Monday, December 28, 2009

Completely, Wonderfully Preoccupied

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind. We welcomed our new addition and everything that goes along with having a newborn, celebrated Christmas, saw family in three different cities- some of whom I had not seen in 15 years!-, and have tried to adjust to being a family of five, all while getting two hours of sleep at a time! Whew! I'm tired. It's a good tired though. I am
so thankful for all God has blessed us with here, at the end of the year.

Abram is thriving. He is now a healthy, awake at night, asleep during the day, four week old. I love him so much my heart feels like it may burst. It's been hard to sit down and put it all in words for two reasons: 1. When I have a spare moment, I do things like shower or eat. 2. How do you put into words what I'm feeling!? I have no clue where to even begin. I'm hoping my heart and mind will get there eventually because I don't want to forget all this...I want it in a tangible form to relive.

Aubrey and Blaine have adjusted well. Aubrey is ever the little mother, watching out for her baby brother and doing things like fetching pacifiers and handing over diapers. Blaine minds his own business. He goes about life as though nothing has changed and the majority of the time it seems as though Abram is invisible to him. I did catch him telling Abram "It's okay little guy." this morning while Abram cried impatiently waiting to eat. Life is good.

Well, there's a quick update. Hopefully I won't be away so long this time. I hope you all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas like us! Next time, I hope to have time to post pictures too :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The moment we'd all been waiting for...


Dawn started having contractions last Sunday morning at 2am. She let me know around 2:45, but she wasn't sure it was the real thing. This was her 7th delivery and she has always been induced- NEVER had natural labor. We texted back and forth for awhile and then at 4:30, she went to the restroom and saw she was bleeding lightly. She decided it was probably time to get to the hospital- not that anything was wrong, but that that meant it was real. She was still pretty comfortable and really wanted to labor as long as possible at home, but decided she should be checked just to be safe. We got to the hospital about 6am, they checked her and said she was 7-8cm! We were shocked. They went ahead and ordered her epidural. It took about 15 min, they came in gave it to her and broke her water. Almost immediately, Abram had a big decel in heart rate. They had her turn on her side and put the O2 on her. It worked for about 15 sec and then his heart rate skyrocketed. They put on an internal monitor and found it was even higher 220+ and not coming down. The doctor said he was going to watch it for 2 min and if it didn't come down, they would head for the OR. He checked her again, about 15 secs after he said that, and she was bleeding dark red blood. He said "That's it! Let's move!" He told us he thought there was a possible placental abruption. They took her back and so began the scariest 35 min of my life! It's impossible to describe what it's like to sit in an empty labor room, staring at a clock tick, while fearing for the lives of your unborn child and your best friend. Makes me cry just thinking about that morning. We went from arriving at the hospital at 6am to delivery by emergency c-section at 7:17am. He came out screaming and good. Doctor really thinks the placenta had begun to detach early. The whole thing could have ended much differently, but I'm ecstatic to report that both Abram and Dawn are well. God is so good!

Abram stayed for a mere 24 hours, being born at 37 weeks 1 day (not too shabby on timing :). He's a delightful baby and nursing is going wonderfully. Aside from his very first feeding post-birth (by the nurses in the nursery..ugh!), he has been exclusively breastfed! We are now a happy family of 5.

Without further ado, presenting James "Abram" Bello, born November 29, 2009 at 7:17am, weighing 7lbs 7oz and 19 3/4 in long. Carried, with love, for nine months by his surro-mom, Dawn.






Monday, November 16, 2009

Family/Surrogacy Pictures

We got together with Dawn and her family last weekend to take some pictures. My dear friend Rachel manned (womanned?) the camera and we got some great shots. Dawn is 34 weeks pregnant in these...
The above picture is all the kids, Dawn's and mine, hands on her ever growing belly. I love it. It reminds me of all the love it took to get here and how this really has been a joint effort between two families. Surrogacy, specifically Dawn, has blessed me more than I could ever put into words. I am looking forward to holding our sweet boy in the next few weeks and seeing the joy on both our families' faces when each of us sees him for the first time. He is one fortunate little guy to have so many people love him already!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween '09

Saturday, we headed to our dear friends', Rachel and Tony's, for what is becoming our Halloween tradition. We meet for dinner, trick-or-treating, and then Rachel and I set up for what our church lovingly calls the "after party". Our church does our October outreach on Halloween night. Three or four families volunteer to have large bounce houses set up in front of their homes during trick-or-treat hours and as kids come to bounce and get candy, members or our church give their parents pamphlets telling them about us. Rachel decided last year that she would invite all of the church over to their home afterwards for a party and I volunteered to help her get ready. It's a great time. This year her girls were a princess and a vampiress (?). My Blaine was a ninja and Aubrey was Dorothy from the "Wizard of Oz". One other friend from church, a witch, came by to trick-or-treat with the kids and they were off. Everyone had a great time (even though early on Blaine fell and busted up most of the movable joints on his body. One day that boy will learn that he's too clumsy to run!). Rachel, being the smart person she is, snapped this picture. I'm a horrible mom and took none. I don't normally think that Aubrey and Blaine look alike, but in this picture, I think they do. I cannot wait to see who Abram looks like in four short weeks!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Still Here...

We made attempt #2 at seeing Abram's face. Nope, he was not having it. I guess he wants to save some mystery for the big day. Ultrasound estimated his weight to be 3lb 7oz at 30 weeks, so he's a big boy :) and everything looks great. Now, we patiently wait.

With just under 6 weeks left, I'm busy with getting everything where it needs to be for his arrival. It's been a long time since there has been a baby in our family and
I'm kinda nervous.

On the pumping front, I am now up to 2-4oz a day-most days, sometimes it's less, but I'm hopeful that my supply will increase soon. I have 44oz in the freezer and am so looking forward to nursing.

Here are a couple pictures Dawn and I took a couple of weeks ago, at 30 weeks:
Isn't she just the cutest? :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abram's 3D

We attempted a 3D/4D ultrasound. Just as I feared, Abram was not very cooperative. He has his head buried in Dawn's right hip, his hands up at his face, and his umbilical cord in his face and all around. We go back this Friday to try again at some better pictures. Here is the one good one we got. You can see his sweet face and his cord up at his neck (not sure if it's around his neck, but it's not tight, thankfully. We'll be talking to the doctor about it.)
Abram 3D

We go on the 12th for a growth scan and to get all the paperwork at the hospital done. Then, we have an appointment on the 14th to go over it all. Dawn is consistently measuring a week ahead and even the ultrasound tech at the 3D/4D place commented on how small Dawn is, but how big Abram is. It's clear he's already got chubby arms, cheeks, and tummy. So, we're eager to see what the growth scan shows and what they say about the cord.

As for inducing lactation, it's going well. I'm making about an ounce a day now. It may not seem like much, but to me, it's incredible! I've got 8 weeks to build up my supply and so far, I'm impressed with my body.

I cannot wait to meet my little boy! (I bet you knew that :)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Busy With Great Things

The above is a picture of Dawn (l), Rachel (r), and me (center) at the baby shower they threw for me last weekend. It was wonderful. Not only did we get lots of things we needed (it's been 8 long years since we've had a baby and had zero, zilch, nada), it was also a wonderful time of fellowship. I am forever grateful for all their hard work-plus, Kelly, who was sick :( It is such a great feeling to know that people like you enough to do something like this for you!

Also, I've been pumping for 11 days now. I pump every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night. So, needless to say, I'm exhausted. I know it will be worth it and I cannot wait to breastfeed my sweet baby boy in 9 short weeks, but this is hard work!

We have a 3D/4D ultrasound this Saturday. I'll be sure to post lots of pictures. Until then...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An Open Letter to Abram

Dear Abram: my sweet, sweet boy,
We are knocking on the door of 27 weeks pregnant. I have been struggling these past couple of weeks. Struggling with how to put into words all I am feeling at this time and what you mean to me. Everyday we're closer to holding you and kissing that sweet head of yours...it's unbelievable. The fact that I could love you, with every fiber of my being, having never touched you or even felt you move inside of me, is mind blowing. You, before you were even conceived, were loved and ours. The whole thing is something that is difficult for anyone who hasn't been here to understand.

Some days it gets to me- the fact that I don't know you. I wish it were possible for me to know your in utero personality, to feel you kick from the inside, to know that you know me, but it's not. And, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the second best thing to that, is living it through your Aunt Dawn. She tells me all about you and how you love to wiggle inside, how you don't let her sleep at night, and how she already knows you are the sweetest baby there is :) God brought us the absolutely perfect person to bring you into this world. She has helped me through this in ways that no one, but her, to a certain point, and I will ever "get" and she loves you so much! I am so thankful that I can sit back and trust that she is taking care of you in just the way I would, if it were me.

As we count down the days, your brother and sister wait so eagerly for you! They are overjoyed with having a new baby brother and I know they will cherish you. I cannot wait for the moment I get to introduce you to them!

The longing I feel is really indescribable. I dream of you every night, and have for 3+ years. I ponder what you'll be like, what you'll look like, what you'll smell like. I cannot wait for it all to become reality and I want to cherish every second. I know now that parenting is not about just getting by, one day at a time. It is about enjoying your child and recognizing what a privilege it is to watch them grow. I plan on doing that with you. So, until we meet in 75 short, but so long, days, I'll see you in my dreams and watch and feel your Aunt Dawn's tummy move every chance I get. I love you dear boy!

Your Mom

Friday, September 4, 2009

Doing Much Better...

Well, it seems that I finally beat the infection! WHOO!! HOO!! I'm feeling much better and have even gotten back on the low carb wagon. I have two weeks, from today, until I start my pumping regimen for inducing lactation and I'm hoping to be to my goal weight by then (no dieting while nursing for me).

Yep, I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I am going to breastfeed. During the three years I longed for another child, in every dream I had of him, I was nursing. I did not even know if it was possible so, when we decided to go forward with surrogacy, I began to research. I am on a drug regimen of hormones, vitamins, and a digestive drug whose side effect is production of prolactin (one of the hormones that stimulates milk production for which they do not make a synthetic form). Two weeks from today, I will stop the hormones and replace them with two different herbs, and begin pumping. The idea is to have my supply built up enough that when the baby arrives, I am able to exclusively nurse. I am so hopeful that will be the case and I really can't wait! Pumping will be hard, especially since I'll be pumping at least once during the night, but I know it will be worth it. I'll keep you posted :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rolling Along...

Things have just kinda been here. We enjoyed our second honeymoon and returned to real life at a pretty fast pace. I came down with a mysterious bacteria while we were gone and have been fighting it ever since (3 weeks!). We think I'm finally on the mend, but it has taken a lot out of me.

The kids went back to school this past Monday and so far, so good. I can't believe that we already have a 3rd and a 4th grader!

We've also been working on the nursery :) It's work, but fun work. Aubrey has moved into her new bedroom- the old guest room- and her old room has become Abram's room. We're almost done and it feels good and real.

Dawn is doing well and Abram is a healthy, active 24 weeks on Saturday! Viability!!! This is a huge milestone. I fully expect him to be born a completely healthy full term baby, but it's wonderful to know that if something unexpected happened at this point, he could live outside the womb.

That's about all for now. I'm off to the doctor for the second time this week and hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel for this infection!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time to Celebrate


Ten years ago this Thursday, Brandon and I walked into a church and entered into a covenant- between God, myself, and him. We met September 4, 1998 at a Sulphur High football game. I had graduated from high school the May prior and he had recently moved to Sulphur to start his career as a Chemical Engineer. He was invited by a man at work to the game and I had gone with a friend. Brandon happened to be sitting with a guy I graduated with and we sat near them to visit. I instantly was smitten :) Him, notsomuch. I decided not to let him get away. I pursued him until he gave in. By mid-June, we realized we were going to be together forever, so why wait!? We married six weeks later and haven't looked back. That wonderful day, we were surrounded by our closest friends and family and promised to love one another forever. We decided to write our own vows. Brandon, ever the musician, sat at a grand piano in the front of the church and sang his to me. The line that stuck out was when he promised to give his life for me as Christ gave His life for the Church. Then, I stood in front of him, index card in hand, and read my vows to him. I found them the other day in a box of pictures...tear stained and all. Here is what it said...
Brandon-
From the first day we met at that Friday night football game, I felt in my heart that this day would come. You were the one who needed convincing. I had prayed for that special someone from the time I knew what that meant. Something happened to me when I saw you. I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I let you get away. I know everyone laughs when I say God was steering my car that Monday when I went by your house, but I truly believe that. Now, I stand before some of the most important people in our lives and promise to love until the God who unites us, separates us. This is the most important promise I have ever made and I will keep it. Through the good and the bad, there is not a single part of me that doubts that. There is no one I would rather make this covenant with. I pray we will have a marriage other people will respect. There was once a time when the only thing that made me believe that love existed were the songs on the radio. Those days are over, my prayers have been answered, and one day our children will know love exists because of our model. They will look at us and pray that one day they will have a love like their mom and dad. I love you!
I'm happy to say that I still feel that way, ten years later. Brandon, thank you for everything you are to me and our children. You are a man of God, a husband people envy, and a father that your children will speak highly of. I love you more than anything in this world, even more today than ten years ago. You are my world.

We're off to enjoy a second honeymoon. Be back next week :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Preparing...

I have begun to shop. I have become a complete etsy addict and have tons of cute stuff on order. I also ordered my gDiapers (so super cute!). It's all really exciting. I am such a different person than I was when Aubrey and Blaine were babies...never in a million years did I think I would be using any form of cloth diapers or wearing my baby, but I am planning on it. And, today, my MobyWrap arrived! It got here and I messed with it a little bit (and quickly learned I am going to need some practice). A little while later, Aubrey disappears into my bedroom. She reappeared with a scarf from my closet and her baby doll like this:
She spent the afternoon with her baby in her "wrap". It was really sweet and made me realize how incredibly happy I am that she is going to have the opportunity to see me be a mom to a baby. Blaine and her are only 14 months apart,so she has no memory of what it's like to have a baby in the house. I think these are really important lessons for her to learn as a child and I'm so glad I'm going to be the one to teach her. I'm sure when I start pumping in a few weeks and then when Abram arrives and I'm breastfeeding, things will get interesting :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ramblings of an emotional, not pregnant woman :)

I have a bad habit. Okay, I have more than one, but one in particular that is getting to me. I read about surrogacy- a lot. I get on google and read up on what different religious views are on surrogacy. I read about what people who are born to surrogates say. I read a lot about the maternal fetal bond and what that means. I read what critics of surrogacy say. Anytime there is an article by some nutcase that has no clue what surrogacy really is, I read it. I have a problem. This is really starting to take a toll on me. It's bad enough that there are ignorant people, whom I know in real life that I have to deal with, I don't need to get myself all worked up over people on the internet. I want so badly to be an advocate for surrogacy, but then I read and realize how far we have to come and I'm just not in the emotional state to defend myself. It is impossible to describe how I feel right now. The best word would be overjoyed, but that doesn't even do it completely. I read all the negative and I don't understand how people can't see the good in this process. I'm not an idiot either- I know some surrogacy agreements are less than ideal, but why are those the ones that the general public wants to focus on?!

And then there's real life...Dawn and I have a loving, mutually respectful relationship, no, friendship. I can't birth my own child. She can. She has given something that most people would never and instead of saying things like "Wow! You are a great person for doing that!" People say things like, "I could never give up a baby!" Seriously!? It's a good thing I didn't put my baby in you then! And on my side, I get the "You sure are doing it the right way! I hate being pregnant!" Are you kidding me!? Do people really think I'm that shallow!? Like I wouldn't give all that I have to be the one carrying my own child! Don't say things until you've thought them through! Pregnancy may not be a walk in the park for some people (I was not a happy, glowy pregnant woman.), but good grief! Who wouldn't want to carry their own child! And then I get the "What an easy way to have a baby!" Ughhhhh!!! Educate yourself! This process is far from easy! I could sit here all day and talk about all that we've gone through to get to this point, but I won't. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it is not easy finding someone we trust to carry our child, impregnating another woman with our biological child, etc. And don't get me started on the financial aspects and the things people have the nerve to say about that. We are not so wealthy we had nothing better to do with our money! We saved for two years and have done without some things because having another child was a priority for us. That's what you do when something means everything to you. And, NO, I am NOT worried that "she will keep the baby!" I did take the time to talk to her about that and know her just a bit better than you who have never even met her. But in case you're still worried about my character judgement and her intentions, yes, we did go to court and yes, the baby is legally and biologically ours- that was part of that "easy" process you referred to earlier in our conversation.

I apologize for my venting. I just had to get it out and if you read here, you're probably not one of the people who have offended me. I'm working on letting it all go and chalking it up to the fact that people will say anything when they don't know what to say. I'm also trying to stay away from surrogacy on the internet and let God handle the rest. I'm a work in progress...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Introducing (again!)...




I'm overjoyed to report that all is well with our sweet boy! He looks great: has all his organs in the right places and in the right quantities, is active and already super cute. Dawn is feeling well and assures us that he is already a wonderful baby :) He is measuring one week ahead and the doctor says he is likely to be a big baby. This has Dawn a little nervous, but it'll be okay ;) I've already apologized for his big head which is definitely my genes! AND...we have a name...James Abram. James is after Brandon's dad and grandfather and Abram because we like it. We will call him Abram and Brandon has grand visions of him going by J. Abram one day. That will be up to him though. We're halfway there... 4 1/2 months until we're holding baby Abram!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

7-8-09

Yesterday was a HUGE day for our family! It was my dear husband's 34th birthday and that would have been exciting enough, but it just kept getting better and better. I was able to cheat and get us a "sneak peek" at Baby Bello. It was wonderful! Dawn, her husband Roger, Brandon, and me, of course, were there, but it also worked out that my brother, Scott, and my mom came too. Most importantly, the ultrasound place allowed us to bring Aubrey and Blaine! I cannot even put into words how much it meant to me to sit with them on either side of me as we were able to watch their baby brother stretch and squirm. To see the looks on their faces was truly priceless. That' right! I said baby brother!!! We're having a boy! I am totally surprised. I just had a hunch all along that it was a girl. We can't all be right all the time :) I would have been 100% happy either way. It's hard to explain after longing for this baby for such a long time, but everything after being pregnant, is just extra. I cannot wait to hold my sweet little boy!


Then, at 11:03 last night, on his Uncle Brandon's birthday, our newest nephew came into the world! We are so thrilled for J & D and that Daniel Isaac has joined our family. What his birth mother has done is something I cannot begin to imagine. May God bless her and comfort her. Welcome to the family Daniel!

Missouri 2009

We had a great time! I love being able to travel and see my family. It's a shame we're so spread out though. I so wish I was able to spend more time with my sweet nieces and nephews (and their moms and dads). Here are a few highlights:

Sweet Evie girl and me

Evie giving me her big smiles :)

Blaine, me, and my sister, Amy

Kelly, Blaine, and Aubrey

Can't wait for next time already!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We're 15 weeks!


Well, today we made 15 weeks! I'm not sure why, but every week feels like a milestone at this point. Everyday this baby becomes more real to me. It truly is amazing. Dawn sent me this today...

Our baby is growing right along and Dawn looks more beautiful by the day! We are so blessed to be on this ride with her. I could not ask for more.

Well, I'm off to Missouri tomorrow morning for a visit with my sister and beautiful niece. Summer is busy around here :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Patiently Waiting (or not so much)

Seems like lately, I do a lot of waiting. I have never been the best in the area of patience, but this has been great practice. So, today, I am patiently waiting and praying for the things that are further out like our ultrasound on 7/21 and the baby, in general :) But also, I am waiting and praying for things more imminent. I have some health things going on and am waiting for them to be "figured" out (more on that to come, I'm sure and unfortunately). And on a much happier note, Brandon's sister and her husband are adopting their second son this week! It was an amazingly fast thing and we've only know since last Thursday that the baby was for sure theirs, but his birth mother is schedule to be induced tomorrow! So, they're on their way to Maine (where the baby will be born) now! I cannot wait to hear his stats, see his pictures, and know all is well! God is so good!

Friday, June 19, 2009

We're Baaaaacccck...


We had a great vacation. The weather was perfect, the water was clear and cool, the time was full of relaxing and fun- couldn't ask for anything more! Now, we are back to the "real" world, at least for now. I head, with the kids and the wonderful Kelly, to Missouri to visit my sister and niece next week for a week. Until then, home. I've been on the road a lot, trying to get all my visiting done before the baby comes.
As for a pregnancy update, everything is going perfectly! We have our big gender ultrasound scheduled for July 21st and I can hardly wait! I'm ready to be able to call this baby a "him" or a "her" and, most importantly, shop :)

Here are some pictures from our trip:










Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time...

I am really at a loss for where the time goes.  Everything has been a blur since Memorial Day.  My brother and I flew up to OH on Memorial Day and immediately drove approximately 2 hours to the funeral home in a little tiny, wonderful town.  We attended the visitation for our grandfather and then visited with family.  After that, we drove back about an hour to our hotel in another small town.  Tuesday morning, back to the funeral home for the funeral...sadness.  We went to lunch at the church hall after that and then visited with family some more.  Then, we drove back to my dad and stepmom's house in another speck on the map :) about 3 hours away.  Wednesday and Thursday morning were spent relaxing, visiting, and reminiscing.  Thursday afternoon, Scott and I drove about 2 1/2 hours to the airport and headed home.  I am so grateful we got to go and it was so nice to see everyone, aside from the circumstances, but whew!  Friday, I did house things.  Saturday, I drove Scott back to his home in Waco- about a 3 1/2 hour trip each way.  I was/am exhausted.  Now, it's Wednesday and this week has been spent playing "catch up" and preparing for our vacation.  We leave tomorrow morning for 10 days.  We'll spend tomorrow night in Baton Rouge (4 1/2 hour drive) at Brandon's parents and then, Friday morning, we head to Panama City (another 6 hours) for 8 days of much needed R&R.  We'll do the same thing the following week, but in reverse ;)  So, I'm spending today cleaning and packing (and blogging, obvs).  I cannot wait to be on the beach, relaxing, with an empty brain.  I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to post when we return to make everyone jealous!

On another note, today is the kids last day of school.  At day's end, I'll have a 4th grader and a 3rd grader!  Seriously!?  Where does the time go?!     

Pregnancy Update...

We are now 11 1/2 weeks along!  Everything is going great and Dawn is still saying this is her easiest pregnancy to date!  That makes my heart glad.  We should be finding out the sex of our little one sometime late July.  I cannot wait!  Then, I'll feel like I can finally start buying things.  So exciting!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Grandpa...

Herman Berry was my step-grandfather. My step-mom and dad married when I was 12 and her family accepted us immediately. Both of my blood grandfathers died when I was young, so for me, he was it. I cannot tell you what it means to me that their family put my name, my siblings' names, and my children's names in his obituary. He truly was exceptional... Herman H. Berry, 84, lived in LaRue. Date: He died Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 11:50 a.m. at Fairhaven Community in Upper Sandusky. Personal Information: Herman was born December 26th, 1924 in Kentucky to John Everett and Elizabeth (Chapman) Berry. He married Margaret Louise Clay November 28th, 1945. He was a WWII veteran serving in the Army Air Corp. He worked at National Cash Register as a collator operator, and then taught masonry at MCI and Tri-Rivers. He was a member of the Weak Enders Campers Club. He loved fishing, and getting the family together for cook outs. He had an exceptional sense of humor, lived life to the fullest and was a devoted husband and father. Survived By: His wife: Margaret Berry survives him along with three daughters: Loretta Dawson of Marion, Linda Gossett of Clarksville, Luana Mathew of LaRue, seven grandchildren: Cassandra Myers of Marion, Patrick Dawson of Marion, Chandra DeCan of West Manchester, Amy Penman of Columbia, Missouri, Heather Bello of Houston, Texas, Sara Kolax of Springfield, Missouri, Scott Gossett of Waco, Texas, eight great-​grandchildren:​ Bailey Myers, Ashley Phillabaum, Emma Sue DeCan, Brandon DeCan, Aubrey Bello, Blaine Bello, Carson Kolax and Evangeline Penman. His parents: John and Elizabeth Berry preceded him in death along with one grandson: Christopher Foster, three brothers: Kenneth Berry, Carl Berry and William Berry, one sister: Leona Lowman, one step-brother: James Johnson and one step-sister: Mary Purdin.

I'm off to Ohio, with my brother, for the funeral. I'm going to write a tribute to my Grandpa when I feel like I can. He more than deserves it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We've got a baby with rhythm...




As for today's ultrasound, everything looks fabulous.  Our baby was dancing away to the beating of Dawn's heart!  It was amazing.  He/she also appeared to wave at one point- truly a magical moment.  I will forever be grateful for these last few weeks.  Here's today's ultrasound picture at 9 weeks 2 days.  This will be the last one until the BIG ultrasound in about 8 weeks!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Weekend

Yesterday, my first born turned 9!  It really is amazing how quickly time passes.  She is growing up into a beautiful young woman, inside and out.  I am so blessed!  It was a great day.

I added a pregnancy widget to the blog.  To the right you can see the neat little ball that our baby bounces around in.  I looked at adding it just last week, but the baby looked disturbing: tail, weird head, and all.  Once again, I am amazed at the difference a week makes in gestational development.  We will have another (and probably last for a few weeks) ultrasound on Tuesday.  I'll be sure to update then.  Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and encouragement!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Growing...

It's amazing the difference a week, in utero, makes.  Last week our sweet baby was merely a blob with a heartbeat.  This week, we have a discernible head, arm buds, and leg buds.  A strong heartbeat at 163 beats per minute and a wiggly, fun to watch baby!  

Baby Bello 8 weeks 2 days- picture 1 is a length measurement, picture 2 is the heart rate, picture 3 is a full body profile shot with the head to the left and the ball at the feet being the yolk sac:









Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Special Treat

Here's a clip from our ultrasound yesterday- baby Bello at 7 weeks 2 days...such a miracle!

video
Edited to add:  THIS IS A VIDEO :)  Click the play button in the bottom left corner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Speechless, Astonished, and Amazed...

I have been blogging for 4 years. I don't have a huge following, but I do have a devoted group of friends and family (hi, Mom!) that like to read what I have to say. I love blogging. For me, it's been an outlet. I blog like some would keep a journal or diary. It's a place for me to chronicle our lives, vent, and share. I like to write and I am not usually one to be at a loss for words.

But, I've never been here before. This surrogacy journey has done things to me, already, that I cannot explain. I am without words. We went in today for our second ultrasound. Standing there looking at that black and white screen, I was overcome. There, in front of my eyes, was the child I have longed for, ached for in the deepest part of my soul for nearly 4 years. Amongst, the grainy, grey sea, a black void and within it, a perfectly tiny body. Within that perfectly tiny body, an itsy bitsy flicker that changed me forever...one perfectly formed, beating heart. I really can't describe what that moment was like, much less put it in comprehensible form for all to read. The thought that when we are but the size of a grain of rice, our heart begins to beat is mind blowing. That before we are fully formed, before any of our other organs function, our heart beats is incredible. I think there is a huge significance to the order in which we develop. The Bible tells us that God knows us even before we are formed in the womb and to think that while we went about our daily lives in the last week, doing our ordinary things, God started a tiny heart beating, well, I'm speechless. All I know to do is cry out to the God that loves me so much and thank Him for healing me from years of longing and breathing life into that tiny miracle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yesterday...

We had our first ultrasound! It was amazing! We were able to see one beautiful gestational sac and fetal pole. We go back next Tuesday, the 28th, for a repeat. By then, we should be able to see our baby's heartbeat. I am so blessed!

Now, I'm going to try to get myself motivated enough to clean this messy house and take a much needed shower. Wish me luck :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Complete and Utter Lack of Motivation...

Something is very "off". I can't put my finger on it, but I feel like the weight of the world has found a resting place firmly on my shoulders. I am exhausted. I am pretty sure I could stay in bed 24 hours a day and still be tired. I've had a headache since Friday and just can't seem to "wake up". Things were going along great and then the rain came Friday afternoon, I've been at a loss since. I am praying that God will give me peace about all the different situations I'm dealing with and energy to do what has to be done. Above all, I am praying for a healing of relationships that seem strained.

On a MUCH happier note, our ultrasound is tomorrow morning. I am so excited to be able to get a look at what is ahead of us :) Maybe God will provide all I am asking for through this miraculous journey.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beta #2...

14 days past 3 day transfer...862!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me just say that Dawn + our embryos=an incredible team! For those of you who know nothing about beta numbers, that is fantastic! They're well above the curve and we have a doubling time of 36 hours! Dr. G wants her to be tested again tomorrow morning and after we get that number, we'll schedule the ultrasound, but it looks like it will be Monday! I am so stinkin' excited!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The 1st Beta is Back...

Yesterday's beta (measurement of pregnancy hormone in the body), at 12 days past 3 day transfer was...345! For those of you not obsessed with beta numbers, that is GREAT! There is at least one strong baby in there, possibly more :) Dawn goes in tomorrow for a repeat. The number should double every 48 hours (usually less for multiples). We'll have an idea of the doubling time tomorrow and hopefully then we'll find out when our first ultrasound will be! I cannot wait!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

This Week Has Been a Ride...

I've been absent because, well, I've been without words. I know it's hard to believe, but the past week has left me speechless. We transferred two excellent embryos last Wednesday morning. It was an awesome day. Dawn was gracious enough to not only allow Brandon and I to be in the room for the procedure, but to advocate for us to be there. It was a truly life changing experience. We were able to watch as our two beautiful babies were gently put into Dawn's uterus to hopefully make a home for the next nine months! Neither of us will ever forget it! We took some time to have a little fun while waiting...
Brandon and me

Dawn and me

Brandon and me, dressed for the occasion :)

Dawn and Roger, dressed to impress!

After transfer, Dawn was on bed rest for three days. I took the opportunity to spend the days with her, hanging out and talking. It was really nice! Saturday, she was released to be upright again. We ventured into Houston to have lunch with some great ladies from the surrogacy community plus, Kelly and Vera. We had a great time and I tried sushi for the first time (don't know if I will again, but I impressed myself with my bravery!). Sunday, our families, plus Kelly and Vera (who are pretty much family, at this point!) had lunch and we decided we could not wait anymore...we had to test. It was way early, but we decided to get our negative out of the way, so we did. Monday, Dawn and two of her children came down with a terrible stomach bug. I was sick, too, but mine had to do with hyperstimulation of my ovaries (I'm on the mend now). Late Monday afternoon, the call came. Dr. G's nurse called and said that neither of our remaining embryos made it to freeze. It was a horrible end to a horrible day. Brandon and I were both heartbroken. It was a total shock and something I could have never prepared myself for. I really had no idea that I would instantly feel the way I do for those four embryos. I had no idea I would need to grieve for the two we lost. I don't know if it's something you can understand unless you've been there. I know I didn't. My mind began running with the "what-ifs" and began to wonder about the two we transferred...whether either of them were okay. Dawn and Roger were so wonderful and through this process have really felt everything along with us: the joy, excitement, frustration, worry, mourning, and all out terror...I'm sure there is a lot more to come, but I am so thankful for both of them! Dawn felt pregnant and said she was sure she was pregnant. She tested Monday night and got a faint positive! We tested three times yesterday: morning, noon, and night...all positive and getting darker! Dawn is definitely pregnant!!! In a matter of hours, God took our mourning and gave us hope! I am in complete awe of Him and the way He works all things to the good. Dawn will have her blood work done on Wednesday, the 15th and we'll find out about an ultrasound then. I cannot wait to see our baby (or babies!) and know that all is well!

Monday, March 30, 2009

This Post Brought to You by the Number: 4...

Our fertilization report just came in and we have four wonderful embryos growing! Dr. G thinks that my progesterone level had something to do with us only having half of my eggs fertilize. I was a little surprised at first, that the number was so low. Then, I was reminded that all along I have said that four would be perfect. We will transfer two on Wednesday and freeze two for another go. Now, I am just praying that those four continue to thrive and get their shot at life. I had no idea I would feel the way I do right now. It's hard to even put into words. God has worked everything out so beautifully and I have faith that He will not let us down. Now, just to keep my sanity...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Momentous Day...

Well, everything went great. The worst part of the entire thing was my nerves. I was making myself crazy waiting for them to take me to the OR. I guess what you really want to know is how many, right?! We got 8 eggs! I'm really happy with that number and had to laugh about it. Everyone I know has been picking on me saying "You're the next Octomom!", then we get 8 eggs...how perfect :) NOTE: We will only be using two, this time and freezing any we have over that number!

One thing interesting...Dr. Gill came in before they took me back and explained to me why he decided to do it today. The nurse had said, Friday afternoon, that my progesterone had taken a big jump and he didn't want me to ovulate. Well, Dr. Gill said that the reason my progesterone took that jump was because one or two of my follicles had already ovulated! The ovulated follicles release the progesterone and tell your uterus (if you have one :) that it's time to head into another phase of the process. He was concerned that the rest of the follicles would ovulate, so they triggered me immediately. He also said that if we had been putting the embryos back in me, we would have had to cancel the entire cycle because of the change to the uterus from this happening! I am so glad that the nurse left all that out on Friday. I would have been nervous about ovulating all weekend!

So, thanks everyone for the well wishes! I'm good and so relieved that part is done! We'll know tomorrow how many fertilized and whether we are transferring on Tuesday or Thursday. I'll update then!

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Time...

Well, I just got the call...I will trigger tonight at 7:30 (1 1/2 hours away!!!). We have to be at the hospital for 6:00am Sunday morning and the procedure is at 7:00am! We didn't expect to have a Sunday retrieval, at all. My progesterone is on the higher side and Dr. Gill is concerned that if we wait any longer, it will go up and compromise the entire cycle. Brandon is the worship leader at our church so, service should be interesting :) And I'm sure I will be incredibly sleep deprived since we are going to the Rockets game tomorrow night and won't be home until around midnight, so by the time I get to bed, I'll probably get 4 hours of sleep.

An exciting weekend ahead...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Appointment #2 This Week...

I went back in this morning for an ultrasound and bloodwork. I'm stimming well. I have several follicles on each ovary (the right is better than the left). The biggest is measuring almost 17mm and the rest range from 13-16mm. My estrogen was 1850 (I think) so, I'm holding steady with the meds. I go back on Friday (as does Dawn, but her lining was already 11.1 with a triple stripe on Monday!) and should get a trigger time then. It looks like Monday for egg retrieval and then either Wednesday or Friday for transfer. The nurse today said if she had to guess, she would guess we get 10 eggs. Sounds good to me! She was surprised when I said that was a good number and I didn't need more than that. Apparently in the world of IVF, the more the better. But, in my world, God can make big things happen with nothing, so I'm good with anything ;)

Oh, and the picture above is my feet wearing the socks I wore today. Yep ladies, I wore these to the "female doctor" today. You know the nurse loved that!