Friday, June 3, 2016

Farewell to FOX17

GRAND RAPIDS, MI-- It's been a wild ride.  Waking up at 3AM each morning, stumbling around my house, slamming a sugar free rockstar to try and wake up, cranking 38 Special in my car and singing loudly because for some reason that wakes me up... but now I say goodbye.

I started on television at FOX17 in 2014, I have loved being on the morning show, and attempting to make people smile each morning with a fun story about our local community.  Problem is I can't seem to get used to this 3AM thing...

While I worked at WGRD, I was a night owl.  Not just the typical 20-something night owl, like I would go for my runs at night when it was cooler, I would watch movies and catch up on shows at night when people slept.  Worked on my blog and social media while people were snoozin. 

People say you will eventually adjust but I just never really did.  As many know by now we are having a baby via gestational carrier (basically a surrogate carries our baby for us!) and our scheduled c-section is Tuesday, June 7.  I am terrified! 

My husband has some clients out in Wisconsin and a few days a month he stays the night.  That issue started a long conversation on, "who will watch baby Greenleigh?"  We have no relatives within 50 miles, and I am not willing to sacrafice a vacation day every single time Jim needs to travel for work.

That started a long conversation of how this schedule just doesn't seem to work with us anymore.  I had a long talk with myself, too, what do I want to do? Well I know I want to be in media, I know I want to be seen OR heard in some capacity, and I know I want to be a mom, I want it all!

I finally had to make the hard decision that staying at FOX17 just wasn't an option.  Things that many don't realize about television is that we are on no matter what.  It doesn't matter that it's a holiday, that your baby is sick, or that you woke up late.  The morning show will start at 5AM no matter what.  There is no wiggle room.  I went to my boss and explained my dilemma.  He told me he cared about me and my family, and that he understood and we decided to part ways.

Today, June 3rd, is my last day on air on FOX17.  WOW that feels weird to say.  I will not be on TV for awhile BUT I am looking for work to start in August or September.  Hopefully you will hear me again soon ;)

I will continue to do my segments that you see here on FOX17 though but a little different, with the help of my friend from Toledo I have a new web series starting this summer.  It's all about "making it work" as a mommy!  Working out, fashion, getting your hair done, you name it we will be rockstar moms together!

I hope you follow me on my journey and hopefully my search for a work home doesn't take me long.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

25 Weeks- The things we do to prepare for our baby girl

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- 25 weeks today!  At 25 weeks the baby is the size of a rutabaga, (I know that's a really freaking weird thing to compare a baby to, I don't know if I have ever even seen a rutabaga...) At this point the baby's tiny nostrils are starting to open and their vocal chords are being formed.

My sister has been feeling pretty good, she did get a TERRIBLE cold for a while there and could basically take nothing for it (being pregnant and all).  Other than that she is doing well. 

As for Jimmy and myself we are excited, nervous, terrified, all of the above!  We have a lot to do though to be ready by June.  Just to recap, our daughter is being born by gestational carrier, which is a person who is carrying a baby for a couple, that is NOT genetically their child, and they are NOT receiving compensation for doing so.

Yes, there is a difference between surrogate and gestational carrier.  Surrogacy laws get hairy in the state of Michigan and technically isn't even legal here.  A surrogate would be someone who not only carries the baby, but the baby is made from THEIR egg, and they are getting monetary compensation for doing this. 

With my syndrome, (CAIS) I don't have ovaries, I had internal gonads that were in the place of ovaries that did in fact produce estrogen, but they were removed when I was 15 because, as my doctor put it, they were "dripping in cysts."  Not a fun surgery I should add.  It was pretty painful and it basically is a hysterectomy.  In removing the gonads they removed my natural estrogen production which through my body into a menopause state at only 15 years old.  Yes, hot flashes, night sweats, the whole shebang. 

That is why my husband and I paid for donor eggs.  So with this anonymous donor and Jim's sperm they make the embryo and implant it in Dani's uterus.  If you are still following along that means that the baby has no genetic tie to my sister.  BUT she is in fact genetically tied to Jimmy. 

Even though it is our baby, and even though Jimmy is the bio dad even, we still are forced to legally adopt little Greenleigh from my sister. (Yes even though she is not biologically related to this child).  There is such a thing as "Pre birth order" where you can petition to have a birth certificate drawn up with both parents (Jim and me) names put on it before the babies born.

Problem is those cost a LOT of money to petition for and in Kent County they have been denied something like 95 percent of the time.  If it's denied you lose that money.  So we decided screw it, we will just adopt.

I guess I thought because the baby is Jims biologically, MY sister is carrying her, and she is OUR baby, that the adoption process would be easier then a typical adoption.

I was wrong.

We need to fill out bio forms from birth to present, mounds of paper work, have home inspections and even get 3 letters of recommendation(yeah I know letters from people saying we can adopt our own child...)

At first I was frustrated by this because I feel like I have done enough work to make this baby a reality.  I have gone through enough, going back as far as 15 years old laying on the surgical table.  I carry an air of entitlement sometimes... I paid my dues here why do you keep asking for more?  I didn't chose this path I am on because I thought it would be fun.

I also appreciate that this is the law, and it's just how things are done.  So we are filling out our paperwork like we are supposed to, I've asked friends, old co workers and family for my letters of recommendation, and I have accepted that even though it's not her baby, my sisters name will be the one that says "mother" on my child's birth certificate.

My sister's great by the way, really, she doesn't complain at all and still has a way of saying funny shit that makes me laugh.  If I were her I would be bitching all the time!

Anyway, we have an appointment today just to check up, and hopefully things will be looking good. 

PS: Nursery is coming along nicely, we totally stole all this from pinterest...




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lets talk about our miscarriage

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- It's a hard thing to talk about for many women; miscarriages, and they happen everyday. To get real, 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage.  I have gotten an outpouring of messages from women, and men who like me, prepared for a baby that never would come.

Granted it's a little different for me.  I am not able to feel the life inside me and grow that immediate attachment.  What I did do was name my little baby, put together a crib for her to sleep in, bought her clothes I imagined her wearing, and dreamed about what she would do with her life.

Having my sister as a gestational carrier is the best way for me to have a baby and has been an amazing experience and while I am typically very happy, excited, and positive about what we are doing I have found myself in a slump ever since we learned one of our twins didn't make it.

I tell myself the baby I named, and grew to love hadn't developed yet, and didn't even have a gender assigned to it.  A series of minor mistakes led me to believe there was something there that wasn't... But she's still a little girl named Gracelynn in my mind.  I can't stop thinking about her and my normal positive attitude has shifted.

Why did this happen?  We spent so much money, we were (are) so happy to be parents, Jim even bought me two books on parenting twins for Christmas this year as well as himself a book for dads on twins.  I don't understand why God would let this happen to me.

Then my logical side kicks in and reminds me that God didn't up and kill my baby, these things happen and Greenleigh is still thriving and will be here in June.  That logical side is what makes me feel better, and reminds me that Jim and I get to still be a mom and dad to a beautiful baby girl.

What has been hard is practicing what I preach.  People tell me how brave I am for being so public about my syndrome (CAIS) and for talking so candidly about losing our twin, but I don't feel brave at all I feel sad and I find myself having anxiety attacks more and more often.

The positive outlook I held before is still there but it's dimmer.  What people don't hear and don't see are the times I snap at my mom on the phone and talk like the world is ending.  Or the times I take a nap and decide to just lay there all day until Jim gets home and I end up snapping at him too.

I am writing these emotions down for a few reasons;

1. 1 in 5 pregnancy's end in miscarriage and if one person reads this who secretly has been sad about a miscarriage maybe they won't feel as alone.

2. No one is perfect and I am no exception. I am not always positive and I am not always happy.

3. Many people ask me about our lost twin and I wanted to let them know honestly how I am feeling.

A friend of mine who experienced a few heart breaking miscarriages had some wonderful things to say to remind me that even if "she" was actually going to be a "he".  They were still a life that was there at one point and now their essence, or spirit has moved on. 

My sister in my opinion is the bravest one, she has stayed so strong for me and Jimmy through all this she hasn't shed a tear in front of me or ever had a negative attitude she is happy that her niece is on the way and will be loved.  That makes me feel very happy inside that Greenleigh has so many people rooting for her and loving her before she is even here!

Jimmy and I are ready to move on from what has happened, but we will never forget.  2016 will be a great year and we are excited to be parents!

Greenleigh Jo Blankenship at 18 weeks AKA First family photo!



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The story behind losing one of our twins

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- I posted on Facebook last week Wednesday that we indeed lost one of our twins.  I wasn't able to go into great detail on how it happened because I was honestly in a bit of shock.  I have shared our story so detailed thus far I figured I would share what happened.

Our last appointment at the fertility center was back in November I believe we were about 7 weeks pregnant or so.  At that time we had two healthy embryo's brewing and things were looking good.  Dr. Young noted to us that one was a bit smaller than the other and it's heartbeat wasn't quite as strong.  Other than that we were good to move on to the OBGYN. 

My sister called Bronson in Kalamazoo (she lives in Portage) and booked our first appointment.  They didn't want to see us until we were 13 weeks long.  That felt like an eternity considering we had been seen by the wonderful people at the fertility center every two weeks for the last two months. 

Our first appointment was in December and I was very excited.  I hadn't seen the two little babies in weeks and my anxiety was starting to kick in.  Now I have never had a baby remember so all of this is very new to me. 

We arrived 15 minutes early and checked in.  Upon check in we asked if Bronson had our paperwork because lets face it, our situation is a tad different than most peoples.  (gestational carriers, twins, etc.)  The woman said she didn't know and to ask the nurse.

We went into the room for the appointment and a nurse came in.  She came off friendly enough at first but then proceeded to put her foot in her mouth multiple times. 

She in fact didn't have our paperwork and claimed the fertility center didn't send it. (They had) We explained our situation that while Dani was the patient carrying the baby, Jimmy and I were the intended parents. 

That didn't seem to phase her she continued to refer to Dani with endearing terms like, "mom" and ask her "if she would find out the gender of the twins."  Both statements we corrected her that I was in fact the mother but she didn't seem to care that she was hurting my feelings so bad.

At this point I should have realized she wouldn't be able to help me with any questions I had but I asked anyway.  I simply asked about the process of having a baby when the intended parents don't give birth.  Her response was shocking, she replied with; "Well your twins could just end up in foster care for 12 weeks while paper work clears."

First off that is the farthest thing from the truth we called our lawyer and made sure of that, and secondly my sister would never relinquish custody of MY children to foster care.

Teary eyed and upset I stormed out of the room.  I can't imagine what nurse would be taught that that is an appropriate thing to say to a mom to be.  Her excuse was, "well I don't know really that's just what I thought..."

That said this nurse did a doppler (using one doppler) and told me two heart beats, wrote them down and said they were strong and the twins were doing well.

Fast forward 4 weeks and we had our next appointment.  We called ahead and explained that we didn't want that nurse again because she really hurt my feelings and the hospital said that was fine and gave us someone else.

I liked this nurse better she was efficient and didn't ask a lot of questions.  She seemed to understand that Jim and I were the intended parents and she didn't act like it was odd at all.  But once again she did NOT have our file from the fertility clinic.  This time the "computer systems were down."

I asked her when we would have an ultra sound, considering that we were high risk with multiples, and hadn't had one since we were 7 weeks along I felt like one was due.  She said we didn't get another ultra sound we had one already at the fertility center and we would have to wait til 20 weeks.

She did the doppler (only using one again) and told us two heart beats, wrote them down and said everything was healthy and we were good to go.

Something in my stomach didn't feel right.  I wanted to see the twins I wanted to know everything was going OK.  It seemed odd that we skipped that initial ultra sound at 12 weeks.  Everything through the fertility center was separate and paid by us NOT insurance so typical protocol should have been used.

When leaving the appointment (I believe we were about 17 weeks pregnant at this point) I noticed pamphlets on the hospitals check out desk for "4D Moments" and ultra sound company that did just ultra sounds for families to see their babies.

I took the pamphlet and called them figuring the hospital wouldn't put it on their desk if it wasn't legit.  They said they could get us in Saturday and even be able to tell us the genders of our twins.

My entire family went with us to the appointment. Mom, Dad, my niece, Dani, and Jimmy of course.  The woman was very kind and loving.  She seemed genuinely excited for Jim and my adventure into parenthood. 

She found the first baby almost immediately and said it looked really good, heart beat was strong and she could clearly see that it was a GIRL.  We were so excited, my worried melted away seeing her and knowing things were fine, I was being silly.

She went to check the second twin and said she couldn't seem to see it.  I felt a little sick and worried while she hunted around claiming, "sometimes twins do this, they hide."  Eventually she said she figured out the problem that one twin was hiding behind the other and she thinks she had it under control.

She then announced to us that this too was a girl!  She labeled each baby as Baby A. and Baby B. in photographs for us and printed them.  Even giving us a dvd that pointed out each baby.

I felt so much relief that my twins were fine and they were both girls!  How exciting!  I didn't take long to go on our morning show and announce to West Michigan that I was going to be mom to two girls. 

Two weeks later was the 20 week appointment.  It's a longer appointment because they measure everything and make sure the babies look good.  I was nervous because I hadn't really liked how the other appointments had gone at Bronson so far.  Because this was an ultra sound (FINALLY!) It was on a different area of the building and we got to see a different staff.

We waited 45 minutes before we got into the room because they were very backed up.  They immediately started the ultra sound and the tech announced that we were right Baby A. was indeed a girl.  She looked really good we could see her foot up by her mouth and her hand waving at us.  She moving around like crazy.

Jim asked how our other twin was doing and the man looked at us confused and said, "I am sorry what do you mean?  There is only one baby in here..."

My heart sank and I felt sick, Jim explained that we just had an ultra sound at 4D moments and the woman told us that twins hide and that one was underneath the other one.

His face looked a little white and he explained that he was terribly sorry and he didn't know how we could get to 20 weeks like this but there was most definitely only one baby.  He pointed to the corner of the screen and said, "See that little dot?  That is the other embryo it appears to be maybe 8 weeks old, you guys lost it a long time ago, I am so sorry."

The man had tears in his eyes as he explained about our lost twin.  He told us he didn't know how this could happen and that the other baby didn't even have a gender yet.  The woman who did the ultra sound must have been looking at the same baby the entire time.  All the pictures we had printed, labeled baby A and baby B, they were just the same baby. 

The Dr. came in and was very kind and knowledgeable.  He treated Jim and I like the parents we were soon to be and explained in more detail that we most likely lost the embryo between week 7 when we left the fertility center and our first appointment at Bronson.  Because they didn't do a 12 week ultra sound (that I had indeed asked about) it wasn't caught.

I told him the nurses gave us two heart beats and he told me that unless they used TWO dopplers at once there is no way they could hear the heart beats at the same time to know that they are both okay.  He told us that he has recommended to the nursing staff multiple times to use two dopplers to know that both babies are safe.

Because the first nurse wrote two strong heart beats the second nurse had no reason for alarm and did the same thing.  But note neither nurse bothered to find our file and see that Dr. Young had noted that one of the embryos was weaker than the other with a weaker heart beat.

As for our ultra sound at 4D Moments he said she must have seen that just days earlier Bronson had claimed we had two healthy heart beats and convinced herself two twins were sitting on top of each other.  He also said unless there is a Dr. present at an ultra sound it isn't really legit and he didn't recommend places like 4D Moments.

I told him, "You are wrong, you DID recommend it.  The minute your staff put the pamphlets on their check out desk for me to see, you endorsed it."

He agreed with me and said he felt terrible for the mixup.

The one baby we now have is very healthy and everything looked good.  She weighed about 12 ounces at 19.5 weeks and was in the 59th percentile for size.  A week has past since that appointment and I am feeling less sad about the loss of our other twin.  I keep reminding myself that the baby girl I had grown to love didn't actually exist.  The embryo (that for all we know could have been a boy) didn't make it past November.

We go back to Bronson next week for another check up and we have requested to not see the nurses we saw the first two times that in MY opinion dropped the ball.  We also told them that we want them to have viewed our file and know our situation.

It won't help me to cry and be angry all the time at what happened.  I have gone through a lot to have children and I don't want to be sad anymore, I have chosen to be happy for my one baby girl we have due June 14.