NIAW Day 5 - Making a Difference
Today's guest blogger is one of our own gestational surrogates, Liz. Her incredible journey through surrogacy is chronicled on her own blog, (imperfectly balanced title:(Im)Perfectly Balanced popup: yes). We're honored to feature her story, as well as her insight into this process. Talk about making a difference in the world of infertility!
People decide to become a surrogate for so many different reasons – whether it's a personal connection to infertility, an overwhelming desire to provide someone with something that they've been fortunate to have, or something that (like me) they can't quite explain. Whatever the reason that took me down this road, it became clear almost immediately that it was the right decision.
My surrogacy journey started nearly two years ago, when I found myself sitting at the computer Googling “surrogate” and thinking to myself that it looked like something that I could do. As crazy as it sounds, it was really as simple as that. Once I started digging deeper, I became convinced that I would be a good candidate to carry a child for someone else. I loved my first two pregnancies. I loved both birth experiences. I had also long lost the “Oh, I wish I had another one" feeling when holding newborns. Aside from all of this, I like to think I deal well with stress and I work in a supportive and virtual environment that allows me some scheduling flexibility. It all seemed like a perfect fit.
Now that I have delivered two perfect babies for one wonderful couple I can look back on the last year. It turns out that I was a pretty good candidate to be a gestational carrier, but there were some lessons I learned along the way that I would share with those considering whether this is a journey that suits them.
Be selfish. This is a personal journey and should be a personal decision. Family members and friends may have a range of reactions, especially at first. Those who don't understand the decision may change their perspective as they watch the process unfold. Always come back to what brought you to the decision. Similarly, remember that your own children are still developing their worldview. We may think they will question this in a way that adults might, but it's more likely the opposite. This is our chance to help them realize that families coming together in different ways is just part of what happens in our world.
Build your network. Whether it's a supportive family, friends, or other women in the process, decide who your “village” can be. I was fortunate to work with an agency that brings the carriers together as a network, sharing stories and tips and even frustrations in a safe and supportive space. I have seen many combinations of where women find their support in this, but it has proven to be an important element in the journey.
Expect the unexpected. Many gestational carriers, decide to do this, in part, because we had relatively uneventful pregnancies. We are reminded often that this is no guarantee that carrying for someone else will be equally uneventful. Understanding that challenges may come along the way is important. Once you watch a new family come together, though, you might have a hard time remembering the bumps in the road.
- Share. Share. Share. While this may not suit everyone, I would be remiss not to mention the value I’ve gotten and that others have gotten from sharing my story along the way. I always knew I wanted to blog about being a gestational carrier and was matched with a family willing to see our story unfold with an audience (albeit, a small one). I could not have imagined the response I would see as a result. From Facebook friends I haven’t seen since I was ten to staff at my children’s school to a woman trying to sell me blinds, it was fascinating and touching to see how many people have a personal connection to infertility and the surrogacy process. I received many messages of gratitude from friends and strangers for providing such a gift to someone that none of them even know. I also had many women of all ages comment that carrying for someone else was something that they always wanted to do, but didn't for one reason or another.
I would not trade any part of the last year for anything. I was firm in my decision from the beginning, even if others didn't understand it at first. I secretly had fingers crossed to carry a singleton and ended up carrying twins. I not-so-secretly tried to will myself to have a natural delivery and ended up having a C-section. I had unexpected complications after the surgery that slowed the recovery. That said, I don't regret a moment of the last year. I learned a lot about myself, my support network and especially about my kids. We feel fortunate to be invited to remain friends with the happy new family. With any luck, our experience can help encourage others to start the journey themselves.
The sweet note Liz's son brought to her in the hospital after delivering the twins