Our surrogate, Nicole, was scheduled for a non-stress test and then an ultrasound at 35 weeks. She went to the non-stress test at the hospital and her blood pressure was too high. She had struggled with this throughout the third trimester and was on close watch for pre-eclampsia. They would have admitted her, but didn’t because she already had an appointment for later with her doctor for an ultrasound. The ultrasound went great and showed baby girl at 5 lbs 12 oz and baby boy at 5 lbs 2 oz.
I was really ready for them to be born and wanted to get things moving. I was scared that something crazy would happen at the last minute in utero and now that I knew they were big enough, I wanted them to come on. Also, I knew Nicole was miserable and her BP was consistently very high and so I wanted for them to be born sooner rather than later for her as well.
After the ultrasound, they declared that she officially had pre-eclampsia. Additionally, she had gained 12 pounds in one week and they sent her back to the hospital for pre-e monitoring.
This little song and dance had been going on for a while now. Threatened pre-eclampsia and early labor, though labor always subsided. I was so used to this by now, that I didn’t think much of it, because she had been at the hospital several times before.
At the hospital, she was seen by several people. The mid-wife acted like they would induce, but then the doctor said they would keep her overnight before doing anything.
I had started to get excited and was wondering, are we staying or going, but now it’s back to staying. Ok. I was planning to get ready to head to bible study…
But…then I got THE call.
Nicole said this is happening, they are going to induce, you better leave now.
I just felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had chills and felt a little paralyzed. I couldn’t believe this was it!
Luckily, since things were heating up, Erick had decided earlier to go ahead and take the dogs to our friends’ houses, so he was off doing that. So, we really were ready.
I called my parents and my dad brought food over while I was waiting for Erick to get home. I got our bags ready by the door.
We got on the road at 6:43 pm. I was getting text updates from Nicole and then relaying them to Mom, as Mom and Dad followed in their car. They had put her on antibiotics, magnesium and pitocin.
I worried that the pitocin would work too quickly and we’d miss the birth.
We kept texting and I asked her to have Troy take a picture and send to me. It all looked so real with the picture. I was so excited!
Erick and I were still discussing names in the car on the way down. I know?!? Can you believe it? I was pretty stressed by the whole naming issue. It wasn’t an easy task for us, like those people that had a name picked out since their honeymoon. I guess part of it was a coping mechanism for me and I just could never consider names. Then, when things went well with this pregnancy, I was overwhelmed by the possibility and just stuck. But, we had a few possibilities for each and decided we would make the final decision after we saw them.
We finally arrived at around 11:00 pm. We went up and were thrilled to be there and to have not missed the birth. Me, Erick, my parents and her husband were all crowded into her room. She was 3cm and 50% effaced and having contractions every 10 minutes.
We expected things to move quickly, but they didn’t. At first she wasn’t in much pain, but very suddenly that changed and she asked for the epidural. The doctor had several people ahead of her in line. Finally, at 1:40 am she got the epidural and felt much better. We jokingly called it her happy button.
About an hour later, she said she just couldn’t keep her eyes open. Her blood pressure tanked to 58/35. This, after being really high. Her wonderful nurse, Kristin, was in the room at the time and jumped into action by giving her two doses of epinephrine. When this was happening, I didn’t quite realize how serious this was. The nurse said that when her pressure dropped that the babies’ pressures stayed strong and that was a very good sign. She said they were the two strongest babies on the floor. She had no idea how much I needed these little bits of encouragement as I was a champ at imagining the worst.
There wasn’t much progress in terms of dilation through the night, but she was nauseous from the meds. We were all struggling to try to sleep and there weren’t enough chairs in the room for all of us. We were also freezing as it was like 60 degrees in the room or at least felt like it. Even the guys were wearing blankets like capes. Nicole was comfortable temperature-wise and that’s all that mattered. At one point, Erick was sleeping sitting up on a stool and fell over into my lap. We went back and forth from the room to the waiting room. No luck getting comfy in the waiting room either as there were two huge guys having a contest to see who could snore the loudest. At one point, I walked out of Nicole’s room to find Mom and Dad both semi-asleep in wheelchairs out in the hall. (It’s the funniest picture ever, but they would kill me if I posted it.)
At 3:05 am, our nurse Kristin broke her water to try to move things along. At the check at 5:00 am, she was 5 cm and 80% effaced.
At 7:45 am, with nothing happening, my parents and I went to the hospital cafe for breakfast and Erick and Troy stayed sleeping in the room.
When we came back, nothing had changed. I remember wondering if we were in for another whole day of Nicole laboring and how would I stay awake. At 8:15 am, they upped her pitocin to 22. We were waiting for a check at 9:00 am. Our nurse got the doctor to come earlier because the contractions were getting stronger and closer together and because she was due to go off duty and really wanted to know if this would be happening soon. She ended up working overtime just to stay with us and see it through. We lucked out with such a wonderful nurse.
At this point, she was 9 cm! At 9:05 am, they told Erick and I to get on our clean suits to be ready. At around 9:20 am, Nicole called for the doctor because she felt a lot of pressure.
They came and said, “Woah! We’re going to the OR.” At 9:34 am, they wheeled Nicole back to the OR and Erick and I followed in our “moon suits.” I started to get really emotional as this was really happening now. We waited right outside the door while they got Nicole situated and then we went in. I had my camera around my neck.
I was overwhelmed by the medical staff. I actually counted and there were 15 people in the OR! Obstetricians, pediatricians, nurses, residents, interns. I was half relieved that there were so many people there to help and half worried at why they thought we would need so many people.
Almost as soon as we went in, they were ready and told Nicole to go ahead and push. Before they could finish saying push, Baby A came out in one fell swoop and the doctor was holding her. I’ll never, ever forget that moment. I just bawled. I couldn’t believe that just like that, she was here. She caught me off guard. I thought I would be holding Nicole’s hand and she would be pushing and then the head would come and then she’d push some more. No, nothing like that. She just slid right out. This has got to be the closest thing to an out of body experience I have ever felt.
Erick cut the cord.
They took her over to the crib. I was just in shock. I was weeping. I didn’t know what to do. Doctors huddled around her and I craned my neck to see, but my feet were frozen, until one of the doctors said you can come see her and motioned me over.
I went over and soon added almost heart failure to my shock. She wasn’t making any noise or moving and they were smacking her hard. Was she breathing? Why was she so red? Why wasn’t she moving? I was panicking. The silence was deafening. I finally was able to squeak out, “Is she ok?” They assured me she was, but I wasn’t convinced. Finally she perked up a bit. I was feeling so many things at that moment that I was on emotional overload, just boiling over. She was beautiful. The most perfect little heart shaped face and tiny little features and a head of black curly hair, just like her daddy. This was my daughter…my child. I just really could not believe it.
A baby had been just talk for so many years, that to see real child laying before me, was just unreal.
Meanwhile, they were holding on to him in utero so he wouldn’t flip and they were trying to work him down into place. They called me back over in time for his birth and again, I was overwhelmed and amazed when he came. He came out thrashing and crying and again I just cried. I cried out of love, happiness, relief, amazement, gratitude and again shock. Erick again cut the cord.
We went over to see him and he was gorgeous. Such a sweet little face and so tiny. And, again, the dark hair.
They asked us the names and we said we weren’t sure yet, but we quickly huddled after having met them both and decided. We had a couple names picked out and were fairly sure, but made the call after they were born.
I went back to Nicole’s side and told her the names. We wanted to honor her with both of their names. Then, we told the medical team, but it was too late, they were officially named “A” and “B” on the paperwork.
We got to hold them and again it just didn’t seem real. It was like I wasn’t there and was watching someone else.
They started the process of clearing out the placenta and Nicole was in so much pain. I felt so bad for her. She would just wince and wimper and I felt awful.
Before leaving the OR, there was discussion among the various doctors about whether the babies should go to the NICU or not. Ultimately, they decided that they should just go to the nursery. They were born at exactly 35 weeks and anything sooner and they are required to go. So, while it made us nervous for them to not go and get the better care, we were thankful that they didn’t have to.
They wheeled the babies out together and we got to stop and introduce them to Mom and Dad. We all cried some more and then we headed to the nursery. Nicole and I got their bands — they only give two. So, that means Erick didn’t get them, but they allowed him in the nursery if we were together.
I remember thinking what a miracle it was that I could stand long enough to make it through the birth without being in terrible pain. I had been in pretty bad pain the night before.
That first day was a blur. We had been up all night and were absolutely exhausted, but on an emotional high. I’m not sure how I was able to put one foot in front of the other or string a sentence together. Soon after they were born, my brother and my niece showed up from Philadelphia and I was really happy and surprised that he made the trip.
We were hoping to get a room, but that didn’t end up happening. So, that meant that if we wanted to take the babies outside of the nursery, we had to go to Nicole’s room. It’s a good thing we are close and she didn’t mind, because it was a tiny room and we had Erick, me, Mom, Dad, Cameron and Avery, plus her and Troy all crowded into a tiny room. And, we had visitors the second day as well.
It bugs me that we didn’t get to have a room in this situation, but they were packed. Also, after Nicole was discharged, we couldn’t take the babies from the nursery at all.
We spent the day visiting with Cameron and getting to know the babies and feeding them. I also spent a good portion of the day doing paperwork. Getting Nicole to sign documents from my attorney, getting things notarized, filing birth certificate applications, talking to the social worker, talking to my attorney. All on no sleep. It’s a miracle I managed to get any of it right.
The babies were born on Friday morning and they discharged us on Sunday morning. We were happy that they were healthy enough to go home, but scared. Suddenly, I don’t have the nurses and doctors to help and answer questions. I don’t know what I am doing. They trust us to care for them? Also, I was nervous for our five hour car ride home from Norfolk to Roanoke. They had a car seat test, but only for two hours. We had to stop several times on the way to feed and change them, so it ended up taking seven hours.
Our eight year journey is over. Now we start a new journey as a family of four. I never thought I would see the day.
We have been greatly blessed by God. I don’t know why he chose us when so many people want children and it never happened or they aren’t there yet, but I am thankful and also saddened for the families still struggling with infertility and loss.
We will forever be thankful for the woman that lovingly carried our two babies and gave us the chance to become parents.