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.