First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ___________ with a baby carriage.
We all know this little ditty and we all also know that it doesn’t always work that way or in that order.
For instance, a couple of my high school friends- their path essentially followed that tune but there were a lot of bumps in the road on their way to the baby carriage. They met in middle school, started dating in high school, were engaged in late college, married in their early twenties, and then… they started working for the baby carriage part. In fact they had the carriage. Just no baby to put in it.
People would ask (I was guilty of this), “When are you going to start your family?” Or jokingly, “Have you pulled the goalie?” The first year went by... and then the second… still no baby. All the while, outside pressure continued to build.
Finally, over drinks, my dear friend confessed that they were struggling with infertility. They had been through all the testing, a few IUI’s, IVF, a couple of chemical pregnancies, a miscarriage, and more pee sticks (ovulation and pregnancy) than she could even begin to keep track of. And she suffered all of this silently, on her own. Perhaps embarrassed, or worried, or fearful of jinxing it they kept it to themselves. I was heartbroken for her. Devastated. I remember thinking then, over drinks, that I could offer to carry a baby for her and then stopped myself. How could I be so presumptuous?!?! How did I even know that I could carry a baby? Or get pregnant? How insulting might it seem for me to offer something like that when I know jack squat about pregnancy? To assume that it would be easy for me when it was so hard for her… how rude of me to assume! I never mentioned it, but that was the first time I considered being a surrogate.
A few years later, when I was pregnant with my daughter, another very close friend from high school shared some terrifying news. His wife had gone into labor, which we had all been expecting at any moment, but during labor her liver began to fail. She was in a rare 1% of women who develop this disorder and nearly lost her life in the process. Thankfully both the mom and and the baby survived, but it was a couple of harrowing days for their family. And, sadly, she was told that she would never be able to have another baby as the risks were even higher tempting fate a second time. I cried for her… and for their family.
Fast forward a few months. My second beautiful baby was in my arms and while I was elated to have my her (read the birth story here or my son’s here), I was a little sad that the process was over for me. I LOVED being pregnant. I even loved both my labors and deliveries. I loved the power and intensity of the whole process. But once it was over another feeling kept creeping in. I can’t really explain it- I knew my family was complete, but I did not feel done with the process of babies and was almost saddened by knowing that it was over for me.
February, not even two months after giving birth, I started reading more about surrogacy. I found every blog I could and while nursing my baby girl read every word of each of them. I became a little obsessed. It was around this time I first mentioned it to my husband. Having read so many blogs, I knew the best way to get the desired response was to lead with the financial benefit the process could provide. He shrugged it off as something we could discuss later, BUT HE DIDN’T SAY NO! I took that as a sign that I should do more research. I contacted agencies and started getting answers to some of the questions I had.
A short time later, my husband mentioned an email exchange he and his friend (whose wife almost died during labor) had been having. After much discussion, they had decided to pursue surrogacy to help them finish their family. During the conversation, I blurted out, “Can I carry their baby for them?” It slipped out before I could sensor myself or rhetorically plan my argument. Surprisingly, my husband was on board!!! After clarifying a few points, we called and proposed the idea to our friends that same evening!
They, understandably, needed to think it over and would get back to us. But it was that exact moment that I knew surrogacy was in our future.
Ultimately, our friends politely declined for a few reasons and I am thankful that we had the conversation as I feel it has helped me better understand both sides of the process. First, they were already matched with a lady through the agency they were using and were beginning the paperwork. Second, his wife was really struggling with the whole process. She absolutely hated/resented the fact that she was unable to carry the baby herself- an emotion I can only sympathize with and one that breaks my heart. Her honest response was that she wanted to have the ability to be resentful toward the surrogate and needed the distance to be able to do so. Having me, a close friend, as a carrier would make her feel guilty for having those feelings. And third, she also wanted the option of eventually allowing the relationship dissipate- again, distancing herself from the painful reminder that she wasn’t able to carry the baby herself. I immediately understood and think that it was very profound for her to be able to process those tough feelings. I am thankful for her honesty.
But, it was this event that thrust my husband and I full throttle into the world of surrogacy. I spoke with my sister about our plans and she was excited! I spoke with both my husband’s parents and my own- they were more protective and asked a lot of questions, but after our conversation, all of them agreed to be supportive and help in any way they could. It was then that I began sharing the news with my friends (many of whom believe I am nuts because pregnancy was not “fun” for them at all). Everyone agreed that it was a great idea and that I was “perfect for the job.” There was just one more hoop that I felt I needed to jump through before signing up with an agency.
The first question that EVERYONE asks a surrogate is, “But how can you give up the baby?” And I know the answer; I had read it on boards; it made sense in my brain; I was pretty confident that this wouldn’t be an issue… but I wanted to meet someone face-to-face who had been through the process and have them be completely honest with me about how they felt after.
One Saturday soon after, I met with a lady who, a year prior, had completed her surrogacy journey. After telling her story, she patiently answered all my questions (process? emotions? issues? paperwork? financial concerns?) and calmed any reserved fears I was having. I was ready.
The next Monday I submitted my application. Let the matching begin.