On August 15th at roughly 3pm, while talking through the window to my neighbors next door, I began having the "real deal" contractions. It started off slowly, one every 10 minutes or so, but I could tell that these contractions were more intense than the ones that brought me into the hospital the previous week. I began walking slowly around the house getting things ready in case I had to go in. I grabbed some clean sheets out of the closet and put them folded on my bed for when my mom spent the night, I arranged Emma and Hunter's night clothes etc and began cooking dinner. I made Bachwurst, pesto cous cous, and began snapping the ends off of green beans to steam. Several times I had to stop and breathe through the contractions. They were getting more painful and closer together. I told Jason he should start timing them, and sure enough they were a pretty consistent 5 minutes apart. I sent my IF and IM a text message telling them what was going on and that after we ate dinner we would be heading into the hospital. My mom and step dad arrived about 20 minutes later and at this point I was positive I was in real labor. I braced my hand against the wall at one point and my mom looked at me and said "I've seen THAT face before...those are the real contractions." and she gave me a hug before Jason and I grabbed our bags. I gave Hunter a big hug and told him that mommy was going to the Dr's now to have IM and IF's baby. He threw his arms up and said "Yay and then we go to Disneyland!!!" I laughed and said "Yes buddy but not tonight. ;) Disneyland is our family trip we have planned in celebration of the completion of this surrogacy. Needless to say he's a little excited.
Jason drove very carefully to Kaiser in San Leandro. The hospital is brand new and when we got there they were extremely busy. I sat on the Observation room bed and really began to struggle with the labor pains. The midwife who was on duty was a lovely woman named Summer. She checked me and said I was at 4-5cm and that she was going to admit me. "Lets have a baby tonight!" she said, and I could not agree more. I was so physically exhausted from 5 days of contactions I could have probably cried if I wasn't so excited. I messaged IF that they were admitting me, but I still hadn't heard back from them. I thought they would have been there an hour ago, but they walked in shortly after we were put into the LAST available delivery room (which also happened to be the largest.) IM said that IF was so nervous and excited that he drove the wrong way and ended up in Napa before turning around to come back. We all laughed and said that it will make a good story to tell Alaya when she is older. "Your dad was so excited that you were coming that he drove all the way to wine country before anyone realized he was in the wrong place...oops!"
Labor with this third pregnancy was very different from what I had with my own kids. I was very slow to progress. It took me 7 hours and I was still only at 5-6cm and my contractions began to space apart again. Jason, IM and IF all got comfortable with pillows and blankets in chairs and on the couch, and we all tried to get some rest before things would get crazy. It was so surreal to me, laying there in the dark with half my body numb, seeing this couple laying together asleep and waiting for their daughter. I couldn't believe it was Christmas when we found out I was pregnant. A nurse came in and they put me on a very low dose of Pitocin and that was enough to give me some GOOD contractions. 2 hours later I was 8cm and the Midwife on duty Fae, broke my bag of water. I told her "Don't go far...I progress really quickly after my bag of water breaks." She left the room and 3 minutes later I felt the incredible urge to push. Jason got up and stood with me as the nurse started running around the room setting things up. She pulled tools out, and turned the baby table warmer on, and ran to get Midwife Fae back. Fae began suiting up and I was literally holding my breath to keep from pushing. Jason got a wet rag because he remembered that I get really warm while pushing and he wiped my face. IM put on a nursing gown in the bathroom so that she could hold her daughter right away for skin to skin. She stood down at my feet with Jason and IF stood by my head with his camera taking pictures.
When that moment comes where its time to push, there is this glorious feeling of "I can do this!" and it doesn't matter if things hurt (which they did) because you are so close to the end. I grabbed my thighs and tilted my elbows out, chin to my chest and pushed. My midwife said several times that I was an excellent pusher. She came down really quickly. After 25 minutes I stretched out to try and get her head out from under my tailbone. she was apparently face up and it took a while to get her out from under my tailbone. I could feel her head crowning, and in between pushed while I breathed, I began to get emotional. It was an odd moment to be suspended in. I could see IM, anticipating and seeing her daughters head, Jason was with one hand on my shoulder and one with the cool wet rag, and I could feel IF behind me. My nurse was giving quiet calming words of encouragement and my midwife was intently ready and helping baby's head work its way slowly. I took a deep breath and pushed, lots of "Yes Corinne that' it..push push push...just like that...ok now stop." and I breathed and concentrated so she could do something with the baby before I pushed again and the rest of her came out. They put her on my tummy so they could clamp the umbelical cord and IM was right beside me holding my hand as we both wept. She and I hugged crying, as she saw her daughter's face for the first time, laying on me. "Thank you..thank you....thank you..." she kept saying. IF had the biggest smile and he was beside me on my other side and he cut the cord. Jason was at my feet, arms folded and eyes wet as he smiled at me from behind the family we helped to create. It was a moment where I could feel his love for me from across the room, and I just loved him even more for being my rock. The nurse wiped Alaya off and handed her to her mommy. IM wrapped her and held her close to her chest as she walked to a chair across the room. Jason came over and gave me a tender kiss and stood beside me as I was sewn up. I had 2nd degree tears but it was all on the surface, luckily no inside tearing. There was nothing in the world that made me happier in that moment than looking over and seeing IM and IF lost in their daughter. She was calm, quiet, and nicely pink in her mommy's arms. They were a family. I helped create that, and I was so humbled as if standing before a true footprint of God in life. That moment was so rich in love and mercy that I was positive I could feel God in that room. Present as He answered a much repeated prayer.
After I was cleaned up, IM's mother and father came into the room. I was surprised with IM's mother came straight to me first. She grabbed both of my hands and with tears in her eyes she kissed both of my cheeks and said "I will never forget this....I will never forget this..thank you..thank you...You are my daughter.. you are family." I teared up and she went over to kiss IM and her new grand daughter. Im's father also gave me a big hug and kissed both of my cheeks before walking to see his daughter. The next moment is one that will live in my memory forever... the three of them..Mother, Father, daughter and grand daughter...they wept together and Im's mother kissed her forehead and blessed the baby. I took a picture of them in that quiet and intimate moment, and looking at it will always cause me to cry I think. Such relief, and peace in one photo after years of loss and heart ache. It was beautiful.
After a few hours, they moved IM and IF into their own recovery room, and I into mine. I was able to sleep immediately and Jason rested a little before heading home to relieve my mom and take over with the kids. That night IM and IF brought Alaya to my room and we relaxed and chatted for a good 2 hours. I was able to hold her for a little while and she is so cute!! (At the request of her parents I will not be showing pictures of her face yet..they have some people they would like to share with first so it will be a few months or so.) I gave them some gifts, I got IM an necklace that says "A mother's love has no end" and for the two of them a sculpture from my favorite artist. Its called Willow and the carving is of a mother father and little baby embracing. I am currently still here at the hospital recovering, but they were released today to go home. They will visit again tomorrow before driving back to LA. I am so very excited for them to begin their life together as a family. Hunter was able to hold Alaya and see them as a family so that was a nice finish to the story for him. He now sees that she is safely with her mommy and daddy. I will be discharged tomorrow at 11, and then I can go home and rest. This whole surrogacy experience has been amazing.. I went in with high hopes and expectations and all of those were exceeded. Such a beautiful finish to an amazing journey. :)
Alaya 6lbs 11oz 19 1/4inches long at 10am Aug 16th. :)