The most difficult part about this is figuring out where to even begin. Please enjoy discovering the most incredible experience of my entire life.
August of 2013, my sister-in-law came to visit me at my home in California while she was passing through. My sister-in-law and brother are two of my favourite people whom I’ve watched struggle with infertility for years now. I have always (and will always) offered to carry a baby for them if they ever wanted me to. It was a no-brainer and never a second thought in my mind. During that visit, though, I had watched my sister-in-law break down about the struggles for the last time before she had asked if I would ever consider carrying for another family. A family I didn’t know. That question changed my life forever.
That same night, I sat on Google doing tons and tons of research on surrogacy. I looked up personal stories, experiences, contracts, agencies, and everything of the likes. I always told myself I was not mentally strong enough to carry a child for someone I didn’t know and to then give up the baby. Little did I know, the more research I did, I was more capable than ever of doing it.
I spoke to a lady I had met over Facebook who had shared her surrogate experience in a group I am a part of. I messaged her about her agency and just to pick her brain a little. I looked into the agency she went through, and after seeing how credible they were, I applied to the agency called Surrogate Alternatives Inc. It took a few days to hear back from the agency, but once I did, the process and paperwork to become a surrogate with SAI went very quickly. I couldn’t believe it!
Once I had received the paperwork, my husband and I sat down and read, re-read, triple checked, and made sure we understood everything that was presented to us. It was a life decision we were making together and a journey we were excited to start. After signing so many things and being accepted into the agency, it was a long two-month wait to be matched with a family. The anxiety of waiting to see who was interested in me was hard, but I knew the wait would be worth it.
October of 2013, I had gotten a call from the agency about a potential family who wanted to meet me. She had informed me they were from China and they wanted to meet the very next day, which was definitely last minute. Holy nerves! I was so excited and ready that I had barely slept that night, but thank goodness my adrenaline had me wide awake that following morning.
I got to the agency and had such a lovely meeting with the family. They were beautiful people and just hearing how much they already appreciated me was so comforting that I was making the right choice in deciding to help a family become a little bit more complete. The family let me know how much they wanted me to carry for them, and I obliged excitedly. I thought they were the ones that would be together with me throughout this journey. For medical issues that is their business, the process of getting embryos to transfer was going to take longer. I accepted their issues knowing it would be a while.
When January 1, 2014 rolled around, I received a phone call from my case manager that the family no longer wanted to move forward. I will never know why they pulled away, but it hurt more than I thought it would. I felt unwanted, but knew I could not mentally put myself in that place. I let my case manager know that I wanted to continue the process of finding another family to carry for and I’m so thankful I did.
Barely a week later, I received an email from my case manager about another family, also from China, who were very interested in me. Being that they were from China, I became hesitant from being hurt by the last family. I didn’t let that stop me, though! I was informed that I would not be able to meet this family before-hand, but I was able to view their information and ultimately make the decision if I felt we were a match. I believed we were.
This family was ready, ready, ready, so it was very quick! Immediately we had contracts written up, I was going to IVF appointments, and then things became finalized by March of 2014. I started my fertility injections that month and continued them up until 10 weeks pregnant. But let’s not jump too far ahead yet.
My transfer was on April 11, 2014, of two beautifully thawed embryos. There was supposed to be a third embryo, but sadly it did not survive the thaw from being frozen.
(Maggie is the name we call the intended mother).
I went home that day on a strict three-day bed rest, but I took it easy for the following two weeks. My IPs (Intended Parents) began showing just how appreciative they were during this time. They had helped allow my son to go to daycare so I could rest as much as possible until we got the positive pregnancy test. After about 5 days, I got a big fat positive pregnancy test. The family was so completely overjoyed! It brought me to tears to know I was pregnant and that officially, their pregnancy journey had truly begun.
I waited the two weeks and went in to get my blood test determining what my first set of beta numbers were. At 13 days post transfer, I received a call from the doctor that my first numbers were 1,950. He was quite confident there was more than one in there. I was elated to hear that news! Then four days later, I went in for my second beta test. It was 7,643. We were now confident it was multiples. Just a day later, though, I began to bleed. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I immediately put myself in bed and called my IVF doctor frantically. He got back to me and told me to come in first thing the next morning.
It was to be a few more days before going in to see if there was a heartbeat, but under the circumstances, I went in earlier. That following morning I had an ultrasound and it was such a relief.. There were two beautiful heartbeats!! The bad news was that I had a large blood clot in my uterus that could potentially harm the babies. It was very frightening. I was placed on very very strict bed rest. With many more appointments filled with news of the clot getting bigger.. After six weeks we finally got news that it was GONE. It bled out on its own without any harm to the babies. So much weight was lifted in that moment. God had been very present the entire time.
Let us go forward in my surrogate experience now. I’ve been going to my appointments regularly, hearing sweet heartbeats, seeing them on frequent ultrasounds, to discovering their genders..
A little boy and a little girl!!!
When I let the family know they were welcoming in a sweet boy and girl, the mother cried from joy!! They were another step closer to being complete.
Baby appointments continued to pass, months flew by, and I was feeling absolutely amazing. My pregnancy with my son was very difficult on me, but for some reason this pregnancy with twins was not hard to handle at all! Morning sickness was very minimal, weight gain was not nearly as bad, and my mood in general was quite positive. I loved being pregnant!
The photo on the right was taken before I went to the ER for cramping. I had an FFN test done during this visit (fetal fibronectin test) which helps determine if your body is going to go into labour within the next two weeks. I was having contractions, but not more than 5 during this ER visit, and my FFN test came back negative, so I was sent home to take it easy. I did just that.
At 30 weeks this is where the beginning of the end started. This day I had gone to my orthodontic appointment and felt absolutely great. By the time I had arrived home, I was extremely exhausted and my lower abdomen was experiencing some cramping. I figured that going to take a nap after chugging some nice cold water would probably help to get my body to calm down. I napped for about 5 hours, awakening in more pain.
Concerned, I texted my doctor with my symptoms and let him know that I actually was not feeling contractions, just the menstrual-like cramps and pains that were becoming excruciating. He was afraid I was experiencing placenta previa and wanted me to go get checked out immediately. It was late and Leif had just gone to sleep. My hospital is over an hour drive away and I knew driving myself would not be smart.. But I had to. I really wanted Leif to sleep, and I finally talked my husband into allowing me to drive by myself. I promised to be as safe as possible. So I left for the night.
I halfway expected it to turn out to be absolutely nothing and just to be sent home with the same instructions to rest easy. That was not the case tonight. I was having 6+ contractions every hour, and my FFN test came back positive. I was admitted that night for pre-term labour. This made me very nervous that I was failing at keeping these babies cooking for much longer. I was scared.
The hospital I became admitted into was Mary Birch Hospital For Women. This was the best place I could possibly be, especially with their exceptional NICU. I slowly became more at ease being here knowing that myself and the babies were in great care.
Being in the hospital hooked up to magnesium several times, being pumped with fluids, constantly on the baby and contraction monitors, and unable to walk except to the toilet and back to my bed, I started to become stir crazy. I was emotional, sometimes a little too sad, and other times I would remind myself that I had to be here. I had to take care of these babies for as long as I physically could. My job was not yet done.
I missed my husband and son every day. I wished I had been closer to family and friends so I could have more visitors. The nurses were all so amazing and just having them visit made it a little easier. Even just for a small conversation or to give me my daily medications. Slowly I was adjusting and realized the positives in me being admitted than being allowed to relax at home in my own bed.
I made it to our first goal! 32 weeks was the goal to beat at first. I knew I had hit a great milestone for the sweet twins. Through steroid shots to help quickly mature their lungs and more days on magnesium sulfate, these babies were getting everything they could and needed in case of a delivery.
The multiple days on magnesium were taking a toll on me physically and mentally. It causes you to become extremely hot in temperature, tired, and pretty much feeling as though you have the flu. It was even harder to deal with when my husband and son would visit me and I could barely stay awake. Thankfully they didn’t mind and we would all take a hospital room nap together. I am truly blessed to have such sweet boys in my life here to help mommy feel like it was all okay and everything I was doing was wonderful.
November 9, 2014 began. After being on magnesium sulfate for the 5th time, and seeing how stressed I was at the thought of them putting me on it again, my doctor did her rounds and came up to my room to check my cervix. I had been at 3cm dilated and 80% effaced the past two weeks with no change, but I was having more than 10 contractions in an hour that were strengthening and definitely becoming more painful.
When she checked me, I was now officially at 4cm, and since I was so close to 34 weeks, they decided to just let me continue to labour. Baby A (girl) was head down and you could feel her head ready to exit. Baby B (boy) was transverse and very high up behind his sister and right below my ribs. I was very uncomfortable. There was definitely little to no room left for these precious ones to grow much bigger. No wonder why they were trying their hardest to evict themselves!
My doctor said she would come back in about two hours to re-check my cervix and discuss birthing plans. I initially very badly wanted to attempt a vaginal delivery, but with where Baby B was located, it wasn’t seeming to be like the best decision for me. Talk of c-section officially began. My nerves were a wreck. Who wants to opt for major abdominal surgery?? I know I didn’t at first, but after talking to several people who had gone through it themselves and seeing how well they and their babies were, I knew I could do it as well. I had confidence in the doctor and nurses in the OR too.
My husband and son arrived shortly after I had texted my husband that today was to be the babies’ birthday. Initially, we had planned on our son staying with one of our great friends so my husband could be in the OR with me as my supporter, but that did not end up happening. He arrived at the hospital, and the doctor came back into my room. I was now at 5cm dilated and she began to go ahead and set up my c-section right there. She informed us it would be about two hours until I was to go to the OR. That was plenty time for my husband to bring our son to our friend’s house.. Until barely 5 minutes later my doctor walked back in and said I was going NOW instead.
Cue anxiety attack.
I knew that this meant I was going in there alone.
My nurse came in and prepped me for the OR. I gave my love to my husband and son, who were staying back in my old room just to keep my son more comfortable than waiting in the waiting room. It was a hard moment for me.
I sat in my wheelchair, clinging to my IV machine, and started to be rolled away. I was choking back tears. I was frightened. Even through tons of Google and conversations with friends, I still honestly had no clue what was about to happen in the OR. Rolling into the elevator, leaving the comfort of the 4th floor (which had been my home the past three weeks), to the 3rd floor that I had only seen once before (L&D), the river dam broke. I was in a full force anxiety attack as the nurse handed me over to the OR team.
The OR was quite cold, and with my already shaking body, that didn’t help at all. I sat on the operating table, my back bare and ready for the spinal, still uncontrollably crying. The anesthesiologist was such an angel, though. She wiped away my tears and lovely snot, and comforted me over and over again. I received my spinal and they slowly lowered me onto the table. I freaked out even more. The pressure of being on my back for the first time in weeks from the twins was difficult, but I had to do it.
The team put up the sheet between my chest and where the c-section was to begin. The clamp test started and I remember feeling one of their pokes on the right side and yelling “Please don’t cut me! I feel that, I feel it!” Immediately they moved me around on the table so the medicine spread, and it began to work like a charm. Whew!
After about ten minutes, I didn’t even realize I was already being stitched up and that the babies were out. How fast and easy! All of that freaking out for nothing. I felt silly, that’s for sure. The babies were assessed and taken straight to the NICU. I did not get to see them that day at all. I stayed in the recovery room for about four hours and was finally sent to my new room where my beloved husband and excited son were awaiting my arrival. I couldn’t believe it was over. I was no longer pregnant. Wow.
I had not seen the babies yet, but my translator for my IPs and myself was able to see the twins and sent me two beautiful photos of the babies I’d just delivered!
I could not BELIEVE how big they were at 33 weeks! Both breathing so great and learning to eat more and more. My heart was filled with joy and my IPs were elated! My IM was unable to be there for the birth and the earliest she could get a flight here was Tuesday morning on November 11. I could not even imagine her anxiety.
Evening rolled around and I knew it was going to be a rough night. My husband and son went home for the evening and my husband would return alone the next morning to begin the stay of my healing here in the hospital. The nurse took great care of me and motivated me to walk for the first time once morning rolled around. It was difficult, painful, nothing fun, but needed. I’m glad she pushed me. I knew if I began to feel better quick enough I could take a shower! (Priorities, right? Haha.)
Sadly I could not manage my pain enough to shower that day, but after lots of rest throughout the day and having my husband finally with me, I was eventually allowed to be rolled down to the NICU to meet the two little sweethearts who changed my world forever.
The meeting was emotional. I could not stop smiling ear to ear, I felt my facial muscles begin to ache! Completely worth it. Julietta recognized my voice almost immediately. She even would open her eyes to look at me. Be still my beating heart. Little Romeo had a sweet adorable cry and would calm when I rubbed his cheek. My heart was full.
I knew it right then and there. My pregnancy journey had ended, but having my surro babies arrive started an entirely new one.
The babies mother landed the very next day and I got to meet her for the first time! (I have a photo with her, but I don’t like how I look. Let me judge myself :P) She brought me beautiful flowers and we had such a loving hug. She could not stop thanking me and I could just see how appreciative she was. I felt like I had just met a long-lost family member and friend.
We went down to visit the babies together for her first time. Poor thing was so extremely jet-lagged and exhausted, but her face seeing her babies was the best in the entire world. She was so in love and I couldn’t be more thrilled with being able to give her this long awaited moment. She’s nervous to be a mother to two itty bitty babies, but I know she’s going to adjust beautifully and be such an amazing mother to these sweeties!
I will be discharged in just a few hours. It is finished, and it was the most incredible experience of my entire life. And yes, I would love to do a second journey.
If you are interested in helping to create a family with Surrogate Alternatives please fill out the Surrogate Mother application and start your very own journey today!