Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Looking Back

My surrogate journey ended almost two months ago now, and I feel like I can now go back and take a look at my journey from a "big picture" perspective.

I was terrified when I found out that I was carrying twins.  I was afraid of how it would affect my family and my job.  What if I was put on bed rest for weeks or months?  How would my family get by without me?  Would it make my employers upset to have me out for so long?  I was also afraid for the babies.  The risk of complications is so much higher with twins, and (don't quote me but I read this somewhere) about 50% are born prematurely and spend at least some time in NICU.  My IPs had already been through so much, and my job was to carry their babies until they were big and healthy enough to meet them.  What if I failed to do that?

But we got lucky.  I was able to work up until the day I went into labor, and both babies were born healthy enough to go home with their parents two days later.  My c-section went smoothly, and I had no complications.  I didn't experience any distress over separating with the babies, and I didn't have any baby blues in the days and weeks following delivery.  Within two weeks of delivering, I was feeling back to my old self.
So why is it that when I look back over my surrogacy experience as a whole, I feel kind of, "eh"?  At the beginning of my journey I was so excited and eager.  I already felt pride in what I was about to do, and I felt like maybe this was the reason I was put on the help another couple achieve the gift of parenthood that I had come by so easily.  Don't get me wrong, I am still proud of what I did, and I still believe that I was meant to help my IPs become parents, but somewhere along the way I sort of lost the magic of the experience.
I think the main problem is that the reality of my journey was nothing like the journey I had visualized in my head when I first started.  When I first saw myself going through the experience, I saw myself helping my IPs to experience their pregnancy.  I pictured my IPs coming to appointments, then us going out to lunch or dinner afterward with my family.  My IM would place her hands on my belly and giggle with excitement as her baby kicked in response.  They would be active and interested in what was going on - what I was craving, how much movement I was feeling, when I though the baby might make an appearance. 
In reality, the pregnancy went nothing like that.  My IPs came to the majority of appointments, but were not interested in spending any time together outside of them.  They would drive in and head right back out as soon as they were over.  Toward the end of the pregnancy, they stopped coming to most appointments, as they had too many other things going on at home.  They never felt their babies kick, and sometimes did not even respond to the weekly emails I sent them to update them on the pregnancy.
The delivery also did not go the way I had planned.  I had imagined my husband and my IPs in the delivery room with me as I labored, all of us talking to kill the time.  I imagined me pushing with everyone's encouragement, and once the baby was born, I could see it being placed on its mother's chest.  I pictured the whole room sharing the shock and joy, the laughing and crying, as my IPs met their son or daughter for the first time.
Instead, I delivered the twins by c-section in an operating room.  There were tons of people there, and with the exception of my husband and the anesthesiologist, they all ignored me.  The babies entered the world and were placed on no one's chest - they were whisked out of the room without me or my husband, the only people who cared about them, even being allowed a glance at them first.  My IPs were not there to meet their babies.  They had originally wanted to be at the  birth, but once they found out that I would have to have a c-section and the doctor would not wait for them to make their 5 hour drive before performing it, they decided they wouldn't even bother trying.  They didn't arrive until hours after their boys were born, and they had to go to the nursery to retrieve their children.  At the first meeting there was no laughing or crying, no hugging, or any other extreme outpouring of emotions or joy.  We were all more consumed with the logistics of collecting the babies, transporting them to their recovery room, and getting everyone settled in.
I know it sounds like I'm complaining.  And maybe I am, a little.  But I am not upset.  I do not blame my IPs for the way things went.  I do not fault them for not fitting in with the perfect scenario I pictured in my head.  They were never anything but respectful, caring and kind toward me.  They brought me snacks and gifts for my child almost every time I saw them.  They are wonderful people who deserved to be parents.  But we both went into surrogacy for a purpose - mine was to help a family become parents, and theirs was to become parents.  Aside from that, our expectations for the journey to get there probably just didn't line up.  While having them turn me down for lunch made me a little sad, I understood that they were busy people who traveled a long way for the appointments.  As the pregnancy progressed, they got even busier planning for a baby on top of all their other tasks and commitments.  In addition, there was a big age gap, culture gap, and a difference in communications styles.  We wouldn't have been friends if we just met on the street, we did not have anything in common.  So I was not sad or surprised that our relationship never blossomed into a friendship, and I was not offended that they did not want to spend extra time with me or my family outside of appointments.
I also don't blame them, the hospital staff, or anyone else for my delivery experience.  We had breech babies, and a c-section was necessary.  That's just the way it was.  By the time we all met the babies, I was drugged on morphine, and had gone 34 hours without any sleep.  I was mainly just trying not to nod off in my wheelchair.  My IPs had just had an agonizingly long drive filled with traffic and construction, and had probably gotten almost as little sleep as I had.  They were shocked, stressed, and overwhelmed by the time they finally got a chance to meet their little boys. 
I will admit, I'm still a little miffed about the c-section.  Logically I know there is no reason to be.  I know it was necessary.  It went fine and I recovered easily.  But something about having a major abdominal surgery for something other than an actual medical problem just rubs me the wrong way, and I think it always will.  I also worry about any future deliveries, as I know that from now on, I will be facing an uphill battle to get to deliver vaginally.
Do I wish that things had gone a little differently?  Yes.  Would I go back in time and make any different choices?  No.  In the end, I was able to make two deserving people into parents, and bring two humans into this world who would never have had the chance to exist without my help.  I don't look back on my experience and feel bitterness, or even disappointment.  I guess the best word to describe it would be underwhelmed.  It was not a bad journey.  In fact, it's probably the most amazing thing I will ever have a chance to do in my whole life.  But it wasn't the journey I had idealized in my head.  I was the one who painted the perfect, pretty picture of how I wanted it to go, and it's no one's fault but mine that the reality didn't live up to the expectations.
If I decide to do another surrogacy journey (and yes, I am considering it), I think I will do things a little differently.  First, I will have a few more requirements about the IPs I'm willing to work with, and I will shoot for someone who is willing to only do single embryo transfers.  Most importantly, I will try to temper my expectations so that the beauty of the journey is able to shine through without being clouded by my idealistic expectations.


  1. i'm sorry things didn't work out how you wanted them. i believe sometimes it so difficult for our im's to watch us grow their baby that they seem to take a step back in the process. glad you have recovered well and i hope your next journey is everything you want!

  2. When you state your requirements for the type of IPs you are prepared to work with, are you allowed to say you'd like IPs who would welcome the chance to get to know you and be a big part of the pregnancy?

  3. Mind you, I know that what I'm about to say isn't a piece of reality, but they say most fiction is based in reality. On the TV show Rules of Engagement, one of the couples has to use a surrogate. The surrogate happens to be a lesbian coworker of her husband. Now that gives you enough fodder for a season of television, but the "reality" of their fictional situation rang true to me. One thing in particular was how involved "mom" wanted to be and how uninvolved "dad" wanted to be. Both were struggling with not being able to have their baby the natural way and were dealing with that in two different ways. "Mom" had a baby shower thrown for her in which the surrogate was there and received all of the attention. This of course led her to feel jealous, left out and insignificant when it came to the life of her own baby. So I guess the round point that I'm trying to make is that maybe the emotional detachment from you had more to do with the their inability to have a baby together than it did a gap or feelings towards you?

    The selfless act that you were performing was in your mind something that you wanted to see in the faces of your IPs...i.e. talk over lunch excitedly over the images they saw on the ultrasound or hear them talk about how they are decorating the nursery. That's the pretty picture you had painted in your mind and hopefully if you choose to do this again, you'll get that!!

    I think what you did is awesome and admirable. You obviously know how much those parents appreciate it, I know my mind would be obsessed with knowing how it's going for them!