Friday, January 16, 2015

Breastfeeding after surrogacy

I had a rough time with breastfeeding with my own 2 children so I was determined to pump for at least 3 months after delivering Sweet baby J  last June. I pumped for him while we were in the hospital together but I really wanted to nurse him. Not for bonding but so I could get to nurse a baby and have it work out even if it was just one time. I feel like it would have been good closure on the pregnancy too. His parents were not comfortable with me doing that, understandably, so I was fine pumping for them.

Being a surrogate is giving a gift and it was one of the most profound and rewarding things I've ever but it doesn't have to end with the birth. Being a director for Get PUMPed! I get to meet a lot of families with needy babies. Becoming a donor was even more rewarding than I had anticipated. With my first 2 children I would have been a recipient of Get PUMPed! as we had so many issues and only after my surro babe did we figure out why. Long story short, I need to be a part time pumper and SNS nurse due to an issue I have with my breast tissue. I felt like a failure, like my body, which was meant to provide nourishment to my babies, had failed me. Over the last 6 months I've had the privilege of feeding 20 babies including my surrogate baby J. With about 4,500 oz. pumped and donated I achieved my goal. I would have loved to continue longer but my busy schedule and family life was calling me back and I couldn't spend 5 hours a day pumping any more. I had lost all the baby weight thanks to pumping, I got over and healed from my mommy guilt from my 2 previous breastfeeding flops and was able to help babies thrive. Babies who were in the same situation that my own children went though, babies who were adopted and born addicted to drugs making them formula intolerant, one of my nieces and even one other surrogate baby. There are 20 different stories I could tell you about the babies I've helped over the last 6 months but I can tell you I feel whole again and that mommy guilt is gone.

Last week I ran into one of the families I donated my milk to. The baby is older now and was running all around but she came running up to me and grabbed me so tight. I'd only met her a few times before but it was like she knew. Her mom and I almost cried when it happened. That baby is big and healthy partly because of me. It was almost as rewarding as surrogacy... almost.
look at that colostrum content over the 4 day period. 

taking this to a family in need
Meals on wheals!
I had to pump in the car while we were on a fishing rip

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our birth story part III

Getting ready to transfer. I asked them to place and IV and fluids
so I didn't have to wait for them at the hospital and slow down
the process.

 Its quite difficult to not push when your body is trying hard to expel a baby from its womb. The Ambulance ride was rough but my saving grace was my midwife Kaleen along for the ride. Kaleen talked to me and had me breath through each contraction which were no longer productive since he was trying to come out forehead first and chin up. Once you're that deep into labor and you've made the decision to get pain meds or for a c-section its near impossible to keep calm during contractions and pushing. I lost my shit. Every time one came instead of breathing through them and moaning I would panic. These contractions were not doing anything anymore and we've moved on to plan B, time to stop now, okay? We had a few more guided contractions in the ambulance hoping he'd shoot out before we got there. Kaleen keep tabs on the baby's heart tones the entire time and he never once had so much as a heart deceleration. Upon arrival the nurse at the front tried to make us stop and fill out paperwork. We told her I was not up for that right now but she insisted so I faked a very loud and violent contraction while pushing and yelling I've been pushing for 3 hours now and to let us pass. She did with a look of horror on her face. Kaleen quickly realized it was fake when I smirked up at her. We had a good laugh about it and how even in the rush of it all I was still able to keep my sense of humor.

Vanessa and Nik just before surgery 
Kaleen helped them wheal me into my L&D room and we pushed a few more times hoping he'd become low enough, with our hours of trying all the tricks and remedies, to vacuum out. He was not. Still at a zero station. He, still after 3 hours of pushing, position changes, maneuvers,  handstands with Kaleen's arms up me physically turning him and maneuvering his chin down (he'd go right back), herbs and LOTS of spinning babies tricks and every other trick my midwife, her 2 students, my doula and myself could come up with had not helped one bit. Had it helped we would have kept at it since both of our vitals were great. Kaleen and I together made the call. I knew what had to be done and that we'd exhausted all of our options. Also, still no pain relief at this point. I was okay with the decision but my husband was nervous and my midwife was heart broken for me. I love her, have I mentioned that before? I knew Gus and Vanessa had to be nervous as I hadn't seen them since I left the birth center. We made the call. Nik and the family came in to be with me before hand to get in our lovey OR gear and we posed for one last photo before I went in for a spinal and to start the surgery. Normally its only one person allowed back in the OR with the mother but since we were the first surrogacy in that hospital ever, they let us do what we wanted. Nik and Vanessa came in as soon as I was given the spinal and they began quickly. Vanessa was anxious but her face was what I wanted to see more than anything. I wanted to see that look on her face as soon as she saw him and it was better than I'd imagined. She cried and tears landed on me as she kissed my forehead thanking me. It was, by far, up there as one of the best moments of my life next to the birth of my own children. I got a quick peak at him and she left the OR to introduce him to his father who was waiting out there with their family.

Nik stayed in the OR while they finished up on me. My doula brain kicked in and I started micromanaging the medical staff in regards to what medication I wanted and what they need to do with my placenta. It slipped my mind to say something but he did use staples on me for some reason which was very unhappy with and got out as soon as humanly possible. We went back into my L&D room to recover and much to my surprise, Vanessa and Gus were in there with the whole family. I got to rest with my family and friends while meeting their extended family and spending time with them and the baby which they named Joaquin. Joaquin was the exact same size as my oldest son Benjamin. Seeing Vanessa get to bond with Joaquin was a beautiful sight as she didn't get to with her daughter due to postpartum complications. She even put him to the breast just for comfort. I just about melted when I saw that.

We posed for photos for my photographer who took beautiful pictures of our Sweet baby J, as I like to call him, up until they were ready to move us into postpartum recovery. Vanessa and Gus were in the room right next to mine and I got a GOOD nights sleep. Pumping was important to me so I started once I was able to sit up which was about 6 hours postpartum. I sent milk over for him every few hours after that. Typically after a c-section they withhold food for about 12-24 hours just in case but I was given the all clear just a few hours after birth. I pumped, ate, called my dad and went to bed for a good night rest after my long and exhausting day.

The next morning I had a visit from some friends, wrote up a birth announcement to send to facebook and extended family and my sister came to visit with real food (I hate hospital food). Vanessa brought Joaquin in for me to spend time with before they were able to leave the hospital later that day. I spent a few
hours with them off and on. Getting to love on him was great closure for me. He was so sweet and it was awesome to get to finally meet the little guy I'd been carrying for the last 10 months. There was no attachment. He was not my baby nor did I ever really bond with him. Even now, when they send me pictures, I love him as if he was a nephew. It was nice to get to spend time with him but it was even more nice to get some good uninterrupted sleep. I power pumped all day so that I could provide him milk and some to go home with.

This now complete family got to go home that night. Vanessa, Gus and Camellia came in one last time as they were being wheeled out to go home. I said my good byes and told them what an honor it was to get to do this for them. I started crying as soon as they left. It was all so bittersweet. Bittersweet because while my journey had just ended, theirs was beginning. I was sad it was over for me and I had an unwanted c-section but overjoyed that I could give life, give this gift to such an amazing family.

Kaleen came to visit me the next morning and we talked about my emotions over my journey being over, the c-section and recovery. Between her, Nik and my doula everyone kept a close eye on me just in case I needed the extra emotional help. I was home before we hit the 36 hour postpartum mark which is unheard of after a c-section typically. My body, my choice, right? When we came home and my only job was to rest and pump. Nik took the week off and my sister came to help as often as she could. Even with the birth going the way it did I can honestly say I don't regret it for a second. This was an amazing experience and I'd do it again in a heart beat.

Read Part I
Read Part II
Recovery story and updates coming soon...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our birth story part II

When we arrived at the birth center Vanessa and Gus, our doula, the midwives and my photographer had all arrived before I did. In my haste to get ready the day before I forgot to fill up the mini-van with gas so we made a quick stop on the way. The biggest birthing room is huge with a full bathroom and kitchen so that seemed like the perfect room for all the people we had coming. Contractions were about 8-10 min. apart when we arrived. My midwife checked me at I was 5 cm and doing great. I spent some time chatting with Vanessa and her cousin whom I okay'ed to be in the room as she was going to be the babies God mother and I had gotten to know her a bit too during my pregnancy. We got some really sweet photos of us talking, laboring and just enjoying the process before it got serious.

Vanessa and I while in labor

Within an hour or 2 my contractions were 5 min. apart and I was ready for the tub. The birthing tub is a magical place where contraction pain hardly exists and all you feel is pressure. 5 min. quickly turned into 3 min. apart and then I started grunting. So hardly 3 hours of labor before I started pushing. My midwife checked me and I was complete

When I started pushing it was grunts at first that quickly turned into full uncontrollable pushing. These contractions never lasted what they should have or seemed very productive. This wasn't my first rodeo so I knew what to expect and that was not it. My amazing midwife and her students were on top of our vitals the entire time. Blood pressure temp, heart rate and of course the baby's heart rate were monitored frequently and as pushing progressed baby's heart tones were being checked in between every contraction and we were all perfect the entire time. After the first hour of pushing and position changes we moved to the bed to try some more complex maneuvering as it seemed the baby was posterior which can be harder to push out.

The tub was warm and cozy, I did not want to get out. This entire time I had handled the contractions and pushing amazingly well. I was calm and collected making low moaning sounds. I encourage hypnobirthing for all my clients so figured I should actually do it myself. It really helped stay calm, when I gave birth to Sammy I was screaming and freaking out. This time was completely different even at the end.

After about 45 min. of pushing in the bed, doing hands stands with my midwives arms up me trying to turn the baby we discovered not only was he posterior but his head was deflexed or extended. Basically he was trying to come out upside down and by his forehead which doesn't mold to fit through the pelvis like the top of his head does. My midwife would turn him and he'd go right back. After a little over 2 hours of pushing and trying every trick imaginable he still wouldn't come under the pubic bone. He never made it past +1 station. After the 2 hour mark and still not a single bit of progress we decided to go to the hospital hoping he'd miraculously change positions so he can get low enough by then to labor down with an epidural or vacuum out.

around hour 2 of pushing
Since this was a non emergency transfer I could have just gone by car but I was not up for freaking my kids out by pushing uncontrollably pushing in my car while Nik drove us there so we called for an ambulance. What better place to be if he, on a whim, decided to figure his way out than an ambulance while in transit. The second the EMT's arrived I waddled my way down the stairs to a sea of complete stranger I wasn't aware were there along with my kids and husband all looking a bit freaked. I forced a smile as to assure everyone I was fine and that we were just taking this party somewhere else. The babies extended family had come in for his arrival, I had just forgotten they were coming let alone that they were there already.

Part I
Part III

Friday, August 22, 2014

Baby pictures!

One month old!

Big sister C loves her brother. 

2 months old!

Photos from the birth Part I

Our birth story Part I

It's said that the 3rd baby is always the wild card when it comes to labor and birth and I've known this to be true in my years as a doula. Boy did I underestimate that when it came to the birth of Sweet Baby J. This story has highs, lows and way too much information. My modestly went out the window 8 years ago when I had my first baby so don't mind me.

On June 21st (39 weeks to the day) I woke up around 1:30am to pee. My water was broken for me in the throws of labor with my own children so I had never experienced what my water breaking on its own felt like. Apparently what had woken me was my water breaking. I didn't hear it or feel it because I was asleep. I leaked a small amount fluid for about an hour and had a bit of show but then it all stopped. I had a few prodromal labor contractions but again, it all stopped after an hour. What commonly happens is moms get a high leak and it seals itself off like nothing happened but amniotic fluid is always being produced.... or they just wet themselves. I'm going to go with the former in this case. I did what I advise all my clients to do which is to do some inversions, leg lifts and pelvic floor tilts. I wrapped my big belly in a belly wrap because I had a pendulous belly so to bring the baby in more would, in theory, keep him from being in a bad position. After an hour of no more fluid or prodromal contractions and me, pacing the house doing leg lifts, inversions and weird looking yoga positions I said screw it and went back to bed.

That morning I took it easy, packed my bag, packed a bad for the boys and Nik, ate a nice breakfast just in case, rescheduled all of my work obligations for the next week just in case and took a nap. My wonderful friends threw me my birth blessingway later that day.

Through out the rest of the day I only had a few more prodromal labor contractions but nothing serious or even real contractions and most importantly, no more fluid leaking. My midwife asked me to check myself at home but just in case my water had broken and were still broken, I wasn't putting anything in there as I didn't want to give myself an infection.  I had given hints to Vanessa and Gus, my midwife and most importantly, my photographer. Vanessa and Gus had just arrived in Tampa to stay they with family until my due date which was still 6 days away. Tampa is 2 hours away, with traffic. After my due date the plan was to get a hotel near me or the birth center. At this point I knew deep down the next day was going to be the big day. I went home, took a shower, shaved my legs somehow and went to bed. At exactly 4:30 am I woke up with a real contraction. they came every 30 min. That's all early labor and honestly, doesn't really count as its just meant to just soften and efface the cervix. I'd have contractions off and on through out the wee hours of the morning and wake up to it, then fall right back asleep again. Nothing to write home about.

8 am came and the kids were not letting us sleep in any more than that and neither were my contractions so we got up to eat some breakfast and take a shower. Around that same time I got an odd burst of energy. I say odd because I had the urge to sweep my floors and for those of you now know me know I'm not type A enough to care what my floors look like to sweep them up while I'm busy doing something important like contracting. I sent Vanessa a text letting her know it would be today and contacted my midwife, doula and photographer. My friends, sister and mother in- law were supposed to come as well but something told me to ask them not to come until after the baby was born or just at the end. The contractions were becoming more frequent at 15-10 min. apart so we figured it best to head for the birth center which was 45 min. away. Our last baby came very fast so our concern from the beginning this pregnancy was that we'd have the baby in my mini-van.

39 weeks and 1 day in the mermaid room at the birth center. 

Part II
Part III