On episode 45, we have Jake, from Atlanta, Georgia who grew up in the entertainment industry, as her parents were gospel singers. She was in a touring band based out of Canada called Farmer’s Daughter and they toured about 270 days out of the year, with her father as the manager. When the group would have some down-time and talk about family and our love lives, my father would say, “Sarah in the Bible was 88. You have lots of time.” At 45, Jake accepted she was going to be the aunt. The fun aunt that didn’t have children of her own. She was okay with that until the love of her life came back in her life. They met 38 years ago, prior to the gospel band and they stayed in contact as he went on with his singing career. Jake was doing her own thing in the country music world and their lives reconnected. Their love story is what made them both say that having family felt right. For Jake, it was less about becoming a mother. She never thought about motherhood until it became the two of them together.
Fun Fact: Her mother named her Jacqueline, but an old boyfriend way back when nicknamed her Jake. Everyone calls her Jake. The nickname just stuck! Some assumed she got the nickname because she is a tomboy. She says she couldn’t be farther from a tomboy.
I didn’t even think it was a possibility for me.
Her husband initiated the conversation. He wanted to have a baby and leave a legacy, but he didn’t want to do it with anyone else but Jake. She wanted to have one, too, and thought they would get a surrogate and an egg donor. He wanted her to carry their baby. She began doing some research and was open to it. She was in great shape, ate well, worked out and meditated. Maybe it was possible. They began to investigate companies and found a doctor in New York City that came highly recommended. It wasn’t a great fit, so she looked for other options. She looked for a doctor that specialized in geriatric pregnancies (It’s not her favorite word but that’s the medical term being used). They live in Atlanta but found another doctor in New York that she loved. The doctor gave her a 5% chance of it working. She remembers walking out of his office in shock. This isn’t at all what she expected. She expected to pay her money, take her shots and she was going to have a baby. Her husband was happy that they even had a 5% chance, “at least it isn’t zero” he said. But they had a long discussion and decided that they were not going to let anything get in their way. She made the decision right out of the gate to not experiment with eggs in her body, if there were any. The experience she wanted was with an egg donor. The doctor was concerned of Jake’s advanced age and the doctor told her it was safer if they used an egg donor. They found a place in Atlanta that did the blood work, but she would travel to New York for the transfers.
Jake was delving into mindset and manifestation work. They both were studying Thinking Into Results with Bob Proctor. She thinks it’s an amazing program that’s all about mindset. She believed they would be amazing parents. She wanted it to be a conscious choice to have the right mindset because everyone wanted to tell their horror stories.
We weren’t going to let anything get in our way.
Her clinic had an egg bank, so she initially tried to find a donor to clone herself. She looked, but nothing felt right. She suggested to her husband that she wanted to use her niece who was 25. This is her brother’s daughter, who she is very close with. Her husband thought it was a terrible idea. She understood his reaction, but she also wanted some of her DNA in her child if she could. He sat with it. She suggested going to her brother and his wife to get them on board before asking her niece. She knew if everyone wasn’t on board, it wouldn’t feel right to her. She wanted everyone involved. She video called her brother and his wife to find out they loved the idea. Next, she called her niece. Before Jake was finished asking her, she said, “yes, yes, yes!” Her niece moved from Vancouver to stay with them in Georgia during the process.
They all flew together to New York for the appointments. One time they were there during fashion week which her niece really enjoyed. For her niece’s egg retrieval, Jake expected to get about 10 eggs, but got 17 eggs! They made seven embryos, 3 boys and 4 girls.
It never occurred to her that the first transfer wouldn’t be her baby. She wondered what they were going to do with so many children! Jake set the ring tone for the clinic to ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra. When the nurse called to deliver the news, Jake ended up consoling the nurse. The first transfer was unsuccessful. It’s ok, they were going to try again. The second one was viable and a positive pregnancy, but she miscarried at eight weeks. Then three failed transfers in a row, 2 embryos left. For her, the failed transfers were equally as painful as the miscarriage. Everything was right. It didn’t make sense why it wasn’t working. Her doctor didn’t believe in repeating things over and over again. He believed in doing things and adding to it. For the next one, he recommended to not fly home. That was the something different. Her husband was on tour for this transfer, so he couldn’t go. Her mother flew from Canada, Jake had her transfer in New York, and they had an amazing week together. She even had ice cream. They took the train home to Atlanta.
Jake did a type of journaling called autosuggesting and future journaling. For the autosuggestion, it was a sentence that she wrote down every morning, and every night: I am so happy and grateful now that I have given birth to our healthy full-term baby. Her future journaling is when she wrote as if she was already living with her goal. She would write about doctor visits, things that happened at home, if she was sick or not, etc. She would include sight, sounds and smells, as much detail as possible. She knows there’s no way to know if it works or not. However, she believes that her beliefs and her limiting beliefs have a direct result in general.
It did not work out how she wrote in her journal, but it did plant the seeds of a positive result. After she did the blood work for the pregnancy test, she wanted to go where things were beautiful so she could be distracted. She appeared calm on the outside but inside she was a ball of nerves while they waited for the call. She was shocked when the nurse called after 4pm to ask if she got her bloodwork done. The nurse called back an hour later to report she had a positive test. After they hung up the call, Jake and her husband stared at each other blankly. She felt like they were so emotionally invested, but it was like there was no emotion there. The next day the shock wore off, and she felt completely elated. It was time for their next journey.
The panic ran through her whole body the first sight of blood. She was familiar with what she thought would be happening next, but instead she bled everyday for the entire first trimester. She needed help coping with her feelings about the bleeding. She didn’t feel capable of grounding herself. Her doctor introduced her to a guided meditation practice. It helped her be ok with whatever was going to happen and trust the process. Because of her age, they had to pump up the lining of her uterus, and some of the lining had to come out. After the first trimester, the bleeding just stopped. She says she had a beautiful pregnancy after that.
Her fertility doctor was her touchstone, but she really felt like she benefited from her doctors working together. She knows she carried the baby and she’s the ‘patient’ but her husband got acupuncture, too. She didn’t want him to be left out of the process and it brought them closer. One time during the first trimester her numbers were lower than they wanted. They were hoping it would be around 10,000. She immediately called to schedule an acupuncture appointment right away. He was happy to try a new specific protocol to help with this. She went in for blood work the next day. A few hours later the nurse called in a state of confusion how her numbers jumped overnight. Her count was 14,000! The numbers were great! Jake called her acupuncturist when he replied, “Yes of course. What do you think we’re doing?” She made an agreement with herself from the start that she would try anything even if it sounded coo-coo. She was told to write a letter to her body as if it was a separate entity. It sounded a little woo-woo to her but as part of the agreement she did it. The letter started out by me saying thank you for everything. You have always been there for me. I want to ask forgiveness for everything that I’ve done to you without permission: All those late nights, bad food, overindulging in the alcoholic beverages from time to time. She asked her body to go along with her on this pregnancy journey. By the end of the letter, she was sobbing. She said it was a beautiful cathartic experience.
She found an OB when we got the positive pregnancy test. We had a recommendation from a friend. It’s a seven female OB’s practice, and we got to see each one of them so that when you go into labor, you’re not meeting a stranger.
Once the first trimester was over, she was nauseated. She never threw up, but she felt it all-day. The minute she got to the second trimester, the nausea was gone. Since she felt better, she found a kundalini pregnancy yoga practice that she did every day. She considers her diet to be very healthy. In fact, she was worried about being able to control a surrogate’s diet when they were discussing that path. She even shops just the perimeter of the grocery story. But when she was pregnant, she would cut off two lanes of traffic for Taco Bell. That’s all she wanted. Even her husband asked what she was doing. Luckily, that didn’t last long. Her other cravings were shawarma and ramen.
She also experienced gestational diabetes. She went to see the dietician that advised her to rearrange when she ate to avoid medication. She would start with a smoothie in the morning and her blood sugar would spike. Instead, she started her mornings with protein first thing in the morning, everything just went ‘reboot.’ She tested her blood after every meal for the rest of the pregnancy. She could control it for the most part by when, how often, not letting herself get too hungry and starting her day with protein. One day she craved Soppressata. She bought half a pound and started nibbling it until she finished the whole thing. She punished herself the rest of the afternoon for eating lunchmeat. She told her doctor about it, and he said she could just eat cardboard and white rice for the rest of the pregnancy, just mocking her. He said it would be okay and that became her motto.
Jake loved this woman in a picture she saw and had to speak with her. It was Cynthia and she became their doula. They met with her and hit it off. She had pre-birth classes, plus everything else they offered. It was fun taking classes where they all had something in common. They were good classes. She learned to relax and trust.
At her 36 weeks appointment her blood pressure was just off the charts, so they admitted her immediately. She was disappointed because this conflicted with her ritual of going to Houston’s for lunch after her appointments. She wouldn’t be leaving until she had the baby which wasn’t her plan. They found protein in her urine which was preeclampsia. Jake didn’t think her baby was ready to come. They said the baby and her were both healthy, and it was time. She was induced first thing the next morning and was in labor until about 4:00 pm. With every contraction, the baby’s heartbeat was plummeting and not rebounding as it should. It was starting to take longer and longer for it to come back to normal. The decision was up to her; Jake: c-section now or they can induce again tomorrow, but they can’t guarantee she’s going to have a better response. The baby could have more of a traumatic response and then they will be doing an emergency c-section. Jake didn’t expect the response from her doula when she asked her opinion. Her doula thought she was getting good medical advice and she was already far from a natural birth not being mobile. When the doctor came back, Jake decided on the c-section now.
She was prepped and chose Oscar Peterson to play in the background. It was like cocktail hour but different. Here she was in the OR and when it was all said and done, it was so beautiful. She never imagined a c-section being this magical. They brought her daughter out to see her, and her husband went with their daughter for the cleanup. While Jake was in recovery, she began to shake like she was convulsing. When they brought her baby in and set her on her chest, it all went away. When the nurses took her daughter away to be weighed, her body started shaking again. They put her daughter back on her chest, and her body relaxed again. They prolonged the cord clamping and arranged to make smoothies out of the placenta. They couldn’t do either because of the preeclampsia. The lining was compromised.
Breastfeeding was important to Jake even though her medical team suggested it might not be possible because of her age. Lucky for her, Avalon latched on right away, but it didn’t feel natural or comfortable at first. She had a lactation specialist that came to her home and showed her a few little adjustments. From that time on she breastfed for a year. It was exhausting and it was gut wrenching, painful, exciting, fun and exhilarating to see that little face. Avalon was a month early so she had to wake up every three hours to feed her. She was able to pump, so her husband could help with feedings. She also drank Mother’s Milk tea to encourage milk production. She believes it worked. She also tried drinking Guinness Beer and the next morning her milk would be flowing.
Jake feels lucky with her recovery. She had minimal scarring, and she doesn’t remember being in a whole lot of horrible pain with the incision. Constipation was her biggest challenge, but nothing was unbearable. She was able to walk around. She had aches that she thought might be menopause, so she got online and joined groups of other postpartum women. They were younger, but they were having the same pains. She felt relieved to know she was feeling the same things the younger women were also going through.
She lived with this growing human inside her body and they are sharing everything good inside her. Then, all of a sudden, they abscond with all the goodness. She felt a sense of depletion physically and emotionally. Her doctor told her menopause and postpartum have the same symptoms, but she went directly into menopause.
She still has another girl embryo left. She is hanging out in New York City. Avalon tells anyone who will listen that her little sister is coming. She is researching her local options for a surrogate now. The plan is to go ahead and have this second embryo join her family. Jake can’t imagine not having her.