By: Lex Jacobson
This first trimester is an interesting one. We haven’t told any of our close friends yet, just my mum and dad, so I feel like I’m hiding the most important thing in my life from my best friends. At the same time, it’s an awesome place to be where only my wife and I have a secret and can spend the time to share with each other.
It’s been tough not to want to climb on the rooftop and shout out the news so that I can rejoice with everyone. I know that time will come soon, but I feel as though I’m avoiding important situations just to keep this secret (I missed my best friend’s stagette last weekend). To us, it is important to keep to ourselves for a while; neither of us want to go through the process if we miscarried of having to figure out who we told, so that we didn’t miss following up with anyone with the bad news.
This week, our baby has officially graduated from an embryo to a fetus. We’re at eight weeks, and all I can think about is that we have only four more weeks to go before we’re at that elusive “safe place”. Every day, I celebrate a little more that the baby is still inside me. We got to see and hear the heartbeat last week, and the reality of potentially having a baby in seven months is setting in. It’s awesome.
We are in the middle of house hunting, as we are moving into a more diverse community from a smaller town with our current 3-hour daily commute. We’ve sold our condo and are going to become renters again. Our house is no longer ours and though we haven’t officially moved out, I feel slightly homeless. This limbo land of not having a home and carrying a secret that nobody knows is slightly overwhelming. Things all seem to be changing at once (including my body), but I’m so excited for this next stage.
We’ve been marking down “single couple, no kids” on all of our apartment/house rental applications, and today we saw a place which is the bottom floor of a house of a childless couple, and I felt awful having them consider us as their renters when we’re going to bring a screaming baby into their/our home. But I don’t want to tell them I’m pregnant and not get the apartment as a result. I don’t know, I just want to shed this secret and be myself: a soon-to-be-mom. That feels so awesome, and weird, to write.
All of this is weird and awesome.
By: Lex Jacobson
Well, it’s the post I’ve been waiting to write since I started writing for The Next Family over a year ago, and yet I don’t really know where to start.
How ‘bout: I’m pregnant.
It seems easy enough to say, but there have just been so many emotions powering through me over the past few weeks, nothing seems to make sense. But there are no ifs about it – I’m definitely pregnant, and praying each day that this baby holds on and we’ll get to meet our first son or daughter early next year.
My partner was out of town when I just knew. My boobs (which I’ve never really given a passing thought to, because they’re hardly there) felt like they were going to explode and I could smell things that I’ve never been able to smell before. I didn’t want to test until Devon got home from her trip, but I picked up some home pregnancy tests on the way to the airport, and peed on a stick as soon as we got home.
Seeing those two blessed lines was overwhelming. Although I was “feeling pregnant,” my protective mind was saying that it was because I was feeling sick, or tired, or it was all in my head. But those two lines made everything real. The blood test the next day exemplified that feeling.
We’re thrilled. Yet terrified. It’s a sketchy time, these first few months, when there is nothing to do but wait and hope and pray that things will stick. With my depression and my treatment for depression, I am at a higher risk of miscarriage, but overall, I’ve been able to let myself dream that this is it. This may just be it.
Nine long months of trying and two years of medication prep before that have made this a very long road. I don’t know what I’d do if that road were to end, because I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this for another nine months. The stakes are high.
I’ve been surprised at how good my mood has been so far. I know we’re hardly six weeks in, and despite the anxiety around losing this pregnancy (which I think is fairly normal), my mood has held and I do feel strong. Who knows what the next 34 weeks will bring, but for now, I feel very lucky to be where I am. And I can’t wait to finally meet our baby.
By: Brandy Black
There are boxes in every room labeled with a black sharpie and decorated with multi-colored crayons. I’m over the emotion, the missing, I’m sure that will come later, right now I just want to get the fuck done with packing and unpacking so that I can lie in bed the way a normal 26-weeks-pregnant-mom should do. I’m tired. My wrists have carpal tunnel and believe it or not the nausea has come back. What?! I wish I were nesting but honestly I wouldn’t recognize it if I had it right now because I have no choice but to nest. It’s hard to believe that 6 months ago I had no idea all of this was coming. In typical Brandy fashion I went into serious “Go” mode and rocked our lives upside down. Luckily my wife is finally totally on board. She admitted last night that she likes this “change thing”. I do too; it’s refreshing. Our daughter is a trooper through the chaos, talking about the new house, telling her stuffed animals, the fish, the dog, and anyone who will listen. I feel bad though because our house is a mess, disorganized beyond belief. Ordinarily this would make me crazy but there is something strange that happens to me when I’m pregnant. It’s as if I have a built-in cushion around my brain and pretty much everything else except my heart but that’s a whole different story. Let me explain.
We went on vacation a couple weeks back, to the San Juan Islands. We had an amazing time. Normal non-pregnant Brandy would have been completely stressed beyond belief leaving town while in escrow with pending paperwork, walk-thru’s, etc and probably would have started a huge fight with Susan for no good reason, angry because our vacation fell at such an inopportune time. But PB (Pregnant Brandy) didn’t think a thing of it, barely told our agents we were leaving (Susan did it, which if you know Susan and me and our dynamic, well…it’s surprising.) I just walked out the door, suitcase in hand, packed it late the night before (another shocker), no fights, no stress, just waddling around aimlessly. I was even surprised when our agents called me in a panic. Did I even remember we were selling our house? I was going through old paperwork tonight and found a folder from our previous sale 7 years back and I have a post-it note attached in my handwriting that points out parts of the agent’s paperwork that are missing and the timeline of the appraisal being wrong. I was ahead of the game; now I’m barely in it. I have to say, it feels nice. I could get used to this –not pregnancy, but rather the comfort and ease that comes with letting go of the stress. I’m starting to realize it’s not entirely necessary. I have particularly enjoyed implementing the “one day at a time” policy. It’s a PB must. Especially when my To Do List doesn’t fit on one page. I feel the stress creeping in and then I go to sleep. It works like a charm. And the best part about it is that I think my wife loves it. She is reminding ME of things! She is making lists too. She is allowed to take on a role that I typically bogart, leaving her in the cold. I thought she liked me in control but I’m realizing that’s not so true. She’s smart too. She makes wise decisions. She remembers things. Hey, maybe if I let go a little bit we could actually meet in the middle and do this together. She loves me pregnant. Now if only I didn’t feel like shit all the time, this could be the recipe to a perfectly happy marriage.
As for our daughter, she’s handling things quite well. She has found her own ways of managing the chaos. I tuck her in, kiss her goodnight, and she tip-toes around (or sometimes bangs around), creating castle surprises for Susan and me to find later. Each night we walk in to a different king and queen or king and king or elephant and bunny sitting on the thrown of a castle adorned with necklaces, glow sticks, crayons –whatever she can find in her trinket box comes out and onto the deluxe castle of the evening. The other night not only did we get the expected castle surprise but she also laid out all of her clothes for the next day. This has never been done by anyone in the house. On her dresser lay her little blue shoes with a purple bow and pink headband atop of them, blue tights, underwear, and a pink dress with flowers. I melted. Beyond the mess and the boxes is a perfectly content (I hope) little girl who dreams of princess fairies and maintains her organized state.
What would I do without my family to make me smile and get me through this madness? Money or no money, minivan or not, spas or camping, chaos or calm, I’ve truly got it all and I think it took a time of total disorder to realize how lucky I am and always have been.
By: Kelly Rummelhart
When you are a Surrogate, there are certain behaviors you may need to change. Of course this is true for all pregnant women, but even more so when the babies aren’t yours.
No Smoking. Hopefully this won’t be a change; I’d hope you were already a non-smoker. Most agencies I know will not accept you as a Gestational Surrogate if you are a smoker. I believe it’s more like you need to not have smoked for at least six months before you even apply.
No Drinking Alcohol. Drinking alcohol in moderation when you are not pregnant is completely acceptable. When you apply to be a surrogate, the agency will ask you about your drinking habits. Of course, when you are pregnant, you will not be drinking at all. Nothing. Not a sip. I know some women who would have a beer or a glass of wine while pregnant with their own children, but would never think of it with their IP’s child. Luckily for me, I’m not a big drinker; not drinking while pregnant with my IP’s babies was not a challenge in the least.
Sometimes things are a little harder to let go . . .
No Sex? Yes, you read that right. When my husband, Rick, and I were going through the interview and counseling with our agency, they discussed how we may have to be abstinent for a while. That made perfect sense. Before the transfer, while you’re on medication to line your uterus, of course you don’t want the baby that “sticks” to be your own. (Sounds funny, huh?) But never in my wildest dreams did I think that at 25 weeks pregnant with my surro-twins my OB would tell me my sex life was over . . . for the next several weeks anyway.
This isn’t true for all Surrogate pregnancies but could happen. I remember being shocked when Dr. Knight told me that I shouldn’t have sex or have orgasms because it could trigger labor. With twins, they want you to make it to at least 35 weeks, so after I made it that far, I got my sex card back. This actually happened with my last surro-twin pregnancy as well. That time, at around 28 weeks, Dr. Park “let me down gently”. But I knew it was coming so it wasn’t a complete shock.
Usually within a normal pregnancy, sex is fine up until your water breaks . . . but because multiple fetuses aren’t “normal”, this isn’t always the case. Other Surrogates I know and plenty of women carrying their own twins have told me they never were told not to have sex or orgasm. Not sure if my OB’s were just very cautious or what. All I know is that my first set of twins made it to one day shy of 39 weeks and the last set made it to 37 weeks! So, if being abstinent helps me give birth to healthy, term babies, that’s something I’d be willing to let go of . . . for a while anyway.
Kelly Rummelhart writes about her experiences as a Two-Time Gestational Surrogate for Gay Couples. She calls herself a Uterine Activist and will be the first to tell you that her Uterus is an ally. Kelly also writes at Just The Stork
By Allison Norris
Mama birds scour the land for the perfect piece of straw or that little chunk of fuzz that will complete their nest. Little eggs lay there keeping warm while inside the little, awkward squawkers are about to hatch. Nesting. Dogs find cool, dark places and visit them beforehand to make sure their litter will enter the world in the perfect location. Planning. Allison tries to pack all final details into 3 days –leaving piles of stuff everywhere, hitting yard sales to find that perfect dresser for the one spot she hadn’t yet considered. Procrastination and exhaustion.
The countdown is on. 4, yes, 4 days until I am officially due. I should be relaxing and soaking up the last days of sleeping in and Bravo television. But I have an itch… one that can only be scratched by making sure that everything in my little house is organized, color-coded, cleaned, washed and ready to go! I feel like I should be carrying around a feather or some fuzz in my mouth.
My girlfriend posted photos of her nursery on Facebook. She’s only 18 weeks along and doesn’t even know the sex of her baby yet, but she has a nursery. It has clouds on the ceiling and a gender-neutral sleigh crib, because, of course, they had to get the nursery ready WAY before they even know what they are having. They only have 5 more months to get it together! Hurry!
I, on the other hand, have 5 (give or take a few, right?) more days. I figured it might be time to wash a few things and start putting them in their designated locations. My sister, Liz, has been living with me during my pregnancy but found a new apartment a couple of weeks ago. She’s been gradually, slooowly moving her belongings out, leaving little piles here and there… until “nesting time,” when I politely told her that I was going to have a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN unless all of her stuff was either GONE or put into ONE small pile near the door so that she could TAKE SOMETHING WITH HER every time she left the house! I need space! Understanding pregnant ladies, she obeyed.
We rearranged my room, moving half of the “baby stuff” that I had stored in there into my new roommate’s nursery, and then suddenly realized that I still needed a “few” things! A dresser, some drapes, a book shelf, sheets for the new twin bed that will be in the nursery for guests… as well as blankets, a diaper bag, granny panties, AH! And, it’s 100 degrees out – in Seattle?!
I stopped at garage sales, Ross, Target, Fred Meyer and finally my neighbor’s basement to acquire these very important essential items that I absolutely could not live without –and certainly cannot welcome my son without. After two days, a depleted bank account, and a lot of sweat, I got everything on my list. I felt much better.
I found my handy dandy drill along with the bits and drivers and started drilling curtain rods into the walls. Single mama in the house!
The crib took four of us to build and a solid three hours. My socks and underwear now have a home in their gorgeous new dresser (totally scored it at a yard sale for $20 – yowza!) and the diapers have been organized by “newborn, size 1, 2 and 3s” on the top shelf of the closet. All the bottles have been sanitized and stored. The onesies are washed and folded. The bassinet has clean sheets and stuffed giraffes in the storage space underneath. Everything is as it should be.
I just need a baby.