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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.