About Me

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Caledonia, Northern Illinois, United States
I am a Thirty-Something mother of four beautiful girls. My love for them, and the joy I've experienced during this crazy ride called motherhood, has inspired me to help make the dream of a family become a reality for couples through gestational surrogacy. I've proudly helped A&T, as their lives were forever changed when they welcomed a son in April 2010 and K&S were blessed as parents in Sept 2012 when we welcomed their twin boys. I completed my final surrogacy journey Nov 2015 when I helped a wonderful local couple J&W and Big Brother add their family with the birth of twin boys. I am so very fortunate to have wonderful relationships with each one of my surro-families and continue to share in their lives.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love Surrogacy

Just the other day a milestone was reached.  Sunday marked 37w1d since E&A were born.  They have been in their parent's arms now the same amount of time I carried them under my heart. They are doing well and getting so big ... nearly 9 months old already!!!

I've continued to express breast milk this whole time.  I supplied the twinsies for the first 6 months and since then have been stockpiling for a Preemie Milk Bank.  Due to the blood transfusion I received when I hemorrhaged during the delivery in November, I'm not fully eligible to donate until I'm one year postpartum.  I have however completed the initial qualification process and once I complete the medical screening I can begin sending in the liquid gold which will be made into a high calorie formula for fragile at risk infants.  So far I have over 3,000 ounces stored and adding to it each day.  I've also proudly donated to a couple local babies as well.  It's a big commitment and requires a lot of dedication to do this but it's very rewarding.

I may be retired but do still continue to be active in the surrogacy community.  I enjoy helping potential Surrogates and Intended Parents navigate the process and of course love being a cheerleader for my good friends who are still pursuing journeys.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Love These Faces (GS#2)

R&M recently took a trip down to Florida to visit their Mimi (aka grandma).  IM shared these pics ... Oh how I love their sweet faces.  The boys are 3 1/2 years old now and getting so big.  We have a visit planned for next month and I can't wait to see them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Pat on the Back (GS#3)

Wow, it's hard to believe that lil E&A are 4 months old.  The boys are getting so big and full of smiles and coos these days.  I've been fortunate to see them often.  Each week I swing by their house to fulfill my "milk lady" duties and drop off the liquid gold.  I've been diligently pumping for the lil guys and have kept up with the demand of not one but two babies as they've been mostly on breast milk only this entire time.

Exclusive pumping is a big undertaking.  Between the time spent hooked up and also the portioning and cleaning of bottles and parts, it takes up about 3 hours of each day.  I'm still not sleeping more than a 4-5 hour stretch before my body reminds me I've got a job to do.  It's very rewarding to know however, that as of the 25th of March it's been one year since we transferred two beautiful embryos and marks one year of me dedicating my body to helping these babies thrive.  Things are going so well in fact, that I don't have a stop date in mind, so for now I continue to pump on.

It's still a little strange to be on the outside of the surro community with no plans to do another journey but, I continue to live vicariously through my surro-friends who are either currently pregnant or are planning to be.  My bestie and surro-sister Daisy is due with her surro-babe in just weeks!  We are all anxious for his arrival and can't wait for him to join his twin brothers that she carried 4 years ago.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Surro-love Sweetness

E&A are 4 weeks old today. Can't get enough of these lil faces.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Due Date - Welcome Home

Today is our 40 week due date, amazing how everything came together and now J&W have been getting to know their precious baby boys for nearly three weeks.

We've been in touch regularly and E&A are doing great.  Of course everyone is adjusting to the new tasks and schedules but sounds like things are going well.  They had a family photo shoot recently and I just adore the "Special Delivery" photo they shared.  I'm hoping we get in some snuggles soon, I haven't visited in about two weeks so I'm sure they've already changed quite a bit.

Welcome Home Emmett & Archer

I'm doing well.  I've been busy pumping round the clock to supply breast milk for the growing boys.  I love that for the third time my IPs have allowed me to do this. It's a big commitment and requires a lot of time and dedication to stop what you're doing every 3 hours to fit in a pump session, but it is a nice transition from my role as their Surrogate.  It helps me to continue to feel useful and it's great for my overall recovery and health.

This c/s recovery seems to be easier than the last.  I have had very little discomfort in regards to uterus shrinking/cramping and I was able to use my abdominal muscle to get out of bed, off the couch etc much sooner than last time.  Incision healing seems to be ok as well.  The hardest part has been sciatica pain on my right side that I had for the first couple of weeks - it's progressively getting better.  I did see my OB last week to follow up on the complications I had during delivery. She was very glad to see me doing so well, despite all I went through. My BP continues to stay elevated due to the preeclampisa so I'll continue to take HBP medication until my postpartum visit at 6 wks and reassess things then.  I'm also taking BP readings at home once a day just to keep a close eye on it because at any time it could begin to stabilize and then the meds would cause me to have issues with low blood pressure.

I had really wanted to return to work soon but my OB feels that due to the hemorrhage and preeclampsia, I'm at a higher risk for postpartum complications and has insisted that I take the full 6 weeks and denied clearance.  Considering the upcoming holiday and the time off I would have had already, it's not that many actual work days but January 7th still seems so far away!  I'm a little stir crazy but finding things to keep me busy.  I've been getting my holiday shopping done but I really need to do some more Christmas decorating, that's been slow going.

So for now I'm going to continue focusing on my recovery and enjoying this time over the holidays to spend with loved ones and just taking time to adjusting to life as usual again.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Happy Retirement

Final Belly Pic - 37w0d
Now that I've posted the somewhat "sugar-coated" Birth Story, I'm going to rewind a little bit and share the not so glamours part of our delivery experience.  Why, because I think it's important for those surrogates following my journey(s) and also because I know many of you were worried about me in the days following.  This is no doubt going to be long but a lot transpired that I want to share.

After all day monitoring Friday without any food, not even as much as an ice chip I was mentally wearing down.  All day they watched my blood pressure - just waiting, waiting, waiting for it to spike to 170/110 for immediate delivery.  I was anxious to see the numbers rise because I wanted to deliver but scared at the idea of dangerously high blood pressure.  Around 9 PM it became apparent that it wasn't going to happen and the OB wanted to continue to wait for my morning labs and/or my 24 hr urine collections to show the need for delivery.  Everyone was sent home.  My night in the hospital hooked up to monitors and an IV was long and restless.  The automatic BP cuff went off every hour and with each squeeze of my arm I'd check the monitor and my BP actually went back into what would be considered my normal range overnight. 

Morning came and still no word, no food, no water, no ice chips.  My nurse wasn't for sure but thought my OB was leaning towards delivery, just waiting on the confirmation of my labs.  I told my husband, IM & IF to make their way back up to the hospital by 11:00 AM so we could await results together.  After contacting them all - I cried, almost an ugly cry - I was beat. It was so frustrating not knowing the plan. I let them all know not to be surprised if I was a mess when they came up.  I was just so tired, hungry, uncomfortable and out of sorts.  I know my IPs felt awful for me, I'm usually such a positive and easy going person but enough was enough.  

Shift change came and my new nurse for the day Laura introduced herself.  Along with her bright smile came the news that the OR was ours at 11:00 AM. My blood work had shown increased levels of liver/kidney enzymes. I was hit with a huge sense of relief, then a quick moment of panic - I had just told everyone to be here at 11:00 AM and with a snowstorm outside if they didn't head over soon they'd be late!! (Although I was reassured that they wouldn't proceed without everyone) A quick text went out to let them all know that they should get up there without delay, it was BABY TIME!!!

After awhile IM/IF and my husband all joined me and with much anticipation we waited ... then we waited a lil more because we got bumped.  No worries, we took the extra time to say hello to a few of IM's family members that came up.  Adrenaline was flowing but I was still pretty tired at this point, we decided it would be good to give me a few quiet moments before the delivery.  Everyone left the room and I put in my earbuds to stream some relaxing music.  I closed my eyes and that's when the instrumental version of " A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri came on. The moment was emotional as I felt my belly buddies movements from inside - for the very last time.  My thoughts drifted to my IPs, past and present, who awaited this very moment for so long.  The heartache, the sacrifice, the acceptance, the trust, the anticipation ...

Time stands still
Beauty is all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this

I have died everyday waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

All along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

Everyone reassembled and then it was time, time for J&W to meet their babies.  I was taken back to the OR first and given my spinal, I was draped and IPs brought in.  The delivery as I described in my previous post was exciting.  J&W were over the moon that their BOYS had arrived.  They were perfect in every way.

Proud IM with Archer (L) & Emmet (R)
IPs left the OR with their precious lil bundles in arms and off to the nursery for assessments and skin to skin time.  Back in the OR I was being closed up and prepped to head over to recovery.  My OB commented on how thin my uterus was, not really a surprise seeing as it had grown nine babies which included two sets of twins.  She finished up and within a few minutes the OR staff was down to a few nurses making notes and counting instruments and as well as the anesthesiologist.  They began to move me from the table to a cot to transfer me to recovery when suddenly, I began to hemorrhage.  The room became tense, my OB rushed back in and what was just moments ago only a few nurses multiplied into a team of at least a dozen or more.  Instructions were being called out, meds administered, blood ordered .... I knew what was happening yet remained calm. I felt safe, I felt at peace with the possibility that I could very well need hysterectomy.  Ultimately my OB decided to place a balloon in my uterus to help control the bleeding and thankfully that got it under control - now we just had to wait and see if I continued to remain stable.  Eventually I was moved over to recovery, during my duration there I received two units of blood and they closely monitored my bleeding as well as my blood pressure which was now extremely elevated - those 170/110 numbers I talked about earlier were surpassed which means I would later need to be given anti-seizure medication.  All this while Jason was in and out of the recovery area getting small little updates on my condition.  I know those types of situations make him incredibly uncomfortable, so I told him to stay nearby but not too close for comfort.  Eventually I was moved but instead of going to the Mother/Baby unit as usual, I went back to L&D for skilled nursing care and to stay close to the OR - just in case they had to take me back in.

I was meet in my L&D room by Jason and best friend Daisy, by now it's close to 6:00 PM several hours since surgery.  They continued to check my vitals and bleeding, and at one point they became concerned again and cleared everyone out of my room while the doctor was called back in.  Thankfully everything was back under control and that's about the time they started my magnesium sulfate, the anti-seizure med that I'd be on for the next 24 hours due to the preeclampsia.  By this point I felt like shit; vomiting, numb, headache, and pale.  I got more meds to calm the nausea and was started on pain meds that left me feeling incredibly tired and just plain out of it.  IPs did come by to check on me, they had been very worried.  I wish I could have reassured them then that I would be fine but really I didn't know, and I certainly didn't look fine that's for sure.  

Shift change came and the nursing staff continued to keep a watchful eye on me through the night. Jason stayed with me as well and then into the next day (Sun).  I was relieved come morning to see a familiar face as I was again going to have Laura for my nurse who had been with me the day prior.  She really made me feel like I was her top priority with her attentive care.  I spent the day restricted to the bed, still not allowed to eat and doped up on pain meds - time dragged on yet seemed like it passed so quickly too.  At some point I wasn't even hungry anymore.  Unlike my normal self I was disconnected from the world.  I felt too awful to make phone calls, return texts or post updates online.  The mag sulfate was effecting my eyes and I couldn't focus, and then I got a killer headache.  Not sure if that was due to the eye strain, not eating, the meds themselves, maybe even the HBP.  It hurt.  Jason went home to be with the girls and my mom came up to tend to my bedside. Finally, around 3:00 PM more than 24 hours after delivery they started to deflate the balloon of saline that was in my uterus in small increments to be sure the bleeding was still under control.  Around 6:00 PM it was out, my cath was out and I finished my final IV dose of mag sulfate - I was a FREE woman!!!  It was time to move over to Mother/Baby unit and continue the recovery process there.

Things were slow going and I was exhausted but, I finally got to meet and hold the babies and visited with J&W in my room for awhile.  They were just so very precious and Mom and Dad had fallen instantly in love with their sweet boys.

Surro-twins - two days old
The rest of my time in the hospital went as it should with the exception of having my BP monitored closely and being put on Rx meds to keep it in check.  I had several members of the nursing staff and all three OB's who provided care to me over the course of the pregnancy and during the delivery stop in to tell me how very fortunate my outcome was.  I knew at the time it wasn't good, but hearing the professionals say this when this is what they do day in and out made me so very grateful for their quick actions and for the amazing care and attention they gave me.  Thank you Dr. K, Dr. M, Dr. G, Dr. B and a big thanks to to my L&D nurse Laura, who was there through the worst of it, and the many others involved in my care.

As my warning to the surrogacy community;  Please, understand why so many experienced surrogates will warn against perusing surrogacy before your own family is complete. You just never know.  I was at peace knowing ultimately what the outcome could be.  My advice to you, be sure you would be too.  The risks are very real.

I was told subsequent c/s recoveries are easier and I totally agree.  Since coming home I feel stronger each day and the healing process has gone exceptionally well.  I'm providing breast milk for E&A just as I have my other surro-babes so, the round the clock pumping keeps me busy.  I've been able to spend some time with IPs and their new additions on several occasions already since all coming home and the boys are already changing.  Mom and Dad are getting use to the new schedule and Big Brother is adjusting to having two new baby brothers.

So now I close a chapter.  Jason and I had already decided that this would be my final journey but the outcome of this delivery has also sealed my fate physically - I am now a retired surrogate.  I feel so very blessed to have had the amazing experiences that I have.  Eight years, three families, five beautiful children. Jason, the girls and I have gained lifelong friends - extended family - through this amazing experience and I can't express how grateful I am for that.  I often hear what a blessing I am, an angel etc but these relationships have been just as meaningful to me.  Besides the emotional rewards, surrogacy has also afforded my family and I some wonderful material blessings we wouldn't have had otherwise.  A huge thank you to my IPs, past and present, for everything!

I intend to continue to update so this isn't the end but, I am closing a chapter and starting a new one.  I am excited to see what lies ahead as I refresh, renew and refocus my attention on the family that inspired my passion to help others - my amazing husband and four lovely daughters.

My heart is full -