Dear Anonymous: I had the baby. Things went fine. The end.
For the rest of you:
(taken directly from my journal --- not so much “why invent the wheel”, but rather, “I’m really lazy and can just cut and paste instead of composing a whole new story" …)
We met in the hospital lobby shortly before six that evening. We had toured the hospital that very morning and the same nurse we had met earlier was there to show us to our rooms. I was so pleased to discover that they had placed us in adjoining rooms, with the baby’s “room” in between. Anxious, nervous, and eagerly anticipating what lay ahead; we all put our things away and got situated.
I changed into the always-flattering hospital gown (funny how in just a few hours my female anatomy would be on view for the entire world but at that moment I felt self-conscious about my rear end hanging out the back of that gown!) and settled down to business with the admitting nurse. She was incredibly chatty and charming, which put us immediately at ease, by slowed the process considerably. By the time the paperwork was completed and everything was arranged, almost two hours had passed. Finally, around 8pm, the pitocin drip was started. Dr. S arrived at 9pm and broke my water, expressing confidence that things would pick up quickly after that.
By 10 pm I had passed firmly into the realm of “uncomfortable” with contractions every two to three minutes, and requested the epidural. The doctor, who does his own epidurals, had me feeling pleasant and agreeable again by 10:30pm, but I think he was a little surprised to find, at that time, I was only dilated to a six. And at 12:30 am, when he came to re-administer the epidural medication …. Still dilated to a six. Since things were moving fairly slowly (shocker!) we all decided to try and rest for a little while; I actually slept for about an hour. The nurse came back in around 3 am to check me again and see if I needed another boost of pain medication. Knowing that I am a slow-crawling tortoise when it comes to labor, I was lying down thinking, “please let me be a seven, please let me be a seven” when much to my surprise she announced I was completely dilated and effaced, ready to begin pushing.
The doctor (who had gone off to sleep, waiting for me to do something!) and my IF were awoken and everyone got into place. Either the epidural had worn off just enough for me to feel a little of the contractions, or perhaps it was the pressure of the baby’s station, but I was able to tell the nurses when it was time to push each time. That made me feel like I was in charge of things … which of course I wasn’t, aren’t these babies in charge already, whether we want to admit it or not??
I began pushing at 3:30 am and discovered immediately that my delivery nurse was the slowest counter in the history of the planet. After the first series of pushes, when I had to exhale and start over and she was still only up to “six”, I told her she needed to count faster, or somebody else better do it instead. I mean, just how long can you hold your breath and push with all your might when you’ve got a stomach the size of Mt. Everest and your knees up over your head??? Not the most comfortable, or flattering, position in the world.
Anyway, I pushed for about half an hour and made some progress, but not as much as the doctor thought I should. (Again, shocker!) We realized the reason the baby wasn’t coming down like she should was that she was “sunny side up” and kept catching on my pubic bone (or, as her 11-yr old brother announced to his grandmother on the phone the next day, “The baby was caught on her pubic hair!!”) I was starting to feel a little ineffective, even though the atmosphere in the room was very calm and collected. In between contractions we would all just wait patiently for the next series of pushes, telling jokes or chatting. I felt a little embarrassed, though, that everyone was standing around waiting ON ME and I wasn’t accomplishing more. I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. It’s awkward, though, when your doctor is yawning between contractions!
Finally, the doctor said his attempts to turn the baby face-down weren’t working and it might take up to another hour for me to push her out like she was. He wanted to use a suction extractor if that was ok with all of us. I only wish he had suggested it earlier --- two pushes after he attached that rubber cup to her head and out she popped!
It was a very exciting moment, and they laid her on my stomach just long enough to wipe her off before wrapping her in a towel and handing her to her parents. I had previously told the doctor I wanted her to go directly to her parents – they had been waiting nine long months to hold their new daughter and I didn’t want any kind of delay once she was available to them!
Of course it was a joyful birth, with everyone in the room happy and laughing and smiling. There were only a few happy tears shed; mostly we were all too busy congratulating each other. And despite my previous insistence that my IF not be allowed to cut the umbilical cord, because of my freaky weirdness and how much I hate the symbolism of it, when the time came and I saw the doctor prepare to cut it, I shouted out loud (obviously in a moment of drug-induced insanity), “Let her big brother do it … he should have an important job to do!” And such was how an eleven-year old boy wound up cutting the umbilical cord, with an awesome view of my recently-birthed-a-baby-crotch, and is most likely scarred for life and will probably never have sex in his life ever.
After that, the only even slightly awkward moment came when they went to take the baby to the connecting room to do the exam, apgars, etc. I could tell that my IM felt torn between going with her daughter and leaving me, while I was still being attended to by the doctor. I just looked at her and laughed and said, “Go, go, then come back and tell me everything.”
The baby was named Nicole Lynne (my middle name!) and weighed 8 lbs 4 oz and was 20 and a quarter inches long. Born at 4:13 am, to me it was a quick birth (only a little over eight hours, start to finish!) and to my IF, it was a very long delivery (over eight hours, start to finish!) I guess it all depends on your perspective, ha!
It was a definite perk that we had adjoining rooms and could spend the next two days in the hospital together. We spent lots of time in each other’s room, but also had our own space for privacy. I also think we were a little bit of a side-show at the hospital, with lots of nurses coming into our rooms and asking to hear our story and see the baby. I’d like to think, because it was such a positive situation, that we helped enlighten a few people that day. I got to do all the things I wanted to – give bottles, rock the baby, spend time with her whenever I wanted. Although I enjoyed that we roamed freely back and forth between our rooms, I also took the opportunity to spend time alone with the baby which was important to me. I didn’t *think* I would have any sorts of proprietary feelings towards her … and sure enough, I didn’t. I simply vacillated between wanting to spend every spare moment possible with my couple and the baby, to vicariously take part in their happiness, and also wanting to give them some breathing room to bond as a family without me hovering over their shoulder.
The two days in the hospital passed quickly and we were discharged on Thursday morning. Saying goodbye in front of the hospital was easy because we had already made plans to spend that evening together. It was saying goodbye that night after dinner, knowing they were headed to the airport, which was much more difficult. I tried explaining to my couple that I wasn’t depressed, or having baby blues, I was just sad that it had been such an amazing experience and now it was over. My IM said to me, “Oh, don’t you think that it’s over … you are stuck with us for life!” which I was thought was a sweet thing to say.
I have no doubt they appreciated everything (they certainly said thank you enough times!) and we are already discussing a visit, so I’m hopeful the good relationship continues. Worst case scenario, even if it didn’t, it was still a magnificent experience for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'm seriously considering it. It’s such a win-win situation and I feel really blessed and proud of myself for being a part of something so miraculous. If nothing else, hearing her 11-yr old brother giggle (as only little boys can do) whenever she made a funny face made the entire thing worthwhile. I feel so fortunate to have been matched with a family that was wonderful to begin with, but that is even more wonderful now that they have their new baby daughter in their arms.
Seriously. That's the end. No more cliff-hangers, or one final chapter. That is the end of surrogacy journey #1. Now, if you'll excuse me, as you are reading this, I am currently in Texas with girlfriends. Scrapbooking. And chatting. And drinking amaretto. And eating chocolate. And did I mention drinking amaretto? I'll post again when I get home early next week. Remind me to tell you about pretty much the most mortifying moment of my life ... or at least the most mortifying thing that has happened to me lately.