January 6, 2011. Exactly one year ago. That day was filled with so many emotions which I remember with vivid clarity. I was anxious, nervous, scared, excited, unsure. What would they be like? What would we talk about? Would it be awkward? Would they like me? Would we like them? Sounds like a first date, right? Exactly one year ago today, my husband and I traveled to my agency, Fertility Miracles to meet Esteban and Michele. I left that meeting so very sure of two things – That these 2 men would be amazing parents and that I would be truly devastated if they didn’t “choose me” to be their surrogate. As you all know, they did choose me (and my family) and our amazing journey began. Happy “Anniversary” guys, I love you!
I apologize that it has been almost 3 weeks since the twins birth and since my last post. I kept meaning to write my birth story but time has flown since the 18th. My days have been spent getting back to being a full time Mommy, pumping breastmilk for my sweet surrotwins every 3-4 hours, spending time with Esteban & Michele and Esteban’s parents and enjoying every single snuggle I get with Davide & Gabriel. I don’t even want to think about what it’s going to be like when they leave to go back to Italy. My heart breaks already knowing how far away they will all be. Let’s not focus on that – Grab the popcorn and a glass of wine (one for you, and have one for me too!) Here is the amazing story of how two more angels entered this world on December 18, 2011. (At 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant.)
When I was about 28 weeks pregnant, at a routine OB appointment, it was discovered that Davide had what was believed to be a small hole in his heart (a VSD.) I was sent for a follow up appointment with a pediatric cardiologist who performed his own ultrasound to try and obtain more information about the severity of the hole to see what our course of action needed to be. The ultrasound revealed that there was a medium-large size VSD, a second smaller VSD and some concerns with the formation of Davide’s aortic arch. The true severity of the problems could not be determined until birth since fetal ultrasound does not allow for certain viewing angles to be achieved. The cardiologist believed from what limited images he could get that surgery within the first 7-10 days of Davide’s life would more likely than not be necessary. Kaiser Sunset LA specializes in high risk OB cases and so it was decided that for the health and safety of Davide, I needed to deliver there where the pediatric cardiologists were located rather than at our smaller local hospital.
I was scheduled for induction on Monday 12/19 and had every reason to believe that the twins were comfortable in my Bambino Hotel and had no plans to vacate until that date. On Friday 12/16 at around 6pm I started having some regular contractions. I stayed home and timed them until around 8pm to make sure that they were staying regular and consistent. At 8:15pm we decided to get our daughters to my Mom’s house (she planned to babysit) and head to the hospital since it is a little over an hour drive from our house. I called Esteban & Michele and let them know that I was pretty sure it was time and we would meet them at Labor & Delivery. At 10:20pm we were checked into triage and hooked up to the monitors. We spoke with the doctor on call and discussed our situation and my previous labor history – My contractions were still about 6-8 minutes apart and I was still 3cm dilated. With my own two deliveries of our daughters, I stalled out at 3cm and had to have Pitocin in order to progress further so we were all in agreement that this time probably wouldn’t be any different. Even though I was still in early labor, they decided at midnight to go ahead and admit me to avoid the risk of me going home and then delivering on one of the 4 freeways between my house and the hospital. The middle of the night on a Friday was not the most ideal time to deliver since Davide needed to be seen by the pediatric cardiologist shortly after birth to determine the next course of action in regards to his heart. The doctor in triage let me know that though I was being admitted, the plan was to keep monitoring the babies and though they would not stop my labor, they would not help it along until Monday as planned. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the thought of being stuck in the hospital and confined to a bed being monitored for two days, but if that was what was going to keep the twins healthy, that is what I was going to do. They were my primary concern. We all settled in to our L&D room and tried to get some rest. I was SO unbelievably HOT. It felt like it was 1,000 degrees in my room. My Hubby kept turning the thermostat down for me and the guys all kept bundling up more and more. The nurses grabbed their jackets before coming in to the room because it was freezing in there to everyone except me. Though I felt bad that everyone was bundled up with sweaters and the extra blankets the nurse had been kind enough to bring them, I wasn’t about to let them turn on the heater LOL.
At 9:30am on 12/17 the new shift doctors came in to see me. Dr Patel and Dr. Bakhta informed me that even though it was the weekend, they were reaching out to the cardiac team to see if they would be on board with starting Pitocin to help my labor along. As soon as the cardiac team was on board, they would let me know. If the cardiac team said “no” we would be waiting until Monday afternoon. At 11:30am I was checked and was still 3cm dilated, 50% effaced and a -2 station. Despite the obvious invitations to come meet their Daddies, the boys were still mighty comfy and tracing beautifully on the monitors. At 1:15pm we got the great news I had been hoping to hear – The cardiac team was on board and they started Pitocin! In the past, once I started getting Pitocin, it was only about 5-6 hours before I was ready to push. We all hoped things would continue being very similar to my previous labors and by the end of the night, we would be welcoming Esteban & Michele’s angels into the world. Unfortunately things didn’t move quite as quickly as we all hoped. At 4:15pm I was only 4.5cm, 80% effaced and a -1 station. It was progress, but not much. At 5:15pm I went ahead and got my epidural. I definitely could have waited BUT I knew I was going to need to get it sooner rather than later so that I could be prepared should an emergency c-section become necessary. Since I had ZERO plans to deliver without an epidural, there was no harm in getting it. By 7:30pm I hadn’t made any more progress so the doctor broke Gabriel’s bag of water. We saw nice clear fluid which was a relief. 20 minutes later I was 5cm, 80% effaced, 0 station. Everyone hoped that between the bag of water being broken, the Pitocin and the epidural allowing me to relax and rest, I would be complete and ready to push in no time. Once again, the boys showed everyone that they were in complete control of what was happening. At 9:00pm they increased my Pitocin drip for the second time. Esteban, Michele, my Hubby and one of my best friends were amazing throughout the entire day. They kept me company and kept me in good spirits. I am so thankful that they were all there to support me. I LOVE that Esteban & Michele fought me about even leaving to go to their apartment that was 5 minutes away to take showers. (I won, btw, they went home and took showers and quick naps LOL.) We continued trying to get rest, watching movies, talking about everything under the sun and just waiting for the boys to be ready to make their grand entrance.
At 12:15am on 12/18 the doctor came in to check me again since it had been several hours since she checked me last. She was very quiet and I was afraid she was going to say I was still 5cm. At this point I was beyond exhausted from lack of sleep and was beginning to be worried that I wouldn’t have the energy to deliver the boys vaginally. You can’t even imagine my relief when she said I was FINALLY complete and ready to push. Dr Bakhta asked me to give her one push with a contraction to see if we should move into the OR quickly or if we had some time to spare. With both of my girls the “pushing part” of my labor was VERY quick. With our oldest I pushed for about 20 minutes for a total of 7-8 pushes. With our youngest my body definitely stepped it up and she was delivered with only 3 pushes. I was going to mention that to the Dr but figured that nothing else that day had gone “my way” so I would just keep my mouth shut and see how it went LOL. I felt a contraction coming on so I let her know I was ready – I gave one push and went from a 0 station to a +2 station. I will never forget the look on the Dr’s face as she practically screamed “Stop pushing!!! Don’t push again!!! We need to get you to the OR!” Apparently that would be the ONE thing that went my way – One push and Gabriel was crowning. Things moved into high speed to get me moved in to the OR. Our plan was to attempt a vaginal delivery since the baby presenting first, Gabriel, was head down. Davide at that point was still transverse, but the hope was that once his brother was born he would slide into a head down position. I put on my lucky rainbow knee high socks that I had worn for our IVF transfer, Hubby got suited up and we moved to the OR. Esteban & Michele headed to the recovery room which was right across the hall. The windows on the OR & Recovery Room doors lined up perfectly so my Hubby would be able to communicate with the guys what was happening.
At 12:50am I was wheeled in to the OR and transferred to the “c-section table” just in case things didn’t go as planned and I needed to have an emergency c-section. Let me tell you – this is the most uncomfortable table EVER. It isn’t designed for a vaginal birth (obviously) and therefore lacks any sort of support for your head/neck/back or for you to brace yourself while pushing. I hoped to not be on that table very long so we got down to business. They got my feet up in the stirrups and about 1:03am I started pushing. Gabriel was born at 1:07am and came into this world showing just how strong he is. He screamed right away and grabbed on to the Dr’s mask and wouldn’t let go! The nurse had to pry his fingers off of the mask to get him over to the warmer. I instantly burst into tears hearing and seeing Esteban & Michele’s angel. At that point, Davide did exactly what we had hoped and moved into a head down position. Unfortunately, he did some other moving as well. He began to enjoy his newly spacious womb and “swam” all the way to the top of my uterus. At the same time, my epidural began to wear off. I pushed and pushed and pushed for what felt like hours but Davide just wasn’t moving down. The nurse attempted to give me another dose of the epidural medicine but it wasn’t working. I had stopped contracting regularly and Davide was just sort of hanging out. His heart rate was perfect so the nurses suggested that I nurse Gabriel to stimulate some more contractions to help move him down the birth canal. The nursing definitely worked and I was feeling the contractions a lot more than I wanted to. Gabriel went and hung out with the nurses and once I had breathed through a few more contractions to try and let them “do their job” I started pushing again. I can’t (and won’t) lie. It was seriously painful. There was a moment when I cried to my Hubby and the nurses that I just didn’t think I could do it. I was so exhausted and in so much pain. Women that give birth without an epidural are truly my heroes. Hubby leaned down next to me and told me to take a deep breath and push, that he knew that I could do it. Davide was welcomed into this world at 2:09am and weighed 5lbs, 10oz. He gave a loud scream just like his brother and was doing amazing. Once both boys were born and the doctor got the placenta out, I started bleeding very heavily. I could literally feel blood pouring out of my body. Everyone was rushing around and nurses and doctors were shouting to get this medication and that medication and do this and do that, etc. I became very faint and finally the nurse gave me a shot in my arm (which hurt like hell) to try and get the bleeding slowed down. Once I had that shot, the bleeding was finally under control and I started feeling better. The Dr said that though I had lost a significant amount of blood, it wasn’t enough to need an immediate transfusion so I was okay. I was so relieved that both boys were finally here to meet their Daddies and we were all healthy and strong.
While they were trying to get my bleeding stopped, Davide was taken to the NICU to be evaluated. He was so strong from the very beginning. He didn’t need any help breathing at all and was doing so great. His Daddies went and spent some time with him while they were getting my bleeding under control. The nurses offered to take Gabriel to them but it was so important to me that myself or my Hubby be the ones to hand them their son. The nurses were more than happy to oblige so Gabriel stayed in the OR until we were both ready to leave. They handed him to me and wheeled us across the hall – The nurses handed Gabriel to my husband while they got me moved to a different bed and then pulled back the curtain for Esteban, Michele and Esteban’s parents Jorge & Giselle. My husband then handed Gabriel to Esteban & Michele for the first time. I’m crying as I write this remembering how wonderful that moment was. I will never forget the looks of pure love and joy on their faces. All the waiting was over – They were a family. Every single moment of our journey came together in this beautiful instant. I balled my eyes out. I was and still am so honored to have been a part of creating this amazingly beautiful family. The English language does not have enough words to accurately describe what it felt like to see them together – To see the two men that I had come to love and adore so much holding the precious angel that I had nurtured for the past 9 months. I have vivid photographs etched in my heart that I will always hold onto so dearly.
After about two hours we were moved to the postpartum wing and got settled in to our new room. Gabriel was completely 100% healthy so he was able to come along with us. The 5 of us (Myself, Hubby, Esteban, Michele & Gabriel) made ourselves at home and tried to get some sleep. Esteban, Michele & I had agreed a few weeks earlier that I would nurse the boys while in the hospital to aid in my milk coming in and to give them the precious “liquid gold” colostrum that I would have. Gabriel took to nursing like a champ! I was also able to pump some colostrum to take to the NICU for Davide since he couldn’t nurse yet. Esteban & Michele jumped right in to being Dads and handled it beautifully, just like I knew they would. Sitting and watching them snuggle their son was so special to me. They are simply amazing parents and the boys are so lucky! On Monday 12/19, Gabriel and I were discharged and allowed to go home.
At 4 days old, Davide was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles where his surgery would be performed. The staff there was absolutely amazing! At 5 days old on 12/23 Davide’s surgery was performed. He pulled through beautifully! They were able to repair the two VSDs as well as the problem with his aortic arch. A pacemaker was “installed” to give his heart some time to recover from the surgery. The pediatric cardiologist who performed the surgery said if after 7 days his heart hadn’t started to work on it’s own, Davide would need to keep the pacemaker. On the 4th day before I went to sleep, I said an extra prayer to my Papa in heaven. I told him that Davide had been so strong but that I thought maybe he could use a little extra help to get his heart working again. On the 5th day I woke up to a message from Esteban & Michele that while Davide’s nurse was on a break, his heart started working again and shut the pacemaker off all on it’s own!!!! That was such a beautiful day!!! A few days later they were able to start feeding him the colostrum I had pumped through a tube. I was SO happy that he would get the benefits of the colostrum even though he hadn’t been able to eat right away. The next day he started getting milk and the day after that he started doing bottle feeds with his Dads. Each time they guys sent me an update of how well he was doing I was SO happy for them! Their little angel is such a fighter and I am so proud of him. Once he was handling his bottle feeds, they removed the feeding tube. He passed all the tests showing readiness to go home and yesterday 1/5/2012 he was discharged from the hospital.
Esteban & Michele’s family is now complete with both of their sweet angels home and in their arms forever. I cannot say enough how honored I am to have been a part of helping them create their family.
Esteban & Michele – I love you both so much and you will always have a place in my heart. Thank you so much for “choosing me” and for trusting me to take care of the twins for you until they were ready to meet you. This journey has been truly amazing and I will never forget a single moment. I know our journey together is not over and I am so thankful that you have allowed me to spend so much time with you and your sweet babies. You have no idea how much it means to me. Seeing you with your sons warms my heart. I can’t think of two people more deserving of a family and I am so happy that you have those precious baby boys to love and adore for the rest of your lives. You are amazing parents and the boys are so lucky!
Davide & Gabriel – I am the world’s luckiest SurroMama to have such sweet surrotwins. I love and adore you both. I can’t wait to watch you grow up with your Papa’s and the amazing friends and family waiting for you in Italy. You will always have a place in my heart. You and your Papa’s will also always have a guest room at our house so please don’t hesitate to use it! 😉
I have so many emotions and thoughts about my journey and the past three weeks but I’ll save those for another post. Thanks again to all my friends, family and surrosisters for your constant support – I love and appreciate each and every one of you.
Welcome to the world Davide & Gabriel!!! ❤
Until next time, lots of love from ME 🙂