Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mommy Makeover - Pre Op Appointment

Had my pre-operative appointment yesterday.  Only 1 week till surgery day.  Eeeeeeeeek!!!!!  I'm so excited yet nervous at the same time.  I know it'll all be worth it in the end, but at the same time, I know I'll be in a world of pain for a few days after this.  Ugh!  Ok, let's think about all the happy stuff instead.  Haha!

Today I got everything ready for the big day.  I started off by going over the entire surgery with the nurse.  I'd already read over the entire book they gave me about 3 times, plus watched the videos they gave me as well.  They kind of laughed that I actually followed their advice and even stuck sticky notes all over my booklet.  They said that nobody ever reads the book.  Sheesh!  Yes, I'm a nerd and I just want to be extra prepared.  Here are a few of the questions I had...

  • When can my husband come back to see me?  - about 15 min after surgery
  • What can I do to reduce the chances of a scar?  - we'll go over all this in our 1 week appointment but it involves massage, tape, a scar stick, and some vitamin E oil.
  • Will I have a tube in my throat during surgery?  - yes, but not all the way down my throat
  • What kinds of things can I eat afterwards?  - soup, crackers, sprite (for nausea), jello, bananas, etc.
  • What do you mean by overage fees?  - these are very rare, but if I do have to go to the hospital then my insurance should cover it.  Any surgeries needed to fix any imperfections will be additional.

...And lots more questions I had.  I didn't want to miss a thing.  After all my questions were answered the nurse had a lot of questions for me regarding my health.  They just want to make sure that we don't run into any surprises during surgery or after.  After that I signed a lot of paperwork going over all the health risks and possible overage fees.  Done.  Then there were the pictures.  Oh yeah.  There's nothing like stripping down to have several pictures taken of your pancake boobs, stretched out tummy, and ummmmm yeah, between my legs as well.  That one was really awkward.  All worth it though.  Let's just hope these pics don't make their way to the internet.

So next week is the big day!  Monday we'll head out for Bakersfield and stay the night, then Tuesday morning will be surgery day.  Eeeeeek!!!!!  Not sure when I'll update again after that.  I'm sure I'll be in a lot of pain for awhile after that, but I promise I will update as soon as I can.  Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mommy Makeover - 2 Week Countdown!

I've been dreaming of this day for about 9 years now.  After having my first daughter I realized that my tummy would never be the same again.  No amount of exercise would get rid of the extra skin, and no miracle cream would get rid of all the stretch marks.  After breastfeeding her for 8 months I realized that my boobs would never be the same again either.  Perky fullness had been replaced with deflated pancakes.  And who knew that after birthing 4 babies my labia would stretch to lengths that exceeded what they used to be.  Don't get me wrong.  I would take all of these changes and more for the beautiful children that I have.  I'm so lucky to have them and proud of my body for what it has done.  At the same time though, I feel it's time to reward myself for all the work I have done.  After months of not drinking, heartburn like no other, leg cramps, sciatica, pelvic pain, back labor, the ring of fire, bloody recovery, sleepless nights, engorged breasts ... and more ... times 3 ... 4 counting surro babe ... I think I now deserve something for myself.

That being said, I'm so excited to say that I've scheduled my tummy tuck, breast augmentation, and labiaplasty for February 3rd, 2015!  Only 2 weeks away!!!!  I kept going back and forth on whether or not I would blog about this new journey of mine, but in the end felt it would be nice to document for others considering a mommy makeover also.  So here is a quick recap of what I've been through so far on this journey.

I started my research to find a certified plastic surgeon.  I scoured the internet for reviews about the different surgeons in Fresno and although it was a little overwhelming seeing good and bad about almost everyone, I finally settled on one to go see; Dr. Knoetgen with Beautologie.  I'd also met with another surgeon a few years back, so I kept my experience with him in mind as well.  While at my consult I was nervous they wouldn't want to do my tummy tuck the way I want to (vertical cut vs horizontal), but I was excited when he said that it was totally doable and I would achieve exactly what I'm hoping for (removal of all or most of my stretchmarks and extra skin).  I also got to try on breast implant types and sizes and settled on 300 cc's of saline high profile implants.  They gave me a price quote and I was on my way.  After talking it over with my husband I decided I really wanted to do this and this was the doctor that was going to do it, so I called back to put down a deposit.  Unfortunately I also found out that I would have to wait till I was 6 months postpartum to be evaluated again before they would give me a final price and schedule my surgery.  Boo!!!!  3 more months till I would see them again.  Here's to the waiting game.  In the meantime I started taking a multi vitamin and vitamin c to get my body ready.

I'd already been eating well after having surro baby, but I really kicked it up a notch in preparation for surgery.  I really wanted to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight before surgery.  Only 5-8 lbs to go!  I tried to cut out as much sugar, wheat and dairy as possible.

I still wasn't really losing any weight, so I decided to kick things up a bit.  I ordered Beach Body's 21 Day Fix program.  I wasn't planning on doing the food portion, but I was super excited for the exercise program.  It's 7 different 30 min workouts that are rotated each day of the week.  Just enough workout time to make a difference, but not so much that it would take too much time out of my day.  Let me say, these workouts KILL me!  But I love them anyways, and for the most part I've stuck with it unless we're out of town or I've partied too much at a holiday party.  Haha!  Over the course of December I've lost 2 lbs and 2 inches off my waist.  Plus I feel way stronger!!!

The time has finally come!!!!!!!  On January 7th I had my 2nd consult with the surgeon.  He reevaluated my body and gave me a final price.  My husband also went with me, so he got all his questions answered as well.  Plus I got to try on implant sizes again and decided to move up to 350 cc's instead of 300.  Just a little bigger, but not much.  We also booked the big day... February 6th.  Eeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!  So close!!!!!!!

That brings us to today.  Today I'm having my blood drawn in preparation for surgery and then next Monday I'll have my pre-op appointment.  I'm so excited!!!!!!  Only 2 weeks left to go.  In the meantime I'm still trying to eat well and stick with my workout program.  Every little bit helps.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

ConceiveAbilities - Egg Donation & Surrogacy Agency

As a premier egg donation and surrogacy agency, ConceiveAbilities is dedicated to providing the tools and support to simplify what can sometimes be a difficult and daunting journey to parenthood. ConceiveAbilities helps guide intended parents, gestational surrogates and egg donors in Colorado, Illinois, Texas, and several other states across the country, through an often complex process. With a staff that includes former egg donors, gestational surrogates, and intended parents, ConceiveAbilities has the unique perspective to provide all sides of the partnership with the best resources, support, and information to maximize the overall chance for success. For more information, please visit http://www.conceiveabilities.com

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Postpartum Body... Stretchmarks And All

This might not be society's idea of beautiful, but I'm proud of the miracles my body has created.
I started this post a few days ago and I'll admit that it ended up on the bitter side of things.  I'm now 6 weeks postpartum and if I leave the house, it's almost certain that someone will ask me when I'm due.  With no baby in sight, I suppose that's to be expected.  Their question isn't what bothers me most of the time (though I'll admit it's getting a bit old).  What bothers me is the look on their faces after I say I already had the baby.  It's not a look of apology, or a look of understanding because they know the hardship my body has endured or the time it takes to recover.  I always expect them to say something like, "Oh!  That totally makes sense.  Congrats on having the baby!  You're looking great for only being a month past the birth."  Yep, a response like that would make me feel a lot better and good about myself and the progress I've made.  But no.  That's not the response I get.  Instead I get a look of surprise, shock, or sometimes even disgust.  They look back at my stomach and their eyes bug out.  I can see what they're thinking.  "Whoa!  And you still look like that?"  The first lady I got this response from actually said this out loud.  It wasn't quite the response I was expecting.

I've given birth 4 times now (three of my own and one surrogate baby).  Each time I gained 45 - 55 pounds, and only about 20 pounds of that comes off right after I give birth.  I've always gotten back down to pre-pregnancy weight, but it takes a bit of time.  A lot more time than 6 weeks.  Never the less, even though I know all of this in my head, my feelings were still hurt, and I've been feeling down.  I mourn my nice pre-pregnancy belly.  I miss it's smooth texture, muscles that meet in the middle, and a belly button ... that well ... looks like a belly button.  After the birth of my first daughter I could barely look at my new tummy in the mirror, let alone let my husband see it, and anyone else ... forget about it!  This wasn't what my friends looked like after childbirth.  They all eventually went back to "normal".  Maybe a stretch mark here and there, but nothing like the pounded meat flesh that I was left with.  I felt alone and cheated.  As the years passed and my other children were born, I got used to my new skin.  I don't feel the need to cover up in my own home and can be intimate with my husband without a shirt on, yet you still won't find me on the beach in a bikini.  No, I haven't gotten that comfortable yet.    

Then I saw a post from another woman who had felt the same way as me;  Someone who had the same post pregnancy belly look as me;  Someone who had decided to bare her skin to show others that yes, we're not alone.  There are many women that don't come out of pregnancy with perfect bellies, and nice smooth skin.  Just because we don't see them on TV, in magazines, on the beach, or within our peers, doesn't mean they aren't out there.  I believe they're all around, hiding for fear that they too are the only one.  Now I'm not saying that I don't miss my old body, or that I'm going to wear a bikini from now on.  I'm also not the type to say "I love my tiger stripes so hear me roar."  What I am saying is that I am proud of what my body has done and for the children it has given me, and the child it let me carry for a friend.  I am saying that I know I'm not alone, and you are not alone.  Today I bear my post pregnancy body to show that a mom comes in many different packages: skinny, curvy, smooth, stretched, tight, sagging, squishy, or firm... We are all NORMAL, and nobody should tell you otherwise.

My postpartum belly ... stretchmarks and all
My 6 week postpartum belly.  Still 15 pounds to lose so my skin still looks fairly filled out and smooth.  Maybe I should post an updated picture this winter to show my true updated look.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Surro Files - Life After Surrogacy

It's been 3 weeks since Baby P was born.  Wow!  Is that it?  For some reason it feels like it has been way longer than that.  Maybe it is because I'm always busy and don't have time to think about the time that has passed.  I've never been one for sitting around and doing nothing.  There's always a project to be done!  

So other than busy, how has my life been?  That's actually the number one question I've received lately... "How are you doing Chana?"  The funny thing is, I've realized that I've taken this question the wrong way most of the time.  When people ask me how I'm doing I automatically think they mean physically.  "I'm doing great!" I say.  Despite this being the biggest baby I've birthed, I think I bounced back to my old self the fastest out of any birth that I've had.  I don't feel swollen, I feel bright and awake, I didn't tear... what more could I ask for?  Well, I do have a swollen gland that's slightly annoying, and I did have to go through a week of engorged breasts with no baby to relieve them, but overall I feel really great!

That's not what people were asking though.  They were asking how I "feel".  Like really feel... emotionally after this birth.  I know that's been the concern with most people from the beginning.  They didn't understand how someone could not get attached to a baby they've carried for 9 months.  "Won't you be sad?"  "Won't the kids be confused?"  "I could never do that."  I've heard so many things over this year and a half, but it's hard to understand until you've been there.  

From the beginning I knew I would not become attached.  This was not my baby.  I'm just the babysitter, helping a baby grow till they could finally meet their parents.  I knew that the birth and that moment when Belle & Adam were joined with Baby P for the first time would be the most amazing moment ever!  What could be more amazing than knowing that you helped give a gift to a couple that has been waiting for this gift for so long?  Yes, I always knew that moment would be amazing, and it was!

That being said, I did have fears.  Although I always knew that I would not grow attached to Baby P, I did know I would grow attached to Belle, and them as a family in general.  How could I not?  When you talk to someone everyday for so long, you're bound to get attached, and I feared that would all end when Baby P was born.  Not only that, but after putting all my energy and time into this surrogacy for a year and a half, I feared what I would do when it ended.  Like I said before, I always have to be doing something, and what would I do when such a big part of this time in my life was over?  Last, but certainly not least, I feared I would not see the beautiful family that I helped come together after the birth.  You can never predict how one will feel in the moment, and I would have totally understood if after waiting so long to be a family, Belle and Adam decided to bond alone as a family.  But I knew in my heart that I really needed to see their bond to feel complete about our journey together.  It's hard to explain, but I knew that it was really important to see that bond right away.

From the moment Baby P was born I felt amazing.  I will always treasure those first moments I saw them together in the delivery room; skin to skin with big smiles and an instant bond.  We spent nearly an hour in that room before being separated.  It was a perfect ending and beginning all in one.  Belle and I still text almost everyday and she sends pictures full of adorable squishiness all the time.  So although the pregnancy is over, our journey continues on and I can't wait for their trip back to California next winter.  I'm sure it'll be here in the blink of an eye.  I'm also staying very busy.  During the pregnancy I decided to start my own business as a doula.  Thus Love & Labor was born, and getting this business off the ground has definitely kept me busy!  The kids and Brian are also doing great.  They love seeing pictures and hearing updates.  "Sooooo cute!"  That's what the girls think of Baby P.    

So back to the original question, "How am I doing?"  I'm doing great!!!  I feel nothing but joy thinking about these past 9 months and the happy family that is now together.  Lots of love to Belle & Adam, and lots of love to Baby P!!!

Don't forget to check out my "Surrogacy" tab at the top of this page to catch up on any posts you might have missed

*Some of the names in this post have been changed and faces blocked out to protect the identities of those involved in this journey*

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Surro Files - Looking Back and Looking Forward...

On October 23rd, 2012, I received an e-mail from a friend that I hadn't heard from in awhile.  Belle let me know that she was on her 5th round of IVF and looking into surrogacy as an option to start a family with her husband.  She had great faith that this road would lead them to the child that they so much desired and I just knew that she was right.

On December 25th, 2012, I decided that I wanted to be that surrogate.  Now to convince my husband that this was the right path for us.

On January 26th, 2013, it was decided.  I applied to Circle Surrogacy, and ...

On March 1st, 2013, I was officially matched with Belle and Adam, and our journey had begun.

Our first cycle was cancelled in June.

On August 6th, 2013, We had our first transfer, but it was not successful.

Our third cycle was cancelled in September.

On October 25th, 2013, We had our second transfer, and ...

Fingers Crossed!!!  Babies Are In!!!

On October 29th, 2013, We got our first positive pregnancy test!!!!

Which led to our first positive blood test on November 5th, 2013.

On November 19th, 2013, We found out at our first ultrasound that one baby had hung on and was going strong!

On January 9th, 2014, Belle and I found out Baby P was going to be a girl!  Shhhh!!!  No telling.

Shhhhh!!!!  It's A Girl and She Needs Her Beauty Sleep

Which was later confirmed again at our Gender Ultrasound on January 30th, 2014, and the Anatomy Scan on February 20th, 2014

On May 1st, 2014, I threw Belle a baby shower and then we headed off to Disneyland.

Mickey/Minnie Baby Shower & A Trip To Disneyland

On June 25th, 2014, Belle got here to start the wait for Baby P; On July 2nd, 2014, Adam got here to start the wait...

And On July 8th, 2014, Baby P was born!!!!!!

Baby P Is Here!!!!  She shot right into this world.
July 8th, 2014 @ 8:15pm
9lbs 13.6oz    /    21 in

Now here we are on July 15th, 2014, and Belle, Adam, & Baby P are heading home.  I can't believe how fast this past year and a half has went by.  It seems like only yesterday that I was filling out paperwork and meeting up with Belle and Adam for the first time in person talking about their baby to be.  Now their family of two has become a family of three and they've added tons of lifetime friends along the way.  I know we will always consider them an extension of our family that we will never forget and I know they think of us the same.  They've forever changed our lives for the better and I can never thank them enough for that.  I know I've said it several times, but I'll say it again... Thanks so much Belle and Adam for trusting me with the life of your child as she grew and developed into the beautiful little girl that she is today in your arms.  It truly was an honor and I can never thank you enough for that.

And then there were three...

And so now it starts.  First baths, first smiles, her first laugh.  Then she'll be sitting up, crawling, walking, and her first birthday!  Wow!  So many things to look forward to, and I'm so excited that it's all starting for you.  It may have taken awhile to get there, but I know that will only make these moments all the more special and you will cherish each and every one.  I wish I lived closer so I could see your beautiful family grow and grow, but I know you'll send pictures and I can't wait to see you next winter when you visit!!!  Lots of love headed your way and wishing you all the best.  It may be the end of our journey, but it's only the beginning for you three.  Congrats, Congrats, Congrats!!!!  ~ Chana Putnam (the tummy mummy)

Don't forget to check out my "Surrogacy" tab at the top of this page to catch up on any posts you might have missed

*Some of the names in this post have been changed and faces blocked out to protect the identities of those involved in this journey*