Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Cassidy and Madison’s Birth Story - April 3, 2002

The birth of my surrogate twins

Cassidy Christine & Madison Rose 

This birth story has taken me over 8 months to complete. There isn’t an excuse for the delay, just my best effort to procrastinate having to write the details of such a special time in my life. I guess I thought that by putting my memories into words would somehow take away from the magical moments being a surrogate brought to my life. But, I know that the details of the story itself will make a nice keepsake and looking back, I wished I would have not waited as long as I did to tell it.

Where do I begin? Well, let me start by giving a brief rundown of how I came upon writing this story in the first place. This was the second time to carry a pregnancy for this particular couple, now whom I consider family and have since the birth of their first son, Cole, who I carried in 2000. My couple (IPs, Stacey and Anthony) had 4 frozen embryos left over after the IVF transfer resulting in Cole and a year ago, spring 2001, we began a second journey together to hopefully give, then, 5 month old Cole, a sibling or two.

We tried a FET (frozen embryo transfer) in June 2001, transferring 3 of the 4 frozen embryos that had survived the thaw. That cycle was not successful and therefore left my couple to decide if they wanted to proceed with another fresh transfer.  Their concern was that it might possibly create more left over, embryos to be frozen, even if it proved successful; as our first resulting in Cole, did.

The decision was made to proceed on to another fresh embryo cycle and we transferred 2 of Stacey & Anthony's beautiful, 8 celled, 3 day old embryos into my womb on August 2001.

Just 9 days post transfer, I had a beta, blood pregnancy test done at a local lab and found that I was pregnant…it worked!

The first ultrasound (which my couple flew up to attend with me) revealed that Cole would be the big brother of not only one baby, but twins! I had no idea what to expect with a twin pregnancy, but I was soon about to find out. Since I am an identical twin myself and my Mother had no problems carrying us, I guess I assumed things would be just as easy for me…LOL…read on.

The first few months of the pregnancy were difficult, as I have never experienced morning sickness to the extent that I did with the twins. It was awful! Not only did I feel terrible through those first several months, I grew increasingly tired and felt as though I napped most of the time away. But, once the daily hormone injections stopped, I began feeling much better and almost as though I wasn’t pregnant at all (with the exception of my increasingly large tummy).

By the second trimester, December 2001, we found out that the babies were both girls. Stacey and Anthony flew back up to OKC to attend not only that particular ultrasound appointment, but several others throughout the pregnancy. We kept in contact several times a week via emails, sharing photos, and phone conversations. Our relationship has always been very close, but this surrogacy I felt we grew even closer by disclosing our "true" feelings for one another and dreams about what was to come for our relationship post surrogacy and etc. It was wonderful!

Christmas 2001, Stacey sent me an email letting me know that they had decided on names for the twins. At the ultrasound just a week prior, they had announced that they planned to name one of their daughters after me! I was very touched and felt a great sense of honor to be their surrogate and thought of so highly; it was a proud moment indeed. They had picked the names Madison Rose (Rose after Stacey’s Grandmother’s middle name) and Cassidy Christine (Christine is my middle name:)

Although we knew the girl’s names, throughout the pregnancy the babies remained, for the most part, Twin A and Twin B. Stacey and Anthony wanted to see the girls in person before they made the decision on who would be named what. However, Stacey felt that Twin A, who had always been the most active of the two in utero, might be the baby named Cassidy…active and already more like her mommy. Twin B (Madison), however, did hold her own closer to the time of delivery, but much more laid back; like her dad.

All was well with the pregnancy and I continued breezing through several more months with absolutely no problems. I felt so good, in fact, we took a vacation down to Texas for a surrogacy get together.  While there we had a nice dinner with Stacey, Anthony, and baby Cole. Several ultrasounds were also ordered during the third trimester.  Stacey flew up for another just before my 26th week.
In my 7th month of pregnancy (28wks), I began feeling lots of what I thought were just Braxton Hicks contractions, but later confirmed to find out that they were beginning to dilate my cervix a bit. This was my 4th pregnancy and I had never begun dilating so early, but we knew to expect this possibility while carrying twins. We were all worried about what could happen if the babies delivered early. So to take every precaution, when I was almost 29 wks pregnant, I was admitted to the hospital for preterm labor as I had already dilated to 2cm and 50% effaced.

My time in the hospital was not one I ever wish to duplicate. I was miserable after being placed on magnesium sulfate immediately upon admittance. After several hours, the medication seemed to be doing it’s job and the contractions decreased …whew! I was given 2 shots of steroids to try to speed up the development of the twin’s lungs in case they delivered early, which was also a relief since there were so many “what ifs” abounding. Stacey, Anthony, and my Mother came to be with me during this time in the hospital.
I was released from the hospital after 4 days, placed on Procardia (medication to relax my uterus), and bed rest at home for the remainder of the pregnancy. This was not an easy time for me nor my family, especially my husband, Noel. He was now both Mom and Dad to our two sons, my “servant”, and under a tremendous amount of stress working and balancing our home situation. But, we all knew the bed rest was necessary to continue the good health of my “surro babies” as I liked to call them. 

I received tremendous support from the twin‘s parents as well as their extended family, friends, and of course, my family during this time at home growing the twins. Without this support, I couldn’t have made it through those weeks of loneliness, insecurity in my ability to carry on, and pure panic thinking that I could deliver the twins so early. I wasn’t ready to end my journey as a surrogate and became very determined to deliver a set of healthy twins no matter the cost to my physical or psychological needs. My children and husband were managing just fine and I was still able to have daily interactions with them (from bed). We did great! I have a wonderful family!
Later in the pregnancy, close to 32 wks, I had a Dr. appointment that revealed I was contracting every 7 to 8 minutes, now dilated to well over 4 cm and almost 100% effaced. My Dr. informed me that I could very well have the babies any day (if not that particular evening). So, Stacey and Anthony made a split decision to move into a hotel here in Oklahoma City, several weeks earlier then expected, to be close to me. They didn’t want to miss the birth of their twins and it was the only way to guarantee this result, as they live over 8 hours away. After a long over night drive, with 17 month old Cole in tow, the twin’s parents arrived along with Stacey’s Mother , Jeanette (to help tend to Cole). Stacey’s Brother, Stephen, and Anthony’s Father, Floyd, made the initial drive and first overnight stay in OKC as well, but decided to return after finding out that my labor had stalled out by the following morning.
Over the next several weeks, Stacey, Anthony, and I attended many Dr. appointments together as well as letting our boys get to know one another a bit better. They enjoyed swimming at the hotel my couple were staying at, celebrating Easter together, and we had a nice gathering one evening in our home with some fellow Oklahoma friends through surrogacy.

It was a delight and a relief having my Ips there so close to us during this time, but I was also beginning to feel somewhat like a “watched pot” and I know that they were becoming stir crazy just sitting around waiting and waiting for me to “pop”.

By my 34th week of pregnancy, I was given permission by my Dr. to stop taking the medication I was on and begin normal activities again (well, as normal as any enormously pregnant woman can have that is). The Dr. felt that the babies would do just fine if delivered at this point in the pregnancy. We all felt relieved to know that the girls now weighed over 4lbs each via ultrasound and it was almost time to meet these sweet babies. So, I slowly got out a bit more each day with my family and the twin‘s parents, anticipating that any day I’d go into labor on my own. On several occasions this was true, but the labor always seemed to stall. I was feeling as though the pregnancy would need to be induced on our scheduled date of April 17th (my 28th birthday, when I’d be 37 wks pregnant). But, just a day or so later I began feeling a bit different then most days…which was usually pretty good.

April Fool‘s Day 2002 (just 2 days shy of 35 wks pregnant), I began feeling a bit chilled while laying in bed getting ready to try to eat a little something for dinner (which was becoming more like a chore with my decreased appetite from a squished stomach). I decided to take a nap for an hour or so and when I woke up I realized I was contracting several times an hour. I started timing the contractions and found them to be coming every 5 to 9 minutes…definitely a pattern was developing. After several hours of this, I decided to call Stacey and Anthony and put them on stand by in case this was “It”. Well, come to find out my labor again stalled and we went back to our holding pattern of wait and see. The thought of the day was, “Ha ha, girls…nice April Fool’s joke.”

That following evening, I again began feeling chilled (almost at the exact same hour as the previous night - 6pm). I decided instead of sleeping (which I was definitely exhausted) to take my temperature and find out if I was running a fever. Yes, in fact, I had a low grade temperature and became concerned about this fact once I read in my pregnancy books that chills and a temperature (over 100 degrees F) was a sign to call the Dr. immediately. So, that is what I did and I was told to come directly to Labor and Delivery for a check. I called the twin‘s parents, and they headed over to the house to pick me up. I had my bags packed, but with all the previous feelings of impending labor and what not, I decided to keep my things at home and would have Noel bring them to me if it was determined I’d be staying overnight. 

We arrived at the hospital near 7pm, Tues. April 2nd. I undressed, got hooked up to the NST machine to be monitored for contractions and check up on the babies (who had previously passed all their NSTs for reactivity, which I’d had twice a week at that point in the pregnancy). I was still running a temperature (now up a couple degrees from when I had taken it), so my urine was collected, as well as blood drawn and tested to determine if I had an infection of some kind that could be taken care of with antibiotics or maybe just something viral that would run it’s course and go away. I was not contracting at this point, and feeling very chilled and tired. Stacey, Anthony, and I chatted while we waited on the results, which came back showing no infections at all. Hmmm. The Dr. on call came by to check me nearly an hour or so after arriving. My cervix hadn’t changed since a week or so prior. But, once she left I began feeling better, no temperature, and the contractions started again (just as they did the night before). Coming no later then every 5 minutes now. So, the decision was made by my Dr. (who was called at home), to monitor me overnight and see what happens.

I was moved to a regular birthing room on the floor. I delivered my youngest son at that particular hospital and enjoyed the large rooms, but knew that I would be needing to be transferred to the OR once I got close to delivery with this pregnancy since my Dr. wanted to be prepared in case there were complications in the delivery of the second baby and a c-section would be necessary. Both girls were heads down by the ultrasound during my 33 wks Dr. appointment, so we had a “Go” for a vaginal birth. 

I called my husband at home with our boys, and Stacey called the hotel to advise her mom, watching Cole, that we would be staying the night to see what would happen. They would remain at home and the hotel for the time being. After about an hour or so from being moved, the nurse did a cervical check and determined I was possibly making a bit of progress. So, an IV was started as well as some antibiotics as precaution against Group B Strep (GBS), which I tested positive for with Cole’s pregnancy. 

I was now a good 5 or 5 1/2 cm dilated and becoming more and more uncomfortable with the contractions. However, they weren‘t painful. Not what I‘ve experienced in previous labors that is (induced w/ Pitocin). We were always confused on what dilation I was previous to this night since my last couple of checks at the Dr. and one hospital monitoring trip determined my cervix to be sometimes 3 cm and sometimes 4 cm. Regardless, I called my Mom (an hour drive away) and younger sister to head our way to relieve my husband from watching our boys in case it was time. Once they arrived at the hospital, close to 1pm at this point, my Mom stayed with my IPs and I, and my sister went on to my house.

Through the night, Stacey, Anthony, Mom, and I visited and then decided near 3am or so to try to get some sleep. I still wasn’t in much pain (just very uncomfortable hooked up in the hard, lumpy, L & D bed and from being so enormously pregnant) but, I did end up asking for a sleeping pill after trying to doze off. My Mom went to sleep in the lounge, Stacey slept in the “husband chair” next to me, and Anthony made a place on the floor (uncomfortable, but he managed to sleep some I think). We woke up close to 6am and chatted some more while trying to determine if today would be the day that these little ones would make their appearance. 

It was now well into the beginning of the day’s shift change. April 3, 2002 - my niece’s (twin sister’s youngest daughter’s) 1st birthday. By 8:30am, my new nurse came to introduce herself and my Dr. came over to do his morning rounds. They brought an ultrasound machine in with them. I was still pretty groggy from the sleeping pill I took just 4 hours previous, so the events at this point are kind of sketchy. But, from what I can remember and watching the brief video footage I have of this time in the day, my Dr. did a quick ultrasound to determine the positions of the babies (both still heads down), did a cervical check and found me to be 6 cm dilated, fully effaced, and Twin A’s bag of water was bulging. I was having a good pattern of contractions (every 3 minutes or so now). 

I was officially in “active” labor! The Dr. told me that it was either time to break my water and get the show on the road or wait it out a day or so (possibly) and see what happens on its own. Well, since I was now 35 wks to the day and we were all very excited and ready for the girls to make their appearance, the Dr. was told to go ahead and proceed with artificially rupturing Twin A’s bag of water and starting a small amount of Pitocin soon after to keep the contractions from stalling out. The anesthesiologist was called to my room to give me my epidural (I’ve never had a birth without one).

It was near 9am, by the time my Dr. finished breaking my water. Anthony wanted to go back to the hotel to get the babies’s Grandma, Jeanette, and Cole so they could be present at the hospital while the babies were born (they only had one vehicle and they would need a ride). My Dr. assured Anthony he would have plenty of time to make it to the hotel and back (only about 10 min away) before I would deliver the babies, so he went on his way to do so immediately. 

My Dr. left the room thinking he’d finish up rounds at a nearby hospital once he was done with the patients at this particular hospital first. We all thought there would be plenty of time, several hours at least, to get me to a good 10 cm dilated since it has always been my history to do so with previous pregnancies. I called my husband at work (my sister was now watching our two boys along with her daughter at our home) and told him to come to the hospital since today was the day. Again, I didn’t tell him to hurry. How were we to know that things would quickly become VERY exciting, VERY fast?! 

I had had one contraction just prior to Cassidy’s water being broke by the Dr. and just as I had finished the call with my DH I had another contraction. This time though I felt like the baby was moving down into my birth canal (almost like she was already coming out)…eeek…I needed a nurse fast!!! I immediately called Stacey over to get a nurse in the room to check me again (shoot, they were only just outside my room at this point anyway…LOL).
A nurse came strolling into my room probably thinking I must be crazy or unknowledgeable of what I was experiencing as pressure since I had always had epidurals and never feel this part of labor with previous births. Well, as she checked me she instantly knew to call in help because I was already dilated to a good 7cm!! She knew that in just 5 more minutes I could have another contraction and change once again at this rate. 

This is the point that panic set in with not only Stacey (since Anthony had just left the hospital and wouldn’t be back for 10 minutes or longer), but myself since I had yet to receive my epidural and there was no way I could see having twins unmedicated. “No way!,” I shouted at the nurses rushing into my room getting things together to begin wheeling me down the hall to the OR. “I’m not doing this without medication.” I remember begging the nurse to recheck me as I was about to be wheeled down the hall just to be sure her assumption of a quick third phase of labor was approaching.
Another contraction hit. I didn’t feel the pain, honestly, I don’t remember hurting at all. The only thing I was feeling was fear of the unknown and praying to God that the anesthesiologist would be waiting for us in the OR for my epidural. After the contraction had ended one of the three nurses pushing my bed out the door of my room, stopped for a moment to do a quick cervical check on me. Yep, sure enough, I had changed to 8 cm already. With each contraction I was changing 1 cm. 

I remember my Mom trying to help my frantic IM get her gown on as they wheeled me down the hall of L&D…all the while filming with my video camera to try and capture as much footage of the event in case my IF was unable to make the birth of his twins. She has footage of the nurses putting the paper hat on my head, I of course waved and put on my most excited/scared/happy smile for the camera, and Stacey pushing the doors open running down the hall looking to see if my Dr. was on his way to the OR as well.

As they began opening the door of the OR, another contraction began and I started yelling, “One is coming! Ohhhh, noooo…”, and I felt nothing but pressure as if Cassidy was sliding out already and I was horrified. “The Dr. isn’t here yet,” I cried. (This is the last you see of any of the birth on our videos since my Mom was not allowed passed the OR’s main door).

Four nurses raised me up from the bed and over to another as I screamed for my IM to help. I didn’t know who was who with all the paper masks and scrubs on each person in the room. Instantly, I realized my IM was not in the room with me. I heard the anesthesiologist, a man, come out from around my head and explain to the nurses trying to prop me up into a C position for my epidural that there would be no time for any medication. “I don’t think so!,” I screamed loudly back at him. 

Again, I yelled for my IM and then noticed a nurse with her hand between my legs checking my cervix since the last contraction had just ended. “She‘s complete! Let‘s get the Dr. in here fast!”, cried one of the nurses. “Where is Stacey? And where is my Dr.?” I cried as the nurse tried to comfort me. I was hysterical at this point. They told me the Dr. was getting into his scrubs and just around the corner of the room. I honestly didn’t feel as worried about the Dr. being there to catch the baby, as I was that the twin’s Mom (and Dad) would not be witness to their children‘s birth. 

From the corner of my eye, I saw what looked like my Dr. and, YES, Stacey was following close behind! Turns out, she was told by the anesthesiologist as she entered the OR with me that she was not allowed in for the birth. Stacey tried to quickly explain the situation as the twin’s biological mother and that she was told by the social worker and my Dr. that at least one person would be able to attend the birth (if not both). He wouldn’t even acknowledge her pleas for entrance and slammed the door in her face. 

Apparently, as I screamed out for Stacey to help me during one of the contractions, she waited in the hallway as my Dr. came dashing down into the corridor and put on his scrubs. She yelled to him that I was alone (well, without her…I did have 6 other people in the room with me…LOL) and the anesthesiologist kicked her out. He grabbed her hand and said, “Come on!”, and they pushed their way into the OR. 

Stacey came instantly to the head of my bed as I grasped her hands in relief and knew that I could push now that she had arrived. I was still terribly scared of the pain from a natural birth, but felt an incredible urge to get some relief by pushing. I was told to wait just a second more…”ya right!”, I thought as I tried with all my might to hold back from pushing.

It was now approximately 9:20a.m.. At this point, the Dr. didn’t even have his mask fully tied onto his head, nor did I have my feet in birthing stirrups, when I felt an incredibly weird, slippery feeling come from between my legs as I screamed out in pain like I’ve never felt before. “What isssss thaaaaaat!” I screamed out. Suddenly, I could hear Stacey crying, “It’s Cassidy! Ohhh, you did it!” The baby cried as the Dr. held her up for us to see and twin A was whisked to her set of baby nurses in the corner of the room. 

“She’s perfect!” Stacey said. I groggily shook my head with this stunned look on my face, I’m sure. I couldn’t feel anything at this point except complete relief that I got her here and lived thru it…LOL. I realized that my IF wasn’t in the room and asked quickly if Stacey had a chance to phone him as we were being rushed into the OR. She said he was on his way. So, I felt good that at least he might have time to see his second daughter born if he hurried.
I looked across the room and saw that baby Cassidy (my namesake) was doing well (Thank God!) and I looked back toward my Dr. and nurse as they were using an ultrasound to guide twin B into the birth canal. His arm was elbow up inside me getting her into position and I was shocked I couldn’t feel a thing. 

Soon after, here came Anthony with cameras in hand entering the door of the OR. He made it!!! Stacey told him to go over to see his daughter and I groggily told her to head over there for a glimpse too since she didn’t get to hold her directly after the birth like she did with Cole. But, she refused and continued holding both my hands with a loving grip as her tears of happiness flowed from the events transpiring.

The Dr. said that he was going to break twin B’s bag of water now and with the next contraction I was told to push gently and try to pause so the Dr. could suction her mouth and nose before she was pushed out fully. I guess I needed the extra coaching since Cassidy, twin A, shot out so quickly and they were afraid twin B would rip me since she was the bigger of the two babies.

It was now 9:42 a.m. and I immediately felt the sensation of the baby moving into position and I was terrified to go thru this again so soon. I was tired, and scared of the pain that would again take over my entire body, but I was also eager to see this family with their two healthy daughters. “Oh nooooo! I have to push! I can’t do this guys! Really, I can’t!”, I cried out to Stacey, and my birthing team. Stacey told me soothingly that I was strong and can do this. So I closed my eyes and bared down as hard as I could into the pain of the contraction and the sensation of fire between my legs. 

I screamed out in pain once more as my support team and my awesome IM held me up to push this last highly awaited and loved child out of my womb. As I pushed, and screamed, the nurses tried to get me to blow thru the urge to continue pushing and wait just a second since her head was now out. But, there was no way I could hold back this urge and I pushed right into the pain…just one push, like Cassidy’s birth…and out shot sweet Madison Rose!
She was held up while her Daddy took a picture of her and we were all crying tears of happiness welcoming her into the world! It was over I thought. Yes! I can rest. 

How beautiful both of the girls looked! Stacey noticed right away that they were both very chubby for preemie twins born at just 35 wks. They were a blessing…this we all knew was true. 

As we admired the twins from my bedside, the Dr. and nurses continued getting me prepared to deliver the twin’s placentas. I asked Stacey to please go be with her new daughters, instead she decided again to stay by my side and continued to grip my hands in support. Her commentary on how the twins were doing was nice and her presence at my side was a soothing relief after such a rushed, chaotic life event. 

The Anesthesiologist left the room apparently just following the second twin’s birth. I guess he assumed since both twins were here he wouldn’t be needed. We found out later this was a bad move on his part…his second dumb decision IMO! The first was keeping Stacey out of the room, of course.

Back in the OR, My Dr. started tugging gently on the twin’s cords as I tried to push them out. After about 30 minutes of time had passed, and still no give in the placentas, my Dr. explained to his nurses that we may need to do a manual extraction of the tissue. I was exhausted and very tired already. The sleeping pill I took just hours before had not yet worn off and I could sure tell a difference in the way I was feeling. 

My husband arrived at this time and moved to the left side of my bed along side two of the three attending nurses. He looked shocked that the twins were already delivered since just 1 hour prior he spoke to me on the phone after the Dr. broke my water, not anticipating I would go a fast as I did. I could see the concern in his eyes as he took one of my hands from Stacey and saw that I was without any pain medication and in obvious pain from trying to push out the remaining placentas. It was very chaotic and many of the details past this point from the remainder of my stay in the OR was relayed to me thru Stacey, my Dr., and husband. 

Apparently, I was losing a lot of blood and I had two nurses begin pressing down on my thighs (Femoral arteries) and stomach trying to get the placentas to detach. The Dr. took apart the forceps he had near him in case I needed assistance pushing the babies out and began wrapping each of the twin’s cords around them as he pulled and wrapped, pulled and wrapped…trying to “fish” the placentas from my body. (my husband’s description).

I was in terrible pain, obviously, and feeling very week. I remember screaming out each time there was a tug or push and I heard the nurses calling around for the anesthesiologist to return to the OR and give me something for the pain. My Dr. kept saying over and over how sorry he was each time he gave another tug and everyone around me looked frantic except Stacey (who was behind me this entire time with one of my hands) and my husband on my other side. 

Come to find out, either during the twin’s birth or at this point in the delivery, I squeezed my IM’s hand so hard during the pain that I bent her wedding ring on her hand. She told me at our visit just this past October that she had her rings fixed. And when I questioned what had happened to them, she told me of how I had bent them during the birth…yikes! I wanted to add this little detail since it helps describe how Stacey was an integral part of my support and stayed by my side regardless of her fingers being squeezed so tightly. 

Anyway, to continue with the story, I was leaned up as the anesthesiologist finally came back into the room. I rested my head against my husband’s shoulder as I was sat up for a spinal to be inserted for pain. I was on top of the forceps between my legs, still wrapped in the twin’s umbilical cords. As I closed my eyes I felt the warm, constant flow of blood between my legs and a pinching of the cold medal forceps underneath me. 

At this point I remember feeling as though my husband was moving away from me as I leaned in to his shoulder. I was frightened having him move me since I was getting the spinal put in and I needed his support to hold me up. But, it seemed he continued to move. When in reality, what had happened was that my husband noticed I went limp and then started making a jerking movement in my arms and head. I had passed out. As he pushed back my head he saw my eyes rolled back and he yelled for the nurses to come around him to take over. He was terrified to say the least. 

The twin’s parents and my husband were then told to leave the OR immediately as I was having a small seizure and passed out from the loss of blood. The spinal was finished and I remember only that I woke up with an oxygen mask on my face and saw the anesthesiologist above me. Realizing that I was still in the OR and still very tired I felt myself drifting off. This was the point where I passed out once again. 

The Dr. brought me to consciousness after a minute or two and my support people were allowed back into the room. This time after checking on me first, Stacey and Anthony went to be with their twins. My husband came to hold one of my hands as my Dr. decided that there was an obvious problem with the placentas abnormally adhering to my uterus and I was hemorrhaging. So, it was necessary that I receive a D&C after he manually cut away at the cords and placentas. 

Stacey and Anthony watched the twins being weighed for the first time and I do remember prior to the D&C that Stacey came to tell me that Cassidy (twin A) weighed in at 5 lbs. 3 oz. And Madison (twin B) weighed 6 lbs even. Both girls were thriving and assessed thoroughly by their team of nurses at each girl’s warming station. Neither would need to stay in the NICU, hooray! 

The nurses escorted the twins and their parents out of the OR and off to work out the particulars of the remainder of our stay in the hospital. Everyone was very nice to them and arranged for a private room down the hall from where I would be staying for Stacey and Anthony to room in with their new babies. 

Back in the OR, my Dr. mended a small tear in my perineum and proceeded to cut away, manually removing the twin’s placentas. I slept thru much of the procedure, but my Dr., husband, and the OR report filled me in later on the details, which included a full medical D&C to try and remove any remaining fragments of placenta that may have been left in the wall of my uterus.
I woke to find myself cleaned up and the room now virtually empty. It was close to 11:30a.m. at this point and I was spent, to say the least. My husband promised me as the nurses wheeled me to my room that he would try to usher any guests into the hallway while I ate and rested. It wasn’t like me to not welcome visitors or try to pull myself together quickly to save face. But instead, I used what little energy I had in me to cover my face fully with my bed sheet as I entered my room seeing it nearly full of people. 

A rush of emotions ran over me, and I sobbed under the sheets as my mom rushed to my side trying to comfort me. She had been so worried for me when she heard of the details of the birth and aftermath. We both cried a bit together and I came out from under the sheet to see Stacey feeding one of the twins already. This of course, brightened my mood immediately and I watched as some of the nurses finished up with the twins and pictures were taken of the new parent’s with their babies.

Cole, my 1st surro baby, was there with his Granny (Stacey’s Mom) and she of course came to me soon after to tell me thank you for what I had done for her daughter and son-in-law. I smiled to Stacey and asked that any unnecessary staff and visitor be escorted into the hallway while I tried to recuperate a bit. Everyone happily obliged as my IPs were told their room was now ready. 

I was asked soon after to take some pictures holding the girls, and I of course welcomed the chance to see them up close, in my arms, instead of in my tummy where they had been for the 7 ½ months prior. They were beautiful! Each with their own unique characteristics. I was already comparing them to what Cole looked like as a newborn and it seemed (which still holds true) that Madison looked very much like her Daddy and Cassidy a bit more like her Mom. They were adorable! I proudly and gladly gave them back to their Mom and Granny after a few more pictures and video were taken and the crowd of people left down the hall to get the newly expanded family settled into their room. 

My recovery while in the hospital went nothing like I initially anticipated after such a traumatic delivery. I was weak, this I knew, and later found to be quite anemic from the loss of blood, but for the most part I felt on top of the world. My adrenaline flowed continually thru the days and nights there with the family I helped create just down the hall from me. Happy and relieved that I had my body to myself again, I tried to prepare it for life no longer pregnant with twins. I remember only good thoughts and my mood was bright. 

I was able to visit the twin’s anytime I wanted and we had many visitors and guests bringing beautiful cards, balloons, flowers, and gifts for us all. Stacey and Anthony had family up from Texas who spent one night in OKC and brought me some very special gifts to remember my time as a surrogate. I was very flattered by all the attention and grateful to feel so appreciated.

The hospital staff was very accommodating and I was given updates on my surro family by our nurses on a continual basis. Rooming away from the babies was nice for my recovery since I was able to have my privacy and rest when I needed, a luxury I did not have during my time spent in the hospital following Cole’s birth in Texas. But, it was nice in it’s own way too…this time was just a different experience. 

My sons were brought up to the hospital by my husband. They were happy to see Mommy skinny again and able to go and do more with them, as I promised while on bed rest near the end of the pregnancy. At their ages, then 3 and 5 years old, they didn’t have much interest in holding or seeing the babies. But, they did get to hold the girls and played some with Cole while they visited us.

We spent the day following the twin’s birth exchanging gifts with one another and admiring the twins. It was a special time I captured on video and thru pictures to remember how happy we all were. Looking at Stacey and Anthony with their children gave me the feeling of honor in helping such a grateful, Christian family. 

Stacey and Anthony were great with the twins already and by the morning of our release from the hospital I was very impressed with them both! They had come a long way since the awkward moments seeing them with their 1st baby, Cole, while he was in the hospital.
I was nervous getting to feed the twins for the first time that morning (they were bottle fed, I always breastfed my newborns), they were so tiny, but healthy. My two sons and Cole were giants in comparison to what the twins weighed, but honestly the girls looked nothing like preemies. I’ve seen smaller full term babies. It was nice getting to hold and cuddle them both all morning as we waited for the pediatrician to clear them so they could be on their way home back to Texas. 

The hospital social worker, a notary, and a couple of nurses helped us manage the paperwork necessary for my name to be taken off of the birth certificates and have Stacey’s added. This paperwork was drawn up by our attorney in Texas and the remainder of the legalities would be handled thru the Texas court system. Everything worked out wonderfully and smoothly. Stacey and Anthony became the legal parents, as well as the genetic parents, to their girls just 2 months following their birth. I believe my name never appeared on a paper copy of the twin’s (or Cole’s) birth certificates. As it should be! 

Saying good-bye to the twins and their parents didn’t seem as tough as it was following Cole’s birth, because I knew we had now an even stronger bond and friendship. I’d given Stacey a coffee mug with the words “Sisters by Heart” just prior to the IVF transfer that conceived the twins and at this point I felt those words to be true much more so then ever before. She, Anthony, and their children felt like extended family members. We knew we’d miss each other, but as families always do, we’d see each other again and it would be something we’d always look forward to. 

I held each of the twins, saying that I loved them and their parents and would see them again when they got bigger, watching them grow from afar. As I hugged Stacey and Anthony our unspoken words told of the beautiful experiences we had together thru surrogacy. The words, “I love you…“ escaped our lips on prior occasions, but it never felt so real or valued by me then when it was spoke on this day.

Since the birth, Stacey and family continue to keep in touch. I sent a gift of my expressed, frozen breast milk to the twins that my IPs thankfully accepted. And my family was able to stop in and spend a day in their home while we vacationed this Fall 2002. Boy, had the twins and Cole grown! It was nice seeing the family just as in awe of their children as the day they left the hospital with them. We are all very connected and happy. I get pictures and updates, as any friend would and our relationship continues to blossom.  On several occasions we have gotten together when our schedules permit.

In conclusion, I wanted to mention the struggle putting my feelings into type was for me. I guess it was most hard coming to the realization that my journey as a surrogate with Stacey and Anthony had come to an end. Giving life to a child is such a precious gift from God and having the opportunity to share this gift with others is priceless. 

I guess I want, more then anything, for those reading this to understand that my couple was blessed, as many others have been, through the use of surrogacy. They are now a family of five because of the awesome doctors, attorneys, agency, hospital staff, family & friends support (and myself, LOL).  We each played an integral part in making their dream of a family with children, a reality. 

It is still so unreal to me to have been such a special part of it all, just by doing something many take for granted...fertility, should be cherished; it is one of God's greatest gifts.  I had the honor of playing the part of the surrogate/incubator, and fulfilled a personal goal of being able to use my gift of fertility to help others who weren't as fortunate. I believe God works miracles in our lives daily, and surrogacy is just one example of his wonderful grace and mercy.

Thank you for indulging me and reading what you have of our birth story. It has been helpful sharing my surrogacy journeys with friends and family. But, it is also very rewarding when I hear from those who read of our experiences and realize that they too can help others. Maybe not in this capacity, but knowing that they now feel a need to contribute or share their blessings with others…makes my time spent writing and exposing my feelings here very worthwhile. 


     God bless - Heather


Sunday, October 22, 2000

Cole's Birth Story (my first surrogacy)

Sun. October 22, 2000

I awoke at around 4:45am this morning and felt very uncomfortable in bed and very restless.  Still having contractions.  Nothing that hurt.  But,  up to this point none of the contractions that had been dilating me had any punch to them anyway.  So, got out of bed and painted my toe nails and timed the contractions for an hour, wondering if I should wake my IPs (Intended Parents) to let them know what I had been going through all night.  Well, I decided against that idea and went back to bed thinking that I absolutely didn't want to make another trip to L&D without this being the real deal.  Although I was very much hoping that things would progress through the day because my OB just happened to be on call that day at the hospital.  So, back in bed I slept until close to 11:00am and very thankful that my IPs had said we were just going to stick around the hotel because I was very tired from being up with the contractions part of the night and morning.

Things sort of calmed down the remainder of the morning until just after lunch when I was able to see my two little boys on the computer laptop that my IPs had for me to enjoy in my room.  I didn’t have a video camera for the boys to see me, but I was able to see them and talk to them back and forth using my microphone.  It was such an emotional visit.  I cried a couple of times and realized that I had already been away from them for a week now…but it didn’t seem like it was that long because I had been so busy with our “runs” to the hospital and etc.  I hadn’t been this upset since I had to leave them a week ago when I was dropped off at my hotel and seeing my family leave. I took a nap and then we all decided to go out for Mexican food at Joe T. Garcia’s in the Stock Yard district of Ft. Worth.   It was a very nice dinner, but while we were eating I began feeling the contractions line up again in a pattern, so we began timing them.  The waitress stopped and asked when I was due and someone chimed in, “today” (which wasn’t true, I was only 37 wks).  The waitress was shocked and said  I couldn’t have the baby there at the restaurant…lol.  We were all beginning to think that because the contractions hadn’t stopped that we would have to just drive on to the hospital as were closer to it from the restaurant then from the hotel.  The contractions were coming about 5 min apart by the end of the meal.  But, we decided instead to drive back to the hotel and call the doctor. Back at the hotel, the contractions continued and began getting closer and closer together, but still not hurting.  We put a call into the Dr. and waited for her to give us a call back and the OK to come on into the hospital.  While we waited, my IM’s Mom made me some red raspberry tea and I drank that down in hopes that it would coax my contractions on so they wouldn’t stall before we hit L&D.  Think the stuff did the trick.  The Dr. told us to come on in and we packed up and loaded ourselves into my IPs Tahoe for the ride to the hospital once again.  We had so much stuff packed in that my IM had to sit in the very back and crawl out the rear door to get in and out.  Very funny.  Before we left I emailed all my friends and family (DH included) and let them know we were on the way to the hospital and were hoping this was the “real deal”.

In the car ride to the hospital, I received a phone call from DH who proceeded to tell me that he and our two boys were in the downstairs bathroom waiting out a tornado warning.  There was a tornado heading into town and the tornado alarms were going off.  I told him that we were on the way to the hospital and he just freaked out and said that I had “perfect timing”.  I then got very upset and tried my best to hold it together and not cry, but it was to late.  I was crying terribly (but quietly) and scared to death that my family was in trouble and I was helplessly miles away.  I guess the boys thought it was fun being together like that in the bathroom (not knowing what was going on) and really started pushing my DH’s buttons.  He was so stressed and even more upset that I was “pulling” this during his ordeal.   I wanted so desperately to be with my family…they needed me.  So, after informing my IP’s on what was happening at home, they tried to reassure me that everything would be just fine, even though we were all very unsure at that moment.

Eventually, we made it to the hospital at around 8:00pm.  We were all a wreck and although I hadn’t experienced any “pains” from the contractions I came onto the L&D floor looking pretty rough and the nurses were quick to comment, saying I looked like this time I was in “true” labor.  But, they had no idea what was causing my tears.  So, we get into our room and I get hooked up to the monitors.  My blood pressure had shoot way up and had to be taken several times over the first hour or so that we were there.  I was still having contractions and the nurse checked my cervix to reveal that I was now 4 cm dilated, over 70% effaced, and my bag of water was bulging.  The Dr. decided this was “IT” and informed us she would be in to break my water to get things progressing and the baby born.  My IP’s were thrilled and proceeded to call the rest of their family and have them drive the 5 hours to Ft. Worth for the birth.

My DH called back to tell us that the tornado warning had lifted and they were able to come out of the bathroom, but that now the electricity was out and it was storming very badly.  He didn’t think he could make it there for the birth because he couldn’t watch the news to tell if it was safe to go out.  At this time, I was able to calm down a bit and decided that it would be safer if he just stayed there for now and when it was clear for him to come he could.  I didn’t want him to risk his life to get to me.  I reassured him that I would be fine with IM being my labor coach and to just try to get to Ft. Worth as quickly as he could.  And to add to the fact, he had been up all day (he had to work that morning early) and was also extremely tired, because by this time it was getting close to 10pm.  But, he called my Parents anyway to come pick up the boys so he could get to Ft. Worth to be with me.  My Parents had watched the boys all weekend and just dropped them back off at our house that afternoon, and had to drive an hour right back to our home to pick them up again…in a storm no less.  What a troop of dedicated, loving family I have huh?  So, None the less DH was on his way…loaded up on coffee, sodas, and chocolate covered coffee beans to try to help him stay awake on the 3 hour drive to Ft. Worth.

Back at the hospital, we patiently waited for my Dr. to come in and break my water.  I had asked to receive an enema to keep “the show” prettier when it came time to push and I had already gotten both dosages of antibiotics for the Group B.  My OB finally arrived at around midnight and ruptured my membranes.  Soon after my water being broken, I was allowed to walk the halls to try to intensify the contractions and bring on some stronger labor pains.  My IM and I walked around while IF filmed us and took pictures for us to share in the experience of the moment.  I was then placed back on the monitors to see how things were progressing.  Well, I still wasn’t doing as much contracting as we all wanted to get this little guy here at a faster rate, so they got me all hooked up to the “devil drip” machine…yippee.  By 2am, not long after given the Pitocin, I started having some pretty good pains.  IM was there by my side the entire time, holding my hand and telling me when the pains would start to decline and go away.  It was such a relief to know that even though my DH couldn’t be there with me during this time that my IM was able to pull through for me and support me during my labor.  I kept telling her she could go sit in the rocker and relax some if she wanted, but she insisted on sitting by my bedside and getting me my chap stick and ice chips and holding my hand when I was in pain always asking if there was something more she could do or help me with.  Although she did leave maybe once to greet her family members as they arrived at our room.  (They all pretty much stayed out, as they didn’t want to bother us.  But they did come in initially to give me a hug… which was very nice.)

I was pretty close to 7cm dilated and over 80% effaced when I finally asked for an epidural.  The contractions at this point were starting to come about every 3 minutes and extremely painful.  My OB had the nurse crank up the Pitocin dosage several times and I was just about on the maximum dosage to keep my contractions good a strong.  The “epidural man” had to be woke up as it was pretty close to 3:00 am when I called for him (the hospital wasn’t very busy on this night and so he had some time to sleep a bit).  So, when he finally came into give me the epidural he was very groggy and took his sweet time.  This was the most traumatizing event of the entire experience for me.  And I have had epidurals with both my previous pregnancies and none were as slow and agonizing as this one.  The nurse had me sit up on the bedside with my back arched into a C-shape.  Not a very comfortable position to say the least.  Then she kept holding my head so I wouldn’t move, well, I was having some extremely painful labor pains and it was nearly impossible for me to try to stay on top of the pains due to the position they had me in….and for so long.  It must have taken this man 20 minutes or so to get the epi in.  I tried to stay strong and breath through the pain, but I couldn’t hack it anymore and started bawling my eyes out.  It was getting hard to breath sitting so still with all the pain from the contractions.  I felt like I was about to pass out a couple of times because I couldn’t catch my breath since I was crying so much.  The tears dripped from my eyes onto the floor and the nurse tried to wipe them as they fell.  My poor IM was right next us watching the whole thing and I could tell this was all upsetting her as well.  It was not a fun thing to have to go through.   She told me later that the nurse said to her that she had never seen an epidural given so slowly…and I agreed…it was terrible!

Anyway, things began to progress very nicely after I received some relief from the contractions and my IP’s and their family seemed to be having a good time coming over to watch the monitors and letting me know I was having a contraction and asking if I could feel anything.  It was cute!  They all tried to get me to sleep a bit at this time, but I couldn’t rest very well knowing my husband still hadn’t made it there yet.  He had a quicker drive to Ft. Worth then IP’s family and so I know he had to drive very slowly since he hadn’t arrived.  He did call my IP’s cell phones and let us know he had just about an hour left to drive.  While we waited we all wrote down guesses of what Baby Cole’s birth weight and arrival time might be as we were all beginning to get very anxious about seeing the little fellow.  This helped to pass the time some and keep our minds occupied.

By just after 4:00am, my nurse was told to check me and I was dilated to just over 9cm, 100% effaced and just about ready to push except for a little bit of cervix that was still in the way.  My DH arrived soon afterward and was sort of relieved that I had already progressed this far as he was very tired and ready to crawl into bed with me from exhaustion.  But, it was time to start pushing and I made him get our video camera out and begin filming the “big event”.  My IM stood to one side of my bed along side the nurse, My DH stood near the other side of my bed with the video camera and also in the room just behind DH was IM’s brother, operating IP’s video camera on the tripod, and IF to his left.  My IM’s parents, SIL, and IF’s Dad stood just outside the room behind the curtain (with it opened just a bit as to not be to exposed to the “show” but still able to witness the birth of their newest family member).

My whole body was still extremely numb from the epidural and I asked the nurse to please turn it off so I could feel the need to push.  But, when it was time to get started I was still unable to feel a thing.  Therefore it took me several contractions, at least 5, to get Cole’s head to begin to crown.  IM was all decked out in a hospital gown and holding a little blanket to wrap her son up with as soon as he arrived and I tried to watch (even during my pushes) her face throughout as I didn’t want to miss a single moment of joy in her eyes.

Just as I was beginning to think I’d never get little Cole pushed out of me, his head popped right out and shocked the heck out of the Dr. as he was staring straight up at her when she went to turn him and get all the mucus cleared from his throat and nose…he wasn’t even breathing yet.  My IM began crying and I started to tear up too, but I kept telling myself I couldn’t cry yet because I had to see her eyes the moment she held her son for the first time.  Half a push later, Cole Anthony R. entered the world.  What an emotional moment it all was, as the Dr. clamped Cole’s cord off for his Daddy to cut, and IM standing to the side waiting for the first glimpse into the eyes of her little miracle.  The Dr. was standing in front of IM and I couldn’t see her very well, but I could hear her words that will forever be etched in my memory.  She said, “OHHHH, there he is…We’ve been waiting for you!…Look Heather…He’s perfect!”  Just then the nurse unhooks my monitor belts and pushes the nurse call button and says very loudly, “We’ve got a baby boy born at 5:16…” and I just loose it…I can’t see my IM through all the tears filling my eyes.  She comes around to my side from behind the Dr. and says to me through her own tears, “You did good!…” and the Dr. hands her the baby.

Everyone in the room is bawling and IM’s first words to her son once in her arms are, “Hi, baby…Oh I know…it will be alright…I’m here.”  She then takes him over to the warmer for the nurse to clean him up a bit and rushes back to my side.  We embrace and she says, “Thank you, thank you, he’s beautiful!”  And we both cry together briefly before she goes back to be with her son.  The emotions in the room were so joyous.  IM’s Mom peeks around the curtain and tells her Grandson, “ohhh, you hear you Granny talking to you don’t you..”, as little Cole quiets down a little.  The nurse weighs him soon afterwards right there in the room in front of us and everyone gathers around to see who came the closest on his birth weight.  IM won…she knew he was going to be a big boy, even though he was only 37 wks gestation…he weighed in at a whopping 8lbs. 3oz. and 19 ¾ inches long.
The birth went fairly well, only had a slight superficial tear.  However, the Dr. struggled a bit to get the placenta delivered, as it didn’t want to come out in one piece.  So, she had to pull most of it out manually and worked on me for a good 30 to 45 minutes.  All the while I took still shot pictures of the IP’s and their family with the baby.  My DH and nurse were upset with me because of this and wanted me to rest instead.  They thought I was crazy…but I didn’t want to miss a single moment and just had to document it all in case I didn’t get any pictures sent from IP’s family to show all my family when I got home.  (The Dr. was probably going blind from the flash of my camera in her eyes and this is probably why she took so long to get me all stitched and cleaned up…lol)

After we said goodbye to my Dr. and the wonderful nurse, Katie, who took care of us.  I was wheeled up to the recovery floor of the hospital.  There was a glitch however, and I was made to hold Cole (which I didn’t mind at all to do) all the way up to the room.  Even though we had thought that IM could have done this herself, and she was hoping to do, and should have been able to do, because this was HER son, not mine.  But, the new nurse we had taking care of me started throwing hospital policies up in our faces and we just decided we were all to tired to mess with these ignorant people.  I was sad however that IM had to be treated so badly just after the wonderful birth of her son and bring her down a bit.  It hurt her (and me) very much, during our time in the hospital to be talked to and disrespected by the nurse and staff even after they were told this was a surrogacy and the baby was genetically hers.   We had to share a room too by the way (which I didn’t mind doing either) because they said the floor was to full.  But, it just seemed strange to us when we saw empty rooms all through the hallways.  Oh, well, we did have a nice time being all together, I think, (except it would have been nice to have an extra bed for IP’s to sleep on) and it gave me a chance to be around the baby more and watch his family interact with him.

We were all very tired after receiving many visitors the day of Cole’s birth.  But, it was nice getting to meet all my IP’s family members and I even got a visit from surrogate friends, Rhonda and Erin P.   Cole has such a wonderful temperament and is a very good baby (eats well too) that he didn’t mind at all being passed around from person to person. Everyone brought Baby Cole and I some wonderful gifts too.  The room smelled so good from all the flowers and plants.  My DH didn’t stay with me very much during my stay at the hospital either which was fine and he was a Doll and bought me a dozen roses (that bloomed for 2 wks straight).  He was much more comfortable in the hotel.    So, that first night, my IP’s tried to stay at the hospital together and switch off taking care of the baby.  But, it was just too hard for either of them to get much sleep and what made things worse was that they would both jump up at any little sound their little boy would make.  So, long story short (and believe me, the story about the first night and morning is a dozy), my IP’s ended up retiring to the hotel too the second day and night for some well deserved sleep while Cole was taken to the nursery.  I ended up staying an extra day in the hospital so that my IP’s could spend more time with the baby since he had to stay for 48 hours after birth.  Had I not stayed in the room the hospital staff would have had Cole stuck in the nursery the entire next day only allowing one person at a time in to visit with him.  I was happy to stay!  IM’s Mom helped care for Cole too while we were there and I was able to visit with her quite a bit, which was very nice!  IP’s whole family made me feel so very loved and appreciated and I really enjoyed my time with all of them.

The night before we left the hospital, IP’s and I exchanged gifts.  I was really glad we did this because I knew emotions would be running high the following day when we all said our goodbyes.  They gave me some beautiful gold angel earrings and a card that I honestly tried to read in front of them, but was really only able to read the first couple of words on the front of it because I started to tear up and didn’t want to start crying there in front of them all. (But, I did read it when I got home and it was very nice and heartwarming…I cry each time I read it)  The earrings, they said, were for being their angel. They also gave me a photo album book that matches exactly with Cole’s baby book and a wonderful sentimental card that they wrote from Cole saying how very lucky he was to have a surro Mommy like me and etc.  It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how special those gifts, and the words that they wrote are to me.  They are fabulous, loving, Christian people!  My family gave them a Precious Moments figurine frame with a picture of IP’s and I in it, and a Precious Moments figurine of a girl holding a baby with the inscription of “Everything Grows With Love” on the bottom.  (IM collects Precious Moments figurines and they gave me one the night before our transfer…so I though it was fitting.)  We gave Cole a blanket that said Year 2000 Baby on it and a little T-shirt from our favorite restaurant in the town we went to college, Eskimo Joes.  (We went to eat there while he was in my tummy and we bought my boys the exact same T-shirt…so we had to get one for Cole too.)  I didn’t write too much in a card to Cole (as I want to write him a nice letter after I get my senses about me following my maternity leave), but I did give IP’s a nice card that I think they though was nice.  I tried to relay in it how very dear they are to me for letting me take care of their little guy for 9 months and I will miss them tremendously.                                                   

The day we left the hospital, the director of our agency came with the paperwork for my DH and I to sign, as we did a traditional stepparent adoption (which is common in many states to do even though we have no blood relationship to the baby and the IP’s are genetically the baby’s biological parents).  I thought that I might be a bit weepy during this part, but I wasn’t at all.  It was a weird feeling though, seeing my Husband and my names all over the paperwork as Cole’s biological parents.   But, a real relief after the papers were signed and knowing that they really didn’t mean a thing to anyone but the courts.  I wanted so badly for my IP’s to know that DH and I never felt that Cole was ever our child and I think that throughout our journey I was able to get that message across to them.  (I hope I did anyway)

So, after the papers were signed and the legalities taken care of, we all said goodbye.   This was the hardest thing that I had to do, bar none.  Even more so then having to go through the labor, delivery, and even the engorgement/recovery period following my return home from the birth.  I wasn’t as sad about leaving the hospital without a baby, but I was sad about having to say goodbye to these people that were like family to me during this time in my life.  I cherished my time as a surrogate and being a part of this special miracle that not many people get a chance to experience. I felt that I had closure to the situation of no longer being pregnant and very proud that the baby was healthy and where it belonged, with his parents who have been waiting for him for so long.  But, I guess I wasn’t ready to shut that chapter in my life which involved having some sort of relationship with my IP’s.  I consider then friends of mine, although we started off as strangers.  But, our friendship grew over this time that I cared for their baby and I didn’t want to give that up just yet and say goodbye.  Even though my IP’s tried to reassure me that they would still like to remain in contact with me and send periodic updates on Cole, I didn’t know for sure where things would lead.

But, I was able to hold little Cole for the last time and we all got pictures and video.  I quickly and quietly said a goodbye to him and told him that I would always remember him and the time I was able to spend taking care of him.  I said to him that I would miss him very much and to be good for his parents (which I think he definitely listened to that part, from what Stacey tells me of his wonderful temperament).  I then gave IF a hug and went to hug IM.  We both started to cry a little and I told her not to start crying because I won’t be able to stop.  She and IF (& IM’s Mom) let me know how loved and appreciated I was to them and that they will miss me too.  As they wheeled me out of the hospital, I said a prayer that this little baby, Cole, be seen as a blessing to anyone who hear about the story of how he came to be and how awesome the power of love and compassion can be for others in need.  I hope that our story can somehow reach out and touch those who are possibly experiencing very similar circumstances and show how miracles can happen.