Editor’s Note: This post is Part 3 of a 3 part series, written from the perspective of a surrogate. We are so grateful to have this unique and personal glimpse into surrogacy. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.
It has been awhile since I delivered a baby. 18 years ago I was learning life with a new baby and his 2 year old brother. And it wasn’t easy. I was struggling to keep up with everything. Laundry? Psssh, yea right. Dinner? Probably from a box. Wearing make up? My toddler thought it was for painting the mirror. And himself. And the baby. I even juggled working more than full time as an assistant manager at a clothing store. It took over a year and a holiday season of extended mall hours before making the choice to be a SAHM. This time around, that 2 year old is now 20, and that baby is about to graduate high school. Oh, and there’s that small detail of not taking care of an infant.
Recovery after a surrogate pregnancy is a whole new ballgame! During the first weeks while I provided milk, I set alarms every few hours to express – even through the night. A full night sleep has just recently reentered my life, AND I can sleep on my stomach again. Bliss. Sleep at 4 weeks postpartum is something I didn’t experience the first times around. Grateful.
While I’m definitely getting more sleep now than most new moms and dads, nearly every other detail of this pregnancy is rewardingly complicated.
One of the complications stems from the level of emotion for the new family and the new baby. Each time I feel a rush of genuine emotion, I feel like I have to qualify my emotions so that no one confuses them with missing the baby. It seems as though I should keep moving. Because if I don’t – if I cry, sleep too long, don’t style my hair, or if I skip an event…maybe I’m missing the baby.
It feels a little like all eyes are on me just waiting for me to miss the baby. And I do. I do miss him, I miss staring into his face for hours on end – literally, HOURS. Because, he’s a baby. And I brought him here, and that’s really cool. But one of the things I love about my life is the ability to not go to every event and to just throw my hair into a pony tail because the very idea of styling it makes me want to take a nap. Because I’m tired y’all. Not depressed and missing the baby tired, but the kind of tired that happens after a pregnancy.
The tears look sad – and sometimes they are – but sometimes they’re just such happiness, and joy, and abundant love for the new family, that they just spill all over. To be a part of these three individuals becoming one is incredibly powerful. Sure, it’s sad that it’s over, but its a happy sad. Like when your children go to kindergarten. Or college.
The pregnancy is over, but this baby is here. This baby who beat his heart with mine. Who insisted on living almost exclusively on applesauce, mashed potatoes, broth, crackers, and ginger cookies for 15 weeks. Who kicked me wonderfully and ferociously for months. Who danced on ultrasounds and practiced contractions so often that we had a frequent flyer pass in triage. I’m pretty sure 3rd floor room #2 has been dedicated to us. He’s here. He’s being loved on by two parents who are all consumed with making the very best – and educated – choices for him. He created a family out of a couple and he’s amazing. And he did that with me. We did it together. Happy.
It’s sad because even though I’m not in the trenches of mothering a newborn, I still have the flabby belly, regulating hormones, leaky chest, mask of pregnancy, (seriously, these brown spots on my face can go away now), among other changes. The first couple days I was hyper aware of my postpartum body coupled with the lack of infant. Now, I’m far enough out that I don’t give it much thought. I have reminders of the pregnancy all over; prenatal vitamins, bottles and bottle racks, maternity clothes and a HUGE horseshoe pillow that for some time took over the bed. But no cries ring out at night, and we’re not trying to figure out which diapers are leak proof. There are two parents out there living that dream with their baby. Happy.
See. Complicated. Rewarding.
Along the way, there are some things I learned and hope for from my surrogacy experience:
First and absolute foremost, I hope that this new family (and their families) and the members of mine will continue to know and support and love one another for a lifetime.
My motivation for writing publicly about this experience was to perhaps clear up some of the stigma and misconceptions about surrogacy. I hope that I did a little of that.
I learned that my village is far bigger than I could have known or expected. So many of you were supportive and encouraging during my IPs quest to create their family. A family that they *of course* would prefer to create on their own if they could. It has been nothing but a privilege to be able to bring this baby to the world for them.
Million dollar question, would I do this again? Short answer: in a heartbeat. Long answer: I would absolutely repeat everything about this pregnancy w/o changing a thing. From the communication with my IPs, the relationships they have with me and my family, the pregnancy, to now, and this gorgeous baby…I have been spoiled.
And for now, I’ll just be over here preparing for a graduation open house, going through pictures of my own boys from over the years, trying to not overdo my postpartum physical activity, and debating on donating my newly accumulated maternity wardrobe and huge horseshoe pillow, or simply storing it away for…who knows?