Motherhood and Beyond

To be a mom is the most rewarding job in the whole world. But it can also be the most difficult. Motherhood and Beyond is peeping into the world of being a mom, but at the same time a wife, a friend and much more. Life doesn't always go easy and some may not know it now, but there is nothing more precious than life. So I welcome you to join us. Follow in our daily routines, our special activities and just enjoy the ride!! TO MOTHERHOOD AND BEYOND!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Lili is seven!

Seven years ago, I went in at 6:30 in the morning for my scheduled c-section. I was 38 weeks pregnant with my second child.  The c-section went well and my daughter was born.  My husband cut the cord and ever since, she has been the light of our life.  For four days, I sat and cuddled with her in the hospital, while watching Hurricane Katrina tear apart the gulf coast.  I remember thinking to myself, so many people are dying, and here I just brought new life into this world.  We brought our daughter home and began our lives as a family of four.

Now seven years later, she is still the light of our lives. She is growing up so quickly, it scares me to think in 10 years she will be graduating and moving out. It's crazy to think that she will be an adult, dating, college and everything else that goes with becoming an adult. I look at her now and think it can't be possible.  But as I sit and think back, I remember things from when I was seven years old. I remember moving to a new school, having my first communion, and I even remember the teacher I had at the new elementary school I went to.

My daughter hasn't ever had to move, or make new friends. But she has had plenty of new things come into her life in the last few years. She started dance classes and fell in love with the sport. She loves to tumble and dance. This year we started her in tumbling full time, as well as jazz and hip hop. She is excited to start practice in a couple of weeks and already has been practicing at home.

We got her a new bike for her birthday this year, a real big girl bike. It has pegs and only hand brakes. She has already mastered using those instead of normal brakes like on her little girl bike.

For her party this year she wanted a Justin Beiber thing. Another moment that brought back memories for me. I remember being a huge New Kids on the Block fan at her age. I remember loving Jordan Knight, and singing all of their songs. I watch her as she dances around the room to Justin's songs and laugh to myself thinking how similar we are.

She is my mini-me without a doubt. She is beautiful and smart, funny and talented. I just hope she keeps her head on straight and goes for her goals. I hope she doesn't settle and take was it laid in front of her without challenging it. I hope she continues with dance and tumbling and uses it to further herself in life. I want her to go to college and become something amazing. Even if it means her having to leave home and not be close by. I want her to be happy no matter where she is. I want her to travel, and meet new people. And most of all, I want her to stay my little girl, even if only in passing moments. I want to be able to get a hug and feel that she truly is happy.  Those are my wishes for her.  And hopefully as a parent, I can do everything in my power to make them come true.

Happy Birthday Lili. I hope you get everything you dreamed of and more. We love you and always will, no matter what!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stationery card

Seeing Double Boys Birth Announcement
Create beautiful birth announcements with Shutterfly.
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This is a project that I created on Shutterfly. I put one picture of each of the boys, and one of them together as a birth announcement. What you can't see is the back, where I added a picture of myself with the boys, and put "from the tummy of our surrogate, Bethany, to our open and loving arms as new parents.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The end of an era

Back in 2006, I had researched the idea of becoming a surrogate mother. I knew in my heart it was something that I could do, and do well. I knew that helping another family was something I wanted to do. My uterus was laying unused, Ryan and I had decided on just two kids early on in our marriage. We want to be able to give them the world and having more kids was just not something we wanted. So after much research and discussion with Ryan, we decided that we would go ahead and move forward with helping an amazing family have the final piece of their puzzle.  We matched with a great couple in November of 2006 and did our first IUI in January of 2007.  We became pregnant on the first try and a beautiful boy came into this world on October 12, 2007.  They named him Kyle.

Everything about that journey was great. The family was complete and I helped create a dream come true for them.  To this day I get pictures and updates from the family and while the contact isn't perfect, I still get to watch him grow.

After he was born, I went through about 6 weeks of postpartum hell. I was horrified about everything. I couldn't get over the fact that the journey was done. I was emotional and a mess. I never thought I would get pregnant again. I even had my tubes tied so I couldn't get pregnant again.  But in 2008, the surrogacy bug bit me again.

I knew this time I wanted to be a gestational surrogate. My first journey I was a traditional surrogate. The baby was made using my egg and the father's sperm. Thus making the child biologically linked to myself. It is something I will treasure forever. I knew though that this time around if I wanted to get pregnant, it would have to be through IVF, only leaving me with the option of becoming a gestational surrogate. 

I matched with a wonderful local couple from Iowa who had no children. But, my job laid me off due to the surrogacy, the match fell through and I was unable to help them become parents. I have no idea if they ever were able to find another surrogate or ever have kids. I then decided a few months after the failed match that I wanted to go one step further in the surrogacy world and help a couple who physically was unable to get pregnant. I wanted to help a same sex couple have a child. I have many friends who are gay, and wanted to help them become a family unit.

I matched with a great couple from Georgia, and flew down to meet them.  But, due to some very personal issues going on in my life, I had to step away from the match. I was heartbroken about doing it, but I couldn't move on and become pregnant when my life at home was such a mess. I fixed my issues at home, and in my life and when things became stable again, I knew it was time to find a match. However, I was so unsure of going independent because it just seemed so scary. So I went through a matching agency. One where they just match the couples, not babysit like some other bigger agencies do.

And there I found the guys---MY guys! E and R were amazing from the beginning. We knew right away that all us wanted to be together as a surrogate/IP relationship. And so we began. In September of 2010 we transferred three embryos. Sadly, the transfer did not work. And in the IVF world, it just sometimes happens like that. It is very unpredictable and nobody can be sure when it will work. So we set out to try for number two. And in January of 2011, we tried again with three frozen embryos. Sadly, yet again, the transfer did not work.  We were heartbroken, but knew we couldn't give up.

We went very quickly and wanted to try again, and in May of 2011, we set out for a fresh transfer of three embryos. This time it worked!!! We were pregnant with one healthy little bean. But five weeks into the pregnancy, I woke up covered in blood. I rushed to the emergency room to find that I had an SCH right next to where the baby was growing. And I miscarried within hours. I was heartbroken, as were the guys. It seemed like I was flushing their dreams down the toilet, and it hurt so physically and emotionally bad. I had never had to go through something like that and can't imagine doing so multiple times as some couples do in the infertility world.

After a few weeks, we knew we had some embryos left over and we knew we had to go for it again. We changed a few things up this time and had our fourth transfer in November of 2011.  I couldn't wait to pee on a stick, because this time I KNEW it had worked. And sure enough, the first ultrasound showed the possibility of triplets. We were over the moon happy, not only that it had worked, but that we had multiples, something the guys had really wanted to happen. Sadly, yet good at the same time, the triplet never made it past a certain stage and never showed a heartbeat. We were sad, but joyful at the same time as triplet pregnancies can be very dangerous, not only to me, but the babies as well.

TWINS....I was pregnant with twins. And the pregnancy progressed beautifully. We had some struggles with all day sickness, blood pressure and a few illnesses. But other than that, the pregnancy was BEAUTIFUL. I loved having the babies inside, moving around and really growing strong. It was so amazing to know that I was able to make these guys into fathers.

And on July 4th, at 2am, my water broke and the boys were delivered at 6:10am and 6:11am. The guys named them Oded and Yoav. They were beautiful and needed no NICU time or help in any way. they were actually released from the hospital before I was, as I was struggling with some blood pressure problems.

In another week, the guys will be home with their new sons and living life as a new family. No longer a couple, but a family unit together forever. Two dads and their two sons.

I am currently 3 weeks postpartum, and while I am yet again struggling through emotional stuff, I feel amazing for knowing that I did something amazing in my life time. Not only did I get to become a mother of two beautiful children, but I gave birth to three children to help complete two families. I helped them have a dream come true when they were unable to do so for themselves.

And now in July of 2012, exactly 6 years after starting my journey in surrogacy, I am saying goodbye. As much as I would love to be a surrogate again, my body is just not going to be able to do it. My uterus is thin, according to the doctor who did my fourth csection. My mind is emotionally drained from everything that went on over the 6 years in the surrogacy world. And I am ready to move on from being pregnant. My 29th birthday is in just a few weeks. I have set a one year goal to get my body back into shape and healthy from years of abuse (pregnancy) and not taking care of it.

I will always hold surrogacy in the best of light. I will always be proud of what I have done. And I want to be a positive image for future surrogates, not only here in Iowa, but across the world. I want to shed a light on surrogacy that isn't negative, as is constantly done now. I want couples to know there are surrogates out there who are amazing people and won't hurt or scam them. I also want to put an end to scamming surrogates. It would be great to get laws into place protecting not only the couples but the surrogates as well. And I would love to make sure that workforces can't discriminate against surrogates and that health insurance covers the pregnancy without stipulations.

Lots of goals, lots of time. But for now, I just wanted to say goodbye to the chapter of surrogacy in my life. And now begin to move forward with what's looking like a very bright future!

Buying books for school

Are you or someone you know going back to school this fall? Do you need to start purchasing your books??? If so, check this out----head to and buy your books there. Not only will you SAVE money, but a little chunk goes to the amazing group: UNIFI!!! So please, use the link and check out at Amazon and support a local college group!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Purrsia Ann Jones

Back in September of 2002, I was working at Sparky's in Battle Creek.  In July, Ryan had gotten me a cute little gray kitten for my birthday.  But I felt that he needed a pal while I was gone at work. I had noticed that a stray cat had given birth and there were kittens that eventually were going to be strays as well. With winter coming up, I just knew that rescuing one of them would be the best thing to do. So when the kittens were old enough, I picked out a cute little orange/white female. She was perfect!

The entire car ride home to Ida Grove (a whopping 7 miles) she purred the entire way. So we named her Purrsia. I always had called my other cat by two names, so for Purrsia, we tagged on Ann as a middle name.  Bringing her home was a new experience for all of us involved. Sway had never been around other cats, we had never had to deal with two kittens and the apartment was sure filling up quicker than we had thought it would.

We eventually moved into a house which was much bigger for the two of them to roam. They quickly became best friends, but fought like brother and sister when they didn't get along. Sway was attached to my hip and Purrsia because Ryan's little tag along.

Over the years we had moved a couple of more times, brought more family members into the family (aka we had kids LOL) and instead of just being pets, the two cats had become our family.

Sway was always my cat. He followed me around like a little puppy sometimes. It is so cute and heartwarming to come home to him every day and know he is there waiting. Purrsia had always been Ryan's favorite. Until our daughter Lili was old enough to walk. Those two became best friends, constantly together.

Lili would take her outside to play, they would go on countless walks and adventures together. And even when Lili would get hurt and begin to cry, Purrsia would come running to her aide meowing up a storm. Purrsia even slept next to Lili every night.  And when Lili got old enough to have to go to school, Purrsia was there every morning to help me wake her up.

A few months ago, we noticed that Purrsia wasn't looking like her normal self. But we figured it was just her getting older.  And then we noticed that something just wasn't right. Her nose began to turn black as did around the edges of her mouth. She wanted to get outside more, and we noticed she had began to eat less.

We took her to the local vet, who claimed she had a mass in her uterus, but that she was too weak to go through surgery. So they sent her home.  In my eyes, they sent her home to die. They didn't want to do anything. So, after a week, things got worse. Her mouth swelled, she started to drool, and she refused to eat or drink.

So we took her to another vet, who confirmed that she had cancer in her mouth and there was no saving her. On May 21st, we had to make the most difficult decision that our family has to had to make. We had to put her to sleep. My husband drove to the vet with our daughter, said their goodbyes and they put her to sleep.

My husband said it was the hardest drive home he has ever had to make. We buried her in our back yard under our daughters bedroom window so that when she woke every morning or when she went to sleep at night, she could be there with her just as she always had before.

It has now been three weeks since her passing, and not a day goes by where we don't miss her or think about her.  Even as I write this, I have teared up multiple times. It is still very hard to know that she won't be here anymore. She won't come running when I make a turkey sandwich (she always loved her lunch meats). We won't hear her meow anymore when we call her name.

Sadly, the hardest part of this entire thing has been watching my daughter lose her best friend. There isn't a moment where I can tell that she isn't thinking about her.  She will go to her grave and talk with her just as if she were right there. She constantly makes comments regarding how Purrsia used to do certain things or what they would be doing if she were still here.

We have recently adopted another cat from a shelter. She looks a bit like Purrsia, is just under a year old and has many of the same qualities that Purrsia had. We weren't looking to replace Purrsia herself, but to fill the emptiness that has plagued the house since Purrsia has been gone. My daughter is much happier now, there isn't as many tears shed over Purrsia's passing. And though we miss her every single day, we all know that it was better than for her to suffer from the pain of cancer. Putting a pet to sleep is never an easy choice. But for our family, it was much easier than to find Purrsia dead in our home. I don't want my daughter to have to remember her that way. This way, she was able to say her goodbyes, hold her and talk to her one last time. She did not see her after she had passed.

We all said our goodbyes in our own way. I think this is kind of mine. I had told her goodbye at the vet when I dropped her off, but I thought she would be coming back home. I thought maybe she could be fixed and continue to live her life with us and our family.

If anything this experience has made me realize many things. First and foremost that family is very important. No matter if it is fur family or human family. I treasure the time I have with them and do not take them for granted.  And second--that animals are just as sacred as any human person can ever be.  Many people mistreat animals, treating them as though they are nothing. But going through this made me realize that they hurt, that they can suffer and that they can die. My heart still has pangs of guilt that we didn't look into her issues earlier. That maybe if we had, it would have saved her. But I can't live my life guilty because of something that we didn't understand. If anything, it made us more aware. That the smallest things can mean something is wrong and that if someone, pet or human shows signs that something isn't right, you listen. You check. And you know that even if it costs thousands of dollars, their life is worth it. I would have paid anything to get to bring her home healthy and alive, instead of dead and in a box.

Purrsia Ann Jones this post is a memorial to you. We miss you every day and hope that you knew how much you were loved in this family.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guest Blogger June 2012 HEATHER VON ST JAMES

Learning to Be Thankful in the Face of Mesothelioma

Have you heard the saying, “It takes a village?”  I heard it so much during my pregnancy, but I never realized just how significant this phrase would become in my life.  My daughter was born August 4, 2005.  The pregnancy was pretty uneventful, although she was delivered by emergency C-section.  My village was immediately surrounding us in congratulations.  

A C-section recovery can be challenging, and when I returned to work, I continued to feel fatigued.  I began to experience breathlessness, as well, and I made an appointment with my doctor to find out if something was wrong.  Unfortunately, it was.  My diagnosis was terrifying.  Malignant pleural mesothelioma, often caused by asbestos exposure, was at the root of my tiredness and breathlessness.

This cancer is attributed to asbestos exposure, something I unknowingly experienced in childhood.  As an adult, this nightmare was overwhelming.  I couldn’t bear the thought of Lily and my husband having to go on without me, and the grim prognosis gave me 15 months to live if I did nothing.  We opted for the most extreme treatment for possible, the removal of my left lung and all of the surrounding tissue.

The surgery took place February 2, 2006, in Boston under the care of one of the best mesothelioma doctors available.  My 18-day hospital stay was followed by a two-month recovery period.  After that, I went through chemotherapy and radiation.  The emotional roller coaster was trying, but Lily was in good hands.  My parents and their own village made sure of that.

While I was in the hospital, my parents took care of my daughter.  In my absence, she learned to eat and to scoot around.  Sometimes my parents needed caregivers to fill in so they could go to work.  It’s amazing how many people provided their assistance and support.  Church friends were ready to fill in as needed.  Children I once babysat were now available as grownups to care for my daughter.  I received pictures, often grainy photocopies, that allowed me to see the things my Lily was experiencing.  Nurses admired, struggling not to cry over the challenges I faced.  My parents’ bond with Lily is close, thanks to their time of caring for her.  While I was in Boston, she was in South Dakota, experiencing a wonderful village.

As a family, we’ve been through a lot.  It hasn’t been easy, but that was never promised.  Knowing how fragile life is, we embrace it more fully now.  I have a favorite quote, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”  Embrace what you face in life, knowing that things like cancer can produce a lot of good in the midst of difficulty.  I am thankful for the good in the midst of my storm.

Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others. Check out more of her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

Guest Bloggers

Wow---it has been such while since I last posted here (almost a year!!!).  I can't believe I have slacked off for that long---however, with good reason. I am currently pregnant with twins for an amazing same-sex couple.  I have been blogging weekly on a different blog:

So check it out and follow me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the NEW news-----I am introducing a guest blogger of the month. They will have access to guest blog as many posts as they want during their month. So the first is Heather. Her blog is amazing and I hope you will check her out. Her first blog post is coming up stay tuned for that!

And since the pregnancy is almost done, I plan on blogging again full time on the mommy end of things. I can't wait to get going on that again.