Candace-Infertility never fully leaves you. I am no longer obsessing over ovulation or how I will pay for our next IVF. I was not too naïve to think that once Jellybean came into our lives, that it would all go away like the swift wave of a magical baby wand and POOF! All the emotional scars and baggage instantly go away! What I did not expect was that the comments, those “Tasty Sneaker” moments, would still be ever so present.
Surrogacy is different. For the most part it is uncommon and people are curious by nature. Many do not understand the intricacies of the process and mostly, people do not realize, although they mean well, sometimes those well-intentioned but poorly thought-out, comments hurt. Maybe they think that our infertility is resolved because we have had a child. Prayers answered. End of story. But it is not the end. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful of every second that I have with Jellybean … yes, even at 2 AM, I am thankful. Tired, sure, but thankful for the reason to be tired. Still, Chris and I unavoidably encounter comments from those that, for no fault of their own, don’t know the ins and outs of surrogacy and the emotional scars left from infertility.
Here are some examples of a few comments we receive regularly. Chris and I will take turns giving our thoughts on each one.
- “Look at the bright side, you don’t have stretch marks!”
(Candace) You know, this statement is right. I don’t have stretch marks. But you know what I do have? I have a series of 5 scars on my abdomen that will never go away. They are from countless surgeries I went through trying to have a baby. The big scars are the ones from my hysterectomy and the small ones were from many exploratory surgeries to try to figure out why I could not get pregnant. I am forced to look at them every day, and they are constant reminders that I do not have the plumbing that most women take for granted. I may not have stretch marks but I would trade pregnancy created stretch marks any day over infertility related scars.
- “Wow you get to drink your whole “’pregnancy.’”
(Chris) I definitely think my liver would disagree with anyone thinking this was a beneficial thing. For those with older children, have you left them with a babysitter? How about for 9 months straight with the possibility that at any moment, you would never have the chance to see them again? Talk about some restless nights. We had an amazing surrogate! She would give us weekly update pics of her bump-growth and lived locally so we could stop by to see her, and our gestational Jellybean … and we did. It wasn’t a surprise visit, checking to make sure that she only ate the finest peanut butter sandwiches, but rather it was a great opportunity to see what it would be like if Candace were carrying Jellybean, a glimpse into that world we will never know. But, at some point, we had to leave. We had to walk away, we already had no control over the fate of our gestational Jellybean, but we had to completely remove her from our lives until we saw our surrogate again. That is the world of surrogacy. So, yeah, I would go home, have dinner, drink a beer. Candace would have a glass of wine. And we would talk about our Jellybean as if she was still too ethereal to be real. Too fictional, too prospective to be accepted too deeply into our hearts. That place in us was already so scorched with heartbreak and disappointment that, if we dropped our walls to let our gestational Jellybean in, it would be that much harder to walk out our wonder-surro’s door. Of course, all that spontaneously melted when we saw Jellybean, but it was there throughout the surrogacy. So, did we drink … Yep! But we would have gladly turned prohibitionists if it meant we didn’t have to have our fetus take a 9 month slumber party before we met her.
- “You are lucky someone else carried your baby, pregnancy is so uncomfortable.”
(Candace) I am lucky that someone carried our baby, because of it, I am a mother through the gift of surrogacy. I don’t know what it is like to have go through morning sickness. I also have never had hemorrhoids or kankles or the many other things you get as a result of pregnancy. I can imagine all of these side effects of being pregnant are uncomfortable and quite painful at times. I can tell you that it was really “uncomfortable” to go through 6 IVFs and 5 surgeries just to have a chance of becoming pregnant. Shot after shot, procedure after procedure recovery after recovery, the emotional pain by far outweighed the physical pain but it would be all worth it if it worked! I did this all voluntarily for a chance to experience all of the highs and lows carrying a baby would have to offer. We also paid tens of thousands of dollars for this voluntary pain. So yeah, I may have escaped buying tucks medicated wipes for a fiery butt, or buying stock in Tums to recuperate some costs for heartburn and many of the other things that come along with carrying a baby, but I would gladly have endured it. Hell, I prayed for it every day. Because the difference between me and someone who can withstand a pregnancy is a uterus and the choice to have a child.
Crap! I just read this post about Candace and Chris griping about all the sorrow of having a baby … at least they have one! Or, “Hey, I think I said that to them and now I am pissed at them for telling me how they really felt in a DAMN blog post!” Easy folks, easy. Please don’t think that you wasted the last few minutes reading about us belly-aching for nothing. The fact is, we are effectively in the population on the underside of one of the last rocks to be turned over, at least when it comes to family building. We expect to get awkward comments, uncomfortable moments, and bizarre questions like the stammering, “So, is she like yours, like blood yours?” It is our responsibility to address these things, especially with those close to us so that as Jellybean gets older, she is not confronted with sideways glances and whispered tales. Our hope is that through these posts, through our speaking out about our story, through increasing awareness, the global understanding of what it means to be a surrogate, what it means to be a gestational carrier, what it means to be intended parents, and what it means to be a person born via surrogacy will become less taboo. Were we to get to choose, we would choose this all over again because our lives are literally riddled with blessings. That doesn’t mean though, that we always want to exist on the fringes of normalcy; the explanation of how we came to have our beautiful daughter taking minutes instead of seconds. Until then, we will boldly profess that our Jellybean was born via surrogacy and navigate the minefield of awkwardness guaranteed to come.