It’s Thanksgiving today. I’m sitting in my mother-in-law’s dining room, listening to my raucous family in the next room, laughing, playing games, and (for the moment) entertaining my children. I’d like to say that I’m sitting here quietly reflecting on all the things I have to be thankful for (spoiler alert: quite a lot), but who am I kidding? I am sitting here grabbing a few moments of peace while trying to digest the fourth helping of mashed potatoes I’ve had today. Have you ever had the potato-sweats? It’s like the meat-sweats, only saltier.
This is the first moment I’ve had to reflect on the past week, which was pretty incredible. The visit from the daddies included our anatomy scan, a meeting with the hospital, trips to Toys R Us and Buy Buy Baby, lots and lots of meals, and a talk at the synagogue, all compounded by some ridiculousness at work. What struck me the most was how close I felt to the daddies, how comfortable it was just to be with them. We’ve only met in person once before at our match meeting, but the events of the past several months (you know…me getting knocked up with their babies) have made us like family. I was so sad to see them go, and not just because they kept me so well fed.
Their visit began with a quick tour of the JCC where they are quite famous amongst my coworkers. Then they took me and Mike out to dinner at La Fondue, where we enjoyed a long, lingering meal, sometimes chatting about the babies but mostly just chatting about nothing in particular, enjoying each other’s company.
The next morning, the three of us grabbed some breakfast (which I insisted on paying for to assuage my guilt for the very expensive pots of cheese and chocolate from the night before). Then we headed to the doctor for the much anticipated anatomy scan. This is the scan where the tech measures every little part of each fetus, and it was incredible to watch. I could see the folds of their brains, the texture of their kidneys, every little bone in their hands and feet. This was the first ultrasound the daddies got to see first-hand, and I reveled in every little gasp, sigh, and comment. It felt so good to have them there with me, sharing in this pregnancy.
“Do you have any guesses about the sexes?” the tech asked.
“We already know Baby B is a boy,” I replied. “Gil thinks A is a boy, too, and Tomer thinks it’s a girl.”
“Well, Tomer is right!,” she said. “Baby A is a girl!” That’s when the waterworks really started. Gil and Tomer both began texting their families, spreading the news.
The rest of the scan went quickly, and we met with the perinatologist briefly. Both fetuses are developing wonderfully, and the doctor said my cervix looks beautiful. It’s not every day a girl gets a compliment about her cervix!
After the scan, we popped over to Labor and Delivery to speak with the nurse manager about the logistics of the birth itself. Turns our Kaiser is pretty accommodating. I will have to deliver in the OR (apparently standard procedure for twins), and normally only one other person is allowed to be present. For us, they will let both dads be in the delivery room. The only bummer is that Mike can’t be in there, so I don’t get a support person. But I have a feeling Tomer will want to be up near my head anyhow (because really, who wants to see all that?), and he can probably shout, “Breathe!” as well as anyone. Once we’re in the postpartum ward, the daddies will get their own room next to mine, and the babies will room in with them. They can be brought to me to nurse or, if I’m recovering well, I can pop next door. Just one big party! Hopefully, after a few days, we will all be released at the same time.
After the meeting at the hospital, the daddies dropped me back off at work (for a verrry long evening, it turned out), and then met Mike and the kids at Toys R Us. They ended up with an awesome remote control car. All Gil would tell me about the evening was that he was impressed with Mike’s patience and parenting skills. Ummm…uh oh. The next day, I played hooky from work and, after yet another delicious meal out, I took the daddies to Buy Buy Baby to give them the lowdown on baby gear.
Next came Shabbat dinner, cooked by Tomer and my mom. Delicious, of course. Once again, just like back in June, the daddies blended right in with my family. The next morning, I headed over to Beth David to give my talk. I was really nervous, not so much because I was worried about people’s reactions to surrogacy, but mostly because I hate public speaking. It went really well, though. I was glad I didn’t prepare much because it ended up feeling really natural. The rabbi started things off with some basic thoughts about the conservative movement’s position on surrogacy (mostly positive), then he turned it over to me. I told the basic outline of my story so far and then opened it up to questions. I told people they could ask me anything, and they did, although no one was disrespectful. Everyone seemed really interested, and I was really proud to be an advocate for this beautiful process.
After one last meal that evening, it was time to say goodbye. I can’t believe I won’t see the dads again until the birth! Tomer made a few hints that he might think about coming to stay a few weeks early in late March, just to be safe. I hope he decides to do that, for a couple of reasons. I am terrified that I will go into labor early and the dads won’t be here for the birth. What gets me through all those hard evenings is thinking about that moment the babies are born, when I will get to hand these amazing people their children. I think I would be devastated if they miss it. Oh, and less selfishly, I want Gil and Tomer to have the experience of watching their kids be born. I also think it would be awesome for at least one of them to be around, in the trenches, those last few weeks. Those of you who have been through a pregnancy (as either the preggo or the preggo’s partner) know that those last few weeks are some of the most intense. The aches, the pains, and the fluids that leak out of embarrassing places. The insatiable hunger and the maddening inability to eat more than a few bites because your stomach is smushed up against your sternum. The Braxton-Hicks, the cervical pain, the sleeplessness. And the amazing things, too. The strong, reassuring kicks. Watching your belly jump rhythmically when the baby gets the hiccups. I want the daddies to experience all of this. (And I wouldn’t complain if they fed me, too.)
I am halfway done with this journey. It hasn’t all been easy, but it’s been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Here is to smooth sailing in the second half.