Their Lovin, My Oven

My Journey as a Gestational Surrogate

Happy Anniversary E&M! January 6, 2013

It’s so hard to believe another year has passed but here we are – The 6th of January 2013. Two years ago today, I met two very special men and the journey of a lifetime began.

 

I know I post and gush over and over about how amazing our journey was but there are few other words for it (besides spectacular, miraculous, wonderful, etc.) The entire journey was such a blessing but I think the biggest blessing of all is that though our journey has now been “over” for more than a year… It’s really still happening each and every day. Not a single day passes that I don’t think about Esteban, Michele, Davide and Gabriel… Not a single week passes that they don’t send me at least a few new photos and not a single month passes that we don’t Skype at least once. I’m so very blessed that in creating their family, I expanded my own. The blessing never ceases to amaze me or fill my heart with so much joy. I will forever and always get to love my 4 Italian boys and know that we are their California family and always will be.

 

Happy Anniversary, Esteban and Michele. Here’s to another year of watching your sweet babies grow and sending you all our love, all the time, all the way from California.

 

-Danielle

 

Stay Tuned… July 31, 2012

For some news on the surrogacy front!!! ;o) I promise to share ASAP.

 

I recently got to go with one of my best friends Rachelle to her embryo transfer. It was such a great day and such an amazing moment to witness! Rachelle is a first time GS for Intended Fathers in Italy who happen to know my IFs! She also lives about 30-45 minutes away from me which is AWESOME because we get to spend a lot of time together 🙂   They transferred one beautiful little boy embryo and have had beautiful HPTs and two awesome beta #s! I’m SO excited for her and her IFs! They are at such an exciting place in their journey. On Thursday I have the pleasure of going with her to her first ultrasound to check the development of the embyronic sac! (If you have some spare time, click on her name to be directed to her blog and catch up on their story!)

 

In my own journey news – Esteban and Michele’s sweet little boys are already 7 1/2 months old! Where in the world is the time going?! It seems like just yesterday I was at my embryo transfer, first ultrasound, taking weekly belly pics, in the hospital, in the OR pushing for what seemed like years, handing Gabriel to his Dads, seeing them off at the airport when they went back to Italy, whew! The year is just going by SO quickly!

 

Esteban and Michele’s ADORABLE angels! <3<3<3

Until Next Time,

Danielle

 

Story Tellers July 8, 2012

Guess who I got to Skype with today?! And guess who is sitting up, rolling over, telling TONS of stories, smiling, giggling and just being overall adorable babies? That’s right, my surrotwins.

 

This morning I was lucky enough to Skype with Esteban, Michele and the twins. It was so wonderful to see all of them and catch up a little. I miss them like crazy and though I wish they were closer, it’s amazing how modern technology allows me to keep in touch with them. I’m so very lucky that Esteban and Michele keep me involved and send me pictures of the twins several times a week and make time to Skype. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – They’re the most amazing IFs I ever could have asked for. The twins are too cute for words and it’s hard to believe how big they’re getting and how much time has passed. Even though they are just under 7 months old, Gabriel weighs about 19 pounds and is wearing size 12-18 month clothes and Davide is right behind him wearing 9-12 month clothes! Gabriel is also in SIZE 4 diapers! That’s the biggest size our girls have ever gotten to before they potty trained LOL. There is nothing cuter in the world than two adorable, odds defying identical twins. I’m so in love with the family I helped to create. It makes me blush when people tell me what an amazing thing I did and I wish that I had the words to describe how amazing it is for me. I never know how to get across to people the emotions that just overtake me anytime I see the four of them together. It’s such a blessing to have been able to be a part of something so miraculous. Such a blessing. No matter how much time passes, I will never stop thanking God for taking us all on this wonderful journey.

 

I’m so looking forward to my future in surrogacy and what it might bring. Stay tuned, I’m far from “out of the game.”

 

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July and are enjoying your summer.

 

Much Love! – Danielle

 

Who Isssss? June 20, 2012

6 months old?! I know it hardly seems possible but my sweet surrotwins had their 6 month “birthday” just a few days ago! 6 months ago, we were all anxiously awaiting their arrival – Esteban and Michele for their lives as parents to begin, me to hand their sweet angels over to them for the first time and finally get to see them as a family… I still remember that day with vivid clarity and probably will for the rest of my life. We’ve all come a long way from these sweet, TINY little angels that I held so lovingly right underneath my heart for 9 months until they were ready to meet their amazing Daddies ❤

 

Esteban, Michele and I with their sweet, sweet baby boys ❤

 

The twins are growing and thriving and life is back to normal for the most part in our house. As our two year old puts it, we all miss Ban (Esteban,) Cele (pronounced Kell-Ay aka Michele,) Gabiel and Dabide. We LOVE to have Skype sessions and try to make sure we still have Skype visits at least once a month. We talk via WhatsApp (a must have app for anyone trying to keep in touch internationally) at least every other day and I am SO lucky because I get pictures nearly that often!

 

I love and adore seeing pictures of the twins but I have to admit that there is one other type of picture I love seeing even more… Picture of my 4 boys as a family. Gabriel and Davide are too cute for words and their pictures always make me smile but the pictures of them as a family just tug at my heart strings. I can’t help but see them and beam with pride at this amazing family that I had the PRIVILEGE of helping complete. I love to talk about my journey and can go on for daysssss to anyone that happens to ask. Surrogacy and the families these journeys help create are just miraculous. I’m still so awestruck that I got to be a part of it all.

 

In my own news, I did a lot of soul searching and after watching television specials (Giuliana and Bill, anyone?) reading blogs and keeping active on surrogacy forums, I decided that I wanted to talk to Esteban and Michele about pursuing another journey while they prepared for a sibling journey. I was nervous… Me “moving on” so to speak wasn’t what we had talked about and a part of me felt like I would be cheating on them. When I brought it up, I couldn’t have been luckier with the way they responded. Let me just remind you all again that Esteban and Michele are AMAZING and I’m such a lucky surromama to have them as part of my family. They said that I 1000% had their blessing and they couldn’t wait to hear about a future journey. They would love to see me with a big ole preggo belly when they come to visit later this year. So, stay tuned on a new journey front… I might have big news soon 🙂

P.S. Esteban and Michele, “who isssss” is still one of the girls’ favorite games. They love and miss you all SO much too ❤

I’ll leave you with some amazing pics. You’re officially warned, there’s a TON of cuteness involved. Pretty sure this level of cuteness is illegal but I’m putting it out there anyway 😉

-Danielle

 

Just look at those cheeks! Those rolls! Those smiles! MAN my IFs make some ADORABLE babies!! ❤

 

Brotherly Love ❤

 

I just want to squeeeze those cheeks!!

 

And this folks, THIS is why I became a surrogate. THIS family is so beautiful and all 4 of them will always hold a special place in my heart. <3<3

 

Happy Month-Day!!! May 18, 2012

Another month has passed…. Though I’m not entirely sure how! It doesn’t seem quite possible that my adorable surrotwins are 5 months old but alas, today is May 18th which makes it exactly 5 months ago that I brought those sweet boys into the world and helped make two amazing guys Daddies <3<3<3<3<3

Esteban, Michele and the twins are doing amazing! The twins are both healthy, happy, thriving ADORABLE bundles of joy. We are still getting to Skype with them usually once a week and they are SO full of personality now. Last time we Skyped, they were cooing and babbling and smiling and just all around melting my heart. I swell with pride every time I see my 4 Italian boys and what a beautiful family they are. It still amazes me to this day how lucky I am to have been a part of something SO utterly amazing. Are you ready for the best part of this post? That’s right folks, I’ve got pictures!!! Hang on to your hearts, they’re going to burst with love at  how adorable my surrofamily is ❤

 

Davide

 

Gabriel

 

Esteban holding Davide, Michele holding Gabriel ❤

 

Esteban holding Davide, Michele holding Gabriel 🙂

 

Love them <3<3

 

 

 

Where Were You? April 13, 2012

…One year ago today? At home? Work? Out with friends? Want to know what I was doing one year ago today? I was decked out in green and yellow (as were my husband, Esteban, Michele and a ton of friends and family) and sending up one thousand different prayers. Want to know why? Because one year ago today, April 13th 2011, was the day that we were going to “plant” a baby for Esteban and Michele inside my Bambino Hotel.

I was SO nervous and though everyone kept reminding me to relax, that everything would be fine, I couldn’t help the nervousness. My amazing husband and Elena from Fertility Miracles were there to support me, and Esteban & Michele (and their family and friends) were supporting us from Italy. The transfer itself was pretty easy peasy lemon squeezee. I got to wear a snazzy gown and my super duper lucky socks. *Side Note: when it came time to push on delivery day, I wore the same socks.*

I know you're jealous of the socks, it's okay to admit it 😉

 I got to take a Valium to get nice and relaxed and hold my Hubby’s hand. They showed us a picture of the embryo that they had chosen to transfer and assured us that *he* was just perfect and moving right along wonderfully in development. The doctor came in, explained everything, joked with my husband about letting another man knock me up and then “loaded” the embryo in a teeny tiny catheter. We got to watch the embryo being guided into my uber posh Bambino Hotel accomodations and then the relaxation began. Here is the picture of E & Ms precious embryo snuggling in. Who would have ever thought that something so tiny could become two adorable almost four month old bouncing baby boys ❤

The embryo we transferred which would become Gabriel & Davide ❤ (The bright white spot in the middle of the black circle)

 I would later pee on lots of sticks (no, not random sticks, the pregnancy test kind LOL) and get a positive result. To know that I was carrying such precious cargo for such amazing people was one of the best experiences of my life. Esteban and Michele – We’ve come so far since this day! You are two of the best parents I know and I love you and those little boys to pieces. My four Italian boys are always in my thoughts and there is a permanent place for each of you in my heart. I love you all!! I’ll leave all of you faithful readers with something I know you’ve been waiting for a while for – Here is an amazingly beautiful picture of Esteban, Michele, Davide and Gabriel!!!!!!!

Michele holding Gabriel and Esteban holding Davide. These four boys mean the world to me!!! <3

Michele holding Gabriel and Esteban holding Davide. These four boys mean the world to me!!! ❤

  

I know, I know – Esteban & Michele are SO good looking and my surrotwins are SOOOOOO stinking adorable!!!!!! Don’t you just want to eat up those chubby cheeks?! ❤ I am the luckiest SurroMama on the planet!!

Happy Transfer-versary Esteban & Michele ❤

 

The Real Deal.. February 24, 2012

I know it’s taken quite some time to get this “emotions” blog up and I apologize. I needed time to get back into a normal, day to day routine that didn’t directly involve my surrogacy journey, and time to compose my thoughts…. Some of these thoughts I’ve kept completely to myself but those private thoughts are also an important part of my journey so I’m choosing to not hold anything back. This is probably going to be a very long post, but complete honesty has always been a huge part of this blog so here goes…

 

This surrogacy journey was by far one of the most amazing things I have EVER done in my life. I always wondered what drove surrogates to go through multiple journeys and now I understand it without a doubt. One of my surrosisters on a private forum said it best – She can tell I’m not a “One and Done” kind of surrogate. I’ve been asked probably one hundred times if I will be a surrogate again. I was asked a lot before I gave birth to the twins, but it wasn’t until after that when my hormones settled down that I knew for sure. Though I had heard plenty about people’s struggles to have children, being a surrogate opened my eyes in a way that nothing else can to the number of people experiencing these struggles. So, what’s my answer? Yes. I would love to be a surrogate again. A sibling project might be something Esteban & Michele want to do in the future so I won’t pursue another surrogacy journey until I’m sure they are done with their family. It’s important to me to help them with bringing another angel into this world if they want to and though complications of a pregnancy resulting in an inability to carry again are rare, they do happen and that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I did another journey with someone else and something happened that made it impossible for me to carry for Esteban & Michele again. I know that if I wanted to do another journey, I would have their blessing, but this is my choice. Their family is also part of my family and I want to make sure they are finished building that family before I move on. I don’t know for sure what the future holds in regards to a sibling project, nor am I rushing Esteban & Michele to make any decisions right now. They are focused on their sweet baby boys and that’s exactly what they need to do for right now. If in 2-3 years they decide they don’t want to do a sibling project after all, I’m completely okay with that and won’t have any reservations about having waited for them to make that decision. Some people might think I’m crazy to “save myself” but I don’t see it that way and that’s all that matters.

I also get asked how I’m feeling. I know the majority of people don’t necessarily want to know how I am feeling physically. People want to know how I handled everything emotionally. This surrogacy was emotionally charged, that’s for sure.

Working with IFs was probably completely different than working with a “traditional” couple. Though I obviously don’t know that for sure, here’s where I’m coming from. Our journey didn’t begin with Esteban & Michele considering surrogacy as a last resort or their last chance at having children. Being a same sex couple and the laws in Italy regarding adoption (not legal for same sex couples or a single male) meant that they really had no other options for building their family except surrogacy. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t choose surrogacy lightly. They did TONS of research (I’m pretty sure Esteban has read thousands of books) and TONS of thinking before making the decision, but the decision wasn’t based off prior struggles with infertility or prior heart ache from failed adoptions, etc. Our journey began with the excitement of them seeing their dreams of parenthood begin and my dreams of helping someone create their family beginning. We got to experience joy and excitement from the very beginning and that excitement and joy rarely went away.

 

The most trying time for me (and for the guys) was finding out about Davide’s heart condition. The pediatric cardiologist was trying to prepare everyone for worst case scenario, but in doing so he spoke about things that probably weren’t anything but a remote possibility and caused many painful thoughts and discussions. The possibility of Davide having DiGeorge syndrome was devastating to Esteban & Michele. The doctors mentioned termination and it wasn’t something anybody ever wants to think about but Esteban & Michele had to. While I haven’t been in their shoes before, they have always been open and honest with me and I know that was one of the most difficult times they have ever gone through. I can’t imagine the anguish they went through. It wasn’t easy on me as their surrogate either. Since they weren’t at the appointment, that phone call was one of the hardest I have ever had to make. How do you tell someone that their child has the remote possibility of a syndrome that could severely affect their quality of life? How do you hold it together when all you want to do is fall apart because you know it’s 1000 times harder for them than it is for you? When we had first matched, we agreed that termination would be their choice unless it was a situation that threatened my life. This is a choice I made as a surrogate – The child(ren) I would carry wouldn’t be my own and therefore I felt like any choices for termination, etc needed to be that of the intended parents. Everyone hopes that such a decision never needs to be made, but going through this journey really drove home how important it is for each surrogate to make a decision regarding their feelings of termination and know that no matter what, they will be able to stick to that decision. I don’t regret my decision at all, and will stand by it for any future journeys but that is one piece of advice I will always give to someone considering surrogacy – Know where you stand and be absolutely sure you are comfortable with that stance just in case. Esteban, Michele and I had several heart to heart conversations and somehow, I just knew that Davide didn’t have DiGeorge syndrome. To this day, I can’t explain how I knew but something was telling me that while he may have to have surgery to repair the holes in his heart and the issue with his aortic arch, he would be just fine afterwards. I am so thankful that Esteban & Michele took that to heart and stayed strong. I know it wasn’t easy for them, and it wasn’t easy for me, but it brought us that much closer together.

 

It’s impossible to predict how you will feel after delivery and my journey was no exception. I thought I knew how it would feel to deliver the twins and hand them off to their Daddies, but what I thought didn’t hold a candle to what it actually felt like. Did I feel like I was giving the boys away? Did I want to keep them? No and No. I didn’t give the boys away – I gave them BACK to their Dads. And that moment is one that I will never forget. Handing Gabriel to Esteban & Michele was one of the most amazing things I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. To see them hold their son for the first time… to know that all the struggles during the pregnancy, all the sleepless nights, aches & pains and the difficulty of delivery resulted in this beautiful family and that I got to be a part of that, was nothing short of a miracle. I relive that moment over and over in my mind every time someone asks me about it and it’s just as vivid as it was that day. I always knew that they would be great parents – And I could always tell how much love they had for their children even before the twins were born. Seeing the love on their faces though… Seeing the look in their eyes as they stared at their newborn son… Seeing them stare at each other and realize that their lives were forever changed… I don’t even think there are words in the English language to describe how amazing it felt to be a part of that moment. I always tear up when I tell that part of my birth story and I think I always will. That day, not only did Esteban & Michele’s lives change, mine did to.

 

Once the twins were born, I knew my relationship with Esteban & Michele would change. I have to admit that I was afraid things would be drastically different once I wasn’t pregnant anymore. If I wasn’t carrying their children, would they still talk to me every day? Would they still check on me to make sure I was doing okay? Or would they be so busy as new parents that I would slowly become less and less important? Don’t get me wrong – The guys never, ever gave me any reason to believe that our relationship would end once the twins were born. My fear wasn’t realistic but it was real. I had read blogs of surrogates that had these amazing pregnancies and relationships with their IPs only to be cut off completely once the babies were born. Though things were different, I was never left out or cast aside. Esteban & Michele were so amazing once the twins were born. They allowed not only me but my family and friends to spend as much time with them and the boys as we wanted. They let me visit Davide in the hospital and let me help watch Gabriel so they could be with Davide. We were always welcome at their apartment day or night and would stay for hours on end just talking, holding the boys, helping with diaper changes, baths, etc.

I love Gabriel & Davide with all of my heart. I would do anything for them, just as I would for my own children. I am so blessed that Esteban & Michele understand the love I have for their sons and know that it isn’t a love driven by a desire to be the boys’ mom, but rather a love for their new FAMILY. I don’t just love Esteban & Michele and I don’t just love the twins – I love the four of them. I love the family I helped create. I love watching Esteban & Michele interact with their sons. I kid you not, I could sit at their apartment just watching them hold the twins for hours and never get bored. To see their family “in action” and to see first hand what truly amazing parents they are was a wonderful experience.

 

To this day Esteban & Michele have allowed me to keep my role as “SurroMama.” They refer to me as SurroMama when we Skype with the boys and always promise to give them lots of hugs and kisses from me. It’s amazing to me that as busy as I know they are with newborn twins, they still take the time to think about me. I want to cry writing out how much that means to me. I wish that I could tell them but there just aren’t enough words. Getting pictures throughout my day, or hearing about tiny details of their day like how many ounces the boys ate, means so much. They don’t have to send me pictures. They don’t have to ask how I’m doing or how my girls are doing. They don’t have to Skype weekly with us. They don’t have to talk to the boys about how much their “California Family” loves them. But they do. Esteban & Michele – I hope you know how much all these things mean. Seeing you with your children never ceases to make my heart skip a beat. It’s just SO amazing, SO wonderful, SO heartwarming, SO miraculous.

 

Never once have I regretted my decision to be a surrogate or wished that our journey had been different. If I had dreamed up the perfect surrogacy journey and written it down on paper, it wouldn’t even come remotely close to how truly perfect this journey was. It exceeded even my wildest expectations and I have a grin that stretches from ear to ear anytime I talk about it. Our journey has expanded my heart so much with love for “my 4 Italian boys.”

Thank you to all of you that followed along with our journey. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, tears and smiles along the road. Thank you for reading my posts whether they were short, long or excruciatingly long like this one LOL. I definitely plan to continue this blog. I’ll keep updating you on the two amazing little boys that resulted from this journey as well as where the future leads me in regards to another journey.

Until Next Time,

❤ Danielle