or hers) and the truth. Don’t make your family/friends hate your SO because you’re pissed off in the minute.
  8. Support their dreams as if they are your own. Push them. Encourage them. Believe in them. Never let them stop fighting for what makes them happy and complete.
  9. Always remember, the best things in life are worth fighting for. You don’t throw away your favorite book because a page is ripped, you tape it, you repair it. Treat your relationship the same way. Do your best to make sure no pages tare, but if (and when) they do, repair it instead of throwing it away. It can last forever and the wear and tear remind you of how long you’ve had it, how much you love it. Never let it go.

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In my relationship, I’ve been the main offender to tearing pages. There have been many times in my relationship when I was just a bad wife. I didn’t put my husbands feelings into consideration. I did things for myself that hurt him. I was immature and ungrateful. Many days I have wondered why my husband has stuck by my side. But when you love someone so much, you’re willing to go to war for them. Sometimes you battle other people, sometimes you battle yourself, and sometimes you battle the demons of your SO. My husband is a good man, a great man. This man has been at war for a long time for me, and just over the past two or three years have I joined the fight. Out of ten years together, I have never been happier than I am now. I have never felt so loved, or given so much love. I have never talked so much, or listened so much. Our wounds are healing and we are nursing them for each other. We are happy. You can be too. It all starts with a choice. Of course it takes two, but if you truly love each other, when one sees the other putting in the effort, normally the other will follow.

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“There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you,… In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names.”

Beyond the Bump: Life After June

“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.”
-Victoria Erickson

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.

  1. Depends Diapers – Yes I know “But those are for old people!” WRONG! I always thought they were huge and just like baby diapers, uncomfortable and nothing I wanted any part in. But they are just like underwear with built in padding. Exceptionally comfortable. No mess. No ruined underwear. No pads that move around and get stuck to you. These were the best thing I have ever discovered and seriously, highly suggest buying some before you give birth. You can thank me later.
  2. Earth Mama, Angel Baby – This line of organic products are made for pregnant, nursing and postpartum women. As I didn’t have a baby to breastfeed and wanted to my milk to dry up, Brooke bought me their “no more milk tea”. It tasted wonderful and got the job done! They also have teas to help increase milk supply. I was also gifted their Peri spray. It’s to help heal your lady parts from discomfort, especially if you experience any tearing during birth. They offer many more products for all sorts of things!
  3. Acetaminophen – NOT RECOMMENDED IF YOU ARE BREAST FEEDING. I’m not big on taking any kind of medication especially pain killers of any kind. But my cramps were intense those first few days and I desperately wanted some relief. It did the job for me and because I wasn’t breastfeeding it was great and aided in my want to dry up my milk.

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.

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.

Red Threads

After getting caught up with my own children’s birth stories, I have decided to change the name of my blog.

A long time ago I read about an ancient Chinese belief. There is an invisible red thread that connects each of us to all of the individuals who have been, currently are, and will in the future be important to us in our lives. This red thread can stretch, twist, and bend… but will never break.

I believe this to not only be beautiful, but true. Talking about, and thinking about all of the lives that are connected to mine, how could I not believe that they are meant to be. That when I was born, Emma and Collin and Alexander where already connected to me. That they were meant to be. More lives, hundreds, maybe even thousands of strands are still connected to me. Strands that I have yet to meet the other end of. But this blog is to document those strings. Those people. Those life changing events.

This isn’t just my story. This is theirs too.

redthread