The surrogacy birth story

Emmett and Gabriel

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Here are the boys!

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Me and the boys

Me and the boys

Now for the birth story.

Emmett and Gabriel were born Sunday, March 15th, at 12:39 (and 12:40) AM. They were 34 weeks and 2 days, weighing 6 pounds 5 ounces and 5 pounds 13 ounces. Emmett (baby A, the heavier baby) was 18 inches long and Gabriel (baby B, the lighter baby) was 19+ inches long.

On Saturday morning I woke up very early feeling extremely uncomfortable. The boys were pushing on my ribs which was making my back hurt and there was just nothing I could do to get it to stop. I was also feeling like I had a tummy bug or something so, ya, I was unhappy. I eventually moved out to the couch where it was a little better. Shortly after that, my husband was up and leaving for a cub scout leadership training session and unfortunately, Asher woke up just as Kris went out the door. I went into his room (about 7AM now) and he didn’t seem to feel well either so I took him downstairs to watch cartoons on the couch with me. Just sitting there was pretty misserable but tolerable, I guess.

The rest of the day went pretty much like that. The other two got up and we made pancakes for breakfast, I did some laundry, I tried to mostly just sit around and not be in pain. It wasn’t easy. For the tummy bug part I also was having ‘loose stool’ issues which started my concern about actual labor. I had been having contractions about 1-2 per hour for a long time so that wasn’t new or different but everything together made me wonder. Then again, it was only 34 weeks and really – just plain not time yet.

My husband came home around lunch and helped get Ash put down for his nap. Then I just laid around for awhile trying to just be comfy. Ash had been running a slight fever before his nap so of course, I was worried about me actually being sick now. I decided that I’d head in eventually that day to have the hospital run a NST on the boys and make sure all was well so I grabbed a shower while Asher napped. (Yes, I know, I read these birth stories where the woman is feeling ‘labor-like’ and takes a shower and ignores is and I wonder what the hell she was thinking too. Trust me, I did not really think this was anywhere near labor… I still don’t know if I was.)

The evening went quietly, we finished dinner and put Asher to bed. I told Jessie I’d be back soon, I was just going to go check on the boys. Gavin was out at a friend’s house so I called him to see if he wanted me to pick him up on my way out and he said no. Then I drove into the hospital. I had 2 contractions in the 15 minute drive there… not big ones but I was thinking maybe if I had a contraction or two while on the NST this time they’d want to find a way to slow them down a bit.

I walked in and went up to L &D and just said ‘Hi, I’m Robyn and I’m 34 weeks with twins. I’m not in labor but I’ve been feeling like crud all day so I wanted to check on the boys.” They of course wanted to qualify ‘crud’ so I explained the backache, the tummy bug feeling, the sick kids, etc. I got a room and was told to put on the gown and the belly band for the NST. I considered asking if I could skip the ‘gowning up’ part as they have let me in the past when I just came in for a NST but I did not. I was learly of that band though. I tried it on and it wasn’t initially too tight so I didn’t tell them I wouldn’t wear it but now that I think back, maybe I should’ve. They had me lay back on the bed to find the heart rates of both boys because they were having a really hard time finding two different heart beats. This TOTALLY freaked me out, as it always does with every NST, so I was now in pain AND worried. I had maybe a couple contractions during the hour or so that they were messing with finding the heartbeats. Finally they pulled in an US machine to find out where the boys were. They claimed A and B were both transverse right in the middle and got the monitors on to track the hearts.

They left me there for about 20 minutes and the nurse came back and was happy with the heart rates for the boys. However, I had about 3 contractions in that timeframe (um, the band was really tight and I was laying pretty much flat on my back from the US machine and wanting to get a good read of the boys. VERY uncomfortable and my back killed.) The nurse let me put the bed up a bit more and asked what my ‘limit’ was for contractions. I told her I was supposed to call if I had 5 in an hour. I was given another 40 or so minutes like that – oh – and they got me water to drink which I was hoping would calm the contractions. At the end of that time, I had about 7-8 contractions. Time to call up the OB on call to find out what to do with me. It wasn’t MY OB, and they weren’t going to check in with my OB so I was getting nervous.

I called P and J at home but there was no answer. It was about 10PM Sat night now so I figured they were asleep. I called a cell number and again no answer. I was getting nervous now. I called another cell number and got ahold of P! YES! They were out and about so at least I didn’t wake them up. It was kinda funny, P was all casual and asking what was up. Like I always call them at 10PM on Sat night! I just told them I had come in just to check on the boys as I had felt kinda bad during the day but it turned into a lot of contractions and they were checking with the OB now and I’d have more news shortly. They decided to come in and just told me to call after I heard from the OB.

The nurses came back in and told me that they were going to do a test to see if I was likely to go into labor in the next 24 hours. It would take two hours to come back so they’d probably send me home and I could call in to check in the morning on the results. They would also check my cervix as long as they were doing the test. I had to lay totally flat on my back with my butt up on an upsidedown bedpan for this test. It… was… horrid. Then they were checking my cervix and holy crap people you’d think my cervix was level with my navel or something. The nurse just says she can’t really tell so she’s going to have another nurse check. Fun. At least she let me stop laying upside down on the dumb bedpan thing. The other nurse comes and checks and says she also can’t really tell and she’d be right back. I’ve still got this band on my belly and I’m still really uncomfortable and the contractions are now getting stronger because I’ve just been irritated to all hell. I’m regretting my trip in, to be honest, but I’m also thinking in dread about just having to go home and be in all this pain in my back even longer… 6 weeks longer. Right now I just want to sit UP and relax.

In comes the nurse and she sits down on the bed and clearly has “big news”. She states that I’m dialated 5-6 cm and they could feel the bag of waters. I wasn’t leaving. She said we’d probably end up with a csection that night because the babies were transverse and they couldn’t let me leave that dialeted with transverse babies in case my water broke and there was a cord prolapse. She wanted to know if I wanted them to call Lawson in for the actual surgery even though he wasn’t on call and… sorry Dr Lawson… but I said very very much YES. OK – call back the guys. So I explain everything to them and they are on their way in anyway but now I imagine they are driving quite a bit faster.

My main concern now is that I’m only 34 weeks. Really, I know all the blogs how I was writing that they were very healthy but I didn’t want to go at 34 weeks. It was still too early. I was worried because I know that I tend to be very dialated, yes, 5-6 cms, for weeks so I thought they were overreacting to the news. They may have been, but after all the pain of the evening I had to admit that I was having serious contractions every 3 minutes or less at this point. I was hoping Lawson would try to give me something to stop the contractions and just let me hang out, even if it was at the hospital, for another week or so to let the boys grow. No, no, he didn’t want to do that. He really wanted to csection the boys out tonight. The guys got there and talk was very brief, mostly because my contractions were getting so serious that I was doubting they’d get a csection done before A was born. The choice was made. Now time for prep.

They totally denied my concerns that a spinal had more odds for a headache. It was hard for me to say much because at the same time they were putting in a catheter and trying to shave me and it is really really hard to have a dignified discussion on risks and options with some strange guy while being put through all that. They also refused to put the sheet down for me, period. I was so angry. They said they’d put up a mirror so I could see and do everything that they could to help out but to be honest, when it was all said and done, everyone else had too many other things to do to really make sure that my concerns were dealt with for the actual csection. I couldn’t see anything from the mirror because Dr lawson was standing right in the way and apparently it couldn’t be moved anywhere to get a better angle. The nurses that were taking pictures never offered to give any to me at all. Delievery-wise, it was… upsetting… and not at all what I was hoping for. That said, it was also very very fast so I guess I can understand the need. Also, everyone was making a point of talking to me and they brought the boys over so I could see them before they left which was nice. Hard to see much laying on the table like that though. My husband was allowed in along with P and J so he got to be there and to take pictures. He wasn’t being very forcefull about getting the good angles though as he felt pretty much in the way so a lot of the pictures that I have are, like the top one, from off to one side and not straight on with faces.

When they actually were doing the csection, I was on the table and the OB announced the first cut. It then took forever and he announced that he was entering the abdominal cavity. I was thinking… holy cripes man… I thought these went faster than that. What cavity were you in before?? More waiting and then he said something about baby A’s bag of waters and everyone went nuts over the tidal wave from opening that. A came out and he was loud and strong! He made a huge fuss at being out and kept it up. He clearly had no breathing issues at all. Eventually he was wrapped up and J was holding him, (Emmett) and he was calm and happy in J’s arms. It was beautiful! Gabriel was next but his bed was further in the room and I couldn’t see it from my spot. My OB announced that he had the cord around his ankle and then loosely around his neck so he was little tangled in there. He cried plenty upon being taken out but I heard that he needed just a bit of oxygen right when he was out, just for a moment. Then he was also great and breathing fine and wrapped up and P was holding him. Gabriel, however, wasn’t so much in the mood to be calm and quiet as he just wanted to keep wiggling and fussing. Yep – THAT, people, is baby B. They were, and have been, both so spot on with their personalities while I was pregnant with them.

The boys, to me, didn’t even look premature. They weren’t covered in light hair, they were chunky, they were breathing and interacting just like a normal newborn. The level II nursery claims they can tell they are 34 weekers even though they are big but I have a suspicion that is because they knew ahead of time the gestation age. At any rate, they were given IVs and tested for glucose levels and started on a little glucose. They were also put under heating lamps (ie gecko lights) until they knew if they would hold their own temps. Just standard precautions but I have to say that it killed me to hear of any little difference made because of how early they were. I felt SO guilty. I still do, for that matter. I hate that they were born early. I hate knowing I should still be pregnant with them. I’ve been keeping tabs on them and I love hearing when they’ve eaten well from a bottle (they are really good at drinking from a bottle, to be honest, they are just being required to drink so MUCH that it is hard for them to keep up. They DO have the suck/swallow ability down though.) They were taken out from the gecko lamps pretty much right away as they were holding their own temps just great. It is frustrating to note that if the boys were eating the exact same way at the exact same weights and had been born at 37 weeks, no one would even bat an eye.

There are so many levels to this. I’m not even really sure how to blog about a birth story like this. I mean, it was NOT what I was expecting at all, that’s for sure. Then again, they are beautiful and healthy and big and everyone is amazed at how GREAT they are doing. I guess I just wish it didn’t always have to be followed with “for how early they were.” I cannot express enough the guilt over them being born so early. I was hoping for an answer as to WHY. Something concrete that I could blame it on instead of just knowing that is what my body did.

I love getting to sit in the nursery and see P and J holding and feeding their guys and having family come by to see the new boys and everything. It is a beautiful thing, to see them finally with their dads. I just wish that the transition went a bit easier for me. Even after everything – it killed me to so suddenly and without any real hand-off time to be stuck into a ‘nobody’ status as far as the hospital was concerned with the boys. I’m so thankful that everyone helped to get me into the nursery as soon as I could sit upright to see them. I’m so thankful that for the time I was there in the hospital, P and J welcomed me into their world to see them all together. The boys are really adorable and are in such great hands with their dads.

Around Monday the ‘crying’ started. I knew it was coming so it didn’t shock me but that didn’t make it easier to control. Try as you might, once your body goes through that there is nothing you can do to stop the hormonal overload. I was talking with my OB on Monday and I just started crying and he was very kind. Kind, but I know he didn’t get it. He said “This is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do.” and I knew he didn’t get it. First of all, just on principle, the hardest thing ever that I’ve had to do was to hear that my daughter had died and to tell my son that I couldn’t fix her and she wasn’t coming home. Period. THAT was the hardest thing ever. This was no comparison. This was beautiful and wonderful, well, except for the whole 34 weeks thing, and there is no, and I do want to stress this NO aching longing for the missing baby at the end. I know where the boys are, they are with their dads just like the intent always was. Now, there might be an aching to not be so engorged and to have been able to give just that little bit to the boys, I’ll admit to that, but that’s not the same. No, when Anily died I spent weeks sleeping while holding this little blanket the hospital had given us for her in my arms crying, sobbing, hurting for my empty arms. There is none of that this time at all. There is just the frustration at the physical, the pain, the limitations, the hormonal responses that I have no control over. Second, honestly, it isn’t even hard at all to see (and leave) the boys with P and J. It is wonderful. It is the whole reason I did this. I wanted to help someone else ease the loss of not having that ever wanted child in their life and SEEING P and J with the boys and knowing they are doing it, they are parenting, that’s the whole point. It is wonderful. It is also a bit interesting to note something about the date they were born. Anily was born on Feb 23rd. I was, as I had blogged, going to visit her grave but I couldn’t so this weekend, on March 15th, the date that she was buried, we were going to bring the family out there. Instead, Emmett and Gabriel were born on March 15th, the day that Anily was buried.

I know I’m comparing this a lot to Anily and I don’t mean to be doing so to suggest that it is alike. I do so to put forth with experienced assurance that it is, in fact, not alike. That crying though, man, it is still there. And the worry over being missunderstood. I think, maybe, that the missunderstanding of what it is that is hard after a surrogacy delivery affected how the hospital was treating our situation. They seemed to be doing what they could to be making it easier on me to not have a baby. I was at the end of the hall, as far from the nursery as possible. They didn’t come to me with ANY baby news or concerns or anything at all. It felt VERY much like they were treating me like someone giving the babies up for adoption, which, I’ll admit I’ve never experienced so I don’t know what that would be like. I just got the impression they were worried about bonding and trying to keep me seperate. My thoughts on that are that there is NO concern over me bonding to these boys too much. I don’t WANT to take them home, I never did. It isn’t even a ‘change my mind’ situation. The boys are born to their parents and that is as it should be. I’d as easily bond too much over these boys while visiting with them as I would over any other random hospital baby that I might visit. I DO want to be treated like the person that gave birth to them though. I DO want to be told about how amazing they are when staff comes into my room. I DO want to be able to go see them and hear about medically how they are doing. I mean, overall, this has to do with how they fared in the pregnancy. I think they were afraid to do that though because they were worried it would upset me. I’m not sure. It is complex, I’ll admit that. It will be interesting to see how the world of surrogacy changes as it is more understood. I will say one thing for this situation with the hospital though, they did an AMAZING job of including P and J without any questions. I am so happy at how involved they got to be. I suspect that a lot of that was due to P’s contacts, but either way, it was great to see them parenting right from the very start.

It is now Wednesday. I’m at home a day early, actually, because I started coming down with the cold that the kids at home had. I didn’t want to sit in the hospital knowing that I couldn’t even really visit the guys and the boys due to not wanting to get anyone sick so I decided to come home. We did get in (with masks and plenty of hand foam) to say goodbye to everyone but as ‘goodbye to the children I gave birth to’ goes, it was a really really lame attempt. Yes, I’m not so happy that I had to get sick just then. Ah well, it will be OK. We’ve got plans to visit with them when the boys are at home and we can then bring my kids so they will get to see the babies I’ve been carrying around for so long. We will have our chance then.

As for the boys, the latest breaking news is that Gabriel is totally off his IV and everything. He will likely be discharged by Friday as long as he keeps eating as well as he is. Emmett is getting only 3mls via a tube feed but he is doing well also so that he will likely not be long after his brother in getting out. Honestly I think Emmett was just not eating as much because he was chunkier to start with and thus had less motivation. Gabriel started to go up in weight now and Emmett held steady so things are looking really great. YAY BOYS! That does make it better, a bit, to know that they were born at only 34 weeks.

Once I got home I had to do a weight check just to see where I was. I was at 204. I’m thinking between the rocks that once were my boobs and the swelling that is still in my feet and ankles, not to mention the belly that is still pretty sore and is a bit swollen from, well, whatever causes that in a csection, I can at least assume I will be under 200 before my new baseline that I have to lose from again. It will be awhile before I’m at ‘workout’ status anyway. I’m still getting dizzy from using the stairs at my house.

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5 Responses

  1. Hi Robyn,
    I came across your blog about your surrogacy experience, and I just wanted to let you know how touched I was by your honesty. My daughter was born through surrogacy 19 years ago (sister-in law was GS) I understand completely what you were saying about how the nurses treat surrogates and their misinterpretation of crying, hormones, and happiness for the family. I will never forget seeing my sister-in-law crying as I was leaving the hospital with my baby. The nurses were convinced she was having a hard time giving up the baby, and wanted to send in a psychologist, but the reality was that she was crying because the nurses couldn’t get an IV in correctly and really hurt her! And, she said she was also crying because she was so happy for us, and happy to see us walk out as a family…that’s why she was our surrogate. She will always hold a special place in our hearts, and I’m sure P&J will always feel the same about you. Thanks for sharing your experiences and congratulations on doing such an awesome job of taking care of the boys!

  2. Hi there,

    I just want to say, this has to be one of the most honest blogs regarding surrogacy I’ve read. I’m currently 13 weeks pregnant for a friend of mine, and have been desperately trying to find some honesty regarding these feelings I’m having. And even though I haven’t given birth yet, I imagine what you described after the labour, the hormones, the crying etc, to be what I’m going to go through, and personally I was a little concerned that it all might be misundertood.
    Honestly, I’m sitting here crying as I am so happy to have come across this, I’m going to book mark this blog so I can come back and read through out my journey and know that I am after all human and what I’m going through is normal.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. I’m not sure how I was moved over into your blog from another very unrelated blog but I found your story to be so beautiful and well written, I couldn’t stop reading.
    Thankyou for sharing with us, your beautiful journey with your family.
    I am a grand mother, so no where near your situation, but I can very much relate to being dropped like a hot potatoe as soon as the babies were born. I’m sure as the person who carried the boys as best yu could, and delivered them as best you could, you would have liked to have been involved more than being put at the end of the hall. You deserve a medal of honor really.
    Because of your blog, I think these things will change for future surrogates.

  4. I live in England and we are hoping to have a surrogate baby in America. I’m very isolated as no one here has ever heard of such a thing. It’s really interesting and comforting to read this. If you know of any other interesting blogs like this I’d be grateful. Alice

  5. […] The surrogacy birth story | Operation Life – The surrogacy birth story; Operation Life. Entries RSS … I’m not even really sure how to blog about a birth story like this. I mean, it was NOT what I … I’m going to book mark this blog so I can come back and read through out my journey and know that I am after all human and what I … […]

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