I was fortunate enough to feed the baby once more and change one more diaper. The last little cuddle I got with him today is one I'll treasure forever.
I can't tell you how happy I am, though, that they are finally cleared to go home (they received the good news yesterday!). As sad as it makes me feel that I won't be able to spend more time with them, the fact that the grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles and all the other family baby Jáchym has yet to meet will be able to see this little miracle of a child...and that warms my heart.
The kids got to hold him one last time...
And I got one last photo with 3 of my favorite guys...
Tomas, Honza and Jáchym, we all miss you already!! And remember...it's not "Goodbye"....it's "See You Soon". Love you!
Lately I’ve started to walk/jog on a daily basis. Like many, I like to listen to tunage while I am walking or jogging….but I’m kind of a freak about something--I have to walk or jog to the beat of the music. Yeah, I’m weird like that. If the song isn’t fast or slow enough, I switch songs until I find one that works (sometimes going through 25+ songs until I get the right one). Super annoying.
I searched Mr Google and the iTunes store and discovered this little app called Tempo Magic.
And it’s fabulous.
What it does is allows you to input songs from your iTunes account and then detects the BPM (beats per minute)—and you can adjust the BPM to whatever you want! It gets better! If you have a certain BPM that you like (I’m diggin’ 130 bpm for a nice brisk walk), you can lock it so that all songs in your playlist default to your selected bpm!
So totally awesome!
I’m not one to spend a whole lot on apps, but I’ve only used it a few times and it was totally worth the $4.99. The best part is that this little app is actually motivating me to get out there and exercise!
So, if you’re a freak like me and have to a) listen to music while exercising and b) have to do something to the beat of the music, this is totally for you.
Note: Though it would be really awesome, Tempo Magic did not pay me to advertise their product. I'm just letting ya'll know how cool it is. And I can say "ya'll" because I did actually live in Alabama for a week.
Yesterday was the day...the day the guys and baby Jachym were going to be on a plane home.
But...they're still here. Still in Wisconsin. Stuck here.
I'm not going to get into the details--they're not mine to share. But let's just say that the whole paperwork "process" is taking longer than anticipated.
And I feel terrible about it. No, it's not my fault. It actually has nothing to do with me...but I still feel awful, because, as much as it kills me to say this, they need to go home. (did I just really type that? Ugh.)
It's time for their life to begin in the Czech Republic, not to continue in America's Dairyland.
How am I feeling about this? I am okay. I mean, it will still be quite sad when they go, but every moment I put myself in their shoes, I realize how badly they need to start living their life at their home, not mine.
So, if you can just throw some good thoughts out for the guys, I would appreciate it.
As much as I'd love to see Jachym take his first steps, I think I'd rather the families in Prague witness that first moment :)
I'm still getting many questions regarding my journey and surrogacy in general, which I love to answer--so I've decided to do an "after the journey" edition of a Q & A. I'm assuming if one person is asking, another might be thinking the same thing. And please, if you have additional questions, post them in the comments section or throw me an e-mail! I'm happy to answer anything!
Did you have a hard time "giving up" the baby? Uh, no. Not at all. Plain and simple, it was not my baby to "give up". Sure, I bonded with the little guy while I carried him in my belly for 9 months, but I bonded on a much different level than with my own children. I knew exactly what I was doing and what the end result was going to be and never once did I think he was mine. So, I don’t feel like I “gave up” the baby. I feel like I simply grew him and handed over this little miracle to his parents.
How do you feel when you see the baby now? Seeing him makes me feel great! I carried him for 9 months! How can that not be great?! I helped bring him into the arms of his daddies--truly, the most amazing feeling ever. When I see him, I’m not sad or upset or anything of the sort. I love to see him and seeing how loved he is really makes me quite happy.
Do the guys know who the biological father is? Yes. However, they've made a decision to not tell anyone, which I respect tremendously. Is Jáchym a US Citizen? Yes, because he was born in the US; he will forever have a US birth certificate. I believe they can and will apply for dual citizenship for him.
When the family goes home, will you stay in contact with them? Of course!! I consider the boys a part of my family and hope to get very frequent updates on a very regular basis (hint hint to the guys). My husband and I actually plan on visiting them in Prague next year!
How was your employer with this whole thing? Actually, they were great. My boss (who I’ve known and worked with for about 13 years) is not only a great boss, but a good friend. I fully disclosed everything regarding this process and though he was always most concerned about my health, he was supportive of my decision. He was fortunate enough to meet the guys and that certainly was a pretty cool thing. I am a huge supporter of my company and while I was cycling and ultimately pregnant, I did my best to make sure I was still on my game when it came to the job I was supposed to be doing.
Are you back to work already? Indeed I am! I had Jáchym on a Tuesday and I was back working the following Monday. I had planned on actually going back earlier (working from home) but thought a few days off wouldn't be a bad thing. Could I have taken some leave time? Sure. But I really didn’t feel I needed to take an extended leave—both physically and emotionally I was okay to jump back into it.
How are your kids dealing with this? My kids are handling everything wonderfully. They (as far as I can tell) understand why I did what I did and the process and get why we don’t have a baby at home—and they’re okay with it. When they see Jáchym, they have nothing but love for him—maybe a little too much—they are all over him! They’ve also developed a bond with Tomas and Honza, which I think is so cool. Are you supplying milk to the baby? Yes, I am. I did not nurse Jáchym, but have been supplying EBM (expressed breast milk) for him since he was born. I am a pretty big advocate for breastfeeding and know the good that comes out of it, so I’m very happy to do this for him. Sure, having to pump every three hours does get a little hard, but it’s been bearable. When the boys go back to Prague, I won’t be able to supply them with the milk anymore (too hard to ship it internationally), but I’ve made the decision to continue to pump and will donate to the National Milk Bank.
Are you going to be a surrogate again? Ah…the most popular question to date! Let me just say this…if Tomas and Honza asked me to do this again for them, I would probably say yes even before they finished asking the question. Would I carry for someone else? I haven't really thought about. I mean, I have thought about but I don't know how I feel about it. I'm pretty sure I'm not done with the surrogacy chapter in my life, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. For now, I'm just going to work on me--losing weight, getting healthy--so if/when the time comes for me to do another journey for T & H or someone new, I'm super ready for it!
For the past couple weeks, I’ve kinda been pressuring Tomas and Honza to have a date night…not because I thought they really needed to have some alone time, because I wanted to babysit the little man!
So, last night I got my chance!! Or, I should say, last night Tomas and Honza had an opportunity to have some alone time and I willingly obliged to be their baby-sitter.
Oh my goodness. Jáchym is the coolest. I love that little guy. Minus the 4 diaper changes I had to do in a 20 minute span (man that kid can poop!), he was an angel. He was awake much of the time, but didn’t fuss a bit. He and I were just hanging out having little conversations with each other. Well, I was doing most of the talking. It was heaven.
Having the opportunity to spend time with the baby I carried for 9 months really means a lot to me. I know I use the word “amazing” too much, but really, that word is a good one to describe the feelings I have regarding everything as it relates to this new family, to what I helped create. I think about what it took to bring him into this world and I am truly mesmerized by it. I’m in awe at this little creature that is so loved and so remarkable. Man…my heart is full. I’m so lucky to have been a part of this.
Yesterday (August 16th) was kind of a cool day for Mr Jáchym…every day of the year in the Czech Republic is someone’s name day ("svátek" for those of you that speak Czech). So, in addition to your birthday every year, you get a name day too, another reason to celebrate (how cool, huh?). August 16th is the name day for Jáchym! I asked the guys what would happen if you had a name that didn’t have a day associated with it….and they said that pretty much doesn’t happen. You wouldn’t name a child a name that didn’t have a day. So no one would ever name their kid "Jesse" in the Czech Republic (dang!) ...but this whole thing is pretty interesting, huh? Hey, any day to have a reason to get some presents is a good thing to me! Here is a list of all the names and the date associated with it.
As you’ve learned from this post, yes the guys are all still in the US. However, the time for them to leave is coming. Really soon. Like next week. Ugh. There’s a possibility that they may have to push back their departure by a couple days-they’ll know for sure today. I totally wish they could push back their departure by a few weeks. Months.
I can’t write about them leaving because I become a blubbering mess. So, I will leave that post for another time. Just know that even the thought of them not being here makes me cry instantly.
It's simply amazing how fast the time is going--it went uber fast while I was pregnant with him and now seems to be going even faster now that he's here.
The little man is doing great!! His daddies really know what they're doing. It's funny because you get a user manual with your new hairbrush and don't get anything with a new baby. And yet, you're expected to know everything.
I'm very proud of the guys...not that I had any doubt that they wouldn't be good parents, but they've blown away my expectations. That baby is so loved and cared for. It makes my heart melt when I see them all together.
We had a little baby shower for them last night--just a few close friends and family--it was a lovely time.
And I had beer.
And it was good.
I did have a hard time coming up with a gift for them. Before Jachym was born, I had gotten them this... (which is super cute, by the way)
...but for their shower, I wanted to get them something personal, but not cheesy. Meaningful, yet cool.
So, in addition to the Piggly Wiggly t-shirt and jar of Nutella...
(there's a story to everything, right?)
...I made them a photo book, documenting our journey.
Inside were many photos and excerpts from this very blog. It was challenging for me to put it together because I cried nearly every time I made an attempt. And yes, as they looked at it last night, I teared up a bit. In front of everyone. Which I knew I would.
Tomorrow we'll be hanging out with the boys at their hotel, which has a pretty decent indoor waterpark. My kids are really looking forward to it (as am I)! Oh, and Tomas will be making us an authentic Czech meal for dinner!! Can you say awesome?!?
And just because he's one of the cutest kiddos ever...here's a photo for you of the little man just hanging out, likely watching the Olympics...
(Let's take a walk down memory lane for a sec--check out the post I did last year about the WI State Fair here)
Ah, the State fair...A place for chocolate dipped bacon on a stick, rides that I would never think of getting near, carnival employees that scare the bejesus out of me and people wearing jeans from 1987.
Yes, the jeans scare the bejesus out of me too.
So last weekend we decided to hit up this fantastic little gem in the heart of southeast Wisconsin. It turned out to be the busiest day of the fair. Observe:
Now, one may think that this may not be a challenge. Lots of people? Just go with the crowd.
Or run them all down. Yeah. Notsomuch considering we had the following in our caravan: 4 adults (me, mother in law, Tomas and Honza) 1 six year old (Elliot) 1 four year old (Emerson) 1 three year old (London) 1 infant (Jáchym) The best behaved? Jáchym, of course. He did this:
The entire time. PS-couldn't you just die? Is he not the cutest?? Okay, back to the fair-- The kids (and Tomas) went fishing...
...and won the most expensive plastic balls ever. Seriously, carnie girl with the "I really just want to go back to my trailer and do tequila shots with the guy that runs the ferris wheel" attitude, would you let my kids play the game for a little more than 18 seconds?? Oh, and the fact that I just paid four bucks a pop (times 3, mind you) for that 18 seconds and the prize was a plastic ball that deflated itself on the way home does not make me a happy mommy. Just sayin'.
The kids rode some plastic ponies...
They drove around a bit...
And got some help with a game from a very competitive gent... (and won, of course)
Yes, that's Honza helping Elliot beat out other kids at the "shoot water into the little hole and blow up a balloon" game. It is this very moment that I was so pleased Honza is an eye surgeon. And EXTREMELY precise.
We all had a great time with "the boys"...
I'm glad they were able to witness all that Wisconsin has to offer including the ill-favored fashion, the endless forms of fried food on a stick and most importantly, the cream puff...
When I started blogging about my surrogacy experience, I started latching on to other surrogacy related blogs and started following them...pretty intently.
One very special blog I've been following for quite some time is the story of Bernadette and Duane. Their precious twins were born via a surrogate in March in India--and Bernadette and the very cute twins (Hayden and Scarlett) are still there.
They've been there nearly 130 days.
Hayden is still hanging out in the NICU, but it's now nearing all possibility that Bernadette and the twins can travel home--but they need our help!
Please click on the link below. And please help if you can.
On one hand, I’m so very happy I was able to put Jáchym in the arms of his new daddies a little early. Seeing them together as a family has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Tomas and Honza are complete naturals when it comes to parenting. I know a thing or two about having a newborn and I can say, without a doubt, that they were meant to be daddies.
On the other hand (and I’m going to be a bit selfish for a moment so please bear with me), I miss being pregnant. I really, truly do. I was putting away all my maternity clothes the other day and I won’t lie, I shed a tear. Maybe two. (But give it up for me on being back in my pre-preggo clothes, eh?? Holla!)
When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, people would ask me how I was feeling. Every so often I would say “I’m done”.
I wish I could take that back.
I wasn’t done. Regardless of the nasty heat, the swelling and inability to move without grunting, I really did love being pregnant. I loved knowing that I was caring for a little unborn miracle and doing my part to help create a family. Sure, I loved that moment that he came into this world, but a little part of me just wishes I could still be pregnant.
Plus, maternity clothes are comfy. Screw the zippers and buttons on jeans; I want my full panel back!
According to the State of Wisconsin, he has been technically my child since the moment he was born. I know…strange, right?
Law is weird.
Today, paperwork was signed handing over all rights to the guys. Did I have a problem signing it? Are you kidding? Not at all. Jáchym is and will always be their child.
…But I was kinda sad. No, I’m not sad Jáchym isn’t mine (though he is a really cute baby!). He’s where he should be-with Tomas and Honza. With his daddies. I’m sad because that’s one more piece of the process that’s completed, and it’s one more step done that will allow the guys to go home.
Yes, they need to go home. I know this. I’ve put myself in their shoes 8 million times and can’t imagine how hard this is for them…having a newborn baby and not being able to share him with friends and family. Skype and e-mails can only do so much. Home. They need to go home.
And as many times as I tell myself this, I can’t seem to accept it.
Someone please tell me this is going to get easier?
I've been doing a lot of reminiscing over the past few days about this entire surrogacy experience. And yes, as I reminisce, I cry (still). I'm not crying because I'm sad....I'm crying because this whole experience has been nothing but wonderful...and yes, everything is still quite overwhelming. I have a feeling it will be for quite a bit longer. I cannot begin to tell you how unbelievably amazing everything has been--from the application process to the matching process to the transfer to the delivery. Every step was truly something I will treasure forever.
While MANY people have been a part of this process, there are a few that I need to publicly thank. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did.
My husband, Jesse-- If there is one person that I can say was on this journey with me every step of the way, it's my husband. Had he not supported this from day one, it wouldn't have happened. He never griped at having to go through medical screening (for himself), he didn't complain at having to endure my hormonal roller coaster while on the meds. He was the one that had to deal with all the ups and downs of the process. He was right there with me for everything and I wouldn't have wanted anyone else by my side. Jesse, there are not enough words to thank you for the support you have given me through this journey. I'm sorry if I was ever hormonal and I'm sorry if I complained about my ankles being swollen or made too many groans while trying to move with a huge belly. Your love and support have gotten me through this entire process--for that I thank and appreciate you more every time I think about it. It wasn't just me that helped create a new family, it was every much your journey as well. Love you. Always.
My friend, Kelly-- Kelly was the lucky one with me in the delivery room as my support person. I was slightly afraid when I first asked if she would want to be there with me, that she might be weirded out by it. That was as far from reality as possible. She was actually excited about it! When it came time for the delivery day, Kelly was beyond a support for me. She was my rock. My "crap I'm having a contraction, rub my back" person. She kept telling me what a great job I was doing while in labor (yes, I heard you every time, girl) and was just awesome. Even after the birth, she was uber supportive. And still is. Kelly, I am so glad you were able to share that awesome moment with me as a new family was created. Your stellar photography skills were much appreciated as well-an amazing way to remember those moments. Thank you for your support not only in the delivery room, but through the entire process. You're an awesome person and I'm so glad to call you my STEP cousin. HA HA HA!! No really, I'm so glad to call you my friend. Thank you again for EVERYTHING.
My Mother In Law, Colleen-- Colleen, or "granny nanny" as we call her, is just pure awesome. I couldn't have asked for a better mother in law. Really. I'm not even saying that because she may read this blog. I think she's beyond great and I'm so lucky. She's been such a support to me and the family and is the best kid-watcher around. Colleen, thank you so much for always being willing to take the kids when I ask if you can or offering even when I don't ask. Your willingness to watch them sometimes freaks me out (I don't know who in their right mind would WANT to watch 3 kids for days at a time) but please know that every moment is much appreciated. And thank you, also, for all your support in this surrogate journey. I always enjoy our chats and late night TV watchings...and of course I really enjoy your cooking!! :) I think you totally are the greatest mother in law ever.
My friend, Jeni-- Jeni is pretty much the reason this journey happened. She's the one who pushed me to apply with Circle...and had I not done that, I wouldn't have been matched with Tomas and Honza. Jeni (being a surrogate herself) has been such a support for me--she can relate on a level that no one else can, having already been through everything that I was going through during this journey. She is also a tremendous support for me in these post-surrogate times. She knows. She's been there. Jeni, my ling lost, I can't begin to tell you how awesome you are. You have become such a friend to me and I am so lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for being there for me through the ups and downs I've had through this journey (and even not on this journey). There's no one that understands me more as a surrogate than you do. When we talk, you get it...and that means so much, you have no idea. I am so blessed we met and am proud and so very lucky to call you my friend.
My friend, Cole-- Cole has been a friend for YEARS. Regardless of what is going on in my life, I can count on her for anything. She's that person that you just...need. Cole, thank you for simply being there when I needed to talk. Or write. Or text. I know I can count on you to be there for me and never cause drama.
Tomas and Honza-- I still remember that e-mail from Circle with "A profile to view" in the subject line. I remember the butterflies and excitement I felt as I double clicked the e-mail to open it. Naturally, I went right for the photos first...and fell in love with two amazing men in that one moment. It was instant. And I knew exactly what I wanted at that very second. I wanted to be their surrogate. Thankfully, they chose me to do just that. I'm choosing to thank them a little differently, a little more non public--plus, I can't seem to type a thank you to the guys because as I try to type something out to them and can't see the computer screen anymore....you can figure out why.
Finally, thank you to YOU, my blog reader. I've used this blog as a way to communicate the surrogacy process-sometimes for you, but a lot of the times for my own personal need. I appreciate all the comments you've made. Yes, I read them all. And then I re-read them. I appreciate you following me through this journey and hope you will continue to follow what lies ahead. I promise to continue this blog (I've got a lot more on my mind, no worries) with stories and photos and good stuff surrounding being a surrogate and a person with some fun stuff to share. This is far from good-bye.
And who knows...maybe we'll do another installment of "An International Surrogacy Journey" in the future...