At the time, we felt like we were “giving up” by pursuing surrogacy. I was fixated, naturally, on all the things I would miss out on: Feeling the baby kick and getting to know him in utero, experiencing a natural childbirth, bonding through breastfeeding. These are not small things, and I am still sorry I missed out on them.
I was emotionally prepared to go along with the surrogacy by the time we dove in. But what Aaron and I weren’t prepared for was just how much our surrogacy experience would actually enrich our lives.
Partly on a leap of faith and partly thanks to a very rigorous vetting and interview process (thanks to our incredible agency, The Surrogacy Group), we chose Dani as our carrier— and were grateful she chose us back. We liked how chatty she was and the fact that she only lived one state away in Maryland. (Not all states are surrogacy friendly—Maryland is, but DC is decidedly not, and Virginia is lukewarm.) She told us we seemed like loving people who had been through too much grief.
The surrogacy process is no joke. For a woman to even be eligible to be a surrogate (a proper one that an agency would feel confident representing), she has to score pretty high on a mighty long checklist, participate in a home visit, divulge health and other personal information, and fill out a lengthy personal-essay questionnaire. Once paired, she must then go through months of physical and psychological testing. (As intended parents, we also participated in psychological testing.) Then there’s the drafting of the legal contract between all parties: boy, what a dehumanizing experience that is. Lastly, the surrogate goes through a “trial run” to make sure her body will accept the fertility drugs. If (and it’s a big if) all of those hurdles are cleared, then you’re finally ready to go! Needless to say, everyone involved has to really want to do this thing.
My husband and I are not religious people but are pretty darn sure that Dani is an actual angel sent from heaven specifically to us for some reason we cannot fathom. Her approach was to make us so much part of her pregnancy that we actually felt like we were experiencing it with her. And we did! She and I texted almost every day during those 40 weeks—often multiple times a day. She shared everything with me, from what she had for breakfast (“I think he likes the pineapple I had”), to what his flutters and then nudges and then donkey kicks felt like, to the weird questions her coworkers asked her (“do you know who the parents are?”), to what foods gave her heartburn, to frequent pictures of her expanding baby bump. I don’t know if this style would work for everyone, but I ate up every moment of it. I truly felt like my baby was with me almost as much as he was with Dani. During the pregnancy I can only count on one hand the number of stomach pangs I got when I was reminded that I was not able to experience this first-hand. The truth was I felt way better about it than I thought I would—and I know exactly why. It’s because we trusted Dani fully and absolutely. We knew that every decision she made was based on what was best for our baby; that she was a thoughtful, caring, loving person; and that her amazing husband Mike was there to support her. All of these things helped my husband and me sleep very well at night.
We were even further enriched through the true friendship the four of us developed over time as well. We got to meet their three lovely daughters (the five ladies went out for pedicures and ice cream on one special day) and learn about how they spent their time as a family. Dani and I shared successes and gripes about work, Aaron and Mike hung out at a Caps game… Our foursome was almost like a planned marriage where the couple miraculously ends up falling in love!
The birth of our son was an incredible experience. Thanks to the openness of Howard County General Hospital and our doctor, all four of us spent the entire labor together in the birthing room. It was kind of like a sleepover, passing the hours telling jokes and stories, waiting for the action to start. When the moment finally happened, Mike was there to comfort Dani, Aaron got to cut the cord, and our baby boy Isaac was placed on my chest right away. (Added bonus, Mike volunteered for camera duty, so we got some awesome shots.) The next day, Dani got to visit Isaac and see what a marvelous little human she had incubated for nine months.
Isaac is two months old now and I still text with Dani every few days. We include her on all of our family updates about Isaac and fill her inbox with pictures. She tells us how grateful she is to be included and see how he’s doing. We love swapping stories about things he did in utero that he still does now (hiccupping often, for one). I am so lucky to have someone to share these intimate experiences with.
Lucky – that’s what Aaron and I consider ourselves to be – to have been blessed with not just a perfect baby boy but also two new extraordinary people in our lives.
I know not every surrogacy experience is like ours. I wish it was. If you are considering surrogacy, I implore you to focus not on what you might miss through the experience, but what you’ll hopefully gain.
If you feel I might be a good resource for you and want to reach out, please feel free to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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