Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ah, Let the Judgment Begin

I have received two comments recently from anonymous posters not only questioning but openly criticizing us for having Daniel circumcised. When I read the first one, I simply gritted my teeth and deleted it. The second one, however, I feel compelled to leave up and to respond to, especially since there were a few personal attacks involved. It's probably not the best idea; I should probably turn the other cheek and let sleeping dogs lie and all that, but I'm up and reasonably coherent. Of course, I'm sure this post will fall on deaf ears or blind eyes since I doubt the two posters will ever return to read it, but maybe I'll be surprised.

First of all, my husband and I chose to circumcise our son for our own reasons. We researched it and talked to other parents of boys, both those who had and hadn't circumcised theirs. We are well-versed in the arguments for and against; I am confident we made a well-reasoned decision. It was our choice to make, and we made it. Therefore, I'd appreciate no further comments on the matter. If you chose not to circumcise your son and/or believe that it is equivalent to female genital mutilation, that is your prerogative. We do not. I am sure that there are choices you make in your life that I would consider horrific. The circumcision discussion is closed.

Now, as for you, dear Anonymous (how clever of you not to use any sort of identity. How brave of you! Or more truthfully, how cowardly), never question my desire for my son and my happiness, nay, elation and exhilaration to have him with me. At last. After four horrible, dark years. I love him more than I ever knew was possible.

If my post on the hospital experience came off as whiny, that was not the intent. Perhaps you, dear Anonymous, have never been through a surrogacy journey. There are many, many complex emotions involved as well as many hoops to jump through. As an Intended Mother, I had to give up carrying my own child and get over any issues with watching another women carry my child, worrying constantly whether she was taking care of herself (needlessly but that's just how it goes). I had to deal with everyone always asking if the baby was biologically ours before they sighed with relief and sort of gave their blessing to what we were doing. No matter how wonderful your surrogate is and how close the relationship, there is no getting past the fact that one of the seminal events of your life--having a baby--doesn't involve only you and your spouse but includes at least one other person as well. It is stressful.

In order to pursue and navigate our surrogacy journey, Husband and I pretty much had to project manage it. Find out the tests both we and F needed, deal with the attorney, etc. In short, we had to get a lot of ducks in a row. Imagine our distress to get to the hospital and find out that all of the organization and plans we were told we had to make were moot because the hospital apparently didn't know anything. We felt like we did our part. We got our documentation together. We had called people to check and re-check needs and procedures. And then we were still met with confusion.

Honestly, the confusion over our surrogacy situation didn't bother us as much as the other stuff; we're used to confusion about surrogacy after all ;-) What really bothered us was the level of incompetence and overall befuddlement the nurses displayed about seemingly routine matters. F picked the hospital--a large hospital with a nice birthing center--because she had given birth there four times before and recommended it. Even F's husband was commenting on how off the hospital was this time.

It's not about the room we were in. I don't expect luxury from a freaking hospital (though one of the birth center rooms would have been a LOT nicer). I do, however, expect competence from people whose job it is to take care of you and get you what you need. THAT is what seemed to be lacking, and THAT is what made the hospital experience less than optimal.

Maybe this post is for nothing and it likely won't change your impression of me as a whiney brat who chooses to bitch about "trivial" matters instead of somehow proving she loves her new baby. I at least feel better. The bottom line is that you, dear Anonymous, were not in the hospital with us, did not experience the ups and downs of the last 9 months or the last 4 years. You can believe me that the hospital wasn't the greatest experience or you can continue to think that I am whining. Oh well.

If you'd like to continue this conversation, feel free to email me.

I'm off to cuddle my baby and feed him his bottle (oh yeah. I didn't induce lactation either but rest assured that he will be starting breast milk next week once F has a good supply build up. Care to chastise me for my failings there as well?).

I don't mind dissent, but there is a difference between dissent and out-and-out meanness, especially when you haven't walked in my shoes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Birth Story Cont'd: Post-Partum

The rest of our time at the hospital was mixed and stressful unfortunately. N was right on in her comment to a post before Daniel was born. This hospital delivers tons of babies every day, but I swear there were moments where I wondered if they had ever delivered a baby before. This hospital has a public cord blood center on-site, yet they found our private cord blood collection kit confusing. I hope we were able to get some usable cells, but who knows. It took us forever to be moved from the delivery room to a post-partum room, and when we were, we were moved to the overflow area in the main hospital instead of one of the nice rooms in the birth center. It felt weird and somehow not right wheeling our newborn in his isolette down a long hall, into an elevator, and down another hall.

This wing of the hospital was apparently undergoing construction because almost as soon as we got into the room, we could hear very loud hammering and scraping that at time sounded like the workers would be coming through the ceiling. The nurses apologized profusely, informing us they had no idea construction would be going on when they reopened that floor. Hours later we were finally moved to another room down the hall.

When we explained the surrogacy situation to the nurses, they looked at each other, baffled, and one said, “Oh, We’ve never encountered that situation before. We’ll have to think about how to handle it.” Feeling good and confident at this point! They were obviously confused about whether they needed to address me or F about Daniel’s circumcision and other issues that needed a parent’s signature. One of the nurses commented that even though we were the parents, there might be some legal issues involved that necessitated F signing. F and her husband and Husband and I whipped out our PBOs at that point and told the nurse we had legal documentation. The infuriating thing was that F had delivered her previous surro baby at this hospital 1.5 years ago and I also doubt that we have been the only other case they’ve encountered since then.

The birth certificate lady informed us the state needed another certified copy of our PBO for us to be named parents on the birth certificate (never mind the fact that the hospital had one that they apparently weren’t using since they were clueless). So, instead of getting to spend lots of time with baby boy, Husband had to call the attorney to get another certified copy. He also had to deal with getting the hospital to finish up the cord blood kit procedure, which we had been told would be no big deal.

We left our house so quickly that we didn’t think to grab a few bottles. The hospital provided formula and huge bottle nipples, noting that all babies look like they are choking on them. Um, ok. F was pumping as well, and we wanted to use the colostrum but didn’t have any bottles to put it in. And apparently neither did the hospital. The nurse finally found something that would work, acting like she was doing us a huge favor. Daniel took an ounce of formula early on but refused to take anything else using the large nipples. We tried to feed him the colostrum via a syringe, which didn’t go that well. I wasn’t too concerned about his intake at that point since I had read that newborns actually don’t need much nourishment the first couple of days although that was constantly contradicted by nurses coming in to tell me he needed to eat every 3-4 hours.

When we left, F was in the wheel chair, and the nurse told us that Daniel would have to be wheeled out as well. She was perplexed by what to do since apparently they have only one wheelchair in the entire ginormous hospital; we again heard the now-familiar “I’ll have to figure out how to do this.” She wanted us to take the baby out of his car seat and put him back in the isolette for the trip downstairs, but I refused because he was strapped in and recovering from his circumcision, and I wasn’t going to bother him again. We finally agreed on F holding the car seat on her lap as they wheeled her out.

Amazingly, the only thing that went smoothly was discharge. F had terrified me by telling us that it may take us hours to be discharged, but the hospital was on the ball with that thankfully. I think I would have lost my mind having to sit there any longer.

I don’t want to give the impression that Daniel’s birth was a horrible experience. His birth was wonderful although a bit shocking, fast and terrifying! He was a wonderful baby in the hospital, and I was thankful for my quiet, cooing baby when the baby next door cried all day and all night long (something I could hear clearly all the way on the other side of our room). No, our main irritation was with the hospital and their disorganization.

I have to admit that the whole situation was a bit awkward overall. F was great and never did anything that made me feel weird. It was just that the rooms were small and people were coming in and out and I felt like I had to be “on” 24/7. Husband and I had an important role in this drama since we were the parents of the newborn, but F was the patient. We had no privacy. She had no privacy. The chairs weren’t comfortable. The futon was not ideal for sleeping. I don’t think I went to the bathroom for hours b/c you could hear everything in the room. We were new parents trying to figure out what the hell to do when the baby cried or needed a diaper change, and we had to do it in front of everyone. And never mind the fact that we were feeling a little emotional ourselves since we had just achieved our heart’s desire after 4 long years.

When we first arrived in the post-partum room, the nurses were being unhelpful, F was eating, I was starving and tired, I told Husband that I was about to lose it and I didn’t think I could stay there that night which made me feel awful since that meant leaving my precious newborn in the nursery. I calmed down a bit once I fed the baby, and it was quiet for a while. Then our pediatrician came in and told us that if the baby was doing well, we could be discharged after 24 hours. That then became my goal. If I could get to that, I’d be fine b/c all I wanted to do was go home and be with Husband and Daniel.

The evening went better because we had friends visit. F insisted that she had no problems with any visitors we wanted and to treat the room as our room. F’s parents brought her kids to see the baby later on and finally, everyone, including F’s husband and Husband left around 10:30, and we were alone. Daniel was a bit fussy around midnight and wouldn’t be quieted, and F and I had some nice moments trying to figure out what was going on and her showing me a few tricks. I finally gave in and let the nurse take him to the nursery since all I was doing was watching him, and I was exhausted.

We left the hospital at 1pm on Wednesday, the day after he was born. We felt exhilarated and jubilant as we snapped his car seat in the car and headed home. I kept looking over at my beautiful baby boy, and he makes it all worth it.

Daniel's Birth Story

I'm just now able to organize my thoughts about our birth experience as well as have the opportunity to get my laptop. I can do a lot with my iPhone but typing a detailed birth story is not one of them! I have two long posts about this, and it's rather stream of consciousness (probably due to fatigue!), so please forgive any rambling or lack of coherence :-)

Last Monday F told me she hadn’t felt good most of the day and was having irregular contractions again, but neither of us thought anything of it. I think we both wondered if she would make the induction date and thought it was very possible he might arrive on his own the following weekend. We texted each other Monday night for a while, and I went to bed around 11. She baked a cake. Next thing I know, I was awakened by the phone ringing at 4:11 am Tuesday morning. I didn’t get to it in time, but then my cell phone started ringing. My heart was thumping b/c I knew there were very few reasons for phone calls at 4am. I answered my cell phone, and R, F’s husband, told me that they were on the way to the hospital. Like a moron, I responded, “Really?” (hey, it was 4am) and said that we’d see them there ASAP. I calmly told Husband that F was in labor. We jumped out of bed and got ready.

We didn’t dawdle, but we didn’t exactly set any speed records for getting ready because we both assumed we’d have a few hours of labor before us (F’s previous labor was 6 hours). We were on the road by 5:30 and at the hospital by about 5:45 (Husband did set a few speed records on the interstate).

I think it’s safe to say that neither of us was prepared for what we were about to see and experience. You see, when we arrived, F was already 7-8 cm dilated. She had been at the hospital for only about 15-20 minutes longer than us. F was in obvious pain, and they couldn’t give her an epidural until her labs returned. We called only our moms and tried to make ourselves as inconspicuous as possible because the situation felt awkward and uncomfortable. I’m not squeamish. I knew that labor is a messy, painful business (I’ve seen The Miracle of Life after all), but it was shocking to walk in and find F in active labor and at the height of contraction pain. All along, the only thing she had said she wanted for labor was an epidural. It is awful watching someone in so much pain, knowing that it’s because of you. It was so stressful that at times, I wanted to flee the room and throw up in the bathroom. But I didn’t. I wanted to touch her and reassure her, hand her ice chips if she wanted them, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so, as if I would be intruding.

F progressed rapidly to 9cm, and the nurse announced that delivery would be soon. They broke her water and discovered that it contained meconium. The doctor told us that she would cut the baby’s cord and try not to agitate him too much so he wouldn’t cry as much and ingest the meconium before she could have him suctioned. F was able to get her epidural and then the doctor started making worried comments about the baby’s heart rate being lower than she’d like. She even mentioned an emergency c-section if things didn’t improve quickly. At that point, I really was ready to throw up because I felt so helpless at the thought that our baby boy was in distress or having a problem and was so scared and terrified.

Finally, F was ready to push, and the doctor told her that a c-section was still a possibility and to push a hard as she could to get him out as quickly as she could. Three pushes later, Daniel made his appearance. It was 6:48 am and F had been in labor for about 3 hours total. He cried a little, the doctor cut the cord, and the nurses suctioned him thoroughly. They then swaddled him and handed him to me. We have a great picture of me holding him at this point with a somewhat awed and befuddled expression on my face LOL.

F was great. Almost immediately after delivery, she was calm and in obvious relief. Labor and delivery had progressed so rapidly that she hadn’t torn or anything. Not 30 minutes later she told me that she hoped we wanted to pursue a sibling project with her in a few years! Amazing! And Daniel’s head hadn’t been compressed and looked beautiful.

I didn’t cry. I almost did though. I felt so relieved and happy, and he was so beautiful. The nurse gave him a bath (which he hated) and told me he scored an 8 & 9 on his Apgar tests, which relieved me greatly.

I still can't get over how fast the birth happened. I don't think it went the way the four of us intended or thought it would go. I think we all thought we would ease into labor instead of being close to delivering almost immediately. I also still haven't gotten over my worry and fear for Daniel when his heart rate was low. They gave F oxygen during delivery and pronounced Daniel to be perfect, but you better believe I spent some time Googling "fetal distress" and future outcomes. Guess I better get used to worrying about him? I did it when he was in utero, and I guess it will only get worse!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Just a quick post that Daniel James Gordon H. made his appearance at 6:48 am yesterday morning. He's 6 pounds 7 ounces and 20 inches long. He's adorable! F is doing well after a sudden and quick 3-hour labor. I think she pushed for about 2 minutes and he was out!

I'll post a fuller birth story later. There were some scary moments, but everyone is doing well. I've changed three diapers and elicited two burps :-) Daddy is in love :-)

We are hoping to go home today if the pediatrician lets us. I'm ready to take him home and start settling in.

Soooo glad my tiny peanut is here!

-- Post From My iPhone