Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Adventures in Iowa and baby day is NEAR!

Kaufman's have been in Iowa for over 3 weeks now, just waiting for little man to arrive!  We were just sure he was going to be making an early arrival but as it turns out, he just wanted his family to be nearby!  :)

We have not lacked fun, that is for sure!  Our kids are surely going to be spoiled when the Kaufman's head back home to Washington!  We've been out to eat more times in the past few weeks than in the entire year probably!  We've also been to the circus and celebrated Campbell's 6th birthday and also my twins 6th birthday!  We've gotten together with friends more times than we can count and had lots of fun evenings at our house all together.  We truly have become like a big family over the past 3 weeks.
I know that spending a month in Iowa wasn't what the Kaufman's had planned but as time goes on, I truly am beginning to believe this is how it was supposed to be.  Had we stuck to the original plan, the Kaufman's would have been arriving later this afternoon.  Tomorrow we have a Pre-Op day at the hospital and we will be preparing for Friday.  It would have been a very rushed and chaotic 24 hours. No time to relax, bond, or really even introduce our kids to each other.  The last few weeks has allowed us time together that is so very priceless.  Our 4 kids are more like siblings now and its something I am cherishing more and more each day.  The one on one time we have had with the Kaufman's has been such a blessing.  The guys have gone golfing 4xs together, we've spent time with friends here locally and Kellie & Chris have really gotten to know my family too.  This all would have never happened if we stuck to our original plan of them being here such a short time.
I have to share some photos of all the fun adventures we have had while them being here!

LOTS of doctors appointments over the past few weeks!  It's been very special that Kellie has been able to come along and get to know my doctors before the big day! 

 When Campbell is around, of course there will be some cheerleading!  :)  My boys LOVED it!

 A spa day and slumber party with all my girlfriends.  How special that Kellie was able to be here for this!

 The circus came to town!  The kids loved it!  The parents are okay if this was a one-time only event ;)

Can't forget Halloween!  It was so much fun our kids were able to trick-or-treat together!  

A girls night out with many of our friends!  We had a big It Works training here on Sunday and so we celebrated while so many were in town!  

Swimming at the Kaufman's hotel pool!  These dads have had their hands full some days.  One night, the ladies went out and there was 9 kids and just 4 dads (who are all very laid back), running the show! 

We got a sitter one night so we could have dinner together with my parents.  We went to a yummy brewery!

SO SO SO cool to me that Kaufmans were here for our annual Signature Chef's Auction for the March of Dimes.  Its a charity VERY near and dear to my heart and I always look forward to this special event.  My heart was so very full to celebrate this evening together and with many close friends.  And, who doesn't like getting fancy for a night!?  ;)

Now, onto the update.  We are LESS than 48 hours away from the BIG DELIVERY DAY!  Oh my goodness... I just cannot even believe its almost here.
At this point, I think it all seems very surreal to me.  It's so hard for me to even imagine what Friday is going to feel like.  I know its going to be very bittersweet for me.  This journey has been absolutely amazing and I know seeing it come to a close will be hard... BUT,  we get to see Baby Kaufman!!  And truly, the thing I cannot wait for is just to see Kellie and Chris holding him and seeing the joy that will come from that.  Ever since my dream of wanting to be a surrogate started, all I could think about was what that moment will feel like.  What I will get to see and feel as they hand their baby over to them and see the looks on their faces.  Yesterday Kellie and I were discussing the delivery rom plans and I just started crying.  I can't believe its here and I am SO excited for it.
I have a scheduled C-Section on Friday morning. We are unsure at this point who will all be in the delivery room.  All along I have planned to have Steven by my side during the delivery, however, over the past few weeks my thoughts have changed.  Just as long as I am doing fine and we are still in a routine C-Section, I am okay for Steven to wait outside the doors in the recovery room and be waiting for me as soon as I am finished with surgery.  I feel very strongly that I want Kellie to witness her sons birth and we also are hoping to have a photographer in the room to document everything as well.  I don't want to miss a thing! :)  And for those of you who know my love for pictures, totally understand why I would want this all photographed!  IF they were to allow 1 more person into the OR, I would want Chris to be in there with Kellie.  I know her emotions are going to be SO strong and I would love for her to experience that WITH Chris next to her.  So, as of right now, thats the plan.  This is all up to the doctors at the hospital and we will just roll with the punches if anything changes.  Kellie has told me she wants me most comfortable and so they want me to make the final decisions on that aspect.  But, so far, I am very at peace with my choice and I know Steven will be waiting just a few feet away in case I need him ;)

Bring on the tears.  I am crying just writing all of this.  Friday is going to be a highlight of my life.  Its so hard for me to even explain because its hard to believe this dream is really coming true.  1 year ago Friday I did my first injection for the mock cycle for the surrogacy and here we are delivering a baby boy 1 year later, to the day.  Not to mention, surrogacy has been in my heart for over 4 years now.  It's surreal that my dream has officially come true.
I told Kellie the other day, "Okay... so, I am going to be a bawling mess on delivery day.  So I just want to get that out there now so you know, I am truly just excited and it does NOT mean I want to steal your baby!"  We both had a really good laugh about it!  And her response "uhhhh... I think I would be MORE concerned if you WEREN'T  a crying mess!!"  :)
Well, good, as long as we cleared that part up!  haha.
Alright friends.  I think thats my update for now.  Send us some prayers for this HUGE DAY!  I am sure Kellie or Chris will make the baby announcement shortly after he arrives and you can look for an update from me after that.  And, we hope to share the birth story images once they are ready, too.  Many of you have followed this from the first blog post, so we would love for you to be able to 'follow us' thru to the very end!
Also, legally we are sitting very good.  The Pre-Birth Order WAS accepted which is great news.  That means that Chris' name will be placed on the original birth certificate with my name.  Then, just a brief hearing needs to happen afterwards for what is called a 'step-parent adoption' for Kellie.  It sounds funny but its truly just formality.  This doesn't even HAVE to be completed by the time they head back to Washington with the baby.  Most likely it could be done on Skype or telephonically if they don't get it done within a few days of birth.  After this, my name will be removed permanently from the birth certificate and Kellie's will be added.  This process is just because Iowa laws are kind of grey. They don't have any laws for or against surrogacy.  Our attorney is very very familiar with surrogacy and so she knows how to make this the easiest.  After all, I am JUST the oven ;)
Sending love to everyone reading.  BABY DAY!!!!!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The waiting game is tough

I know that some of you who are following along are wondering what in the heck is going on?!?!  Well, so are we.

Like my previous post said, I started having contractions about 8pm on Thursday the 15th.  Went into the Birth Care Center only to find out that I am not dilated at all yet and so its hard to know whats going to happen.  Over the weekend the contractions got somewhat stronger and of course this caused the Kaufman's to panic a little bit.  And, me too, honestly.  I did not want to be responsible for them missing this birth!  They are so far away, its not an easy trip to get from Portland all the way to small little Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  After several days of consistent contractions, many conversations with friends and family, and some sleepless nights worrying, the Kaufmans decided to hop on a plane and come to Iowa.  When they first told me that plane tickets were booked, my heart sank a little bit.  What if this is just a false alarm?  What if he really isn't coming?  Now they will be stuck here in Iowa for several weeks and I will feel terrible!  Well, as I have learned over the past several days is that the human body has a mind of its own and it really is impossible to try to predict what will happen.  And I really didn't need the pressure of trying to tell them the perfect time to come.
As soon as they landed in Iowa, I had a sense of relief.  They are here now.  No more stress trying to decide to tell them when to come, based on how I am feeling.

The last few days have been... interesting.  ;)  First of all, its been so great to get this time with the Kaufman family.  Our 4 kids are just loving every second together and can't get enough!  This is time we wouldn't have had if we would have went with the normal plan of the c-section on Nov 13.  We would have had 1 day before the baby arrived and the girls would have only been here for a few short days.  This bonding, together time, has been really awesome.  And my boys getting to know the Kaufman family has really pulled it full circle.  They now understand who Baby K's family is!
Here is a photo of Kellie & Chris' girls when they had just hopped off the plane... Go Hawks!  :)

We had to put a goodie basket together and in their hotel room for a warm welcome to Iowa!

Here is day 1, Kenley feeling her baby brother!  

And Kellie getting to feel what a contraction feels like from the outside

We've tried to keep busy because at this point, there is no reason to just lay in bed and try to stop anything from happening.  Drs and nurses all say that Baby K will be just fine if he decides to come at this point.  So, Kellie and I have hit up the spa, went out to dinner with some girlfriends & of course, attended a few Doctors appointments.
 Spa time ^^
Some yummy fruit sent by a friend, Megan Baker!! So thoughtful and delicious!! ^

After dinner, with girlfriends!  

In the waiting room for baby K's NST (non stress test) that he passed with flying colors this week!

And a few photos of the men.  They've really had a blast together this week.  They've golfed twice and at one point had 9 kids and 4 laid back dads over watching football while the girls were out at dinner.  Chaos but they handled it awesome!

Steven, Chris, my dad and a friend Landon ^

Now, the real update on WHAT is going on!!!  Every day I seem to get stronger and stronger contractions.  Since last Thursday I haven't had more than an hour without any contractions at all. some nights I sleep thru them and sometimes they wake me up.  My doctor said it would appear early labor has started.  And, at this point, they wouldn't try to stop it from happening.  However, I am supposed to be a scheduled C-section, due to my twin pregnancy with my boys.  So, If I were to start to dilate, they would want to get me to an OR to get the baby out, or I risk going into active labor and trying for a VBac.  I've had two doctors now tell me that my pelvis most likely couldn't deliver a baby.  My mom had the same problem.  And with this being a surrogacy and my mindset has been C-section the entire pregnancy, I would love to stick with the plan.  If something changes and we have to try for a VBac, I am in no way against it.
On Tuesday I went and saw my doctor and she checked my cervix and said it was STILL closed.  No dilating and that baby's position was still high.  He hasn't moved down yet.  However, she said that can still all change in a short amount of time.  Since I have never labored before, its hard to tell me what to expect as far as what will be the difference and make something change.  My doctor said that I might end up making several trips into the hospital to see if I've made progress because they would prefer that, then for me to ignore it all and end up having a baby at home.
Yesterday at lunch I started having quite a lot of pain just as we sat there and ate.  Contractions were happening (as they always are) and there seemed to be more pain behind them than normal.  I mentioned something to Kellie and later that afternoon I decided to track them a little to see their pattern.  They were about 7-8 minutes apart and all pretty strong.  Some had pain with them and some just the tightness.
After about 3 hours of those, they seemed to fizzle out a little bit.  Then around 6pm they started back up.  Seemed to be stronger and this time back pain had started with them, along with overall cramping and discomfort.  We ate dinner and just continued the evening.  Around 9pm is when it all seemed to change.  Back pain was much more achy and painful than before, cramping had increased and my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and each one was VERY strong.  My mom is an OBGYN nurse and she was over at the house and was feeling the contractions on the outside.  She said she felt like these were the strongest yet and she couldn't imagine these weren't the real deal.  My belly would feel like a hard pumpkin during a contraction.  Absolutely as tight as possible!  Every few contractions would make me feel like I wanted to breathe thru it.  They continued until about 10:30pm and then we decided to just head to the hospital to see if these few days had changed anything at this point.  I knew my OB Dr was on-call, so I thought it was perfect timing since she was the last one who checked my cervix and would know for sure if anything had changed.
The answer?  NO.  No change.  Ugh.  Today I am 36 weeks so we are soooooo glad we have made it this far!  I think the most frustrating part is just having no idea what to expect and what is going to happen!  I just cannot imagine that this can continue for 3 more weeks.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance and some of these contractions take my breath away.  I will be exhausted and SO uncomfortable if this goes on for that much longer.
So, at this point we just keep waiting.  The Drs and Nurses have all reassured me that I did the right thing by coming into the hospital because everyone is different and there is no way to know if the contractions are doing anything.   Always better safe than sorry.
Kellie and Chris have continued to say that they are glad they are here with us.  That the stress of being far away was too much and although they might have an extended vacation here in Iowa, it will be worth it.  That is such a huge relief because this is what I was worried of.  They would get here and then nothing would happen.  But, again, there is still quite a bit of action happening and changes daily so anything can happen!  No one knows.
It's been hard to update you all without a clearer picture of what is going on.  We don't know much and baby K seems to make the rules.  So, we appreciate the prayers and thoughts that you've all sent to us.  Much support has been felt and received and we are grateful for all of it!
We will keep you informed as things happen.  Thank you for reading!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Baby K attempts an early arrival

Okay, this is going to be strictly an update for those of you who are following along... or trying to!  haha.  I know we have made some Facebook posts over the last few days updating you on Baby K and how things are going.  So, I thought it might be helpful to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in case you were wondering ;)

First off, I had my first NST (non-stress test) on Wednesday at my OB office.  The nurse told me that they would watch baby for 20 minutes on the monitor and be sure he raises his heart rate at least 15 beats for at least 15 seconds and they wanted him to do this twice.  This just shows that he deals with stress okay.  If he doesn't do this within 20 minutes they can continue up to 40 minutes to be sure he passes this test and the test is called "reactive".  IF he doesn't do this within 40 minutes, its called non-reactive, and basically it means he failed.  And then I would be sent over to have an ultrasound and a Bio Physical Profile.
So, his baseline heart rate was right around 140 beats, which is perfect.  After about 15 minutes he wasn't raising his heart rate on his own so the nurse did some different things to try to get him to get excited and accelerate his heart rate. She had this little vibrating device that at first almost seemed like tickled him! He moved right away and his heart rate started increasing.  However, he got very board of it fast.  haha.  As the next 40 minutes went on, nothing was phasing him :(  She was having me lay on my other side, push on my belly and anything she could think of to get him to accerlate his heart rate.  After about an hour my OB dr looked at the monitor and decided she felt it was non-reactive and she sent me over to ultrasound.  Of course the nurse said this was the first time it had ever happened to her.  Darn it!!!  I broke her perfect record! haha.  And, it also worried me that something was wrong.
Luckily, the ultrasound went beautifully!  Baby K looked great and he passed the BPP (bio physical profile with flying colors)!  They watch the baby in ultrasound and he gets 'points' for doing different things.  8 points are possible and he got all 8!  Wahoo! Such a relief.  He was measuring 36 weeks 2 days, so just a little over a week bigger than my gestation.  He was 6 pounds 2 ounces according to the ultrasound so he's definitely a growin'!
Okay, so fast forward to Thursday night.  Around 8pm that evening I started noticing I was having some contractions.  I pretty much ignored them because on Saturday and Sunday last weekend I had a lot of braxton hicks but they were all over the place, no rhyme or reason and not timeable.  So, I assumed this was the same thing happening.
But, I was laying watching tv at about 10:30 when I said to Steven "gosh, these contractions seem to be kind of regular.  I feel like I am having a lot of them.  And I have some back pain with them which is new."
So at 10:40 I started timing them.  By midnight I had 13 contractions and several of them came with mild cramping and back pain.  hmmmmm... interesting.  I decided to go to sleep and see how I felt in the morning.  From 12-2:30 I tossed and turned and had several strong contractions that actually woke me up. Not overly painful but just enough to make me realize them while sleeping.  So at 2:30 I got out of bed and moved to the couch to time the contractions again.  Same thing happened as earlier, they were frequent and some of them strong.  They were consistently about every 6-7 minutes.  From everything I read about and have heard from friends about braxton hicks, this seemed different.  At 4am I got in the shower and then called down to the hospital to speak to the on-call Dr.  I told her what was going on and she told me I needed to come in and be seen.

I got to the hospital about 5am and was hooked up to the monitors.  After about 10 minutes the nurse told me that I had already had 4 contractions.  Whoa!  She kept saying "you are definitely contracting on here!!"  She went ahead and checked my cervix and it was still closed!  Wahoo.  This means that I was not dialated at all.  However, it makes it more confusing.  Because according to my contractions and the way I was feeling, it seemed as though I was in labor; but my cervix said otherwise.
So, the nurse gave me a dose of terbutaline to stop the contractions and calm my uterus down and told me to head home.  However, told me to come back if they come back any stronger or more frequently because anything could change at this point.
I went home around 8am and was feeling good.  Ate some breakfast and then went to sleep since I had only slept a few hours the night before.  I woke up around 12:30 and ate some lunch and was still feeling great!  I thought for sure we were out of the woods and it was just false labor after all.
However, around 3pm I got some strong contractions again.  After that the frequency picked up and we were right back to where I was the night before.  I had rested all day, drank as much water as possible, and tried as hard as I could to relax my mind and be stress free. I had 1 hour where they were completely gone and we were all hopeful that was it for the night.  But, unfortunately Baby K likes for it to be known that he is in charge!! ;)
Contractions came back.  I kept timing the contractions and they seemed to be no less than 4-5 an hour and some hours went all the way up to 8-9 that hour.  Most of them were mild with no pain.  But later in the evening the back pain and cramping came back.  Darn it!!  So after debating and debating on if I should go back to the hospital, I decided to try to go to sleep again.  I fell asleep around midnight and I woke up at 7am!!! Hallelujah!!  I remember waking up 1 time in the middle of the night because of a strong contraction. Other than that I didn't feel all the mild ones that were most likely happening.
This morning everything was calm and quiet until about 9am.  Now, they are back.  6 in an hour so far and 1 was very strong (slight pain with it).  So.... we wait.
I plan to relax all day and just see how things play out.  At this point its extremely hard to tell if this is early stages of labor or if baby K is playing jokes on us with false labor.  I tend to feel its not false labor at this point since its been SO consistent and nothing has really been able to stop it.
I've been taking baths and that is hit or miss on if it helps. One bath was a miracle worker and helped a ton and then the next bath I had several contractions during.  After this I am getting in the bath again.  So, we'll see.

So... if this was just a regular pregnancy of my own, I would never in a million years be updating everyone with all this.  Because I would just deal with it and see what happens and if I go into labor, then so be it.  BUT.... Kellie and Chris being thousands of miles away is throwing such a huge wrench into all of this!  Poor Kellie just miserable not knowing what to do.  She wants to be here but I hate for her to come all this way if this ends up just being a false alarm.  Kellie is currently in Destin, FL on a girls trip so its also kind of a difficult trip to get from there to here in any sort of hurry.  Chris is in Portland, which is still far away, but they have red eye flights and many other flight options so him getting here quickly won't be quite such a fiasco.
And, I just wish I had a gut instinct to tell them.  I wish I knew this was it so I could say "yes, hop on a plane and get here!" or "No, this isn't it.  Hang tight and we will have you come when its time."  But I truly am SO confused.
At this point, there is 2 flights later this afternoon and early evening that Kellie could get on.  So, we are going to keep waiting it out and if anything becomes more regular or painful, Kellie has decided she might just come.
I spoke to another friend last night who has been a surrogate also and who is also a nurse practitioner (giving me some advice) and she said "Kellie probably will never mind if she ends up coming and its a false alarm.  Yes, she will be out the cost of a plane ticket but I bet she will prefer that over not coming and missing it.  So just keep that in mind."  That made me feel better and she's so right.  It's SO amazing that Kellie and Chris both work from home and so this doesn't throw a huge curveball into that.  They can come when they need to, which is awesome.  And of course, I work from home too, so this isn't interfering with much for me either.
So... for now... thats the update.  Sigh.  We know that they will not stop active labor at 35 weeks gestation because baby's usually do just fine.  However, if you know me, you know I am a HUGE advocate for full term.  My twins were born at 27 weeks gestation.  And yes, I know thats a very big difference between 35 weeks but still.  I fully believe babies need that full 39-40 weeks!  So, I would love if we still had a few weeks left to let him bake.  But, at this point, its out of my control and whats going to be, will be!  I know without a doubt, he will be perfect whenever he decides to make his appearance.
Send some love to the Kaufmans.  I know they are stressed.  I know they want some clarity on what to do and I wish I had that for them.  We will keep you updated as we have some updates.  For now, we just wait it out and see what Baby Kaufman plans to do.  He is just SO excited to meet his Mommy, Daddy and sisters!  I don't blame them... they are all pretty awesome ;)

Happy Saturday.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Why?? .... The question she didn't want to have to explain...

An entry from Kellie: 

So many people have asked WHY I can't carry a baby for myself. I would be lying if I said that doesn't sting each time. I've learned in this experience to never ask a woman more than she is offering to tell when it comes to infertility. So although I wanted this blog entry to be about #BabyKaufman, I feel like I needed to start here for now. 

4 years ago, we let out the biggest sigh of relief when our little peanut we fought for since 12 weeks was born, breathing and overall healthy. Although she was earlier than we would've hoped, she was perfect. 

At our very first ultrasound with Kenley, we were told I had a complete placenta previa. The placenta was completely covering my cervix and was very unlikely to move out of the way. This complication can go without any issues or can be life threatening for mom and/or baby without much in between. Immediately some lifestyle changes had to take place. For the next 3 months, we didn't have any major issues along the way and all was smooth sailing. 

At 26 weeks, I woke up, as normal, with Campbell Lynn and went in to go to the bathroom (all us moms know you are basically dying to pee each morning) and everything changed. I immediately knew something was wrong but had a sweet 19 month old baby girl looking straight at me. I was bleeding out. I asked Campbell, very calmly, if she could go get my phone for me. She quickly did exactly that. I called Chris, who luckily at the time worked 5 minutes away and told him "it was happening." 

Chris raced home and got me to the ER where we found out I was having contractions I wasn't feeling which caused my placenta to abrupt. They said we were going to have this baby today. I was terrified. We had no name. No nursery. There were so many things I planned to do with Campbell before her sister came. So much more time I needed with just her. When I asked them what to expect with her at this gestation, they said "all we can say is she will be viable." That was the worst moment of my life. 

Luckily, after two rounds of magnesium (hell on earth) and 5 days in the hospital, my doctor was able to control my contractions and stop all bleeding. I was sent home on STRICT bed rest (to the bathroom and back) for the remainder of my pregnancy. After a few weekly checkups, my doctor decided the risk of keeping me pregnant was much higher than the risk of delivering her early. I was told I would've had around 3 min to get to a hospital had I ruptured again before completely bleeding out. 

Here comes the tough part... At my last appointment, my doctor asked about our future plans for children. In that moment, I confidently said we were done. Who wouldn't after all of that?! She instantly looked relieved. She informed us that she would HIGHLY recommend me never carrying a child again. The risk was too high. She couldn't make me do it but I would be risking my girls never having a mom to watch them grow up if I decided to do otherwise. There was too much damage. The odds were against us. In that moment, we agreed on me having a tubal during my c-section and I was confident in that choice. 

On September 27, 2011, we went into the OR with a blood bank ready to go and welcomed our miracle baby Kenley Jae. During my c-section, my doctor let out a gasp and said I had the largest blood vessels she had ever seen. That was a scary thought for someone with my condition. After it was all done, tubal and all, I held Kenley for the first time. She was perfection. That day was the beginning of our journey as a family of 4 and also a day that begin our journey to #BabyKaufman.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It was a September to remember!

Looks like I need to update you on the entire month of September.  How in the world did that happen?!  Geesh!

Well, as my last post mentioned, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  The first week was extremely frustrating for me.  My blood sugars were constantly high and I felt like I couldn't eat any carbs at all without sky rocketing my sugars.  I went back to the dietitians and they informed me that I had lost 2 pounds that week and that I wasn't eating enough carbs. Huh?!  This was really confusing for me because I always thought the goal was to eat less carbs.  Well, the nurse and dietician informed me that they do not want me to miss carbs.  I need those carbs for many reasons and when I am losing weight, its a sign I am not eating enough.  So... how do I keep my sugars down and still eat carbs?  Well, thats the thing.  My body isn't doing what it should be doing.  Because of the placenta and all of the hormones, its causing me to be insulin resistant.  So... that means I needed insulin.  I was seriously shocked.  I never ever ever would have thought I would have had to be put on insulin, let alone ever even considered that I would be a gestational diabetic!  The nurses informed me that I *need* to keep eating my allotted carb choices for every meal (3x/day) and for every snack (3xs/day) and to try not to go under.  They can't adjust the insulin if I am trying to adjust my diet.  Eventually that clicked in my head, but it did take some time because it seemed like common sense to just cut back on carbs if my blood sugars were high.  Wrong.
So, it is still a major adjustment.  Insulin injections 4xs a day and checking my blood sugars 7xs a day.  Its not as bad as it sounds, but the eating is the most difficult part.  Being sure I am constantly stocked with healthy, smart carb choices and not to miss a meal or snack.  My insulin dose has been increased about 4 times now and it still isn't perfect.  I would guess we will have another increase or two over the next week.  Hopefully we get the perfect dose, soon!
Cheers to all of you who have had insulin dependent gestational diabetes... whew!  I have a whole new appreciation for you and for anyone who is insulin dependent.  My goodness it's a lot to learn and stay on top of!  But, no matter what, I am getting through it.  I keep saying that if this is the only issue we have the whole pregnancy/delivery, then we are doing amazing.  This is nothing compared to so many other things that could have come up.  And I am thrilled to still have Baby Kaufman inside and growing!

Mid-September I flew out to Portland to attend Baby Kaufman's baby shower!  It was so much fun to be able to meet so many of Kellie's closest friends and some of Chris' family that was able to attend!
Here is Kellie and I at the shower before all the crying began ;)

Crying?  What crying?  Ha.  Well, let me fill you in.  That morning I woke up really early and had this great idea that I wanted to write Kellie a letter and read it during the shower.  As I was writing it I kept thinking to myself 'I really think I will be able to get thru this without crying! Maybe just a few tears near the end.' HA!!!  Boy was a I wrong!  As soon as I stood up to speak I couldn't even get out the words Dear Kellie!
It was an extremely emotional time for us but very special.  I know I write a lot on my blog, but I wanted Kellie to hear me express how special this journey has been for me.  I think she got my message :)
I know so many of you wanted to know what the letter said, so here it is:

Tear jerker, right?  Yes.  For sure!  And here is a photo of me reading it to Kellie.  I know, I look awful.  But, I love Kellie's expression and its such a raw emotional moment.  

The baby shower was a success!  I am so glad that Kellie wanted me to be there.  I loved being there and getting to experience that.

Next up, I went to DASH to the Destination!  DASH is an all expense paid trip for the top 75 income earners in It Works.  The ironic thing with this trip is this is what sparked all the conversations last year about me being the Kaufman's surrogate!  Who would have ever guessed that 1 year later I would be 7 months pregnant with their baby boy!  This trip was in Florida and it was perfect that Chris and Kellie were there too.  Such a great time to spend together and a fun 'baby moon' for all 4 of us before the big day in November!
One night while we were all hanging out mingling, Baby K was having a huge party inside my tummy!  Kellie was having so much fun feeling him move, kick, and squirm all over the place.  After several minutes she finally asked Chris to feel.  He was hesitant at first but Baby K was NOT shy for his dad!  He was a crazy man inside there and it was so special to see Chris so excited to feel him move for the first time.  Kellie grabbed a photo of this moment ;)
We had fun that week at DASH together and really soaked up the time.  Here are some photos of us for the 80's party theme night!
And, just for fun, here are a few more from the week of us.  One night we had a gorgeous dinner on the beach and so it was the perfect time to get some photos of us!  I wish we would have gotten one of the 4 of us!

After the trip, it felt great to get back home to see my boys and to unwind a little!  That was a lot of traveling!  But, thru it all, I continued to feel great.  I had snacks in my hotel room for my diabetes and I tried to make good food choices.  Wasn't always easy, but we got through it!  

Last week, at 32 weeks, I had an ultrasound to check on the growth of Baby K.  This is protocol with insulin dependent GD. They want to be sure he isn't growing too fast.  The problem with GD is that the baby will convert the sugar into fat, which can make them grow much too fast and end up as one chunky baby.  I am doing everything in my power for that to not happen!  
Here are some ADORABLE ultrasound photos of little man.  

It's crazy how realistic the photos look now!  He ended up measuring about a week ahead of schedule.  Which did concern me at first.  However, once I spoke with my doctor, she said that his legs and his head are what seem to be measuring at a higher percentile.  His belly is at 50th% so that typically means that the diabetes isn't affecting him too much at this point.  With his legs and head measuring in the 80-90th percentile, that will take up the overall average of his entire growth.  So, she wasn't concerned at all at this point. YAY!  
I will have another ultrasound at 36 weeks to confirm his size again.  
I cannot believe we are just 6 weeks and 2 days from the BIG DAY!  Kellie and Chris have made the decision to bring their 2 girls to Iowa for the delivery and I couldn't be more excited about that!  I cannot wait to see them hold their baby brother!  I think it will also be neat for my kids and Kaufman's kids to meet.  My boys have a pretty good understanding what is going on, but they have yet to meet any of the Kaufman family.  So, I think them meeting them will really help them understand it all and bring it full circle.  November 13th is the BIG day and we can't wait!  
Thanks for all the love and support, as always!  Sorry this is so long!  I am going to try REALLY hard to do 1 blog post per week over the next 6 weeks.  I have a lot of topics I still want to talk about (my husbands support, my kids, and would love a blogpost from Kellie and/or Chris!)
So stay tuned!!  
Oh, and one more belly photo from 32 weeks 1 day!

-Much Love,

Monday, August 31, 2015

To always find the silver lining...

On Thursday of last week I had my 28 week checkup... yay!  At this appointment we discussed the scheduled c-section, talked about the date of delivery, and was able to send a audio clip of sweet Baby Kaufman's perfect heartbeat to Chris and Kellie.  I also had the routine glucose test that morning.  I drank the drink and had my blood drawn and hour later and I was on my way.  They informed me that "no news is good news."  Sweet, I am all for that!
  I met a friend for lunch and was having a wonderful morning celebrating how wonderfully I was feeling and how thankful I was for such a minimal amount of weight gain thus far in my pregnancy.  As my friend and I were leaving the restaurant I happened to glance at my phone and said "Oh no.  I missed a call from my OB office.  I must have failed the test.  They were only calling if it was bad news."
But, I remembered back to my pregnancy with my twins and they had me take the glucose test a few weeks early since with multiples the chances go up of having issues with your blood sugars.  And, I did fail that 1 hour test.  However, I went back for the 3 hour test and I passed it.  So, I thought for sure I must just be someone who can't pass the 1 hour test but the longer one, I am golden. No worries.  I got this.  This pregnancy is 'boring' so its going to stay that way!
I scheduled my followup test to be done on Monday (today).  Here I am below just about to indulge in more orange sugar drink!

I got to the office, got my blood drawn right away so they had my fasting blood sugars documented and then downed my drink in the allotted 5 minutes.  Then, I waited.  1 more hour until the next blood draw.  And then another hour after that.  As the 2nd hour came to a close they called my name into the lab.  I walked in and the nurse handed me this packet of information...
I took one look at it and with teary eyes said... "so, you are confirming it then?  I really have it?"  
And the nurse looked at my paper work and said "Yes, your levels were elevated on both of the first two tests.  You have gestational diabetes.  They will be calling you to schedule two classes to go to at the hospital so you can learn and be educated on how to care for yourself."  
And then... her voice became Charlie Brown's teacher.  It was all muffled and I completely tuned her out.  
Gestational Diabetes.  What?  Gestational Diabetes.  Me?  Why?  Everything has been so smooth.  I've been feeling so good.  My weight gain is essentially nothing.  I rarely have much of an appetite.  I passed this test with my twins.  How will Kellie feel?  Will this let her down?  Am I a failure?  

I was kind of in a state of shock and every time I looked at that booklet, my eyes filled with tears.  It was just something I never even considered.  Something I never planned for.  Something I am sure the Kaufman's never planned for.  And that is what was devastating me the most.  
I got home and cried.  Talked to a few friends and cried some more.  Then, I browsed Facebook.  

And that's when I found the silver lining.  

I posted the photo of me on Facebook before I began my test.  
I captioned it "Round 2 :(. Praying I pass this one.  ‪#‎glucosetest‬ ‪#‎Tminus2hours‬"
I had several comments and many likes on that photo.  So many kind people wishing me well or telling me their experiences.  But ONE comment in particular stood out to me.  
It was a simple comment.  A comment from a friend who said "Praying Girl!!!!"  
It almost took my breath away.  This comment was from my friend who has had extremely difficult pregnancies.  She has 2 kiddos who were born micro preemies and she also has an angel baby in Heaven who didn't survive birth.  All 3 of these babies never even made it to the 3rd trimester.  
And thats when it hit me.  Gestational diabetes is routinely found at 28 weeks gestation.  I am 28 weeks gestation.  Last week I was celebrating this amazing milestone.  Who am I today to be upset at this small bump in the road?  
This mama who commented on my photo would have been thrilled to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes because it meant she made it to 28 weeks.  What a celebration.  In the scheme of a normal pregnancy, sure, it feels devastating.  But, if my twins' birth story taught me anything, its that we are all so blessed and that if we were to all throw our problems in a pile, we almost always would take ours back.  This diagnosis was so small on the spectrum of what could go wrong in a pregnancy.  I am blessed to be 28+ weeks.  I will do everything in my power to take extra good care of this sweet baby I am growing so he comes out perfectly healthy and we will all look back on this day as merely just a life lesson.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

27 + 5 ...

First I'll start with an updated baby bump photo.  This was taken a few days ago when I had just hit 27 weeks.  I am still feeling great and have still avoided the uncomfortable stage.  This was a pretty lazy day that I snapped this photo... so don't mind my comfy outfit or my messy bun ;)

But, now I'm going to move on to the real reason of this post.  27+5.  Many of you reading are thinking .... 'okay?!?!?!  is that a math problem you want us to figure out?'  Those of you close to me, know exactly what it means.  27 weeks 5 days.   
Let's rewind 6 years ago.  

I was a few months pregnant with my identical twin boys when routine checkups started to become more and more interesting.  If there is anything I have learned about pregnancy... it is that you want a boring one.  The less news, the better.  Well, with my twins, we were about as far from boring as possible.  Every appointment had 'news' and each one became more and more scary.  At 20 weeks my fear was confirmed when our doctor informed Steven and I that our twins were suffering from TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome).  This was something I had read about in my multiples pregnancy books but also one of those things you just think 'will never happen to you.'  It's a rare condition and in most cases the mortality rate is 80-100%.  Yes, you read that right.  The mortality rate.  The babies shared a placenta and with TTTS they also shared common blood vessels within the placenta.  This is what causes issues and 1 twin to receive too much from the placenta, and is called the "recipient twin" and the other to not receive enough and to pass on their portion back to the other twin and they are called the "donor twin."  This makes both babies very ill and if the TTTS gets to stage 4, both twins will not make it.  After receiving this news, my husband and I started seeing a specialist called a perinatologist who specializes in high risk pregnancies, especially TTTS.  He was located in Minneapolis and he was such a wonderful doctor to work with.  After 1 initial trip to Abbott Northwestern, where he practiced, we were able to keep in contact with him from Iowa via our OB doctor.  She would call him after every ultrasound with an update and he would advise her on the next steps.  
You see, I was currently in stage 1 of the TTTS so I couldn't have a procedure done (called ablation), that would cauterize the shared blood vessels.  (It's still a very risky surgery but the % of both babies surviving is at least higher than TTTS')  To have the ablation I would have had to be at stage 3 and could not be past 26 weeks along.  This was such a weird feeling.  To almost wish that my condition was 'worse' so that I could possibly have a chance to have the ablation and save my babies.  So, at this point we were told to just wait.  Doctors visits and ultrasounds would be weekly so we could check in on the babies to see how they were.  Things we were looking for was extremely low amniotic fluid in the donor twin and high fluid in the recipient.  We also started watching the blood flow in the umbilical cord because once it starts to reverse, the condition is worsening.  Most obviously was the babies' size.  The donor twin was much smaller and lagging in growth compared to the recipient.
 Each week things started to slowly decline.  It was at this point we decided to name the twins.  I had no idea what was going to happen with them and if this was my time to be their mom, I wanted them to have names.  So, we named baby A (donor twin) Jude Stevenson and baby B (recipient twin) Grady James.  At week 24 I was put on bed rest at home, just with any hope that the babies could possibly benefit from it.  Week 25 I was put on hospital bed rest so I had care round the clock and could be watched as closely as possible.  I had ultrasounds 3xs a week and I really preferred hospital bed rest over home!  I had nurses to talk to, I had a bed that moved with a push of a button, visitors galore and anything I wanted to eat!  The only upside to this journey so far.  
I was 26 weeks now so I was past the stage of being able to have the ablation.  And, I remember at one point my doctor kept saying... we have a new goal.  To make it to 28 weeks.  You need to get to 28 weeks with these babies.  If we can do that, there is a better chance at survival.  We originally hoped to get to at least 32 weeks but that was not looking possible at this point.
At 27 weeks everything started to go downhill.  My health wasn't so good anymore, I honestly think it was my bodys way of telling me that these babies need out... and NOW.  I had the worst headache of my life and no pain med or remedy would help.  Trust me, the poor nurses and doctors tried everything.  I developed PUPPS (a pregnancy rash all over your body) and I was just beginning to feel like the end was near.  
On November 9, 2009, I remember waking up and it was a beautiful sunny day outside.  It was my dads birthday and I had a friend come visit me who brought me goodies and even styled my hair and did my makeup for me.  My ultrasound was scheduled for 3pm that day.  
Finally 3pm arrived and I remember being wheeled in my wheelchair over to the OB office.  As soon as the ultrasound tech pulled it up, I could see on her face it wasn't good news.  Since I was having ultrasounds daily at this point, I was beginning to get really good at looking at the screen and see what was going on.  I could see that the reversal of blood flow was very bad at this point.  I could see the amniotic fluid was almost dry with Jude and that Grady had an extreme amount.  
They finished the ultrasound in silence and pushed me into the doctors office.  The door opened in seconds and my doctor said, "Its here.  Today is the day.  You're 27 weeks 5 days and I know we wanted 28 but I don't think you can make it another day."  
Queue the tears.  I was devastated.  I know it was only 2 days shy of our new goal but those 2 days meant a lot.  I knew that both boys were in danger being born so early and so sick and I wanted two more days for them.  But, I trusted my doctor knew.  She told me that both boys were now showing signs of heart failure and Grady now had fluid in his abdomen.  We had no time to wait.  
I was rushed back over to the hospital by my mom and Steven and we all just cried the whole way.  Well, I don't think Steven did but I could tell by the look on his face just how he was feeling.  So helpless.  Extremely helpless.  They prepped me for an emergency c-section and we all said a prayer and went back to the OR.  
I remember laying on the operating table with a room full of nurses and doctors.  Within minutes the babies were being pulled out.  Jude came first, then Grady seconds later.  Since the sheet was in front of my face, I couldn't see what was happening.  I heard cries though.  I heard cries.  I immediately started crying too and was so happy to hear those cries.  But, it was in that moment that I realized I only heard 1 baby crying.  Suddenly, the room was quiet.  No one was speaking.  I could hear Steven across the room, at my feet, saying "C'mon Jude!"  I looked to my left and saw 2 nurses whispering to each other.  I said "Please tell me... is everything okay?"  They gave a look to my mom and told her to come over to me.  She said, "Kenz, they are just trying to get Jude's heart rate up. But the babies are beautiful.  So tiny.  But so beautiful."  
Oh gosh, more tears.  They got both babies stable enough to go up to the NICU and they were rushed off without even a glance from their mama.  
Forty-five minutes later I was able to go upstairs on my hospital bed for a glimpse of both boys and to meet them.  They were both on ventilators and hooked up to more tubes and wires that I could even count.  But, they both made it thru, and that was what I was holding onto at that moment.  
It wasn't until later that I found out that as soon as Jude's umbilical cord was cut, he was lifeless.  Grady was truly his lifeline and as soon as that was gone, Jude was too.  They had trouble getting him intubated because his airway was closing.  Luckily after several attempts, the Dr who was tending to Grady stepped in and literally saved our Jude's life.  
Both boys were very sick upon arrival.  And it was a pretty rocky road being in the NICU.  Grady was discharged when he was 2 months old, so he spent 61 days in the hospital.  Jude had an even rougher time and spent 113 days in the hospital, just shy of his 4 month birthday.  We spent our first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day all together as a family in the NICU.  
27+5.  Now you know.  Those days are very bittersweet for me.  Whenever I have a friend say she is 27 weeks pregnant, I have a small pit in my stomach and just look at that perfect belly she has and think to myself 'my boys came into the world and look at that belly... no way they were ready yet. They deserved another 12 weeks+ 2 days."  
So, here I am.  27+5 today.  Wow.  It's amazing to me.  The thought of being a surrogate always interested me but after I had my boys, even more so.  I feel like I deserved to have a boring pregnancy.  I wanted to experience pregnancy in all its beautiful form and not just the experience I had with being so stressed out and scared every day not knowing what was going to happen.  You might say I wanted to prove to myself I could do this.  I knew I was capable and I wanted to try one more time.  Steven and I knew we were happy with our 2 miracles.  Two kids was what we wanted and we just so happened to get them both in one shot.  So, it became a dream of mine to carry a child for someone else.  It was as if two dreams could collide into one.  
And so I feel that today is a victory.  I made it here and I feel wonderful.  This pregnancy has been 'news-free' and thats a great feeling.  
Baby Kaufman moves around SO much.  I feel like he is constantly having a dance party going on in my tummy.  But, another realization to me is that its just a reminder to me how sick my twins were.  I rarely remember them moving.  Maybe once a day.. and small movements.. like flutters.  No kicks, no jabs, no flips.  They were just barely holding on for life in their and I feel blessed more and more everyday that they are here and so incredibly healthy.  And I am just so thankful for how perfect this pregnancy is going.  I strongly believe I can give Baby Kaufman all the time he needs inside! 

I wanted to share some moments with you from my kids birth.  Hopefully these aren't too graphic for you, I think they are beautiful.  Here they are as they are pulled out.  Jude is on the back left.  As you can see he has life in this photo.  His cord is still connected.  

Here is Jude after he reached the NICU.  Look at the scissors to compare how small he was.  2 pounds 1 ounce.  In the NICU he got down to 1 pound 11 ounces. 

Here is Jude again being measured.  I remember thinking their heads were about the size of a baseball.

Here is Grady.  He was pretty stable to begin with.  But later tonight he did have a lung collapse which gave all the doctors a scare.  

And here he is the next day. He was 3 pounds. However it wasn't all healthy weight.  He had so much fluid in him.  He got down to 2 pounds 8 ounces. 

Lastly, one more thing I want to share with you is my passion for March of Dimes.  After the boys were born I became very involved with the organization and we have raised a lot of money for them with our family and friends.  Without their research,  I am not sure I would have 2 kids today.  The boys both benefitted from things that the MOD research provided.  Because of my strong feelings for that and for TTTS, on Mother's Day 2011, I got a tattoo as a reminder.  The middle logo is the logo for MOD.  The feet around it are the logo for "Twin Hope" which is the non-profit for TTTS.  

Thanks for reading.  I know this was long.  But, its an emotional week for me. My boys also started Kindergarten yesterday so its just a week of milestones for me!