I truly believed I was done having my own children when I became a surrogate. After the last surrogate pregnancy, I pretty much knew I was done. My body had been battered, my spirits had been crushed, and I knew that I could not emotionally handle another bad ending to a journey.
The thing I didn't count on was my husband deciding- after five years of marriage and three surrogate pregnancies- that he wanted to have OUR child. And how could I say no? I couldn't. And the idea of us creating our own tiny miracle made me smile.
So here we are, 23 weeks pregnant with our daughter. And I have realized that this pregnancy is so very different than the last three.
My own babies- take 1:
I was 18, 21, and 23 when I had my first three children. I was young and strong and busy. I took my own health and the health of my children for granted. I didn't pay much attention to what was going on inside of me, just that I would have a child at the end. I enjoyed my pregnancies and loved nothing more than feeling my child moving inside of me. And each time one of my babies were born, I was the first to hold them. I was able to look into their little face and see the person I had been getting to know for the last ten months. Pregnancy and motherhood were beautiful to me. They were my happiness and the one thing in my life I never doubted. I knew I was an awesome mom. I knew I had amazing kids. No matter how fast or far I was running, my kids were always who I was running for. Pregnancy was a means to an end, and an enjoyable means at that.
Surrogate babies- take 2:
I was 30, 31, and 34 when I carried my five surrogate babies. Starting with couples who had experienced losses or infertility, going through shots and hormones and IVF, and belonging to a surrogacy community where pregnancy and problems were shared freely brought a new perspective to pregnancy. I knew the odds, the risks, and the high stakes involved. I knew that these families were counting on me to get their child(ren) here safely. I took excellent care of myself, and treasured these babies as the most precious gift their parents had entrusted me with. My pregnancies themselves became the journey, and I documented every month with pictures, updated the parents
with every change, and savored the beauty of growing a life for another family. Pregnancy was the journey, and I loved it (well, until that last one....). I relished the moment when I would deliver the baby and watch as her parents received her into their arms and fell in love. My favorite moment of each journey was seeing those parents look at their child and .... Change.
Here I am, 36 years old, a year after I had planned to shut down the uterus, 23 weeks pregnant with my own child again. I didn't know how this would play out in my mind or what it would do to my emotions. The first few months were terrible. I had morning sickness for the first time ever. I doubted my ability to carry a child safely to term after 6 successful and uneventful pregnancies. On the heels of my miscarriage, I doubted baby would settle in and feared I would lose this child before we really got started. Once we made it out of the first trimester, I started to believe the baby would be okay. We have made it through all of the tests and all looks good. We are days away from baby being able to stand a chance at survival if she were to come. And in the last few weeks, I have noticed that this pregnancy is unlike any I have ever had before.
How is it different? I am not enjoying pregnancy at all. It is a means to an end once more, and the journey will not really begin until my daughter arrives. I find myself wishing away the weeks until we arrive at her due date. I still worry that something will go wrong because I still know all the bad things. I plan for her nursery, and I prepare the necessary things.
I want desperately to see my husband's face when he looks at her for the first time. I want to see him when he sees her. I want to record the look on his face when he changes. I have always told him there is a magic in seeing your tiny, new child for the first time that changes something inside you. I have told him that once he sees her and holds her for the first time, he will never be the same again. I have always wished this for him, since it is the greatest joy I have ever known. I hope against all hope that I will be able to witness this moment.
But in my mind, I always come back to the one moment. I come to the moment when my daughter is born and they put her in MY arms and it is ME feeling her skin, kissing her cheeks, and counting her toes. I am stuck on the moment when it is ME who gets to feel the delicious weight of her on my chest.
I think somehow, after watching the last five babies I have delivered go directly into someone else's arms, I think that I will appreciate this miracle being laid into my arms even more than I ever did before.
I am starting to believe, that with all the experience I have with childbirth and pregnancy and motherhood, with all I have learned of hope and giving and loss, I am starting to believe that I even I can, just maybe, still find the magic and... Change.