Friday, October 25, 2013

An Update with a Side of Thanks to the Love of My Life

I don't even know where to start - it has been so long since I last posted.  Initially I wasn't posting because I didn't want to somehow spoil Katie and Kevin's big news, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks - morning, noon, and night sickness!!  Of course I immediately assumed I was having multiples since I never once felt sick with my singletons.  In fact, I was so sure, that when the doctor did my initial ultrasound, I told him to look again and again, but nope, just one perfect baby and that is enough for me to thank God.  Now I don't know if I was feeling so crummy because I am getting older or because each baby is different, but one thing was for sure - food was NOT my friend!!  Katie and Kevin's dream coming true was certainly worth every second of the nausea, but there is NO possible way I could have kept my head above water for the past few months without my saving grace - my husband Dan.  So, I decided the best place to start back up with this blog, is with a thank you to my husband.

The Background:

Feeling nauseous 24/7 is bad enough when you only have yourself to worry about, but when you have to worry about your four children - two of them being 18 months old - and your husband, as well as teaching full-time and managing a household - well, that takes feeling crummy to a whole new level!  Typically I pride myself on my ability to juggle each aspect of my life with a smile on my face, but over the past few months, I feel like I kept dropping the ball.  I simply felt like a lousy teacher, an average mom, and an adequate wife.  Aside from the nausea, I had absolutely ZERO energy - I mean, I have never been more exhausted in my life - and I have four kids!!  I found out later that my exhaustion was caused by the extra progesterone the fertility specialist had me on.  Luckily, Dan was always right there to pick up the pieces.

I am not the type of wife who needs to be waited on hand and foot.  I don't have him running out to some random place at all hours of the night to get me something I want because that isn't what I need.  I need him to understand what I am feeling and talk me through the worst moments.  I needed him to be okay with my inability to cook our family nice meals and I needed to be okay with that too because I love to cook for my family.  I needed him to be okay with the piles and piles of laundry waiting to be done - or the piles and piles of laundry waiting to be folded and put away.  We both share the responsibilities of the household and the children, but I like to pull my weight and I feel really guilty when I, for whatever reason, can't.  And trust me, for the past three months, I couldn't - and Dan never once made me feel inadequate or guilty - he simply told me it was okay and to not waste my energy on worrying about it.

I am sure you are thinking - well Dan better be saying that to me, after all I am pregnant and he is my husband, but don't forget - this is so different for him. He is supporting his wife who isn't pregnant with their child, but another families hope and dream.  I am not sure how many husbands out there could do this as gracefully as Dan has done it.  He just as willingly gave up his time and energy for Katie and Kevin's family as I did and that is easy to take for granted considering his belly isn't growing.  I have to tell you that when you all say such kind words to me, it lifts me up and inspires me - you all make me feel so loved, but really, Dan deserves the same exact accolades because without him I could not do this.  Without him, my strength decreases ten-fold.  I was telling Katie about going out in public after our twins were born and every person who approached us would look at me and tell me how strong and amazing I am for what I am doing as a mom of twins.  I could see the look on Dan's face - he just looked completely deflated because people acted as if he wasn't even there.  I know there are so many dads out there who are not present in the lives of their children, or who barely have a relationship with the mother of their children, but that is NOT my husband.  Our marriage is the epitome of true teamwork, as cliche as that may sound, but anyone who knows us will vouch for that.  We pick each other up and we tag-team better than the best WWE wrestlers!  So please, please know that he is carrying me through this just like he has carried me through so many moments in our lives.

        These pictures are candid shots from our maternity photo-shoot when I was pregnant with our twins. 
 I genuinely love this man <3
                                                                Thank you Danielle Beck Photography :o)

The Thank-You

Sweetface - we have been through so many experiences over the past 13 years that could tear couples apart, but with each experience we have shared - our lives, our souls, become further and further entwined.  You know one of the qualities I love most about you is that you are ALWAYS willing to go on the ride with me - whether it is to randomly get a fire-pit at midnight after an amazing date that we just weren't ready to end, or deciding to try and have another baby and ending up with a bonus.  And now, we are on this ride together - helping another family have a baby.  Please know that I don't take your role in this for granted for one second.  Please know that for each word of encouragement I receive - you receive it too.  Please know that I love you with my whole heart and this gift we are giving together would only be a figment in the universe without you.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for every single blessing you have given me.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jumpin' Through Hoops and Ridin' on Coasters!!

Roller coasters - I have always loved them.  From the time I was a little girl, I remember getting such a thrill from riding all kinds.  My favorite were the coasters that took me upside down and all around.  Even though I loved the ride, I still to this day get nervous as I get all strapped in and compulsively check to make sure everything is latched and secure.  The climb to the top of the highest drop is always full of anticipation and butterflies and before I even know it, the ride is over and I am walking away from it with a permagrin and a rush of adrenaline that makes my head ache.  I have also always loved hoops - so many great things come in hoops.  Of course, if you know me, you know I LOVE playing/watching hoops, in my glory days I was a master at the hula-hoop, and who doesn't like a great pair of hoop earrings??  But, I can honestly say....I have never been a fan of jumping through hoops, but then again....who is - well, besides circus performers :P

 Let me give you a taste of the hoops we have jumped through and the coasters we have ridden on in the past couple of weeks!!!!

Hoop #1 and Hoop #2 - The Uterohoops:  Despite the fact that I have FOUR children of my own, I have had to prove my uterus's ability to carry a child which means that I had to have a catheder inserted into my uterus and saline solution pushed through the catheter in order to prove to everyone that yes, indeed, my uterus is there and functioning :P  But, that is not nearly as amazing as the second uterohoop in which I had to have a numbing agent injected into my cervix several times so 007's spy camera could be inserted into my uterus to make sure there were not polyps or anything else that might prevent me from becoming pregnant.  In case you were wondering how much I enjoyed these experiences....well, I bet you could take a guess, but thankfully the end justifies the means.  It is just a bit frustrating for all of us to be put through this when my body has proven time and time again to be good at providing a nurturing habitat for babies!

Crazy Coaster Hoop Extraordinaire!!:  This stop along our journey serves as both a hoop and a coaster....I have to receive a psychological evaluation.  If you ask my husband, he will say, "she doesn't need one, I can already tell you she is bonkers."  He would be kidding, of course....I hope :P  But, in order to be a surrogate, a woman has to obtain a psych eval.  Well, one would think this would be an easy hoop to jump through - but here is where we board the coaster.  We were all told by our fertility doctor that these were easy to come by, quick, and cheap.  He was incorrect on all three counts.  I literally called all over the greater St. Louis metropolitan area just to be told over and over again their clinic does not administer psych evals for the purpose of surrogacy.  It wasn't the fact the receptionists said this, but it was the way each one said it that angered me.  Each one made it sound so dirty.  I only wish for one second they could empathize with Katie and Kevin and their longing for a child together and then maybe they wouldn't be so judgmental, but I have come to realize that might be too much to ask for our society to do - empathize... Eventually I found a couple of psychologists who were hesitant to do this, but would for a nominal fee of $1000.00. HA!!!! RIGHT!!! Let us just go collect that from our couch cushions....get outta here!!!!  FINALLY, we came to the easy part of the ride when a non-judgmental, reasonably priced psychologist, who genuinely wanted to learn about our circumstances, stepped up and took us on.  Now, we are only one interview away from getting signed off to proceed - and despite what my husband says, I am totally confident it will happen!!!!

Roller Coaster #2 - The InsuraCoaster:  From the get-go, we all knew that insurance was going to be a crap-shoot.  The bottom line is, most states and most insurance companies in those states make it incredibly difficult, almost consistent with punishment, for those people who cannot have children for one reason or another.  I find this fact absolutely ridiculous.  Government funds can pay for a pregnancy of an irresponsible person who has a low income, but yet a FAMILY who would give anything to have a baby has to pay an arm and a leg to have a child - that is just NOT RIGHT!!!  Whether it is adoption, surrogacy, IVF - it doesn't matter, it all costs a FORTUNE!!!!  And just for reference, this is coming from a woman whose family depended on government aid every now and again through her childhood - and I still believe in government aid to this day - but I would love to have 1 WEEK to reorganize how it is distributed and the regulations in place!  The good news is - MY insurance will cover this pregnancy, but for about 24 hours, the fertility clinic led Katie to believe they wouldn't.  Katie was so upset, I was so upset, but my husband gave me the best advice....he said, now is not the time to get so upset you can't think straight - now is the time to think of a way around all of this and figure it out.  So - I did what he and I like to do best - be honest.  I called up my insurance company and asked flat out - and after speaking with higher ups, the representative told me I was covered - and don't you know that conversation was recorded for quality assurance :P  GOD. IS. GOOD!!!!

The Vanishing HoopCoaster:  Thankfully Katie and I agreed to eliminate one of the hoops for us by forgoing an unwarranted test which saved me from a lot of pain and saved Katie and Kevin a lot of money, but we still have one final hoop before we can breathe and that is blood-work that needs to be drawn on the third day of my cycle.  People, I have never wanted my period to come so badly in my life!!!!!  I don't think anyone can truly understand what we are all experiencing unless they have experienced it in some fashion, but let me just say, people bond so quickly through struggle and I wouldn't have it any other way.  Whether they like it or not - Katie and Kevin - and all of their family are OUR family now.  We are in this together.  And Katie has found this out about me rather quickly...when I put my mind to something - you better believe I will do anything to make it happen.

I keep telling myself that our surrogacy journey is exactly like a roller coaster ride and the hoops are no big deal.  In fact, if you ignore the height requirement and put my entire family along with Kevin and Katie's entire family into the seats of a roller coaster, we would fill up the entire thing.  We all voluntarily got on this ride together and we are all going to leave this ride with something different.  I truly believe in my heart we will all be greater for this journey.

SO.... for as much as I love roller coasters and hoops, I can tell you this - when it comes to parenthood, those who are deserving of the incredible responsibility of being parents should not have to ride the roller coaster we are on or jump through the hoops we are jumping through.  Thankfully we all can trust that God has a plan and he put us on this ride for a reason and fashioned these hoops for a reason. I have chosen to appreciate every moment for what it is and know that hindsight is 20/20 and when we all look back, we will all know it was worth it in the end!!  Until then, I will raise my hands up to HIM and trust that HE will guide me through this ride of a lifetime.

~ Kanga

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pools, Fireworks, and Wedding Dresses OH MY!!!

          Okay, so I am new to the world of blogging and as you probably have noticed, I am not the best at its daily maintenance :P  As much as I would love to write every day - I am just not sure that is possible between the diapers and the baseball games and the catch my drift.  So, thank you in advance for your patience as I make room for blogging in my daily routine :o)


          Let's talk about the amazing Fourth of July trip we took to Iowa this past weekend.  Thanks to Katie's AMAZING family, we were able to stay with her parents while we were visiting, which was perfect on so many levels.  My family is so grateful to them for providing such a comfortable place for us to stay.  We were looking forward to spending time with my family, whom we don't see nearly enough, and we were also looking forward to the opportunity to just spend time with Katie, Kevin, and the rest of their family.  I could seriously go on and on about how wonderful our weekend was, but because that would read very similar to Katie's post, I am going to provide the top 10 highlights from the trip!!

10. Talking through the interesting/awkward St. Ambrose connections around the pool :P  On another pool party note, it was really great meeting someone who went to high school with my mom.  She even brought me her yearbook so I could see Mom in all her senior-year glory!!  That was really thoughtful and I will always treasure that.

9. Watching everyone go down the pool slide - especially Dan's multiple attempts at surfing upon entry and Kaitlyn's torpedo.  The boys were really hesitant to go down the slide, but just as we all thought, once they did it, they never got off of it!

8. Meeting everyone at the 4th of July Parade and seeing Gianna snuggle with Katie the entire time under the shade of a tree.  I also loved seeing Maicey in her adorable dress and crown!!!  What a princess.

7. Enjoying the food/beverage and entertainment provided by Rob and Kim :o)  I swear Rob never leaves home without his grill or a cut-off!!!  I am actually very thankful for that - the grill that is :P

6. Snuggling on my nephews as well as my bro and sis-in law.  I am so glad we had a chance to spend some time together during their busy trip!!  It was also nice all being together at my aunt and uncle's house.  Their house always feels like home - and I especially appreciate how close I feel to my mom when I am there....and my aunt's delicious cookies!!

5. Kevin giving the boys a shout-out on the radio and seeing Shane's face as we explained to him that everyone could hear it.... "I was on national radio"!!!!  That was too sweet!!

4.Watching the Bettendorf fireworks with my family.  This was the twins' first experience watching fireworks and they were mesmerized.  I think that was the stillest Genevieve has ever been in her life!! 

3.  Seeing Maicey with the girls.  Even though the twins were really shy around her - she still managed to smooch them and love on them!!  She even gave them rings that light up at the fireworks so they wouldn't be afraid of the dark - so, so sweet!!!

2.  Meeting most of the important people in Katie and Kevin's life.  I was touched by all of the people who are inspired by Katie and overwhelmed by all of the love surrounding everyone at all times.  This is the type of family most people only experience when they watch movies people!!!  To see Katie's mom's face when I confirmed she would be a part of the delivery was priceless.

1. Going wedding dress shopping with my little sister and seeing her beautiful face while she was wearing her beautiful wedding dress.  I love her.  I am so proud of her.  I don't tell her that enough.  Sisser - I love you and I am so very proud of you and I am so grateful you found such a loving man and such a loving family to marry into.

Yes - this trip was amazing and I cannot wait to go back soon!  I couldn't help but think about what a neat yearly tradition this trip could become for our families and I hope and pray next year there will be another baby attending all the celebrations for everyone to dote on, and that baby - or babies - will be so incredibly lucky and so irrevocably loved.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Meet Me in St. Louis!!

       I am feeling so many emotions in this moment.  I am about to see the long lost sister I never knew I had and we are about to find out the timeline that will change our lives forever.  God amazes me every day with the blessings he scatters along my path.  Katie mentioned this before that so much of this story so far should have sent up red flags for both of us along the way - or made us say - hold on a second, I don't really know this person.  Never once have I EVER felt that way.  I feel like Katie has been in my life forever and adore the idea of our families growing together and building new memories and traditions for the rest of our lives.  My only fear is that by the end of the day, my heart isn't going to want her and Kevin to go back home because I want more time with them.  I want more time to hear their stories.  I want more time for them to spend with my children. The good news is....we have the rest of our lives for that!!
       I can only imagine how Katie and Kevin are feeling in this moment right now.  They are driving to the LOU to see their Kangaroo!!!  I imagine them passing the time during the drive by dreaming about the family they are building.  So much to talk about - names, nursery themes, and baby showers.  I can hear Katie saying "You know Kevin, even if we have a boy, he is still going to dance."  And because I know how supportive Kevin is, he will say - "Of course he will, and I will be right there taking pictures of him."  I am sure they have butterflies in their tummy's like I do!!
       Unfortunately, my husband won't be able to join us for the appointment today because he is on Daddy duty.  We don't have a lot of support in St. Louis when it comes to family who can take care of our children when we have important things to do.  We talked last night and we thought it would be best  if I just go so I can devote my entire attention to Katie, Kevin, and the doctors.  Thankfully, we are all going to meet up afterwards for dinner so we can lay out our plans.  Dan assured me that he is with me in spirit and supports me 100% - WHAT . A . MAN!!  I am such a lucky woman to know he has my back in everything I do.  I am proud to know my children have such an amazing father to idolize and follow.  Please know that I could NEVER give this gift without him.  He is my strength, my advocate, my soul.  Our children play a huge role in this as well - and I will share their perspectives later.
Keep us close to your thoughts and prayers today as we hear our futures unfold....

<3 Kanga

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I am Just a Regular Mom

         Motherhood is a gift from God - a gift I looked forward to receiving for as long as I can remember.  When I was a little girl I was constantly pretending I was a mother - in fact, I don't remember playing much else as a child.  I would name all my babies and dress them up in my old baby clothes and tote them around with me all over the place.  I had babies who would cry, take a bottle, and even babies who would mess in a diaper.  When my little sister came along, I was nine and felt like I received the ultimate baby doll.  Who knew that all those years of pretending would prepare me for changing her diaper and carrying her around from here to there.  I wasn't a huge fan of her tantrums and the fact that my mom could NEVER say no to her, but having a baby sister cemented the deal - I wanted to be a mom when I grew up and!
         After meeting the love of my life, Dan, in college and getting married soon after we graduated, we knew we wanted to start a family right away.  This was it - what I have waited my whole life for - motherhood.  We were blessed to get pregnant right away with our oldest son Shane and everything about the pregnancy, labor, and delivery was a beautiful experience for our family.  We knew we wanted to have another child right away so when Shane was 15 months old, we welcomed Cody into the world.  Again, everything was perfect.  I did it....I was a mother of two amazing boys!!
         It wasn't long after Cody was born when I started talking to Dan about how much I love motherhood and love being pregnant.  I told him I thought it would be such an amazing honor to surrogate for a family who couldn't carry a pregnancy of their own.  He smiled at me and admired my big heart and that was that - just a casual conversation between a husband and a wife.
        Dan and I were not sure we were finished having our own children, so we spent the next several years watching our boys learn and grow - soaking up every bit of marriage and parenthood.  After some devastating moments in our life, Dan and I decided we wanted a bigger family - and of course I wanted to have a daughter so badly that we began to pray for God to bless us with another child.  It wasn't quite as easy getting pregnant with our next baby as it had been with Shane and Cody since Dan and I were both older, but soon enough, I found out on Mother's Day, I was pregnant again with our third child. God had other plans and brought that baby home to be with him on the day of our 7th wedding anniversary.  Those moments were extremely difficult for our family, but we grew closer through them and knew God had a plan.  On Father's Day, my husband opened up what turned out to be the best gift he could have ever received - a positive pregnancy test!  Yep - we were pregnant again, and that plan God had for us apparently involved us being the parents of TWINS.  Nine months later, we delivered two beautiful baby girls, and our family was complete...maybe :o)
        So here is the part in the story where I could easily sit back and enjoy the rest of my life with my soul-mate and our beautiful children - which would not have been a bad choice, but I have a different calling.  God has different plans for me - I can feel it in my bones.  In my moments of pure joy watching all of my children playing together I can't help but stop and think about families who, for whatever reason, cannot experience these moments of parenthood.  Sure - there are several routes couples can take in order to build a family, but most are expensive, emotionally draining, and full of "catches."  I told my husband I want to help a family have a baby with NO catches because it is the right thing to do - my intentional act of kindness.
        I just knew I would find another woman out there who has been dreaming about motherhood since she was a little girl, just like me.  Who looked forward to having children after finding the love of her life, just like me.  Who would give anything to experience every single first, with a perfect child of God, just like me.  And I found her.  And I am going to have her baby.

 I am just a regular Mom who happens to be lucky enough to give God's greatest gift to Katie and Kevin - the gift of parenthood.  I am just a regular Mom and I am their Kangaroo!!  Thank you for being a part of this experience and supporting our families as we grow together through this journey.