Thursday, May 19, 2011

Making a Mother’s Day

Alternate title: For Amity  See, it’s a pun! Amity is my friend and “amity” means friendship! You should all have a friend whose name means friendship. It just makes life better.

This year marked my second Mother’s Day. Well, it marked my second Mother’s Day as a mom. I’ve actually acknowledged my own mother for years now. Probably for as long as I’ve known her. (I’m guessing.) And Mother’s Day is great – if you’re a mom. If you’re not, it’s more likely a day that you remember with just enough time to join the throng of Hallmark shoppers, jammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the tiny aisles, searching for the right card… one that mixes humor with love, thankfulness with poop jokes. (You know you’ve seen them.)

Yep, I love Mother’s Day. And I’ll have photos up from my MD fun soon, but this post? Well, this post is actually about my wonderful, beautiful, giving “mother” of a friend, Amity.

Seven years ago, Am became the first of my close friends to become a mommy, and almost five years ago she added a second love to her fabulous family. It was a role that just came so naturally to her, and I really don’t think I’ve ever seen her happier than she is when she’s with her kiddos. She’s nurturing and patient and makes me pause sometimes to think, hmmm... maybe I could handle more than one. Then I glance over to see Charlie dancing on the storage trunk that she’s just managed to scale, and I come to my senses.

Amity though? Well, she was meant to be a mom.

It’s funny, within just a few months of giving birth the first time, I remember Am saying that she could see herself being a surrogate one day. I, of course, attributed that to a rush of some sort of superwoman hormones, but it stuck with me.

Then, early last year, I became a mom. And when Charlie was about one month old, I received a beautiful email from Amity, who probably doesn’t know that I saved it. (Point of clarification: emails aren’t necessarily an impersonal way of communicating for us – especially when one of us is hard to get in touch with due to, oh say, a newborn being in charge of everything. Everything.)

Am’s message explained that something had been weighing heavily on her heart, and that she had begun the very slow process of becoming a gestational surrogate. 

In her own beautiful words:
     I literally woke up one morning and felt like the wool had been removed from my eyes. I saw my kids and my life with fresh eyes. I saw how wonderful my family is and was overwhelmed by this feeling of my family being complete. Every day since then I have woken up with this feeling of peace and contentment. 

     I think that seeing you with your daughter has just reinforced this notion I have, that so many people are meant to be mothers. Life hands people all kinds of things, and I feel like not all women were meant to carry or grow babies, but that doesn't mean they aren't meant to be mothers.

     To be able to give someone the same amazing life with children that I have would be amazing.  I have my children, I relish them and love every bit of them.  I want that for everyone I know.  And if I can help someone to get that, it doesn't take much thought. In the end I get to see a family completed. 

Amazing, right? You know what’s more amazing, though? She did it. My dear, sweet friend made a family for someone else. And just in time for Mother’s Day.


It was decided pretty early on that, wanting to maintain some sense of normalcy, it made more sense for Amity’s husband to stay with their kids when the big day came. And that, my friends, meant that I was able to be Amity’s “person” in the delivery room, and I joked for weeks that I was going to doula the hell out of her.

At first I was a little lost. The last time I did this, I was in the other seat and all that I really remember "needing" was to get that baby out. But I figured it out. Boo-yah, doula on! Before the epidural was called for, I was actually helpful, providing counter-pressure to Amity's hip during contractions. (That was funny, really. Amity couldn't see what I was doing, but it took all of my might, leaning as hard as I could into her with my feet planted in what I can only imagine was some sort of strange wrestler-like lunge. But hey, it worked!)

Once the epidural was in, well... I didn't have much to do other than break out the camera.

Note: This begins the not-too-graphic photo part of the post.

Here, an incredibly uncomfortable Amity waits as patiently as possible while the epidural is being prepped. One of her goals going into the birth was to go into labor on her own and see if she could make it epidural-free. At about six centimeters she decided that natural labor - especially when it feels like your hips are being ripped out of their sockets! - is just fine. For someone else.

Well, that's just much better! We learned that you're allowed to have whatever clear foods and beverages you want during labor, including coffee, but not with cream. Who knew? (I wasn't offered anything during Charlie's birth, probably because I was too busy puking in the corner.)

I stayed by Amity's side - or rather, her head - during the actual birth, and it was perfect. The baby's parents stood on either side of her, helping bring their little girl into the world. (In response to the look on most faces when it gets to this part of the story, Amity normally clarifies that both parents are trained medical professionals. So just relax! Geeze, you'd think no one's ever watched their baby being born out of someone else's body before...)

The baby was (and is!) beautiful. A full head of hair, totally kissable cheeks, and oh, did I mention HUGE?

Daddy was the first to kiss his precious girl. To see the joy on M&J's faces really was priceless. I'd get up in the middle of the night (or, in this case, at 5:15 in the morning) everyday if it meant seeing a family completed.

I kept Amity's hubby updated all morning on the progress she was making via text message. (Technology, I love you sometimes. Mwah!) And just like magic, he and the kids happened to be around the corner when Baby A arrived. They were able to make it to the hospital to see their mommy and meet the baby she'd been growing for another mommy "whose tummy was broken" before the rest of the visitors arrived. Look at those faces! They're as beautiful as their mom.

And here's Baby A with the woman, my friend, who helped bring her to her family. I know I've already over-used these words in this post, but come on! Beautiful. Amazing. Wonderful.


Amity, you made a family. Happy Mother's Day.

(And yes, I know I'm late on this one, too. But really, it wouldn't be me if I'd written this on Mother's Day, would it?)

By the way, in case any of my two readers were wondering, Amity has a blog, too. (Click on the word "blog" to find your way there.) She does a much better job of explaining everything that went into the surrogacy, which makes sense since it’s her story!

My own Mother's Day photos will follow soon enough, but for now, I want to celebrate Amity: friendship and my friend.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's not too late for Easter, is it?

I figure at this rate, I should have a nice, complete Mother's Day update by the time Father's Day rolls around. And a Father's Day post by Labor Day. And a Labor Day post by... well, you get the idea.

So without further ado, here is one slightly stale "How we spent our Easter" post.

Alternate blog title: Are you happy now, Amity and Catey?
(That's right. I called you out for calling me out being supportive and encouraging and urging me to write more. That'll teach you thanks!)

Up first, a Thurb-Bunny. I can only assume that he was downstairs keeping a lookout for a more traditional Easter mascot. I repaid his dedication to protecting the family and his food dish by hiring someone to shave him. No, really, I did. Photos to come on that one later. Maybe by Christmas.

And this? Well, this is Charlie with her very first Easter basket. No, it's not her first Easter, but I am a terrible mother hell-bent on ruining every holiday with lack of festivities and late blog posts didn't think a three month old (last year) would appreciate a basket full of sugar quite as much as a 15-month-old (this year). That, and a year ago I was much better about what I ate since the kid was nursing, like, every half hour. This year? Bah! Sure, she still wanders up to me asking for milk, but it's a lot easier to distract her with a Cadbury Creme Egg these days.

(Embarrassing admission: I had to look up whether it was "creme" or "cream." If we had any of them left, I'm pretty sure I'd have to give one up as punishment.)

Oh, and by the way, the basket clenched in Charlie's lil' hands was once clenched in my lil' hands, but I find it hard to believe that mine were ever as cute as hers.

In addition to candy, the Easter Bunny also tried to make my kid smarter. 

Stupid Bunny.

(Tweety Bird basket from Grandma Vickie & Grandpa Joe!)
The magic of the aforementioned Cadbury Creme Eggs is seen below. (Don't worry Charlie, you're not the first person to display a double chin in the presence of a Cadbury Egg.)

If you ask Charlie, however, the real magic of the Easter basket was not the candy (though it was good), and it certainly wasn't the flashcards (pfft!).

It was the pink "grass" that somehow got spread all over the living room. 

If only we knew how that happened...

Skip ahead a few hours. Have some time to kill? You should probably just follow someone around taking their picture. People love that. Especially toddlers.

The real point of these pictures is to point out that after much hemming and hawing, I cut Charlie's hair. OK, that sounds more impressive than the reality of me grabbing a flap of her long, born-with-it hair and snipping it to be the same length as her grew-in-later, thicker hair. But still, first haircut!

And it happened just before Easter, so it belongs in this post, right?

Charlie is clearly delighted with her new 'do.
Easter basket? Check!
Educational toy? Check! (And eye roll.)
Haircut? Check!

It must be time for a bit of egg hunting at Gramma Kate and Grampa Greg's house.

Yes, yes, it is.

Charlie's buddy (and surrogate big sister) Jordyn helped teach Charlie the ropes. For the record, Jordyn is a very patient teacher. Charlie is a less receptive student.

Unless you count her dedication to mastering a surly, "Don't tell me to pick up these eggs, I didn't drop them out here!" demeanor, in which case, A+!

So, Easter eggs? Blah.

Big, rubber ball? Suh-weet! And also worthy of some very deep, introspective thinking.

And then there was the obligatory Easter family photo. Obligatory because I SAID SO! Nah, everyone was delighted with my suggestion that we pose for a family shot. Charlie couldn't get enough. She just wanted us to keep asking her to stay still and look at the camera. She was nothing but smiles and joy.

Or not.

Is it just me, or does she look like she's really contemplating the merits of spitting on my head?
But, BUT! We got one. Sure, Joe might be the only one facing the camera, but thanks to the angle on my girl and me, my friend Sue pointed out that Charlie's nose wrinkles like mine when she smiles. And that, family and friends, is worth her thinking about spitting on me.

What a difference a year makes!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. And Mother's Day. And, well, have a Happy Thanksgiving, too, in case I don't get to tell you that until next February.

(OK, one more embarrassing admission: I totally airbrushed the bags out from under my eyes in the "Last Year" photo. True, I couldn't erase the dead-tired look in my gaze, but at least my skin looks fresh!)