Wife, Mama, Surrogate and IT Analyst
Lives in: Iowa
Babies: Two boys, two surro babes (also boys), two fur babies (yep, boys as well)
Vanessa has cut off 9-12 inches of hair to donate to charity twice.
Can you start out by telling us about you and your family?
My husband (BL) and I have been married for just over 10 years now. We got married quickly because a deployment was coming up, and then ended up starting our family quickly after that. I got pregnant three weeks after we got married. Needless to say, we had a jumpstart on our life together! BL deployed leaving me pregnant, and then I delivered our son with 4 months left in his deployment. I will get to his birth story later. :) Two years and nine months later we delivered another healthy baby boy, completing our family!
Surrogacy was introduced to us by a friend, whose sister was unable to carry her own babies. A few years after we had our last babe, we really felt called to carry a baby for someone who was struggling. We didn’t know anyone personally that we could carry for so we went through an agency and matched that way.
For our second surrogacy, I had posted on an IP/surrogate meeting page on Facebook. A handful of people had reached out to me, but I had chosen to go with Mariah and Andrew, and I am so glad that we did!
What was your journey to have a family like? Any issues you had to overcome?
BL and I were very fortunate in that we did not have any issues getting pregnant. We weren’t trying, but weren’t preventing for our first, and our second took us a month to conceive. My family has a history of being extremely fertile, and my husband and I were both young when we had our children.
Getting pregnant with someone else’s baby is a whole different story. With the first surrogacy, the RE tried manipulating my cycle, and my body kept ovulating through the meds- even on doubled and tripled doses. They decided to stop all meds and go with my natural cycle. We transferred the first embryo, and it failed. The doc thought they missed the small window of time, and transferred the baby 24 hours too late. We transferred another embryo two months later, and baby stuck! About 9 months later a healthy, happy little boy went home with his mom and dad. It was, hands down, one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.
The second surrogacy went straight to the natural cycle, which I had requested, and was so glad that they agreed to that, and even preferred that. Within 3 months of meeting Mariah and Andrew, we already had our first embryo transfer, and it was a success. Unfortunately, his heart stopped beating at the end of the first trimester and we’re still waiting to figure out what comes next.
How was/were your pregnancy(ies)?
With almost every pregnancy, I’ve had a lot of nausea. With my first surrogacy, I had some nasty swelling towards the end, so it made things a little tough, but I really cannot complain, with that being the worst of it. It’s all temporary! I do notice that when I am consistent in my workouts going into and during pregnancy, I feel a lot better.
Can you share a little about your birth stories?
Our first son was born, like I mentioned above, mid deployment for my husband. We were fortunate enough that BL got a 16 day R&R leave, and just so happened to arrive home the day before I went into the hospital. When we went to the hospital, I wasn’t really progressing, and they wouldn’t have kept me, but since our circumstances were what they were, they kept me and induced labor. This was the first time we heard that my cervix doesn’t like to open on its own. I tried going natural as long as I could, but once the pitocin was started, I got the epidural.
Our second babe was overdue. This was no surprise, since again, my body seems to love holding babies captive. We went in at 40 wks 2 days, and kicked him out. I received the epidural and pitocin, relaxed all day, delivered a baby that night, and it was glorious!
For our surro babe, we knew an induction was needed, which was actually great because the parents lived almost 6 hours away and obviously preferred to be here for the baby’s birth. We induced a few days before he was due, and like my last babe of my own, I got the epidural and pitocin, relaxed all day, and had a baby that night! We hired one of my photographer friends to capture his birth, and I cherish those photos so much. Everything happened so fast, but it truly was amazing to watch that mama and dad hold their baby, and so excited to have him! They were so engrossed in him that they didn’t notice the OB having issues getting all of the placenta out. He did get it out, thankfully, so we were all good to go there.
How were your postpartum and breastfeeding journeys?
Fortunately I was lucky after all three deliveries, that mentally, emotionally, and physically, I healed extremely well. Obviously I was tired, even after our belly buddy, who went home with mom and dad immediately, so we did not have to get up in the middle of the night with him. More of that in a second…
My first babe was such a good eater. He latched, he ate, he was done. I remember him lying on a pillow nursing while I was typing over him, doing homework for school. I BF him until 4 months, when my dad died and it seemed like too much to continue. I did have enough milk frozen to last him another 4 months.
Our second babe was tongue tied. They did not revise it, as they thought it would stretch out, and it eventually did. I only BF him a couple of times. Most of my time was spent pumping. SO MUCH TIME on the pump. It was exhausting for both him and I (and BL)! I had enough milk for him to last his first 8 months, like his brother, and I quit.
For our surro babe, we wanted him to get the immunity of the breast milk from me. I pumped and shipped milk for 8 weeks, which came out to be almost 2000oz that I shipped over to them. This was not easy. I didn’t have a crying baby here for the let down, and I had to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to pump or else I would wake up in pain and usually soaked. I did end up with mastitis, I believe because I tried to stop before my body was ready to, but a prescription from the doc quickly cleared it up. It was over and done before I knew it, and I am sure it helped babe stay healthy, so I was happy to do it.
All of the breastfeeding helped me lose weight, which was amazing!
What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other moms and moms-to-be?
I remember my mom always saying to me, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Oh man, was she right. I hope that I soaked in as much as I possibly could, being a young mom, but I remember wishing some of those long nights away. I make a conscious decision every single day to soak in as much of my kids as I possibly can. Our oldest is already halfway to college. Unreal!
Lastly, please share a favorite quote, or something that means a lot to you:
He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. – Job 5:8 … stay faithful, mamas!