Sometimes it’s hard to be a Unicorn

31 weeks. Crazy to think about, really. But to think two months from today is our due date! And at this point we have appointments every two weeks. Before we know it we will be seeing the doctor weekly! Tommy is so very active, and between myself and my family, we are enjoying watching him have the hiccups and try to find a comfortable position. Watching Tommy stretch is quite an amazing thing, too! It brings me to the miracle that life truly is. How at only three pounds, he is strong enough to make my belly move.

As we get into the final stretches of this pregnancy I am realizing how much of a sacrifice it is being a Unicorn. I think in the beginning, as people commented on how amazing it is that I am doing this, and how much of a sacrifice it is, I didn’t share the same thoughts. I thought, eh, it’s pregnancy. I’ve done it four times and survived. And actually most of my pregnancies have been enjoyable…until about the stage I’m in right now. To quote Celine Dion, “It’s all coming back to me now.” I am so grateful for the experience so far and I know the sweetest part is yet to come!! It just seems like it’s going to take forever to get there.

The restless leg syndrome is getting better as I have upped my iron supplements. The insomnia, however, is rampant as ever. And you all know what happens to your emotions when you are perpetually tired…. As Tommy continues to grow into a healthy, young baby boy, I am finding it harder to breathe, walk, exercise, be comfortable, sleep. Sometimes I wonder where he is going to find room in this belly to grow. Lol. It will be fun to watch! And I’m thinking soon I will have to make a few appointments with a massage therapist to help with my back and hips carrying the extra weight.

Then there’s the physical appearance that is making it hard for me. I haven’t gained a whole lot of weight (thanks Heather!) but I am at the point where I feel huge. I can see it in my face, hips, butt…which I know is normal for most women. Just doesn’t make it easier to experience again. And I know I will bounce back…it just takes time.

And the real sacrifice for me is the opportunities I feel I may be missing out on. Due to lack of energy, feeling emotional, the point I am in the pregnancy. Again, I know the best part is yet to come! And in the few conversations I have had about these feelings I feel like I need to clarify that I am SO thankful to be on this journey. To be following my heart dream. And most importantly that I am blessed to be a Unicorn for Travis, Tory and Miss Teags!!! But even with all the beauty of this journey, there are sacrifices…all worth it.

Only 9 weeks. Even for me it truly has gone fast! And I know these next two months will go as fast. But if you pray, please pray that my perspective stays on the blessings this journey is bringing to so many, including T3, almost T4! And please pray that I can see through whatever sacrifices I may be feeling at the end of each day. As I continue to pray I am in awe of of my family. This journey they are on comes with their own sacrifices and I am so thankful they are supportive of my heart dream!

Thank you for your prayers and support! And stay tuned as we get closer to bringing baby Tommy back into the arms of his mom and dad!

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We enter the 30 club: Tommy and his Unicorn hit 30 weeks!!!

T- 10 weeks until we are T4! WHOA. This little boy is coming SOON. Mama is so ready! Tommy is now approaching 3 pounds and 15-16 inches in length. The size of a cabbage.

This morning Teags and I drove down for his 30 week OB appointment…

I am happy to report, everything is looking great! One glowing unicorn and one healthy happy baby…oh and one very excited big sis! She was all over Brandi’s belly talking to Tommy, feeling him kick, and giving him hugs. Video below 😍

I also want to thank everyone for the amazing response we received to the babble video. So many of you commented and even shared it on your walls. The support was unreal. As a result it’s been viewed 75,000 times. Which is quite literally INSANE to think about.

Much to my amazement it also resulted in the director of the National Infertility Association, reaching out to me asking for permission to use the video for education and advocacy purposes.

This is truly the little blog that could.

28 weeks…with the end in sight!

I still stand in disbelief at times that this whole journey is real.  It’s not just a dream!  Tory agreed!  For her and Travis the journey is so much longer than mine. But this reality for me has been almost a year in the making, after heart-dreaming about it for 19 years…and now we’re down to just the last trimester!

Yesterday we had our 28 week appointment.  That meant big things for me and for Tory!  I got to drink that wonderful, orange, sugary drink (sense the sarcasm) before waiting an hour to see if I passed the glucose test.  Which I did with flying colors!  They flag you if your blood glucose level is at 140.  Mine was at 91!  Thank you body, that even at my geriatric maternity age (38 is evidently old…lol) it still knows how to process all that sugar!  On a more bummer level was my hemoglobin (red blood cells) level.  Normal is between 11.7 – 13.8.  When I give blood Red Cross doesn’t take it if I’m below 12.5 (which unfortunately happens more often than I like).  Yesterday I was at 9.1. 😲  Eek!  And that’s after taking an iron supplement nightly for the last 2 weeks. I said to my husband, imagine what my levels probably were without the supplement!  But anemia runs in my family. I’ve dealt with it for more than half my life. So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise…but I have to get that level back up!  So, more meat and more spinach (which I don’t mind!).

While we waited for the blood draw we got to take a tour of the hospital where Tommy will make his entrance!  They have wonderful accommodations for all of us!  Is it weird that I’m kind of even more excited for labor and delivery?! Lol  I’m already trying to imagine what it will be like to see Travis and Tory the first time they meet their little (or big) guy!  But to know how the nursing staff will take care of me (and other moms) when in labor is awesome!

We also got to listen to Tommy’s heartbeat again!  He thought he would be funny and roll around while the dr. was finding it.  But he was steady right around 139/140!  Nice and healthy!

So at this point we start seeing the dr. every 2 weeks until 36 weeks.  It’s going to make time go that much faster!  And it still seems like we have a lot to do in the next 12 weeks.  We need to write birth/post-delivery plan.  Make sure my insurance covers a breast pump.  And more!

So how’s the unicorn doing? Not too shabby!  It’s definitely obvious now that there’s a bun in the oven! So it continues to make for fun conversations!  And more awareness about surrogacy!  But all conversations so far have been met with support, love and some excitement…usually with some questions following!

My restless-leg-syndrome is still present. Although the reason for the iron supplements is to help allieviate some of that…which it has done!  Still experience insomnia…so fun…lol.  But other than that I’m feeling good!

Overall, I still give God all the glory for His hand in all of this.  He is good!

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Disney Called…Our Secret Revealed!

On December 3rd, Babble (the parenting subsidiary of Disney) flew Brandi, Travis and I to LA to  film us for a doc-u-series.

How on EARTH did this happen might you ask???

Let me back up…

In November a producer  posted on a surrogacy Facebook group I follow. He said he just started in a new position over at Babble.com, the parenting subsidiary of Disney, and that his first project was to produce a doc-u-series on family. Specifically highlighting different kinds of families that fall outside of the traditional definition.

I sent him this blog and said if he was interested in learning more to pm me. NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS did I think he would get back to me.

But he did.

He said he loved the title of the blog, the humor in it, that he was sure was hard to muster at times.

He emailed me saying that we needed to send him a casting video so that he could send it to his boss and producers to see how we were on camera. . He also said if we were okay with it, that he would love to see what Teagan was like on camera…let’s just say she delivered….in spades. Or should I say…crackers??

Crackers anyone?! The producer’s response was, “I am an animal cracker man myself” Hahaha 😉

The producer then skyped with Brandi and her family a couple days later.

About a week after ALL this, I get a call from a Manhattan NY number on my phone, that said DISNEY CORP.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. DISNEY WAS CALLING?!!!?? We were chosen to be the surrogacy family!

They flew us out and put us up at a hotel in Santa Monica. Trav and I flew out a little bit early and got some time in LA! We had lunch on Venice Beach, hiked the Hollywood Sign, saw sand sledding (it was right before Christmas) in Santa Monica, checked out Rodeo Drive Christmas Lights in Beverly Hills and had a wonderful dinner with Brandi and her family.

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The next day, we arrived at Disney Studios and were ushered into our own green room. You guys it had a shower, a lounge with a big screen TV, and tons of food.  We even were sent to hair and make up where two Hollywood make up artists did their magic. (Please keep in mind I am a stay at home mom –  if my hair is washed on any given day its a good day. You can imagine my awe).

In total 20 crew members were there to film us and the other families in the doc-u-series.

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(My thought process during all of this was 1. OMG I NEED TO PEE I AM SO NERVOUS. 2. HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?! 3. TOR, DONT MESS THIS UP. 4. GRATEFUL. SO INSANELY GRATEFUL. 5. OMG THIS IS LEGIT. THIS IS REALLY LEGIT.)

Our episode in the doc u series aired yesterday on Babble.com and their social media channels. As I am typing this, the episode has been viewed 27,000 times.

Okay, so why did we do all this?

My HOPE is that this video accomplishes four things. I want people to know:

  1. Surrogacy is an option for normal people. You can do surrogacy independently. You just have to be scrappy and do the work yourself but it CAN be done!
  2. A surrogate and intending parents can have a beautiful respectful relationship. The media has very few surrogacy movies and headlines but when you see them they are always about these horrible worst case scenarios.
  3. Infertility is rarely talked about in our society. Secondary infertility is NEVER talked about. That needs to change. Its confusing and its own special kind of hell.
  4. You don’t get to see what surrogacy is like from the perspective of the surrogate EVER in the media. Brandi will (and already has) made such an impact.

In life you get chances to be a unicorn. Brandi took hers. It was time to take ours.

#changeperceptions #breakdownbarriers

 

 

 

 

Tommy’s Baby Sprinkle!

Today was Tommy’s baby shower! Well technically sprinkle 😉 Even though I already have a child my family and friends insisted that this journey deserved a party to celebrate!!! It was incredibly sweet of them. My mom and twin sis Caroline and bestie Jessie put SO much hard work into the party. It was wonderful, thank you guys SO much.

The sprinkle was sprinkle and unicorn themed, naturally ;). Center pieces were filled with sprinkles and the cake was rainbow with unicorns! Brandi even wore a unicorn head band my sister gifted her. And we both wore sashes! Mine said, “Tommy’s Mom” and Brandi’s read, “Guest of Honor”.

Activities at the shower included Bingo and… diaper pong (🤣🤣🤣) yes like beer pong BUT with red cups wrapped in diapers. And no, no actual beer was involved. The goal was to bounce ping pong balls into the diaper wrapped red cups on the coffee table. It was a hit! And oddly enough the grandma’s in the room were a little too good at it and won 😉 I love my friends, best shower game ever.

Then of course came presents! This kid is going to be seriously well dressed and may have a bigger wardrobe than even Teagan as a baby. GASP. (I didn’t even know that was possible, especially with boy clothes!!)

Teagan also wanted to get Tommy a gift for his shower, so last week we went to Build A Bear. She picked out the rainbow lion because she knows Tommy is our rainbow baby. She then recorded her voice so when you press on the lion it says, “Hi Tommmmyyyy. Lovvvvveeee you”. She held it up to Brandi’s bump and presented it to Tommy at the shower. As you can imagine this is when tears started flowing in the room.

My big gift to Tommy were these things called Belly Buds. Basically headphones for Brandi’s bump. Travis, Teagan, and I recorded our voices reading him books and singing him songs so that he can hear our voices in the womb!

For Brandi I put together a postpartum/self care kit full of the not so fun but very necessary items you need after labor accompanied by much more fun stuff like date nights, facials, and caribou!

My friends and family, have I mentioned they are awesome!?, all wanted to show their appreciation for Brandi too and went in on a suprize travel gift card for her! So now she can go on a vacation when this is all said and done and recharge.

The highlight of the day for me was finally having all my friends and family get to meet Brandi and see Tommy for the first time. My twin is also VERY pregnant and due in the next couple weeks so we got to take a cousin bump pic!

…pics below ❤

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Top 10 Reactions…

Now that we are 25, almost 26 weeks along there is no hiding that this pregnancy is well…different.

In Minnesota, in the winter mind you, up to about week 20 I could just leave it at, “We are expecting a son this summer”…and no one questioned me. Thank you puffer vests, winter jackets and the left over “pudge” Teag’s pregnancy so kindly left me with 😉

We had V6 over this past weekend for dinner and we were all talking about our different experiences and perspectives when the topic INEVITABLY comes up now in conversation.

For Bryan, Brandi’s hubby, it’s telling people the baby isn’t his and then watching them squirm for a couple seconds (which is frekin hilarious!) before he explains. For Brandi and Bryan’s kids its telling their 7-14 year old friends that the baby isn’t their mom and dad’s. And for some kids they have to tell them the word surrogate and the definition for the first time. For Travis its being asked what crazy cravings I have had and responding….”Um, huh, I don’t actually know her cravings…” And for Teagan after yelling that Tommy is in Brandi’s belly to random strangers – they then look at me and go, “Oh well hi there Brandi, congrats!” Followed by Teagan yelling back, “That’s not Brandi, that’s Tory!” And finally, Brandi shared what its like to actually be the one pregnant on the last blog post if you want to read about reactions she is getting.

Considering I am now buying newborn items cashiers tend to ask a lot of the questions. So with that being said, here are the top 10 comments/questions that I now get asked on a daily basis.

  1. WHOA, DID SHE HAVE HER TO??? (Pointing to Teagan)
  2. *Belly Glance* Um, that’s nicccceee. (Like when you think someone is crazy when I say the baby is due in June.)
  3.  How did you meet? (Followed by a look of horror/intrigue when I say we met on Facebook. I had one cashier at Target actually drop the bag.)
  4. Wow, her husband is so awesome for being so supportive/cool with this!
  5. Has she been a surrogate before?
  6. Does SHE know??? (Pointing to Teagan)
  7. They open up about their own pregnancy struggles, which is so awesome. I love how open the topic is becoming.
  8. Is the baby YOURS?? (What I know they are trying to say is, is this baby Brandi’s egg or not? And I know they mean well. So I explain how it is our egg and sperm. That technically Brandi is a Gestational Carrier because there is no genetic link between her and the baby. That a surrogate is technically when their IS a biological link and its her own egg.)
  9. That I am blessed beyond belief to have been able to carry Teags.
  10. They start crying and hug me.

So what is MY reactions to ALL of these questions?

I love the enthusiasm and all the curiosity people have! Like after an initial look of shock, people have that look on their face when they have a thousand things running through their brains. Then begins the FLOOD of questions. People are not shy at all. They go for it! They really want to know how it all works! Total intrigue. Utter support. Which if I can help educate and foster curiosity and support for surrogacy I am all for it!

The only downside to all the questions? Embarrassment about how long the line is getting behind me at Target or Costco. 😉 But I can live with that.

(PS…you know that big secret we have been keeping???  We will finally be able to share it with you guys around March 20 – 22ish…so stay tuned)

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Teagan found a new unicorn filter in my phone today

 

The Unicorn Speaks!

I know. I know.  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Life has been so busy the last month (probably more than that actually), but it’s slowed down enough that I told Tory and Travis that I would blog today – 25 weeks!!!

For starters, our two families got together for a play date and pizza last night!  Between us keeping busy with four kids and our crazy life, and the T3 keeping busy with traveling and work, we finally managed to get a date on the calendar!  What we didn’t realize until my hubby looked through his pictures is that our get-together was one day shy of exactly one year that we got our families together for the first time to meet each other at their house!!!  Truly amazing!

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This is our first meeting of all family members March 4, 2017!

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What a difference one year makes!  This is us last night- March 3, 2018! And one of the best parts, I think, is that Tory and Travis got to feel some pretty strong movements from their strong boy!  Watching Momma’s reactions were priceless!!

A lot of people ask how I’ve been feeling lately, so here we go!  2nd trimester has been better in some ways and challenging in others.  I am able to keep food down, I find myself having more energy (which is typical), and my bump is now, at 25 weeks, a baby bump (not a food baby…lol).

But the last several weeks have seen challenges as well.

  • Heartburn, which is normal in pregnancy, came earlier than expected. Tums was doing ok, but I can only take so many of those. So now I take a daily OTC that helps immensely!
  • Restless Leg Syndrome sucks (and I hate that word!)!!  It is every night. I cannot fall asleep til about midnight, sometimes later.  And that in-between time I just go stir crazy. It’s quite frustrating!
  • So then I finally fall asleep, for a few hours, then the insomnia hits. Oh joy…lol.  Usually around 2:30 or 3.  My mind is totally awake for about 2 hours…just in time to fall back asleep for one hour.  So needless to say I’m a little sleep deprived…which is starting to catch up with me now.
  • And then there’s the swelling of the legs, feet and hands.  (See evidence below…lol.).  So thankful Tory got me compression socks!  Although I am not a sock person, they have been a blessing! (Thank you Tory!!!)

 

So then the question becomes how I’m doing emotionally.  Honestly, I’m pretty good there, I think.  (Maybe you should ask my husband…lol.)  This pregnancy IS different than my four.  So many people say surrogacy is going to be so hard because of the attachment piece. And I can totally see how that could be possible.  All I say is that I knew in my heart and my head that I was done having kids. Our family is complete (unless God has other plans for us).  And in my heart I knew that I wanted to help another couple become a family.  Or in the T4 case, expand their family!  So other than the heightened emotions that come with being sleep-deprived, I’m feeling pretty good!

The last couple of weeks have been amusing in a different way.  Now that my belly has popped to the point of people assuming it’s a pregnancy I have gotten a lot of reactions.  There are still a lot of people who don’t know I am pregnant/surrogate.  Today I walked into church and the friends around me looked at me and one friend’s face was priceless!  It might seem crazy that people at my church don’t know, but it’s not a situation that is easily brought up in conversation.  Lol.  “Hey, how’s it going? I’m feeling tired bc I’m pregnant…a surrogate really.” There are usually so many questions following the beginning of my journey that a normal conversation doesn’t lend itself to the time I have to tell it!  But the reaction is still priceless, warm, excitement, surprise and so. much. support!  And for that I am so thankful!

Even today, at 25 weeks, I received a message from an acquaintance who has been struggling with fertility saying they are keeping surrogacy as an option in their back pocket because of our journey!  That’s a main purpose for this blog…to bring others hope when maybe they were down to little or none!

I continue to be asked if I will do this journey again.  I honestly can’t say at this point.  When I know that I could carry for others that so desperately want to have a child I think YES!  When I think of the inconveniences I have had during this pregnancy, and doing that all over again, but next time in my 40’s, I’m not so sure….lol.  But I’m not even done with this beautiful and blessed journey, so I really can’t say. So…to be determined. 😄

Unfortunately I didn’t blog when I took my 23 week bump pic, so I’m including that along with my picture of me at 25 weeks today!!  It’ll be fun to see the compilation of growing bump photos as we only have 15 weeks left!!  Crazy right!?  I’m just thankful Tommy is growing, active and maintaining somewhat of a set schedule! We just ask for prayers that this journey continues along with little to no issues and both Tommy and Unicorn stay healthy.

 

Blessings and thanksgiving to all of you readers out there!

Signed,

The 🦄 (aka Brandi)