Updated: Nov 4, 2022
**Welcome readers! Tula's twin sister's name has been changed, per her request.
It all started back in 2003 when my husband and I were wanting to have a family. I knew this would be tricky since I had had a kidney transplant when I was young and was on immunosuppression (medications to suppress the immune system so I wouldn’t reject the kidney). I went back and forth on whether or not I should carry a child. Some of my doctors said it was safe to do so, others warned me against it. Ultimately we decided to use a surrogate to carry so that the baby would not be subjected to the medications I was on while also protecting the one kidney I had. After a long search, we found a wonderful surrogate that had carried for another couple and loved being pregnant. I started IVF treatments because my husband and I preferred for her to carry our biological child, if it worked out. On our third attempt, the surrogate was pregnant and we later found out it was with twin girls!
I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed but knew the importance of breastmilk (my mom was a leader in La Leche League, an organization to help and educate mothers breastfeed) and started to search for a breast milk bank, quickly realizing we couldn’t afford it. Someone online had stocked extra frozen breast milk and was going to throw it out, offering it to me for free. I was excited and eager to accept it, until she mentioned that one of her children had autism. I immediately thought of the autistic kids I'd struggled with at work (I was an academic therapist that worked with kids with learning disabilities, ADHD and autism) and remembered how difficult it was. No one seemed to know what caused autism or how to prevent it. Just the thought of her breast milk in the bodies of my perfect children-I couldn’t take the risk and politely declined it. Ironic right?
I joined the surrogate for her 35 week ultrasound and by that evening she was having a c-section. For her other surrogacy pregnancy, she had a spinal epidural that gave her a migraine afterwards so she decided to have general anesthesia this time instead. I was apprehensive, but it wasn’t my body. I did express my concerns with her doctor who was very reassuring that it was no big deal and the only side effect would be that the second baby born would retain more anesthesia and may be a little more groggy, but would be just fine. I had complete trust in doctors, considering I had been surrounded by them growing up and they had saved my life. The surrogate was gracious enough to let me be in the delivery room. I didn’t ask anymore questions of the OB and suited up, confidently walking into the room.
There were multiple doctors, nurses and the anesthesiologist. I miraculously saw the doctor pulling out baby A, Thalia, wrapping her up and putting her in a bassinet next to me. I could barely see her because my eyes were full of tears, but she was absolutely perfect. The doctor pulled out baby B, Tula, but she was having some trouble breathing. Suddenly the room shot up with intensity and the doctor started yelling at the anesthesiologist “How much did you give her??” I felt myself go numb and the fear started taking over. The nurses started grabbing instruments and running over to Tula. One nurse came over to me and said that everything would be ok. I barely saw Tula as they brought her to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and hooked her up to an IV. Not too long afterwards, the doctor told me that her lungs were most likely fine now, but as a precautionary, they were administering a couple of days of antibiotics, just to make sure she didn’t have an infection. We listened to the doctors because we wanted two healthy babies coming home with us. Even though the risk was small, we didn’t want to take a chance on an infection. It never occurred to me to ask any questions about it. Tula was born at over six pounds, a healthy weight for a premature twin. We were so excited to get them both home and start our new life.
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