A surrogacy journey, jointly documented by Surrogate and Intended Mother.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Labour...or is it?

This blog is a bit of a strange one as I wrote each bit in the moment but then had to abandon it for reasons you will soon read about. I've decided to leave it exactly how I wrote it but add in some bits, dates and create one long post...

Tuesday May 7th.
It's 4:33am and I'm lying in bed with a beaming smile giggling to myself...why? Because I've just got off the phone to Emily and Adam after telling them I think it might be time to have a baby!
I find myself picturing them rushing around getting ready to leave, and imagining how many times Emily has said 'oh my god' so far.
Contractions are so far manageable but getting more intense and much more regular now. The first ones came about 12:30am and I tried to ignore as they were very short and weak,although very close together and even tailed off at around 2:30am. By 3:30am they were back with much more of a kick and I decided it was time to get everybody on alert.
I'm still worrying I've got it wrong but was no longer comfortable enough to take that risk and they are now on their way to Coventry and will hopefully meet their little girl today!

Thursday May 9th.
Ok, sadly it's been two days since I started writing this and there is still no baby!!
One of my fears came true and It was a false alarm, we are all very frustrated and I'm feeling like a big fat fail.
Em and Adam arrived here in record time with an early morning M25 journey working in their favour. My Mum was not far behind them, ready to have the kids, contractions were getting stronger and much more intense. All was good and exciting...
Then nothing. Everything stopped.
A power walk got pains starting again and a bath kicked off a couple more then literally nothing else happened. By 10pm I was exhausted having been up all night and it was pretty clear nothing was happening, so after lots of emotion Em and Adam headed to a hotel and I headed to bed. I think we were all hopeful of something happening over night but nothing did, neither did it the next day. Everything really had just vanished!
It's Thursday now and we are playing the waiting game. Emily and Adam are still here but how long do they wait for?
The dilemma being that they could go home and risk missing it if things suddenly progress quickly, but they could decide to stay indefinitely and we end up 2 weeks overdue. We are all feeling the pressure of that decision but sadly none of us have a crystal ball and with us only being a week off due date anyway, nobody can really know.

Saturday May 11th

After speaking to the acupuncturist that I saw to get baby turning (which as we know was a great success) she agreed it sounded like baby was ready and I booked in for a natural induction therapy on Friday morning. Adam and I had a brisk walk around the park afterwards and we decided a curry was in order on Friday night. I think we were all hopeful we wouldn't make it to Saturday morning but again, here we are, waiting and waiting for nature to take it's course.
I felt awful when I went to bed and have had yet more frustrating twinges through the night but nothing is progressing at the moment.
I'm trying desperately not to feel the pressure of all of this but I'm very aware that it's my body putting everybody's life on temporary hold. This is where the realisation hits about how different the situation is and the different sets of problems we are facing. Had this been a conventional pregnancy then we'd have gone back to normal by now, safe in the knowledge everyone is close enough to react in an emergency, but with Em and Adam living two hours away, that decision isn't as easy. There are also two family's worth of people eagerly waiting for news that isn't coming, and every question makes one of us feel a little more disheartened, even though we know we shouldn't.
I'm trying to keep telling myself that this isn't my fault, and more so than that, however long we are all waiting, it will all be very very worth it in the end.
This is not the part we are going to remember in weeks or years to come, and will be nothing more than a funny story to embarrass LM(pain,monkey bum)HH!

Sunday May 12th
Well Saturday brought a funny old day. I had some on and off pains through Friday night that didn't really lead to much, enjoyed a nice lay in on Saturday morning and then started to feel completely crap. I was hot, thirsty, irritable and generally feeling rubbish. I started to lose my plug and continued to do so throughout the day and mild contractions were coming regularly from afternoon onwards. I kept quiet at first as I didn't want to get anybody's hopes up and Em's parents had visited and took her out for a bit of normality (I knew she wouldn't want to go if she knew I was feeling something) but as the day went on they got stronger and quite painful and at one point I was hopeful we wouldn't make dinnertime.
Just to add to the frustrations though, by bedtime things were still only ticking along nicely. No major change in intensity or frequency. So we all headed to bed.
It's now Sunday morning and although the pains continued throughout the night they still didn't amount to anything and we're still blooming waiting!
Maybe today is the day?

Monday May 13th
The rest of Sunday brought a bit of a down day. I was really feeling the frustration. Adam had made the decision to head back home so as not to affect work too much, Emily decided she'd stay with us for the duration so she was nearby and the pressure was starting to get to me. I spent some of the day in tears and the rest pretty much sulking and not knowing what I wanted to do with myself. Emily was fab and ordered me out for a waddle/hop with her (also known as a walk) and we both visited my Grandma after that for a girly chat and a cuppa. I felt much better about things once I'd got home and made the decision not to go for another session of acupuncture that evening. Not because I thought it would be useless, but because I had an instinct that my body knew what it was doing and to let it take it's course. I also felt I'd be more stressed if I felt there was something else everyone was pinning their hopes on working, which wasn't going to help any of us, so I left it. We had a relaxing evening with a takeaway and although I was contracting regularly again, and having to breathe through a few of them, by near midnight things still hadn't progressed so we all went to bed, hopeful for tomorrow.
The pains continued hourly throughout the night and I kept my TENS machine on for most of it. They were still coming by morning but still didn't seem to want to regulate.
Emily went out mid morning to meet a friend and I'll admit to panicking a bit as now neither her or Adam were here if anything happened quickly and the pressure of making the decision of when to call them was back. I was still contracting and somewhat more regularly (about 15 minutes apart but nothing too strong) at this point but keeping in the spirit of feeling the pressure I think I was holding back a bit while she was gone and no amount of willing things to hurry would have worked as I just wasn't relaxed enough to let it happen.
Sure enough once she was back I felt a burst of energy and relaxed back into the 'what will be will be' attitude I'd had on Sunday evening. A short walk around the block with Steve at 3pm brought on some hefty pains and at 3:30pm everything suddenly ramped up.....
Was Labour day finally here??

Birth Story- Niki's account.

Ok so it was 3:30pm on Monday May 13th. I'd just got back from my walk and my contractions had just started to ramp up a notch....ok, a good few notches. I'd gone from wondering if it was the real thing to suddenly panicking that I couldn't get my mum on the phone and trying to hide my pain from the kids who were still running around the lounge playing. I could see the look of knowledge on Steve's face who, having seen this twice before knew exactly what was happening, and knew it was for real this time. A glance at Emily, who had just instructed Adam to come back, showed a mixture of panic, excitement and nerves. My Mum arrived in record time and her face showed both relief and concern. The kids were brilliant and although I could tell they knew something was going on, they were taking it all in their stride as usual. I finally got through to the hospital at 4:30pm and by this time contractions were coming thick and fast at only 3 minutes apart! We were told to come straight in.
After waiting what seemed like an age in the Labour ward triage waiting room (and feeling somewhat like a goldfish with people watching me breathing through each contraction) we were called through to the birthing pool suite for examination at 5:20pm.
5cm!!!!! Hurrah!!!! We were half way there. Although I had a feeling things were closer than everybody was expecting things to be.
Adam arrived at 5:45pm and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Both Mummy and Daddy would see their little girl come into the world.
The birthing pool was filled and in the mean time Steve helped me get undressed and in to my tankini top. I was literally having to pause for breath every minute or two as the contractions just didn't seem to stop at times. The TENS, although still very effective, just wasn't quite cutting it and it had to come off for me to get in the water anyway so I opted for some gas and air to be ready for me. I made it in to the pool before needing my first gasp which offered some welcome relief and I instantly felt better prepared to manage what was to come. I got in at 6:10pm and Steve had already joked that he was setting the timer for half an hour as this is how long I was in the pool before my daughter made a speedy unexpected appearance (I was 5cm on this occasion too), so after the next contraction when I informed the midwife I was feeling a lot of pressure I think both he and I knew that it wasn't going to be long, although she wasn't as sure.
On the next contraction as expected the uncontrollable and fully spontaneous urge to push arrived.

When I had my first child, I remember getting a mild pushing urge but after examination was told I wasn't ready and to resist it. When I said I wasn't sure I'd be able to her reply was 'if you are truly ready to push then nothing I say or you can do will stop you'. I never truly understood that until the birth of my second when that urge truly arrived, very unexpectedly and I did try and stop it. Three pushes later I had my daughter in my arms.

So here it was again, that spontaneous urge that for me brings a welcome relief. This is my favourite part of labour (yes I know i'm nuts) as it signifies the beginning of the end and I cope with this far better than I do any amount of contractions. I could feel LMHH getting closer to the world and fully trusted my body to do what it needed to. The midwife still wasn't convinced and mid contraction announced a changeover. The new midwife left the room and I heard somebody say 'she can't be ready to push yet' and somebody else reply 'she could be, it is her third baby'.
From here things are a bit of a blur as there was very little break between each contraction. Little Miss Hitchhiker was ready, and no amount of doubting midwives were going to stop her from meeting her parents. I frantically signalled for Emily to get properly into the pool and carried on pushing. I later found out that Steve had gone out to tell the midwife he could see baby's head crowning (he later found out she hadn't believed him) and on the next push baby's head was out. The pushing was pretty continuous but I heard the midwife reassuring Emily that baby was still in her waters and it was the membranes she could see around her head, On the last push I felt the waters go and LMHH arrived at 6:32pm, just 22 minutes after getting in to the pool and recorded second stage/pushing time being 4 minutes!!
 It never ceases to amaze me how all the pain just stops when a baby is born. The relief flooded in and I opened my eyes to a teeny purpley bundle being handed to her Mummy. A 'how did that happen' moment washed over me and I allowed myself a few moments just to look around and take everything in. Emily's face came first and the pure emotion in her expression, that look I'd been focusing on for all this time, through the whole journey was finally in front of me. Adam's next, equally emotional and lost for words with a smile that beamed at me. Then Steve, my rock throughout the whole journey (and I have to add, a pro at the whole birth partner thing). His face was a proud one, and the look he gave me still chokes me up to think of it now.
We opted for a physiological third stage and so Mummy, baby and I huddled together in the water while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating. It all felt very surreal. We'd been waiting so long for this moment, yet with the week we'd all had it was hard to believe it wasn't all a dream. I had my first cuddles in the water and   it was soon time to cut the cord, which could only be a job for Daddy.
This was an unexpected emotional bit for me and the tears poured out watching the final physical tie connecting me to LMHH be cut. It was still a happy emotion and one, if I'm honest, I find really hard to explain. I had another cuddle and said a little goodbye and officially handed baby back to her proud parents for good. The beaming grins that didn't leave their faces all evening (and possibly never will), the love in their eyes for the little girl they thought they might never have. and the ecstatic squeals of excitement down the phone from the family who were all awaiting news will forever make this journey worthwhile.

Was it emotional? Of course! I bawled by eyes out for a whole evening after Em, Adam and LMHH left our house. Cue a worried Steve and my Mum. Part of getting past that was telling myself it's blooming normal to be emotional, birth is a pretty huge deal, hormones are flying everywhere and the little wriggle bum that had been keeping me up with all night parties and heartburn for the last few months had just left the building and of course I was going to miss her. The previous days events seemed like a total blur and I'd had around 3 hours sleep in nearly 48 hours. The one thing that held me together though was knowing that two of my best friends had just gone home to properly start their journey into parenthood, and I helped them get there.
I spent the evening reflecting on everything with Steve, going over Monday out loud, hearing bits from him I'd missed (being slightly preoccupied and all that). By the next morning after a good nights sleep and a gorgeous  early morning cuddles photograph from Em I was back to myself and feeling on cloud nine about it all and each day has got better and better.
I'm recovering well and quickly, things are slowly getting back to normal at home with the kids and each time I get a picture through from Em my heart melts for them all a tiny bit more.

I was hugely overwhelmed by the messages of not only thanks but support I got over the few days following the birth. Also by how much our journey has touched everyone who has known about it, some of whom are complete strangers. I've spent the whole journey being surprised by how much of a big deal everybody has found surrogacy to be and it is only now I've realised just how much people are affected by it.
It's only really hit me in the last day or so how far we've really come since those first few 'getting to know you' months and early Teamie trips and I think I can now tell myself I'm allowed to be proud.
I did a good thing.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Under pressure

So we've reached that stage in the pregnancy where it really could be any day now...of course it could also still be a few weeks away and there is no way of knowing.
We've also reached that stage where you tune in to every single niggle and tightening, questioning if this could be the start of something. You'd think 3rd time around you'd feel pretty clued up on the whole labour thing wouldn't you? Well I don't.
When pregnant with my own two the possible early signs of labour came and went and it was enough just to say to the hubby 'Oooh, I feel a bit odd this evening', safe in the knowledge everything was ready if things progressed and we needed to rush off. When the parents of the baby are a whole 2 hours away (on a good, non rush hour drive), this is a whole different ball game!
So now I'm sat here, getting daily niggles and feeling a bit crappy, not only wondering if it's the start of things, but worrying that if it is, I'll leave it too late to give Em and Adam the nod to get up here and on the flip side of that not wanting to tell them too early if it fizzles out and is nothing (like it has done over the last couple of days).
The title of this post is probably a bit deceiving, as although I do feel under a tremendous amount of pressure to get this bit right, all of that pressure is from me and not from Em and Adam. They've both said they'd rather many false alarms than me not keep them updated about the niggles but it still doesn't make it any easier to judge.
I've joked about my waters going in spectacular fashion on the lounge carpet (the only part of labour I've not experienced as they were artificially ruptured with Jack and went on my last push in the birthing pool with Beth), but joking aside, I'm secretly wishing that this is how labour will start this time as at least then I'll be confident in telling them to get their butts moving ;)

On a slightly different note...
We're officially in May!!!!!! With a mid month due date, it's almost guaranteed that Little Miss Hitchhiker will make her appearance THIS MONTH!!!
I'm still as excited as ever (although possibly not quite as excited as Em and Adam) and just can't wait for the moment the proud parents get their first cuddle.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Drama queen

Anyone who knows me will agree that I rather like the limelight. I also have a rather special way of attracting the most attention possible, by doing things such as rupturing my achilles' tendon at a 3rd birthday party. Consequently, I think it's very safe to assume that LMHH is definitely her mummy's daughter.

We'd all been convinced that the huge amount of pains Niki was having low down were LMHH engaging as she should be so were pretty taken aback when the midwife told us she was breech. Poor Niki was clearly shaken but as always was so calm about it all and we talked through it and agreed that all would be ok as we'd look after each other, whatever the scan revealed. I was pretty worried, not for LMHH's safety as I knew that she'd be looked after and kept safe regardless, but for Niki and the fact it would probably throw the birth plan right out the water (excuse the pun). We all know that a C-section is a possibility in any birth, but obviously we're hoping for our ideal scenario and I'm desperately wishing that even more so for Niki. When someone does something this amazing for someone else, surely that's the least she deserves? 

A day or two before the scan, Niki sent me a bump pic which looked suspiciously like a transverse little monkey. This was obviously a good sign as it meant she was having a good old shift around, and boy could Niki feel it. We drove up early Thursday, apprehensive but hopeful that she might have turned. As we have found consistently with Walsgrave, all we had to do was explain our situation and the midwife was more than happy for Adam and I to go into the scan room with Niki. Sure enough, having got everyone to drop and rearrange everything and caused a week of worry, there was LMHH, head down as she should be, smacking her lips and sticking her tongue out as if to say "mwahaha fooled you!" I felt a mixture of absolute relief, and obscure pride for my naughty little monkey. The sonographer was yet again wonderful, and then spent some more time showing us our baby in greater detail. I really feel lucky to be under such a lovely hospital with such warm and caring staff. 

Huge relief and joy all round; for now at least, the birth plan was back on and we could all relax a little. Adam stayed for some lunch and teamie time and then had to return home. I essentially moved in with Niki and Steve for the next few days as we had the SUK conference on the Saturday, which took place in Warwick. At this stage in the pregnancy, the IM should really be looking after the surrogate as much as possible. Instead, Niki & I make quite a pair as she's waddling and I'm hopping. Steve did an excellent job of looking after both of us and really is a star. 

The conference on Saturday was fantastic. It was so lovely to catch up with lots of surrogacy friends, and even more exciting to meet some new long awaited babies. I walked around the entire day grinning like an idiot. I have been to 4 of these conferences now, but this time, Niki is next in line to give birth, which makes us (according to due dates) the next in line to become parents. SUK is a wonderfully supportive organisation and now we are further along in our surrogacy journey it feels great to be able to give something back and support newer members.

Whizzing back in time to my baby shower...it really was the most magical day. I sat there, drinking it all in, barely being able to contain my excitement that this was a baby shower for me, because I am going to be a mummy. I considered Niki as much of a special guest as I was at this shower, however typically she considered herself as one of my friends, shying away from any attention or praise and bringing gifts to spoil LMHH with.

I was surrounded by my wonderful friends and family, eating cakes, playing games and being thoroughly spoilt...I just felt incredibly lucky. And it really is all down to Niki and her family. None of this would be happening if it wasn't for her. This is a life-changing chapter for Adam and I and it's being created by this incredible woman and her generosity.

We really are on the home straight now and essentially, just waiting for things to start. We're 37 + 4, so full term, and it could be any day now. Are Adam and I ready? As ready as we'll ever be; we've waited so long for this and I cannot believe the day is nearly here, when I'll get to hold my baby in my arms for the first time. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Where do I start?

A month since the last post and what a month it has been!

The run up to Easter was getting exciting, Beth's birthday was coming up along with her party and more teamie time, followed by our teamie break to Bournemouth the week afterwards and Em's baby shower after that. All great fun, right?

The day the kids were due to break up Beth got rather poorly. My lovely, bubbly, chatty girl turned into a sleepy ball of heat with the flu (I suspect). Cue lots of cuddles and an unhappy Jack as a heavily pregnant Mummy struggled to split her time between poorly girl and unsympathetic energetic boy! She was just recovered enough to enjoy her birthday party and faith in an enjoyable Easter break was restored.
Teamies invaded the Evans' household on the 1st for the party and off we all trotted to the community centre...then disaster number two struck. Em hurt her foot, rather badly, on the bouncy castle (yes in hindsight the circumstances are quite amusing...sorry Em!) and a trip to A&E the next day confirmed she had snapped her Achilles tendon and would be in full plaster cast for up to 8 weeks :(
After telling her off for thinking she'd ruined everything (plaster casts and water births don't really mix well) and her coming to terms with the fact this was just a minor blip and things really weren't going to change much we all relaxed again...for a day or so anyway...until disaster number three arrived. Em really wasn't well and ended up with a week long stay in hospital for an infection (the upside to this being at least we knew she was resting the aforementioned foot and not trying to do too much!). Hopes of Teamie break away quickly vanished and we were all disappointed to be missing out on Teamie time, but obviously Em's recovery was much more important and we repeatedly told her not to even consider worrying about it.

As usual the hospital knew what they were doing and Em was home in time for a few days rest before the Evans' invaded Surrey and the time for the baby shower had arrived. We all piled round in our florals and tea dresses for a beautiful afternoon tea at Emily's Mum's house (complete with 60 yr old china tea set!!). Everybody had worked so hard to make the day perfect for Em and so much thought had gone into the planing of it. It was so magical to see Em so excited and if the realisation that in as little as five weeks she'd be having a baby hadn't hit before now, it certainly did at the shower!
The boys ran 'Daddy Day Care' from Adam's parent's house and they had a lovely afternoon enjoying some sunshine too.
 Joy had been restored and by the time we left Surrey we were all back to beaming again...

Of course that couldn't last. The next day brought disaster number four- a midwife appointment and the news that little miss monkey is breech...
A whole mixture of emotions followed for me. Obviously there is the risk of needing a c-section in any pregnancy, but things had been so perfect up to now, and with the hopes of a water-birth being in our minds for nearly as long as the pregnancy, the idea that a c-section could now end up being a possibility was a very tough thing for me to get my head around. Sticking needles in my belly was more than enough medical intervention for me so the idea of what is essentially major surgery terrified me. Being nearly 36 weeks the window for natural turning is quickly closing and although I know babies can turn as late as in labour all hope suddenly seemed very lost.
I have a funny way of dealing with things. I have a certain cycle that I always go through on the receipt of anything remotely negative. First comes what I call the 'woe is me, everything is lost' stage. I worry,I fret, I might cry, I sulk....a lot, I won't talk about it rationally, as there can be no possible rational positive.
Seconds comes the Google stage involving filling my head with as much information as I possibly can. After this I feel remotely better, well informed is well armed and all that.
Third comes reflection. After this I usually manage to talk about things rationally, I feel much better about everything, can finally see the positives and take a 'what will be will be' attitude.
So by the end of Monday I felt fine, after making sure Em was OK with me trying it I started an acupuncture therapy called Moxibustion in the hope that we can encourage little madam to shift on her own. Next Thursday will be scan day and we'll find out how stubborn she is being. If she is breech we will meet with the Doctor on the same day and go through all the options. Obviously avoiding c-section would be the ideal aim, and it's been suggested that with this being my third pregnancy, providing it was a straightforward breech position, a natural birth may still be an option. There is going to be a lot for us all to think about though, both for mine and baby's safety and whatever we decide it's certainly not going to be an easy decision.
Emily and Adam are being fabulous as usual though and although I know the decision would be huge, I also know there is no pressure and that we'll all be able to see each other's points of view and come to the right decision for all of us.
Fingers crossed we won't need to make it and Little Miss Hitch Hiker is just trying to keep us on our toes.
Meanwhile I shall continue being stabbed and heated by the acupuncturist and send positive (and slightly stern) turning vibes to my little house guest.

So yeah, it's been eventful. Maybe the term disaster is a little much in the grand scheme of things but as I said above, my way of dealing with such issues is to immediately treat it as one and then deal with it gradually.

For now, it's back to remaining positive for Cheese Teamcake. Teamie relations are stronger than ever and however Little Miss Hitchhiker makes her entrance, none of us can wait to meet the monkey.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Teamie pictures

As promised, here are some photos of the last few weeks. Hopefully it creates a snapshot of how joyful Teamie Time is. The bottom lot were a huge amount of fun to do, and involved lots of paint & fun. Was completely Niki's idea, not sure she thought through how painty she'd get though..!
At the baby show excitedly clutching a little outfit chosen  by my mum.

The teamies arrive! Cuddles rock.

Very smiley girls partying - Niki and me with my sisters Abby & Lucy.

Glam friends.
Getting cuddles from Jack & Beth

I love how protective and caring these two are towards "Emily & Adam's baby"

Cheese Teamcake's handprints lovingly placed on bump
My favourite photo of all.
Complete team shot thanks to the timer on Steve's camera!

Another one of my favourites - Adam & I making our handprints.

A long post of excitement and joy

As Niki says, we are now 3/4 of the way through - eeeeeek! 31 weeks and 1 day today; I can't believe how time is ticking by so swiftly. Part of me thinks we'll be there before we know it and the other part of me suspects time will slow down to a crawl the closer we get (particularly for Niki whose pain is increasing as LMHH gets bigger).

Firstly and most excitingly, yesterday we had our meeting with the head of midwifery at Walsgrave hospital. As you may have read in my previous post, we were only too aware that some hospitals can make life quite difficult for surrogacy teams and were armed with questions and braced ready to be firm if we needed to. However we needn't have worried, the two senior staff members we met with were absolutely fantastic and incredibly supportive. Both have experience of surrogacy births before and the meeting showed why Walsgrave is swiftly gaining a reputation of being excellent in the surrogacy world.

Every question we had, they had already considered, and the answers were better than we could have hoped for. For example, there are strict visiting hours, some of which are for partners only. We wanted to know if we could be counted as separate patients to ensure both Adam & Steve would be allowed to come and visit. We were told that of course this would be fine, and they suggested things which will help make our experience even more comfortable, such as providing us with a larger family room (if they are available at the time) to ensure we are all comfortable and have enough space, as four of us plus the midwives needed for the birth could get a little cosy! I will be allowed to stay (and LMHH and I will be given our own rooms as long as they have space) baby will be fully in my care once she's born, we will be allowed separate discharges if necessary....basically everything we needed and hoped for.

One of the things neither of us had considered is how we should be addressed. Naturally, some staff may well refer to Niki as "mummy" - after all she is the one given birth, and they were checking whether we'd be upset by this and wanted anything written explicitly in the birth plan. Both of us are pretty relaxed and know that no one would mean anything by confusing our roles, so we aren't worried but it was another example of how thoughtful this team are. LMHH will naturally have a name tag saying "baby Evans" to link her to Niki for medical and legal reasons, but they said they can put a second name tag on with "baby Assen" on. Whilst this is not top of my priority list (again, I'm very relaxed about this, we all know and understand how the hospital system works) it's just so lovely to have them think of these things. I walked around grinning like an absolute loon as we were given a tour of the ward, and as a tiny newborn bundle of squishiness was wheeled past and I couldn't help but squeeze Adam's hand extra tight. That's going to be us. It's actually going to happen.

Rewinding a bit to a few weeks ago, the baby show was a really magical day. The minute we got inside my mummy started to well up as it hit home that this was really happening. I'm glad that Niki was there to see just how much this incredible gift means to those closest to me as well. We had a wonderful time looking around and trying out various bits and pieces and LMHH and myself got thoroughly spoilt by my parents - the doting grandparents to be. It was wonderful to have Niki there and we had a gorgeous photo taken which I'll post on a separate post, along with some beautiful ones we took yesterday when at Niki & Steve's.

Last weekend was wonderful as we got to have the whole family come and stay for the first time since we moved. Jack & Beth were very excited and jumped at the chance for a tour around the house, making the most of the stairs (which are particularly exciting as they're in the lounge so they could wave through the banisters as they climbed up and down). It was a very busy weekend due to birthdays and mother's day, but as always our amazing teamies just slotted right in and got on with everything. On Sunday morning I was making tea and I felt a little tap on my legs. There was Beth, holding out a card and present from LMHH to mummy. Words failed me and I just hugged Niki & sobbed - how can I ever say thank you properly for everything this amazing family is doing to give Adam and I a child?

Last year, mother's day fell on my birthday. The year before we had had a rough time surrogacy wise, and 3 failed attempts with a different surrogate. No one's fault (definitely not hers) it just hadn't worked, and we were out of embryos, and that team had parted ways. I remember the feeling of dread as that Sunday crept closer; I didn't want to be miserable as I had so much to be happy about and grateful for but in my heart I was just so sad that if anything we were further away than ever to having a family. Niki & I spoke for the first time 9 days later. It just goes to show that you really don't know what's round the corner; life changes without warning, and just sometimes that change brings you closer to a dream you thought would never come true.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

3/4 down...

And 1/4 to go!! Yep, 30 weeks (well actually we are fast approaching 31...eeeeek).

For me, getting to 30 weeks really means we're in the final stretch of things now. 30 something always sounds ALOT further on than 20 something so even though 29 weeks was only, well last week, it still feels like we are a whole lot closer to due date.

Sadly as bump is growing (photo to follow) so is the pain in my back and hips. Physio is helping lots but am really noticing the stretches in between appointments and any slight exertion is taking it's toll. Luckily the kiddies are being fantastic and are looking after me/being very understanding of Mummy not being able to do everything she used to.
LMHH is the ultimate wriggle bum and alien belly is well and truly starting to arrive. Her jabs are more like squirms now and I am regularly kept awake by her all night parties!

Now things with Em and the move have settled down a bit and I'm on maternity leave, Teamie time has been much more frequent. A few weekends back I had a solo trip to Surrey for a girly outing with Em and her Mum to the The Baby Show. It was so lovely to see them both getting excited about all things baby and I think it was a big reality hit that this was all very very real and not just all a dream. We did get some strange looks from exhibition people when I ignored their questions and directed them to Em, even more so from passers by for the lovingly posed bump photo of the two of us, and found ourselves excitedly explaining the situation to confused faces a lot. It was a fabulous day though and worth it just for the overjoyed look on Em's face when buying a travel system.
 Last weekend the whole of the Coventry side of Cheese Teamcake headed on down to Surrey to see 'Emily and Adam's new house with stairs INSIDE' (their old home was an upper maisonette and the novelty of them living in a house was fascinating for Jack). As always the whole family were so hospitable and gave us all a wonderful welcome. We had a great weekend and it was lovely to spend some quality time with our special Teamies.
Sunday brought Mother's day and we couldn't help but contemplate how very different this years was from Em's last. LMHH even got her Mummy-to-be a little something to mark the occasion.

This week brings another Teamie day and our big appointment with the Matron at the hospital to go through all things birth. We both have a list of questions and will hopefully be able to update you about a hugely positive experience afterwards... Fingers crossed.

I kind of feel like my bit is relatively uneventful at the moment. I'm still feeling really positive about everything and am so very thankful that my journey as a surrogate has been such a brilliant one so far.
All that's left is to count down the weeks until LMHH can meet her Mummy and Daddy.

Glamorous bumpy shot.

Friday, 15 February 2013

13 weeks

That's how long we have left till LMHH's (now little miss hitch hiker) due date. We are 27 weeks along today, which also means we're now entering the 3rd trimester. Time has started to move quite swiftly again since school started back and I'm getting so excited now! Whilst it does now feel real - especially seeing Niki's beautiful bump and feeling baby wriggle and kick, I still can't quite believe I'm not going to wake up any second.

All is fine with Cheese Teamcake; there wasn't really much to update as we hadn't had the chance to go and see our teamies for a while due to us Surrey teamies moving house. We are finally in our new place however (SO excited as of course this will be LMHH's first home) and feeling very settled already. Life seems to be changing so rapidly; I cannot contain my excitement and am often to be found grinning like a loon to myself. I am trying to be brave and starting to buy stuff in preparation for LMHH's arrival; never has a supermarket seen someone grin so broadly whilst carrying a pack of nappies to the checkout. I do feel a bit like a fraud purchasing these kind of things, even though I know I am "allowed" - it just feels so surreal. I do wonder if all expectant mummies feel like this or whether it is heightened by not having a bump.

After starting to suffer from withdrawal symptoms I decided to shoot up and see Niki and co last weekend. Niki had said to me I might be surprised when I saw her and I was stunned; LMHH has really grown! Niki was sporting a beautiful neatly rounded bump and looking amazing on it. It so lovely to see the whole family and catch up with them all. The kids are so brilliant with Niki & bump; they're very thoughtful and understanding of things that Niki might not be able to do or they might need to help with and I made sure I praised and thanked them for looking after our baby so nicely. I've said it before but it really is a family effort and we're so grateful to all of them.

Niki is looking fantastic but unfortunately in a bit of pain with something called SPD. She has a physio referral and is doing everything she should and can to alleviate it but she is in some discomfort. She's amazing and never complains (is just honest with me which is brilliant as I want to know everything - am greedy for knowledge and information on what the pregnancy is like) but it is hard watching someone who is doing this amazing selfless and giving thing suffer because of it.

I spent late afternoon catching up with the whole family and getting loads of cuddles from Jack and Beth and then Steve put the kids to bed whilst Niki & I were left in charge of ordering pizza. I think it's a very good sign when half an hour later, Steve comes down and we're talking so much that we have forgotten to pick up the phone (Steve may disagree that this is a positive thing). We always seem to have so much to talk about and despite chatting daily via whatsapp, one evening together is never enough!

After Niki Steve & I had eaten enough pizza to feed the whole of Coventry, LMHH decided to wake up and I spent the majority of the evening sporadically putting my hands on Niki's bump whenever she felt some fidgeting going on. She is so patient - I probably spent more time with my hand on her in that hour or so than in my own lap, but she's just as excited and keen as me for me to feel LMHH wiggling and kicking. I cannot describe what that feeling is like; I guess it must be more like a partner's experience, feeling it from the outside and knowing that's your baby in there, moving like that. It's strange how attached I feel to something (someone) I haven't met yet...I just can't wait.

Obligatory back to back shot (taken by Jack)

Having some morning cuddle time with Jack & Beth

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

In whose best interest?

My first slightly negative post here I think, as I'm feeling a little bit cross with the system.

As I mentioned, Cheese Teamcake have our meeting with the midwife to discuss our rather complex birth plan coming up next month. The hospital we are under have so far been fantastic, and we have good reason to believe that they will carry on being supportive and accommodating. Sadly, that is not the case for all teams going through surrogacy. I know more than one case where hospitals have stuck rigidly to policies that clearly will not work for a surrogacy case and have caused great upset for the people affected.

Here are some examples of the flexability needed.

It is standard practice to allow a maximum of 2 people into the room with the woman giving birth. 
Many surrogates wish to have both the IPs present at the birth but naturally wish to have their own partner or some other close friend or relative with them as their birthing partner. It seems logical to me that the parents of the child should be allowed to be present for the birth, but that the woman going through labour should also be able to have someone there who's sole priority is their wellbeing. As I say, most hospitals are very supportive and accommodating  but some do not even try and teams are presented with a firm "no, only 2 people allowed in" with no discussion. Imagine being told you were not allowed to be present at the birth of your own child. How that feels for the surrogate who has carried out this entire journey to watch the joy and tears of 2 new parents as they meet their child for the first time.

Visiting hours.
Let's look at the logical viewpoint, bearing in mind surrogacy is completely legal and recognised in this country. It is important for the Intended Mother to start bonding with her new bundle of joy. Equally as important, is the surrogate being able to immediately take that place of special family friend, to allow them to share in the joy of this little family that they have helped create from a detached perspective. This is the healthiest thing for all involved; the mother trying to get to grips with her newborn, the surrogate trying to rest and heal and reflect on the amazing thing she has done, and the baby, who needs to start bonding via feeding, skin to skin, and all other things that hospitals recommend.

Again, unfortunately there are several cases I know of where the IPs have been told absolutely that they will only be permitted to visit during visiting hours (small windows of time, daytime only). Worse than that, this means that the surrogate has to care for the baby when the IPs are not allowed in, for example, through the night. Again, whose best interest is this in? It's certainly not in the best interest of the child, who in any other circumstance, would be being cradled, snuggled and fed by his/her mummy at every given opportunity. It cannot help the surrogate, who has already given so so much to this new family, and now has the exhausting and overwhelming task of looking after someone else's newborn. Nor is it good for the mummy, who has waited so long and fought so hard to get to this point, and is now being told they cannot be there to look after their own child.

These IPs are not asking for an en suite or anything ridiculous, they will sleep in a chair, on the floor, wherever is necessary, they just want to care for their own child. A surrogate is recognised in British Law, so why is it that some surrogates are told that if the baby is taken to special care for any reason (in which case the IPs will of course go with their child) and the surrogate refuses to stay in, they will be reported to social services for neglect?
 Things promoted all over the world as beneficial can be made impossible by these regulations
It's a ridiculous farce and does make me cross because I cannot for the life of me see why these hospitals are making these decisions as it doesn't do anyone any good. The proof that this is unnecessary lies in the fact that there are some incredible hospitals and staff out there who bend over backwards to accommodate this fairly rare but definitely not unique situation, and try and make it as smooth and as magical as any birth experience should be.

It is so sad that having worked so hard together as a team, and communicated so well, and balanced such a complex relationship so beautifully, the issue of red tape can come in and potentially ruin the most magical part, the part that both the surrogate and the IPs dream about.

It would be great to hear any other views on this, especially from anyone in the medical profession. Perhaps people have ideas of ways we might help stop this happening and how to educate those who don't really understand that surrogacy does not fit neatly into the box.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Bizarre dream.... Random post.

Two nights ago I woke from an extremely bizarre dream about Little Miss Hitchhiker. 

Em and I were sat in my living room and in front of us was LHH...complete with amniotic sac, intact waters and umbilical cord!
We were watching her move around and I was pointing out various body parts to a fixated Em.
The sac was lay on a bed of cushions and the umbilical cord was in place and was still attached to me.

When I first woke and recalled this dream I chose not to tell Em as I didn't want her to worry that it was a premonition that the baby was going to be born early. In all honesty that was my first thought and concern and it played on my mind for some of the day.

It was only later on that evening when I sat and thought about it properly that I realised at no point during the dream was there any panic or worry. Everything was perfectly normal throughout and neither of us seemed concerned that the baby was in the middle of the floor.

On reflection (and I'd love for any dream experts out there to be able to confirm or dispute this theory for me) I suspect this dream was quite symbolic of how both Em and I view the pregnancy. 
Em can only see her baby from an outsiders point of view, she knows she's there and she knows she's safe and being looked after but can't physically connect with this and relies on me to keep her updated on movements and feelings.
I know I am pregnant and the baby is physically connected to me but I know she is not mine. I look after her and nurture her in utero but have a certain degree of detachment from her, hence the dream showing her being safe and well in her sac getting what she needs from me...but in the middle of the floor.

I may be completely off the mark here but it really interested me and I felt I wanted to share it, I'd love to hear your views on it.
Reading this will be the first Em knows of the details too so I'll be intrigued to see if she would interpret things in the same way....

Apologies for the randomness ;)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Past the half way point...

20 weeks is a huge milestone in many ways. The pregnancy reaches the half way marker, from now on it's closer to the finish than it is the start. The 20 week scan time where you hopefully get to find out baby is doing just fine and maybe get to stop referring to it as 'it'. In our case there is a visible bump and regular movements can be felt. It is a great stage to be at.

There is something about this half way point though that seems to make people suddenly realise how real everything is...

Everyone but me, it's been real for me since day dot and I'd thought long and hard about every single step of the upcoming journey in detail before it had even begun.
So why do people choose now to worry that I'm going to fall apart?
I've had a fair few 'Oooh, are you still OK? It's getting a bit real now isn't it?' type comments lately and if I'm honest they kind of bug me.
I've been pregnant for nearly 22 weeks, am blooming, am getting more and more excited for Em and Adam by the day, I think it's safe to say I'm doing all right.
I get that people are (hopefully?) just looking out for me but to me it feels as though there is a line of people waiting for me to fail.
I do hope that's not the case and can honestly reassure everybody that I am doing great and if anything the closer to the birth we get the more excited I am about Em and Adam finally becoming parents.

I would like to add that Em, Adam and family are excluded from the above as that is a whole different kind of it finally feeling real. I love that now we are past this point they are relaxing and enjoying this more and more. 20 weeks for them really is HUGE and a milestone they'd only ever dreamed of reaching.
They are beaming with excitement every time I see or speak to them and I am still truly honoured to be able to share this with them.

The 20 week scan was amazing, after my initial defensive daggers rising in preparation for a fight with the sonographer when she said only one person could come in with me,it was another really emotional appointment. I struggled to see Em so worried and it felt bizarre not having those worries myself. With daily movements from wriggle bum and maybe with this being pregnancy number 3 for me I just knew deep down everything was perfect in there and so wasn't nervous at all. It was easy to see that Em was though and so as usual idle chit chat and silly jokes were a must.

I was quite emotional seeing LHH on the screen again, I was as amazed as when seeing my own on there but for entirely different reasons and all to do with the happiness I stole a glimpse of on Em and Adam's faces.
The scans have always felt a little awkward for me, I've said before I feel like I'm intruding on a precious moment I shouldn't be a part of. With Em being detached from the pregnancy this was their chance to connect with their baby, so where I can I shrink out of the picture and let them enjoy those moments as they would if Em was pregnant herself.
Huge hugs were had afterwards though and normal teamie excitement resumed it's natural course.

Aside from the scan the best bit about teamie weekend was by far Em and Adam getting to feel LHH move (the boys may well disagree and go for the party food and beer...).
With me feeling movements for a while and Em only having my running commentary to go by it was hugely exciting for them both to feel a kick and had we not have had other company in the room I suspect Em and I would have burst into tears.
I have been desperately trying to capture L(miss)HH wriggling on video since but the monkey appears to be camera shy and so haven't managed it yet.

There are both exciting and not so exciting things to look forward to over the next few months. We have our meeting booked with the Matron (ooooh) at the hospital to go over our birth plan and what provisions they are going to put in place for Em and Adam to care for the baby once she's born. We have booked a teamie break away for the Easter holidays to bore the boys to tears with more endless girly chit chat.
Slightly less excitingly I shall hopefully be starting some physio and pilates very soon to try and tackle the pesky pains in my back and hips. And in other news I shall soon not be able to see, let alone reach my feet!

I cannot begin to express how lucky I feel to know and to be helping Em and Adam. We all keep saying how bizarre it is that a year ago we were not even in each other lives, we are too close for that to seem right and I can genuinely say that I know we will be in each other's live's forever (sorry boys). Having them here at Christmas time just proved how much like family they are to us.
A friend of mine once said to me 'You know you have a true friend when talking for England is as natural as sitting in a room in silence and not worrying that nobody is speaking'.
This sums up our team for me, nobody feels like they need to make a special effort when we are together, if it's perfectly normal then we are happy.
And very happy we are.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

All sorts of joy.

This post will probably sound as if I'm high on something. Well I am really, but it's simply the fact that it's now properly hit me that we're expecting a baby, and that I'm going to be a mummy.

A number of things have contributed towards this, the biggest being the 20 week scan, which I'll come on to in a minute. Adam and I went up to Coventry a few days after Christmas and stayed in a hotel near Niki & Steve so we could spend lots of quality teamie time together. It was so lovely to see them all and catch up properly, and as always, felt comfortable, relaxed, and just so "normal".

Niki now has a beautiful bump and it was so bloody exciting when she opened the door. She is looking fab on it, is glowing, and is ever-so patient, letting me put my hands on and prod her tum. On our first evening there, LHH started wiggling around, so Niki grabbed my hand and placed it on her tummy, where she could feel the jiving going on. I pressed firmly but cautiously, not really expecting to feel anything, when suddenly there was a tiny but definite bump against my hand. I looked at Niki who was grinning and tears sprang to my eyes - I had felt our baby kick for the very first time and it was the most magical moment. To actually physically feel that little person in there....a very emotional and mind-blowing experience. I was even more chuffed that Adam felt LHH give a little wriggle shortly after that; being physically detached from the pregnancy, moments like that really are extra special.

On New Year's Eve, we had our 20 week scan. I was terribly excited and couldn't wait to see our little one on the screen again, but was also very nervous. I am a bit of a worrier at the best of times, and cannot help thinking that we're too lucky and that something will go wrong. We sat in the waiting room and were called in quite quickly. The sonographer looked at us and said "we only allow one person in" and I tensed, ready for a big row, but once Niki said that there should be something on the notes about our situation she apologised straight away and said she just hadn't read through them yet. The three of us went in and I felt my heart thumping in my chest and my hands go clammy. I knew LHH was alive and kicking (quite literally) as Niki could feel it wiggling daily, but what if there was a problem? I think the "this is just a dream" feeling creates a sense of it all finishing suddenly and me "waking up".

The sonographer popped the probe onto Niki's tummy and there was our little hitch-hiker, curled up and shifting gently. The tears started and I held my breath and squeezed Adam's hand tight as she went over the key organs and parts of the body...everything was fine. To top it all off, we were able to find out that Little Hitch-hiker is in fact a Miss. We are expecting a little girl. I sobbed so much the poor sonographer actually had to pause mid scan and fetch a box of tissues for me! I must work on controlling my tears but I was just too happy to care. Everything was fine, Niki is fine, baby is fine, and it suddenly felt very very official that we are going to become parents. Yet again, we were lucky enough to have a lovely sonographer. She spent lots of time trying to show us different angles and parts of LHH, a lot of which went over my head a little as I was in such a daze just repeating in my head "she's fine, this is actually happening". Niki was just wonderful, and again, allowed us to have our excited moment and me to sob on Adam's shoulder. Once she was de-jellyed, I gave her a huge hug which I hope said the words I couldn't find.

We went home to show Steve and the kids the photos and to share the joy and excitement (although Jack was a tad disappointed it's not a boy!) I love how caring they all are; when I squashed Steve with a giant hug and said thank you he said he's not doing anything but of course he is - this would never work without his support. LHH was wriggling at one point so Beth announced that she was going to sing a lullaby to Emily & Adam's baby and softly murmured twinkle twinkle at Niki's tummy to soothe it. When they went on a family trip to a museum, Jack reminded everyone that Emily & Adam's baby was coming too. And Niki? That woman has so much love in her heart to care for and think of everyone she does....I have an awful lot of admiration for her and will never be able to thank her for everything.

So a joyful end to 2012, and now here we are in 2013...the year LHH will be born. I've always firmly believed that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and it's taken us a long time to get this far, but now every step feels so special and so magical, it's all worth it. A few happy teamie photos to finish (which appear to be posting sideways and I cannot work out how to fix it...stupid blogger...)

Back to back with a rather beautiful Niki

"Holy crap, how did that get in there!?"

NB: Glass of schloer in hand..!

With the gorgeous Jack & Beth

Teamie hugs and PIZZA!