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.

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