Its been a long time since I’ve posted, and even a longer time since I posted a surrogacy update, and I think it’s high time for one.
Baby was born last Friday!
His name is Kennan, he was 8 lbs, 13 oz (my smallest baby ever!), and he is doing just awesome. I also am doing awesome, and everyone is very happy.
His birth was an adventure, let me tell you. We actually tried inducing about two weeks before he was born, when I was just over 39 weeks pregnant. Induction was not something I had ever considered in my previous pregnancies, both of which ended in completely unmedicated births (Freja was a home birth, even), but given how different a surrogacy is, I wanted something different from this birth. I planned to get an epidural, for one thing, and the idea of being able to schedule the birth date so as to be able to plan child care and time off work was pretty appealing to me. There were a couple of other reasons but that was my primary motivation. My cervix seemed favorable, so I decided to go for it.
My body and the baby, however, were not on the same page with my desires. Baby never came down enough for it to be safe to break my water, and the only dilation my cervix ever did was what we forced with a foley bulb, despite getting some decent contractions. After 18 hours of pitocin, it was clear it was going nowhere, so my midwife decided to call it quits and send me home. It was a shock to all of us, my midwife said she had never seen a failed induction in someone with two uncomplicated vaginal births, but I know my body likes to be unpredictable sometimes. I am grateful that my midwife wasn’t the type to push it until we were on a crash course to a cesarean.
I think we all expected me to go into labor on my own shortly after that, but I didn’t, dragging on two more weeks. Periodically I would stop and think “I can’t believe I am still pregnant!” My cervix even closed back up! But after two weeks the baby dropped low enough to engage with my cervix, and my cervix came forward more, and we decided to try induction again at 41 weeks, 1 day, which also happened to be Jeremy’s birthday.
This induction worked much better, though it was still pretty slow. I got my epidural about 11 hours after pitocin started. The epidural caused my blood pressure, which is pretty low to begin with, to drop to levels that made me feel pretty sick, and I had to get a bunch of anti nausea and blood pressure meds to feel okay again. Towards the end of transition it started wearing off, and I wanted to find a balance where I would still feel as little pain as possible, but be able to feel enough sensation to be able to push when I needed to. I did not find that balance, and ended up feeling way more pain than I had wanted. It was okay, I’ve done totally unmedicated births, obviously, but it did leave me wondering what the point even was if I were still going to feel that much pain. That and the nausea leads me to believe that future episurals are not for me.
Sarah, baby’s mom, was able to catch him and that was awesome. When she lifted him up and I saw his little penis I was pretty excited. I had had a feeling this baby was a boy and it was cool to see my intuition was good. It’s been spot on for all my pregnancies so far. Watch me be wrong on the next one now, my body likes to trick me when I get too arrogant.
But not thirty seconds after his birth, in a rush to stimulate him, one of the nurses yanked him too hard and tore the cord in half. This was a disappointment to me, I was supposed to be the one to cut the cord, which to me was going to be symbolic of me officially handing him back to his mom. At the time, though, all I really notice was the blood spraying everywhere (it looked scarier than it actually was) and him turning purple afterwards. I was horrified, I thought something I had done caused it to happen. I’ve re watched the video a dozen times now though, and it’s pretty clear that he was just pulled too far, too hard, too soon after the birth, before the whartons jelly in the cord had a chance to thicken and make the cord tough.
As if that bloody situation weren’t enough, then I had a post partum hemorrhage. I really didn’t even know it was happening, I felt great. You would think I wouldn’t. I knew they were giving me anti hemorrhage drugs, but I figured it was just precautionary hospital stuff to avoid liability. My midwife was very calm and reassuring. It wasn’t until after she called in an OB to look at me that I started to realize I might actually be experiencing a legitimate complication. I had never had one before. But the bleeding slowed shortly after the OB checked me, and the cause was still a mystery. It was likely just because I had been on pitocin so long, and I’m a redhead. Redheads are more prone to bleeding. The next day I still felt great, and really even now it’s hard to believe I lost a significant amount of blood. It wasn’t enough to need a transfusion or anything, so it must not have been too bad.
All in all, the birth went very well, though I have jokingly described it as a blood bath (seriously, that cord tearing was no joke!). Sarah and Eric named baby Kennan, and he is just adorable. I think he looks mostly like his dad, but a lot like his brother Oscar as well. As for his birthdate, I was really thinking he would share a birthday with Jeremy, but it was not to be. Kennan was born 6 minutes after midnight the next day. He wanted his own birthday! It turned out to be an even more special day for him, though. That same day, the French Supreme Court decided that French babies born of surrogacy outside of France should be able to obtain French citizenship. This is a really big deal for their family, and hopefully will mean all their kids can get citizenship in their home country soon!
I am also doing fantastically! Recovery from birth is much easier without a baby. While I am tired and sore sometimes, it really has not been as much as in previous births. The after cramps are gone and it hasn’t even been a week, and I had some back pain after the epidural, but I think that is mostly gone now too. My bleeding has been much lighter than after previous births, and I’ve been doing very well producing milk for Kennan.
People have asked me if I feel sad now that it’s all over, but I don’t feel sad at all. In the first place, it’s not all over. I expect to be a part of Kennan’s life forever, as well as his whole family’s life. I feel as though I have gained another sister in Sarah, and really in the other two surrogates that carried Sarah and Eric’s other two children as well. We have gotten to know Sarah’s family here in town and become close with them as well, Elijah especially has hit it off with Sarah’s nephews. This family is part of our family now, and I don’t see it ever being all over.
As for the pregnancy itself, I feel mostly relief that it’s over. I am so happy to see Kennan with his family, this has always been my end goal. Being pregnant without expecting a baby is a very different experience than a normal pregnancy, and honestly it’s just nice to be able to sleep and walk without hip pain, and to see my body go back to the way it was before. I’m looking forward to resuming my old athletic pursuits (I am practically literally holding myself back from going roller skating, my body does still need some rest period) and I really enjoyed having a beer for the first time in ten months, even if it did make me feel really light headed and dehydrated (must have been the blood loss) and it will probably be a while before I indulge in another. I do love Kennan, I love when I get to see him, when his mom posts pictures on Facebook, but it’s much the way I feel about my neice. It’s very different than the love I feel for my kids. It’s a strong, excited, joyous love, but Kennan isn’t my baby.
All of that being said, I suspect I will feel a little sad when they go home to Paris. I’m going to miss them, of course! But I know they come here to Colorado pretty often, and they have invited us to go visit them for a few weeks next year! In the mean time, we will keep in touch through Facebook, email, and face time just like we did during the pregnancy.
This has been an amazing journey and I am so glad I did it. I have been so blessed to have been able to forge these relationships with everyone in this family, and I cannot express how grateful I am for all of it.