My family didn’t send holiday greetings, toast marshmallows, or hang mistletoe – so Christmas (and the holiday season in general) wasn’t as special to me as a kid as I think it was for most people. Maybe it was because I was born and grew up in Southern California, where the weather almost never varied and December didn’t feel any different than April. (Fortunately, I did eventually get to live where seasons change because my career moved me all around the world.) Maybe it was because we didn’t have the Christmas traditions that many other families have, adding those special touches that make it such a memorable time of year. We kids did get presents – but not from Santa. And there was no anxious anticipation of Christmas morning, because my parents let us open our presents on Christmas Eve. (Now that I think about it, I guess that was a tradition of sorts – right?) My parents did, however, own Andy Williams’ Christmas album – although holiday parties and roasting chestnuts on an open fire were totally alien concepts to us. So even now, it doesn’t seem like Christmas until I’ve heard Andy joyously letting us know that “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.”
I didn’t really start to understand that the holiday season was something more than a commercial venture until my early teens, when I was living with a wonderful (and I’m deeply ashamed to admit, horribly unappreciated) foster family. My foster parents would not set up and decorate their tree until after their kids had gone to bed on Christmas Eve, so that you woke up to a house magically transformed by Santa overnight. Through their what seemed to me oddball traditions, this generous couple gave me my first sense of the wonder and awe that Christmas can bring, especially in the eyes of a child. (Oh dear, I’m starting to sound like an Asian Tevye going on about tradition.) There have been many special people that touched my life after I left my foster parents, adding to my appreciation of holiday traditions and family – and self. Sadly, like with my foster parents, I didn’t always take the chance to make sure they knew how much I appreciated them.
That’s why, as I get older, I can be compulsive about letting people know how grateful I am for their role in my life, and in the world. So we sent a thank you note to our reproductive endocrinologist as he begins transitioning our surrogate’s medical care to an obstetrician, even though I’m guessing most people wait until after their child(ren) is (are) born. This is a huge milestone for us because all IVF pregnancies are considered high risk pregnancies by definition, and it’ll be awesome to not see the insurance code for high risk pregnancy on doctor’s orders any more. Anyhow, here’s what we wrote to him.
This is probably a little earlier than you normally get this kind of note, but we couldn’t wait to let you know how very grateful we are for everything you’ve done for us. IVF and surrogacy can sometimes seem like a sterile (pardon the expression) and clinical process to many but, as you know, for us it’s been an incredibly emotional process spanning several years. You somehow managed to be both flawlessly professional and empathetic during this journey, a balance we’re sure can’t be easy to maintain. The smile you gave us immediately before the transfer procedure is a memory we will always treasure. Thank you SO very much – we look forward to letting you know when our children have arrived!
Neither my husband or I were at our surrogate’s third ultrasound (with her advance knowledge and blessing – it was the day before Thanksgiving and we were out of town with family), but she did send us a picture.
They’ve more than doubled in size again in two weeks to 2.62 and 2.21 centimeters, and one twin’s heart beat rate increased to 171 bpm while the other’s remained constant at 158 bpm. Apparently it’s normal for heart rates to increase through the tenth week of gestation, and then slow down again as the brain develops. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you can guess that I’ve already set up a spreadsheet with the twins’ growth charted out and my research annotations. Keep growing strong and healthy, kids!
Happy Holidays to you – it’s the most wonderful time of the year!