Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2011 9:51:27 PM
I struggled with infertility for 14 years. After long years of heartache, disappointment and fears of never being a parent,we were blessed with the gift of life from my best friend. Her and her husband came to Jon and I as a family and offered to be a surrogate for our remaining embryos. Sharing the journey of surrogacy is a whole different tale that perhaps I'll tell later. This however, is the story of our daughter's birth.
Ántonea's arrival into the world was much anticipated by so many of us. Jon and I started with a blessing of wonderful friendship with Scott and Brenda and had the privilege to participate in an amazing journey with them. But I think I've come to realize that this just isn't our journey, because we took so many of our friends and family on the ride with us.
The labor and delivery portion of this story is very sacred to all of us, so I will not share it here. Suffice it to say, that our families came together in ways I could not dare to dream. Spending time with Brenda while she labored is something I will always cherish. I've been with many of my friends when they gave birth to their babies and I'm always in awe of the whole thing. It doesn't matter if it's my baby, their baby, a stranger's baby....being in the prescence of a woman while she is bringing life into this world is an honor. I am always changed by each and every birth. I would also like to add that Meg, my friend of 25+years was an integral part in our birth story. She was there for both of us in such an unconditional way that it just fills my heart with joy to be able to call her....friend.
Jon, myself, my mom and my sister were all waiting in a room for Ántonea to be delivered to us. There was quite an electricity in the air. My sister was pacing, which I've never seen her do! Jon and I stood by the warmer, knowing that is where they would bring her first. As soon as the nurse stepped into the room with a bundle in a blanket I swear there was a light around that child. I couldn't see her face, her head or any part of her body...she was totally covered. But I could feel her, sense her, and had such an eager need to touch and connect with her.
The nurse laid her on the warmer, and my sister started immediately snapping photos. She got some awesome shots, which I am very grateful for! I could hear Mom crying....like we all knew she would. Jon and I inspected Ántonea from her perfectly round head to her tiny sweet toes. We talked to her, touched her and began inhaling the scent of her.
I think new babies are amazing creatures. For me, in my experience, it's like all of that wonder and potential of a new life is all wrapped up in one ball of energy. And for those first few moments, that energy is surrounding the baby, becoming a part of her....and eventually absorbed by her never to be seen on the "outside" again. But for those precious, mesmerizing moments....we get to see with the human eye what love looks like.
Everyone took their turn to meet Nea. Mom held her, my sister held her, and of course Jon and I sat and held her for awhile. Her eyes were goopy, but she was awake and alert. Babies have that golden 2-3 hours after birth before they fall into a deep sleep. It's the perfect time to breast-feed them....which is exactly what we did. After my mom and sister left, Jon and I were left alone with Nea and it was time to start our breastfeeding relationship.
Of course Nea knew exactly what she was doing....me...well, I knew what to do in theory, but really had to get good with the dexterity of it all! Nea was able to move to the breast by herself...no forceful latching on. She did it on her time table.....which was something I felt strongly about wanting. The "breast crawl" is a primitive instinct we are all born with and it's amazing to watch. That feeling is about 10-fold when you are participating in it!
Just for clarification, I have been inducing lactation for several months now. I have been pumping, and taking herbs that help with milk production. Right now, I do not have enough milk to sustain life but Nea and I use an SnS. An SnS is a bottle, that has a tiny tube that comes out of it. The tube is placed right next to my nipple. As Nea suckles at the breast, she gets milk from the tube. She has to use the same power and the same motion to get the milk from the tube, just as she would from my breast alone. I may not ever make enough milk to sustain life, and if I don't that's okay. Nea and I can continue our breastfeeding relationship with my breast milk or with supplement milk. Breastfeeding is more than just "feeding" at the breast....but mothering at the breast. For us, it was crucial to our bonding with each other. Parents via surrogacy or adoption do this type of breastfeeding all the time with great success. We are another success story as well!
After Nea's time breastfeeding, it was time for her first bath. Jon and I watched close as the bath was given, talking and touching her. I had plans to give her that first bath, but I was so exhausted by this time (20hours no sleep) I didn't trust myself with a slippery baby! After the bath, she was dressed only in a diaper and laid on my bare chest for 2 hours. It was my own body temperature that warmed her back up. Words cannot describe what it felt like to have my child's heart beating right next to mine. It's a moment that changed me and how I looked at everything in the world from that moment on.
It has been amazing to watch her change, learn about the world around her. Her Papa and I fall in love with her every single day.
.....all of this I have, because a friend came to me with a crazy idea, perseverance to meet any obstacle and love that only few can know.