Today the twin girls I carried during my last surrogate pregnancy turn 4. It's been that long since I've had children in my body, tapping all of the amazing places you might feel a random foot or hand. Having had five boys before them, one at a time, I wasn't prepared for the crazy hormones. I had pimples and I was so sensitive that crying in sadness and joy and because clouds were fluffy was completely normal. All of my pregnancies before them were easy in comparison. With Kid1, the placenta wasn't functioning the way it was designed to and he was induced at 36.6 weeks to save his life. He wasn't gaining weight and he didn't have enough amniotic fluid to swim in. I was at a clinic full of learning doctors, so my pregnancy was a learning experience and I got used to random doctors poking and prodding around my lady bits. If I had any modesty that survived my adolescence spent in raves, I lost it during this pregnancy.
Kid2 was so by the book it was almost boring, but his labor was sped up for the doctor's convenience and I went with it.
Kid3 was also easy. I felt labor pain for about an hour before we went to the hospital and found out I was already at 10 cm dilation, although my water hadn't broken. After some assistance, he was born an hour later.
Kid4 was my first surrogate pregnancy, and my second IVF cycle. Considering how quickly Kid3 came, we went early and they kept me because we had a whole party waiting for his arrival. What I wasn't prepared for was back labor, but he prepared me for the back labor that came with Kid5 who took 3 IVF cycles.
Kids6&7 were different from that first HCG level. The first IVF cycle was cancelled on the day of the transfer and we had a second cycle and both girls decided to stick around. The numbers were really high, which could mean a strong and healthy pregnancy or twins. At first, I had really bad morning sickness. In all of my other pregnancies, being sick was a novelty and I laughed at those rare moments. As I was getting through the first trimester, my heart would start racing randomly. I was losing weight, but that was normal for all of my pregnancies. High HCG levels can make your thyroid act wonky. I had an erratically racing heart rate. There were moments when I was jittery from it. What looked like Grave's disease eased after the first trimester. At a normal perinatologist appointment during my 25th week, I was sent to the emergency room because my cervix was funnelling, meaning, my body was trying to kick them out.
With the girls, I was hospitalized from 25 weeks until they were born at 29 weeks. It was a private room, but I was still woken every few hours for monitoring and testing. I was allowed two showers that whole time, sitting and timed for exactly 5 minutes. I had sponge baths by the nurses every other time. For a week, I was in the Trendelenburg position. I was tilted upside down at a 45 degree angle to keep pressure off of my cervix. At the end of the pregnancy, there was bleeding and one of the umbilical cords decided to block the opening that the girls were too tiny to use anyway. I had my first c-section.
The girl's parents are from another country and they had to go back home to their careers and other children but I was asked to visit them, and bring breast milk, which I was honored to do. Towards the end, it was stressful and exhausting and I didn't like going, but in the beginning it was an opportunity to see them grow. They were on feeding tubes and oxygen and had masks over their tiny eyes. They were tiny and fragile but I got to see them get strong and eventually I caught their first smiles. They spent 8 weeks in the NICU. They went home after that, and a month or two later they went to their home country. Every once in a great while I'll see a picture of them in my Instagram feed.
I've been asked if it's hard to give up a child I carried. It really wasn't. I was loved so deeply and cared for so much by their mothers and fathers that I know they'll be okay. It was harder to release friendships with amazing women to let them have the life I imagined would have happened without needing my help. It was worth every inconvenience because it was an amazing experience.
So this was my moment to remember and celebrate the girls with names loosely translated into "Commitment" and "Shiny" like the sun.