Halloween Babies

A nurse took this photo of their teeny feet. The bigger foot (in the foreground) belongs to baby boy, and the littler one belongs to baby girl.

I can’t believe it’s already been almost two weeks since the babies were born!   2012′s Halloween was far more eventful than any other in my life.  Here’s the birth story, as I posted it on a surrogate forum:

“Whew, what a day! Now that I’m resting in my room, alone for the night, I can process the story by writing it out.
I woke up at 1:30a.m. with that oh-so-pleasant gush of fluid. There was no question- I knew my water had broken- so I immediately woke up Knox and we got up and got dressed and grabbed the hospital bag. I had a little mild cramping, but nothing too serious. We went downstairs to tell my mom we were heading to the hospital. She just arrived from Colorado yesterday! It really was the best timing since I would have hated to ask friends to come over and be with our kids in the middle of the night.
The hospital is only a few minutes away from our house, and on the way there I called my OB and my IFs.  IFs didn’t answer! I texted, emailed, and sent facebook messages their way, knowing that in the morning they were going to want to know everything right away. At the hospital they hooked me up to the monitors, checked my cervix (5 cm), hooked up the IV, and did a quick ultrasound to check the babies’ positions (both head down!).
Then they moved me up to a labor and delivery room. At this point contractions were about 4 minutes apart and not unbearable. They said I could get an epidural whenever I wanted it. I knew my OB required one in my case so that if we had to go to an emergency C-section, the epidural catheter would already be in place. I was worried I would progress quickly (like I did with Dean) and lose the opportunity to get an epidural, so I decided to just get one right away- it was about 4:30am.
In hindsight, maybe I should have labored a while longer before getting the epidural. Once it was in place my contractions basically stopped. I didn’t mind too much because I was in anesthesia lala land. Honestly, I felt like I had been sedated. I never understood why people love epidurals so much until this birth! I slept most of the day and felt more relaxed than I have in months. Or maybe ever. It was awesome. But I could still move my legs (a bit) and feel contractions (a little) so it was basically the perfect epidural experience. (Except when my blood pressure dropped and I fainted. Apparently this is a pretty common reaction to an epidural, and it was resolved quickly.)
Eventually (at about 9am) we started pitocin, but it was still slow going- contractions were pretty irregular and the cervix wasn’t in a hurry to get to ten. Finally, at almost 1 pm, I started to get the tell-tale pressure feeling. I was complete, and wheeled in to an operating room (standard practice here for twin births). There were about 5 nurses in addition to my OB, all women. It seemed to take forever for everything to be set up so that I could push. Finally, I pushed through three contractions and at 1:28 baby A was out! And screaming! And perfect! He was whisked away to be swaddled (I told them I didn’t want to do skin-to-skin, trying to avoid any sort of bonding experience.) Baby B was presenting with a hand and a bit of cord along with her head, so my OB was sort of reaching up there to help her descend with just her head first. I was really glad for the epidural at that point- what a strange feeling. Just a few minutes and about 2 pushes later, at 1:41, Baby B was out. She was much smaller and quieter than her brother, but still healthy.
Baby A: 6 lbs. 5 oz. (just one ounce shy of my daughter’s birthweight)
Baby B: 5 lbs. 8 oz. (sweet and petite!)
Halloween babies! Born at exactly 37 weeks.”

Urs and Ingmar arrived in town late the next night.  It was wonderful to finally see the babies in their arms, but it wasn’t pure joy like I imagined.  I was a little anxious leaving the new family in the hospital that night.  It looked like Urs had never held a newborn before, and I was worried that they’d need help with the babies and they wouldn’t be able to ask the nurses (thanks to the language barrier) or they wouldn’t understand the nurse’s response.  I didn’t feel any regret, just anxiety about the long nights ahead for them.  It was hard for me to not hover and correct the way they were holding the babies, the way they were feeding them, everything.  I didn’t want to keep the babies or anything like that, but I did have sort of a protective “I can do it better” feeling that was hard to suppress.  I wonder if my own mother felt this way when she first saw me with Elspeth.  I wonder if I’ll feel the same way someday when I see Elspeth and Dean with their own newborn babies.  Suddenly I understand where my mother-in-law and grandmother were coming from with their unsolicited advice during the first few months of Elspeth’s life.

But it’s gotten so much better over the last week and a half.  Now when I see Urs and Ingmar with the babies (almost every day) they look comfortable together.  They look like a family.  It’s been beautiful to see the babies grow and change while also seeing their daddies grow into their roles as parents.  I’m perfectly happy to hold each baby for a few minutes and then hand them back to their dads.  I don’t worry about them anymore.  They are healthy newborns, and they’re so fortunate to have two loving, conscientious parents.

Physically, the recovery hasn’t been bad.  Maybe a little harder than with my own kids- I felt like I was in the hobbling, uncomfortable stage for a little longer.  But, I mean, I have it so easy- I was uncomfortable for maybe two or three days.  I feel great now, and I’m so well rested (thanks to not having a newborn) that I’ve been able to really jump back into life and move on to the next thing: packing and moving into our new house.  Having my mom here for ten days also made it so easy.  She did EVERYTHING- cooking, cleaning, packing, entertaining the kids.  I really just rested and did what I wanted the whole time.  It was perfect timing, too, since my water broke just about 8 hours after she arrived.  I feel really fortunate to have a mom who just wants to help.  It was such a nice visit for all of us.  We were all so sad to see her go on Saturday.  Knox might have been the saddest- My mom is a much better Suzie Homemaker than me!

Emotionally, things have been a little rockier.  I felt a little weepy for a few days (typical baby blues for me, and not as bad as after Dean was born) and I know I’ve been needlessly irritable and impatient with Knox and the kids.  But the last day or two have been better.  I think the hormones are evening out and each day I feel more like myself.  Some friends and family seem to tiptoe around me because they’re worried about my emotional state.  Some people avoid any deep discussion about the birth, some people give me a searching look when I tell them I’m feeling fine.  Some people come right out and say things like “you must be feeling a little sad that you didn’t bring home the babies.”  I really feel happy and proud when I think of what I’ve done.  There’s no secret regret hiding behind that.  I do feel a little confused about my reproductive future: do I want another baby deep down?  Do I want to be a surrogate again?  But I don’t have to answer those questions right now.  For now I feel grateful for the experience and the fact that it’s part of who I am- no one can ever take it away.

35 weeks, 4 days

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This is pretty much the scene in my womb right now, except that Baby B is breech. That little stinker.

I’m HUGE.  Yesterday two strangers, independently of one another, sized up my belly and said to me “You’ve got to be having twins.”  It’s kinda gratifying, in a way, to finally look as big as I feel.  And I feel big.  Way, way bigger than I ever got with my own pregnancies (I’m measuring above and beyond 40 weeks) and far more unwieldy than ever before.  Bending over to pick up toys from the floor is pretty much impossible.  My poor abdominal muscles ache from the strain of hanging on to a 15+ lb. uterus.  My feet and hands have finally started to swell.  I can effectively use my belly as a shelf for balancing food or my phone or a book anything else I don’t have enough hands or strength for.  Oddly, I don’t have much back pain and the sciatica has been minimal.  In most ways, this pregnancy has not been that different from my singletons.  In fact, I’ve gained less weight than I did with Dean, and I think that has helped me to feel pretty healthy and energetic throughout.

In the exciting family news department: we are buying a house!  We’re set to close on November 15th, and I would really like these babies to be born at least a few days before then.  I think it’ll be good for me to have something new and wonderful to focus on right after the birth.  I already feel sad thinking about my journey coming to an end.  Will Urs and Ingmar want me in their life once the babies are born?  Will I feel stripped of my surrogate identity?  I’ve loved being a surrogate, and I want to hold on to that.  Anyway, moving will help me stay focused on the present and the future rather than the past, I think.  That’ll be healthy.

As of my last OB appointment a few days ago, my cervix is dilated to 2 cm.  That’s no sign, really, that labor will begin anytime soon, but it is a little encouraging since I don’t *really* want to be pregnant all the way up to week 40 (November 21!).  Once I got that news about the cervix budging, I finally booked my mom’s flight; she’ll be here next Tuesday, the day before Halloween.  And on Halloween, these babies will officially be full-term and Urs and Ingmar will be arriving right around the same time. My goal is for the babies to stay in until November 1, and then they are welcome to come anytime they like.  I can’t wait to have my mom here to help with things like cooking and cleaning and childcare.  I really am so much less energetic than usual at this point.

Last night we attended a ward activity.  It was really nicely put together (not something you can plan on with ward activities, unfortunately) with plenty of activities for kids, lots of good fresh food, and entertainment provided by Knox and yours truly.  We sang a few of our favorite songs- the best were “Hard Times” and “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.”  They also had a cute photo booth, and while we were there posing Elspeth and Dean a little girl (probably 4 or 5 years old) said to me that she noticed I have a baby in my tummy.  This conversation is pretty typical with kids, now that I have a great big belly.  I just smiled at her and said “You’re right, I do!” which is my typical response.  But I was surprised when she continued the conversation with “I know who made that baby you have in your tummy!”  Knox and I raised our eyebrows at each other, and I said, “You know who made this baby?  Who was it?”  And she said “Jesus!”

HA!!  It took a lot of willpower for us to not snicker.  Especially given the highly medically-assisted nature of this pregnancy, the idea that Jesus made this baby just makes me giggle.  I mean, yes, from a child’s point of view God makes every one of us.  But that is not how I would word the “where babies come from” explanation in a discussion with my own kids.  In fact, Elspeth must have overheard my conversation with the little girl, because today she asked me if Jesus made the babies in my tummy.  I said “Not exactly” and explained that a doctor put the babies in my belly when they were so so so so tiny, too tiny to even be seen.  (This concept is not unfamiliar to her since it has been introduced in a book about surrogacy that we own.)  She took my word for it and moved on to the next subject of her chatterboxing brain.  I was glad that she asked so that I could dispel the idea that Jesus puts babies in women’s tummies.  Honestly.  The things people tell their children.

31 weeks tomorrow!

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I did a google image search trying to find a generic 30-week twin belly to use in this post, but you’d be surprised how many of them were scary shirt-up photos. I just can’t get behind that, so what you see here is my actual self.

Oy!  Where has the time gone?  I can’t believe I’ve reached that point where it wouldn’t be terribly surprising if the babies were to be born, like, right now.  Well, I mean, given the state of my cervix (as seen on ultrasound yesterday) it would be a big surprise for me to suddenly go into labor.  But it’s not uncommon for twins to be born in the early-30′s.  My sister-in-law’s cousin just had twins at 30 weeks, and my other sister-in-law had her twins at 32.  Another surrogate was just telling me about the twins she carried who were born at 33 weeks.  BUT!  Don’t worry.  There is no sign that Urs and Ingmar’s babies are coming any time soon.

The twins weigh about 3 and a half pounds each, and my uterus is the size it would be with your typical 38-week singleton pregnancy.  It was kind of gratifying to learn all of this yesterday.  No wonder I feel huge and achy and tired!  I’ve got seven pounds of baby in there and I’m about the same size as I was just a week or so before Dean was born.  I haven’t gained as much weight as I did with him, though, and I still feel pretty good most of the time.

Urs and Ingmar were here for another visit this weekend.  They found  place to stay for the birth and attended the OB appointment yesterday.  We did plenty of hanging out and shopping and eating and chatting.  It was fun, and we had a few really sweet moments, like when they got to feel the babies (really just baby B, who is a little mover and shaker) kicking a bit.  They also told me the names they have chosen for the babies.  I’m obsessed with names, and if there’s been one majorly irrational regret I’ve had about surrogacy it’s this:  I don’t get to name the babies.  I love names!  One of my favorite things about this blog, in fact, is that I get to choose new names for everyone in my life.

But I digress.  Each of the babies will have five (FIVE!) given names in addition to Urs’ last name.  (Since gay adoption is not legal in their home country, the babies will have Urs’ name.  He’s their biological father.  Ingmar, alas, will not have parental rights.)  I guess having more than one middle name is fairly common in the country they’re from.  Isn’t that awesome?  It makes me wish I had given my own children more than a first and middle name.

Shoot!  Digressing again.  The names discussion was my favorite part of the weekend, because Urs and Ingmar revealed that they are giving my first name to their little daughter as one of her middle names.  I am not a big crier (or at least not a happy-feelings crier) but I got pretty teary-eyed when they told me.  Knox did, too.  I am so touched that they would want to remember me in such a permanent way.  I had no idea, and never would have expected such a meaningful, heartfelt gesture.  I feel so blessed to be working with Urs and Ingmar: these sincere, loving, wonderful people.  I could not ask for a better family to have babies for.  I know these guys are going to make great parents.

Seeing them and getting to know them better has done wonders for my morale.  I feel strong and ready to continue carrying little babies A and B for another month or more, and I really needed that mental/emotional pick-me-up.  I tend to get cranky in the third trimester.  It’s uncomfortable;  I feel enormous, bulbous, obese.  But Urs and Ingmar’s excitement and gratitude makes it all worth it.  They make it easier to deal with things like:

  • The odd comments my neighbor makes about the surrogacy because he thinks I’m totally doing it for the money.  Like when I mentioned that a house we looked at buying was out of our price range and he said “You just need to carry a few more sets of twins and then you’ll be able to buy it with cash!”  WTF??  I gaped.  That’s not the only comment from this guy.  Not sure why he thinks I’m some kind of mercenary, but it really bothers me.
  • My own mixed feelings about Knox fb-sharing a beautiful photo that I love.  It’s a picture of Urs and Ingmar both touching my belly, feeling the babies move.  It’s a stunning picture, and a really great representation of surrogacy.  But since a TON of people we are fb friends with do not (or did not) know I’m working with a gay couple, the photo being public does put me on edge a little.  I’m nervous about exposing something I love so much to the hate and ignorance of people who don’t approve.  To make things more complicated, the photo has gotten likes from some extremely conservative people in my ward, including the wife of a member of the stake presidency.  WTF?
  • Uh, it seems weird to have only two bullets but now I can’t remember what the third one was supposed to be.

Ah, it feels good to take advantage of this space!  I love being able to just pour out all my thoughts and feelings.

The New Normal

Hey again, world!  The surro-pregnancy has been progressing perfectly and boringly, so I haven’t felt the need to update as often as I did in the beginning.  We are 26 weeks along now, just a few days shy of the third trimester, and the babies are kicking me and each other regularly.  That’s always reassuring to feel.  I’ll have my glucose test and a growth ultrasound this coming Thursday.  It’ll be nice to see how the babies are doing and especially to find out how big they are now.

This has been a busy summer.  As a family we’ve visited Myrtle Beach, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and our own state’s coast.  Knox and I also took a trip to New York for our anniversary, and he’s been traveling a TON (pretty much Monday-Friday almost every week) for work.  Add to that our various guests: my sister, followed by Urs and Ingmar, and then Knox’s mother.  And of course the kids have had camps and swimming lessons and stuff.  I’m looking forward to next week when Dean and Elspeth start preschool and we can get into more structured days with more alone time for me.  And I’m not gonna lie, my contractual third-trimester ban on travel sounds like a great deal right now!  I have no desire to leave my city, let alone the state.

But enough of that boring updatey-type stuff.  What I really want to share is this:

IT’S A SHOW ABOUT A GESTATIONAL SURROGATE CARRYING FOR TWO DADDIES!!!!  AND ONE OF THE DADDIES IS PLAYED BY THE ORIGINAL ELDER PRICE!!!!!  To say that I am excited about and have high hopes for this show would be a gross understatement, as you can probably tell.  I’ve read a few books and seen a few movies about surrogacy, but so far they’ve all centered around traditional couples.  I can’t wait to see where this show will go.

A Visit from Urs and Ingmar

I am just, like, ridiculously proud of this photo I took during a walk around the block with Dean.

Last Thursday, our five-day visit with Urs and Ingmar started.  We had SUCH a great time with them.  They were the perfect guests: willing to go on whatever outting I had planned for them, but also willing to give us our space when we needed down time.  They were so easygoing, generous, kind, and sweet toward our whole family.  I really loved getting to know them better and was sad to see them go.  I had worried a little about awkwardness with our language barrier, but we made out ok.  And they were so happy and excited to be here; mutual enthusiasm bridged a lot of communication gaps.

While they were here we visited the hospital and met with some of the staff.  I was pleased with how kind and professional everyone was, and being on the maternity floor again brought back good memories.  I delivered Dean there, and since his birth was incredibly fast and relatively easy, I don’t have even a shade of PTSD associated with visiting the place.  We also had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound on my twenty-ninth birthday.  It was an incredible experience.  Seeing Urs and Ingmar see those babies on the screen was amazing.  They were nervous, like any new parents, and the relief in the room was palpable when my OB announced that the babies look “perfect.”  And, most exciting of all, the ultrasound tech announced without a shred of doubt that Baby A is a boy and Baby B is a girl.  Ingmar teared up a little at that news: it has been their highest hope throughout this process that they would have the opportunity to raise a little boy AND a little girl.  They are so happy.  I think it was my favorite birthday yet.

Urs and Ingmar were also here for Father’s Day.  On Saturday night, over New York style pizza, I casually mentioned that we’d be attending church the next morning at 8:30 a.m., and that they were welcome to come with us.  I mentioned that it would be a Father’s Day-themed service and that Elspeth would be singing with the other children.  To my surprise and excitement, they said yes!  And you know, I built it up in my head way more than I needed to.  We walked in and sat down in a mid-chapel pew, and everything went just as boringly as it ever does.  I’m pretty sure poor Urs and Ingmar were extremely bored, especially since their basic English skills really couldn’t keep up with with the monotone cowboy who spoke over the podium for 30 minutes (seriously!).  They seemed to love the two songs performed by the primary children, though, and I think they liked meeting a few of my more liberal-minded friends.  Nobody said anything about the “traditional” family or gender roles.  The only really awkward moment happened when a pushy missionary (one I had never even met before) asked repeatedly how we Garretsons know Urs and Ingmar.  I finally just told him the truth, and he was pretty thrown.  But you know, even this conservative nineteen-year-old kid didn’t say anything rude.  He was obviously surprised and a little tongue-tied, but his response was something like “Oh, wow!  That’s really interesting.”  Knox, Urs, Ingmar, and I were all pretty amused by the exchange.

So throughout the visit, I kept enjoying feeling proud.  I was proud of my ward, proud of the hospital, proud of my relatively well-behaved kids and my superb host of a husband, proud of my body for carrying these babies so well.  There are, as always, still a few things in my life I could complain and/or pontificate about, but right now I’m feeling good so I’m just going to save those thoughts for another post.

Sorta Coming Out

Last week, on the day we reached the second trimester, I announced the surrogacy to the world on facebook via a link to a post on our family blog. The positive response has been incredible.  Way more people have commented or talked to me to express support than I ever imagined.  I can’t even express how gratifying and comforting it has been to get such a wonderful response, especially after building this big secret up in my mind over months and months.  I’m sure there are people who don’t love the idea, but so far they’ve all been silent.  The closest thing to a negative response was an acquaintance at church who just kept using the word “interesting.”  But even he was really being sincere and trying to understand the whole story; I can’t blame him for not totally getting it.

In said blog post, I tried to answer a lot of the questions people ask when they find out I’m a surrogate:  What made you decide to do this?  Won’t it be hard to give up the babies?  How does Knox feel about it?  What about your kids?  I had no problem being forthright about everything.  That is, everything except the sexes of the Intended Parents.

So it’s a little ironic that I talked to several friends who used the phrase “coming out on facebook” to describe my announcement.  I have felt like a real coward for not being up front about Urs and Ingmar.  I’m so proud to be working with them, and honestly they are the coolest part of this whole process.  I love and support them as parents 100%.  But I just didn’t want to handle any crap from people who don’t agree with me.  And that made me feel weak.

But then I turned to the surrogate forum to see if this is the same tactic other surrogates have taken.  The agency I’m working with sort of specifies in gay parents, so most of the surrogates on the forum are carrying babies for two dads.  A couple of the ladies said that they too don’t bother explaining the family makeup to the non-essential people in their lives.  One responder put it especially well:

what helped put small-minded people in their place was to always break the news that these weren’t “my babies” in my belly by saying I was carrying them for “another family”. That way, whatever perfect Normal Rockwell bs americana picture they have in their mind of what a “family” is can survive without me having to rock their world with the news that this baby has two daddies. then if the issue does come up, they’ve had time to get over the initial shock of the weirdness that i’m doing this for someone else, and start to absorb the fact that this baby has loving parents who have been waiting for years for this moment, and that their gender is not the primary concern.

Knowing that other surrogates have treated this the same way I have makes me feel a LOT better.

I do think word is going to get out about Urs and Ingmar sooner or later.  There are people who know the truth, and it’s likely those people are going to tell other people; I haven’t told anybody to keep it a secret.  And, after the birth, I know I’ll want to share photos of the daddies with the babies.  And me with the daddies and the babies.  I highly doubt any of my long-lost high school friends or church acquaintances are going to confront me about this, so what’s the point of me making it an issue up front?

I gotta say, though, I kind of like the idea of making it an issue, in a way.  One of my fellow surrogates on the forum said she didn’t feel the need to be a crusader for gay rights.  But… I kind of feel like I could be that crusader.  Part of why I’m doing this is because I believe it’s right, and I want other people to see that.  I have daydreams about bringing Urs and Ingmar to church on Father’s Day.  They’ll be in town for the ultrasound, and I think they would like seeing the children sing their father’s day songs.  Should I do it?  Probably not.  I don’t want to make these two people I love into some kind of political statement or public spectacle.  Plus, Father’s Day is a sacrament meeting that is likely to have talks about “The Family” and traditional gender roles.  I don’t want Urs and Ingmar to have to sit there and listen to that hogwash.

Still, the idea of walking into the chapel with them, daring everyone to say they don’t belong in our church… it’s very tempting.

The babies are great. My state sucks.

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Check out Baby B’s adorable profile! (S)he is a real mover and shaker.

Twelve weeks tomorrow!  I had my first appointment with my OB last week, and it was awesome.  I didn’t know we’d be ultrasounding, but we actually did two scans!  The first was just to measure the babies and check for heartbeats, and the second was a screening for Down Syndrome.  Both babies look great on all counts.  I loved seeing them so much that day, and was really wishing I had Knox there to videotape.  But it won’t be too much longer before Urs and Ingmar get to come and see the babies (on screen) for themselves; they’re coming in June for the 18-week ultrasound, which will be happening on my birthday!  I’m so looking forward to seeing the dads and especially looking forward to seeing them see the babies for the first time.

So I’m trying to focus on all that good rather than dwelling on the atrocious amendment to our state’s constitution that appears to have passed today.  Thousands of ignorant haters heard “gay marriage” at the water cooler and went running to the polls, and now ALL civil unions will be unrecognized by the state.  I had been thinking about going public about the surrogacy next week, but now I feel like the majority of this state are closeted bigots;  I’m in no hurry to expose these babies and their fathers to all that bile.  I’m so angry about this that I need to stop typing about it and go do something else.

Quickie

Wooooooah, long time no post!  April has been a busy month for us; we were Out West visiting my family for about ten days, home for about ten days, and now heading to Knox’s family tomorrow.  I enjoy having plans.

The visit to my parents’ house was so nice and relaxing.  It was perfect timing since all that first trimester blah hit me full force a few weeks ago.  My mom cooked and watched the kids.  I sat around and read an absurdly unrealistic book that advises women expecting twins to eat 3500 calories a day (mostly protein and fat), gain 30 pounds during the first half of the pregnancy, avoid all housework, and take a nap every morning and afternoon.  Come ON.  I actually wish I hadn’t read that, because now if the babies come early I’ll have reason to blame myself.

But yes, lots of great family time with my brothers and sisters (not as much as I would have liked) and some catching up with extended family.  Almost none of said extended family seemed to know about the surrogacy.  I thought that was odd; I had assumed that my grandmother would have disseminated that information.  It doesn’t really matter.  Actually, I probably won’t see any of them again until Christmas or next summer, so it’s possible they might never find out.  I know my mom would be happy with that scenario, since she’s not exactly proud of my situation.

It’ll be interesting to compare/contrast with Knox’s family this weekend.  We’ll be attending a wedding, and all of his aunts and uncles and cousins already know about the pregnancy.  They’re all, as far as I know, supportive.  None of them are LDS.  I’m wondering if there will be any awkward conversations with Louisa and her husband, who aren’t super excited about the situation.  Louisa, by the way, is expecting her fifth baby just about a month before the twins are due.  So there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be having babies around the same time.  We’ve been pregnant together before (I with Elspeth and she with her second daughter) and I like being able to compare/contrast our experiences as we get further and further along.  Since she has carried twins before, she’ll know where I’m coming from with certain aspects of this particular pregnancy.  But given the genders of these babies’ parents, I’m wondering if Louisa will be uncomfortable talking about the pregnancy.  We shall see.

A week ago we had another ultrasound; both babies are looking great and measuring right on target for their gestational age.  We could see that they’re starting to look more baby-shaped, with arm buds and leg buds, and one of them was moving around a ton.  Amazing!  Ultrasounds always strike me as miraculous.  I love being able to see what’s going on inside my womb.  It’s cheesy and cliché, but it’s also true: life is really a miracle.  Next week I get to starting weaning off of the hormone medications (YAY) and see my OB for the first time.   And just a few weeks after that we’ll be into the second trimester already!

Not much else to report!  No news is good news with pregnancy.

Dreams

"Mormon Temple at Night" by Maddy McCoy

I always have strange dreams when I’m pregnant.  And then I fool myself into thinking/worrying that those strange thoughts thrown out by my subconscious are significant, or worse, prophetic.  Of course, they aren’t.  When I was pregnant with Elspeth I dreamed about an adorable little boy with blond curly hair.  With every pregnancy so far I’ve had dreams that I’m having an affair.  I think it’s fairly common for pregnant women to have crazy dreams.  When my mom was pregnant with me she dreamed that I was born with a full set of razor-sharp teeth (and yeah, this was a good 25 years before the insanity of Breaking Dawn.)

A few nights ago I had a terrible dream.  It was one of those wake-up-sobbing ones, and when it was over I was SO relieved it wasn’t real.  I know dreams are really only interesting to the people who are having them, but I do have a point here so stick with me.  Here’s how the dream went down:  Urs and Ingmar were here in the US visiting to spend some time with us, meet the kids, tour the hospital where there babies will be born, etc.  We were meeting up at a park that had a big stage-type thing (it looked like Bountiful City Park, but we don’t have anything that looks like that around here) so that the kids could play and we adults could chat.  Little did I know, we were being ambushed by my extended family.  My mom’s side of the family had organized an anti-gay rally and purposely scheduled it for the same time and day that the guys and my family would be there.  The park was full of hateful Mormons giving speeches about the hideousness of homosexuality.  At one point my own grandmother was speaking about how “the gays want young boys to feel sexually attracted to Joseph Smith.”  I was horrified and humiliated, and trying desperately to get my family and Urs and Ingmar out of there, not only because I was embarrassed about my bigoted family and church, but because I was afraid the crowd would turn violent if they discovered us.

This all sounds somewhat crazy in the light of day, but a lot of elements are not that far-fetched.  My grandma has said some crazy things, and I can picture her saying the horrible things she was saying in the dream.  Mormons really DO despise homosexuality (even while they proclaim love for the “sinners”) and the idea of a “The Gays Are Tearing Down the Family” rally in Bounitful, Utah does not seem that weird to me.  I know I have friends and especially family who would proudly attend such an event.  And I can’t help but thinking the whole purpose of this dream was for my pessimistic subconscious to remind me, among all the joy I’ve felt these last two weeks, that most Mormons will hate what I’m doing.  That includes my family and friends.

And you know, this dream did turn out to be a sort of harbinger.  Around the same time of the dream, I talked to my Mom about possibly having a temple day with her when we’re visiting next week.  My temple recommend expired back in November, and I haven’t tried to renew it because 1) I have so few opportunities to attend the temple (and, to be honest, I don’t make a very strong effort to get there) and 2) I wasn’t sure whether I’d be eligible to have my recommend renewed in light of my pursuing surrogacy.  But this trip to my parents’ and their nearby temple was just the kick in the pants I needed to face the issue head-on.  I emailed Bishop Ellsbury asking whether it would be possible to get a temple recommend interview on such short notice and in light of my current situation.

Today I heard back from him.

“I have pondered and prayed about how to proceed from here as it relates to your current situation.  Even though the handbook wasn’t  directly clear in saying “no” it did strongly discourage this procedure.  In addition the same gender of the couple that you will be bringing the child into the world for is very much against the doctrines of the church and this is why my council was to ask you to reconsider and not go through with it.

At this time I am sorry to say that renewing your temple recommend wouldn’t be appropriate.  I do look forward in meeting with you to see how best to proceed so you can return to the temple in the future.  Let me know if you have any questions.”
I know I should have expected this, but it still feels like a bit of a blow.  I was still hoping that because I feel good about what I’m doing, Bishop Ellsbury would eventually feel good about it too.  In my mind, personal revelation trumps church policy.  But in most people’s minds, church policy guides personal revelation.  I don’t think he believes that I’ve made a careful, prayerful decision about this.  He certainly doesn’t believe, like I do, that God wants me to bring these babies into the world for Urs and Ingmar.  But maybe it’s for the best.  Even if Bishop Ellsbury had given me the green light, I still would have had to interview with the Stake President (a man I’ve never met) and get his approval.  It would have been even worse if I’d had to go through two uncomfortable interviews before finally being denied anyway.
But still.  It’s hard to think about.  I’m not allowed in the place where I was married.  And it’s not like I’ve fallen into sin.  I don’t feel I deserve to be barred from the blessings of the temple.  I wish it could just be easy.  Easy for me to leave, easy for me to stay.  But it never has been.
I’ve had lots of dreams, ever since I was a kid, that were fraught with church-related tension.  When I was 11, I dreamt there was a new law that families could have no more than 4 kids.  My parents gave me to another family, a horrible family that kept me locked in a room all day and didn’t give me much to eat or drink.  My mom came to visit me once (or really to drop off a sweater or something- she didn’t seem to care about seeing me at all) and as I begged her, screaming and crying, to let me come home, she said “Honey, just make sure everybody goes to church and you’ll be fine.”  Even at that young age (when I was still 100% on board with everything about the LDS church and I was proud to be Mormon) I thought “WHAT?  The church has nothing to do with it!  Why do you care more about the stupid church than you do about me?”
A couple of years later I had a terrible nightmare in which I came home from church to discover that my former bishop had murdered my entire family.  I still have a vivid mental video of him throwing my mother’s severed head into the back of a van.  A year or two after that, when I was sixteen or so, I dreamt that I was attacked by a shark while swimming in the ocean.  (We lived in Hawaii at the time, and our back yard opened up onto a harbor that was rumored to be a breeding ground for sharks, so this scenario wasn’t as strange as you might think.)  In the dream I escaped from the shark and dragged myself onto the beach and into the house; I was bleeding profusely and terribly weak.  I found my dad, who was engrossed in watching General Conference.  I crawled to him, saying “Dad!  Dad!  I’ve been bitten by a shark!  I need to go to the hospital!”  He didn’t even look at me.  Still staring at the screen, he said in a mean voice: “Nia, be quiet.  I’m trying to watch Conference.”

two!

Yes, as I suspected, there are two tiny pre-babies in there!  After spending the last two weeks analyzing the hCG numbers and over-thinking every slight symptom, I would have been more surprised by a singleton.  But it is still so amazing and exciting to think that there are two (2) little buns in my cozy EasyBake Oven.  Here is the heart-melting text I got from Urs this morning after I shared the news with him and Ingmar:

“Thanks, Thanks,Thanks so much …….. My heartbeat is so High.  What a wonderfull news !!!! Two babies , i have dream It and now Its reality  . You are wonderfull, let me send you some Kisses.  Its difficult to work now . Ouahhhhhhh !!”

I get pretty verklempt reading that.  I kinda want it immortalized in cross stitch.  I love these guys, and I feel so lucky and honored to be a part of this process.  What a beautiful day this is.

Anyway, a few more details:  the babies are measuring right on schedule (6 weeks 2 days) and both had measurable heartbeats (121 and 132).  Everything is perfect so far.  We’ll check on them with another ultrasound in a couple of weeks.  In the mean time, we’ll be visiting my parents out West for Easter.  After telling my Mom about the twins this morning, I’m more excited than ever about visiting.  She sounded way more excited and supportive than I expected.  Dare I hope that she’s getting behind the surrogacy idea?

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