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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Our New Normal

Everyone is settling in and getting used to the "new normal" and I'm not talking about the recently released television series. ;-)

K&S are adjusting.  The boys keep them very busy between the feedings and the changing and then all over again, and again, and again.  LOL  Both Ryan and Mason are good eaters, they are getting a combo of formula and the breast milk I'm providing.  As for sleep, they're being a lil more wakeful and everyone is adjusting to the day to day changes that come along with babies who are still working themselves into a good routine.  K&S are juggling the boys with the help of their au pair, who K has said is awesome. She's making the transition to parenthood a lil easier by letting them focus on the babies while she tends to all the "other" tasks that come with two newborns in the house.  As K&S transition into work again she'll be stepping up more and more to help with daily hands on baby stuff of course.

I'm getting back to myself again.  It took a good week and a half after the c-section but I'm feeling ok and mostly pain free.  In retrospect the c/s wasn't that bad but, it did take nearly a week longer to recover than my other deliveries.  Of course I'm not fully healed, that will take some time yet but at least I can move and function and sleep in my own bed again. :-)  I've been very busy pumping round the clock to supply the lil guys with breast milk in hopes of giving them the best start possible.  As of right now, I'm out producing them - they take about 100mL per feeding each (every 3 hours) and I'm pumping 300mL per session (every 3-4 hours).  Not too shabby.  It takes a lot of diligence to take on exclusive pumping - it's time consuming -  but I do love feeling needed and connected.  I've mentally committed to keep pumping until our 1 year transfer anniversary which is late January - so we'll see how it goes and take it a month at a time.  As of right now, since K is on maternity leave, and so am I, we plan to just meet up every couple of weeks for a "delivery".  Yesterday I headed into the city to attend my good friend Daisy's surrotwins 1st birthday so while out that way K met me and took home just over 300 oz that I'd pumped since last Sunday.  She, IF and the boys are visiting on Thursday, we are doing a newborn photo shoot here at our house, and I'll have more to send home with them then.

I have PICTURES!!  K got a lot of great shots at the hospital that tell our story.  Visit the link in the right margin "Surrogacy Photo Album" and enter the password.  Enjoy.

Oh and a quick congrats to K&S's friend Koby - she was the winner of the Baby Pool with super low score for BOTH boys.  Nice job.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

There are few words ...

Two beautiful lil embryos (Jan 2012) and ....

36 weeks 2 days later the very last belly pic ...

 and then 12 hours later - these lil guys arrived.

Ryan Brady & Mason Andrew 
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
5:38 AM ~ 5:41 AM
5lbs 6oz & 5lbs 12oz

This is love!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I was discharged and sent home yesterday and Ryan and Momma went home too.  It sounds like their first night went well.  S stayed behind at the hospital with Mason where he's been working on regulating his body temp so that he could graduate from an isolette to a open bassinet - this is the milestone he needed to meet to get the OK to go home too.  I just heard from IM and Mason is doing great and going home tomorrow (Sunday)! This makes me sooooo happy.

Since IM took the car to get home yesterday she'll be headed back early tomorrow morning to get IF and Mason and, I get to watch Ryan. *love*  Once they get back to my house we all get to see the boys - together - for the first time since the minutes following their birth. I can't wait for that moment, I've hated that Ryan and Mason have been separated since Tuesday.   We are going to get some pics of everyone together finally and I can't wait to share.  Yay!!

I'm so looking forward to seeing them all off tomorrow, headed home to start their life together. It's the moment we've been waiting for since we all first met nearly two years ago.  Tears of joy already!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The First Days

Lil update on me and the boys.  Since several of you have asked, I don't have pics to share just yet but hope to soon. I'll keep you all posted once they've been added to the photo album.

Ryan (Baby A) is doing very good and has been rooming with K&S.  He's just as content and quiet as ever - his personality is the same now as it was in the womb.  He's always been easy going and it takes a lot to get him worked up and when he's upset all you have to do is wrap him up like a burrito to make him content again.  Mason (Baby B) is still in the NICU and since he's been admitted there they probably won't let him "step down" - he'll be discharged directly from their care.  I wish they'd let him join his brother, the two boys have been separated this whole time. :(  Mason is doing really well now and hasn't had any breathing assistance since Tuesday but has been on an antibiotic the last couple of days due to a slight fever.  Right now the "milestones" he needs to meet before going home are to be able to regulate his body temp and to take 25mL minimum at his feedings and of course the fever needs to stay at bay as well.  Ryan is likely to be home as soon as tomorrow where as Mason may need to be here another day or two.  K&S are working on the logistics of all that, it will be a bit tricky for a couple of days - they obviously can't be in two places at once - but looks like it will only be through the weekend at most. **Fingers Crossed**

I went to the NICU to see Mason today and when we got there he was fussing a bit.  K with no hesitation reached in, comforted him and changed his diaper.  This was while he was still in the isolete and looked like it would have been challenging for even me - a seasoned diaper changer.  I was impressed.  She's a natural and will have this baby thing down in no time.  S is jumping in and taking his turn at helping with the boys too and with encouragement he's getting a good feel for the daddy thing.  However, I think I lost points today - apparently I'm not the most attentive babysitter.  K&S left Ryan with me while they went to get a bite to eat and check on Mason.  We enjoyed some snuggle time but then I started to get really tired so I tucked him into his lil bed and closed my eyes for "just a minute".  When I woke up - he was gone!  I panicked for two seconds until I realized the obvious - K&S had come back for him and didn't want to disturb me.  Even still I couldn't help but feel silly for a minute. LOL

I'm staying through the night and will be discharged tomorrow (Friday).  They keep telling me I'm doing great for this being my first c-section.  I've been off IV pain meds since 3am and have been managing my discomfort with the oral meds ok so far today.  My belly is tender of course and now that my meds aren't as strong I've been cramping while pumping and have had some back pain at the spinal site.  It's been a bit of a transition being off the "good stuff" - the Torodol had been keeping me pretty comfortable and masking some of the typical after delivery aches and pains. The incision itself isn't too bad, it's a tad bit numb actually which the OB said may be from nicked nerve endings that need to repair themselves.  As I mentioned, I'm pumping again this time around.  It is a really great way for me to still feel connected and needed, great for weight loss and getting back to myself and excellent for the babies too.  So far Mason's been getting all of the breast milk since he was running a slight fever and there were signs of infection but as my milk comes in and I produce more he'll share with his brother.  I've noticed an increase in supply as the day has gone on and by morning I'm sure I'll be sporting some Dolly Parton worthy tatas.

I want to say thanks to everyone for all the well wishes and congrats we've received over the last few days.  Your love and support mean the world to me.  I feel so blessed that I've been able to help another wonderful couple  create their family and how I've been welcomed into their lives.  I'm excited to watch K&S experience parenthood and watching these lil guys grow - I'm once again amazed at what I've been a part of, truly amazed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Welcome Babies!!! (Birth Story)

K&S and I have welcomed their sweet lil boys!!!  Before I give you all the story, here's what I know you're waiting for.

Babies were born at 36 weeks 3 days on September 18th 2012 via cesarean section; Ryan Brady entered the world at 5:38 AM weighing 5lbs 6oz and was 18 inches long.  He was followed just two minutes later by Mason Andrew, who was 5lbs 12oz and 19 1/4 inches long.  

The contractions I posted about on Monday evening weren't backing off so at 10 PM I made the decision to come into the hospital to be monitored.  We played the 20 questions game with the nurse, working on getting all my info in the computer, while getting me situated on the monitors.  Both babies were looking great and I was most definitely having contractions. I was checked and she noted being at 2cm which wasn't a whole lotta progress - an hour later still more contractions and maybe 3cm according to the on-call doctor.

The logistics of how it would all happen had been weighing heavily on all our minds the last couple of weeks.  If you remember I was most likely going to have a c-section due to Baby B being breech and I'd been warned that if my water broke we'd be headed straight back to the OR, with or without K&S. We decided it would be best to get them out here, just in case, so they jumped in the car just before midnight to make the 2 hour trip.  Nice thing was, no real traffic to contend with at this time of night.    Thankfully they got here in what would be plenty of time which was a huge relief.  I was checked again - maybe the slightest bit of change but contractions continued so the nurse was off to touch base with the on-call doctor to make a plan of what was next.  The first couple of moments all together were just kinda surreal, wow could it be the real deal?  Then as K&S settled into the little tiny triage room with us we began to chat, relax and just wait. At this point I'm still doing ok, contractions are moderate intensity and a lil more spread out but I was pretty certain this was active labor.  The worst part up until this point was that I hadn't eaten all day and that was causing me some wicked acid reflux.  Thankfully I was being allowed small sips of water and the nurse had brought in a roll of Tums.  Not knowing what the game plan was yet, S began checking area hotels for vacancies thinking they'd just spend the rest of the night here in the area if they kept me for observation or sent me on my way.

Moments later the nurse comes in, "We're taking you back for a c-section".  Wait what?  How soon?  We were told it would be just a matter of prepping us all and the show would begin.  AHHH!!  We'll turns out an emergency case came in and stole our spot away but, it was actually nice to have the extra couple hours to process it all.  My contractions were still there but mild, or at least they seemed that way now that my mind was elsewhere and I wasn't focusing on them anymore.  I was concentrating on this new development and they idea of everything happening so quickly.  So we hung out for a bit and stood our place in line for an operating room.

I was taken back and prepped about 5:00 AM.  I wasn't nervous about the surgery at all but major congestion had settled in and I was super anxious about not being able to breath during the procedure.  The experience was quite different than anything I'd been through before.  The spinal just felt bizarre, the people, the lights, the noise ... Then K&S were brought in to take a seat near my head.  Kristine took my hand and we shared a smile.  Next thing we heard was "Rupture".  HOLY CRAP they'd already made an incision - babies are coming!

First was little Ryan Brady at 5:38 AM.  He wasn't making much of a fuss, no loud sequels just some "kitten" noises as they wisked him over to the incubator.  Just two minutes later a huge amount of pressure was released from my chest and out came Mason Andrew making plenty of noise as he entered the lights and drama of the operating room.  Both boys were cleaned up and roughed up, IM gave my hand a squeeze and tears of happiness began to well up.  K&S were invited over by the NICU team to meet their boys for the very first time.  The next several minutes were the best moments of the journey as far as I'm concerned - witnessing two awesome people who've dreamed of a family for what has been years now experience those first moments of parenthood is absolutely priceless. I was smiling ear to ear just watching them fall in love with their sons.

From there the boys were taken to the nursery to be weighed, measured and cleaned up.  I was finished up in the OR another 20 minutes later and moved to recovery where I spent two hours regaining feeling of my legs and being monitored.  Not long after I was sent off to the Mother & Baby unit where K&S and I have side by side rooms.  We spent the day resting, admiring the babies and soaking in all that had happened.

Mason (Baby B) was eventually moved to the NICU due to some rapid breathing episodes.  He's the bigger of the two babies but has always been the more active busy one so I'm not surprised he's the one  that's a bit feisty and needed the extra attention really.  Ryan (Baby A) was also being monitored for breathing but got to stay with mom and dad in their room.  They've come over to visit several times, Ryan's even spent some time with his favorite babysitter - Me!!! - while K&S have either been visiting Mason together or catching a bite to eat.  Grandparents from both sides have stopped in to give their congratulations and seal of approval.  After getting the A-OK to be up and moving I got to take a lil trip to the NICU last night to see Mason too.  He's off all breathing treatments and just being monitored but still in a closed isolete to block out light and noise so he doesn't get over-stimulated.  They really are the cutest lil guys - such tiny noses and lips, round noggins with some black hair on top.  They are precious.  Two perfect lil miracles.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week 36 - Any Day Now

36w0d (Saturday) - We made it!  This was my personal goal and now I'm hoping to go longer.  Yep that's right, I'm all for keeping these babies put for another week or even two if it's better for their well being.  (We'll see if I'm still singing that same tune come the end of the week) LOL  It was asked, will we be trying a vaginal delivery and the answer is, as things stand now, no it will be a c-section.  My OB belongs to a very conservative practice with a strict "head down" (vertex) policy and as of now Baby B remains breech.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last couple of weeks and although I'd prefer not to have a major surgery, I'm totally ok with the decision.  I've known since the moment we found out it was twins it was a good possibility.  I also knew early on my OBs policy and continued care with her vs. finding a different a doctor.  All along I'd hoped things would be favorable for a natural delivery but, it really isn't fair for me to "freak out" and decide all of a sudden I'm not ok with this as a choice.  Having two healthy babies is the outcome that is most important to everyone - including me.

Both of the lil guys have the hiccups right now - it's the weirdest feeling!

36w1d (Sunday) - Miserable (at the moment).  I'm going on week three of not feeling well and this is getting so old.  It started with nasal congestion and headache and I thought it was just good ole pregnancy sinusitis but, then I had some ear pain followed by drainage that gave me a sore throat.  I mentioned it to my OB who said if it was that bad to go to Convenient Care but, within 24 hours most of those symptoms had gone and I had a lil congestion and slight cough - figured it was running it's course and getting better.  Now it's just nasal congestion but that's enough to make me miserable.  The OB I saw this past week recommended Allegra but after five days no difference, I don't think it's allergies.  I resorted to Sudafed and have taken it a few times but only as a last resort.  It helps, but only for 4-6 hours and I don't like taking it that often.  A sinus infection?  I don't know but I'm so worried about feeling like this and going into labor or having a c-section.  Ah, enough whining from me.

36w2d (Monday) - I've had timeable contractions since 2pm.  Started out 15 minutes apart and moderate.  Then 8-10 min and now 8 hours in since the first contractions and they are 8 min or less apart and 1.5 min in duration causing pressure and discomfort but not real "pain".  I called my IPs and put them on standby.  I guess at this point I'm going to go in to be monitored ... not in the mood to have these babies tonight, I never got a nap today but, might not have a choice. LOL  I wanted to make it to 36wks and we are 36w2d so ...


Friday, September 14, 2012

Week 35 - The "Play by Play"

35w0d (Saturday) - I'm hoping to get another week out of this pregnancy and after that - I'm ready!! If I could rewind the clock back to 28 weeks I could stay pregnant forever but, I can't stay this pregnant for much longer!!  A little note from yesterday and sorry if this is TMI but, I've had a slight bit of brown discharge which is possibly part of the "mucus plug".  This doesn't mean much really other than we are close.  I've also been experiencing, as I have in my other pregnancies, an intense stabbing pain at the "exit" - those of you that have felt this before might remember if feeling like the "scrape" of a pap smear.  OUCH!!  It catches me off guard sometimes and I'll even wince or at the very least make an awful face causing those around me a moment of panic wondering if I might have the babies right there in the grocery store! 

35w1d (Sunday) - Today has been fairly uneventful.  I had my first restful nights sleep in a little while last night and I think that made for good spirits today.  It seemed to help last night that when I woke up, I'd walk around the living room and kitchen for a few laps stretching everything out before climbing back into bed again.  I got two decent 3 hour stretches.  Heaven!  My feet and ankles have been pretty swollen today but elevating them helps.  The lil boys have been active but calm.  My girls snuggled up with me on the couch for story time and Izzy told them, "You get to see your mom & dad soon".  I'm not sure if she's excited for K&S or just ready for these babies to go home. LOL

35w2d (Monday) - Today was not an ordinary Monday.  Typically I start each weekday morning sending my girls out the door to the bus while welcoming several daycare kiddos into my home around the seven o'clock hour but not today.  Knowing that I'm done with work until these lil guys arrive is such a relief both physically and mentally.  I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my laptop browsing Facebook and researching how to get stubborn Baby B to turn from his breech position.  I took advantage of the down time until I figured I'd better get in for a shower.  After being on my feet, slowly getting ready for forty minutes or so, I was already beginning to feel the swelling in my lower legs and headed to the couch to elevate them.  I did decide to run to the grocery store this afternoon but took my mom with to help.  I came home to put my feet up and relax a bit again but these baby boys had something else in mind and became very active as soon as I laid down; stretch, pushing and kicking and causing that awful sharp stabbing pain I referred to back on Saturday.  They did finally settle down so I could get a few moments to recharge before starting our evening activities.  So that's it, nothing exciting and hoping to keep it that way for another several days.  K let me know this morning that the car seats were installed.  I'm sure it's gonna take some getting used to seeing the two of them taking up the entire backseat!

35w3d (Tuesday) - Today was appointment day, pretty uneventful.  Babies looked great on the u/s - good activity, heart rates, fluid, doing practice breathing.  They are still crammed in there in their yin and yang position.  The NST went ok.  As usual Baby A was cooperative, Baby B as you know likes to keep us on our toes.  
I had the Group B Strep test (oh joy!).  Since everything pregnancy-wise is looking good we spent most of our time focusing on this darn head cold I've had the last two weeks.  I so hope I can kick this before D-day! As if it wasn't difficult enough to sleep at night I'm also faced with swollen sinuses and not being able to breath!  I've never been an allergy sufferer but he suggested trying Allegra for a few days ... I hope it helps.
So our next appointment is on Friday with MFM.  It's so weird to be coming up on these appointments that we set a month ago while saying, "If we make it that far ...."

35w4d & 35w5d (Wed/Thurs) - Nothing going on here.  

35w6d (Friday)  - Today we had our final appointment with MFM and all looks great.  Baby A is the "lil guy" and measuring in the 25th percentile, which is smaller but he's still a great weight for being a twin (5lbs+) and he's growing according to his own lil curve which is perfectly normal.   Baby B is measuring a bit ahead and in the 60th percentile.  He's still being super stubborn and despite all the moving and shaking he does hasn't flipped head down and remains breech.  Tomorrow marks 36 weeks and that means two weeks or less according to the OB's 38 week protocol with multiples.

Everyday they stay put they have a better chance at being 100% healthy and mature.  I know K&S are anxious but even though twins generally do well after 35 weeks we really want to avoid NICU time if possible.  If all stays as is I think I could do this for another two weeks but we are going to discuss our options for an induction/schedule section with the OB when we see her next on Tuesday.  Although I love the "surprise" of labor I've become more open to the idea of putting something on the calender.  Waiting on nature makes me a lil nervous since Baby A is the smaller of the two, his head is already super low and  this is my 6th delivery.  Knowing all this lead me to believe I might progress quickly if I were to go into active labor on my own  and K&S are two hours away!  

Just a heads up, I'm locking out the BABY POOL at midnight tomorrow (Saturday).  Get in your final guesses or update them if you'd like ... final chance! 
(Game Name: twinsforkands)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Celebration of Motherhood

Yesterday evening I enjoyed the company of some wonderful ladies as we "celebrated motherhood".  This is a little tradition between my surro friends and I that we enjoy.  Basically it's a casual "baby shower" for the surrogate and her IM.  The recognition is so very appreciated and I love how we can celebrate this amazing journey and I get to share my wonderful IM with my friends and family.  The group included my own mom, my sister, my dear sister-in-law Sara, my BFF and surro-sister Daisy and of course K and myself.  We missed the few of you that weren't able to join us.

We had fun eating, chatting and K and I were both appreciative of the gifts we received.  The boys now have a few new books to add to their library and I got some wonderful pampering items and a Pandora charm for my bracelet to remember this journey - it's actually called the "Journey" bead.  Thank you everyone for your thoughtfulness!  My surro-sister Daisy created a collage of pics for me that included images from not only my journey but pictures of my family and pics of my closest surro-friends and their journeys as well.  I love it.  I've included it here and I'm working on adding photos from our evening to the Surrogacy Album.

Now that we are 35 weeks I'm going to begin journaling everyday but, won't post each days "events" until the weeks end OR until we have other news to share, as in, a birth story - whichever comes first.  Tuesday I have an appointment with the OB and then Friday we have what will be our very last MFM appointment and growth ultrasound.  I'm anxious to hear the predicted weights of these lil guys.  I'll bring you up to speed on the details of these appointments and any other happenings later in the week. :)  I've also asked K to chime in  with some of her thoughts as she awaits the arrival of her two lil bundles - TO BE CONTINUED!

Collage from surro-sister Daisy - Love This!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Week 34

Not much going on this week and I mean that ... not much sleep, not much work, not much of anything. LOL  Let's just say I've hit my wall and it became very obvious to me this past week that I am not Superwoman and not even she could keep up the pace of my everyday while baking two babies.  I've called in reinforcements and am getting the hang of this delegating thing.

I saw the OB on Tuesday and all looks great with the boys.  Baby B in his usual nature was super active during the NST and Baby A was calm and cooperative.  I was contracting as I have been but in comparison to the labor I've experienced in the past it's very different and not real or causing cervical change.  I discussed a "no work order" with Dr.K and she was very supportive of this decision, actually she was surprised I hadn't stopped working sooner.  So, as of Monday I'm officially off work until released postpartum.  This is a huge relief to me.  I'm looking forward to what will hopefully be a couple weeks of downtime and I can enjoy the final bit of this pregnancy, especially knowing this could be the very last time.

Just for fun, I've got a lil comparison photo for you.  This is a 29w4d belly pic vs. today at 34w4d ... a difference of 5 weeks.  Coincidentally we also have 5 weeks until our due date - I can't even imagine how big I'd be if we weren't to deliver until then!!

29w4d vs. 34w4d

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ya know what?

It's September and we're gonna have ourselves some babies this month!!  Squeal!!!  Everyone is nervous, anxious, excited ... OMG can't believe we are here!  Although our official due date isn't till mid October it's my OB practices protocol to not go beyond 38 weeks with twins  (Sept 28th) so, if come the the last week of September we haven't had these lil guys yet a plan will be made to deliver before the months end.

Today marks 34 weeks which is a big milestone for a twin pregnancy.  If labor were to begin and there was progression (cervical change) they wouldn't try to stop it at this point.  Our goal is still to make it to 36+ weeks to give the boys the best chance at having fully developed lungs and bypassing the NICU but, statistically the average gestation for twins is a bit sooner than that - 35 weeks.  That's next week!!!

My hospital bag is packed; pre-birth order - check, birth plan - check, gownies - check, tolietries including my own TP (have you ever tried to use hospital toilet paper after a vaginal delivery?!?!)  - check.  Then there is the list of last minute items to grab too like the laptop and camera of course.  Speaking of taking pics, did I mention yet that as part of my baby shower gift to K&S I booked a photographer to document these lil guys arrival?!?  We are so excited and can't wait to capture their "birth story".