I just cant believe its been a year!! I can say that it has been a year filled with more laughter and joy than any other year I can remember. Not because I'm new to having babies around but because this situation forces you to see the blessing in front of you so much more clear. Well.....because its been so long since my last post (summer with 6 kids and sports is NUTS) let me fill you in on the happenings of Justin and Jillian. They are growing and thriving very well. At our 1 year check up baby boy was 22lbs (41%) and 30.5in (75%). Baby girl was 21lbs 1oz (51%) and 28.75in (40%). Neither of them are walking independently yet but love to cruz around the furniture. Jillian can stand alone but her brother has NO interest. The boy can crawl so fast that I'm not sure he will ever feel the need to walk! They are great sleepers. Jillian is our early bird up most days by 6:30 and Justin will sleep till at least 8:30. We gotta get that figured out!! They both love to be outside and are almost always smiling. Everyone likes to ask me if they get along and play nice together. I would love to make all of you feel ooey- gooey inside and say yes, they love all over each other BUT.........they don't!!! They do smile at each other and watch each other a lot. But sit next to each other and play nice, NO. They take each others toys, pull hair and scream at each other more than anything else. I will though, share one loving memory about their love for each other. Jillian was having a sleepover with Auntie Jill and when I got Justin up the next morning he cranked his neck as far as he could trying to see in Jillian's crib. Like "where the heck is she" and same thing when Justin was having a sleepover with Auntie Jill, Jillian did just what Justin had done that morning. So I know they are close but sharing toys is just asking to much!! They have very different personalities. Jillian is a ham who likes to be silly, give kisses to anyone willing to pucker up for her and she will let almost anyone hold her. Justin is far more reserved. He really has to watch you before you can hold him or before he will even smile at you. He is very independent and you WILL NOT show him how to do things. He will figure it out by himself. He is very busy and goes, goes, goes until he just cant go anymore. Jillian has far more patience than Justin and he has a quick temper to go right along with it! All of their brothers and sister love them to death and its been fun watching all of them grow close in their own ways. Its strange, its as if they were always here but yet its only been a year!
So whats it like a year after going through a surrogacy journey with your best friend? ( I also get this a lot) Its wonderful, strange, odd, loving, awesome, sad, happy, confusing and still BY FAR one of coolest things I have ever experienced. I miss the journey everyday. With out question that is NOT something I anticipated. Not only did I miss "the ride" but I missed Jill! I went from seeing her all the time because of doctor visits to being in the house 24/7 with feedings every 3 hours. That does not leave much time for visits!! Its was a very weird thing to try and adjust to. And truth be told, we are still adjusting to it. How do you MAKE the time to visit with 11 kids between us, full time jobs, sports, school, church happening's, extended family.......the list could go on for ever!! Neither of us are real sure of the fix but will continue to do our best in coming up with a solution! For now we have set up a "bare bones minimum" that even if Jill and I cant see each other, she still comes and takes the babies for a sleepover every month. Not nearly enough I know, but like I said in a different post. This didn't come with an instruction manual on what to do so we are working on it. I think anytime in life we walk a path we have never been on its easy to have a bunch of preconceived notions about what it may or may not be like. For the most part I anticipated most of it accurately. But.........there were some things I had wrong..... Nursing the babies. While Jill was carrying the babies I had an insane need to find a way to physically connect to them. Like I was scared that because I DID know what it felt like to bond with a child through carrying them that maybe I wouldn't bond with the twins because I didn't carry them. So, I took every hormone known to man, gained a bunch of un needed weight, pumped every two hours for 4 months..........mainly out of fear of the unknown. Please don't misunderstand, I'm so happy I was able to breastfeed the babies. Some of my most special memories are the first nights of their life in the middle of the night in the special care nursery nursing. But as far as bonding goes, they were mine the moment my eyes saw them. I can honestly say that the only thing that felt different from the births of any of my other children was that I wasn't physically healing. That's it. The love, the emotion, the joy was all the same. So would I induce lactation again or would I advise someone to do it if they asked me? I'm not sure. I would tell them to really search their heart and be sure its for the right reasons because its a lot to put your body through. I will finish that by saying that I was able to give the babies exclusive breast milk for the first 2 months and then had to start adding in formula. More so because of a time thing than anything else. Pumping is a huge part of being successful in inducing lactation. With twins I found my time very limited and because I really wanted to be sure of how much they were getting I was scared there wasn't enough for two!! Looking back, there was but come on....the twin thing was new to me!! All in all the babies had mommies milk for 6 months. I would say thats pretty awesome being that I didnt give birth!! It was a wonderful experience and I would be sad to think of not getting to share in that with Jillian and Justin. If I rambled on to long about that I apologize, I just know that I searched high and low for info on inducing lactation and never really found what I was looking for. Hopefully this will shed a little bit of light to someone looking. Caring for twins, another thing I had wrong................I thought "big deal, its just doing it times two" Ha, ha, ha. I can humbly tell you that its A LOT more work that I thought it would be!!! Not that the work is harder its just much more time consuming. Nothing we cant handle, but much more than I expected! Double the fun though of course as well! We are in the very beginning stages of building a new home for our family so that is keeping us even more busy than normal but we are very much looking forward to that transition hopefully early next year. It will be a huge help to have Justin and Jillian sleep in seperate rooms so that they dont disturb eachother, or should I say so that Jillian doesnt wake her brother up!!
I think we are your typical LARGER family who were blessed enough to have someone who loves us do something so extraordinary for us. And I stress the word US. This act of love out of Jill is not extraordinary for HER. This is who and how she is. This is how her heart was formed. I have always known this about her and I cant explain the amount of joy and love that brings to my heart. To know that my children were formed into little people all while growing right beneath that loving compassionate heart of hers. She may not be genetically tied to Justin and Jillian but nobody will ever convince me that genetics can outweigh love. Not after watching Jill love my children like she does.
I want to thank everyone for following this journey with us. We are going to keep this blog public because I hope it can be helpful to others walking this path or just a fun and loving read for anyone interested, but this will be my last update other than to add some pictures here and there. I think we have shared the most important and helpful part of our story. I'm so proud of this time in my life and wish in the strangest way that every few years I could walk it again. Yikes.....can you imagine how many kids I would have!! Its very addicting to be on a constant natural high! I know that Jill is going to blog her feelings about the last year as well and I really hope that by reading an intended mothers role as well as a gestational carriers role we have helped to explain the very different but yet similar feeling we have each experienced. I have loved every minutes of blogging in this journal and am so grateful to Jill that she was the one that thought of it! I would love to say "goodbye" by sharing with you pictures from our summer and our big 1st Birthday Celebration!!! May God bless all who stop by and read our story with the same love and guidance he has shown to us.