July marked the end of my journey as a surrogate. I had forgotten how miserable I am the last few weeks of pregnancy. My family and co-workers were amazing at putting up with my shortened temper, frequency to nap (to clarify, I napped at home, not at work), and lack of appetite, along with a myriad of other things. All of this was compounded with my legs and feet swelling to more than three times their normal size, making it difficult to walk, bend my knees, or even get dressed without pain. My husband tried to help me see the humor in the situation, telling me my feet looked like Fiona’s from Shrek, while in her ogre form. Upon reflection, I am sure I was an ogre in more ways than just resembling one from the thighs down!
Beginning the first week of July, I started having labor pains. I religiously timed how far apart the contractions were, even putting an app on my iPad to time the contractions, and when they got to less than 15 minutes apart, went into the hospital. I debated holding off on calling the intended parents until I knew if I was really in labor, but my husband asked me if I thought that that was fair to them. Initially I viewed it as not wanting to waste their time, upon reflection, I realized my husband was right and I called to let them know we were headed to the hospital. Unfortunately, the contractions stayed about the same intensity, and I didn’t dilate further, so after an hour we were all sent buy real proscar home.
By July 13th, I was done being pregnant. I had an induction date scheduled for July 18, but that seemed an eternity away. I was tired of trying to be positive about being pregnant, felt like I was the size of a whale, and waddled everywhere at a slow pace since it hurt to bend my knees to try to walk normally. I also had been having contractions all afternoon, but tried to ignore them since I had a bunch of work I still needed to complete before I left on maternity leave. The contractions continued, and about 8:30 p.m., we went back to the hospital to see if baby was going to come early. Once again, my contractions stayed the same in intensity and I didn’t dilate further, so I was sent home. I was told by the nurse that I would know it was real labor when the contractions started to increase in intensity, and come more frequently (my other two children were born after they induced labor, so I had no experience with actually going into labor).
I got home about 10:45 p.m., and by 11:30 p.m., I was waking up my husband telling him we needed to return to the hospital. My contractions were getting stronger, and I was leaking amniotic fluid. I texted the intended parents to let them know we were headed back to the hospital, and I would contact them if the hospital kept me. Approximately 2 blocks away from the hospital my water broke – in my husband’s truck. I immediately called the intended parents and told them. They were at the hospital within 15 minutes. The mother was up all night e-mailing co-workers to let them know what she had pending, and making sure her work obligations were met. Father dozed off and on in one of the chairs. I’m sure the night seemed to last an eternity for them.
Baby was born at 5:54 a.m. the next morning, big and healthy. But, the intended parents did have one surprise… baby was a boy, not the girl they were expecting! Watching mom hold her baby for the first time, smiling from ear to ear and crying at the same time was one of the most profound things I have ever experienced in my life. Watching Dad lean over the chair where mom was holding baby and smiling at both of them – these are a few of the images forever burned into my mind. It was such a beautiful moment and I am eternally grateful that I got to be a part of something so moving.
As for me, life has returned to “normal”, or as normal as life can be with a 4th and 2nd grader. Friends and family were concerned with how I would react after the birth, since I wasn’t taking a baby home. As I have been since this journey started, I am fine with what has transpired. I’m not in the least bit sad. In fact, I am happy I was able to do this for someone. This was never my baby. This was my chance to give someone the greatest gift there is – the gift of feeling your family is complete. Family is everything. Family matters.