Monday, September 24, 2012

Life is Happening

Hospital visit again, Broken Down Car on the freeway, Missing a wedding? Okay.. that's enough....

This blog post written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

Let's start with the most important part, the babies.  Baby A and Baby B have been very active and strong in utero.  I have loved feeling them move and wake each other and "dance."  They love music.  At seven months pregnant (27 weeks), I can pin point their wakeful times of the day usually to the hour.  Typically, Baby B is the wild child. He is the mover and shaker and loves to wake up Baby A.  He is the one most people can feel (and see!) from the outside. 

On Friday night, I drove from Bellingham to a friend's house in Maple Valley (about two hours).  The following day, I was scheduled to photograph my last wedding of the season in Olympia (another hour south of where I was staying).  A good friend, and fellow photographer, Todd Atchison had agreed to be my second shooter for the wedding, so I stayed with him and his wife, Lindsay, (one of my best friends) on Friday night.   I arrived around 9pm and stayed up chatting with Lindsay until about 1am.  When I went to bed, I realized, I had not felt Baby B move all day, and not since Thursday evening.  I became concerned and tried several positions for over an hour to get him to move.  Around 2am I posted in my Surrogacy group for advice. Was I being too paranoid? Was this normal for twins?  I stayed awake until 4am with no luck of getting him to move.  I slept in and out, waking every 20 min or so trying to get him to move.  By Saturday late morning, it was time to call the doctor.  I felt silly, but all my surrogate sisters had said it was better safe than sorry and for the peace of mind I should probably get checked and many of them had been in my position before.   The on call nurse insisted I head to the nearest hospital to Labor and Delivery so I could be checked out, as Baby B could be in distress.  At that point, I was a little worried.  It had been so long since I had felt him, and I was trying not to worry.   I called my brother and let him know that everything was okay, but they just wanted to check.  They said they would meet me at Tacoma General Hospital.  I felt so and for them, I did not want to scare them, even though I myself was worried and I knew they would worry too.  Natalie told me later she felt like throwing up.  :(

It was now about 11am and I had to be at the wedding at 1:30pm to start photos.  I have never missed a wedding and started to panic a little about this.  My second shooter, Todd, owns his own photography company and he offered to start the photos until I was able to get there.  He drove me to the hospital and took off for the wedding.  I met James and Natalie (and Hunter too!) in the waiting room.

I was anxious to be checked and make sure everything was okay and get back to the wedding.  Of course it takes FOREVER, but the staff was wonderful.  We were able to hear the heart beats right away which was VERY reassuring. And of course, once hooked up to the heart beat monitor, Baby B started to wake up and be more active. Of course.  I was so happy to feel his strong kicks but felt a little sheepish.  

Photo of the heart rate monitors checking on the twins:

Now, lots of people have asked me "How can you tell who is who?"  This is a great question that I did not know before carrying twins.   Each baby implants to part of your uterine wall and stays there.  Whichever one implants a little lower, is Baby A, as typically (in most cases) baby A is born first.  They stay there during your pregnancy.  Every now and then I cannot tell who is who if the kick/punch/kung fu twirl is in the middle.  Other than that, it is very obvious who is moving and where they are.  

While listening to the heart beats, I made plans of escaping.  I wanted so desperately to be at the wedding now that I knew Baby B was alive and well and punching me.  However, the doctors had other plans.  They wanted to see his heart rate increase by 10 for 10 seconds. Twice.  Baby A had already completed the task and we were just waiting for Baby B to jump on the band wagon.  Their heart rates were both averaging around 143 beats per min (this is normal for their gestational age). They wanted to see Baby B's heart rate jump 10 beats, up to the 153 range and hold their for 10 seconds. This would indicate normal neurological activity.  Now I am sure there is some medical professional out there shaking there head at my explanation, so I will have to double check that my "terminology" is right, but bear with me for now as the weekend has been crazy!  Baby B had already done this once, so we were feeling pretty confident he would do it again. He was just taking his time.

Can I show up to the wedding in my hospital gown?  How much longer do I have to stay?

Baby B FINALLY cooperated and the doctor felt satisfied and I was discharged!   He said it was great I came in, if Baby B had been in distress, they would have had to take action and it is better to check than to wait.  Overall, I was happy too.  

I was able to make it to the wedding, just over two hours late and busted it out the best I could!  It was an adorable wedding.  I cried at least three times, especially when the father of the bride gave his speech and started to cry.   That gets me every time!  The couple was so understanding about my absence and Todd did an amazing job while I was gone. I was very grateful for him. The bride and groom have been clients of mine for a while and it was such a pleasure and honor to be able to photograph their wedding.  They are so very, truly in love.  I loved watching them on their big night, the way they looked at each other, touched other, snuck in sweet kisses.  Weddings always make me miss my husband.  

Here are some photos from last night's wedding:

After the wedding I was excited to drive home and see my family. However, my body had other plans.  Todd drove us home and I threw up most of the way.  Poor Todd!   What day for him.  I was so very sick, I spent the night at their house again.  Since I had barely slept the night before, I was able to sleep fairly well after the long day I had.

I finally drove home this afternoon.  I got in the car and was so excited to go home to be with my boys.   I called one of my dearest friends, put the phone on speaker phone, stuck it in my shirt and drove home, catching up with her about life, struggles, love, loss and much more.  I was so happy to be catching up with her, and not worrying about anything else.  Then.... the car started to slow down... on the freeway...  oh my gosh, what was happening? I  pulled over and it died.  It had had trouble starting this morning and yesterday, it's an old car, but usually never fails like this! Well, since I am an AWESOME mechanic, I was able to diagnose the problem almost instantly:  it just needed a little more gas.  Apparently cars these days are super sensitive, if you are way below the E, it will no longer run.  Strange right?   So after feeling like and idiot, and being 40 miles from home, two of my friends came to my rescue.  One was on her way to a photo shoot and could not be late, so she dropped off a delicious organic brownie and some water while the other brought gas!  I have great friends who put up with my shenanigans.    Next time, I will look at the gas tank before heading on a two hour trip.  Talk about feeling sheepish!  

Overall, I am happy to be home! I was able to color and paint with my boys tonight. Tomorrow I will see the doctor for a check up since my blood pressure was a little high on Saturday (which it never is), I also had trace amounts of protein in my urine, some extra swelling and we can also check babies one more time.  The babies have been moving and kicking like crazy again and are back to their regularly scheduled program. 

Don't forget to support our movie, we cannot finish filming without proper funding and it takes a lot to make a film!  We have a lot of people to pay, which is great for jobs for local people and great for us because they will help us make a great film!  Donate here, we are running out of time and every little bit helps, we are almost out of time: 

Tiffany Burke

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bigger and Better!

This Blogpost Written by Tiffany Burke, Surrogate Mother

As I am nearing my 27th week of pregnancy, I am getting bigger and better!   I am only throwing up every few days!  Although I am still nauseous each day, I do feel like a new person versus where I was at week 8 or week 14.  I'll take it!  I am almost back to my normal self where I truly enjoy my second trimester.   Oh my gosh, am I still in my second trimester?   Or am I in my third?   Wow, I better go look that up!  Time flies when you are pregnant with twins.   Here is a little bump photo of those two precious boys.

I posted a picture on our Facebook page today that struck my heart really hard.  One of the reasons I have been so publicly open about this blog, this movie, the fertility drugs, our failed first attempt and so on, is because so many women have had to suffer silently with their infertility issues.  Over the last year and half, after starting the blog, I have learned these issues come from the mother's eggs, the mother's uterus, the mother's health condition, the father's sperm, money (not enough money to do IVF), age, and more.  So many factors play a role in these women's lives when they are trying so desperately to conceive a child.  It's never simple, it's never an easy fix, it's never just one thing.  And it's a lot of heart ache.   I have learned by listening to you.   So many readers have sent in their stories, every day I read a new story that brings me to tears, pulls on my heart strings and opens my mind even more.

As I have mentioned before, I was anti IVF. I never gave much thought to surrogacy or what it involved, but if I was anti IVF I must have been anti surrogacy.   I thought if you could not have children naturally that you needed to adopt.  Perhaps this came from being adopted myself, and my own yearning to adopt.  I just assumed everyone else should be on the same page.   After Natalie lost her uterus, and after listening to her thoughts, it was like a switch went off inside of me.  I started to think about all my friends who had a hard time conceiving, and my family members.  I started to think about how they must be feeling as I pranced around the world bragging about being fertile Mertile.  Always thinking I was making fun of myself for being able to get pregnant the first time each time, when in reality, I was probably hurting those women around me.  I was not ever thinking about their feelings, their miscarriages, their still borns, their hope to see a positive pregnancy test. This is hard for me to write.  This is hard for me to admit how selfish I was in my own thoughts. Who would think that way?   I am admitting it very publicly that I did. I am not proud, yet ashamed.  How could I have not thought deeper about this issue?  I had never walked that path or known that kind of pain, but where was my compassion? I never even asked.  I was afraid.  When my friends were trying and never getting pregnant, I was afraid to ask. I was afraid to ask how they were feeling after their miscarriage. I thought it was unspoken for a reason.  I didn't want to pry or bring up more pain. I always thought if they wanted to talk about it, they could.  Why didn't I make the compassionate move?  I still don't know entirely, but I am changed forever now and hope that my friends and family who are struggling know they are NOT alone.  I hope I have the strength to reach out to those who need it and I am so happy to have shaken my prior, judgmental self.  I'm sure she existed for a reason, but she is not currently missed. 

I saw this photo the other day and posted it to our Facebook today asking followers to tell us what they think and feel when they see this photo:

The comments have been amazing.   I love when people come forward and speak openly, and candidly, especially on a subject so many women feel they have to be quiet about.   Here is what one reader wrote:  

"This was one of the many things I would think of when we were originally told we'd never have our own children. sounds silly but it would really bother me when women would complain about little things like this, when i wish they would realize how lucky they are to be able to experience a pregnancy and having children.  After going through infertility for 3 long years and then IVF to conceive our twins, I think I went through every emotion in the book."

We started talking and I told her how I used to feel and she wrote back, "Yeah I totally know what you mean! I am a twin myself, and growing up my sister & I always joked about how we were "natural twins" and ivf twins were "fake twins" lol ~  it's funny being on the other side of the table and having to do IVF and now im having those "fake twins" HAHA its crazy how infertility changes your entire perspective!"

She's right.  It is crazy how infertility changes your perspective.  

How has infertility changed your perspective?   

We are so blessed that this pregnancy with the twins worked after the second try.  I feel very blessed.  I feel like our experience is just the tip of the iceberg of fertility pain.  Your stories continue to change me, open my heart and mind and I hope my compassion is felt.   Your stories have made me a more loving mom.  I always considered myself someone who counted my blessings, but I for sure hug my babies more, kiss them more, tell them they are loved more.  Which I already did so much before, I am sure they are getting smothered right now. I don't even care.  I'm a smother mother right now and proud of it!  

I'm not sure entirely what else to say here. I just wanted to write out some of my thoughts about the pain others have been feeling and encourage us all to keep an open mind.  We never know someone else's struggles, even if they tell us, it's not the same.   I hope together we can all keep open minds and hearts and be a little bit more compassionate to others' feelings. 

Here is something I wrote down at the beginning of  this journey and try to read each day: 

Everyone is having a different life experience than you.  Because of that, what they can see and think can vary drastically from you.  This is where an open mind and compassion can build a bridge to better understanding each other.  Hopefully from that, we can learn from each other and possibly have more acceptance in all areas of this life.

Off to swim lessons with the little humans.

Tiffany Burke

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Movie

This blog post was written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

Before continuing to read, we would love for you to take a look at the trailer for the movie, A Belly For Me, A Baby For You:

Why Film?

Our goal is to help educate people on this world of surrogacy, infertility and to stop the silent suffering from all the women and men out there who have ached to be parents and hit constant emotional speedbumps along the way to their family planning.   For every 100 mean comments on an article, we are receiving incredible emails from women who are feeling strength from our story, no longer feeling alone and feeling inspired.  We don't want surrogacy to be considered bad or weird.  Just like adoption should not be.  People plan and make their families in all different ways now.  When there are loving families and parents for children to grow up in, I just don't see what all the negative fuss is about.    I hope our story continues to reach the people it needs to. Including the negative, judgmental ones.  You never know who's mind you may open by speaking up about something so controversial.   

As a reminder - I used to think that if you can't have children naturally, you should adopt. I was adopted, two of my brothers were and I have always ached to adopt. My husband and I will be adopting through foster care after the surrogacy.  But, I had never been on the other side, I had never heard the hearts of these mothers.  I had never taken the time to understand or to even listen. I just thought "my way" of thinking was the righteous one. Walk a mile in someone's shoes, then make up your mind.  I never thought I would believe in IVF or surrogacy, let alone be a surrogate!  The world is a very interesting place when you choose to open your mind and see it from another person's perspective. 

With all the mixed feedback coming in from the CNN article, it has motivated me even more to get this film made.  We know we can make a beautiful film that shoes the ups and downs of surrogacy, infertility and the ins and outs in a medically accurate way.  We still have lots left to film, lots more interviews and of course, the birth.

Keep scrolling down to see the latest Q & A's. 

Thank you to all of those with your words of encouragement during this time.  


Saturday, September 8, 2012

You Asked, We Answered!

With all the recent traffic from CNN, we have been getting a lot of new questions coming in.  Although we do have a question and answer page, we thought we would put an updated one right up front.  Feel free to post more questions in the comment section and we will answer them, or email them our way if you prefer to stay confidential! 

Also, don't forget, we are filming a documentary on this process.  We are showing the surrogate side and the intended parent side along with the medical side.  We hope our story will help educate others on the world of surrogacy. We need funding to complete the movie, so please take a moment to donate. Any amount helps!   

click on the above icon to watch our trailer and donate

Most Commonly Ask Questions:

How is everyone related?  
James and Natalie Lucich are husband and wife and have one child, Hunter, together. 
Sean and Tiffany Burke are husband and wife and have two children, Holland and Blake, together.
James and Tiffany are brother and sister.

Pictured from left to right:  Sean Burke and his wife Tiffany Burke.  Natalie Lucich and her husband James Lucich (Tiffany's brother).

Who's egg and sperm is involved here?
The embryos were made of  Natalie's eggs and James' sperm.  Natalie lost her uterus but has many viable eggs still left in her ovaries.  The baby will be a full sibling to their first son, Hunter.  They did an egg retrieval of Natalie to obtain the eggs necessary and James made his deposit, and the embryos were fertilized in the lab and then put in Tiffany.

James and Natalie's embryos, 5 days old and ready for transfer into Tiffany.

They are brother and sister, this sounds like incest?
We are trying to understand why we get this question, because the above has always been explained. But this is in no way shape or form incest.   Tiffany's eggs are dormant during inception, and not used in this process.   The embryos are already embryos - the start of life - before even being put in Tiffany.  They are 100% James and Natalie's.  Tiffany is truly just the carrier, the oven if you will.  

As an interesting side note, our situation is even more different since James and Tiffany were both adopted at birth, from different birth parents.  They are not even blood related although it would not matter if they were.  Tiffany would have done this for her biological brother as well.  This is no different than a sister carrying for a sister.  

Why choose surrogacy over adoption?
This was a personal choice made by James and Natalie.  Our family is very pro adoption since James, Tiffany and another one of their siblings, Jonathan, are all adopted.   The process for adoption is similar to surrogacy, long and hard and expensive.  Natalie and James wanted to try to have their own biological child (not knowing it would be twins) to complete their family.  Some people desire this over adoption and that is okay.  Adoption is not easy, it can take a long time, the child can have major issues from abuse while the mother was pregnant.  Adoption is not for everyone and I commend James and Natalie for saying they were not ready to adopt at this point in their life.  For knowing their boundaries.  All the people that mention adoption over and over, I highly doubt any of them have gone through the process themselves.  Family building is such a personal choice and everyone chooses differently.  They had the opportunity with Natalie's eggs left and Tiffany willing to carry.  We felt it all really lined up perfectly and are happy with this choice. Adoption may still be an option in the future for them.

Why have more children when you already have one?
This question boggles my mind (Tiffany).  When my husband and I told everyone we wanted to have another baby, no one said "You already have a child, you should be grateful for that." We conceived naturally and no one batted an eye, our second son was welcome with open arms and no judgement.  So why is this any different?  Natalie and James had dreamed of having more children and creating a big family.  Just because she lost her ability to carry children does not mean she should not be able to grow her family anymore than you or me.  James and Natalie are so grateful and so in love with their son, Hunter.  He is their world.  I think in my heart, most of those comments come from people who don't have children, or never yearned for a child of their own.  I think it is perfectly natural to want more children.  I look at my two boys and feel complete and whole, getting to be their mother and watching them grow and learn each day has been the most beautiful, rewarding opportunity I have ever had.  I can't imagine life without either one of them.  Natalie and James have that same desire and who are any of us to judge that or say harsh comments towards such a natural feeling?   I am so excited for Hunter to have siblings!

When was Inception?
The original date was January 2012.  Our first transfer we transferred two embryos with the hopes one would take, we were so saddened when neither took.   The next transfer was March 30th 2012, where we transferred two embryos again in hopes one would take.  We are happy to be pregnant with twins right now!

Did you plan on twins?

No but we knew it was a possibility.  The embryos at Seattle Reproductive Medicine are graded by quality being Good, Fair or Poor. And grade A, B or C.   The embryos from both transfers were given the same grade, Fair quality with Grade B.  The recommendation of the embryologist was to implant two and hope that one of them took.  As said above, we implanted two on the first try and neither took.  The second try we implanted two and both took (or one split, but we are thinking both took).   It was a surprise blessing!

Didn't you know you would get morning sickness? Also, have you tried.... (insert remedy here)?
We suspected I would get morning sickness since I did with my other two pregnancies.  We had no idea it would be this severe.  It was a good eye opener for me because I learned so many different ways different women are during their pregnancies.  I learned some of my friends never had a day of morning sickness, while other were hospitalized for theirs and sent home with IV units hooked to them.  I fell somewhere in the middle.

As to the remedies, I have tried it all.  I hope I can remember everything but here it is:  Seabands, crackers, protein, bean diet, beats, B6, B6 with Unsiom, taking prenatals at night, not taking prenatals, always keeping a full stomach, ginger tea, ginger-ale, stomach ease tea, ginger gum, regular gum, preggie pops, Zofran, Promethazine... the list goes on!  I am sure I am forgetting something but I tried it ALL.  I was so desperate to stop feeling sick all day.  Ultimately the Promethazine worked the best which I started around week 14 I think.   I still throw up on it and get nauseous but it is less than before.

Why did you choose to film this and share your story?
It was my idea (Tiffany) to share it because I knew nothing about surrogacy going into this.  I thought it could be a great way to share an actual story, and get the medical side to it filmed accurately so we could educate anyone else wanting to dive into this world of surrogacy.   I also found as we blogged, so many women came forward to share their stories of infertility issues and it felt good for all of us to no longer feel alone.  It seems like with fertility issues, women have been suffering silently.  My husband is in film and I asked him if he wanted to do this project, I am glad he accepted.

Sharing such a personal matter has not been easy.  There are times we have thought it's not worth it.  But we really want to help others no longer feel alone in their journey, and bring awareness to fertility issues.  ALL issues.  Including women who can't get pregnant, men who's sperm count is too low, gay couples and surrogacy, straight couples and surrogacy etc.   So many ways to build families these days and this seemed like a good chance to get the word out of one of those ways.   We hope for more understanding and tolerance on the subject.

Sean hugging his wife Tiffany after a doctor's visit at Seattle Reproductive Medicine.

How you are handling criticism, including from trolls and those lacking an understanding of biology?
It's funny because we feel our story is about love, and family and an interesting medical story (surrogacy) which has nothing to do with incest.   And we continue to get great positive feedback.   However, when you are exposed, you put yourself out there and open to the comments of the public and that opens up complete strangers who don't know us and start commenting. The trolls don't bother me as much because some of them are funny.  I do have a harder time with people commenting that don't understand the process and don't read the article and then say hateful things to us.  However - this IS a different story, and people will have their opinions that differ from ours and that's okay.  

We put ourselves out there in hopes our story will help others along the way.  Our hope is those intentions stay true and that we reach the people who need to hear our story the most.  When you put yourself out there, people will comment and say their opinions which they are entitled to have.  It's good to know and self reflect if needed and then just keep swimming.

If everyone listened to naysayers - progress would be impossible.

Is Tiffany getting paid to be the surrogate? Does CNN pay for this story?  Who pays medical bills? What about funding for movie?
It is illegal in Washington State to pay your surrogate. That being said, none of us knew that it was.  When we first started on this journey, James and Natalie offered to pay Tiffany some form of compensation for doing this and she declined. "I did not want this to be a monetary transaction or something where they ever owed me a thing for doing this.  I just wanted it to be out of love, and then move along afterward.  I don't expect my brother to do anything in return and I think that's how it should be when you do something for someone you love.  You do it because you love them and you want to.  I love my brother, my sister in law and my nephew.  Giving this gift to them requires nothing from them in return."  

CNN does not pay for stories.  They want to share our story to help educate people on surrogacy and we are hoping for the same in return on surrogacy and infertility issues.

James and Natalie pay for all pregnancy related items including medical bills, childcare, maternity clothes, prenatal etc.

We do need funding for the movie.  We did not realize how much until recently. We received bids from all over to come up with our budget.  It is expensive for proper equipment (camera, sound recorder, mics, lights etc, batteries, back ups, etc), paying a crew, sound engineer, music rights, storing and backing up footage and more.  So we went to Kickstarter where hundreds or creative projects go to get their funding. We hope we reach our goal so we can get equipment and continue filming (we have been running on borrowed and rented equipment and we are missing great shots because of not having it readily available).

What will you tell the twins?
They will be told the truth!  That their mom could not grow them so their aunt did.  Families are made in so many ways now, everyone is so different and unique and there is no shame in how these babies were grown. 

Who will be in the delivery room? Will you let your brother watch you give birth?
Natalie, James, Sean, Tiffany the doctors and nurses, and our Birth Photographer. For the initial delivery, it will already be such a complex situation, we wanted to keep it simple, but will have grandparents waiting on the side lines to run in and meet their new grand-babies.    However, I am REALLY a big pushover when it comes to grandmas, so if one of the grandma's wants to come in, I am pretty sure I will welcome them with open legs. I mean arms, depending on if the doctor says it's okay.   

I have no issues with my brother being there when his children are born. I think birth is such a natural amazing process.  My brother and I are close, but not THAT close, so I imagine he will stay clear of any shots that he may not be able to erase from his mind!  I honestly do not care though, I just hope he is there to his his babies the first time they cry or breathe :) 

Are you doing a planned C-section since it's twins?
No plans for a C-section at this point.  I (Tiffany) really want to try to have the twins naturally.   Both my boys were born without drugs and very quickly, so I am optimistic.  Let's hope both babies are head down and ready to go!   

What will happen when the babies are born?
We thought it best for the babies to go straight to Natalie and James for instant bonding.  We are hoping to have Natalie cut a cord because not very many moms get the opportunity to cut their own baby's cord!  

What happens after the release in the hospital?
We will go our separate ways.  James and Natalie currently live in University Place, and Sean and Tiffany are 2 hours North in Bellingham.  Sean will take Tiffany home to rest and heal and James and Natalie will take their newest additions home and be a family of five now! 

What will Tiffany do with her Breast Milk?
I am hoping to pump and give to the babies.  Freeze each week and send it down.   I will not be nursing the babies.  We are hoping Natalie will be able to :)

How will Natalie feed the babies?
Natalie will try a shot to induce breast milk, this would be so amazing so she can bond right away in the special way with her babies. 

As you progress in your pregnancy is the thought of giving the boys up getting harder to bear, or are you not attached to them that way? How hard do you think is it gonna be to give birth and have them taken away a second later?
I get this question a lot.   Honestly, I don't feel as connected to these babies as I have to my own children.  I don't know how I feel about that, part of me feels guilty like I might not be loving them enough  - even though they are my nephews and I DO love them a lot! But the other part of me feels relieved, as though this is how I am supposed to feel.

After the birth, I have no idea what to expect or what to feel.  I know they are not my babies, but my body might not understand and may yearn to be close to a baby after the 9 months spent together.  This is just coming from someone who has already given birth twice.  I have never given birth to someone else's child, so there is no way to predict how I might feel.  I anticipate feeling some sense of saddness or loss, but over all I look forward to being able to go home and not wake up to a newborn, and heal, and know that my brother and his wife have their babies!  I can't wait to re-focus on my own family and life.  

Do you think it will be hard if you see the child being raised in away you don't aree with later in life?
I don't think it would be any different than seeing them raise my other nieces or nephews in a way I don't agree with.  These boys are not my children in any way.  I feel fully confident in James and Natalie's parenting abilities otherwise I would not have helped them bring more children into this world.

Your story has received so much positive feedback until the CNN front page broke, would you share your private story again knowing all the negative comments you would receive? 
I can't speak for Natalie (This is Tiffany) but I can 100% say yes.  Our goal is to help educate people on this world of surrogacy, infertility and to stop the silent suffering from all the women and men out there who have ached to be parents and hit constant emotional speedbumps along the way to their family planning.   For every 100 mean comments on an article, we are receiving incredible emails from women who are feeling strength from our story, no longer feeling alone and feeling inspired.  We don't want surrogacy to be considered bad or weird.  Just like adoption should not be.  People plan and make their families in all different ways now.  When there are loving families and parents for children to grow up in, I just don't see what all the negative fuss is about.    I hope our story continues to reach the people it needs to. Including the negative, judgmental ones.  You never know who's mind you may open by speaking up about something so controversial.   As a reminder - I used to think that if you can't have children naturally, you should adopt. I had never been on the other side, I had never heard the hearts of these mothers.   Walk a mile in someone's shoes, then make up your mind.  I never thought I would believe in IVF or surrogacy let alone be a surrogate.  The world is a very interesting place when you choose to open your mind and see it from another person's perspective. 

Do you have more questions for us?  Feel free to comment below and ask us, or message us privately.  You can follow our story also on facebook:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Contraction Traction, What's Your Action?

This Blogpost was written by Tiffany, Surrogate Mother

So excited to be blogging during my 24th week of pregnancy!  It's amazing how much better you feel each week - safety wise- for the babies!  At first you just want to make it to week 12.  At week 12 your risk for miscarriage goes down drastically.  And although anything can still happen, every week these babies are in here is a bonus!  They are so strong.  Unfortunately I am still throwing up but it is about every other day now.  I have been working and resting lots.  I have done about 31 photo shoots and 9 weddings during this pregnancy.  My clients have all been a blessing. They have been very understanding of me being sick, and working as hard as I can.  I have been truly blessed.

We went in on Wednesday for the 24 weeks ultrasound and the twins looked amazing!  Both babies were growing at 24 weeks right on schedule. Their heart rates and weights were perfection, exactly where they should be.  Something amazing happened while we were there, James and Natalie were able to feel their sons move for the first time ever!   My husband was right there and video taped the moment. I for sure teared up.  I have been feeling them very early for almost 12 weeks now and each day they get stronger and stronger and I have been hoping for a while that James and Natalie would get to feel them and it finally happened!  My belly (uterus) is growing at a lovely 35 weeks!   No wonder so many people come up to me in pubic and say "Wow, you are about to give birth ANY second!"  

24 weeks with the twins. I am sucking in.... okay fine, not at all.....

My Braxton Hicks started last week.  Maybe one or two a day, nothing worth noting.  I increased my fluid just as a precaution and my ultrasound from Wednesday showed a nice long cervix with no signs of labor. On Saturday, we drove from Bellingham to Seattle, I had a wedding the next day at the zoo.  Well, the whole trip down my contractions started becoming 10 min apart until they were 3-5 minutes apart.  They were VERY mild, but the fact they were so frequent made me call my doctor after about 3 hours of consistent contractions.   They wanted me to go in to be checked, just in case.  They said that it was much too early for the twins to be born, and although it does not sound intense right now, it could easily turn that way and it's much better to be seen so they can stop the labor if need be.   We went to Swedish Hospital and checked into the OB triage unit where they were amazing!  I told them how silly I felt since I KNEW my body was not in labor, but of course wanted to be safe.   I was there for about four hours with the babies on the monitors. They were doing perfect.  Although I was contracting the entire time I was there, I was not dilated and they felt pretty confident about releasing me after monitoring and checking.  We left around 3am and the contractions continued until about 6am then finally slowed.  I just feel them now a few times a day and feel so much better after going in!  Still feel silly about going in, but overall very glad to have eased my mind and James and Natalie of course.

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about my connection to the twins and if I would ever do this again knowing now how hard it has been (since I have been so sick).  I would love to address both of those now! :)     

Honestly, I do not feel as connected to the twins as I have with my previous children.  I don't know how I feel about that yet.  Part of me feels very guilty, as though I don't love my nephews enough.  Although I DO love them!  So much!  Another part of me feels satisfied, as though I should feel exactly how I do.  I am unsure and a little fearful to admit these feelings.   I am not sure what normal is here.  I am not sure this is a "normal" situation.  I hope in the end, I will have a different connection with them than I have my own children, and that I don't try to escape to Mexico with them.  :)    

Speaking of, let's peek in on how cute they are this week! 

As far as would I do this again?  I have given this a LOT of thought.   No, I will not do surrogacy again, but that was never the plan to do this again. The plan was to do this just one time for my brother.  But would I repeat this choice, knowing now what I know?  Knowing how hard it has been on my family, knowing how much I have missed of my children, my own life, my marriage?   It took me a long time to come to this conclusion and my answer is yes.  Yes I would make the same choice.  Because without that choice, these children, these little babies, would not exist in this world.  I am sure there were many hard decisions that led up to our own existence in this world, and many hard times our own parents had to face in order to get us here.  For those hard times, I am grateful.  For THESE hard times, I am also grateful. Some challenges in life are just that, challenging and hard.  I signed up for this and although I may not have known everything about it, I can only hope I am strong enough to get through this a better person than when I started.  This process is changing me in so many ways.  So many ways I am grateful for even though it has been hard.   So yes, yes I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Maybe with more ice-cream involved :)

As always, thank you for following and sharing our story with others!  We love getting all your emails and Facebook messages and hearing about your journeys as well.  It really does keep us stronger. As you may know, we are filming a movie on the whole process.  We have been on borrowed equipment and are needing to fund this movie now. It takes a LOT to make a movie. We need to pay for crew, equipment, sound, music, storing, backing up etc.   We need your help!  Anything you can give to fund our movie helps!  Really, even $1.  You know it all adds up.  We have loved sharing our story and want to continue to tell this story about love and family, surrogacy and the medical side to IVF and the struggles we face to build our families and meet the children we have only dreamed about. 

Here is the link to our campaign.  Stop by, watch our video and be apart of our movie!

Here is my youngest showing me how proud he is of his OWN baby in his belly, warms my heart! 

Surrogate Mother