Before: The Sun Rises

“There is a saying in Tibetan;
‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”

– 14th Dalai Lama

It’s always hard to find a place to start, because life stories don’t have a starting line. I could start in March of 2017, when Brooke asked if I would carry their second child and we started the surrogacy process all over again. I could start at that first transfer that ended in a very early miscarriage, a wound I carried with me for a very long time. I could start with the second round of IVF a year later, that ended in heartbreak when the last embryo didn’t survive the thaw.

I will start in October when we transferred again, mostly in secret because we were scared of what the outcome would be. I was riddled with so much anxiety. I was in a weird place with my career, trying to figure out what my personal future looked like. I was anxious about the pregnancy and if it would take or if all the work to this point would end in heartbreak again. They aren’t my children, but I love my surrogate family and it crushes me when things don’t go as planned. And I had this idea in my head of being the “uterus of steel” here to save the day! It’s a horrible way of thinking and not fair to anyone including myself.

But transfer happened and was successful. Meds happened and I didn’t have any adverse reactions. I kept it secret for longer than I’ve ever kept a secret before in my life! I left my job in the beginning of December for so many reasons, number one being fear. I would give this family a baby, he would be healthy, and he would be perfect. Period. I very quickly got depressed.

It was such a strange feeling. I’ve never been depressed while I was pregnant before, it was always such a happy time! I tried to power through. The night of the Superbowl I started bleeding. I was in shock as I was 14 weeks and this is not something I had EVER experienced this late in pregnancy before. I called my midwife and set up a sonogram for the next day. I decided not to tell Brooke until I had answers, there was nothing she could do from New York but worry. The next day I went in and baby was perfect. Strong heart, jumping around, no sign of what could be happening. I was instructed to rest and relax. No real answers. I feel like this was a HUGE trigger. The depression and anxiety over being able to carry baby to term set in and I started questioning my worth every. single. day.

I cut out all my friends. I stopped doing anything I enjoyed. I honestly don’t really know what I did during this time, it’s kind of a blur. I obsessed over a healthy baby. I eventually went to a meeting for people in the area to learn about a new counseling service. As a doula I was looking forward to learning about it and being able to pass it on to clients in the future. I walked away knowing that I needed help myself.

My surrogacy contract has money allotted to counseling for myself or my husband if need be. I never used this with June bug, but knew I needed it now. Calling Brooke to tell her I felt like I needed help was one of the hardest, most vulnerable things I’ve ever had to do. And she met me with so much grace and understanding. “Yes, do it, everyone should go to therapy.” I am so incredibly thankful for her every day.

So I started therapy.

I think I had eight sessions. I learned to understand myself and why I was so depressed. I learned my worth. I learned to forgive. I learned how to be a better me. I learned how to be a better mother, and a better wife. Therapy is thee best thing I ever did for myself. If I could give the entire world a gift, it would be therapy.

I decided it was in my best interest to go back to work. I applied here and there, knowing it was a long shot that someone would hire me at seven months pregnant. But I got a call back from one of the best restaurants in Fort Worth. Then they called me for a second interview and asked me when I could start. It was a dream come true. A kitchen full of educated women, willing to teach. It was magic. I woke up early, I stayed late, I talked about it non-stop. And then the reality set in that my body, having been stagnant for far too much of the pregnancy, was not going to allow me to do this. I was crushed. At 32 weeks baby was fully engaged in my pelvis, was measuring a week ahead and putting a lot of pressure on my hips and lower back. I reluctantly left my job, again.

But I had tools now, and I knew I could navigate these feelings (yay therapy!). During this time some good friends of mine had called and needed a place to stay. I have never and will never, no matter what I’m going through in my own life, not help a friend in need. So we became a family of seven over night. Curtis and I in one room, my two friends in one room, and all three of my children in the last room. It was a new kind of chaos. But we navigated, we recalculated, we prospered. I had help (as Curtis also went back to work during this time), and I had company. The spring was turning out to be a beautiful season on change. I kept some anxiety as my belly grew over when Baby Bird (a nickname I got from his sister) would make his grand entrance.

The roommates left, as they had their own journey of healing to walk through, and I found myself alone again. My children are so much older now and even though it’s summer vacation, they don’t need me in the ways that they used to. So I found joy, companionship and nurturing elsewhere. Gardening. It’s so strange to think how much caring for these plants and watching them grow has brought me so much joy. But they did, and continue to. Bringing life, it’s kinda my thing now.

I counted down the days for Brooke and June bug to arrive in Fort Worth, and busied myself making birth plans. Affirmation flags morphed into flags of female ancestors who inspire me. My “birth plan” was really just a list a of people who would be present at the birth center. I met with my doulas and my midwives. I went to the chiropractor every week. I got a prenatal massage/spiritual work done twice a month. I advocated for what I wanted and what I was comfortable with. I ate with a hunger I’ve never felt before. I tended my garden.

Finally on July 7th, Brooke and June bug arrived in Fort Worth, and I sighed the first big, real sigh of relief I had in a year. It was almost time to have a baby.

You can read my other stories here:
https://myredthreads.wordpress.com/

Herstory

“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”
-Unknown

vi·a·bil·i·ty
/ˌvīəˈbilədē/
noun
1.ability to work successfully.
“an interest in the long-term viability of British companies”
     2. Biology
         ability to survive or live successfully.
          “pregnancy depends on the viability of the sperm and egg”

This term means so much more to me now, than it did a year ago. It’s such a strong word. Sometimes you don’t understand how much something effects you, until long after it’s done and over with.

I’ve had a few friends ask about my blogging (or more directly my lack there of) and I didn’t really have an answer. Let me rephrase, I didn’t have an answer I was ready to share with the class. I simply wasn’t viable. I honestly haven’t been viable for months now, since December. But I’m closer now, not fully there and ready to share with my village.

May/June 2017 was,….. hard.
For my friends who have ever gotten a positive pregnancy test, a positive BETA, gone through a round of IVF and then be told the pregnancy “isn’t viable”, “chemical pregnancy” or “miscarriage”, i see you. This happened to me with someone else’s much wanted, much loved, worked hard for baby. And I was completely devastated by it. It literally broke everything that I though I knew. The funny part is that they warn you about this before IVF and when you’re a surrogate, and you’ve never been through loss before, you just end up believing that it can’t happen to you. And my god what a crash to reality it is when it does happen. I guess that’s where this starts.
After another failed round of IVF (leading to the loss of an embryo during the thawing process) in October 2017, we basically took 2018 off.. well I did. Brooke spent the entire year doing round after round of egg retrievals.
When we had a successful transfer in October of 2018 I was cautious. I was so afraid to tell people, especially social media. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve when I finally felt okay to say anything. Of course it didn’t help that we had some bumps in the road, I started bleeding and I was terrified.
So I quit my job, stopped doing things I loved, and secluded myself. I was afraid of working out, afraid of being on my feet all day, and afraid of every single person who coughed or sneezed. I felt this intense INTENSE urge to protect myself, and more importantly the life I was trying to grow. I didn’t write about my struggles, and I stopped talking to my friends because I was ashamed.
I tried to work through these feelings, and other feelings that these ones stirred up all alone. I’ve been through worse, other people have been through worse, I’ll. Be. Fine. I’m always fine, there’s always a tomorrow. And holy shit did that make it so much worse, and make me so fucking depressed.
I tried so hard everyday to work toward the future, a future I was neither sure of, or even interested in. All I could think about was keeping the baby safe, how hard it is to be a mom, a wife, what even is a career. If this is my last pregnancy, then what will my future be? All I know is carrying babies, holy shit everything terrified me.
I decided I needed more help then I could give myself, and I started therapy.
Why am I deciding to share this with all of you? Because I need everyone to know, that those people you look up to on social media/in real life don’t post/tell you everything. Everyone gets to a point where they have to ask for help, and there is no shame in it.
Since starting therapy about a month ago, I’ve had multiple people I look up to confide in me that they also, go to therapy, have gone to therapy or think they should go to therapy. (Stopping here to shout out to Brooke who is literally the easiest part of my life, and I’m so grateful to her for supporting me in my search to get better.) Sometimes “self care” feels like work, and therapy is no exception but it’s worth it.
I’ve spoken so many times about villages and strong women, and this continues to be so relevant in my life. I’ve learned recently that having a village is key to healing so thank you to a few people:
C.K.   A.D.   B.M.   L.G.   S.W.   M.F.   J.H.   R.H.   J.A.
And every other friend who sees me, and understands that I love them, and I’m in a healing place, not ignoring them. I’m ready to put the work in, lean in, reclaim my time, take charge of my life, be the person I really am.
So now, I’m trying to learn how to let go of the past, forgive & be kind to myself, and not worry so much about the future. For the last day of Womens History Month, I just want to tell all of my dear sweet friends this:
Your feelings matter.
Healing is hard but important work.
You are more than your traumas.
I see you.
You don’t have to be Wonder Woman to be worthy.
Rainbows come after rain.
You are loved.

Lets talk about loss, and renewal

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
-Socrates

 

It’s been almost two years since I last blogged. There are many reasons for that, fear, pain, time restraints, excuses. I last blogged after a bad BETA that resulted in an early miscarriage or sometimes called “chemical pregnancy”. The latter term is a little hard on my heart, as IVF is no walk in the park, and a positive pregnancy test is supposed to mean a baby. I found out May 24th, but didn’t start bleeding until my birthday on June 3rd.

After that we did another round of IVF in October 2017. The embryo didn’t survive the thaw, that was our last embryo. 2018 was mostly poor Brooke going through round after round of egg retrievals. Finally it was time for one last try and in October we transfered one perfect little embryo. I felt pregnant right away but was so cautious. I only told a handful of people about the round of IFV, the transfer, the positive BETA. I hid it for longer than I had ever hid it before. I didn’t tell all my family, or friends. I didn’t tell my job. I was scared and I understood why so many women don’t keep it a secret for so long.

In December I left my job for reasons both related to the pregnancy, and not. I finally announced the pregnancy on Christmas Eve to social media. I became a horrible recluse for awhile, we had some low lows and some scary moments.

Now I’m 19 weeks and just getting back into a rhythm. I’m feeling good (most of the time) and picking up my pieces. So now I’m ready to embrace the new, and honestly I’m still scared and confused. But I’m also determined and focused.

Before this baby is born in July, I will build a new empire. I will be self-sufficient, empowered and loud. All while I help other women do the same.

So I guess this post is my announcement.
“Hello world! Welcome to me letting you into my surrogacy journey again. Also, here come Doula Chelsea, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve, so get ready for some magic.”