"My mommy is having 2 babies...but we aren't keeping them." -Paetyn, 2012

Our surrogacy story:  Well, we have some news. We have been so incredibly blessed in our own lives that we decided to "pay it forward" by helping another family to grow. I am 22 weeks pregnant with twins for an adorable Portland couple who we are blessed to call friends. So much to say...where do we begin?

We met Mandy and Jacob back in 2010. We immediately fell in love with them and started bonding over many things but one piece of their life was missing. They desired to have children of their own...Mandy was born without a uterus so always knew that having children was out of the picture until surrogacy was introduced as an option. Mandy did produce eggs and Jacob had everything he would need ;). They asked us if we would be willing to be a surrogate and after a few months of careful thought, we decided as a family that we absolutely would!! To be honest, it had been something I thought of before. I loved being preggo with my kiddos and had easy deliveries with both and no complications. Helping a family grow? What could be more rewarding than that, right?

It is not a typical thing to do and I never knew anyone who had done it so we started at square one. We contacted a local surrogacy program in the Portland area and that is where we began. Jeremiah and I (as well as Jacob and Mandy) went through a pretty intense program including home studies, background checks, financial checks, reference checks, and meeting with psychologists. The home study was pretty intense with home visits by a social worker who also interviewed the kiddos. We also met with attorneys and began working with fertitily specialsts at OHSU. Once everyone was all checked out and good to go, the real fun began. :).  We also spoke to my OBGyn and our pediatrician who were all super supportive and excited.  We decided to use a different OB for this process so that we could "seperate" the experience from our own kiddos births which has really helped and was defenitely a great choice.  Although I will miss the great doctors who delivered Paetyn and Maddux.

The process breaks down like this: it is basically doing invitro with a 3rd party. Mandy's egg + Jacob's "stuff" = embryo. Take embryo(s) and put them in my uterus and see what happens = surrogacy. Totally their bun, I am just the oven! :)

Okay, for those of you who need some more details, here ya go: First step was matching up Mandy's and I cycles by introducing birth control, estrogen, and progesterone (which was the worst by far). Progesterone is a chemical that is produced when you become naturally pregnant. And since this was not considered a "natural preganancy" at the beginning stages, progesterone is given to help your body co-exist with the idea of being pregnant. The science behind this entire endeavor was amazing to us! So, the progesterone was given as a shot daily by a 22-gauge needle in my bum. Yikes! We enlisted my great friend Sarah to help with the shots since she is a nurse at the kiddos pediatrician office. She was such a huge help and we could not have done it without her. The few times Jeremiah had to do the shots was adorable because he started to sweat and get light-headed. Let me paint you a word picture: a 22-gauge needle about the length of your middle finger because it is a intra-muscular shot which means the needle has to be that long. After the drug is inserted, the drug hardens into a "ball" about the size of an acorn which makes it fairly painful. There is also the risk of hitting a nerve (which happened twice) and just the normal pain of a needle that long...every day. Every day for 3 months. That was not so much fun.

While that was going on, Mandy is tested for her egg quality and once her egg is at the highest level (based on 24 different criteria) she went in and had quality eggs taken out and preserved. So, then they are watched every 24 hours to find the optimal day to implant. Once the best day is decifered, then Jacob's "stuff" was addded and they continued to watch their growth. I was told what week the implant would happen but you get the call the morning of to come in. The implant itself was super easy and painless. Took about 30 minutes and was easy-peasy. A little weird, but easy none-the-less. We implanted 2 embryos in June which unfortuneatly did not "take" and no positive pregnancy test was made.

Onto try #2 (our last try). We started the process all over again and I went in for implant #2 the week before Paetyn's birthday. Perfect timing because it kept me distracted and busy the entire week which was probably a good thing :). They placed 2 embryos because there is a 50% chance that one embryo will take and a 5% chance that both will take. We all agreed on 2 because it betters the odds but never did we imagine twins would be in their future. Implant always happens on day 3, 5, or 8 depending on various factors.  Embryos are graded in a petrie dish by "A" quality, "B" quality, and "C" quality ("A" being the best and usually implanted on day 8. Both these babes were "B" quality and implanted on day 5).

They tell you not to take pregnancy tests (but who are we kidding, of course we did!) I got 3 positive tests so I had a pretty good feeling about everything. Jeremiah and I went to Seattle for the Seahawks Monday night football game and on our way out of town we stopped by OHSU for a quick blood draw and kept our fingers crossed. We got the call right before the game that I was pregnant...with twins! Let the craziness begin...

I felt relatively good the first trimester with mild nausea but was certainly tired. The kiddos and Jeremiah were real troopers. At 6 weeks we got an ultrasound pic of 2 babes and Mandy and Jacob were over the moon thrilled! They have been so sweet to us and our family, meeting up for brunch and dinners to check in (and I am sure to make sure I am eating plenty!). We continued on and at 12 weeks it was time to start telling people because we were at the "safe zone" in a pregnancy. Our families knew and were so supportive and wonderful. My mom even came to town one week when I felt under the weather to make all my favorite foods to get me eating again. She's the best! My boss and coworkers have all been wonderful and my friends have been nothing less than amazed by the entire process.

We also decided to tell the kiddos at 12 weeks to prepare them for the idea. Paetyn was hilarious and told us "we didn't need to explain it to her...she totally gets it." She knows the babies won't come home with us and is totally fine with that because "one little brother is enough." The best was when she ran up to our wonderful next-door neighbor and said "My mommy is having two babies...but we aren't keeping them" and then walked away. Our neighbor's face was priceless.

We have had a few complications in December which is mainly caused by the "twin effect." I had some bleeding which was a placental abruption (basically when baby "B's" placenta tore a bit away from the uteran wall) and placental previa (which means baby "A" placenta is covering my cervix which typically means a c-section if it doesn't correct itself by birth). Neither painful or too scary which is a true blessing for all involved!

We just had our 20 week appointment last week and found out that Baby A is a girl, and Baby B is a boy and they are both healthy and growing like weeds! So perfect!!! Also these babes are fraternal twins (not identical). We are so happy for them and wish them and their family the absolute best always. We know that Mandy and Jacob will be amazing parents and since they live in Northeast Portland, we can visit whenever they want (or need us) :).

I will technically be full term at 36 weeks which ends up being May 1 (Jeremiah's birthday)! 2nd trimester has been awesome and I am certainly getting pretty big. I have been craving grapefruit and sugar-snap peas for every meal. And I have been lucky enough to have only gained 6 lbs the entire pregnancy so far. I got to walk a lot the first trimester but now that the rainy season has hit, my daily 30-minute walks have also taken a hit. I look forward to sunny spring days coming so I can get out more. People carrying twins are expected to gain 35-45 lbs (a regular pregancy is between 25-35 lbs).

Our hospital policy states that twins (no matter how delivered) are brought into this world in an operating room (vs. a standard delivery room) with multiple staff members to attend to everyone involved which also means that only 1 person can be in the room with me.  Mandy and Jacob have insisted that it be Jeremiah because he would obviously be the best comfort person during labor or a c-section, but the babes will be taken straight to their mommy and daddy's arms waiting next door during the delivery.  Let's hope that these babes come out quick so they won't have to wait too long!

I have to admit that there have been a few moments of doubt...a few times where fear sunk in and we wondered if it was a good decision.  But then we were able to step back and think that every major life decision will produce doubts and fear, and that's how you know you are onto something important.  I feel so incredibly blessed that I could do something like this and it has been a very humbling experience to say the least.  I know that it will be hard, and get harder, but in this moment I have no regrets. 

As you can tell, I am a pretty open book on almost anything that I have experience with.  I will tell you what I know (although it may not be much).  If you have any questions at all about the invitro or surrogacy process please feel free to email me at "Ladybirdandfellow@yahoo.com" and I would be more than happy to tell you anything.  I didn't have anyone that I could go to with questions about either subject and I wish I had.  So, please, feel free!

I am sure I will write more in the coming weeks and months.  Thanks for reading!