What an ordeal the week was. Especially for babies that were very very healthy!
The joy of the week was a little marred by feeling a little like a second class "mother" when it came to the care the hospital took of me for the babies, if that makes any sense. It's something I would like to speak up about and hopefully get changed at the hospital in the future, and also make other intended parents aware of, because while I was overjoyed with my babies, at other times it was hard.
I asked to speak to the social worker at one point because I was so upset. The hospital the girls were born at is one of the biggest and best in the country and she agreed with me, that the hospital has done SO much to modernize itself in many ways, but surrogacy is one thing they need to take a look at.
A little bit of it also had to do with my agency. They said they did everything that can, but I think I expected more in the end. I barely bothered them the entire two months, but as time wound down, I felt they started to drop the ball. For instance, the whole wait for the pre-birth order/parentage petition, which we finally got ahead of time, and it literally made it to the hospital the week before Gabby gave birth. And then, my questions about how we, the intended parents would be handled at the hospital. I asked questions about what we should expect weeks in advance, and they told me someone from the hospital would be in touch with me, but she never was. I was waiting and waiting, and I'd asked again, and they would say, "next week" until we got the news they were inducing in 3 days and we hadn't heard from her. And we never did.
So, we'd heard from the agency the week before that we wouldn't be getting a hospital room like we'd heard at some point beforehand. I don't remember who that was who told us that we'd be getting one - either the doctor at the hospital when we did our IVF cycle, or our agency contact months ago - but they told us the policy was changed, and we'd have to get a hotel. That was kind of sad in its own way. We obviously would have to sleep, so we really wouldn't be able to spend all our time with our babies. But then after birth, we were informed we would get a "family" room on the same floor as the nursery our girls were in for the duration of our stay. Awesome! It wasn't a hospital room, but had chair/beds, with a bathroom and tv.
But at some point during the stay, we were "kicked out" of the room, which is really what made me upset. We, obviously, were never patients at the hospital, just our babies. But our babies, as late pretermers, they were watched for a longer period of time before they were allowed to be discharged. They were called "boarder babies" as opposed to the babies of the mom in Room 1017 (for example). So we were there longer than typical babies are, but they weren't NICU babies. So we were told they wanted our family room for a mom/family who'd been discharged from from the hospital but whose baby was still in the nursery, because she was breastfeeding her baby. Well you know what, I would have loved to breastfeed my babies, but it just wasn't possible - so I was not as important as this woman was? I told the social worker, so I don't get to carry my babies for 9 months, I don't get to breastfeed, the bonding experience that is so so important I wasn't getting for the first few days. And they really really pushed "skin-to-skin" time, but without a room, I had no private space to do that. I was really really upset. Eventually they got me a room on the 9th floor, but the babies were still on the 10th floor nursery and apparently they don't change nurseries because they want "consistency of care." Whatever that means, I don't know. It seemed like just about every other day there was a different nurse on for the day/night - so how consistent was the care really? And of course, due to security protocols, I couldn't take the babies from the 10th floor nursery to my room on the 9th floor, basically enabling me no privacy with them for skin-to-skin time. Like I said, it was really upsetting - especially because we never ever heard from that person who was supposed to call from the hospital before we were even supposed to go in. I informed the social worker of that, because that is just not cool.
I'm trying not to let it mar the whole experience, but obviously the birth experience is really important. And that was with a birth order in place. If you're gestational carrier is giving birth in a state that doesn't even recognize birth order/parentage petitions, it's even worse. You won't even be recognized as the mom. Gabby was discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, and I was sad to see her leave, but from then on there wasn't anymore confusion about who was the mom. They were very very good about treating me as such, though of course at times there was some confusion. And I got so many compliments from random people about how good I looked for giving birth to twins 2 days earlier! :)
The girls did really well the whole week, everyone was amazed. M had a slightly low glucose level in the beginning but it came to normal within 24 hours. Then N's bilirubin levels rose and she had jaundice and was under the blue UV lights for 24 hours, but that corrected itself quickly too. Other than that, we were just waiting for their birth weights to start to go back up, and they had to pass their car seat tests.
Oh! There was some "drama" surrounding that too - because we found out our carseats didn't hold less than 5lbs! We were told to either buy new carseats that went to 4lbs or a car bed- neither option was ideal as to spend $200+ for half a pound of weight just stinks! But Gabby came through for us! In one day she contacted 2 friends who had car seats that went to 4 lbs and my ILs picked them up (plus some more breast milk from her) on their way to visiting us in the hospital. So awesome! They had their car seat tests overnight (they had to be able to sit in it upright for 90 minutes and maintain their airway) and they passed, so we were able to leave Friday evening!
Before Gabby left, we were able to give her our gifts - her husband got to open the gift certificate for the hotel and she of course, opened the necklace. I think they loved both gifts, and her husband mentioned that the necklace was totally her type of jewelry - yeah! I never got to write that long thank you I intended, because of the rush when being told we were inducing in 3 days, but a day later I received an email from Gabby that sounded like a "goodbye" email to me. Saying how happy she was for us, etc....I don't want to put it here but I really thought she was saying, "Thanks for everything, this was great, have a nice life." And I was really sad. I wrote her back late one night while in the hospital, with tears pouring from my eyes as I typed from the inner part of my soul.
I wrote to her how a million thanks would never be enough for what she did for us, and for the first time, I told her in detail about our journey. I mean, she knew the basics of course, but I poured out my heart and told her how it felt that I walked in darkness for so long before this.
"So you didn't only give L and I a family," I wrote, "you also gave part of myself back to me." I wrote more..."I had lost all hope, and you gave it back."
I was sobbing by the time it was done, because if she was really saying goodbye, I needed her to know that.
So I was touched when I got an email back from her the next day saying that's not at all what she was saying, that even though we'd only known each other a year, it was one of the most intimate relationships she'd ever had and she hoped to be my friend forever. What a relief! I'd been worried about it for so long, and I wonder if she'd been worried about my feelings on the subject as well - because ever since then, things have been easier and "looser" between us. We text regularly and easily - and she's gone out of her way for us regarding breast milk. It's just all so awesome.
A few pictures from when we were in the hospital to finish this extremely long post.
|Blue-light diva N!|
|Going home outfits|
|The 4lb carseats are so big on them!|