The amazing Heidi and MariEllyn Olson with their daughter Sequoia (18 months).
When Heidi and MariEllyn set out to grow their family they decided that Heidi would be the one to carry and went to the doctor to make sure that everything looked good. Heidi learned that she had ovarian cysts that were quite large and they decided to put her on birth control to see if that would shrink them but it only made them grow. Heidi needed to have surgery to remove the cysts and was told that she would be very fertile after so to go ahead and start trying after about a month. They began trying with sperm from a known a donor but it just wasn't happening. Heidi's cysts began to grow again and they knew that their time to conceive was limited.
Everyone's patience was wearing thin after about 10 cycles of trying but Heidi was able to get pregnant just before they needed to worry about removing her cysts. Heidi had been doing everything she could to increase their odds, including regular acupuncture and really feels that's what helped her. Heidi's pregnancy went very well and they planned to deliver at home with the care of a midwife. MariEllyn did all that she could to remain connected with the pregnancy and their baby. She handled a lot of the planning and logistics related to their conception as her means of being involved and chose also to induce lactation so that she could breastfeed their baby when the time came. It took a lot of medication and round the clock pumping to get her milk to come in but MariEllyn was dedicated. There were many moments when it felt unattainable but she is so grateful she stuck it through.
Heidi went into labor at 39 weeks with MariEllyn as her support and her midwife by her side. Labor was slow and intense, with a lot of back labor but Sequoia was born healthily without any complications. MariEllyn recalls just melting with joy when her daughter arrived. She was entirely overwhelmed with happiness. Both moms, loved having their baby at home where their midwife was able to clean up, tuck them in bed and to just be a family from those very first moments. They were both able to latch and nurse Sequoia in her first hours of life.
The postpartum period differed greatly from there for MariEllyn and Heidi. Heidi recovered very well physically and emotionally felt great. She had an adrenaline high those first few weeks that allowed her to take charge and care for her daughter seamlessly. She works professionally as a nanny and says that she was generally prepared but nothing can get you ready for the 24/7 aspect of it all. After about a month it hit her that she was tired, that it was hard, but that they were doing it. For MariEllyn, those first few months are a bit foggy. She has long struggled with anxiety and depression but had everything under control. She realized however that she wasn't well, and soon after, that she was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety herself. MariEllyn reached out and went to postpartum support groups but having to explain that she had not been the gestational carrier/birth parent of her daughter was difficult each time and eventually she stopped going. Heidi ultimately reached out to MariEllyn's psychologist concerned and she was able to change her medications and get back into talk therapy. MariEllyn says that she doesn't remember when the fog lifted and she feels some sadness that she wasn't the mom or partner she wanted to be early on but is grateful that she in a better place where she can be today.
Both MariEllyn and Heidi chose to participate and share their stories to join the chorus of those talking about how motherhood changes us - emotionally, physically, entirely. Having seen other two mom family's participate, for MariEllyn, she also wanted to powerfully document that she isn't just Sequoia's mom "too" but she is Sequoia's mom, period.