Play it again, Baby M

Notice: this post is laden with pregnancy, c-section delivery photos (semi-graphic) and baby photos. If today is one of those days, you might choose to pass on this post. I understand.

This post is long, too. Butt, be warned.

Two years ago yesterday, Frank and I spent some time in the backyard. He was busy putting together el Cinco’s new swing set. I was busy posing for a few full-term pregnancy pictures. In less than 12 hours, I’d be headed to Savannah to deliver Baby M, my surrobaby.

Bare belly pendant edited
 My intended parents — Former IM and Former IF — and I had spent the entire pregnancy calling him one name. With a feigned, dramatic Italian accent, Former IM had professed several times through the pregnancy that her son’s name was Baby Muel Anthony. She’d say it with flair, bringing the tips of her fingers together and accentuating each syllable of his name with emphatic flourishes of her arm, in much the same manner that a gourmet chef might describe the courses of a delicately prepared, 12-course dinner.

Blond-haired, blue eyed Former IM, born and bred Georgia girl (pronounced JO-jah gurrl when given the proper Southern drawl), and Former IF, straight from New York (New Yawk) and made from dark-haired, olive-toned Italian stock, were just one day away from finally holding their Tony in their arms. Former IF preferred Baby M. Former IM preferred Tony.

Which name used on a regular basis would depend on what he looked like when he was here. If he took on Former IM’s fairer traits he’d be Baby M, and if he leaned more in the Italian Stallion direction, he’d be Tony.

Tony. Baby M. I just called him Meatball. He’d measured at least a week
ahead the entire pregnancy, made me crave pasta (especially ravioli),
and gave me gas.

The next morning, March 26, was almost ordinary. Frank and I woke up and got the kids ready for school. We kissed them and walked them to the bus stop, waving as they were driven away. They knew that we would not be there when they got home from school because today was the day that Baby Tony was coming. They couldn’t wait until I would call them on the phone to tell them all about it. Frank and I walked home hand-in-hand. I had just enough time to write what would turn out to be the last real post on my old blog. I went over the daily schedule and list of emergency numbers with my sister one more time, then she all but pushed me out the door, reassuring me that she’d do just fine with holding down the homefront while Frank and I were at the hospital.

Check-in is handled through the ER, and it looked like an odd sort of family reunion taking place there in the lobby. We were immediately caught in a swarm of hugs when we walked in. Former IM, Former IF, Former IM’s mom Angie, Former IM’s older daughter Lauren, my aunt Karon, and my 2-year old second cousin were all there. At least among the women, the tears were already flowing.
Former IM and Former IF presented me with a beautiful diamond journey pendant. All of us chattered excitedly about the delivery that was just moments away. We were loud and rambunctious, and we could see the other people in the waiting area trying to figure us out. Pregnant Black lady swarmed by a bunch of White people feeling all over her belly? WTF?

When the orderly came with the wheelchair to take me up to L&D, everyone followed like an ebony meets ivory parade.

Going upstairs

Some time during the eighth month of pregnancy, Former IM, Former IF and I, with our attorney, met with the head nurse of Labor and Delivery. She was a sweet, grandmotherly type and took us on a personal tour of L&D on the third floor and the Special Care nursery on the fourth floor. Due to insurance billing protocols and Former IM and Former IF’s need to have a room of their own once Baby M was born, they would be given a large room on the 4th floor after the delivery. L&D on the 3rd floor and Special Care on the 4th were connected by a long, tunnel-like breezeway and an elevator that ran onlybetween the two floors. She had reassured us that on the day of delivery, the nurses will have been briefed on our surrogacy and that the “rules” would be different for us.Frank, Former IF, and Former IM would all be allowed with me in pre-op instead of just one support person. My OB had already arranged for both Former IM and Former IF to be present during the c-section. Again, having only one support person is the norm. Once up in their room on the 4th floor, the new family would not be held to the same security and sterile-procedure protocols as other Special Care babies, unless Baby M was actually sick and had a real medical need to be there. We would be allowed to travel between the two floors at will for visits to each other.The nurses assigned to us in Labor and Delivery were phenomenal. We’d been on the books for a while and they were anxiously anticipating our delivery. We all felt welcome and they made the process very easy. Some surrogates have horror stories where the nurses were obviously uneasy, handling the intended parents and surrogate with fumbly kid gloves. I was relieved that the staff seemed comfortable and even shared in our joy.As soon as I was properly gowned, shaved (there’s something yo’ mama won’t tell you about having c-sections), and catheterized, Former IM, Former IF, and Frank came back to finish waiting out the required monitoring and last pre-op procedures. We took a pre-delivery group shot.

Before too long, it was finally time. Frank and I kissed, passed I’ll see you laterto each other, and I waddled over to the operating room right across the hall.It was surreal. It was routine but not. Hop on the table. Don’t fall off, because that sucker seems twice as thin as my ass is wide. Talk to the anesthesiologist. No, I’m not allergic to anything that I know of. Yes, I itch like a sonafabitch and feel like vomiting out my kidneys from nausea in reaction to the spinal, so have shots of phenergan and benadryl ready. Ms. Nice Nurse says to bend over as far as you possibly can; lean on my shoulders. From behind, Dr. NumbYoufromtheLegsDown explains what he’s doing as he administers the spinal. I hate this part. The thought of that big needle going in through my back and into the spinal column is freaky. *POP* I both hear and feel it (no pain, more like a small tap) when the needle goes into the spinal column and whoooooaaaa duuuuuuude….left leg feels hot and heavy whoa…there goes the right one and WOW…can’t feel anything down there and awwwwww yeah…I’m feelin’ kinda nice, now. Thank you, morphine. Long time, no high, my good friend Mr. Morphine.After I’m buzzed off my rocker and can’t feel anything from the boobs down, the next few steps always seem to happen fast. I’m laid down with my arms stretched to the sides, the blue curtain goes up just under my chin, and my OB seems to mystically materialize from the walls. But this time, instead of Frank coming in and being seated at my right shoulder, Former IM and Former IF come in. They’re garbed in blue scrubs with white masks. I giggle, because for some reason they remind me of the marshmallows that used to come in Smurf cereal.Former IM took my hand. Her piercing, clear blue eyes never left mine. As my OB began the surgery and dictated his steps, she constantly asked if I was okay or if I was in any pain. “No pain. I can’t feel anything but pressure.” After what feels like only a few minutes, Dr. Edwards said, “Here he comes! His head is out! Dad – come up here and snap a picture if you want to!” Then suddenly, gloriously, we hear a gusty, angry, healthycry. He’s not even all the way out yet and he’s already crying. I could hear both the laughter and the tears in Former IF’s voice as he rose to see his son — his first child — for the first time.

Baby M almost out
Baby M out

As Baby M was pulled out and his wails grew louder, Former IM’s hand gripped mine tighter and the tears that until then only welled in her eyes finally spilled forth. Her son was there, but she kept her eyes firmly on mine. “Thank you, Moxie. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Her voice was barely above a whisper but even with all the other commotion in the room, I only heard her words with the sweet sound of her son’s screaming voice in the background.

She couldn’t take her wide, grateful eyes off of me and I could tell that she was torn. “Go,” I urged. “It’s okay. He’s here! This is what you’ve been waiting for. Go meet your son.” The intensity of her eyes tightened into a deeper, bluer thank you, and she finally released my hand then turned to be with her husband and new baby.

From my vantage point I couldn’t see anything but I heard everything. As he finished the surgery, Dr. Edwards told me what a wonderful thing I’d done. As expected, I started to feel itchy and nauseous, so the anesthesiologist administered the phenergan and benadryl. The meds immediately alleviated the side effects and cranked the dial on the FuzzyBrain Meter a few notches higher. I heard someone call out, “He’s HUGE! He’s 8 lbs, 10 oz!” I noticed that my nurse was teary-eyed. Everyone seemed to be talking about something. Then suddenly, they were there, and it was as if the rest of the world faded away and there was only us. He was beautiful. They were beautiful.

He was Baby M, not Tony. And he was perfect.

A few minutes later, Former IM and Former IF went with Baby M to the nursery. Relishing my high, I promptly annouced to the whole world and to no one in particular that I was taking a nap and to please wake me when they were finished putting me back together.

I eventually made it back to my pre-op/post-op room where Frank was waiting for me. I blathered about the delivery then shooed him away to go to his yearly neurology check-up, which coincidentally had been scheduled for that afternoon. He made it back just before I was transferred to my recovery room less than an hour later.

Through the rest of the day, there was a steady stream of visitors. Members of my family and of Former IM and Former IF’s extended families came to see me. One of the most special visits was from “The Grandmothers.” Former IM’s mom (who’d also come to every, single, solitary RE and OB appointment), Former IF’s mom (who’d come to several ultrasounds through the pregnancy), and Former IF’s grandmother (who lives in New York; I’d met her earlier in the pregnancy when she was visiting) all came together to see me. They collectively gifted me with a beautiful card with a message from each of them and a huge Bath and Body Works collection of Japanese Cherry Blosssom products. That scent now always reminds me of Baby M and is a “lucky” scent. Phone calls from family and friends poured in. I was buzzed from the drugs like a mofo, so I have more of a general memory more than a specific, clear set of post-delivery memories. I just know that I felt overjoyed, and I could feel everyone’s joy around me.

I couldn’t even be dampered by the behavior of the Special Care 4th floor nurses, who seemed to have missed the message that Baby M was not your average Special Care baby. I can’t blame them so much; they were just doing their jobs and wouldn’t take Former IM’s word about the exceptions that should have been allowed. They wouldn’t let Former IM bring Baby M down to see me no matter how much she argued. Finally, Former IM whipped out every ounce of Southern sass that her skinny body could muster: Don’t you THINK for a second that I’ll let you keep me here. She CARRIED MY CHILD and whether you like it or not, I’m taking Baby M down to see her. Now either I wheel his bassinet down there myself, or you can come with me if that makes you feel better. But I’m going, and you won’t stop me. Finally Nurse Ratchet escorted Former IM and Baby M down to visit. Later, Former IM would tell me that on the way down, the nurse suggested to her not to let me hold Baby M for too long because I might want to keep him. Whatthehellever.

Even Nurse MegaBitch’s hovering and suspicious eye couldn’t detract from the joy I felt seeing Baby M, Former IM, and Former IF again. It was after 9 pm and some of the cobwebs had cleared away. I was more lucid and Baby M was calm. He already looked different than the baby I’d seen just that morning.

I think that that was when it finally felt real to me. In my mind, I could see the similar picture that the five of us had taken that morning, with Baby M still on the inside instead of out. I exhaled. In that moment, I truly exhaled.The next day I went upstairs to visit. Former IM and Former IF were exhausted, but happy. The Grandmothers, who had taken over the waiting area of the Special Care nursery, were amazed that I was up and walking.Downstairs in my room, most of the in-and-out visits slowed to a trickle, which allowed me some time to rest. My surrobuddy Catherine came in to visit. I’d been to visit her at both of her post-surrogacy delivery recoveries, and she was overjoyed that she finally got the chance to return the favor. One surrofriend — Former IM — had absolutely sinful chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to the hospital and another — Rebekah — sent flowers. I had a breastpump brought in, as I was donating my breastmilk to my friend and fellow Surrogate Mothers Online moderator, Lisa. She was finally q mom via egg donation. She had delivered her beautiful little sprite Jenna just five days before.

MoxieatHospital001Ancient Smart One wisdom says, Vicodin and morphine effin’ ROCK!

The next afternoon, Baby M was discharged. I went downstairs to see the new family off. Almost suddenly, it was over. A few hours later, I was also discharged. I was ready. The journey was a great ride while it lasted, but I was ready to go home and let my life settle again, back into the familiar rhythms of life before cycling and appointments and breath-holding. Only it was a life more enriched, one in which I could say with pride that I did something that really mattered.

He is growing so fast and his personality seems to be growing even faster.

The first time seeing him again after delivery – June 2007:

Another visit, January 2008:


Baby M’s first birthday and two of my favorite pictures:

He’s two years old today. He’s bright and funny and thriving. Now when Former IM calls, she’s not the only one who does the talking. “Where Moxie? Moxie at school? Moxie at work? Hi! Hi, Moxie!” Unbelievable.And Former IM – she’s there every step of the way. She’s in the wings of this blog, lurking in the background and calling to pick me up when I am down. “Don’t you forget,” she says…rather, fusses, in that twangy Southern lilt, “don’t you forgot what you did for us and that we’re always grateful. I know that it’s rough right now and I know how differently it could have gone for us. I’m always thinking of you and the couples you’re working with and wishing for and praying for them. Don’t you forget that. I’m always here wanting my history with you to repeat itself with someone else.”Happy 2nd birthday, Baby M, my Meatball.

I hope and pray to have what I had with you once again.

58 thoughts on “Play it again, Baby M”

  1. What a truley amazing thing you did .. your post had me crying.
    Bless you and may history repeat for other couples in your future xX

  2. Ok, so I was in a rush this morning and fully intended to breeze quickly through this post even though you warned it would be long…but I couldn’t stop reading. AND I cried…but what a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it…

  3. Just gorgeous. I love the pics – I’ve never seen a more excited dad than Tony, and Frank is just cool as a cucumber.

  4. Moxie, you rock!
    You reminded me that six years ago, I actually did give birth (although it seems a lifetime ago now as all the infertility muckity muck clouded my memories). Some of the pictures so reminded me of my own experience.
    You are an angel, my dear. A rare and beautiful angel.

  5. What a wonderful story. And those pictures are gorgeous. And what’s your secret for looking so incredibly fantastic right after delivery?

  6. Dammit Moxie, there you go making me cry again! You are such an amazing, strong, fantastic person. You have me in awe. . .what you have done for Former IM and Former IF, and what you are trying to do for Apollo and Chance, is more than miraculous. And the fact that you remain so down to earth and hilariously funny is just an added side bonus.
    I have you in my prayers — along with Apollo and Chance. Good feelings about this next cycle.

  7. Ok, pulling myself together so I don’t look like a fool right now in front of the students, truly amazing.
    I want to see a recent picture of the meatball if you can snag one, please.

  8. What a beautiful REAL life story! I’m crying, I’m laughing, but most of all I’ am so proud to say “hey I know HER!” Enjoy this day!

  9. Awesome story. Yours is the first I have ever read of a surrogate. You are truly wonderful. I just teared up thinking of the gift you gave them. WOW. Awesome.

  10. welping out tears of EVERYTHING over this post. Oh honey- It was just so wonderful to read about the story of the Meatball. And the photos! The tapestry of life always makes me in complete awe of the Universe.

  11. What a beautiful story, what a selfless an lovely thing you did. What an enormous, enormous gift, and how wonderful to come out with a lifetime of friendship, too.
    God bless you, Moxie!! I hope you get to do it all again!

  12. what a beautiful story, beautiful pictures, and beautiful you.
    truly incredible, you are.
    and those pix are aMAzing.

  13. awwwww. Happy Birthday Baby M!!!
    You know Moxie, I just offered to be my OB’s surrogate but got turned down because “I almost lost you twice with your own babies. I’m not going to risk you dying for mine.” And it’s true, I understand. But I’m still sad.

  14. Oh wow- so glad I read this at home because the tears are flowing. What an amazing post! I just know that you will be able to do this again for Chance and Apollo.

  15. Moxie, thanks for sharing your wonderful surro story! You are such a great and giving person. I hope that you are able to do this again this time too.

  16. I’ve been saving this for days so that I could read it carefully and slowly. I knew it would be perfect and I’d cry. Thank you so much for sharing this post and your surrogacy journeys so openly.
    You are amazing.

  17. Moxie, what a beautiful story. I was crying along with everyone else.
    Happy Birthday Baby M.
    And I hope you get to do it all again too, Moxie.

  18. Gosh DARN it! You realize I sneak and read blogs at work?! And I am going to give myself away if somebody comes in and finds me BAWLING?
    This story is the best. I hope you get to do this again. Shit, now *I* want to do this!

  19. Hi there,
    Came to your site via ICLW, and omg… this story is so powerful. As someone who is newly diagnosed with IF issues, and who has no idea even if I’ll be able to even carry a child to term even with ART, this is incredibly touching and honest and hopeful. I really do just stand in awe at this act of selfless generosity.
    ~Miriam (ICLW)

  20. wow, what an amazing selfless person you must be to offer your body in order to grow someone else’s child, i am amazed.

  21. I read your story yesterday and I can’t wait to read more about you. I can’t even put words to how generous and amazing you are. You are a hero. Thanks for sharing your story with everyone!

  22. Here from CdlC.
    Amazing post! I got tears in my eyes from the very beginning and really let lose in the end.
    You are a very brave lady. Hats off to you!

  23. Ever since my daughter was born I cry at everything, but your story was wonderful, and so I’m here bawling again. I wish the media focused more on stories like yours and not the others. You are an amazing person.

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  25. Yeah, I’m crying, too. BAWWWWHHH….I wish for this again, too.

    And can I say the picture of you 5 just really did me in and will be seared in my memory for a long time! Sweet!

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  27. Congratulations on the end of your journey and the birth of such a beautiful child. You made the couple happy.  I admire your strength. Not every woman has so much power to give birth to a child for other persons. It is not so easy to give the child even realizing that he or she has nothing to do with yourself … I wish you new journeys, with the same success!

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