Thursday, December 23, 2010

10 Days Post-Cesarean

I didn't know what to expect in recovering from a c-section. It turns out... they're not that bad! I still think natural birth is a better, safer method, but if your baby's presentation or other factors necessitates a c-section, it is not the end of the world. ;-)

After the surgery I was moved to a temporary recovery station to wait for the spinal to wear off enough to be able to raise my knees while lying on the bed. This probably takes 1-2 hours.

When my private post-partum recovery room was ready (Sharp Mary Birch in San Diego - nice!) they wheeled me away (babies in arms) to the sixth floor and we settled in for our 3-day stay.

I was given IV Motrin every 6 hours for pain management and this was sufficient. The most difficult (painful) movement is getting in and out of bed. And twins around-the-clock calls for a LOT of in and out of bed! Any other movement is relatively pain-free as long as you keep your movements slow.

After the first 24 hours I'd had two bags of saline with pitocin (pitocin to keep the uterus firm - probably not necessary with breastfeeding, but good luck with that argument!) and they removed my IV and catheter. Yay! Freedom! Walking was a piece of cake and I did several laps around the 6th floor that evening. Why? Change of scenery, and..... gas.

I got this truly intense pain in my shoulders which one nurse said was gas pain. Yeah right! (That was my inward reaction.) Later I was told the same thing by another nurse, and that I should try walking. Well, if two nurses say it's gas then maybe they're right? So I tried walking, but it didn't help. Another nurse said to lay in bed, all the way flat, and raise the feet. This did help!

Now I'd been assuming that they were talking about gas in the digestive system causing shoulder pain. But now in hindsight I think it might be air bubbles that enter the body during surgery. Those bubbles actually COULD travel to the shoulders and lying down with feet elevated could make them rise out of the shoulders and relieve that pain until the body is able to absorb the air. Hmm.

Day 2, the goal is to pass gas (the regular kind). Only in the hospital do you get a Gold Star for farting! :-) My doctor recommends using an abdominal binder during recovery. It helps support the muscles and it also helps put the intestines back where they belong. The hospital has the abdominal binders but I had to ask for one - I think it's not a standard practice to give them out. (These are a consumable item, so it's new when you get it and it goes home with you.)

Around Day 7 I was able to get in/out of bed without pain (still taking Motrin every 6 hours) and last night I discovered I can sleep on my belly! I am a total belly sleeper, so this is awesome! I put a little pillow below my boobs but above my incision, to take away the pressure.

Bleeding still happens with a c-section. But it's much lighter than after a vaginal birth because the doc has removed most of the material.

My waist has shrunk from 44 inches to 35 inches. My boobs have grown from 36 inches to 39 inches. :-) I'm hoping another week will reduce the belly to 30 inches. I didn't put on very much flab this time around so I should have a nice figure soon, I hope. I'm off the Motrin and resuming my normal activities (laundry, dishes, etc.). No baths, no sex, and no lifting heavy objects, until the 6 week check-up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Birth Story

From my absence the last couple of days I'm sure you've all guessed that the stork made it's visit. :-)

I saw Dr. Biter Tuesday morning to confirm my water had ruptured. (Do they really think I could pee myself every hour without knowing I was peeing on myself? LOL. Seriously.) So, they confirmed the rupture and agreed that this was a small tear in the sac as opposed to a huge gaping hole with no water left for the baby. The problem came when ultrasound showed Baby A was presenting footling breech. :-( My doctor is very pro-natural birth but has to draw the line somewhere... twins with Baby A in footling position and broken water is over his line.

The dangerous possibility is cord prolapse, when the umbilical cord is born before the baby and then blood/oxygen supply is cut off from the baby by the pressure of passage through the birth canal. After a good long consultation and a couple of ultrasounds I had to resign myself to the reality of a c-section. This wasn't the birth I had envisioned but it was our new reality.

I talked to the Parents and they booked the first available flight from Germany to L.A. which had them arriving Thursday night. They would miss the birth of their babies so this was not the birth that they had envisioned either.

I arrived at Sharp Mary Birch around noon and was admitted. The pre-birth legal paperwork had already been filed by our agency, but the hospital couldn't find it. My doctor's office had sent over my medical information, but I still had to answer question after question to first one nurse, then another from a different department, then insurance questions, and it seemed to take forever to get set up in the system. I'm so thankful that I was not having contractions during all that time (at Dr. Biter's office they found me to be 5cm dilated!).

Suddenly we were given 15 minutes to be ready for the O.R. The dreaded c-section was imminent! I decided to embrace this turn of events and asked if I could hold a mirror up to watch the operation. They thought I was nuts, but someone found a mirror for me and I watched the whole thing! Quite an experience to watch your belly be cut open (with no pain) and watch them pulling and tugging to open up the hole (with no pain) and then see a baby pulled out!

Both babies came out crying and breathing on their own. Clara was 5 pounds and born at 2:35pm, David was 5.5 pounds and born just one minute later. 35 weeks is right on the cusp of too early (needing help breathing) and term. I was relieved that neither one would need to spend time in the NICU.

After the births I continued to watch my surgery with the hand-held mirror and asked Dr. Cobb (Dr. Biter's new and handsome associate) what it was that he was stitching up. My uterus! Right there sitting on top of my belly was my uterus! And he put in a nice sturdy double layer of stitches to ensure the safety of any future pregnancies. :-) My uterus was pushed back into it's place and then my incision was stitched. Dr. Cobb stitched the subcutaneous layer of the skin so that the opening is closed from the inside which makes for a cleaner wound which heals more quickly and with less discomfort than staples.

The babies and I were moved to a small but private room and I babysat little Clara and David for their first few days. This was an unusual blessing for a surrogate and I enjoyed that time with them. I was quite ready, however, to hand them over to Mom and Dad and come home today.

A common question for every surrogate: Are you sure you're going to be able to "give them up"? Even after breastfeeding, diapering, and 3 nights of very little sleep, I never felt like I was more than a babysitter (the very best babysitter!) to those precious and absolutely beautiful babies. They are so cute!

I'll try to get pictures posted soon.

Thank you for all the well wishes!

P.S. The new family will be staying just a few miles away (at a very posh resort) until January 10th, and I'll be providing as much milk as I can supply before they return home to Germany.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh NO!

11:10pm and almost asleep when I feel a warm wetness.... "huh? what was that?".... and then another trickle, and then another trickle. Uh oh. I ask Ryan to get me a hand towel, and hurry, please. Yep, more fluid.

I've never had this happen before! I got up to get more hand towels/washcloths and tried to figure out what I should do. My previous 3 pregnancies all went past 40 weeks and my water never did break on it's own during the course of labor/delivery.

So I called Dr. Biter's answering service and waited by the phone. When I called back later there was a new shift and I must have been forgotten. I don't know. It happens, right? I tried sitting still and upright to stop the flow (all clear and odorless, by the way) and that seemed to work. Then I thought, "while I'm up I might as well clear off the table" and I lifted a stack of 3-4 plates to carry to the sink. Gush. OK, lifting anything at all is apparently not a good idea.

I called the answering service again and this time she put me on hold, got the doc on the line, and patched us together.

Dr. Biter said that there is no cause for immediate alarm. Clear and odorless are good signs (no infection or fetal distress). And I'm not contracting. So unless anything changes during the night then I will be seeing him first thing in the morning for an ultrasound to measure the amount of amniotic fluid surrounding the babies and check their heartrates and etc.

So I tried to go to sleep. It wasn't even 10 minutes before the trickles began again and threatened to soak through my towel. And the sensation of warm water trickling is just not conducive to sleep!

So here I am. Sitting on a towel on the couch and watching some TV show that I don't even know the name of. I don't think I can sleep sitting up. Maybe I'll finish my crochet project.

Let's all hope that the rupture seals itself and the pregnancy continues at least long enough for the parents to fly in! They were not scheduled to arrive until the 23rd and we are 10 days early!

Monday, December 13, 2010

This 'n' That

I've discovered Ginger Tea and really like it. Chop up a few slices of crystalized ginger and add hot water. ! It has to steep for at least 5 minutes. The tea is very mild and just barely sweetened (crystalized ginger is dried and sweetened with sugar) and I'll bet it would be wonderful for morning sickness or any other nausea. Ginger is great for settling the stomach.

Baby Girl (head down in first-position) had hiccups the other night and her head was right on my cervix, just rythmically driving me crazy while I was trying to go to sleep. LOL. :-)

The babies should weigh about 5 lbs each now and I'm still feeling fine. We have a doctor appointment on Wednesday and hopefully we will verify the babies' positions. I believe the boy has gone more vertical and head-down, though the girl is still lower.

Made gingerbread cookies yesterday, and today we are making Stockings to hang over the fireplace! With the girls being 7, 5, and 3, this will be our first really big traditional Christmas with lots of memories.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

34 Weeks!

According to Baby Center, the babies weigh 4.75 lbs each for a total of 9.5 lbs of baby! Wow! My girls all weighed about 8.5 lbs so this is a full pound more than my previous pregnancies, with more pounds to go!

I find that I go through a period of a week or two when my back can't keep up with the strain, and then it seems that my muscles adjust to the belly size/weight and then I feel fine again. I still have the issue of my pelvic bones being loose and I do get exhausted after a normal morning of cooking, dressing children, driving, and general cleaning. Still no heartburn, and I credit that to the elimination of wheat products and sugars.

Today is my birthday! I am 32 years old. Husband let me stay in bed this morning until about 8am. I couldn't sleep past 5:45 but I stayed in bed and lounged, then did some Sudoku puzzles, took a long bath..... the girls all sang Happy Birthday to me and my Intended Parents sent me a Hallmark greeting e-card. :-)

Today I will try to minimize my housework and maximize my crochet time. :-)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Post-Surrogacy Blues

Kelly posted about post-surrogacy blues and it made me think about what we could do to avoid feeling "lost" or empty after the birth of our surro-babies. It's true that a lot of thought and energy is devoted to a surrogate pregnancy and it begins months or more before conception.... application process, screenings, matching, contracts, medications and injections....

After the birth.... then what? The ride is over.

I think we should plan to have a new project to delve into. A project, and maybe a bucket list. Think of all the things you could not do because of the pregnancy and write them down. A To-Do List of FUN!

My list would look something like this:
1. Take my daughter on some roller-coasters
2. Treat myself to a long trail ride (horseback)
3. Go wine-tasting in Temecula
4. Host a Margerita Madness party with every girl I know (not many...LOL)
5. Weekend with hubby in Las Vegas
6. Turn the soil and replant my garden

What will you do when the pregnancy ends?

*Intended Parents reading this can help by sharing pictures of your new family with your surrogate. She doesn't miss the babies, but she wants to see how happy you are together, and she doesn't want to be immediately forgotten. I hope to get weekly emails for the first couple of months, and then I imagine the communication will slow down, and then maybe I'll be included in the annual Christmas card list with a family photo enclosed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ready to Pop?

Everywhere I go people comment, "Looks like you're about ready to pop!" Well, yes and no. I had my doctor's appointment this morning and I am measuring 40 weeks, so if this were a singleton pregnancy then we would expect birth to be imminent. However, I'm just 33 weeks pregnant.

33 weeks pregnant. This week I've decided I've reached the uncomfortable stage. It's not really my belly (I can still eat just fine, and my breathing is not restricted, my ribcage feels fine), it's my hips and back. My pelvic bones have separated and the weight of the belly has exceeded my back strength. Standing or walking for more than 10 minutes is uncomfortable. I'm back to wearing my belly/back support brace but only for short periods of time while I'm cooking or doing laundry. It does help.

Sleep. I'm still sleeping well, though I noticed last night that my hips are more pressure sensitive and I will probably need to adjust my pillows. Because heartburn is no longer an issue I'm able to sleep more flat (without the wedge) and I've been using only 3 pillows. One under my head, one between the knees, and one under my waist and belly. Supporting the curve of my waist takes a lot of pressure off of my hip and has been very comfortable. I'll be hunting for a fluffier pillow to take still more pressure off of that hip now that it's getting uncomfortable.

My chiropractor reminded me to keep a swing in my hips when walking because that does help the lower back to stay loose and relaxed.

I weighed 166 today. Blood pressure was 108/62.