Our Surrogacy: Featured on BlogHer and Elsewhere!

Last week, she published the post and pictures on BabyZone.  Then a few other friends mentioned that they saw me on Yahoo Shine because the article had been cross-posted there (the comments are interesting – maybe the title could have been different, but I think overall they missed the point. And thanks to the people who said I shouldn’t have been included since I didn’t give birth.).

Then, on Tuesday I received an email from BlogHer saying they were going to feature “It Takes a Village,” the post I wrote on the site 2 years ago and the post linked in Tracy’s picture of me in her post!  Did all of that makes sense?  Unfortunately, I have been stuck in meetings, so I’m only now able to post about it.  I appreciate every opportunity to present a positive, non-sensational perspective on surrogacy, so a huge thank you to Tracy and to BlogHer for including me!

Connected By a Shared Uterus

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting F in the hospital where she was recovering after giving birth to a surrobaby just after midnight on Wednesday, making another couple’s dreams come true. It was another sweet little boy, and his weight and length were very similar to Daniel’s. I didn’t get to hold him because he was being circumcised, but I did get to see him through the glass later. He was so tiny! It is mind boggling that Daniel was that small too because he is so tall and energetic now and most definitely not a baby anymore.

The new daddies were ecstatic, and F had another easy labor. Daddy D and I commiserated over similar birth certificate screw-ups the hospital made in both of our situations. I spent more time with Daddy J, and he hugged me over and over and said it felt like we were family. And it did, which mirrored a feeling I’ve been having since I found out F was in labor and then once the baby was born.

It’s odd, but I feel like this little boy is like a new member of the family. I kept wanting to tell Daniel, “F had a baby, and he’s your…” but there’s no word for it. Technically, that baby boy, baby G, is absolutely no relation to D at all. But it seems like he should be. What do you call someone who came from the same uterus you did? Usually the word is “sibling,” but that’s not accurate for this situation. Two unrelated sets of parents, two unrelated babies and one unrelated uterus.

“Cousin” seems closer to what I feel. However, I wonder if there is some connection between the boys that we don’t see. They did share the same uterus, and F’s body nurtured them. If they ever met, would they recognize a connection? Normally we try to avoid questions like that because it brings up messy issues about biology, genetics and parentage.

Even if there is no physical or familial connection between the boys, I think we all felt a larger connection between us: Two couples who couldn’t have a baby themselves trusting another woman to help them; wrangling with lawyers and doctors and process issues that never seem to go smoothly no matter how much you’ve planned; the joy of success after years of heartache and overwhelming gratitude towards the woman who made it happen. The four of us have been in that crucible and emerged wiser and more thankful, relieved and grateful and amazed at the kindness of a stranger.

Sometimes family is biology; sometimes it is shared experiences. There isn’t a word that describes what we are, but family comes close.

Daniel Cont’d: Post-Partum

Daddy and Daniel

Daddy and Daniel

The rest of our time at the hospital was mixed and stressful unfortunately. A fellow IP had warned me that the hospital would likely be stressful, and she was too correct. Rex Hospital delivers tons of babies every day, but I swear there were moments where I wondered if they had ever delivered a baby before. This hospital has a public cord blood center on-site, yet they found our private cord blood collection kit confusing. I hope we were able to get some usable cells, but who knows. It took us forever to be moved from the delivery room to a post-partum room, and when we were, we were moved to the overflow area in the main hospital instead of one of the nice rooms in the birth center. It felt weird and somehow not right wheeling our newborn in his isolette down a long hall, into an elevator, and down another hall.

This wing of the hospital was apparently undergoing construction because almost as soon as we got into the room, we could hear very loud hammering and scraping that at time sounded like the workers would be coming through the ceiling. The nurses apologized profusely, informing us they had no idea construction would be going on when they reopened that floor. Hours later we were finally moved to another room down the hall.

When we explained the surrogacy situation to the nurses, they looked at each other, baffled, and one said, “Oh, We’ve never encountered that situation before. We’ll have to think about how to handle it.” Feeling good and confident at this point! They were obviously confused about whether they needed to address me or F about Daniel’s circumcision and other issues that needed a parent’s signature. One of the nurses commented that even though we were the parents, there might be some legal issues involved that necessitated F signing. F and her husband and J and I whipped out our PBOs at that point and told the nurse we had legal documentation. The infuriating thing was that F had delivered her previous surro baby at this hospital 1.5 years ago and I also doubt that we have been the only other case they’ve encountered since then.

The birth certificate lady informed us the state needed another certified copy of our PBO for us to be named parents on the birth certificate (never mind the fact that the hospital had one that they apparently weren’t using since they were clueless). So, instead of getting to spend lots of time with baby boy, J had to call the attorney to get another certified copy. He also had to deal with getting the hospital to finish up the cord blood kit procedure, which we had been told would be no big deal.

We left our house so quickly that we didn’t think to grab a few bottles. The hospital provided formula and huge bottle nipples, noting that all babies look like they are choking on them. Um, ok. F was pumping as well, and we wanted to use the colostrum but didn’t have any bottles to put it in. And apparently neither did the hospital. The nurse finally found something that would work, acting like she was doing us a huge favor. Daniel took an ounce of formula early on but refused to take anything else using the large nipples. We tried to feed him the colostrum via a syringe, which didn’t go that well. I wasn’t too concerned about his intake at that point since I had read that newborns actually don’t need much nourishment the first couple of days although that was constantly contradicted by nurses coming in to tell me he needed to eat every 3-4 hours.

When we left, F was in the wheel chair, and the nurse told us that Daniel would have to be wheeled out as well. She was perplexed by what to do since apparently they have only one wheelchair in the entire ginormous hospital; we again heard the now-familiar “I’ll have to figure out how to do this.” She wanted us to take the baby out of his car seat and put him back in the isolette for the trip downstairs, but I refused because he was strapped in and recovering from his circumcision, and I wasn’t going to bother him again. We finally agreed on F holding the car seat on her lap as they wheeled her out.

Amazingly, the only thing that went smoothly was discharge. F had terrified me by telling us that it may take us hours to be discharged, but the hospital was on the ball with that thankfully. I think I would have lost my mind having to sit there any longer.

I don’t want to give the impression that Daniel’s birth was a horrible experience. His birth was wonderful although a bit shocking, fast and terrifying! He was a wonderful baby in the hospital, and I was thankful for my quiet, cooing baby when the baby next door cried all day and all night long (something I could hear clearly all the way on the other side of our room). No, our main irritation was with the hospital and their disorganization.

I have to admit that the whole situation was a bit awkward overall. F was great and never did anything that made me feel weird. It was just that the rooms were small and people were coming in and out and I felt like I had to be “on” 24/7. J and I had an important role in this drama since we were the parents of the newborn, but F was the patient. We had no privacy. She had no privacy. The chairs weren’t comfortable. The futon was not ideal for sleeping. I don’t think I went to the bathroom for hours b/c you could hear everything in the room. We were new parents trying to figure out what the hell to do when the baby cried or needed a diaper change, and we had to do it in front of everyone. And never mind the fact that we were feeling a little emotional ourselves since we had just achieved our heart’s desire after 4 long years.

Sweet boy napping

Sweet boy napping

When we first arrived in the post-partum room, the nurses were being unhelpful, F was eating, I was starving and tired, I told J that I was about to lose it and I didn’t think I could stay there that night which made me feel awful since that meant leaving my precious newborn in the nursery. I calmed down a bit once I fed the baby, and it was quiet for a while. Then our pediatrician came in and told us that if the baby was doing well, we could be discharged after 24 hours. That then became my goal. If I could get to that, I’d be fine b/c all I wanted to do was go home and be with J and Daniel.

The evening went better because we had friends visit. F insisted that she had no problems with any visitors we wanted and to treat the room as our room. F’s parents brought her kids to see the baby later on and finally, everyone, including F’s husband and J left around 10:30, and we were alone. J had brought me a giant coffee from Starbuck’s (I had first requested it around 9am) and a cheeseburger and fries. I drank the coffee, but I was too torqued and worn out to eat much. Daniel was a bit fussy around midnight and wouldn’t be quieted, and F and I had some nice moments trying to figure out what was going on and her showing me a few tricks. I finally gave in and let the nurse take him to the nursery since all I was doing was watching him, and I was exhausted.

We left the hospital at 1pm on Wednesday, the day after he was born. Coincidentally, as we were getting ready to drive away, J noticed our friend A walking up. She was on her way to visit her twins who had been born a few weeks ago. It was perfect because we ran into her unexpectedly at our very first OB appointment back in November, and it seemed right that she was the last person we saw before we left.

We felt exhilarated and jubilant as we snapped his car seat in the car and headed home. I kept looking over at my beautiful baby boy, and he made all the stress of the past 4 years, the past 40 weeks and the past 24 hours worth it.