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!
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.
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.
Not only that, but I also completed my Doula Certification this year! Zen Mama Doula at your service!
I went home in June and got to see NYC, June bug, and my mom get married. It was amazing.
A friend took me to see one of my heros. Bill Nye The Science Guy!
I got involved in politics and made my voice heard. I stood up for things I believe in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“Sometimes when making something so precious, beautiful, and unique’ it takes an extra helping heart”
As a surrogate you wait months (sometimes years) for one moment. The moment when you hand a baby to their parents. You imagine and dream of that moment, that one moment when a parent who was told “no” for so long, finally hears “yes”. The moment they see their baby. The moment they fall in love.
Brooke has known most of her life that she wouldn’t be able to carry a child. But about 6 years ago her and Joe decided it was time to find a way to make their dreams of a family come true. She talked to Doctors who told her she may be able to carry, and then said no, she couldn’t. They faced many set backs. When they finally turned to surrogacy, they found a surrogate, who ended up not being able to carry for one reason or another. So they found another surrogate, same situation. Finally they found me.
At 6:55am I was in the tub, feeling the waves, riding the waves, knowing each one brought June just a little closer to shore. I reached down and felt her head. Carla was behind me with a mirror and told Brooke to look. I heard her gasp. “Oh June”! I pushed and I heard her cry and gasp again. Each sound she made gave me more strength. I don’t even remember taking breaks between pushes. Just a nice deep breath.
At 7:06am I reached down and pulled June from the water. I put her on my chest and layed back.
It became a little chaotic. I could still hear Brooke saying Junes name. I started stimulating Junes back so we could hear that first cry. I felt weak so Carla helped. She let out that beautiful cry and I looked to Brooke who just looked,.. in love.
I looked at June and told her hello. She looked so perfect.
Brooke reached in and touched her daughter for the first time. I wanted to hand June to her, but I knew we needed to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. Brooke was so patient, knowing it meant a lot for her baby to get that blood.
Photo by: EvaDiana Photography Edit By: The Birthing Tree
She put her forehead on mine and thanked me. From there the emotion flowed, and there are no words, in any language that can describe the feeling I had.
I held her up for a minute so Brooke could get a good look at her, and so June could really see her mama.
After about 8 minutes on my chest there was still blood in the cord, but Carla said we needed to cut it.I looked into the pool and saw that I had started bleeding, heavily. Brooke cut the cord herself and I handed June to her mama.
The look on her face! It was magic! They moved Brooke and the baby to a corner with her mother and sister for skin to skin and bonding. I got up out of the tub and hung onto the side to deliver my placenta. Curtis on one side, Dana on the other and Carla behind me.
I delivered the placenta within a couple short minutes, as well as a lot of blood. Way more than you’re supposed to. They rushed me to the bed. I was exhausted, at this point I had only a short hour nap in over a 24 hour period, drank castor oil, had two membrane sweeps and gone through a 7 hour labor, and now I had lost a lot of blood.
I was given a pitocin shot in my shoulder and Carla was checking out my lady parts to see if there was any tearing (there wasn’t), and did a fundal massage (where they push around on your uterus to decrease bleeding).
After a minute I am able to get comfy on the bed and just relax. Dana brought me some snacks and orange juice and I chat with Stephanie (my best friend who showed up while I was in the bath the first time), Curtis and Dana. I watch Brooke and Alex and Cindi coo over the beautiful baby.
Curtis decided that everyone needed caffeine and I finally get to say the words “GET ME A REDBULL!!!!” It tasted better than I remembered.
At 8:15 Brooke moves over to the bed so that Carla can do the newborn exam. Brooke is an active part (add this to the list of things I love about birthing centers). First, they measured.
A perfect and exact 21 inches.
Then Brooke weighed her.
A perfect 8 Pounds exactly.
I was pretty happy, I had promised Brooke a big baby, and June cooked a little longer to make sure I wasn’t a liar.
13 3/4″ head, 140 Heart Rate, 14″ chest. 8/9 Apgar. She’s perfect. Carla swaddles her up good, and then I get to hold her. I can’t believe that this little person has been living in me! She is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen (other than my own of course).
I snuggled her and kissed her and just loved on her. I noticed something kind of strange while snuggling up with her. My own kids, I remember smelling their heads and just getting a huge rush of oxytocin, just falling in love harder. I smelled June out of habit and you know something, she didn’t smell like my babies! Not that she smelled bad of course, but isn’t science and nature amazing?! Though she came from my womb, my hormones (and/or hers) knew that she wasn’t my baby. No bonding, in love feelings. Oh I adore her so much and I can’t wait to see her again, but truly no feelings of loss.
I gave her back to her mama so that I could take an herbal bath (a wonderful thing that helps with healing and is so relaxing! Plus it felt nice to wash up a little bit!). I had a nice soak and then was ready to get out and eat something. I stood up and took Curtis and Danas hands. Right away I knew that something was wrong. At first I thought maybe I just stood up too quickly. I felt dizzy and weak. I slowly felt my energy drain, tunnel vision, tunnel hearing. I reached both hands for Curtis. He told me to squeeze his arm, I did the best I could. I heard him talking to the midwives saying that my grip was loosening but I was still trying. I half stepped, half Curtis lifting me out of the tub and was laid on the ground. Someone was holding my legs straight in the air, and Curtis was by my side holding my hand, talking to me. I have really no memory of the conversation going on around me. I heard their voices but not the words. I opened my eyes and Carla is the first face I remember seeing. For some reason my first thought was “Oh no I don’t want to go to the hospital”. Slowly my tunnel vision and tunnel hearing faded. Dana brought me orange juice that I sipped on and seemed to help along with a honey stick.
Finally they got me sitting up and on a stool that they wheeled over to the bed. An IV was placed (I don’t even know where it came from! I love that birthing centers have everything for an emergency, HIDDEN somewhere. No scary medical equipment unless it’s needed). Lissa (another midwife) brought in pancakes and bacon and I sat and ate and drank more orange juice.
Everyone gathered on the bed to take group pictures (I don’t have those yet) and I held June again. Curtis went to go pick up our kids so that they could meet June Bug and Joe had finally landed and was on his way to the Birthing Center. Joe got there first and I got to experience that moment all over again when he got to meet his daughter for the first time.
Magic all over again. It was beautiful to see them together.
My kids arrived and got to meet my belly buddy who they have watched grow over the past 9 months. It was adorable. Emma was the most excited, the boys were just kinda like “yeah, she’s cute but whatever”.
We all hung out at the birthing center for another hour or two. Just kinda enjoying each other, planning what to do from there. Brooke invited me to go to the hotel with them, as tempting as it was to spend more time with them I decided that a nap was what I wanted most.
I left the Birthing Center and went home with my beautiful family. Stephanie came over after my short nap and her and Curtis took good care of me. Later on Brooke and her sister came over, saying they had a gift for me.
They brought me this HUGE basket! Full of wine, snacks, things to help my recovery (like a rice heating wrap, no more milk tea, and peri spray), and things from my favorite shop in Austin (The Herb Bar). A ton of lavender things (which Brooke and I both kind of flocked to this pregnancy), a gift card from Brookes mom to a local restaurant for Curtis and I, and more wine! It was beautiful and so thoughtful!
They went back to their hotel and Stephanie went home. Laney called me and said she would be coming home that night and asked if I wanted her to stop in. We decided it would be nice for her to stay here. She got in late and we stayed up for awhile, me telling her all about my eventful labor and birth. When we turned everything off and went to sleep I passed out, HARD! It had been so long since I had been able to sleep soundly. Laney woke up every couple hours to see if I needed anything, but I slept the whole night.
The next day was my beautiful daughters 9th birthday, and also the day that Brooke, Joe, June, Alex and Cindi were leaving to go back down to Austin. Laney left around 8:30 and Stephanie arrived shortly after that. Cleaning up my house and helping to take care of the kids for me. She was awesome.
The whole crew showed up just after noon to say good-bye. Each of the kids got to hold June for a minute and say good-bye. Stephanie got in some baby snuggles. We laughed and talked about the baby and their first night together. I snuggled her and fed her a bottle and said my good-byes. To be honest it was harder saying good-bye to Brooke than the baby. Though I wish I had been able to get in some more baby snuggles before they left (who doesn’t love baby snuggles!?).
So that’s it… for now. I have a trip planned to NY in June and will be spending a night in NYC with them. I’m excited to see them in their own element, go out with Brooke and Joe and get me some more baby snuggles! She’ll be two months old then! Crazy thought!