On this last day of March, Surrogacy Awareness Month, I can’t help but be thankful for the journey of surrogacy in my life. It taught me so much about myself and my family, so today I’m reposting an updated blog that I first wrote in 2018. So many people want to ask me why I became a surrogate. For those of you who are curious, here’s my response.
Today, I am raising two beautiful girls, whom we call Littles and Tiny, with a wonderful man. Our family is complete, growing older, and thriving. For a lot of families, their family isn’t complete and it isn’t by choice. I am painfully aware of how many families are struggling to grow their families and that it one of the main reasons I chose to be a surrogate in 2018. There are numerous reasons my family made this choice with me, and I’ll share some of the biggest ones here today.
A Sister’s Promise –
When I was younger, I remember making a promise to my sister, Amber, that if either of us couldn’t have children, the other would carry for her sister. I have no memory of what prompted that promise besides maybe a Hallmark movie, but I have always remembered that. As fate would have it, she was blessed with three kids and me with two. It turned out I wouldn’t need to carry for her after all, but the promise of that day planted a seed in the back of my mind.
The Birth of Littles –
Giving birth to our eldest daughter was one of the best, most empowering (though extremely difficult) experiences of my life. The love and support I felt by my husband, doula, midwives and nurses was an amazing circle of support. Side note – it inspired me to become a Birth Doula and Baby Sleep Support Coach.
Working with families as they birth and raise their children has changed my perspective on birthers in many ways. One is discovering the fierce, animalistic ferocity that lives within each of us, and also the tender, painful, loneliness that can be motherhood and parenthood. Working with growing families has become a passion for me. Therefore, I connect deeply to issues affecting those families, including the need for IVF, adoption and gestational carriers or surrogates.
The Prevalence of Infertility –
“About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
When it took close to two years (and fertility medication) to conceive Littles, moments of fear, sadness and desperation crept into my heart. There were many months were I feared I could not have children. And, after a first trimester miscarriage, I worried I lost my only chance. But then, Littles came along and rocked our world.
Just because we could have children doesn’t mean infertility doesn’t matter to me. My heart aches for our friends. First, there is my friend “A” who was trying to conceive (TTC) for around 5 years and could not get pregnant. She and her husband “M” are EXACTLY the people in this world who should parent. But alas, month after month, they came up empty-handed. Also, there is my friend “K” who had birthed one beautiful child, but experienced secondary infertility and tried for years to have a second child. After thousands of dollars, surgery and medication, she was left waiting and wondering if she could have another child. And, then there are our friends “N” & “B” who had a high-risk pregnancy resulting in the loss of her uterus when she birthed her son.
All of the stories on the spectrum of infertility inspired me to “do something” about it, both the anonymous statistics (I see you!) and friends who strived and are striving to create a family.
The Birth of Tiny & the Creation of Siblings –
I could not prepare for the joy I have experienced watching my girls become sisters. Littles is the sweetest, most nurturing sister who says things like “I love tiny, she’s my best friend in the holy world” and “it’s ok, baby, you can have some of mine.” Tiny is also “sweet” but much more of a Sour Patch Kid. But, you can tell she loves her sister, you should see her hug Littles so hard that she shakes.
Watching them together fills me with such joy and affirms our decision to have two children. We also feel deep in our bones that two is the right size of family for us and we are “done”. I say “done”, because sometimes God sends surprise babies. I do not like surprises, for the record, and He knows that.
A Spiritual Calling –
I have felt for many years that surrogacy is a deep spiritual calling for me. There are so many reasons NOT to carry a pregnancy for someone else: weeks of daily injections (no thank you), the birth itself (!!!), the weird comments from strangers (how could you give up your baby?), and all of the physical/emotional ups and downs of the journey. However, I deeply resonate with the prayer of “Use me, God”.
When I think of what it means to be a Christian, I think we’re called to do 99% walk the walk and 1% talk the talk. So, for me, if I can use my gifts (a healthy, working uterus and body) to show grace and love to another family, why wouldn’t I do that? When our family has been given so many blessings, it only makes sense to try to start a chain reaction to pass blessings forward.
My husband and I both believe in sharing grace through acts of kindness in this world, and this is the way we have decided to do that at this time. And, in a world where the statistics are AGAINST families finding a surrogate (waitlists are incredibly long), making healthy embryos, finding a budget to pursue IVF, the transfer working, and the pregnancy withstanding the first few weeks, it is a miracle of the heavens to announce we are 19 weeks along with a beautiful miracle for another family! (I left that last line un-updated, but it was from 2018. I’m retired as of today).
A Feminist Line in the Sand –
It’s taken a long time to process all that has happened leading up to and during the surrogacy journey I went through. One of the major difficult themes to unpack is how many other people had thoughts, judgements and even laws on what I should do with my own uterus. It’s astounding to learn about legality of surrogacy – some states outlaw it and some are “friendly” and “allow it”. What’s even more painful than a group of strangers I’ve never met making family-limiting decisions for those facing fertility and those of us that feel called to carry for them, are the comments I get from those I know.
I heard (and still hear) everything from “it’s wrong” to “how could you do that” and “what does your husband think of you carrying another person’s sperm” Oy. I just can’t. So, in the end, my body autonomy and right as a human being to control my own reproductive future is absolutely a reason I did surrogacy and I am so glad I did. In the words of my girls “I’m the boss of my body.”
So, there’s the inside of my journal on that. Maybe more or less than you bargained for. But, for me, it’s important to humanize the surrogates and carriers out there. We’re just normal people, moms, who want to help. That’s it.
For more information about surrogacy, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be glad to connect you to the right resources for you and your family.