Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Once Upon A Time .... aka A Surrogacy Story, In Installments, Because You Know How Long-Winded I Am.

When I found out I was pregnant with Kellen, totally and completely unexpectedly, four months after Brayden was born, I was so stunned I didn’t know how to react, and couldn’t quite take pleasure in the pregnancy. The pregnancy went fine, smoothly and with no problems -- unless you count gaining SIXTY pounds a problem, thank you Mrs. Eat Anything That Is Not Nailed Down, and Where Oh Where is My Morning Sickness? But, to be honest, I was too busy being defensive and snappy to enjoy the experience.

Every comment I received about “See? Once you adopt, you get pregnant!” and “It always works that way!” felt insulting to me, almost as if people were belittling Brayden and her long-hoped-for place in our family. She was less than six months old, and already people had moved on to congratulating me on my pregnancy ….. like, “Oh-ho, you got the adoption out of the way, now you can move on to the good stuff!” In hindsight, I don’t think people meant to hurt my feelings (is it anyone else’s fault I was grumpy and ill-tempered and cynical? And INSANE???) but to be truthful, I was almost too annoyed by the comments to be thankful for the pregnancy. As you know if you've been reading my blog for long, I have a problem with constructive criticism, or well-meaning but hurtful suggestions, and coming on the heels of all the ignorant fertility comments, these were just as bad.

You would think, after six and a half years of infertility treatments, that I would appreciate the gift I had been given. But it almost felt like … if I allowed myself to be happy about my pregnancy, it would somehow be a betrayal of the beautiful little girl we had just adopted (or actually, were still in the process of trying to adopt.) Everyone else could just relax and see the pregnancy as a gift, but I couldn’t. I don’t know, my head was in a really weird place back then, and I was a complete psycho bitch, and it makes me embarrassed to think about how my feelings were so irrational. I cheated Brayden out of a calm, peaceful mother who only wanted to enjoy her beautiful new daughter, and I cheated Kellen out of a pleasant pre-natal experience, although something tells me he doesn’t really remember. He was just a happy little embryo, getting Auntie Anne’s parmesan pretzels on a daily basis (No, still no clue how I gained sixty pounds, what’s your point?) so he was perfectly content. But on the OUTSIDE, I was a grump, and squandered away what should have been an amazing, long-awaited experience.

When we got pregnant with Kendrie, I was in a much better place mentally and was able to take pleasure in and appreciate the experience like I should have. And I’m one of those women who really, truly, *enjoys* being pregnant. I’ve never gotten sick, I’ve never had complications, I’ve always had lots of energy and felt great. Well, ok, maybe the last week or two, when I’m waddling around town and don’t remember what the lower half of my body looks like and the heartburn is so bad I practically mainline Zantac … maybe just that last week or two, the novelty has worn off. But overall? LOVE. IT.

With Kendrie’s pregnancy, I was able to let go of the ginormous chip on my shoulder, and see it for the blessing that it was. I had gotten the hang of being pregnant after years of trying, and you know what? I was pretty good at it. Hey, Mikey, she likes it! I felt like I could do it a dozen times. The only problem was, we didn’t want any more kids.

Well, let me rephrase that. Blaine and I would have loved to have had more kids. But we had to be realistic. We could do the math, and knew that soon, we would have a newborn, a one year old, and a two year old in our house. Some women do that, and do it well, but it’s often called a “daycare”. Not only is that a lot of diapers, but it was a lot for me to handle as a stay-at-home mom. Adding a fourth baby in the next year or two, before the oldest was even ready for pre-school, was just more than I thought I could handle. I loved staying home with them, but must admit that there were days (the blue toothpaste and poopie diaper in the bathroom day comes to mind**)(see below) where I had to accept that I had reached my limit, if I wanted to do this mothering gig to the best of **my** abilities. Sure, I could have done a fourth kid … but I didn’t think I could do it WELL. So Blaine and I decided, more than a little bittersweet, that we would call it quits at three. I was happy with our family, but sad that I wasn’t going to get to be pregnant again. Because turns out? I really liked it -- stretch marks, c-section scar, unflattering maternity swimsuits and all.



Every year on our children’s' birthdays, Blaine and I each write them a letter. Sometimes I forget and two or three months will go by, then I write the letter and have to fudge the date and *pretend* I wrote it on their birthday. Regardless, these yearly letters go into scrapbooks I keep for the kids, for them to read when they are adults, or for me to pull out and embarrass them with when they begin dating, along with the naked baby pictures and potty-training stories. But I digress.

I also write an occasional letter to my kids on momentous events ….. first day of kindergarten, first bike ride, when Kendrie finished chemo, etc. Today, as I wrote down “type Kendrie’s birthday letter” on my to-do list (notice I didn’t actually write the letter, but instead wrote a reminder on my list, so I can have the joy of crossing it OFF my list once it’s done?) I remembered the very first letter I ever wrote to Kendrie. Since I seem to be having a seven-year flashback week, I thought I would let you read a copy, as well. I think it goes a long way towards explaining my mental health. Or lack thereof:

September, 1999

Dear Brayden, Kellen, and Kendrie,

I wanted to take a quick moment to jot down a note to the three of you, relating the story of how our first day home alone went, after Kendrie was born, and on your dad’s first day back to work. Alone. Just the four of us. Me and a newborn, 1 yr old, and a 2 yr old. {You pretty much know this is going to be a disaster, even before I get started, don't you?}

When Kendrie was born, Grandma and Grandpa M. were here to help out and stay with Brayden and Kellen while I was in the hospital. Then, after they went back to OKC, your dad went back to work. This past Monday was our first day with just the four of us, and although at the time I didn’t think the events of the day were very funny, any more than a rodeo clown being trampled is funny, in hindsight it most likely will be. Maybe. So I thought I would write it down before I forget everything -- like I could EVER forget a day that went that badly, ha!

It started out ok, just a little stressful as I tried to balance getting you dressed, fed and keeping you entertained while Kendrie was breastfeeding every hour or so. Or more often than that. New babies are pretty dang needy, I was remembering. She was only a few days old, so of course nursing was still frequent. Things went all right throughout the morning, although both of you were a bit whiny. I’m sure it’s a big change to suddenly have my attention split three ways and to be fair, at the beginning, Kendrie is getting more than her share.

You quickly realized that once I sit down to nurse I’m pretty much stuck in the chair, and that’s when you both started standing on the furniture, coffee table, fighting over toys, pushing, and in general doing all sorts of things you don’t normally do. My vision of me, sitting in a rocking chair by the window, with a gentle breeze blowing the white eyelet curtains lightly around me, beautiful babe at the breast, nursing tenderly and lovingly, Braham’s Lullaby chiming softly in the background, while you two played happily and quietly at my side …. Um, yeah. THAT wasn’t happening. But I took it in stride, and by the time lunch was over and I put you down for naps, I would have qualified the morning as “reasonably successful, just busy”.

Then, it all broke loose. Brayden, you REFUSED to take a nap, and kept calling me to come in your bedroom. I finally went in to discover you had taken off your pants and diaper, put on a new pair of pants, and peed all over your bed. In that order. So I stripped the sheets and told you if you wanted to wear panties that was fine, but you had to tell me when it was time to go potty. You assured me you would. Shortly after, Kellen woke up from his nap, and everyone was pretty crabby (me included!) but then I got Kendrie down for a nap so I decided to spend a few quick moments on the phone. Total rookie parent miscalculation. Brayden, you insisted you had to go to the bathroom, but went ballistic when I tried to go in to help you, screaming at me to close the door, you could do it yourself!!! So in frustration I said Fine! Let me know if you need any help! And I shut the door. Rookie parent mistake #2.

Ten minutes later I went in the bathroom to see if you’d gone. Not only had you **not** gone, you had found two brand new tubes of mint blue toothpaste and used them to finger-paint the entire bathroom, including the sink, toilet, rugs, towels, bathtub, and your own face and hair. Plus you had taken off your clothes and peed on the floor.

Not knowing how to get mint blue toothpaste off everything, I threw all the rugs and towels in the washer, then threw you in the tub for a quick bath. Kellen, you decided you didn’t want to be left out, and wanted to take a bath, too, and started banging on the door and yelling to be let in the bathroom. Not wanting to wake up Kendrie and begin another never-ending cycle of nursing, I let you in and stripped you down, not bothering to check your diaper before taking it off and dropping it on the floor. Naturally, there was poop in it and I now had another mess to clean up off the bathroom floor. {Good heavens, WHAT had you eaten???}

Fearing you would step in it and get poop all over everything, I told you to stand still while I went to get the wipes. I ran out of the room, and in the excitement, you peed on the side of the tub. I finally got both of you in the tub, got all the toothpaste, pee and poop cleaned up, and then got the two of you cleaned up as well. I kept the bath quick (keep in mind Kendrie is still sleeping, but I don’t know how long that window of opportunity will remain open, before The-Child-Who-Must-Nurse-Every-Five-Minutes wakes back up and demands to be fed.)

When it was time to get out of the tub, neither of you wanted to, but I dragged you kicking and screaming out of the tub. I diapered Kellen quickly, knowing your tendency to “let loose” if you run around naked. But then Brayden ran naked into the living and peed, yet again, on the carpet. At this point I decided my day couldn’t get any worse, and what was one more load of laundry? Only then did I see the humor in the whole situation and wish I had grabbed my camera to record the action.

But, despite our shaky beginnings, things are improving and I still love each of you more than life itself. No matter how much of a mess we make, you are my three favorite kids in the whole world, and I wouldn’t trade staying home with you for anything --- but let’s try to be a little neater in the future, ok? Because I'm starting to feel a little like a trampled rodeo clown.

Love, Mom

Ok, so now, NOW, do you people see why I wasn't courageous enough to attempt baby #4 at this stage in my life? I simply didn't have the nerve or the endurance. Or a big-enough washing machine.


Kelly said...

Love your story and I love the fact that you are starting to tell your surrogacy story too!!

Anonymous said...

Yay the surrogacy story starts. I too have three children and stayed at home with them, one grown expecting a child any day and two in college. I also loved, loved, loved being pregnant and thought about becoming a surrogate myself but did not trust myself to turn the baby over. I am so curious how you had the confidence in yourself to start the procedure. I know you have other things to do but please write fast:)

Pam Earley said...

Yay! so excited this story is continuing!

Days like the one you described are usually days that I continually ask God if he remembers who it is he dealing with. Like maybe he got me confused with someone much more together than I am. However, we always manage to get through those days, don't we??

Trisha in Leesburg, VA said...

YAY!! The stories are back! Can't wait to see the next installment. I too loved being pregnant and can't wait to be again- although our plan is to wait another year or 2 until after my husband's transplant. That 1st day home alone is full of rookie parent mistakes I have made!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for starting to tell the surrogacy story. You are a great writer. Can't wait for the next installment.
Lisa C.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for starting the surrogacy story!!! I had always thought about it but never did it.
Can't wait for the next installment.
Claire in TX

The Running Girl said...

Hats off to you. When I had Dalton, Madison was in day care. So when both were born, during the day, they were all I had to focus on. But I still couldn't manage to clean, wash, cook, pay the bills, etc.

Grandma J said...

I love the way you tell stories. Gonna TVO the dull stuff. Thanks for opening up your life for the world to see.

lizinsumner said...

Kristie - 3 kids each just one year apart in age? You already have my vote for bravest woman in the world, hands down - and I haven't heard the surrogacy story yet!

Anonymous said...

I thought my hands were full with 4kids at 7, 4, 2 (and she was a terrible 2...still is at 9 yoa) and a new! I can't imagine! It's funny how those things are such a disaster at the time but we can look back and laugh.

Looking forward to the surrogacy stories. Something I would have loved to do myself but now I'm getting too damn old! That happens I guess.


Anonymous said...

yeah I can't wait to hear about this!!!!!. Sounds like we had the same pregnancy experience.... eat and eat and eat.... explains my 105 pound weight gain.... 60 doesnt sound so bad :-)


Anonymous said...

Kristie: I can relate on sooooo many levels with you. I loved being pregnant but with my second child, I was having problems and really didn't think I would carry full term so I wouldn't allow myself to get excited about being pregnant. Also, when I was in having my first child, the lady in the next room to me was a surrogate for her sister and had just given birth to a 10+ pound baby for her. She was an absolutely amazing woman with an even more amazing family. It does take a special person to be able to do it but people have to realize that it also takes a completely special family.


jbaj said...

I am glad to read about the surrogacy story too! Can't wait.

I'm such a list maker too. And I too do it for the joy of crossing things off. For instance I do my list weekly and I have things like "exercise" (rarely gets crossed off though so I may have to rethink that one), Give AJ Bath (always gets crossed off) and such. Some things are meant to get crossed off and some are just a reminder so I don't forget. I had one thing on there for 6 weeks.

Anyway - I'm rambling but I love your stories. I've been following you since Kendrie's Caringbridge days.

Brandi J said...

Absolutely hilarious!! You just described many of my days as a mother of 4- now ages 8, 6, 3, & 2. I swear that could have been my story!! & looking back it's comical but on those days it's pure torture LOL!! Thanks for sharing!!

Brandi in NC

Cathy in MI said...

Thanks for starting the surrogacy story, I know it's your intent to honor the other families and that's fine, just share with us whatever you feel comfortable with... It's so neat that you wrote this letter to your kids - what a great idea. You are such a great mother for all of the memories you are giving your kids. I have memories and sometimes I can't remember which kid I am remembering about...

Anonymous said...

I enjoy your writing so much. After a long day a work and then venturing to Chuckie Cheese for a school fund raiser and then getting everyone home and in bed. Sometimes I am so tired, but your writing is so enjoyable and always gives me a reason to smile.

Thanks so much