I met Valorie through an online classifieds ad I put out on allaboutsurrogacy.com. She was one of the first couples to respond. Valorie and I hit it off from the start, but the first phone call confirmed for me that this was the couple I was meant to help.
We kept in contact by phone and email, and once the contract details were settled (quickly, since we agreed on everything) we got ready for the long process of insems and 2 week waits. The first insemination got me pregnant to all of our surprise, and we began our pregnancy.
I had the typical first trimester complaints. I had the nausea from almost the exact day of conception, new for me! I usually don't experience that until 5-6 weeks. I grew out of my "normal" clothes early on. I kept Val and Ron updated as the pregnancy progressed. I was tired and fatigued as usual, but happy with the pregnancy. I had some very primal feelings that caused me to think deeper about my decision, but I came to the same happy conclusion. Val and Ron were the right people for me to share the gift of life with.
Through the second trimester, I was kept busy by my children. Then Val and Ron began looking for a transfer to be closer to family, and simultaneously closer to us. =) We were so excited and happy planning the upcoming birth in Arkansas, and their possible move. I felt great during the second trimester, but a little tired still. My husband felt the housework suffered more than usual. Near the end of the second trimester, my husband was asked to transfer back to VA. He began making trips to VA during the week, and took over a store there. He was only home on the weekends. I agreed to babysit for a neighbor just before, and felt obligated to continue.
In the third trimester, I decided to give up the babysitting job and go to VA with my husband so we could spend more time together as a family before the birth. I'm glad I did. It got my kids used to hotel living before we went to Arkansas. Val and Ron were surprised to get a job offer in Oklahoma at this point. They began planning their move, and all of this right as we are finalizing plans! Amazing how much happened all at once during this pregnancy. After 3 weeks in VA, I was having more and more contractions regularly, and I felt the birth was going to be early and quick. I worried about what complications we would have with the birth certificate if I gave birth in VA or TN. I spoke with Val about my concerns, and we agreed to make the trip earlier. In retrospect, this was a great idea. Our families bonded and are so close because of the weeks spent together in close quarters. At the end of the first week, I had a day of serious "active labor" contractions. I remembered this happening with my last two babies a week before the birth. Zia waited 2 more weeks to make her appearance. She came the night my mom arrived, and on her due date!
It was the last night in the motel, and we decided to try castor oil to encourage things. I had checked my cervix and was about 3-4 centimeters and 80% effaced. The castor oil did nothing at first. I had no cramping or anything from it. We called the midwife who was going to help with the birth certificate and asked if she would be willing to help us encourage things. Her suggestion was to strip the membranes and try black and blue cohosh herbs. I knew the risks of both and discussed it with Val. We decided to go ahead and try it. I immediately started having strong contractions. I continued the herbs throughout the day, but as activity with the kids and then my mom's arrival came, things slowed down. By 10 pm it was apparent that baby was not coming tonight. We all went to bed.
At 1:35am I was awakened by contractions I could no longer sleep through. The next one let me know I couldn't even lay down through them anymore. Not wanting to give another false alarm, I went outside and walked the parking lot to see how things would unfold. The contractions were 3 minutes apart for the 45 minutes I walked. I was no longer able to walk through them and would squat with each one to encourage her head to descend. I went to wake Val, but she had her ear plugs in and couldn't hear me. I decided to take a quick shower and try again. When I tried to wake her the second time, Val took the ear plugs out. She was so surprised to hear me say the baby was coming now. We went outside and called the midwife, who said she would just sleep unless we needed her. I was ready for the birth pool, so we went to my mom's room where we had set it up earlier that day. They began to add hot water to the pool while I contracted on the birth ball. I was really wanting the pool, so as soon as it was warm enough I hopped in. It was about 2:30am when I got in. The contractions felt much better in the water. Mom kept adding a little hot water, and could tell from the sounds I made that birth was coming soon. After about 4-5 contractions, I started feeling pushing at the peak. I knew this meant I was almost done and would be fully pushing soon. I used an ohhh sound during the contractions to help remind myself I was opening for the baby. I would occasionally say "Ooohhhh Baby, Come on baby!" It sounded interesting on the birth video, but I thought nothing of it at the time. When I finally started pushing, I said "Ohhh yeah, that feels good!" My water broke before I started pushing, and I let Val and Mom know. I got into a squat to bring the head down and make the pushing more effective. It worked with one push. I put on knee down and kept the other up in a semi-squat for the next few pushes. On the next push her head came out, and with the third push her whole body wiggled out.
She was born asleep, as my second child had been. Water birth is very soothing and calm, many babies are asleep or very relaxed after these births. She coughed some fluids out and began to wake up as we rubbed her and talked to her. She was very quiet and slowly opened her eyes to see this new place she was in. I was waiting on the placenta and thinking about nursing to help it detach. I had mom wake my children to come see the baby. They asked so many questions! I nursed Zia, got the placenta out, then went to take a shower. While I was in the shower, Val's boys came in briefly to see the baby. They were more interested in sleep at the time, though. Val decided to leave Zia with me for the rest of the night to nurse, and we all went back to sleep.
The next day was moving day for Val. We went to her new house and then made a trip to the midwife to fill out the paperwork. The midwife declared Zia perfectly healthy, and checked my uterus for me. Everything was great! I stayed with Val for 3 days, nursing Zia to bring in the milk. Mom and I decided to drive home on the 3rd night. It was a rough drive, and we got stuck in traffic. The interstate was closed due to a chemical spill, and the detour took 4 hours to get through 5 miles! The Baby Blues had also hit that morning while I was browsing the nursing section at Walmart. I had been crying off and on all day. We finally got home around 3am. I had been pumping all day, so I put the milk in the freezer and went to bed. After a few days, the hormones settled down and the crying went away. I felt much better and am now so content with the whole experience. My only hope is that pumping milk for Zia and shipping it works out. She is the most beautiful thing I have ever done, and I am so proud and happy! I didn't give a baby away, I adopted a whole family. =)