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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Week 24 - Twin Infused

My IPs joined us for a BBQ at our house yesterday and I think I described everything on the menu as being "infused" with something (yes, I've been watching a lot of Food Network lately,  what can I say I'm pregnant and always hungry).  Jason commented, "Tiffany is "twin infused" and for whatever reason I thought it was hilarious and therefor this blog has earned it's title describing the state of my growing belly.  More about our visit later.

The day started out with lunch.  K and I joined my bestie (and fellow surro) Daisy as well as another surro friend Melissa (who is 13wks w/ a singleton) and her IM.  It was a quick visit that we squeezed in between Melissa's appointment and our own.  It was great to chat and hang out for a bit discussing all the plans both IMs were making for their new little ones on the way.  I wish we had had longer but K and I had to head out for our appointment after only an hour.  Hopefully we'll have a chance to do it again.

We made our way over to the hospital to be seen by the MFM department for our monthly visit with the high-risk OB to monitor the babies growth.  All looked perfect.  The boys were a little excitable and very active which would account for their speedy lil heart rates of 158 (A) and 161 (B).  The growth measurements were all right on track.  Both are in the 50th percentile (based on a singleton) and have managed to go from 12oz. each at the 20wk anatomy scan up to 1.8lbs (A) & 1.9lbs (B).  Right now the 6% discrepancy in overall size between the babies is well within the acceptable range - anything more than 20% becomes a concern.  Amniotic fluid looked great and the pockets depths were both in the 5 range (ideal is 3-8).  We love these MFM appointments because we always get 3D glimpses of the lil guys.  It's neat to see all their cute little facial features and expressions.  Babies were both breech (still doing flip flops) and one of them was literally folded in half with feet up by his head. LOL They are getting a bit more squished which you can see on the u/s - space is getting tighter.  So, once again all is looking good and I will see the OB on Tuesday for a cervical length check and regular visit.

We've been trying for awhile now to plan a time when K&S could linger in the area and come back to the house to hang out and be introduced to our girls.  They had met before, over a year ago at a BBQ we hosted, but since we weren't pregnant yet at the time Jason and I choose not to introduce them to our youngest girls as "the couple we were working with" at that time.  On that first initial visit K&S brought their adorably sweet dog Tucker along and the girls TOTALLY remembered him but, not K&S. ;)  They brought him along on this visit too and the girls LOVED seeing him and were happy to formally meet K&S as well.  We had a very nice dinner together and afterwards we chatted and laughed over a campfire and s'mores.  It was great to just sit back and relax and enjoy each others company.

Image 1: Baby A (squished into Baby B's shoulder)
 Image 2: Baby A (slightly less squished)
Image 3: Baby B

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 23 - All In Stride

Pregnancy-wise things are going very well.  Sleeping is ok yet (minus the 1-2 times per night I go to the bathroom), heartburn is moderate to "yuck" most days but my general comfort level is not too bad.

Life in general got a tad stressful this week but I'm looking ahead with a smile and taking it as a sign that someone is looking out for me and saying, it might be a good idea to slow down here pretty soon.  Although I am physically and mentally doing great now, with multiples that can change without notice so, I have to remember how fragile this pregnancy is and lookout for myself and these babies.  We are a week from what is considered "viability" but these lil guys need a lot more time to bake to ensure they're born healthy.  Slowing down right now probably isn't such a bad thing.

I'm going to use this post as an opportunity to say thanks to my great "team" that helps me look like superwoman to the outside world.   My lovely daycare assistant Brandi is god-send, my substitute Gina is always willing to help and here in a moments notice if needed.  Of course there is my husband Jason and I must also mention our 12 year old daughter Chloe who have been pitching in around the house.  You can add to that list our cleaning lady Maria who started recently, oh how I love to see her car pull up on Saturday mornings.  I couldn't do it without their help.  Thanks guys!!!

We have another appointment coming up this Friday - surprise, surprise. LOL  This one is with MFM for another growth ultrasound.  I'm so looking forward to the end of the week because K&S and their super friendly dog Tucker are going to linger afterwards for a cookout here at the house.  I can't wait to spend the evening with them relaxing and chatting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week 22 - Snug as Bugs

We are 22 weeks now and all is well.  I couldn't be happier with how things are going so far and I hope I don't jinx myself but, this pregnancy hasn't been much different than a singleton pregnancy - yet.  We had another routine appointment with the OB today.  We'd been looking forward to this appointment since K was bringing along two of her friends and my fellow surro-sister and best friend Daisy was joining us too - we'd planned a girls afternoon following the visit.

All looked great at the appointment.  Both boys were head down and they were active and kicking (each other) throughout the ultrasound.  Their heart rates are slowing down as the grow which is normal.  Today Baby A was in the high 140's and Baby B around 135.  My cervical length was at 4.5-5+ cm which is SUPER news and BP, urine and weight were all ok as well.  In addition to the u/s we saw the doctor and for fun I had her do a fundal height measurement.  In a singleton pregnancy you typically measure a centimeter for the number of week pregnant you are.  We are now 22 weeks 3 days and I measured 28 cm ... that's 6wks ahead!  No wonder I feel I've grown!!

Afterwards the five of us enjoyed a wonderful lunch and chatted for awhile.  It was a perfect day for sitting out on the patio at MashUp and the food was AWESOME as always.  K and her friends were so very generous and gave me a Gift Card, some maternity apparel and ORANGES!!  IM also got me a maternity support which I've never used before but, knowing how she researches everything I'm guessing if she bought it, she read up on the reviews and it was highly recommended.  ;)  I'll have to try it out for myself, especially if I end up with a twin belly like my Blogger friend, a fellow surro, over at True Life: I'm a Stork!  No offense Samantha but your belly scares the **** out of me!!! One of the highlights of the afternoon was that K got to feel one of her baby boys kick!  There is always tons of movement going on now so I'm glad she was able to experience it for herself. :)We parted ways with hugs and well wishes, always such a pleasure to see you E & N and thanks so much for everything!

My IPs and I have a busy schedule the next few weeks, lots of appointments and a couple of fun get-togethers coming up too.  Although the crazy number of doctor visits gets a bit overwhelming, I love all the time I get to spend with K&S, their friends and family.

Here is the latest belly pick - 22wks 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How Do You Do It?

To go along with K's entry, and her comment about answering questions - I thought I'd add a little of my own perspective.  Specifically answering how surrogates do what they do and how it makes us feel.  There have been several similar posts in the surro blog-world as of late, I even shared one here not too long ago.  Of course my post is based on my own personal experience but, I think it's safe to say that many of the other surrogates out there feel the same way.  So here it goes and sorry in advance as I know this will be kinda long. 

A quick little history to answer the "Why?".  I gave birth to our fourth daughter when I was in my late 20's and my husband and I are very happy with our family, it felt complete. Although I had no desire to have more children, I didn't feel like I was done with the child bearing years of my life, especially since many of my close friends were just starting their families. Was I ever excited to learn that I could help another couple have the family they so much desired through surrogacy. So, with my husband’s blessing, I decided to pursue surrogacy and it soon became my passion.

So how does one emotionally prepare themselves for surrogacy?  Of course the goal of the journey is a baby but that is not the entire journey.  The journey becomes about the parents-to-be and their wish to have that baby. 

My experience was like that of most gestational carriers, I was never attached to Baby G however, I was attached to my IPs and their dream. It’s the same this time around. I feel these two babies move inside of me and my mind instantly drifts to K&S and how very excited they are to welcome these lil guys. My thoughts are consumed with their future as a family and never for a second what my future would be like if they were mine.

Even after delivery with all the hormones and such I never had a sad emotional moment, even in private - the only tears I had were those of joy. The surros that I do know that have struggled a bit afterwards always say, it's not about the baby going home but more about the dramatic journey climax of birth - to then being done. Like the feeling you get on your wedding day, all that planning and preparation and then BAM it's over! I think the fact that I had the honor of providing breast milk for Giovanni for 16 weeks was a big factor in me not experiencing that "low". It helped me continue to feel needed, to feel useful and still have a purpose. By the time I stopped pumping I was four months postpartum and ready to refresh and renew myself and refocus my full attention and energy on my own family. Of course that was somewhat short lived since I was matched with K&S just a couple of months later. Surrogacy is addicting and you don't see too many GSx1 - many go on to have another journey or two.  
When people question how it must feel to "give back" (not give away) a baby you've carried for 9 months I compare the experience to one that many parents can identify with - the role of the childcare provider which, I seem to know a thing or two about.  ;)   I love, nurture and care for my daycare kiddos in their parents absence. I focus hours of attention on them each week, they are very special to me BUT I am more than happy to have their parents come get them at the end of the day!!!! I have never for a second thought to myself, "Oh I just wish I could keep my daycare child, it's going to be so hard when their parents pick them up". NEVER! I have four already, I. do. not. want. more! 

I'll admit too, I love the attention of pregnancy and surrogacy. I love sharing it with anyone who will listen to me ramble on - it makes me feel fulfilled and happy with who I am. It benefits me emotionally and my family's financial future has benefited from it as well. 
Another thing that makes the experience of carrying another's child special and rewarding - having wonderful IPs.  K mentioned how lucky she is to have found me but I am just as lucky to have found her and S and for that matter A&T as well.  I've been so fortunate to have amazing couples that value me and my family and who trust me and respect me.  Not every surro has that close relationship with their IPs, I see it all the time in the surrogacy community and, I never want to take for granted how very lucky I've been.  It's that closeness that makes the experience of being a surrogate so special.  Just this weekend A&T came for a visit and as much as I love seeing Giovanni, what I love even more is seeing them as a family. It makes my heart full. I do like a hug and a cuddle now and then but the real joy comes from knowing not only did I have a part in bringing that lil guy into this world, I had a part in creating their happiness.

 It's an incredible experience that not everyone could do and I feel so very blessed that I have this special "gift" that I can pass along.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

First thoughts from the Mom-to-Be (a post by "K")

Hi – it’s IM here, aka K.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about posting on Tiffany’s blog.  I decided to wait until Tiffany updated the look – the old one just didn’t feel right.  JK.  The truth is, we’ve had so many false starts over the past couple of years on this crazy journey to have a baby(ies) that I really wanted to feel like it was really happening before I posted anything.  The thought of telling the world how excited I was to finally have a baby, only to be followed up with a post about how disappointed I was it didn’t work out this time AGAIN was too much.  We’re not 100% out of woods until they’re born and healthy, but now that we’re 21 weeks and that my mom and S have made it official on Facebook, I guess it’s time for me to come out of the closet and show my face too. Believe it or not, I actually waited this long to tell people at work and the rest of my friends. Imagining how I explain that we’re using a surrogate (or a gestational carrier technically - thanks to Bill & Guilliana, everyone corrects me now) and whether or not people would judge me, gave me a ton of anxiety. I was hoping that someone would say, “You don’t look 5 months pregnant, only 4!” so that I could make them equally as uncomfortable as I felt.  But of course, no one said that, and not surprisingly, everyone is very excited for us.  Some brave souls have also asked a lot of questions, and I was really glad they did.  Most questions have been about why someone would do this for us, how we found her and what our relationship is like (how often we see/talk to each other, etc.).

I don’t want to spend a lot of time recounting the past and instead want to focus on the future and the craziness that’s ahead for us.  I’ve been occupying my time the past couple of months reading and researching everything I can get my hands on - trying to figure out where to put the babies, how we’re going to feed, bathe and clothe them, how S is going to adjust from 10-15 hours of sleep and if I’ll be able to close my mouth in time when I get peed on.  As Tiffany knows from my spreadsheets that I sent her to track our cycles, organization and planning is something I love to do.  I’m not na├»ve to think that because of all that, things will go smoothly when the babies come.  But it does calm my nerves in some weird and sick way, so I continue to read all 2,000,000 reviews on Amazon for every baby product ever made until I start going cross-eyed and finally make myself go to bed!  It’s totally normal to read 1,000 reviews on crib sheets, right???? I met my mentor from the Moms of Multiples group last week and she said she didn’t read one book before her twins came and just took everything in stride.  I was definitely born without that gene… By the time we got done with lunch, I felt like I owed her $100 for her counseling session on how to chill out and for subjecting her to all the research she never wanted to know about. Oh well, I had great sweet potato fries!

Given how long it’s taken me to finally make an appearance, you’d think I’d have all kinds of things to say.  It turns out, I’m not really sure what to say and I’m not that funny, so if you’re still actually reading this, I’m shocked!  I’m happy to answer any questions that anyone has and I promise not to take 12 more months to come back.  I don’t know much (other than excel and restaurants), but I do know that I am the luckiest person in the world to have found Tiffany.  As you all know because you’ve been following her blog or know her personally, she’s truly an amazing person (and she has a damn good oven!). I don’t know what we did to deserve her, but having known Tiffany, Jason and their kids now for about a year and a half, I can’t imagine going through this with anyone else.

With that, I will leave you with the thought that goes through my head about every five minutes – HOLY CRAP, WE’RE HAVING TWINS!!!!!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week 21 - Nicknames

Forget "Two Peas in a Pod" the twins have affectionately been given the nicknames of "Ketchup & Mustard" in our household.

I've been asked dozens of times already and I'm sure the expecting parents hear it frequently too - "Any names?"  To my knowledge K&S are undecided on this important decision and as of our last discussion,  it wasn't even a matter of narrowing down the list. The list was in fact getting longer not shorter as they shared a few favorites that I hadn't heard before when this topic had come up previously. LOL

I always love to hear what kids come up with for names.  Had our now twelve year old been in charge of naming her next sibling when I was expecting, we would have been awaiting the arrival of Lala or Superdog.  Thankfully Jason and I had veto power and we now have Lauren. ;)  While at dinner the other night I asked our two youngest girls what they thought the babies should be named and there was no delay, "Ketchup and Mustard!" Lauren says with a giggle.  So, as of now Baby A is Ketchup and Baby B is Mustard and we will continue to call them this until mom and dad settle on some fitting titles for their lil guys.  No pressure K&S. ;)