Editor’s note: This is part two in a series of birth stories I will be sharing over the next few months featuring a wide range of women and their birth experiences. This is also the second birth story that Meegs has generously shared with us (read her first story here). I’m so appreciative of this opportunity to read about her surrogate birth experience, as I think this is a different kind of pregnancy than most of us are familiar with. (If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to see how.) ~Olivia
I was so immensely lucky to have two amazing midwife attended birth center births. The first was 6 years ago (as of February), the birth of my daughter Gwenivere. The second was just over a year ago (as of January), the incredible experience of birthing my “surrobaby,” the little boy I carried for his gorgeous family.
I felt much more prepared for round two. Though a quick look at birth stories can tell you just how different second labors can be, I at least went in knowing that my body was ready and able, and that this child would be coming out! What I didn’t know was just how much faster it would be this time around, in all ways!
I was only 37.5 weeks, when I headed to bed Thursday night with big plans for my Friday off… things like packing my labor bag, and pulling out and testing the pump (oops). I felt uncomfortable and sore the whole night, but not really crampy. I only slept off and on. I jumped out of bed at 3:20 a.m. because my water broke in a big way. I got to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and out came so much fluid. The contractions started then, about 5 minutes apart, not too bad (I could easily breathe through them).
I got cleaned up, grabbed one of my super sized postpartum pads to put on, and got myself dressed. I spent the next 20 minutes packing a bag to take while calling the birth center, who told me to come in, my mom (to come down with Gwen), and texting the parents. I woke Trav up then so he could grab stuff for his own bag, while I found pumping supplies, then we headed out.
It was a half hour to the birth center and we got there around 4:30 a.m. While in the car my contractions had picked up so they were about every 3 minutes, bordering on 2 minutes, lasting a minute and I had to shift around and breathe through them with more concentration. (Side note: laboring in a car sucks!)
When we arrived they checked me and I was at 5 cm. They checked my vitals, got me hooked up to an IV (needed antibiotics since I was GBS+), and listened to his heartbeat. All sounded good so they had Trav run the tub for me. I got in there and labored in there for about an hour (they unhooked me from the IV once I got a dose of the antibiotics).
Contractions were hard, but the water helped a lot and I was able to breathe through them well until the very end. The midwife noticed I was starting bear down without realizing it so asked if I would mind getting out to be checked. I had gone from 5cm to just a little lip of cervix left in just over an hour!
So I got on the bed to get ready to start pushing. The contractions were harder to deal with outside of the water, and that lip also got stuck and he wasn’t moving down, so the midwife ended up having to reach up there and push it out of the way (twice) which was honestly a bit excruciating. However, once that was done, he finally started descending. He still was moving down a bit slowly, but his heartbeat sounded great and he was moving, so they weren’t concerned (afterwards from the angle of his conehead, they figured out that his head was coming down a bit angled, and they think his hand was by his face).
I pushed for about an hour total, and at the end the pressure was so amazingly intense I had to talk myself into actually pushing. As with my first labor, Trav, the midwife, and the nurse were all so wonderful and encouraging.
My little surrobaby was born at 6:50 (3.5 very fast hours after labor started). The midwife said that if we weren’t completely sure of my dates, that she would have thought he was a 40-weeker. His second Apgar was a perfect 10. He, Trav, and I stayed at the birth center for 12 hours while they monitored us.
I pumped and gave him bottles, we both slept well, and he was basically a champ all day. At the end of the day, when the women from the surrogacy agency came to take him for the night (until the parents could arrive), it felt right to hand him over to her and head home (where I slept better then I had in months!).
Besides the actual labor story, people are always filled with questions when it comes to surrogacy. After the birth of my daughter, Gwenivere, we pretty quickly realized that our urge for children was satisfied. We were one and done. There was something else though, in the back of my mind, a lingering feeling that I wasn’t done being pregnant.
There were numerous reasons, some selfless (knowing how amazing it was to have a baby, I wanted to help others to have that who couldn’t do it themselves for whatever reason) and some absolutely selfish (I didn’t think my first pregnancy would be my only pregnancy! I wanted to go through one enjoying it as my last). In the end it came down to much soul searching, a willing and supportive husband, and a fabulous match through an agency.
Surrogacy, from beginning to end, was amazing for me. The pregnancy was completely about the journey, and not at all about the destination. I was healthier and more active that time around, which led to a much more enjoyable experience overall. Emotionally it was completely different as well. I call my surrobaby “boy of my heart,” and that he is, but he was never mine. I adore him, as I do my nieces and nephews, but the love is so different then what I have for Gwen.
People question how I was able to hand him over, but it wasn’t hard because that is the only way it was ever going to be. Again, he was never mine (biologically or emotionally), he was always theirs, and so handing him over felt beautiful, right, and satisfying; the culmination of a year of anticipation and excitement.
That my labor was such an empowering one was truly the icing on the cake! How lucky I was to have two amazing births, to bring into this world two amazing kids!
Meegs is a birth doula at Rooted Breath and a yoga teacher in training; which she balances with being the mother to an energetic, sassy, loving kindergartener named Gwen. Besides yoga, birth, and breastfeeding, her passions are reading, hiking, cooking, travel, and writing. She is a crusader for the environment and LGBTQ rights. You can find her writing regularly at A New Day, her online home for the past 13 years, or connect with her on Facebook or Instagram.